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Re: Moral dilemma's in RPGs #342680
17/09/07 01:54 AM
17/09/07 01:54 AM
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Another "post I wrote on another board". Tell me if these are annoying, or if I should just link to that post instead of pasting here.
[Edit: By advice, the thread this came from was: http://www.bethsoft.com/bgsforums/index.php?showtopic=755976 ]
Quote:

I love consequences, and like that they not always be made obvious at the outset.

Killing a bandit and finding a baby's bottle on her body. Did the bandit kill the baby and take the bottle? Or did you just kill a mother?

Symbiotic relationships are always good: if you cut off the "evil" bit you harm the "good". In the Eragon book and movie, killing an evil dragonrider killed its dragon too. No idea if that was carried on to a moral dilemma in the game, though. Another good example: Jeckyll and Hyde.

Then there's the conflicting interests one. Someone has a wasting illness. They want to die. Someone else cares extremely deeply about them, and is desperately working on a cure, with a very low chance of success, but at least it's a chance. Do you let the person die?

One of the conflicting interests can be you: you and someone who can't swim are on a boat. Boat sinks. You can't carry both your pack of equipment, and the non-swimmer to shore.

Who's more important? Do you betray one friend or a thousand strangers?

Do the ends justify the means? Do you torture people for information, or do without?

Do the ends justify the risks? Do you allow a faction to remain neutral, or assassinate their leader so that the second in command, who is more amenable, will ally the faction with your cause? Is it worth the risk of getting found out, and having the faction go over to the enemy?

I was just following orders! You are told "take Snow White into the woods and kill her." Do you kill her? Refuse? Let her go but lie about it? Flee with her? You are told "torture this man" - do you? (in real life experiments, people would obey the authority figure) Your colleague, told to help you, objects strongly and refuses to take part - do you side with him, or your employer? (in the tests where the subject sees a peer standing up for what's "right", people are able to break from the "obey authority" mindset far easier).

Who do you save? A town with a population of M has a well infected with a fatal disease. You have N doses of a cure. N<<M. Who do you allow to die? If you see and speak with them as their health fails and they die, how will you feel? Will you give up your own dose, and hope that your high health and stack of stimpaks will see you through? Will you give all your stimpaks the dying, even if it will only stretch out their time a little? Will those you give the dose to give their dose to others? If you give it to them in a way that they cannot, will they hate you? Either way, will the survivors feel deep guilt in themselves that they survived?

Who do you spare? Someone with an infectious disease is trying to break out from enforced quarantine for emotional reasons: to be with her dying daughter perhaps. How far are you willing to go to prevent her getting out of quarantine? She might not even be infected!

Bandits, to me, should be a moral dilemma. They are not simple, evil killable mobs. They are people driven to rob from others. Not "attack and fight to the death" - that's just retarded. Why are they so desperate? What are they trying to preserve? If they take the time to explain their situation, would the player help instead of fighting?

Moral conflicts don't need to be purely inside you. You can morally conflict with other people. The paladin in the awesome Goblins comic is a good example: he is sworn to obliterate all goblins, and sees them as irredeemably evil. If he met any goblins from Underworld2, he'd massacre them down to the last baby. But, he's acting out of a strong moral code, to protect what he believes in. Is he evil? Should you fight him?

The Ultima character generation moral dilemmas are interesting. Stuff like:
"You and your friend battle a dragon. He thinks he slew the beast, but you know that you are the one who struck the telling blow. Do you Honestly correct him when he claims the glory for himself? Or Humbly allow him to take credit?"


Its very important, when considering consequences, to remember that the player can lie too! If I say "sure, I'll go kill Bob" I mean "I want the character I have spoken to, to think that I intend to kill Bob", not "when I meet Bob, and talk to him, automatically launch me into a fight to the death with him".

It is also very important to remember that if you make the player take an either-or choice, then even if you have done everything in your power to ensure they don't find a way to make them choose "both!"... you have to be very aware that they might just do so, and you need to code that in as a possible result anyway. "You found enough vaccine for the whole village? That's incredible, I didn't think there was that much in the whole of the wasteland! What did you do, find a cloning bug? ZOMG HAX!"




Last edited by DewiMorgan; 17/09/07 02:20 PM.

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Re: Moral dilemma's in RPGs #342681
17/09/07 03:59 AM
17/09/07 03:59 AM
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Raze Offline

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Tell me if these are annoying

If anyone finds them annoying, they can easily stop reading.


or if I should just link to that post instead of pasting here.

Having the suggestions here makes it easier to discussion them in terms of what we know or want for DD2. However, if there is discussion or feedback in the other forum that may be of interest, you could also post a link to that.


One of the conflicting interests can be you: you and someone who can't swim are on a boat. Boat sinks. You can't carry both your pack of equipment, and the non-swimmer to shore.

I hope the other person is a quick learner.
Actually, that isn't much of a dilemma in a game; you would have to be left quest items, etc, or be able to recover some stuff at a later point. It might be more interesting to have a couple other survivors, one badly injured and unconscious, and the other who can swim, but is panicking. Do you save the one who might die anyway, hoping to talk the other into calming down, or do you concentrate on the one you can definitely save?


A town with a population of M has a well infected with a fatal disease. You have N doses of a cure. N<<M. Who do you allow to die?

Um.. can you give out the cure potions, and then Pickpocket them back to re-use?


Bandits, to me, should be a moral dilemma. ...
If they take the time to explain their situation, would the player help instead of fighting?

There was a quest like this in DD, where you are asked to track down a cow thief, who turns out to be someone in the poor quarter just trying to feed everyone. Turning him in gives more experience (even though you can see him in jail later, you can not talk to him again or break him out), while agreeing to look the other way gives more reputation.
This situation was a rather simple dilemma, though, and you could easily try it both ways and quickly determine which result was 'better'.


The Ultima character generation moral dilemmas are interesting.

I answered those questions accurately the first time I started the game, and then reloaded to answer based on the character class I wanted to be.

Re: Moral dilemma's in RPGs #342682
17/09/07 05:19 AM
17/09/07 05:19 AM
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DewiMorgan Offline
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Quote:

If anyone finds them annoying, they can easily stop reading.



So true. But then, if nobody finds them constructive or useful, no point my wasting anyone's time




Having the suggestions here makes it easier to discussion them in terms of what we know or want for DD2. However, if there is discussion or feedback in the other forum that may be of interest, you could also post a link to that.




Yeah - I felt that it'd get more discussion here if posted here. Wasn't sure on linkage policy so played safe, but will edit the posts to include links

Quote:

Actually, that isn't much of a dilemma in a game; you would have to be left quest items, etc,



Good call - yours is the much better scenario

Quote:

Um.. can you give out the cure potions, and then Pickpocket them back to re-use?




Eww, yeah, I can just imagine that in a game which failed to check check it right - you'd see the man wasting away over the days, even though every time you spoke to you, he'd thank you profusely for saving him

Quote:

There was a quest like this in DD, where you are asked to track down a cow thief,



Great dilemma



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Re: Moral dilemma's in RPGs #342683
17/09/07 06:46 AM
17/09/07 06:46 AM
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Eww, yeah, I can just imagine that in a game which failed to check check it right - you'd see the man wasting away over the days, even though every time you spoke to you, he'd thank you profusely for saving him

In DD there was a quest to cure 3 poisoned people in a quarantined area, with only 2 cure potions. This was designed to force you to choose who lived and who would die (though left alone they never actually got sick enough to die). Before a couple cheats were found that could duplicate a cure potion, a German player found that you could either pickpocket a potion back to re-use, or kill a cured person to get them to drop the potion (there was no reputation drop for this, unlike using a direct attack against most friendly NPCs). Whatever method was used, all three quests could be completed, and they would all stay healthy (though the main gate to the quarantine area would remain sealed).

Re: Moral dilemma's in RPGs #342684
22/09/07 10:38 PM
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Moral dilemma's are great. Also there should be choices that aren't really good or bad but just different. I hate when the only options a game has is to be either Jesus or Satan, with nothing in between.

Re: Moral dilemma's in RPGs #342685
23/09/07 09:17 AM
23/09/07 09:17 AM
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I hope that being evil is not punished when you do it right. I am talking of deceit, and cunning planning.

example:

A mayor went looking for missing children with his sword of power. When find him and the children you could kill him but you would be hunted by the villagers. Or you let him live, return to the village, wait till night, stealth enter his house and steal the sword or if needed kill the mayor but shift the blame to some one else when you drop an item of his political contender.

When being evil is done under cloak and dagger it should have sometimes have very good results. It raises some good questions about absolute morality vs relative morality.


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That excuse has more holes than a slice this fine Gorgombert!
Re: Moral dilemma's in RPGs #342686
17/10/07 06:03 PM
17/10/07 06:03 PM
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In The Witcher they are doing something like this and instead of giving a clue when you first choose the moral path it does a flashback sequence to your decision when you see the outcome. I really don't know how well that is going to work out until I play it but I don't even think that is really neccessary, just put in the outcome so we can see it and if neccessary dialog that references the previous encounter/choice if it isn't so obvious what caused it. (I.E. if we let a crimnal go and he goes to a village and kills everyone have a survivor or a cut scene as we enter reference the criminal is the one who done it.)


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Re: Moral dilemma's in RPGs #342687
13/11/07 08:41 AM
13/11/07 08:41 AM
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Quote:

We're planning on including quite a few moral dilemma's in our next game, forcing the player to make choices that have consequences on the inhabitants of the world as well as him/herself. In a lot of cases the consequences aren't immediately clear as it takes some time before the ramifications of a particular choice propagate. This can be an issue, and one way of solving that would be to give you a hint of what will happen if you make a particular choice. I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts on that.

Lar




I think moral dilemmas where the choices you make affect the way the game plays out is what separates a good RPG from a good RPG. You are role playing to larger degree.

Re: Moral dilemma's in RPGs #342688
27/11/07 03:07 PM
27/11/07 03:07 PM
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I've only gone through some of the posts in this topic but this is quite interesting. Something I'd like to throw in: the definition of "moral values" differs for each person, religion, ethnicity, society, etc. I hope that's taken into account so that no single person ends up sounding the same.

Re: Moral dilemma's in RPGs #342689
04/12/07 12:49 PM
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I always liked choices that actually MATTER in the long run.

Although in recent years, I find them somewhat less satisfying, because I do not have the time to play through all possible paths (at least if this involves starting from scratch), and always end up wondering what I have missed.

That doesn´t mean you shouldn´t go for it, just something you should be aware of.


To bad now that right now it will probably be considered hopping on the bandwagon (because of The Witcher, Tabula Rasa and Bioshock), despite the fact that the idea isn´t exactly new. But not many have played Planescape: Torment, and if you admit that you have even heard about Ultima IV, the current generation of gamers will consider you the equivalent of the 2 old geezers from the muppet show.
So, looking at that timeline, Beyond Divinity would have been the "right time to strike" :P

Anyway what all this means is that how succesfull this feature will be will depend on the implementation. Ideally, it should differentiate itself from the one in th titles mentioned above, while also feeling meaningfull.

To give more specific feedback, I´d have to know what you have in mind, which I suspect you have deliberatly NOT told us (yet?), so I will give a few bullet points on what criteria ("boundary conditions", if you will) the implementation should meet, with a lot of (unedited, confusing and random) ranting giving more thoughts on the subject. If you dont like headaches, stick to the bullet points :P

- You need to make up your mind on whether you want to transport a message or statement via the game, or wether you want to enable the player to roleplay different kinds of personalities ("Lawfull Neutral" vs. "Neutral Evil").
(Note that I consider the former a perfectly valid choice; does it´s anti-war agenda invalidate "Platoon"?)

However, the upshot of this is that in the latter "roleplay" case, there needs to be a certain balance from a gameplay perspective, i.e. playing "evil" should not be significantly easier or harder then playing "good".
OTOH, if you want to give the player a TRUE choice of being egoistic or altruistic, the latter should make the game noticably harder, especially in the short term. Bioshock caught some of flak over the fact that whether you rescued or harvested the Little Sisters had no significant effect on your ADAM supply, even short term, making the choice.
Note that giving the player a choice to be altruistic by accepting some sort of TRUE disadvantage in order to do the "right thing" automatically constitutes transporting a message: What you, the designer consider to be the right thing)

- I would prefer more shades of gray over simple "good or evil" choices. If I want to be tempted by the Dark Side, I play Knights of the Old Republic

I know that I talked a lot about "good", "evil", "egoistic" and "altruistic" above, but all this black and white merely served to illustrate my point better.
Star Wars can get away with it because, in a sense, in it´s context, Black vs. White is the whole point.

- The relation between action and consequence within the context of the game world should always be clear. ("Why did x happen after I did y?")

Example of how not to do it: In Black&White I tried to play a neutral God. I did this by beeing nice to my own people, trying to impress neutral people, but annihilating hostile ones.
After razing the first town, my alignment was set, quite firmly, on "evil". It would have taken forever to "grind" it back with nice miracles. I have no idea why the game reacted this way, except that it appears that the designer was of the opinion that only evil Gods are allowed to use offensive miracles at all.

Upshot: Don´t give the player a "score" on his alignment, UNLESS your game falls into the "sending a message" category. Rather, only show consequences of his actions. For example, how peoples reactions towards him change. Actually, in a non-message-sending game, different people should have different reactions: One mans Villain is anothers Hero!

- The player should always be informed enough to gauge the consequences of his actions ("What will happen if I do x?")

Pretty obvious, if you do something from your perspective seems "right", but would consider "wrong" if you had all pertinent facts, leads to a feeling of randomness that negates any feeling that your choices matter.
There are exceptions though: For one, if you weren´t diligent in gathering all the facts, then it´s your own fault. Also, sometimes you get manipulated into thinking something is "right", e.g. someone intentionally misinforms you. How you deal with someone like that is an interesting dilemma of its own...

Well, that´s all I can think of for now. I may have more once you tell us in what direction you want to go.

Re: Moral dilemma's in RPGs #342690
05/12/07 10:14 AM
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Hmmm... in the case of the plague, I'd always wondered about this:

should the player attain a high level of alchemical + intelligence skill, couldn't he work together with the other healers to duplicate the solution?

Also, IF for example he had a high level of intelligence and was good at making people talk, couldn't he interrogate Elrath and make him spill the beans on how to create another cure potion?

Finally, if you'd a high level of lockpicking + trap skill, couldn't the formulae for the cure potion be locked up somewhere?

Re: Moral dilemma's in RPGs #342691
06/12/07 07:29 AM
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Svar till:

Hmmm... in the case of the plague, I'd always wondered about this:

should the player attain a high level of alchemical + intelligence skill, couldn't he work together with the other healers to duplicate the solution?

Also, IF for example he had a high level of intelligence and was good at making people talk, couldn't he interrogate Elrath and make him spill the beans on how to create another cure potion?

Finally, if you'd a high level of lockpicking + trap skill, couldn't the formulae for the cure potion be locked up somewhere?




Of course not! What would be the fun in that?

Übereil


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Re: Moral dilemma's in RPGs #342692
06/12/07 10:04 AM
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Quote:

Quote:

Hmmm... in the case of the plague, I'd always wondered about this:

should the player attain a high level of alchemical + intelligence skill, couldn't he work together with the other healers to duplicate the solution?

Also, IF for example he had a high level of intelligence and was good at making people talk, couldn't he interrogate Elrath and make him spill the beans on how to create another cure potion?

Finally, if you'd a high level of lockpicking + trap skill, couldn't the formulae for the cure potion be locked up somewhere?




Of course not! What would be the fun in that?

Übereil




It looks like we've got different ideas about fun.

Re: Moral dilemma's in RPGs #342693
06/12/07 11:28 AM
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Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

Hmmm... in the case of the plague, I'd always wondered about this:

should the player attain a high level of alchemical + intelligence skill, couldn't he work together with the other healers to duplicate the solution?

Also, IF for example he had a high level of intelligence and was good at making people talk, couldn't he interrogate Elrath and make him spill the beans on how to create another cure potion?

Finally, if you'd a high level of lockpicking + trap skill, couldn't the formulae for the cure potion be locked up somewhere?




Of course not! What would be the fun in that?

Übereil




It looks like we've got different ideas about fun.




Finding a way to supply everyone who needs it with a potion would render the whole "moral dilemma" meaningless. In fact, it would no longer be a dilemma at all! The whole point of a dilemma is that it´s a no-win situtation.
In modern terms: You have 2 people who need a heart-transplant, and only 1 suitable donor. Who gets to live, and who must die?

You do have one point however: If there would be conceivable ways to escape the dilemma (e.g. by appropriating the formula somehow in the example above) it would feel like the game says: "Nope, someone has to die, stealing the formula would be chickening out of the dilemma, so I´m not allowing you to do that."
This would make the whole situation feel contrived, and should be avoided at all costs. In other words: If you include moral dilemmas, you better make sure that they are TRUE dilemmas, and that no "correct" solution exists within the context of the game-world (whether the game allows you to use them or not).

Hey, nobody said that designing these things would be easy...

Re: Moral dilemma's in RPGs #342694
06/12/07 12:52 PM
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In Antwort auf:

Finding a way to supply everyone who needs it with a potion would render the whole "moral dilemma" meaningless.




I'd expand it my way:

"Finding a way to supply through the easy way everyone who needs it with a potion would render the whole "moral dilemma" meaningless."


I regard it as quite an interesting idea to "steal" the one potion from one of the ill people after he or she has used it - which should be rewarded, imho. I, for example, wouldn't have hat thid thought, at least not soon.


I personally believe that finding a solution that makes everyone happy (a so-called "win-win" solution) should

a) be made much more challenging (read: difficult)
b) but should be rewarded much, much more, than a relatively simple solution (give 2 potions to 2 out of 3 persons and let one die).
c) And of course this "difficult way" should be or become much more complex - a *real* challenge, like in real life ! (You know, it's quite difficult to get an agreement / an solution between two groups like in politics, for example ! - The more difficult, the more they are opposing one another !)

Stealing the potion in as I described above could be considered by some as some kind of "easter egg", because it was not in plain sight. It required *real* thinking, not just hack & slash, but *real* thinking, like in an adventure game. And therefore it might've looked almost like an easter egg to some people.

I strongly belive that this "third way", as I call it, should be made difficult, I mean *really* difficult, and a great challange - and therefore rewarded exeptionally.



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Re: Moral dilemma's in RPGs #342695
06/12/07 01:45 PM
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I consider it a bug that it's possible to steal those potions after you've given them away and received the XP for curing that person. He/she should drink the potion, so there shouldn't be a usable potion in his/her inventory. While it may be a clever idea to steal a potion back, it's just abusing a bug (or at least an oversight) imho, and that shouldn't be rewarded at all.

Being able to find a difficult way out of a dilemma now and then is fine, but this example just feels like cheating your way out of the dilemma.

Re: Moral dilemma's in RPGs #342696
06/12/07 01:47 PM
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I know that this wasn't inteded; but still I think it was quite an idea to find this "exploit" out.



When you find a big kettle of crazy, it's best not to stir it.
--Dilbert cartoon

"Interplay.some zombiefied unlife thing going on there" - skavenhorde at RPGWatch
Re: Moral dilemma's in RPGs #342697
06/12/07 04:43 PM
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The problem with the plague dilemma is that there were people in existence who did know the formula for the cure. As such, the fact that you can't get at it or otherwise force another potion out of someone is something that was clearly contrived to create a dilemma rather than a problem arising naturally.

A proper moral dilemma is something that arises more naturally out of the plot and without obvious contrivance. To use a semi-DD example: you find a new born baby that you know is destined to be the Demon Lord reborn, who will destroy the land if he is allowed to grow up. Do you kill a defenceless baby because of what he will probably become, or do you instead try to find someone who might be able to raise him in a way that will thwart his destiny?

Either choice looks bad. Kill the baby and you're gonna take a reputation hit like no tomorrow. Don't kill the baby and death & destruction is assured...

Sure, the game would need to play out over many years before that kind of dilemma was effective in the game, but it's the sort of thing that should make players really stop to think about what they're doing...

The witcher has a lot of great examples of proper moral dilemmas, but I don't want to put out spoilers for those who have not played it yet


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Re: Moral dilemma's in RPGs #342698
10/12/07 07:16 PM
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Quote:

The problem with the plague dilemma is that there were people in existence who did know the formula for the cure. As such, the fact that you can't get at it or otherwise force another potion out of someone is something that was clearly contrived to create a dilemma rather than a problem arising naturally.




You hit the jackpot, Elliot. That was the reason why I got a little frustrated with the quest.

After all, in order to save a few lives, what's wrong with roughing up the mad doctor a little? It ain't the right thing to do but why couldn't you just sweeten the soldiers guarding his cell and sneak into his cell at night? If you worked him up a bit with a few threats, then he might get so worried he'd spill the beans and point you to the right person or hand over the formula.

Re: Moral dilemma's in RPGs #342699
10/12/07 08:53 PM
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Quote:

Quote:

The problem with the plague dilemma is that there were people in existence who did know the formula for the cure. As such, the fact that you can't get at it or otherwise force another potion out of someone is something that was clearly contrived to create a dilemma rather than a problem arising naturally.




You hit the jackpot, Elliot. That was the reason why I got a little frustrated with the quest.

After all, in order to save a few lives, what's wrong with roughing up the mad doctor a little? It ain't the right thing to do but why couldn't you just sweeten the soldiers guarding his cell and sneak into his cell at night? If you worked him up a bit with a few threats, then he might get so worried he'd spill the beans and point you to the right person or hand over the formula.




Or threaten to infect him with it... I bet you'd get the formula VERY fast at that point!


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