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Default Skyrim - Struggling one year later @ Joystiq

December 3rd, 2012, 02:17
The Elder Scroll games miss one very large component. They strive to be an RPG World Simulation, yet they only simulate a couple of aspects of an RPG, much less a world.
You do this: Explore/Travel, FIght, and read/learn about lore, basically. They miss so many gameplay elements they could be exploring its a shame really. They could be evolving the whole RPG World/sim game type, yet they do not push the boundaries of their craft.
They could include gameplay elements from other legendary games that would make the gameplay experience better by tenfold. Just including the various ways to solve quests/multiple solution paths from Fallout 1/2/New Vegas and Arcanum would be a huge step forward. And to include the types of quests that are actually interesting and engaging from those games and continuing to evolve them should actually be a requirement, a demand from SAVVY players.
But no, all of their quests are fight the "foozle" or fetch quests almost exclusively. It ius such a waste of resources and personnel to make such dull quets/missions for a game that reaches millions and millions of people. Instead of an exemplary gaming world to show the possibilities and wonder of an RPG compared to FPS games or similar, they choose the easy road of simple hack and slash arcade gaming (which is fine, but it needs to be one component, one facet of a greater whole world).
And, the Elder Scrolls are not even the best at what they do in many areas:
Two Worlds part one did a better job of simulating a factional conflict then Oblivion did.
Not to mention the Gothic Games which have many better game design elements.

The RPG gaming industry is so slow to evolve in any manner other then graphics and physics engines that its ridiculous. Strategy gaming does not share these problems, there are plenty of excellent simulations and systems of all skill levels, genres, and styles. Thee needs to be a breakthrough, something on the level of when Ultima VII, Deus Ex, and Daggerfall first appeared on the scene to revolutionize the whole design philosophy of these RPG world sims. And the ridiculus part is it wouldn't take hardly any tech advancement, only better designers.
Not to be a negative post or anything But really come on now?

To sum it up, I feel our space program ended up like this. "It's one small step for man. One giant leap for man kind. Oops I fell on my butt after that leap and can't get up anymore."
Last edited by buckaroobonzai; December 3rd, 2012 at 09:50.
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December 3rd, 2012, 04:08
Originally Posted by buckaroobonzai View Post
Hear, hear!
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December 3rd, 2012, 04:53
Originally Posted by wolfing View Post
I know I'm in the minority, but I enjoyed Oblivion so much more than Skyrim. I played Oblivion from start to finish, twice, loved every minute of it. I've tried to play Skyrim twice now, both abandoned at some random point about 15 or so hours into it. It just doesn't grab me.
How can Skyrim not grab you? It has a much more exciting and [seemingly] dynamic intro, the game world is far more interesting AND varied stylistically and thematically and many quests are more interesting than those of Oblivion. Oblivion was extremely dull in every way possible. Morrowind is my favorite ES game but Skyrim (which admittedly I've yet to finish) is not far from it.

Obviously you pointed out you're in the minority, and I'm not attacking you or saying you're wrong, I'm just curious, what exactly is it about Oblivion that made you finish it twice? Or what is it about Skyrim that isn't "grabbing" you?

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December 3rd, 2012, 04:55
Oblivion isn't dull, far from it. I'm currently 200 hours deep in an Oblivion play-through and it's cemented it's spot as one of the best games I've ever played. It's surely not "dull". It's actually much better than I remembered it.
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December 3rd, 2012, 05:03
And as far as the article and the characters and plot being paper thin, ES games, as has been pointed out, is about sheer size and content.

And I love the games for what they are, but I really would love Bethesda to build a game around say just ONE or TWO large cities and just populate them with a lot more NPCs and with an even more dynamic quest and dialogue system. This could make for a game with a ton more depth, characters you get to know and grow with you for the duration of the game, and some really choice and consequences.

This would be fantastic. I think many RPGs suffer from too many quests/areas which then stretch the game thin. I don't need to visit 4 planets/worlds/cities/dimensions to feel like I'm playing en epic game. Would be great for a game to take place in just one large town chock full of incredibly deep characters/stories.

In the end though, if the author of that article isn't enjoying the game, why play it?

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December 3rd, 2012, 05:43
Originally Posted by Relayer View Post
In the end though, if the author of that article isn't enjoying the game, why play it?
On that I'm far more sympathetic to the author. Haven't you ever had a game that you had really high hopes for and really wanted to like, but… it… just… wasn't… all the way… there? And you go back and forth and back and forth and, umm, it's just complicated?

I've had that. UIX was one. I remember wandering around Britain and nearly convincing myself this was going to be awesome. Then I'd be disappointed. Then disappointed a little more. Then I'd be angry and want to return the game. Then I'd want to try it again and make myself like it. Yeah. Complicated.
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December 3rd, 2012, 06:04
I would say the elder scrolls are the b est at what they do, ala open world rpg. I can't call the gothic games open world really…other then say gothic 3 which we all know how that went. Two worlds isn't even playing in the same league.

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December 3rd, 2012, 06:56
Originally Posted by Bedwyr View Post
On that I'm far more sympathetic to the author. Haven't you ever had a game that you had really high hopes for and really wanted to like, but… it… just… wasn't… all the way… there? And you go back and forth and back and forth and, umm, it's just complicated?

I've had that. UIX was one. I remember wandering around Britain and nearly convincing myself this was going to be awesome. Then I'd be disappointed. Then disappointed a little more. Then I'd be angry and want to return the game. Then I'd want to try it again and make myself like it. Yeah. Complicated.
The game I continued playing for a while despite not enjoying it was Arcania: Gothic 4. Kept hoping it would improve and ended up playing through the entire game over the course of a weekend. It was really bad, horrible dialogue, many recycled character models, linear, uninteresting quests, poorly designed combat.

The author of this article, however, is still playing Skyrim one year after he started. That suggests he is getting a good value of entertainment out of the game and ultimately I'd say he rather likes Skyrim. He's probably played at least 100-200 hours by now order to play three different characters up to level 25. I wouldn't touch Gothic 4 again if it were the last game in the world.

His biggest problem was the quest markers. Why not simply turn them off? I figured out how to do this on the game's release date and it significantly enhanced my enjoyment of the game, along with removing the compass.

He also mentions he felt "lukewarm" about the crafting and skill progressions, and he was devastated by not being able to find a woodcutter's axe. There are plenty of mods that expand on the crafting and perks, and woodcutter's axes are all over Skyrim's towns and villages, not to mention there are mods that allow you to craft one.

It seems to me the author sought to make a mountain out of a molehill in order to construct a premise for his article, which is undermined by the fact that his concerns about the game were so minor.
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December 3rd, 2012, 10:50
Originally Posted by buckaroobonzai View Post
The Elder Scroll games miss one very large component. They strive to be an RPG World Simulation, yet they only simulate a couple of aspects of an RPG, much less a world.
You do this: Explore/Travel, FIght, and read/learn about lore, basically. They miss so many gameplay elements they could be exploring its a shame really. They could be evolving the whole RPG World/sim game type, yet they do not push the boundaries of their craft.
They could include gameplay elements from other legendary games that would make the gameplay experience better by tenfold. Just including the various ways to solve quests/multiple solution paths from Fallout 1/2/New Vegas and Arcanum would be a huge step forward. And to include the types of quests that are actually interesting and engaging from those games and continuing to evolve them should actually be a requirement, a demand from SAVVY players.
But no, all of their quests are fight the "foozle" or fetch quests almost exclusively. It ius such a waste of resources and personnel to make such dull quets/missions for a game that reaches millions and millions of people. Instead of an exemplary gaming world to show the possibilities and wonder of an RPG compared to FPS games or similar, they choose the easy road of simple hack and slash arcade gaming (which is fine, but it needs to be one component, one facet of a greater whole world).
And, the Elder Scrolls are not even the best at what they do in many areas:
Two Worlds part one did a better job of simulating a factional conflict then Oblivion did.
Not to mention the Gothic Games which have many better game design elements.

The RPG gaming industry is so slow to evolve in any manner other then graphics and physics engines that its ridiculous. Strategy gaming does not share these problems, there are plenty of excellent simulations and systems of all skill levels, genres, and styles. Thee needs to be a breakthrough, something on the level of when Ultima VII, Deus Ex, and Daggerfall first appeared on the scene to revolutionize the whole design philosophy of these RPG world sims. And the ridiculus part is it wouldn't take hardly any tech advancement, only better designers.
Not to be a negative post or anything But really come on now?
I agree that quest design could and should always move forward. Although I would say there is a number of quests in each recent TES that certainly go beyond the kill the foozle trope. However, one should also be aware that designing branched, multi-solution-multi-resolution quests is hard. I see this very well in the development of my favorite indie RPG project, Age of Decadence: That game is basically nothing but branched narrative (and a TB combat system) - and they learned the hard way how much work that is. And in a fully open large world with very open character development, like TES it must be even worse. Ultimately I think games like TES should rather keep developing the simulation aspect and focus on emergent gameplay and emergent narrative.
That said, FO-NV shows what is feasible, and it certainly would be nice if TES designers work even harder to develop their writing for future titles.
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December 3rd, 2012, 11:44
The only thing Skyrim is struggling with one year later are bugs. And lack of proper Bethesda's patch. When I say Bethesda's patch, I mean Bethesda's patch, not fan mods or whatnot.
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December 3rd, 2012, 12:24
The game is an open world RPG that tries to simulate a changing world with its massive size, while trying to please to the less hard-core RPG players introducing simplicity (a compass, easy combat, etc).

It does a very good job at it. The problem is a lot of people want skyrim to be something that it wasn't even built to be.

People want skyrim to be "simulated" open world, but still have bioware story characters' depth, Baldur's Gate level of story slaped into it, etc.

In sum, people want a perfect RPG, wich Skyrim isn't. Its a shame because i realy think that skyrim engine (with a few mods/tweaks) is absolutely perfect for that kind of perfect RPG. If only we could get the guys from project Eternity to work on this engine, but alas, it's realy hard to get something perfect for everyone… Skyrim should be looked at what it is, a very very strong game in its place, an open world simulated RPG.
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December 3rd, 2012, 12:38
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
However, one should also be aware that designing branched, multi-solution-multi-resolution quests is hard. I see this very well in the development of my favorite indie RPG project, Age of Decadence: That game is basically nothing but branched narrative (and a TB combat system) - and they learned the hard way how much work that is. And in a fully open large world with very open character development, like TES it must be even worse.
Exactly! That kind of gameplay works best on a smaller scale, with a tighter design, while the trademark of TES is sprawl. Daggerfall was the game that hooked me on TES, and even though each game in the series has improved certain aspects, particularly production values, the general direction of development has not been what I hoped for.

More procedurally created content, more automated systems and more random elements is the way to go here, I think. (Fingers crossed for Sui Generis!)

In particular, I have an idea that I'd like to see explored. (Actually, I'd like to help explore it myself, if some developer would hire me, but since I'm older than almost everybody in the business and have no track record, that's not going to happen.)

I'm talking about creating story elements like Lego blocks, story elements that could fit together in several different ways. Instead of branching quests, where the player chooses direction at each turn, which necessitates lots of content that the player will never see (at least not in one playthrough) the game makes choices too (procedurally, with some ammount of randomness).

Just like with real Lego blocks, you have a finite number of blocks. You can't create an infinite ammount of original content for a game, after all. But you could create a game with potentially infinete variation.

Amongst other things, this involves taking advantage of the "filler" NPCs populating the game world. Instead of just being extras on the set, each could potentially get a more prominent role in some quest at some point in the game, as the procedural "story engine" would be able to assign roles on the fly.
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December 3rd, 2012, 14:37
Originally Posted by sakichop View Post
He was embellishing obviously but it's entirely possible to run from a dragon into a cave which has very powerful undead, barely get out of the cave alive, fall down a small cliff, live and barely make it to town.

It just sounds a lot better the way he said it.
That might be his problem.

Skyrim is an excellent narrative game but it comes with limitations.

Developping a narrative for a character can go through using the material as it is provided by the game or wish for some content that does not exist and build the narrative onto that.

The last solution certainly pushes for frustration.

In Skyrim, you can not be between a dragon and cave inhabitants as both are hosted in separated gaming room. Deceiptful to build a narrative on that as the material does not exist in the game.

Same for licking wounds in town. Health regenerates by itself etc…

Maybe this player would struggle less if he started to play the game and craft narratives based on what material the game provides. Not trying to get situations the game can not provided.
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December 3rd, 2012, 14:47
Originally Posted by buckaroobonzai View Post
They could be evolving the whole RPG World/sim game type, yet they do not push the boundaries of their craft.
Could they?

After playing so long Skyrim, it turned obvious their ambitions for the game were much higher. They were very high actually. And they failed to deliver on them big time (does not result in a bad game, just showing how difficult it might be)

In a nutshell, the radiant quest system was meant to place not scripted quests only but quests as they were generated by the world.

While Bethesda did not go public about their ambitions, it can be noticed that they also managed to deliver a better product as players did not go amok as they could have.

Before release, the supposed procedural dragon AI was much publicized. Just not to be included or to be reduced in final version.

Dragons do not behave as they behaved in promotional videos before realease.

In Skyrim, you wont see a dragon swooping it, taking a land dweller in its jaws, rising up to the skies and dropping the captive to the ground. You wont see a dragon circling around in the skies, pondering whether to attack, and leaving.
Neither will you see a dragon engaged in combat, deciding enough is enough and taking wings again to flee.

Not much ado about that.

Bethesda is still trying. But seeing all they wanted to accomplish and were not able to, the question rises: is it simply possible to deliver? What did not work? Why did they scrap up so many features while they spent time to developp them?
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December 3rd, 2012, 14:54
Originally Posted by Relayer View Post
How can Skyrim not grab you? It has a much more exciting and [seemingly] dynamic intro, the game world is far more interesting AND varied stylistically and thematically and many quests are more interesting than those of Oblivion. Oblivion was extremely dull in every way possible. Morrowind is my favorite ES game but Skyrim (which admittedly I've yet to finish) is not far from it.

Obviously you pointed out you're in the minority, and I'm not attacking you or saying you're wrong, I'm just curious, what exactly is it about Oblivion that made you finish it twice? Or what is it about Skyrim that isn't "grabbing" you?
Can't really explain it. I know one HUGE factor for me is the removal of the spell crafting. Another, maybe I just don't like the mountain setting. Maybe having dragons made it too 'cliche' for my taste. Maybe I prefer more medieval settings. I don't know exactly what, all I know is that I just don't have any drive to play the game.
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December 3rd, 2012, 15:02
Originally Posted by ChienAboyeur View Post
Bethesda is still trying. But seeing all they wanted to accomplish and were not able to, the question rises: is it simply possible to deliver? What did not work? Why did they scrap up so many features while they spent time to developp them?
I will try to answer your questions based on my thoughts:

I think that yes they could deliver; single indie developers have been using procedural generation with varying degrees of complexity for more than 10 years and with Bethesda resources available they could have achieved that with the multitude of AI algorithms available.

They might have implemented these complex procedural algorithms and they might have worked, but maybe they did not have enough time to test them fully taking into account the size of the world.

As to why they scaped many features: probably to provide them later as DLC.
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December 4th, 2012, 19:07
Originally Posted by TheMadGamer View Post
It also reflects a lot of threads here and elsewhere essentially entitled, 'TES games lack a soul' and this article does a good job at articulating why.
I can play a game without a soul, I can't play a game with no soul, crappy combat and feeble fantasy tropes in place of a story.

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December 4th, 2012, 19:33
I love open games like Skyrim where I decide what to do. Main quest? I'll do it if I want to thank you.

I also like games with a tight narrative and very strong main quest that the rest of the game hangs off of.

Yay that both are available!
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December 4th, 2012, 19:43
Yep. I like both too. I'm not so narrowminded. It's fun to see what can happen in Skyrim because of the freeform nature. Opposite of ME3 scripted corridor shooting.
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December 4th, 2012, 20:46
Originally Posted by SpoonFULL View Post
They might have implemented these complex procedural algorithms and they might have worked, but maybe they did not have enough time to test them fully taking into account the size of the world.
They probably knew beforehand they were going for a continuous support through patching. They could have postponed the finalization of them.
As to why they scaped many features: probably to provide them later as DLC.
Probably not.

Examples of scrapped features:


Food should have been produced and consumed by the various entities in the game world (Rorikstead was probably intended to provide a farm to the player so the player can participe in)
Supplies were expected to be moved from town to town through carts.
Bandits were supposed to raid the convoys and kidnap people around.

In this context, food was a totally different thing as the PC might have been left without food to eat. The possiblity of introducing hunger/sleep was tested and tested long enough for the irrelevant food system to be kept.

An entire different world attempt was tried. A world closed onto itself instead of the current one that is connected to a permanent source which induces everlasting growth.

All this failed and was scrapped. They aimed very high and delivered low compared to their goals.

So the question arises: can this be delivered?
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