By ahoodedfigure 6 Comments
(With thanks to Tennmuerti for the idea of Tank. Now the Cowboy Bebop theme song is in my head, which is not a bad thing! )
Wherein Hooded breaks out a few modded gaming terms and examines them, then nukes the site from orbit.
One of the side effects of the Fetch Quest is the need to gather X amount of Y. In games with random drops, then, you are often asked to kill a certain monster (mob), or locate certain resource nodes (whatever you want to call them) that will, eventually, yield what you want. Even if the drops aren't random (in games like the upcoming Salem, at least you're usually guaranteed to get SOME branches from a newly grown tree) and you get these things every time, the act of using the figurative scythe in gaming is called farming.
Real life farming covers the whole of the process, from sowing the seeds to cultivation to harvesting. In games it's more about the harvesting.
Some people find farming relaxing. They like to go out and do simple tasks and get a pat on the head for their efforts, and I can't say that I'm completely immune to that, but I find that enough farming will start to spark this sort of existential debate across my corpus callosum. It goes something like this:
A: "What the fuck are we doing?"
B: "Hm? What do you mean?"
A: "I know you hate it when I do this, but I'm going to reduce this to base elements here. Pretend those aren't monsters, but just areas you click on. You SOMETIMES get a reward for clicking on them, sometimes not. Eventually when you get enough rewards, you take them back to the dipshit standing at the entrance who can't be bothered to do this even though he's higher level than us."
B:"You're right. But then we'll get that leather tunic if we do this."
A:"Fine. But this is the last time."
Repeat until A finally throttles B in its sleep and I move on to something more rewarding.
Since the term farming used in games seems like a bit of a criticism it's hard for me to begrudge it. It's when terms like this become expected aspects of play across entire genres that worries me. We have a tendency to settle in to comfortable grooves and pretend things were always like this, but I get the feeling people are becoming a bit tired of the same old formula. Even variations on this theme might make things not as maddening, but why innovate when you can take the safe route? Bleah.
I was never quite sure when this term became ubiquitous, but I'm pretty sure it had something to do with MMOs again. Maybe I didn't play pen and paper RPGs enough to realize it, but we never really talked about characters in terms of the roles they played in combat. It was more that it was understood, the fighter was the one that took hits (because he or she had high hit points and usually a decent armor class).
Tanks in real life are of course those armored machines that propel soldiers and explosives over rough terrain, often covered in enough protection to prevent small arms fire from hurting anything or anyone inside. "Tank" refers to a few other things too, just to drive foreign speakers insane: tank can mean you've failed utterly, and can also refer to a sturdy container. Referring to a person as a tank tends to mean they're tough, and is probably a more direct analog to its gaming meaning.
Tanks in gaming refer specifically to the armored part, and how it, in effect, draws damage away from others by concentrating threat. Tanks wouldn't be much use if enemies could intelligently pick targets, so the concept of aggro helps mitigate this, by forcing many enemies to hang around the tank and do it damage because of a subjective need to whomp on this target first because it's, I dunno, irritating. You could also argue that aggro is a way of exaggerating threats, but as everyone knows, at least in fantasy gaming, it's smart to go for the wizards first.
Of course there are actual tank tanks in gaming, fuel tanks and the kind that go boom, but if I type the word tank too much more the word is going to lose all meaning for me. As with farming above, my worry here is that the idea of the tank is going to become firmly entrenched, if it hasn't already, in what people expect when they play a tactical combat game with multiple characters. It's certainly warranted in some games, but if you expect to see it everywhere, and get confused when you don't, then your skills have perhaps become too specialized. It's time to open the hatch and take in the fresh air outside, before you contract photophobia.
Any terms you all can think of that have taken on new meanings in video games? You find these changes irritating, or improvements, or something else entirely?