A Matter of Morality in Game Design

This week on the Perceptive Podcast, I spoke with first time guest Amanda Lange about her background and an in-depth conversation about morality in video game storytelling and game design.

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We started with talking about Amanda’s background and then moved to talking about games we’ve played. Amanda talked about the little time she spent with Fallout 4 and then playing Tales of the Borderlands. That led into a small talk about Telltale Games and the growth of their adventure game and narrative design over the last few years and a general discussion on the game market and tangent on animated series.

For the game I’ve played, I talked about Clockwork Empires and the time I spent with the last build of the game. For another brief tangent, we talked about early access and developing a game while selling alpha builds of it. There were a lot of industry tangents during this part of the cast as Amanda and I talked about the changes we’ve seen over the years in the industry.

The final and biggest topic for the cast was a discussion on morality systems in games. We talked about the early concepts of it with games like Black and White, Knights of the Old Republic and a lot more. From the original concept, things have evolved to featured shades of grey instead of just black and white choices. Amanda and I talked about examples of games we liked and those that didn’t work in providing interesting choices. One of those points was when the morality choices become so ingrained in the game design, that it’s less about making the player feel one way or the other, but min/maxing the title; with Bioshock being a big example.

Another big point we talked about was the use of point of no returns in narrative: Where the player must make a major choice that will then take the game in a completely different direction and lock the player out from the other choice. Point of no returns are a big deal and we talked about what they meant to Mass Effect and the backlash from the fans due to the ending design.

There were unfortunately some sound issues during this cast, specifically some heavy breathing on my part due to allergies and a slight echoing from Amanda that I couldn’t get rid of.

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