beef slider

given the current state of The Discourse, I’m … actually kind of glad Planescape: Torment came out 15+ years ago and isn’t getting a re-release ever.

PST is a game where you can do terrible things. Sell your friends into slavery! Learn their darkest fears, and use them against them! Betray your closest friends for petty reasons! Literally murder the only person who cares for you unconditionally!

The game is also pretty unambiguous about the fact that doing any of those things makes you a horrible person. It’s one of the few games where I don’t have a beef with the morality slider, because if you manage to make the slider go all the way over to Evil, you have done some seriously immoral shit. We’re talking “I unleashed a God Of Destruction Of Literal Universes, because he gave me a cool knife” levels of evil. (That’s also a thing you can do!)

And I’m really glad that the evil options exist, because they exist alongside good options, and the fact that you can choose evil makes the good options genuinely heartwarming. You can convince your friend that everything he believes is a lie - or you can help him regain his faith in himself. And it feels so much better picking the latter when you know you could have gotten ahead faster by being repugnant. I’m not a believer in Manicheanism in the general case, but I do think it makes a big difference in game design. I played Planescape: Torment and felt genuinely, defensively good about my choices. “The Practical and the Paranoid have done wrongs, and I am here to right them.” It’s good stuff!

But the Discourse this game would generate, coming out now. Where people see “you can do this thing in the game” and think “obviously the developers think this thing is fine and completely without problems”. Good Lord, am I glad I can avoid that.