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Default RPGWatch Feature - Morrowind Revisited

August 19th, 2010, 12:54
Originally Posted by bemushroomed View Post
I think it's one of the least generic RPG's. It's one of few games where it feels like you've really travelled somewhere and is visiting a new culture when you get to a new region. Gothic's didnt come even close, even though i did like them they werent nearly as "mystical"or felt as "epic".
I spent weeks in Morrowind, but I cannot remember this at all. All I remember is "wikipedia", no dialogue, no cutscenes, and if there was a story in the game I missed it completely. I never finished the game despite the hours I spent. I remember Morrowind feeling like a painting, a beautiful scene with no interactions. I think the lack of dialogue really nailed the coffin for me. There were simply nothing in the came I could care for, no NPC's, no real people, just "signposts". I consider Oblivion a great improvement, but still not a good game.

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August 19th, 2010, 13:04
Originally Posted by JemyM View Post
I spent weeks in Morrowind, but I cannot remember this at all. All I remember is "wikipedia", no dialogue, no cutscenes, and if there was a story in the game I missed it completely. I never finished the game despite the hours I spent. I remember Morrowind feeling like a painting, a beautiful scene with no interactions. I think the lack of dialogue really nailed the coffin for me. There were simply nothing in the came I could care for, no NPC's, no real people, just "signposts". I consider Oblivion a great improvement, but still not a good game.
And I have it on number 3 of my best-rpg's-I've-played list (after PS:T and U7). I found the world to be rich and exotic with a great story. Better than Oblivion. It's fascinating that we can experience the same game that differently.

The one thing I didn't like was the number of choices when talking to NPC's, most of them were meaningless, added because you asked another NPC about it.

BTW: By dialogue - do you mean voiceovers? Voiceovers and cutsccenes are in my eyes and ears one of the least important aspects of a game.

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August 19th, 2010, 13:12
It's also about how static the world feels. IIRC, there was zero movement in the environment.

Everything was completely still.

Oblivion had a much nicer environment, because trees swayed and the animations of all the creatures were MUCH better. The forests felt truly alive, while Morrowind felt more like a dead alien planet.

I agree Oblivion suffered from a handful of the same problems, but it was a significant improvement in terms of immersion and presentation.

Describing Morrowind as a painting seems pretty accurate to me, and a rather dull painting at that.
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August 19th, 2010, 13:15
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post

Oblivion had a much nicer environment, because trees swayed and the animations of all the creatures were MUCH better. The forests felt truly alive, while Morrowind felt more like a dead alien planet.
I agree that Oblivion is far better here, but these are things that mean very little to me in an RPG.

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August 19th, 2010, 13:20
Originally Posted by pibbur View Post
I agree that Oblivion is far better here, but these are things that mean very little to me in an RPG.
That would explain a lot

Also, the movement of your character was like skating in Morrowind. To call it stiff would be too kind.

In Oblivion, they improved combat feedback immensely, and you could almost feel the impact when hit, etc.

Morrowind was just hitting the same button a zillion times and watching health bars drain. To make matters worse, they even had a "use best attack" option, which meant zero variety THROUGHOUT the game.

Talk about having no understanding of what makes a game FUN.

Then again, maybe it's about imagination. I'm not good with that, and I need stuff to immerse myself. I don't really enjoy having to imagine all the fun, you know
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August 19th, 2010, 13:21
I'm among those who really loved morrowind. I am also among those who started adding mods almost from the beginning. I maybe played Vanilla MW for 6 hours or so.

For MW, I felt it is really true that the world is the star. If you take the time to really explore the culture and history of the place, it was very rewarding, I thought. Lore was actually delivered mostly through the books - dialog gave you only relatively little insight, ultimately. Still lore was also rather nicely interwoven with the main plot and many side quests, and of course it was great to actually go and see places you had only read about before. There was a rather unique culture, history and religion to explore in Morrowind.
And that exactly remains my biggest dissapointment with Oblivion - there was nothing comparable in that game. What a waste, considering the setting was the Imperial province!
I guess I am also one of the few people who liked the wiki style dalogue. I thought is was a nice way to incorporate some of the freedom of older text parser style games with the traditional dialog tree mechanic. I did miss the greater detail and freedom of DF's character generation system though (especially the ability to add negative effects to your character in exchange for powerful abilities of faster leveling).
It's a great game for me, but I guess you have to bring a bit of a LARPing / simulationist mindset to it to truly enjoy it.
Last edited by GhanBuriGhan; August 19th, 2010 at 13:26. Reason: Improved really badly written post.
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August 19th, 2010, 13:22
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
.. To make matters worse, they even had a "use best attack" option, which meant zero variety THROUGHOUT the game.

Talk about having no understanding of what makes a game FUN.
It was an option. You didn't have to use it, so I don't think it's fair to critizise them for that.

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August 19th, 2010, 13:29
Originally Posted by pibbur View Post
It was an option. You didn't have to use it, so I don't think it's fair to critizise them for that.
You better believe it's fair

Telling players: "this will do optimal damage" instead of simply letting players figure things out themselves, is not good game design.

It's like saying I don't have to use auto travel, because it's there.

It's like paying people a million dollars each year, and then suggest they can get paid half - if they want - because it would be fair to others.

Never EVER expect players to punish themselves by meta-gaming. Such an option is to DIRECTLY break down the illusion of what a game is supposed to be. Give players the game as it's meant to be - and don't expect them to fully understand what makes it the most fun. That's YOUR job, as a designer.

That's EXACTLY the kind of thing so popular today, and yet so wrong. The artist should know - and it should be from the heart. Not from a misguided objective viewpoint.

If you want an exciting combat system, you make different attacks effective in a variety of ways. You don't make a single attack the most effective, and let players tick an option to ensure that will always be the one used.

It's so incredibly stupid, I lack the words
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August 19th, 2010, 13:39
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
You better believe it's fair

Telling players: "this will do optimal damage" instead of simply letting players figure things out themselves, is not good game design.

It's like saying I don't have to use auto travel, because it's there.

It's like paying people a million dollars each year, and then suggest they can get paid half - if they want - because it would be fair to others.

Never EVER expect players to punish themselves by meta-gaming. Such an option is to DIRECTLY break down the illusion of what a game is supposed to be. Give players the game as it's meant to be - and don't expect them to fully understand what makes it the most fun. That's YOUR job, as a designer.

That's EXACTLY the kind of thing so popular today, and yet so wrong. The artist should know - and it should be from the heart. Not from a misguided objective viewpoint.

If you want an exciting combat system, you make different attacks effective in a variety of ways. You don't make a single attack the most effective, and let players tick an option to ensure that will always be the one used.

It's so incredibly stupid, I lack the words
I disagree completely.

In Morrowind I did quite a lot of powergaming, which made me too strong in the end, I don't blame Morrowind for that. In Oblivion I chose not to do that, which made the game more funny. As for fast-travel in Oblivion - sometimes I used it, most of the time I didn't. No problem.

I can only see these choices as a benefit. It doesn't destroy my gaming at all. (and I can't see this has anything to do with art)

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August 19th, 2010, 13:53
Originally Posted by pibbur View Post
I disagree completely.

In Morrowind I did quite a lot of powergaming, which made me too strong in the end, I don't blame Morrowind for that. In Oblivion I chose not to do that, which made the game more funny.

I can only see these choices as a benefit. It doesn't destroy my gaming at all. (and I can't see this has anything to do with art)
Game design is art, if you ask me

At least, that's what I'd like it to be.

Morrowind isn't really art, though, because it's not made by artists as much as opportunists.

In my opinion, the art is created by the artist - not the player.

You can give the player the power to impact the world and the characters, but what you DON'T give him, is the power to change the underlying rules. That's like living life with the option to change the rules of gravity - or the rules of falling in love. It's not healthy

That's just my opinion, though, and clearly - a lot of designers today think it's a good idea to give players these options, because then they don't have to make a decision. Essentially, they're handing the job of the designer over to the player.

I don't want to play a game that I've created myself. I want to play something others have created, because then it's an experience that's "pure".

I don't know if that makes sense, but that's my viewpoint.
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August 19th, 2010, 14:14
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Game design is art, if you ask me

At least, that's what I'd like it to be.

Morrowind isn't really art, though, because it's not made by artists as much as opportunists.

In my opinion, the art is created by the artist - not the player.

You can give the player the power to impact the world and the characters, but what you DON'T give him, is the power to change the underlying rules. That's like living life with the option to change the rules of gravity - or the rules of falling in love. It's not healthy

That's just my opinion, though, and clearly - a lot of designers today think it's a good idea to give players these options, because then they don't have to make a decision. Essentially, they're handing the job of the designer over to the player.

I don't want to play a game that I've created myself. I want to play something others have created, because then it's an experience that's "pure".

I don't know if that makes sense, but that's my viewpoint.
It makes sense, yes, you explain your views clearly. I think however you stretch things a bit too far - I can't see how giving a few small choices like we talk about here, makes the games something I made myself.

Well, well - I don't need to be a psychic to predict we won't ever reach an agreement here.

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August 19th, 2010, 14:22
Originally Posted by pibbur View Post
It makes sense, yes, you explain your views clearly. I think however you stretch things a bit too far - I can't see how giving a few small choices like we talk about here, makes the games something I made myself.

Well, well - I don't need to be a psychic to predict we won't ever reach an agreement here.
Of course not, that was just to make my point clear. But it's an example of forcing a design choice on a player, that shouldn't have been there.

I feel the same way about most implementations of difficulty levels, or arguments like "you don't HAVE to use the most powerful weapon" - stuff like that.

I'm a huge fan of pure experiences, and I'm a huge fan of playing games that feel like the designers knew what the hell they were doing, and which I can immerse myself in completely, without having to adjust game rules - hoping to somehow predict what the game will be like, with this or that choice. You have to COMPLETELY understand a game, before you can make balance choices like this. Difficulty levels are good after having finished a game once, because then you know the experience. But it's completely moronic to ask players to make a choice about how difficult the game should be, because there's NO basis for comparison, and there's NO way for the player to know exactly what it will be like, anyway. It's idiotic, and developers have been doing it for ages - as a clutch. Naturally, it's better than nothing, but it's simply not the right way to do such a thing.

You could say it's like giving moviegoers the option of changing what happens in the film - like giving them the choice:"Should the protagonist kill this guy, or not." - effectively deciding the story without knowing the consequence. I wouldn't enjoy that, personally. I like to see things like the writer sees them, because it's his work. In games, this can work - because I'm THERE - but in the movies I'm not.

But you're right - we probably won't agree

No big deal, but it's an interesting thing to me. I really believe that I'm right in how this kind of thing affects the experience, and I'd love more focus on the issue - because it seems players everywhere are ENCOURAGING designers to let them "make their own games" - which I think is shortsighted and not really a sign of understanding what makes games fun, in the end
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August 19th, 2010, 15:30
Well, the morrowind experience really speaks against your view. Mods are basically an almost unlimited basket of options, and there is a great number of people, myself included, who have found that it greatly increased their playing experience. We are all different. Some love realistic hunger and thirst in RPG's, some hate it. Some like combat with special moves and gore, some hate it. Some like crafting and fishing, some hate it. Some like gothic-style attire, some hate it. All of these people can today play morrowind and still enjoy the vision of the land and the quests the designers made. Not every game lends itself to such an approach, but a "toy like" game like MW, a sandbox, does.
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August 19th, 2010, 15:44
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
Well, the morrowind experience really speaks against your view. Mods are basically an almost unlimited basket of options, and there is a great number of people, myself included, who have found that it greatly increased their playing experience. We are all different. Some love realistic hunger and thirst in RPG's, some hate it. Some like combat with special moves and gore, some hate it. Some like crafting and fishing, some hate it. Some like gothic-style attire, some hate it. All of these people can today play morrowind and still enjoy the vision of the land and the quests the designers made. Not every game lends itself to such an approach, but a "toy like" game like MW, a sandbox, does.
You completely fail to understand my point, though.

I don't have a problem with user-created content in principle. I have a problem playing content that I, personally, have created or with rules that I've changed. That's meta-gaming.

I have a problem with making design decisions for developers. OTHER users can function as developers, but generally they suck at it. Not because they're not competent, but because games are hard to change at the core.

User-created content can work great, but it's VERY VERY rare to find game-changing rules that retain the "pure" experience. The balance of a game, is too dependent on fully understanding the game.

Again, I'd MUCH rather play a game that's pure and that's a decent experience, than I want to spend an eternity trying to tweak it or add to it.

The reason user-created content is so great with Morrowind and Oblivion, is that the games are fundamentally crap. Mind you, that's just my opinion.

The core of the games are crap, but they're full of potential. So, obviously it's nice that there are players around the world trying to fix them - but I think it's hugely sad that it's necessary.

If the games were good at the core, I would never really have wasted any time with mods. Because I generally don't enjoy amateur-stuff. Not unless the toolset is particularly well-suited for that, where NWN is a good example.

I've played Oblivion A LOT - and I've used A LOT of mods. It's never REALLY worked, and there was always some kind of balance issue or technical issue getting in the way.

The reality is that the IDEA of user-created content is great, but players are kidding themselves if they think it's a good alternative to a competently designed game.

I bet most of you, having played with all these mods, are deliberately forgetting or ignoring the issues they introduce. Maybe you're the lenient type that just "deals with it" and don't mind balance issues or stuff that messes with the purity of an experience.

Unfortunately, I'm not.
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August 19th, 2010, 16:35
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
You completely fail to understand my point, though.

I don't have a problem with user-created content in principle. I have a problem playing content that I, personally, have created or with rules that I've changed. That's meta-gaming.
No reason to be rude, no I don't fail to understand your point. What you describe is exactly what I am doing with modded MW - playing with rules and content I have created (or selected from a large number of choices).

I have a problem with making design decisions for developers. OTHER users can function as developers, but generally they suck at it. Not because they're not competent, but because games are hard to change at the core.

User-created content can work great, but it's VERY VERY rare to find game-changing rules that retain the "pure" experience. The balance of a game, is too dependent on fully understanding the game.

Again, I'd MUCH rather play a game that's pure and that's a decent experience, than I want to spend an eternity trying to tweak it or add to it.
I can understand that. I don't usually actively seek mods out. It was different in case of TES where I was part of the scene, and it was only natural to use the mods I helped create and discussed on the forums.
However that idea of purity, I don't know… I can see where you come from with the idea of purity, looking at games as an art form. Few games released so far are strong enough as an expression of an artistic vision however, that I would be worried messing with it. £Then there is the fact, that most game projects get wrapped up under publisher pressure, budget and time constraints. The pure vision of the developer will often have been different from the final product - sometimes mods can even restore a game to be closer to that vision. And then there is the whole idea of art as an interactive process, too. There is a certain joy in seeing how changing the rules changes the experience that I think is quite appropriate for an interactive medium.
Anyway, the other side is that games are entertainment, and if changing the rules is fun, who will be the judge? Let's play Calvinball, I say!
The reason user-created content is so great with Morrowind and Oblivion, is that the games are fundamentally crap. Mind you, that's just my opinion.

The core of the games are crap, but they're full of potential. So, obviously it's nice that there are players around the world trying to fix them - but I think it's hugely sad that it's necessary.
And I never bought that argument "the players had to fix it!". There is many arguments against it, but to me the most convincing is still how successful MW was as a console game, without any user mods. Mods provide choice - they did not fix the game, except in the minds of particular people disliking particular features.

If the games were good at the core, I would never really have wasted any time with mods. Because I generally don't enjoy amateur-stuff. Not unless the toolset is particularly well-suited for that, where NWN is a good example.
In my experience, in any mod community I have followed there has eventually been content created that is superior to the original offering. Among a heapload of crap, of course, and maybe only for a very specific aspect, but thats beside the point. The idea that user created content is always amateurish is simply wrong.
I've played Oblivion A LOT - and I've used A LOT of mods. It's never REALLY worked, and there was always some kind of balance issue or technical issue getting in the way.
I haven't bothered that much with Oblivion. For MW, my experience was different, running 60 or so mods without noticeable conflicts or problems (or course using the proper tools and procedures etc., which admittedly requires way too much time and dedication for most. In fact I shy away from a replay partly for that reason myself)

The reality is that the IDEA of user-created content is great, but players are kidding themselves if they think it's a good alternative to a competently designed game.
True, an editor is no excuse for a bad game. MW wasn't a bad game, though
I bet most of you, having played with all these mods, are deliberately forgetting or ignoring the issues they introduce. Maybe you're the lenient type that just "deals with it" and don't mind balance issues or stuff that messes with the purity of an experience.

Unfortunately, I'm not.
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August 19th, 2010, 16:50
I've played a lot with mods too, in Morrowind, FO3, Oblivion. I've come across balance issues and technical issues, it's to be expected. But just as many times i've had really great experiences as well, which has been balanced nicely and without technical problems at all (at least not more than your average PC game).

Sometimes i've put weeks or even months of effort into modding games into "perfection" (my idea of it anyways). I find it really fun and creative, i guess many people absolutely hate it and don't really put much effort into it, they just want to play, that's when the experience will suck..

One time i had 220-something morrowind mods, content wise no other game can come even close to that (except for a just as heaviliy modded Oblivion/FO3), it really takes exploring to a whole new level (i consider these games to be mainly about exploring, which is what i love about games).
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August 19th, 2010, 17:04
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
No reason to be rude, no I don't fail to understand your point. What you describe is exactly what I am doing with modded MW - playing with rules and content I have created (or selected from a large number of choices).
I didn't mean to be rude?

Yeah, maybe that's what you enjoy, but I don't. I don't like having to make decisions for the designer, as I said, because then I feel like I'm "cheating" or corrupting the experience.

Maybe it sounds like I'm a fanatic, or something, but I HAVE played games this way - and my conclusion is simply that I don't enjoy it - when it's all said and done.

I can have fun, but eventually I'll encounter a situation where the balance is off, or something is clearly not meant to happen - according to the original vision.

That takes me OUT of the experience.

I suppose a key point with all of this, is that I'm HUGELY into immersion. I absolutely adore the chance to explore a completely different world - and I adore turning off my critical sense - because it's so rare that I get to do that.

Risen, as an example, is a recent example of fantastic immersion without breaking the barrier in any way.

I can understand that. I don't usually actively seek mods out. It was different in case of TES where I was part of the scene, and it was only natural to use the mods I helped create and discussed on the forums.
However that idea of purity, I don't know… I can see where you come from with the idea of purity, looking at games as an art form. Few games released so far are strong enough as an expression of an artistic vision however, that I would be worried messing with it. £Then there is the fact, that most game projects get wrapped up under publisher pressure, budget and time constraints. The pure vision of the developer will often have been different from the final product - sometimes mods can even restore a game to be closer to that vision. And then there is the whole idea of art as an interactive process, too. There is a certain joy in seeing how changing the rules changes the experience that I think is quite appropriate for an interactive medium.
Anyway, the other side is that games are entertainment, and if changing the rules is fun, who will be the judge? Let's play Calvinball, I say!
Changing the rules can be fun, but as I said - I believe it's a shortsighted pleasure. Then it becomes a different experience entirely, and you're playing a different role - as the designer, rather than the player.

I have to refer to my earlier point about immersion, to get this message across clearly.

And I never bought that argument "the players had to fix it!". There is many arguments against it, but to me the most convincing is still how successful MW was as a console game, without any user mods. Mods provide choice - they did not fix the game, except in the minds of particular people disliking particular features.
I never go by sales. I go by whether I think something works or not. We don't need to go into how many games have sold well, but that we actively dislike around here.

Naturally, I can't claim the game was broken - because it worked as intended.

I just think it was crap.


In my experience, in any mod community I have followed there has eventually been content created that is superior to the original offering. Among a heapload of crap, of course, and maybe only for a very specific aspect, but thats beside the point. The idea that user created content is always amateurish is simply wrong.
The content can be superior, we agree - but the end result, as in the combination of that content AND the original game is VERY rarely better than just the original game if it wasn't fundamentally flawed.

I haven't bothered that much with Oblivion. For MW, my experience was different, running 60 or so mods without noticeable conflicts or problems (or course using the proper tools and procedures etc., which admittedly requires way too much time and dedication for most. In fact I shy away from a replay partly for that reason myself)
I think I've played Oblivion 4-5 times, each with perhaps 40-60 mods - and every time I stop before I'm "done" - because the game is simply broken with those mods. It either crashes, or something happens with balance that just doesn't feel right.

Maybe I'm overly sensitive - or maybe I'm particularly perceptive

True, an editor is no excuse for a bad game. MW wasn't a bad game, though
It was horrible
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August 19th, 2010, 17:15
So I guess we both made clear why we enjoy or not enjoy these things. As for developers they will have to make a decision regarding what amount of choice or optional rules etc. is right for their game and their audience. Ultimately I think editors are a good compromise here - they allow those that really want to to change almost anything, but don't burden people who'd rather avoid that with a ton of half-assed options.
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August 19th, 2010, 19:27
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Morrowind isn't really art, though, because it's not made by artists as much as opportunists.
Wow, talk about not getting it!

Opportunists would not take the time to create the amount of lore available in the world of Morrowind, lore that really enriches your gameplay AND makes the game world come alive IF you take the time to delve into it.

Now I totally understand those who feel the game is "dead" because some would rather play than read in a game but you could still play the game and get the gist of the politics and social issues in the region and gameworld without reading the in-game books. The great thing about Morrowind IF YOU WERE PAYING ATTENTION is how lore is interwoven pretty solidly between sidequests, the main quest, dialogue, the books and the stuff in the expansion pack.

Again, Morrowind wasn't perfect. NPCs standing still all day brought the game down a bit BUT aside from Gothic and a few other games, what other games from 2002 or before had NPCs with all-day schedules? Characters in Baldur's Gate didn't have them, they also mostly stood around waiting to be spoken to. Same with most other PC RPgs. Same with console RPGs so I don't get why Morrowind gets slammed for this repeatedly.

The wiki-style dialogue also sucked but after a bit you learned to just skim through it and ignore all the repetitive stuff. Oblivion going the complete opposite with only 1 or 2 simplistic lines of dialogue per NPC wasn't much better. Hopefully Bethesda can improve this aspect going forward.

Opportunists go for cookie-cutter design. It's clear that a lot of work AND love went into designing the architecture in Morrowind. Sure, the color palette isn't that exciting, I agree. But I would say that's more of a unified design choice and made sense considering the region the game took place in. They made Bloodmoon take place in a snowy island and the color palette suited that. The weather effects were also great and helped with immersion.

Opportunists would have made the game far more accessible like add a quest GPS, more accessible fast travel, reduce the amount of skills, make guild quests easier, reduce the amount of joinable factions. Bethesda did all this with Oblivion which is why I don't like it but Morrowind is not a readily accesible game.

As for everything being the same - Morrowind GAVE you a reason to explore. Caves were admittedly small but you would usually find some cool item or weapon or bits of lore and the scale levelling wasn't as transparent as in Oblivion so you would never know what you were up against. Oblivion's loot was also level scaled so exploring dungeons didn't matter much. Finding shipwrecks and shrines or monuments was also cool. Especially finding something you had previously read about in one of the many books.

Also, there was more than enough variety in the game, color-palette aside. Every town had a unique look. Are you saying Balmora, Vivec, Pelegiad, Tel Aruhn and the Ashlander camps all look the same????? Every Great House area had a distinct style.

I guess you hated Fallout's color palette and lack of design variety as well.

Oblivion cares about YOU!
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August 19th, 2010, 19:30
Originally Posted by JemyM View Post
I spent weeks in Morrowind, but I cannot remember this at all. All I remember is "wikipedia", no dialogue, no cutscenes, and if there was a story in the game I missed it completely.
Spending weeks in a game without finding anything you like seems slightly masochistic to me.

Anyway, I liked it very much, primarily for story/background/lore and exploration, though I agree that Gothic had a better content to size ratio.
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