Exploit or Common Sense?

A little Borderlands talk here and popping into MMOs and exploits.

I’ve always been good at finding holes in systems and games are systems when you look deep enough. Creatures have a pattern, be it a path or series of attacks or method to their movement or even sound cues.

I pick up on these intuitively and use them to my advantage.

Truth is, that’s all part of playing the game. These are all programmed in to be part of the challenge.

One example would be the way Skags in Borderlands work. They are some sort of twisted hybrid of lion, wolf and acid splitting worm. The face opens up to bite or spit (they’re really vulnerable if you shoot them in the face while it’s open – go figure), they howl at you, they pounce and claw or they charge at you. The larger ones sometimes spit acid, lightning (shock) or fire.

Taking them down is pretty simple; shoot them in the face when it is open, shoot them in the ass when they aren’t facing you and avoid shooting them head on because their armor will soak up the damage. When they charge, jump out of the way or at least jump because you’ll probably be knocked out of harm’s way. If they pounce, jump out of the way.

Knowing this, I can defeat them easily with the only challenge being when there are large numbers of them.

What do you do when a pack of wolves is chasing you? Stay on the ground where they can get you or do you get to high ground where their four legs aren’t able to get to?

That’s what I would do.

In some MMOs (like AC2) it was called ‘perching’. You’d get up somewhere high where the critters couldn’t get to you and pick them off. MMOs deal with this in various ways; the creatures ‘reset’, they warp up to you, they gain gain crazy reach or maybe they summon you to them.

Personally, I don’t believe that is an exploit because the game has mechanics for handling it. In the case of Borderlands, some of the Skags will shoot stuff at you while others will pounce on you. Either way, I still have to dodge stuff while aiming, timing and shooting the critters.

Others would disagree.

Another case of common sense would be when fighting that oversize moth that breathes exploding fire down on you. It’s idiotic to think you can just run around and shoot at it – maybe you could – while it was raining explosive death down on you (two hits dropped my near 400 point shield and a couple of more dropped my health).

I quickly noted the thing never swoops down so I bolted to the nearby vehicle shed where I used it as cover, popping out to shoot at the giant moth and popping back in when it started shooting back.

Exploit? I don’t think so, just common sense.

Truthfully, there could be some improvements to the AI in Borderlands. If I was up a tree shooting at wolves they’d run for cover, not just continue to bark and yap at me.

What I do agree is an exploit would be sitting in a location that creatures can reach but for some reason stop responding when you do. One example would be a corner in the Plane of Disease in EQ1, right on the inside right corner of the bone wall. There was a soft spot there that the creatures would stay agro to you but couldn’t attack you for what ever reason. As a melee type it wasn’t so useful but as a caster or ranged type it meant easy leveling.

That would be an exploit – it’s abusing a bug in the game for your advantage.

Another, similar exploit, would be in Deadmines of WoW where people would put their healer on a cannon that was out of reach of the melee enemies. The healer would then draw all sorts of heal agro on the tank taking VanCleef on so the adds would rush to the healer, only they couldn’t get to him.

Sounds like perching?

Not quite, because these adds had other targets to go after, they just couldn’t because of the agro list and not having a path to that healer. if the healer wasn’t exploiting the pathing, the encounter would be much tougher as the tank would have to keep the adds on him or they would have run off and squashed the healer.

I think there is a pretty fine line between what using common sense and what is using an exploit. MMO developers (and designers) really need to design for ‘common sense’ and avoid calling ‘exploit’ when it is something of their own failing. That said, if you know it’s a bug and make use of it for your own advantage then you get what you deserve for exploiting.

P.S. Skagzilla was my bitch. I didn’t have anywhere to perch and his armor made him immune to most of the stuff I could throw at him, but he couldn’t take me down either. Eventually I wore him down when I switched to an exploding sniper rifle.

Skags is so stoopid!


2 thoughts on “Exploit or Common Sense?

  1. In this case, talking about the Marley and Moe encounter, the skags can reach you, but due to their poor AI they do not. They can obviously jump, as they jump at you all the time. But they never jump on to the small ledge and onto the higher ledge to get you.

    With that said, when I did them solo I stood on the same ledge and killed them.

  2. They don’t jump at you because they spit at you which you still have to dodge and one of them also has a fire breath you need to avoid. Getting up on that ledge just saves you from having to worry about charges, bites and claws. Some of the other skags that came along with those ones did actually jump up there with me. 🙂

    There was another item that was borderline that I’m trying to remember.

    Oh, just remembered. Long range sniping. The AI in Borderlands is a little weak in that there seems to be an agro or awareness range in there and that range is often surpassed by a sniper rifle. If you’ve got a good long, clear view then you can sit back and pick off the critters easily enough. In some cases you can shoot them a couple of times without them really reacting.

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