One of the things you can do in the game is build a monument. In order to accomplish this, you first have to fight some NPC bad guys who’re occupying a monument site, and then you have to dump tons of workers, bricks and food into the site in order to slowly, laboriously, build your monument. In return, you can mine Limestone and you get a bonus to prestige, though I have no idea what prestige is (in Nile Online terms) or even if it is implemented yet.
Fair enough. But another thing happens. Your site can be attacked by other players. Now given that there are ample empty plots in my area of the world, I wasn’t really worried about getting attacked. Then this morning, at 5 am local time, one of my neighbors attacked my site.
My defenders held, but just barely. And I hadn’t been creating more troops back in my cities since I didn’t see any reason anyone would attack me. So I had to shift production to generating troops to send to the defense of the site.
And then it struck me: that was *all* I could do. The person that attacked me had no monument site that I could retaliate against. And you can’t attack other cities. So all I could do is bolster my defenses and wait for the next attack to come. I felt utterly helpless. I checked the forums and the in-game chat room because it seemed *obvious* I was missing something, but nope. A person who has no monument site can attack you with impunity.
My reaction to this surprised me. I was furious, bitter, and sent off a message to my attacker asking why I’d been attacked. We exchanged messages with me just getting angrier and angrier to the point where I started to despise this person. (I never come to despise people who beat me in other online games, though…in fact that would never occur to me.) The reason for the attack was a stupid one: the person had decided I hadn’t been donating to the local deity enough (if everyone donates enough goods, the ‘segment’ of the game you occupy gets a 10% bonus to productivity). Out of the 15 or so cities in our area, I was #4 in donations, so that was a trumped up excuse.
But I digress. The point is, I’m fascinated at how strongly I’ve reacted to being totally helpless in a video game. Is it because I never feel that helpless in the real world? Or is it because I often do, but I expect a video game world to be more balanced? I think its the former…no matter how bad things get in real life, it always feels like there is *something* that we can do, if we can just figure out what it is, because choices in real life are effectively infinite. But in a game world, choices are tightly controlled by game rules.
As an armchair game designer, I’m pretty astounded that the devs at Tilted Mill fell so completely on their faces with this decision.
As to what I’m going to do next, I’m conflicted. What I’d love to do is “destroy” the monument and let it revert to some land occupied by marauders, essentially ignoring that aspect of the game from here on out. But that isn’t an option. So I’m either going to starve the workers and soldiers there until they all desert, or I’m just going to delete my account altogether. All I know is being this upset over a computer game isn’t healthy, so I need to do *something* and soon. The thing that has me hesitating over deleting my account is that I have trade partners that depend on me for certain goods, and I’d hate to let them down. In the same way my attacker has become a focus of hate and rage in my mind, my trade partners seem like they’re almost friends at this point; I’ve been wishing them all happy holidays and treating them like chums.