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July 23rd, 2007, 00:34
The "veteran effect" brought up by HiddenX may be part of the story, but not all of it. For example, I am currently working my way through Ultima IV for the first time (played UI, VI, VII, VII/SI, and bits of UVIII and UIX before, some of them long before, but had previously not found the patience for UIV). In some respects, the experience is suprisingly reminiscent of more recent games - now, just before entering the Stygian Abyss, I have to say that I haven't seen that many maxed stats since Morrowind, and combat feels a lot like the one-hit-kill affairs that were to be had on higher levels there.

What has changed - and that is certainly not restricted to these two games - is the level of handholding and direction, i.e., linearity. In UIV, I found myself having to peek at a walkthrough in order to figure out where that black stone was, something I certainly did not have to do in Morrowind (not even for that Puzzle Box). And this is obviously not attributeable to the "veteran effect".

Well, I have not touched Oblivion and do not intend to do so, but from what I have read here and at the Codex, it seems to continue this trend further with its built-in walkthrough. A clear sense of direction, a clear right and wrong (or good and evil) path… in all, this doesn't seem surprising, given that casual gamers, who need to be able to pick up a game for frequent and brief sessions and need to know in an instant where they left off and how to go on constitute a much larger segment of the market nowadays.

So the evolution (or deterioration, if you prefer) appears to have occurred in the aspects of gameplay that require attention, dedication, and time, and not so much in others, such as character progression and combat difficulty. The attribute-maxing of Morrowind, which some probably found to be a design flaw, does not appear to be a recent phenomenon.
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Join Date: Jul 2007
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