Watch Dogs Will Make You Care About Your Morals

Watch Dogs Will Make You Care About Your Morals

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Get a glimpse of Aiden's abilities and the world he lives in.

Jonathan Morin, creative director on Ubisoft's upcoming sandbox hack-em-up Watch Dogs, took the stage at the PlayStation Meeting last month to show off a few minutes of Watch Dogs gameplay. While the demonstration won many fans over, it's difficult to get a feel for a game's more subtle workings by watching someone else play it. To that end, Morin sat down to discuss a few of the less obvious mechanics at play.

Aiden, the game's protagonist, is a very capable individual - we've seen him employ parkour to get around the city quickly, and he's pretty handy with guns and his telescoping baton. His most interesting skillset, however, is his ability to hack ctOS, the CenTral Operating System that links just about every piece of technology in Watch Dogs's near-future Chicago. "All of these electronic devices form a complex, powerful network upon which we have become increasingly dependent," Morin explained. "Now imagine one man taking control of that network."

We've seen Aiden manipulate ctOS in two gameplay demos to distract guards, cause traffic accidents, and hijack a train. However, while players are free to abuse the system in any way they wish, their actions will have consequences: collateral damage is tracked by the game's Reputation system. Various actions will have Positive or Negative effects on how people see Aiden as either as a heroic vigilante or a reckless psychopath.

This sounds an awful lot like another tacked-on moral choice mechanic, but Morin is quick to point out that Aiden's Reputation won't be so black and white. "We are not building one of those yin and yang systems that always end up feeling gamey and out of place," he says. "Our Reputation System will focus more on how people in our society tend to forge their opinion and this is yet another fascinating subject in relation with our main theme: the influence of technology within our society."

In addition to cyberspace, Aiden will have free roam over a number of locations in the real world. The city streets and rooftops are open for exploration on foot, and Aiden can also access some sort of "large under city." Specific buildings will serve as interior set pieces, though players will be able to trespass into interiors through digital means as well, hacking into and controlling "any computer in the city."

We'll get a chance to exploit ctOS for ourselves when Watch Dogs releases later this year for PC, PS3, Xbox 360, and next-gen consoles.

Source: Gaming Bolt

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Cognimancer:

This sounds an awful lot like another tacked-on moral choice mechanic, but Morin is quick to point out that Aiden's Reputation won't be so black and white. "We are not building one of those yin and yang systems that always end up feeling gamey and out of place," he says. "Our Reputation System will focus more on how people in our society tend to forge their opinion and this is yet another fascinating subject in relation with our main theme: the influence of technology within our society."

Because no dev's ever tried to hide the fact their shoddy morality system is nothing more than a shoddy morality system before. To be honest I can't think of a single game in the last decade that didn't have a morality system in it that a dev or pr rep hasn't tried to glamorise in some way that didn't end up being a hot air at best and a load of utter bollocks at worst. I still eagerly look forward to the game though but I really, REALLY wish that when these interviews happen they'd stop treating the entire gaming public like a bunch of complete and utter morons.

Or the shorter version of the above: "Don't piss in my ear and tell me it's raining."

Deshin:

Cognimancer:

This sounds an awful lot like another tacked-on moral choice mechanic, but Morin is quick to point out that Aiden's Reputation won't be so black and white. "We are not building one of those yin and yang systems that always end up feeling gamey and out of place," he says. "Our Reputation System will focus more on how people in our society tend to forge their opinion and this is yet another fascinating subject in relation with our main theme: the influence of technology within our society."

Because no dev's ever tried to hide the fact their shoddy morality system is nothing more than a shoddy morality system before. To be honest I can't think of a single game in the last decade that didn't have a morality system in it that a dev or pr rep hasn't tried to glamorise in some way that didn't end up being a hot air at best and a load of utter bollocks at worst. I still eagerly look forward to the game though but I really, REALLY wish that when these interviews happen they'd stop treating the entire gaming public like a bunch of complete and utter morons.

Or the shorter version of the above: "Don't piss in my ear and tell me it's raining."

+1

No-one's gonna fall for it if you introduce a binary moral choice system and then immediately say "Oh, we're totally not doing that....

Just make sure it doesn't effect dialogue options unless it's asking a person who doesn't like you to do something.

What's interesting is that I can see the potential here. This game has the possibility to tackle a lot of topical issues in a cyberpunk fashion. Is it morally okay to surveil the private lives of civilians in order to maintain our safety? Is there even such a thing as privacy anymore? Is the convenience of being wired into modern society worth the loss of your own private life?

I have no reason to think the game will take advantage of these opportunities but hey, a man can dream.

I'm just gonna say it, the only game that's ever done a morality meter well is Planescape: Torment.

Morality only works if you care about the characters. As its a game, it means non of it is real thus the death of 10 people isnt a moral issue, where as in real life it would be. Its why people do things in GTA that they would never do in real life. I cant wait for watchdogs, will have fun messing around with the game. Like raising the crash bollards in the roads like in the trailer. :-)

As for morality in games that worked. Spec Ops The Line worked in my opinion. Morality only works if there is real consequence to your actions. An with the "phosphorus" scene.....your had to face the consequence of what you did. Granted, you cant decide to not do it, but i see The Line as your playing the characters story, not your own story based on your choices.

SonOfVoorhees:
As for morality in games that worked. Spec Ops The Line worked in my opinion. Morality only works if there is real consequence to your actions. An with the "phosphorus" scene.....your had to face the consequence of what you did. Granted, you cant decide to not do it, but i see The Line as your playing the characters story, not your own story based on your choices.

What's the consequence for that again? A short dramatic cut scene? Spec Ops did it badly as all choices and consequence from A to B always ended with C. It gave the illusion of choice very well however the morality never gave any consequential meaning, choosing A or B never changed anything storywise and even gameplay wise.

Spec Ops was about you, they make this clear when they included you in the credits.

As much as morality in video games sound contrived, I can see where they're coming from. You're supposed to be the hero of the game, I think, but I'd have more of an informed opinion if I knew more about the story, i.e. WHY the guy in Watchdogs does it.

Sounds like this has some potential. I shall wait and see.

If they have a morality system they better have something that'll make me stop and think. Bioshock's "Do you wish to murder this little girl?" just didn't cut it for me. I thought the Witcher series did it well with your options being less black and white and more gray and gray. They made me really stop and think about what I wanted to do and they didn't attach a good or evil label to Geralt because of the decisions you made. Another thing I liked about it was that you often didn't see the immediate affect of your actions and the consequences happened much later.

I'm calling it now: Despite these flash promises of innovation, Watch Dogs will still end up with a good/bad morality system ala inFamous that does nothing more than denote the colour of your "morality meter."

Well colour me... markedly less interested. Why would I give a shit about your morality system? They're not real people!

Based on the way he described it, either:

A) It's going to be a reputation system like in Fallout: New Vegas, which could go either way.

Or

B) It's going to be a system where your "morality bar" is actually based on how good people in general think you are, not how good you actually are, so there's all kinds of possibilities for frame-ups and deceit.

Or

C) He's talking out of his arse, which I'd prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt on for now.

How about we all just wait for more information to come out before people start complaining about a "binary" moral choice system, when in fact they haven't even said how the moral choice system works?

Whilst I'm withholding judgement until release, it's going to be fairly similar, isn't it? Isn't that -exactly- like inFamous or Fable's mechanics? I suppose if you changed what can actually cause a shift in public opinion you could make it feel a lot more engaging, but it'll still be the same basic system. That said, having said system by no means makes it a bad game.

Hey Yahtzee! Get in here! We have another binary moral choice system for you!

This game just seems more and more "meh" the more I hear about it. It's not breaking any new ground, and its story is essentially that of Deus Ex. Why should I care?

To add to the "who's done it right" thing, I'd put forward Red Dead Redemption. Why? Because that game actually made us invested in the main character, and gave us a reason that the morality system didn't matter to the story. So, you could play the John Marston who was willing to embrace his old ways this one last time, or you could play the John Marston who took turning over a new leaf to heart, and is doing only what he needs to do to take out the trash and return to his old life. Either way, things turn out the same for our hero.

Bioshock also got to me, but that's probably because I just can't stand to hurt children (or see them hurt), even simulated ones... Each and every Little Sister I saw crying and crawling away broke my heart.

So you get to go to Old Chicago? It's literally underground.

Remember that reputation system from Red Dead Redemption where you were given benefits based on whether you chose to be a badass outlaw (everyone feared you, you intimidate others, etc.) or a heroic type (free horses, less attention from law, etc.). Give me that and I'll be happy. No need for binary moral system, just a varying set of benefits, reactions, and how the world sees you based on actions. Hopefully they'll allow us to mix it up a bit as well.

Cognimancer:

This sounds an awful lot like another tacked-on moral choice mechanic, but Morin is quick to point out that Aiden's Reputation won't be so black and white. "We are not building one of those yin and yang systems that always end up feeling gamey and out of place," he says. "Our Reputation System will focus more on how people in our society tend to forge their opinion and this is yet another fascinating subject in relation with our main theme: the influence of technology within our society."

Ssshh...Sshh...It's okay. You don't have to lie Ubisoft. I can take it man. I can take a "good vs evil" meter. I promise.

"Our Reputation System will focus more on how people in our society tend to forge their opinion and this is yet another fascinating subject in relation with our main theme: the influence of technology within our society."

Since this is being claimed I want to see overworld NPCs and your targets completely go off the grid, if I were to overtly abuse my power over it. By the end game, I want my enemies to be so worried of me picking up their digital signature that they will have attempted to scrub all information possible and be avoiding tech at all times. But I also want to see the opposite. If they do not know my power, I want them to embrace all the technology to "keep them safe." I look forward to playing the grey hat route, and just seeing how the in game universe acts towards the vigilante use of the power.

If the moral system is like this and it actually plays like the demo videos, I will have no problem throwing $60 at this game.

So if I drive down the sidewalk in a car I'm supposed to give a fuck now?

No, sorry guys. My sympathy is reserved for people that actually exist.

Racecarlock:
So if I drive down the sidewalk in a car I'm supposed to give a fuck now?

No, sorry guys. My sympathy is reserved for people that actually exist.

It gets even worse when you consider that most people don't care about how they drive in a sandbox, meaning that they'll get negative points or whatever just for playing the game without killing civilians for the lulz.

 

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