“The obvious path is humble; safe. But pays the wage of a cook. Not a champion.”
—Lion Statue, Jade Empire
Jade Empire is actually the game that really got me into roleplaying and Bioware games, and this one, nearly pointless quest, in the game is what really stuck to me over the years.
You know that one quote that you completely memorize because you just love it so much? Yeah, that’s what this quote is for me.
Basically in this quest, there is a large statue of a Chinese lion that indicates a specific order in which the player has to put smaller, coloured versions of itself on a table. Once the player finishes doing this, a voice rumbles from the statue, and it goes ahead and says this.
Now Bioware uses the moral dilemma system so often that seeing it in an RPG game is considered a huge cliché now. This quote, however, is interesting in that it kind of predicts the feelings that one would have after playing a Bioware game.
In terms of Jade Empire itself, I have always chickened out when going toward the evil path (or the “Way of the Closed Fist” as they call it). I know from Star Wars and even Fable (as well as my guesses with Jade Empire) that someone – usually a very important someone – always dies.
And that is what I think when I look into quotes like this. Not necessarily that someone died (it is a game after all), but that in the end, we won’t feel quite finished because there is no solid end; something important was destroyed or someone important was killed. Hence, the player feels as if they were “paid in the wage of a cook, not a champion.”
The route to be good is also always longer with more work involved. Generally less income too, so they can’t actually buy any of the more expensive equipment that they may need. It is harder, yes, but more satisfactory. The idea that we have done more in the game gives us just a little more gratification than if we had done the easy, darker path.
And I think this can apply to real life as well: the more work we put in and the more invested we are in something, the more satisfied we feel when we finish.