Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Rift is a better game than SW:TOR

This is a contentious title, I know.

I thought of it after this conversation.

Click on it to see the high-quality version. I had to cut the image so that the text is readable with blogger's 1600x1000 maximum resolution. Go figure.

But what's really annoying me is what the conversation says. I have the option to either save a woman or very important medical documents. If you remember the Jedi Code ...

There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no passion, there is serenity.
There is no death, there is the Force.

... you know that saving the documents is the Jedi way. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. (Yes, that's Spock, but it's really the same with Jedis).

In the Jedi starting zone there is even the example of two lovers and you only get light side points for telling your superiors about them being in love. Because Jedis do not fall in love. "There is no passion, there is serenity". Not telling your superiors even gives you dark side points!

I liked this a lot because it wasn't the typical schoolkid ideology of the wannabe-do-gooder. Well, now you get light side points if you save the woman and dark side points if you save the medical data which potentially saves millions. Ridiculous. I'm certainly not a fanatical Star Wars fan. But I until now SW:TOR's lore still had some quality.

I am honestly very, very sorry, EA. You created a technically polished product and that is no little accomplishment. But the stories you created are just not good enough to make up for the actual gameplay. I mean, hell, in this very cut-scene I lift things that weight tons. If I could do this in-game, 90% of the enemies would never have a chance. I could just throw them away. The fact that I can do this only in cut scenes creates a massive disconnect between the guy in the cut-scenes and the avatar I am actually controlling.

At the end of the day all this is irrelevant. SW:TOR's main problem remains the core combat gameplay that misses proper feedback - responsiveness - for game design reasons (it's not a technical problem!). It's as if Bioware polished the technical parts of this game for years, but never really polished the gameplay. This is a beginner's mistake. Whoever is responsible for this should be fired. 50% of the bloggers would do his/her job better.

Animations need to be front-loaded.
Player-actions require instant feedback.
Did you think that Blizzard has those numbers pop up when you hit an enemy to keep the player 'informed'? Why are your numbers so damn small, Bioware ??

And that's how I came to make this cute little title for this post.


  1. That screenshot supplies zero context for the scene taking place. And Jedi save people, not material things. The Force will provide the knowledge if you are meant to have it; sacrificing an innocent for ancient knowledge is a path to the dark side. It seems as if you're replacing the 'no passion' part of the Code with 'no compassion' instead. Jedi are guardians, protectors, and healers above all.

    Also, you didn't really put anything in your post as to why RIFT is better than TOR (granted RIFT is a fine game and I enjoyed it for six months).

  2. @Targeter
    I'm not sacrificing an innocent. I need to make a choice between saving millions and one woman. Someone is going to die irrespective of what I do.
    If you trust in the force, you could just as well trust that the force won't let the woman die until you retrieved the data. You need to trust the information you have at the moment of decision making.

    I know that it's a difficult decision to make. And me, personally, I might actually save the woman even though I knew it's a mistake (I hope I wouldn't but you never know in such situations).

    But to leave millions to die (whom you can't see) just to save one (whom you can see) is not the right thing to do. And looking at it from a JediCode PoV it's a perfect example of what "no emotion" means. Concentrate on what matters: Saving as many as possible in a situation that doesn't allow you to save everybody.

    It's just a waste to first put such a wonderful dilemma in the game and then get it so mixed up. If it were a game for children I could understand it, but I think it's 16+.

  3. @Nils

    And that's where you and I differ. By sacrificing the one life, you've already taken the first step down the road to darkness. You're justifying your inability to save the innocent by placating yourself with the knowledge that you'll be theoretically saving so many more people.

    I think it's a wonderful dilemma and it's presented in just the right way to spark this type of internal debate. The light side Jedi would choose to save the woman and let go of the knowledge, secure in the fact that saving one life now is more important than potentially savings millions later (which may or may not happen). The dark side Jedi sacrifices the woman and clings to the idea that by doing evil (letting someone die) he's helping more people in the long run. You're coloring the decision far too much with your own personal feelings, not the Jedi code. The Jedi would save the woman, the Sith would save the knowledge.

    And it's conversations like this that make this MMO unlike anything we've ever played before. Have you ever had a moral dilemma with WoW or Rift? You may have, but your character never had a choice in the matter. Bioware has hit on something special.

    ** Full Disclosure **
    I am a SWTOR fanboy and run my own SWTOR blog, go please take my comments with a grain of salt if you are so inclined!

  4. Well, I certainly like MMOs to provide moral dilemma. Since they have no save-feature it makes these dilemmas much more meaningful.

    However, what you write to justify the slaughter of millions is just not acceptable to me. In fact it is dangerous - also in real life.

    A good person (Jedi or not :) should always consider all ramnifications of his actions. The only difference between the one corpse and the million corpses is time and whether you see them. How would you feel, a year later, visiting the mass graves, knowing that you could have prevented this?

    Giving in to your emotions and doing what everybody would claim could not have been wrong, would have been the path to the dark side. If you think that the one person you know has more right to live than the millions you don't know, you dangerously exaggerate the moral value of you, personally, knowing somebody.

    Imagine the same situation, just that instead of medical data you save millions directly. And imagine the thousandsd of faces looking at you and begging for help. Would that make a difference? The way the dilemma is presented, it shouldn't.

  5. @Nils

    Ah, but we're not operating in the real world, now are we? We're operating in the Star Wars universe, and for the dilemma you propose, there may be another avenue to save the millions threatened. And I read your reply and all I see is justification for murder; you're murdering the innocent because she provides an expedient way to gain access to information that may or may not help others. It's still murder according to the Jedi Code, and by letting her die, you violate the Code.

    I think the main disconnect here is the way you interpret the Code itself. Your argument that you're saving more in the long run earns you dark side points because you're assigning more value to the future possible victims than to the victim right in front of you. The Jedi does his best to preserve all life when he can; by sacrificing the one to potentially save the many, you have taken your first steps down a dark path ... after all Anakin slaughtered the younglings for the same reason. In his view the Jedi were evil and needed to be stopped; murdering them all definitely brought peace to the galaxy and ended the war, saving millions from dying in battle. Isn't that the same? Was Anakin doing the right thing?

  6. Ok, let's investigate this by another very theoretical example:

    100% chance that one person you love dies now.
    99% chance that people you never met die in 5 minutes.

    What choice gives you light/dark points?

  7. @ Nils

    Good example, but flawed a bit; in this scenario, you've placed a quantifiable limit on when the others will die and made it a certainty; the Jedi would choose the 10 billion (if there wasn't a way the Jedi could sacrifice himself instead).

    A better example would be this:

    A child hangs from a cliff by one arm. A piece of paper is clutched in his hand than clings to cliff. On this paper is a word. This word could be used to open a casket and this casket could be filled with either nothing or infinite knowledge. You can either grab the hand and save the child or grab the paper and doom the child. Which do you choose?

  8. Ok, then we basically agree. Now We just need to determine the treshhold. 98% chance, 97% chance .. :)

    On the kid: That's just not the situation presented in the game. According to the game this is the only way to safe these people.

  9. It's an interesting debate - I think I am with Targeter on this. good moral choices are like the one the Joker presents the 2 ships' passengers with in the Dark Knight movie: save yourself (maybe) and doom the other ship - or die both (maybe). they can never be 100% certain that the deal is what it appears to be, which makes decisions infinitely harder. IRL too, you usually do not have certainties.

    But even 'IF' it was a clear decision, I disagree with you Nils. morals are not universal, but you know that already. :) personally, I think sacrificing the woman is a dark decision - I do not believe in the ends justifying the means. I think the life of 1 needs to be as important as the life of 100 and that we cannot ever compromise like that. just like in politics we cannot agree to terrorists asking us to deliver 10 prisoners, so they won't kill 100 people. this is just not an acceptable deal, no matter the outcome. it's ofc bad either way, but made worse by your compliance. IMO.

  10. @Nils

    LOL, you're taking my agreement for granted there bud! I think we'll just agree to disagree on this issue. But can you imagine ever having this type of conflict with a game like WoW? It just wouldn't happen because the player would never be given the choice.

    Also, you never did really illuminate why Rift is better than TOR!

  11. Tangentially, this also reminds me a lot of Fable 3 later stage moral dilemma (not sure you've played F3?):

    Keep your promise as leader of the people and potentially see the world end in 1 year - OR- betray your people, so you have enough money in 1 year to save the world.

    Well, I chose the first option. I made a promise and I kept it. as for the world ending, I simply said to myself "screw this, I will STILL find a way to save the world without becoming a betrayer and making everyone suffer".
    and apparently that's possible too in the game, even if much harder. I would still choose it. :)

  12. @Syl

    I think the more important question is ... you actually played Fable 3?!!? 'Course, I can't say anything ... I own both Two Worlds 1 and 2. *cringe*

    The morality question is always a sticky one because two people can see the same situation so differently. Also, this is why the Jedi Order never really worked. Oh, it'd be fine a time, then some Jedi named Nils would mosey along and start questioning everything and next thing you know, you've got the Force Wars v2.0. You know how those pesky doubter can be ...

  13. I guess this topic requires an extra post. I really can't believe what I am reading here. To look at these things with 'ends' and 'means' is completely wrong. You need to look at your action and all the ramifications you know about.

    If, in real life, you ignored your knowledge about future consequences and went along the movie-style of "we'll find a way", I'd despise you; honestly. This is the mind of a 6 year old, not the of a responsible adult. And I certainly wouldn't want to be the one you have power over.

    Fun question:
    Imagine you can either press a button and one person dies or not press the button and two persons die. What do you do?

  14. @Targeter

    ...why is that a bad thing? =D
    Okay i agree, F3 isn't the greatest game, certainly not compared to the prequels. but it's mostly bad for that anti-climax twist exactly (which is also when I stopped playing). some of the quests before that and certainly the desert scenario were really nice imo.

    moral debates are indefinitely tricky. they are based so much on personal, cultural (optionally religious), demographic etc. factors, that discussions can be as enlightening as they can be frustrating. I went through some very interesting ethic classes with a few of my student groups in the past - you'd be surprised how radically the decision of "whom would you save?" can change depending on what there is to save; a baby, a woman/man, an old person, an ugly/fat person (sad but true) etc....
    values are not just depending on background, but they also change constantly.

  15. @Nils

    I'd push the button twice because I'm evil.

    But in all seriousness, we're talking about videogame morality in a heroic universe set in an MMO with virtual characters who don't really exist. Don't take things so personally, eh? None of us will ever be in the position in our real life to make such a huge decision by ourselves; saving a loved one or saving millions would just never happen in the real world. It's a deliberately crafted decision to make you think. And if you're this emotionally invested in a choice in the TOR universe, then I think Bioware has done its job very well.

  16. Syl, you can certainly have examples where things are tricky. Would you rather save two old people with about 10 years of life left or one baby with about 80 years of life left (expected values)?

    But then again there are some situations which are crstal clear. Trading one life for millions in the vague hope to find another way to save the millions (and you don't even know where to start looking for another solution) is just wrong.

    This idea that the number of lifes is not important can only be the opinion of someone who never had to choose. Tell that a soldier in war - or a police man. Or a firefighter.

  17. @Nils

    that fun question is again different from the examples above. if you can choose between killing 1 or 2 people, anyone would choose killing 1, I'd say. but if there's a chance to kill none, maybe a small chance even, things again change.
    of these things were simple, there wouldn't be so many discussions.

    As for the fable scenario; your opinions are colored by your own moral beliefs - and you did simplify my example.
    if we assume that life matters most, no matter 'how' (life for life's sake above all else), then you're right. if we however consider 1 year of torture (as is the deal in fable, you basically choose to leave people to poverty, starvation and potential death) vs. potential life only, the answer isn't as clear. it's not even clear if we remove the 'potential' - which is also why euthanasia is such a tricky, highly emotional subject still in many countries.

    I would also leave a well-meant critique here for you, to be a little careful about passionate outbursts such as 'I despise you for this' in moral discussions where each player is equally sincere about his opinion. it isn't necessarily unfounded either, just because it clashes with your own views which you obviously take for granted and self-evident.

  18. Targeter, actually I am much more invested in my blog right now than in the game :)

    I guess I only got my hopes up because of this love-quest in the beginning. The game seemed to be 'serious' - in a positive way.

    And now they fall back into the old games-are-for-children thing. Sure, you can argue like that. Just make damn sure to know in your heart what is actually the right choice. Just in case you ever find yourself in a related situation in real life. -.-

  19. @Nils

    "This idea that the number of lifes is not important can only be the opinion of someone who never had to choose. Tell that a soldier in war - or a police man. Or a firefighter."

    and yet, IRL governments do never go along with terrorist demands, right? even if the ratio is 1:10, 1:100, afaik there's a basic belief in that you cannot let yourself be blackmailed like that - because if you do, it doesn't end there.

    but sure, this is added complexity. in video games we're lucky to have more straightforward choices. ;)

    like I said, if we really have certainties, I think anyone chooses killing 1 over 10 people. but here, both actions are 'active choices'. it's again different if you say 'kill 1 person actively' or the passive repercussion will be 10 dead people. I honestly think it's a difficult decision. and personally, I always stay dubious about how truthful a threat really is (especially if the effect isn't immediate but later). you said "potentially saves millions" in your post. that doesn't strike me as a straight deal at all, where I only have one option?

  20. @Nils

    If you'd like a more worldly TOR story, you should try the Agent. It's a serious, mature experience that has many tough decisions to make. And frivolous decisions that can come back to bite you.

    There was a moment when I was closing out Chapter 1 that I agonized over a decision for 20 minutes. I kept moving my mouse around so I wouldn't time out but I had to get up, walk around, think things through. Then I made my choice and instantly despised myself; though it was the 'correct' choice to make for the Empire, it made me feel like a scumbag. I still think about it today.

    I think the Imperial Agent would fit you nicely, especially given your moral leanings. Give it a shot.

  21. Syl, the reason governments don't go along is that they consider the consequences. Giving in would encourage more kidnapping.

    About active and passive - that must not make a difference. *searching for words*.
    The decision to not do something is also a decision. You can't stay innocent just because you didn't do something. That's the reason I mentioned the button-example.

    Whether somebody else cuts the throat or you do it has to be irrelevant from a moral point of view. Sure, it's makes you feel more guilty, your hands are covered with blood and you'll get more nightmares than from the few million children starving at the other side of the planet which you never vitit.

    But that's your problem. Not the problem of the victim.

    I think I'll try to break the next level in SW:TOR now.
    Good night everybody :)

  22. "The decision to not do something is also a decision."

    While I agree on that in essence, it depends on context, too. and it's it's not about 'personal guilt issues' for me.
    the way you're presenting this, it's basically a complete shift of responsibility/blame to the one that is coerced into making decisions (I would argue a war general isn't coerced btw). it's a bit of a dangerous path - we can play this scenario out so you'll find yourself in a situation where you can be "forced" to kill people constantly, in the name of saving more than you killed.

    a lot of harm has been done in history by people with such beliefs? I guess you envision the straightforward noble martyr, but I am highly skeptical of martyrdom. in any case, calling this a clear or easy call is grandiose. :) and I could easily add further complications to this scenario.

    what you have thus far completely ignored in your utilitarian approach (which I have too, most do) btw, is the role of 'justice'. it can affect moral decisions majorly within the 'number game'. I found a nice write-up on it, just in case:

    Especially see the paragraphs on different Utilitarian views and basic problems with Utilitarianism.

    Happy SWTOR-ing; may the force be with you! ;)

  23. Ah yes indeed. It is part of the VERY OLD Jedi Code. Not the current one. Since this game is based in olden times, it would make sense to get the documents. However, many of the players are beholden to the current Jedi and the current Jedi Code, which means, save the girl ...

  24. I think the direct analogy is with a possible cure for cancer. You have a cure for cancer and (consistent with the construct presented in Nils' example) you absolutely know that it works. Do you administer it to one person, and lose it forever, or do you submit it for research in the hope that it can be replicated and used to cure cancer in mankind?

    That seems a very direct parallel with the screenshot Nils has described. I think most Western democratic codes would view using the cure for cancer for one dearly-loved person, and losing it forever with no hope of recreating it, as selfish.

    The modern version of the hippocratic oath says that "I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow." (source: 1964, Dr. Louis Lasagna). I think one could argue that the destruction of knowledge (holocrons) would be contrary to the hippocratic oath, which is another real-world example. I think the scientific community would look ill upon someone who destroyed knowledge for the sake of treating a single and dearly-loved patient.

    Finally, I think that several commentors are being downright disingenuous in saying that the jedi holocrons might not have a benefit (i.e. that the benefit from saving them is unknown). These are the jedi records of medicine, the only ones surviving. It seems a near-certainty that the sum-total of knowledge of the jedi on medicine would save more than one life. Remember that in-game all the records are lost (that's why you get to go find them).

    But this is a moral maze. These are only musings.

  25. Cornered by Syl and Targeter, are you Nils?

    Observing all points of view, I have to agree with their assessment. Targeters analogy of the child and the cliff is also the perspective I share with regards to the quest in your article. In any case, the whole debate unfortunately disproves your point about the story-telling and quest options here. It would appear they are interesting choices afterall.

    I'm enjoying your reviews of the game so far. I'm finding it hard to keep playing--its not very fun to me, very bland, boring, and rehashed.

  26. The Joker scenario was different in that the people were weighing their own lives vs. those of others, a situation in which we are supposed to be selfless. In the information scenario, it is Nils weighing the lives, so selfishness is not the factor to consider.

    Maybe this post can add something to the debate.
    The old runaway cable car

    @Syl: "but if there's a chance to kill none"
    Gambling with lives doesn't seem very moral.

  27. @Nils
    If a man comes into your office with a gun and tells you to either choke one of your coworkers to death or he'll shoot everyone what do you do?

  28. @Kleps

    well, if there's a chance that means I can't be sure - and that is a gamble too? okay, smaller vs bigger gamble - yet, it's all morally questionable, no matter what you choose. it's "clearer" when it's 'certain', but that wasn't what you quoted me on. :P

    the cable car scenario works in it's singular, constructed situation, where immediate consequences can be predicted and there's no greater moral consequence or indirect backlash. also only works if you actually are free from say religious beliefs such as that you can never under any circumstance deal out death (y'know eternal damnation). you're assuming one type of player.

    in life, we can only ever work with the truths we are given (and: perceive) and the assumptions we base thereon. it's a dangerous man who finds right solutions easily or quickly when there are no right solutions.
    which also brings me back to the concept of justice. I don't think there can be clear answers here in general, maybe not even better and worse ones. I agree that inaction is not a carte blanche, but likewise inaction can be as good/bad or better if the consequences are almost impossible to calculate (the lesser evil is rarely so clear). which they are more often than not in a RL scenario. it takes courage to act and be the bad guy (basic leadership crux), but it can also take courage to reign in your initial impulses to deal out life and death. and no, I won't quote Gandalf now! :D but that famous movie line brings the interesting notion of "who deserves life/death" to the table and longterm consequence (such as that Gollum was 'needed' to fulfill a task). in THEORY I expect you to chicken out here, talk about self-righteousness and that we cannot judge lives and should therefore stick to numbers. fair enough, but answer this: how is quantifying lives "more moral" than qualifying? it isn't. it's easier, that's all.
    moral is an entirely different question - and I can easily construct an entire moral viewpoint that is based on qualifying lives. in fact, we do this nonstop ("let the old/bad/sick guy die, not the baby") and so does our legal system to some extent. which plays into the big issue of utilitarianism vs. justice in the article I linked before.

    fair point about the joker analogy - but then I said that I found it interesting because of its added uncertainties. ;)

  29. @groovedaddy
    you do not kill your coworker.
    It is the shooters decision whether or not he kills everyone. not yours.
    It is his responsibility. It is his karma.
    If you kill your coworker you are a murderer.
    (unless the coworker volunteers his life willingly)
    that's my take anyway.

  30. As others are attempting to point out, what you are experiencing is not a flaw with Bioware's choices, but the underlying idiocy of the Jedi Code itself. It will always be a Dark Side choice to kill 1 person to save 1,000,000 others. "The needs of the many outweighs the needs of the few" is Utilitarianism, not Light Side. Utilitarianism would happily justify sterilizing the mentally ill, using prisoners and the homeless for human experiments in cancer (etc) research, or even killing you if it benefits just two other people.

    Utilitarianism makes intuitive sense to most people up to a point, and said point is typically subjective and arbitrary.

    Jedis do NOT adhere to Utilitarianism. The Jedi Code is Kant in space, merrily telling the axe murderer where their friend is hiding because lying is wrong in every circumstance, always.

    Under the Jedi code you are, of course, allowed to kill those fighting you instead of simply maiming/disabling them because this shit never made sense outside George Lucas's addled mind. Which is exactly why you never seen any of the movies treat it with any modicum of seriousness - Luke should have never went back to save Leia or Han or any of them. Friendships are passion, and Jedi are not allowed to have human emotion.

    The Jedi Code is the quintessential example of Lawful Stupid.

  31. @Azuriel

    Lawful Stupid is simply CLASSIC. I'm stealing it!

  32. Honestly, this is a difficult set of comments parse.

    The majority of people are presenting different moral dilemmas to the one on offer.

    People are presenting moral choices such as, would you murder one person, to save many. Pacifism and other creeds say it is wrong to murder anyone. Utilitarianism says it is right. No-one can really win that debate.

    The moral choice here is different. Would you destroy a body of knowledge that will save millions, to save a single person.

    Debating whether you would press one button to kill one person or leave it to kill two, or allow a murderer to choke one person, to save twenty, is introducing emotive issues.

    There is no need for an analogy so vague. We can use the direct analogy that pertains to the direct choice on offer in Nils example. Would you condone someone that proposed to destroy the body of Western knowledge about medicine (the jedi holocrons) denying it to the world, in order to save one dearly loved person (a mentor). This is the dilemma. If one patient in a hospital needs a dose of anti-rads so large it will use up the entire supply (the holocrons) that all other patients suffering from radiation sickness will die (there are no holocrons left to help millions of others), is it morally right for a person to take all the anti-rads for a loved one, and deny everyone else's loved one? Furthermore, in the direct example given, the holocrons do not even BELONG to the player character, they are the property of the jedi library if they belong to anyone.

    I think if people answer the direct dilemma on offer, Nils is right. Whether Nils is right about some pacifism versus utilitarianism debate is impossible to determine. Luckily, we are not discussing buttons or murderers or babies on cliffs. We are discussing quite a different situation!

    I guess it's good though that the debate didn't get TOO heated. I've seen pacifism versus utilitarianism debates go berserk - to no good purpose!

  33. Two people are dying of kidney disease and need immediate treatment, but would be saved if one healthy person was killed in order to donate the kidneys. Would you grab someone off the street and carry out the operation on them?

    What difference would it make if their were a million people dying of kidney disease rather than two and killing one person would still do the trick?

  34. @Boxer
    An engaged debate is not a heated debate. :) not in my books, anyway - it's quite interesting if topics go that way, even if somewhat offtopic (happens more often on Nils blog somehow?). also, keep in mind few here have been commenters on each others blogs for a while.

    you're very right that most examples are different and stuff is getting mixed up. I don't know the original quest except for the way Nils paraphrased it and its screenshot. from that context alone I could understand why killing the individual is considered dark.

  35. Hi Nils

    I'm a big fan of your blog; it's on of the few I read as RSS. However, I think you need to take a step back.

    I understand that you don't think much of SW:TOR. I understand that it's not meeting up to your expectations, whatever those might be. I'm also not playing it, for a veriety of reasons; however there are a lot or people who are playing it, and are enjoying it, and do think it's the best thing in a long time.

    They might be right, they might be wrong, they might all change their mind after their first month sub expires - however, jumping up and down and yelling "This is not the game you think it is!" is *not* going to convince anyone, and is *not* doing you any favours.

    This is not Soylent Green, and those people enjoying SW:TOR are not eating people - so you'd be better advised to take a step back, accept that other people are currently enjoying a game you don't like.

    Your histrionics don't make your arguments stronger; they make them weaker - and while this is your blog and you can write what you like, I come here because I like the quality of the arguments, even when I don't agree with them. At the moment, the quality of your SW:TOR arguments are greatly diminished by the tone you've chosen to adopt.

  36. Thanks, Seanas. I actually agree.

  37. A jedi story is structured to be the peacekeeper of the galaxy, the enforcer of law and order. Put simply, they are a copper, a bobby, a policeman, not spies, not agents, not people with the bigger picutre, thats the councils decision, not yours. A copper is faced with the a burning pit and a young lady in the pit. Save the girl or save the suitcase with documents in it. For a policeman, a peacekeeper, its not even a choice - save the girl. Thats clearly the light side choice. Its the right thing to do. It might not be the correct thing, but it's right. You deal with the issue in front of you, not what might be.

  38. I fear the biggest problem when discussing this is that people don't agree on the actual scenario.

    The problem is that clear 100% scenarios are very rare in real life and that's why "saving" the girl I see now, instead of millions I don't see later is so problematic. In real life you can usually come up with some reason to think that there might be a way to rescue everybody. Only in theoretical situations - like in computer games - is it often the obviously right decision to do the non-intuitive.

    I'm still a bit shocked that so many commenters think that saving the girl in the scenario is the right thing to do. But that's one more reason to buy the game and play it up to this point. It's easily worth those 50 euros; if only for the 8 different level 1-10 stories.

  39. This is a classic dilemma that can be expressed in many ways (as in my organ transplant example). It has been used to test the idea that humans have an innate moral intuition and that it is the same regardless of what culture you come from.

    It turns that most people's intuition is that you shouldn't take actions that you know will result in harm to others even if doing nothing will most likely cause greater harm.

    Anyway, would you really sacrifice your girlfriend/wife/mum for any number of strangers? and if not why should you think it more moral to sacrifice someone less close to you?

  40. There's a big difference between doing something and thinking it is the right thing to do, Roq.

    Do I think that sitting in front of this computer and writing a comment is what I should do, even though I could just as well get on a flight to some poor country and help educate children? No.
    And yet I do it.

    The same with the girlfriend example.

  41. But, there isn't some ultimate moral code by which the morality of your actions gets judged. So who's to say you were morally "wrong" when you saved your girl friend? and who wouldn't do likewise?

    I'd feel very uncomfortable with a friend who didn't put my welfare ahead of a bunch of strangers and consider him/her to be morally suspect according to my moral standards.

  42. So, just out of curiosity: has any little quest in RIFT ever sparked such a fine utilitarian versus deontological debate on your blog?

    Forgive me for stating this, but that title is simply petty. There are multiple ways in which RIFT could be considered better than SW:TOR (more interesting talent system, some attempt at sandbox 'world impacting' events) but story is not one of them.

    "I have a task for an Ascended: kill ten boars," indeed.

  43. No objection from me, Rift is a better game in every way.

    I really don't know how long it's going to take gamers to realize the emperor has no clothes, but seriously, if this game wasn't Star Wars, it would have 50k subscribers and be considered a joke.

  44. @Numtini

    While you are definitely entitled to have your opinion and share it in an open manner ...

    ... I cannot find the words to voice how incredibly wrong your comment is, at least to me. TOR will enjoy continued success; while it probably won't topple WoW, it does present a refined, polished experience with heart, emotion, and story. To each their own however. Have fun in Telara.

  45. I agree with Nils that many of the stories don't make much sense, when viewed as a whole. IMOP Bioware did a lot better in previous games, such as Baldur's Gate, Dragon Age 1 & Mass Effect. Here, they seem to have used a collection of stock plots without bothering that much about their consistency. For instance in one scene you might be attacked by an NPC and have to kill all his followers, then in a subsequent scene you end up training him as a Jedi...

    That's definately a strike on the negative side of ledger for me, as well, but it doesn't on it's own condemn the whole game. What's more important than the consistency of the story arcs is that each individual scene adds atmosphere and makes the game world seem much more alive than it would be otherwise.

    As to whether TOR is "better" than Rift or vice-versa, that's personal taste. But for me Rift's world and lore was too bland and generic to sustain any kind of immersion in it, whereas Bioware have made an interesting world, even if it's not totally consistent.

  46. I agree with Nils that many of the stories don't make much sense, when viewed as a whole. [...] For instance in one scene you might be attacked by an NPC and have to kill all his followers, then in a subsequent scene you end up training him as a Jedi...

    That is 100% consistent within the lore of the Jedi Code.

    I have to wonder how many people take umbrage with the actual setting of Star Wars without realizing it, compared to legitimate complaints about the stories/plot. It would be one thing to complain, as I did, about how having sex with an alien to stop him from blowing your cover as an Imperial Agent somehow led to Light Side points (and refusing led to Dark Side!). I was flirting with him at the time, so perhaps blue balls lead to Anger, Hate, and Suffering.

    But this other stuff? Take it up with Lucas. Helping someone in front of you at the expense of other people you can't see is classical Jedi; Emperor Palpatine could have repented at the last second and been fully accepted as a Jedi, pardoned of all crimes.

    I was not kidding when I said "Kant in space." Browse the Categorical Imperative. It's basically the Jedi Code, minus the midi-chlorians.

  47. "Take it up with Lucas"

    Not sure that Lucas can be held up as a paragon of excellent or consistent story telling :). That scene in TESB where Luke takes his tie fighter to another solar system really got my goat - What's the use, one might ask, of all those mega starships if you can buzz around the universe in a tie fighter?

  48. That was an X-Wing! And the point of capital ships is firepower, transportation, and not dying from a single stray shot. Your question is like asking why we have destroyers when we have planes that can fly around the world. They fill different roles.

  49. @Klepsokovik - Ah, I see. So maybe we should mount the next expedition to Mars in a microlight? After all it's probably uninhabited and so we won't need all that firepower.

  50. I read through the comments and since I don't have the game I'm not sure what it actually says.

    Does it actually say that millions WILL die within a certain time period UNLESS you grab the knowledge?

    See that's the central issue. Nils's argument is based on the fact that millions WILL die. While Targeter and Syl say that there is only a POSSIBILITY that millions will die.

    What no one clarified is what the game actually says. Does the game give the death toll and the possibilty percentage of it?

    If you want a completely emotionless decision you need to know all the facts. In the argument so far these facts were not stipulated and the posts so far indicates that both sides are using different facts.

  51. Hi Nils.
    Good blog, never posted before so feel I need to say that.

    So this scenario in SWTOR I have actually played myself. And although I dont claim to be a star wars font of knowledge, I have read a load of the extended universe books and know a bit about how the jedi morality works.

    In this case, I think BW got the light/dark choice exactly dead on right in this scenario.

    According to the cannon, a jedi sacrificing a person now to maybe save more later is on the path to the dark side.
    Jedi are forbidden from doing that, and must base all decisions on the now, not any perceived possible future.

    Star Wars EU spoiler alert:

    For example, a very similar scenario was presented to Jacen Solo and was instumental on setting him onto the path to the dark side.
    First he had to sacrifice one person with a bomb on him to save potentially thouands in a city.
    Then he had to sacrifice 10 people in order to save 100.
    These were engineered by a Sith in order to turn him.
    Eventually, every decision he made he was balancing out against the greater good. Including trying to become the next emperor (and necessarily destroying the Jedi order to do it) in order to save the galaxy from another civil war etc.
    His motives were always good, but his path led to the dark side.

    Its an interesting philosophical question actually.
    The Sith, from this point of view, are not actually evil. They do whatever is necessary for the greater good. A Jedi will not, which the Sith would argue makes the jedi evil.

    Basically, what you have to remember is Jedi morality and normal morality are not always the same. But BW nailed it here imho.

    And the fact we are debating this philosophical pov says a lot for the game story.

  52. Didn't Yoda once say;

    "Difficult the future is to see."

    As for the other scenarios presented here can we treat them as Kirk did in his Kobayashi Maru test and change the parameters so both are saved?

  53. I'd argue that neither choice is morally evil. You would have to be killing someone to be morally evil. Not saving a person or group is not the same as killing them. So making a decision to save either means you are in the "good". The closest to an "evil" decision would be to walk away and tell both groups to rot in hell.

  54. Oh behave!

    In any real life situation where you have to choose between a person you know and people you don't know you ALWAYS choose the person you know.

    There's nothing more to it than that.