So, since I'm here now, you guys get my long-winded thoughts on things. And yes, this is going to be one of those posts, but I hope you stick around.
Sometimes, I look at our entertainment and I really don't think it says a lot of good things about us. One of my favourite examples is Skyrim. Not because I hate Skyrim or think it's a bad game, entirely to the contrary, but because I feel games like this could be so much better.
One of the things that raised my ire about Skyrim is that if a bandit attacks a guard, that guard can then try to convince them to accompany them to jail. The player character never gets this option - and it's especially galling since there are already handcuffs of a sort in the game.
What I was thinking is that it would have been great if we could have acquired some of those off Jarls, and then used them along with our Speech skill to actually try and reason with the bandits that attack us. To try to get them to accompany the player character quietly to jail and not cause trouble.
It would be mostly based upon the Speech skill but with a modifier for accounting for the odd crazy. So what would happen then is that you'd have them run follower code, but they'd be unable to attack (like those prisoners the Thalmor and Stormcloak patrols have). You'd take them to the respective hold they're in, and the Jarl would pay you a reasonable bounty for their arrest.
You could even be corrupt (if you wanted) and offer to put in a good word for them, lowering their jail time, if they let you rummage through their stuff and take whatever you want.
This way, you're not killing every bandit you see and you're not responsible for mass genocide. But I'm not done there, that's only part of what I was thinking, and I'll get to the other part in just a moment. I will say though that it's a recurring thought for me that in these games I would actually really prefer to be a cop rather than a killer.
The other thought is that there are critters in the game that one could deal with without killing as well in different ways.
Let's deal with the sapient ones, first. How about the Hagravens? Some of them actually seem reasonable, so what's up with not being able to reason with them? It just seems ridiculous. Yes, I know some are plot points, but not all are. It'd be nice if, again with a high Speech skill, you could convince them to let you pass alive, for a small price. And for a better price to let you take what you need from their home.
Perhaps they'd even have a job or two for you.
Another element that occurs to me is animals in games. Now, one would think that a hunk of meat would have more appeal to an animal than a person in plate armour. So what I don't understand is why we can't toss a hunk of meat at tigers, bears, wolves, or whatnot and then make a run for it, avoiding having to kill.
What I'm thinking here is that many games have 'kill' as the only option to deal with something. And when it happens to be an RPG that has this problem, it depresses me even more. So it just means that you're this crazy maniac, but it's 2012 now, we're not on ancient hardware that couldn't actually handle the things I'm talking about, after all.
In fact, mods could likely do these things.
But I would dearly love it if future RPG developers would take these things into account. Sometimes, I look at our entertainment and I don't feel exactly good about it. Sometimes I think it just doesn't give a very good image of us, and then there's this tiny, nagging feeling at the back of my head that maybe, maybe the critics of games are a tiny bit right.
So what about you? Would you enjoy being a cop, a diplomat, and a roguish type who'd be able to get out of almost any situation without having to make a kill? Or would you prefer to just slaughter everything anyway?
I mean, I know some people enjoy it and find it cathartic. But in RPGs at least I keep wishing that developers would provide different ways to approach things. Because, frankly? Fantasy cop - this is an absolutely awesome idea. Maybe it isn't if you're not me, but I love it.
Just consider: What if that kill count was an 'arrested criminals' count?