“If you choose the red door, turn to page 42”

My fiancé is playing “Dragon Age: Origins”. I figure at some point in the future I may play through it.. but not yet. Right now my plate is full and I don’t need more things to fill up my time. That said.. occasionally I’ll glance over his shoulder and see what he’s working on. For the most part DA:O reminds me of a “pick your own adventure” book interspersed with some WoWish fighting. I’m vaguely interested in the idea that your character would have to make choices and that those choices would have consequences.

In WoW the quests are linear. The quest giver asks you to do someting.. and either you do it (and get the reward) or you don’t do it (in which case you’ll be mocked for eternity by the quest exclamation mark that will never disappear from your screen). Even in cases where you are morally troubled by the contents of the quest (torture in Borean Tundra) the only decision you can make about the quest is to choose to -not- do it. The future of your toons is effected not one whit by the fact that you haven’t done the quest. It just remains .. undone. IN FACT you get greater benefit (gold, XP, future quests opening) by doing the morally questionable quest than by leaving it undone. There’s no “choice” in WoW questing. You’re simply completing a (long and sometimes boring) task list.

In addition to the element of “decision” in your character’s play DA:O also has some interesting puzzles. So far I’ve seen three of them. In one case his party was confronted with a magical disappearing bridge.

From the Lethal Gaming Community forums:

The Bridge Puzzle in the gauntlet requires the player to manipulate various pressure plates in order to activate a floating, magical bridge.

The bridge is comprised of four tiles that have three states: Invisible, Partially Visible and Solid.

The goal is to find the right combination of pressure plates to make a part of the bridge solid, move one character onto it and then proceed changing the remaining party members around the tiles until the bridge is crossed.

I helped my fiancé to solve this problem. I found it challenging.. and interesting and intriguing. I got a glow of excitement when I figured out the “trick” and an even bigger glow of accomplishment when I got his characters across the bridge.

I wish WoW would incorporate more things like this. I’d like to be able to make choices in the game and live (toonishly speaking) with the repercussions of those actions. I’d LOVE to be confronted with a puzzle to solve as part of a quest line or part of an instance. I hope things like this are coming in Cataclysm. Unfortunately.. I don’t think they are.. and that’s too bad. I didn’t realize I’d been missing these things.. but I do and I think WoW as a game is more shallow because of their lack.

4 thoughts on ““If you choose the red door, turn to page 42”

  1. It makes me think of some of the earlier computer games I played. Some of the ‘Indiana Jones’ titles were very puzzle oriented, which was fun though sometimes frustrating. And then there was a ‘Tex Murhpy’ title where your choice of dialogue effected the final outcome of the game: whether you lived a happy life with the girl of your dreams or not. It was a lot of fun, though it didn’t quite effect the world that much, just the ending.

    I like the idea of introducing more ‘puzzle’ elements into the game, but it will just never fly. In WoW the ‘puzzle’ is ‘How do I pull these mobs individually so I can fight Hogger without dealing with the entire Gnoll Nation?’ I don’t think most WoW players want to read or spend too much time thinking about what they’re doing. After all, people needed add-ons (that have now been incorporated by Blizz into the UI) to tell them where the spiders are, even though the questgiver says ‘northwest of here by the tower’ (admittedly, some quest directions were pretty vague or flat out wrong). Everything now is about going through everything as fast as you can. Kind of sad, really.

  2. I agree, that it would be nice to have some puzzles like that. I was a fan of “The 7th Guest” when it came out back in the 90s. It was always a thrill to figure out the trick. But if WoW went too heavy on puzzles, I would invaribly get to an evening like tonight. Tonight, I wanted to play WoW. I wanted to progress through some quest lines and get some gold. But I had a splitting headache. Reading the quest and figuring out the task was too much for my brain. I had to resort to the addons to tell me where to go and what to do. Some nights, the brain just can’t handle puzzles.
    .-= EvilElleon´s last blog ..I am….So Exhausted =-.

  3. I dont think an MMO game where choices have real and final consequences has really been done. The closest thing wow might have to something like that is switching ur rep between the two factions in scholazar basin. even then its easy enough to switch back but you lose rep gained either way. I think a game with real consequences like that would turn someone off if they made a string of bad decisions and were left with a long grind to get their character back to good standing in the game.

  4. Agreed, the big decision so far has been scryer or aldor. then oracle or worgen?? small rep rewards abound for those willing to suffer.

    I would love the idea of phased areas where I took route A so I can interact with this dealer/town where you only see burnt out ruins.. 🙂
    .-= Elkagorasa´s last blog ..How shall I spend my Emblems of Frost? =-.

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