EM: You incorporate a morality system that influences dialogue and other in-game actions, thusly rewarding different kinds of play (Utilitarian, Machiavellian, Nihilist, Existentialist). In a practical sense, how did you come up with this system, and what led you to tie specific leanings to unique perks?
CR: I've always been really interested in philosophy and ended up doing 6 years studying the subject in my undergrad and post-graduate time at University. As for Utilitarian etc, I landed on this mix because it covers both morality and attitudes towards being in the world. It's by no means an exhaustive list covering all views - far from it - but they do allow us to have a 360 degree 'compass' where the fringes of each quadrant could arguably be blurring the lines between different moral philosophies. For instance, you could pick a response that's Machiavellian from a certain perspective, but the exact same thing could be seen as a Utilitarian solution to a problem. So in a situation like this, the dialogue choice would be right on the border of the two, and because your philosophical leaning can be anywhere on the 360 degree range, and any degree of commitment from 1-100 from the centre of the compass outwards (we're referring to this as broad- or narrow-mindedness), there are over 35,000 philosophical leanings that a character can have. It also allows us to show how intent vs action can affect your morality, so we might put players in a situation where there is only one course of action, but their approach to it affects their character's philosophical leaning.
Their range of options is called their 'World View' - shown as a highlighted gold area on the compass, and any dialogue choices, quest solutions, and moral traits within their World View are available to them. And this is over and above the skills and abilities in the talent tree - so you can have your pursuits and projects on the one hand, and your quirks and complexities on the other. While talents are generally always positive or open up something new, traits are generally a double-edged sword. For instance, going full nihilist might grant some brutal combat abilities but prevent you from any greater-good dialogue and questing options.
I always felt philosophy was a little underserved in gaming, as there are so many interesting moral dilemmas and thought experiments that can be played out in an RPG if the underlying system allowed for it. I really just wanted to create something that broke away from a light-side/dark-side split, or clear binary good and evil thinking. Even a spectrum between those two extremes doesn't capture the depth and nuance of many situations we can face in our lives.