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T O P I C
Heroes, Anti-Heroes, and Pure Evil
April 8th 2008, 23:52 CEST by Caryn

A couple of months ago a friend insisted that I should play Jade Empire, a classic Xbox game from Bioware, and I found myself completely hooked. I didn't expect to be so won over given that I really disliked KOtOR, but Jade Empire really turned me around. And so having finished that game last week, I started playing Mass Effect this weekend.

These games have gotten me thinking about the Good and Evil spectrum that's such a standard in recent Bioware games (I'm not too familiar with Bioware games pre-KOtOR). I notice that when I'm given the choice to move my character along these spectrum, I find I want to initially play the evil bad ass because that would be dark and cool, but I'm hesitant to do so for what seems like such a stupid reason: I get the sense that developers always build a game around the idea that you're a hero, and thus inherently good, and that playing the evil path is really more of a side game that you play later just to see what it's like, after you've seen the "real" game the developers intended you to see.

And I don't know why I think this, but I suspect it's because games are typically built on very black and white stories with simple concepts of good and evil, and the hero always prevails even if we're being given the option to play the bad guy and even win as that character.

This is where Mass Effects gets interesting for me. Rather than creating a simple good and evil spectrum, they have the Paragon and Renegade spectrum, a spectrum with names that are less associated with black and white concepts of good and evil and more associated with taking the high road versus getting the job done no matter what it takes. I created a female marine and chose the Spacer and Ruthless options for my character, because she looked like the type of person who was career military and who wouldn't take shit from anyone.

Then I worried that I would be forced to take her down a purely dark and evil path, but have happily found out that you can play your character as an anti-hero without losing too much of the hero aspect. It makes me wonder what most people like to see in these types of games -- do you like your choice-based games to have strong concepts of good and evil? Do you always choose one particular side to play, and what do you choose first if you play more than one? Do you feel that having morally ambiguous paths for your character waters down the enjoyment of a game and makes it less heroic and epic? Does it take games closer to other forms of storytelling like movies and novels when your character isn't so black and white, and is this a good or a bad thing for games?
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#1 by Gabe
2008-04-08 23:53:23
http://www.dartpublishing.com
I usually play a good guy because I'm bad at role playing.
#2 by yotsuya
2008-04-08 23:54:35
Same here. I feel guilty doing the bad stuff. Maybe they need some slightly grey areas/enemies. I don't really remember any in KOTOR.
#3 by Ergo
2008-04-08 23:58:03
I never, ever play a bad guy in a game. I feel guilty playing a villian. Yeah, I'm a big baby.

Invention is the Green Goblin of Necessary Lemonade.

--Flowers
#4 by Chunkstyle
2008-04-08 23:59:44
The "good" choice always seems like what I would say.  I'm not that angry a person, I guess.

I'm trying to play Mass Effect again with the evil/tough guy choice, which is fun so far.  The evil choice doesn't make you sound like a jerk.

Game Developers: Don't forget the zombie monkeys.
#5 by FoRmaT
2008-04-09 00:05:20
The evil choice doesn't make you sound like a jerk.

The jerkness was whta kept me from playing a bad guy in the KOTOR games. Man, Austin Powers' Dr. Evil was less silly than the "evil" dialogue options KOTOR gave you.

"Action stars of two decades ago shot .44 bullets out of their cocks. Honestly, if me and Charles Bronson were in the same room I'd kill myself just to make sure he didn't hurt me."
#6 by FoRmaT
2008-04-09 00:18:47
Be a real hero and buy the original Sopwith Camel film prop they used in "Red Baron"!

"Action stars of two decades ago shot .44 bullets out of their cocks. Honestly, if me and Charles Bronson were in the same room I'd kill myself just to make sure he didn't hurt me."
#7 by Hugin
2008-04-09 00:21:05
lmccain@nber.org
Bioware made a very smart choice abandoning "good" vs "evil" with Mass Effect, and going more for "Nice" or "patient" vs "Bottom line oriented" or "Ass kicker"

"Bioshock, sadly, is no Painkiller." - BobJustBob
#8 by McBain
2008-04-09 00:21:16
There is no good and evil.  EOD.

Ok seriously...

This is why Bioware's initial good/evil spectrum failed so miserably (KOTOR).  The choices weren't evil so much as destructive without serving any kind of purpose.  My perception of evil comes from looking at what I perceive as fundamentally opposing philosophical views from my own.  Evil that actually exists in the world is a matter of perspective, Dick Cheney doesn't think he's evil, he's merely trying to accomplish different things than I am because of a different philosophical view.  Osama bin Laden is a freedom fighter and hero to some.  There is a whole line of philosophical thought that justifies things that are on the surface inherently bad (the Platonic or Straussian "noble lie").

The new Bioware (Mass Effect) model is much more stringent in that it compels you to be the hero but allows you to accomplish these tasks in different ways or methods that are going to fit into a paradigm that different people find culturally palatable (or unpalatable as the case may be).  I also found that Bioware greatly softened your choices, making the "renegade" or anti-hero choices much less biting than their descriptions in the chat menu catagorized them.

As a matter of personal taste, I found the latter model much more compelling narratively, because in KOTOR, nothing you did ever got you bounced from the game or really compelled the institutions in the game world to turn on you (which is something wonderful about GTA3).

#9 by McBain
2008-04-09 00:25:15
This also dovetails into my argument that the most horrible villains in World of Warcraft are the players themselves.  While many of the quests could be characterized as heroic, they can more generally described as "mercenary".  A rescue mission must be rewarded with money and items, but all conflict between in game factions is resolved through murdering for bounty.

#10 by Chunkstyle
2008-04-09 00:25:29
Yeah, the "evil" Mass Effect character is less Hitler, more Jack Bauer.

Game Developers: Don't forget the zombie monkeys.
#11 by bago
2008-04-09 00:29:02
manga_Rando@hotmail.com
Bioware went beyond good and evil.

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.
#12 by anaqer
2008-04-09 00:41:00
I usually play in a way that is likely to get me the best loot / most XP, so I almost always end up being a do-gooder. But all things being equal, I'd play evil.

#10 - Why not both come out of a window?
#13 by OwenButler
2008-04-09 01:00:05
http://blog.owenbutler.org/
I saved all the little sisters, rather than harvesting them.

The bioware games I also almost always play the good guy, with the occasional obviously evil dialog choice for characters who deserve it.  I'm not sure if punching the reporter in the face was paragon or not in Mass Effect, but I gladly did it.  I agree that Mass Effect had one of the better systems for this that I've ever seen.  The dialog flowed really well no matter what.

I haven't played a GTA game for a while now (vice city was the last I played).  You didn't get such a defined choice about good/evil in those games but I did always think that the character I was playing was a "good" bad guy, if you know what I mean.  Looking forward to GTA4 even more now!

#14 by Fugazi(werking)
2008-04-09 01:02:11
I didn't like the evil path in KOTOR-you were just a petty thug. Once the PC version of Mass Effect arrives, I will try the "get shit done" path.

In the Fallouts-I had no hesitation in being evil at times. I was branded a "child killer" and "slaver" and I loved it.

#15 by TreeFrog
2008-04-09 01:50:51
Fugazi(werking) (#14):
I didn't like the evil path in KOTOR-you were just a petty thug. Once the PC version of Mass Effect arrives, I will try the "get shit done" path.

I'm looking forward to PC Mass Effect too. What I would like to see is choices that don't send you down $GOOD_PATH or $BAD_PATH but give you a bit of leeway. Like, okay, maybe you slapped some fools instead of gently entreating them to see your point of view, but you were fundamentally a good guy and will get an ending commensurate with your actions.
#16 by jjohnsen
2008-04-09 01:51:05
http://www.johnsenclan.com
I harvested the first Little Sister, then I'm pretty sure I saved the rest because of guilt.  I had a hard time choosing evil in the KOTOR games because the evil choices were so damn obvious.  It was either save the ship, or  burn everyone on the ship alive and feasting on their charred skin.  Make the choice more realistic and I might go for it.  The previews of Mass Effect made it sound like they're improved on the good/evil thing, is that true (I'm waiting for the PC version).

#17 by Jibble
2008-04-09 03:04:42
Developers have a tendency to make you feel really awful about making "evil" decisions rather than (as is apparently the case with Mass Effect, I haven't played it) making it more of a philosophical thing. Playing "evil" means you shoot dogs in the face and maul hordes of school children. It's interesting that the best portrayals of evil tend to be the games where you have no choice than to be evil. God of War is a good example, as is GTA.

I guess I'm a wussy like the rest of you guys. I remember hesitating a little too long to put the companion cube in the incinerator. It never did anything to me.

Lady, people aren't chocolates. But you know what they are, mostly? Bastards. Bastard-coated bastards with bastard filling.

Blog. 194 lbs.  14 to go.
#18 by Shadarr
2008-04-09 03:08:31
shadarr@gmail.com http://digital-luddite.com
I doubt I would like Mass Effect, because it sounds like MOTS from Bioware.  From the description, it sounds like they've just softened up the "good" and "evil" dialog options, but otherwise you're still presented with diametric choices periodically which don't have a lot of effect on the story.  That's what I hated most about KOTOR; it wasn't just that the evil choices were retarded, it's that it didn't really matter what you did, you were basically just working your way through a roadblock in the game, with the option of going around or through.  Either way, once you exited the dialog you were going to be doing the same thing next.

In the Fallouts-I had no hesitation in being evil at times. I was branded a "child killer" and "slaver" and I loved it.

What I loved about being branded a child killer and grave robber was that it wasn't limited to a good/evil continuum, and it affected the way NPCs interacted with you.  It gave the feeling of your actions having consequences.  If they'd just made it so that killing a kid gave you 50 evil points, and if your evil stat was over 200 you'd get a different reaction from NPCs, it wouldn't've been nearly as cool.

That's what I find missing in a lot of RPGs, the feeling that you have the freedom to make real choices that will have real consequences in the game world in the future, more directly than just a good/bad slider.  I want to feel like the NPCs remember me doing specific things, rather than just acting like they have a vague running score of my entire life.

Fable was kind of cool in that it felt a lot more action-based rather than dialog-tree based, but it still boiled down to a good/evil stat that affected everything else.  Although what really killed my interest in being evil was the infinitely respawning guards.  No matter how much of a bad-ass I was and how easily I could kill everyone in a town, even something as minor as stealing from a shop meant I would eventually have to run away from town or pay a fine.  Fuck that.

I haven't played a GTA game for a while now (vice city was the last I played).  You didn't get such a defined choice about good/evil in those games but I did always think that the character I was playing was a "good" bad guy, if you know what I mean.


I really felt Rockstar dropped the ball there.  Rather than creating a world in which you could be a total bloodthirsty thug, they created a game where you had to be.  So much of the game is heavily scripted that you get forced to do things a certain way, and it really kills the feeling of being in control of your avatar.  Rather than giving you the goal of eliminating some guy as a threat, with different methods of achieving that, you're given a flamethrower and told that you can't pass the mission without killing a bunch of people with it.  The story may have portrayed your character as morally ambiguous, but that's not nearly as compelling as a game that presents you with morally ambiguous choices.

Witnesses in the house heard Jones say "why did you pee on me Pooh Bear?" A few moments later, the witness heard the son say "Mama you done stabbed me."
#19 by lwf
2008-04-09 03:40:21
Kill all the Haitians!

When you look at all the observations, calculations, and analysis that has gone into astrology, religion and mysticism make astrology look like an exact science. Wii.
#20 by Dingle
2008-04-09 04:10:04
mylifesazoo@gmail.com
I'll always play the good side, but then I'll play the bad side to get the most out of the game, but I never once harvested a little sister in Bioshock. That's the only game I have never toyed around with the evil side.
#21 by Dingle
2008-04-09 04:10:51
mylifesazoo@gmail.com
Dungeon Keeper and Overlord are great games...you really have no option but to play evil, and it's tongue-in-cheek delicious.
#22 by bago
2008-04-09 04:34:50
manga_Rando@hotmail.com
Shadarr: They got it quite right in Mass Effect. Main story arc doesn't change but about half of the side quests do.

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.
#23 by CheesyPoof
2008-04-09 05:18:36
I never felt evil harvesting the little sister, especially with their "stomp on his face Mr. Bubbles" and what not. I felt bad, for real, when I met the saved ones and they said I was the one that hurts them. Then I stopped the harvesting but the game still considered me evil.

<Hugin_len> Basically, cheesy doesn't have awful taste in music, he's simply very white.
#24 by lwf
2008-04-09 05:32:55
Even BioShock was pretty pussy about it what with making it up to you for not harvesting the little bitches.

When you look at all the observations, calculations, and analysis that has gone into astrology, religion and mysticism make astrology look like an exact science. Wii.
#25 by Charles
2008-04-09 06:33:09
www.bluh.org
While I didn't like previous Bioware choices of "be a hero or a retard," I don't think what Mass Effect did was particularly special, because it seems to me that it was just a step backwards.  I replayed a few sections of the game, and in a lot of cases it didn't matter *which* dialog choice you picked.  You'd say the same thing, and get the same response, only it would affect your magical statistic.  Which, in turn, didn't affect much at all.

I want a game that lets me be truly evil.  So far I haven't seen one.  I want a game where I actually play the villain, not a hero who acts like a villain.  I'd love to see an RPG that essentially burns the candle at both ends, so you can start as a villain to achieve the villain's goals, or the hero, to defeat the villain, and it's in the same world with the same story, but told from completely different angles.  And eventually, you have a showdown with the other side.

Also I think Bioshock's moral choices were BS, since it came out early that there were better rewards for being good.  Oh, that and it didn't actually matter one lick, except for the crappy cutscene at the end.  The whole second half of the game should've been completely different.

Videogames!  Why waste good technology on science and medicine?
#26 by lwf
2008-04-09 06:40:54
I don't think any game companies are daring enough to devote the effort to crafting what is essentially two different games (in terms of narrative, anyway), because they will consider half of that effort as wasted no matter what.

How many would play through such a game twice to see each side of the story?

Anyway, tell us about the game Hugin and you are making.

When you look at all the observations, calculations, and analysis that has gone into astrology, religion and mysticism make astrology look like an exact science. Wii.
#27 by Charles
2008-04-09 06:41:40
www.bluh.org
No.

Videogames!  Why waste good technology on science and medicine?
#28 by lwf
2008-04-09 06:43:36
Hugin?

When you look at all the observations, calculations, and analysis that has gone into astrology, religion and mysticism make astrology look like an exact science. Wii.
#29 by yotsuya
2008-04-09 06:48:28
Charles brings up a good point. I mean, if all the assets are the same, we're really talking about storylines and scripting, right? Maybe someone could make a short game with this dynamic to see how it would work.
#30 by None-1a
2008-04-09 06:58:26
#26 by lwf
How many would play through such a game twice to see each side of the story?


I don't see why not, RTS games pull the play both 'good' and 'evil' all the time and nobody cares one lick. In fact it's usualy considered a bad sign when one doesn't do it. There's really no reason why the same can't happen with other genres.
#31 by lwf
2008-04-09 07:02:36
A good point, but in RTS games it's a little different, since you don't generally play the same missions from each side, rather the overall story progresses as you complete campaigns in order using the different races. Also, one reason RTS games do this is to teach the player how to play as each race, prepping them for the multiplayer aspect of the game.

But I don't play a ton of RTS games, any counterexamples?

When you look at all the observations, calculations, and analysis that has gone into astrology, religion and mysticism make astrology look like an exact science. Wii.
#32 by Dingle
2008-04-09 07:56:59
mylifesazoo@gmail.com
RTS games = micromanagement

Micromanagement = boredom

Boredom = evil

Therefore,

All RTS games are evil.
#33 by Gunp01nt
2008-04-09 11:00:21
supersimon33@hotmail.com
I think one of the problems I have with roleplaying is that my mind is mostly geared to a linear game mindset where I look at what the developer would expect me to do next in order to advance. This sort of ties in with the feeling that any choice you make, excludes you from a certain amount of game content.

Usually I play goody-two-shoes. Perhaps because I'm just gay like that, or perhaps because I sort of feel that's the route you're expected to take.

"It's called treaty mode. It's there for people who want to enforce that kind of play. In other words, it's there for the Dutch."
#34 by Ashiran
2008-04-09 11:12:10
I don't like this in Neverwinter Nights either. Good choices are always the "I love to help everyone!", evil ones are the "I don't care about your problems" and neutral always is "When do I get paid?".

Meh.

Any game where competence can be measured by the amount of clicks per minute is not a strategy game.
#35 by Dingle
2008-04-09 11:46:58
mylifesazoo@gmail.com
Holy shit, Neverwinter Nights was a flat tire, in terms of moral choice. When you're faced with a screaming "DEMON" child saying, "NO! NO!" to your influence, only then does morality mean anything. The reason I only played good in Bioshock is because it was the only game that brought morality screaming home.
#36 by None-1a
2008-04-09 11:55:42
#31 by lwf
A good point, but in RTS games it's a little different, since you don't generally play the same missions from each side, rather the overall story progresses as you complete campaigns in order using the different races.


While you may not be playing the exact same missions from both sides they do tend to parallel quite a bit, some are direct time shifts showing what happened between or before missions on the opposing side, other are simply similar goals with a different map, and a few times there are direct confrontation between sides on the same mission. That sounds a lot more like what Charles was talking about then trying to create a hero and villian perpective on the exact same missions through out the entire game.

After all it'd be rather difficult to craft a believable story where good and evil are battleing from the very begining and don't immediately put an end to the plot right there. Rather the two stories will need to weave in and out of each other until the final showdown at the end.
#37 by gaggle
2008-04-09 15:45:39
bago
beyond good and evil.

Now that was a truly good game.


To improve the RP part of RPGs I'd go the route of an indie game experiment. Something small and manageable, and centered around a core idea of, say, chose Evil or Good in a series of morally ambiguous choices. Well, something a little more multi-dimensional than that would be nice though, but you get the point.

"the accusations are such nonsense that I have found it difficult to treat them with the contempt that they deserve." - Clarke
#38 by gaggle
2008-04-09 15:47:28
Also, this is so goddamn true. Haha, it's a short movie called Digital Grunt, and it's "a comedy about working in the visual effects industry". And, no shit, it is entirely 100% factually correct through and through.

"the accusations are such nonsense that I have found it difficult to treat them with the contempt that they deserve." - Clarke
#39 by Charles
2008-04-09 16:19:56
www.bluh.org
#36 by None-1a
That sounds a lot more like what Charles was talking about then trying to create a hero and villian perpective on the exact same missions through out the entire game.

After all it'd be rather difficult to craft a believable story where good and evil are battleing from the very begining and don't immediately put an end to the plot right there. Rather the two stories will need to weave in and out of each other until the final showdown at the end.


Mine wouldn't be mission specific, it would be over the course of the whole game.  Villain has a a bunch of things to do to take over the world, say, and the good guy has to find out what the villain is up to and try and stop him. Preferably in real time.

Videogames!  Why waste good technology on science and medicine?
#40 by Matt Perkins
2008-04-09 16:53:58
wizardque@yahoo.com http://whatwouldmattdo.com/
(long)
Good and Evil in games
I have a REALLY hard time playing the "evil" (see McBain's comments for a better than I oft do explaining good and evil) part in a CRPG. I just don't like making the choices that then have people suffering on the screen. It bothers me on a deep level.

In an Pen and Paper game though...? I can play the most evil bastard that ever was. I'll do horrible things that advance my character or don't, just because I'm a chaotic asshole who likes to see things go to hell (assuming I'm rping that type of character). I think the biggest difference is that it's easier to see it as pretend when I'm not seeing even digital characters react because of my choices. Sure, the DM has to rp the npcs when I do evil things, but it just doesn't have the same effect on me.


Mass Effect
I really like how Mass Effect did their choices. Instead of Good and Evil, you got, as others stated, Nice/Hero vs. Asskicker/Get It Done Now type of choices. I haven't seen as much of the Asskicker side because that's now how I play CRPGs, but my wife is playing through and just laughs and giggles as she tells people to quit being big babies and just get the shit done.

Charles is right in the aspect that it often doesn't change a lot how the game reacts, no matter which choices you pick. BUT, who gives a shit? Yeah, those of us that might replay it might find out, but for most people that play it through once or don't make it all the way through even once, they never know the difference. What they see is their character either being the virtuous hero or the I'm not going to coddle you bitches almost anti-hero. I think that was a really smart choice on Bioware's part. They created a huge game with the ability for it look like you're playing your character as you choose and it's affecting things without having to create a mess of extra content.

That being said, yeah, I much prefer it when the world really reacts to you, but is the payoff really there in the long time? Especially with something like Mass Effect where they had HUGE amounts of media they had to create for each choice they allowed you to do. I can't fault them for not doing more since they really created an amazing amount of content. Most people will never see all of it.

"Thug means never having to say you're sorry." - UTurn
#41 by gaggle
2008-04-09 17:25:38
BUT, who gives a shit?

I played KotOR through once but still knew the paths were alike. I could feel it everywhere. In fact I blogged about it:


I was watching this clip, and they suddenly showed exactly what I hate about Bioware’s games (besides their “convince three judges” puzzles).

At 7:14 they show three outcomes of a single scene: If you play hardball, pacify or threaten a bartender to give up information. I’m sure the point of the clip is to show how cool the game is, but all I see is how obvious the outcomes are. They’re always the same. Knights of the Old Republic, their previous game, was in my opinion saturated with that exact feeling of sameness. That no matter what you answered you’d at most get a single response-specific line before they hooked you back into a linear conversation flow.

I’m not saying Mass Effect sucks, hell even if conversations really do suffer from that linear feel it still has the much-anticipated pseudo real time fighting and shooting. And story and characters to get into. And weapons to collect and upgrade. No I have plenty confidence that I’ll enjoy the game, I just really hope they’ve learned from Old Republic and have made conversations a much smoother experience. Even though that particular clip fails to inspire confidence :S


"the accusations are such nonsense that I have found it difficult to treat them with the contempt that they deserve." - Clarke
#42 by Matt Perkins
2008-04-09 17:30:10
wizardque@yahoo.com http://whatwouldmattdo.com/
Gaggle

Did you play Mass Effect? While pretty much anything relating to the main story line does end up going the same no matter you do, a lot of the other stuff will at least give you a different comeback when you respond. I've played through most of it now (I'm sitting at the end sequence, not wanting it to end) and I'm loving watching my wife play through it as the brutal bitch. It's pretty damn funny how much of a do it now bitch the game lets her be.

And since she wasn't paying that close of attention to the dialog choices when went through it, she doesn't have a clue when it's the same answer or not. Only that she's intimidating people into doing what she wants instead of asking nicely...

"Thug means never having to say you're sorry." - UTurn
#43 by Caryn
2008-04-09 17:37:16
carynlaw@pacbell.net http://www.hellchick.net
Also, this is so goddamn true. Haha, it's a short movie called Digital Grunt, and it's "a comedy about working in the visual effects industry". And, no shit, it is entirely 100% factually correct through and through.

Holy shit, that's the game industry to a T, hahahahaha.

Bellydance!
#44 by FoRmaT
2008-04-09 18:37:54
I'd write something about Black & White's good vs. evil aspects, but that game was so boring I gave up on it after an hour and sold it on ebay.

"Action stars of two decades ago shot .44 bullets out of their cocks. Honestly, if me and Charles Bronson were in the same room I'd kill myself just to make sure he didn't hurt me."
#45 by Jibble
2008-04-09 18:42:46
Actually, Black & White was one of the games where I didn't mind playing the evil side. I can't hear your insipid singing now that you're skipping across the ocean to your inevitable demise.

Lady, people aren't chocolates. But you know what they are, mostly? Bastards. Bastard-coated bastards with bastard filling.

Blog. 194 lbs.  14 to go.
#46 by Hugin
2008-04-09 19:08:29
lmccain@nber.org
So, I showed that Digital Grunts clip to a friend of mine who does editing for a production house in my area (his complaints about his job are in the clip to a T)...it turns out he used to work with one of the guys in the clip (the "client").  Small world.

"Bioshock, sadly, is no Painkiller." - BobJustBob
#47 by gaggle
2008-04-09 19:20:40
Did you play Mass Effect?


No I haven't really played it, outside of an hour or so at a friend. It didn't grab me as much as I was expecting it to do, so I never got into it. Sounds like your wife is getting the best of experiences though, if she's oblivious to the linearity it must seem so damn cool. It's probably a result of my job or something that I couldn't overlook it in KotOR… sometimes it'd be nice to turn off that critical designer eye, but alas it never sleeps.

"the accusations are such nonsense that I have found it difficult to treat them with the contempt that they deserve." - Clarke
#48 by gaggle
2008-04-09 19:21:42
Oh that's cool Hugin. They really nailed exactly how it is, it's scary.

"the accusations are such nonsense that I have found it difficult to treat them with the contempt that they deserve." - Clarke
#49 by Caryn
2008-04-09 19:38:28
carynlaw@pacbell.net http://www.hellchick.net
Did you play Mass Effect? While pretty much anything relating to the main story line does end up going the same no matter you do, a lot of the other stuff will at least give you a different comeback when you respond.

I'm a huge fan of Mass Effect so far, but I'm understanding the criticisms that people have here in response to my original questions, and I think that's what gaggle's main criticism is. Sure, the game gives you a different comeback in that conversation, but does it give you a different outcome?

I like the idea mentioned previously of presenting a player with a game in which there is a clear Good and Evil, with a main character on each side that must eventually defeat the other one in some way, and your actions make you become one of the two characters over time. Developmentally I'm not sure how you'd pull that one off, it sounds awfully difficult. But conceptually I don't think players would be as resistant to that as some people here think. People do play these types of games multiple times just to see the content or outcomes they missed.

Bellydance!
#50 by Shadarr
2008-04-09 19:45:25
shadarr@gmail.com http://digital-luddite.com
Charles is right in the aspect that it often doesn't change a lot how the game reacts, no matter which choices you pick. BUT, who gives a shit?

I give a shit.  I give a lot of shit.  That's exactly what bothers me about RPGs generally and Bioware games specifically, the feeling that your "choices" are all just for show and don't have any real effect.  I don't want Charles' paralell good and evil campaigns, because that's more like two linear games rather than one game giving you real choices.  Games that let you be evil, like Overlord, are great for their uniqueness, but what I'm looking for in a game that deals with good and evil is the ability to actually role-play my character rather than just playing out the script to an interactive movie.

Bioware games feel like a choose your own adventure book where all the choices at the bottom of each page have the same page number.  "If you apologize and beg forgiveness, turn to page 88; if you punch him in the face and tell him to get over it, turn to page 88."

Witnesses in the house heard Jones say "why did you pee on me Pooh Bear?" A few moments later, the witness heard the son say "Mama you done stabbed me."
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