Key Quest and Heresy: A Second Look
Heed me, readers, and give me a moment of your time. If any among you is familiar with the game of Key Quest, stay and listen; else, I do not address you and you may feel free to turn to the comics section or peruse the next article, for herein lies subject matters that may not concern you.
Now, those of you still reading, you know the game and the tactics well, I shall assume. Sure, it may be but a simple struggle between two or more players over multicolored arcane keys and a fight to get those keys to a door, but if that were all, we wouldn’t have nearly the problems we currently have.
Most of us are familiar with it: those irksome, blasphemous, wretched traitors among us that cannot stand against their opponent to the end if the odds are stacked against them. The game has become heated unbelievably, and it’s more than a simple virtual board game! No, now it’s more than that; stakes are higher, and the fight to the finish is marred by adrenaline rushes, cheating, and even full-fledged cowardice in the face of adversity.
Sure, we may be quick to humor those of us that claim technology failures, but the fact of the matter is that they cannot ALL be technology failures. It MUST be cowardice, for when your adversary leaves immediately following their loss of the first minigame of the war or after you steal their power up, you’re left with nothing but wasted time and lost money. In some games, the power struggles can last in excess of a quarter of an hour, maybe even longer, with sums of money that have grown to be over a thousand NP, which I shall point out are larger than most people can gather playing other games around the site and for good reason and include items afterword to boot.
But with the monetary gain and the prospect of material possessions afterword, why, my audience, do we have such cowardice and such heresy throughout our humble game? The prizes may differ in rarity between the two, but there have been times when I know my gold key has yielded nothing more than items I’ve discarded without a second glance and I know my silver has granted me riches in excess of items sold for 5,000NP. Is it the prospect of Paintbrushes and lab map pieces that entices us? Do we not wish to squander a key towards our key redemption quota? Or mayhap it lies in the players' drive to win?
Perhaps we are too quick to condemn those who quit. We sit here and bash them, but I want every single one of you to think about it: out of all the silver keys you may have collected, what was the worth of the items contained within the vaults you opened? I, myself, will be quick to acknowledge that the items have been of poor quality and of poor resell value for the most part; you’d be lucky to fetch maybe 200 if you were able to sell the items at all. Quite frankly, there’s no money in second place, which has given rise to a very unfortunate mindset and a very unfortunate series of happenings. For those of you who are quick to claim yourself just and righteous to the core, I will not believe it for a second; there is no such thing as innocence, there are merely varying levels of guilt.
This is especially true in those games that run abnormally short for you; you roll ones and twos seven times in a row while your opponent runs circles around the map, stopping only to land on that X that puts his neopoint gain somewhere in the 3000 level and yours in the 200 level. Or maybe he’s got a super key grabber (something I’ve come to dread more than any item) AND a distraction potion AND rainbow fountain water AND three of the keys already. Quite frankly, you feel helpless; your morale is beaten senseless in a matter of two turns and a minigame, and you’re left sitting there, debating whether or not to roll again and take the unbelievable abuse that’s done nothing but waste two minutes of your life and get you less money than you could earn playing Lever of DOOM for all your effort. You know you won’t win; any key you get is going straight to your opponent. Silver does nothing for you, since the three items will either be food or stamps or petpets that are so saturated in the marketplace you’d be hard pressed to sell them for a fraction of the shop wizard’s lowest listing price.
And so that refresh button gets tempting and that red x in the corner of the screen causes you to drool. And we don’t feel guilty clicking it. We’re shielded behind a wall of anonymity; the chances are that person you just caused to lose out of some money probably won’t even remember your username or even have the attention span to hunt you down and yell at you because there’s no real easy way to contact you from inside the Key Quest game. If a log of players joining your game and leaving your game were kept in your chat log, then maybe we’d see a lot more people facing up to their inevitable defeat (or cowering behind the shield of “Neofriend only” Neomail).
But for all the potential good tracking each other down for rematches will do, it stick lacks a solution to the problem: if you don’t win, you lose time and money. I’ve wandered the boards, and I’ve seen the “5 keys, 5k” challenges, but even those ring hollow; sure you both walk away 5000NP richer, but you still lose by getting nothing but stamps you’d have probably won a hundred times over by now. TNT has been most generous with the items placed inside the vaults, but they haven’t changed them. Mystery Island stamps and Geraptiku petpets have so flooded the market that they’ve become worthless and people have lost interest and drive to stick through to the end.
Maybe instead of being quick to anger and hunt these people down, maybe we should just accept it? We can hardly blame our opponents if we grind them beneath our boot in a flurry of moves than puts us eleven spaces from winning inside of a few turns while they’ve only a single key. What I call for is a revitalized prize system; new prizes and less “junk” would surely bring some renewed vigor to the game and people might be more comfortable accepting second knowing they were still going to get some value for their time.
In the meantime, it may be fun to preach about the cowardice of our opponents, how we always see our own games out to the end, and how we’d gladly spit in the faces of those who would quit. But maybe we should all tone it down a notch and all of us, players and so-called “quitters,” who I shall remind you all play the game just like the rest of us, should start acting more civilly. Need I remind you all that we are all just playing a game.