Next Generation Video Game Characters ‘Evolve’ Based on Player‘s ’Moral Decisions’

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Yep it seems that the next generation of video game is becoming more like D&D and other roleplaying games.
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Orc in the House of Trolls
They have been ripping off tabletop games (and vice versa) since each was concieved. It's normal.
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But they are turning video games into D&D!
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First, I just want to say this isn't anything even remotely new.  Games such as Fallout had moral decisions that impacted the way your game was played and endings you recieved - I'm sure there were ones before that as well.

Second, since moral decisions are a part of real life, I wouldn't say that they were ripping off D&D, unless you want to say that D&D was the originator of moral choices...

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> I'm sure there were ones before that as well.

The single-player Ultima series from Ultima 4 (mid-1980s) onward.
Yes, nothing new here. Maybe what they should be saying is they are doing that more than they used to. So decisions will matter "more" but the concept is not new or original.
It's not a new concept, but it is becoming more prevalent. Hopefully with this prevalence, the implementation of moral choices develop beyond "Do you save the child, so the annoying NPCs like you better and you gain +5 more angel points? Or do you punch her head off and drink her blood, angering the NPCs you don't care about and gaining +5 devil points?"
4e D&D is not a "Tabletop MMO." It is not Massively Multiplayer, and is usually not played Online. Come up with better descriptions of your complaints, cuz this one means jack ****.

Agree

Fallout New Vegas is a bit better

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in one part of the game, you have the option of flooding a vault with radiation, killing those who are trapped, but in doing so allowing water to flow for crops being grown to feed people.  Or you can divert the radiation, letting the people escape but destroy the crops. 


Choices such as that make the game interesting, but unfortunately there isn't much result from making that choice (no change in ending or anything).

I'm tired of the Infamous and Dante's inferno games where really your all good, or all evil - there is no reward for trying to play the balance game. 

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Weren't there a few Jedi Knight games with a 'Dark Side Meter'?
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Until games can get past the "black and white" morality... this isn't really news, and it doesn't really approach D&D (or rpgs in general, or "real life").

Honestly, I find bad morality systems in games much much more annoying than no morality system.

(Which, not coincidently, is exactly how I feel about "alignment" in D&D.)
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I'm tired of the Infamous and Dante's inferno games where really your all good, or all evil - there is no reward for trying to play the balance game.

Agree.

Most games with "multiple endings!™" based on player's "moral decisions" usually wind up with:


  • Saintly option.   Unicorns and magical rainbows spring forth from your **** as the Pope comes to thank you for being such a really nifty guy.  You saved the world, and people may or may not care 20 years down the road, anyways.

  • Evil option.  You perform unspeakable acts that I cannot discuss here while repeatedly violating kittens and eating babies.  You may or may not find a way to **** the whole Earth itself.

  • "Middle ground option," which isn't very middle ground at all and usually just serves a secondary, lamer Saint/Evil ending.



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Indeed. Most morality games really do punish you for not completely devoting your character to either good or evil.

D&D, on the other hand, seems fine with a "unalligned" character.

The main difference between video games and D&D is the human DM and his ability to deal with the unexpected.

Video games can't do this very well. They give you a choice of A, B, or C, but no matter what you do, you will end up in relatively the same place. A vidoe game cannot just make up new environments and gameplay depending on the players decisions. A DM, on the other hand, has nearly limitless adaptability.

No matter what you do in a preprogrammed video game, you have to eventually follow the script.

Another factor is D&D is the concept of death. If you make really bad decisions, you die. Even if you make really good decision, death is always a possibility. And once dead, there is the possibilty that you are going to stay that way. And the world continues without you.

With a video game, it has to limit your possibilities so that you are still able to continue.  
It's not a new concept, but it is becoming more prevalent. Hopefully with this prevalence, the implementation of moral choices develop beyond "Do you save the child, so the annoying NPCs like you better and you gain +5 more angel points? Or do you punch her head off and drink her blood, angering the NPCs you don't care about and gaining +5 devil points?"



Agreed.

I sort of like the way Mass Effect 1 & 2 has taken this (it's not perfect, by any means) with their Paragon / Renegade. Rather than strict good / evil, it's more "Idealist" vs. "Realist". That game is the closest any has come to letting me play a total badass with a soft spot for children and people in trouble.

Too often, however, I think games have a sort of "Evil == moneygrubbing" mentality, or, even worse, the "Evil== I intentionally go out of my way to be a douchebag" line of thought.
If you look past the plot and the voice acting, Metroid: Other M was an okay game. Not a great game, but an adequate one. Not using the Metroid item collect jingle though? That, was a mistake.
Until games can get past the "black and white" morality... this isn't really news, and it doesn't really approach D&D (or rpgs in general, or "real life").

Honestly, I find bad morality systems in games much much more annoying than no morality system.

(Which, not coincidently, is exactly how I feel about "alignment" in D&D.)



I'm not sure there is such a thing as a good morality system.

Adding morality meters seems like horrible direction for video games. I predict it becomes a mostly dead end in less than ten years, viewed by then as equally primitive and reductive as Choose Your Own Adventure novels seem when compared to a fully developed DnD campaign.

But the Bioshock approach described in the article is where the future is at: not in artificial morality gauges but in offering the PC realy choices that affect the action in an organic way. You don't lose 5 angel points for not helping the kid; instead it means the difference between charging back into the fray, getting a battlefield promotion, and becoming the commander of the resistance on this front, vs. traveling across country as the impromptu leader of an underground railroad smuggling refugees to the Green Zone in what's left of Kansas. The player can decide for himself how he feels about the morality of a given an action. The game didactically decreeing exactly what is and isn't moral (and how much) will only annoy people.

Also:


Yeah, morality systems in video games tend to be a bit...off.  Generally, to get 'evil points' one has to do cartoonishly evil things; blow away random civilians, kick dogs, etc.  Often, you have to do things that run counter to the plot of the game, or at the very least go out of one's way to intentionally find evil things to do (gotta go find an orphanage to burn down, getting low on evil points).  While if one just goes with the flow of the game, one's 'good' points will go off the scale in short order.  

It'd be nice to see a well implemented morality system where the default wasn't your character being some weird amalgation of Batman and Ghandi with the only alternative being Snidely Whiplash but with 99% more pure evil, but I haven't seen one yet.
I think the Witcher tried to make their morality system both more consequence-based and less obvious. I say "think" because I'm pretty sure the "less obvious" worked really well, as I could never figure out why I got the consequences I did, or why I should care.

But yeah, generally morality systems bug the heck out of me. The only one I liked was in the Ultima series, and that's because A) you're an avatar of virtue, you're supposed to be good and B) your choice isn't between good and evil, but among the various virtues, and which virtue you choose to adhere to most affects your character development.
The only one I liked was in the Ultima series, and that's because A) you're an avatar of virtue, you're supposed to be good and B) your choice isn't between good and evil, but among the various virtues, and which virtue you choose to adhere to most affects your character development.



Yeah. And thats a good distinction. Virtues.



Not some conformity-based definition of so-called “good” versus over-the-top “evil”.

But concrete actions to fulfill a specific virtue.



In a reallife example. If someone wants to be more “compassionate”, a useful discipline is to do two compassionate actions per day. Find two opportunities that require personal effort, to help one or two other people. (Not one but two compassionate actions, and not necessarily three.) It is simple, but day after day, it is an effective method to become more compassionate in concrete ways. It can be surprisingly difficult to keep up, but even a little bit of effort seems to go a long way.

A method like this could translate meaningfully into a video game. The game only needs to provide opportunities to help. It wouldnt even be cartoonish because the players only pick the opportunities that they feel ethically appropriate.
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