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Wavinator

Evil gives a certain reward, but good does not

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Wavinator    2017
If you really wanted to bring out the underlying philosophy of good versus evil, would this work? Rewards are a powerful aspect of gameplay. But one thing that really seems to clash with the aesthetic of virtue is the idea of a set reward. If you do good to get a reward, you're really behaving in a mercenary (and some some would say entirely selfish) fashion. You haven't done right because it's right, you've done right to obtain gain. This sort of system seems very well suited for the aesthetic of evil, however. Doing something nice for someone while having an underhanded motive is perfect villain behavior-- particularly if the deed is quick and returns a quick reward. So given that players need a reward, how would you capture the right feel of doing good for the sake of good rather than for gain? Should the game acknowledge the player's behavior / sacrifice in some "authorative voice," like that of an end of game narrator or through a cutscene, or via some trait or notation like "Savior of the Damned" (as in Fallout)? Or should reinforcement come entirely and only through the game world, perhaps in how you're treated? EDIT: Ugh, major typo [Edited by - Wavinator on December 6, 2005 1:24:28 AM]

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ghostbear77    132
from a players pov, is doesn't matter if an action is "good" or "evil", if the reward improves your abilities (by gaining skill/power or money/equipment) in beating the game.
as examples you could have a look at the games that intend you to be "bad":

i.e. Dungeon Keeper I and II. your job is to build up dungeons, torture creatures, horde gold and prevent "Heroes" from invading your Caves. in DKII exists a room, the casino, where your creatures can either be made happy (by them winning the games often) or you could make money (by letting the coupiers(sp?) "play false"). happy creatures fight better, but money pays them and the rest of the dungeon.
so are you really "evil", robbing your creatures to buy better defences (spiketraps, cannons, fear-traps, ect.) or "good", make your creatures happy for a short period of time that then "may" fight harder?

in other games (the KotoR-series coes to my mind) you sometimes have the oputunity to reject earned rewards. in KotoR you would be then rewarded with "light-force-points" which eventually (if gained enough) provide you with some extra-power on the good side. or you could even force more reward from the "questgiver" and gain "dark-force-points" which would give you certain (though different and more violent) powers the same way. but you would have (i.e. twice) the cash too. good equipment is expensive, the "light-side" is power-wise balanced with the "dark-side" does not level out the lack of such and so i think the "dark-side" is definitely easier to play (i went through the first game several times once even "gray" between "light" and "dark")

in conclusion i think you should try to balance it out. give the "good" rewards too, maybe less at first, but later on they could rely on those they helped. the "evil"-characters would build up their might faster, but wont have any support later in your game, i.e. they would not fight the end-battle with a party of four, but alone instead.
finally you could "lead" your players to do good or "evil" if the reward is right. give them more for the way you think it is the "right" one. most players only see the "instand" payment (the gold, the mighty-ubersword-+5-against-dragons).
if you need the player to decide for "good" or "evil" the rewards must be equal. but the actions should have different side effects on the world. (haven't played, but "Fable" is supposed to alter your character according to your actions, Black&White soes this with the whole world you control)

i would prefer such a game, where i can be "good" or "evil" with no penalties whatsoever. another example: if "evil-mike" gets more cash from his victims, have "good-mike" pay less for the stuff he needs to buy.

just my (a players) thoughts.

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Trapper Zoid    1370
I feel that most RPG games really botch the handling of evil characters. You are usually given the option of either paragon of virtue (the stereotypical good character), selfish mercenary (which is often treated as ethically neutral), and the cartoonish moustache-twirling black caped villain who likes to drop-kick puppies off cliffs (because it's fun, I guess). Knights of the Old Repulic is a good example of this; where evil is treated as cartoonishly stupid. I wanted to play as the arch-manipulator, but the evil conversation choices were more along the lines of a sadistic bully. For some reason the evil NPCs such as Canderous Ordo, HK-47 and most of the important characters on Korriban to be more realistic and interesting than the evil PC.

Sorry, just had to get that rant out of my system [grin].

Since your question revolves around the good characters, I feel that most RPGs do the "good" side decently. However, as you've said the giving of rewards is not in line with doing good for the sake of good; for example it's pretty cliche that refusing a reward often means that the player will instead be given something even better.

One way of doing this is done in some of the D&D games when playing as a paladin; since paladins have to be models of virtue, they will automatically refuse any rewards. However this only works if you choose your character type at the very beginning of the game, and probably won't work in your more freeform game.

You could have an indicator of how virtuous a character is, similar to the good/evil statistic in NeverWinter Nights or the light/dark side property in Knights of the Old Republic. The main problem with this is that some choices will have more than one interpretation depending on the character type. An example of this from my evil character in Knights of the Old Republic was when my avatar told two NPCs to stop fighting; her motive was that they were really getting on her nerves (slightly evil), but the game interpreted that as an attempt at being a peacemaker (good). And as you've written (and I strongly agree), an evil mastermind-type villain would try to be nice to everyone in order to win them over to their side.

One way I've seen an attempt to make evil character pretend to like people is by offering two versions of the same conversation choice, i.e.:
[Truth] I am doing this for the good of the colony!
[Lie] I am doing this for the good of the colony!
They do the same thing in terms of the conversation, but the second is the "evil" option.

The most powerful choices for good characters is if they have to sacrifice something in order to do good. A good example of this is a part in Baldur's Gate II where the PC is given a series of character tests; in one he has to make the choice of either crippling his statistics, or sacrificing the life of one of his party.

As for rewards for being good, there's a few ways you could take it.
- stats and titles: there's an indicator of how noble the PC is in the stats sheet. Titles as in Fallout can be awarded for heroes and villains. This involves careful choices in the gameplay dynamics; I think this works best if a small change one way or the other has little effect on the gameplay (so you have to be persistantly good or evil for it to change anything).
- physical appearance: good characters have a "hero" look, while evil characters have a "villain" look. From what I've seen, this was done in Fable (but way over the top), as well as in Knights of the Old Republic
- NPC reactions: probably one of the best ways is to have everyone treat you differently based on your actions. A good PC is in general going to be more popular than an evil one. However you might want to put in some choices where the good option is in expense of popularity (such as saving the life of a monster or villain), so it might be a good idea to put in some other choices too.
- rection of mentor/deity: maybe the PC has a special trainer/mentor/significant other etc. who is the only one who fully understands their motives. Or maybe the PC has a guardian angel/deity who can see into their heart.

I guess you've already covered most of these, but that's all I can think of at the moment. I usually prefer to play as as the good character anyway, as I find that more fun to role-play in RPGs (since the option of scheming arch-villain is usually not provided to me in a way I enjoy [smile]).

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frob    44908
In Real Life (tm), many 'evil' acts (wrongdoing) have immediate rewards and long-term negative consequences. Many 'good' (responsible) acts don't have immediate gratification (but might) and long-term positive consequences.

Again, in real life, evil acts like stealing stuff gets you the goods, rape gets you sex, and murder gives you a feeling of power, but in the long term they'll all result in a feeling of guilt and end up in prison.

Conversely, good acts like keeping your areas cleaned up gives very little immediate reward but a long-term consequence of self worth, productivity, and the ability to have friends over. Helping old ladies and charities gives you little immediate reward but good karma.


Most games ignore this entirely. See the NPC Complaints Meeting. In summary, those annoying Main Characters come in, steal stuff, break things, kill people and pets, destroy property, cause social upheaval, even murder world leaders ... yet never get punished.

Some Rogue-style games have a slightly realistic aspect. Steal from a shopkeeper and a whole lot of Keystone Cops come after you, other shopkeepers attack you or give bad deals, and your karma goes down, for example.

RPGs don't lend themselves to this very much, except for games that you run from the law until you are caught, and get the "Game Over: You're in jail" screen.

frob.

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Michalson    1657
I agree with the short/longterm system.

The players choice to be good/evil should act as a modifier on the difficulty of the game.

By default you are good, and you get the normal RPG interaction. Yes, there is the "mercenary" viewpoint, but not everyone needs to tell you that they'll give you a reward for helping them, it's simply that they are so grateful when you return their horse from those bandits that they give you one, and at the same time you aren't evil risking your life to help people just because you know that they'll reward you for your trouble - you don't need to be Mr. Super Virtue to be considered good and noble.

Evil exists as a difficulty modifier - it gives players a shortcut around the usual requirements that a good person would have to complete. Instead of saving a million gold piece to get a sword, you simply steal it. In this way evil is a short term reduction in difficulty. However evil has consquences - your reputation will spread and fewer people will want to do business with you, or provide you with information. Town guards and other adventurers (if you want this to be a real world, there should at least be an illusion that you aren't the only one who can pickup a sword) will become more and more hostile toward you.

The result is that an evil act designed to reduce or skip the requirements for one task, increases the requirements for others (not only do you need to deliver the letter to someones mother in order to a reward, you need to avoid running into the town guard, in addition to all the regular bandits). The result is that you will be faced with a choice - either suck it up and be good, taking the "punishment" for your previous actions (responsiblity, thus ultimately making you good again), or use further evil to overcome the increased obstacles.

This creates a downward spiral where you can gain ultimate power (evil guy who walks into town with his ill gotten super weapons, tortures people for information, then slaughters the rest for their supplies) at the price of ultimate challenge, the entire world is against you.

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Silvermyst    113
See Lounge thread on altruism, which I think is somewhat related to this.

I think there are two basic types of rewards you can provide:

1. character rewards, which affect the game state
2. player rewards, which do not affect the game state

In order to prevent doing good for the sake of good from turning into doing good for the sake of getting reward X for your character, 'good' acts should give rewards that fit category 2 only. 'Neutral' and 'evil' acts could give rewards for both categories.

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I'm all about the Evil -> short-term solution, Good -> long-term advance. The evil guy woul dhave all the money, guns, gimmicky superpowers etc. and the good guy would have squat, but over time the gimmicks don't get any better, and the good guy is building up his skill/relationships/political clout, so that the "good" path has a gradual grinding progress curve to totall badassery, while the "evil" path gets things done, but you'll eventually find yourself limited by the finite resources your "quick&easy" lifestyle has earned you.

So, "Evil" lets you jump to level 10 right away, but you'll never get much past level 15. "Good" makes you rise through the ranks in order, but you can get up to level 50 that way.

Hence, one super-dedicated "good" kung-fu master could own a have-dozen "evil" mercs.

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Michalson    1657
Quote:
Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
I'm all about the Evil -> short-term solution, Good -> long-term advance. The evil guy woul dhave all the money, guns, gimmicky superpowers etc. and the good guy would have squat, but over time the gimmicks don't get any better, and the good guy is building up his skill/relationships/political clout, so that the "good" path has a gradual grinding progress curve to totall badassery, while the "evil" path gets things done, but you'll eventually find yourself limited by the finite resources your "quick&easy" lifestyle has earned you.

So, "Evil" lets you jump to level 10 right away, but you'll never get much past level 15. "Good" makes you rise through the ranks in order, but you can get up to level 50 that way.

Hence, one super-dedicated "good" kung-fu master could own a have-dozen "evil" mercs.


While my general idea was for single player, where choosing evil would ultimately leave you with fewer choices (you basically have to fight, fight, and fight some more), but would still be doable (just a different sort of gameplay and perhaps a bit more challenging since you can never really let your guard down), that sounds interesting for a MMORPG:

Make true, boy scout, good, a very difficult thing to stick with. After all, that's the way it is in the real world. In the real world even the "good guys" are only good in a relative sense.

Being pure good would be like the old "complete Metroid with only 20 missiles and no extra energy tanks" kind of challenge - possible, but very hard, and a difficult by intentional sacrifice situation. However the ultimate reward would be the ability to get farther in the leveling game - perhaps evil helps you get ahead, but at the same time increases the amount of exponential XP needed per level. So the more evil you are, the more easy power you get, but the harder/more time you need to put in to level up because you need so much experience.

One example might be killing - a pure character wouldn't kill a bandit or a wolf (bandit is human, wolf is just a natural animal), he would disable them and let them live. Because of this the good character not only has a harder time fighting many foes (while he is attacked by all hostile NPCs, he can only kill the true demon spawn evils one) but only gets experience when he kills a true evil character (for does not count against his good standing), or completes some good deed quest that provides an XP reward. The neutral character kills those hostile to him, and as a result has a reduction in his standing, meaning the overall XP he will need for future levels goes up. A true evil character kills anyone he pleases, even non-hostile NPCs, in order to take their money and the XP from killing them, however this greatly decreases their standing, meaning they'll need more and more XP.

Fortunately this mode of MMORPG play has an interesting side effect - while an elite and select number of "good" characters will typically occupy the upper levels (good = better character late in the game), evil is not totally counted out. A truly dedicated person could build up an evil character despite the leveling problems (likely by finding ways of being more and more evil), resulting in a tiny handful of super villian class players in your MMORPG - true evil masterminds who exist to thwart entire parties of good characters.

EDIT: To sum up some actual mechanics

- When you kill someone/thing (or otherwise use skills), you gain experience points (this is obvious, practice = improvement) and often get loot which can be used to directly or indirectly (use as cash to buy upgrades) to make yourself stronger.

- All actions (kill demon, kill bear, kill peasant, steal) less then pure have an evil index. That index is added to the requirements for the level after your next and the next N (say 10) levels after that, exponentially increased for each level

So say you are level 1. The XP requirement to get to 2 is 100XP, and 2 to 3 is 150XP, and 3 to 4 is 250XP. Killing something with an evil index of 5 will increase the 2 to 3 requirement to 155XP, and the 3 to 4 requirement to 260XP, and so on.

The N levels (rather them permanent) exists so that you can mend your evil ways somewhat (the base on which next level experience is calculated will still have that previous evil on it, but it won't be increasing every level anymore, so it will eventually average out to a small increase).

This means that an evil streak when you are level 3 will only be a small roadblock - it might mean that your XP requirements are only the same as one level higher for characters that have always been good.

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Michalson    1657
Not to toot my own horn, but I'm starting to really like where this kind of mechanic could take a MMORPG, especially if combined with party mechanics that fed off good/neutral/evil alignments.

In theory the population of a non-level capped server with this kind of system would look something like this:

At the lowest levels (newbies), you have an equal number of good, neutral, and evil characters. These make up the peasants, the general citizens of your world. They also make up the chief victims (even the "bad" ones, who at this stage are really just shoplifter evil) of evil.

At the mid range you start to see good drop off sharply - to be good at these levels will have taken a lot of work. Instead you'll see many neutral and evil characters - the regular mercenaries/adventurers (neutral) who have tried to be good but have wavered a bit to get to this level, and the mainstream bad guys (evil) of your online world.

At the highest levels players find all that evil catching up to them - leveling up this high is a huge, seemingly impossible task (I need 1,000,000 XP to level up???). The elite players, almost all good, prevail at this level. These are the heros of the land, defending the innocent (newbies) from the evil of many mid range characters. At this stage being neutral has become a lost cause - you don't get the long term benefits of good, or the short term benefits of bad. Also at this level you find a tiny handful of devote evil players - either players who have stopped at nothing to find news ways to be evil (and thus get the tons of XP they need to level up), or the perfect story element - good characters who later became corrupted by evil. These few, the smallest group in the game (with the possible expection of the even higher level good players [the handful of good players as devote as the handful of bad players], what we'd call the living legends) are the super villians of the world.

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bdc256    154
I think that good should be harder, and progresivly so the more you are of that alignment. Let the reward be greater statisfaction with beating the game. If we can't refuse rewards in real life, can't we at least in RPG's. I wan't to be able to refuse all rewards, just make money from banits stuff. Yet to be even better let me give this gear to the local gaurd ect. Let me beat the game leved up but with starting equipment. If you do let me get better equipment later on don't make it a reward for being light, that would make me more mecanary, make it avalible on both paths or balanced with a dark side item. I should also be able to give that away. Dedecate you life and all your posesions to the good of others this is the path of true light. I can't live it in real life, but let me in games. If you give me any reward for being light let it be a cut sceane avalible only to those who follow the light path exclusively, and go the extra step (giving away there stuff).

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ghostbear77    132
so you would really give that "Godly Armour of the Heavens +5" won luckily from an evil bandit to the City guard that cant hold a longsword for good? and keep your "nothingly letherwest of nothingness -1"?
even as a "good" character you would use it, as you could do "more" good with that superb piece of equipment.
would it make a difference if you found that "Godly ..." in a chest near the bandit-cave or give as reward by the mayor of the threatened city? both are ways to improve your abilities, make sure, you can defeat the next giant monster-that-lurks-in-the-dark. if you would turn that armour down or sell it to the next shop to give the money to the charity for homeless children, you would have a hard time defeating that monster-that-... .

i would not turn down every reward, even if i could because since i know the game usually will require me to have better stuff later on. in KotoR i had to struggle hard to find enough money to buy me that frigging "Light-Side-Robe" from the Space-Merchand, being on the "Light"Side and giving away all my cash and refusing rewards as they came. like i noted before, the "Dark"Side was easier)
as for examples: maybe it is possible to defeat Half-Life only with your handgun (and the RL for that damn Gunships) and leave all thos nifty maschineguns, plasmarifles and grenades behind for the resistance, but you really would have a hard time trying that. (Super Metroid with no Energy-cans and only 20 Rockets? how'd you do that? )

i am repeating to much. so i stop here. ;)

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
Hummm, how about this: being good is like bein an Internet Troll: your fun comes from ruining other people's experiences. So, someone is out there gaining lot's of money from slave orcs, and suddently someguy from a distant city, with no bussiness to do in the area, come just for the fun o freeing the orcs, and ruining your mining camp that took you so much to build. That's funny! Seing the bad guy all cripled and crying for the money lost and all. Also, good people might be maintaining peace in their hometown or something - by doing this, they are rewarded with a nice place to live in - even if sometimes it would be more profitable just looting the entire city.

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MatrixCubed    199
Instead of focusing on black "rewarding evil" or white "rewarding good", what if a game were to reward certain mindsets, and treat said mindsets as various shades of grey?

D&D introduced the idea of various alignments to describe different facets of virtue. In the evil case, there was the nefarious powermonger (Lawful Evil), the selfish survivalist (Neutral Evil), and the bloodlusting maniac (Chaotic Evil).

As an example, consider an epic event where a player must choose between his own character's survival, and the survival of another. If the player-character turns his back, the other character dies, and a reward or penalty is applied. (Otherwise, the player-character dies, game is reloaded from save, etc). Now, consider the reward applied if the other person was:
- a child?
- a merchant?
- a beggar?
- the PC's spouse/family?
- a monarch/member of government?

Consider too what the reward would be if the act of 'selfishly' choosing survival over sacrifice resulted in:
- preventing a major disaster/catastrophy
- saving multiple lives
- the death of Lord British
- being personally rewarded with money or power

So, allowing the PC's wife to die in order to prevent the earth-engulfing meteor strike the planet's surface increases the PC's karma (due to the fact that despite everyone having survived the catastrophe, he will have to live with the grief of his loss until the end of his days, etc). But allowing the child to die who is to become the future King/Queen and snuffing out the potential involved therein, for the sole purpose of an assassination contract, means a massive karma drop to the PC.

Your thoughts?

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mldaalder    193
Not sure if this has been said or not, but couldn't one not say the "rewards" for evil are always material (ie. better weapons,etc,etc), for good the reward is often the journey itself (exp, skills, etc, etc).


Though this might be the same as the short/long term system.

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Bezben    202
I like the idea of karma really. How about applying it this way: the more good you do, the more lucky you are. Good charactors will end up getting more critical strikes, finding better treasure, doing better vs traps, dodging damage etc, while bad charactors will get hit more, have their weapons break, find lower quality treasure. I think a solution like this would balance things out quite well. It might lead to a bit of a downward spiral for evil players where they have to loot and steal to get better weapons. The good thing about it though is that it would affect the game heavily while still being fairly transparent to the player. It would leave a good players experience being a lot more wholesome and virtuose than an evil ones.

I think most rpgs need a great sense of continuity in their world. If someone does something evil, a lot more npcs should know about it and act accordingly. Oh, and breaking into peoples houses and picking up anything thats not nailed down should earn the player negative karma :)

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
im surprised no one has touched on the idea that good and evil are a matter of perception. traditionally, good is on the side of god, and evil is on the side of the devil (good god, evil devil...hmmm.) however, i think most intelligent people realise that good is simply the people that share the same ideals as you, and evil is the opposing force.

i think the problem with most 'good versus evil' games is that you play only one side. the problems inherent in this is that the side that you play appears to be dynamic, while the other side is static, and the good and evil characters are very cliched.

a better way to present the idea would be to have the player play both sides, cutting back and forth between the two. leave both sides undefined as good or evil, in fact the player shouldnt know the two sides are opposing one another. for a one player game, i think that it could really get the player to think about how we percieve good and evil.

it could even work as an MMO. the player chooses between one of two sides, each vying for world, continent, country, city, block association, religous, etc...domination. Neither side, again, would be presented as good or evil. but the npc's from you side would always refer to the other as evil, and your side as good.

i dont think that the reward system really has anything to do with the ideas of good or evil. im sure there are just as many evil doers who wouldnt accept gratuity as there are do gooders. i think this is what MatrixCubed was getting at. the dnd system of alignment where choatic good will kill everything in the name of good, and lawful evil will obey the laws of man to achieve his twisted ends. on either side of good and evil you have those whose ends justify their means.

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Bezben    202
I'd have said its more a case that either side doesn't care. Good sides against evil for moral/ethic reasons and recognises that evil is wrong. Evil just doesn't care and wants power.

If you have the player cut between sides you might have balance issues. Take something like Star Wars : a new hope. Would thwarting the rebellian as the empire be that satisfying a game given you outnumber them thousands to one? Struggling against the odds makes for a more satisfying game I think. If you've played KOTOR and KOTOR2 most people think KOTOR is the better game, I think at least partially thats because the story has you fighting a losing war, being hunted down by the sith armies. In KOTOR2 you face the occasional assassin, for the most part the enemy is hidden and you don't really feel their presense in the story, far less satisfying. So we need a way of altering the balance between sides dynamically based on what the player is doing, without making the player feel like they are losing, but rather struggling against the odds.

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
well that certainly would be the case in a game where you have this huge monolith of evil versus a small rebelion faction. unless the game was centered around the story of a small number of forces on each side where the total size of each side is irrelevant.

anyway, this getting more theoretical than practical. like i said, i dont think that the reward system really should reflect absolutely whether or not you are actually are good or evil, but rather the perception of your character to the npc's.

i think the problem that Wavinator is trying to get around here is motivation rather than reward. you can still motivate the player without the promise of some trivial material reward. to a virtuous character (or player for that matter) doing good is the reward. in this sense i dont think you can really have a reward system that promotes virtue.

the only think i can say for sure here is that end-game rewards (cutscenes and whathaveyou) are a weak motivator for the player.

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Jotaf    280
Quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
im surprised no one has touched on the idea that good and evil are a matter of perception. traditionally, good is on the side of god, and evil is on the side of the devil (good god, evil devil...hmmm.) however, i think most intelligent people realise that good is simply the people that share the same ideals as you, and evil is the opposing force.


This has been done over and over again in such games as Dark Age of Camelot and most war games. It's not really new... the main focus here is why would someone want to be a righteous paladin over a power-hungry villain, and the mechanics we can put in place to make it interesting.

Quote:
i think this is what MatrixCubed was getting at. the dnd system of alignment where choatic good will kill everything in the name of good, and lawful evil will obey the laws of man to achieve his twisted ends. on either side of good and evil you have those whose ends justify their means.


Hey, this gives me a hell of an idea!! What about if you simply have a measure of how each of a set of ideals relate to each other -- how each one is more important than the other ones?

A paladin of righteousness has his "other peoples' life" above "other peoples' possessions" (as he'd rather burn down someone's farm to save him, of course).
The list then goes like this: (descending order) the law, his own life, his own possessions. He will break the law to save someone's life, but if he's condemned to death, he will accept it. He'd give his sword any day to save his life of course.

A paladin of justice, on the other hand, puts the law in first place, so if someone is hanged, he won't try to save him. A bandit's possessions and life are surely above any law. A lawful but power-hungry monarch is easy to represent, as well as one who doesn't care who he assassinates to get more power.

These are all generic ideals, but you can include more specific items: a farmer for instance might risk his own life for the farm where he lived all his life (but his other possessions are much more down the list, unless he cares about them too much).

This will give the NPCs good guidelines to play according to their roles with an interesting depth, and should work really well for players too if you simply let the player choose his ideals and then reward him for playing accordingly.

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I don't know how you'd code it, but a "priorities-based" system would be pretty handy. But how could teh system divine your soul from your actions? Battlefield 2 can't even tell when I defended a flag by blowing up an APC that was going to take it.

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TechnoGoth    2937
Doing good is its own reward

The idea of karma is one possiblity that could work into the multiple lifetimes idea that you want to implement. Evil deeds provide material rewards during a single life time but you can't take it with you so that all powerful starship you obtained through black mail, corruption, and murder would when you start your next life. By the same token bringing a shipment of food to the planet of starving orphens might not provide you with any material benifits but it increases your karma, making your character in the next life stronger.

Karma could be used to automatically apply benifts, penalties and traits to each incarnation of the player character. So high karma might give you the follow traits in one life time:
Resistant to Disease
Well liked by others
and +50 endurance and charm

while having low or negative karma might give you this:
Uncontrollable rage
-10 wit

Without lifetimes then karma could work into the rewards per level system. So your karma would determine how many character points you gain each level and how many levels it takes before you get your next perk.

In this way the player is basically put into a situation of focusing on either gear or character benfits.

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Jotaf    280
Quote:
Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
I don't know how you'd code it, but a "priorities-based" system would be pretty handy. But how could teh system divine your soul from your actions? Battlefield 2 can't even tell when I defended a flag by blowing up an APC that was going to take it.


That's a though one. You want the player to role-play an interesting character so you reward him for that, this is pretty straight-forward (just a small remark BTW: I don't agree with good is its own reward simply because 1) the NPCs are obviously not people, so you don't really feel the same accomplishment for helping and 2) if this was viable, it would happen naturaly when no system of rewards is in place, and it's pretty obvious that in every game so far it isn't true except for a handful of players).

However, good role-playing and bad role-playing in general is a hard concept to define. But it's easy to reward the player for doing what he should do, once you know "who" he's supposed to be. I suggested a method to define different character attributes as they relate to role-playing a few posts above this one; so part of the problem (representation) is solved.

The other part of the solution, well... who he plays should ultimately be the player's choice. RPGs so far have got this right; the player choses his character's attributes, maybe with some leeway to alter them later if he wants. I don't think there's the need to guess what the player wants, when you can just ask.

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Wavinator    2017
Thanks for the great insight so far, everyone.

Thinking about the replies concerning difficulty curves and material progress, I'm starting to see that part of the problem is in creating arbitration mechanics that rival wealth and power. Evil gets that incrediblely high short-term reward from stealing a sword (rather than working for it) because having the sword matters more than working for it. In most games, combat is the ultimate (often only) arbitration system, and the system can usually only track and reward brute force behavior.

As mentioned above, alot of this comes down to trying to detect and reward/penalize player behaviors. It is very hard to detect fluid behaviors, particularly those that are chains of cause and effect; unfortunately, these are the very behaviors that give RPGs their appealing freedom.




What about this:
1) Come up with advancement curves that mirror and can counter power and wealth, but which are based on a totally different rewards system. Popularity, for instance, in a game with social texture among the NPCs, could make you immune to certain types of attack (because the price of killing you is not worth angering the people, or a powerful faction)

2) Go morally relativistic so that the game world's denizens, not the omnipotent designers, are responsible for rewarding or penalizing the player.




The former, if done with depth and complexity, might give the good guy a chance to compete on even ground with the bad guy. The second might help alter the player's basic motivations, as now the game's inhabitants, rather than the designer, are measuring good and evil. I think this last bit would call players to play more according to their moral code than what the game designer claims is moral.

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I like the first one. I just got Dungeon Siege 2, and I was unwilling to assign ability points until I had carefully calculated my character's growth for the next twenty levels or so. After playing Maple Story, I'm terrified that I'll hit level 22 and realize that I can't finish the game without getting back the three stat points that I wasted on intelligence. I hate Maple Story.

So yeah, I think you should offer a clearly intelligible reward for "good" actions. Changing player's motivations is, quite honestly, impossible. Maybe in a gneration or two, when we can't remember the heavy cost of failing to synergize your Diablo II character properly, you can escape the spreadsheet mentality of players.

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