Are Morality Systems Making Us Less Moral?

Are Morality Systems Making Us Less Moral?


It was when playing Bithell game’s new title
Quarentine Circular, that I was hit with a real rarity in videogames, an honest-to-god
moral choice with no easy answer. Let me lay it out for you. I was playing as an engineer, who had the
unenviable task of setting up communications with alien first contact. After getting talking to this tank of an arthropod
named gabriel, it asks me a question. It has a shock collar on it that prevents
it from moving out of this tiny circle, will you disable it? This really stumped me. Despite having a binary choice to make, there
were so many factors to consider. Gabriel seems nice but is he lying? How did he get captured in the first place
he looks like he could stop a train, why did he come here? Should we implicitly trust technologically
advanced outsiders because that didn’t go well for indigenous cultures in the past,
but maybe he’s a diplomat, or a scientist? We don’t even know his society’s’ values! Videogames are great at posing moral questions,
because unlike in any other medium it’s us that gets to choose the answer. And that’s what moral questions are really,
the most open-ended possible puzzles, and they challenge a totally different part of
the brain to tests of mechanical skill and tactical thinking. They’re unique because the interesting part
isn’t making things happen, but seeing how your choices unfold. You’d think given the ability of videogames
to enable player choice and more importantly the consequences of those choices, we’d
have a flourishing culture of games that are all about explorations of morality and ethics,
but we kind of don’t. There are of course some great notable exceptions
that i’ll be getting around to later, but for every game with some sort of morality
system, very very few ever seem to pull it off well. I’ve spent a while mulling it over, and
I think I may have found the source of the problem, weirdly. I think the issue lies with morality systems
themselves. Now, it sounds like I’ve finally lost it
but, let me explain myself. Traditional game design wisdom, broadly speaking,
holds that integrating all the different parts of your game is a good idea. In half life 2’s best level, Ravenholm,
the physics system, gunplay, puzzles and aesthetic design all work together to create an awesome
expereince. Because of this philosophy, however, morality
and ethics get tied into games in a way that hurts them. They’re represented through systems like
karma meter related statboosts and content gating or different endings based on your
choices. The problem with this approach is that it’s
inelegant, in attaching straight up gameplay bonuses to moral choices, you make them easily
solvable, turning an ethical choice into a strategic one. Take knights of the old republic for example-
its morality system, which measures your devotion to the light or dark side of the force actively
selects against making decisions on an ethical basis. The more devoted you are to the light or dark
side of the force, the cheaper certain force power get, and if you go really far, you get
some nice stat boosts. That means that any attempt to make a decision
based on your ethical reasoning is a decision to make the game potentially harder for yourself,
and that’s not a choice most players are going to make. This sucks even more in KOTOR 2 which includes
Kreia, a mentor figure who picks apart your reasoning for every choice you made and she’s
brilliantly written, she’s the most balanced and nuanced take on the light and dark sides
of the force in the whole starwars canon, unfortunately, the emotional kick of having
your moral choices torn apart doesn’t really have the desired effect because more often
than not you didn’t make them for moral reasons, but because you were doing a light
or dark side playthrough. Kotor is pretty easy pickings, but morality
systems can scupper even games with supposedly much more nuanced takes, such as dishonored. In this game your morality is measured by
how far the city has fallen into chaos. Stuff like killing people raises the chaos
level and causes more guards to appear in later levels as well as gives you the quote
on quote bad ending. Low chaos runs require you to be merciful
and gives you a much nicer ending because despite being dishonored, you remained honorable
and were still a good person see it’s this whole thing, it’s real subtle. The issue here is that the pretty much binary
nature of low and high chaos means that low chaos is heavily coded as being the more ethical
and nicer route to follow, despite being anything but. The nonlethal resolutions to the various missions
see you doing some truly horrible stuff, like drugging a lady and essentially selling her
to a stalker who’s going to keep her as a slave. The choice of just murdering lady boyle vs
force feeding dunwall the red pill is an interesting moral dilemma that dishonored halfheartedly
tries to get you to consider before telling you that you’re a good person just because
the people you delivered into the hands of a rapist or sold into slavery didn’t die. Without the chaos system in place, you’d
be made to figure out the best way to get what you want, taking into account ethics
versus practicality and the potential consequences of your actions, but with it, the nuance and
ambiguity is removed and we’re left with a system that denounces a mercy killing and
praises slavery. Moral decisions are interesting because we
get to explore the consequences, and I think the mistake that a lot of developers make
is that they assume that without seeing immediate feedback for our choices, players will think
they have no agency, but it’s attemtps to rectify that in KOTOR and dishonored that
actually make them less interesting. Longterm consequences for your decisions are
actually fine. Let’s compare frostpunk and darkest dungeon,
two games that explore the allure of becoming a monster whilst chasing the greater good
in subtley different ways, one great, one not so great. Spoilers for Frostpunk by the way, so skip
ahead to this time, if you don’t want to see them. Frostpunk sees you controlling the last city
on earth, built around this giant generator in order to try and survive an endless, apocalyptic
winter. To do that you’ll need to sign laws to keep
people in line and make sure that society doesn’t crumble- this is great, because
all the most useful ones carry a heavy moral toll, for example forcing kids to work in
the coal mines and frostpunk is difficult enough to make these choices really worth
considering. I made some really tough calls during my frostpunk
campaign, I tried to uphold strict moral values to keep my people happy, but eventually I
needed to create a religious secret police to control theft and I had to perform some
emergency triage to prepare for the big endgame superstorm. During that storm, in the eleventh hour, when
my people were starving and sick, with mere hours to go before the storm passed, I made
the ultimate choice, in order to save the city and possibly humanity, I sent a child
into the bowels of the overworked generator to fix it buy us a few precious more hours,
killing them in the process. Humanity survived, and I was greeted with
the text “we didn’t cross the line”… what what? The quite genuine remorse I felt was completely
undercut by the game thinking I’d done an ethical job as ruler, I sacrificed a kid! It turns out that frostpunk secretly tallies
up how many evil decisions you make, stuff like banishing dissidents or instating yourself
as dictator and only at the end of the game does it tell you if you made too many, and
that’s about all you get as far as feedback. I was looking forward to a little blurb about
how my city ended up fairing, whether my strict soup policy lead to malnourishment, whether
the sacrificial child was remembered or what became of my secret police, but I didn’t
really get anything, just a good job! Sticker. Frostpunk falls at the very last hurdle by
adding a mechanical dimension to its morality, if the ending was something more neutral or
explored my decisions in more depth then they’d feel much more impactful. However, by making the powerful, evil laws
contribute to little more than a bad ending, the entire morality system becomes essentially
just difficulty setting, and the moral element is removed entirely, instead of regret, I
now just feel disappointed, I only had to feed that kid to prometheus because I’m
bad at frostpunk. Darkest dungeon on the other hand doesn’t
judge, instead it just shows you the consequences. In double D, heroes that fight in the dark
get more loot, but get more stressed, and seeing them unravel, turn on eachother and
give into despair is not pleasant to watch. Stressed heroes must turn to stuff like drink
or flagellation, or you can just hurl the broken wretches onto the streets and pickup
a fresh batch of chumps in the morning, saving you some precious cash. In a scathing commentary on the internship
model, darkest dungeon encourages you to be heartless in order to beat back the otherworly
corruption that has infested the hamlet, and it’s only when when the realization sets
in that you’re treading down the same path as your ancestor do you also realise it’s
too late to stop, besides what’s one more life in exchange for that nice shiny trinket? Because it’s freed from the shackles of
a morality system, darkest dungeon’s ethics are organic, slow burning, and aren’t dicated
by outside factors. You can choose to be a nice guy, saving or
treating your favourite heroes to make them stronger and not feel like you’re playing
the game wrong, but the option to become a monster is always going to be there, and that
choice is made harder because you won’t get a bad ending for giving in. Another example is Papers Please, which excellently
works in moral decisions by letting you choose to how and to what extent you become corrupt. At its most simple the game is about being
a border control agent for a country that’s definitely not soviet russia and deciding
who to let in and who to keep out. You’re pretty much never going to be able
to keep up with arstotzka’s regulations and pay your families bills, so in order to
make money, you’re going to have to break the rules. The genius here is that papers please lets
you become moral arbiter of arstotzka, is it worth taking the payout for locking up
an innocent man who’s an asshole? Should you work with terrorists in order to
save your family? Honestly, I dunno. If a morality system that rewarded you for
acting a certain way existed then these questions would have defacto answers, but they don’t,
which makes the simple yes or no choice way more engaging. The actually quite generous two free mistakes
a day also gives you the opportunity to make ethical decisions like reuniting a husband
with his wife even though she didn’t have a passport. Whilst the overarching morality of papers
is fairly simplistic, you need to become corrupt in order to survive, the smaller more intimate
decisions are loaded with moral nuance because you can only save or damn so many, but it’s
up to you to choose who, all whilst balancing your own needs. Papers please never says whether you’re
a saint or a sinner, because it knows that morality is much more complex than that. Morality systems are an implicit judgement
of the player, even if they don’t offer any sort of observable bonuses, there’s
almost always a right and a wrong way to interact with them. Instead, developers need to create ways of
exploring the consequences of a player’s decision, whilst leaving the right or wrong
of it all up to their subjective experience Some more great ways to integrate morality
in this way could be to use Fallout’s endgame slideshows to give the world and how you affected
it a sense of permanence and cohesion beyond immediate gameplay effects. Or to make the player juggle companion-slash-faction
reputation meters, which encourages them to consider what the consequences of their decisions
will be on a more interpersonal level, the right thing to do isn’t always popular,
after all. These two approaches are great because they
add depth without making an judgement of the decisions themselves, they’re just another
way the consequences can manifest. Which of course isn’t to say that games
with morality systems are just straight up bad- they’re not! Frostpunk in particular is a surprise hit,
I really like that game but it doesn’t deliver on its promise of exploring the kind of person
you become when pushed to the brink, games with morality systems are much better at conveying
a single message- re-enforced by tying it to the mechanics. In the case of frostpunk, the sickly-sweet
allure of facism. Undertale is a game all about morality and
it’s got the most simplistic, binary morality system ever, you just choose between kill
or be killed. I’ll avoid giving away the twists and turns,
but by leaning into this, and encouraging players to commit to either style, Undertale
can tell two completely distinct stories, each approaching the idea of determination
from two different directions. Not only would a more organic, consequence
driven undertale have been impossible to make, but it would undermine the game’s extremely
focused message. Which brings me to Quarentine Circular, as
well as Subsurface circular, these two-hour narrative expereinces are defined by the fact
that they both contain circles. Yeah. Weird choice on that one. In actuallity, they’re games that explore
high-concept scifi ideas in little isolated packages, letting you play with the ethical
quandaries involved, challenge your preconceptions and feel like you’re in the good 10% of
star trek episodes. These games, mostly for budgetary reasons,
don’t actually have that much in the way of branching choices or big flashing cutscenes,
they’re pretty much just people talking, but that didn’t make the choices I had to
make any less important feeling, in many ways it’s this minimalism that allows the game
to focus purely on morality and ethics. It’s stuff like the shifting perspectives
and unanswered questions that added depth to those choices, not clunky feedback loops
or arbitrary-feeling rewards. With no combat, statistics or any real challenge
at all to get in the way, the only motivating factor behind your decisions is whatever you
think the right thing to do is. Outside of videogames there are no story routes,
no statistics, no chaos meters or morality bars, there’s just decisions that have to
be made, and the consequences of them. WHich really does beg the question of why
we include them in the first place. When I made the choice to set Gabriel free,
or picked a side in intergalactic politics, there was no incentive to do so other than
what I thought was the best option and that’s what made the fallout from those decisions
so engaging. We need a rethink about how we tackle moral
decision making in games, it’s something that doesn’t need simulating, because it’s
something humans do naturally, so when we try, all that rhappens is that we corrupt
that process. Present players with interesting scenarios,
let the consequences unfold naturally and they will do the rest. Hi and thanks for watching this video. The architect of games is made possible thanks
to the generous support of my patreon patrons, the names of some of which you should be able
to see on your screen now. My patrons get early access to videos, monthly
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you to my top teir mysterious benefactors, who are: Samuel VanDer Plaats, Daniel Mettjes,
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About the Author: Emmet Marks

100 Comments

  1. Put your best foot forward, then retaliate twice as hard seems to be the best lesson from history. As for the systems themselves, it more about the writing. so often i'm left scratching my head thinking "Why?" when seeing the scripted "consequences" of my actions. Also, the thing with the laws in Frostpunk is that the time scale is that of an immediate emergency. To think that you'd keep the laws as they are once you've passed the crisis is ridiculous.

  2. I mean, probably, they aren't exactly as well thought out as the sort of classic literature and philosophy that used to be common reading materials.

  3. The problem I have with morality systems is that they don't reflect reality. In the games it's black and white. In reality it's grey. Your decision is supposed to be based on the situation not the only options you're given.

  4. Morality is a complex thing because morality is a lie that we humans have created to stay in line. There's no such thing as morality in nature, if you think i'm wrong then please show me a molecule of good or an atom of evil, until you can i'll be waiting, i have time.

  5. Morality is a complex thing because morality is a lie that we humans have created to not only stay in line but in many cases it helps us survive and upholds the socialy. But in truth there's no such thing as morality in the universe, if you think i'm wrong then please show me a molecule of good or an atom of evil, until you can i'll be waiting, i have time.

  6. FO4 was one of the worst offenders since every single follower but Strong punishes you for committing evil acts. In KOTOR most followers could simply be converted to light or dark; it generally didn't lecture you on moral dilemmas, there was simply light playthrough and dark playthrough.
    Since KOTOR did it well, I think what makes morality systems so lame in modern games is the karma system more than anything. Even in games like Kingdom Come Deliverance where the karma system is more lenient, I ended up looking up a lot of the choices to see if they would decrease reputation or lock me out of something. They need to scrap these lame karma systems.

  7. Your asking the wrong question because the morality of the game is based on what the developer sees as moral not the player, so with dishonored slavery is less imoral than murder, where a rational person would see both as immoral options

  8. This is the problem with today's video games, video game company's have stop realizing that a game its a GAME, its meant to entertain to make you feel good not make you feel sad or bad and it will never become the real thing but noooo the more realistic the better right

  9. I also don't like the morality sytems that are like "A. Save the baby orphans from the cancer bomb; B. Shrug; C. Use your flame thrower to burn the children yourself while screaming "I'M YOUR GOD NOW" at the top of your lungs". Like… That's not a morality system, that's just a very blatant good/grey/bad choice. I want to make a choice, and then later know if it was right in my eyes.

  10. Shin Megami Tensei got it right: choices that affect your law/chaos alignment, but with no benefit to going as far as possible one way or another (actually most games penalize you for straying too far from neutral). SMT4 also has what’s still my favorite weird moral choice: would you let a small child eat his kidnappers? Because they were super mean but getting eaten seems a tad harsh.

  11. As someone who plays RPG games with some GMs who are amazing with consequences, video games are easily abused to keep what morality you want.

    I had a character convert the flesh from dead people who had starved into venison and sold it to the people that were starving to death. I have crucified people and had their crosses form a fence to keep the zombies in to discourage more invaders. These were great to deal with and had interesting discussions around them.

  12. I thumbed up but disagree with the video. Morality has nothing to do with actual good or bad in the context of a game. It is there to determine whether you are loyal to what you as a character say you are to people. If I say I am a thief and the thieves giuld expects me to attend all the meetinngs and cover for others by hiding them from the guards but choose to turn him in, then I am considered a bad thief for betrayal because i swore an oath to be loyal to the code of ethics within the guild rules. Globally stealing is considered bad but I as a real player dont think its good just because I am playing the game as a thief. Got it? people who play role playing games do not condone the actions they do in games in REAL LIFE. So talking about what is a good morality system is pointless ecause that is not the point of morality systems. They are not supposed to TEACH you about real world morality. They are more like levelling up systems within a factions beliefs and how good you are at following those beliefs. Not how you as a player should play if you were a really in those situations yourself.

  13. Actually, that wasn't entirely accurate for Dishonored. Corvo in low chaos is NOT a good person. He's just focusing his vengeance on his targets and not the innocent. He's still doing horrible things.

    The city gets worse as you murder is because of a magic plague being spread rapidly by rats. Rats breed quickly and these can devour armed soldiers. So more bodies means more food for the rats, more death = tightened security. And more rats = even more death.

    Showing restraint helps minimize death, which makes sense.

  14. morality and empathy dosent exist its just subjective dude. people saying other people's choices is bad is a subjective judgement not necessary a objective bad/unmoral) thing

  15. I remember Fallout 2, where you get massive karma for killing every single person in that scientology-like( was it hubites?)enclave–even if you did it after you accomplished everything you were there to do. More for comedy value than moral guidance, I guess.
    I've played some NWN mods that gave quite different rewards based on good or evil and lawful or chaotic choices. In one in particular, I had to pass up a lot of powerful items to remain good in a particular part, but later had choices available to me I would not have had were my alignment shifted to evil.

  16. KOTOR 2 is easily my favorite RPG, but I always hated that the game punishes you if you follow Kreia's influence to stay in the grey by preventing you from prestige classing and bars you from entering the force cave on Korriban.

  17. Are Morality Systems making us less moral?

    (Me : Steals everything in someone's house in a game without morality systems, then beats them up to get their stuff)

    "Sure pal, sure"

  18. At the risk of pointing out the obvious: the reason why most decisions don't fully branch the story path is because that doubles the amount of work you have to do from that point forward. A game with 1 moral choice has 2 endings, 2 moral choices means 4 endings, 3 means 8 endings, etc. In order to avoid the exponential hell of writing and coding a bunch of different game paths, the much easier thing to do is have many different decisions just add to an overall morality score that is evaluated at a few different points of the game. Yes, that's much less interesting, but if you don't want to make a game with 8 moral choices and 256 possible endings, it's the most practical approach.

  19. When I play a game like mass effect I play as a jerk renegade because I think its funny and enjoyable to play that way (i.e. punching reporters). Its a video game and I want to get away from being nice in real life just kick back and be an asshole.

  20. At first I would say "dumbing down will make you less moral". There has been so much dumbing down, just for the good fifi's of players so they get drawn into the game.

  21. 6:30 But you did make the right choice. It's that whole train thing with the one guy vs five guys. If that kid had any good in them they would sacrifice themselves to save their loved ones.

  22. Meh, its all bullshit.
    In games I usually go with the good route, always being the nice and forgiving guy, never scamming, always trying to save others, and even if in a setting you can use dark magics like Necromancy I end up playing the good necromancer that does not abuse his powers and somehow ends up being the good guy.

    Meanwhile in real life I would plead for much heavier punishments and no second chances, up to the death penalty for repeated offenders instead of always dealing with everything with kitten gloves, at the delusional idea that "they will change" (after they piled up enough bodies and ruined enough lives)
    And I'm not about to forgive and forget one person at the risk of all their future victims.

  23. Morality systems just shoehorn you into the dev's morality systems. You can be forced to betray your values because "I want the good ending and the devs call this good."

  24. by this logic, under trump era, we are all so whole some, all those cops waving white power hand signs are just hippee with love and peace.

  25. Nah, the problem is that most of the game writers are commies and commies are very immature and ignorant which is why most game stories suck.

  26. Frostpunk's problem isn't that they only tell you if you "crossed the line" at the end, it's that the creators had a specific idea for what is a "good" or "bad" morality framed in a certain political ideology which is inherently at odds with the scenario of survival in a harsh and unforgiving environment where people may die at any time. They've based it entirely on the idea of a progressive society that could be an inheritor to the social reforms that were made in the late 1800s, thus no matter how you've mismanaged the city, it doesn't matter because at least you didn't advance "prison" to "forceful persuastion" or "propaganda center" to "secret informers".

    As a result, I go full fascist even when I don't need to just out of spite.

    I maintain that getting rid of morality system only works if you replace it with something else in the game world whose approval the player actually cares about. One of the things that kills Dragon Age Origins for me is the fact that the only people whose opinions I cared about were Alistair and the dog.

  27. With the first question – while it is up to once to choose the answer, it's up to the developer to choose the outcome.

    This is my issue with Morality Systems.

  28. There was a hack n slash pixel RPG I was playing that based of one choice determined your ending early on (I was a kid at the time) so what happened in the scene was the evil second in command was knocked down by the commander of the good guys. I could stay in hiding revealing the enemy was faking so I would help the good guy up but the other option was to help the person knocked down my reasoning as a kid told me I should help anybody in need regardless of who they are so I would always help the evil guy recover and always end up working with the bad guys

  29. I dunno, most people I know are mentally and halfway physically incapable of picking the immoral choices and there's usually a lot of loud crying in comment sections if people are forced to do it anyway by lack of other options.

    So whatever is changed by this morality system in games is a pre existing condition, sounds interesting.

    In Superhero comics and movies it seems to be that depicted grey scales of morality and non absolute morality as well as a lack holy justice entitling to holy violence in fervor makes children a lot less aggressive than Superhero stories where there is just plain good and white, never properly explained or in a larger frame of reference leads in some children to quite extreme violence, especially in physical roleplaying with others but also independent, fueled by absolute just justification.

    Dunno if that's related to the morality in video games, but I assume greyscale is better in any medium when it comes to morality.

  30. Same as in real life, I will always choose the option that gets me closer to being able to shoot Force Lightning from my hands.

  31. So if your family was hungry youd consider working with isis against the UK?? How tf is that a gray area for you?😂 MAYBE JUST DONT DO IT??😂

  32. it's feed back loops and arbitrary punishments and rewards that make us amoral, not videogames. we know the difference between reality and gaming well enough not to allow PLAY to dictate our moral systems.

  33. I like Undertale's method of not telling you there's a morality system until it's too late(The Last Corridor)

    Edit: I know there are minor hints in the game's story but nothing says it outright

  34. I haven’t watched the video but I’m gonna say no. It’s an RPG imma play it how I want, if I want to be a good person I’ll make decisions I think a good person would make, but most of the time? It’s a virtual fantasy, fuck morality I’ll murder and slaughter whole villages if I feel like it. (I definitely did that in skyrim).

  35. I’ve heard a little about different philosophies: each one has its own way of defining good and evil. They’re still usually pretty criticized, and philosophers spend their whole lives developing these ideas. Any morality system is in a video game is merely a watered down version of someone’s philosophy with a point system. I would hope nobody makes any video game their new Bible.

  36. Short answer= Yes, because if you KNOW you are right (having moral system tells you when you are right) you are willing to do stuff that is immoral. Look at history, lots of moral system, but has anyone been moral in the past? Is anyone moral now?

  37. Me: *Sees the title.
    Me: Oh, this reminds me of my unironically favorite game, Dishonored.
    Video: 3:36
    Me (hitting the bed below me): Yes! Finally! Someone noticed my baby!

  38. 5:06
    Ok, you may have missed the point somewhat.
    Yes, you are trying to maintain your honor, but most importantly, you're trying to take back Jessamine's by taking down everyone who conspired in her fall. This is not for Corvo, it's for the Empire. The premise of Low vs High Chaos if that dead corpses are free food for rats, therefore, they help spread the plague, which, in turn, increases the amount of weepers and the general paranoia, or chaos, of you like.
    The people we are talking about here (For instance, Lady Boyle and the Pendleton twins) are not just a couple of noblemen to whom we give a fate worse than death. They're the people who financially aided your lover's killer and kidnapped your daughter (not taking Daud and his whalers into consideration here because they were hired to do it and gravely regretted it). They're the reason the Empire is as rotten as it is. Plus, non of those non-lethal eliminations is as bad as actually becoming a weeper, yet Campbell's not referenced in the video.
    That settles that.

  39. That's something I love in "Detroit: Become Human." There's no choice which is painted as right or wrong, it's only about the player. In the end, for example, I decided to sacrifice the Lieutenant, even though he was one of my favourite characters in the entire game and I was looking to make him Connor's friend. I ended up with what you could argue was the good ending in the end because of everything else I had done, at least for me it was the right way, meaning, the equality ending. I need to do more playthroughs, but I guess one of the endings is failing and the other is dominating humanity.

  40. I tend to do the good karma side but some choices along the way make sense for my character to pick a bad karma choice. So I totally agree it messes things up when you have to keep picking the same black or white choice regardless of story or context,

  41. You are wrong about dishonoured in that the chaos vs order system more than lets you kill each target. It wasn't so much a morality system as an immerisve one in the way the penalty manifested in the maps

  42. This is almost the exact same video as Game Makers toolkit, this is the 2nd video in a row like this. I thought I was tripping cause I was like I've fucking seen this shit but its slightly off. Damn.

  43. The irony is the chaos system in Dishonored works very well for random npcs but would skyrocket if there was no moral answer for the official targets and instead let you decide if it was good or not

  44. As a Crusader King 2 player, I have done some questinable deeds (murdering, cheating, betraying allies, declared wars for land) and usually thinking "this is for the good of the realm".

    If I don't act Macchiavellian and realpolitik in mind, my family and kingdom will suffer in one way or another. A vassal might be plotting to assasinate me or want more autonomy, usually leading either to someone getting killed or to a civil war with thousands of casualties.

    What is the price for the peace and stability in the realm?

  45. in deus ex mankind divided and human revolution u have different endings according you gameplay (mercy vs violent)

  46. It’s easy to figure out. He is a stinky alien, and removing his shackles means you become a heretic. So don’t let the alien out.

  47. A big example of a morality system done well would be, in my opinion, the system in Epic Mickey.

    The game doesn't get impacted much in the general story outside of a few small details, but there's one thing that happens.

    For those unfamiliar, Epic Mickey focuses on building or destroying the world (and enemies) around you using paint or thinner. Paint will revitalize the world around you and befriend enemies, and thinner, obviously, tears things down, breaks things, and kills enemies. This isn't necessarily as black and white as you may think, either. There's a few moments in particular that are a bit more gray in the actually morality of it.

    In the final cutscene, you see every single boss or big morality sidequest in the game as it turned out for you. And it can be devastating to see some of them with the monologue going on.

    Really it doesn't impact much, but can serve as a very impactful punch to the gut, which, for me, is a job well done.

  48. Only uncreative people didn't figure out the trick to being a murderer in Dishonored. Get the ability that turns all your kills to ash and bam go crazy and enjoy the good ending.

  49. Your criticism about Dishonored doesn't work since you can kill literally every main target and still get the low chaos ending. It's mass murder that gets high chaos, not just killing the main antagonists.

    I'm not a fan of frost punk but it's funny how you criticize its moral system as a difficulty setting, then go to praise Darkest Dungeon, where it literally is a bar to make the game more difficult.

  50. If you want a game that does morality systems correctly, id say you should givr LISA: The Painful RPG a shot

    granted you probably wont see this since this vid is months old but still

  51. I honestly hate morality mechanics. They are interesting additions but typically I notice where the devs are basing much of it off emotions instead of logic.

  52. I feel like This war of mine is a good example of a decent mortality system. I doesn't really tell you that you did the wrong or right thing other than a small change in the characters mood and you are left there to judge your own actions and being forced to chose between survival or morality

  53. Say what you want about telltale, but i love that these games never had a "morality meter" and the choices were really mosty free from binary good-evil. I really admire they stuck to their guns with that.

  54. Lawful Good Neutral Good Chaotic Good

    Lawful Neutral True Neutral Chaotic Neutral

    Lawful Evil Neutral Evil Chaotic Evil

  55. I agree that game mechanics should be divorced from decisions. The game should not be telling us how to play just show us the consequences. Of the actions they also shouldn't be ass-pulls like the end of the Force Unleashed's evil ending.

  56. I was much more immoral in Red Dead Redemption 2 than in GTA V because of morality system. When I got the best honor I could get I said to myself: "Why should I continue in moral decisions, when I can't get any more rewarded?". So I just did a little trail of blaze across the map, to lower my honor, and to get motivation for good decisions. Something I was not doing in GTA V.

  57. To be blunt about the kid decision, there's an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation that literally deals with this exact dilemma, though without the child, but with a personal connection between the decision maker and the one they're sending to die. The episode in question, Thine Own Self if you're curious, comes down on the side of, any commander must make the best decision for the ship/largest number of people. Sometimes there is no good option, and your best reward is survival, not victory.

    This is slightly different than the Kobi Scenario made famous by the movies in that it is a direct sacrifice of one life, to save many more. To be fair, it wasn't some child being robbed of their life, but as long as they are not merely treated as a cog in the machine, but as a hero, and that their sacrifice meant something, I don't see it as the absolute evil you portray it as.

  58. Spoiler Neir:Automata below.

    Neir:Automata did it best with it's end game choice. You do one last hack to save your characters, and get a good happy ending. You fight the end credits, killing off the developers and the like. It gets insanely hard, and if your connected to the internet, you get the option to get help from other players saved files. If you select to take the help, the game tells you when a player file gets killed, and I do believe deleted. Anyways, at the end, after you've seen the end cinematic, and got the main endings, there are still more, like 26 I think. Your given the choice to give back, losing all your progress up to that point, or to not give back, keep your saves, and continue on with finishing the game, getting the other endings. Mind you, you've o ly got like 5 of the 26 up to this point. If you do give back, the game will ask you many times if you are sure, and if so, it will delete all of your save files, and it does mean all. Then it proceeds to go through your menu, deleting all weapons one by one, all items one by one, all upgrades one by one, every fricking thing, right in front of you, just rubbing that salt in real good. Then it goes through your save files one by one. And then you're taken back to the main screen, to start a new game. I really liked that choice, it was the most memorable choice a game ever gave me, and in the end, I was satisfied with giving back, because I knew I'd feel like a real prick if I didn't.

  59. Before games can have proper moral systems, people need to stop being triggered by the existence of games that explore complex issues. Games are like art, they explore possibilities. If a game doesn't suite the opinions of the majority of the audience, people will want that game taken down.

  60. Another thing to consider is that when most games have morality decisions the gameplay is paused and you are presented with selections. This primes you that this is a moral decision. Compare this to a system where the decisions come purely in the gameplay and how you proceed through a level or challenge without priming you for the choice.

  61. Not sure if it really counts as a morality system but one game that really made me think was Detroit: Become Human. A game that truly makes your decisions affect almost every part of the game that follows. I remember thinking that every RPG game Dev should play that so that they can see how choices should be done. Although the game is pretty much an interactive tell tale game, with next to no combat and just walking around while contemplating your decisions, it’s one of the best games I ever played, backed up with the storyline flow chart at the end of each chapter to show you how things could have changed and where other decisions could be made. Keep up the great work bud, really enjoying your videos

  62. His point about Frostpunk reminds of this mobile game where you are a Seed Ship (THAT'S the name! I forgot!), which carries humans on their way to a new planet. You have some tough choices to make, which can have good or bad consequences (killing the humans, losing all science or history, etc.). And at the end of a run, you get the story of the humans on that ship.

    I really enjoyed it and I think that I will return to it after this video.

  63. I wasn’t familiar with dishonoured. It sure would be nice if the game industry invested a LOT more in better writing and perhaps giving the consideration of humanity to people who haven’t grown up on CoD.

  64. So, when I'm in a bad mood, I play games where being evil is an option. Unfortunately most games these days are 10+ hours long and I'm only in a bad mood for about 5 minutes when playing games. I have to turn on my TV and console of choice, choose a game, start the game, wait for the game to load and now my IRL morality is coming back and I no longer want to play an evil person. So, I play a different game but my anger has taken a lot out of me. Which is annoying.
    Edit: I don't like Frostpunk because every choice makes me feel like shit. I have to choose the lesser of 2 evils, but every choice seems equally evil.

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