The distance doesn’t matter; it is only the first step that is the most difficult.

We’ve all been there in one MMO or another. You stroll up to an NPC and you click on them to initiate a conversation or perhaps to barter with them. I say barter, but of course MMO NPCs are just about the worst entities at bartering in the world.

Adventurer1: “Hello! I’d like to sell this Two-handed Axe of Rawr that I found inside a catfish this morning, please.”

Vendor: “Hello! Very well, I will pay you fifty silver for the axe.”

Adventurer1: “A fair price. It’s a deal.”

Adventurer2: “Hi. I’d like to sell this Two-handed Axe of Rawr that I no longer have any use for. Now, I understand that it’s a bit worn around the edges and it could do with a bit of a clean but…”

Vendor: “Hello! Very well, I will pay you fifty silver for the axe.”

Adventurer2: “Oh. Right. Uh, great! Thanks!”

Adventurer3: “Well met. Here I have the shattered haft of a Two-handed Axe of Rawr that I pulled from the bloodied corpse of your father after I killed him earlier today.”

Vendor: “Hello! Very well, I will pay you fifty silver for the axe.”

Adventurer3: “No. I don’t want to sell it. I’m threatening you with it. It’s broken anyway, because half of it is still buried in your father’s head.”

Vendor: “Hello! I have considered the item more closely, and I will pay you fifty silver for the axe.”

Adventurer3: “Look. Forget the axe, I don’t want to sell it. I’m here to convince you on behalf of the local landlord to pay your rent. You’re massively behind on your payments and he’s had enough. Here’s a pile of papers itemising the rent that you now owe, totalling some five gold pieces. We’re not sure what you’re doing with all your money, Vendor, but pay up soon or…”

Vendor: “Hello! Very well, I will pay you seventy five silver for the pile of papers.”

Anyway, as I was saying, you stroll up to an NPC and click on them to initiate a conversation or what have you, and nothing happens. Well, either nothing happens or you get a message such as:

You are too far away to interact with that object.

I can’t interact with the NPC? Look, I just want to talk to them. I’m standing right next to them for crying out loud! If I drew my sword I could stab them clean-through from where I’m standing; admittedly with the size of epic weapons in some MMOs that could put me anywhere within a radius of about seven miles… But look, I can see them, I can make out the passive guppy fished look on their face that tells me that they’re going to offer me fifty silver for this axe, even though it’s rusted through and covered in marmoset entrails and peanut butter (long story). My character must have the weakest voice in the entire known world! He should be titled Frank the Faintly Spoken and crowned international five hundred metres whispering freestyle champion. He must have a voice so mellifluous that it is deflected and wafted away by the beating of a butterfly’s wing on the other side of the world.


I always panic that one of these days I’m going to get no response, so I move a bit closer and *click*. Still no response. Move a bit closer *click*. No response. A bit closer…

And then the NPC pounces! He grabs my character by the collar and gives him a smackingly wet kiss, flops my character backwards in his arms and cries “Ah, my little darling, it is love at first sight, is it not, no?”

Could happen.

I worry too about the armour that our characters wear in these games, with spikes and blades and all manner of sharp pointy extrusions; you approach the NPC and *click*. No response. So you move a bit closer and *click*. Still no response. A bit closer… and as you try to buy that KitKat or gisarme glaive or Tidyman’s carpet, you impale the vendor on your shoulder spikes. Do you know how hard it is to wash vendor out of your armour? All the high level players don’t bother any more – not enough time what with the raiding and all that – so they just leave the vendors there. So when you see all these high level characters running around with skulls hanging from the spikes on their shoulders, you’ll know they got too close to a vendor whilst trying to start-up a conversation. And those with skulls hanging from their head gear? Let’s just say Monsieur Amour the Vendor got a nasty little surprise when he tried that sloppy wet kiss of his.

And they move away! Damn their ‘very limited circle of about ten yards so people can always find them’ mobility! So you wander up and are told you’re not close enough. So you move closer and try again, and you’re still not close enough. Move closer. Nope. Move closer. Nope. Move closer… success! The vendor window pops open! Then, at that exact moment, whatever weird schedule they’re on, whatever bizarre routine it is that they follow, requires them to move five yards to the left. And off they go. And now the bloody vendor window closes because they’re too far away! So you run up to them and *click*, but you get no response.

They’re either all evil genius bastards, or it’s Monsieur Amour the Vendor slapping a wet kiss on you and then running off shouting “Chase me big boy!”.

But that’s not the worst of it.

The other day I was in World of Warcraft’s Stormwind city and I was trying to get this little kid NPC to give me the next stage of a quest, so I *click* and get no response. So I move a bit closer and *click*. No response. Closer. *Click*. No response. So I’m practically standing in the same space as the kid now, and I’m frantically *clicking* away… Why. Won’t. You. Bloody. Well. Talk. To. Me.

And then sirens.

So I’m writing this now from the Stormwind Stockade, apparently that was the wrong kid. The charges are harrassment of a minor, and worse, apparently.

To top it all off there’s this freakily-bearded dwarf here called Kam, who keeps trying to *click* on me, and I’m running out of room and excuses to move away…

2 thoughts on “The distance doesn’t matter; it is only the first step that is the most difficult.

  1. Elf

    You’re in the Stockades? Good luck hoping for a break-out. Maybe its the remote location or over-powered prisoners, but no one bothers to go in there any more.

  2. Melmoth

    I’m sure people would go in there if they could just get close enough to the damn quest giver.

    “So, what are you in the Stockades for?”

    “I was trying to talk to the guard outside who sends you in here on a quest. He decided to just up and walk away from me mid-conversation, so I accidentally stabbed him seven times with my knife. I got the damned quest before he died, though.”

    “Oh yeah, what was the quest?”

    “To help someone escape from the Stockades…”

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