Sunday, August 21, 2011

Story and Impact Decisions

I was reading Tobold about The Old Republic and how certain story choices give you certain Light Side or Dark Side points and how some gear may require Light Side or Dark Side gear. I want to comment on this, but I am having a little trouble phrasing it in my head.

The thing is that Bioware wants Story to matter in their MMO. Their whole "Fourth Pillar" concept. But for the story to matter, for the decisions you make during the story to be real decisions, they have to have consequences.

If there are no consequences, then the decision and the story is just cosmetic and unimportant.

Now, maybe this particular implementation is heavy-handed. Maybe people will game the Light Side and Dark Side choices to get a specific piece of gear.

But maybe instead people will choose the other way. That they will make their story decisions first, and live with the consequences. Maybe the consequences themselves will make the decision worthwhile.

I'm sure that we all think it's unlikely, but we don't know for certain.

Perhaps that will become a differentiator for guilds. Certain guilds might put a requirement on Light/Dark points, and certain guilds won't.

I don't know if this system will work out for Bioware. But if they want Story to become vital, to become that Fourth Pillar, then they have to have consequences, and they have to attempt something like this system.


  1. While I have things I like and dislike from what I know of their system so far (like how sometimes being "bad" shortens instances, being good can be tough which I think is sort of interesting) there is one issue that sticks out.

    From what I hear your Dark/Light side has "ranks" from I think 1-4...and you basically get "Side" points for doing Light or Dark deeds. Which to me ends up feeling almost like a reputation grind. I _HATED_ that in Mass Effect 2 I felt like I was forced to basically go ALL Paragon or ALL Renegade if I want to be able to continue to doing Paragon/Renegade choices later on in the game.

    Were it up to me I would just have a sliding scale...light, neutral and dark.

  2. It will be interesting to see how pervasive the points requirements are. The affect is one that is worth experimenting with though. They could also be use in terms of "must have no Dark side points" too.

    It is a tough choice too because in a story based game, how do you correct your mistaken action except by further redemption in the story?

    Can a character go from light to dark, and back again?

  3. Doesn't WOW already have this, Horde and Alliance. Bioware are making it variable so, you can decide later which side to back?

    I like it. A Troll that defects to the Alliance! I know in beta you could become hated by your own faction if you killed a few griffon masters :) What if it raised the opposition factions as well!

  4. The story cannot matter in an MMO.

    At least not in the sense of player decisions having story consequences. Whose story are you affecting? Just yours (e.g. phasing)? Then it ceases to be an MMO. Everyone's? Then you walk into Stormwind for the first time and realize that four years ago players allowed the zombie apocalypse to kill everyone inside and now you cannot ever progress.

  5. The problem is no grey gear. In a good story decisions lead to consequences rather than victory. In SWTOR it seems there are very clearly two sets of right decisions and everything else gimps you.

    So if you play by reacting and participating in the story rather than reading your cues from a third party site you end up gimped.

    Even if someone does play through that way once they'll learn never to do it again.

  6. It makes sense for Bioware to move in that direction. One thing to think about, the selection for interactions in a group setting is still a random die roll: each player makes a selection on what to do, and the server randomly chooses one. Gaming the system only makes sense when you've got a group with a completely shared goal, otherwise a player is at the mercy of how "story faithful" the puggees are.

  7. From reading leaks and the like on various blogs, people are talking about an easy way to grind out LD/DS points being companion diplomacy. I would imagine that most players will happliy bumble thier way through the decision with whatever seems the better choice at the time, based on thier (or thier characters) moral code.

    At end-game, if you need specific gear, go grinding out diplomacy missions. A constant swing between Aldor/Scryers if you will.

  8. Playing Kotor 2, I ended up grey for most of the game. At one point I had to finally get off the fence. After that there was no turning back and I was stuck as good for the rest of the game no matter what I did.

    The thing is I can understand wanting to keep the system simple with a game this massive. Though, I would have hoped that if they were going this far, they'd at least do it right.

    I mean, not all decisions have to be good or bad. Don't forget the dark side is impulsive, impatient, and always seeking easy power. Any decision that follows that route should lead to dark side points. It should be difficult and ridiculous to manage staying grey.

  9. "Doesn't WOW already have this, Horde and Alliance. Bioware are making it variable so, you can decide later which side to back?"

    Sorry mate, but it's just Light Side/Dark Side, not factions. You can be a Light side Sith or a Dark Side Republic character, but it doesn't seem like faction is going to change.

    That being said, I think the system for gaining morality points will be gamed, but not immediately. If they are smart, they'll allow you to infinitely grind morality points through dungeons at end game so that you can make whatever choices you want along the way to enjoy the story. That'd be the best way to do it, in my opinion.

  10. @Stabs, that's my entire point. Can Story be important enough that you choose to to go grey, even if it means that you sacrifice potential gear? If there was grey gear, that means that the choice to go grey was essentially a cosmetic and unimportant decision.

    If you say no, that means that Gear will always trump Story decisions. That Story will never be as important as Gear.

    Now, maybe that's the way it will end up. But let Bioware at least attempt to put Story on the same level as Gear. They may fail, but the attempt is worthwhile.

  11. "Can Story be important enough that you choose to to go grey, even if it means that you sacrifice potential gear?"

    To me? Yes it certainly can. But I know I'd be considered offbeat for that.

    My guess though is that morality will have a big effect on your personal story/ levelling arc, but that you'll be able to somehow grind rep at endgame if you really want to be able to wear that lightside/ darkside gear.

  12. If I was in a single player game, sure, I'd have absolutely no problem choosing what I felt made the most sense for my character. I don't mind being gimped for the sake of role-play. I've had awfully composed parties in various RPGs simply due to liking certain characters more than others and leaving out vital tanky/healy types.

    But the problem with an MMO is that if you play with other people, particularly people bent on difficult (i.e. raid) content, there's no room for less than optimal performance. I'd feel like I was letting people down, and there would be pressure for people to do things "right" which would mean sacrificing the story for performance.

  13. I'm with Spinks on that the story being paramount. I could easily see going Dark Side because of my choices, if I feel that my character and the story dictated it. Of course, I'm an old PNP RPG player, so that's how I roll.