Monday, December 14, 2015

The Mighty Quest For Epic Loot - 2/20 hours

I have a feeling of trepidation about this game. In many respects, it is your typical dungeon-looter game, with fairly standard action-rpg mechanics and a conservative loot system (you know the sort: different equipment in different slots on your character's body, each of which may possess independent rarity ratings and power levels, all of which you find randomly dropping from monsters). It's a lot like the game I just played, Path of Exile, but with simpler character customization and a more light-hearted, cartoony look.

Its one really innovative idea is that you can use the gold you get from plundering dungeons to build a castle, placing monsters and traps in order to protect your hard-won wealth from those who would steal it. . .

And that's what gives me pause. In The Mighty Quest For Epic Loot, the dungeons you raid are not just random caves and tunnels that you just happen to have to pass through to fetch sundry items for lazy NPCs, they are things that individual humans, your fellow gamers, built, out of limited resources that are not trivially replaced. And the money you get from clearing out a dungeon is not just a bit of code that causes a certain number to increment meaningfully, it belongs to someone. It's scarce and precious.

This makes me very uncomfortable. I suppose it's not technically theft. There's a social contract involved here. Money is, presumably, not stolen and hoarded so much as circulated in an unconventional player economy. I steal from them and they steal from me, and so long as we are both near the same level, the net result is probably a lot like trading. Except it's not voluntary.

I get that it's a game. There's no version of Chess where you and your opponent just shake hands and decide that all those pawns and rooks and whatnot would be better off as part of a constitutional republic. There really should be no hard feelings when a competitive game is played competitively.

It's just, I don't like wrecking other people's shit, and I don't like it when they wreck mine. It's an attitude that's served me well in real-life, but I think, in the cutthroat world of video games, it might be a disadvantage.

Or maybe not. I don't really understand how the respawning and economic mechanics work. I logged on after I started writing this post, and I saw that my castle had been looted for about 250 gold (out of my 1000 gold total), but all my monsters and traps were still in place (although my castle was basically just the bare minimum design you get from completing the tutorial), so if it's just losing money, then maybe that's something I could handle. All I have to do is make sure that all my money is spent at all times. And this, presumably, would result in a deadlier castle where my remaining funds would be all the safer for my profligate spending.

I'm just not sure I'll feel comfortable doing the sorts of things necessary to get that gold in the first place. I was pretty sanguine about losing my gold because I just started the game and I didn't lose too much. But what if I'm really successful and I manage to swipe a significant chunk from an established player? Logging on to find that you were robbed can be a distressing experience. The fact that there's another human on the other end of the computer, whose day may well be ruined by my success, manages to take some of the fun out of dungeon-raiding.

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