Needs More Cowbell

In response to “Misadventures in Role-playing” from The Escapist Forum: This is great. It’s like griefing the AI. Good article, I’m reading through that site and it’s awesome.

I remember doing something similar in the Command and Conquer 3 campaign. Many events were triggered by very specific effects or actions, and it was often possible to work ahead of the AI to make your life a little easier, if you knew what and what not to do. I can recall one instance where the enemy had set up an ambush for a vital transport vehicle that moved on its own, and I kept failing, getting the vehicle destroyed, and having to restart. Eventually I sent a bunch of my troops to the ambush point at the beginning as soon as the game started. Sure enough, no enemies. I kept them there until the transport was in range, at which point the ambushers appeared for the first time–surrounded by my troops. It was an easy (and ironic) win.


I remember doing this in Morrowind, purely by accident. I had killed someone important to the main quest, and decided to see what happens when I continue anyway. I had to work the hard way to actually complete the main quest.

Of course, there were some great things you could do with stacking effects that let you create potions and spells far more powerful than should ever be allowed.

I never knew there were whole groups of people dedicated to that sort of thing. Thanks for such an informative article!



In response to “The Thin Red Line” from The Escapist Forum: It’s a simple thing. Valve essentially has an open channel to gamers via Steam, Steam updates, the Tf2 blog, and many other methods. All it takes is: “The exploit discovered to reach the RED rooftop as an Engineer on map Name should be considered an exploit. We are working on a patch to eliminate it now. In the interests of balanced gameplay and enjoyable experiences for all players, please redistribute this message on your servers and warn/remove any offending players.”

That’s all it takes. The gap between an exploit being discovered and closed is systematically reduced by “official stigma”, enforcement by server-owners, and separation into servers that care about balance and servers that don’t care. Once the exploit is patched, the servers re-mingle as they become indistinguishable again. Simple, quick, clean, effective.

Of course, notifying players that an exploit exists for class on map may cause a temporary upswing, but I think it’d balance out in the common player’s favour.


The entire idea of me not being able to do what I want with software I have legitimately bought bothers me no end. For me it is obvious I’m allowed to use any in-game glitch I can find. Using an external tool is obviously cheating if it is an online game. I’m a computer scientist, so my area of expertise is correctness of programs. For a software developer to put the responsibility of correct programs on the customer is flat out silly.

Especially when said customers have to guess what “correct” means. All that responsibility lies with the producer, not the consumers. If gamers need to be told how to play their games, something is wrong with the games and not the gamers.

That’s my opinion anyway, but I don’t play online regularly. Frag mayhems or cheesy grinding doesn’t attract me.



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In response to “Guerilla Warfare” from The Escapist Forum:

The problem with the in-game codes in Red Faction Guerrilla, which you earned by completing achievements, is that turning them on made it impossible to save your progress. Why reward us with things we then cannot use to play the game with Volition?

Anyways, I never felt the need for codes in that game because I solved all my problems with rampant smashing, and I would systematically destroy every single EDF structure in any given zone before even attempting any of the missions (and if starting one respawned those buildings, I would just blow them up again). Missions are the things you do after you’ve exhausted all the glorious destruction potential – the game is about blowing stuff up.

Or dissolving it, damn was the nano-rifle ever cool.

I lost count of how many vehicles I mined and then drove into structures, only to trigger the explosives after I bailed out of them at high speed, whee! And the bombs, oh the bombs! Those were always a blast – nothing quite like attaching a leftover tactical nuke to your truck and crashing it into an office complex.

Gildan Bladeborn

It’s funny, my first inclination when that starting-tutorial began was to kill that guy. It was like, the minute he started talking, *WHACK*! And then I got a game over screen and a cute admonishment telling me not to do that. But it was overshadowed by the epiphany of WHACKing people with blunt objects. I think I “lost” the tutorial two more times before I finally got around to playing the actual game, my friends and I laughing maniacally each time. I was a horrible freedom fighter, “accidentally” killing as many of my comrades as enemies.

Wish I’d gotten it for the PC instead. Would’ve lost the natural audience (consoles promote back-seat-gaming more than any other format – which I love being part of), but the cheating might’ve been worth it.



In response to “Cheating the System” from The Escapist Forum: The problem with the game media industry (or, any media industry, really) is that it is a profit organization. You need to get your article out by the deadline or heads roll. You need to be up to date fast fast fast, and sometimes people cant keep up with that kind of pace.

My own personal take on journalism is the scrappy reporter, dressed in a brown trench-coat and fedora, clasping a notepad or dicta-phone, driving around in his beat up hatchback, inhaling cigarette smoke like oxygen and smashing out brilliant prose from his beaten up laptop, if he even has one. He would race from one current event to another, lead by insider intel feeding him scraps of info for favors he’d repay later by doing an expose on their landlords sexual habits, and create the scandal that would sell more copies then the next guy. He’d write it up in his dingy apartment, ceiling fan whirling above him lazily, creating circles in the cigarette smoke which permeated the room, before sending it off to his editor for the morning edition and collapsing into bed, alone, for no woman could ever fully understand the intensity of his life.

…But life isn’t so romantic. As Scrumpmonkey said, pre-made PR and newswires make the old, headline-hunting reporter a thing of the past. Killing yourself to get the scoop usually either actually kills you (like some foreign correspondents out there), or is useless, as the fat prick you sit next to in the office spent all day looking up the info on the internet.

And why is that a problem? Why shouldn’t accept the offer to come to a swanky hotel, possibly plied to the gills with booze, before being shown the game? What other option would there be afterwards but to give it a decent score? If he was honest, he would never get treated like that again – and lets face it, we all like to be pampered, especially when we’re paid to do so.

Don’t hate the poor journo who just wants a good time and a decent buck. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these guys just make minimum wage. The only reason we stamp and snort is because our quality assurance is voided by a shoddy review – but then, if you’re going to go with just one review then i think you need to review your own spending habits. I don’t buy a car until I’ve had at least three people give me their opinion on it, and one of them isn’t always the salesman.


It pretty much confirms what I’ve always thought — that there’s no possible way a reviewer could play every moment of every game. At best, it’d be a sampling of game play (whether they got there by cheat or just by playing the first subset) combined with interviews with developers and what they “said” the game contains.

I have my own game-related blog, and I’ve taken to writing up a review of the games that I play. But, since I want the review to accurately represent the game (the game can be very different in the end from the beginning), I try to wait until I “finish” the game (at least one playthrough) before publishing the review. Since gaming is something I do in my free time outside of a full-time job, fatherhood, church callings, and other real-life endeavors, I only get in 2-4 hours of game play a night at best, and not all of that is “working” on finishing a game I haven’t reviewed yet.

As such, sometimes I’m clicking “Publish” several months after I first brought home the game, when it’s all but forgotten and now on Wal-Mart’s clearance rack.

I tried to step things up a bit by writing my reviews before I finished the game, so they’d actually get out of draft mode; but I ended up very disappointed in my own work, especially when I’d get to later stages in the game and wish I could insert a few words in my review. (Well, technically, I can; I just don’t feel right “revising” old posts for some reason.)

And this is just my hobby, for a blog that I’d be surprised if six people even read. I have a feeling if I tried to do this professionally, I’d either miss every deadline by weeks; end up producing crap work based on 5% of the game; or use any cheat, glitch, or advantage I could find to get the most out of a game I could in the time I had.


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