Putting Down the Sword

As I play through Fable 3 I can’t help but wish MMO’s included more quests that question your morals and cause you to make some decisions that affect the next step of the game (It should be mentioned that the screen shot above is from LotRO, and has nothing to do with any of this, but was just a really pretty screen shot I snapped last night). What if you decided NOT to kill those 10 rats and bring them back – what if upon entering Valdoon’s lair you decided that he should be allowed to live and spared his life? Perhaps you went to Leviathan’s home only to discover that the creature was simply misunderstood.

On a deeper level it bothers me that for most games the only method you can progress as an adventurer includes slaughtering and killing. The only game that I can say this doesn’t have to be the case is EVE, where there are no “levels” and training doesn’t require you to mass kill. Where you can make a fantastic “living” in game through mining, invention, manufacturing, PI and you never have to fit a gun. You are just as valued as someone flying a destroyer and with the different types of mission givers you can still quest and not have to “pew pew”.  I gave this some thought and I think it’s one of the major reasons that this game appeals to me even though the genre itself is one I typically avoid.

Unless I want to be a crafter in a game, I’m reduced to constantly butchering the world around me which goes against the idea of “who I am” as a person. I don’t LIKE to kill things in video games. If more games could implement exploration type quests or delivery that still rewarded you as an adventurer, I’d be a lot happier. Of course I know there are a lot of downsides to these methods of leveling. There would be players who abuse the system, etc. If it were that easy to implement I’m sure more companies would at least try.

I suppose my major issue comes from the fact that unless I AM slaughtering creatures, in MOST games I’m under valued. In EQ2 the “top” (I use that term loosely) players are raiders (ie: killing). In WoW the same. In pretty much every single game I can think of (aside from EVE) the “top dogs” of the game are all those who kill. In order to get the “best” gear you must smite those foes in your way.Rar.

Call me a care bear if you want but I think there’s a lot more to me (and my characters) then the weapons they wield and the creatures they have felled. It’s just a shame that the majority of the games I play don’t seem to recognize that.

13 Responses to Putting Down the Sword

  1. Dril says:

    Which is why I’m desperately looking for a full 3D, combat possible MMO where everything is controlled by player politics. If combat could be resolved through diplomacy but always tense and always with real people it would be so very very rewarding.

  2. Lishian says:

    It would be cool if EQ2 let us have tradeskill AA, a trader kind of class and maybe allow us to level more than one tradeskill.

  3. Lishian says:

    There was a mud that i played a long time ago where you could play a “Trader” class (and it’s set in a fantasy setting). All you needed to do was travel across the lands and deliver packages. It’s a little more in depth than that, but you get the gist. This was an interesting class! You still had to raise some combat oriented skills to level though, but not much. The mud was called DragonRealms.

  4. Niall says:

    Well, they are called massive multiplayer online ROLEPLAYING games. If your focus is on progression of leveling for stats and loot in order to become ‘top end’ then I see your point.

    But what if your focus is on fame or noteriety by *other* means? A sage, (someone who knows the history and lore of the game much more intimately than their fellow players) a bard, (someone who can tell a good story or a clever riddle or recite an epic poem in a tavern), an author, a craftsman or inventor, an architect or home designer, the warden of a particular wood, a prophet, perhaps even a pacifist. All are possible at low levels, all are rewarding, all may bring you (the player) notoriety within your community, and all require a minimum of violence. Your character will be considered ‘top end’ too by your fellow players, but measured by a different yardstick.

    Like everything else though, you will not gain that acclaim without long, (often lonely), hours of effort until others first notice you and eventually seek you out.

    I remember a few years ago there was a player in EQ2 in Freeport. He was on a crusade to get the Overlord to clean up the pigeon poop in Freeport. He would rant and rave (in character) like a prophet of doom on a New York sidewalk shouting out his hatred for pigeons, He would approach any and all players with a petition for them to sign, and regail you about the danger of the pigeons. Eventually he became such a constant fixture, that he almost became a part of the game like some interactive NPC.

    There was another player on Nagafen who was a pacifist. He would never do anything to kill anyone or anything. He would only do quests that did not require a commitment to kill someone. Suprisingly, through careful selection of quests, and by collections and discoveries he made it into tier 7 before he ran out of steam.

    I knew yet another individual on Antonia Bayle that roleplayed a frail old woman. (It is hard to do with the character models you have to work with), but by carefully selecting the correct race and clothing she was able to make it believable. She was only like level 3-4. She would offer a quest for adventurers to escort her from Qeynos to Freeport, using only ships (not mariner’s bells) and by walking overland. And she would walk (not jog) the whole way. You were required to keep her alive and protect her from the hazards of the road (sort of like that quest in EQ Live where you had to escort the inept Qeynos guard around on his rounds in Qeynos Hills). All the while you escorted her she engaged you in conversation about her past and personality.

    If you are willing to think outside of the box, and put as much effort into your character’s ‘character and persona as you put into their adventuring skills you can be successful

  5. Jon says:

    That reminds me: a lot of people in UO never killed a single mob or player. They were the ones that made weapons, armor, clothes, house items, and such. But now that UO went to a more “loot based” model, player-made stuff isn’t as valuable.

    OH! Also, pre-NGE SWG was the same way: crafters were HIGHLY (and I mean HIGHLY!) respected – especially ones that knew where to get server-best resources to make their stuff. (Resources weren’t a “fixed” quality – the quality of the resource controlled how good the item you made from it was, and the qualities were essentially infinitely variable.)

  6. Stargrace says:

    If you advance in your craft you’re considered a second rate citizen in pretty much every game, and thought of as ‘less then’ the adventure types. That’s what I’d like to do away with. EQ2 has their separate craft system and technically you don’t ever have to pick up a weapon to advance it since it does not rely upon your adventure level – but in WoW where your crafting level is based on your adventure level (ie: You need to be level 65 before training Northrend, etc) there’s nothing you can do to escape the slaughter and still “progress” in game.

    I suppose it comes to the basics, there are hunters, and gatherers. I am just not a hunter. :)

  7. Jennifer says:

    You can fix this by advancing in your craft and not in combat skills. So you might be max ‘level’ but you can’t really swing a sword until you practice just as much as you practiced crafting.

    That wouldn’t be a very fun or popular game, but it’d be realistic! :p

  8. Stargrace says:

    The problem is in games where smiting is NOT the optional form of advancement (lets not include EVE, lets take this another direction, lets say.. The Sims) it lacks the other components of MMO’s that I really do enjoy. Player interaction, discovering gear and treasures via a loot system, etc. If MMOs could do a better job of making those ‘non essential’ arch types essential to game play (ie: Crafters) perhaps it would be better for those of us non-combat types. But then again you get people abusing the system and what not, advancing as a crafter so that they can gain levels fast and then switching to a combat player once they’ve reached ‘end game’. I think really this system works best in games that are “level less” like EVE, even Darkfall would be a good example except that to gather crafting supplies you’ve got to rely on – once again- smiting foes depending on what you’re planning on crafting. That, and no game likes to make their crafted gear on par with the adventure gear because ‘adventuring’ (ie: killing) takes more ‘talent’ and ‘work’ then crafting. Which is really not the fault of the player

  9. Jennifer says:

    I’d love a different style of game where something other than killing actually advanced your character – alas, ‘adventure’ games are generally about dungeon crawling, escaping and high fantasy. Generally, that requires killing to advance to the ‘goods’ or killing to escape.

    However, Jon is right. We’re predators, even us women. I am bloodthirsty and absolutely adore first-person shooters. I can’t wait for Black Ops in two weeks!!!

  10. Jon says:

    Hmm, well, I don’t know. As you said, we are probably just “tuned” that way. Humans are, like most animals, predators at the core.

    As far as games – who knows! No one’s really TRIED it, maybe? I don’t really have any ideas for what sort of gameplay could be introduced into an MMO, that would be “exciting” to a large swath of players, yet be non-combat oriented

  11. Stargrace says:

    There is the diplomacy sphere, but it won’t reward you adventure gear, nor will it advance your adventuring. There are plenty of games that have “other” means of advancement, but they are very rarely ever incorporated into you leveling your “base” levels, which I consider the adventure branch. That, you can only do through slaughter.

    Also, I wonder why it’s combat that’s exciting. It’s certainly not the most exciting thing to me (obviously I’m a minority here). Why is killing, swinging a weapon, smiting foes with violence, why is THAT exciting? It’s barbaric to me. Is it the whole “good vs. evil” and “protecting” thing? Is it because we’re simply tuned that way? Why does that particular feat give us such a rush.

    It almost gets to the point where I wonder if there’s something wrong with me because I don’t like to kill things in a video game. I mean, I love video games, I really do, and I’ve been killing mobs and players for years now – but it’s simply not fun to me. If this is considered the main form of advancement, and the majority of folks have no issue with it, why do I?

    Interesting pondering at far too early in the morning, what can I say. ;)

  12. Jon says:

    Vanguard has the Diplomacy sphere. That’s about all I can think of for non-combat advancement. The problem is, most people game for “excitement” and it’s combat that most find “exciting.”

    I like other paths as well, though, combat’s fun too! :)

  13. Scopique says:

    Amen sister! That is why I miss old school SWG, where my brother and I did nothing but craft because the crafting system was so necessary and involved.

    I always felt that combat is the crutch of MMOs because it’s the easiest way to model competition, and games are, of course, competition. It’s difficult to make meaningful decsiions because we cannot affect the world. It’s easier to throw in a kill collect quest and move on.

    It’s probably also a gaming “perpetual motion machine”. We have so many genres that rely on killing (FPS, RTS and even SHMUPS) and blowing things up as the means to progress that I think developers rely on combat, and players expect combat, and it’s just perpetuated though this cycle.

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