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Default The cost of doing good in games

April 18th, 2013, 23:23
Wasn't sure if this should be off-topic or here as it is somewhat of a random question I just thought I would toss out here since I almost never seem to start any threads … but I was thinking lately about how the cost of doing good in most RPG's is so minimal as to have little impact on a player. It doesn't hurt in any way, it makes being good very easy.

From what I can recall of games I have played at worse doing a good deed may cost some coin, missing out on some item or perhaps less experience but nothing really painful. In other words it can trivialize being good.

It is not a huge issue for me by any means - I always play a good guy in games. I like being the hero. But I sometimes compare that to real life and it is so much easier to be good in a game

Would people be as good in a game if it cost more? Being evil tends to have a reputation as being the quick and easy way to wealth and power because it means only looking out for yourself and not having any real scruples towards others.

So what if being evil meant better gear, abilities, and levels while doing good would have some serious costs. For example, if the economy was really harsh it could mean that giving up a reward, or donating money to someone, could really make things hard for your character. What if it degraded your skills or experience? What if it cost some permanent damage to your attributes or skills?

Of course most gamers would not go for it, not sure I would either … hard to say. Just curious how others feel about the idea? I guess part of me would like there to be some meaningful sacrifice in being good sometimes. Not always of course - sometimes you can clearly go good and be rewarded. But what if I had to tithe most of my money to my god/goddess/guild? What if I had to deal with subpar weapons and armor? What if doing a quest meant losing out on valuable experience? Would I even want to do that?

For that matter I am not even sure how it could be implemented so that someone could finish the game even if far more crippled than a neutral or evil play style. More to the point would anyone play a game that was set up that way?

Character is centrality, the impossibility of being displaced or overset. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
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April 19th, 2013, 00:57
There should be a balance I think. Being 'evil' may make you more powerful while being 'good' may make you weaker but allow you to have friends/followers. It could be tied to two different playstyles, so at the end you would want to play the game again as the other side and actually have a different gameplay experience (instead of just to watch the 'other ending')
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April 19th, 2013, 02:09
For gaming purposes, I think I would have the "good" route be putting others' needs over your own while the "evil" route would do the opposite. If a dragon was coming to destroy a town, the person making consistent "evil" choices would be powerful enough to stop the dragon from even getting to the town but the player will have taken a pretty bad toll on the town himself. The consistent "good" choices would lead to a weak player but the town would be strong enough to fight off the dragon without the player's help at all.

If I could get it in, I might even pop in a "true good" result where the player mostly does good but pulls a few of the evil choices. The result being that the player can't stop the dragon but can weaken it enough that the town can blow the dragon out of the sky with almost no damage. That would end up being the route that results in the least death & destruction to all involved.

And maybe even a "true evil" result - the player fakes the town out and actually joins the dragon in destroying the town. (The dragon goes home with all the gold, the player goes home with all the other coinage. It's not like the dragon is going to be able to spend the money anywhere. )

I agree that most current games don't make the choice a very tough one. Bioware's games often allow you to let the quest giver keep the reward but the cash for those rewards typically are dwarfed by the loot from the monsters. I don't think most gamers will like it much if their role playing choices end up gimping them. They'll be on the forums in an instant, blaming the developers for giving them a choice that isn't going to work out.
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April 19th, 2013, 16:52
Originally Posted by wolfing View Post
Being 'evil' may make you more powerful while being 'good' may make you weaker
Originally Posted by Zloth View Post
The consistent "good" choices would lead to a weak player
Why ?

Why does a "good" player have to be weak ?

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April 23rd, 2013, 03:59
Because the good player is putting others' needs ahead of his/her own needs. It actually fits the definition of "selfless" better than "good" which is why I stuck it in quotes, but it should work well enough for a game.
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April 23rd, 2013, 06:01
There have been some games where there was a cost for being good other than financial. I remember one though the name escapes me where you could find ways to solve problems without resorting to combat. However, all/most of the XP came from combat so you missed out on it. Mind you, I remember PS-T rewarded you for discovering a less aggressive path.

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April 24th, 2013, 05:50
Yeah, that xp-for-kills thing seems to be a holdover from D&D. I can't say that I like it very much.

Oooo, now what if you made a game where your xp came from different things depending on your character? A good, sneaky character gets xp for bypassing a fight with a monster but loses xp for attacking it while an evil fighter gets the opposite. A good fighter gets a little xp for killing the monster but can get even more for disabling it. An evil assassin will get a lot of xp if the monster dies quickly and quietly but will actually lose xp if the battle takes a long time.

I guess there's a bit of that in Elder Scrolls style advancement.
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