Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Money with Menaces

Right then, pay attention...

Today's post is bought to you courtesy of my Other Half, who bought to my attention via a conversation in Guild the above and not only the rather unique nature of the objectives but also how people react to them. This quest, let's face it, is a Social Experiment in progress.

Every time you go and ask the four relevant debtors for their cash, there is the chance you will be presented with the option to give two a harder ride than the others: you can be nice and offer to pay their debt for them (a measly 1g each) or you can, for want of a better expression, rough them up a bit. What staggered me when this conversation occurred in Guild was the sheer range of response it garnered:

  • Some people just pay for everybody regardless
  • Some seem to take an unusual glee in giving a particular NPC a hard time
  • Some will always take the 'rough them up' option because it's not usually the way Blizzard word these things
  • Some people think other people think too much about quests ^^

Somebody at Blizzard HQ has stuck this quest here for a reason, I believe. As with every other quest that's ever been made there'll be somewhere in the code where the results can be seen and are tabulated, and I reckon someone is looking at these numbers and planning outcomes for other quests based on them. I can remember the outcry in Guild when Wrath launched as it became apparent the Kirin Tor made you help them torture a rogue mage in the Borean Tundra, and then in Cataclysm that sneaky Druid in Hyjal who likes a bit of extra-curricular stabby with her Harpy victims. Little moments like this that force you out of traditional comfort zones are nothing new in other games, but they do cause moral ambiguities to surface (in this case) where you'd least expect them.

What I found most interesting in the answers I heard was the reasoning behind why some people would favour one NPC over another. I'll admit that I'm one of the people who pretty much takes pity on everyone who can't afford to pay and stumps up for them... everyone except the Guy in the Hut :p

You're rude and I don't like you.

I don't normally play the Sexism card but something about this guy's tone presses all the wrong buttons with me. I bet if I did some research there's an experiment somewhere where people will have been presented with this kind of response and these were the two options you could chose from... I wonder how many people took the threat option. I'll grant you, punching him in the mouth is not the answer, in an ideal world, but I don't like to be told to scurry off anywhere. Use your good looks for stuff other than pretending being handsome got you where you are today. Frankly, you can stump up, pal.

The reason why this discussion resonated with me  I think has to do with the way things are currently heading for the factions and the very real issues a growing number of people have with the morality of decisions being made 'above us'. I had a long chat with my friend a couple of weekends back: he works for a major gaming company and knows a fair bit about how the process of quest progression works. He and I both agreed there should not simply be one path to follow any more for a faction: it would be great to have more forks in the road, more points where we are forced to make decisions like these and as we do the quest environment changes around us. This would give those people who wanted to fight for the glory of their faction a chance to shine, while those of us who might want to take a less violent approach get the chance to come to a different conclusion which still affects the final outcome.

I think we need more opportunities to make moral choices in game which will change our path towards the next expansion. I think the consequences for Azeroth could be very interesting indeed.

1 comment:

TheGrumpyElf said...

I pay if they give me a hard luck story, like the girl at the inn who has fallen on hard times. The guy that says ginas father is rich I threaten. Screw him I say.

The real question should be, what is gina doing that she is always collecting money and needs to send out strong arms to get it?

Is she a loan shark?
Is she a drug dealer and these people aren't paying?
Maybe she is a bookie and these people lost bets?

I find it hard to believe that this is all about herbs and cooking supplies. I am sure gina is up to something, something no good. And as my best friend she should cut me in. ;)