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Choices: Good Vs. Evil

When thinking about the topic that I was going to write today I was playing Fable 2. One of those trusty RPG games with a morality system in it. Morality is an interesting concept in games even today, even though it was being used on last generation games. From what I can see that so far every game that has a morality system in it has made it at least somewhat better. Games now though, namely RPGs, are very common to have morality systems in there because they do almost always make the game better. Thankfully there hasn't been a game yet where it was just shoe horned in there to give it better review scores or anything. That is at least I haven't seen one yet. But what I really wanted to talk about today is how the morality system could be improved and because now I'm sort of getting to the point where some of these systems in a few games are becoming a little samey. There are a few games out there where they just put in right, but they don't really make it their own.
So what makes the morality system so appealing? Why does this concept make every RPG it's been in better? It goes back to what I said yesterday about "self-help" games. The player wants some sort of feedback that shows up what they are achieving. They want to see that their character is evil because they are killing innocent people or what have you. They want to see the hard work they've put into a character show up some how to be their own. This is how the morality system works. You begin the game with a general character, and by the end of the game the character is you or what you wanted him to be. You made choices in the game that have shaped your character into you because those are the choices that you thought were the right ones for you. You could have also just made certain choices to be an asshole just because you wanted to. But still by the end you can say I have been through a story and the outcome is what I wanted it to be. Or better yet the outcome is not what you wanted it to be. If you had regrets in the choices you made in the game because of the consequences of that choice, then to me that's good. I think a hard choice in a game makes the morality system just even better. And now different developers are trying to make this system into their own and make it good.
Now recently games have made it where the choices not only affect you, but also affect the game world drastically. I mean in the past games have done this, but they haven't really made the two different outcomes of good and evil that drastically different. But just recently, like Fable 2 surprisingly, has made it where your major decisions in the game have changed the world around you. Even just some small decisions have changed the towns. Like you can make certain business related choices in that game to change a town's economy. And you don't even have to make that choice. You can just leave the town be and see if it prospers on its own. That's what I liked about Fable 2. The smallest choices in this game could impact an entire town's economy. But there are other aspects to this game which determines your alliance of good vs. evil. You can have a family, cheat on them, have multiple families, divorce them, kill them. There are so many social choices in this game that you make that can shift you morality. And that is where I think the highlights of Fable 2's take on the morality system. I think they did a lot to make it its own, but for me others did it better.
Another RPG that should get some credit for making this system work is Fallout 3. Now if you want a game that could change the entire game world I think Fallout 3 is your game. This game does have a moral system, but not one as deep as some other games have. What this game does exceed at doing is that you can do pretty much anything in this game to change the world around it.You can blow end entire cities or kill anyone you want. It doesn't even matter if they are a quest related person. There are a few characters that you can't kill because of their relation to the main quest, but anyone else is up for grabs. I think that is what make this game special for me. This game gives you the choice of doing anything you want and it's your story.
Now my last example is the one that I really wanted to talk about today. This is not a game, but a developer. Bioware. Bioware is a developer that truly made this concept
BioWare Company Logo
  into their own. They have made multiple franchises now that makes this system great. The first game is the Mass Effect series. These games have surprised us all with creating a trilogy of games that will cross over your story into the next one with your choices. To me this is one of, if not the best, ways to do a morality and choice system. This made the story one of the most enjoyable stories I have ever played through. When I was playing Mass Effect 1 I just felt how I usually feel in most other choice based games. It was that I started out with a generic character in the beginning and made him into my own by the end. But in Mass Effect 2 I was playing me from beginning to end. I felt like I was truly playing my story in this universe from beginning to end. I mean usually in a game you would have these vague characters that would come up to you like they would know you and you would learn some part about your character's back story then. But in here when a character from your past comes you already know who that is. You already know that you have somehow have dealt with this character from your own choices again. It is what makes this game truly special. But this game has one problem to it. This problem is what almost all other choice based games have. It's that the choices you make are always black and white. What I mean by that is that all games you would usually choose choices that were all good choices or all bad choices. And usually those choices are clearly defined as good or bad. As an example, in Mass Effect the good choice is always on top and the bad choice is always on the bottom. This makes the choice system almost dull because you always know which one you're gonna choose even before you make it.
There is one game that fixes the problem that I said above. That is Dragon Age: Origins. This is another Bioware game that I think deserves praise. This game has a very in depth story that changes the morality system a bit. It doesn't have a morality system, but it does still have a choice system. You still make choices in this game that shapes the word and the story around you but you don't have a clear definition of what is the good choice and what is the bad choice. They are all kind of in the gray area. That is what I think makes this a superb moral game. You are given these choices which are hard to choose because one will benefit a certain group of people, but still hurt others. I think that this is the perfect time that this game to come out. Right now we are so used to the idea of making good and evil choices that I think the idea of a gray are choice makes this different in the best way possible.
Now that I've given a few examples I just wanted to say what would make the perfect morality system in a game for me. If you were to combine all the highlights of the examples I put above, I think it would make an amazing game. If you were to the social choices of Fable 2, with the openness of Fallout 3, with the continuing storyline of Mass Effect, and finally with the gray area choices of Dragon Age: Origins you could make one hell of a game. Of course that's just what I think. 
This last bit is just for to tell everyone that's not already following my blog to start following my blog posts here, but only if you like them. This isn't for any of that quest stuff that's popping up. I just want to get my thoughts out there. But to tell me if you like it or not. Tell me if you agree with what I said. Feedback is warmly accepted. I will try and put a new post up on my blog daily. Again the main word is try. And I will try to make them interesting. Thanks for reading.