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September 25th, 2007, 22:39
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Are people seriously suggesting you need to have children to appreciate the moral choice in the game? Oh my.

The problem is that the choice is meaningless because when you save the girl you get effectively the same resources as if you don't, and you get effectively 99.9% the exact same gaming experience. It has nothing to do with empathy or lack of empathy, it has to do with a blatantly shallow black and white perception of morality. That little girl is there ONLY to manipulate the audience in the most unsubtle way imaginable, and I'm not surprised parents are the easiest to deceive into believing they made a meaningful choice. It has been done in movies for ages, and some people will always appreciate handholding and explicit morality tales over an approach dealing with a plausible reality.

I wouldn't have had a problem with this aspect if it hadn't been for the extreme underlining Irrational did at every chance of the sophisticated moral choices in the game. I personally don't care all that much about this kind of thing, because I don't need games to show me what morality is, but considering the level of hype it's quite disappointing that they couldn't come up with something more interesting than this.

For the choice to have ANY meaning at all, saving girls should have had a significant cost, since that's the core of the dilemma. I'm the kind of guy who plays the good path unvariably, but it would perhaps have made an impact if I felt I had to suffer for my "goodness". With the Adam and extra plasmids I got, I felt I was rewarded for taking the only route that was moral. That's hardly interesting storytelling, but maybe Levine didn't get that far during his stint in Hollywood.
I normally don't do this, but…

"What he said."
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September 25th, 2007, 22:43
Originally Posted by chamr View Post
You may not have intended it this way, BN, but what you're saying there is that the "appeal to emotion" is "superficial at best". The issue I'm raising is that you and other presumably childless players are faulting the emotional impact of the little sister scenario based primarily to the in-game consequence or lack thereof. What I'm trying to say is that you would feel that scenario much, much differently if you had children of your own. Doesn't mean the choice is meaningful in a game mechanics way. But it does make a difference in the meaning on an emotional level.
I don't think you're getting what I mean with "superficial at best". When I say "superficial at best", I don't mean the experience for you isn't deep, or that emotionally the experience can't be meaningful for you. I'm tiring a bit of your base assumptions on "you don't have any children!" as if that somehow precludes me of feeling some kind of deep emotional ties to the experience.

Yes, I did have a lot of emotions rolling around my head during the harvesting scenarios and the later scenarios (can't spoil here, but I'm referring to a certain protection scenario), but I can't pretend this is more than just a gut-wrenching appeal to my tear-ducts.

To me, the Little Sister scenario is the equivalent of watching Extreme Home Makeover on tv. I always cry my eyes out when I watch that show, they know exactly which buttons to push, but I don't pretend that no matter how emotional it is, that doesn't mean the show isn't just another money-maker that manipulates my emotions to fool me into whatever they want.

Same goes for BioShock. It's "superficial" in the sense that there's nothing meaningful that actually happens, nor are there any halfways. This isn't a deep moral choice, it's something that shoves you onto two extremely extreme choices with a ridiculous dichotomy. That is mostly about game mechanics, but it's also about how the story and the choice is presented.

To put it more succinctly: the choice of harvesting or saving Little Sisters does not go any deeper than the emotionally heart-wrenching scene involved in it. It's nothing beyond that; it's not meaningful for the story, it's not meaningful for the PC, it's not meaningful for the game's mechanics, and it is in the end presented in a completely unrealistic dichotomy of extreme evil and extreme good. That doesn't mean it's heart-wrenching, that means it's extremely badly done beyond a fairly cheap emotional appeal. There's no deep moral experience here, just the kind of cheap emotional manipulation that Extreme Home Makeover excels at.
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September 25th, 2007, 22:44
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
I thought the site policy was "no ad hominem"
that's hardly ad hominem. Whether you agree with it or not, it was germane to the discussion at hand. And since when did presuming someone has no children become an attack?
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September 25th, 2007, 22:47
The developers have stated that their intent was for the narrative to come first and that they designed the game so that combat wouldn't stop the average gamer from completing the narrative.
Yes, indeed, it works reasonably well as an interactive movie, but only about average as a game.

Having children is for most, I think, a life changing experience you really can't fully appreciate until you've gone through it yourself.
I'm sure it is, and I'm happy for you. That doesn't change the core of the problem, nor does it impress me that parents are more easily manipulated than others. That's hardly indicative of good game design. I could show you a picture of a kid being beaten, and I would be the cause of great emotional turmoil no doubt. I wonder if that makes me capable of creating games with interesting moral dilemmas.
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September 25th, 2007, 22:47
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
I thought the site policy was "no ad hominem" — yet you keep on doing it, not just on the politics and religion forum where things tend to get a bit heated, but also here. And you're a staff member. Are you sure this is the example you want to set?
No, I disagree on both counts.

You stated that a something was emotionally superficial in agreement with what appears to be a poorly worded and ill-chosen statement from BN that he has added context to subsequently. Based on the revised text I have no issue, but based on the former I disagreed with both of you and drew an assumption that you didn't have children since the only people that I have seen in a whole variety of forums for whom that sequence has no emotional pull is men without children.

I look at it this way - if you posted a statement in your native language and I did a babelfish translate and reacted to it, you might come back and say "lacking the native language skills you are not in a position to interpret that phrase adequately", and I would admit to the truth of that statement.

What I said was not an ad hominem attack but rather a statement that without actually having a parent-child bond a person would not be equipped to interpret something designed to play to that particular bond.

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September 25th, 2007, 22:51
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
You can't die, and when the vita process is done, you get to fight the same enemies with the amount of health they have left. So no matter what you do, you can't possibly face an enemy you can't defeat, unless you can't damage them EVER.
How is this worse than quick-loading over and over and over and over again until you beat a fight that's too tough for you (for any of a number of reasons?)

Meaning, if you're low on ammo, money, and first-aid kits, and go against a Big Daddy, you *will* see the inside of the Vita-Chamber a quite a lot. Of course, this will rarely be the case — but that's another question.

In my book, Vita-Chambers don't "destroy the challenge" — instead, they change the nature of the challenge. Personally, I hate save-game abuse: I would rather play a game where you can't/don't have to save/reload *even once* (Nethack rules, btw), than one that *forces* you to reload from saved even once — like just about all FPS's do. (Try playing Half-Life 2 through without dying, even on Normal, for example.)

I agree that the Vita-Chamber was a brute-force solution, much less elegant than Planescape: Torment's. However, IMO it's still far less immersion-breaking than "Uh-oh, F9."

Quickloading works differently, in that the enemies have the same health as when you saved. So, when you die in a fight, and you quick load, they have full health all over again.
And you have the same resources you had *before* fighting them. Six of one, half-dozen of the other.

Furthermore, most people don't quicksave constantly to avoid a challenge, and it's meant to be a matter of personal choice.
And you know this, because…?

Vita "chambing" is NOT a personal choice because it's forced upon you by the developers. But, as I said, some people don't mind quickloading to avoid it - and I never personally used a single Vita chamber apart from 1 (to get the stupid message to disappear). But it bothered me that I had to do that to avoid a silly design decision.
So, choice in games is always good? (Warning: this is a trick question.)

You say that as if it's a good thing. Did I claim Half-Life 2 was challenging? No, so it's completely irrelevant to my point.
OK. Which FPS do you consider challenging?

If you switched that off, and then stated that this particular aspect was challenging, you'd have to be a moron.
My point is that you're complaining about "lack of challenge" and then pointing at a bunch of features you can choose to switch off. And… weren't you just bitching above that Bioshock "forces" Vita-Chambers on you?

To be honest, I don't remember too much from Half-Life 2, other than it wasn't my cup of tea. But you keep bringing it up as if it was a challenging game, which I've never said. It could be exactly as easy as Bioshock for all I know, but I didn't register it since I was uninterested in the game as a whole.
I was bringing it up because it's a very highly regarded and widely played FPS, also very highly regarded for its game balance. In other words, it's a good standard to compare against.

I mean, if you test drive a car and then complain that it's "slow" and "handles badly," there's no way of telling anything from this complaint unless we know what you're comparing against (or, in a pinch, who you are). We will draw one conclusion if you're Michael Schumacher, another if you're the Hot New Products lady for Vogue.

For the record, I played Bioshock on medium (tried hard second time, but got bored with the game as it has next to no replay value), and I switched off everything and yet I found it way too easy.
Oh my, u r teh l337.

I played it through twice on medium, and found it just right. So there.
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September 25th, 2007, 22:51
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
What I said was not an ad hominem attack but rather a statement that without actually having a parent-child bond a person would not be equipped to interpret something designed to play to that particular bond.
I'm sorry, where exactly was it stated that the Little Sisters were created purely to appeal to parents? Are you saying BioShock was made or marketed towards parents only? That's very unlikely. The Little Sisters scenario was presented as a "deep, meaningful moral choice" to everyone. Not with the caveat "this is just for parents, please don't expect much if you have no children".

Unless I missed something.

PS: also, I'm pretty sure that was Prima Junta took offense at was the fact that you were telling people what they're qualified to have opinions on. You don't have that right. Ever. Nobody does.
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September 25th, 2007, 22:52
@BN: Fair enough. Thanks for the clarification.

I wasn't defending Bioshock's use of the little sister scenario or commenting in any way on whether it was well done or a good game mechanic or manipulative or cheap etc. Nor did I ever claim that having children was a prerequisite for making emotional connections. My comments were aimed specifically at the idea that because the choice had no real consequence in-game, the emotional appeal was superficial. With your last post, you've more fully explained what you meant. Works for me.
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September 25th, 2007, 22:53
Originally Posted by chamr View Post
that's hardly ad hominem. Whether you agree with it or not, it was germane to the discussion at hand. And since when did presuming someone has no children become an attack?
Ad hominem does not mean "attack." It means disqualifying an argument because of the person making the argument rather than anything inherent in the argument itself.

TXA does that a lot. I can provide examples on request.
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September 25th, 2007, 22:54
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
You stated that a something was emotionally superficial in agreement with what appears to be a poorly worded and ill-chosen statement from BN that he has added context to subsequently. Based on the revised text I have no issue, but based on the former I disagreed with both of you and drew an assumption that you didn't have children since the only people that I have seen in a whole variety of forums for whom that sequence has no emotional pull is men without children.
Yes, you do make a lot of assumptions, don't you?
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September 25th, 2007, 22:56
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
To put it more succinctly: the choice of harvesting or saving Little Sisters does not go any deeper than the emotionally heart-wrenching scene involved in it. It's nothing beyond that; it's not meaningful for the story, it's not meaningful for the PC, it's not meaningful for the game's mechanics, and it is in the end presented in a completely unrealistic dichotomy of extreme evil and extreme good. That doesn't mean it's heart-wrenching, that means it's extremely badly done beyond a fairly cheap emotional appeal. There's no deep moral experience here, just the kind of cheap emotional manipulation that Extreme Home Makeover excels at.
Am I really the only one here who didn't find that scene emotionally heart-wrenching? It was so damn obviously manipulative as well as poorly done that it totally caused me to switch off my connection to game.
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September 25th, 2007, 22:58
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
PS: also, I'm pretty sure that was Prima Junta took offense at was the fact that you were telling people what they're qualified to have opinions on. You don't have that right. Ever. Nobody does.
Correct. I take that sort of thing very personally.
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September 25th, 2007, 22:58
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Am I really the only one here who didn't find that scene emotionally heart-wrenching? It was so damn obviously manipulative as well as poorly done that it totally caused me to switch off my connection to game.
Maybe. It won't work for everyone, and it is slightly unconvincingly built up, but I found it worked well myself. I have a very soft spot for children, though, ever since I worked in an orphanage in Russia, it's one of my easier strings to pull.
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September 25th, 2007, 23:00
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Yes, indeed, it works reasonably well as an interactive movie, but only about average as a game.
I'm getting intrigued here, DArtagnan. I agree 100% with about half of what you say, and disagree violently with the other half.

Could you provide some examples of games that you feel work well as games rather than interactive movies? Even better if some of these are FPS's. TIA.
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September 25th, 2007, 23:02
Having children really makes no difference here. These aren't your children being harvested so what difference does it make? The killing of a child should disturb you before having one or I'm seriously doubting your ability to parent. I've seen close family dead, lying before me, yet you having your own children means that a game experience means more to you than I.

You know, I just watched Taxi Driver last night and when the pimp holds Jodie Foster as the child prostitute I found that disturbing still. How is that when I have no children of my own? The statement is rubbish sorry.
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September 25th, 2007, 23:02
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
you were telling people what they're qualified to have opinions on. You don't have that right. Ever. Nobody does.
Just to keep up the torrid pace of this thread, and to veer it dramatically off course…

Hogwash. There are certainly many cases where people aren't qualified to have an opinion. They may have it, but their lack of qualifications render it meaningless and easy to reject out of hand. Simple example: I may have an opinion on how a skyscrapper should be constructed, but I certainly wouldn't expect anyone to take it seriously, let alone pay attention to me at all, since I have no qualifications in building skyscrappers.
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September 25th, 2007, 23:05
Originally Posted by woges View Post
Having children really makes no difference here. These aren't your children being harvested so what difference does it make? The killing of a child should disturb you before having one or I'm seriously doubting your ability to parent. I've seen close family dead, lying before me, yet you having your own children means that a game experience means more to you than I.

You know, I just watched Taxi Driver last night and when the pimp holds Jodie Foster as the child prostitute I found that disturbing still. How is that when I have no children of my own? The statement is rubbish sorry.
Sigh… again…. It's not on or off, black or white. What I'm saying is that having children changes how you feel and react to certain things; violence against children being one of them. Stating that it makes no difference and that it shouldn't matter if it isn't your own children is what's "rubbish", my friend.
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September 25th, 2007, 23:07
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
Maybe. It won't work for everyone, and it is slightly unconvincingly built up, but I found it worked well myself. I have a very soft spot for children, though, ever since I worked in an orphanage in Russia, it's one of my easier strings to pull.
But that's not it! Let me try to put it another way: emotional manipulation is the bread-and-butter of any art, especially games, right? You do this with a "hook" that engages your emotions, and then you pull a "string" to make them do what you want. The "hook" is your device of choice — a damsel in distress, a puppy, a child — and the "string" is what you do with it, and how.

For me the string broke precisely *because* the hook is so strong. If the Little Sisters had been something emotionally charged but less so than children, like puppies or something, the string probably *wouldn't* have broken. Conversely, the string would have had to be much stronger to reel me in with the hook being used. As I said earlier, some games I've played do manage to pull this off; Bioshock didn't. I experienced it by having the game go flat in that particular scene, and consequently went "Uh, harvest, I guess" without any particular wrenches in my gut. I suspect you experienced the same thing, only a bit differently.
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September 25th, 2007, 23:10
It's a fairly uncomfortable watch, regardless if you have children or not.
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September 25th, 2007, 23:10
How is this worse than quick-loading over and over and over and over again until you beat a fight that's too tough for you (for any of a number of reasons?)
I think I've pointed out the exact difference, and that should sufficiently demonstrate how it's worse.

In my book, Vita-Chambers don't "destroy the challenge" — instead, they change the nature of the challenge. Personally, I hate save-game abuse: I would rather play a game where you can't/don't have to save/reload *even once* (Nethack rules, btw), than one that *forces* you to reload from saved even once — like just about all FPS's do. (Try playing Half-Life 2 through without dying, even on Normal, for example.)
Again, you assume I think quicksave abusing is a good thing. You also assume that I think that feature is ok.

The reason I don't complain about quicksaving is because I've gotten used to it. I've always felt a bit silly saving every 10 steps because I wanted to conserve resources. But I still think it's a lot better than the Vita chamber solution for reasons I don't care to repeat only to go in circle.

I agree that the Vita-Chamber was a brute-force solution, much less elegant than Planescape: Torment's. However, IMO it's still far less immersion-breaking than "Uh-oh, F9."
Two wrongs don't make a right.

And you have the same resources you had *before* fighting them. Six of one, half-dozen of the other.
True, but since resources is never an issue in Bioshock this is irrelevant.

And you know this, because…?
I base this on my knowledge of the people I've interacted with regarding this issue, and I've had numerous discussions in the past related to quicksave abusing or overall difficulty level. Can I prove it? No, nor would I care to try. If you don't agree, say so, if you do then stop wasting our time.

So, choice in games is always good? (Warning: this is a trick question.)
Why would one case of choice being good be indicative of choice always being good. That's an illogical assumption.

OK. Which FPS do you consider challenging?
I don't play a lot of them to be honest, but I did in my past. I seem to recall Farcry being quite challenging. Stalker also had a very satisfying level of challenge.

My point is that you're complaining about "lack of challenge" and then pointing at a bunch of features you can choose to switch off. And… weren't you just bitching above that Bioshock "forces" Vita-Chambers on you?
You're missing the point entirely. I'm here to "correct" the people claiming it's a challenge. Then I point out why it could never be a challenge, since you have all those options available to you if you were indeed challenged.

About the Vita chambers, again, you need to understand that choice can be good and it can be bad, and it can be meaningless.

I was bringing it up because it's a very highly regarded and widely played FPS, also very highly regarded for its game balance. In other words, it's a good standard to compare against.
Maybe for you. I only compare games against standards I personally think make good points of comparison. I couldn't care less what the media thinks and the hype surrounding Half-Life 2 was ridiculous as far as I'm concerned. So is the hype surrounding Bioshock and Halo 3.

I mean, if you test drive a car and then complain that it's "slow" and "handles badly," there's no way of telling anything from this complaint unless we know what you're comparing against (or, in a pinch, who you are). We will draw one conclusion if you're Michael Schumacher, another if you're the Hot New Products lady for Vogue.
You seem to think that because Bioshock is too easy, there has to be a game that is not too easy. That's not a logical assumption. However, it is a reasonable thing to ask for a point of comparison.

Anyway, yes, there are games where challenge wasn't a problem (lack of it) and I could bring up the original System Shock 1 and 2, which were both much more challenging.

Oh my, u r teh l337.
What a useless comment. I have no interest in appearing elite or good. I'm simply speaking my mind based on my honest opinions. The sooner you appreciate that instead of assuming bad things about me, the greater the chance you will have of understanding my point of view.
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