Friday, February 28, 2014

"Here's How You Can Play That Game Better."

I've heard this for a while and it crops up every now and then: "If you don't build your character a certain way, you won't have a chance at beating the game" or "To get the most out of Game X, make sure to do this when creating a character."  I can't really be more specific than that as I always avoid reading these articles as I do not agree with them.  I would like to think/believe that a game can be enjoyed and beaten without the need to follow an unofficial ruleset.

I of course say all this after my failed attempt at Final Fantasy: 4 Heroes of Light and I gave advice as to how to not fail as bad as I had done.

Does this make me a hypocrite?  Sure, why not!?

I bring this up now because I am playing (or at least started back in January) The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and someone I was talking to (either in the real world or at work) asked if I was careful in how I created my character, because apparently if you do not do it correctly, you can ruin your chances of being able to finish the game.

I first heard about this "phenomenon" from a former housemate who told me about how to build a mage that wouldn't suck in Diablo II.  This roommate, whom we will call The Sauce, suggested that I build an Ice Mage and put my all of skill points into Ice Magic.  He followed this advice up with recounting how he had known people who had ruined their characters by accidentally putting skill points in the "wrong" skill tree and had to discard high level characters.  This idea that you could ruin a character on accident and have to start over from the beginning frightened me.  I should also point out that this was only 3 years ago.  I'm sure the same could be said for Torchlight I or II and I'm positive that there are at least a couple (hundred?) people would tell me that I have not created my Mage in Torchlight II correctly as I have my skill points spread out between a number Ice spells, a Fire spell and some passive buffing abilities.

I also read a similar article/post over on this internet thing regarding Breath of Death VII.  I was looking for hints about how to defeat a particular boss and two separate posts I read stated that if you put leveling attributes for particular characters in "the wrong" areas, that you would have a very hard time with the game.  And I am currently having a very hard time against a particular boss four hours in.

I do not like this.  Not one bit.  How is the normal gamer supposed to find this out on their own?  I think that's my feelings towards beating video games in general, that there should not be one specific way to beat a game.  To kill Boss A, you shouldn't need to perform specific attacks and defenses in a specific order otherwise you're not playing the game correctly.

I think this is one of the reasons why I could never beat Advance Wars: World of Ruin.  I just became stuck with a certain series of battles and had to resort to Gamefaqs to make my way through them.  It is frustrating to me that a written document could tell me how to beat a multi-faceted enemy, that there is a preordained order that the computer performs its actions so that a victory can be achieved over and over again.  Eventually I gave up because I had reached a stalemate about 20 minutes into a battle and didn't want to go through reading an article and having my hand held through the remainder of the battle.  Additionally, if I had to have my hand held through the last number of battles, I would most likely need to be directed through the rest of the game as it would only prove to be more-and-more difficult.

So that's my two bits about games where people feel that you need to create characters in a certain/specific way in order for the game to be enjoyed (i.e.: beaten).  I'll play the game however the damn hell I please.

You Can't Change Fate, But Don't Feel So Bad

P.S.  In a similar, but not related train of thought, this idea about following an obscure plan in order to get something from a game happened to me in Final Fantasy XII when I first heard about the Zodiac Spear.  The article I read said that you could not have opened any of the treasure chests in a couple of specific areas  and that the Zodiac Spear could be in one of two chests in a particular dungeon.  I say "could" because even if you did open one of the chests you weren't supposed to open, it could still be there, but there would be something like a 90% chance that it wouldn't.  Now how in the hell is the regular player supposed to figure this out if there was nothing in the game that hinted about this?  


  1. I think I know the feeling. It's important to me to be able to figure things out for myself, and it's super-frustrating for someone to interrupt me mid-way and tell me I'm doing it wrong. Even when they're right, I still like to learn things myself. This is true in video games or other random tasks, like mopping a floor or something.

    When it comes to video games, because they are specifically designed by people whose job it is to show me a good time, I think it's extra frustrating if there's an overarching optimal strategy, because it feels kind of pointless to find out that any other approach isn't going to be effective enough to compete.

    What's the point of skill trees anyway if you're not supposed use them to role play and customize your character? Seems to me that more playtesting is needed, or simpler skill trees.

  2. I couldn't agree more. It's really discouraging to play a game for 15+ hours and then feel like you should have done something differently. Games should encourage experimentation! I thought Diablo3 did a great job with this.