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This is my first C-blog, and I hope that anyone who happens to read this can find some form of enjoyment, or can at least leave a thought on the issue which I’m addressing.

Recently most of my gaming has been done playing games based on morality, I’ve forsaken my general playing of TF2, the L4Ds and other similar games in favor of games like the Mass Effect games and Dragon Age: Origins. I’ve also been discussing these games with other people that are also playing them, and I’ve come to a realization that I think effects people’s perception of this type of game. I’ve found that people often stick to one alignment (usually good or paragon or whatever). And I think that playing these games in that way can actually detract from the experience.

DAO is a bit different in that it does not really have an indicator of how the world perceives you.

One of the big complaints that I see people making about choice based games is that they often feel like they are just manipulating a slider, and not interacting organically with the world of the game. I think that was once the situation and games did reward gamers that played by one strict code of conduct by rewarding you with higher level skills as their alignment became more defined (KOTOR, Fable),I think that the way morality is presented in games has changed quite a bit and pushing morality in one direction has become less rewarding for players. I feel like people who complain about morality games being “pushing a slider” are often creating their own problems by sticking to a branch of decisions.

That is the creepiest shepard face ever. Unrelated to topic.

I think that people who play a character that exclusively does either good or bad things are not really playing morality games properly. Building a character that only does one thing makes for a fairly boring character, especially in games like those of the Mass Effect series where you always know where to go to find a good answer or a bad answer. If you’re playing a character as straight good or purely bad, you really are not making decisions anymore, and I think that kind of kills the point of these games. You’re asked to play a role, but it isn’t a role that already exists. There is no history for your character in a game that has a morality system except for the one you give him or her, there are no expectations to be met for the way Commander Shepard acts. It is up to you to decide the way he (or she) feels and reacts, and I feel like always picking the good option will eventually lead to a situation where all you do is continuously choose the same type of dialog option.

What I’m saying is, I don’t think that morality driven games are meant to be played focused on one strict principle. Of course people are free to do as they wish, and I’m not arguing against someone who has a character that ends up vastly focused on one alignment is playing the game wrong. What I do think is wrong however, is making decisions based on what you want your end morality to be, and not on how you want to answer a situation. Usually characters are written by someone else, games like Mass Effect let you create your own character, and leave it up to you to make him interesting. There is no one forcing character traits on to Shepard except for you, and I think that making a character who only does good things is kind of contrary to the freedom given by the developer to the player to create your own character.

this is a fine outcome too.

Without spoiling anything, in my last (first) Mass Effect 2 run, I made a point of actually thinking the decisions through, and choosing things in a way that would have interesting consequences. I tried to ignore the paragon/renegade meters as well as I could. I’d pick things either on the merit that I saw in the decisions, or if that didn’t apply I’d make a decision based on what I felt was most interesting for the universe while still being within the scope of my Shepard’s decisions. I tried to play him as a person who was affected by situational influences, and not as someone who would always do the “paragon” or “renegade” option, and I think he turned out well enough. Another benefit to playing in this way is that I feel it leaves more windows open for different Shepards that are not extreme good or extreme bad characters, but rather are balanced in what they decide, and in how the play through turns out.

I didn't think to take screens of his progression, so this isn't that helpful, but he has gone through points where he was a paragon and has also gone through points of being a renegade.

Last night I came up with an idea for a third or fourth play through (if or when I ever get around to it.) I plan on making my Shepard a fuck up of the highest order who manages to do everything wrong, and is basically an intergalactic joke. He’ll mess up, he’ll lose many men, and that is what I feel will make him a fun and interesting character to play or hear about, as opposed to a standard all paragon character.

Maybe my failshep will look like this guy.
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