Getting into this box is what's best for both of us. During your time in the box, you will learn so much, and yet experience so little. It's a wild ride, my friend, one well worth the time spent...and let's face it, you don't have much to do these days anyway.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Entryism in Video Games.

Roguelikes are a sub-genre of role-playing game that center around randomised environments, often brutal difficulty, and permanent player death. Implementations vary, but the core game mechanics of the subgenre are listed here. One particular aspect I'd like to highlight is listed below:
Roguelikes take Final Death to the extreme. When your character dies, that's it - he's dead for good. Saving the game is often possible, but it is only used for having a pause from playing. Save Scumming is thus flatly disallowed.
A player on the forums has appeared, claiming to want to "improve" the game in various ways. First off, the removal of anti-save scumming features:
I would like to have the option to quit without updating my save.
That Is to say that the next time I loaded the game I would pick up at the last time I hit "Save and Continue"; rather than picking up at where I quit. I'm sick of having to shut down the game from the task manager. 


I am of those standards; but we don't all have to be sheep and do what everyone else does. 


I could ask a similar question of you. Why should the game be needlessly restricted other than rigid adherence to meaningless tradition?
 Removal of core game mechanics:
I would like to have an option in tweakDB to have all corruption effects instead instantly kill the character. Quite frankly it would be more fun to have to reload from my last save than have all my equipment ruined (quite frankly this is what I do half the time anyway, but this suggestion would save me the trouble of having to end the game through the task manager). 
And decreasing the difficulty:

As one progresses through the game the frequency at which one levels up slows to an intolerable crawl. This factor conspires with several others (such as inventory management) to make the game become progressively more dull as one plays through a game.

I understand that this is something that occurs in many RPGs but I see no reason why you should seek to emulate the extremely poor design of other games. Especially since the issue could be corrected, both here and elsewhere, simply by increasing the xp values of higher level monsters.
The thing is, all of these are amongst the reasons why Roguelikes have a very small fan following and are hence often only developed via open source or by indie developers; there simply isn't enough for a fanbase for an AAA game studio to justify making one worth the time and money spent. And that's fine. It's part of the culture.

And there is a culture amongst the roguelike game community. We play these games because they are unfair, because we like randomly generated stuff, because we like having to deal with our mistakes instead of using the save/reload feature to wipe them all out at will. We enjoy the brutal difficulty.

And here comes some guy demanding that stuff be changed. What is this fellow's definition of "meaningless tradition" and "poor design"? Apparently, "anything I don't like."

What makes things worse is that the modding tools provided with the game allow him to do all those and more, with little more than notepad and a quick find and replace/delete, if he so desires. If people want to play a game the way they want to personally, hey, that's fine. If you get enjoyment from turning all the cheat codes and messing around, sure. But that isn't enough for this fellow, he needs everyone to follow his schtick. No matter there's a reason such traditions are around, no matter that his demanded changes would cause the roguelike to cease to be one, which was what we all came and paid for in order to enjoy.

This is what happened to SFWA, only on a smaller scale. An organisation or group gets infiltrated by external agents, it gets improvemented, as Tex Arcane would put it, and if not checked, eventually looks nothing like the original. A standard tool of the left in their long march through the institutions.

Jim calls this phenomenon "entryism", and has listed a number of historical and ongoing examples, as well as counter-measures to it.

Happily, the developers appear to be ignoring this particular loudmouth, so he doesn't seem to be so much of a problem, and there's not as much at stake here. However, when applied to societal institutions...yeah.

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