Saturday, December 29, 2012

If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free

Ignore the pet, concentrate on the quest!

I have been attempting to catch up on my questing, and as a result I found myself in the Krasarang Wilds yesterday, faced with the type of moral dilemma I know other people never struggle with. No, I'm not talking about fighting the Jungle Grub (I've been very good and not biffed anything for at least a week while I try and catch up with overdue gubbins,) I'm talking about my expectations as a hero against what the game asks me to do. I've never been a big fan of the either/or option, and this particular quest is a case in point: I'm sent to save a bunch of Night Elf Sentinels from a dig site, who have befallen the same fate as a similar bunch of Dawnchaser Taurens. My instructions are terse, to the point, and ultimately very depressing indeed:

No. Just NO.

Answer me this, Blizzard: why can't I rescue EVERYBODY?

I know, I'm in a fight just down the beach. I am forced to slaughter the Horde on a daily basis to support the Humans. I close my eyes and I do my job, even though deep down I would rather never kill another Horde in my life and retire to what is left of Pandaria after we've completely destroyed it. Therefore, when I am given a visual choice between the Green mob and the Red one I find myself not simply clicking, but wondering why I can't show compassion and let everybody go. What is really so wrong about being able to release all the prisoners of oppressive Mogu subjugation, regardless of their faction?

What would be even greater, with my game development hat on, would be an option to have two rewards for this quest embedded within it if I did. I'd go back to my quest giver and get my cash but later on I'd find another questgiver that would only activate if I made the choice to rescue everyone. A Tauren would meet me in the forest and thank me, would note that compassion in battle is a noble trait becoming only the most wise of heroes, and wouldn't reward me with gold or an item of armour: I'd gain new rep: Friend of the Horde. It would be an acknowledgement of my need to be fair to refugees, to protect the hapless victims of war. If I remember rightly there's something vaguely similar for moral choices in the Star Wars: Old Republic game: light side and dark side points. The key to this 'reputation' would be that it could be constantly changing, rising and falling, as you made your way across the World.

Then there's the kicker: what would the reputation give you? Because there has to be a reward, a carrot at the end of the stick... actually, does it always have to be that way?. If I had the chance to help both sides in compassionate ways like this, I know I'd not be doing it for any reward. I'd be doing it because not everyone in a war is the enemy. If there was to be anything as an 'incentive' it would be fabulous to have a questline like the one I'm seeing pan out with the Alliance forces at Lion's Landing, or for areas to open up in game you could only visit by making a specific set of moral choices. All too often I find myself thinking that Us v Them works very well when you're not emotionally invested in a game. After eight years however, an awful lot of people have a great deal to win or lose with their characters. It might be nice if finally it isn't just hidden quests like the Dailies in the Dread Wastes that we are left to discover for ourselves. The time could be right for some heroes to start helping put right the wrongs of their superiors. After all, if I can punch a giant bug to death on my own, what else could I be capable of achieving?

More and more as I move through the storytelling aspects of this game I'd at least like the opportunity to be given a choice to save everybody, at least once. Is that really too much to ask?

1 comment:

Andrew Sutherland said...

You should be able to release both captives but not to get extra stuff. Giving a bonus reward invalidates the moral dilemma. You just freed some people that your team are fighting against. You should get reduced rep/gold from your quest completion. Doing the right thing often has a personal cost.
As an aside you are probably limited to your own faction to prevent griefing.