759 Is It.

I’m getting close to the end of my first play through of Mass Effect. It seems as though I have managed to tank every possible romantic subplot. Art imitating life as it were. I’ve been a pretty good boy, but broke some rules here and there, just so people know I can’t be tamed. I’m a loner Dottie, a rebel.

I don’t enjoy playing games that allow moral choices as bad. I just lose interest. I don’t play every situation as totally good, but being evil just doesn’t appeal to me. It just makes me feel bad. In Fable 2 & 3 I did some evil stuff at the very end of the game, or on save files I was going to abandon just to get achievements, but even in a fictional setting being cruel makes me physically ill.

In Mass Effect I did some evil stuff that I had no idea the game would read as evil. Because based on my internal compass they were moral. Even after the fact I still thought I was in the right, but the game doesn’t give you any way to appeal your case. XD

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I thought I was the only one that felt that way about moral decisions in games. While everybody’s all “I choose the dark side, it r0x0rs” I am left the lone defender of truth and justice…

I like violating the boolean morality system in Bioware games.

For instance… Mass Effect being a good example…. my Shep is essentially Renegade. She has lotsa Renegade points. Way more than her Paragon points… BUT when it comes to those situations where she chooses whether someone lives or dies… she lets them live. She’ll still be an utter arsehole about everything else, but she isn’t a murderer.

I had another character, also a Renegade… who was just a flagrant racist. He’d kill aliens every time, but be more leniant with fellow humans.

The games generally aren’t really made with these sorts of variable playstyles in mind. They have consequences down the track… generally along the lines of not being able to succeed at stuff due to not being an extremity extremist… BUT it feels more satisfying.

Also I never bother “romancing” any of the initial three options in Mass Effect.
Better to hold out for the Mass Effect 2 options.

Usually I choose truth and justice although evildoers feel the cold sting of my arrow as I silently watch them from the shadows.

I think Brian Clevinger described moral choice in games best: “A) Inhumanly saint-like, to B) Casual indifference, to C) I will murder everything you ever loved via skullfucking.”

1) Jo has the best hat. I want the best hat, now.

2) Ghost-hunting is awesome. Just watch out for living things, too.

I actually can be evil in Fable, because it’s cartoonishly evil and goofy. But in Mass Effect, you usually can’t be really evil so much as misanthropic. You still are a hero saving people, but you do it while cursing everyone out and making them hate you, and I feel the same illness when I choose those options.

Paragon/Renegade really isn’t as simple as good/evil — Renegade is more ruthless, more callous, and yes, sometimes outright cruel, but I always saw it as more of an attitude of “the ends justify the means”. And, sometimes, they do. I wouldn’t say the game read you as ‘evil’ just because you made a few of those choices. It just recognized them as somewhat ruthless decisions.

The same thing could be said of Jade Empire’s “Open Palm/Closed Fist” philosophy.

Which broke down so hard after the starting area that by the end of the game, you couldn’t even finish the game as Closed Fist without being so evil you’d eat a baby and ask for seconds.

I mean *literally*, taking the Open Palm choice smacked you all the way to 100% King of Virtue status from wherever you’d been on the alignment meter.

I’ve played Mass Effect 1 and 2 and always gotten to Paragon. I can’t explain it, just I always see my self as the true good guy and hero of my story (maybe due to being such a film buff) but then again I do find my self doing some evil. The fact is, I love the hero arc, but they do punish you a bit for that in the games I think, making life easier if you’re a bastard.

That makes sense though. In the real world the moral thing is also the logistically difficult or more risky thing half the time. That’s why it’s such a constant struggle on pretty much every level of society: if it were always the path of least resistance, there’d be no crime or war or any of that. That’s why our books and movies and video games and ancient oral traditions are all filled with stories about heroes who have to slog a hard, dark, miserable road to get the right thing done. The moral that the right thing is still the right thing even when it’s harder and/or riskier is one of the cornerstone of epic storytelling.

Which is why it bugs the crap out of me to see characters, and real world figures, being portrayed as “brave” or “strong” or “heroic” for suborning their conscience and taking the safer, easier, but morally cracked path.

My first play through I always choose what to do based on snap decisions, what does my gut tell me. I’d like to think that that’s how I would act in the given situation. In Mass Effect it always ended up with me being a paragon. I did not always choose that path, I broke rules and laws, I fought dirty, but still I walk out of it as the “good” guy.

Mass Effect is interesting though because it is morally ambiguous. There is no right answer half the time. You are out to save people, to stop a horrible threat. You can be direct, or you can be discrete, you can break a few eggs, or talk your way through. In the end you always sit back and are forced to think “was that the right choice?” Sure you saved the day, but at what cost?

I’m currently playing through Mass Effect 2 for like the millionth time. Still love it and the first game. And I always choose Paragon decisions if possible. But there are times when I look at the two choices, and every fiber of my being tells me to choose Renegade because the other option is just to wishy-washy. I’ve killed some assholes who absolutely deserved it, simply because they would probably cause more trouble if left to their own devices.

The whole to the desicion making process is not to think of the game as you own personal Jiminy Cricket. Sure it measures your progress, but in the end every decision you make is based on your own moral code. If you learn from the game, and change your code based on that, great. If not, then sure whatever. Don’t compromise yourself because of a game (No matter how awesome it is).

In the first game I was a saint, the role model humanity needed. In the second one, I felt like Shepard had the right to be a bit forceful with some people after what he faced. Mass Effect is the only game I’ve effectively “roleplayed” through instead of picking the option that best suits my own intentions.

I. Love. Brooksie’s. Eyes. They are literally the most beautiful things I have ever seen. If only I knew someone with eyes that color!

As for Mass Effect, I played through the first one twice, once rapidly and once while looking at a guide, because I’m a completionist. Both times I ended up as a Paragon, and I think it’s for the same reason. I tend to get physically sick or at least disgusted when I do something opposed to my morals. Anyways, good game, and I look forward to playing Mass Effect 2.

Gotta love Dragon Age.

“You must ally with us!”

“No! You must ally with us!”

“Couldn’t you just, y’know, put your differences aside and work together so we don’t all get killed?”

“No! You must choose!”

And of course, who could forget this:

“I choose to save the kitten from that tree.”

MORRIGAN DISAPPROVES

*time passes*

“Oh no! Saving that kitten gave everyone in the world cancer!”

MORRIGAN DISAPPROVES

If only computer game programmers understood the D&D alignment system, we could have Neutral Good choices in games.

If only Hasbro understood it. latest edition cut the alignments down to six. Lawful good, Good but not lawful (or neutral), Neutral, Evil, and Chaotic evil. You know, because lawful always equals evil only even worse… Anyway, video games tend to have an effect more along the lines of Superman for good, everyone else is a murdering psychopath. Didn’t save the tree kitten? You’re evil. Oh, that tree kitten was the one out of a million random cancer causing tree kitten that you had no possible way of knowing about without buying the cheat book? Bah, you’re still evil because Superman would have known, next time use your X-ray vision on the evil tree kitten, but none of the others (it might give them x-ray kitten cancer…)

Kind of why I liked Fallout New Vegas better than Fallout 3. People react to you based off faction knowledge, not some moral compass where everyone magically knows you are the one who ate that entire settlement of people (although in my defense they really shouldn’t have been made out of delicious, dleicious meat if they didn’t want to be eaten…) even though you made sure to eat all the survivors before they could tell anyone.

And I think I proved my nerdhood right there…

Anyhow, played through ME one as Paragon, played again as neither, and tried to do a third as renegade. Just. Couldn’t. do it. Not as funny as post apocalyptic cannibalism, and the renegade choices just seem less viable in general. I mean aside from occasionally blowing off an autograph seeker it’s like Shepard is given a choice between calm rationalization and pissing all sides off by being a total douche monger. Then again, I suppose that fits the Clevinger model JCHudson mentioned rather accurately.

I love mass effects Paragon/Renegade system simply for the fact that it really isn’t good or evil. It’s simply different ways of accomplishing the same goal, I generally view most of the Paragon decisions as being tactful and persuasive with the renegade being more straightforward and uncompromising. I tend to be more paragon then anything else in Mass Effect but I still make a few renegade decisions, just because I try to make my characters make decisions the way I would and sometimes I can be a ruthless dick.

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