One of the inevitable problems you run into whenever you try to implement a morality system in a video game, is that the player’s understanding of morality doesn’t match up with the designer’s understanding of morality. Sure, there might be a lot of overlap (e.g. don’t eat babies) but there’s such a wide grey area it makes it difficult to really take intent and effect into account.

Even then, when you try to take those things into account, you’ll wind up with a problem that the player doesn’t know whether their choice was good or bad until after they’ve made it. This creates a situation where the player can’t be proactively good or evil (or whatever) because there’s no way to judge beforehand whether their actions will have the desired impact. That just isn’t fun.

So, I had this idea for an abstract, consequence-neutral system to help determine the character of a character. (That sounds weird.) The basic idea is to give the player the option of choosing in favor of a group, making a decision based on “sense,” taking the “noble” route, choosing something that’s fair, and judging the situation based on precedent. Only a couple options are available for each decision.

Each time you make a decision, it tugs your character’s point of view in one direction, at the expense of a couple of the alternative decision-making styles. You make numerous decisions throughout the game, giving you plenty of opportunity to exercise the different decision styles. Your character can build up a reputation for choosing honor, fairness, or nobility, and rewards your decisions without judging them.

By the time you complete the game, your character may become known for a particular style of decisions, but they may be known for a balanced approach. The important point is giving the player the opportunity to see the decision they’re making, and know the consequence in advance, so they can play to the style they prefer, rather than the one the designers decided was “correct.”