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Good guy/Bad guy


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#1 Blue*Omega   Members   -  Reputation: 150

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Posted 21 August 2000 - 12:50 PM

I''d like to post a simple question, to see what type of response I get more than anything, but also because I''m curious about what the "Gaming Community" thinks. What makes a "Bad Guy" a bad guy? Games have gone so much further than Mario Brothers where the bad guys were turtles and fireballs and the good guys grew when they ate ''shrooms, but years later with wonderfull games like Thief, Half-Life, Homeworld, etc. We still are clinging to the basic good guy / bad guy theme. NPC''s were a step in the right direction but they are always limited in what they can do and are never very usefull. Why is it that we are still confined to the basic theology that "Good guys have to win, bad guys have to die, and NPC''s are there for looks"? Has there ever been a game where the bad guys aren''t nessisarily bad? Imagine, an RPG where there is no good guy/bad guy. How would this work? How could you gain exeperience, etc? Say you are walking through a forest in which there is a troll camp. As you near the camp you are spotted by a troll scout who jumps in front of you and warns you not to go further. If you go around the camp you are left alone and everyones happy. If you refuse to heed his warning he attacks you and a battle begins. Does him attaking you make him a bad guy? He is only defending his home. We could take this a step further and negotiate with this scout. He allows you to pass though for some healing potions they need. You may even be able to set up regular trade with this camp of trolls. Now you have a new place to get supplies while away from a town. Suddenly these trolls are friends where they might have been enemies. My this is a long post! Please exuse my rambeling Anyways, the idea is: why not make a world where most units are neutral till provoked. Wolves attack only if they''re hungry or attacked. Dragons are lazy and shy but will defend thier cave with no mercy, elves are helpful but get medival on you if you defile thier forest. In this way you could get experience if needed by looking for trouble. I personally think this would make the game world more realistic than an "everyone and thier dog is out to get you" approach. What do you think? ----------------------------- Blue*Omega (Insert Witty Quote Here)

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#2 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1822

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Posted 21 August 2000 - 01:56 PM

"Good guy, bad guy... hunh... I''m the guy with the gun..."

Sorry, couldn''t resist. I think the goblin genocide thread would be right up your alley. I think many people here are thinking about opponents who are not necessarily evil. I''m working on a sci-fi RPG where there isn''t a concept of good or evil, just the rules that a society runs by. So which side you joins determines who''s "evil." (like the formerly "evil" Soviet Union)


I think many games have a clear concept of good and evil for simplicity''s sake. There''s no moral ambiguity when you know that you''re like the Avatar in the Ultima games, and you''re the icon of virtue (never mind that you could be a saint and still rob people blind by taking all the inventory from their homes).

This sort of thing seems more important in fantasy games than any other. The closer you get to present day, and the future, the more there''s room for moral ambiguity (on a whole, I mean). Not sure why this is, but it seems to be true... maybe it''s part of the myth of the hero''s journey, that you''re good and thus everyone else must be evil.

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

#3 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 21 August 2000 - 03:16 PM

I think that it is possible to make a story without resorting to making 100% evil villains. I mean think about it, everyone has some motivation or other. Usually the explanation players get is - "They''re just evil by nature, now go kill them!" I liked how the story turned out in Babylon 5 (Sci-Fi TV Series). Basically there were 2 ancient races, the Vorlons and the Shadows who fought. The Shadows were always pictured as evil and the Vorlons as good. However, in the end it turned out that they were seeking the same goal (helping the younger races). They just had different equally valid ways of acheving it. In that setup it would be difficult to determine who is "good" and who is "bad".

#4 Blue*Omega   Members   -  Reputation: 150

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Posted 21 August 2000 - 04:18 PM

In response to what Wavinator said about "There''s no moral ambiguity when you know that you''re like the Avatar in the Ultima games" Don''t you think thats what''s wrong with gaming today? People are blaming games for violence because of the total lack of "moral ambiguity". what if a game could show you the consequenses of killing a castle gaurd, what if you were allowed to attend that gaurds funeral later and see his family,
what if...? Players might think twice about blowing away "just another marine". But then again, mabey that would be too real, mabey thats why gamings fun in the first place.

-----------------------------

Blue*Omega

(Insert Witty Quote Here)

#5 CGameProgrammer   Members   -  Reputation: 640

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Posted 21 August 2000 - 04:55 PM

Blurring the line between good and evil is an interesting twist which can be great in RPGs, but that won''t necessarily make them better than clear-cut good/evil universes, any more than open-ended gameplay is necessarily better than linear gameplay. (Linear gameplay allows for thoroughly developed stories and missions, even though it doesn''t allow for high replay value.)

In a morally ambiguous nonlinear game, the player might not know what to do, which can be frustrating. If he kills someone and gets in a world of trouble he can''t get out of without difficulty, he''ll get very frustrated and will be reluctant to kill anyone else, even if it''s necessary to progress through the game.

It can work, but you have to be very careful about it.

~CGameProgrammer( );



#6 Anonymous Poster.   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 21 August 2000 - 05:07 PM

Ok, not to wax too philosophical on this one, but: Isn''t it kind of natural for something encoded in binary to have a black & white morality? That may seem too simplistic, but any early game programmer will tell you that combat was simply the easiest game conflict to code. There is a clear winner and a clear loser, it can be simulated w/ low-resolution graphics, etc. So these first games we all grew up on were to a great extent combat oriented, and succesive generations of games more or less built upon this history. (trying not to get too much into a human nature debate here, if you haven''t noticed)

But now, with program executables that are scales of magnitude larger than the entire memory of, say, an old C64, this binary coded morality can take on shades of grey, much like newsprint. With so many more variables and algorithms representing the world and AI of the characters, we have the potential to present something far more ambiguous. With some clever design, we can at least make a very convincing illusion that NPC''s (using the term very generically here) have actual complex motivation beyond sheer bloodlust/greed.

IMO, it wouldn''t be wise to totally get rid of the antagonist/protagonist conflict in a game, but the good/evil distinction simply falls away when the antagonist has a sympathetic motivation. This would bring about this kind of complex moral response you''re looking for, and is now programmable.

Now, I''m not talking about full-modelled human motivation, or even any really cutting-edge technology like neural networks or genetic algorithms. I''m just talking about an orc that moves to protect his family if you threaten them, a monster that will beg for its life and show you gratitude for sparing it, some evidence of non-scripted self-preservation, and more "realism" in the sense that you will, for example, see some means of sustenance if fifty goblins are gathered in one dungeon. The game will explain in some way why they are there. But this has been gone over in another thread, so it should suffice to say that this sort of design could really bring gaming to a new level, making the question of whether these games are actually more fun almost irrelevant. . .

well, no, not really, but its a thought, innit?

#7 Hans   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 23 August 2000 - 07:28 AM

Some thoughts on the topic:
It''d be cool if you would at the start believe that all ogres are bad and you would slaughter them. But later in the game you''d have a chance to save some ogre''s life (or something like that). Then that ogre would tell you all the evil things that humans have made to ogres during the last century, and you could turn to be on their side if you wanted. Then you could go tell the NPC''s all the good things about ogres so that they''d turn to be on your side and you could assassinate some people that hate ogres (like the king). The game could end at some point where people and ogres live in harmony . Or at the end it would turn out that ogres were evil anyway, and then they would slaughter all the humankind! That''d be a real shock for the player, if done right!

Or if you didn''t save that orge''s life or you chose to go against them anyway, the game would end at the point where all the ogres are slaughtered / enslaved.

If an ogre had killed your brother it would make the decision much much harder. You knew that the ogres are good and peaceful race but because humans had started a war agains them, your own brother got killed in the action... Although in a game you probably don''t care much about your never-existent-brother. Maybe the brother should be an NPC (with lots of emotions and personality) that follows you for a while (or lives his own life) and gets killed during the game.

OK this is still quite black & white, but this time the humans are the bad guys. But always someone is a bad guy in someone''s perspective. This is just tough topic, since in current western societies majority of the people have quite similar ethics. And because of this, it''s very logical that in any story there is a rather self-evident evil.

(well you could make a game that debates about abortion, GM food and third world problems and you could choose which side you want to be.. Then you''d really have to choose what is good and what is bad)

-Hans

#8 CGameProgrammer   Members   -  Reputation: 640

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Posted 23 August 2000 - 02:04 PM

Actually, these posts are reminding me of Starcraft. The gameplay is simplistic in that you know who your enemies are, but there really wasn''t any good guy or bad guy, and you got to play as all of the three races. Even the Zerg can be seen as good guys if you read the story in the manual; it''s just a race attempting to grow and prosper and learn about its origins.

That game was linear in the extreme -- you just fought until a scripted event occured -- but its story is a good one to reference if you''re trying to think of ways in which this ambiguity can fit into a story.

~CGameProgrammer( );



#9 Ironblayde   Members   -  Reputation: 130

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Posted 23 August 2000 - 06:05 PM

I''ve been thinking along these lines for my next big project -- if I ever finish my current big project, that is. It''s a futuristic game, an RPG without many of the traditional RPG elements. Society has fallen into chaos as the gap between the wealthy elite and those who war for control of the streets widens every year. When the game opens, I will try to give the impression that there are actually two worlds in most people''s minds: the real world, full of crime and peril; and the world above it, the world of the well-off and the powerful, which seems an unattainable enigma to those living beneath its standards.

Anyway, it starts off with what seems like a pretty clear goal, although I don''t want to give much away until I''ve worked out a lot more of the detail. You play a common criminal selling his services to the highest bidder. Although the character''s lifestyle is morally wrong, his quest is presented as a noble one, and his enemies seem evil in his eyes, and hopefully, in the player''s. But that''s only because none of the characters understand where the others are coming from. They don''t understand each other''s backgrounds, or their motives. When some of this information surfaces, everything becomes a bit confusing, because it''s no longer clear who is in the right -- or if anyone is.

If I can pull it off, I want the story to open up from there, to allow for a few different endings. I don''t want it to get too nonlinear because I need to keep as many elements of a strong story as I can, but... well, we''ll see. The post just reminded me of this, that''s all.

-Ironblayde
 Aeon Software

#10 Blue*Omega   Members   -  Reputation: 150

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Posted 24 August 2000 - 04:51 AM

Thanks for all the replies! Most of you guys are hitting on the ideas I''m looking for. I realize it''s hard to compleatly eliminate the good/bad side of games because, as mentioned in an above post, everyone is evil in someone elses eyes. I applaud Blizzard with it''s Warcraft and Starcraft games because, even though whoever your fighting against at the moment is portrayed as the bad guy, you have a chance to flip over and see it through their eyes as well. It offers an unbiased view of a war between the three sides. I would like to see similar concsepts be introduced to RPG''s and the like.



-----------------------------

Blue*Omega

(Insert Witty Quote Here)

#11 nicba   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 24 August 2000 - 05:12 AM

The game "Blade Runner" did this perfectly in my opinion. You started with a clear goal: Find the evil androids and kill them.

But as you pieced together the puzzles you became in doubt. Differend NPC''s said differend things and suddently it seemed like the androids was perhaps not evil at all but just battleing for freedom and survival. You even became in doubt about the nature of the character you was playing: was he himself a human or an android?

And then ind the end you was free to choose either to fulfill your original goal and kill the androids or try to help them.

The game was made some time ago (1-2 years?) by Westwood. Apparently it never became much of a success as its very very cheap in the stores now (at least here in Denmark).

Regards

nicba


#12 JMgamer88   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 24 August 2000 - 06:42 AM

what if the evil was being evil but for a good cause (ie. Overseer) wouldn''t that make a good story evil w/ morals.

#13 AtypicalAlex   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 24 August 2000 - 06:51 AM

Since the dawn of entertainment the "good guy, bad guy" scheme has repeated endlessly. Don''t think that this was confined early games such as Mario for whatever reasons--movies, books, television, EVERYTHING from the time it started to the present has relied and a hero versus villain set-up. The most important question to ask is directed at you, Blue*Omega:

Why change it?

Just for the sake of being different? Because it would be "cool" to let the bad guys win or to have there be no bad guys at all? I say: Come up with your story/plot/gameplay/whatever BEFORE deciding it''s time to change some cliche (that actually is so broad and flexible that it CAN''T really be labeled as a cliche).

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Changing the future of adventure gaming...
Atypical Interactive

#14 Dak Lozar   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 24 August 2000 - 06:59 AM

I think that the reason so many games end up having this standard good/bad cliche is that from the moment we enter school we have this ideal placed in our minds. I go to school ''A'' and we hate school ''B'', ''C'' and ''D'' because we play them in basketball.

You have your favorite teams. Your from the USA and you don''t like the French, or your from England and you don''t like the French. On and on it goes... The sociology here is that we are constantly drawing lines that divide us. Some good, some bad. The other fact is that because these lines do exist, it is easier for a designer to incorporate them into their design.

There was another post recently, that discussed the ideal of breaking away from the known is difficult because players expect then norm.

I personally think that if you design a game that has "no sides" per se, you definately need to build the background story right. Explain why there are lines that divide... maybe to get the player sucked in you need to start with a world that was divided and explain why that world is no longer.



Dave "Dak Lozar" Loeser




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