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Why do game-developers bother adding moral-choices in their games?

Eternal NothingnessEternal Nothingness Registered User regular
edited September 2011 in Games and Technology
Just so you know, I'm new to this website, so please go easy on me.

Back on-topic, I remember watching an episode of Extra Credits, called "Choice and Conflict," and it reminds me of myself when I asked myself, "Why bother with moral-choices when they can just give players tactical-choices instead?"

Think about it. Moral-choices tend to fail because of how powerfully black-and-white they are, as well as how little they affect the gameplay and narrative. Tactical-choices, on the other hand, aren't in any way good or evil, instead just coming down to each player's preferences.

Think about combat and support, the two common team-driven roles, and compare them to the choices between good and evil. Good and evil are just cookie-cutter and generic, like when you take a good look at the Autobots and Decepticons from Transformers. Combat and support, on the other hand, have their own respective strengths and weaknesses that don't make any of them better or worse, just different.

So, why do they toss in half-assed moral-choices, when they can just as easily do what Capcom did when they made Street Fighter 2, which is give players choices based on their respective play-styles?

Eternal Nothingness on
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  • The Dude With HerpesThe Dude With Herpes Lehi, UTRegistered User regular
    Because moral choices are universal. That's not to say morality is universal, but every day we make decisions based on our personal morals. Often, in video games, you're not even given a choice. Stories are on rails and you do what the game wants you to do. Don't want to kill that guy? too bad, if you want to keep playing, do it.

    So games like Mass Effect that provides choice are nice and refreshing. Of course you could have a whole long argument as to whether or not those choices actually matter in games these days, but it's a start.

    As to why they go into moral choices instead of tactical choices? Well, moral choices are easier to program. Beyond that, as I said, everyone understands making moral choices. Some people just aren't tactically inclined and that's not exactly as universal or appealing as choosing whether or not you want to punch someone in the face or let them be.

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  • Eternal NothingnessEternal Nothingness Registered User regular
    edited September 2011
    Because moral choices are universal. That's not to say morality is universal, but every day we make decisions based on our personal morals. Often, in video games, you're not even given a choice. Stories are on rails and you do what the game wants you to do. Don't want to kill that guy? too bad, if you want to keep playing, do it.

    So games like Mass Effect that provides choice are nice and refreshing. Of course you could have a whole long argument as to whether or not those choices actually matter in games these days, but it's a start.

    As to why they go into moral choices instead of tactical choices? Well, moral choices are easier to program. Beyond that, as I said, everyone understands making moral choices. Some people just aren't tactically inclined and that's not exactly as universal or appealing as choosing whether or not you want to punch someone in the face or let them be.

    So what? Moral-choices aren't that fun anyway, because you can be as evil as you want and the game still play the same as when you choose to be good!

    Think about World of Warcraft. Sure, that game has you pick between either the Alliance or the Horde, but (a) both sides almost play the same as each other, and (b) it was more than that. It was also about working together with a huge variety of other players to complete each quest, especially during mid-game with a five-man party, as well as end-game with a 25-man raid. The party-composition normally consists of what most people like to call them "tanks," "DPSers," and "healers," even though I would have just-as-easily merged the tank and DPS roles to form the "combat" role, while renaming the healer-role as the "support" role to go along with the "combat" role. The tank defends his allies to reduce damage, long enough for the DPSers to target and defeat the various enemies and bosses they do battle against, leaving the healer to restore lost health for his allies when they need it. Although, if I were all those WoW players, I would've just said, "combatants fight enemies with melee/ranged weapons, while supporters spell-cast and heal." That's my preference, by the way.

    The same can be said for most other team-versus and co-op games such as Left 4 Dead and Team Fortress 2, as they also have you decide between either completing main-objectives while your teammates support you, or support your teammates long enough for them to get to the main-objectives. If every member of the same team were all combatants, they'd die too quickly. If they were all supporters instead, they wouldn't get to the main-objectives either. This is why a balance between combat and support is vital, so that the whole team can survive long enough for them to get to the objectives.

    And the best part is that each tactical-choice isn't as black-and-white as your average good/evil moral-choice. Sure, it's difficult to program, as you've implied, but at least it's better than some half-assed attempts at morality!

    Eternal Nothingness on
  • surrealitychecksurrealitycheck lonely, but not unloved dreaming of faulty keys and latchesRegistered User regular
    because some people enjoy games as works of interactive fiction

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  • AspectVoidAspectVoid Registered User regular
    Because moral choices are universal. That's not to say morality is universal, but every day we make decisions based on our personal morals. Often, in video games, you're not even given a choice. Stories are on rails and you do what the game wants you to do. Don't want to kill that guy? too bad, if you want to keep playing, do it.

    So games like Mass Effect that provides choice are nice and refreshing. Of course you could have a whole long argument as to whether or not those choices actually matter in games these days, but it's a start.

    As to why they go into moral choices instead of tactical choices? Well, moral choices are easier to program. Beyond that, as I said, everyone understands making moral choices. Some people just aren't tactically inclined and that's not exactly as universal or appealing as choosing whether or not you want to punch someone in the face or let them be.

    So what? Moral-choices aren't that fun anyway, because you can be as evil as you want and the game still play the same as when you choose to be good!

    Think about World of Warcraft. Sure, that game has you pick between either the Alliance or the Horde, but (a) both sides almost play the same as each other, and (b) it was more than that. It was also about working together with a huge variety of other players to complete each quest, especially during mid-game with a five-man party, as well as end-game with a 25-man raid. The party-composition normally consists of what most people like to call them "tanks," "DPSers," and "healers," even though I would have just-as-easily merged the tank and DPS roles to form the "combat" role, while renaming the healer-role as the "support" role to go along with the "combat" role. The tank defends his allies to reduce damage, long enough for the DPSers to target and defeat the various enemies and bosses they do battle against, leaving the healer to restore lost health for his allies when they need it. Although, if I were all those WoW players, I would've just said, "combatants fight enemies with melee/ranged weapons, while supporters spell-cast and heal." That's my preference, by the way.

    The same can be said for most other team-versus and co-op games such as Left 4 Dead and Team Fortress 2, as they also have you decide between either completing main-objectives while your teammates support you, or support your teammates long enough for them to get to the main-objectives. If every member of the same team were all combatants, they'd die too quickly. If they were all supporters instead, they wouldn't get to the main-objectives either. This is why a balance between combat and support is vital, so that the whole team can survive long enough for them to get to the objectives.

    And the best part is that each tactical-choice isn't as black-and-white as your average good/evil moral-choice. Sure, it's difficult to program, as you've implied, but at least it's better than some half-assed attempts at morality!

    I would have to say because there are a lot of people who completely disagree with you. They find the moral choices interesting, intriguing, and engaging. Unlike you, they allow themselves to fall into the story and what happens in the moment is just as important, maybe even more important, than how it affects the end game.

    There was a thread in here, years ago, about one of us Penny-Arcade forum goes letting his young son play Knights of the Old Republic for the first time. Reading that thread about the son's reaction to the story and how and why he made certain decisions reminded me of why I love the hobby so much.

    Also, IMO, tactical choices are boring as all hell. They have no affect what-so-ever on the outcome, story, or way you or your character view the world. They're a puzzle game. And puzzles are boring. Give me the ability to make a choice in a conversation in order to further define my character over another dull MP map any time.

    PSN|AspectVoid
  • VikingViking Registered User regular
    Moral choices in games are a bit of a joke for the most part.
    I can't think of any games that offered that kind of choice that didn't end up getting "gamed".
    Most times the games that offer these sorts of choices end up forcing you into one extreme or another. Bioware games in particular you are encouraged to either go full Light/Dark - Good/Evil - Open/Closed simply because the rewards for being consistent throughout the entire game far out weigh the rewards for taking each situation on its own merits.

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  • XtarathXtarath Registered User regular
    Viking wrote:
    Moral choices in games are a bit of a joke for the most part.
    I can't think of any games that offered that kind of choice that didn't end up getting "gamed".
    Most times the games that offer these sorts of choices end up forcing you into one extreme or another. Bioware games in particular you are encouraged to either go full Light/Dark - Good/Evil - Open/Closed simply because the rewards for being consistent throughout the entire game far out weigh the rewards for taking each situation on its own merits.

    The Witcher.

  • VikingViking Registered User regular
    I really need to play that, only just got past the tutorial in the first one.
    Cant remember why I stopped playing.

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  • StericaSterica Yes Registered User, Moderator mod
    I appreciate having alternate routes in games. But they fail completely if you expect them to be some kind of commentary on moral gray areas. Ultimately, you are forced to follow the moral code of the developer(s).

    A game that wasn't judgmental about your decisions (no fucking bars) and downplayed reactions (EVERYONE treating you in manner X because you are so pure/wicked) would be more interesting. I'm sure it's been done before.

    So, I guess the choices themselves are shallow, but make for deeper gameplay.

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  • TaberTaber Registered User regular
    edited September 2011
    I have no problem with moral choices in games in theory, but the execution is terrible. Instead of giving us choices like "Do you stop to save the little girl's life? if you do there's a chance the medicine you are taking to the village might spoil" they give us choices like "Do you stop to save the little girl's life, or do you burn down an orphanage." They don't make you make hard moral choices, they make you choose between the good guy path and the bad guy path. Even a good guy vs. bad guy thing could work out, if they reward the bad guy path with more rewards. Then it becomes an actual moral decision for the player instead of just getting rewarded in game for choosing the good guy path, which kind of eliminates the moral tension.

    Taber on
  • StericaSterica Yes Registered User, Moderator mod
    Well you have to be realistic, as every choice requires the developers to program more shit for it. Which is why the majority of decisions are ultimately binary.

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  • minor incidentminor incident expert in a dying field njRegistered User regular
    I get what you're saying, but it really sounds like you're judging all morality systems based on what you saw in KOTOR or something. Maybe you should play more games.

    The Witcher series is a good example of morality choices affecting gameplay to a drastic degree.

    Deus Ex: HR is a good example of a game blending tactical and moral decision-making into one rather seemless system.

    Serious Sam is a good example of how your decision to shoot things can make them dead, whereas your decision to not shoot things can make you dead.

    Ah, it stinks, it sucks, it's anthropologically unjust
  • VikingViking Registered User regular
    Ohh! just remembered one that I quite liked.
    Heavy Rain
    locked in a room with various "tools" and told to cut off my own finger to continue
    I really empathised with my character at that point, took me what felt like forever to decide what to do.

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  • minor incidentminor incident expert in a dying field njRegistered User regular
    Taber wrote:
    I have no problem with moral choices in games in theory, but the execution is terrible. Instead of giving us choices like "Do you stop to save the little girl's life? if you do there's a chance the medicine you are taking to the village might spoil" they give us choices like "Do you stop to save the little girl's life, or do you burn down an orphanage." They don't make you make hard moral choices, they make you choose between the good guy path and the bad guy path. Even a good guy vs. bad guy thing could work out, if they reward the bad guy path with more rewards. Then it becomes an actual moral decision for the player instead of just getting rewarded in game for choosing the good guy path, which kind of eliminates the moral tension.

    The Rachni Queen decision in Mass Effect was one off the top of my head that had me stop to think for a while. I honestly had no idea which decision would be considered morally "right" at the time.

    Good examples do exist, just not in your hypothetical illustrative points. Rather, in some actual games.

    Ah, it stinks, it sucks, it's anthropologically unjust
  • StericaSterica Yes Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited September 2011
    Are you responding to me? Because I said that morality choices affect gameplay a lot, and are worth keeping around. But they do very little as social commentary.

    Sterica on
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  • minor incidentminor incident expert in a dying field njRegistered User regular
    Viking wrote:
    Ohh! just remembered one that I quite liked.
    Heavy Rain
    locked in a room with various "tools" and told to cut off my own finger to continue
    I really empathised with my character at that point, took me what felt like forever to decide what to do.

    Yeah, wow, that was brutal.

    Ah, it stinks, it sucks, it's anthropologically unjust
  • HenroidHenroid Mexican kicked from Immigration Thread Centrism is Racism :3Registered User regular
    edited September 2011
    Bad execution doesn't make it a bad idea. Game writing needs to catch up in quality is all.

    Edit - By the way, can someone dig up this episode of Extra Credits?

    Henroid on
  • MegaMan001MegaMan001 CRNA Rochester, MNRegistered User regular
    It shocks me that developers are not willing to make such moral choices definitive.

    You made certain choices in the Tex Murphy games and it basically determined what femme fatale you slept with by the end of the game. That's it, but by God, that decision was permanent. If you wanted to sleep with the daughter of your client and didn't get it? You had to play the game again.

    Now, vis a vi Bioware - your choices mean precisely nothing. Doesn't really change the ending.

    I am in the business of saving lives.
  • jothkijothki Registered User regular
    I liked how the Geneforge series handled things. The games have a bunch of factions based on mostly reasonable yet largely incompatible philosophies, instead of a binary good/evil split.

  • GoumindongGoumindong Registered User regular
    Just so you know, I'm new to this website, so please go easy on me.

    Back on-topic, I remember watching an episode of Extra Credits, called "Choice and Conflict," and it reminds me of myself when I asked myself, "Why bother with moral-choices when they can just give players tactical-choices instead?"

    Think about it. Moral-choices tend to fail because of how powerfully black-and-white they are, as well as how little they affect the gameplay and narrative. Tactical-choices, on the other hand, aren't in any way good or evil, instead just coming down to each player's preferences.

    Think about combat and support, the two common team-driven roles, and compare them to the choices between good and evil. Good and evil are just cookie-cutter and generic, like when you take a good look at the Autobots and Decepticons from Transformers. Combat and support, on the other hand, have their own respective strengths and weaknesses that don't make any of them better or worse, just different.

    So, why do they toss in half-assed moral-choices, when they can just as easily do what Capcom did when they made Street Fighter 2, which is give players choices based on their respective play-styles?

    To me, this reads as

    "why implement moral choices poorly?"

    And the answer is obvious, you shouldn't implement moral choices poorly, but people like moral choices implemented well, and developers/designers are lazy and/or not actually good at designing moral choices that matter.

    So developers see demand for moral choices and then implement them poorly because its hard to do.

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  • The Big LevinskyThe Big Levinsky Registered User regular
    Fallout 3 and NV do a pretty good job. The details are a little fuzzy but I remember a situation where I could use an irrigation system to save a few dozen vault dwellers but cause a huge famine and leave the area vulnerable to slavers and bandits. The alternative was to ensure the survival of the local farms but drown the vault dwellers. There are several instances in that game that force you to make decisions where there is no "good guy" or "bad guy" answer.

  • GaslightGaslight Registered User regular
    How did I know as soon as I saw the thread title that the OP was from a person with a Gabe-silhouette non-avatar?

    How did I know?

  • GoumindongGoumindong Registered User regular
    I get what you're saying, but it really sounds like you're judging all morality systems based on what you saw in KOTOR or something. Maybe you should play more games.

    The Witcher series is a good example of morality choices affecting gameplay to a drastic degree.

    Deus Ex: HR is a good example of a game blending tactical and moral decision-making into one rather seemless system.

    I want to second 'The Witcher' though i haven't gotten around to playing the second one yet (waiting until it goes on sale).

    And an example from Deus Ex: HR
    One of the primary themes of Deus Ex is the ability of a single augmented man to really cause havoc on a scale that wasn't previously possible. I mean, guns are one thing, but aug'd humans are beyond the capabilities of guns. As such a primary plot point is one group attempting to control augments such that those types of things aren't possible.

    This of course has obvious parallels to the gun control debate. It makes sense to allow rifles and shotguns but do people really need 50 caliber machine guns? Probably not.

    Anyway, at one point in the game you're asked by a doctor who knows some "less than savory characters" who have gone off the grid. They're highly augmented, highly dangerous, and have supposedly flat out murdered before.

    So you go and get there and talk to the guy and the guy describes his situation thusly "So, we got turned into killing machines, even to the point where we installed chips into our brains that would erase memories so that we couldn't reveal company secrets after a job. But eventually we found out that these jobs we were doing were way less than savory even for the fact that we worked for a mercenary company. The augs weren't just deleting our memory, but inhibiting our moral functions. So we got together and got them to shut the system down, and now we are hunting the heads of the companies that did this to us and others, so that they won't ever do it to anyone else again (and maybe they'll be made an example of within their community)"

    And you are given a straight up moral choice to deal with that ties into the game. These are the good guys, they are acting essentially as you have been the entire game (except they might be killing people if you've been nice). But they're also dangerous, each one the equivalent of a walking tank. And they also have stated, clear, and willing intent to kill.

    So, do you let them go? Do you fight them? Do you convince them to stop(or do you even try)?

    This is a good example of a moral choice done well, because there is no clear answer and even though it doesn't have game consequences(iirc you get the same reward no matter what you do), it put me well into the character and the story, solidified what was going on, and made me think about my character and what I was doing. What if someone came up to me and told me to stop? Would I? If it came down to it, as a non-lethal character would I kill? I had already killed twice by that point(two bosses). Am I any better because I didn't set out to kill? What if i subsequently change my mind when i find the bastard who killed my girl?

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  • DunxcoDunxco Should get a suit Never skips breakfastRegistered User regular
    edited September 2011
    Henroid wrote:
    Bad execution doesn't make it a bad idea. Game writing needs to catch up in quality is all.

    Edit - By the way, can someone dig up this episode of Extra Credits?

    I think this may be the one the person meant:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_KU3lUx3u0

    Dunxco on
  • DehumanizedDehumanized Registered User regular
    It's not something the game did perfectly, but I have to give some mention to KotOR2 for
    a) giving you essentially the standard bioware morality ("You can either save this puppy or kill the kid and his whole family") system
    then
    b) brutally berating you late in the game if you went with the wrong morality for being such a useless, unthinking psychopath who totally played the game wrong what the fuck is wrong with you?

    But yeah, the Witcher shows how you can do moral choice in games without having it be dry and dull.

  • The AnonymousThe Anonymous Uh, uh, uhhhhhh... Uh, uh.Registered User regular
    edited September 2011
    I think the main problems with morality in games are 1) how straightforward they are, and 2) how ineffectual they are. Let me take inFamous as a recent example. Over the course of the game, it asks you to make a number of choices that affect your "karma". Putting aside the incorrect usage of "karma" in this context, you quickly notice that every single choice adheres to the game's own concepts of good and evil, and you are never, at any moment, given a third option. The first choice is incredibly simple: do you let the nearby innocents eat the food you retrieved for them, or do you scare them off? Another choice is equally straightforward: do you disable the bomb you were alerted to, or do you walk away and let it explode? Even the most "important" choice in the game (in that it affects your ending, is the only thing that affects your ending, and affects nothing else) is simplistic in presentation:
    do you destroy the Ray Sphere like you're supposed to, or do you activate it a second time for additional power?
    Notice the three recurring patterns in these choices:
    • You must always choose between "good" and "evil", with no alternative;
    • Rather than being made to question the morality of your actions, you are forced to accept the game's concept of morality as absolute;
    • Your choices ultimately have little to no impact upon the game itself.
    Mass Effect handles this better in that choices are not split between "good" and "evil", and there are a number of points where a choice will affect the game world in some way. However, there still is a binary distinction between the two extremes ("Paragon", corresponding with "lawful" actions, and "Renegade", corresponding with "chaotic" actions) and while you can at least decide for yourself whether a given course of action is "good" or "evil", you are still forced to accept the game's definition of "morality" instead of adopting your own.

    tl;dr "morality" in video games tends to be a misnomer: you aren't allowed to question it, you aren't allowed to choose an alternative, and you cannot affect the setting in any meaningful way, unless this particular choice affects the ending...regardless of alignment.

    The Anonymous on
  • DehumanizedDehumanized Registered User regular
    The Witcher avoids that whole thing. There aren't really "good" or "evil" choices; you are almost always choosing between "bad" and "worse", and consequences to your actions will often not manifest until hours later.

  • The AnonymousThe Anonymous Uh, uh, uhhhhhh... Uh, uh.Registered User regular
    edited September 2011
    The Witcher avoids that whole thing. There aren't really "good" or "evil" choices; you are almost always choosing between "bad" and "worse", and consequences to your actions will often not manifest until hours later.
    The Witcher is probably the best example of how morality should be handled in a video game. In the real world consequences aren't always immediately obvious, and morality isn't something that you are force-fed and unable to reject. The Witcher respects both of these things, where most games fail to consider even one of them.

    The Anonymous on
  • BurnageBurnage Registered User regular
    In addition to the Witcher, I thought Alpha Protocol's moral decisions were pretty good - particularly since most of them were quite subtle, yet still had consequences.

  • HenroidHenroid Mexican kicked from Immigration Thread Centrism is Racism :3Registered User regular
    Dunxco wrote:
    Henroid wrote:
    Bad execution doesn't make it a bad idea. Game writing needs to catch up in quality is all.

    Edit - By the way, can someone dig up this episode of Extra Credits?

    I think this may be the one the person meant:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_KU3lUx3u0

    This is the second Extra Credits episode I've seen. These guys are REALLY good at this sorta thing.

  • EliminationElimination Registered User regular
    MY 2 cents:

    Baldurs Gate series
    Planescape Torment
    Dragon Age (The original one, had some pretty good choices, but maybe not THE BEST example, but a good more recent one, so much better than DA2.)
    The Witcher 1 & 2 both
    Fallout Series
    Elder Scrolls series
    Deus Ex series
    And...who can forget... the Ultima series.

    PSN: PA_Elimination 3DS: 4399-2012-1711 Steam: http://steamcommunity.com/id/TheElimination/
  • King RiptorKing Riptor Registered User regular
    Dues Ex human revolution was horrible with its moral choices.

    It pulled a bioshock and playing a "bad" character was ultimately less rewarding in terms of gameplay

    I have a podcast now. It's about video games and anime!Find it here.
  • OrcaOrca Also known as Espressosaurus WrexRegistered User regular
    AspectVoid wrote:
    There was a thread in here, years ago, about one of us Penny-Arcade forum goes letting his young son play Knights of the Old Republic for the first time. Reading that thread about the son's reaction to the story and how and why he made certain decisions reminded me of why I love the hobby so much.

    Which thread was this? I'd like to read it.

  • SoundsPlushSoundsPlush yup, back. Registered User regular
    edited September 2011
    Dues Ex human revolution was horrible with its moral choices.

    It pulled a bioshock and playing a "bad" character was ultimately less rewarding in terms of gameplay

    That's a gameplay integration problem or a ludic one, not a problem with the choice itself.

    This thread premise seems ridiculous to me, Manicheanism aside. Comparing "moral" and "tactical" choices is like saying why do people argue about philosophy when they could argue about where to eat for lunch.

    SoundsPlush on
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  • LawndartLawndart Registered User regular
    edited September 2011
    I still have no idea why anyone playing a Star Wars game complains about being presented with a binary good-vs-evil morality choice.
    So, why do they toss in half-assed moral-choices, when they can just as easily do what Capcom did when they made Street Fighter 2, which is give players choices based on their respective play-styles?

    Because moral dilemmas make interactive narratives slightly more interesting than the ability to scream "haduoken!" and throw a fireball at someone does.

    Also, Alpha Protocol and Fallout: New Vegas are some other, non-Witcher examples of offering player choices that are not quite as blatantly telegraphed in their moral merit as, say, BioWare games.

    Lawndart on
  • KadokenKadoken Giving Ends to my Friends and it Feels Stupendous Registered User regular
    Orca wrote:
    AspectVoid wrote:
    There was a thread in here, years ago, about one of us Penny-Arcade forum goes letting his young son play Knights of the Old Republic for the first time. Reading that thread about the son's reaction to the story and how and why he made certain decisions reminded me of why I love the hobby so much.

    Which thread was this? I'd like to read it.

    As would I. I love stories about PA'ers kids and games.

  • chiasaur11chiasaur11 Never doubt a raccoon. Do you think it's trademarked?Registered User regular
    Dues Ex human revolution was horrible with its moral choices.

    It pulled a bioshock and playing a "bad" character was ultimately less rewarding in terms of gameplay

    That's a gameplay integration problem or a ludic one, not a problem with the choice itself.

    This thread premise seems ridiculous to me, Manicheanism aside. Comparing "moral" and "tactical" choices is like saying why do people argue about philosophy when they could argue about where to eat for lunch.

    But in the neoclassical system, what is the meaning of "Carls Jr." as opposed to "Hardees"?

    In the Aquinine system, we can say with assurance our natural impulses have value, allowing us to consider In N Out as a better option than McDonalds, but then total depravity suggests we have no real concept of value. If true, would this not leave the statement "McDonalds kind of sucks" entirely without objective meaning?

    And who gives a shit when we're getting pizza anyway?

  • OrcaOrca Also known as Espressosaurus WrexRegistered User regular
    guar wrote:

    Thanks! It's always fun to see how unjaded eyes view the games I've enjoyed.

  • OrcaOrca Also known as Espressosaurus WrexRegistered User regular
    edited September 2011
    From that thread (and yes, this is off topic, but it spoke to me so I'm sharing it with you ANYWAY)
    You should of seen him with Oblivion for the 360, he had a guy who he had been playing for over 600 hours, owned every house in the game, and was truely immersed in it, and then his save data got deleted somehow. He cried over that he lost his guy, and everything he had done. Ever since then whenever he plays the game with another character he's not immersed at all. He's just playing a game, and it doesnt even seem like the same game as he used to play.

    While I didn't cry, I had a similar experience with a MUD maybe 10 years ago. Totally into it, lots of roleplaying, exploring, enjoying experiencing the world, despite the evidence of artifice all around me. We're talking WoW-level hooked. Then, after committing thousands of hours, collecting uniques from adventures the admins had personally run, rare spawns and the rest of it--regardless of their power--the character's equipment was lost in a reset.

    edit: The context I suppose matters.

    Every so often (6 months or so?) an item would surface that, when invoked, would open a gateway to Hell. Monsters would come rushing out and flood the land, slaughtering lower-leveled folks and forcing higher-leveled folks to start taking care, if not band up to clear groups of demons. Simply fighting up to the gateway was a chore. And then, once you got to the gateway, you could descend into the depths of Hell--a complex maze filled with traps, tricks, and monsters capable of rapidly dismantling the unwary.

    A team was vital for exploring, but the brave (or foolhardy) could go alone, if they had enough firepower and the server was empty. I had an adult black drake as a pet, so that was adequate firepower, in combination with my equipment. :) A couple timestops and that guy could rip the hell out of anything that wasn't a boss.

    So, one night on the deserted server, I enter the gates of Hell. Alone.

    I made my way through the depths, dying on occasion, but managing to progress despite the missteps. Until I ended up locked in a room, unable to invoke my magic or even respond, and demons took me apart.

    I had died. Again. Dammit! I'd need to make my way back down there and figure out how to get out. Should be doable.

    As I made my way down...the server reset.

    The way this MUD worked was that if you died, your corpse would rot after a few hours, at which point it was open season on your gear.

    Which is fine, insofar as it goes. But the problem is that when the server is reset, the only items that are recorded are those that are either in your corpse or on your person.

    When I logged in again, everything was gone. Thousands of hours of equipment and memories. Poof. As ethereal as the database entries that backed them.

    It wasn't the same afterwards, and I haven't really been able to play that MUD since. It's just no longer enjoyable...which is too bad. I miss Elan and the others. They were good people.

    Orca on
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