6 min read

Bending the rules...

Some ranting about difficulty scales and the (apparent) trend to rely on cheapness to beat bad guys in modern games.

I'll admit it, I'm a closet cheater.

 Not cheat codes.  I have a high moral horse to sit on and berate people that use cheat codes... no not me.. That's cheating!

However, much like my cheating, I'll get by on a technicality.

I bend game systems.

You know, for example:

-Exploiting AI flaws (sniper range instadeaths before they can see me!)

-Exploiting Geometry Flaws  (too bad that big guy can't get in here, but I can shoot him 4000 times in the ankles).

-Shooting while running backwards to avoid melee baddies (wait, that may just be boring design)

-Stuff like that.

If something can be used in an unintended manner, I'll probably do it (but not in a MMO, I don't wanna get banned).

I don't do it to "beat the man" or to actively get around content, but rather because it is often the most efficient (or only) way to move along.  If I have to kill a room full of baddies with a blunt spoon, I'm going to do what I have to to get by.  We seem to get a lot of these blunt spoon challenges recently.

 So I'm now that guy that doesn't play games as they are intended.  I used to. I would look closely at what I was doing and not do things that seemed to be "out of the spirit" of the game. but now, the spirit of the game seems to want me dead with monster cheapness, and gimmicky ways for them to kill me (or for me to kil lthem).

It may have been all the Quicktime cutscene button mashing events, or it may have been stupid and boring overscripted boss fights that did it.   Maybe it was the fact I'm a XBL Achievement whore, and most game difficulty levels are just some arbetrary scaling thing that makes the hardest levels stupid and usually unplayable in any normal manner.  Someplace, I snapped.

 I like more sandbox games more now, but hate car races that require near perfect (or actual perfect) driving skills to pass (I'm talking to you Red Faction: Guerrilla.  These definitely drove me aroudn the bend... ha ha ha /ugh.

 MMO raids that are just ome elaborate class based quicktime event puzzle annoy me. When you need 2.5 shamans and a gnome with the right purple hat to stand in the right place while the pally hits 1,4,3,4,4,5 2x to win, it isn't about skill anymore.  It is a bad Pac Man pattern.


There is a difference between needing some player skill, and stupidly hard games balanced for QA people that have played it 12 hours a day for 5 months... with crazy bad AI.

 Sometimes I need an edge, one that I don't really want. A lot of the time these days, I think these flaws are part of the game design.  "The best way to Kill mob X is to do it unfairly with some AI exploit."  Think back... how many hard baddies (not always bosses) recently have some realy cheap set up that allows you to kill them safely, or help to deflect the overpowered instadeath ability they have to kill you?

I prefer the cheapness to interactive quicktime video, but it is really starting to look like this kind of cheating is become a valid design choice, so as to make up for poor AI or badly balanced foes.

 Here are a few baddies I can think of, off of the top of my head.  Ones that need some bending to get by.

 -End Bad Guy in Area 51.   Getting him hooked up on one of his platforms can make or break this fight for you, especially on harder levels.  He has a bajillion HPs, and you are on a small platform with him... yeah, that's fair.

- Any of the infinite spawn and (nearly) infinite spawn areas in CoD series, Especially the damn tank that avoids you when you try and  bomb it in the Russian campaign.   It is in a big square area.  Unlimited german troops and a vehicle with an instakill cannon, that runs away from you when you get close to it, even if you are using smoke...I'll jsut put a stickybomb on that... yeah...

 -The New Uber Ghoul and Super Mutant types in Fallout 3 when the raised the level cap. Can appear anywhere regular Ghouls or Mutants can show up (respectively).  Have 11ty gajillion Hitpoints for no good reason, and do stupid amounts of damage.  They are killable with massive amounts of firepower, but pretty much force you to wear power armor (giving up stealth ability or other lower combat character types)... Because even super stealth attack surprise criticals barely scratch their stupid amount of HP.

-Any timed race in a sandbox game... booo!  Miss a perfect brake turn on ANY corner by a little and you fail...I have yet to find a way to bend around these... so I hate them even more.

 -Scaling mobs in Oblivion.  Shouldn't have taken those 3 levels in bartering (or whatever it is called) because now every mob is a type I can't fight with my current setup (weak stealth type for example).  Gotta level up to get it to switch to some othe mob type (with spells or whatever I  CAN fight)... but can't because i have to kill a lot of them to do my quests (or just kill them) to level... oh and it is good that they are invisible by that 1 tower so they can instakill me as I wander by, becasue I haven't gotten to that quest yet... (ongoing with all Elder scrolls games, FO3 is better with scaling until lthe 2 new guys listed above).

-Doom 3 monster closets... always behind you.   Yeah, that's fun.

 -100% Bot based games. UT3's singleplayer for example.  Enemy bots, kick my team's ass, but my team always all get into the tank and drive in circles...every time.  apaprently my team got the "bIsStupidFlag=True "  stuck on.  AI works great for the bad guysthough, go figure.

Feel free to add to the "cheap monster" list, or share your frustrations with difficulty scales here.

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