I would know, I was there!

| Monday, February 21, 2011
Respawns make me sad, but perhaps they are a necessary evil for the type of gameplay and world in WoW and similar games. I can handle the idea of an instance resetting or a mob being back a minute later. But the NPCs really should stop lying.

I don't like getting kill quests for mobs that I've just killed. Oh sure, I can deal with the generic "kill ten bad things", since it makes sense that they'd want me to kill ten more bad things if they have the chance. In that case the strangeness is that they stop at only ten, when clearly there are more than ten out there to kill. My gripe is with the specific NPCs, the ones with names, unique names, NPCs who I have clearly stumbled across and killed. I would know, I was there.

Give me quest credit when I kill a named NPC, even if I'm not on the quest yet.

As for EQ2, I think it is cruel to new players. Cruel cruel cruel. I hop up and run into the world and there are these things to pick up and set traps and harvest and gather and so I pick things up and all that and next thing I have bags overflowing with No Value items, a label which is confusing all to itself, since value is such a shifting concept in a market economy. Then a quest giver tells me to practice, by picking up three of each. Or maybe five. Doesn't matter. Sir, was it really not enough? I am sorry that I did anything without your prior permission. NPCs are fascists. Yea, I said it.

Overall I enjoyed GTA: San Andreas. The story was pretty good overall, some of the missions were a lot of fun, and the characters were entertaining, even if not especially nuanced. But Sweet is a god damn liar. That's one of the fellow gang members who upon me arriving back in town sent me to go retake old gang territory. Oh sure that's fine, except I'd already taken it. All of it. Everything. Rather than recognizing this fact, the game instead flipped control back and made me retake most of the hardest areas. Don't give an open sandbox world full of possibilities if the storyline missions are going to directly contradict and undo what you've done. That's just not cool.

Of course there is always the opposite extreme of the lie, that being that I did something at some time when I clearly did not do that something at that time. I'm looking at you, Dark Brotherhood in Oblivion. So there I am cheerfully going along and carefully murdering everyone just right. I take my murder seriously. And so I am told just how to kill an important person and also don't kill his servant, so it all looks like an innocent accident. Of course, of course. Though I must wonder, why does "standing in front of an arrow" not count as an accident? But I digress. Long before this murder ever became a rewarding venture, when I instead was in the home for more directly economic reasons, also known as theft, or derivatives trading as I prefer to call it, the servant happened to take issue with my actions and in the course of solving the problem he died. Clearly this was unconnected to the later assassination, having been associated instead with an obvious burglary (this is why you use a stop-loss contract), and been so long before the assassination (which of course was just an accident anyway) that there was plenty of time to hire someone new, making it entirely useless as a way of preparing for a later murder which of course never happened and I did not commit since there was an accident instead. Alas, the bolts tragically loosened, the animal head falls and crushes the master's head and I get cheated out of my reward just because the servant died weeks ago.

Since I could not even remember having killed him (they all fade together, but I think this might have been the one which triggered my several hour running battle with a few dozen town guards and a bounty which put me in jail for a few months), I decided to work some magic, meaning cheating, and used a console command to resurrect him. Thankfully, afterward no one seemed to remember he had died. Including him. But he did seem to remember my assault on him and afterward had a habit of attacking me if I went into the town inn at the wrong time. Eventually he accidentally hit someone else while swinging at me and the guards intervened. Strange how him dying always seems to solve a problem.

But sometimes Oblivion NPCs don't lie. I was quite pleased when one day I instantly had credit for a quest. I was not sure why, having not remembered the NPC I was meant to kill. A search of the name revealed some of his occupation and a memory cue: he was rude. That rang a bell. Clearly he was the rude guy who I had run into weeks ago and murdered, because he was rude. I am a strong believer in a polite society. Why just the other day a passing guy in funny robes was rude to me so I went to rob his store. Unfortunately my plan was foiled when I realized he did not actually own the store. Even worse, I'd already cleaned it out.

If somehow you were unable to find the point, despite being short and to the point, point point point, I'd like it if quests recognized our actions before the quest is given, not merely during. Even better, they might have a consequence for actions afterward, such as if I were to let's just say, recovered a priceless artifact for someone and then steal it a few minutes later, they might complain.


Tesh said...

Agreed. I still remember the time when I waded through a field of dragon whelps in WoW, slaughtering anything that even blinked at me, only to talk to an NPC at the far side that demanded I kill ten dragon whelps. She must not have seen me coming, or the trail of carcasses in my wake.

Though the Oblivion example is even stranger indeed. There's this odd psychic omniscient network that NPCs seem to tap into, but they are mentally deficient enough not to understand or use it *except* as a set of flags that undermine the best laid plans. It's almost like the devs didn't care, or are actively hostile to players. (That it's necessary at times to hack the source data to make the game function is a sad testament to the state of the game design.)

Dwism said...

WARhammer online had this built in. you to go a hill filled with workers, soldiers and leader kobolts, you have a quest to kill 15 workers, and you know next time its the soldiers. Well, slaughter them all, and the system will remember it. That was one of my favorite things about that game

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