Friday, April 16, 2010

Video Games and Moral Choices



  1. As always, great video!

    I wonder if maybe some game designers stick to a closed "good"/"evil" line because they don't want to deal with the drama storm that media coverage might do. Although I can think of some games that have gone away with this, I hope that others follow such example (...and don't screw up in the process).

  2. Great video as always, I just have one question?
    Why didn't you ever mention Dragon Age, other than one picture? The game is overflowing with what I look at as moral choices, and instead of any moral meter your companions react to your choices and may approve or disapprove of what you do. Some choices also have bigger or smaller effects on the storyline. My only problem with the system is that you can buy and find a lot of gifts to give your companions to max out their approval thus making the choices less "moral."
    It's like Alistair would say: "You used dangerous BLOOD MAGIC and KILLED a woman to save her son! I'm angry now.. What is that, some shoes and a painting? For me? Aww, you shouldn't have! *happyface*"

  3. I think the other problem with those good/evil points systems is that the notions of good or evil have no real or apparent "meaning" within the game. There seem to be very few consequences in a lot of games of being either of the two. This is different in games like EQ2 where factions will attack you once that statistic goes below some threshold. There are also positive consequences of high faction in EQ2, in that you get the chance to take new quests or buy new gear that wasn't accessible before.

  4. @ dasav: Yeah, Dragon Age really nailed most of what I talked about in the video. The main reason I didn't give them more of a mention is because James and I had actually written the script for this months ago, before we'd had a chance to play it. Plus Fallout served as a good example because it did some things right and others wrong.

    But Dragon Age really did kick some ass with its morality system.

  5. Great talk, Daniel and James. Right up to your usual standard. It gave me a great idea for a morality system in a game I'm planning to make a while down the road. I wanted to mention a game which did a lot of the things that you mentioned, The Witcher.

    The kind of moral choices it presents are thus: Do I keep the witch alive, since she didn't do anything wrong, or do I kill her, placating the rage of this mob of villagers. If you kill her, well, you killed an innocent, if you keep her alive, the entire village attacks you, and you are forced to slaughter the lot of them. Keep in mind that you are a trained monster hunter, and these villagers are little more than farmers and merchants, and have no hope of doing anything other than cosmetic damage to you. While I understand that I did the right thing, slaughtering the entire village was hard. This addressed the idea you were trying to put forth, make doing good difficult, and give it consequences.
    A game that deserves honorable mention is Jade Empire's Open Palm Closed Fist spectrum. If you went too far in either direction, it had consequences.
    Keep being awesome!

  6. Now that i think of it GTA2 taught me of npc's faction behavior. I thought it was kinda an easy concept, it's wierd more games don't use it.

  7. Excellent point. The more a game can relate to real life choices, the more we can connect with and enjoy them.

    I believe this is also a guidline for pixars story development process. They try really hard to make a characters decisions relate to us and our lives so we can connect with them.

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