Non Game Breaking Cheats

Some people do not approve of cheating at video games at all. I am not one of these people. I don’t usually play to win, or to show off my skill. I play games because I like the unfolding plot and I enjoy the story. I hate DIAS game play or ridiculously ramped up difficulty. Sometimes I immensely enjoy one aspect of a game, but don’t care for another. If that other game play element is shoved down my throat I get annoyed, and lose interest. A game should not be a chore – it should be fun all the way through. So if I can use chats to minimize the boring stuff and maximize my time spent doing the interesting stuff then they are actually enhancing my game play experience.

Let me give you an example. Early on in my Oblivion game, I was put in a difficult situation. My character (a fledgling thief) run out of money, lock picks and stuff to sell. I was going to earn some money by doing missions for the Thieve’s Guild but that required use of lock picks which I did not have. I could not buy them, because I was broke. I could not earn money through burglary because, again, that required picking locks. So what was I supposed to do? My only choice was to find another way to earn quick cash either by becoming a gladiator in the Arena or joining the Warrior’s Guild or go adventuring and raiding the small dungeons outside the cities. Some people would say that this is what makes the game interesting. But, alas this was not the kind of stuff I wanted to do at the moment.

What I wanted was to play a sneaky and stealthy thief, not a big brutal warrior. And yet, here was the game telling me I totally need to do some combat missions in order to finance my career as a petty thief. It was silly. I mean, have you ever seen a thief who signs for gladiatorial combat, becomes a mercenary or apprentice in Mages guild so that he can afford to buy lockpicks? I never had that issue in Morrowind because lockpicks were plentiful, cheap and easy to buy. Oblivion made them into a very scarce resource that tends to be really easy to blow through (you can waste 20-30 lock picks per Average or Hard lock if you are really bad at the mini-game or you are just hitting Auto Attempt) and very hard to replenish unless you have a lot of money. For me the game was somewhat broken in this aspect.

What did I do? I decided to screw the combat based missions and continue my game by giving myself some lock picks via console hack:

player.addItem a 50

This gave me 50 of them to play with, which was enough to pass the mission, and do some side burglaries and restore my budget to a normal level and allow me to go on with my game. Because I cheated I was able to enjoy my game on my own terms and pursue the aspects of it that made if fun, instead of “grinding” for cash. Yes, I guess I cheated but I did it to circumvent a game design flaw that caused me to run into this issue in the first place.

Of course, I could have went on a long quest to get the Skeleton Key which would solve my lockpick problem. But I bet I would need some lock picks for that mission. And besides, obtaining a unique legendary item in order to pass low level Thieves Guild missions that required burglarizing some houses was as silly plot wise as becoming a gladiator.

I really appreciate that Bethsheda leaves the quake style console in their games. It is really a tool for testers – one that allows you to easily modify your character and the surrounding game world via scripting commands. You can do stuff like give yourself items, levels, skill point, complete quests, teleport yourself around the map and anything else a tester would need to reproduce a tricky bug inducing scenario. Most developers these days remove tools like that prior to the release to prevent people from “cheating”. Bethseda ships their games with a fully enabled console and an editor to allow modders to easily test their creations. The side effect is that players like me can use it to bail themselves out of tricky situations.

I wish everyone did that! I really wish that every single player game shipped with a Bethsheda style console environment that would allow people to tweak their game play experience, spawn very hard to get items or undo game-breaking mistakes. Some of you may disagree but here is the thing: you do not need to use it!

Seriously, why do you care how I play the game? If you think that cheating is wrong, and it destroys the challenge and diminishes the fun of the game, all you have to do is to resist the temptation to go online, learn the console syntax and then look up appropriate commands. Yup, that’s right – all you need to do is ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOTHING. If I want to make my game easier/more fun I will need to do some extra research – and that’s fine with me.

There is a lot of discussion out there about how difficult games ought to be. It is incredibly difficult to make a game that will appeal both to a hard-core challenge addict, and someone who plays for the story or who likes to explore the game world without dying every minute. Here is my solution – leave a cheat console in your game. The same one you give to your testers so that they don’t have to play the damn thing straight through for 6 hours to reproduce some funky bug. People struggling with the game can use the console to adjust the difficulty, give themselves more health packs, ammo or that missing key they needed.

And if you are a greedy bastard, and you think that leaving that aspect in and allowing players to skip super-annoying puzzles will diminish sales of player guide books then you need to die and rot in hell. Also, you can just put the console tricks in that said guide book and people will still buy it. But, yeah – die in fire.

How about you guys? How do you feel about cheating? Do you use non-game breaking cheats? I’m not talking about god mode + infinite ammo type of thing. I’m saying giving yourself few extra health packs, or skipping super tedious puzzle by invoking some command or simply looking up the answer in a online walkthrough instead of ripping all your hair out and then throwing the game out the window and setting it on fire in a fit of rage? What was the last time you “cheated” in a game, and did it improve your experience or diminish it? Let me know!

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10 Responses to Non Game Breaking Cheats

  1. Jakob DENMARK Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    As a console gamer myself, I surely miss the console commands. Sometimes, I want to play around and have fun.

    The console commands will, granted, allow gamers to do unintended stuff in the games (such as getting 50 lockpicks) when they are broke. They bascily cheat and cheat isn’t fair. But I myself care not for cheats in a singleplayer enviorment. It is one player who ends up affecting him alone. How does is affect my game that you added a legendary weapon to your inventory? It doesn’t.

    Cheating can grealty enhance the experience a player gets. Sometimes, one would like to see how it is to be a mighty brawler or the shadow itself, without pouring many hours into achiveing this. And it helps to avoid tidious parts of the game as you noted.

    In summary, I fully support console commands. I just wished I learned about them earlier in my gaming career :)

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  2. IceBrain PORTUGAL Mozilla Firefox Debian GNU/Linux Terminalist says:

    ↑ ↑ ↓ ↓ ← → ← → B A :P

    I usually don’t care for reducing difficulty cheats, but on the other hand I don’t usually play RPGs and such, I play mostly games with a fixed sequence of objectives. But I do like having the console when I just want to goof around the game world.

    Oh, but I remember a cheat I always used to skip annoying parts: the key combination to spawn a jet in GTA:SA. Why should I spend 10 minutes just driving from one city to another?

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  3. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @Jakob: Yeah, it isn’t fair but if you are playing a single player game that doesn’t really matter. In the best case it will mean more fun. In the worst case, it will ruin the game.

    I don’t use stuff like god mode or unlimited ammo cheats because these things tend to take out all the excitement from combat turning it into a repetitive chore.

    @IceBrain: Heh, I never actually used the Jet one. I used to just give myself all weapons, then stand in the middle of the street and shoot the minigun to see how long I would last. It was disappointing to see that SWAT teams were the best thing the game would throw at me.

    Anyone remembers the original GTA? Heh, that game would eventually escalate to military so you would have barricades made out of tanks at each intersection. Fun times!

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  4. Ben UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    Space Rangers 2 has a neat approach to cheats. Each turn you gain 1 point, and each cheat code costs a certain number of points. So you are motivated a bit to spend some time finding a solution, but if you’re really stuck for a while, you can get out of it. I found the costs reasonable and the approach was different enough to be interesting. Also, I loved the game, so I’m biased.

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  5. Jakob DENMARK Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    @Luke Maciak: But the concept of fairness might explain why some are don’t want cheats and console commands in their games, even if it is singleplayer. But it is rather silly not to have them in, since the only one to be affected by the cheat is the “cheater” himself.

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  6. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    @Ben: Interesting, but that sort of makes the cheats as part of the gameplay. They become part of your strategy which I don’t necessarily like. I’d prefer to keep them separate.

    Besides, making cheats depend on a renewable resource makes them less useful – you can’t go all out and ruin the game for yourself just for shits and giggles. The designers feel that they need to hold your hand even when you are cheating.

    @Jakob: Well, when I think “fairness” I think about competition. If I’m not competing with anyone but just “messing around” with a game for my own amusement then I don’t really know how to gauge fairness.

    Unless we assume that I’m playing for bragging rights – so that I can show off my high score, or the pimped out character and uber gear I collected. Even then, if you get these things via a cheat you lose the bragging rights and get no respect from your pears. So it is still sort of fair. Those who want to compete will need to do it the hard way. Those who just want to have fun, can use the cheats in the amount and capacity that suits them.

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  7. astine UNITED STATES Google Chrome Windows says:

    @Luke Maciak: I’m pretty sure that in GTA:SA they will send tanks after you. I’ve seen it. You may have to in the desert for them to do it however.

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  8. Jakob DENMARK Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @Luke Maciak: I agree :) Truth be told, I have no idea why people resist cheats in singleplayer games. I know some xbox games who has cheats in them, and if the player anables them, they loose the rights for achivements while they are active, thereby not grating bragging rights.

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  9. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    @Jakob: The XBox thing is absolutely correct. I should not be eligible for an “achievement” if I use cheats. Those who want to use cheats to simply improve their gameplay experience usually won’t care about this. People who do care about them won’t be able to exploit the cheats to artificially inflate their score and won’t get the bragging rights. Everyone wins.

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  10. Benj AUSTRALIA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I agree entirely! There was at least one occassion where I went through a process more or less identical to that which you describe above.

    Another good example, I think, is where one simple cheat not only changes the whole game, but changes it for the BETTER:
    For instance, the PS2 game Superman: Shadow of Apokolips- overall, quite a good game. However, put on the Invulnerability mode and suddenly it’s a GREAT game! Most enemies can’t hurt Superman, but are a threat to civilians you’re trying to save; enemies with heavy attacks (rockets, Livewire’s lightning blasts, Metallo throwing a car at you, etc.) will knock Superman down, costing you vital time you need to rescue people and otherwise pursue mission goals.
    With one simple cheat code, the gameplay is made far truer to its story and far more fun to play to boot.

    Clearly the people who made the recent Superman Returns game realised this, as Superman has no Health bar or whathaveyou in that game.
    Sadly, it’s basically the only really good thing about that game, but that’s beyond the scope of my point.

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