Friday, May 11, 2007

The Way I Game

I've been playing a lot of Oblivion lately (again) so I can mop up the last achievements for it, and a couple things have struck me about how the game works - or more appropriately, how responsive it is to me.

Doing the quests for the thief's guild, I had to (in game) steal 1000 gold worth of items. I have a feeling that I may have lost some of my readers with that statement, but if you're still there, this post was for you anyway.

So 1000 gold. In the game, you can accomplish this in any way as long as you're stealing and selling something. The most valuable things to steal are weapons and armor and such, but being me, I went a different path - I stole wine. And nothing but wine. No wine cellar in Cyrodil was safe.

But the game had no built-in mechanic to recognize my role-playing or decision-making. Not that I really expected one; I've been playing computer RPGs since Starflight, Might & Magic, and the Bard's Tale, so this isn't anything new. Part of the allure charm weakness of C-RPGs is that you kind of have to make up some of the roleplaying elements on your own - say, restricting yourself to stealing wine to complete a quest. Or making up a backstory for a hero who's really nothing more than numbers. In fact, I'll openly admit that I preferred Icewind Dale over Baldur's Gate for that reason. I liked playing with characters that I wrote a story for in my head, rather than run "my" character through some other character's background story.

But some games do have built in systems to recognize those kinds of decisions. Fallout 2 is the example that comes to mind. If a character kills a child, or robs a grave, or kills an entire town, he earns a special "perk" that makes other characters respond to him much differently.

Granted those are extreme examples, and are something that's likely within the framework of the game. And as I discussed with Seth a few days ago, it's just not feasible for game designers to adapt to every yahoo who decides "hey, I'll steal wine to complete this quest!"

But those kinds of adaptive game elements, especially in the so-called sandbox games, would certainly be awesome.

You know I mentioned Fallout 2 earlier, and Bethesda made Oblivion - and is working on Fallout 3. It's almost like there's a deeper meaning here.


1 comment:

Arch said...

The title given to one who steals lots of wine should be "pretentious drunkard."