Violence in games

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Andrew C. Plotkin

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Nov 5, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/5/95
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kv...@diku.dk (Casper Kvan Clausen) writes:
> I know I'm not the only one who's fed up with 'Violence isn't the answer to
> this one.'
>
> Why not let players do what they like, and then take the consequences?

Every extra solution takes programming time. In real life, everything
can be broken with enough effort; but if you try to implement this
you'll never finish writing your game.

I do prefer the programmer to come up with at least a good excuse.
Jigsaw is fairly good about this; you tend to get messages saying that
you're not mean enough to do that, which helps define the
protagonist's character, too.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."

Casper Kvan Clausen

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Nov 6, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/6/95
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I know I'm not the only one who's fed up with 'Violence isn't the answer to
this one.'

Why not let players do what they like, and then take the consequences?

EXAMPLES *** SPOILERS (sortta)***


E.g. in Christminster, one might kill the porter and thus be able to climb
the fence.

Sure, if the cop comes by later and sees the dead body, one might be in
trouble. But it should be possible.

Similarly, in Jigsaw, one should be able to knock out Black to prevent
himher shooting. It would be simple, yet effecient. In fact a slick way of
solving the problem.

So what's everybody's opinion?

Looking forward to a hefty discussion,
Kvan.
--
kv...@diku.dk (Casper Kvan Clausen) | Yes. Thank you, naive human. Now I can
| finish taking over the world!
|
http://www.diku.dk/students/kvan/ | - Purple Tentacle

Julian Arnold

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Nov 6, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/6/95
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Casper Kvan Clausen (kv...@diku.dk) wrote:
> I know I'm not the only one who's fed up with 'Violence isn't the answer to
> this one.'
>
> Why not let players do what they like, and then take the consequences?
>
> E.g. in Christminster, one might kill the porter and thus be able to climb
> the fence.
>
> Sure, if the cop comes by later and sees the dead body, one might be in
> trouble. But it should be possible.
>
> Similarly, in Jigsaw, one should be able to knock out Black to prevent
> himher shooting. It would be simple, yet effecient. In fact a slick way of
> solving the problem.

Well, there's a difference between arbitrary killing of animates and
arbitrary destruction of inanimates. You seem to only mean the former, so
I'll only talk about that.

In "Christminster" you are given a fairly specific character (i.e., she has a
name, she's not just a computer simulation of a generic player). Therefore,
as I think the business with smashing the window would be a ridiculous and
highly unlikely action for this person to take on a Sunday morning in a
peaceful English university town (unless she was a student too of course 8)),
I'd argue that killing the porter and then hightailing it over the wall would
be a squillion times more unlikely -- utterly daft in fact.

While I'm not arguing for "total realism" in IF, I do believe that when the
player is given such a specific character he/she should make some effort to
act in a manner in accordance with that characters persona -- i.e., "get in
character". Equally, in fact moreso, the game itself and the plot should
progress without requiring the player to take actions which the character
would not take, except in the most extreme circumstances. Therefore, not
allowing Christabel to murder the porter is entirely in keeping with my
perception of Christabel's character, and is therefore, IMO, a good thing.

"Jigsaw" is another situation though. White is not a specific character in
the sense that Christabel is, but rather more like the generic "adventurer"
of "Zork" (actually, I think, halfway between a Christabel or a Gavin Kelly
and such an "adventurer"). There is nothing about the character to make me
think, "ah, no, this person would not kill". Thus there is one less reason
to prevent me from taking such an action. My first instinct in Sarajevo was
to shoot Black and be done with it. I believe I lacked the nerve at the
crucial moment though. I could shoot either Gavrilo or Franz. Why?
Obviously if I had blown Black away the first time we met there wouldn't be
much of a game left. However, as you say, a neat solution to the immediate
problem would indeed be to do this, and let history take it's course,
unadulterated by either W or B. There is no particular reason why White, who
would have to shoot someone that day, couldn't shoot Black. Apart, that is,
from ruining the game. (White could always have conked Black on the head,
rendering him unconcious but not killing her.) In such circumstances, it
would seem logical to allow player violence.

All this being said, I think the best reason for not allowing arbitrary
killing of NPCs is to preserve the plot.
--
Jools Arnold jo...@arnod.demon.co.uk


Andrew Clover

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Nov 6, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/6/95
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Julian Arnold (jo...@arnod.demon.co.uk) wrote:

> While I'm not arguing for "total realism" in IF, I do believe that when the
> player is given such a specific character he/she should make some effort to
> act in a manner in accordance with that characters persona -- i.e., "get in
> character".

I think there should be a better reason why you can't shoot (or incapacitate)
Black - maybe you could end up getting stranded in Sarajevo, or something.

Did you ever try shooting Floyd in Planetfall? :-)

BCNU, AjC

Gareth Rees

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Nov 6, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/6/95
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Casper Kvan Clausen <kv...@diku.dk> wrote:
> E.g. in "Christminster", one might kill the porter and thus be able to
> climb the fence.

Apart from there being no fence in "Christminster", there are three
reasons why I didn't allow this.

The first reason is to make sure the player keeps in character.
Christabel is not the kind of woman who is capable of killing someone in
cold blood, especially not for such a stupid and trivial reason as
climbing the wistaria.

The second reason is plausibility. Christabel is a diminutive woman who
is quite incapable of physically harming a burly man like the porter.

The third reason is that I am not interested in writing about casual and
petty violence. (But try attacking Catharine in "Magic Toyshop"...)

--
Gareth Rees

Julian Arnold

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Nov 6, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/6/95
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Andrew Clover (es...@csv.warwick.ac.uk) wrote:
> Did you ever try shooting Floyd in Planetfall? :-)

Certainly not! That would be like wasting a jelly ted!
--
Jools Arnold jo...@arnod.demon.co.uk


Christopher E. Forman

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Nov 6, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/6/95
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Julian Arnold (jo...@arnod.demon.co.uk) wrote:
: All this being said, I think the best reason for not allowing arbitrary

: killing of NPCs is to preserve the plot.

Personally, I like letting players kill off NPC's, but adding the side
effect of having the player killed as well. "PTF" takes this approach.
It's possible to kill any of your fellow townspeople, but their screams
alert one of the others, who will immediately kill you.

Some may argue that this is only slightly better than a standard default
message, but my guess is that these are the same players who would become
irate if I simply allowed them to walk away from their murder and then
become permanently stuck in the game when they realize they need the
assistance of the character they just killed.

In any case, allowing players to kill and immediately be killed is another
method of plot preservation, but I think the choice between the two is
best left up to the author, based on his/her own perception of the main
character.

--
C.E. Forman cef...@rs6000.cmp.ilstu.edu
Read the I-F e-zine XYZZYnews, at ftp.gmd.de:/if-archive/magazines/xyzzynews!
* Interactive Fiction * Beavis and Butt-Head * The X-Files * MST3K * C/C++ *

Casper Kvan Clausen

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Nov 8, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/8/95
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myt...@agora.rdrop.com (Laurel Halbany) writes:

>Uh, in Jigsaw you're supposed to be completely smitten with Black.
>I don't know about you, but if I'm smitten enough to simply hand
>over valuable equipment to somebody (remember, you give Black
>the device without even blinking), my first impulse is
>*not* "Hit her over the head and take her stuff!"

>No, it's not a "slick" way of solving the problem--it's a totally
>out-of-character way of solving the problem, and an unnecessary one.
>Even assuming that you *could* knock out Black. You might just
>find that the name "Black" comes from the color of his/her belt
>ranking in Gojuryu...

But wouldn't you prefer knocking out someone over shooting someone?

That's the choice you're facing. I know what I'd do.

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