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Default Bethesda Softworks - 5 Things Elder Scrolls V Shouldn't Do

April 22nd, 2009, 23:09
PC World's Matt Peckham (yes, him) looks past Bethsoft's recent Fallout: New Vegas announcement to the Elder Scrolls V, with a list of five things he'd like to see changed from Oblivion:
1. Don't recycle your voice actors. Okay, I get that Oblivion's a Really Big Game and you probably blew two-thirds of your budget snagging Patrick Stewart and Sean Bean and Lynda Carter, but stellar as the less-well-known acting talent is here, modulating accents and vocal timbres doesn't scrub out the distinctly evil-overlord-shtick guys like Craig Sechler have going on (who does this sound like?). Given the choice between "voiceless text" and "recycled voice acting" audio? I'll take text plus my own imagination, please.
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April 22nd, 2009, 23:09
+1 to that
5. Get the camera out of NPC faces.
LoL @ that
Obsidian Entertainment, whose members have been involved in some of the best computer RPGs ever (Planescape: Torment, the first two Fallout games) as well as some of the most mediocre (Knights of the Old Republic 2, Neverwinter Nights 2)

I'd just like to interject here and point out that I'm not going to say anything to spoil the mood, Chief. I'll just float here and watch. Don't mind me, just sitting here, floating and watching, that's me.
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April 23rd, 2009, 00:06
1. Hand craft a world.
2. Never, ever respawn anything.
3. Never, ever scale monsters to the players level.
4. Never, ever scale items to the players level.
5. Dump the first person perspective because melee sux.

"For Innos!"
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April 23rd, 2009, 00:34
While hating respawn and indiscriminate level scaling I do like a first person view, at least as an option.
I find in 3rd person I am quite detached from my character but in first person I get more of a sense of being them. It must be the whole "seeing it through the characters eyes" thing. Also in first person you have to creep up to a corner in a dungeon and peek around it. In 3rd person you can just swing the camera around the corner and get a good look.
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April 23rd, 2009, 00:47
Originally Posted by pox67 View Post
While hating respawn and indiscriminate level scaling I do like a first person view, at least as an option.
I find in 3rd person I am quite detached from my character but in first person I get more of a sense of being them. It must be the whole "seeing it through the characters eyes" thing. Also in first person you have to creep up to a corner in a dungeon and peek around it. In 3rd person you can just swing the camera around the corner and get a good look.
I agree with everything you said, but the melee system gets killed in the process. Arx wasnt very good, nor was Dark Messiah and Oblivion was pretty bad. Shield blocking was cool but thats about it.

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April 23rd, 2009, 02:37
Originally Posted by ToddMcF2002 View Post
1. Hand craft a world.
2. Never, ever respawn anything.
3. Never, ever scale monsters to the players level.
4. Never, ever scale items to the players level.
5. Dump the first person perspective because melee sux.
That is an excellent list… especially number 1!!! Here's what I'll add:

6. Make a PC interface for the PC. One more time for good measure: Make a PC inteface for the PC. Did I mention make a PC interface for the PC?

7. Let me add my own notes to the map and quest journal.

8. More VAIRETY of INTERESTING loot… primarily with weapons and armor but other loot (aka non-combat loot) can be made more interesting. I'm not sure how to be more specific here… but looting in Oblivion is yawn-inspiring.

9. A more interactive game world. Traps such as rolling logs or spiked balls falling from the ceiling was a good start, but with advances in physics in games since Oblivion came out should offer more environment interaction… interactions that don't necessarily have anything to do with combat…

10. Tooltips for icons. It's the only dumbing-down of CRPGs I really want. Please give me tooltips.

11. Give the ability to micro-manage my spell book. For example, let me erase spells from my spellbook that I no longer want to use.

12. A better inventory management system… especially for the PC since TES V will provide a PC specific interface! Need more categories and groupings so that by the middle of the game I'm not spending chunks of time scroooooollling through a huge list of keys and documents…

If I'm right but there is no wife around to acknowledge it, am I still right?
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April 23rd, 2009, 02:41
Limited scaling like in OOO and Frans mods are very good but the original level scaling isn't very good.

I don't think no respawning is very realistic but 3 days isn't either but a week or 2 would be good which you can set in Oblivion if you want.

I like first person views in any game but not as an option because they always suck in usage. An example is first person in Gothic 3 is really bad and I don't use it even though I want to.
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April 23rd, 2009, 03:00
Originally Posted by guenthar View Post
I don't think no respawning is very realistic…
What I kill is dead and should stay dead. I can see maybe 1 in 20 respawning to reflect something wandering into the area cleared, but Oblivion is ridiculous. They treat it like every dungeon has monsters on a 2 day occupancy rental. Monsters Craiglist, nice 4 bedroom dungeon with waterveiws immediately available.

Knock Two Worlds for being RPG light, but whats dead is dead. Gothic too unless you change chapters. Respawning is just terrible. I'm on a roll whining about everything tonight so feel free to ignore me

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April 23rd, 2009, 04:35
I don't like Matt Peckham in general, and especially his personal bendetta against KotOR II and NWN 2, but thought the list was decent for a mainstream article.

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April 23rd, 2009, 05:17
Yeah…I guess. My list would be pretty different but I'm not much of an Elder Scrolls fan, so perhaps my opinion doesn't count.

- Handcrafted world - for sure. They won't make it smaller to improve the density, so they need to at least include half a dozen really good dungeons. Oblivion was a step up from Morrowind but even the handful of decent dungeons weren't that great and still looked like all the others. They need half a dozen quest-driven, hand-crafted and unique ones.

- Ditch the entire current system mechanics and move to a traditional XP-and-level system. The current throw-a-fireball-at-a-rock-until-it-improves system is broken and makes their level-scaling woes even worse.

-Branching quests. Enough said.

Eh, that will do. All of the above, as well.

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April 23rd, 2009, 10:05
Originally Posted by ToddMcF2002 View Post
1. Hand craft a world.
Dwarf Fortress much?

2. Never, ever respawn anything.
Disagree. Being able to hunt the wildlife, monsters, and plants to extinction is a real immersion-killer in an open kind of world. Of course, ham-handed respawning is even worse.

3. Never, ever scale monsters to the players level.
4. Never, ever scale items to the players level.
Agree.

5. Dump the first person perspective because melee sux.
Disagree. Oblivion's melee is better than most third-person action RPG melee. Doesn't mean it can't be improved, but it's not half bad — and going first-person can be a major money-saver animation-wise. I'd rather see those resources spent on crafting great content, background, and other "meat."
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April 23rd, 2009, 10:26
I would have to agree with those that say the very first priority should be to completely rework the utterly dreadful and dull skill system.

I don't really care if they go the traditional XP route - or if they insist on having skills increase according to use. But for heaven's sake - provide the player with tangible and satisfying rewards at a very steady pace THROUGHOUT the game.

Beyond that, I assume they've learned their lesson regarding challenge scaling - but in case they haven't: DON'T DO IT.

Nothing destroys the careful planning of a character build like scaling encounters. Make us feel rewarded and let us sense our progression.

Oh, and reduce the amount of content if that's what it takes to enrich and diversify the world. Introduce carefully crafted dungeons and locations - and implement genuine mind-challenges in the shape of puzzles or NPC interaction options.

For my dream feature - we'd be talking about small scalle cooperative multiplayer mode and perhaps the possibility of much more elaborate prestige related rewards. As in, ownable ships and houses that mean something.

But ok, I could go on.
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April 23rd, 2009, 10:29
1) Take the lore and worldcrafting seriously again. this is the grand difference for me between Morrowind and Oblivion. Vvardenfell was an interesting, quirky, yet surprisingly believable world, with religious and political conflicts, history affecting the present. The imperial province was a bland medival fairy tale land without intrigue, without struggle. And that was the heart of the empire! The missed opportunity! Hire writing talent.

2) Go back to DF's character system (Disagree with Dhruin here, there is enough XP + level, systems, the use system may create its problems, but it also has its strengths. DF's was great).

3) Branching quests, permanent and significant consequences.

4) Factions that are at odds, presenting the player with clear dilemmas on who to side with

5) A combined keyword (with tone of voice option) and dialogue tree system.
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April 23rd, 2009, 13:09
What a civilised and insightful Oblivion thread for a change! I agree with pretty much all points in some way. I do think respawning and level-scaling can be put to good use, except use better parameters next time around! What's missing badly in Oblivion is the feeling that you're achieving something! If you clear out a dungeon and it's occupied again a few days later, that kills enjoyment. If you've spent a lot of skill points to build a strong character and you still get your ass handed to you by the same monsters, that kills enjoyment!
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April 23rd, 2009, 13:23
I like the way GBG is thinking. Haven't played Daggerfall so I can't comment on that; however, IMO the character system in Morrowind and Oblivion wasn't *fundamentally* flawed — it was crazily unbalanced and had exploits you could steer the USS Enterprise through, but that would have been fixable by adjusting parameters, introducing cut-off points, and what not. (I understand some modders have pretty successfully done just that, no?)
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April 23rd, 2009, 13:35
I think the character system in Daggerfall was marginally better - because they had "traits" of a sort - and you could give yourself advantages but had to suffer similar disadvantages. It had a bit more flavor.

But every single Elderscrolls game has failed utterly to reward the progression you make as a player - because it's simply not exciting to go from 37 in Blade skill to 38. You can't even register you've improved unless you specifically sit down and measure the damage you're doing, and even then it's hard to detect.

I consider the feeling of progression and character evolution absolutely essential in any RPG - and that's why I think the systems in Elderscrolls, so far, have been deeply and fundamentally flawed.
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April 23rd, 2009, 13:39
I admit I didn't play Daggerfall for long. I couldn't stand the masochistic dungeons or generic towns, so maybe the system is a real gem and I missed most of it.

I think a traditional XP-and-level system works very well but I'm not tied to that - I do think the improve-as-you-use-it system has too many flaws in return for little by way of advantages. I like planning out a character in detail, I like the regular rewards of traditional systems and I think it's easier to avoid jack-of-all-trades uber-characters and then balance the whole shebang.

Either way, Bethsoft has proven they can't quite figure it all out. Oblivion was poorly balanced in multiple directions, such as improvement in non-combat skills affecting scaling in combat encounters. Even with SPECIAL in FO3, they couldn't get the rate of advancement right and then capped the level before you're likely to see 40% of the game.

Rethink the whole thing from scratch, I say.

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April 23rd, 2009, 13:42
A few more thoughts about the first vs third-person thing: if we leave out pure action/shooter/beat-em-up games and games abstracted-out combat (turn-based, probability-based RTwP), and look at action RPG's only, the field is actually a bit thin.

Here are some off the top of my head, ranked in order of preference:

Jade Empire.
Deus Ex.
The Witcher.
Oblivion.
Mass Effect.
——
VtM: Bloodlines.
Gothic 3 (w. CP 1.7.)
——
Morrowind.
Gothic 2.
Gothic 3 (pre-CP 1.7.)

I've drawn two semi-arbitrary lines in there.

For the games in the top category, I found myself enjoying the combat for its own sake — experimenting with various tactics and/or weapons, enjoying the "feel" of character progression, and generally sort of looking forward to good fights. That doesn't mean they're perfect; in fact, I could easily point to a number of fairly glaring flaws in any of them. But IMO they still struck a nice balance between player skill and character skill, and combat was varied, complex, and "fair" enough to be enjoyable for its own sake despite them.

In the second category are games where the combat neither helped nor hindered. It didn't generally get in the way of enjoying the rest of the game, and even supported it to some minor degree. Irritations were relatively fleeting. However, the combat didn't really add much to the game either, and certainly didn't constitute a major attraction for me.

And in the third category are games that I enjoyed (to a degree at least) *despite* the combat. Alongside beautiful memories of Daedric quests, Ashlander customs, and encounters with mutated monsters and ancient gods lies the soul-choking tedium of hacking at cliff racers or click-spamming through hordes and hordes and hordes of cookie-cutter filler monsters; next to the marvelous feeling of discovery, choice, and consequence lies the memory of combat controls that feel about as balletic and fluid as trying to fence with an excavator.

Interestingly, there's virtually no correlation between the perspective and my subjective enjoyment of the system. I liked Deus Ex's and Oblivion's first-person combat almost as much as Jade Empire's and The Witcher's third-person combat; I hated Gothic's third-person excavator fencing almost as much as Morrowind's first-person click-spamming.

But: I think that it's a lot less work to get first-person combat to feel "right" than third-person combat, simply because the animations, impact detection, and so on are way easier. Given limited resources, I'd prefer that they do it this way. Look at Elveon — they went for unbelievably good-looking cinematic third-person combat, and ended up canceled — even though, from all accounts, the actual game would've been pretty much filler for the combat. (They are canceled, right?)
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April 23rd, 2009, 13:44
For the games in the top category, I found myself enjoying the combat for its own sake — experimenting with various tactics and/or weapons, enjoying the "feel" of character progression, and generally sort of looking forward to good fights. That doesn't mean they're perfect; in fact, I could easily point to a number of fairly glaring flaws in any of them. But IMO they still struck a nice balance between player skill and character skill, and combat was varied, complex, and "fair" enough to be enjoyable for its own sake despite them.
Did you seriously get a real sense of character progression in Oblivion and Mass Effect?
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April 23rd, 2009, 13:49
GhanBuriGhan's idea would make a TES game for some diehard RPG fans, including myself. I agree that Morrowind had good potential since it had a politically complex and plausible setting. It, however, didn't make full use of the possible conflicts since the quests offered by factions didn't make even a small whorl in the delicate political system. If Bethesda were going back to their root, I'd be interested in it.

Then, I have to go back to the reality. Without writing talents, I wonder how they manage to make it plausible. Considering the success of Oblivion and FO3, I don't think Bethesda feels that they are in need of good writers.
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