The Morality System in Games Has Outlived Its Usefulness

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The Morality System in Games Has Outlived Its Usefulness

We are usually the hero in the story. As much fun as being the bad guy sometimes is, it can feel like fan fiction. Clearly the good endings are the right ones. Does that need to be the case?

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Eh I actually prefer seeing all the stat/bonuses on screen when I make choices, not seeing them or knowing what they do would piss me off a bit. Kotor 2 was my favorite in this regard, I had to carefully craft myself depending on who I had with me to earn their trust (or not).

Not saying every game should have it or that it should ALWAYS be this way, but I don't see a problem with it. It fit just fine in mass effect. Also anything can be permanent if you make it, like an ironman mode, but I don't really like it when dev's force it upon you. (hell it ends up getting modded out most times anyways.) It's like the people who complain about fast travel, don't use it if you don't like it, no one is stopping you.

I do agree though with choices not being so obviously polar opposites of each other on a black and white scale, you have to go out of your way to "kill the puppy" while most "save the puppy's" just mean letting it be on it's merry way or sorts.

This is one of the things I really enjoyed about Dragon Age: Origins. Admittedly, the choices themselves tended to be a little extreme - do I save the mages or slaughter them to a man? - but at least it didn't track your morality as a game mechanic. Instead, you had a separate relationship meter with each character, and they all had different opinions of things you did. Being practical if cruel, like sacrificing a boy's mother so that you can save the boy himself, would get you positive points with Morrigan but negative points with Alistair.

It wasn't perfect, and most of the decisions still had obvious Good and Bad choices. But at least there was usually a reason to be bad other than for badness' sake: turning dwarves into golems is horrible, but it also means you have an army of golems to help you in the war. Plus, all the stuff at the Landsmeet towards the end, deciding what to do with Loghain and who ought to be on the throne, was not only brilliant in itself, but avoided the clearly delineated Good/Bad duality.

It could've been better, but it was a big step in the right direction.

Morality system as a concept cannot simply be described as good or bad. It all depends on how you use it.

Author made a good example of morality system done badly with Infamous. I like the game, but, true, those choices are pointless. Moreover, unless you stay on one morality path only, you will not be able to access better power-ups for your abilities. Although it is nice to see that if you are a villain people will throw rocks at you.

However, there are games where morality system is at the very least not bad. Mass Effect was mentioned already and I don't think it has a bad morality system, but a limited one. You can basically make Shepard either Lawful Good or Chaotic Good character, but there is no way you can make him/her, for example, Lawful Evil, who uses his/her Spectre status to aid Reapers without commiting actual crimes (just an example).

Although what I said about ME is true about most of the RPG's. They are too limited is the morality choice. Always either simply good or simply bad. What if I wan't to be a lovable bastard, that wants to save the world AND get paid in the process? It's always a choice between Psycho and the Saint. Exception from this rule is Planescape: Torment, but it too suffers from a problem I am about to mention.

All games, in the end, simply make you pick between different paths to the same goal and the only difference between those paths is color of your aura. OK, maybe a few dialogue sequences. I liked how Yahtzeedescribed a balance between good and evil choices: good is safer but slower (meet a girl, take her on the date, blah blah blah) and evil is faster but a lot more dangerous (have sex with a horse and be in danger of geting farmers bullet in your ass).

I think what morality system lacks really is an actual difference between path you take and what are your rewards for your actions. And I do not mean getting "Sword of a Morning Purity" for completing a quest in a good way and "Mace of Painful Penetration" for a bad way.

Very true.

Moral choices should never be marked in one way or another. The player should decide for herself, be forced to decide for herself what she considers to be the right approach, the right course of action. She should not be induced by some gameplay mechanic or some markers to decide one way or another.
If game developers consider their game mature enough, and themselves to be skilled enough, to tell a story that deals with morality in a meaningful way, they should expect the same maturity from its audience - mature enough to be able to think about these moral choices for themselves.

No, poorly written/constructed moral systems have outlived their usefulness but I'm not quite sure shitty writing/mechanics were ever useful in the first place.

However, even barely competent moral systems add a lot of enjoyment to my games. You may think they've served their purpose but I think the [insert game mechanic you like that I don't here] has served it's purpose more.

Let's take inFamous for example. Sure you have a lot of punch puppies or save widows in the game but there are some deeper choices like saving your maybe girlfriend or a group of doctors.

The future of moral choices just needs to come up with legitimate choices that both are motivation and not just purely evil or good. Like a hero who becomes wealthy at the cost of honor. As is, being evil seldom benefits the hero in any meaningful way per choice. So then you're just being an ass for no good reason.

The problem is very simple - you can't program all the options people would want for a more complete morality system. Mass Effect was a great trilogy and I loved every second of it, but the morality tests and love scenes were very scripted, in that there was only like 5 or so important ones and during the off time, people were back to standard dialogue options. And that's what it boils down to - you can't plan on absolutely everything a player would want to say or do. The idea of an in-depth morality system will always be limited to what can be written/recorded/programmed.
You'll never get a full and complete morality system, one that mirrors the human condition. Hell, you'd need something like the Game from the .hack// series - the anime, not the miserable games. Something like a full 3D interface, like the Occulous rift except better.

Don't look to games for moral systems.

Paper's Please hits it out of the park. It's not the kind of game that advertises itself with "make important moral choices!" but damn if it doesn't put stuff like Mass Effect to shame. It takes a more nuanced and human approach to the idea, namely that taking the high road means personal sacrifice. Harmful actions are more often done because they are convenient or easy to rationalize rather than being a dick for the sake of being a dick.

Decisions need to have a cost, and not just points on some arbitrary morality meter. Nor should it be a matter of choosing between two vaguely equal yet different rewards (looking at you Bioshock). If saving the Little Sisters had just given you half the Adam and nothing else then it would have actually been a difficult choice.

It's okay to have a moral choice system, but please for the love of God stop labeling them. Good and evil are never absolute. Why is draining a lake in Fable III considered "evil" if I'm doing it to save the world? Why is shooting an unaware Powder Ganger in the back of the head in New Vegas considered "good", but stealing shit from that same Powder Ganger's stash considered "evil"?

The only games I know of that have done moral choices right are The Walking Dead and Dragon Age. Both those games didn't label them as good or evil. Characters simply approve or disapprove of what you do. You can literally murder a ten year-old boy in DA:O, and the game never once calls you evil for it. (Alistair kind of does, but you can always justify your decision). It's a great system and games should follow their example. Do it right or don't do it at all.

The problem with moral systems is that anything with shades of gray (ie: not black or white) should lead to multiple subtle changes in gameplay from one end of the spectrum to the other. The problem is that too often the story has been decided - you are so-and-so, you have to defeat so-and-so. When you are tied to a storyline with other specific characters, your options for morality do have to be forced.

The closest I can think of to a nuanced system is an open RPG where monsters are just as detailed as NPCs, and who you can interact with, who you can buy from, etc is dependant on your current morality level. If you are in the dark shades of morality, the demons should be welcoming you, and the paladins killing you, and vice versa. And if you stick to the middle you get less from either, but deal with both.

Mister K:
However, there are games where morality system is at the very least not bad. Mass Effect was mentioned already and I don't think it has a bad morality system, but a limited one. You can basically make Shepard either Lawful Good or Chaotic Good character, but there is no way you can make him/her, for example, Lawful Evil, who uses his/her Spectre status to aid Reapers without commiting actual crimes (just an example).

It could have been much better though. As it is, it is often enough just "don't be an asshole"/"be an asshole", as with the punching-the-reporter-in-the-face choice. Many choices don't fit to the paragon/renegade scheme, which is, or wants to be, more of a question between ends-justify-the-means vs the opposite approach. But nothing would have been lost if this scheme was scrapped altogether. Your paragon/renegade score had no important effect on the gameplay whatsoever, so why keep track in the first place? A system can keep track of your deeds without explicit scores, and so should you, as player. Like, a character you've been generally less-than-friendly in the past might not be helpful today, or if you've never been sympathetic to the Quarians before your words will probably carry little weight with them now.

I think what morality system lacks really is an actual difference between path you take and what are your rewards for your actions. And I do not mean getting "Sword of a Morning Purity" for completing a quest in a good way and "Mace of Painful Penetration" for a bad way.

You don't need wildly different endings, wildly branching story lines, all that stuff is expensive... but simply let the characters around you react to what you did, in natural ways. They should just not be indifferent to, say, you having said awful things to them previously/being racist towards their people/having saved their kids/having killed their kids, accidentally or not/having saved the world from certain doom (I'm thinking of you, Skyrim)/whatever.
And sometimes, the little things can be emotionally as powerful as any grandiose cutscene - stuff like "accidentally" stumbling upon a gravestone of some little kid you could have saved some time ago.

Good points. I don't necessarily agree, but it was enjoyable to read.

I think the biggest problems in games is that they make being good too easy. In most games, I know that if I save villages and am generally good to people, I will be rewarded for it. People will give me their priceless amulets and a sack of gold every time.

That's because the good option is generally just the option that offers more gameplay. Do I want to fight these bandits or leave them alone? Well, I will get experience points, loot, and good points for fighting, and it's dull to avoid combat in games, so I fight the bandits every time.

It should be hard to be good. It was at times in Dragon Age: Origins, and I appreciated that.

This article made me think of DayZ, which I have been playing a lot lately. It is hard to be good in DayZ because it is hard to keep yourself alive and it involves a lot of risk.

I mean, I could offer help to people who need it but, more often than not, they will kill me as soon as I turn my back. It is also more effective to just be a bad guy. Sure, I could scavenge all day for stuff, or I could just take yours.

While they don't have a true morality system, Star Wars games have done good vs evil very well.

In Jedi Knight, your good/evil points are dictated strictly by what powers you choose. All of the light powers are defensive while the dark powers are purely destructive in nature, to the point where one power is literally named "Destruction." Eventually you get locked into a side, based strictly on how much you have corrupted/forged your character into a destructive force of nature.

For all their story faults The Force Unleashed 1 & 2 are some of the few games that create "evil" endings that are considered more popular than the goodie-two-shoe endings so many other games shove at us. It goes so far that the evil ending in 2 is actually the canon. Jedi Academy's canon is the good ending, but the dark side ending has the best boss fight and coolest ending cutscene.

I would say the reason good vs evil works so well in Star Wars games, is because they rarely shove a morality system in your face the entire game (save for JK1, but as discussed it drives some plot). Instead, they save the big question for the last few levels. This way the player doesn't get bogged down or distracted by the system the entire game and they can also load from a discrete late-game save to try out the other end.

DirgeNovak:
Good and evil are never absolute.

Murdering innocents. Stealing from the poor for no justifiable reason (like you being even more poor). Rape. Puppie punching. Kitten stomping, etc.

Saving innocents. Assisting the poor. Saving a girl from a rapist. Not punching puppies or stomping kittens, etc.

Relative morality is bollocks in all the big areas. There absolutely are some socially stable absolutes where morality is concerned even if a minority of people go against it.

Now, there are grey areas. Like theft from the rich to feed your family or something. The action of theft itself remains evil but the argument is moreso that the justification outweighs the bad. That it would be more evil to allow your children to starve to death when you had a less evil alternative to save them. But that doesn't make theft good.

In a lot of the more simplistic moral choice mechanics the good and bad sides are obvious.

This article feels more like an argument against the poorly-implemented morality systems.

Morality is at the heart of almost any story worth telling, and while it certainly doesn't belong in every game it is important for me that the "great" stories that I become immersed in at the very least offer me the illusion of choice. Even if it's just a different text at the end of the game it can make a lot of difference.

softclocks:
This article feels more like an argument against the poorly-implemented morality systems.

Exactly. They might as well make the same argument against any poorly made game mechanic or plot device. It's like saying that bad things are bad and should be made better. Axiomatically true but functionally null to state.

It would serve a better purpose as a call to better mechanics than as a call to throw that whining baby out with the bath water.

Another interesting take on morality systems was in Spec Ops: The Line, I feel. Though hardly an RPG, the choices you make at various points of the story do actually reflect on the kind of person you (the character and/or player) are, and there is a cost to not acting. And then the game turns that on its head, and the decisions you made are revealed to not be what you thought they were. Trying to avoid spoilers, here :)

Whether that approach can be extended to other games, or whether it's just something else that makes Spec Ops: The Line distinctive, is open to debate. But it's certainly a different approach, an one far better integrated into the game, than the accumulation of red and blue points.

No mention of the Witcher games? For shame, though I suspect everyone interested in the topic already played them.
All decisions in these games just came so natural, do you help the Xenophobic order trying to keep the peace for the humans in the cities, or do you help the radical elven terrorists fighting against oppression of their people? They both have motivations and not just a good/evil thing. You are not judged for your choices, you just have to live with them.

But yeah, the usual. Too great focus on graphics, no substance, wasting potential of the medium to dazzle the Magpies, you know the drill.

It always amuses me when I see a male gamer try to say that the Legion are a grey area and may be considered the "good" guys when compared to the NCR.

Are you that dense?

A. They make it pretty clear women aren't allowed any freedoms. It literally makes no sense to play Female courier and to try to team up with the Legion. I haven't tried it, but a friend told me the Legion members are literally passive aggressive and sexist dicks the whole time. Very much like the whole moral choice system complaint you have, it's just common sense to not support the Legion when you're female courier. Did you even recruit Boone and hear what happened to his wife?

B. Have you not noticed you can spot Legion NPCs a mile away because how extremely pasty, pale white their legs are. It's emphasized more at night, it's like they glow. It's been a while since I played, but I recall coming across a whole bunch of extremely white men in the Legion. There does not seem to be much room for people of color in the Legion ranks other than at the bottom as a slaves.

Good thing there was a prominent white male character(with blonde hair to boot) named Arcade Gannon who decided the Legion was grossly evil and shares with you about he got away from them. No companions support the Legion actually, they all abandon you when you try, except for I think Rex. But he's a dog with a Legion logo on his butt.

It's literally like the only way Obsidian could have made it more obvious, was by putting swastikas all over the Legion camps and have groups of women being publicly raped and beaten within an inch of their lives.

It would have been a more solid, difficult choice between sides if they didn't make the Legion so sexist and pro-white and actually put in some grey area.

And with that, I'm going to reinstall New Vegas and kill me some Legionaries.

Interesting article, terrible headline. What it's really saying is not "down with morality systems" but "morality systems should be more open-ended and dynamic".

I agree, to a point, but I'm extremely hesitant to use anything from Telltale Games as an example; I don't really want the industry standard to become a lot of "magician's force", shades-of-gray, best-of-a-bad-decision quandaries designed to inflict drama on the player no matter what they do. It works all right for Walking Dead, but I actually want to feel like I have real choices that can make a difference most of the time.

I'd be more interested in a game where they player can do good things and have no one notice, or bad things and get away with them... up to a point. Then when you aren't expecting it, someone notices, and opinions of you change; you find out what it really means to be a hero, or how bitter the rewards of a misdeed can be if they result in you becoming a pariah.

If I recall correctly, the "Bad" ending for Metro 2033 is the canon ending.

So even if a game does have a moral choice system, it's not necessarily the good side that's canon.

I think there's some confusion to the whole "grey area" of the supposed moral spectrum. Good or evil is actually, as Lightknight pointed out, often rather binary.

But even the choice of a poor person to steal from a rich person to feed his starving family is not truly "gray". It's wrong to steal, most people know that and thus they do not. It's wrong to kill people, yet often the hero murders others for a supposed good cause. But that does not make the act of murder or stealing any less of a crime or morally "gray". It's still theft or murder - and theft and murder is wrong.

What we really mean with morally "gray" is "justifiable evil". Can I convince myself that my act of evil will have a good enough outcome for me to be willing to perform it.

In not so simple terms:
If I launch a rocket powered drill up the villains ass, send him skywards and set him on fire, before blowing him to bits and basking in the shower of blood and flaming flesh, does that in turn benefit me or someone I care about enough for me to be willing to do so? If the answer is yes - even if it's just because you like the smell of burnt flesh - it's justifiable evil to you aka. "Morally gray".

Who's to say you couldn't just shoot him in the knee and leave him crippled for life (well, if the game is about shooting people then the choice has probably already been made for you, but I still hope you get the point)?

It's harder, sure, but that's what doing the good thing is about. Doing the good thing often means doing the hard thing, which games often forget. Taking the villain alive, not doing evil for the sake of good - that's what "the good choice" is about.

It's why Superman doesn't kill his enemies, why Batman keeps throwing villains through Arkhams revolving doors (yes, I'm aware the movies keep fucking this part up). Taking the high road is often costly, it's harder, it will more than likely come back to bite you in the ass - but that's why we consider those who do so real heroes. It's why Nelson Mandela was considered a great man - he took the the high road, the difficult path, chose to forgive and make peace when people called for revenge and justice in blood after decades of abuse. Even though, after decades in jail, he could have easily become a warlord instead.

This is why doing good in games only becomes interesting if there's consequences, otherwise the choice to do good might as well not be there. Doing the good thing in life often incurs a personal cost or reduced personal benefit, because doing the evil thing will normally benefit you more. It's part of human nature, it's why corruption exists in the first place. And it's difficult to always do the right thing, that's what makes it interesting. Just killing the villain, saving the girlfriend, hugging a friend - they are all boring in terms of moral choice because there's normally no cost.

Taking the villains prisoner - despite what they've done or if they'll kill your girlfriend if you do so, now that's more interesting. That's proper moral choice. Or to take one of the better choices from Dragon Age: Origins as an example:
Recruit the man who got your king, boss and fellow wardens killed, instead of executing him. Taking the high road, even if you lose a friend for it. Choosing penance over murdering him to enact revenge. That's what doing "good" needs to be, in order to be more than the default path.

Most morale choice systems are just lazy programing, instead of keeping track of each choice or decision and having individual NPC's reacting to each situation in a considered way you just get points in either a Saint or Asshole meter and their reaction or your actions are rolled against them. Evil or Good are not black(red)and white(blue) I mean if you saw an NPC brutally beat and choke another to death that would rightly be seen as evil, then you find out the murdered NPC killed and raped the sister of the first NPC in the most sadistic and painful way possible and you then see that action is an understandable light, it's the old putting a pacifist in a room with Hitler and handing them a gun setup.

What I'm trying to say is any choice should be open but it's underlying motivation and personal consequences which affect the morality of it and that is difficult to code in a game.

I'm sure someone has said this already, but both The Witcher and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings are very good in actually making your choices matter, but at the same time they are never purely right and wrong like Mass Effect, and actually make you think about how the game might change based on your actions.

Witcher 2 which I completed yesterday is especially good in this regard. Entire levels and quest paths are built around the choices you make, making for very different gameplay experiences between playthroughs, and whilst I wanted to roleplay as a good guy, some of the choices and consequences are very much grey, but at the same time play out very realistically if you consider the difference in morality of people during the medieval period.

Anachronism:
This is one of the things I really enjoyed about Dragon Age: Origins. Admittedly, the choices themselves tended to be a little extreme - do I save the mages or slaughter them to a man? - but at least it didn't track your morality as a game mechanic. Instead, you had a separate relationship meter with each character, and they all had different opinions of things you did. Being practical if cruel, like sacrificing a boy's mother so that you can save the boy himself, would get you positive points with Morrigan but negative points with Alistair.

It wasn't perfect, and most of the decisions still had obvious Good and Bad choices. But at least there was usually a reason to be bad other than for badness' sake: turning dwarves into golems is horrible, but it also means you have an army of golems to help you in the war. Plus, all the stuff at the Landsmeet towards the end, deciding what to do with Loghain and who ought to be on the throne, was not only brilliant in itself, but avoided the clearly delineated Good/Bad duality.

It could've been better, but it was a big step in the right direction.

Right-o!

I'm surprised this game didn't come up in the article, since it doesn't treat your character's actions as something judged by some invisible morality god, but by the people who surround you. Just like in real life.

The article mentions a certain solution to the inFAMOUS morality, but even that would hold no consequences for you, because it's just a game. By tying your actions to how other characters viewed you, DA: O presented the consequence of being judged harshly by people you might've grown to like. I remember when Alistair or Leliana disaproved of something I did, I felt a small pang for disappointing them. Near the end there's a great moment where you can leave Loghain alive so he can strengthen you forces, but at the cost of Alistair leaving you. Depended ofcourse on how much you liked Alistair as a character, this decision was a hefty one.

From the article:

Chris Rio:
The NCR is a stable but somewhat corrupt government bogged down by the chains of bureaucracy, whereas the Legion value individual freedom but members pledge their lives to a savage cause

That's not at all how I saw it. The Legion was about sacrificing personal freedom for a strong, decisive leader; several characters state that bandits are dealt with quickly and harshly in Legion-controlled lands. But it does not value individual freedom; all of their non-war related work is done by slaves, and they utterly eliminate the cultures of the tribes they absorb. Choosing the Legion means that the player thinks that the bloodshed and slavery is worth it for a Pax Romana Nova.[1]

[1] It means New Roman Peace, for those of you who don't know.

If you want to have this debate, you have to talk about persistence and consequences. These two things are something developers have all but abandoned, for good reasons.

If a game has to take actions into account, that's a lot of work that escalates out of control in no time, which explains the lack of persistence in games.
Consequence is different in that this is a psychological aspect. Imagine playing Mass Effect and you pick a renegade option to solve a situation easily, but it carries a heavy negative impact that closes you off from certain aspects of the game as well as maybe costs you a companion (because they'd leave the crew). So that's an easy pick for most of us, because we'd do the "right thing" and just deal with the hard option.
Now imagine that the choice had a secondary consequence, that it saved you time overall and might be a necessary step if you'd wasted time or resources somewhere else, in order to actually complete the game.
That's suddenly a whole different story and puts things into perspective, because how can you play defender of the universe and find technology on some remote planet to save one persons life if you're busy trying to mass forces to not only retake a planet, but to unite all sapient life to remove a threat to everything.

People don't like the pressure of these things because they add stress or might not make the game seem very fun to many.
When persistence and consequence are considered in development, that's why we get these halfassed morality systems that have no impact or meaning to us.

It's easy to dismiss it as lazy work or bad design, but these are things that are hard to do and implement.
That being said... don't put in a system that has no value to anyone, just because. That's bad design.

I feel like the addition of binary choices is just an easy way for developers to add content to the game and convince themselves that the game will warrant at least a second play-through.

Maybe most morality systems are just there to convince developers themselves that they've put sufficient content into a title.

Non-Binary choice morality is really the way to go i think. And two games that i can think of that do it rather well are Skyrim and Mount & Blade. Each one presents the player with choices but rather than reward or penalize the player based on the choices they make it just changes the experience of the game in a different way. Granted Skyrim has it's flaws, it is not like NPC's run in terror and a little bit of gold gets all your sins forgotten. But it is a step in the right direction i think it would just need longer repercussions to go with the sense of immersion. Mount & Blade is sort of the same, you are dropped into a world and allowed to do as you see fit. You can trade between cities, stay on the straight and narrow and join a lord's cause. Or just go wild and be a bandit for life.

I do not think moral choice is dead in games, or really needs to be dead in games, it just needs to be changed to allow a more organic experience governed by the player's personal sense of morality.

Its a great system. After all they cant add 100 variables to your actions between Shake hands and stab in the face. We can be both good or evil, doesnt matter if under evil you slap them, punch them or stab them. Still evil. Would be nice if subtleties were added by talking me into complying or torturing me. Either way, the outcome is the same, though you would have the added outcome of making an ally which is similar to what Alpha Protocol did. Would love a better version of that game.

I think a big part of why these binary moral systems exist is because there are a decent number of people who do enjoy playing as a complete monster. Think pretty much everyone who has ever played a Grand Theft Auto game, period. I suspect moral-choice systems were implemented as a way to punish these kinds of players in the wake of the "Oh noes games are turning our children into psychopaths" scare, or at least give their style of play some impact on the world. 2K outright demanded that BioShock create some consequence for harvesting the Little Sisters, for example, so they could make the argument that you weren't being pressured into doing it.

Also, did Fallout 3's karma system get tweaked in the Game of the Year Edition? Because I've never gotten any positive karma from killing feral ghouls or other nameless baddies, just named characters who happened to be evil, like my epic massacre of Paradise Falls.

KaZuYa:
What I'm trying to say is any choice should be open but it's underlying motivation and personal consequences which affect the morality of it and that is difficult to code in a game.

It really isn't. The coding is probably the easiest part of it; just set a variable for each choice that comes up, set it when the choice has been made, and then pull it up when it becomes relevant again. Just like the game already has to keep track of which NPCs you've already talked to and what you said to them so they don't forget who you are when you encounter them again. Writing the game to take your past choices into account would be a bit more challenging, certainly, and you'd have to record more dialog, but on a AAA budget, neither of those things should be an issue.

The best example of the moral choice I found was in drangon age awakening right at the end when you faced the architect. Now that was a choice. Kill him and doom everyone to circle of invasion from the archdemon every 1000'years or spare him and give the darkspawn free will to do what ever they want like live in peace or invade in an organised army. I sat on that queston for an hour.

The limitations of the 'binary' moral choice system is inherent to its name: it's binary -A 1 or a 0- and you can't boil human behavior down to that level and have it be believable.

A good start is the Lawful/Good/Neutral/Chaotic/Evil grid, but even that I think is a tad over-simplified.

I'd think a good moral choice system ends up something like this: there are 3 axis: Cooperative/Competitive, Judgemental/Merciful, Resourceful/Wasteful. Within the context of the game, the major challenges you'll face will add or subtract weight to one or more of these axis. Rather than every individual decision having a direct result, have different opportunities and challenges open up for the player based on their current motivational 'weight' (even if it's neutral).

There's one simple thing I want to do in a Role Playing Game, to play a role.

Just give me choices, don't make it so arbitrary and artificial with colored bars and themed powers.

Morality systems are also a standard game trope now. Getting rid of them would be like saying we should get rid of simulation games, or jumping.

It depends on how you use it. I think most people can agree that the flawed morality system is one where the choices barely matter. This includes most morality systems to date, basically for them to work they need to expand the cause and effect.

A better morality system is perceived as "hard" i think, imagine it, souring whole potential storylines and gameplay for completely different ones, or perhaps just the loss of story. Imagine playing a game where you kill a main quest giver and you have to wait a long time until the rest of the story makes that important npc not as important and gives you a path to continue. You would have to look at that as a failure as you are missing out on parts of the game, if you played it over you would strive for a "better" ending. But a better morality system would allow you to actually change your role in a story, so it's a tough edge to walk. I think with all the indy success, some indy game should parse this out to take the fear off.

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