The man behind the PS3's next big game had some doubts when the man behind a big Xbox 360 game started talking about player morality.
Players want to be good guys.
Brian Fleming, president of Sucker Punch, the studio behind June's dark super-hero game "Infamous," didn't believe it.
He'd heard this from Peter Molyneux, the outspoken head of Lionhead Studios, who said that players of the Xbox series "Fable," tended to steer their characters toward the side of angels. Technically, they could have made their characters evil and gained just as many benefits. But Molyneux said players ultimately preferred to complete their adventure as a good person.
"I thought he was lying," Fleming told me during a demo of "Infamous" last week in San Francisco. Then Fleming saw a survey, which indicated that gamers want to save the world, that as little as 20% of players of games like these finish evil.
These are interesting findings for a person making a game called "Infamous."
Sucker Punch's open-world adventure allows the player to gain good and bad karma and earn powers associated with each. There are three tiers of good: Guardian, Champion and Hero. There are three tiers of bad: Thug, Outlaw and Infamous. The title of the game --"Infamous" -- would appear to bias the Evil path, but Fleming said the game has been built to encourage people to dabble with both life directions.
Play-testing of "Infamous" has indicated to Fleming that many gamers don't want to flip-flop their moral standing. "People blindly steer hard in one direction," he said. I suggested that they did this in order to maximize their skills in the game's good superpowers or evil superpowers. To balance that, he said, out-of-character actions in the game will net players double the standard experience points for the other moral path. A bad guy who does some good gets more credit than a good guy who just does more good. Such is life?
Fleming now believes Molyneux. He sees that players prefer to finish their games as the hero. Still, he's hoping people will play "Infamous" to both extremes.
The best way to play it, he told me, is to "play it twice."