Stolen Pixels #128: Quotas

By Shamus
on Sep 25, 2009
Filed under:
Column

A bit of a cross-over here, as Star on Chest appears in a Stolen Pixels.

About the thing depicted in the comic: Don’t pretend you haven’t done the same thing.

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201636 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.

From the Archives:

  1. Volatar says:

    Yeah, the link is broken :P

  2. Volatar says:

    Now that I have read the comic, I must comment on how great it was.

    That made my day Shamus :D

  3. UTAlan says:

    Haha. That’s awesome. I better be careful or you’re gonna end up convincing me to buy that game against my better judgment (which is, of course, my wife).

  4. Deoxy says:

    Ah, the primary joy of an MMO… the complete futility of doing anything.

    Seriously, absolutely everything you do for the world is either A)only seen by you, or B)completely and utterly undone very, very shortly. (or C) All of the above.)

    And of course, even if you save someone/the world anyway, you didn’t REALLY save anything at all, as they would never have died/the world would never have actually ended.

    Somebody needs to make a single-player MMO, where the only thing shared is the finding of stuff and the ability to party for certain quests. Then you could actually save the world, and it would “STAY SAVED for a little while.” (Mr. Incredible)

    Didn’t you mention something about a game like this a while back? I can’t remember… Hmm, I think I’m just thinking of Jade Empire (standard single player, wasn’t it?).

  5. Lilfut says:

    I bet the comic’s awesome.

    Unfortunately, my school’s filter is going crazy over The Escapist. >_>

  6. Rutskarn says:

    Well, I haven’t played the game, so…yeah, I can actually go ahead and say I’ve never done this.

    Oh! Oh, no, wait, there was that guy trapped under a piece of debris a few weeks ago. Yeah, he’s probably still there.

  7. Stephen says:

    I got over the muggings pretty quickly in CoH, because you literally can’t go anywhere without passing ten. The citizens under rubble still get me in CO, though, and it’s only by remembering that I’m essentially stealing mission nodes from other players that I’m able to avoid the urge to at least free every citizen on my way back to the mission giver.

  8. Mephane says:

    Shamus, you *do* get XP for helping people. At least those guys surrounded and threatened by thugs etc. always give me ~500 XP upon rescue, however this only works once, after that the specific spawn does not yield anything. Oh, and sometimes they give you a “help a citizen” mission thereafter.

  9. krellen says:

    I don’t play blueside in CoH that often, and redside doesn’t have random “save the citizen” moments, but when I’m in a low-level area and playing my hero, I do stop to save the citizens (even when there’s no reward for it).

    Sometimes I just grab a hero and go to low-level areas specifically to waste some time saving citizens. Because that’s how I roll.

    I also drop mines at the feet of Nazis, because everyone likes exploding Nazis.

  10. chabuhi says:

    I don’t even understand why Star on Chest is famous. I swear — he’s like, on the Internet once and suddenly he’s the star of a serial comic strip. Reminds me of the 90s when everyone and his brother had an HBO comedy special.

    I mean, it’s not like Star on Chest is a Breen, or even a (COUGH!)castingcouch(COUGH!) Zoey. He’s like Paris Hilton. Or everyone on The Hills.

    Seriously, the criteria for being famous is about as complicated as being able to breathe. Just remember, America, when everybody’s a celebrity, then nobody is. Er … or something.

    Star on Chest my Ass. Why don’t you go back to whatever trust-fund, boarding school you crawled out from under. Poser.

  11. Rick W says:

    Deoxy: Sounds like Guild Wars.

    In CoH, I didn’t like to ignore NPCs, but an experience trying to rescue a person being sacrificed by purple-con CoTs outside the hospital in Steel Canyon cured me of that. And it gets a lot easier once you can fly/teleport/super jump.

  12. HeadHunter says:

    Heroes, remember:

    If you build a man a fire, he’ll be warm for the night.

    If you set a man on fire, he’ll be warm for the rest of his life! :D

  13. Groboclown says:

    This is one of the big reasons why I only play private server MMOs. The GMs and players work together to create stories that actually mean something in game, and have a lasting effect.

    The other reasons include playing with a select group of people (which helps me feel superior to the unwashed MMO people), and it’s free.

  14. chabuhi says:

    OMFG – Star on Chest totally just friended me!!! #fb

  15. Randy Johnson says:

    @Groboclown And Illegal if it happens to be an MMO made by a major developer!

  16. Don J says:

    That “personalized” photo to chabuhi just made my day. It gets better every time I look at it — I just noticed that the name “chabuhi” is in a different font, like some kind of form letter. Awesome!

  17. Ergonomic Cat says:

    Deoxy: WoW is doing something like that I know.

    And Star Wars: The Old Republic will likely be all over it.

  18. Joshua says:

    Deoxy, when my wife and I first got into LOTRO, they “promised” the ability for more permanent changes based upon your actions. The box presented something like, “engage in a storyline where a city is ransacked, and then later on the city will be burned every time you visit it” as an example. Unfortunately, that “example” of Archet(or the starter Dwarven/Elven area) is pretty much the full extent of that. After that, they try to “fake” it by using customized Instance areas like rooms with NPCs in them to give you the impression that something has changed.

    Why is it so hard to craft an MMO where you can physically see the results of your deeds and feel like you’re accomplishing something with the story?

    On a bit of a tangent, the other killing factor for me about MMOs is the need to have certain parties at times just to continue the storyline, and sometimes those parties are hard to find or make you overly reliant upon being in a large and active Guild/Kinship. So many times I’ve followed a quest chain, and have to put it to the side for a month or two while working on something else just because I couldn’t find a full group to go do that specific quest, and I didn’t feel like waiting around for hours at a time just to find the group.

    So, any good new single-player or LAN-based multi-player coming out, where I can actually experience a normal story? :)

  19. Heron says:

    When I played LotRO I had all sorts of trouble. Directions were terrible (“it’s southwest” “no, it’s west” “no, it’s northwest”), quests were unclear (“it’s in cave X”, “no, it’s in cave Y”), and sometimes they were just stupid.

    One quest was to track down some dwarf and talk to him. When I trudged to wherever he had decided to chill (a good ten minute walk from the nearest town), the moment I talked to him we were attacked by two or three puny little wolves.

    I attacked one of them and chased it around a corner, where I killed it. Then I got a notice saying I had failed the quest by failing to protect the dwarf.

    So… he can chill there indefinitely until I get there, but the instant I show up, he’s taken out by a pair of low-level wolves? He’s supposed to be stronger than me! So much for that quest line. (You can’t retry it, even though the guy respawns in the same place. He won’t talk to you anymore.)

    So… screw saving citizens. In LotRO, even the supposedly strong Dwarven quest givers need saving.

  20. chabuhi says:

    @Joshua

    Why is it so hard to craft an MMO where you can physically see the results of your deeds and feel like you’re accomplishing something with the story?

    I don’t know if this answers your question exactly, but a similar question was answered for me at the launch of EQII. In that game, certain areas had permanent objects (monuments I guess) that you could attach your avatar’s name to by being the first to discover (ie – click on) the object. Then everyone who came along after you would click on it and see that you had already discovered it. Cute concept, except that even on Day 1, every object was already claimed by GuybrushT, LeggoLasss, and iWazInBeta77.

    Basically, you can’t have an MMO in which it’s possible for people to “leave their mark” on the world because 5,000 other people have already beaten them to it.

    imo – if you want a world that makes you feel like you make a difference, stick to single-player. That’s what I do.

  21. Sord says:

    @Joshua

    Why is it so hard to craft an MMO where you can physically see the results of your deeds and feel like you’re accomplishing something with the story?

    If you’d like to experience a persistent MMO, try A Tale in the Desert where everything you do is permanent. If you build a building, it is there for everyone to see and interact with until you tear it down. One consideration is that the game resets every so often (18 months-2 years) to clear out objects and let everyone play through the progression again (with tweaks so it isn’t identical). Also, the game currently lacks a story (attempts have been made, but it is not the dev’s strong suit).

    I’d also point out that WoW has done some of what you want with ‘phased content’ where as you advance the story the world changes (for you). But the side effect is you end up with strange situations where you and a friend can see each other, but not the same surroundings (such as the monster that is attacking one of you). To minimize that sort of stuff, you’d want to make your MMO very linear so everyone at a certain level has completed the same phases.

  22. Cuthalion says:

    Hilarious comic. I noticed, for once, no negative feedback from people. Congratulations! (For now…)

    Also, Star on Chest sure knows how to respond to his loyal fans. I bet chabuhi is super-excited.

  23. Pickly says:

    Basically, you can’t have an MMO in which it’s possible for people to “leave their mark” on the world because 5,000 other people have already beaten them to it.

    To add to this point, it might be possible for an MMO to allow people to change the world in certain ways, but the changes would need to be reversible, or otherwise able to be undone by someone else, in order to allow the other players in the game to be able to make their own changes. (Which might loose some of the appeal for a lot of people).

    For people who want a “story” for their games, making these sorts of changes also would almost certainly interfere with the ability to plan a story well, or to create one with a conclusion or such, simply because of the randomness of what people might do, and because any “work” a person does in “completing” the story will almost certainly be undone by someone else in order to keep the game fresh

  24. Galenor says:

    I have done this loads. Man needing help? I did your quest. Elephant in a bear trap? The Bear Trap remover takes an age to cool down! I am not waiting around just to save your life! I have groups of quest monsters to divebomb into! Yeesh.

    Another trick is the “I did your quest chain before, or your motives are very obvious, so while i realise this quest chain will end in you betraying me, showing yourself as The Evil Wrongdoer of Mischief, and then level an entire village ‘just for laughs’, hot damn does your quest chain give sick XP and a brutal sword. You level that town, dude. I’m gonna get me some new skills” excuse.

  25. MelTorefas says:

    WoW is a terrible offender for this, as in it once you have completed a quest MOST of the time you will no longer be ABLE to help the NPCs. Nothing makes me sadder than walking past the trapped baby mammoths in Borean Tundra or the sacrifical prisoners in one of the many Scourge camps throughout Northrend and not being able to do anything for them because I can no longer interact with their cages/get keys from enemies.

  26. Terrible says:

    There’s an ambulance right next to him. He probably put that rock on top of himself just to try to get Star on Chest’s autograph.

  27. ehlijen says:

    @Joshua

    Why is it so hard to craft an MMO where you can physically see the results of your deeds and feel like you’re accomplishing something with the story?

    The Starfleet Command servers had something like that. OK, they weren’t really mmorpogers, but they still had persistent servers where people would log in and try to do their little part for taking over the galaxy every day. The problem was that sooner or later, one faction would always loose all its spawn points and the server had to be reset, which included all the player ships (ie characters).

    The problem with combining MMOs with a developing storyline is that good storylines have ends. Putting an end into your MMO isn’t really a good marketing move as you want people to keep playing.

    You could run a server that with a story that’s participation drive, but then you’d most likely have to give up on npcs and quests, and therefore leveling. That’s not something most people want from MMOs.

    Actually, here’s a thought. Shamus, could the procedural generation method be applied to story writing without it becoming too repetetive too soon? What kind of coding or memory usage would that entail?

  28. Miral says:

    A number of different MMOs have randomised quests (go to random starting location, explore random instance environment, collect random MacGuffin / kill random number of enemies — where “random” was a value calculated partly from a random number and partly from your skills/attributes). That’s procedurally generated missions. Whether that counts as “story” is another question.

    It does serve as decent filler between “real” missions, but it all does get a bit same-y after a while.

  29. The only changes you make in an MMO is to your character as they progress. Otherwise, people who join the game after launch day find the world already saved…

  30. Ergonomic Cat says:

    A Tale in the Desert is awesome for persistence. The disease that spread and had to be cured was very cool to follow via a friend.

    In general, I think Realm v Realm is as close to persistent MMOs as we’ll get until APB and SW:TOR.

  31. Haviland says:

    Is it just me or does Star on Chest have a Super Wang in the first panel?

    • Shamus says:

      “Is it just me or does Star on Chest have a Super Wang in the first panel?”

      Don’t be silly. He has one ALL THE TIME.

      (Sorry.)

      That’s the spawn point for new players, and someone is standing inside of him.

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