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Full Version: If you can cheat in a game, does it hurt the gameplay experience?
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I'm curious how people feel about games that allow cheating, specifically:

If a game allows cheating, does this have a negative impact on your motivation to beat the game and/or the feeling of accomplishment when you beat it legitimately?

'Cheating' in this case can include things like saved game files that are easy to edit/hack, games with cheat codes included, bundled character/party editors, etc.
Assuming a single-player game, then no.
Obviously multiplayer cheating would be quite bad under most circumstances, but I absolutely have nothing against single player cheats and hacks. If it is entertaining to them to cheat, then by all means, go for it I say! Game hacks are awesome!
A game featuring cheats neither has a negative impact on my motivation to beat the game by legitimate means, nor a negative impact on my feeling of accomplishment upon beating the game by legitimate means.

However, I really don't like using cheats or hacking saved games (or even save scumming), so if a game features cheats I prefer it if the game features a way in which to penalise the player for cheating (eg. if I remember correctly, Warcraft II replaces the player's score with the text "Cheater!" at the end of a level, and cheating in Civilization II prevents the player from appearing in the hall of fame...)
Nope. In fact, it will ADD enjoyment to your game for a great number of players. Just look at the Game Genie! The multitude of codes that you could enter that could change the number of starting lives or affect in-game variables in cool ways gave you sometimes dozens of new ways to play your games.

Aside from the obvious exception of Multiplayer, the other situation you'll want to be careful with it is if you're running some sort of online high score board, or using Game Center. Allowing a player that uses cheats to register their scores will very quickly invalidate your scoreboard.
I think it has a negative impact. Why make a game harder for yourself unless there is some kind of payoff? So don't expect too many people to play your game as it was intended when you provide an easier 'cheating' option.

Kinda like how old games had different difficulties and only the harder difficulties let you play through the whole game and get an ending.

This doesn't means cheats are completely out of the question. Add longevity to your game by making the cheats unlockable upon completion of the game. That way they can play through again with the cheats but still have something to look forward to during their first play though.
(Jan 28, 2013 05:09 AM)sealfin Wrote: [ -> ]if a game features cheats I prefer it if the game features a way in which to penalise the player for cheating (eg. if I remember correctly, Warcraft II replaces the player's score with the text "Cheater!" at the end of a level

Good point, I liked that as well and thought it was a fun way to offer cheats while still keeping things fair for players who played it legitimately. I hadn't considered doing something like that in my own games though.

Thanks for the feedback, all
(Jan 30, 2013 04:40 AM)Cobra Wrote: [ -> ]So don't expect too many people to play your game as it was intended when you provide an easier 'cheating' option.

I wouldn't worry about whether players play your game "as it was intended." I've fallen into this trap more than once myself, but sometimes the emergent way people play your game is more fun than the way it was intended:

- As a kid, the ONLY way we could enjoy Contra was to put in the 30-lives code. As we grew up, THEN we got good enough to play it as it was intended.

- IMO, the most fun way to play a game like Grand Theft Auto is to use cheats. You can actually create several games from GTA based around what combinations of cheats you used. And honestly, playing Grand Theft Auto "as intended" was incredibly boring.

- If you're at a party that has Rock Band set up, you're the hero of the party if you know the Unlock All Songs cheat and put it in for them before they start. BTW, that's red-yellow-blue-red-red-blue-blue-red-yellow-blue. You're welcome. Wink

There's a balance you have to strike between challenging the player/encouraging them to meet that challenge, and allowing them to play the game however they want to play. I agree unlockable cheats is a great way to do it, but unlocking them upon completion is a little rough. For instance, what use do I have for a 30-lives code in Contra if I can already beat it using three?

I do like having some reward for playing through using the "official" game settings, such as getting the good ending, or being eligible for leaderboards.
(Jan 30, 2013 02:21 PM)JustinFic Wrote: [ -> ]but sometimes the emergent way people play your game is more fun than the way it was intended

Yeah that's something I've experienced as well; my concern is that cheats can detract from the feeling of accomplishment that players get as they advance 'the hard way'. This seems even more important in genres like RPGs where your character stats are something to be proud of because it represents an investment of your time, and it's part of how you identify with your character.

If it's easy to cheat for things like that, players may be too tempted, and even if it's fun for a while they won't have the same investment in their character and the overall appeal of the game suffers as a result.

Another ex: I play Minecraft and I find that I can only enjoy my solo worlds if I do not cheat at all. If I edit my inventory in the slightest, the value (and fun) of what I'm doing evaporates. The things I acquire in the game aren't meaningful/valuable in and of themselves, unless I've imbued them with value by investing my time and energy into them.
So there are a lot of games I've really liked that immediately upon beating it I look for cheats for. Then you play it a second time but in a different way with cheats. In those cases it can really increase the replay value. Then there are other games that I enjoy but find to hard/frustrating (*cough* StarCraft, I'm awful at RTSes). In those cases, cheats can help extend the amount of time I'm willing to play a game before giving up. Ultimately I wouldn't have enjoyed StarCraft as much as I did without cheats.

Also speaking of minecraft cheats. Somebody's server I played on once had a thing installed that would allow you to jump from place to place using line of sight. Like you look at a spot and type /jump into the chat and you would whoosh to the place you were looking as if you used a grappling hook. It was actually a lot of fun. Technically cheating yes, but cheats don't have to break the fundamental game rules.
I've found a few places where cheats can take the fun out of a game.

The big one that comes to mind was playing Warcraft 2 campaigns with cheats, in particular, the one that makes you invulnerable. Sure you run some guys through big armies and they emerge unharmed, but really you're just eliminating part of the gameplay... it gets pretty tedious quickly, especially if you're going to beat multiple levels that way. People use the phase "it takes the challenge out of the game", but I don't think that tells the whole picture. It eliminates any meaningful choice on the part of the player- did you make the correct balance of units? Did you use them effectively? Did you improve your personal technique or gain a better understanding of the game? Those are the parts I find fun, and it doesn't really happen in that situation.

So that's a pretty specific subset of what a cheat might be. A lot of what people above had said was fun was: "I cheated and found a new way to play", which is totally reasonable.
This depends a lot on the player. A player who understands game design and why challenge is a good thing can use cheats to their advantage to improve their game experience without ruining it. A young and/or naive player might use a cheat or exploit in such a way that it ruins their gameplay (as in Andy's example above) without realizing what they've done. Something could be said for this, though; realizing you've ruined your game experience by cheating might lead to a deeper understanding of what makes a game fun, and greater enjoyment of future games.
Yes--unless it's your second playthrough
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