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Brian Heins talks about Tyranny and the nature of evil at PCGamesN

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Brian Heins talks about Tyranny and the nature of evil at PCGamesN

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Fri 8 April 2016, 14:55:46

Tags: Brian Heins; Obsidian Entertainment; Tyranny

There hasn't been any major news about Obsidian's upcoming Tyranny since the game was officially announced at GDC last month, so for now we must subsist on a trickle of interviews that flesh out what we already know about it. The latest of these is an interview with project director Brian Heins over at PCGamesN, that reveals something of the nature of life under Kyros' Lawful Evil rule. Here's an excerpt:

“Kyros’ empire is a large, sprawling one that covers the known world,” Heins explains. “One person can’t directly control and micromanage everyone, so Kyros has lieutenants called Archons, people who are very powerful, and one of those Archons is your boss, who created the Fatebinders to resolve disputes between the different Archons and the groups that report to them: the armies, the mage guilds and the bureaucrats who run the empire.”

So instead of being an aimless adventurer, you’ll be an employee of the ruler of the known world, solving disputes and dishing out justice, more Judge Dredd than Bilbo Baggins. And this important role will be reflected in the quests.

“We want the quests to reflect your status in the world,” Heins says. “You’re not the one being sent to get the cat out of the tree, you’re the one that has to decide whether an entire population has to be relocated.”

And that means, thankfully, that the fetch and kill quests that fill up so many other RPGs won’t be present in Tyranny. Instead, the Fatebinder will be mediating disputes and enforcing Kyros’ will in the fringe of his empire, the last part of the world to be swallowed up by the tyrant. And being in the most distant part of the empire will make things difficult. While Kyros has ostensibly ended war and conflict by uniting the world, the region that Tyranny takes place in is still adapting to this new regime. While some welcome the structure it provides, the fact that it’s demolishing native culture and subjugating people is a bit of a sticking point for others.

While the Fatebinder may choose their own path when it comes to doing their job, and that can even involve going against Kyros’ rules, the enigmatic overlord is actually surprisingly pragmatic. Certainly his actions can be deemed cruel, but Obsidian is trying to avoid binary morality.

“Kyros cares about the law and everyone conforming to the laws and rules he’s established. Each person has a certain level of autonomy. As long as they don’t try to rebel against Kyros or try to flout the law in any way… Kyros doesn’t really care all that much about whether people individually are happy or sad, it’s more about the collective world being improved by Kyros’ law.

“There’s not much room for different opinions and voices in that, so people who don’t agree are generally unhappy, but one of the things that Fatebinders can do is they can resolve these problems and add to some level of contentment to the world while still maintaining Kyros’ law. That’s absolutely a possibility.“

While players will be free to try and make people’s lives better, they can also take on the mantle of villain. It’s not much of a leap, given that the Fatebinder has already been complicit in the conquest of the known world, a conquest that has ravaged many towns and states. But the nature of evil in Tyranny is not easily defined.

In countless RPGs, playing a villain means being an arsehole. It means extorting NPCs, murdering innocents and generally being very rude to everyone. It’s a sort of aimless evil, being bad for the sake of it. It’s possible to be a nasty creep like that in Tyranny, as well, but there’s also the potential for more nuanced villainy.

“There’s that whole notion of the ends justifying the means,” notes Heins. “It’s for the greater good, that lie people tell themselves that can justify any action. Maybe you’re doing horrific things, but it’s all for some greater good. That’s what we’re trying to do when we give players choices: they’re not cartoony black and white, good and evil.”​

As the interviewer points out, it sounds like this game is really about Tyranny in the original Greek sense of the term.

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