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  1. #1

    Illusion of Choice (inFAMOUS: SS, TLoU, and Mass Effect)

    Edit: For clarification of my argument look to my points on inFAMOUS. You don't have a choice of being good and sometimes a little evil if you want to unlock more powers. You have no choice if you want to get top tiered powers.

    This is not about the effect or lack of effect resulting from a choice (e.g. Mass Effect 3's ending), but rather the idea of being given choices.

    With inFAMOUS: Second Son on the horizon there has been more details coming out about the mechanics of the game. One piece of information is that your karma levels will be tied with Delsin's powers [1]. The player will be punished for taking a morally grey path. This is troubling, but based on inFAMOUS 1 and 2's history as well as the Fetch choice [2] presented in Second Son the decisions are so black and white you may as well select a good or evil path at the beginning and let the cut-scenes roll uninterrupted.

    The first Mass Effect also had this issue with Bioware's own version of morality [3]. If you chose to follow the paragon (good) path, but did not accrue enough paragon points you would be locked out of verbal choices. This would happen if you chose neutral or evil dialogues too often. The problem being that sometimes you would rather jail a criminal rather than release or execute them. By Mass Effect 3 this was mostly resolved by the reputation system, a system where just making a decision contributed to the meter and being good or evil only effected a specific ending. It was not perfect, but it allowed the player to make their own decisions based on the situation, rather than worrying about the outcome restricting future content.

    The Last of Us:
    When Joel rushes into the operating room to rescue Ellie his actions are given back to the player. Do you take revenge on the Fireflies or do you only kill the one doctor and worry about escaping? TLoU has a story to tell. It's not about the player questioning the situation, but rather Joel making difficult decisions. Just like most player decisions in gaming it's irrelevant, but it's still yours to make.

    While this particular scene in The Last of Us has been polarizing among gamers I found myself laughing at how I dealt with the situation. My first thought was to go online and make sure I did not just ruin my playthrough. While not everyone plays like this there is always that thought of, "Don't screw this up." Too often the player is not given a choice. It's made for us. Dragon Age: Inquisition does have me hopeful though. During an interview Adam Sessler brought up the idea of the player being punished by choice [4]. Paraphrasing, Mark Darrah responded that it's the developers job to ensure the player does not feel like he or she made the wrong decision.

    TL;DR
    inFAMOUS: SS - Choose good or evil. If you don't pick every good or every evil option you may be locked out of higher tiered powers.
    Mass Effect - Same deal. May miss out on additional conversation options that effect the story.
    Mass Effect 3 - Make good, evil, or neutral decisions on a case by case basis.
    The Last of Us - Make your own decision because it doesn't matter.
    Dragon Age: Inquisition - Right or wrong, you won't feel like you're missing out on content. This remains to be seen.

    How do you as a gamer feel about choice in a video game? Is it needed in its current state? Excuse my rambling and thank you for reading.

    [1] Morality level affects powers.
    [2] B-Roll footage presents a choice.
    [3] Mass Effect's morality system.
    [4] Adam Sessler's interview of Mark Darrah. Dragon Age: Inquisition.
    Last edited by Nikusu; 2014-02-12 at 10:12 PM.

  2. #2
    I find that more and more option games are just becoming irrelevant. I find myself choosing the most ridiculous options knowing I more than likely won't have backlash, which is sad. You want a good option game series? Kotor 1 and 2. THOSE are choices.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Stormtrooperz View Post
    I find that more and more option games are just becoming irrelevant. I find myself choosing the most ridiculous options knowing I more than likely won't have backlash, which is sad. You want a good option game series? Kotor 1 and 2. THOSE are choices.
    Mass Effect is a good example as well...I don't see how making a choice that can kill off any member or make them despise you is an "illusion of choice". I can't get into Kotor even though I know it's a good game...fucking shitty gamemechanics.

    I have a feeling someone who sais Mass Effects choice don't impact the story never played it again to see what happens when you change around things. I can't judge the other games as I haven't played them. I know I'm playing Kingdom of Alumur (or something) atm and the choices are pointless. I kill a priest and committed a crime, nothing changed nor did I get a penalty. It basicly was just an optional quest.
    Last edited by Sarac; 2014-02-12 at 09:51 PM.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Sarac View Post
    I don't see how making a choice that can kill off any member or make them despise you is an "illusion of choice".
    Sorry for the miscommunication. It's hard to describe exactly what I'm getting at. The illusion of choice I speak of is that if you want Tali, Garrus, or whoever to live you have a set path. If you want a particular party member to die, well that is pretty easy too. You don't have a choice in that you do one thing and you're rewarded or another and you're punished. The outcome is vastly different, but the choices you make are made for you whether or not you want the character to survive. Obviously developers are working against the clock. I am not expecting realistic scenarios, but at the same time it feels quite shallow.

    I love the Mass Effect series Sarac. It's currently my favorite. However, if you want a good outcome the path is already predetermined. Going back to inFAMOUS it's almost like turning off all the options and just watching a cut-scene. Upper-right for Paragon, lower-right for Renegade. I only criticize Mass Effect 1 because it's very punishing if you contradict your previous decisions at all.
    Last edited by Nikusu; 2014-02-12 at 10:02 PM.

  5. #5
    Mechagnome Vightnic's Avatar
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    The entire Dragon Age series operated without a morality system, iirc, but they still had good/evil options in scenarios. I much prefer it that way. I can keep track of the morality of my character myself and don't need a game system to do that for me.

    A few reasons I can see it hard to want to design your game with real game-altering choices are:

    1. Most gamers aren't going to replay the game enough to see every version.
    2. You're only going to be charging players once for, what is essentially, multiple games in one depending on the level of variation.

    The best game I've played in terms of choices seeming important was Witcher 2. Even that wasn't 100% though. Like I said it is great for gamers but would be a real pain in the ass for Devs, which is why I think we mostly get only the "illusion" of choice.
    ( ; , , ; )

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Sarac View Post
    Mass Effect is a good example as well...I don't see how making a choice that can kill off any member or make them despise you is an "illusion of choice". I can't get into Kotor even though I know it's a good game...fucking shitty gamemechanics.

    I have a feeling someone who sais Mass Effects choice don't impact the story never played it again to see what happens when you change around things. I can't judge the other games as I haven't played them. I know I'm playing Kingdom of Alumur (or something) atm and the choices are pointless. I kill a priest and committed a crime, nothing changed nor did I get a penalty. It basicly was just an optional quest.
    It's an illusion of choice because while it may have killed your character (let's take MA2, for example), what happened then? It was the end of the game. Whoolah. It's hard to justify that killing a character out of your myriad of options in your team selection is THAT bad. They don't take the time to really reflect on your teammate's deaths if I remember correctly, it's more of a, "dang, that sucks, alright so and so replacing them let's move on."

  7. #7
    I liked Mass Effect's system. I don't think you were locked out of anything by going down a more neutral path, although it's been a while since I've played 1. And the choices did matter. Party members could die, hell your choices could make Shepard himself die on the final mission in ME2. Ditto with KOTOR. Yeah you still beat the game at the end, but I mean it's not like a developer will ever make it so the game is impossible to beat because of one or two choices.

    I love games where your decisions can impact how the game/story plays out. Makes it more fun to me and of course offers replayability. You can also talk to people to discuss how you went about certain things.

  8. #8
    Special notes for KotOR 1. . . Without getting into spoilers, it was REALLY hard to hit a perfect light-side ending without a lot of stars falling in place.

  9. #9
    Pretty sure your mom wasn´t an Illusion when i took her to bed, get real there is nothing Illusion about the Choices you make..if Sheppard would survive they would have to do more ME games, then ppl would whine that they are just pouring of those games..pretty sure thats why more and more games ends with a Trilogy, Dragon Age will end after DA 3, The Witcher will end after the third, Mass Effect ended with ME 3, and more..so get real..they put out a story and prepare for the game to end..atleast most devs / companies do it..Jezuz Chrizt..you even trying..

    Post constructively. Infracted. -Lucetia
    Last edited by Lucetia; 2014-02-13 at 01:45 AM.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by FobManX View Post
    I don't think you were locked out of anything by going down a more neutral path... And the choices did matter...
    For Mass Effect 1 and 2 you would get locked out of paragon or renegade dialogue choices if you didn't have enough paragon or renegade points meaning you could only be paragon OR renegade. You could not choose on a case by case basis. Being paragon meant sparing every a-hole in the galaxy and being renegade meant being a jerk to everyone, not just those who deserve it.

    The result of the choices did matter. I'm not trying to debate that. It's the fact that if you wanted to play a good or bad character your choices were pretty locked from the get-go. You want to be good? Saving the collector ship is a no no.

    I really liked Dragon Age's system of moral ambiguity. Sure your companions may disagree, but you did not really know if you were doing something good or bad. Picking the king of Orzammar had an amusing ending. I picked Harrowmont who seemed like the more stable leader, but if you played you know that ended poorly.

    Let me try to rephrase. I hate roleplaying a good character, knowing the good and bad choices, and then being forced into choosing good or else I'll be locked out of content (e.g. Mass Effect dialogue). In Mass Effect you could miss out on rewards or even missions. At least in inFAMOUS it will give you an alternate quest.

  11. #11
    I dont thin Infamous inspire to be some kind of RPG with moral choices that matter and you will think about what to do for hours.
    Come on it's just fun action game, and morality is jsut a mechanic to get better powers.

  12. #12
    Scarab Lord Charge me Doctor's Avatar
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    Well, it has more of RPG than other games IMO, you create your character story (even if it's simple "bad" or "good") and you play it no mater what, you can't just change your mind and don't kill kid stealing from you when you pick lawful evil character.

    I imagine it like this: you pick your character, and if you make him evil, you will get points by doing evil things, if you remain neutral, you won't get any points, if you do good things, you will lose points. Oints can be anything, experience, stats, dialogues.
    I love when games (and stories) play with my feelings, when i play a lawful good paladin and someone break the law because he have to feed his family, i have to bring the law, i can't just let him go and it's heartbreaking, and that's how i want to play games like mass effect. If you want to "distance" from your "main ideology", you have to pay for it in some way.

    Honestly, i started to wonder, since when we stopped playing a character and started putting ourselves into games?

    Quote Originally Posted by Balazzar View Post
    Special notes for KotOR 1. . . Without getting into spoilers, it was REALLY hard to hit a perfect light-side ending without a lot of stars falling in place.
    Indeed
    Last edited by Charge me Doctor; 2014-02-13 at 09:35 AM.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Nikusu View Post
    Dragon Age: Inquisition does have me hopeful though. During an interview Adam Sessler brought up the idea of the player being punished by choice [4]. Paraphrasing, Mark Darrah responded that it's the developers job to ensure the player does not feel like he or she made the wrong decision.
    I'm a bit unsure about this comment, it's a bit ambigious. For me decisions need to have some effect, not every choice have to change the game 180 degrees, but some of the larger needs to have impact. For this to happen you need to 'miss out' on some content to open 'new content'.

    Take the choice of saving either Kaidan or Ashley in Mass Effect 1, I like choices like those. You 'lose something' not necesarily a character, but something, in exchange for something else.

    If he means that they'll dedicate enough time to make choices matter, but without one story arc getting more love, focus, content etc. Then sure, sign me up (well, after a long deliberation time and reviews because, well, Dragon Age II)

    If it means you'll just go through the same story with a slightly darker/lighter teint, then that is definitely not the 'developers job' that is the 'developer being lazy'

    At least that's my opinion

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Nikusu View Post
    For Mass Effect 1 and 2 you would get locked out of paragon or renegade dialogue choices if you didn't have enough paragon or renegade points meaning you could only be paragon OR renegade. You could not choose on a case by case basis. Being paragon meant sparing every a-hole in the galaxy and being renegade meant being a jerk to everyone, not just those who deserve it.

    The result of the choices did matter. I'm not trying to debate that. It's the fact that if you wanted to play a good or bad character your choices were pretty locked from the get-go. You want to be good? Saving the collector ship is a no no.

    I really liked Dragon Age's system of moral ambiguity. Sure your companions may disagree, but you did not really know if you were doing something good or bad. Picking the king of Orzammar had an amusing ending. I picked Harrowmont who seemed like the more stable leader, but if you played you know that ended poorly.

    Let me try to rephrase. I hate roleplaying a good character, knowing the good and bad choices, and then being forced into choosing good or else I'll be locked out of content (e.g. Mass Effect dialogue). In Mass Effect you could miss out on rewards or even missions. At least in inFAMOUS it will give you an alternate quest.
    Dragon Age: Origins choices had some amusing elements, and picking a weak 'by the book' ruler, who definitely was the more pleasant/positive solution on paper, sure bit 'you' in the arse.

    But what I lacked was actual impact in the game, choices didn't really matter for your playthrough, only decided what text you'd get in the end.

    It's a bit of a cop out to me, make choices but being afraid of having them impact your game experience.

  14. #14
    You want a game where choices really mean something? Go play Telltale's Walking Dead.

  15. #15
    Brewmaster Deylana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by l33t View Post
    You want a game where choices really mean something? Go play Telltale's Walking Dead.
    I adore that game, but your choices mean just about as much as in the other games mentioned :P They're choices you really feel, but they don't change much about the way the game ends.
    Meh.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Deylana View Post
    I adore that game, but your choices mean just about as much as in the other games mentioned :P They're choices you really feel, but they don't change much about the way the game ends.
    Do you like blue, green or yellow the most !? :P

  17. #17
    Brewmaster Deylana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pozz View Post
    Do you like blue, green or yellow the most !? :P
    Yeah, something like that :P There are probably a couple of different lines depending on some things you tell Clementine but in the end it's still kill Lee or leave him to die on his own
    Meh.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Deylana View Post
    I adore that game, but your choices mean just about as much as in the other games mentioned :P They're choices you really feel, but they don't change much about the way the game ends.
    The main difference is that your choices in Walking Dead are not obvious good/bad ones.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by l33t View Post
    The main difference is that your choices in Walking Dead are not obvious good/bad ones.
    While that is preferable to the DAII wheel and stuff like it, impact is important, at least to me. Why have choices if nothing changes :P?

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Pozz View Post
    While that is preferable to the DAII wheel and stuff like it, impact is important, at least to me. Why have choices if nothing changes :P?
    Noone says that nothing changes. There are lots of changes, they are just not obvious when you make your choices.

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