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#342620 12/01/07 11:48 AM
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This will seriously be a more mature game.


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#342621 12/01/07 12:29 PM
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forcing you to make choices which you might not necessary like

This can be simply cruel. Some players may just go for 'which path gives me max exp' and be happy with their decision... For me I would stop playing if I would have to decide which one of my children will get killed (basically on my command).

With less drastic situations I wouldn't have so much problems. You could have to decide who inherits everything. This could even lead to your son killing your daughter for the money... but it was not you who gave the command. I would still think about how I could have handled it better... but I would continue to play in this case. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

For the trolley thing... I would be fine with having to choose on this one. What would bother me is... does the game judge you? And how? Who says what is right or wrong in this situation? (For me it would be wrong to push the fat guy... but if I know and love one of the five people I would be tempted to do wrong to save him or her. It is not a matter of numbers. Five is not better than one.) So in this situation there could be people who like or dislike you for your action. You could even have to live with consequences like not being able to buy/sell at the greatest blacksmith in the country since it was his son you pushed onto the tracks. But the game should not tell you that it was right or wrong what you did. You just miss the opportunity to do one thing. But you should then be rewarded for saving the five with something you would not get otherwise.

If done right moral dilemmas can greatly help to get players immersed.

For the 'hint thing'. If you don't know the five people nor the fat guy then it does not make sense to give you hints on what will happen. If you know them then hints could just be reminders of who they are so you can think about the possible consequences.

If going with Karma points hints could be finger points from a god. "Push this guy to please me."

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Would you want Karma Points or something along those lines as Nemisis hinted ?

As I understand Karma points it is just a way to measure how good or bad you are with shades of grey in between.

If you want to measure the players 'position' to one god or two opposing gods (or even kingdoms) then something like Karma points would be suited. Adjust it every time you do something that pleases this god... or something he dislikes.

Instead of a message popping up you could use visual clues when gaining/loosing Karma points. A light beam, sparkles in the air, everything gets gloomy for a brief moment, 'blackness' drips around you to give you the shivers or delight your heart... Visual clues could get stronger if you gain more points or get closer to being very very good/bad.

If your game has different races and different groups in these races then a good reputation system that keeps track of how you are doing against each race and group would be better.

Just make sure the player understands why people like/dislike him.

Quests/Actions that influence your reputation towards races could have optional hints (in dialog or floating text when you kill someone) so you don't miss it.

#342622 12/01/07 02:01 PM
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I knew I chose a bad example there <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> Let's try another one to not confuse the subject because of the holocaust setting. This one is from somebody called Judith Jarvis Thomson & is a variation of what's called the trolley problem:

"A trolley is hurtling down a track towards five people. You are on a bridge under which it will pass, and you can stop it by dropping a heavy weight in front of it. As it happens, there is a very fat man next to you - your only way to stop the trolley is to push him over the bridge and onto the track, killing him to save five. Should you proceed? "

Nevermind that the example is contrived & you don't get the option to ask the very fat man just to move out of the way.

Lar


Definitely a better example! Sounds good to me <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />


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#342623 12/01/07 04:20 PM
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If you leave the path of just good/evil and confront the player with more complex moral dilemmas, you should take great care to explain the moral conceptions of your game world. Many RPGs simply use the modern ideas of what is good and what is evil, but moral conceptions have changed a lot throughout history and have often differed in different places of the world. In a game world that looks medieval, ideas from the time of the Enlightenment don't need to have spread yet.

Voluntarily killing someone else who has not personally acted against you, for example, is not necessarily seen as evil - there have been times where it would have been seen as good as long as that person was "an enemy to your country" (or tribe) or "an unbeliever".

Especially when using something like Karma Points, you need to make the moral standards clear according to which they are awarded. In the examples you have given, which choice would cause you to gain Karma Points, which one to lose them? If the game features more complex options than a "clearly good" and a "clearly evil" path, it shouldn't act as some kind of "moral overseer" by evaluating the character's actions, unless it's pointed out that someone (the gods, society in general) would have wanted the character to act in a certain way.

In Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, it's quite clear what is good and what is evil, so it's fine to evaluate actions with points. Your game could have different moral standards and feature choices that aren't as easily categorized as good or evil, right or wrong, so I'm not sure whether having Karma Points makes sense at all.

Situations where you have to choose between options you don't necessarily like can be intriguing, but I wouldn't overdo it. It can be very frustrating if a solution comes to mind you'd like to go for, but the game doesn't offer it. In the example with the bridge, a true hero might opt for jumping from the bridge himself, hoping to survive though maybe getting severely hurt. If you can only choose to push the fat man down or to watch the other five people die, many players will probably complain. In a role-playing game, it's fun to act like you imagine your character would act - not being able to act that way is somewhat less satisfactory and might lead players to avoid such quests. It's fine if decisions you don't fully like come up now and then, but I'm skeptical if they contribute large parts of the game.

When you wrote "moral dilemmas", I rather thought of something like the vampire cave (the vampire has kidnapped a boy and you can choose to sacrifice some of your own blood or to watch the boy die), where it's a matter of personal gain vs. common good, possibly with some options in between.

Another dilemma I'd find interesting: Enraged citizens want to hang a trader because they accuse him of a serious crime, but he hasn't confessed. You don't have time to investigate, and you can't pacify them with words alone. Will you allow them to kill him, ruining a valuable trade post for the rest of the game and taking the risk that someone else did it who remains free? Will you suggest that they just destroy his trade post, but let him live? Will you simply point at someone, telling them that your supernatural powers have allowed you to see he's guilty, and they have another scapegoat? Will you defend the trader against the crowd at all costs, since his guilt isn't proven, possibly even killing some attackers and taking the risk that later on, you're hunted for murder? Will you try to make him invisible, so he can run, possibly fleeing yourself as well if you're accused of helping a criminal and taking the risk that the trade post is destroyed nonetheless?

If the possible consequences are outlined like this and there are several options to choose from, such situations could help to create a very intriguing game, even if there is no "perfect choice" available, meaning an option that allows you to solve everything the way you'd like best.

In my eyes, complex moral choices will also require a gaming environment that doesn't focus too much on the action-RPG style. Examples like the ones you have mentioned wouldn't go well with killing hundreds of orcs, lizard folk and imps (after all, intelligent beings that even have a seat in the Council), as well as bandits and the like ... it's a bit cheap to say that anyone who is hostile towards you is evil and deserves to die, and the next minute you ponder the moral details of a situation where either one person or five people have to die.

#342624 12/01/07 04:34 PM
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Some good points you brought up there.

But I think the karma points shouldn't necessarily be connected to those more complex moral dilemma's. After all the dilemma's would be more like choosing from some options you wouldn't like. I think thats the idea, so giving you options you would like wouldn't make it that complex, and if there is an option you like, it isn't really a dilemma anymore.

So it's going to be tricky to implement those dilemma's and keep people happy with it. Because if you need to make a choice you really don't want to make it could ruin the game abit.


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#342625 12/01/07 04:50 PM
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I love the example lar_q gave. I love the fact that one hase to chose between two wrong. Also I love the fact that you might be considering absolute vs relative morality (if i read your examples rigt). But I hope you don't limit it to that and also have some "good actions with bad results" and "bad actions with good results".

I do have some doughts on how you would pull it of. Also I hope you go a lot further then that. With larger consequences.

Small example: A horde of orc's is attacking the capital where your mother father ... lives. But you also see them entering the castle

Do you:

Save your parents --> royal family and commanders die --> The war without the commanders goes very bad and 5 more villages fall. But on the good side your love is saved and wants to marry you since she saw how brave you were.

Save your royal family and commanders --> parents die --> Your love despises you ad marries your former bully. But on the good side the war might have turned the corner.

Do nothing

This might seem quite easy but let's up the ante. The king is a dictator but he and his commanders are tactical geniuses .


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#342626 12/01/07 05:37 PM
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Don't forget about intentions. Even the best of actions is wasted if it's done with bad intentions (IE if you save the village in order to exploit the fact that they see you as a hero it shouldn't be seen as good).

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#342627 12/01/07 06:27 PM
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And just how would you like to see that implemented ?

I don't think the game could really know your intentions, because you could be saving a city just because you try to be good and use your power for the good.
Or you could just make them believe you are good.(either way the problem of the town is solved)

Well it could be done if it fits the story and is based on quests, but otherwise your intentions can't be known I think.
So maybe someone wants you to earn the trust of a town, and says if you do this or that for them they will trust you. And if they trust you we can move on with our plan.
Or another way might be that you do something bad to a town without them knowing it, and then you make it good again and let them know about your "good deed".
And as long as they don't find out, I believe that it would be bad for your karma, but (very) good for your reputation in the town.

I also think that your karma should have an influence on the world around you. If your karma is good, generally good things will happen, towns and citys will prosper.
And vice versa. Offcourse this shouldn't be too much like black and white, because the npc's have karma too (also with some influence on the world).
So the bigger your influence in a part of the world, the bigger the influence your karma will have.
I wouldn't like to see that you do some good things and suddenly see the entire world has changed into some paradise with birds, bees and flowers.
Where little elves dance with cute monkeys and drink lemonade while watching rainbows.

So the karma of the important people of a town, will partially have effect on everything that goes on there.


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#342628 12/01/07 08:07 PM
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If you leave the path of just good/evil and confront the player with more complex moral dilemmas, you should take great care to explain the moral conceptions of your game world. Many RPGs simply use the modern ideas of what is good and what is evil, but moral conceptions have changed a lot throughout history and have often differed in different places of the world. In a game world that looks medieval, ideas from the time of the Enlightenment don't need to have spread yet.

Voluntarily killing someone else who has not personally acted against you, for example, is not necessarily seen as evil - there have been times where it would have been seen as good as long as that person was "an enemy to your country" (or tribe) or "an unbeliever".

Especially when using something like Karma Points, you need to make the moral standards clear according to which they are awarded. In the examples you have given, which choice would cause you to gain Karma Points, which one to lose them? If the game features more complex options than a "clearly good" and a "clearly evil" path, it shouldn't act as some kind of "moral overseer" by evaluating the character's actions, unless it's pointed out that someone (the gods, society in general) would have wanted the character to act in a certain way.

In Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, it's quite clear what is good and what is evil, so it's fine to evaluate actions with points. Your game could have different moral standards and feature choices that aren't as easily categorized as good or evil, right or wrong, so I'm not sure whether having Karma Points makes sense at all.

Situations where you have to choose between options you don't necessarily like can be intriguing, but I wouldn't overdo it. It can be very frustrating if a solution comes to mind you'd like to go for, but the game doesn't offer it. In the example with the bridge, a true hero might opt for jumping from the bridge himself, hoping to survive though maybe getting severely hurt. If you can only choose to push the fat man down or to watch the other five people die, many players will probably complain. In a role-playing game, it's fun to act like you imagine your character would act - not being able to act that way is somewhat less satisfactory and might lead players to avoid such quests. It's fine if decisions you don't fully like come up now and then, but I'm skeptical if they contribute large parts of the game.

When you wrote "moral dilemmas", I rather thought of something like the vampire cave (the vampire has kidnapped a boy and you can choose to sacrifice some of your own blood or to watch the boy die), where it's a matter of personal gain vs. common good, possibly with some options in between.

Another dilemma I'd find interesting: Enraged citizens want to hang a trader because they accuse him of a serious crime, but he hasn't confessed. You don't have time to investigate, and you can't pacify them with words alone. Will you allow them to kill him, ruining a valuable trade post for the rest of the game and taking the risk that someone else did it who remains free? Will you suggest that they just destroy his trade post, but let him live? Will you simply point at someone, telling them that your supernatural powers have allowed you to see he's guilty, and they have another scapegoat? Will you defend the trader against the crowd at all costs, since his guilt isn't proven, possibly even killing some attackers and taking the risk that later on, you're hunted for murder? Will you try to make him invisible, so he can run, possibly fleeing yourself as well if you're accused of helping a criminal and taking the risk that the trade post is destroyed nonetheless?

If the possible consequences are outlined like this and there are several options to choose from, such situations could help to create a very intriguing game, even if there is no "perfect choice" available, meaning an option that allows you to solve everything the way you'd like best.

In my eyes, complex moral choices will also require a gaming environment that doesn't focus too much on the action-RPG style. Examples like the ones you have mentioned wouldn't go well with killing hundreds of orcs, lizard folk and imps (after all, intelligent beings that even have a seat in the Council), as well as bandits and the like ... it's a bit cheap to say that anyone who is hostile towards you is evil and deserves to die, and the next minute you ponder the moral details of a situation where either one person or five people have to die.


Completely agree on all counts <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

I still prefer a 'trustworthiness' system to a Karma system for this reason.


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#342629 12/01/07 10:38 PM
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Do you:

Save your parents --> royal family and commanders die --> The war without the commanders goes very bad and 5 more villages fall. But on the good side your love is saved and wants to marry you since she saw how brave you were.

Save your royal family and commanders --> parents die --> Your love despises you ad marries your former bully. But on the good side the war might have turned the corner.


I like that ! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

But I'd also like to have an addition :

- the loved person is a warrior and helps you in the war so that the outxcome of the "bad choice" can be soothed a little bit.

The towns might fall, but the loved person might actually know a place where the refugees can hide or safely travel into the mainland.


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#342630 13/01/07 02:31 PM
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Besides being macabre, I think the holocaust example is a bad one because there is no positive outcome. When throwing someone off a bridge, there is a clear positive outcome, lives are saved, at the expense of one innocent dead. Thus the moral dilemma is if this is acceptable to you or not, do you act or not. That's what makes the first example merely sadism, not a dilemma -- your choice is irrelevant, everybody except one person will die and the possible benefits of this choice or the other are purely speculative. Sadism = bad, the player loses because the game is preprogrammed to make him lose. Instant uninstall <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> Dilemma = good, if the sh*t hits the fan it's because the player made a choice and now has to stick with it, and perhaps next time not go for the obvious win. Every possible choice must bring Good at the cost of some Bad, then we can fret over which one has the best net gain. It's sadism when all the options have Bad, but no Good.

On the other hand, if done right it can also be interesting to add a sense of Fate to the game. When you make a choice that doesn't look like a choice, but it turns out to have consequences much later in the game, that's good for replayability. Not the greatest example, but suppose you can only carry one of two objects, eg the sum is too heavy. Both of them seem rather "eh" at the moment, so you just go with whatever looks nicest to you, or whatever. Then 20 hours of gameplay later, it turns out that object A allows you to heal some terminally ill important dude, but object B, and only object B, allows you to rid a village of a child eating monster. But the line between this and "you're screwed regardless, just because the developers are a bunch of *ss hats" is thin <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />


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#342631 13/01/07 03:27 PM
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Besides being macabre, I think the holocaust example is a bad one because there is no positive outcome. When throwing someone off a bridge, there is a clear positive outcome, lives are saved, at the expense of one innocent dead. Thus the moral dilemma is if this is acceptable to you or not, do you act or not. That's what makes the first example merely sadism, not a dilemma -- your choice is irrelevant, everybody except one person will die and the possible benefits of this choice or the other are purely speculative. Sadism = bad, the player loses because the game is preprogrammed to make him lose. Instant uninstall <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> Dilemma = good, if the sh*t hits the fan it's because the player made a choice and now has to stick with it, and perhaps next time not go for the obvious win. Every possible choice must bring Good at the cost of some Bad, then we can fret over which one has the best net gain. It's sadism when all the options have Bad, but no Good.

But isn't life exactly like that? Do you always have good consequences? Have you never had been in a situation without any really "good" outcomes?
I agree, people might think it's not really fun to play games in which you have to deal with bad situations and really hard decisions, but that's how life is and it would make the game much more "adult".
On the other hand, I don't think that the Larians will risk reactions like you explained... that people regard something as sadism even though such a situation can be far more important for character development than any other normal and known way of gameplay.

Cause the problem is: We still play a game... usually, we never get immersed that much that we don't think in game terms, that we don't think "Hmmm, if I kill this guy, it will help these people and then I will be able to get this item". And this kind of thinking is pretty much supported by normal decisions in which you can more or less clearly see the good and bad sides. We are used to it, there is no surprise. I think if a game had some disturbing situations, decisions without any really good outcome, problems which actively relates to the character.... then the scheme I tried to briefly explain could be changed... and finally it would be a better game experience.
Max Payne 2 for example was such a game for me personally... sure, I knew it was a game but it was such a personal case for Max Payne and the story telling quite dark that it was more disturbing than most of the other games I know. And disturbing doesn't mean "more blood and gore" here...

Therefore, I'd really like the Larians to step beyond current borders in game design... but we will see. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />


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#342632 13/01/07 05:03 PM
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Hm, I see your point. It basically comes down to a bit of a gamble: doing something out of the ordinary (in a non-feel-good way) can pull you deeper in by actually making you start to care.. or it can make you think "Bah, this is rigged to make me lose, goodbye". It probably depends on the execution (no pun intended <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />).

I think there may be a parallel with movies here. It is extremely boring to watch big budget movies because you can just tell who's invulnerable based on their real-life paycheck. All the drama is almost-drama, because the director can't play it out to a deadly end as the actor is too expensive. Asian movies on the other hand make it a point to make sure that at least one big name gets clipped five minutes into the movie <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> (<span class='standouttext'>Spoiler : </span><span class='spoiler'>case in point, Hero</span> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />). Yes it makes you pay more attention, yes you care more and feel deeper emotions than just "whew, that was close" -- but here too, if the execution is bad, you will feel cheated. And who's definitely going to feel cheated is the crowd that just came because it's a that-big-name-flick, similarly to how hamsters would feel cheated if it's this item, or that one, but not both (nevermind the moral backdrop).


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#342633 13/01/07 08:08 PM
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Elgi: Exactly my toughts.
And the Holocaust is off the record, the setting doesn't really matter. If you like it better you can make it in a magical forest where your in the witches house, and the witch makes you choose between Hans or Gretel, she kills the one you choose, and if you don't choose they both die. And exiting the game and refusing to play further is actually the same as not choosing, with the known consequences... And I know it isn't a pleasant choice, but it's there, and you have to get trough it.

yes, Max Payne, Movies like Sin City, had me regulary thinking about Max Payne <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />.
That's why I like film noir style.

#342634 14/01/07 11:31 AM
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What about fame? In DD your karma basically acts like fame (such as when Blake will only give you the key to Nericons garden after you have a +14(?) reputation). Should karma really act like fame? I think karma should only effect which quests you can do, perhaps what guilds you can join, and perhaps what types of magical equipment you can wear (e.g. Divine Blade - +20 karma, Devils Blade - -20 karma). Fame would effect how many people want to give you quests/how many are avaliable.

#342635 15/01/07 03:19 AM
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i have no idea how Karma system works. however i feel that an improved version of the reputation system used in DD would be better. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

again, it can be a simple expansion of the old reputation system, with polarity such as law versus lawless, guild versus guild, fame versus stealth, etc.

for me, this makes better sense as society is often made of different kinds of people, organisations & such.

as for the Holocaust example, yes it's very horrific & does entail some kind of heavy thoughts & afterthoughts. however i feel that it can be included as an optional quest (i have to admit, it makes me think of moral ambiguity & choices in life, which is good). however in the overall interest of Larian's future RPG, probably this is too heavy to be stomached by most (an assumption).

for the second example, it is good, as it has a lot of ways to 'solve' & different outcomes to boot. yes, i agree to the choice of having the player throwing their character in the train car's path in the attempt to stop it. the penalty for such folly although brave gesture can be XP or attribute penalty (as the injury can be very grevious).

in any case, Lar, u & your gang decide which system to work with, & i think i will like it nevertheless, so long as it's an improvement to the old rep system, which is already a good (however rudimentary) system.

talk about choices, how about the kind of choices in dialogues done in the tragic game of Lionheart? it has a very very good dialogue system, showing intention via icon on the choices of dialogues.



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#342636 16/01/07 10:14 PM
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Karma points and the like are nice but they have one big problem - someone needs to judge what is good and what is bad. In the situations we've been creating, we found that it's hard to say what's the correct route from an ethical/moral point of view. So our current trend is to set them up in such a way that the consequences have advantages and disadvantages, without judging. It'll be up to you how you feel about those consequences.

There'd definitely be gameplay value in valuating these consequences somehow, but other than an utilitarianistic (what a word) moral system (where you measure the moral value by its overall utility), I can't think of any impartial method of assigning value to moral choices. Brilliant ideas more than welcome <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

Regarding Sophie's choice - of course the choice is sadistic (from the point of view of the guard), but is the writer who uses it in his script therefore sadistic ? I don't think so - he just exposes the sadism of the guard & forces the audience to ponder the situation. The interesting thing about RPGs is that we can let the audience participate, making the confrontation with the guard's sadism even more intense. And to make it even more interesting, we can afterwards give the player the choice to delve into the live of the guard to see how he came to be such a sadistic person (I'm just giving hypothetical examples here).


Lar

#342637 16/01/07 11:08 PM
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Well one way could be to use the karma points for general gameplay
(for example killing a little creature that is no threat and not doing anything wrong is bad for you karma).
And not for the bigger (and more complex) moral dillema's. (=> so noone judges noone)
Those dilemma's will just influence the story and your reputation towards the npc's involved.
And as long as you don't overdo those dilemmas this should be easily possible.

But what exactly do you guys mean with "karma" ? Because I'm getting the feeling that what I think karma is, isn't the karma you think it is.
(or something like that)


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#342638 17/01/07 01:25 AM
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Any moral or ethical system tends to be derived ultimately from religion. What the gods like you doing is defined as 'good' and what they hate you doing is 'evil'.

Without gods to make things easier, one is forced to judge from the rules of one's society, wherein 'good' is doing what society as a whole would approve of, and 'evil' is doing something of which society would greatly disapprove.

In either case, it is usually far simpler in any game system to define 'good' and 'evil' by the normal Judeo-Christian standards that the West has long used as the underpinning of its society.

Modern people may or may agree with those standards, but they at least know what they are...

There never have been any objective standards for 'good' or 'evil'.


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#342639 17/01/07 03:40 AM
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Location: Canada
[color:"orange"]Karma points and the like are nice but they have one big problem - someone needs to judge what is good and what is bad.[/color]

There are lots of situations where that would be easy to do. If you want to concentrate a lot of effort on dilemmas, though (where there'd be little or no net effect on karma), it might not make sense to also try to implement a proper framework for karma. To make karma actually mean anything there would have to be quests with various degrees of good and evil choices, at least a fraction of NPCs who can detect karma, and various benefits and penalties for karma level depending on the NPC (individual or group).

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