It's one of those mornings. 0414 as I type this, and I can't sleep. This week has sucked... and not in the definition I'm a fan of.
So, as I sit here listening to Five Finger Death Punch's new album (which fucking rocks, by the way -- Under and Over It All is easily one of the best songs I've heard in years) I'm feeling a bit introspective; which granted I usually am when I'm in what my owner calls one of my "melancholy moods".
I was playing Oblivion earlier; on a new-ish game -- I don't get off on starting new games or anything by the way, it's just that a lot of Lovers plugins are less than amazingly stable, and tend to break saves... I keep a limited number per character because of Oblivion's relative stability, and the breakage doesn't generally occur until they're all afflicted.
As I've noted in the past, I'm a fan of Colourwheel's mods in general. Tonight in particular, I had progressed far enough into the game to organize a heist on the Ladies' Bank of Cyrodiil -- the vaults of which contain literally millions of septims worth of gold and paper notes. With CW's tendency to mis-read "Guards" as "Gods" and set up her NPCs accordingly, such a heist is certainly not to be undertaken lightly, but it can be done: get in, kill a guard; loot their keys (all locks in CW's work are key-required); steal; and get out without getting a bounty and/or assraped by the level 100 "guards".
As I was offloading the loot at Khafiz, my favorite fence, a thought occurred.
Where do you draw the line? Where does it become cheating?
Now, normally, I say if you don't use a code or over the top mod -- if you work completely within the game's normal limits, it ain't cheating. Exploiting the system? Sure; but not cheating.
As I was selling loot, Khafiz's inventory bugged, and he got 65535 gold -- not an unusual event in Oblivion if you work the inventory hard enough without closing the barter window. What got me thinking this time, was that it bugged worse than usual; and went into an infinite loop: if I sold something worth enough to eat his entire remaining barter amount, it would sell and instantly reset to 65535. As my stash of septims passed 1.2 million, I started thinking... is this cheating?
I mean, I wasn't using an additem code; wasn't using a cheat mod with add-on-command items; wasn't using a mod to artificially increase barter gold. Sure, it's a flawed engine... but I was just working within it. Not my fault the devs were too lazy to patch the barter system up so it worked right... right?
So I ask you, semi-loyal readers: where do you draw the line? When does it stop being playing the game; and start being cheating?
Codes? Mods? Exploiting holes in the system?
Will you purposefully restrain yourself from using techniques and such that have the potential to make a game "too easy"? Or is anything "official" in the game fair?
At the end of the day... is the line anything more than academic? There's a fine line between "challenging" and "an ordeal". One game is fun, the other isn't.
I suppose it heavily depends on what you want from the game. As I've said before, I tend to ignore the main quest in Oblivion (and FO3/NV) and just do my own thing; exploring, buying in-game stuff.
Oblivion is easier than most to exploit, granted. I learned years ago how to become a God in Oblivion. Want to know? You'll need the ability to cast a chameleon spell of any type; access to an enchanting altar; five trapped grand souls; five equippable items -- or four of each and the Ring of Khajiiti from Meridia's shrine quest. Enchant the items with chameleon -- you'll get 20% for each grand soul; and 35% for Meridia's Ring. Either way, once you get the items for 100% chameleon you have full-time, non-dispel-able invisibility; but can still steal, attack, and interact with the environment.
It's amusing for about an hour. After that, you realize you may as well be playing in God mode with the NPCs' combat AI off for all the challenge the game presents when no one can see you.
Can't say as I do it much, despite the fact that it's fully within the game's rules -- completely attainable even without a single mod or DLC running. Handy to have on hand for a couple parts of the main quest where things are time-sensitive, though -- like stopping the siege engine from reaching Bruma. Beyond that... I dunno; it's just too easy.
Granted, the couple million septims I made off the bugged inventory means I'll not have to grind bandits for loot to sell in this game anymore... but I'm beginning to wonder. Leaves a bit of an empty feeling.
I'm beginning to wonder about FONV, as well. Since installing those communal containers, I've got enough loot to clean out every merchant of caps, every time their inventory resets. Have more than 150k caps at present, and many more if I can find someone to pawn off those gold bars from Dead Money on. With the short-sightedness of Bethsoft's devs regarding game economies, that one's pretty much set-for-life, too -- there's nothing in FNV to eat that many caps. Not even if I tried.
I wonder some days if Mystery-chan's comments to me in FNV aren't spot-on. My methods are more round-a-bout, but maybe it would be better to just use an additem and not even have the pretense.
If I go the flip side, and don't abuse the systems... where do I draw the line? Where does it stop being "smart playing" and start being exploitation...? Do I pretend I'm a GMPC; pointedly ignore that I know where the good items are in the game already, just drone-along picking up whatever the devs decided I should be allotted for my level and the point in the story?
By the same token, aren't I cheating regardless? I mean, I made my name (small as it is) modding with companions. Extra combatants who help in combat; carry more loot than you could alone; spawn with "free weapons"...