Rob Fitzpatrick from Georgia Tech’s Game Lab is presenting on characters and morality. Three dimensions of dramatic dimension – games (in contrast) heavily oriented towards action. Psychological and social data is mostly absent. However morality is becoming more important/popular. In single player games you can measure everything the player does.

Crono Trigger (1995): after a couple of hours, there’s a trial against you where the NPCs argue that you are morally reprehensible based on how you play. If you eat an old man’s lunch cos it’s a powerup at the trial he’ll speak against you.This isn’t done later in the game, simply because (one assumes) the data would just be too much. Also the verdict of the trial has no effect, you always go to jail.

Ultima Online (1995): First successful MMPORG. All objective single player data still exists. The player and other players ideas about the character are outside the game but affect the way you play the game, and are attached to the character. The death of Lord British. Rainz was unknown before he killed Lord British, but becamse known to EVERYONE afterwards – he was a celebrity, everyone loved him (until he was banned). Obviously changed his gaming experience hugely, but outside of the game system. UO has a reputation system based on e.g. how many players you’ve killed, use evil magic. Using evil magic matters to the world, but there’s another system measuring how many players you’d murdered – this was implemented to show the difference between characters who steal and characters who are player-killers, so players can react to things that affect them most.

Encoding character morality:

  • granularity (not just good/evil but murderer/protector, thief/ ?, deceiver/honest etc)
  • chaos & consistency (is the character consistent in morality?)
  • forgiveness (there’ll always be a way where what you did stops mattering in time

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