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Careful what you wish for!

Careful what you wish for!

  02:14:14 am, by Krusty   , 464 words  
Viewed 316815 times since 06/09/11
Categories: Games, Elder Scrolls

While watching Todd Howard repeat himself for the 50th time to a games journalist (must be the worst type of journalists, right after sports journalists), feeling incredibly bored by the hype of Skyrim, something occurred to me. A game like Oblivion succeeded in one area you simply cannot predict or test, regardless of how many dragons, mammoths, running water and snow storms you put in there. It succeeded in charm! Now, this may sound odd, but you cannot design or plan a game world people want to spend 2 or 3 years of their life examining, exploring, interacting with other characters ect ect. You can try, and it definitely looks like they’re trying, but how do they know? How do they know that mining operations won’t be annoying after 3 years? How do they know that packs of wolves hunting mammoths will still be a joy to watch in 6 months? Can they really ignore the fact that even a random encounter with a dragon can get tiresome after a while? And maybe it will get incredibly annoying that NPCs doesn’t stop moving when you talk to them.

Sadly inspired by the hordes of comments on the internet, Beth spends a lot of time pointing out the obvious weaknesses of Oblivion and I guess they have the right, since they created it – but they should to be really careful with that kind of marketing. For a game world to beat Oblivion in pure charm and be fascinating for players until 2016, they have to hit something that can only be described as luck. Yep, Oblivion had all the weaknesses, Bethesda points out whenever they get the chance; the landscapes didn’t really change an awful lot, conversations with NPCs stopped time, Mysticism was confusing (I still don’t understand what they are so confused about) and a lot of other stuff that I’m glad I forgot. But what if the weak spots was what made Oblivion last forever? What if the static and wooden menu were part of what made Oblivion special? NPCs standing around, doing absolutely nothing is not necessarily a bad thing, as they made a perfect contrast to the NPCs that did a LOT. Now we get menus inspired by iTunes, NPCs that walks around at all times and can’t even be bothered to stop doing what they are doing when you talk with them, we have so-called “handcrafted” dungeons, but what if the copy/paste dungeon approach of Oblivion made the more complex dungeons a bigger surprise? In short: unless they’ve played Skyrim for 5 years, they can’t be certain of anything, and I’m sure they are aware of that. To all the people on the forums: Careful what you wish for. To Todd and Bethesda: Good luck.

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6 comments

Comment from: [Member]
rpeh

You think Oblivion had charm? You should play Morrowind, my friend!

06/09/11 @ 02:25 am
Comment from: Krusty [Member]
Krusty

Wut? Nah, I hear you can’t fast travel in that. That’s lame.

06/09/11 @ 05:14 am
Comment from: Dlarsh [Visitor]
Dlarsh

I’m with rpeh :P
Oblivion certainly had charm, but MW beat the pants off it (insert obligatory IMHO here). That’s why I’m not too worried about Skyrim falling flat on the charm aspect; their previous two entries were fairly different, but both were more than capable of keeping me enthralled for years. I expect the same will be true of Skyrim despite, or even because of, it’s differences.

06/09/11 @ 04:28 pm
Comment from: clutchis1 [Visitor]
clutchis1

I love your point about having charm in a game, a connection at a higher level that inspires you to do more. like the environment and all the things you have said. but in a lot of ways oblivion did have flaws like any other game, for me it bugged here and there but i played it 4 years and running and its still fun. but game developers have to point out flaws in there previous games to tell you what has gotten better in the new ones so people aren’t skeptical about the previous game or games. oblivion is its own game and always will be and have its own charm same with morrowind and other games. but SKYRIM will have its own to and i am sure it will blow us all away, all the new things added and the new menus and the new jobs and NPC dialogues. This game will have a charm unlike any other because it is a whole new game of its own spark. so i will give you the odds of skyrim being repetitive and boring. The odds are NO it wont be, but it will have all the charm in the world :)

06/22/11 @ 05:26 pm
Comment from: Symmachus [Visitor]
Symmachus

I think part of Oblivion’s charm was the fact that it was a varied experience. Different regions, architectural styles which made all those ‘whats-yer-fav-city’ forum topics possible, and I could refresh myself with a different region or city when I got bored of another. The lovely bits of scenery like the graveyeard outside Skingrad which I mentally made note to revisit, the surprises in the caves and forts, from monsters to puzzles to interesting and sometimes funny backstories you worked out from little clues, rich (and importantly, sometimes conflicting) lore that you could seek out if you wanted to (and who didn’t track down all the Barenziah and Dance Through Fire and all those other books?), etc. I was afraid that Skyrim would go the Dragon Age 2 route, with what felt like all of 3 dungeons being recycled throughout and having to play a human. I admit it’s a bit odd to think the Nords’ Dragonborn saviour, with beard and all in the carvings, would turn out to be a flighty Altmer mage, but I was SO relieved that I wouldn’t have to play a ‘canon’ Nord warrior or something cliche (and worse; MELEE). Perhaps it’s just the sandbox experience that keeps us coming back-it’s a whole world, and not a linear grind with 3 points where you can pick one of two options. I love Dragon Age 2, but I’ve put it down after a couple of playthroughs. Oblivion doesn’t feel ‘exhausted’ quite yet. The vibrant community and rich fanfiction that Oblivion enjoys and the number of hours people have logged on it are testament that it has something special. I don’t know what the charm actually is, but I know that a Skyrim that is all snow and towns which are all Nordic just wouldn’t be in keeping with the spirit of Oblivion. Cynical atheist Dunmer court mages, parties where you have to kill everyone…saving the world is bleh. It’s the actual world I like, I guess. A colourful, huge, varied, layered world is the charm, perhaps. As a mage fanboy the spell effects have me postively drooling, but in a way the action will be secondary. I will judge Skyrim by the quality of its Skyrim.

09/16/11 @ 01:34 pm
Comment from: Kalis Agea [Member]
Kalis Agea

Despite having made plenty of >:O and -_- faces at Morrowind a few years back, I recently replayed the game and found those >:O and -_- to be balanced with plenty of :D, :) and *OH-MAH-GAWSH-I-LUVZ-THIS-GAYEM!!!* faces. The same goes for Oblivion. However, I will say that the better graphics, varied landscape, and “nifty” dialogue is no substitute for immersion, great lore, and the laugh-out-loud moments of constantly, character after character, killing the Balmora Mages Guild head and getting a “You now live in a doomed world” mesage. xD I would also apply this rule to Daggerfall and Arena, the grand-daddies of the Elder Scrolls series. Despite how much getting through the opening dungeons of these games (plenty of nerd rage moments to be had there), the games also provided a new and, in my opinion, rather enjoyable experience even when compared to the admittedly better quality of the subsequent games. All in all, I expect no less from Skyrim than I expected of Oblivion – a new experience, new books, new lore, and a riveting plotline.

10/19/11 @ 11:40 pm


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