: The "cheat utilities" I am referring to are specific software that are made by users of the game for the purpose of cheating. By this I mean running another program, often called a "trainer," during the game to make the character invincible, allow him to walk through walls, edit stats, create hacked items, crash other people's games (in multiplayer games), create false images, among other things. Creating a program like that takes a thorough knowledge of assembly (from what I hear) and a lot of work. This "magic" is done by finding and changing certain memory locations. "Trainers" work kind of like the Game Genie and Game Shark, except of course that they're for the PC.
I am NOT referring to press-the-right-buttons-and-find-a-secret-character game secrets. I believe that plenty of those secrets should exist. They revitalize games when they begin to get old and generate interest on game discussion boards. (I just recently located the special button combination to give X his ultimate armor in MegaMan X4. Played it the entire day. )
And I personally believe, that with a little extra effort, a programmer could make a game MUCH harder to hack.
Like you said: the cheat utilities are going to be created anyway. But if the game is much harder to hack into, won't there be fewer utilities? And besides that, it is not just 5 people creating their own utilities and then those same 5 people use them. It's more like a 5:5000 ratio (depending of course on the popularity of the game). So if you cut it down to 3 people making the utilities, you've cut the number of people cheating by 2000. Not bad for a few tricks, eh?
RPGs should never be so hard that you can't finish them! Most of those difficult areas are the ones where there was a mix-up between the manual/documentation creators and the game content creators. Others are simply bugs (i.e., programmer forgetting to factor a certain number into a spell equation -- then it does triple damage). They are all design errors. Design errors should be fixed by patches and updates. Not by unlicensed third-party utilities! When programmers shirk their responsibilities to the players of the game, someone else will pick up the slack but the game itself will suffer.
About the level of customization. Game content is created through many hours of hard work, on the part of all involved. I will cite Diablo as being an example of a large quantity of items. With a little work and some creativity they created a simple system that allowed for the dynamic creation of thousands of different items. They didn't have to create them all by hand. They simply used the laws of probability to multiply their efforts and add more variety to the game play. So it isn't that hard.
Finally, I would like to clarify what I was saying earlier about being able to customize the game. There will always be those people who like the game and those that don't. Hence, game discussion forums. However, I was talking about allowing the game to adjust to the player's particular playing style. Like hacking through hordes of enemies with an Axe? Fine! Just pick the warrior and be done with it! Or do you like dueling with spells? Take your pick! We've got spells for teleporting, increasing/decreasing abilities, physical damage spells, elemental spells.
You don't have to create twenty different characters; just allow the weapons and armor to be used to customize a few characters accordingly.
See where I'm going with this? Allow each player to fulfill his dreams within the game's story and he'll like it. That's what role-playing is all about.
P.S. I apologize if I sounded a little unclear in my first post.
[This message has been edited by null_pointer (edited December 24, 1999).]