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!