Morality Matters

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The thing with New Vegas was that the morality system meant nothing. Few blatant murders would give you bad karma and only an occasional quest would have a bad karma decision.

In light of my new view on these things, I kinda like this. In fact the karma system is merely a tacked on thing in new vegas seeing as I would steal anything and everything not tied down, murder people, and kill puppies, yet still end the game max good because some of the people in my wake were evil. When you just ignore it, you are simply left with worrying how others see you and mere personal opinions of what might be "right" in a situation. Rather than wildly murder people to fill a bar, you simply notice it just makes people not like you and thus without specific "raise a number" benefits you can simply react to situations as you yourself see fit, or as you see your character sees fit.

Personally *spoiler*, i saw no reason to not take over the wastes myself because gosh darnit, I liked hanging out with brotherhood of steel chick and somehow I assume she would not like me blowing up her home as ordered by...well...everyone.

Regardless, I agree it was cool that there were no really angelic groups to inevitably side with so you came down to your own choices.

The lengths they go to in order to avoid saying "Mass Effect" are quite funny.

I personnaly like fallout (fallout 2 comes to mind, buti didnt play it in a LONG while, so im speaking out of memory) with choices and "morality". I could murder a whole city for the hell of it, of do some quest and get them supplies wich will make them prosper (at the endgame).
Kill one (or many) crime boss and see what happens later.
Basically choices have consequences that sometimes goes beyond the immediate "morality stat change" or reward.

Guy Jackson:
The lengths they go to in order to avoid saying "Mass Effect" are quite funny.

i noticed that too :P
guess it was to be expected that the comments would cover that.

I particularly agree with Yahtzee on this one. I am not one to play the evil character or generally kill people for fun in games, so the idea that I am cut off from content because I don't want to act in a contradictory manner is annoying.

I am interested in the idea of how morality is depicted in Catherine, if I have interpreted it correctly. Your morality is based on how you act in day to day life and how you answer questions, then act in a morally ambiguous based on how your character responded up to that point. Other games have probably done this, but this one springs to mind. I just think its good that the character has to commit to a life style, and can't just be flighty in their decision to be good or bad

I thought Overlord 2 had an interesting touch.

You start off as neutral and through your actions decide whether you are a destructive asshole or an enslaving one.

"I just have lingering guilt from friends that no longer speak to me for the crimes against Nintendo humanity committed in the name of Rupees."

Same, but on the first Final Fantasy Chrystal Chronicles. Running away with the mana chalice when your friends are busy killing the bosses NEVER. And I do mean NEVER. gets old. P-E-R-I-O-D.

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.

Especially in 2, there's THAT ONE CHOICE where there shouldn't have BEEN a Paragon option. BOTH outcomes should have been Renegade, because there is no right answer in that moral quandary. (I'm pretty sure most people who've played know what I'm talking about. If you need more of a hint, Geth is all I'm giving.)

I don't like morality systems because it turns moral choices into just another game mechanic - a new set of points to score. Just SHOW the effects of my choices on the characters around me and on the game world/plot.

On the other hand, on a purely utilitarian level, morality systems do at least give me some additional shorthand info to help me understand what effect my choices are going to have. I hate it when i go into a conversation and the snippets don't fully and accurately reflect the ensuing dialog and the choices they represent. "WTF? Why is Jack suddenly getting all up ons me? I was just trying to be supportive, and i know if i break it off now she's going to go back to being a total psycho!"

I think the last part about Chrono Trigger helps to illustrate how I think morality should be implemented in games: freedom and consequence. If a player is given a chance to do something that would give them a tangental benefit but would involve going something bad, like stealing a sandwich or killing a priest, they should be free to make it. However, that freedom should then lead to consequences. If one steals the sandwich or kills the priest, what if people eventually find out? The populace could ostricize the player, making it more difficult to do things in regular society, not to mention sending the fuzz.

This should be the way things go in games because that's how real life works: do something bad, and it comes back to bite you. Steal something, bring the fuzz and become less able to support yourself through legal means by a slight amount. Kill a man in rage, bring the fuzz and have the stress garnered from the anger to lower your life span by a bit. Really, anger isn't good for your health, so make angry choices in the game incur minor stat penalties.

Obviously that would be a bit much, but you see where I'm going with this. A morality system should reflect real life in that all bad descisions have harmful (or potentially harmful) consequnces.

I can't be the only one who reads this only for what Yahtzee has to say.

WanderingFool:
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.

Same, I wanted to know if it was possible to be found innocent. Which I did, and then got put in prison anyway. >_>

No offense, but who the heck is Mikey Neumann?

I was enjoying Bob, Yahtzee, and James just fine actually. I wish James would speak up a bit more though, he always has the most data to back up his points.

I've never liked morality systems that are only 2 dimensional. I'm with James on this, if you want to create a morality system, it should have multiple facets that you need to consider. I'm still waiting for a game to implement a color wheel like morality system, but when one does come out, I'd buy it.

One game that I think could really implement a morality system in a creative way would be Advance Wars. You would get docked "mercy" points if you force one of your units to fight even when it's low on health. You could also govern you cities differently by raising tax money or lowering freedom and if you rule the cities like a dictator, you would earn "oppression" points. Each CO would have a morality chart which controls the way they play and what perks they have.

The only morality systems I've felt worked were those of the Mass Effect games and Dragon Age.

In Dragon Age (Origins, still have yet to play 2), there was no good/evil bar. Instead, your morality was measured by your reputation with your companions. That's along the lines of the faction measurement: Morals are relative.

In the Mass Effect games, I've noticed that no matter what moral choice you make in a mission, many decisions have a Paragon/Renegade/Neutral choice for how to do it. Not only that, but gaining Paragon points doesn't subtract Renegade points (and vice-versa). Essentially, Mass Effect doesn't gauge morality, but method; the idea of "It doesn't matter who you are on the inside, it's your actions that define you."

A. If you peg morality in your mechanics to a 2d bar, your moral choices will be 2 dimensional. No writer can write around this, no level of voice acting is going to save you.

That's one dimension, James. Physics are important.

but,

I actually prefer a three-dimensional axis.

Law - Chaos
Good - Evil
Pomposity (or self-righteousness) - Modesty

With neutrality in the middle, of course

An invisible system is better, too.

Many RPGs would do better by hiding the framework (RPG in a general sense, anything that involves roleplaying elements).

Drake_Dercon:

A. If you peg morality in your mechanics to a 2d bar, your moral choices will be 2 dimensional. No writer can write around this, no level of voice acting is going to save you.

That's one dimension, James. Physics are important.

but,

I actually prefer a three-dimensional axis.

Law - Chaos
Good - Evil
Pomposity (or self-righteousness) - Modesty

With neutrality in the middle, of course

An invisible system is better, too.

Many RPGs would do better by hiding the framework (RPG in a general sense, anything that involves roleplaying elements).

Then people complain about the RPG in a specific sense, a game that lets you customize the character you play through as, as being too opaque in its mechanics.

Don't get me wrong, I'd LOVE a game where after the initial customization, more hidden customization and world altering comes about, you just couldn't label it RPG in a video game community

I've never played Chrono Trigger... I'm thinking I'm going to have to rectify this. Can someone tell me what systems it's on? I'd google it, but I'm too lazy for that.

Anezay:
I've never played Chrono Trigger... I'm thinking I'm going to have to rectify this. Can someone tell me what systems it's on? I'd google it, but I'm too lazy for that.

It originally released in the SNES, and was later remade for the PSX (AKA: the Loading Time edition) and then again on the DS. The DS version was the one I played, and from I understand, they redid the translation on that one to be a little more... well, serious, I guess.

Welcome to the Escapist, Neumann, glad to have you here.

conflictofinterests:

Drake_Dercon:

A. If you peg morality in your mechanics to a 2d bar, your moral choices will be 2 dimensional. No writer can write around this, no level of voice acting is going to save you.

That's one dimension, James. Physics are important.

but,

I actually prefer a three-dimensional axis.

Law - Chaos
Good - Evil
Pomposity (or self-righteousness) - Modesty

With neutrality in the middle, of course

An invisible system is better, too.

Many RPGs would do better by hiding the framework (RPG in a general sense, anything that involves roleplaying elements).

Then people complain about the RPG in a specific sense, a game that lets you customize the character you play through as, as being too opaque in its mechanics.

Don't get me wrong, I'd LOVE a game where after the initial customization, more hidden customization and world altering comes about, you just couldn't label it RPG in a video game community

I'd call it an RPA (role-playing adventure, if you can think of a better name, please do), just to set it apart. You're right that genre fans wouldn't accept it initially, but I don't think it could ever kill the RPG genre. Nor should it, diversity is great. What I meant to do (and forgot) was quote this:

You know what game did that amazingly well for the time period? Chrono Trigger. I will never, for my entire gaming life, forget being put on trial and made to look a fool for choices I did not know the game was tracking. I stole that old man's lunch, and the game friggin' knew I did it. I felt that pang of guilt in my stomach when I realized, not only was I going to jail, but those bastards kind of had a point. I broke the law. But that was so effective because I was unaware the game even had a morality system in place to be tracking my transgressions. I simply thought I got away with being in the moment.

I think mechanics such as that could be very well applied to many RPG elements, apart from morality.

But the old things shouldn't go away, either. Maybe we need a new genre.

The 2/3rd act choices in GTA IV spring to mind.

"A. If you peg morality in your mechanics to a 2d bar, your moral choices will be 2 dimensional. No writer can write around this, no level of voice acting is going to save you."

Oh I don't know. Considering that even the best acting and writing in video games still isn't that great it's hard to know if this statement is true or not.

I thought it was interesting in Kotor 2, because even though the light/dark side meter was present and influenced events and characters, the entire game is basically about how something like that is woefully insufficient and how people can't be categorized as good or evil.

My main qualm with morality systems:

Morality is a flapping subjective view you inbred developers, and across cultures 1 thing can mean something completely different everywhere else.

So how about you just give us choices without saying "oh committing euthanasia is bad you get evil points" and just give us 2 choices with characters reacting according to their personalities.

Especially bad if they say "oh hey this option is what you get for personality points invested" UMM NO that just forces me to take the special choices to see what they are, how about you hide it and have every outcome something the player has to think about instead of pressing X for good Y for evil (DA2, Fable III are the 2 most recent examples, KotOR 1+2, Mass Effect etc).

Thank god Deus Ex: HR will change this.

I really loved 3rd Edition DnD Morality. Being a Lawful Evil Character was so much fun because you couldn't just go around murdering people for giggles but you couldn't always do the right thing either.

I really wish more RPGs would use that morality scale and do it right.

Mikey Neumann:
Chrono Trigger. I will never, for my entire gaming life, forget being put on trial and made to look a fool for choices I did not know the game was tracking. I stole that old man's lunch, and the game friggin' knew I did it. I felt that pang of guilt in my stomach when I realized, not only was I going to jail, but those bastards kind of had a point. I broke the law.

I really didn't feel as remorsed,I just thought "Holy Shit,HE KNEW!?" and as for the little girl,I tried looking for the cat for a few seconds cause I remember seeing a cat,but I couldn't interact with the cat so I gave up and moved on.

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