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Default Skyrim - Why It Might Not Be Worth Your Time

December 19th, 2010, 04:08
Kombo has a piece titled Why The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Might Not Be Worth Your Time, with the argument essentially rooted in "Morrowind was better". I didn't find much detail in their article but I'm sure many will agree with the basic premise:
Morrowind makes you feel special at every possible opportunity, asking only that you put some work into it. Where Oblivion settles for a generic quasi-medieval setting, Morrowind's world is unlike anything you've ever seen. There are hubris-filled gods, ancient robots, mushroom-dwelling sorcerers, hidden tombs, secretive vampires, and a million other things waiting to be discovered.
Morrowind provides no constraints save your own commitment, ingenuity and imagination. Its world reacts to your presence in ways a game like Oblivion - a game that plays it safe - couldn't possibly be capable of.
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December 19th, 2010, 04:08
I take issue with the criticism that Oblivion and possibly Skyrim will be inferior to Morrowind because of a "generic quasi-medieval setting". The material culture and geography are second to how Bethesda will use the history, religion and politics of the province to make you experience that province's immaterial culture.

For example, in Oblivion existing lore for Cyrodiil was underused, we read about a rivalry between the people of the Nibenay Valley and the people of the Colovian Highlands but experience nothing like that in the game.

It were the many join-able factions of Morrowind that made you experience life in Vvardenfell from different points of view. These were missing from Oblivion. There was no police-like faction (Imperial Legion in MW), no religious factions (like Imperial Cult and Dunmer Temple, this was somewhat alleviated with Knights of the Nine) and no cultural factions (like Hlaalu, Redoran and Telvanni). These factions contributed to understanding Vvardenfell and I don't think it was impossible for Oblivion. They, for whatever reason, decided not to go that way. I'm saying that even with a medieval setting a lot can be done to make the province come alive in an immaterial cultural sense (and with that I DON'T mean Radiant-AI).

I do agree that they played it safe with Oblivion. They avoided anything that could cause results that could be interpreted as a bug (see the next paragraph). Factions that were in MW had quest-lines that intertwined. For example the empire sanctioned Thieves Guild and the Imperial Legion both were in conflict with the unjoinable Camona Tong (Local crime syndicate) which itself controlled the higher echelons of the Fighters Guild. Depending on which path one took, completing for instance a certain quest-line in the Fighters Guild could later halt progress in the Thieves Guild. Personally, I had no issue with this, on a next play-through I'd simply follow a different path. However, some players experienced this as a bug, while it actually was a consequence to a decision of a player.

During development of Oblivion some of the Devs said they wanted to avoid that players felt they “lost control”. Result was the implementation of surgically clean guild quests (Fighters Guild vs Blackwood Company and Mages Guild vs Necromancers) where it was made sure NPCs weren't shared between quest-lines of the various guilds. Another thing the devs wanted was that on a play-through the player could join all factions. In Morrowind you would need several play-troughs to experience each guild. This “feeling of losing control” has also been seen recently in New Vegas where being unable to continue a quest as result of players choices were thrown on the bug pile by those players. (i.e. not every uncompletable quest is the result of a bug). Lack of hand-holding is nowadays considered to be a bug. In Oblivion another result of removing the feeling of “losing control” was the implementation of Essential NPCs. If in Morrowind you killed an quest-related NPC you couldn't finish a later quest that also used that NPC, you needed to reload or give up finishing the quest-line and do better in the next play-through.

Concluding, it is not so interesting to me if the material culture and geography in the game is based on an LSD/Mushroom trip. It is far more interesting if the developer lets you experience the history, religion and politics of a province through interacting with it's factions and peoples. To get a great experience, the material culture and geography don't have to be strange, weird, alien or peculiar but Bethesda needs to create an experience of the immaterial culture of whatever province they set a game in. After Morrowind, I knew Vvardenfell because I experienced it from different cultural, religious and political points of view. After Oblivion I didn't know Cyrodiil, it felt vanilla not because it had no giant mushrooms but because by the end I didn't get to know how society intertwined in Cyrodiil Depending on the effort Bethesda went through with Skyrim, it could go either way. Point is the material culture is the least of my worries.

Sidebar: As long as the Elder Scrolls are made for consoles some of the things I like about Morrowind will never return (wiki-style dialogue) but I hope they can overcome the limitations of modern technology such as Full Voice-Over and still deliver a province rich with cultural and political factions interacting.

Ever since I had the pleasure of playing Morrowind, I've decided to buy all RPGs BGS makes since then. There will be disappointments but I don't want to become jaded. Despite the swing to the consoles I hope they have used their experience with Oblivion and Fallout 3 as a foundation they feel comfortable with and build upon that to bring some great things of Morrowind to Skyrim (like more factions and a detailed back-story of the province, not referring to giant mushrooms here).
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December 19th, 2010, 04:14
Talk about jumping to conclusions prematurely…
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December 19th, 2010, 05:26
Both games were great and both had issues, just different ones. Funny how Morrowind has developed over time into this mythical best game ever. Great plot and story, but game balance was terrible and the combat was even worse. At level 35 my conjurer was basically a God, 40 hours or so in if I recall. Played Oblivion, flaws and all for 100 hours at least before getting bored.

Again both great games and both pretty flawed.

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December 19th, 2010, 05:56
I'm glad to see people are innovating by bashing the next TES V game before even a single real piece of information about it (other than the fact that it is in development) has been provided. I was getting tired of having to wait until the game is released before all the bashing and comparisons to prior TES games started.

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December 19th, 2010, 06:59
While I don't agree with everything he says in the article, I do agree that Morrowind was a lot better than Oblivion. I spent well over 100 hours playing Morrowind, but I don't think I played Oblivion for 20 hours before quitting.

Everything about Oblivion felt very generic to me, and the same environments seemed to repeat over and over. I also really hated how the game held your hand throughout quests.

To be fair, I've never played Oblivion with mods, and I hear it's much better with the right ones.
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December 19th, 2010, 07:24
Well, this borders on fortune telling. With Oblivion, I began to have strong doubts about the game when it came out that they would not include the flying spell any more, for technical reasons. I was really fond of that both from the previous Elder Scrolls games and the (better) Might and Magic games. Turns out it was not the only corner they cut, although it was still a pretty decent game in my opinion.

Regarding Skyrim, however, I guess all bets are off at this point. A good story can be written in almost any setting.
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December 19th, 2010, 08:12
Originally Posted by ToddMcF2002 View Post
Both games were great and both had issues, just different ones. Funny how Morrowind has developed over time into this mythical best game ever. Great plot and story, but game balance was terrible and the combat was even worse.
Sure, but the same is true for Planescape Torment… Not that you can equate Morrowind and Planescape, they are very different beasts, but bot games tried something new and interesting and succeeded despite some shortcomings. Oblivion played it safe and was - in my eyes - bland and boring.

Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
While I don't agree with everything he says in the article, I do agree that Morrowind was a lot better than Oblivion. I spent well over 100 hours playing Morrowind, but I don't think I played Oblivion for 20 hours before quitting.

Everything about Oblivion felt very generic to me, and the same environments seemed to repeat over and over. I also really hated how the game held your hand throughout quests.

To be fair, I've never played Oblivion with mods, and I hear it's much better with the right ones.
I felt the same. Even worse, I had the feeling that the game treated me like an idiot. I have played Oblivion with mods and while mods can fix stupid stuff like the level scaling and improve a lot of things here and there they can't fix the dreadful writing. I've tried to finish the main quest line thrice and gave up every time, I just couldn't stomach it…

Originally Posted by magerette
I'm so tired of marketing hype, marketing slang, marketing priorities and general marketing BS that it tends to have the opposite effect on me. (Jaded is the word I'm looking for here.) I can't even read through a whole press release from any AAA title company without wanting to turn off my computer and learn to cross-stitch.
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December 19th, 2010, 08:24
A Morrowind fanboy says that he will not play a game that he doesn't know anything about. And this is really news?
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December 19th, 2010, 08:49
I realize that it would be foolish to defend Oblivion too much around here, but I will just say that it truly wasn't as bad as those with over-powering nostalgia for Morrowind (or classic rpg's in general) would claim. Some are too quick to justify Morrowind's obvious shortcomings while ripping Oblivion apart for its faults. I love Morrowind, and I do think it was superior to Oblivion in several ways, but Oblivion was not the travesty that some call it - it was still Elder Scrolls and a solid rpg at heart, which becomes quite evident when you play with mods that remove the more egregious design flaws, particularly the level scaling and lack of world dynamics.

I certainly understand why some would not like Oblivion (at least vanilla Oblivion) because Bethesda did make some very frustrating design decisions, but the biggest design flaws that hampered the overall enjoyment of the game from the perspective of a longtime rpg fan like myself have all (or at least mostly) been addressed by the modding community. Most of the complaints that people have about Oblivion - Level scaling, lack of a dynamic world, bland character models (although that shouldn't really matter anyway, considering that many great rpg have under-whelming graphics and character models), lack of meaningful npc's, cities that don't feel alive, under-whelming magic - all of these issues and more have been addressed by the modding community to enhance a game that certainly had glaring flaws, but also had a solid foundation that has now been better realized.
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December 19th, 2010, 09:16
For a developer to rely on modders to fix there game is a cop-out of monumental proportions. You can only **fairly** compare each game on its own merits. I have never played Morrowind with any mods (although I have played Oblivion with several), but the setting (Vardenfell) was simply more interesting than Cyrodil/surrounds - which very quickly became tedious. And yes, I was unimpressed with repetitive 'dungeons' etc in Morrowind, but the countryside, factions, Triumvirate etc were, largely, simply more interesting. I hope Skyrim will be a more enthralling affair, but there is too little to go on at this point - Skyrim is a 'cold and mountainous region', which sounds geographically dull, but hopefully they can still spin an interesting take around that.
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December 19th, 2010, 09:25
I didn't hate Oblivion, it just wasn't what the devs promised us!! Mods are fine and certainly helped make it a better game, but as Boo said, that shouldn't be the norm. Dagger is still my favourite Elder Scrolls game, despite the initial bugfest.

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December 19th, 2010, 09:38
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
I didn't hate Oblivion, it just wasn't what the devs promised us!! Mods are fine and certainly helped make it a better game, but as Boo said, that shouldn't be the norm. Dagger is still my favourite Elder Scrolls game, despite the initial bugfest.
This is exactly my point of view, too.

Main flaws of Oblivion (and to a lesser degree: Morrowind):

(1) choices without consequences
(2) auto-Leveling of enemies, chests, ….
(3) unchallenging combat
(4) dull dungeons

I was a bit angry back then because the Bethesda devs made (1) - (4) by design choice and not through an oversight or an incapability.

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December 19th, 2010, 09:42
See, I can agree the Morrowind setting was more interesting but the combat (and stealth) were dreadful for me. The most un-reactive first-person action combat I've ever played. Oblivion's combat has more weight and the stealth was pretty good. I also felt the side-quests were far more creative; there's nothing in Morrowind as enjoyable as the Brotherhood quest chain in Oblivion.

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December 19th, 2010, 10:04
Ok, lets face it…. Elder Scrolls games are CRAP.

I'd rather play Ultima 4 again than Daggerfall. Id rather play eye of the beholder 2. You know?

At least Morrowind pushed the technical aspects and had nice water effects for its day, but with skyrim since its being developed with consoles limitations… Well… We can't expect anything we havn't seen in fallout3.

Sure, they COULD be making it with id softwares Tech5…. But they wont. It'll be gamebyro again, it'll look just like oblivion, it'll last 20 hours and it'll be awful until its been modded by so many non-professional game devs its not actually the original game ppl are praising.

So, if Fallout:new vegas had you enthralled then you might like skyrim. But I'm not expecting anything new AT ALL.
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December 19th, 2010, 10:05
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
See, I can agree the Morrowind setting was more interesting but the combat (and stealth) were dreadful for me. The most un-reactive first-person action combat I've ever played. Oblivion's combat has more weight and the stealth was pretty good. I also felt the side-quests were far more creative; there's nothing in Morrowind as enjoyable as the Brotherhood quest chain in Oblivion.
Well, I'm actually playing Morrowind again atm and it's great. It was quite a pain in the ass to get all the mods I wanted to run and to learn how to use programs like Morrowind Graphics Extender but it was well worth it. It looks great now and I'm having a lot of fun. Only the journal still sucks badly.

Of course Oblivions combat is better but then it isn't that great either compared to say Mount and Blade, especially with the silly level scaling. The Brotherhood quests and some of the side quests are indeed pretty good but for me it only showed how bad some of the other quest-lines and especially the main story are. Morrowind is a much more consistent experience and it has much more love to little details.

Originally Posted by magerette
I'm so tired of marketing hype, marketing slang, marketing priorities and general marketing BS that it tends to have the opposite effect on me. (Jaded is the word I'm looking for here.) I can't even read through a whole press release from any AAA title company without wanting to turn off my computer and learn to cross-stitch.
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December 19th, 2010, 11:08
Iirc, they are going to use a crappy id engine tech, plus this probably means no editor….now that's something much much worst to fear, if true.

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December 19th, 2010, 11:25
They have already specifically stated that they are not using ID Tech 5 for Skyrim and they are also not using Gamebryo but rather a new internally made graphics and gameplay engine.
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December 19th, 2010, 12:20
Originally Posted by guenthar View Post
they are also not using Gamebryo but rather a new internally made graphics and gameplay engine.
I'll believe that when I see it.
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December 19th, 2010, 12:26
Me too….

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