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January 13th, 2008, 03:37
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
But that's part of the issue!! WHY wasn't the Rev made a more sympathetic character? Why was he made SO odious??
My take is because it was clearly meant to be a "lesser of two evils" choice. That's what gives the game depth. Instead of the Reverend at least having right on his side, or Abby proved beyond doubt to be a helpless pawn defending herself, you the player are forced to think about your decision differently. It's not like a NWN type choice, where line 1 = "good," line 2 = neutral and line 3= "evil" every single dialogue.

I think you may feel strongly manipulated because you would prefer that a more traditional and clear cut option was available or at least included as a possibility in these situations, and Corwin there were times when I also felt that way. I was occasionally bewildered in The Witcher that all my attempts at neutrality still lead to consequences I didn't foresee or intend. But to me this isn't just a superficial yanking around by the devs, it's an attempt to force you to think outside the same patterns as every other RPG and for you to see that there is more to a choice than a good or bad intention, because your choice involves more characters and forces than just yourself, and there are things you just have no control over. To me it makes fighting evil, or even facing it, more meaningful, because it is always using you and other characters and forces in ways you don't expect, and has some very good disguises.

But really, if the options were as obvious and clear cut as the NWN example, is that any less manipulative? Only then, it's the world that's been manipulated, distorted and simplified into a more railroaded trio of possible decisions. You pretty much know where everything you do will take you, and the manipulation lies in the devs trying to hide this as much as possible with minor distractions in sidequests and story line to make it seem like your choices are affecting the game world or your character, when really everything is leading to a predetermined conclusion built on your choice of option 1, 2 or 3.

That's how I see it anyway.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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January 13th, 2008, 04:33
BUT, to me there was NO choice!! The Rev was so obnoxious, I could NEVER have chosen his side!! I didn't have to weigh any moral or ethical considerations, or do any deep thinking about the situation, I loathed the Rev, so I chose Abby!! To me that IS manipulation!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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January 13th, 2008, 04:45
Okay, but is it bad or good, effective or ineffective, in terms of making your choices have consequences—what we always stress is important in rpgs—at the time and as the game progresses?

Did CDProjekt not say all through the development process that they were making a world where there was no black or white, only shades of gray? This is the way they implemented it. Yes, they made you hate the Reverend, but maybe if you believed Abby guilty as charged even though more likable, and that the lives of the villagers would be better without Abby's influence you might have chosen to take his side despite your aversion to him, because HE was the lesser evil.


(BTW, did you read Skorpia's comments on this idea where she talks about all rpgs being to one extent or another on rails? Sort of driving at this though I don't totally agree with all of it.)

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
Last edited by magerette; January 13th, 2008 at 04:53. Reason: provided link
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January 13th, 2008, 11:29
I would have been happier, if I could have found anything to make the Rev the lesser evil, but I couldn't, that's my point. EVERYTHING was geared towards making Abby the lesser evil. Where was subtlety? Why didn't the Rev have ANY redeeming qualities, to at least make me think about my choice!! That's what I didn't like.

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January 13th, 2008, 12:12
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
But that's part of the issue!! WHY wasn't the Rev made a more sympathetic character? Why was he made SO odious??
Maybe they thought that sympathetic persons seldom want to burn young ladies… guess that's a clichι that's more fitting for a zealous preacher. And I would think that the relegious fanatic is pretty much a stock character in fiction nowadays so maybe they just put him in to fulfill the gamer's expectation. After all "The Witcher" isn't really short on stock figures… you have, the dumb henchman, the sly villain, the damsel in distress, the horny barmaid, etc. and all that already in the first chapter.

But most probable seems to be Magarette's "Lesser of to evils" theory, since you also get such a dialogue option after you've saved Abigail. I can see what you're aiming at since the one evil was represented in a tempting way and the other in a rather repulsive but since the facts represented to you in the game seem to backup the different representations I don't fell manipulated. Abigail seems in fact to be the lesser of two evils, there is hardly anything that implies otherwise. Ok, there is the card which raises doubt about her innocense, but these are really the story gaps that I did not like about "The Witcher". It would have been great had they taken it to the limit and Abigail had turned out to be an evil wrench who slyly tricked you into helping her to dispatch of her enemies in the village… in that case it would have been "real" manipulation for me…

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January 13th, 2008, 12:50
A bit LTTP, but… for once, I agree with Corwin here. I think @zarathustra must've been the only one here who even tried siding with the Reverend. If this is the case, there's clearly a design flaw: if nobody ever chooses the Reverend, the apparent choice between Abigail and him was no choice at all. (And, speaking from a price/benefit POV, any effort expended in implementing that choice was wasted.)

So yeah, the game would have been better if the Reverend, or at least some of the leading villagers, had had some redeeming qualities. Personally I didn't feel any huge twinges of regret when all of them ended up dead; they were such nasty characters to a man.
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January 13th, 2008, 13:51
That was one hell of an insightful post, @bkrueger.
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January 13th, 2008, 14:09
Although some situations in the witcher were morally pretty obvious, that does not mean that they don't represent choice, Corwin. Sometimes the choice (in a game) schould include the obviously immoral, because that allows a wider range of characters to be played. for you personally that may be a non-choice, Corwin (coming from a strongly Christian background, I have gathered). But that need not be so for every player. E.g. I have in some places chosen the "slay the monster anyway" choices, against my own morals. Simply because I thought that would be what Gerald would do.
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January 13th, 2008, 16:43
Some choices including Abigail vs the Rev's case, I agree that the choice seems not to be well-balanced. Also, as bkrueger points out, I feel that the theme of the novels works in a way that prevents the choices form being equalized, too.

Probably, a way to deal with moral choices is presenting different types of moral views. I haven't played Ultimas but, from what I heard, avatars represent different types of morality, which reminds me of one of the works of Plato, he argues that there are various ways of reaching true Idea. In the work, he compared the ways to Greek gods such as Ares (valor), Aphrodite (love), for example. This is rather a simplistic solution, though.

I still think PnP RPG world Glorantha, where different ideologies based on our histories and myths are conflicting and co-existing, did interesting approach. For example, if both Eternal Flame and Lionhead Spider/Scoiatel were presented as groups with different but equally decent ideologies, the choices between them must have been much more interesting.

[Edited for clarification]
Last edited by Dusk; January 13th, 2008 at 23:36.
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January 13th, 2008, 17:49
I got the feeling after playing that part twice, that I had missed some subtle clues about Abby. Also I felt this part of the game was still part of the tutorial in a way. It was meant to put the player into the mindset of Geralt, get you used to looking for clues and deciding who and what to believe. In that frame it was more manipulative then the rest of the game. They seemed to hold our hands a bit with this one, but after that we were on our own.

Bart and Corwin should just admit that when it gets down to it, I will have the final say.
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January 13th, 2008, 20:23
Originally Posted by bkrueger View Post
I will try to give an example of a similar situation, which alway strikes me a a middle European player with regard to "standard high fantasy" settings, which come from the US:

In many RPGs (for example NWN2) you have the following standard situation:

A human village is attacked by some race (in NWN2 it is some sort of reptiles, IIRC) and you are asked by the villagers to help them. Talking to the reptiles you learn that this once was their country and they want it back.

The various solutions to this usually are: Fight against the reptiles, convince them to leave peacufully. Convince them to live peacefully together etc.

A choice you mostly don't have is: help the reptiles to drive out the humans. Or: Convince the humans to leave peacefully. Or convince them to live peacefully together, but that the humans accept that land belongs to the reptiles and they are only guests there.

Exactly these possibilities would be the "good" solutions from a non-biased point of view. But in countries based on forcefully stealing the country from earlier inhabitants they obviously don't even have the idea that such solutions could be offered (and they were, they probably wouldn't be tagged as "good".)

This example might show, how the cultural/historic background might make choices obvious for some peole and "revolutionary" for others.
I agree. I have theorized in the past that there is kind of an "cultural difference" in playing games. This is one example for this.

Whatz's imho even worse is that most RPGs don't give the player any diplomatic choice. There's far too much combat as a means to "solve problems" for ma taste. You either slaughter the humans or the reptiles.

My perception is that diplomatic choices and possibilities have been far too less implemented in RPGs - which I consider due to my "cultural difference (in gaming)".

I don't know, but I see too many americangames with no or very, very few diplomatic options. BG and IWD are my "worst" examples for that, apart from what Blizzard made.

Everyone seems to have the opinion that fantasy worlds/universes (in which RPGs take place) are built after the "long live the strongest" principle, or: Mace over brain.
I have the impression as if many RPGs follow this principle, and therefore only maces are used to solve "differences" or even real problems - but no brains.

In the example of bkrueger from above, I think no-one (or almost no-one) would expect an detective story instead to solve the "issuie" both parties (the humans & the reptiles) have; a detective story that eventually digs out a "difference" that is hundreds of years old … like in Kosovo, for example. Or just like in the book "Thud!" by Terry Pratchett.

No - instead we are given only options which include no deep research, no brains needed.

And this is called "fun".

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January 13th, 2008, 23:54
In-game cultural and ideological simulation would be fun but choices reflect unconscious level of cultural differences between the designers and the players most likely ending up with making the players feel more forced into a certain choices.

However, seeing so many of the quest titles are taken from American novels, movies and pop cultures, I don't think the cultural gap is so big. I'm rather inclined to think they came from the theme of the novels. This part is nothing but speculation, though.
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January 13th, 2008, 23:59
You'd be surprised at how differently "shared" cultural artifacts are perceived between cultures. I've discussed Russian literature with Russians, for example, and we've experienced the same novels in completely different ways, simply because of our different backgrounds.

So Da Vinci Code will not be experienced the same way in a deeply Catholic country with a hard-line conservative Catholic government and a Protestant country with an anti-Catholic tradition and a secular government, for example.

I don't know about you, but I saw a lot of social commentary specific to a country like Poland in The Witcher.
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January 14th, 2008, 00:28
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
You'd be surprised at how differently "shared" cultural artifacts are perceived between cultures. I've discussed Russian literature with Russians, for example, and we've experienced the same novels in completely different ways, simply because of our different backgrounds.
Not about Russian novels, but I have such experiences, too. Also, recently, some American translators made more humorous versions of some works by Dostoevsky. Personally, I found some parts involving Dormitory Karamazov quite funny even when I first read Karamazov Brothers, though. Also, Notes from Underground is taken differently nowadays. So, time is another factor which makes the interpretations different.

Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
So Da Vinci Code will not be experienced the same way in a deeply Catholic country with a hard-line conservative Catholic government and a Protestant country with an anti-Catholic tradition and a secular government, for example.
Even in England, Oliver Cromwell has very different reputations depending on the areas. Genghis Khan may be a "devil" to the Western countries but he is a hero for people in the central Asia. I'd like to see this kind of simulation in CRPGs, too.

Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
I don't know about you, but I saw a lot of social commentary specific to a country like Poland in The Witcher.
I don't deny that I felt some traces of Polish and/or ex-communist county from the Witcher but I was wondering whether they were from the novels or the designers. For I think that some essences may work with novels won't work with role-playing games.
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January 14th, 2008, 05:02
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
That was one hell of an insightful post, @bkrueger.
PJ, this has got to stop, I'm in total agreement with you on all this!! Think what it's doing for our reputations!!

I could be wrong, but didn't a couple of games try to address this issue where you could play as chars from either side?

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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January 14th, 2008, 11:23
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
PJ, this has got to stop, I'm in total agreement with you on all this!! Think what it's doing for our reputations!!
I agree. I'm actually starting to think you might be an OK kind of guy, even if you have some funny ideas about a few things. We can't have that, now, can we?
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January 14th, 2008, 12:00
??? Actually, I didn't notice there had been some arguments between you two. Or have I missed some thing? Well, I guess it's regular board visitor thing. The problem for me, is that while I have difficulty in understanding what Corwin says, I don't have that in what bkrueger says, which kept me away from the thread for a while.

About the Witcher, I haven't played a CRPG which meets a certain standards which I expect only in novels for a while. However, unfortunately, in some parts, the themes (possibly inherited from the novels) like choosing "the lesser evil" or monstrous aspects of human-beings has some points which seems to leave only one choice rather than two.
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January 14th, 2008, 15:50
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
I could be wrong, but didn't a couple of games try to address this issue where you could play as chars from either side?
This thing has arrived the movie area, finally: "Flags of our fathers" vs. "Letters from Iwo Jima".

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January 14th, 2008, 17:22
I find it perfectly possible that some choices are simply NOT MEANT to be completely ambiguous. I Abbys case, the goal might just be to introduce the concept that in this world, the people profiting from the "better" choice are not necessarily good people. And that there are other options available, without necessarily being "evil".

Apart from that, Witchers are supposed to be neutral and slay monsters. Whether going against this "nature" in favor of compassion or nobility is a good idea on the long run is one of the core themes of the game.
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January 14th, 2008, 20:02
Originally Posted by Vio View Post
I find it perfectly possible that some choices are simply NOT MEANT to be completely ambiguous. I Abbys case, the goal might just be to introduce the concept that in this world, the people profiting from the "better" choice are not necessarily good people. And that there are other options available, without necessarily being "evil".

Apart from that, Witchers are supposed to be neutral and slay monsters. Whether going against this "nature" in favor of compassion or nobility is a good idea on the long run is one of the core themes of the game.
This is very much what I was trying to say, Vio (though it may not seem like it-and I have no wish to draw down on my head the combined forces of Corwin and Prime Junta—-Debate Team from Hell )

I never felt manipulated in this game—in the sense I was being deceived or in Corwin's sense of desiring to choose a particular decision out of sheer perversity because I didn't want to be "ordered around" by the devs…I did feel I was being asked to evaluate complex situations using a different value judgment system than my own—that is, trying to think like Geralt, and like a Witcher(sometimes two very different things.) This is what made the game work for me, as this made it more of a journey of discovery, not a railroad to an unwelcome destination.

My point about the Rev was that he was unlikable and obnoxious, but should you really be basing a life-changing decision for all the people of the village on whether you like or dislike someone? I agree that he had a high conglomeration of negative traits, but he was the leader chosen by these people, rightly or wrongly. So theoretically, his worth could be evaluated on some level beyond his personality. I couldn't choose him either, and maybe that is part of how the devs wanted you to define Geralt.

Still, they did give you the option and I'm sure some players made use of it, if not in the first playthrough, in subsequent ones…which seems to make it worth the inclusion.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
Last edited by magerette; January 14th, 2008 at 20:07. Reason: for content
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