This week, Dan Fortier muses about the idea of playing a genuinely evil character in an MMORPG.
Editor's Note: This is an edition of a weekly column by Staff Writer Dan Fortier. The column is called "MMOWTF" and will look at some of the stranger or more frustrating events in MMOs as seen by Mr. Fotier. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of MMORPG.com, its staff or management.
The Necromancer woke from his long meditation slowly. The room was filled with rotten musty tomes piled on top of each other haphazardly and draped with cadavers in various stages of decay. The overpowering stench of death was lost on the youth as he rose to his feet. One of the bodies groaned and writhed in agony beneath the pile so the novice mage reached over and gave him a few quick taps to the head with his staff until he fell unconscious again.
"I'll have to remember to put more venom in their drinks next time." he muttered as he strode to the window to look outside.
Outside the carrion birds were feasting on the untilled fields of the dead that were heaped across the pasture in a kind of macabre wall. The shrieks of the birds intensified and they took to the sky with their putrid breakfast as a tall figure in robes of midnight scattered them with his presence. The apprentice seized up his robes and hurried outside to speak with his master before any of the other students awoke.
The pale and gaunt figure leaned heavily upon his scythe and he took in the carnage around him with a rheumy gaze. Crisp footfalls on grave soil told him at least one of his pupils was awake. He straightened and turned slowly at the boy's approach and placed his withering glare upon him. The boy came to a halt a few paces away and stared at the ground in reverence while he spoke.
"I'm sorry I spent so much time in meditation Master, but I'm ready to fulfill whatever tasks you have for me!" he blustered, trying to catch his breath in the rancid air.
The archmage thought carefully for a moment as if mentally setting fire to the cobwebs in his addled, worm-eaten brain. When he did speak it was with the hoarse whisper of the grave.
"Good day to you lad! I was hoping you could help me out with a few errands: First I'll need you to kill ten of those annoying vultures and bring me back their feathers as proof, then head into town and speak to Gavin the Mortician who has some powered ghoul nails that I need for my experiments. When you return I'll reward you with a silver shod staff that won't con gray for you. What do you say?"
Ever get the feeling that game designers don't care if you want to play an evil character or not? I have yet to play an MMO that really lets players be evil, let alone do anything but change the name of the materials you need to get for the FedEx quests you receive from an evil faction. There are a few reasons I can think this is the case, but none of them are really good enough for me. They are either trying to avoid an M-rating, or they just don't want to do the work to create a satisfying bad-guy experience.
We have some Devs who are promising to give us more mature content, but it seems that the only kind of mature that they have in mind is cleavage and decapitation. Please guys, I'm as interested as the next guy in blood and hot girls in tight outfits, but please for the love of evil, give me a chance to do play a bad guy without being forced to do the exact same quests and content as everyone else. Is it really too much to ask for a quest line that lets me infiltrate a good town, poison the well and/or kidnap the only priest? This kind of thing wouldn't be much harder to design so the reason we don't see this sort of thing must lie somewhere on the "Clean" side of the excuse fence.
Age of Conan looks like it might be headed in the right direction with that very saucy IP and I'm still holding out hope that WAR won't turn Chaos or Orks into delivery boys. That would be too much for me. A few sandbox MMOs with more or less open PvP allow players to be complete jerks, but then again, that's not so much a role as a virtual extension of our anger.
Even the single player RPGs that let you walk on the dark side create some kind of weird penalty for doing so. Being the bad guy in those games mostly entails doing the exact same missions as the good guys except with different dialog. Even Pen and Paper RPGs discourage evil players to keep things conformed to "heroic fantasy". Maybe I'm just burnt out on 'freeform' games that only pay lip service to the Dark Gods...Hmm that was a bit over the top. I think I'll just leave this topic in your capable hands.
Wow, can you believe you've had to put up with my elitist tirades for half a year already? Even though I doubt I'll get half a cake, it's reward enough for me to read your rapier wit critiques every week. Hasta la Microsoft Vista baby.