Saturday, August 11, 2007

Environment-Based Tactics in a Star Trek MMORPG +

Some people have wondered whether the presence of objects in space that can degrade capabilities (such as nebulae that distort or block sensor readings) could be used by inexperienced but clever players to beat long-term players. The notion is that these phenomena are almost a kind of bug that can be exploited for unfair gain in PvP combat.

But isn't clever exploitation of in-game features -- that is, of environmental phenomena that are meant to be there and meant to be used -- pretty much the definition of being "better at the game"? Is it really unfair for one player to make good use of such intentional features when those features are available to anyone (assuming their characters have the necessary skills and equipment to do so)?

RPGs sit at the balance point between games of player skill and simulations. Both player skill and character abilities are called upon. Thus, explorable (and exploitable) environmental phenomena work well in RPGs because they provide opportunities for both player skills and character abilities to be used. That's part of what makes RPGs interesting.

So I don't mind if someone beats me with the environment as long as I may be able to use that environmental feature myself. If the playing field is level, let the person win who knows the game world better and is more effective at perceiving and making use of its environmental features.

Earning the Grankite Order of Tactics ought to mean something.