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Default The Escapist - Paladins can Loot?

April 11th, 2007, 01:58
This is actually from the previous issue and was overlooked…The Escapist has an article titled Paladins can Loot?, which discusses alignment in CRPGs and the so-called "Gygax model" from D&D:
Lawful Good or Neutral Evil? Open Palm or Closed Fist? Such questions were inconceivable in gaming's early days. Rogue didn't care if you styled yourself a noble hero, and the classic Gold Box games wouldn't let you be much else. The first major North American computer roleplaying game to seriously consider any form of player alignment, Ultima IV, demanded the player conform to the game's eight virtues. When your choices are limited to honesty, compassion, humility and the like, it's hard to be, well, evil.
More information.
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April 11th, 2007, 01:58
A good article. I agree with their conclusion. If developers really want to add to the depth of their games, then they shouldn't skimp on the details of the alignment system. I like it when a game forces me to make a gut wrenching decision. Torment blew my mind in that aspect. They should exploit alignments. They're wasting a great idea here. In an age with beautiful graphics, incredible AI and physics engines, we have an equally stunning lack of depth to story, characters, etc.
Then again, maybe I'm just a grumpy, old PnP roleplayer that doesn't understand what sells nowadays in terms of video games. My favorite games hardly sold many units at all. Heaven forbid that a game developer should actually cause a pimple-faced teenager to think about what they're doing.
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April 11th, 2007, 02:03
Please don't swear in the forums, you used the T word!!!! (THINK) I agree with everything you said!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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April 11th, 2007, 02:43
After a fair bit of NWN2 recently, I got quite annoyed with the way alignment hits pan out. I just can't get over a real frustration with the abstraction.

When I'm playing, a conducive conversation choice for my character shouldn't end up with me, after the conversation has finished, going "What the hell? How was that a Chaotic thing to say?! I'm Neutral Evil!".

Obviously with a simple 9 point abstraction of morality things are going to be a bit shaky. I just find myself more and more confused by the way developers seem to be playing ever more fast and loose/lazy with it. As if it's really not evolving but devolving.
Evil can barely be played intelligently, it inevitably descends into thuggery or psychotic behaviour. Good, as the article points out, must always be polite and insufferably winsome, to the point of pastiche or farce. It almost seems as if writers/developers don't notice that there are indeed nine points to play with. Not just Goody, Beatnik, and Nutcase.

So even with the current abstract scale of morality, designers don't seem to be using the full deck, or aren't putting in enough point-counterpoint dialogue. What hope for an even more diverse or detailed system? And going back to my initial whinge, is a roleplaying morality system that leaves the player thinking "that's totally not the affect on my alignment I was aiming for" working properly at all?
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April 11th, 2007, 03:35
I agree with the alignment issue or moral choices in rpgs, but I hate when developers try to force today's values into a setting they just don't belong. Why ad obvvious anachronisms? Its silly. The setting is the there, just stick to what the beliefs of the people are in the setting, not our modern beliefs that don't fit.

What I also hate is the lack of depth even when presented with choices. The big question in life is not how or what, but why? Why are you doing it? Are you doing something good now to do something very bad later? Why can't I pick the good action as a bad guy for the greater evil or vice versa. If the moral choices presented are superficial, anachronistic, and basically a given for your cxharacter, then why bother?
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April 11th, 2007, 04:12
Originally Posted by Dyne View Post
When I'm playing, a conducive conversation choice for my character shouldn't end up with me, after the conversation has finished, going "What the hell? How was that a Chaotic thing to say?! I'm Neutral Evil!".
Here's a thought. Since so many games are shipped unfinished these days, maybe the devs could include a feature in the original release that allows the player to type in a response. The game could then submit those responses to the devs via the Internet so they could be included in a subsequent patch.
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April 11th, 2007, 04:36
Games like PS-T and FO had better choices, but I agree, that today such things are usually contrived and shallow!! 'Can't spend too much time on anything which distracts from the combat'!! Even here I read from many people that they don't like bothering with all the dialogue choices; they just want to kill things!! WRONG genre!! Go play FPS instead!!!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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April 11th, 2007, 07:30
Personally I don't really think it's the devs, its mostly m$ fault for starting to force 1.5 to 2 year development cycles to build a catalog to compete with sony, then others like ea just followed along.
It's the exception now days where a game gets 3 to 4 years to develop, which is required for a deep, balanced and mostly bug free game.
There is no doubt it's RPG light now days, but that wont change anytime soon, well afaik.
THe devs are just doing what they can for the most part to get games out, but once again it's the pubs that are responsible for the QA, the devs are usually to busy trying to get he game out to play though the game to find many bugs.

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April 11th, 2007, 08:44
I never liked the alignment idea in D&D. Alignment or the morals of player characters should emerge from the decisions they make, the deeds they do in the game world, not from a preset choice during character generation. The alignment system injects the idea that the players moral values are a given. I find there are much more interesting stories to be played when the idea is that there is feedback between world, experience and morals. Maybe the paladin started looting out of a strong feeling of revenge, then greed sets in and he is on the path to evil. No rule should forbid him to do so, instead the world should react. A paladin that loots should be banned by his order, and maybe be denied the favours of his god, but he should damn well be able to loot and plunder to his hearts content. It is inherently wrong, IMHO to have character classes that are too defined with regards to abilities and morals, instead there should be sets of professions and skills, and a system of feedback from the world (through dialogue, NPC reactions, etc.) that lets you know who you have become.
The article is therefore right in pointing out that it takes a strong dialogue system to convincingly portray more subtle moral choices and their consequences. However I think games are better of without the rigidity and characterization that codified alignment systems introduce.
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April 11th, 2007, 09:56
I'm always surprised to see how the guys from The Escapist are able to turn some trivial matter into some kind of pseudo-scientific or pseudo-intellectual article. "The Gygax-model" - big LOL.
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April 11th, 2007, 15:00
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
I never liked the alignment idea in D&D. Alignment or the morals of player characters should emerge from the decisions they make, the deeds they do in the game world, not from a preset choice during character generation. The alignment system injects the idea that the players moral values are a given. I find there are much more interesting stories to be played when the idea is that there is feedback between world, experience and morals. …
That's the way most recent D&D RPGs have handled it. You pick a starting point adn then your alignment shifts based on what you do. I disagree with some of their choices for what causes shifts but overall it works well.

Does anyone remember the first D&D game that did this?
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April 11th, 2007, 18:47
Even moreso than forcing you in a certain direction (whether it be good, evil, or inbetween) it should be all about choices.

The player should be given choices, and there should be logical outcomes from those choices within the context of the game world.

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April 11th, 2007, 19:36
Originally Posted by BillSeurer View Post
Does anyone remember the first D&D game that did this?
This goes back over thirty years now…D&D always worked that way. You chose your alignment at the start, but if you acted too far outside of it, the Dungeon Master could change it. It may not have made it into the very first book, but the first book was unorganized, unedited and ambiguous (there were ommissions, duplications, missing pages, etc), and left you wondering. The next books were much clearer. They described an actual game with actual rules, and that was certainly one of them.

Gygax had a brilliant idea, and his straightforward alignment system may have been its single greatest feature. By forcing the player to choose his alignment along with his character class, the game required the player to get the first thing straight — his role.
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April 11th, 2007, 19:52
I meant which computer games. The early ones didn't do this.
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April 11th, 2007, 22:07
Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
Here's a thought. Since so many games are shipped unfinished these days, maybe the devs could include a feature in the original release that allows the player to type in a response. The game could then submit those responses to the devs via the Internet so they could be included in a subsequent patch.
Sounds really innovative, imho !
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April 12th, 2007, 00:39
Originally Posted by Ionstormsucks View Post
I'm always surprised to see how the guys from The Escapist are able to turn some trivial matter into some kind of pseudo-scientific or pseudo-intellectual article. "The Gygax-model" - big LOL.
That's what game journalists do. Yeah, it is pretty funny tho!
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April 12th, 2007, 02:23
I regard D&D's notion of an objective morality as one manifestation of the wider problem, which is the tendency of campaign designers to spell out the mechanics of every part of their settings. They all want to write the Silmarillion. Nice for them, but it's totally counter to what is, for me, the defining characteristic of the human condition: we don't know what the fuck we're doing. We're all groping around blindly for some idea of what to believe and whom to follow.

A Forgotten Realms game can't explore this idea, because everyone knows you can just do whatever Lawful Good Torm tells you to do. He'll be happy to confirm his existence and grant you spells if you pray to him. And if you have any further questions, simply direct them to one of his representatives. You can recognise them by their shining armor and bland good looks.

Eh, to hell with game fiction.

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April 12th, 2007, 17:20
Great article. Im also bored of the Good/Evil concept as I really do not consider it to be an option to either be completely rude to everybody you meet and burn all your bridges, or be naive and give away everything you need.

I would prefer something more like the Political Compass theory, that divides mankind into concepts like authoritarian VS libertarian, amount of Economic Freedom, amount of Social freedom, left vs right, conservative vs neofetish etc. Problem might be that you need someone who are beyond bias on thoose topics which might be difficult to find.
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April 12th, 2007, 22:26
Originally Posted by BillSeurer View Post
I meant which computer games. The early ones didn't do this.
I think it was KOTOR1 or maybe NWN1 that started this. Or maybe BG2 where certain members of your party would leave, if you were a goodaligned party that did take any evilaligned characters (npsc) with you. Jade Empire did this, too, I think??

There could have been others or earlier examples, but these are all that I know that would do this…
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April 13th, 2007, 00:13
I'd rather leave the whole hardwired good/evil thing behind and encourage better use of factions and multiple paths/solutions. Players can decide for themselves the motivation of their character if the game presents enough opportunities through their choices and alignment with a suitable faction(s).

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