on Oct 29, 2012
Once again I have to applaud the game for letting you hang up on the council. What a fun idea. For a writing perspective, it’s actually easier than trying to give the player all the possible dialog options required to hold an argument. When the player objects, there’s always a question of why they’re objecting.
“Commander Shepard, I need you to board that ship and kill all the infected Elcor before the plague spreads further.”
- I’ll get right on it!
- I disagree – we should kill all the Elcor, not just the infected ones. This plague is too dangerous.
- I disagree – we don’t need to kill the Elcor right now. We might find a cure in the meantime. I’ll just board and diable the ship so they can’t dock and spread the plague.
- I disagree – It would be better to blow up the ship without boarding it.
- I disagree – I shouldn’t waste my time with the plague when there are bigger problems on the horizon.
- Okay – But I’m also going to kill all the Hannar because RENEGADE LOLOLOLOL!
Once you’re dealing with complex questions of morality and pitting idealism against pragmatism, it becomes impossible to offer the granularity players will need to properly express their views. Offering them the agency to make the choice on a mechanical level isn’t that hard. (They can board and shoot whomever they like, tell joker to destroy the ship, or fly away and ignore the mission.) But offering them the multi-branching dialog to express their intentions and argue their position becomes impractical. Letting them simply end a conversation like this is a clever way to escape having to write, record, and script the dozen or so possible conversation paths. You wouldn’t want to use it all the time, but it is a good “get out of difficult dialog free” card for game designers.
Randy said, “There probably wasn’t a right answer to the Rachni Queen [problem] anyways,” not realizing just how totally right he would be when Mass Effect 3 came out.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.