I have no idea how well Rock Paper Shotgun will take this, but I plan on stealing the ideas behind this post here. Hopefully they won’t mind too much or won’t notice. Even though they’ll probably get a pingback from that link. Ah well. In that link, if you don’t click it like a sensible person who wants to read actual words, the lovely man who is John Walker (Note to self: flattery gets you everywhere) asks why you can’t skip through a game. As befits a lowly egotistical blogger like me, I’ll answer his question here as opposed to on RPS.
We’ve all had those moments when playing when we can’t get anywhere in the game, and think about cheating or looking it up on a guide. I’ve had those moments of weakness during Tomb Raider: Legend, Mafia and all sorts. Tomb Raider I just thought the solution I thought of wasn’t a viable solution (It turned out to be the right one), and Mafia is just hard. Everyone I know in my head says so. However, Walker says that we should skip throughout the whole game. His nicely worded argument is one that I can’t fully agree with.
I say not fully agree as opposed to disagree, because he makes a good point. I for one hate playing through some badly designed mission where the amount of enemies that spawn are inversely proportional to the amount of health you have, and there are plenty of times I wished I could have skipped through painful levels in Mafia. A fair few games have played about with the idea of lowering the difficulty when it works out how much you suck, and I think that skipping is only a step above that. Playing through a game and being told that you suck and need to be baby walked through it is a big case of having it rubbed in your face, and it would probably put you off that developer. Maybe skipping is a better option after all.
He’s also correct about the fact that those who cheat shouldn’t be looked down upon. The game has been designed to be finished right? Surely, as the game gets on, the story gets more intricate and plot twists begin, turning friends to enemies, or enemies to friends? Some of the best writing that you see in-game can be seen at the end, and some of it can make you realise how stupid you are. Braid for example has an ending (Which was spoilt for me, and thus I won’t spoil it for you) which you wouldn’t be able to see. Thus we should see these plot lines without wanting to kill someone. If we were given the chance to skip that annoying level if we were really struggling (And had ticked a checkbox or something in the options), we could see the ending.
But Walker suggests that you should still get all the rewards that clearing that level would give you. I disagree entirely on that point. To quote nearly every primary school teacher, ‘Cheaters never prospore’. You have to earn these rewards: That’s why they’re rewards. The designers should, in theory, understand they made a difficult level, and thus give you an xp boost and/or an awesome weapon/car/spell/item that’s relative to that difficulty. If you skip through a level, you shouldn’t get any of the rewards for clearing it.
I don’t just mean in an obvious level environment, that could be seen in something like CoD. I mean in something like Dragon Age (The brief spell I’ve had with it). There could be a difficult boss battle, that you eventually have to skip because you just can’t beat it (I dunno, maybe you stupidly gave your warrior tons of points in charisma). That boss might drop one of the above items, but you haven’t beaten him. You skipped it. You shouldn’t get the xp or items. If there was the chance to walk around a bunch of powerful monsters, you’d do it, and wouldn’t expect to get all the items that they should drop would you? Essentially you’ve ‘walked around’ this boss, and shouldn’t expect to get the rewards for beating it because to be honest, you haven’t.
I draw from my own experiences here as well. The first time you use a cheat in GTA it becomes easier to use it the second time. Then the third. Then the fourth. That isn’t to say that GTA is really easy to cheat on. It happens in most games. Replace ‘use a cheat’ with ‘look at a guide’ in the case of an adventure game, and it stands true. I’m glad that I cheated while playing The Longest Journey. I genuinely wanted to know what happened at the end, and without a guide I wouldn’t have been able to do that. I bring this up because I’d love the idea of being able to skip, but think those who don’t should get added benefits, like that loot/xp. If that makes it even harder for you to complete it legitimatly then maybe you shouldn’t have cheated. Completing a game would therefore be a bigger achievement. The cheaters could see the ending first, but everyone else will have earned it.
I’m interested to know what the readers of this blog (all two of you) think about guides/cheats. Does it ruin it? Enhance? Allow you to have a quick mess around? Let me know in the comments.