Categories: Games, Elder Scrolls, Fallout
As a long-time player of Elder Scrolls games, there are a few things that often bother me about the games. The game components are poorly done, the voice acting can be spotty, completing a fraction of the available content has a bad tendency to morph your character into some kind of amoral demigod, hoarding items is the most common response to finding any loot as its worth too much to sell but you don't have any use for it, inventory management is a nightmare, a good portion of the population has a tendency to die, and I don't feel like I'm getting much done (and no, not in the normal "you're playing a video game and not doing anything useful for the world around you" way). Let's talk about that last one, how Consequences Matter (flawless title drop).
No matter what choices I make in the game, I find that the world around me doesn't change in any notable way. I can kill the Emperor, slay hundreds of dragons, become the master of every guild, slaughter almost the entire world's population, become the master of a plethora of legendary items, and strike any random passerby that I see, but it won't do much to the world around me. There just aren't well implemented changes for almost anything you do. Let's analyze a few examples, and try to get to the root of the issue.
Oblivion's Obtuse Orders
While some may think that this doesn't allow them the full experience, that they would be missing out on key features of the game, there is nothing to stop them from creating a new character who could join the different factions (besides the time spent crafting a new one, that is). Simply put, not everything needs to be done in one game. 100% completion with one character shouldn't be a possibility. You might be able to argue that you could avoid being recognized by the more good/neutral factions as a member of Thieves Guild or Dark Brotherhood thanks to the naturally sneaky nature of those organizations, but it doesn't work the other way around surely. What you do in the other guild's are fairly public, and would make you a logical enemy or at least someone who wouldn't be trusted to those guilds. And for the other side (joining the more evil groups), surely rumors about you would begin to circulate after a while if you associate yourself with killers and thieves? While they may have nothing concrete, they'd at least be more hesitant hiring you.
Morrowind got this right with its Reputation System. It made it harder, and in some cases impossible, to join factions depending on who you have joined previously. It helped to bring the feeling of conflict into the world, it added some delightful political intrigue. The exclusion of this was easily one of the bigger things that made Oblivion feel more lifeless, as the heart of the Empire lacked much in the way of politics.
Alternatively, consider the frustrating Collecter Quest Line. Whereas all the guilds are left open so you don't miss out on anything, this quest sets it up in such a way that you can miss out on both of the major rewards for this quest chain if you choose the "smart" option. Towards the end of the quest chain, you get the option to either give the Ayleid Crown of Nenalata or the Ayleid Crown of Lindai to Umbacano. If you choose to give the Lindai crown to him, Umbacano is killed upon entering the throne room at Nenalata. The crown you can keep, the Nenalata one, is left in its initial terrible state. So congratulations for observing the obvious warning signs in this quest chain! For doing so, you get nothing but the avoidance of a fight with a single lich! I can't help but feel like the game is mocking me, as if it finds my attempts to think ahead insulting.
The last thing I'm going mention from Oblivion is the entirety of the main quest. Why? Well, it's all because you left a necessary item with an old guy who completely failed to protect it. It just seems wrong that the entire main quest happens because you dropped off the Amulet of Kings with Jauffre and he simply loses it in an attack. This is the most grievous example of making a blindly obvious error in judgement that can't be avoided causing a ton of issues. If you kept the Amulet, the entire game would of ended a bit after visiting Kvatch. I know that they had to extend the game, but it could of been done in a manner that didn't make it seem more like a comedy of errors instead of the fantasy epic it's supposed to be. Something as simple as saying that Mankar Camoran is keeping the fires from lighting would make the game just as long, give the antagonist a more active role (from just holding onto the MacGuffin to actually being the one responsible for stopping your progress), and make the heroes come off as less incompetent.
Skyrim's Scandalous Story Solutions
That is really the issue with a lot of the Skyrim quest lines. They don't conclude, they stop. Take for instance the Civil War. So you've cut off the head of the enemy army (literally), but they still have a few units out in the wild to deal with. You're told to go hunt them down. If you do, you'll instantly regret it when an immortal agent of the side you didn't choose goes after you. What were they thinking? Instead of having awesome raids by and against the remnants of the enemy faction, they just continue to exist with immortal NPCs leading them. This is made worse as you're told to go after them. Did anyone bother to check to see if you could actually bring the Civil War to a close before launching the game? Besides that annoyance, there is still the issue with The Moot, and how it's never called. Skyrim never gains a new High King or Queen after the hurly-burly's done. I'm guessing this might of been intentional, but it still comes off as a missing quest. The point is that I just ended a war, I should notice some sort of change besides a few cities being wrecked, and some guards wearing different uniforms. When you don't even get to see the ultimate reason you were fighting, a liberated Skyrim or a Skyrim once more behind the Empire, there are serious issues afoot.
Lycanthropy in Skyrim is perhaps the most grievous example of the lack of consequences for your actions actually ruining some of the aspects of the game. I don't get the same joy from being a werewolf without some kind of setback. Without any worries attached to it, it basically just becomes another power that I might use every now and then. In Daggerfall and Bloodmoon, you had to do some terrible things to cure your curse. Now, it's merely something you can give half a thought to. I don't need it to be game crippling, but I do want it to change my playing experience.
Play Morrowind. I find it liberating to be able to screw up so badly that the game becomes virtually unwinnable, and yet it doesn't stop you from reaching that point. While there are plenty more examples that could be brought up and even counter points worth considering (like how surprisingly easy it was to get removed from guilds in Oblivion for violating rules), this wasn't meant to be a complete look, just a quick glance at some of the more glaring issues that come up. I of course don't have any problems with the later games that won't make me play them, but there are many issues with the way they are crafted (not that Morrowind didn't have its fair share of issues). It's important to remember that while the ultimate purpose of any game is to have fun, that fun can often come from the challenges we face. By not giving us a challenge, forcing us down a worse path, or even punishing or ignoring opportunities for cleverness the game world can seem more artificial, and thus less enjoyable. While I don't personally like Morrowind's approach of "You walk into a higher leveled dungeon and are eviscerated in a single hit" and Skyrim's perverted uncle level of hand holding, I think it's fair to say most would prefer some kind of middle ground. While that middle ground would require much more effort than the previously tried methods to reach, surely it would be worth it to add more life to the world of the Elder Scrolls.
As someone who has been one of the main supporters of the concept of us having a blog, I find it odd that I've never taken the time to ever write a blog entry for the blog that I've so thoroughly supported. Ever. I've encouraged others to do so, but I never actually sat down and did it myself. To finally quiet my suspicion that I've been rather hypocritical when it comes to this section of the site, I think it's about time I write about something. So let's talk about something else I've been thoroughly ignoring for a better part of a year after initially showing the interest to take the lead in UESP projects relating to said thing. I am of course referring to the Elder Scrolls Online.
The Elder Scrolls Online was bound to be a rough subject for us. Not because we won't be able to write about it, but because we aren't sure how we'll write about it. While at its core it appears that its shaping up to be a fine part of the ES franchise that we know and love, it is still an MMO. MMMOs are significantly different beasts to the normal, primarily single player RPGs (Battlespire and Shadowkey being the reasons for the 'primarily') we've dealt with in the past. It's about time that we start to look at some of the major issues that will eventually cause a ton of arguing in the near future. So without further ado, let's begin.
VIPs - Very Important Players
Well, that's the issue. We've never allowed documentation of people who are famous members of the community before, so this is going to be quite a point of contention amongst us. An example of this already happening would be all of the people asking if we'll bother to document who becomes the Emperor in the PvP element of ESO. And while I don't think those people will really matter for the most part, there may be times when we'll argue about allowing documentation about a specific person.
The simplest solution will be to just deny documentation for anyone who doesn't earn an extreme amount of attention (as in, news sources outside of the game take interest in the story), but there is certainly going to be quite a few scuffles about where we draw that line. Of course, sometimes the player isn't as important as the incident we create, which incidentally leads into my next topic...
Extraordinary, Player Created Events
As of now we've been pretty much ignoring memes and the ilk in the ES community, but I think that we might have to rescind or at least change our policy when it comes to these things. While it might mean we'll have to make a reference to the obsession with murdering the Adoring Fan (in the General namespace most likely, to keep that nonsense far away from our game documentation), but it may be a better alternative to simply ignoring these events entirely. I can't even think of any mention we give to the controversy surrounding the reclassification of Oblivion by the ESRB from 'T for Teens' to 'M for Mature'. That was all over the news, virtually everyone heard about it, and we didn't give it any attention. Yes, it goes against our normal instincts to ignore stuff like that, but the fallout for ignoring these events may be worse than giving in. We are still a fan site, and there is little a fan loves more than seeing how awesome their fandom is (I guess shipping would beat out that, but that's off the topic at hand). Of course, if we start to act more like a fan site, that might mean a few other changes to our regular operations. Mainly when it comes to our involvement with the community.
Playing a New Part in the Fandom
To be entirely honest, this is the subject I know the least about, and I believe the ignorance is somewhat shared by my fellow editors (or that just might be me projecting my own mental incompetence on those fine fellows). This is likely going to be something we'll have to learn to do together to make it work, so it's best we iron out what our role will be in regards to the community surrounding ES is going forward. We will of course remain a game and lore guide, but we might have to apply more of a focus to the part Elder Scrolls plays in our world.
I'll admit I was one of the skeptics at first when Zenimax Online announced that The Elder Scrolls Online was being developed. Bethesda spent nearly two decades making the most incredible and detailed single player RPG experience that I've ever played, and then I heard that it was being made into an MMO... It scared me.
I was (am) afraid that it would just become another WoW clone, and I would look for whatever way I could do to justify to myself a reason to not like the concept. However, as of late, as I've been looking around at the various released information and trailers about the game, I've been slowly warming up to the concept of at least trying the game out.
Take this latest trailer that I will post below, which was published to the Bethesda Softworks YouTube channel on the 22nd of January, for example. It's a beautiful cinematic experience that's very fast paced with just the right musical score involved.
The trailer opens up to a Nord group of warriors smashing down a wall and entering into a cavern of sorts where they are attacked by what appears to be werewolves before the scene changes to a large battle taking place on a large fortress either shrouded in fog or up high enough to be in the clouds.
The scene is quite intense and chaotic as man and mer fire arrows back and forth as the assaulting armies set up rope bridges to cross into the fortress for battle. The trailer ends with the Nord finally climbing out of the cavern the werewolves were in, only to find himself in an old west style standoff with the other alliance faction members.
If even half of the effort was put into the story as it was this battle sequence, I may have to give ESO a shot when it's released. I've already signed up for the beta, that's how excited the game is starting to look for me. Of course, signing up requires agreeing to an NDA, which means the beta players wouldn't get to release details about the game if they are the ones chosen.
Am I allowed to claim individual days? I doubt anyone would complain, so I am claiming Saturday as my day to post new blog posts.
There's not a whole lot eventful going on. I can proudly say that I can now call my first fanfiction a finished product. Only other thing of note is that I've been playing more EU3.
I swear every post is NOT going to be about EU3, but it's such a great game that I will post one last time about it.
I spent next decade after where my first post trailed off continuing work to stabilize my economy, and I am now consistently gaining +100 ducats a year after all my expenses are taken care of, and it's nice to have money for a change. In all my other play-throughs, I've been too aggressive, since I didn't (still don't) understand all the intricacies of the game, and would fall back on the desire to rapidly raise an army and march to victory like in real time strategy games such as Age of Empires.
I have been trying to avoid European wars, but I've been looking around, and I've decided that I wanted to get into a few smaller wars and systematically create a system of vassals, since there are always issues in Europe, particularly Eastern Europe.
My first target was a three province kingdom known as Siena, in central Italy, which was recently excommunicated by the Pope, giving me a free casus belli against them. In the five year Castille-Siena Excommunication War, as the game's history books put it as, I was able to sucessfully land an invasion force of twenty thousand men on the Italian peninsula and in no time at all, I was in control of the country, and able to force vassalization of Siena.
With Siena out of the way, I diverted my efforts into marching into Eastern Europe to engage the armies of Bohemia, who was the alliance leader of the enemy after joining the war in Siena's defense. It took another year or two of combat, but I took over Bohemia with little resistance, thanks to their war against nearby Austria softening them up. Unfortunately, they were too large of a country to vassalize, they had no money left for me to force them to pay me, and I had zero interest in outright annexing a handful of countries so far out of the way and calling them "Castille", so I was really only able to force them to annul their treaties with the other nations they were allied to, which wasn't that great of a treaty, in my opinion.
There were three other nations involved in the war, but save for Holland (who wisely stayed in Northern Europe and didn't invade me), they were One Province Minors (OPM), and all landlocked, so I didn't care enough to do anything to them. I just let them continue to sit there being insignificant to the war and then they surrendered alongside their Alliance Leader Bohemia with the signing of the treaty calling off the war.
The next decade of the game was spent allowing war exhaustion to deplete and making some more money, because the war was drawn out so long that I had to take a loan to continue maintaining my army at its fullest fighting capacity while recruiting more men to make up for the loses.
That's my whole EU3 experience for the last session of play. More trading and economic work, a few minor royal marriages, and the vassalization of an Italian nation. Oh, and my king died, leaving his heir with a weak claim to the throne to take over the nation, although his claim won't be an issue, and it will be gradually rising each year thanks to my prestige, his father's strong claim, etc.
I've also been playing a little Grand Theft Auto lately. Not any of the new ones, just III, Vice City, and San Andreas. The games were pretty cheap to download, so I decided "Why not?" and I got them.
Except for San Andreas, I haven't really played them long enough to present an opinion on them, so that's a post for the next "Saturday with Snowmane". Unless something more interesting than the games I am playing comes up. Then, we would talk about that. Unless it's politics. Or religion. I can't stand either of them, since it's always such a touchy subject.
I'm rambling now, so I should probably leave now haha. Bye!
In an attempt to start revitalizing the UESP blog, I have been graciously granted writing privileges, so I figured I might squeeze in a posting or two before I forget that I can write and that the blog exists.
There isn't much worth saying about myself, as my userpage does a pretty good job already in detailing who I am.
I haven't got much to say really, but I guess I'll just do a "What Am I Playing?" post like what's been done in the past.
Europa Universalis III: Chronicles is a grand strategy game set from 1399 to 1821. The premise of the game is that you can pick one of a couple hundred different nations around the world that vary in size, and you manage the nation during these years of exploration and conquest. There's a little bit of a learning curve though, as the game requires intense micromanagement of various aspects of the game, such as the economy, trade and production research, army, naval, and government research, managing inflation, diplomacy with the other nations of the world, etc. In short, it's my kind of game.
While I am a diehard TES fan, UESP being the only gaming wiki I've dedicated more than 2 hours to, strategy games will always hold that special place in my heart, since I was raised on real time strategy games like Command and Conquer and Age of Empires.
For my particular EU3 campaign, I am playing as the Kingdom of Castille, what would eventually become modern day Spain, and I am doing "The Grand Campaign", which means I am playing the game from the first playable year, 1399, until 1821.
After nearly three decades, I've conquered Granada, a one of the small nations sharing the Iberian peninsula with me, I've converted them to Catholicism, and I've established myself as a major trader, being the major trader in all the top dollar (or ducat in EU3) Centers of Trade (CoT) as well as successfully constructing my own powerful CoT near the Gibraltar Strait to compete with Portugal's Lisboa, which eventually collapsed, making my CoT the go-to for Portugal as well as the African nations across the strait, and other nations, who have to pass through to reach or leave the Mediterranean Sea.
While I have a fierce army and navy, I try to stay out of wars with other European nations, as they can sometimes get really drawn out, and it's always extremely exhausting on my economy to raise the kind of army needed to be a significant force against the largely superior French army or English Royal Navy. The only European nation on my agenda right now to attack is Aragon, as I need to own and posses a "core" on three of their provinces to do the optional mission to reform Castille into the Kingdom of Spain. Any other European nation, I will only take (as of this moment) if I get discover something that I could stand to gain from.
As far as my nation goes in terms of progression, I intend to focus more on trade and eventually colonization when I get my Government level high enough to research the "Quest for the New World" national idea, which would enable the recruitment of naval Admirals for exploration of the ocean's terra incognita and Conquistadors for the land. I won't strive to have the largest colonies in this playthrough, since I am still new to the game and want to play rather safely and out of the way of other nations for now, but maybe when I finish Castille's Grand Campaign, I'll pick another nation to play as more of a military power.
That's really all I have to say right now, but maybe if something comes up that's worth talking about, either in EU3 or elsewhere, I'll pop in to say it.