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Morality In Games

AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Member EpicPosts: 7,387
Many times when I play a game with some kind of "morality code" or "morale consequences" for actions, I often wonder if I agree with thwe3 developers' interpretations. Some morale codes are easy to see, like outright murder and butchery, but others are more personally defined, like all killing is evil vs self defense is OK.

The old D&D games were where I first questioned this aspect of games. D&D has a "possibly rigid" (open to interpretation) alignment system. Picking any lock anywhere results in a chaotic behavior. I disagree. There is a difference between picking the lock on an owned chest and a lock on an unowned chest or chest where the owner is dead, like deep in a dungeon or crypt. Others will certainly disagree with my interpretations :)

I'm not a pacifist, so killing in defense is not "an evil act" in my book. Unless I'm playing a stealth archer, I always wait until attacked to attack an opponent.

Skyrim plays this dirty trick on players. If you get the "Voice of the Wild" buff while going to or from High Hrothgar (the stone tablets you read), do NOT enter a dungeon, or you will lose that buff. Animals in dungeons WILL attack you and if you defend yourself, the buff is gone. Out in the wilderness, all is OK, though. This may just be a bug and not intentional, though.

I enjoy "morally gray" dilemmas from time to time, but also enjoy clean, cut and dried good vs evil. I often get frustrated because an action I take that I think is "morally just", the developers decides is not.

Anyone else feel similarly? Anyone have no troubles with morality defined by some games?

- Al

Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
- FARGIN_WAR


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Comments

  • VrikaVrika Member LegendaryPosts: 7,584
    edited December 2018
    I often have problems with games that try to categorize actions as good vs. evil, because even if 9 out of 10 times you agree with those definitions that one time when you don't sucks.

    But I like games that have ambiguous moral choices, like Witcher. It's much better when devs don't try to attach judgements to moral choices, but rather just give moral choices and their consequences.
    AlBQuirky
     
  • H0urg1assH0urg1ass Member EpicPosts: 2,380
    One of my favorite examples of morality being ridiculous in games is in SWTOR.

    So I played through the two Jedi Storylines before the 12x XP boost that essentially lets you skip 90% of the games content.  Which means I did all the stupid menial tasks in every area such as "Kill x many of x for y amount of XP".

    Let me give an example of what I mean.  I land on a planet.  I believe it was Balmorra and the planet is covered in parts with Imperial Troops.  There are so many Imperial Troops that you can't walk 10 feet without hitting another group of 3-5 of them.

    Therefore, in order to find the Evil Sith Lord that I need to confront for my story progression, I end up hacking and slashing my way through no less than 2,000 Imperial Troops.  I'm basically a One Jedi Imperial Genocide.  I might as well be a light saber blender and you're just pouring Imperials into the top until they're mush.

    Then I get to the big bad guy and we have a battle.  Eventually I wound him so bad he can't fight anymore, and in typical Hollywood fashion, I'm standing over him with my light saber ready to finish the act.

    But then the choice button pops up.  Killing him is a Dark Side Choice.  Letting him live is a Light Side choice.

    Like, whattafuck game?  Do you not know what I just spent the last three hours on this planet doing?  If killing the big evil bad guy is a dark side choice, what was putting two thousand Imperial Henchmen through my light saber slap-chop?

    If you're going to have that kind of code of morality, then fine, I can get on board with it, but at least stay consistent.
    KyleranCryomatrixAlBQuirkyWargfootYVGorweLokeroShaighcraftseekertweedledumb99Amathe
  • MadFrenchieMadFrenchie Member LegendaryPosts: 8,505
    edited December 2018
    Vrika said:
    I often have problems with games that try to categorize actions as good vs. evil, because even if 9 out of 10 times you agree with those definitions that one time when you don't sucks.

    But I like games that have ambiguous moral choices, like Witcher. It's much better when devs don't try to attach judgements to moral choices, but rather just give moral choices and their consequences.
    Good point.  Sure, in some situations you can paint a clearly good or evil action, but those rarely make for hard or interesting choices (unless you're literally playing the role of an evil villain that somehow also always saves the day, as we always do in RPGs).

    Much better to drill it down to the personal level like in Witcher.  So many of Geralt's actions have a largely localized effect; a village cursed here is saved, a mother's boy there returned.  CDPR doesn't try to make it seem like Geralt's actions always have wider consequences than the actors directly involved.  I think that's what helps enable them to present merely moral choices and consequences without commenting on what the "game" considers the action to be in the overarching scheme of things.  You find out the boy was seeking out demons to murder his mother, who has other children, so you murder the boy instead.  Was that right?  You can't be sure, and the game doesn't dictate it to you by an overall "good vs. evil" slider or point system.  It's only effect is on the family itself and the player, and you lied to the mother and told her demons had killed the boy to spare her feelings, so she has no idea.
    Post edited by MadFrenchie on
    AlBQuirky

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  • ConstantineMerusConstantineMerus Member EpicPosts: 3,338
    Sadly most of the evil choices are just retarded. Will you save the world or fuck all the chickens?

    I liked Deus Ex the original, those choices were well thought. It was about what would you think the world should be. 
    H0urg1assKyleranAlBQuirkyScotGorweRnjypsy[Deleted User]tweedledumb99
    Constantine, The Console Poster

    • "One of the most difficult tasks men can perform, however much others may despise it, is the invention of good games and it cannot be done by men out of touch with their instinctive selves." - Carl Jung
  • IselinIselin Member LegendaryPosts: 17,910
    Ir's one of those things in games best not to think too hard about. There are all kinds of schemes that range from making some sense to none at all but they're all just glossing over the real hard-coded morality in any game that boils down to: does this make it easier or harder for me to get the best game ending?
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  • Octagon7711Octagon7711 Member LegendaryPosts: 9,000
    One quest event that stood out was in ESO.  I had caught a werewolf in human form who said something like, "OK, you got me. Can I please just say goodbye to family?"  I let him go in and he shifted and killed his entire family.  So for my good deed a family died.  Stuff like that I like when you realize that being nice is not always the best thing to do.  Other times you are asked to kill hated vampires and werewolves even if you are one.

    SWTOR I liked for the most part as you could be bad or good or a mix as you wanted, so it gave you a choice.    The only thing I didn't like was how they paraphrased your answers which at times gave different meanings to what you intended.  

    Some games morality choices are well done and add to the enjoyment of the game.
    AlBQuirky

    "We all do the best we can based on life experience, point of view, and our ability to believe in ourselves." - Naropa      "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are."  SR Covey

  • MadFrenchieMadFrenchie Member LegendaryPosts: 8,505
    edited December 2018
    One quest event that stood out was in ESO.  I had caught a werewolf in human form who said something like, "OK, you got me. Can I please just say goodbye to family?"  I let him go in and he shifted and killed his entire family.  So for my good deed a family died.  Stuff like that I like when you realize that being nice is not always the best thing to do.  Other times you are asked to kill hated vampires and werewolves even if you are one.

    SWTOR I liked for the most part as you could be bad or good or a mix as you wanted, so it gave you a choice.    The only thing I didn't like was how they paraphrased your answers which at times gave different meanings to what you intended.  

    Some games morality choices are well done and add to the enjoyment of the game.
    This is a pet peeve of mine.  Option reads "I won't do it."  Player character then proceeds to scream: "Go to hell, and tell 'em who sent ya!" <gunfight ensues>
    AlBQuirky

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  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Member EpicPosts: 7,387
    Iselin said:
    Ir's one of those things in games best not to think too hard about. There are all kinds of schemes that range from making some sense to none at all but they're all just glossing over the real hard-coded morality in any game that boils down to: does this make it easier or harder for me to get the best game ending?
    Thinking on this one, you may have a good point here. It just bugs me when I have a specific character in mind and the game gets in the way of my playing them, as I think they should be played.

    Shoot 'em up bang, bang games I'd have no problems, but RPGs where I often play "character concepts" runs into walls quite often :)

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR


  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Member EpicPosts: 7,387
    Sadly most of the evil choices are just retarded. Will you save the world or fuck all the chickens?
    This is a huge one for me. I rarely (1 time in all of my gaming just to see what the "evil reward" was) play "evil" for this very reason. I have yet to see an "intelligent evil" playthrough instead of the more usual "Chaotic Stupid" one that games tend towards.
    GorweConstantineMerus[Deleted User]

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR


  • ScotScot Member LegendaryPosts: 19,931
    edited December 2018
    "I'm not a pacifist, so killing in defense is not "an evil act" in my book. Unless I'm playing a stealth archer, I always wait until attacked to attack an opponent."

    I did find it amusing that your morality is dependant on what weapon you are using. But if we look in the wider world is that not also the case there?
    AlBQuirky
  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Member EpicPosts: 7,387
    Scot said:
    "I'm not a pacifist, so killing in defense is not "an evil act" in my book. Unless I'm playing a stealth archer, I always wait until attacked to attack an opponent."

    I did find it amusing that your morality is dependant on what weapon you are using. But if we look in the wider world is that not also the case there?
    hehe. Actually, my "morality" is totally dependent on my motivations for each individual character I play :)
    Scot

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR


  • kitaradkitarad Member LegendaryPosts: 7,473
    I enjoyed the options in SWTOR that made my agent on the empire side choose to be on the light side and my Sith warrior also choosing to be light but my Jedi knight and sage was dark side. I  know it is an illusion but I like to weigh my decisions.
    ScotAlBQuirky

  • ConstantineMerusConstantineMerus Member EpicPosts: 3,338
    AlBQuirky said:
    Sadly most of the evil choices are just retarded. Will you save the world or fuck all the chickens?
    This is a huge one for me. I rarely (1 time in all of my gaming just to see what the "evil reward" was) play "evil" for this very reason. I have yet to see an "intelligent evil" playthrough instead of the more usual "Chaotic Stupid" one that games tend towards.
    KOTOR 1+2
    InFamous series
    Torment
    Dishonored 1+2
    Dungeon Keeper
    Fable series
    Vampires: The Masquerade and The Bloodline
    Tyranny
    Alpha Protocol
    AlBQuirky
    Constantine, The Console Poster

    • "One of the most difficult tasks men can perform, however much others may despise it, is the invention of good games and it cannot be done by men out of touch with their instinctive selves." - Carl Jung
  • immodiumimmodium Member RarePosts: 2,610
    Iselin said:
    Ir's one of those things in games best not to think too hard about. There are all kinds of schemes that range from making some sense to none at all but they're all just glossing over the real hard-coded morality in any game that boils down to: does this make it easier or harder for me to get the best game ending?
    It reminds me of companions in Fallout 4. If you maxed affinity to infatuation you'd get a perk. So I'd make sure the choices I chose pleased my companion. Whether I agreed with the decision was irrelevant, I wanted the perk.

    I'd do the same in any game that hides game mechanics behind moral choices.
    ConstantineMerusAlBQuirky[Deleted User]Iselin

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  • WizardryWizardry Member LegendaryPosts: 19,332
    edited December 2018
    There is definitely a lot of problems within game design ,i just lump it all together and say it either "makes sense"or it does not.
    The biggest aspect and reason why often stuff doesn't make sense is because devs have no clue about IMMERSION,they simply do NOT get it.

    Using your examples of a chest,this is imo a VERY easy one to design but yeah as mentioned they mess it up a LOT.A game is NOT suppose to act like computer code or notable systems,it is SUPPOSE to act like a real immersive world where anything you do you would expect a certain response.

    So back to the CHEST idea.If i were to attempt to break into a chest and nobody saw me,why would i get any penalty or system/number change?Like who is handing out this penalty,some fake magical person in the sky?NO it is a system,a lazy cheap designed system that simply tosses numbers around.

    Now if somebody saw me then to THAT particular person,i would lose favor.Then unless the game has some reasoning that person spreads the news,NOBODY else in the game should know about it.So my favor would only be changed to that one npc/person.Then if i killed that npc,unless other npc's witnessed it,i wouldn't have any kill penalty either.

    Never forget 3 mile Island and never trust a government official or company spokesman.

  • LokeroLokero Member RarePosts: 1,514
    In most games, it's definitely clear that the choices offered are less about the true morality/alignment of the situation, and more about driving the story where it is designed to go.

    From the game dev perspective: The more genuine choices on offer, the more outcomes they have to add to the game. 
    Equally, from the writers' perspective:  They are trying to tell a story, which means clear and concise plots and directives.  Most games have an official "canon" ending, to boot.

    It's also worth pointing out that most people are quick to board the "good vs bad" train.  There's a reason we keep seeing the re-re-re-revival of the WW2 era.
    WW2 is generally considered pretty black-and-white, by most of humanity.  Everyone knows the Nazis and the Imperials are "bad".

    From a design/story perspective, having a genuine bad guy tends to be a staple of design.  The average person seems to be more easily immersed by the concept of heroically battling an evil villain.  It's a big selling point to most consumers.
    I think most people playing games just want to have some mindless fun and don't want to have to face realistic moral dilemmas.

    From my perspective:  Open-ended stories tend to suck --  I want to know how things end.  Choice for the sake of choice, tends to suck -- I want consequences to my choices.

    So, if the developers aren't going to bother going through with the consequences of those extra choices, then there's no point in even having them.  I absolutely hate when games offer you like 5 different choices, but you always end up with the same result, no matter what you say/do.

    I prefer ambiguity in the world, but you can't really have it when you are playing the specific role of "hero" or whatever. 
    Personally, I'd prefer to never see another game where I'm the one-and-only saviour of the universe.  But, I guess that's a complaint for another day :wink:

    I guess one of the big issues is that everything seems to be designed around killing and combat.  This is also a complaint for another day, but you could have a lot more personal choice if games were designed to do something other than just make you "fight and kill".
    AlBQuirky
  • ShaighShaigh Member EpicPosts: 2,129
    Would you kill a bad guy to save five civilians. Would you risk one person's life to save five others. Would you willingly butcher one civilian to potentially save five others. Those sorts of choices are far more interesting than games that allow you to act out your inner asshole.

    Then again, there are a few games that people already pointed out that makes being "a bad guy" an interesting choice. I allowed Revan to turn because given how the story was told it made more sense than staying little goodie two shoes.

    Worst way to handle morality are games that makes a meter that keeps track on how you behave. I don't like character mechanics that force you to make choices within the game.
    Iselin: And the next person who says "but it's a business, they need to make money" can just go fuck yourself.
  • kitaradkitarad Member LegendaryPosts: 7,473
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  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Member EpicPosts: 7,387
    kitarad said:
    That got me rolling :D

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR


  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Member EpicPosts: 7,387
    edited December 2018
    Wizardry said:
    There is definitely a lot of problems within game design ,i just lump it all together and say it either "makes sense"or it does not.
    The biggest aspect and reason why often stuff doesn't make sense is because devs have no clue about IMMERSION,they simply do NOT get it.

    Using your examples of a chest,this is imo a VERY easy one to design but yeah as mentioned they mess it up a LOT.A game is NOT suppose to act like computer code or notable systems,it is SUPPOSE to act like a real immersive world where anything you do you would expect a certain response.

    So back to the CHEST idea.If i were to attempt to break into a chest and nobody saw me,why would i get any penalty or system/number change?Like who is handing out this penalty,some fake magical person in the sky?NO it is a system,a lazy cheap designed system that simply tosses numbers around.

    Now if somebody saw me then to THAT particular person,i would lose favor.Then unless the game has some reasoning that person spreads the news,NOBODY else in the game should know about it.So my favor would only be changed to that one npc/person.Then if i killed that npc,unless other npc's witnessed it,i wouldn't have any kill penalty either.

    Kind of, but not really what I was getting at with the chest example.

    A "good aligned" spy will pick a lock to gain access to the information "their side" needs to win a battle, or even the war. Or maybe an "adventurer" needs to pick a lock to set a prisoner free. It's quite different from the "thief" seeking easy money or loot. The act of picking the lock is neither "good" nor "evil", in my opinion. It is the motivation for picking the lock that makes so.

    Does that make sense?

    PS: Who sees you is yourself. Morality is about what you believe, not about who sees you. Does dismembering a baby differ in morality depending on who sees you?
    Post edited by AlBQuirky on

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR


  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Member EpicPosts: 7,387
    kitarad said:
    I enjoyed the options in SWTOR that made my agent on the empire side choose to be on the light side and my Sith warrior also choosing to be light but my Jedi knight and sage was dark side. I  know it is an illusion but I like to weigh my decisions.
    Is that meta-gaming? Why roll an "evil character" (Sith/Emperial) if playing a "good aligned" character? Or vice versa? Or is it the "special snowflake" kicking in?

    I'm not saying it is wrong or right. I'm just curious as to why? I fully believe in playing games however one chooses to have fun :)

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR


  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Member EpicPosts: 7,387
    Shaigh said:
    Would you kill a bad guy to save five civilians. Would you risk one person's life to save five others. Would you willingly butcher one civilian to potentially save five others. Those sorts of choices are far more interesting than games that allow you to act out your inner asshole.

    Then again, there are a few games that people already pointed out that makes being "a bad guy" an interesting choice. I allowed Revan to turn because given how the story was told it made more sense than staying little goodie two shoes.

    Worst way to handle morality are games that makes a meter that keeps track on how you behave. I don't like character mechanics that force you to make choices within the game.
    Are those choices in the first paragraph "good" or "evil?" "Butcher" in that last example seems to slant that action towards "evil", as it not simply killing, but "tearing apart."

    It's not really the mechanic itself that sucks for me, but rather how that mechanic is so poorly handled. I have found that most "moral dilemmas" that games present are not much of a dilemma for me, but the developers make it one by instituting their own morality.

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR


  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Member EpicPosts: 7,387
    @ConstantineMerus, I've only played KotOR 1+2 and Dungeon Keeper 2 from your list.

    KotOR I never pursued a "Sith" playthough, but was the only games I went "evil" in one act (Zalbar killed Mission) just to see what the "evil robes" were like. I had to quit the game immediately after I found out and deleted all of the save files. I was not aware that those choices were more than mere bullying. I've been curious about the "sith side" story. Is Malek still the big bad boss? Instead of destroying the Star Forge, do you get it up and running? I'm just curious because the "NPC Sith" I saw were just douchebags, not really "evil", per se. ("Let's endlessly zap the helpless NPC!" "Let's act all tough with this obviously overpowered Good Guy!" "Let's shake down this alien for a couple of credits!")

    Dungeon Keeper 2 was pretty good, though. Slapping monsters because they liked it made sense. Also, you're an "evil dungeon master" trying to slay the "heroes" attempting to get your treasure >:)

    @Lokero, I totally agree about the stories. I'd like to see to see a totally different game play or story between "good" characters and "evil" characters. Usually it is the same story with assholery woven in here and there. Instead of saving the world, how about taking it over? Instead of being helpful to all of those NPCs, how about manipulating them into doing bad things for you?

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR


  • kitaradkitarad Member LegendaryPosts: 7,473
    AlBQuirky said:
    kitarad said:
    I enjoyed the options in SWTOR that made my agent on the empire side choose to be on the light side and my Sith warrior also choosing to be light but my Jedi knight and sage was dark side. I  know it is an illusion but I like to weigh my decisions.
    Is that meta-gaming? Why roll an "evil character" (Sith/Emperial) if playing a "good aligned" character? Or vice versa? Or is it the "special snowflake" kicking in?

    I'm not saying it is wrong or right. I'm just curious as to why? I fully believe in playing games however one chooses to have fun :)
    I wondered what it was like to be a citizen of the Empire who did not agree with the black and white choices. The operative the character I played was truly a grey character and one whose story could really be played either way and if you know the story you would understand the reason.

    The Jedi Knight I basically did some stuff that was evil but some of it made sense in my book. The fact is there are so many grey options in games that making the artificial choice not to become bad or get bad karma is exhausting.
    AlBQuirky

  • aummoidaummoid Member UncommonPosts: 82
    AlBQuirky said:
    I enjoy "morally gray" dilemmas from time to time, but also enjoy clean, cut and dried good vs evil. I often get frustrated because an action I take that I think is "morally just", the developers decides is not.

    Anyone else feel similarly? Anyone have no troubles with morality defined by some games?
    I don't generally have trouble recognizing any given moral decision imposed by the game mechanics, whether I agree with that moral code or not. As long as that's the case, it doesn't get in the way of game immersion.

    As an example, I don't expect SWTOR to define "light side" and "dark side" in a way that perfectly overlaps with what I might view as good or evil, because SWTOR's moral code is defined by canon related to the Force and my moral code is not.

    That said, I don't think game developers make very good philosophers and I find most of their efforts along these lines to be pretty ham-fisted. This is particularly the case in MMOs, where the bulk of player time and developer focus is spent on systems to provide fun and varied ways to kill everything in sight, with little or no negative consequence beyond an equipment repair bill. 
    AlBQuirkyPalebane
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