Morality in Video Games

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#1 Edited by drekula2 (1872 posts) -

A good amount of games this past gen have included morality systems to give more choice to the player, however, these morality systems are shallow. It's not so much a choice between good and evil, as it is between a choice of hero vs hero with an attitude.

More importantly, there's no gray areas and moral dilemmas are solved far too easily. Moral decisions in games like Mass Effect 2 is more of "pick a uniform color and stay on that team" than doing what you believe is right and finding out the consequences is later. I did like Mass Effect 3's conflict-of-interests morality though.

But despite not having any choices, TLOU does a much better job at morality by not asking easy questions or giving easy answers.

#2 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8134 posts) -

But you don't choose in TLOU. Right ?

#3 Edited by drekula2 (1872 posts) -

You don't make any choices in TLOU. But the choices that the characters make leave so much room for thought and discussion that other games don't do.

#4 Edited by Lulu_Lulu (8134 posts) -

@ drekula2

Well what good does that do me ?

Books and movies can do that too. I believe it would've been advantageous for TLOU to include a choice structure.

#5 Edited by drekula2 (1872 posts) -

@ drekula2

Well what good does that do me ?

Books and movies can do that too. I believe it would've been advantageous for TLOU to include a choice structure.

i respectfully disagree. just because some games offer choice doesn't mean choice is inherently better.

the biggest aspects of morals in our personal lives is that they are determinant. aka when we make a decision, we have no idea what things exactly would have been like if we did otherwise. to give us the luxury or seeing multiple outcomes would diminish that, at least in my judgment

#6 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8134 posts) -

@ drekula2

I never said it was better. but whats the point if it isnt implimented? Besides the key to making choices in games is to commit to them, in the case of Heavy Rain, the game is only suppose to be played once. Its not the choice its self that diminished the moral impact these games can yield . Its the Human Conditions habit of wondering" what i"f, that does that. The idea won't work if you fall to your desperate desire to satisfy your curiosity.

Speaking of Moral Dilemas, have you read any of Peter Cave's work ?

#7 Posted by LoG-Sacrament (20369 posts) -

i always get a giggle (the good kind) out of the fallout 3 morality system. you give water to a dehydrated man and pipboy pops up on screen with a big thumbs up. you blow up a town and he looks at you with disapproval. i always think "there's no way it's that simple!" :P

anyway, one of my favorites is the system in the souls games. you start off in the world which is brutal and offers you no help. you see gray wisps of other players running by and you know they're going through exactly what you are. that can incite empathy because you know their struggles or it could just as easily justify you taking advantage of them because you have it just as tough as they do.

#8 Posted by The_Last_Ride (68512 posts) -

I think games like Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Walking Dead, etc all have morality, you might not agree what is "good and bad" but you can always choose what you think is right for the character

#9 Posted by turtlethetaffer (16247 posts) -

Deus Ex: HR had an excellent morality system in that it didn't keep track of your morality; you simply chose what you thought was best for the situation.

I'm sick of cheap choices in games, though. Like near the end of Max Payne 3, where you can choose to kill that guy or not. There's literally no reason for this choice outside of maybe painting his following statement in a slightly different light. It has no effect on the overall story.

More games need to make choice like in Deus Ex: HR, where it's not so much keeping track of mortality as it is just giving the player the option of how to react.

#10 Posted by SirWander (5176 posts) -

I liked the way Telltale Games handled its morality system in The Walking Dead. It's not that unique to be honest, and the choices afforded the player affects the dialogue options more than it does the story, but its characters and how the decisions the player made affect them is what make those choices matter. In a game where story is its crux, it is imperative to make the characters bearable. In order for the audience to consider making an emotional investment in the characters, they have to establish them as something that can be relatable. Even though the zombie apocalypse is something no one can relate to, the aspirations the characters have are still something that is core to the human experience: A man looking for a second chance, a girl who wants to be reunited with her parents, and a man that places the safety of his family above everything else. These are a few characters that populate the wreckage of a world we know, and surviving with them is what makes the experience worth traversing. If the audience doesn't care about them, then the choices presented will carry little weight. The writing and acting lend to the realization of caricatures that seem human, of things and hypothetical circumstances where a person can place empathy. The morality in choices isn't presented as simple good or evil, even though they can be presented in either or choices, but how they can affect the other characters and their perception of the player character. Something as seemingly simple as rationing food can be made complicated depending on how you want the others to treat you. Your choices have consequences, and because they do it can lead people to think about what they are going to choose instead of blindly picking answers. It's a good system that lets people feel involved in the story, and more importantly the characters.

Another thing that was executed well is was how the morality of choices become more ambiguous as the events grow more dire.

#11 Posted by bob_toeback (11267 posts) -

The best I've come across is in Fallout 3. You're going through a cave, saving some survivors, when one gets infected. You are presented with choosing whether to go back and find healing supplies, or leave him behind through a dialogue option. Or, ignore that shit and shoot him through the face, which is what I did. I liked that I was allowed to make up my own choice in it... But I agree there could be a better way to present these choices so it's not so much 'one or the other' ... I haven't played all that many games with morality systems anyway, I don't believe.

#12 Posted by touchscreenpad (220 posts) -

Infamous has that karma meter right...?

#13 Edited by SirWander (5176 posts) -

InFamous does indeed have that.

#14 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8134 posts) -

@ turtlethetaffer

I agree, Deus Ex was definately on the right track.

#15 Edited by Krelian-co (9723 posts) -

Mass effect choises are garbage, worst moral system ever. Witcher 2 and walking dead do it thousand times better, but the last of us without choises is better than both, so i guess at the end id rather have a great meaningful story than a bunch of useless choises.

#16 Edited by Lulu_Lulu (8134 posts) -

@ Krelian-co

All moral system are bad, because the simply are not necessary. Infact in Mass Effect it was that Paragon/Renegade crap that prevented me from taking those choices seriously, espicially if they include a Skill Check system that allows you to by pass the choice entirely. I don't know why this concept was created but its done nohting but make things worse for any RPG that uses it.

Also if you want meaning story then you sure as hell picked the worst medium to find it in.

#17 Edited by Ish_basic (3854 posts) -

BioWare. I'll always remember KoTOR and landing on Kashyyk for the first time where these corporations are exploiting the wookie population. So they charge a fee for anyone using their port. I decide I'm going to use force persuade to convince him I don't have to pay, because I don't agree with what they're doing. Darkside points. Yes, let's feed the corporate machine more cash to suppress the indigenous population with.

Then Obsidian makes Sith Lords and there's this conversation with Kreia (I think that's her name, long time ago) where she's questioning the concept of charity. It's done in a way that makes you at least think about what she's saying. IN any case, didn't totally agree but it was thoughtful and miles better than anything BioWare ever did with morality. In BioWare's Star Wars, the dark side is Snidely Whiplash; in Obsidian's Star Wars, the dark side is Ayn Rand. The mindset embodied in the former doesn't actually exist, whereas in the latter we see a very real set of principles. I appreciated that.

But worst of the worst has to be Fable, where eating different foods affected your morality. Total garbage.

The best example of moral choices in gaming is without a doubt Spec Ops: The Line. There's a great message in there about how we all start out wanting to be the good guy but sometimes life has other ideas.

#18 Edited by BranKetra (47325 posts) -

@drekula2 said:

A good amount of games this past gen have included morality systems to give more choice to the player, however, these morality systems are shallow. It's not so much a choice between good and evil, as it is between a choice of hero vs hero with an attitude.

More importantly, there's no gray areas and moral dilemmas are solved far too easily. Moral decisions in games like Mass Effect 2 is more of "pick a uniform color and stay on that team" than doing what you believe is right and finding out the consequences is later. I did like Mass Effect 3's conflict-of-interests morality though.

But despite not having any choices, TLOU does a much better job at morality by not asking easy questions or giving easy answers.

Morality is different depending on the community. Since you are talking about Mass Effect 2, you are referring to different sentient species interacting with each other. Even though they are all designed by human developers, their design is basically most likely meant to represent difference of cultures. There is no good or bad species. Mass Effect 2 assures a player who spares the last Rachni queen in ME1 of that when her Asari liason meets Shepard at Illium. During the Rachni Wars, the galaxy thought the Rachni were completely evil and violent beasts, but they were actually disturbed individuals typically docile.

Into Mass Effect 2's story and character missions, the player has the ability to make decisions with both immediate and future consequences. You are wrong about that being separate from the paragon and renegade decisions which you described as "pick a uniform color..." etc. One of the reasons I played it over five times is that there are those choices throughout the entire game and the culmination of them determines whether Shepard and the entire team for that matter survives the final mission.

ME2 features a morality system based on polar opposites and in order to work through difficult situations, decisions must be made that can be polarizing for the system, but the dialog of paragon at least is more bipartisan than anything.

#19 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8134 posts) -

@ Ish_basic

Spec Ops allows you to make choices ?

#20 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8134 posts) -

@ BranKetra

Its not that simple, all the decisions you make in Mass Effect 2 are directly linked to Morality system. 70% boosts Paragon/Renegade and 10% allows you to use Paragon Renegade to resolve a scenario, the other 20% is neutral or irrelavent.

Now the game's most difficult choices/scenarios will feature a skill check system where the game will check if your Paragon/Renegade is High enough and will unlock a special choices (usually resolves all your problems with no downsides) if you meet the requirements. This skewers the way you look at choices throughout the entire game since each choice you make is no longer about dealing with the current situation but preparing for the difficult scenarios ahead. Its literally the decision making equivalent of how combat is implimimented in other RPGs, the side quest's only purpose is provide the player resources (enemies/dialogue) to grind enough points (xp/ Paragon or Renegade) to meet the requirements for the next big scenario (Boss Battle/Difficult Choice). Its counterintuitive.

#21 Posted by Ish_basic (3854 posts) -

@ Ish_basic

Spec Ops allows you to make choices ?

play it and see. But it's not like some of these games that allow for choices, where accomplishing a task is as simple as choosing it from a dialogue tree. What you want to happen and what actually happens are two different things in Spec Ops, which I thought was brilliant. It's a more mature take on decision making because it illustrates the notion that we are never in complete control of who we become.

#22 Edited by Jacanuk (3460 posts) -

@drekula2 said:

A good amount of games this past gen have included morality systems to give more choice to the player, however, these morality systems are shallow. It's not so much a choice between good and evil, as it is between a choice of hero vs hero with an attitude.

More importantly, there's no gray areas and moral dilemmas are solved far too easily. Moral decisions in games like Mass Effect 2 is more of "pick a uniform color and stay on that team" than doing what you believe is right and finding out the consequences is later. I did like Mass Effect 3's conflict-of-interests morality though.

But despite not having any choices, TLOU does a much better job at morality by not asking easy questions or giving easy answers.

Well, The Last of Us doesnt really give you choices, it gives you if you want certain moral stands to contemplate but in the end its pretty shallow and almost always give you the answer.

If you want real moral choices, go play Papers please.

#23 Edited by YukoAsho (2026 posts) -

If you want to see choice systems done right, The Witcher is where you wish to go. There are no obvious right or wrong actions, and every choice you make has realistic consequences. Asking that of an EA-owned studio is asking far, or indeed most AAA companies outside of the first parties, is foolish.

For games that simply make the player ponder WTF they're doing, you can't go wrong with Spec-Ops: The Line.

#24 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8134 posts) -

@ Ish_basic

Can't, Still need to get Alpha Protocol 1st.

#25 Edited by BranKetra (47325 posts) -

@Lulu_Lulu said:

@ BranKetra

Its not that simple, all the decisions you make in Mass Effect 2 are directly linked to Morality system. 70% boosts Paragon/Renegade and 10% allows you to use Paragon Renegade to resolve a scenario, the other 20% is neutral or irrelavent.

Now the game's most difficult choices/scenarios will feature a skill check system where the game will check if your Paragon/Renegade is High enough and will unlock a special choices (usually resolves all your problems with no downsides) if you meet the requirements. This skewers the way you look at choices throughout the entire game since each choice you make is no longer about dealing with the current situation but preparing for the difficult scenarios ahead. Its literally the decision making equivalent of how combat is implimimented in other RPGs, the side quest's only purpose is provide the player resources (enemies/dialogue) to grind enough points (xp/ Paragon or Renegade) to meet the requirements for the next big scenario (Boss Battle/Difficult Choice). Its counterintuitive.

You say it is not that simple, but then you simplified the paragon and renegade choices yourself by saying all the meaningfulness of them can be summarized by their relation to the two path system and the percentage of their availability. Also, you seem to be ignoring the context of the choices and focusing on the system itself. If you cannot enjoy the dialogue, maybe Mass Effect is meant for someone else because it is a huge part of the series.

#26 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8134 posts) -

@ BranKetra

Corruption is a huge part of Politics, lets ignore that too.

Yes you can follow the context and make the meaningfull choices if you like, but if your anything like a normal Human being this will dilute your Paragon/Renegade alignment, mine was exactly 50 50 on my 1st playthrough, and that means you'l fail alot of skill checks.

The system is stupid, but not everyone can see that, always making excuses for it. Ignorance is Bliss I guess.

#27 Edited by BranKetra (47325 posts) -

@ BranKetra

Corruption is a huge part of Politics, lets ignore that too.

Yes you can follow the context and make the meaningfull choices if you like, but if your anything like a normal Human being this will dilute your Paragon/Renegade alignment, mine was exactly 50 50 on my 1st playthrough, and that means you'l fail alot of skill checks.

The system is stupid, but not everyone can see that, always making excuses for it. Ignorance is Bliss I guess.

I do not understand the connection you made if there is one. Corruption in politics and morality systems in video games (specifically Mass Effect 2 since we were talking about it). Aside from that, what do you mean "normal?" The only person who I repeatedly see constantly criticizing role-playing games in general here is you, so you will have to forgive me for not ignoring your bias.

#28 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8134 posts) -

@ BranKetra

I suck at similies. Anyway I used to be surprized nobody could see just how stupid the system was after repeatedly explaining it to me. But now it doesn't bother me if the idea flies over your head. Oh I'm use to being the only right on, since it appears I'm the only who actually thinks about it.

#29 Edited by BranKetra (47325 posts) -

@Lulu_Lulu: You seem to have some reason for your smear campaign of Mass Effect and it is not because of the quality of the dialogue. I think you just do not care about detailed conversations and you are using your dislike of them to appear intellectually superior when in reality your bias is self-defeating. Similar to people criticizing Final Fantasy VII characters or Metal Gear Solid 2 Raiden, it is really just people's preferences of who relate with, and claiming intellectual superiority in these discussions is one of the most ridiculous things someone can do. If you do not like something, give reasons for doing so rather than forming baseless opinions and telling everyone about them for whatever reason. It is a waste of time to talk about them if all you do is give inaccurate descriptions of games (in this situation, Mass Effect 2) and then claim you are correct by accepting the truth or some other false foundation of an argument.

#30 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8134 posts) -

@ BranKetra

Its not a Smear campaign, I love Mass Effect and other RPGs. But I'm not going to compensate for their downsides anymore. Other genres seem to be getting these concepts right, I demand the same from RPGs.

I already explained the flaws of stats and skill checks, their not opinions. They are objectively counterintuitive and broken, saying "thats how RPGs are" doesn't make them a great Idea, however I am willing to drop the whole thing if you just say people like and want counterintuitive methods. Promise ! :p

#31 Posted by Ish_basic (3854 posts) -

@Lulu_Lulu said:

@ BranKetra

Its not that simple, all the decisions you make in Mass Effect 2 are directly linked to Morality system. 70% boosts Paragon/Renegade and 10% allows you to use Paragon Renegade to resolve a scenario, the other 20% is neutral or irrelavent.

Now the game's most difficult choices/scenarios will feature a skill check system where the game will check if your Paragon/Renegade is High enough and will unlock a special choices (usually resolves all your problems with no downsides) if you meet the requirements. This skewers the way you look at choices throughout the entire game since each choice you make is no longer about dealing with the current situation but preparing for the difficult scenarios ahead. Its literally the decision making equivalent of how combat is implimimented in other RPGs, the side quest's only purpose is provide the player resources (enemies/dialogue) to grind enough points (xp/ Paragon or Renegade) to meet the requirements for the next big scenario (Boss Battle/Difficult Choice). Its counterintuitive.

You say it is not that simple, but then you simplified the paragon and renegade choices yourself by saying all the meaningfulness of them can be summarized by their relation to the two path system and the percentage of their availability. Also, you seem to be ignoring the context of the choices and focusing on the system itself. If you cannot enjoy the dialogue, maybe Mass Effect is meant for someone else because it is a huge part of the series.

BioWare's dialogue systems are a mess. They get away with it because there are so few RPG devs right now doing single player RPGs. I play BioWare games because I love the genre and that's what there is, but it just seems like everything else that comes out, when it comes out, is better.

My first problem with ME's dialogue system is that it's not realistic. You can mine any NPC for information until you get every last drop of their recorded dialogue. "Hello, Shepard. I'm here to kill you, but first I'd like to answer all your questions. I'd even enjoy answering the same question three times, if you like. I've got nothing better to do and am completely unconscious to repeating myself!" Play games like Torment or Alpha Protocol to see the difference between a real conversation and an ME brand data-mining. Conversations move and you might miss your chance to say what you wanted or get the info you wanted. You can try to steer it, but the NPC is steering, too.

Secondly, why should being a goody-two-shoes stop me from randomly deciding to end a conversation by punching someone in the face? A dialogue system should be flexible enough to allow the player to act and deceive without using a [Lie] option. So I can butter people up to get in the door, maybe be nice to the right people because I know what effect it will have, but in the end, it's a game to me. I'm not nice. I'm a sociopath trying to get what I want and I'll fool you into liking me until it stops being to my benefit. You can do this in Alpha Protocol. You can't in a BioWare game. In a BioWare game, sincerity is always assumed unless you select an option clearly marked [Lie]. So my being nice one moment effects my Renagade/Paragon rating in a way where I'm effectively locked into and locked out of particular options going forward. That's just silly and it also limits role-playing in what is supposed to be a role-playing game.

Your success or failure in a game like ME should be based on two things - your relationship with the NPC you're currently talking to and your renown. So, maybe Shepard has done some bad things, but this NPC knows you and trusts you, so you can achieve things in your dialogue with them through that. On the other hand, maybe this person doesn't know you but has heard of your exploits. That can help you. So you can imagine a dialogue system working so that a player is working on two fronts. Maybe they want a Shepard who is fearsome, so they accomplish quests in ways that people who are meeting Shepard for the first time don't want to mess with him/her. Maybe the player thinks that will make their job as Spectre easier. On the other hand, when dealing with people directly they are gentle, which encourages trust and loyalty among those Shepard has to depend upon. There is no room in the BioWare universe for these kinds of characters because all rpging is to BioWare is a stat-check. Maybe you disagree with Jack at every turn, but as long as you do her loyalty quest... It's just numbers to them and until they rise above the numbers, their RPGs will always be second rate.

#32 Posted by HipHopBeats (2803 posts) -

@drekula2 said:

A good amount of games this past gen have included morality systems to give more choice to the player, however, these morality systems are shallow. It's not so much a choice between good and evil, as it is between a choice of hero vs hero with an attitude.

More importantly, there's no gray areas and moral dilemmas are solved far too easily. Moral decisions in games like Mass Effect 2 is more of "pick a uniform color and stay on that team" than doing what you believe is right and finding out the consequences is later. I did like Mass Effect 3's conflict-of-interests morality though.

But despite not having any choices, TLOU does a much better job at morality by not asking easy questions or giving easy answers.

When done right, morality systems can be great and offer great replay value. Mass Effect 2 had a great morality system. Your choices and how you treated people affected the final outcome. Your decisions actually mattered and how consequences. TLOU was guided story with no morality system. Then you have games like Skyrim which offer the illusion of choice with no real game changing consequences.

#33 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8134 posts) -

@ HipHopBeats

Really ? Consequences ? You don't see anything else wrong with Mass Effect's (any of them) morality system.

#34 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8134 posts) -

@ Ish_basic

Exactly ! Thats the annoying about Mass Effects systtem, its doesn't require any thought at all, thats the problem when you attach a number to an ability, it over simplifies it to the point where you don't even need to know what it is. All you need to know is how much of it you need to get sh!t done and the answer is.... Alot !.

#35 Posted by HipHopBeats (2803 posts) -

@Lulu_Lulu: Not in Mass Effect 2, no. Sure we could nitpick all day, but pretty much every major decision made in that particular game had some influence on the final outcome. Even the annoying questions like 'what are the Racni wars'? How did the Geth rebel against the Quarians?' help you get a better understanding of the lore. Games Mass Effect 3 and The Walking Dead where The Walking Dead where morality system is an illusion is a different story.

#36 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8134 posts) -

@ HipHopBeats

I don't mean the outcomes, I mean the entire dialogue/choice sytem. You can't see anything counter intuitive about it ?

Also games like the walking dead don't use morality systems. They construct moral dilemas. And are only suppose to be played once.

#37 Edited by BranKetra (47325 posts) -

@Lulu_Lulu said:

@ BranKetra

Its not a Smear campaign, I love Mass Effect and other RPGs. But I'm not going to compensate for their downsides anymore. Other genres seem to be getting these concepts right, I demand the same from RPGs.

I already explained the flaws of stats and skill checks, their not opinions. They are objectively counterintuitive and broken, saying "thats how RPGs are" doesn't make them a great Idea, however I am willing to drop the whole thing if you just say people like and want counterintuitive methods. Promise ! :p

I did not say that. I said if you cannot enjoy the dialogue in Mass Effect, a good choice will probably be to avoid BioWare games in the future because that is how they all basically are. Also, I again say that those were not objective facts, but are your opinions about Mass Effect 2 and role playing games in general.

@Lulu_Lulu said:

@ BranKetra

Its not that simple, all the decisions you make in Mass Effect 2 are directly linked to Morality system. 70% boosts Paragon/Renegade and 10% allows you to use Paragon Renegade to resolve a scenario, the other 20% is neutral or irrelavent.

In this post, you said that the choices besides paragon and renegade ones are irrelevant. They are not. You are continuing to focus on the system's design rather than the dialogue itself which I argue is equally important. Every since piece of dialogue adds to the Mass Effect experience. The more a player talks to characters, the greater an increasing understanding of what is discussed can be achieved. By skipping any dialogue characters, places, and ideas are not fully experienced in game. Doing so at any time is like skipping episodes of a story-focused television series.

#38 Posted by BranKetra (47325 posts) -

@BranKetra said:

@Lulu_Lulu said:

@ BranKetra

Its not that simple, all the decisions you make in Mass Effect 2 are directly linked to Morality system. 70% boosts Paragon/Renegade and 10% allows you to use Paragon Renegade to resolve a scenario, the other 20% is neutral or irrelavent.

Now the game's most difficult choices/scenarios will feature a skill check system where the game will check if your Paragon/Renegade is High enough and will unlock a special choices (usually resolves all your problems with no downsides) if you meet the requirements. This skewers the way you look at choices throughout the entire game since each choice you make is no longer about dealing with the current situation but preparing for the difficult scenarios ahead. Its literally the decision making equivalent of how combat is implimimented in other RPGs, the side quest's only purpose is provide the player resources (enemies/dialogue) to grind enough points (xp/ Paragon or Renegade) to meet the requirements for the next big scenario (Boss Battle/Difficult Choice). Its counterintuitive.

You say it is not that simple, but then you simplified the paragon and renegade choices yourself by saying all the meaningfulness of them can be summarized by their relation to the two path system and the percentage of their availability. Also, you seem to be ignoring the context of the choices and focusing on the system itself. If you cannot enjoy the dialogue, maybe Mass Effect is meant for someone else because it is a huge part of the series.

BioWare's dialogue systems are a mess. They get away with it because there are so few RPG devs right now doing single player RPGs. I play BioWare games because I love the genre and that's what there is, but it just seems like everything else that comes out, when it comes out, is better.

My first problem with ME's dialogue system is that it's not realistic. You can mine any NPC for information until you get every last drop of their recorded dialogue. "Hello, Shepard. I'm here to kill you, but first I'd like to answer all your questions. I'd even enjoy answering the same question three times, if you like. I've got nothing better to do and am completely unconscious to repeating myself!" Play games like Torment or Alpha Protocol to see the difference between a real conversation and an ME brand data-mining. Conversations move and you might miss your chance to say what you wanted or get the info you wanted. You can try to steer it, but the NPC is steering, too.

Secondly, why should being a goody-two-shoes stop me from randomly deciding to end a conversation by punching someone in the face? A dialogue system should be flexible enough to allow the player to act and deceive without using a [Lie] option. So I can butter people up to get in the door, maybe be nice to the right people because I know what effect it will have, but in the end, it's a game to me. I'm not nice. I'm a sociopath trying to get what I want and I'll fool you into liking me until it stops being to my benefit. You can do this in Alpha Protocol. You can't in a BioWare game. In a BioWare game, sincerity is always assumed unless you select an option clearly marked [Lie]. So my being nice one moment effects my Renagade/Paragon rating in a way where I'm effectively locked into and locked out of particular options going forward. That's just silly and it also limits role-playing in what is supposed to be a role-playing game.

Your success or failure in a game like ME should be based on two things - your relationship with the NPC you're currently talking to and your renown. So, maybe Shepard has done some bad things, but this NPC knows you and trusts you, so you can achieve things in your dialogue with them through that. On the other hand, maybe this person doesn't know you but has heard of your exploits. That can help you. So you can imagine a dialogue system working so that a player is working on two fronts. Maybe they want a Shepard who is fearsome, so they accomplish quests in ways that people who are meeting Shepard for the first time don't want to mess with him/her. Maybe the player thinks that will make their job as Spectre easier. On the other hand, when dealing with people directly they are gentle, which encourages trust and loyalty among those Shepard has to depend upon. There is no room in the BioWare universe for these kinds of characters because all rpging is to BioWare is a stat-check. Maybe you disagree with Jack at every turn, but as long as you do her loyalty quest... It's just numbers to them and until they rise above the numbers, their RPGs will always be second rate.

I disagree about the dialogue systems being a mess.

Within BioWare role-playing games are casual-friendly dialogue systems. A player can choose to say one piece of dialogue and then go through the branches that come from that until a final decision is made to move on to the next dialogue tree(s). A player does so because each conversation is like a scene meant to be fully watched, but a player is involved because they are video games. All the BioWare games I have played are about the main character working together with a team of different kinds of characters. Ideally, a player will relate to at least one of them. I say from personal experience that most relationships need open discussion to work. If enemies did not ever give a chance for dialogue, BioWare games would be less interesting because if they did not have codexes about everything in them, characters who do not talk could be unintelligent or geniuses for all a player would know.

In Fallout 2, that forgiveness is not there. When you talk to someone for the first time and sometimes when you choose to say certain things, you cannot go back and repeat that dialogue. Instead, there is new dialogue without any possibility for conversation or some that will only provoke a character to fight you. That is an example of a dialogue system that is not casual-friendly. You mentioned Alpha Protocol which seems to have a similar level of realism.

In my experiences with the Mass Effect series, sincerity is usually what Shepard speaks with, but niceness is not. I am not sure where you got that idea from. The Paragon choices are not what I would call "goody-two shoes" as you said, but actually the honorable choices. In Mass Effect 1, I chose to nuke the Krogan cloning facility and I convinced Wrex that it was the right thing to do while not killing him. That was the paragon choice. Killing him because of his misguided feelings would have been dishonorable and the renegade choice. In both situations, I would have nuked the facility anyway. That said, you do not have to be fully paragon or fully renegade. You can decide for yourself what choices Shepard makes.

Even though I enjoyed the buildup of decisions to the final climactic ones which is most likely the core idea of the morality system in Mass Effect, that series is limited because certain decisions can only be done when enough paragon/renegade choices are made. In real life, drastic decisions can be made at any time. As video games continue to be made and more importantly society continues to advance, I expect realistic decision making to be better implemented in sci-fi and fantasy-themed titles.

#39 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8134 posts) -

@ BranKetra

I enjoyed the dialogue but The fact that I can play the game just as well as anybody else, save wrex, get morinth, save the crew and what not with out paying attention to the actual dialog is factual proof just how backwards the system is. Cover your ears all you want, I can still exploit it. Hell I enjoy cake and donoughts but I'm not gona pretend they're healthy.

And no the dialogue is not important as I said before only 20% of the dialogue matters, the rest of the game is just filler content designed to provide the player with a large pool of stat the player can "dialogue grind" from to boost their alignment high enough to pass the skill checks for a full set of ridiculous options. All those precious side quests you think are important are the dialogue equivalent of Skyrim's dungeons. All three games in some way link up all your decisiions throughout the game like that.

You may like that system, but thats not an excuse to be blind to its flaws, go ahead, call it an opinion, you're argument is it works because you like it. Mine is it doesn't work regardless of how much I like it.

#40 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8134 posts) -

@ BranKetra

The scenario with Wrex on Virmire didn't go down like that. Both the Paragon and Renegade choices led to you not killing Wrex, the Paragon option charms Wrex into putting the gun down and the Renegade option intimidates Wrex into putting the gun down, the other options are just different variations of Wrex dying.

Also you don't have to wait for a games to improve decision making, Play a game with decisions that don't rely on stat checks and you'l see any RPG with a morality system is just a solution to a problem that never existed. Making decisions works just fine in The Walking Dead, no need to muddy it with a morality system.

#41 Posted by BranKetra (47325 posts) -

@ BranKetra

The scenario with Wrex on Virmire didn't go down like that. Both the Paragon and Renegade choices led to you not killing Wrex, the Paragon option charms Wrex into putting the gun down and the Renegade option intimidates Wrex into putting the gun down, the other options are just different variations of Wrex dying.

Also you don't have to wait for a games to improve decision making, Play a game with decisions that don't rely on stat checks and you'l see any RPG with a morality system is just a solution to a problem that never existed. Making decisions works just fine in The Walking Dead, no need to muddy it with a morality system.

I never chose the Renegade option. I thought killing Wrex would count as a renegade option. My point is the same that the renegade options are typically dishonorable.

The Shepard-Wrex intimidation scene is probably shown within the first minute.

Besides that, whoever said morality systems were designed to solve a problem besides you?

I think morality systems are good so far, but can be improved.

#42 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8134 posts) -

@ BranKetra

Fine they may not be designed to solve problems, but thats what they use them for. Don't wana fight Saren ? Morality system allows you to skip that. Don't wana kill Wrex ? Morality system strikes again ! Don't want Samara anymore ? Morality allows you to trade for morinth. Squad members forcing you to pick sides on the Normandy SR2 ? Morality offers win win solution.

You notice the Paragon/Renegade options always yield favourabe results ? Its not even choice anymore. Not anymore than than being offered a candy or kick in the crotch is a choice. You'l always go for the better option. See how Mass Effect is using your morality system ? And Mass Effect is not the only one.

#43 Posted by BranKetra (47325 posts) -

@ BranKetra

Fine they may not be designed to solve problems, but thats what they use them for. Don't wana fight Saren ? Morality system allows you to skip that. Don't wana kill Wrex ? Morality system strikes again ! Don't want Samara anymore ? Morality allows you to trade for morinth. Squad members forcing you to pick sides on the Normandy SR2 ? Morality offers win win solution.

You notice the Paragon/Renegade options always yield favourabe results ? Its not even choice anymore. Not anymore than than being offered a candy or kick in the crotch is a choice. You'l always go for the better option. See how Mass Effect is using your morality system ? And Mass Effect is not the only one.

Why do you keep putting a space in between the @ sign and my username? I do not get notifications that way.

Anyway, I understand that. Like I said a couple times already, the dialogue in Mass Effect is good, but the system could be improved. It is not bad which is what you are saying. You are entitled to your opinion, though.

#44 Edited by Lulu_Lulu (8134 posts) -

@ BranKetra

My browser doesn't reveal the quote and replay and edit buttons.

Anyway, the system undoes whatever good the dialogue achieved. Lol and its an opinion to notice that ? Imagine how much worse it is to pretend the system doesn't exist just to enjoy the dialogue. Hows that for an opinion ?

#45 Posted by Tqricardinho (340 posts) -

@drekula2 said:

You don't make any choices in TLOU. But the choices that the characters make leave so much room for thought and discussion that other games don't do.

The Last of Us' ending made me think more than every game ever did. Fallout, Skyrim, Infamous... I know those games rely on moral choices in order to decide what happens throughout the videogame, but actually I prefer a linear game where you have no choice whatsoever and you get to agree or not on the story's course.

#46 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8134 posts) -

@ Tqricardinho

With an outlook like that, you just might enjoy Beyond Two Souls, its clumsy but better than Heavy Rain, plus its got no major choices so its pseudo linear.

#47 Edited by Jacanuk (3460 posts) -

@Tqricardinho said:

@drekula2 said:

You don't make any choices in TLOU. But the choices that the characters make leave so much room for thought and discussion that other games don't do.

The Last of Us' ending made me think more than every game ever did. Fallout, Skyrim, Infamous... I know those games rely on moral choices in order to decide what happens throughout the videogame, but actually I prefer a linear game where you have no choice whatsoever and you get to agree or not on the story's course.

Honestly i don't get what is so special about that ending, its filled with cliches and of course it ended the only way it could have.

I for one expected it and it kept in line with tons of others game endings where they think the "noir" ending is the best way.

Another thing is that its pretty bad that the devs makes the decision for you, if they had allowed you more freedom and more hands on, they could have had one of the most moral games in gaming

#48 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8134 posts) -

@ Jacanuk

Exactly ! Video games can handle these things in a way no other medium can, it rather pointless to list a game that handles it the same way we've seen a thousand times before everywhere else.

#49 Posted by Ish_basic (3854 posts) -

@BranKetra: Even though I enjoyed the buildup of decisions to the final climactic ones which is most likely the core idea of the morality system in Mass Effect, that series is limited because certain decisions can only be done when enough paragon/renegade choices are made. In real life, drastic decisions can be made at any time. As video games continue to be made and more importantly society continues to advance, I expect realistic decision making to be better implemented in sci-fi and fantasy-themed titles.

I'm tired of this reasoning. How can the limitations of gaming be at fault for the inadequacy of BioWare's games when Torment back in 1999 was doing all these things?

And please don't ever compare Bethesda's Fallout to Alpha Protocol or any other game that has been released by Black Isle and/or companies formed by former Black Isle employees.

What is most of all holding BioWare games back is this binary form of decision making, not technology. They always want to boil things down to some kind of slider that they will use to flag one of two sets of events for the player moving forward instead of doing what games like AP do in taking the time to script consequences. I played AP up, down and sideways because I was just so curious how different it could get. BioWare consequences are a joke, the scenarios designed to make the player think he has a choice rather than to actually giving him one. But choices are not meaningful by what happens the instant they are made - they are meaningful by how they resonate through everything that comes after. Until BioWare gets this, they will continue to make weak-sauce RPGs. This is the company that ended it's grand space opera with the same ending in 3 different colors. It's absurd.

#50 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8134 posts) -

@ Ish_basic

Whoa ! Planescape Torment also uses stat checks, and as we all know, any choice involving a stat check is not really a choice a choice at all. I haven't played Planescape but I'm confident the effect Stat checks have on Planescape will be just as bad as they were in Mass Effect, Fallout, Baldur's Gate and The Elders Scroll.