Am I wrong if I make my player feel like a jerk?

Yeseylon

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I'm serious, looking for a genuine philosophical discussion here.

I'm new and experimenting with RPG Maker MV, and one common thread across a lot of tips/tricks/tutorials for newcomers is to make a game you don't care about first, because you're probably gonna scrap it and start over eventually. I'm just riffing off the default materials and included tutorial right now, BUT I'm having fun with it, and I've found myself including little touches like making a shop disappear if you pick up too much stuff around town because you stole an old lady's stockpile.

Personally I'm enjoying doing weird little touches that make PCs seem like jerks, but I'm wondering how players would respond to it. So, is it a good idea? Is it a good way to include little touches that make the game unique and/or let my personality bleed through into the game? Or will it drive players away and make the game unfun?
 
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Chocopyro

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Honestly, if sprinkled a little tongue 'n cheek humor over it, that would be a lot of fun. I always kinda liked that "Deliciously Evil" play style that the old fallout games used to have, and I'm one of those guys who hates choosing evil options because I don't want to hurt the NPC's feelings.
 

Zanoth

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So far, it seems quirky as opposed to unfun. Think about it this way: if the idea reduces the ability to make MEANINGFUL decisions, then that makes it unfun.
For example: giving an arbitrary Game Over to a player, or having scripted unbeatable fights are both unfun.

As per your example, it's no worse than say, Undertale's Pacifist run requirements. If anything, the fact that your game has put a light punishment on kleptomania is more interesting than punishing.
 

Andar

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It depends on the context.

If it comes out of the blue it will probably be jarring and disturb the player, but if it fits the rest of the game and the player knows that he's playing a character that is a little rough then there should be no problem.
That goes especially if it was a player choice option that had caused some reactions before, like another NPC commenting on stealing and so on.

 

Yeseylon

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So far it hasn't been quite in your face, events you wouldn't trigger unless you were exploring every inch like that armored butt of a "hero" in your video. I did make sure to include a small hint and include a choice so the player doesn't HAVE to take the stuff, and there's a couple other odd dialogue moments around town if you're digging.

Although I am making the orc boss a little more sympathetic now, and there's no getting around killing him lol
 
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It depends on the context.

If it comes out of the blue it will probably be jarring and disturb the player, but if it fits the rest of the game and the player knows that he's playing a character that is a little rough then there should be no problem.
That goes especially if it was a player choice option that had caused some reactions before, like another NPC commenting on stealing and so on.

lol just watched that video, love it, haha,




i like the idea of having the option to be a "jerk" in a game, playing a good role all the time gets stale, sometimes that annoying brat that follows you around in oblivion just needs to die? lol or get dropped off a cliff, ~,~ several other things i may of done after he get my court stealing,
 

Ninjakillzu

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I have included the option of doing some messed up things in my cyberpunk project. It helps the player to understand that the world is a rough place where people will do heinous acts to make money, or even just for the fun of it.
 
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I have included the option of doing some messed up things in my cyberpunk project. It helps the player to understand that the world is a rough place where people will do heinous acts to make money, or even just for the fun of it.
thats just the point, in a fantasy world let alone the real world, the world is a rough place, and yes there are people that will do things just for fun, though money speaks, and everyone listens sooner or latter
 

BalticoX

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Make the player feel like a Jerk it’s definitely wrong if you want your game to be enjoyable and recommend. Don’t do it unless you want your game abandoned by players .

Making the main “character” in the game a jerk, it’s perfectly fine and have been done before with great success. I remember Leisure Suit Larry in Land of the Lounge Lizards as an awesome fun and original game.
 

Yeseylon

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Make the player feel like a Jerk it’s definitely wrong if you want your game to be enjoyable and recommend. Don’t do it unless you want your game abandoned by players .

Making the main “character” in the game a jerk, it’s perfectly fine and have been done before with great success. I remember Leisure Suit Larry in Land of the Lounge Lizards as an awesome fun and original game.
So why does that make the game unenjoyable?

Again, I'm talking small touches, not a big "you're the bad guy the whole time" slap in the face.
 

CrowStorm

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As long as I get a meaningful option to not be a jerk (and preferably a third option to be even more of a jerk) I'm down with it. I'm all about character choices in m'ROLEPLAYING games.

I mean, the character could be, by design, a jerkwad (true of a fair few of PCs I've created for my games over the years, I suppose), and that's also fine, but I don't think that's what you're asking.

Edit: By meaningful, I mean a situation where the consequences are logically linked to your actions. Like, in your example, the player should have some way to logically connect the old lady's stockpile of goods to the store and a fair chance to realize that interacting with the former might have consequences with the latter.
 

Shaz

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I would absolutely put that in! A good game allows the player to make choices, and shows them the consequences of those choices. Sometimes they regret it, when they see what happened as a result. It makes them aware that they should think about their decisions. It also adds replayability.

The third Aveyond game was actually a series of 4 smaller games. In game 1, we had an optional side quest where the player could help a kid find his missing dog ... or not. The reward was miniscule (couple of coins, or something tiny), and the decision had no impact at all on how the series ended. In game 3, we revealed the consequences of that decision. We had players heartbroken about the choice they made - some played again from the beginning just to alter their choice, and some asked for mods/hacks so they could change their choice without having to start over. Not one person, to our knowledge, "abandoned" the game/series because of it. It was definitely a talking point though.

Providing decision points where the player can make the wrong choice, and later regrets doing so, imo adds to the immersion.
 

Marquise*

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CoC was first introduced in the first iteration of the Fallout serie. You could literally make an entire town disappear if you made your choices without thinking of the consequences. Or save them. This is why Consequence of Choice games have so much replayability. ^^
 

FirestormNeos

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Giving players the options to be mustache-twirling cartoon villains generally doesn't make players feel like jerks, so by all means, go ahead.

If you really wanna make players feel like jerks, consider looking into how Spec Ops: The Line does things. ;)
 

BalticoX

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So why does that make the game unenjoyable?

Again, I'm talking small touches, not a big "you're the bad guy the whole time" slap in the face.
The thing is that your post ask about “my player” and that is what is not a good idea. The “character” on the other hand is fine.
I mean like making the player feel that they are playing the game in an incorrect way, or that the way he interacts with the game is not welcomed by the game is not a good idea since there are many personalities of gamers and the game needs to support several type of person. If because your post says “my player” and I assumed you meant the player and not the “player character” . If you mean the character then go ahead.
 

Yeseylon

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As long as I get a meaningful option to not be a jerk (and preferably a third option to be even more of a jerk) I'm down with it.
...
Like, in your example, the player should have some way to logically connect the old lady's stockpile of goods to the store and a fair chance to realize that interacting with the former might have consequences with the latter.
Yeah, the items I have linked to her store are labeled as Granny's Potions. (Don't remember the exact phrasing, but I made sure the game told you it was labeled as someone's. It's like Cabin in the Woods- it's no fun if they're not given a chance to back out.)


The thing is that your post ask about “my player” and that is what is not a good idea. The “character” on the other hand is fine.
I mean like making the player feel that they are playing the game in an incorrect way, or that the way he interacts with the game is not welcomed by the game is not a good idea since there are many personalities of gamers and the game needs to support several type of person. If because your post says “my player” and I assumed you meant the player and not the “player character” . If you mean the character then go ahead.
It's not necessarily an "incorrect" way, just that their actions might screw over some of the NPCs, like the sweet little old lady in my example.
 

Aesica

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It's fun to do as long as you don't overdo it. I've done it several times in my current project, but this one is probably my favorite because (hopefully) it makes the player feel like a massive a-hole if they actually go through with it:

In one house, an elderly couple talks about how they've worked all their lives and, now that they're retired, they're looking forward to going on a cruise together. If the player takes their savings, the other party members scold the main character. If they don't put it back (because I even give them the option to) then further into the story, returning to that couple's house will have them talking about how they were robbed, and now the old man can't even afford the medicine needed to save his now-ailing wife. Returning even later in the story will reveal that she died as a result. Returning one final time will reveal that he passed away not long after from grief.

Now, on the other hand, if the player leaves the money, then they're both still alive and quite happy throughout the entire game.

There's no reward other than the looted money, which is only a slightly-above-average amount at the time, but I kind of want to data mine people's choice on this one specifically as a sort of social experiment.

So in other words, its okay to make the player/characters feel like jerks via choice, but don't force it. One of the better-written RM games I've played so far did this with the main character, and in the end, it made me kind of hate the game (especially the main character) to the point I stopped playing right around what I think was the end. I want nothing more than to just...throw the main character out of my part, but he's the one party member you can't swap out. I guess I'll go finish it eventually, but my chance of ever replaying is basically 0, even though I admit it's an overall well-done, well-polished game.

If you really want the characters to act like jerks without any player choice, make sure you advertise it so that people like me don't get frustrated to the point of regretting having gotten your game.
 

Ksi

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It depends. They don't like it much when you, using the game, call them out for being jerks and making 'bad' decisions. I did that in a game where you can cause your character to kill herself and let's just say I learned better.

If you just make them feel like jerks without actually calling them out for it, then no, it's fine. It's fine that they feel bad about a choice they made. Just don't get all meta up in their faces and say they're bad people because of it because that will only get hackles raised... ^.^;
 

Tai_MT

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This is probably not related to the "funny" aspect you'd prefer, but I'd like to relate to you one of the most powerful experiences I've ever had as a player. One I am desperately trying to emulate across my entire game.

Ever played Mass Effect 1? It's a great game. Shining example of an RPG done well. Granted, the combat and exploration are... pretty terrible, even moreso by today's standards. But, all the RPG elements? Characters, story, plot, drama, etcetera... Top notch. If you haven't played it, it's basically a Space Opera type game with a sci fi setting and a TON of fluff that fleshes out the world very well. It's got third person shooter mechanics and a level up system and a class system, and other things.

I picked up Mass Effect 1 when it first came out on the Xbox 360. I'd been following the game for a while and the "choices matter" aspect of the marketing appealed to me. I'd never played an RPG like that before. It sounded really cool.

At the time I played the game, I had zero access to the internet. There was a huge mixup with the company and they had REPEATEDLY had guys leave notices on my door that I wasn't home... when I had actually been home... and they had never even knocked to get in. I got 3 months of free internet out of the deal, since I angrily called them later about it. But, that's not the point. The point is that I didn't have cable. I didn't have a phone. I didn't have the internet.

So, I was doing something few people do today. I was playing a game 100% blind. I had no way to look up anything.

I got invested in the story and the characters and the world. I was having a lot of fun in the game.

There comes a point in the game where you need to make a choice. A choice of who lives and who dies. You need to sacrifice one of your squadmates.

This was my first run of the game. I'd been able to save everyone and make all the best choices in the game up to this point. I'd played very carefully and used my charisma checks to solve every problem up to this point.

But, no matter what I picked at this point, someone died. I thought I had made a wrong decision somewhere. Was I not doing this right? There just had to be a way to save everyone! The game let me save everyone so far! No way would a game ask me to pick a party member of mine to lose forever.

I spent several hours trying all kinds of things to save everyone. I couldn't manage it. Eventually, I decided that the way to do it must be hidden somewhere. I'd tripped some sort of event somewhere that meant the situation was "unwinnable" in the way I wanted to do it. The game's achievements hinted at a "New Game Plus" mode, so I banked on that. I'll make my choice here to get the "Romance someone" achievement, and on a second playthrough, maybe when I had the internet again, look up how to save everyone.

So, I saved the female squad member instead of the male one in order to secure an achievement. I did also like her a lot more than the other squad member, but I wanted to get 100% completion of the achievement list with as few runs of the game as possible.

So, the mission proceeds, the other squad member goes out in a blaze of glory, massive bomb detonates, kills them, the rest of us escape... crisis of the galaxy momentarily averted!

And then there was the after-action dialogue. Everyone sits down after the event and we discuss it. This was somewhat common in the game. A round table discussion with the entire party about the mission. A debriefing, essentially.

It was here, that my squadmate called me out on my BS.

She wanted to know, genuinely, if I'd picked to save her just because we were romantically involved. She wanted to know if that's the only reason I'd saved her.

The choice wheel popped up and there was no good option to pick here. How do I clear this? All I could offer was an excuse that somewhat covered my mindset in saving her.

Yes, I'd picked her because I wanted the achievement. I picked her because I'd been romancing her.

Here she was, telling me that doing that made her feel like she hadn't been worth saving. That the only reason I hadn't sacrificed her, was because I loved her.

I could offer nothing contrary to that viewpoint. The responses I gave were all hollow excuses or weak justifications.

But, that's all I had, as a player. I was playing a game. None of this was real. I just did a meta-game thing to optimize my playing.

And an NPC was asserting she had feelings over me doing that. She was telling me she knew 100% why I did what I did, and did not appreciate that. She was telling me that she was not going to be romantic with me for quite a while because of that decision. I had saved her and it had personally hurt her.

I hurt an NPC. Think about that for a second. She's just an NPC. She only does what she's programmed to do. The devs knew in advance of my decision all the reasons I'd make that decision. And, that decision, made sense from a story standpoint as well. It had story consequences.

That NPC who'd I'd thought of as a set of goalposts for most of the game, made me feel guilty. I'd romanced her 'cause I liked her the best of the two options I had available. I could tolerate her character and voice the most of what was available. I could pretend for a little while that I was actually trying to romance a real person like that. But, she was always just an NPC. A set of mechanics. A set of dialogue options. A goal for an achievement.

But, she'd made me feel guilty. She made me feel guilty for picking her to get an achievement. She wasn't even cruel about it. She didn't blame me for anything. She just saw the reason I'd done what I did, and it made her feel less of a person. Made her feel less valued. What response do you even give to that to "make it all better" that won't feel shallow and hollow? If I could've written in my own response, could I have even done better than what I was given? I couldn't think of a way to fix what I'd broken in her.

Then, a realization. I was treating her like a person. I was suddenly treating the game as if it were real. I had a real moment of actual immersion in a video game. This never happens to me. I am pretty much always aware that I am playing a video game. There is a best option to always be had (or at least a "least terrible" option). There is always an optimal way to play. There's a way to save everyone. There's a way to make everyone happy.

I felt at the lowest when I was told I hurt my squadmates' feelings. How could that even happen? This is a video game! Why did I care? The game designers would let me fix it later, or it was meant to happen with the romance, and I'd still get the achievement. I mean, it was stupid to not let me. All of this was programmed in. It's the railroad, and I cannot deviate.

But, I was reconsidering my choices. Reconsidering why I'd picked her over the other squadmate. Wondering if there was a way to fix it, or at least make me seem like not so much of a terrible person for my shallow decision. I was acting as if the world were real. Treating the situation as if I'd just committed it in my personal life and was trying to find a way back from the social horror of such a mistake.

There was no way back. I was on rails. Eventually, she comes around to accept whatever answer you've given her. No matter how shallow or stupid it was.

But, it made me immersed. That moment was the most profound thing I've ever experienced in a video game... before or since.

All the game did, was tell me I was a jerk for choosing something for the reasons I chose it.

That's all.

Oh, and in case you haven't played Mass Effect 1... No, there's no way to save them both. Someone has to die there. No matter who you pick, you are given this guilt trip. Whether you do it for love or just personal preference, or just expediency.

That moment taught me something important about video games. Something I want to emulate. That is, if you force the player into making a decision, and make them own that decision, there's a larger investment in it. There's a larger investment in the consequences. Especially if the game says, "What did you expect to happen when you made this choice for this reason?". When the game directly questions your motivations as a player and shows you the consequences of those motivations in a way that paints your meta-gaming as terrible, heartless, and short-sighted... The player cares more about them. They have a higher chance of being immersed.

No other Mass Effect game managed to capture this same moment for me again. I played them all "blind" to see if I'd get the same moment again. I didn't. In the thousands of hours I poured into the entire trilogy... It had hit me just once. Immersed me just once.

As a result, it has changed the way I think about "player choice" when designing a game. It is less effective to give the player choices and more effective to make the player own those choices and try to justify them repeatedly. It isn't important to let the player save everyone, make everyone happy, and get the best ending. It's important that the player has to reflect on choices they've made. That they have to consider that they maybe made the wrong one in the heat of the moment. Owning those choices builds immersion. It is even more important that there are no "right answers" when you present the player a choice.

If you tell your player they are a jerk, it needs to be because they made that decision themselves. They made it, not because they're trying for an "evil" playthrough, but because it made the most sense to do at the time. They were caught up in the moment. They have to wonder how it might've played out differently if they'd made a different decision. Would it have better?

In my own game, those are the choices I want the player to make. There's no right answer. Every answer is equally terrible. The game isn't about saving everyone and causing the least amount of misery. It's about players choosing things that they can live with. Can you live with the choices you make? Especially when you are the one making them for the character? Could you live with yourself if you chose to save your family when it meant condemning 20 other families to a worse fate? Could you live with saving those 20 other families when it means your own family has to die in a horrific way? There's no right answer. No way to win. Only "what decision could I live with?".

Personally, I think choices presented in this way have a greater impact on a player. Living with consequences that stretch the entirety of the game. They aren't forgotten after 20 minutes of gameplay. They keep resurfacing. Hours later, they come back and haunt you.

Making choices in video games is powerful stuff. Or, it can be. As long as those choices are not superficial and have no impact beyond the immediate gameplay.
 

Yeseylon

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@Tai_MT I did play a chunk of Mass Effect 1, and it sounds like we made the same choice, although I did it because he didn't really fit into my party composition and she did (I tried to play pure practicality, like a career soldier/spec ops man would). I'm nowhere near ready to build that level of depth into my games, but yeah, that's probably my eventual goal a few years from now.

(Also, I've been actively trying to play blind for about a decade now, games just feel more fun to me that way.)
 

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