The Sanjuro/Yojimbo Archetype: The Manners / Morality Dichotomy & Appeal For Tonal Dialog Options
I'll be brief with this one, I promise.
In most RPGs, there is a very rigidly-defined relationship between manners and morality. Essentially, the "evil" dialog options are almost always rude, the "good" options almost always well-mannered.
That is, games present a false equalization between manners and morality for the player. If you want to be a good character, you have to also be a nice character; if you want to be an evil character, you have to also be a rude character.
I hate that!
My personal favorite hero archetype is essentially Toshiro Mifune, in every film he's ever been in. Specifically, look to the films "Yojimbo" and "Sanjuro." This is a hero is is gruff; ill-kempt--and rude. He insults people and threatens people and can be mean and dismissive--but his ACTIONS are the very definition of heroic.
I want to play a game where I can do the right thing AND insult people at the same time. I want other gamers to be able to do the wrong thing AND still be nice about it. ("I'm really sorry about this, but I could use that healing potion right now, so I'm going to have to murder your family. I wish there was another way, but I don't really have time to find one out, so: sorry.")
That kind of thing.
There are a number of ways to implement this. I think the easiest (and simplest) method would add tonal dialog options to the intention options that, I believe, are already confirmed. I.E., if an NPC asks for help:
[Truth] I'll help you.
[Bluff] I'll help you.
[Intimidate] How much will you pay me?
[Truth] I won't help you.
[Bluff] I can't help you.
[Intimidate] Leave me alone.
Adding tonal options would increase the complexity of dialog trees, but at the same time, allow for the player to better customize his or her reactions to the dialog. So, in addition to the basic [Truth], [Bluff] and [Intimidate] options for both affirmative and negative responses, there could be categories like [Polite], [Rude], [Dismissive], [Eager], [Bored], [Interested], etc.
(Which may or may not necessarily be tied to success/failure states based on player stats).
So, for example, if you accept a quest but are rude to the person giving it, you might get less reward; if you're nice, you could refuse the quest without angering the NPC. if an NPC is telling you a story, and you respond as interested, they might tell you even more--whereas if you reply as bored, they would perceive that and tell you less.
I realize this may be too complex to integrate into the game, but it's something I really want to see in my RPGs.... in fact, I think I may just copy-and-paste this for the Project Eternity folks.
At least it not anime...
This is a great idea, i would put it like one of the essential things in the todo list.
Subzero Wolfman commented
But since you mentioned Mifune, how about Rashomon ... epitomising that "Good" and "Evil" depend on POV, and each character emphasizes different aspects of what has happened?
In fact, why even classify an action as good or evil to begin with? Morality is a personal thing after all.
Also, whether you bluff or tells the truth is not as important to the NPC in question as whether or not he BELIEVES what you're saying. So, a bluff must have a chance to backfire, a truthful statement maybe not believed, and hey, actions speak louder than words (Ask Mr. Mifune).
So, your character has a nature and general demeanor, maybe adds a tone he wishes to convey, then selects a dialogue option.
Good idea you have there.
P.S.: It's only complex because of all the dialogue that has to be written up; but the way I do remember the folks who did planescape, they're not above writing a line or two.
Professor James Moriarty (M) Vs. Tsubaki Sanjuro (S)!
S: You think you can come into *my* town and do whatever you want with that big-ass robot-spider of yours?
M: Why, of course not, good sir! It's just that this quaint little village of yours proved to be a hindrance to my humble plans of world domination or, at least, obtain riches beyond my current measure.
S: Not on my goddamn watch, you son-of-a-whore.
M: My, my! You, sir, need to take some etiquette lessons. Preposterous!
S: Preposterous, my ass! Prepare to die, you stinking basard!
M: I'd have you know I happen to be wearing the latest eau-de-parfum from Hucklebee's and in no way do I stink, my good man. But you're right. En guarde!
Incredibly hard to pull this off, but this is the direction nobody followed before. This kind of stuff would work if you choose an alignment when you create a character. For example, if you create an "evil" character, your answers may be polite/sweet-tongue, neutral or rude/sarcastic. But you can't act like a good person at all. At best neutral. The same goes for the good alignment. You can't be an evil character.
Partially, I saw this in Mass Effect 1,2. You can act rude, but you still do the good. Except for several ocassions, when you pretend to be a hero, but ruthlessly murder people. That's why it didn't work convincingly enough. Unfortunally, you can't be a truly evil character there. You're always a hero, who can act like an ass.
Regarding the interface: what if, rather than a huge list of options in the format:
... you are presented with a short list of outcomes, and a separate slider that allows you to pick your tone or bearing.
So, for a given dialog, default action options include:
- "OK, I'll help you."
- "I won't help you."
- "Give me your money."
Modifier offers an additional "courteous" (or rude, or mocking, or gruff, or...) version:
- "It would be my honor to help you."
- "Terribly sorry, but I haven't got time to help. May the gods smile upon you!"
- "Truly sorry, chum – but I'm in need of some help just as you are. Hand over your purse."
I realize that any comment in this thread is talking about exponentially increasing the writing involved, and it may simply not be feasible on this account.
But if it *were* possible, I like the idea of seeing sets of answers separated into two 'axes' like this (tone vs. action), rather than one huge list.
(To be clear, I'm not suggesting that all dialogues need all options for tone; Lupin has expressed good ideas about when specific tones might suit specific situations); and some choices may appear in more than one tonal list...
Additional thought: if you have most often chosen from, say, the 'gruff' list, that could be selected by default if available for that particular conversation.
Extremely demanding to implement fully, but to at least strive for something along these lines - to whatever extent is possible/feasible - would be very much appreciated by most us, I'm willing to bet. I, too, sigh with displeasure when being good always means you're also being the most well-mannered and soft-spoken person in the realms or the opposite if you're evil. It's not always as bad as the "Jesus/Hitler" dichotomy in some games (i.e. "1. Give the beggar all your money" / "2. Eat the beggar."), but it's still there to a lesser extent.
@ Miragee - So true. I was playing Mass Effect and couldn't become a Paragon because Shepard thought it would be a riot to joke with his "friends". IRL, I've been telling my friends that I'd kill them for doing something. But I guess in the far space-exploring future, you mean what you say.
Arsene Lupin commented
I've written up my whole idea in a bit more depth here:
Just trying to fully articulate what I'm thinking... it's not easy.
To clarify a few points w/ this proposal, I don't think it would be necessary for every dialog scene to use these, nor do I think it would be necessary for every dialog scene that does use these things to use ALL of them. For example:
[Bored] and [Interested would work best for exposition--when you're dealing with characters who are telling stories, who are revealing information. They simply wouldn't work in other kinds of dialog, like asking questions or accepting quests.
[Dismissive] and [Eager] would best fit for accepting or rejecting quest. For example (and this is a -terrible- quest idea, I know) you could run into a drunk who wants you to buy some ale or meade or whatever. You could then have four options to accept/reject in either tone.
[Polite] and [Rude] would be more generalized in application. Like you go into a room, and get something like this in the dialog scene with the first NPC you meet:
[Polite] Who is that well dressed man in the back?
[Rude] Who's the slobering fatass stuck to his chair back there?
(Because contractions are rude, that's why).
Things like that. If a core aspect of the game is having players judged by their actions not their intentions, I think this mechanic is a great way to actually incorporate those consequences into the dialog. This way, what you say AND how you say it matter. And, like I said, it also broadens the roleplaying-potential for players.
I'd like to add that there should be characters you can make sarcastic jokes with. Every RPG seems to have only character's that either don't understand sarcasm (aka you troll them) or they are offended by it.
I like this idea.
Though it seems to implement it, you're basically expressing both your intent and your actions. This is the kind of stuff I'd like to see though, since it can be a great measure of impeccability and so affect Tides.
I think intent -matters-.
I'm not sure if there is a more elegant way to do this though. Perhaps, if you can click on the emotions you feel, and as you play, your actions reinforces those emotions you can choose from. This creates a lot of interesting permutations, while limiting the scope of the ones that have narrative impact.
I don't think this is necessary -- the tides system exists specifically to /eliminate/ the need for the game to go into the character's motivation for his actions, it only considers the actual actions performed. Thus, you'll be able to play an "evil" character however you feel like and the game will react appropriately for the actions that you've actually performed.
That isn't to say that this isn't a good idea, in selected dialogs where the text may mislead you as to how the NPC will react, but it isn't necessary /in general/.
The great thing about this game's new system is that it allows them to no longer have black and white but indigo, silver, gold, blue and red! =p
Anon Of Holland commented
This is exactly what I'm looking for in a 'next gen' RPG. It's time to evolve beyond the lazy black and white scripting of the old games and really commit to improving the system.
Good idea. One thing I might add that I absolutely hate in many RPG's I play. Why must every evil-oriented PC always have to do really stupid actions? If I want to be evil, do I always have to take the clearly insane and meathead-like action of cutting off someone's head just because I can? Why can't I be the purely evil character that also happens to want to be civilized?
Sir Chaox commented
[Nonchalant] Funny thing about the cows...
[Dead Serious] ...They aren't coming home.
Good idea! But I think it will be better to streamline into 3 categories: [Polite], [Nonchalant] & [Assholio], else the writers would be writing dialogue options till the cows come home.
Sir Chaox commented
This idea is incredibly demanding, but I would love to see it, especially in a game like this, where role-playing is the prime focus (along with story). I also like the use of realism with such a system; the rewards can change based on our attitude, along with the dialogue of how they respond to these distinct personalities. The equality factor will be experience; no path should give more experience than another, assuming nearly the same level of effort has been undergone.
The real trick is the reactions; how will every NPC react to these distinct personalities?
Remember that their goal is to focus on personality traits over a "good" or "evil" personality; the different tides have different traits associated with them (empathy, passion, reason, etc.), and each line of dialogue should reflect one or more of these tides, from both the player and the NPC (from everyone!).
This game's dialogue system could potentially become very complex; I don't know how they plan to handle the reactions (through some algorithmic computation to construct a proper response or through strictly hand-crafted dialogue for every situation, i.e. strict dialogue trees). Perhaps a combination of different methods. I'm looking forward to more design info relating to this. :]