By Mustachio 26 Comments
Usually I'm the type of player who enjoys going the medic and seeing the team excel rather than just myself. I mostly don't let myself get angry over kill-stealing and I'm rather proud of my number of assists, rather than just my K/D. Typically I'll try and keep an eye out on my fellow comrades to make sure nobody gets left by themselves in a bad situation. I'm not always successful, but I tend to have good intentions. I like to be a nice guy.
Most of the time.
The rest of the time, however, I revel in being a bit of a dick. However, don't mistake me for that guy who killed you five times in a row with some cheap tactic or glitch; I like to be an inventive dick. There's no fun in just mildly annoying another player, you should always play with your food before you snap it up. However, it should be noted that agitating other people is not exactly the goal of these little ventures. The real, more concealed goal, is to give them an experience the game might not have been designed for or one that is simply rare to come by. Entertainment disguised as evil. I can recall three examples which should hopefully give you an idea what the hell I'm talking about. I'm also eager to find out if there are any other people on Giant Bomb who take a certain pleasure from putting other players into situations they may not have planned for.
Demon's Souls: Operation Fun Bridge
For those of you who have played Demon's Souls, my favourite haunt was 1-2, the second area of the Boletarian Palace. For those of you unfamiliar with this area, '1-2' was a level that consisted almost entirely of a long snaking bridge (pictured above) separated into thirds by two guard towers and concealing a dark and narrow tunnel that ran the entire walls length. Beyond the standard crossbow-men, dogs and nasty folk with swords, a dragon would also occasionally attempt to burn the player into a well-done steak should they procrastinate on the bridge for too long. Being only the second level of the first area, it isn't terribly difficult by Demon's Souls standards, but for first-timers it can be rather intimidating. Especially if you get invaded before you even step a foot on the bridge.
The basic strategy was this: I would invade wearing the Thief's Ring, an item that made you utterly invisible until you were within around 15 feet of an enemy, and then make a bee-line straight for the host player (let's call him Timmy). He would fight me off as well as he could, but tended to be simply outmatched and out-equipped. I would take Timmy down to a sliver of health and wait for his next attack. When he finally attempted to take a swing at me I'd parry his weapon aside, leaving him briefly stunned. In any other circumstance this would be where the story ends. I would kill the player and reap his souls. But for me this is simply where the fun would begin.
I would immediately retreat until I became fully invisible, and then proceed across the bridge to the first guard tower. The player would panic, calm down, recover, and then cautiously proceed. It is however rather difficult to proceed cautiously with dragon fire on your heels, so it would be during this first run across the bridge that I would execute stage two: an acid cloud right in his path. Acid clouds worked similar to poison, but rather than draining your health they would degrade your equipment. Timmy would have no choice but to run right into it. He would then make his way up to the top of the guard tower where I would face him again, except this time the clock is ticking as his armour, sword and shield slowly become useless. Again we fight, again I take him to the brink of death, and again I disappear. By this point things are not looking good for little Timmy with his dissolving sword and paper shield.
After the acid on the bridge he would most likely head underground for the next third of the level. Sneaky swordsmen and rabid dogs tended to be enough of a hassle for him, so I proceeded further along the path and made my way out of the tunnel and near the first fog gate - a checkpoint of sorts that only the host player, Timmy, could dissipate. There were, however, five archers waiting opposite said gate, and I would take it upon myself to stand behind their ranks and simply watch as Timmy would round the corner and briefly panic as he noticed my presence, then hesitate to attack as arrows and bolts blew his way. Once he had cleaved through the henchmen we would fight once more, with the process remaining the same. Timmy would be left with no where to go but through the fog gate and over the top of the bridge once more, as the rest of the tunnel was blocked. Even without an invading player this next part can be tricky. You are required to sprint up the last third of the bridge, out running the dragon for the last time, but being thrust head-on against multiple swords men and a knight, as well as crossbows from above the gate to the castle. In the ensuing confusion I would sprint past the player and through the tunnel entrance towards the final room before the boss fog gate, beyond which lay the intimidating Tower Knight.
Timmy is most likely fighting with mismatched armour and second-hand swords at this point, topping his health up with what little grass his has left, if any. A fair number of players don't make it past this stage; it is not rare for me to not strike the fatal blow. Yet if they manage to twist the fight to their favour and defeat the final knight guarding the tunnel, there is but one obstacle left in their path, and considering past events it seems unlikely they will be able to kill me. However, while gutsy Timmy was fighting outside I placed a few presents at the half-way point in the tunnel: a very powerful sword, a sturdy shield and a set of armour normally not available to people typically at that point in the game. After this point I perform a simple bow (they are sometimes too paranoid to return it) and raise my shield. If they lose this time, I kill them. If they kill me, however, they've just obtained a fancy new set of gear and a tidy number of souls from my fading body. Essentially it's an all-or-nothing scenario in which the tension is palpable and you see players really, desperately trying to win, clawing their way to victory or being plunged back to the start of the level with only the gear I gave them to show how close they came.
If you decide to try this set-up before the servers go down, may I mention that there are non-existent bonus points for quickly un-equipping and then re-equipping the Thief's Ring to briefly flash into view and also for performing a G-Man by watching the player, walking around a corner as he approaches and then disappearing.
If you look at it at a purely technical standpoint I am simply being a nuisance or a pest, but I like to think of it as almost remixing a level to a lesser extent. Taking an already interesting scenario and then putting in something the player can't plan for or accurately predict. I've helped people beat bosses and find secrets and take on areas they may very well have died alone in otherwise, yet oddly enough it's when I do this specific routine that I consistently get messages from players not scorning me, and not exactly thanking me, but rather simply exclaiming how "fucking fun" or "crazy" it was, which always makes it worth it. So what about you guys? It doesn't have to be Demon's Souls, it can be any game, as long as you're trying to do something a little different, I'm interested to know about it.