Morality Matters

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Morality Matters

Our panel welcomes a new member and turns its eye to the question of morality.

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Oh God... I remember that part in Chrono Trigger when I was put on trial... Man was I shocked by that. I was so surprised, I actually restarted the game to avoid being a jerk the next time around.

The comment about not caring about digital people kind of puts me in mind of Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete. I remember watching the "Making of" disc that came with the game, and one of the developers said that in the original game, when the hero leaves his hometown, he parts with Luna, the heroine. In Silver Star Story Complete, the Playstation remake, Luna instead stays with the party throughout the first quarter of the game, because the developers though that gave you a much better chance to connect with and understand her, so you'd actually CARE about her in the rest of the story. Smart move. No morality choices in Lunar, obviously, but it strikes me that if more developers put that kind of thought into their story structure, we'd have games that had much more emotional stories so that "morality" plays DID have an impact on us.

I recently played Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines, and that introduced me to an interesting thought. Mechanics other than how people react to you can be tied into morality too. The player character in this game is a vampire (go figure) and as one of the bloodthirsty damned, one HAS to drink blood and do some other morally questionable tasks in order to keep the mortals in the dark about the existence of you and your ilk. However, the more of a dick you are without filling up your karma meter with life-saving and other such heroics, the greater the chance of your dark side taking over, causing you to feed and kill indiscriminately and wresting control from you, the player, until someone comes to put you, the player character, down. Also, if you're playing a Malkavian, the insane clan of vampires, your insanity manifests itself (in various hilarious ways) more often the more of a dick you are.

I know the two-dimensionality of the morality meter isn't subverted by these tactics, but it sure adds more depth to the choice between being a dick and being a good person.

The Chrono Trigger mention is quite out of left field, but somehow passed the fences on this. When explaining to my friends that once I had gotten every ending in Chrono Trigger, that in any subsequent play-through I just ignored getting all of the optional characters, and always had a team of Marle, Ayla, and Lucca. I never revived Chrono, I never repaired Robo, I never helped Glenn with his soulsearching quest for a raison d'etre, and I definitely never picked up that evil Magus fool. Of course, when I told my friends this, they were like "YOU MONSTER! HOW COULD YOU NOT HELP ROBO!" This is meta-morality, for sure, but an interesting note.

On the subject of Morality systems, though, is that especially in newer games they have made it very, very obvious what choice does what. Dragon Age 2 is a good example of this. A halo and angel wings is good and pure, a green leaf is peaceful, a purple laughing face is sarcastic/unbiased, and a red gavel is warmongering. (I probably missed something.)

The reason they did this was obvious, because people were complaining that when they picked what they thought to be the 'evil' choice, it ended up being more good than evil. But isn't that the point? To pick what your character would do, not necessarily "The Evil Choice."

Totally agreed on Chrono Trigger. I had the same pang of guilt after getting to that trial. I've been so used to stealing anything not nailed down in RPGs, that I was surprised to actually be called out on it. Felt ahead of its time almost.

I don't mind morality systems because worst case scenario? It's just a bar with gameplay effects (unlockable abilities, stats, appearance, etc.). I think it's great when games can hit you with a real dilemma, but gamers seem to be pretty savvy, so at some point they have to accept that everything is happening within a closed system created by programmers. The best devs can do is avoid making the choices too shallow or transparent and we as gamers have to suspend our disbelief a little to enjoy the choices within the scope of the experience.

And I have to disagree with Yahtzee that morality systems block off content. That's looking at it the wrong way because there is basically no way for a moral choice system to overcome that. If choices are going to have meaning, then different things need to happen based on those choices. Inevitably something will have to lay unseen until a subsequent playthrough.

The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall attempted to apply a 'reputation' score for a vast list of individuals, factions and populations that shifted depending on your actions. Of course, Daggerfall attempted a lot that wasn't properly applied...

Don't much appreciate black & white morality. Some ambiguous choices would be nice.

When I played Fallout 3, and you get to that level where you have to rescue your dad from the German professor in the VR world, at the end you get the choice between killing all the people in the world, sav the professor himself, in order to put them out of their misery (the professor is German, ergo he is a massive cock, as Germans can only be cocks). But doing so would leav the good professor alone in the world he had created, and while some might see that as justice, I really could not bring my self to doing that. WHile putting the inhabitants out of their misety would mean I got good karma, I could not bear the thought of the professor (he might have been a doctor, come to think of it) living in his VR world alone for all eternity. So yeah. Didn't really make a point. I guess fuck you, morality meters.

conflictofinterests:
I recently played Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines, and that introduced me to an interesting thought. Mechanics other than how people react to you can be tied into morality too. The player character in this game is a vampire (go figure) and as one of the bloodthirsty damned, one HAS to drink blood and do some other morally questionable tasks in order to keep the mortals in the dark about the existence of you and your ilk. However, the more of a dick you are without filling up your karma meter with life-saving and other such heroics, the greater the chance of your dark side taking over, causing you to feed and kill indiscriminately and wresting control from you, the player, until someone comes to put you, the player character, down. Also, if you're playing a Malkavian, the insane clan of vampires, your insanity manifests itself (in various hilarious ways) more often the more of a dick you are.

I know the two-dimensionality of the morality meter isn't subverted by these tactics, but it sure adds more depth to the choice between being a dick and being a good person.

I actually remember that. It's based off of the morality system that was originally built into the tabletop RPG of the same name. People enjoyed itso much(aparrently) thatwhen the new system came out, it was added to all of the games.

It is a unique take on Morality, at least in games, so I think it is worth bringing up. Why am I more upset that being a dick in Fable 3 unlocks more stuff than being a good guy? I kind of get it, but the way they do it is pretty weak.

Other than Chrono Trigger and Bloodlines, most of the morality workings in games seems pretty weak.

Well, I could rant a bit about the fact that morality is a social construct, and as such is purely imaginary. That it is entirely arbitrary, and therefore no system in a game will every encompass the accepted morals of more than a handful of people at once.

But since we are sticking with the IMHO opinion approach... I honestly don't believe I have a moral compass. I obey laws because I have no desire to endure the punishments imposed by society. Therefore every moral system I have ever played has felt tacked on and out of place. I play both sides just to see all the content, but don't feel guilty or wholesome for being "good" or "evil" in a game.

If you make a supporting character interesting enough, I will act in a moral or immoral way that matches to learn more about them, to draw out the depths of their storyline, but that's about all I find interesting about it. As far as I'm concerned, they can be done away with.

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Extra Consideration: Morality Matters

Our panel welcomes a new member and turns its eye to the question of morality.

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*reads part about new guy praising Chrono Trigger*

You know, Mikey, even though you forgot the bread...

image

For now, Iīd be glad if they could at least throw in a middle grey option into all that black and white. Sometimes I donīt want to be neither a hero nor an asshole, but just a bit mean.

Olofelefant:
When I played Fallout 3, and you get to that level where you have to rescue your dad from the German professor in the VR world, at the end you get the choice between killing all the people in the world, sav the professor himself, in order to put them out of their misery (the professor is German, ergo he is a massive cock, as Germans can only be cocks). But doing so would leav the good professor alone in the world he had created, and while some might see that as justice, I really could not bring my self to doing that. WHile putting the inhabitants out of their misety would mean I got good karma, I could not bear the thought of the professor (he might have been a doctor, come to think of it) living in his VR world alone for all eternity. So yeah. Didn't really make a point. I guess fuck you, morality meters.

You see, I wanted to let them free, I saw him as malevolent force who should be trapped in his world, but I honest to god couldn't figure it out how to activate the failsafe, I had to just do as he said and get out.

Yahtzee's mention of the guard in OpFor I can understand. It doesn't take me long to connect to a loveable comic-relief type character, and I'd hate to upset one of those guards...I can imagine his voice now...no...no, Jeff, I'm sorry! Forgive me Jeff! JEEEEEEEEEEEFF!

Olofelefant:
I guess fuck you, morality meters.

Truer words were never spoken.

OT: Adding morality to a game does get very tricky and can be a daunting task to the developers... And if the outcome is entirely different from one another, some players feel that they might of missed out on something and having to play the game again doing everything the same way up until the point of decisions can seem sort of boring... I don't know, that's just me, I like to finish my games in one go.

Most bad moral decision games boil down to good vs. evil, they don't give options that are all morally ambiguous. Infamous for example has you choose between saving your ex or about 7 doctors - are you kidding me?!

I quite like it when you're kept in the dark, so apparent good and bad options are reversed or you don't have all the facts and are forced into just going with your gut on a random choice...

As someone who really does appreciate good morality systems in games, I'm in total agreement with Yahtzee's point about not caring about a game world and it's characters just because we're told to. This is, in retrospect, why I've never been a fan of the Fable games and yet I love Bioware's titles.

Fable is supposedly all about having your own adventure and growing your own character, but I've never really cared. Sorry, Mr. Molyneux, but repeatedly farting at someone doesn't make for engaging character relations. There's really no more depth or complexity than a Mario game.

Bioware titles, on the other hand, may not always have the most unique stories but the characters are so well written and the world designed with such care that developing a feeling of caring for the world and it's people just comes naturally. This is even more true with your dedicated companions.

As to this series in general though.. each installment is just too short. These are complex issues that none of the associated authors can even tackle in depth in their own dedicated features. Serving up a discussion on there topics in this format just feels half like you're cheating the subject and half like we're only getting a fraction of the real discussion.

i've always thought the little text popping up saying "-2 good" or "+3 karma" or "you gained paragon" was a bit silly. I don't object to morlaity sytems but ones you can't see like what Mikey described at the end, are always going to be better. Seeing you're morallity move up and down pulls out of the games characters and casues you to metagame. Well normally i would help NPC little girl get her cat out of a treebut i need evil points for that skill set so i'm going to murder her instead.

That isn't morality, that a point system. And worse The evil stuff is usually better/more fun than the paragon stuff.

Dora:
In Silver Star Story Complete, the Playstation remake, Luna instead stays with the party throughout the first quarter of the game, because the developers though that gave you a much better chance to connect with and understand her, so you'd actually CARE about her in the rest of the story.

That's a great point--meaning both it's fantastic the developers put that much thought into their game, and it's a solid example of how best to use morality in a game (or any story for that matter).

In Silver Star Story Complete, they give you time to talk with the character; to learn about them and how they view the world, and to grow your own attachment to them.

As an obverse to the situation, Infamous's beginning comes to mind.

The intro to Infamous finds Cole on a rooftop with his friend Zeke. There is a quick tutorial on how to use your electricity powers, the two of you exchange one-liners, and then you're off on your first mission. Five minutes and one 'fill you in on the backstory' conversation later, you're given your first moral choice.

Do you give a crate of supplies to the city people, or do you keep it all for yourself?

Will you be selfless or selfish? Nice or dickish? GOOD or BAD.

It was the worst implementation of morality in a game. Ever. Five minutes into the game, you're asked to make an ethics choice for a character you've just met, by a character you HAVEN'T met, for citizens you really aren't ever going to care about anyway.

You guys should bring back Bob.

The moral choice system in Epic Mickey broke the deal for me. It's a perfect example for what Yahtzee was talking about how moral choice systems make you play the game twice so you can see the other half of the content. Also, quests would get locked even before I knew they existed. It was frustrating as hell so I had to quit it.

Frankly, I like how Elder Scrolls does morality. If I disagree with something on a moral basis from an in-character point of view, I don't do it, or I do it in a different way, or I stop the frakkers who are trying to do it. No silly black and white text options that painted my decision as good or evil.

The morality of my choices were defined by me, the character I had envisioned, and the world in which I played. There was no good/evil meter, but there was a famous/infamous rating, and that made sense at least. The world around me judged what I did, right or wrong, based on the impact of my deeds. Perhaps what I did was good, perhaps that sick freak planning to kill someone needed to be murdered himself, but the fact that people who witnessed my act and told about it not seeing it the same way as me still made sense.

Now, Morrowind and Oblivion were by no means perfect games, but I think they tackled morality better than any other game I can pull from my rear at the moment.

An interesting combination I would love to see is a Mass Effect game with the morality meter from Neverwinter Nights 2. I never got around advancing in NN2, but the idea of not being simply good, or bad, but also chaotic (random) or lawful (true) and neutral was freeing. Naturally this would require loads and loads of work extra.

Lets see how well Guild Wars 2 implements moral choices...

Moral choice can be implemented on a small scale in a stand alone. How? Base the choices in gameplay and make small tweaks to the game itself as it is played. It doesn't have to be huge; just a few audio and gameplay changes depending on what the player is doing. If there's only 100 lines of spoken dialogue as opposed to 1000, changing half the lines to suit the karma meter gets much simpler. The outcome then comes about in cutscenes and endings. Likewise, a tranquilizer pistol in lieu of a minigun would also be viable and cost effective.

I was planning on playing Chrono Trigger soon, thanks a lot... jerk.

Anyways, to be honest I just think it isn't fair to judge someone's decisions as "good or evil". I mean, a lot of decisions that I've made during Mass Effect, deemed evil by the game developers, I whole heartedly find completely rational and justified.

Who are you to judge me and tell me whether what I'm doing is evil or not?

Choices should simply be that; choices. If I make a decision, don't tell me whether I'm making the right or wrong one, don't peg a +1 demon marker over my head, simply keep the game moving and let me live with the consequences.

No good choices, no evil choices. Just choices to be made at the discretion of the player, and the consequences that follow.

What I dislike about morality, is that Good vs. Bad just ain't realistic.

Like in Fable III, your job as a king is to defend your country from a certain threat. To do that, you need money.
Should we demand more taxes? yes = Evil, no = Good. Any person with a brain would agree that, until the threat was over, paying more taxes would indeed be reasonable.

I TRY to be realistic in games. I have been playing Mass Effect 2 again. Great game. BUT it seems to expect you to either go fully Paragon or fully Renegade.
Since I was taking the realistic options, meanig not being a little goody two-shoes or a total jerk, I came upon a situation where I had to convince somebody or fight him, but both convince-options (paragon and renegade) were greyed out!
Why Bioware, why?

I thought The Witcher was very great with morality... since there was no morality at all!
Just actual choices. Should I help these elves and dwarves to rob a bank -illegally taken by humans from a dwarf- to fund their terrorist/freedom fighter group, or do I help the noble/fascist Knight and his soldiers to fend them off?
All the unforseen consequences of your actions were great.
In the beginning of the game, I was tasked with guarding a bunch of crates on a beach, when said elves came to buy them. Having the chance to fight them or give them what they want, I choose the peaceful solution.

A few hours later, the elves had murdered an NPC - with special terrorist arrows I had sold them. And I needed the NPC fo a specific quest.

THAT'S HOW IT SHOULD BE DONE. No stupid bars filling up, just choices and their consequences.

I think that most RPGs have been going about it the wrong way. What is needed isn't a choice between good and evil, or even Alpha Protocol's Suave/Professional/etc choices. These are bolt on mechanics that can never come off as anything other than contrived.

Instead of developers asking themselves "do we want moral choice in our game," they should be asking "how should players be able to affect the environment they interact with." And they need to be asking this question as early as possible. It is pretty much the most basic thing you should know about the game you are making. More basic even than our increasingly nebulous genre identifiers. More basic than preliminary control mechanics. In fact, this is the question that should determine what the game becomes, not the other way around.

In some games this is quite easy. A player interacts with SMB3 by breaking blocks, jumping pits and stomping Goombas. Call of Duty involves putting bullets into people in scripted encounters. Current RPGs are usually interacted with on a mostly superficial level with binary choices every now and then.

Let's say that the entire basis of our game is "what you do has an effect." That is going to color everything that you do to develop that game. Much more so than if you start with "we are making an RPG." If you make an RPG, choice becomes a component that may be limited and minimized to make way for other features. If you make a game based on choice and effect, that game could turn out to be an RPG, a FPS, or anything in between.

I know that some people would disagree with me on this. To some people, particularly "purists", genre matters more than content. Or more accurately, genre defines content. Unfortunately, this is pretty much how we end up in our current situation, where a game has a standard set of basic set of genre required mechanics, and anything beyond that is merely a "feature" to be implemented or cut as the budget demands.

SteelStallion:
I was planning on playing Chrono Trigger soon, thanks a lot... jerk.

Anyways, to be honest I just think it isn't fair to judge someone's decisions as "good or evil". I mean, a lot of decisions that I've made during Mass Effect, deemed evil by the game developers, I whole heartedly find completely rational and justified.

Who are you to judge me and tell me whether what I'm doing is evil or not?

Choices should simply be that; choices. If I make a decision, don't tell me whether I'm making the right or wrong one, don't peg a +1 demon marker over my head, simply keep the game moving and let me live with the consequences.

No good choices, no evil choices. Just choices to be made at the discretion of the player, and the consequences that follow.

I agree with you completely, though to be fair to Bioware, it's not represented as Good and Evil. It's Paragon and Renegade, and Renegade is supposed to be the 'ruthless but still justifiable'-option.
Sadly, too often being "Ruthless" means "being a bitch for no reason" in Bioware's eyes.

PS: have you played the Witcher? IF not, I think you might like the choices :)

Daniel Floyd and James Portnow did longer more detailed videos on Choice and Moral Choice prior to doing these videos for the Escapist. What this discussion did is sum up what was said there: when executing moral choice, the best way to handle is to not quantify it and if it must be done, give it more variables to chart.

It's often taken for granted that RPGs and morality systems go hand in hand, and that bugs me. Surely western RPGs are the least suitable games to include an actual morality system.

RPGs are (theoretically) supposed to offer the player a multitude of choices which they can respond to according to their own desires, or those of the character they're roleplaying. It seems more logical to leave it up to the player to judge whether their actions are good or evil. Giving away points - and even rewards - for choosing all As or all Bs can lead to a game that's technically open-ended being played pretty much the same by everyone, because people are naturally inclined to try to rack up points if points are available. Even more so if some content is withheld if you're not always good or always evil.

Mass Effect 2 is a good example of this: conversation options are withheld if you're not sufficiently Paragon/Renegade, so many players end up choosing a lot of conversation options purely on the basis of which ones will give them enough points for a specific decision later on. This makes large sections of dialogue uninteresting, because they're being used as a game mechanic rather than a means of immersing the player in the game world.

And of course you have to go along with the writers' judgment of which choice is which. There were some potentially interesting moral dilemmas in ME2 that were spoilt by BioWare's decision that the two available options corresponded to Paragon and Renegade views when in actual fact they didn't fit that mould.

I'd like to see a morality system where there is no good or evil option, only consequences to those decisions taken by the player.

Chrono Trigger was brought up and that court scene is an excellent example of how I think it should be done. Your actions affect the world and those in it in ways you don't or can't comprehend until it's revealed/discovered.

You can get a huge cathartic payoff from an established character finding the answer to what effect he's had on the world around him. I'm thinking specifically of It's a Wonderful Life here, but other stories have gone the other way, like Hard Candy.

How much greater would the payoff be if it's the player who experiences this?

The question of morality in games all too often ignores the issue of ethics and meta-ethics. In a lot of games, as ThrashJazzAssassin says, the role of ethics is taken up by game mechanics, where a moral decision is one that conforms to a particular binary choice (good/evil, Jedi/Sith, Paragon/Renegade etc.). Philosophers have been struggling since, well, forever, to determine where moral get their oomph. In games, the choices are often presented as good or bad as though the choice is a clear one or, in rare cases of ambiguity, where there is a definite right one. Perhaps a player has a strictly conseuentialist viewpoint (only the results of actions matter morally) or perhaps they're more about values and unbreakable rules. The point is that morals are complicated because ethics are complicated (because meta-ethics are compicated).

I think an ethically reflective system of morality in a game would be really interesting, where moral decisions don't chart how much like Satan you look or how white your clothes are, but instead where the moral choices you (or your character) makes inform your ethical position and your character's, well, character. For example, imagine how much more satisfying a payoff it would have been at the end of Bioshock if your moral choices weren't framed in terms of good or bad, but were framed in terms of your relationship to objectivism. There are so many in game references to this philosophical system, and at times the game does a good job of exploring them, but when it comes to the ultimate moral judgment you're either a power hungry asshole or a lovable old coot. I suggest that had the designers framed the moral choices in relation to an overarching ethical system, the result would have been a potentially more illuminating and satisfying game.

Without an acknowledgment of the complexities of ethics and meta-ethics, which serve as the foundation for moral choices, games can only ever provide a moral system that rewards conformity to the developer's conception of ethics, an over-simplified and unsatisfying set of moral choices and/or a set of meaningless moral choices. Only when the game allows us to approach a moral question in reference to our own (or roleplaying self's own) ethics (derived from meta-ethics), and ideally responds to it, can moral questions be anything other than a gameplay mechanic.

Indeed, if games can provide a reflexive system that allows the player to really test and examine their own morality, the claim that games cannot be art since they require interaction is really turned on its head.

I'll probably end up repeating a lot of what's been said here already, but ah well. I've been thinking about this recently, and the two problems I see are thus:

- the insistence of karma/good-evil meters, showing your status, and

- the developer deciding for you which choice is good and which is evil.

Regarding point number 1) The one thing that annoys me in Bioware games more than anything is the bloody karma meter they always include in every game. In KotOR they got away with it, thanks to the Star Wars mythology placing a heavy emphasis on the duality of good and evil, but now it's more a crutch than anything. They keep trying to tart it up as being more than good/evil (Paragon/Renegade, Open-Palm/Closed-Fist), but essentially that's what it is. And considering how Bioware pride themselves so much on their ability to include moral ambiguity and difficult choices, it's a shame that everything done in their games is still measured in terms of how good or evil it is.

This is the trouble with practically all games that include karma meters. You, as a developer, cannot claim to present ambiguous moral choices if you're simply measuring things in terms of good or bad. In Fable, no matter how ambiguously you play the character, they will always be defined by where they stand between good and evil on the karma meter. Essentially there are only two moral paths to follow, and anything else is simply caught between the two. You can't play a truly 'grey' character, simply someone who balances their acts of douchebaggery with acts of selflessness. Rather than choosing your own morals, the game defines you on how closely or loosely you stick with its definition of morality.

Worse than that, it makes things too easy for the player. Players should be forced to make each moral decision based on what they feel is the best choice, but a karma meter encourages them to simply keep making the same kind of choices in order to rack up more light-side/dark-side points. It essentially acts as an on-screen moral compass, and players would be forced to think more if they had to do without it. Instead of choosing the reaction that would net them the most alignment points, they'd start making choices based on how they want to see the game world change around them. And that's the entire point of including morality choices in games in the first place.

And regarding point 2); if developers are going to include moral choices, they need to think carefully about each one, and make sure they don't cast their own judgements based on what the player chooses. Developers are not, by and large, renowned experts on ethics, and it's annoying beyond belief to make what I feel is a perfectly valid choice, only to be given evil points and have all the NPCs nearby start swearing at me. That's not to say that a fascist choice and a selfless choice should be given the same response. More that context is oftentimes just as important as the choice itself, and players should not be punished for what they honestly think are fair choices.

Probably the best example I can think of morality incorporated into a game is the Deus Ex series. There's no karma system, because there aren't any 'good' and 'bad' choices. There are simply a bunch of different factions at war with each other, and it's up to you to decide which ones you side with, and which ones you want to screw over. Most importantly, each faction has believable motivations, and idealistic goals. Yet each one also has flaws, and questionable elements. There are no good guys, simply a bunch of people trying to get their ideologies across. Heck, I think even Invisible War had a far better morality system than any Bioware game (though the Templars in that game were a little over-the-top).

I really liked the morality in New Vegas but I got kind of depressed when on my NCR character play through I found out that I HAD to kill the Khans (due to a bug) and the Brotherhood of Steel (due to a previous quest) in order to progress. I thought these fuckers were the good guys? Turns out my first playthrough, where I chose to pick based on what I thought was right and ended up deciding I could run this place better than anyone else, was arguably the most morally "good" because it didn't involve any bloody genocide.

I'm in total agreement with the dislike of the 2D morality systems. It's just never that simple in real life. We need complexity we want the game to have enough depth so that the player does care.

To take an example, Mass Effect 2's otherwise well done narrative was injured that way (IMHO!) It did have some grey morality choices, but sadly it still had a 2D Paragon/Renegade axis. To make matters worse, it directly tied into game mechanics in a very direct and obvious way. Each morality choice is highlighted in a color corresponding to which axis it will add to. The player knows that he or she is going to have to have a high score on either axis to get the optimum results at a few critical plot points. So, rather than deciding on choices based on what the player might feel is right or wrong (or at least not as wrong), the player is pretty much forced into "gaming" the morality choices. Potential complexity was reduced to "click red or blue consistently to win".

I think morality systems only work if the player does feel invested in the choice. But what too many games don't realise is that the players aren't automatically invested just because they say we are. I am not going to be emotionally torn over sacrificing my hero's love interest ten minutes into the game just because you rendered a single tear sliding down my hero's generic, emotionless face.

I want to print this out and mail it to everyone who had anything to do with Command and Conquer 4's plot. Hey, guess what game? I do NOT care about that random woman dying/being held hostage (depends on if you're GDI or NOD) just because you say "That's your wife." to me in a few cutscenes beforehand. You need to build some history, give me a reason to care about this character, before I get upset/pissed off/whatever emotion you want me to feel when you do horrible things to her. Otherwise I'm just going to roll my eyes and wonder when I can get back to the game.

My problem is that their only purpose in a lot of games is to deny the player access to some of the game's content until they replay the entire thing from the start. And sometimes it doesn't even do that, and you have games where the good choice and the bad choice both have exactly the same effect, and then what's the point?

And this one is getting sent to the folks over at Sucker Punch. The only thing any of the choices did in that game was give you karma points. The plot remained unchanged, however. In fact, their unwillingness to change the story based on the choices we made went too far at one point and made the game look absolutely stupid. If they had a story they wanted to tell, they should have just told it without trying to give us choices. It just made their story even less believable than it already was.

Anyway, more complex morality. They should either do it right or not bother; half-assed morality sucks. And since it's so costly and expensive, maybe they should just stick with the stories they want to tell in the first place.

Is it bad that I can't help but point out that a standard morality bar is in fact 1 dimensional, not 2 dimensional?

There's a good and evil axis. That is one dimension, they are effectively a measure of the same thing. Adding the lawful/chaotic axis or something else to that, would make it two dimensional.

But yeah, other than that I can't disagree with anything they said. Really if morality needs to be pointed out to the player, rather than implicitly woven into the gameplay and story then it probably shouldn't be there.

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