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The Language of Games – Part 5 – From Exploits to Random Encounters

Last time I left you on a cliffhanger. What is an exploit? Well it’s when someone takes advantage of a bug, or something else not intended for use by the developers, and uses it to their own advantage, or to the disadvantage of other players. Contrary to popular belief, a bug in a computing context is not the infiltration of a small insect into the system hardware (although this is precisely one possible story of the etymology), but is rather a fault with the software leading to errors. When the player is exploiting in order to give other players a bad experience, this is called griefing. 

Griefing takes many forms across all sorts of multiplayer games, in particular first person shooters. The griefer, a word that is also linked to troll, might be intentionally team killing, which is killing people who are on the same team as you. This is only a viable griefing tactic if friendly fire is turned on, allowing team mates to damage each other. If you’re lucky, the troll might be taking it out on the other team by camping them. Camping involves hiding in and around a specific area which allows you to repeatedly kill opposing players as they respawn or run past. This can be helped with the aid of an aimbot, an illegal program which will automatically aim at opposing players, taking all skill out of the game and allowing you to get massive scores with no effort.

The most common form of griefing comes in the form of good old fashioned verbal abuse. Calling each other noobs across in-game chat is a mainstay of modern video games and either has to be embraced or ignored. It doesn’t have to just be rude language though, you could be a spammer, and just fill the chat with nonsense. A good time to get angry in the chat is if someone is a kill stealer. If you have done all the work damaging an opponent, only for someone else to swoop in and deal the killing blow, thus getting credit for the kill, then you are fully within your rights to lose your rag. You might even complain to the admins.

Administrators are mystical beings who are supposed to enforce the rules of whatever game you are playing. They wield a mighty weapon called a banhammer, used to kick and ban trolls and griefers from the game (no, it’s not a real hammer). They are the cousins of GMsgame masters, who perform a similar role, but are also there to fix problems for you if you find a bug. Of course, impersonating a GM or admin is considered griefing, and although the penalty is probably less severe than if you are caught impersonating a police officer, the offense is equally serious. If your offense is truly bad enough, you could get a permaban, and you won’t be allowed back on the server, at least until you change your username or IP address.

To avoid some griefing on MMORPGs, you might want to try playing on a PvE server, which is a player versus environment server, differing from the more common PvP servers, which stands for player versus playerWhat this all means is that while you are playing on a PvE server, you won’t be able to be attacked and killed by other players. The people who play on such servers are sometimes called carebears, a derogatory term usually used by PvP players which is used to describe people who want the game to be nice and easy. I don’t have any problem with people who want their games to be simple and care-free. Who has the time to spend hours playing tough games anymore anyway? Actually, that brings me to my next topic quite nicely.

JRPGs, the acronym for Japanese role playing games, have been around for a long old while now, and are really quite popular in, you guessed it, Japan. They are of course popular in the West as well, but to a lesser extent. The Final Fantasy franchise is the one most people would name, which is a series that started over twenty-five years ago, and is now on its sixteenth iteration, not including several remakes and mobile device games. JRPGs are characterised by their epic (correct usage of the word), sprawling story lines which span dozens of hours of gameplay. A common gameplay feature is turn based combat, initiated by random encounters. 

Picture the scene. You’re walking across an open field. Suddenly, you pause and three dangerous enemies materialise and start attacking you. This is what happens during random encounters in games, an odd mechanic which was presumably introduced to cut down on processing power by having fewer things to draw on the screen. Random encounters are used a lot less these days, and their removal is seen as a blessing by some players who disliked not being able to see what they were up against before entering a fight.

That’s it for this time. Come back next time when we will see where we go from random encounters. Hint: Pocket Monsters are involved.

Thanks for reading.

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2 comments on “The Language of Games – Part 5 – From Exploits to Random Encounters

  1. [...] of those Xs is a word relating to all areas of video games however. Next time we’ll talk about exploits as we explore the expanding world of video game [...]

  2. [...] Last time I left you with the notion of random encounters in games. The first time I ever encountered them as a gamer was when I was around seven or eight years old in Pokémon Blue. If you venture into the long grass, sooner or later you are going to come across a Pokémon. The few of the creatures you could find that were not random were the legendary ones, and for some reason, Snorlax. I was on a trans-Atlantic flight when I first reached a Snorlax, and I had no idea what to do to wake him up. Bearing in mind this was before a time where you could ignore aircraft rules to use wireless signals, it became a fairly frustrating journey. [...]

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