While playing Fallout 3, I came across an interesting situation that shows the limits of game realism. First let me say I totally respect the hard work of the men and women who create these games. But like any rigid system, the programmers and writers cannot envision every choice a player will make so they plan for they can and maybe pick up some more in play testing. Some things that allow cheating or break the game can be fixed later in patches.
Now the situation I ran across did not break the game, nor was it cheating per se since I had no idea the actions I would take at one point would make a later quest a whole lot simpler. The case I keep going on about involved my going into a certain location in the game and cleaning it out (collecting loot and eliminating enemies, monsters and human alike). Not too long later, I received a quest to plant an obsevation device in the same location so an NPC could gather information about certain monsters in their natural habitat. I was supposed to sneak into the location and plant the device; I would receive a bonus if I killed none of the creatures. But the thing was, I had already killed all of the creatures!
So here’s where we run into the problem: I go back to the location, plant the device, and return for my reward. Well since I had not killed any creatures while doing the quest (how could I since they were already dead), I received the reward for the quest and the bonus reward. And having eliminated the creatures made the quest much easier since I did not have to sneak around but simply walk in, plant the device, and walk out again.
The point of this post is to show the limit of the game’s logic. As much as the game creates a sense that I am participating in a realistic environment, the environment cannot handle certain actions and reacts to them only in the way it was programmed. Realistically, of course, I would not have received the bonus since I had killed the creatures, but the programmers either did not plan for this contingency, did not think it worth planning for, or simply gave me a free pass. Either way, it just shows that we are much closer to realism than the old text-based adventure games (which I had to mention since there is one you can play on a computer in Fallout 3 – too cool) but still not quite there yet.