satire, fiction and humor

The Worst Thing I Ever Did In a Video Game (So Far)

Everyone has a story. A “this is the worst thing I ever did in a video game” story. A “I think this proves what a horrible person I really am inside” story. A “really, it’s the game’s fault for even making this an option” story.

Here’s mine.

This is the worst thing I’ve ever done in any video game….so far.

Image: Blog post title image with the title, URL, and a screenshot of an extremely sad Sim.

Aspiring to Greatness

In late 2017, I finally bought The Sims 4. I’ve been a fan of the Sims franchise since 2000, but I’ve always been notoriously late getting on board with new releases.

One of the first things I pounced on, when I got The Sims 4, were lifetime aspirations. The Sims 3 had a lifetime aspiration system, but it wasn’t as nuanced as 4’s, and I really liked the opportunity to complete specific tasks and to switch lifetime aspirations.

Because I’m definitely a more horrible person than I pretend to be, the very first lifetime aspiration I ever gave a Sim was the Public Enemy aspiration.

Aspirations have about four tiers each. Each tier has various tasks a Sim has to complete. Some of these tasks can take quite a while – in some cases, a Sim’s entire life (“have a child or grandchild reach the top of a career”). Others are fairly easy to knock off (“talk about grilled cheese with 5 Sims”). And some are pretty rare on their own, but can be made to happen by a particularly diabolical player.

“Witness another Sim’s death,” in the Public Enemy aspiration, is one of the third kind.

Normally, it takes a while for a Sim to die in front of you. But as every Sims player knows, the game gives you plenty of ways to speed up the process.

One of the most beloved ways to kill Sims these last 20+ years has been to have them jump in a swimming pool, then delete the ladder. The Sims 4 stole this option from us, however, by simply allowing the Sims to climb out the side of the pool. Like normal humans. Boring, self-sufficient normal humans.

Sims in 4 can’t get out of the pool, however, if you build a fence around it. So that’s what I did. The “death” half of “witness another Sim’s death”: Check.

But I also had to contend with the whole “witness” part. As a newcomer to The Sims 4, I wasn’t sure what it meant. Did “witness another Sim’s death” mean my Sim need only to be present on the lot when another Sim died? Or did my Sim have to watch the entire process?

Sims have notoriously short attention spans, and they take a notoriously long time to die of exertion in a swimming pool. There was no way my Sim would stand at the side of the pool for the entire time it took her party guests to drown.

Not unless I made her.

I bought a comedy microphone and set it at the poolside, facing so that my Sim was facing an audience of doomed swimmers. Then I had her stand there and tell jokes. Until someone died.

It Gets Worse

Honestly, I thought that making my Sim tell jokes to a pool full of her neighbors until they drowned was the worst possible thing that could have happened.

I mean, that I could have done.

I mean, that I did.

But no. As if to punish me for this horrible digital life choice, things in my game got infinitely worse.

First, the Grim Reaper showed up. This isn’t, in itself, all that bad. The Grim Reaper has shown up in every Sims installment whenever a Sim dies. We all kind of like Grim by now.

Except Grim couldn’t actually get into the pool to reap anyone’s souls, because of that fence I put up to keep the victims from saving themselves from death by drowning.

When Grim found he couldn’t actually do his job, he ended up wandering into the house. He helped himself to some snacks and then decided to watch television.

Turns out the Grim Reaper likes rom-coms. They make him…flirty.

And that’s how my Sim ended her day of comedy and death by making out with the Grim Reaper.

It Gets Even Worse

The Sims 4 has by far the most nuanced mood system of any Sims game so far. Sims have access to a wide range of moods, and can even die of extreme moods, like excessive anger or hilarity.

The vanilla mood system is weird and sometimes difficult to manipulate. As a brand new Sims 4 player, I certainly wasn’t ready for what happens when a Sim jokes a half-dozen of her neighbors to death and then gets smoochy with the Grim Reaper:

She got “Very Sad.”

All the time.

I tried removing all the dead bodies, the comedy microphone, and eventually the entire pool. I kicked Grim off the lot. I sent my Sim for a jog, for a nice hot bath, for a cup of mood-changing tea. I cranked her mood-changing paintings to high.

Nothing I did made her feel better. Nothing.

My Sim just kept crying. And making her spouse sad. And pissing off their toddler by being too sad to read books or play dolls. Her work performance tanked. She just kept painting the same crying rabbit over and over. She wouldn’t even fight her declared enemy anymore!

Since my Sim clearly no longer had anything to live for, I decided to embrace the depression lifestyle. Every time her interaction menu gave me the option to do a Sad activity, I did it.

Crying in bed. Watching sad movies. Sobbing at the graves of her deceased neighbors.

That last one…actually perked her up a bit. Enough that the interaction menu gave her the option to “Make Fun of” the dead.

My Sim found this hilarious. She began telling jokes again.

At the grave.

To her toddler.

And that’s how I learned exactly how horrible a human being I really am.

…So Far

To date, this remains the worst thing I have ever done in a video game. But even as we speak, I am working on an even more dastardly plan.

This one is in Skyrim, on the Xbox – no mods, no console commands. Nothing except exploiting things the game will already let me do. (Really, the developers should have seen this one coming).

That’s all I’m going to say, in case it fails. If it doesn’t, I’ll be back, confessing the new worst thing I ever did in a video game. Stay tuned.


Help me be awful to video game characters: buy me a coffee or share this post with your awful gamer friends. You know the one.

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satire, fiction and humor

10 Rules for Having Way Too Much Fun in Skyrim

Knowing how much I love Fallout 4, my best friend got me Skyrim for Christmas. Since Skyrim supports specific character builds much more closely than Fallout 4 does, I decided before I began on my basic character bio: “Mercenary sneak thief with trust issues.”

At her request, I texted her while I installed and started playing Skyrim. My running commentary on my activities eventually resulted in this exchange:

 

Me: The guy at Pelagia Farm was displeased that I let myself in, so I killed his chickens.

Her: Lol
Her: You should be doing Let’s Play vids
Her: Seriously your style is uniquely sadistic

Me: I’m tempted. I have a very consistent moral code.

After the fifth or sixth time my husband declared my Skyrim character “terrible” while laughing uproariously, I decided the world needed to know more about my uniquely sadistic videogame-based moral code.  Here’s how to have more fun than anyone should be allowed to as a Skyrim character.

of kindness (1)

 

#1: Never buy anything you can loot or steal.

Skyrim makes this harder than Fallout 4 did by preventing you from selling items that you acquired by stealing. So it’s going to be tough to, say, steal from the Jarl in order to raise the funds for the house in Whiterun. (I found this out the hard way.)

That said, there’s plenty you can steal for your own benefit, like food and potions. And you can always sell what you loot from bandits and other, um, instances of corpse.

#2: Seek power, not money.

Fun fact: Once you become a Thane of Whiterun, nothing you take from the Jarl’s house counts as stealing anymore.

Use your power wisely.

#3: Always tell people what they want to hear. 

As someone with trust issues, I grew up telling people what they wanted to hear. The consequences often sucked, but at least it was safe.

In Skyrim, the most common consequence of telling people what they want to hear is that you end up agreeing to do some quest that you don’t care about and that distracts you from whatever it was you were doing instead of the main quest line. But that’s okay, because when in doubt….

#4: Never do a quest without payment.

I’m not talking about the payments that are built into several quests in the game, although you should always choose the speech option to demand payment when it’s offered and you should always take someone’s money when they try to give it to you.

Those payments are important, sure. But think of them as payment for the work itself. How is this NPC going to pay you for your annoyance at having accepted this quest in the first place?

With their personal goods, that’s how.

By now, it should be obvious that you need to invest the bulk of your perk points in the Sneak, Pickpocket and Speech trees. If you decide to do a quest for someone, take their stuff as payment for your goodwill.

#5: If you see a lock or a pocket, pick it.

Skills in Skyrim level up through use, so the best way to become a master mercenary sneak thief is to sneakily thieve every chance you get. This means picking every lock you find and picking pockets on the regular.

Also, don’t be afraid to sneak around wherever you go. Your Sneak skill increases whenever you manage to not be seen by some NPC who should otherwise see you. Since Skyrim lacks any version of the VATS function in Fallout 4, you won’t always know when there’s someone around to see you – so sneak past them anyway.

Just….

#6: Don’t get caught.

As a mercenary sneak thief with trust issues, getting caught stealing or pickpocketing is an affront to your very nature.

You can and will escape from jail, but having to go in the first place is a waste of your time and an insult to your dignity. Avoid it.

Speaking of skills (and dignity)….

#7: Don’t be afraid to bash.

I started this playthrough intending to stick to my trusty bow and arrows. It made sense to me that a sneak thief with trust issues would avoid getting too close to a target.

The downside, of course, is that shooting things at close range is hard, and a lot of predatory animals are really good at introducing themselves by taking a bite out of your digital metal-clad butt. And while Skyrim does allow you to punch things with your bow hand, bow-as-melee-weapon is next to useless.

Solution: Get yourself some hand weapons.

Do dump some perk points into archery, unless you’re totally avoiding bows on this playthrough, But please, don’t eschew two-handed weapons or shield bashing till you’ve tried it. Few things are more satisfying to a mercenary soul than bashing someone with your shield hard enough to knock them directly onto your companion’s blade.

Oh, and the animations for two-handed sword kills are brutally good fun.

Once you’ve chosen a weapon, you’ll need to use it within your own strict moral code. To start:

#8: If someone tries to kill you, kill them.

Honestly, if you’re not already doing this, then please return to beating the pants off of teenagers on Twitch at competitive Tetris. No, seriously, those videos are hilarious and we need more of them.

You can’t always avoid people or animals who are trying to murder you in Skyrim. Your choices, in these situations, are typically to try to murder them back or to flee. Always kill your attacker if you can. Loot the corpse, then sell your stuff to further boost your Speech skill.

For every NPC who tries to kill you, there’s at least one that won’t. Don’t try to kill them. However….

#9: If someone is rude to you, make them poorer.

“Get out of my house!” said the man at Pelagia Farm, when I picked his lock to sneak into his house in the wee hours of the morning.

“Squawk!” said his chickens, as I gifted them each an arrow.

There’s no need to murder people who are merely rude to you. But there’s no need to stand for that rudeness, either.

Someday, I’ll do a Skyrim playthrough in which I attempt to kill every single NPC I meet. (I have already done this in Fallout 4, with mildly satisfying results.) For now, however, my character’s code of ethics calls for not killing the merely-rude.

Just settle the score, and if you can’t….

#10: Get weird.

No matter how hard you try, there will be times in Skyrim where you just can’t adhere to the rules above. For instance, I ended up having to run away from a vampire master in Shriekwind early in the game because I encountered him before I was strong enough to defeat him.

When this happens, you will have Feelings. Your strong code of ethics (such as it is) has been violated. How can you restore a sense of order and justice to your digital world?

Simple: Get weird.

Steal a horse and barrel-race around the Standing Stones. Shoot a nobleman in the head and loot everything except his coin purse and hat. Stuff a wolf carcass full of cheese and leave it on the trail. The weirder, the better.

Getting weird is one of my holdout habits from Fallout 4, which I’ve played for so many hours that I now get bored if I don’t get weird. On my last playthrough, I took a fire extinguisher named Sally everywhere I went, propping her up on the couch in the Third Rail from time to time so Sally could enjoy the music.

With even more random stuff in its world, Skyrim offers even more opportunities to get truly bizarre. So embrace them. It’s a great way to immanentize the eschaton, yo.

 

 

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