This week, on McHeroflake’s adventures in MMOland…
Mr J Neric (MSc, PhD, NPC): “Ah, Sir Lord Precious McHeroflake, thank goodness you’re here!”
McHeroflake: “Don’t thank goodness, thank the level-gated predestinated quest hub system!”
Neric: “Righhhht… Anyway, we need you to infiltrate a secret society of secret secretness and discover…”
McHeroflake: “Whether condensed milk comes from really small cows?”
Neric: “Ye-! No. We need you to discover… their secret!”
McHeroflake: “You hear that Mr. Anderson?… That is the sound of inevitability.”
Neric: “Who’s Mr Anderson?”
McHeroflake: “Someone who would have just loved MMOs.”
McHeroflake: “You wouldn’t know him.”
Neric: “Ha, well, I don’t know many people, really; I mean, I haven’t left this precise spot in seven years. There’s just Colin, way over there, and that’s about it. ALL RIGHT COLIN?!”
Colin: “VENDOR IT UP YER ARSE!”
Neric: “Hah hah, RIGHTHO COLIN! Colin went a bit mad several years back after an adventurer discovered that he sold a certain item for less than he paid for it. He was exploited for days before it was discovered, and was sore for months afte–”
McHeroflake: “Fascinating! Now, about this secret society…”
Neric: “Right! Sorry! Right. Well, I’ve no idea *how* you’re going to find them, but we did receive several reports from unlicensed members of the deck department of passing merchant ships, reports which indicate that the secret society operated somewhere near the cliffs south of this village. Unfortunately all the messengers died of poisoning shortly thereafter. Yes, [shakes head sadly] many boatswains died to bring us this information.”
McHeroflake: [Behind hand] “(That’ll only work if they know how to pronounce boatswain)”
Neric: [Behind hand] “(They’ll have to look it up)”
McHeroflake: “Well, I don’t hold out much hope in finding them, then. But I will take your quest, little man. I will take your quest… for honour! For justice! And for a small armour upgrade which will probably look garish and hideous when I equip it. Could you just mark the place on my map?”
Neric: “Certainly. There you go.”
McHeroflake: “Excellent! And could you just hang a small glowing neon arrow in front my head which points the way?”
Neric: [sigh] “There.”
McHeroflake: “Very well, now – to adventure!”
[several hours later]
McHeroflake: “Well this is the place on the map; now to see if I can ingratiate myself with the locals and discover the precise whereabouts and operations of this secret society. Hmm, there’s a gaggle of people standing in the middle of that field over there, I’ll start with them.”
McHeroflake: “Hoy! I say! You there, with the name over your head [squints]… ‘Secret Society Bruiser’. What are you doing standing around aimlessly in this field? And do you know anything of a secret society around here?”
Secret Society Bruiser: “Dieeeeee!”
McHeroflake: “Eeep! I don’t want to fight! I was just trying to find some information… [runs]”
Secret Society Bruiser: “You can’t escape me! I will chase you forever! To the ends of the earth, I will hunt you until the end of days! You cannot hide from me, you ca… Oh buggerit, I can’t be bothered [runs back to the field]”
McHeroflake: [Creeping tentatively back] “I– I say. Secret Society Bruiser.”
Secret Society Bruiser: “…”
McHeroflake: “Hoy! I’m talking to you. Yes *you*! Coo-ee! [Waves] Hellooooo!”
Secret Society Bruiser: “I can’t talk to you!”
McHeroflake: “Well clearly you can…”
Secret Society Bruiser: “No, I mean, I can’t talk to you. You’ll need to get a bit closer.”
McHeroflake: “But we *are* talking, are we not?”
Secret Society Bruiser: “Well, yes but–”
McHeroflake: “So why would I need to come any closer? I can talk to you just fine from way over here. Sound waves travel quite some distance in air, you know.”
Secret Society Bruiser: “Just a little closer, that’s all. If you could just come within, oh I dunno, five yards of me…”
McHeroflake: “Five yards, you say? But wouldn’t that put me inside the big red circle that you’re standing in the middle of?”
Secret Society Bruiser: [Looking guilty] “Maybe…”
McHeroflake: “And if I step inside that circle?”
Secret Society Bruiser: “I’ll probably talk to you.”
McHeroflake: “And by ‘talk’ you mean …?”
Secret Society Bruiser: “I couldn’t possibly say.”
Will McHeroflake get close to the Secret Society Bruiser?
Does the Secret Society Bruiser know anything about the secret society?
Will Colin ever say anything nice ever ag–
Yes, thank you Colin.
Join us next week for another exciting episode of: McHeroflake’s adventures in MMOland!
I think it’ll be a long wait before any developer figures that it might be fun/immersive/interesting to make most enemy/humanoid NPCs neutral unless provoked, especially those who are supposed to be playing it lowkey, remove the nameplates from above their heads, and have more diverse appearances for different class of mobs, so bandit casters don’t all look identical. Then again I wouldn’t mind at least having the choice of one MMO that removed all nameplates from the game, and didn’t have a quest tracker or any markers whatsoever.
I prefer my villains to be carrying cards, much like all Communists did back when they put fluoride in the water. It isn’t merely a matter of convenience, but also of consceience. I have a tendency to kill many things, many, and perhaps you might describe said killing of many things as “indiscriminate”, and it is for this reason that without clear identification, I am left with uncertainty. Was that entire village undead? Demonic? Evil in some form as determined by my own beliefs on what is natural and just? Or was there perhaps a single, non-evil being, a lone good soul, trapped in the middle, and now dead at my hands, all because I didn’t see a red or yellow name, or perhaps… perhaps it would have been green. GREEN! The red blood of the greens runs down my hands and onto my face as I raise my hands to the heavens and scream it horror, for what have I done? What act of villainy was this? For this is how it begins, the one time when I substitute uncertainty of identity for certainty of death. Kill them all and let God sort them out? Or the devil and demons and all manner of hellspawn? To where does the innocent soul go when killed in a misaimed crusade? Where does mine go? For now, now I know, down down along with the ones I said were deserving, and which are now my brothers for the sins I have committed.
It keeps my up at night.
That’s why I prefer that NPCs have clear identifiers.
Personally, I like the way Skyrim pulled off NPC interaction. It was a tad bit broken at times, but overall not a terrible experience. Of course, I may be biased, since I promptly attempted to pickpocket the first non-hostile NPC I found and, when he reacted remarkably poorly to that, I sprinted off to the first town and killed a chicken. That incited a remarkable wrath from the townsfolk, prompting me to slay each and every one of them.
It was hilarious. 10/10 would kill again.
You know you can adjust almost all of this stuff to suit in the options of pretty much every MMO, right? I’m currently experimenting on how playable MMOs are with no UI at all. GW2 works reasonably well, what with all the autojoining. Argo is working even better, although turning the UI off does leave a few visual prompts.
I would hope that within not too long we can do away with UIs altogether.
But what could be more fun than a pile of identical-looking but different mobs, doing different things, all named bandit?