9.13.2007

What the Hell, Man?!

Random battles. Sounds silly, doesn't it? Well, up until recently, they were the bane of an RPG gamer's existence. The premise: it was too complicated and technically demanding for designers to incorporate enemies directly into every area of game, so they were forced to make battles with all non-plot relevant enemies random. The result: frustration. This concept is being phased out in today's games, but let's take a moment to appreciate just how inconvenient this was.

Regardless of what you were trying to accomplish in a game, random battles were a nuisance:

Heading to an Important Destination
Let's say you're late for work. You jog to the bus stop and wait impatiently for the bus that you will soon be blaming for your tardiness. Finally, said bus arrives and you go to get on, but an old lady stepping off the bus takes a shot at your shin with her cane, and proceeds to beat you. Now you're late AND you have to defeat Crazy Marge before the bus leaves.

Great, so you managed to catch the bus in time. Halfway to your destination, the bus reaches a red light. Apparently agitated by this, the driver gets up and, blaming you, tackles you. Now you must find a way to crush Bus Driver Larry and drive the bus to work yourself.

...and so on. See how this could be frustrating? Of course, I'm assuming you win your battles. If not, you get knocked unconscious and wake up back home in bed, even later for work.

Looking for a Fight
So, this time, you're trying to get in a fight. You've been charged with finding 10 hippies and collecting their sunglasses, because your boss is feeling retro. Suddenly, there are no fights to be found. You head to the hippie-dense areas and run around, shouting inflammatory things about how war and hate are A-okay, but with little luck. The best you can hope for is just to run in circles and hope this bothers someone enough to drive them out of hiding to attack you. You manage to pick fights eventually, but it takes you hours just to find 10.

Wounded
You found the hippie glasses, but you're badly injured. Apparently, Birkenstocks pack a punch. Now, you just want to get home and nurse your wounds. You're not in a hurry; you try to be as nice to everyone as possible; you don't want any trouble, but, of course, you hold the door for someone who finds this demeaning, and they slam the door on your forearm and proceed to flail at your face. You flee, but drop 3 hippie sunglasses on the way. Great.

Good riddance, random battles. You will not be missed here.

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