Moral choice has been active in gaming since people sat around a table, pretending to be someone else. Even before the dawn of video games, men and women alike got involved in role playing games on a much deeper level that what we’ve seen in the entire history of our favourite hobby, choosing their social traits to be either good, neutral or evil with variations on each to make the characters more interesting.
This has transferred to computer games too. Following on from the D&D theme, we have Neverwinter Nights and Baldur’s Gate where the same choices were active… It just didn’t work as well as portraying that morality on personal and real-life terms.
More recently, games like The Witcher, Fable and Mass Effect have tried to shape a games social dynamics around these choices. If you choose to treat people like crap, then expect to be surrounded by people who don’t readily agree with you or attack you on sight. Choose to be a paragon of virtue and the masses will trust your judgement and flock to your side when you need some assistance. But again, this only works to a certain level of reality, scripted by developers to shape the world and your character into a slightly more believable role to fit.
What Sucker Punch are aiming for is on an altogether more powerful display of these dynamics in inFamous: Second Son.
VG247 interviewed director, Nate Fox recently and he had a lot to say on the subject. Sucker Punch want players to feel immersed by the whole game, making those choices mean something than just merely what we’ve seen in the previous titles in the series. Using the story, they’ve dropped Delsin into a world where conduits are victimised due to their powers, mostly from a government agency named the Department of Unified Protection.
As in the real world, citizens have their own opinions and react to how the player composes himself and treats others. If you choose to help others, you may shape the public view to a more tolerant tone towards those with special powers. Act like a dick and you should hope to expect resistance and attacks from society. However, what Fox explains is something much deeper.
Second Son tries to emulate our world as it is, using influences of terrorism and the ordinary man’s role and feelings on the subject. A world where we’re monitored and opinions are neutered if they don’t fit with the social majority. In simple words, government and media controlled thinking that defines who we are as a people, rather than an individual and how we treat those of opposing natures. It’s Delsin’s job to shape those minds and the outcome of the story in a hopefully more grander scale than what we’ve seen before.
Using detailed facial motion capture, the choice system and what sounds like a trust/paranoia system, Sucker Punch are looking to deliver a next generation, player controlled story experience. Hopefully, the mechanic won’t pale as other games have in the past.
The one game to do this almost perfectly was Heavy Rain on the PS3, the ending formed by a multitude of cutscenes that strung together to depict how the player chose to work through the storyline and brought a convincing and satisfying ending to an exhilarating interactive experience…
Can inFamous: Second Son do the same for the action/adventure genre? I guess we’ll see on March the 21st 2014.