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Default Morrowind - Retrospective @ Edge

December 21st, 2010, 06:01
Edge Online has a Morrowind retrospective, titled Time Extend. The article is an edited version of one previously published in their magazine, in it looks familiar:
Before we continue with that, let’s first consider Morrowind’s enticing outset. Despite the aforementioned cliché, the genre blend is alluring enough: a world composed of believably solid 3D space, explored in firstperson (or thirdperson, if you want an inferior time) and home to a continental sprawl of real-estate to explore: towns, caves, settlements, mines, forts, several thousand individual NPCs and several hundred thousand hand-placed objects. Despite its character-class system leaning towards archetype, the attraction is that you get to be it, not just wield it. Thieves stalk, sneak and steal like Sam Fisher minus the minigames. Assassins skulk and snipe. Warriors blunder and bludgeon. Not, of course, that you’re ever constrained to a fated choice; such decisions only affect your start-out stats. Beginning as a nameless, faceless, homeless presence stowed in the hull of a ship, you’re docked at the town of Seyda Neen, ushered into the customs and excise building to rattle through the paperwork. Choose a race, appearance, name, star sign, class (or craft your own), and you’re handed some official orders as a trail of breadcrumbs to get you going. And then – BAM! – the world is your oyster. Go wherever. Do whatever. You’re left to your own devices, just as you’ve always wanted. The trouble with Morrowind, however, is that it’s an oyster you’ve got to prise open with your bare hands.
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December 21st, 2010, 06:01
Towns aren’t separated from the outside world by a loading screen
Not exactly. With very few exceptions in the main game, Oblivion didn't have any towns or villages. It had micro-hamlets of up to 5 or so buildings and large walled cities with little in between.

All the settlesments of similar scale in Morrowind did partition large segments using interior cells but they were just more clever about it. Vivec is the most obvious example of this. Rather than simply seperated from the inside/outside world by a loading screen at the gate the city consists of numerous discrete interior cells and the exterior cells are almost exclusively for walking between them. I suppose it's to the Morrowind team's credit though that this much less seemless sort of city appeared seemless compared to the cities in Oblivion. I think it helps prevent the player from realizing how segmented some of the city areas in Morrowind can be (really just mournhold, vivec and aldrhun) since the cells each load very quickly by comparison and it just isn't as annoying to get a loading screen at a door as it is to get one when walking through a wide open gate. Probably just our expectations.

Morrowind did seem to manage larger "towns" without partitioning them from the world outside. By comparison Oblivion did have small micro-villages of up to 5 or so buildings OR massive walled cities. Morrowind had only 2 cities that felt to similar scale as most of the cities in Oblivion. but it actually had some decent town-sized towns like Balmora. I wonder if it was just too difficult to handle something of medium size in Oblivion with hardware at the time and have it be in an exterior cell.
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December 21st, 2010, 06:47
Originally Posted by jhwisner View Post

All the settlesments of similar scale in Morrowind did partition large segments using interior cells but they were just more clever about it.
I agree. They chose a better way in Morrowind.
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December 21st, 2010, 08:42
Ah, good old Morrowind. It was my first open world RPG (I only used Amiga computers up until about 2002), and one I would love to revisit, if I could only get the darn thing to run. I barely managed to do that the first time around, with the game crashing more often than any other I've played.

Sure, it is a heavily flawed game. The NPC interactions are possibly the worst I've seen in any RPG, magic is so weak my super-mage was running around hitting people in the face with a hammer in the end, and immersion grew very thin once I played the game long enough. Also, my next open world RPG was Gothic 2, which by comparison was a far more immersive experience.

Still, Morrowind was interesting to play and explore, and a good game overall. When Oblivion was announced, I had hoped Bethesda would keep the interesting bits from Morrowind, and improve on the weaknesses. Unfortunately, while some of the weaknesses were improved upon, more severe ones were introduced. Oh well. Here's hoping Skyrim will be decent.

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December 21st, 2010, 16:53
The lore and back story was all great in Morrowind. The world design was excellent. I loved the notion of an Imperial Medieval style culture colonizing a very alien feeling land, which still felt familiar.

But the game play was pretty bad. I think the Levitate spell (which so many moaned about missing in Oblivion) was implemented because it was such a pain in the ass getting around anywhere on foot. Combat sucked, animations were terrible and NPCs were information kiosks more than characters.
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