By atejas 6 Comments
So, one of the main reasons wRPGs are held up as the darling of the industry here and elsewhere is because of the non-linearity they give you. The ability to choose how, when and where you tackle a given situation, whether through diplomacy, stealth, combat, or something else more or less devious than what was previously written here. For some reason, people seem to think that 'being the bad guy' automatically makes a game deeper and better.
A good example of why this really doesn't fit is to look at the Molochean Hand from Arcanum. They're an order of assassins that is dedicated to hunting you and your party down to ensure that the knowledge you possess cannot be used against them. Alright, fine, there's your antagonist. Halfway through the game, however, you infiltrate a camp of the Molochean Hand, and one of the options you have is to walk up to their leader, reveal your identity, and ask for acceptance into the Hand.
Clearly, there are several glaring inconsistencies with asking to join a guild that has been trying to murder you for most of the game.
How do we avoid this, you ask?
Well, the first way is to not give any meaningful choices at all, like, say, in Mass Effect. The dialogue tree is split up into three segments, all of which have the exact same outcome, the only real difference being the words your character says and the colour of the option. This, naturally, limits the game's capacity for non-linearity and generally dumbs the whole affair down.
The second way is to make several bad guys, all of whom aren't really that bad. Examples of this would include The Witcher, where you have to pick between the townsfolk who grew greedy, corrupt and decadent, murdering and stealing from one another, or a witch who used her magic to manipulate the situation to her own profit.
Another example would be Deus Ex, where you're definitely allied against the 'bad guy'(Bob Page), but you have to choose which one of your 'allies' to side with; the former ruler of a secret organisation that wants information control returned to them, the hacker who wants to see the technology that made this nightmare possible destroyed and for humanity to regress, or the AI who wants to rule the world benevolenty and perfectly.
The final way is to make the bad guys 'good guys' in a sense. Examples include Fallout, where The Master was convinced that The Unity was truly the only way to prevent life from dying out.
Basically what I mean is that I'd take a handful of meaningful choices over a comprehensive set of unbelievable or inconsequential choices anyday.