Grey morality questions


#1

I’m writing a visual novel about AIs (artificial intelligence) going rogue. I’ve included choices where the MC can side with AIs or humans. Regardless of these choices, the MC has to team up with an AI and defeat an antagonist who wants to harm both sides. I’ve tried to write both sides without bias, but I’m really only interested in writing the pro-AI side.

Do you think it would be annoying or preachy if you couldn’t choose your side? For example, do you think Dragon Age Inquisition would suck if you couldn’t choose who you want to side with? I thought having the freedom of choice made the game much more satisfying, even though the choices were always extremely easy for me.

However, there already are a lot of games where you can kick robots’ ass, so I thought that if someone wants to be Team Human, they can go play almost any other sci-fi game. Including two sides seems to be making the story more diluted, because I always have to consider what would two different “versions” of the MC do. It also messes with the continuity, because the MC has to get along with the secondary protagonist (an AI) so that the plot can progress. I’m also worried that the Team Human version of the MC is a laughable straw man.

The supporting characters are morally grey, though. One of the ROs is completely Team Human, one is neutral leaning Team AI, one thinks both sides are full of buffoons, and one is starts out Team Human and becomes Team AI. I think they all have good reasons for their opinions. However, I’m worried that the game might become a soapbox for my love for AIs :heart_eyes: if I let the MC only have one opinion. Yet there are a ton of regular, linear books that aren’t considered preachy, even though they have a message about something. What makes them sound non-preachy?


#2

Simply put write the story your way first and foremost. Trying to force yourself to write something you don’t care for will not end well. Instead of forcing one side have all of your choices effect the AI side of the struggle rather than wrestling with both. Dragon age was one sided to be honest there were no real drastic changes to your choice game play wise and you still followed the same path regardless of your choice it’s deceptively linear. So it may be a bad choice to measure against that. Though the little variable flourishes of character arcs was nice very few things took a radically different direction.


#3

I agree with Snoe. Pick your story and write it :).
If you want the mc to have to choose the AI side, engineer a reason why they have to. (Whether it’s backstory stuff that will make them sympathetic to AI) or maybe they’re on the run from the government for crimes or because they were believed to be in league with the AI (rightly or wrongly to start) etc. I’d personally make it clear from the early on that’s where you’re headed. You’ll probably get complaints if you publish it and present it as a conflict story, but then railroad players onto a single track or even worse give them options to side with the humans but then get preachy about it and force them back to the AI side or make any options to do that have a bad end soon after. Anyway, good luck with it.


#4

I’d much rather play the game you want to write. If you just want to tell the story of the AIs, then just tell that story. Don’t dilute your vision by trying to write an entirely different game alongside it.

If you want to provide the choice, better to have the choice be what your motivations are for helping them. Be it selfishness, hope of a reward, altruism, being blackmailed or whatever. And throw in a choice to betray them near the end if you really want. There’s still plenty of room for freedom of choice.

Are there no Team AI romances?

Write what you love. Write what you’re passionate about. Tell the story you want to and don’t worry about the rest of us. If you love it, we’ll love it.


#5

I found this advice really encouraging for my own game as well. It’s so true in music—love it, and the audience will love it—but somehow I tend to forget that when I’m writing. Thank you, and thanks @Lavender for bringing up your question in the first place.

@Lavender, I absolutely hear you with the idea of ‘plenty of other games allow for X already, and really, I just want to write Y’. That’s how my own games usually end up starting out.

I agree with the others go for it! I think it sounds like an amazing VN and I hope you’ll link all of us here when you’re at that stage in the game (so to speak).


#6

Unless there’s obvious reason why the MC should be Team AI, being unable to choose the side of Human / AI will raise me an eyebrow.

Generally speaking, you have to plant the idea of “You’re pro-AI. And you hate Human” before the scene where the MC take side. This way, the player can enjoy the story without questioning “Why can’t I be pro-Human?”

If you give the player choice to side either Human/AI, but bring them later to AI side, in can be quite annoying to me. Unless, of course there’s an acceptable logical reason to do it.


#7

Thanks for everyone’s responses! I’m surprised that so many people think it’s not necessary to write both sides. This gives me confidence to write what I want to write :slight_smile:

I’ve slightly neglected the MC’s motivations, because I’ve focused so much on the ROs. Thanks for reminding me to give the MC better reasons for his actions. The MC is saved from a life-threatening situation by an AI, but it happens relatively late in the story, so I should probably give him another reason earlier. There’s also a reason related to his backstory, but it also appears too late to be the main motivation because of amnesia :sweat_smile:

The character who changes from Team Human to Team AI is Team Human only before meeting the MC, so I think the character counts as a Team AI romance.

I think I’ll add some options for the MC’s motivation, if I end up removing the Team Human option. I’ll at least add a selfish option (wanting to join “the singularity”) and an altruistic option (wanting everyone to just live in peace). There’s a character who is already pressuring the MC, but I’m not sure if I’ll expand the blackmail motivation.

Thanks! The first draft of the story is actually almost ready, but I want to make some changes to it. None of the art is ready yet, because I keep redrawing it :flushed: My (optimistic) estimate is that it’ll take half a year to finish the VN.


#8

Any reason why the AI would allow humans to side with them? It’s pretty common consensus in this type of fiction that AI hates humans, or is at the very least indifferent to them.


#9

You could write it where there’s benefits to both, so you don’t burn yourself too much on it? Sure, one side might be worse than the other, but you have to have a legitimate reason for the MC to go with the other side, right? You could even delve into the idea of a double agent sort of deal.