Epic Mickey Offers No Choice

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A good article.
I've yet to find a game I feel did moral choice systems right. As Yahtzee said, being good seems to bring no rewards. Being evil brings greater reward, but oh no, you may have harmed the collection of pixels and programming.
Now, KOTOR was weird. It sort of came close a lot, but never was a good moral choice system. There's one point on Tatooine where some woman ran up to me and asked me to buy a hunting trophy, which I could sell later. There was neutral, buy it for the same value. Good, wave the fee. And evil, which was overcharge. I never see this woman again. It doesn't matter what I do. Of course I got the extra money.
The only people I was kind to were most of my companions, because Bioware did do a good job characterising them. So I liked them... Well, ok I didn't like Carth... Can you blame me?
But I was disappointed in one respect. In the Star Wars lore, the Sith ideals are emotions make you stronger, and not every decision should be totally logical. It's not just being evil. KOTOR touched on this, but basically if you were evil, you were a Sith.


Ah well. KOTOR's still fun, just a lot of wasted potential with the moral choice system.

moretimethansense:

SlainPwner666:

moretimethansense:
Snip

The comment about the man's weight was only meant to be said for the final choice, as his weight was supposed to be enough to halt the train. As utterly un-realistic as this is, there really isn't any other way a single person could be sacrificed to stop a moving train.

Hope this helps explain.

It does a bit but wouldn't it make more sense for the one man to be rigged with explosives by whoever set up this bizarre morality play?
That way the mans life is equal to the life of one of the others and personal bias doesn't come in to it.

And before you say "but that would kill the passengers!" at no point were passengers (or even a driver) mentioned, for this bizarre test someone would have had to set this up in advance, otherwise what's stopping the driver from putting on the brakes?
For this to work the only factors should be 1 life vs 5, and obviously, if you do nothing five will die, if you kill this one the same five will live.

In the infinitely unlikely situation this happened during the train's normal running schedule I'd let the five die, no sense in making all those people late! :P

In theory, that's a perfect substitute, but if he's strapped with explosives and willingly blows himself up to stop the train, then that's no moral choice of yours, it's simply him being a hero in a strange way.

However, if you pushed him in front of the train, then it really defines your moral fiber, because the question is basically meant to ask, "Would you murder one man to save five?"

Maybe, a man is strapped with explosives, and YOU have the detonator? I dunno.

I really think it matters more "who" the people are, unless I'm missing something (sorry I kinda skimmed up to this point).

Like if the one person was someone you loved and the 5 were strangers but kids, if they're all just strangers then it's just about math at that point.

On topic, Yeah I'm always really iffy when I hear about some kind of moral choices in games, as they usually boil down to pat puppy on head or drown it....

The problem as i see it with moral choices in video games is that the creator seems to think that most people will be kept up at night if they make a bad choice vs. a good choice. I mean, come on, its a bloody video game; no one is going to lose sleep over the fact you made the existence of a pixel character bad. Mass Effect was sorta heading the right direction where choices you made could change the outcomes of different events in the future, but then again it all comes back to the fact that good choices seem to make it so trouble just "bounces" off of you while making bad choices makes all the interesting shit happen but then you're character is made out to look like a total asshole. If they want to impress me, they should make a video game where being good sometimes gives you worse consequences than if you were just an ass about the whole situation; but there i go day dreaming again. . . . .

myah:
I'd say that the best moral choice system was the one seen in "Heavy Rain" (SPOILERS!)At the moment when I was at the end of the trial where you have to kill a person, I really had to think. Because there was no answer to that question, would you end a human life which is worth as much as any other to save your son? When I finally made up my mind and shot him, I had to look away from the screen because I felt like horrendous monster. That's the kind of moral choice I like, the kind that actually makes feel bad for taking the "evil" alternative.

@mjc0961: "inFAMOUS" is one of my favorite games of all time, the thing that didn't work in it was mainly that you were required to choose a path and stick to it, there were moments where I really wondered (again SPOILERS!) if I should save Trish from her dead, or rather save the doctors, which would in turn, save a lot of lives, or at the time where I found a guy that wouldn't let me through a gate until I reunited him with his wife, should I tell him that his wife is dead, and let him live in suffering, or should I put him out of his misery. And while, yes some choices ended up in the same thing, they felt meaningful at the time, and I hope these two issues are solved by the time "inFAMOUS 2" comes out (Im so preordering the shit out of that game!)

I did like infamous but it's choices weren't actually good V evil they always in my mind came down to the needsof others V the needs of self.

There are loads of morally blank dilemmas that dual-choice games don't explore enough. Would you give up a miserable but familiar existence for an exciting but unknown one? Would you rescue one baby or five old people? Is Coke better than Pepsi? Well, yes, but they both make you fat.

Answering yahtzhee's q's above in order
1 give up familiar distance everytime I hate my life
2 baby babies are cute old people are annoying
3 both taste nasty but I do like diet coke

i'm always happy to find another coke person

"Or in games like Metroid Prime 3 or Dark Earth where you can use the evil force possessing you to gain a temporary power boost but doing so makes it likelier that you'll succumb to it. But even these don't so much paint you as a "bad" person, just a weak one more mindful of short-term benefit than long-term effects."

that brings me of mind of something in breath of fire 4, in the game you got access to dragon powers, and they were a big "fuck you" to any enemy in the game, I couldnt find a single one who could stand to the powers but if you used them too much then you became corrupted and the game ended so it was best not to use your "fuck you" powers unless you really needed them

Ocelano:

myah:
I'd say that the best moral choice system was the one seen in "Heavy Rain" (SPOILERS!)At the moment when I was at the end of the trial where you have to kill a person, I really had to think. Because there was no answer to that question, would you end a human life which is worth as much as any other to save your son? When I finally made up my mind and shot him, I had to look away from the screen because I felt like horrendous monster. That's the kind of moral choice I like, the kind that actually makes feel bad for taking the "evil" alternative.

@mjc0961: "inFAMOUS" is one of my favorite games of all time, the thing that didn't work in it was mainly that you were required to choose a path and stick to it, there were moments where I really wondered (again SPOILERS!) if I should save Trish from her dead, or rather save the doctors, which would in turn, save a lot of lives, or at the time where I found a guy that wouldn't let me through a gate until I reunited him with his wife, should I tell him that his wife is dead, and let him live in suffering, or should I put him out of his misery. And while, yes some choices ended up in the same thing, they felt meaningful at the time, and I hope these two issues are solved by the time "inFAMOUS 2" comes out (Im so preordering the shit out of that game!)

I did like infamous but it's choices weren't actually good V evil they always in my mind came down to the needsof others V the needs of self.

There are loads of morally blank dilemmas that dual-choice games don't explore enough. Would you give up a miserable but familiar existence for an exciting but unknown one? Would you rescue one baby or five old people? Is Coke better than Pepsi? Well, yes, but they both make you fat.

Answering yahtzhee's q's above in order
1 give up familiar distance everytime I hate my life
2 baby babies are cute old people are annoying
3 both taste nasty but I do like diet coke

I'll take the Dick approach, or more properly the "Richard" approach

1: I would do everything to ensure my existence stays exciting
2: I would eat the baby and watch the old people burn (actually if this were real life; neither; I hate babies, and old people- well I've seen too many mooch off certian systems that're put into place, so begone with them too!)
3: is syrupy caffeine better then syrupy caffeine with santa? no; if you need me I'll be drinking a Roy Rodgers Root Beer... or a V8 *cough* (but most likely milk)

Yahtzee Croshaw:
There are loads of morally blank dilemmas that dual-choice games don't explore enough.

Yep. The problem is 'dual'. When you have only two choices the reflex to do what you understand to be the 'good' choice in order to get the 'good/successful' ending is strong. To reduce this moral weight, there should be multiple choices. Maybe like a quiz, each choice is worth different points to identify which ending you get. But in the meantime, you can make compromises between what you want and what needs to be done. If you want to play for fun but not be typecast as evil, you can do so.

The closest I've seen are the King-choices in Fable 3, but even they were flawed by virtue of being clearly defined as good/neutral/evil. Some ambiguity would have been awesome.

I liked the witcher. It did moral choices right in two ways:
1: There was no good or evil.
2: It isn't clear what the result and effects will be in the long term. Stuff may happen hours later into the game as a result of a choice you made, and you didn't see it coming.

As for the train analogy:
Let's replace the train idea with another idea: Let's say five people are dying in a hospital because they need a new organ. There is a man in the waiting room who would be the perfect donor for all of these people. Can we drag him out of that room and take out his organs because it would save five lives? Most people will answer no.

This reminds me of the Legion loyalty mission from Mass Effect 2. I really liked the Geth,so I had to choose between brainwashing them thus ridding them of their free will but allowing them to thrive in greater numbers or wiping them out, removing the threat and leaving the non-aggressive Geth alive, leaving their 'species' closer to annihilation but dealing with the problem cleanly.

Developers do not investigate the concept of moral choice for a variety of reasons. Firstly, it would be bad press if a game gave the option for someone to be realistically moral or immoral, since typically people have a paranoia of the Pavlovian Conditioning Theory. If I give you a treat for being evil, you will think there is a greatness in being evil, and why shouldn't you manifest this into your own life. This line of thought is weak though, as a majority of gamers are sound enough, or at least I hope so, to make a distinction between life and virtual life. Nonetheless, developers would like to hear the name of their game in the same sentence as someone such as Ted Bundy, because money and image are more important than quality and experience. Furthermore, there are some games that simply do not consider the idea of morality and moral conciousness in characters, except for in isolated areas, such as in the Fallout series. Lets take one of the Bethesda Softworks ones: New Vegas. In New Vegas, you can strain yourself to be nice to people, skimp out of material gain, and pop a cap between their eyes, and you will be akin to Jesus. However, you may slice the head off of a little girl's puppy and wear it as a cod-piece, and you will still be loved. Trust me, murder, regardless of who or what you commit it to, is damaging to the human psyche. Furthermore, there is a certain lack of reality in consequence in games, as if good actions exist purely without negative associations. Right, if that were the case, Herzel's Israel would be much less entertaining for the media, and Bethlehem wouldn't be surrounded by and internment camp wall. So, to avoid the depressing drabness of reality, because it would cut profits, developers decide to jump over the side of the bridge and take a nice fall into the Pisswater River. However, they will insist on adding routine work, literally work, for players if they begin demanding more reality in their games. In all honesty, nobody wants to come back from brown-nosing thier boss, to begin brown-nosing a virtual-reality twat who doesn't even pay you for your services.

Furthermore, philosophers have not yet achieved grounds of what good and evil are, though they have theaories. I think if you ever play a first-person shooter that grants a tiny window of choice, you will most likely be exposed to Nitschian philosophy, that or if you're a Nazi.

P.S. Coke is awesome X-D

'But remember the true meaning of Christmas, kids: just because your parents only bought you one of the consoles doesn't mean you have to loudly and obnoxiously defend it in every internet argument for the rest of the year.'

Amen.

An excellent article.

Zero punctuation may be kind of hit and miss lately, but this is very much on the ball.

Talcon:
Mountain Dew Master Race reporting in. Coke sucks.

No one even cares about you mountain dew. You sit int he corner while the battle of the colas rages on and then jump and an be all like "ha I'm better".

It's a fight between cola drinks, Mountain dew comes into it not.

Ibzzz1991:
if you're a Nazi.

Ladies and Mentlgen, I call Godwin on this thread. It was nice knowing you but we really can't talk about it any more. Thanks man.

Would you give up a miserable but familiar existence for an exciting but unknown one?

Without a second thought.

Something about Fable that amuses me are the obvious scams you're encouraged to engage in, but with a good payoff.

Like tricking a man/woman into getting engaged to you. Apparently entering into a loveless marriage (with added bigomy) is the good solution. How about telling the ghost to shove it at the start.

Another had you stealing items from people and the guy doing the asking is being dead obvious that he's bullshitting you. The good solution isn't telling him to get bent, it's stealing all this stuff, getting him a whore, *then* running him out of town.

Fable 3 punished me for executing a brutal mercinary who swore his alligence to me only afte I had him at my mercy. Like I'm going to fall for that one. I killed the fucker, but apparently using my brain and issuing justice to a mass murderer is a bad thing. Letting him go free so long as he stops is "good".

M4yce:
I really think it matters more "who" the people are, unless I'm missing something (sorry I kinda skimmed up to this point).

Like if the one person was someone you loved and the 5 were strangers but kids, if they're all just strangers then it's just about math at that point.

On topic, Yeah I'm always really iffy when I hear about some kind of moral choices in games, as they usually boil down to pat puppy on head or drown it....

I can't see things this way. I can't break down the lives of human beings (or in the case of more fantastic games, sentient beings of any kind) into numbers. I can't condense the net worth of someone's life into a numeral to be stacked up against other groups of numbers and hope to just do the math.

Going back to the train thought exercise from earlier in the thread, what if that one fatty were the man who would eventually break the cancer conundrum, and save millions (billions?) in future.

What if all five of the people on the other track were members of the Junior Despots Local #305, with assorted and varied plans for genocide and enslavement. Or just reverse the thought and fatty is Adolf Jr, while one (or all) of those five will do something monumentally beneficial for everyone else later on.

Math can't apply to something as complex as the worthiness of a sentient being to life or death. When one person can do so much more (for good or ill) than five of his peers, how can you possibly try and equate them?
There are only two sane choices I believe one can make (on paper): save everyone, or save no one. Which leads me to my pick of best handled morality system in games.

Despite its many flaws, I think the Mass Effect "Paragade" system has been the best of the "moral choice" mechanics. No matter what you do and how you go about it, your goal is still the same: saving the universe and all sentient beings within it. Well... most of them. Pretty noble goal! The differences are in how you go about it.

Renegade: Efficiency and expediency are the hallmark traits of the Renegade. You're still a good guy (deep, deep, DEEP down sometimes) though you do act a jerkface occasionally, but the bad things you do are mostly in accomplishing that noble goal above. You're just taking the quick and sure path to doing it. "Can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs..." The renegade is willing to compromise to achieve the most beneficial outcome he deems possible. The choices are hard, but the achievement of the goal is (reasonably) assured.

Paragon: Same goal as the renegade, but unwilling to compromise and take the quick and dirty path. I think of the paragon as the guy who, given the thought experiment from this thread and put into action, would try and get all six of the victims safely off the tracks (even fatty!) before the train arrived. Or would jump in front of the locomotive and try to wrestle it to a stop somehow before it reached the junction. "Not one more life..." The paragon is unwilling to make compromises, every stand is his last stand.
The achievement of the goal is much less likely given how far the paragon will extend himself to the point of overreaching to try and save everyone all the time, but if he DOES manage to somehow pull this out of his hat, the end result will be far better than the renegade's.

Despite its flaws (looking at you, Paragon/Renegade points and the associated benefits!) I feel this system of choices is much closer to reality than (and more preferable to) most of the mechanics in games today.

Disney would be the last company to create something based around morals, everything is always good and shiny in the Disney Drug Factory.

For the love of god PLAY ONE OF THE FIRST 2 ODDWORLD GAMES. That has moral dilemma down to a tee. If you want to be good, you have to rescue every muddoken, which is impossibly hard. Being evil is really easy, but then you'll get the bad ending because nobody will save you. It's a perfect quandary, selfish self interested survival or selfless saviour.

I wish systems with clear-cut alignment choices did have inherent rewards for being evil/good, because I believe in Absolute Morality and Inner Moral Integrity. However, having the rewards be of the same nature is the wrong way to go about it.

Good choices should be hard, and come at identifiable cost to the player. However, Virtue is its own reward, and possibly converts to Morale Bonuses to the character over time, with quadratic power growth. In the end, someone who is Good should end up ultimately stronger than someone who is evil, but it would be much harder to get there. And the person who was completely uncorruptable is stronger than someone who tries gaining short-term benefits by flip-flopping between them. The natural reward is bonus Experience in RPGs, for solving the greater challenge. In the end, you end up Superman.

The Evil paths should give significant, large bonuses, tempting the player with quick, often easy rewards, most transient or temporary like wealth or positions of power or fair-weather allies.

Either way, Good and Evil should average the same power level over the span of the entire game.

Another problem with games is they are trying to use the Jesus/Satan morality tie, which works for open-ended games where Good and Evil are absolute, tangible causes (like Dungeons and Dragons, Fable, and Black&White). In those games, it's good to reward "Good" and "Evil" equally well, because you're devoting an equal ammount of effort to both. In those games, "neutral" people get brushed aside for being wishy-washy and spurned by both Greater Powers. The KOTOR Games explicitly justify this, since the two views of Using the Force are so incompatible trying to be neutral just leaves you weak. (Some people are "Balanced" in the Force, but the game doesn't permit you to follow the same path because doing so would likely be game-breaking, in addition to defiling pre-New Republic Jedi Order canon. The Dark Side is "Chaotic Stupid" pre-Luke, and the "Light Side" is "Lawful Stupid". Jolee and Skywalker are "Neutral Good")

However, developers keep trying to shoehorn this model into a game that wants a Superman/Punisher morality system (Epic Mickey, Dragon Age, Mass Effect), where the goal is to be Good, but you're constantly faced with issues where it's easier to take a quick-and-dirty route to bypass a problem.

On another note:
Also, Fable considers killing characters like Twinblade and the Defeated Mercenary as an evil act because killing someone who has surrendered or is helpless is an evil act. The problem is it doesn't give a genuinely good "Trust, but Verify" response that would lead the mercenary on a path of redemption.

And as far as moral dillemas go... I hate arbitrarily binary choices. There should always be a third, infalliably good choice that you have to run yourself ragged or be Superhumanly powered to achieve. It may even be programmed to be supposedly impossible (Trying to do too many things "simultaneously"), but it shouldn't be a "Press 'X' for Choice A, Press 'B' for choice B." I hated the fact that in Fallout 3, I couldn't have my Level 20, Speech 100, INT and CHA 10 character (In full power armor, and wielding a Gatling Laser), to persuade/intimidate Ashur into changing the way the pit was run. Similar issue I had in Dragon Age, I didn't like how the game prevented me from using my incredible force to prevent Baelin from having Harrogath executed, and cleaning up Dwarven Politics by cleaning out the corruption with my fireballz.

I don't believe that the subject of moral choice should be left out in games, however the use of a tiered scale or a "moral compass meter" defeats the purpose of having them in the game. Moral choice and alignment should not be factors that should necessarily be known to the player. It should be in the background, presenting subtle changes to the gameplay experience.

I agree with Yatzhee when he pointed out that the most evil figures in history thought that they were performing a necessary cause toward an ultimate good (or something to that effect). If more effort was placed into the subtle reactions of AI toward the player, without the player having the predetermined knowledge of their chars alignment, then the experience that the player ultimately receives would be more internalized, personal. The player would have to figure out whether the actions they performed were diabolically evil or righteously good.

That being said there also has to be a better execution by the programmers of morally gray areas in order for a system like this to be completely effective. Imagine you are in a group of npc's and rather than hearing them boo or praise you, they don't know what to think of you simply because the decisions that you have made do not follow the guidelines of black and white morality. Some show that they feel threatened by your presence, some tag along in the background with genuine interest. Within the concept of an unknown alignment it would be up to the player to figure out what they did in order to cause this type of reaction.

Scow2:

And as far as moral dillemas go... I hate arbitrarily binary choices. There should always be a third, infalliably good choice that you have to run yourself ragged or be Superhumanly powered to achieve. It may even be programmed to be supposedly impossible (Trying to do too many things "simultaneously"), but it shouldn't be a "Press 'X' for Choice A, Press 'B' for choice B." I hated the fact that in Fallout 3, I couldn't have my Level 20, Speech 100, INT and CHA 10 character (In full power armor, and wielding a Gatling Laser), to persuade/intimidate Ashur into changing the way the pit was run.

Yes. This.
When you can't *see* any right choice in a situation, it forces you to think about your priorities.
When you can see something that might work out but the only options the game makes available are bad ones, it makes you think that the game is trolling you.

Jeffro Tull:
I don't believe that the subject of moral choice should be left out in games, however the use of a tiered scale or a "moral compass meter" defeats the purpose of having them in the game. Moral choice and alignment should not be factors that should necessarily be known to the player. It should be in the background, presenting subtle changes to the gameplay experience.

I agree with Yatzhee when he pointed out that the most evil figures in history thought that they were performing a necessary cause toward an ultimate good (or something to that effect). If more effort was placed into the subtle reactions of AI toward the player, without the player having the predetermined knowledge of their chars alignment, then the experience that the player ultimately receives would be more internalized, personal. The player would have to figure out whether the actions they performed were diabolically evil or righteously good.

That being said there also has to be a better execution by the programmers of morally gray areas in order for a system like this to be completely effective. Imagine you are in a group of npc's and rather than hearing them boo or praise you, they don't know what to think of you simply because the decisions that you have made do not follow the guidelines of black and white morality. Some show that they feel threatened by your presence, some tag along in the background with genuine interest. Within the concept of an unknown alignment it would be up
to the player to figure out what they did in order to cause this type of reaction.

Ah... here's the right solution. One of the only problems I can see with this is how games can't read intent. But hiding the effect of moral choices would probably stop the people trying to be as far out of their desired "Alignment" as they can without the game acknowledging themselves as such. Then, "Is it a Good Deed to accept this cash for completing this task?" becomes a question of morality in the game world, not mechanics.

hewhosaysfish:

When you can't *see* any right choice in a situation, it forces you to think about your priorities.
When you can see something that might work out but the only options the game makes available are bad ones, it makes you think that the game is trolling you.

Personally, I prefer Tabletop games (or other RPGs with a Human adjuctant), because then, even if you can't initially see a good solution, if you think hard enough and come up with one anyway, it's awesome.

I wish you could choose to fight the Big Force of Evil yourself in Fable 3... then the game might have had a satisfying challenge, and it wouldn't require the "Third Option" to be a Wealthy Economy-Breaking Landlord

I remember in Fallout 3 there was a problem where you either killed some ghouls trying to get into a hotel or let them break into the hotel to as far as i know, kill everyone inside. A bunch of the people inside were douche bags, but some were fine people. After thinking about it, I decided that the ghouls aggression against the whole of the occupants was unwarranted, so i killed them. Turns out that was the evil option.

Warren Spector has said specifically that Mickey was not a game of moral choices, and I think that's accurate. Paint and thinner are not good and bad, and the choices you make are ultimately more about whether you want to fix the world you're in or just get through it. This is not to say that I disagree with the point that choices in Mickey could have been much more interesting, I just don't think the game was trying to be a good/evil game so that criticism seems a little unjust.

Its not a duel-choice system, but the most aggrovating morality concept is dialoge trees where "choices" simply force you to redecide, and won't let you proceed without selecting the "good" answer.

Worst Offender: Chrono Cross. Serge is offered to stay that timeless, peaceful oblivion with the sacrifice of a turbulent future. You're choices are "REFUSE!!!" or "Accept..."
Accepting only gets your party members a little mad at you, and then they forget as the game proceeds as if you refused.

Some friends argue that its just to role-play a character. Choices without consequence is not role-playing. Most jRPGs force me to watch characters make their own conversations with NPCs, so why force me through a superficial lie that I have a "choice" at random?

Roninraver:

M4yce:
I really think it matters more "who" the people are, unless I'm missing something (sorry I kinda skimmed up to this point).

Like if the one person was someone you loved and the 5 were strangers but kids, if they're all just strangers then it's just about math at that point.

On topic, Yeah I'm always really iffy when I hear about some kind of moral choices in games, as they usually boil down to pat puppy on head or drown it....

I can't see things this way. I can't break down the lives of human beings (or in the case of more fantastic games, sentient beings of any kind) into numbers. I can't condense the net worth of someone's life into a numeral to be stacked up against other groups of numbers and hope to just do the math.

Going back to the train thought exercise from earlier in the thread, what if that one fatty were the man who would eventually break the cancer conundrum, and save millions (billions?) in future.

What if all five of the people on the other track were members of the Junior Despots Local #305, with assorted and varied plans for genocide and enslavement. Or just reverse the thought and fatty is Adolf Jr, while one (or all) of those five will do something monumentally beneficial for everyone else later on.

Math can't apply to something as complex as the worthiness of a sentient being to life or death. When one person can do so much more (for good or ill) than five of his peers, how can you possibly try and equate them?
There are only two sane choices I believe one can make (on paper): save everyone, or save no one. Which leads me to my pick of best handled morality system in games.

Despite its many flaws, I think the Mass Effect "Paragade" system has been the best of the "moral choice" mechanics. No matter what you do and how you go about it, your goal is still the same: saving the universe and all sentient beings within it. Well... most of them. Pretty noble goal! The differences are in how you go about it.

Renegade: Efficiency and expediency are the hallmark traits of the Renegade. You're still a good guy (deep, deep, DEEP down sometimes) though you do act a jerkface occasionally, but the bad things you do are mostly in accomplishing that noble goal above. You're just taking the quick and sure path to doing it. "Can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs..." The renegade is willing to compromise to achieve the most beneficial outcome he deems possible. The choices are hard, but the achievement of the goal is (reasonably) assured.

Paragon: Same goal as the renegade, but unwilling to compromise and take the quick and dirty path. I think of the paragon as the guy who, given the thought experiment from this thread and put into action, would try and get all six of the victims safely off the tracks (even fatty!) before the train arrived. Or would jump in front of the locomotive and try to wrestle it to a stop somehow before it reached the junction. "Not one more life..." The paragon is unwilling to make compromises, every stand is his last stand.
The achievement of the goal is much less likely given how far the paragon will extend himself to the point of overreaching to try and save everyone all the time, but if he DOES manage to somehow pull this out of his hat, the end result will be far better than the renegade's.

Despite its flaws (looking at you, Paragon/Renegade points and the associated benefits!) I feel this system of choices is much closer to reality than (and more preferable to) most of the mechanics in games today.

Good post very deep, but you're not in the military are you? A good Sgt I knew told me he would never really befriend anyone under his command, yeah he'd take care of them as a Sgt should, but never befriend him.

*Side note we were only shooting the shit because I wasn't in his squad*.

The reason being that he didn't want any reason or any hypothetical reason to be put against him ordering men/women to die for the rest of the squad. Example, when there's poisonous gas in the area how do you check if it's clear? You order the man/woman with the least use in combat to take off his mask and breathe, he dies not clear, he lives all clear (for the most part, sometimes it takes time).

So I'm not saying that it's good to count things by the numbers, but sometimes that's all you have. The lives of the many vs the lives of the few.

Oh and on topic, games should really start to actually make differences in the whole "good" or "bad" thing.

*spoiler to fable if anyone still cares*

Honestly the best one I remember was that you sacrifice your sister in the original fable, but then that was completely glossed over in the lost chapters when they gave you the good version....

Really I mean in real life (though I hate comparing games to life) doing the good thing generally doesn't get you squat but into more trouble, the bad thing is usually easier, gets you rewarded, and makes you feel damn good.

M4yce:
Oh and on topic, games should really start to actually make differences in the whole "good" or "bad" thing.

*spoiler to fable if anyone still cares*

Honestly the best one I remember was that you sacrifice your sister in the original fable, but then that was completely glossed over in the lost chapters when they gave you the good version....

Really I mean in real life (though I hate comparing games to life) doing the good thing generally doesn't get you squat but into more trouble, the bad thing is usually easier, gets you rewarded, and makes you feel damn good.

What sort of fucked up person feels damn good about doing the wrong thing?

I'm talking about like sex, drugs, and what not. And isn't this about how to make moral choices a bit more fucked up?

M4yce:

Good post very deep, but you're not in the military are you? A good Sgt I knew told me he would never really befriend anyone under his command, yeah he'd take care of them as a Sgt should, but never befriend him.

*Side note we were only shooting the shit because I wasn't in his squad*.

The reason being that he didn't want any reason or any hypothetical reason to be put against him ordering men/women to die for the rest of the squad. Example, when there's poisonous gas in the area how do you check if it's clear? You order the man/woman with the least use in combat to take off his mask and breathe, he dies not clear, he lives all clear (for the most part, sometimes it takes time).

So I'm not saying that it's good to count things by the numbers, but sometimes that's all you have. The lives of the many vs the lives of the few.

Am I in the military currently? No. Though as the saying goes; once a Marine, always a Marine.
If that Sergeant told you, in seriousness, that he'd order a man to remove his mask to check for gas rather than use the chemical agent detector kit that was made FOR THAT PURPOSE and included with NBC gear then I sincerely hope he was relieved of his duties and handed his walking papers long ago.
In what world would ordering a mask off when you are unsure of the air quality make sense? If you think there's gas in the area and are unable to test, egress. If you can't egress because of the presence of the enemy or whatever reason - they've already used gas once (or you fear they will) or you wouldn't be in masks to begin with, why the Hell would you want to take them off?

Officers (company-grade anyway, higher than that and they start thinking too much in abstracts and numbers rather than people and names) and NCOs damned well SHOULD be getting friendly with their enlisted personnel. Friendly right up to the point of fraternization even, because of the exact reason you laid out; those are the men and women who they might someday be sending to die. If and when they do have to make that call, the person that is giving that order should know the people he's giving it to at a personal level, because it's a lot harder to expend the lives of friends than it is to throw away some boot. It's a decision that NEEDS to be hard. Otherwise it could get too easy to casually waste the lives of men and women when there might be other options.
Scenarios like the one you gave about the Sergeant come to mind.

I don't want people like that in my armed forces, especially not in positions of leadership.

I want people that respect life, realize it can't be recovered once lost and will do everything possible, I repeat - EVERYTHING possible to keep every man and woman under their wing upright and breathing. In a perfect world I'd prefer that they saved everyone on the other side as well, or that there were no sides at all, but I digress.

Will that always, or even frequently turn out to be the case: everyone was saved? Not by a long shot. But they'd damned well better have it as a focus. Failure happens, it is forgivable. Failing to try is not.

Most of the morality choices in games don't mean anything.

Dawn of War 2:Chaos Rising - Corruption came from 1 of 3 sources. 1)Failure to complete specific objectives - Incompetence. 2)Failure to take a specific unit with you - Incompetence 3)Using the most powerful equipment in the game - Corrupting Influence

In Fable 3, the only moral choice that would have an IMPORTANT(not lasting) effect on the game has to do with Aurora proper and your reign as the monarch(not to be confused with The Monarch).

It sounds like the ones in Epic Mickey are pretty unimpressive in their own right. I remember when moral choices in games were important, a long time ago. Look at KoToR and KoToR:2. Limited access to powers and abilities based on your moral choices(Not perfect, but better than nothing).

I actually like the moral system in Fallout 1 and 2(The one in Tactics sucks because the ending is based exclusively on ONE choice, with a bit of luck thrown in). In the first two Fallout games, everything you do is revisited. All of your moral choices are shown. It's not always perfect, but it's better than nothing. You change the game each time with different actions.

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