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Default ES4: Oblivion - Defining A Generation

July 23rd, 2013, 11:06
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
.. What? Have you ever played San Andreas? There's nothing about the auto generated exploration and generic AI in Oblivion that trumps San Andreas. There are actually unique locations there, and while the police may be morons, they're not omnipresent like the ridiculous guards of Oblivion. Those guards are among the worst examples of AI I've ever seen. It's horrible.
Yes, I've played San Andreas. I'm not talking about geography - but about actually exploring the environment - including the ability to enter every location and find some secrets.

IIRC - you could only enter a few buildings in SA - and almost everything was just a building texture. You rarely came upon anything unique you could pick up or interact with in any way.

I consider that to be very boring.

As for the Radiant AI - I think the issue is how they tried to market it. It was supposed to be this super advanced AI - and people apparently expected HAL like behavior.

But if you look it at without the hype - it really WAS very sophisticated - and though you'd come across a ton of weird and inconsistent behavior - it was one of the first serious attempts at a simulating human behavior within a relatively free environment. I was quite fascinated looking at how NPCs roamed the town - and got back home, sitting down to eat - and practicing their skills.

The non-scripted nature of those things was kinda cool.

As for the guards - that wasn't an AI issue, really. It was a design concession in an attempt to balance crime and thievery. Their AI was much more sophisticated - which is evident if you use one of the popular mods that modify it.
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July 23rd, 2013, 11:36
I think we should be looking things under a different context here. Sometimes it's not a matter of a writer of an article not knowing enough about the subject he writes but a matter of us knowing too much.

People who aren't interested in investing the time and effort to master these games require a certain level of 'comfort' in order start enjoying them. For us this is unnecessary (and, sometimes, even unwelcome), our devotion to the genre makes us very demanding when it comes to genre-specific features but very tolerant when it comes to that comfort - we've played ugly, buggy games with uncomfortable controls, sadistic amounts of challenge and vague goals and we enjoyed them because we have put the effort to train ourselves to recognize the ideas hidden below the rough surface. So we can deal with discomfort, we're going to get to the bottom of it anyway, we don't need the game make things easy for us.

But that's a choice we made, one can't devote oneself to everything, it's just not possible. And that's where I think Oblivion excelled: I can't think of a game with more depth and complexity even being so accessible to those that don't have the intention to learn the genre - call them console-kids or casuals or 'retards' or whatever else demeaning name you want but they have no obligation to be as knowledgeable as we are about this thing as we have no obligation to be as knowledgeable as they are about what they enjoy most. I even know people that don't play games at all and still enjoy this one immensely - for me it was a mostly uninteresting game that did the things I care about worse that many others before it, but for them it was an magical experience being able to roam freely in such a large and detailed world.

And for that, regardless of how we feel about it, I think it really was a 'game changer'.

"I am not interested in good; I am interested in new, even if this includes the possibility of it's being evil"
(LaMonte Young, 1962)
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July 23rd, 2013, 11:52
Originally Posted by holeraw View Post
I think we should be looking things under a different context here. Sometimes it's not a matter of a writer of an article not knowing enough about the subject he writes but a matter of us knowing too much.

People who aren't interested in investing the time and effort to master these games require a certain level of 'comfort' in order start enjoying them. For us this is unnecessary (and, sometimes, even unwelcome), our devotion to the genre makes us very demanding when it comes to genre-specific features but very tolerant when it comes to that comfort - we've played ugly, buggy games with uncomfortable controls, sadistic amounts of challenge and vague goals and we enjoyed them because we have put the effort to train ourselves to recognize the ideas hidden below the rough surface. So we can deal with discomfort, we're going to get to the bottom of it anyway, we don't need the game make things easy for us.

But that's a choice we made, one can't devote oneself to everything, it's just not possible. And that's where I think Oblivion excelled: I can't think of a game with more depth and complexity even being so accessible to those that don't have the intention to learn the genre - call them console-kids or casuals or 'retards' or whatever else demeaning name you want but they have no obligation to be as knowledgeable as we are about this thing as we have no obligation to be as knowledgeable as they are about what they enjoy most. I even know people that don't play games at all and still enjoy this one immensely - for me it was a mostly uninteresting game that did the things I care about worse that many others before it, but for them it was an magical experience being able to roam freely in such a large and detailed world.

And for that, regardless of how we feel about it, I think it really was a 'game changer'.
Yup, I'd agree with that.
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July 23rd, 2013, 14:20
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
Nonsense, both Morrowind and Skyrim are considered extremely good by many on the Watch. Oblivion just happened to be a one off which sucked compared to both its predecessor and successor. It had nothing going for it except graphics - even the high quality voice overs were more frustrating than anything else because they kept breaking halfway through a conversation.
Exactly - for all of the mega-hype, it was a game that was in many very important ways worse than its predecessor. I never played as an archer so I can't speak to that, but as a battlemage I found both games worked well.

But in terms of everything BUT graphics - writing, plotting, characters, skills and attributes, and on and on - Morrowind was a better game. As was Gothic 2.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
As for the Radiant AI - I think the issue is how they tried to market it. It was supposed to be this super advanced AI - and people apparently expected HAL like behavior.

But if you look it at without the hype - it really WAS very sophisticated - and though you'd come across a ton of weird and inconsistent behavior - it was one of the first serious attempts at a simulating human behavior within a relatively free environment. I was quite fascinated looking at how NPCs roamed the town - and got back home, sitting down to eat - and practicing their skills.
Yeah, but no one who played the superior Gothic 2 could possibly be even remotely impressed.

So you have writing and an overall game world that is sub-par compared to Morrowind, 'Radiant' AI that is no better than a game released 4 years prior, enemy AI in a first person action game that was laughable compared to other first person games of the time, and combat that was a minor evolutionary step forward from the previous game.

— Mike
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July 23rd, 2013, 14:28
Yeah, but no one who played the superior Gothic 2 could possibly be even remotely impressed.
What? Gothic 2 was entirely scripted. That's the PB approach - and while I agree it was fantastic for immersion, it's not technically innovative in any way whatsoever.

It's just good and hard work.

So you have writing and an overall game world that is sub-par compared to Morrowind, 'Radiant' AI that is no better than a game released 4 years prior, enemy AI in a first person action game that was laughable compared to other first person games of the time, and combat that was a minor evolutionary step forward from the previous game.
No, I have a visually fantastic game that works wonders as an immersive open world game - if you're not looking for a hardcore RPG. It's perfect for casual/mainstream gamers looking to get their feet wet with the genre.

I have combat that's MUCH better and more visceral than Morrowind - ESPECIALLY if you enjoy playing a stealth/archer character, which just happens to be my favorite kind of character.

You have a great physics system that makes dungeons more interactive - and gives the whole tacticle feel a great boost.

You have radiant AI that's a significant step forward when it comes to world simulation - even with all the flaws.

You have a MUCH better streaming engine - even if it's still hugely inferior to FO3 and Skyrim. But Morrowind was awful compared to Oblivion.

One of the most powerful new features of Oblivion was the distant terrain - which made a GIGANTIC difference when it comes to sheer visual immersion. Very big deal if you're into that sort of thing - which I happen to be.

Then you had fully voiced NPCs for everything - which while suffering from too much repetition, is still a very significant step forward compared to wiki-style text-based dialogue from Morrowind.

You have one of the best written storylines of the entire TES series - called the Dark Brotherhood storyline. Fantastic stuff.

You have mounts that work quite well - and it's definitely the first FP RPG to have them working so well. A huge deal if you're an immersion freak.

Again, it was a game changer to a large audience - and for good reasons.
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July 23rd, 2013, 14:41
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
What? Gothic 2 was entirely scripted. That's the PB approach - and while I agree it was fantastic for immersion, it's not technically innovative in any way whatsoever.
I get that - but I got a new laptop after a few dozen hours of Oblivion, and started again. And guess what - I saw the same people doing the same things that I had seen before. The frantic horsemen, the people in shops and on the streets. Same, same, same.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
I have combat that's MUCH better and more visceral than Morrowind - ESPECIALLY if you enjoy playing a stealth/archer character, which just happens to be my favorite kind of character.
I tried to acknowledge that, while also noting that for my character type there wasn't a huge difference. So again it is something that depends on how you play.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
You have a great physics system that makes dungeons more interactive - and gives the whole tacticle feel a great boost..
If you come from a FPS background like me the physics system was a joke - rag doll out of control - again, games a few years older did it better.

Also, there were 2 or 3 dungeons … repeated infinitely. Which is true of pretty much everything in the game. There was almost nothing of interest. It was almost like Bethesda said 'no one plays full games, so we can just copy and paste and no one will notice' and intersperse a dozen hours of interesting stuff with tons of copy & paste fluff filler.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
You have one of the best written storylines of the entire TES series - called the Dark Brotherhood storyline. Fantastic stuff.
Very true - those few hours are the standout of the entire game.

— Mike
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July 23rd, 2013, 14:49
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
I get that - but I got a new laptop after a few dozen hours of Oblivion, and started again. And guess what - I saw the same people doing the same things that I had seen before. The frantic horsemen, the people in shops and on the streets. Same, same, same.
The "impressive" part is that this relatively sophisticated and dynamic behavior is emergent. You can do stuff like poison their food, have them react naturally to attacking their spouses or pets, and so on.

Oblivion was their first attempt doing this - and the fact that the game holds together at all with a dynamic AI like this is impressive to anyone who understands what it takes to run an AI like that on limited hardware.

I tried to acknowledge that, while also noting that for my character type there wasn't a huge difference. So again it is something that depends on how you play.
Obviously so, but archery and stealth are pretty big parts of any TES game. Oblivion just did it so much better than before.

If you come from a FPS background like me the physics system was a joke - rag doll out of control - again, games a few years older did it better.
I come from all backgrounds - and the only game that might have been better in terms of sophisticated physics was Half Life 2 - and that's a totally linear and controlled environment.

Having a fully functional physics engine within a huge freeform RPG is a very big deal.

You can easily tweak physics to make them much less "out of control" - and there are mods for this.

They just released it with "over the top" settings.

Having traps and realistic trajectories - and arrows sticking into things, weighing them down was amazing. Certainly to me - and I don't think you can accuse me of not having seen what there is to see.

Also, there were 2 or 3 dungeons repeated infinitely. Which is true of pretty much everything in the game. There was almost nothing of interest. It was almost like Bethesda said 'no one plays full games, so we can just copy and paste and no one will notice' and intersperse a dozen hours of interesting stuff with tons of copy & paste fluff filler.
That's an exaggeration - and if we're talking visual variety - then Oblivion outdid Morrowind by far.

Morrowind had better item placement - but the dungeons were much more obvious cookie-cutter in terms of level design.

Very true - those few hours are the standout of the entire game.
Those 10-20 hours are fantastic, yeah.
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July 23rd, 2013, 15:16
The concept of Radient AI was a lot more appealing than the reality for me. I definitely wasn't impressed by it, even when the game was new.

I guess I can understand how a casual gamer or someone who was new to RPGs would have been impressed though.
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July 23rd, 2013, 17:20
Didn't Tim Cain name it something like his favourite RPG of the 00s?

While tech-achievements aside it was hardly groundbreaking its success certainly did affect the genre, look at the myriad open-world (RPG) games since it was released.

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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July 23rd, 2013, 20:38
Those are all good improvements to note Dart. As a whole that may add up to a lot of innovation. But to me, "game changing", means something that changes the whole approach of doing something (in this case playing a game). Don't see that in Oblivion whatsoever.
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July 23rd, 2013, 21:05
Originally Posted by Gokyabgu View Post
Oblivion was released in 2006 and 7 years passed. More likely writer has been introduced to RPG genre with Oblivion. So naturally he thinks genre has started with this game. I don't think he heard the names Ultima, Wizardry, Might&Magic, even Baldur's Gate or Morrowind names before.
Well, I wrote the article and I can confirm you are dead wrong. I grew up with the Ultima games, Neverwinter Nights, Fallout etc.

The article is written in the context of the console generation, so yes, its focussed on the 360 not, PC. While compared to many PC RPGs its an action rpg, as a console RPG it was very important in embedding console RPGs into the mainstream conciousness. You may sneer, but like it or not, consoles define the gaming market now.
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July 23rd, 2013, 21:36
Originally Posted by holeraw View Post
People who aren't interested in investing the time and effort to master these games require a certain level of 'comfort' in order start enjoying them. For us this is unnecessary (and, sometimes, even unwelcome), our devotion to the genre makes us very demanding when it comes to genre-specific features but very tolerant when it comes to that comfort -
What genre is that? The genre that is subjective and must include games that are about everything but role playing?
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July 23rd, 2013, 22:32
Originally Posted by ChienAboyeur View Post
What genre is that? The genre that is subjective and must include games that are about everything but role playing?
Yeah, that one.

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July 24th, 2013, 00:59
Well, one good thing … I installed Oblivion instead of the Batman games and will play it when I get home from my work trip

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July 24th, 2013, 02:50
Try out the quest mod The Lost Spires if you are looking for large non-cookie cutter dungeons, designs, artifacts, and new enemies. Excellent new areas and story and home base.
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