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Default Decrypting the Elder Scrolls @ GameInfomer

December 28th, 2010, 01:58
GameInformer.com reprints one of their print articles, titled Decrypting The Elder Scrolls. The piece discusses each game in the series so far, through various developer quotes. A sample on Daggerfall:
Daggerfall in my memory is mostly flavored by how large it was. It was something we really struggled with during the project. We were never sure if it was big to just be big, since it was randomly generated. We could dial up or dial down the size very easily. But it became the sum of its parts. You could do so much. It’s also the Elder Scrolls game that introduced the skills system, and the whole “you improve by doing” paradigm, which I think defines the series in many ways. You really felt like the character you played was up to you, and not the game. – Todd Howard

It was 1995 and we were working on Daggerfall. We were building out the small shrines that were randomly sprinkled around the Iliac Bay. I happened to travel to one around sunset. The bright orange wisps framed the crumpled entrance to a hidden shrine. I thought to myself, “***, this game looks amazing.” Little did I know what the future held. – Bruce Nesmith, Design Director
More information.

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December 28th, 2010, 01:58
You could do so much. It’s also the Elder Scrolls game that introduced the skills system, and the whole “you improve by doing” paradigm, which I think defines the series in many ways. You really felt like the character you played was up to you, and not the game. – Todd Howard
Interesting to take credit for possibly the worst skill system ever created.

Trust me, most of the names I have been called you can't translate in any language…they're not even real words as much as a succession of violent images.
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December 28th, 2010, 03:02
I love that skill system.
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December 28th, 2010, 03:11
Kind of dissapointing the journalism was low on the article. I would have liked it if ex-BGS devs who contributed to the games would have been interviewed but it's obvious the article was made at the same time they went to BGS for the upcomming Skyrim feature and could only ask the Devs that were still there.
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December 28th, 2010, 12:41
Originally Posted by Bedwyr View Post
I love that skill system.
So do I. It may be terrible from a gameist perspective - i.e. extremely easy to exploit and easily yielding totally unbalanced builds. But if you actually role-play these games (detractors woul say LARP them) then they work nicely. And the inherent logic of "improve what you use" has always seemed more appealing to me than the "gain XP and spend them on whatever" of most other systems. Have to say I liked the Daggerfall incarnation best, though. Especially the advantages - disadvantages system, that sadly dissappeared from the later games.
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December 28th, 2010, 16:29
They should make a merger of the 2 systems. In this one you gain xp and level up but when you level your skills you can only level the ones you have used. Also the amount of points you can put into the skills is based off of the amount of use per skill. An example would be if of the skills you use that you use Destruction 50% of the time and Conjuration 25% of the time then at your next level-up you would be able to put double the amount of points into Destruction then you would be able to into Conjuration. The amount of points you get is 20 so then you could put a maximum of 10 in Destruction and 5 into Conjuration.

PS. Some skills would be weighted differently based on the average amount of normal use. An example would be Athletics which would increase the percentage at a slower rate then other skills.
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December 28th, 2010, 16:41
Originally Posted by guenthar View Post
They should make a merger of the 2 systems.
I believe there are mods for Oblivion that allow this. Perhaps for Morrowind as well. Not sure of their names anymore though, it's been years since I last played it.
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December 28th, 2010, 17:08
Well, Betrayal at Krondor had an "improve by doing” skill system in 1993 and it worked much better there too.

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 28th, 2010, 20:37
Originally Posted by Amasius View Post
Well, Betrayal at Krondor had an "improve by doing” skill system in 1993 and it worked much better there too.
Didn't Wasteland have it too - in 1988?
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December 28th, 2010, 23:22
Originally Posted by bkrueger View Post
Didn't Wasteland have it too - in 1988?
I doubt that but I've never played Wasteland.

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 29th, 2010, 01:27
Final Fantasy II has skill growing by use too.

Personally I love this approach. While the TES series has a lot of flaws, this definitly is not one of them IMO and I prefer this approach to skill than the regular skill point per level bit.

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December 29th, 2010, 01:55
Originally Posted by Acleacius View Post
Interesting to take credit for possibly the worst skill system ever created.
It's actually the best but they've failed to build a compelling world to extract the most from its positive attributes.

Why is it the best? Simply, it's one of the few systems (and only CRPG system) that allows non-combat oriented characters to advance readily. In combat XP dependent systems (i.e. everything else) you *have to* kill to level, thus the system itself eliminates the ability to role play a stealthly coward or somebody entirely uninterested in killing. Every creature you pass up is a lost source of XP revenue, thus a negative incentive to play such builds.

However, despite that being true, Kvatch certainly spelled out the fact Bethesda didn't really appreciate this quality as the aforementioned builds were summarily ignored during that point in the game (you *had to* kill everything in the city to progress).
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December 29th, 2010, 01:59
Originally Posted by Bedwyr View Post
I love that skill system.
+1. Wouldnt want it in any other way, best skill system ever.
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December 29th, 2010, 05:24
Originally Posted by Anarchosyn View Post
Why is it the best? Simply, it's one of the few systems (and only CRPG system) that allows non-combat oriented characters to advance readily. In combat XP dependent systems (i.e. everything else) you *have to* kill to level, thus the system itself eliminates the ability to role play a stealthly coward or somebody entirely uninterested in killing. Every creature you pass up is a lost source of XP revenue, thus a negative incentive to play such builds.
I'm not a fan of the system but I can understand why some people like it. I completely disagree with the "everything else" comments, though, and I even think this system is the opposite of your comment in practice.

A traditional XP system simply has to focus rewards on completing quests or accessing locations and, voila, you can reward any type of play. Plenty of games have done it. You can complete Fallout without any combat…frankly, most Oblivion quests are only combat.

It's a great system in theory but in practice, I find I inevitably grow the "wrong" skills because the content is so combat focused and without any Stealth (or whatever) points, they're useless.

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December 29th, 2010, 08:34
I like the ES use-based skill system. Wish more rpgs would be use-based. The traditional "kill monsters and become better at baking bread" are way too numerous.

Cant remember many other games that have it but I can name few like Darkfall and Betrayal at Krondor. The abuse is in DF too but as said if you stick more to roleplaying than minmaxing then its not a problem really.

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December 29th, 2010, 09:30
people bemoan freedom, especially in sandbox games but then they want a level system like oblivion? like a couple of people have said the Oblivion system is not ideal. if the game threw you a slew of different quests that could be completed in a number of ways through dialogue and such than yes it might work but oblivion was an all combat game for the most part. if a huge gameworld is present and your only encounters are combat with everything you come across or shallow minigames than that's not really much of a choice and basically your skills will be determined by more what is successful in combat than what avenue of gameplay you want to focus on. a LARGE frustation i had with oblivion was a lack of quest options chiefly in that one quest where the only way to complete it was to slaughter "monsters" which were so obviously innocent humans. a stain i'll forgive bethesda for but never forget.

why not simply reward xp, for completing quests different ways with making many quest mutually exclusive in the ways to solve them. also oftering certain faction or skill tree rewards based on how you play. many games, i believe Risen and Alpha Protocol both do, reward the player with certain perks or bonuses based on playing a certain style, route, or intense skill use. to me this is a great way to enhance non jack of all trades charcters who want to "role play" a certain type of character that would otherwise be gimped by most games tendencies to reward the "jack of all trades" charcter/gameplay.

dispite all of this I think Skyrim will be a much better game than Oblivion if Bethesda learned something from the fallout franchise, and didn't just leach the good qualities to make a solid Fallout 3.
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December 29th, 2010, 10:26
TES has the best levelling system for me too.
You don't have to do quests or search for stupid trainers ( it is optional) , also you can practice skills at home which is totally realistic and you can easily exploit the system if you feel the need to do so.
I think that specialised characters are as balanced as jack of trades ones , TES just gives a broader definition of what specialisation is , for example i am playing a bow/assassin and need like 10 skills at good levels to be successful , in other games this can be done using only 5 skills (like in DAO) and 1 attribute.

I do agree that several quests were crap, specially the one where you wipe out a village while it is obvious from the 1st moment that your character is stoned.

Lore wise i think the whole story outside Vvanderfel is generally bad and has lot of holes but Beth isn't famous for their writting , at least when they deal with "big events" , on small/local scale they are okayish .
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December 29th, 2010, 14:22
Originally Posted by Tragos View Post
…you can practice skills at home which is totally realistic…
And also utterly boring.
This skill system is OK, if you want to "just play" the game, like first person hack and slash (but why did you choose RPG then?). As you have no choice in the ways you approach the quests, whenever you feel the need to increase one of your (primary or secondary) skills, you have to be ready for some boredom. Plus, in these games, you need to be careful NOT to level-up, as it makes your character weaker. All this leads to some boring, repetitive and unrealistic situations like fighting zombies barehanded (so your strength increases) and naked (so you don't level up by increasing the armor skill).
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December 29th, 2010, 14:40
Originally Posted by Daddy32 View Post
And also utterly boring.
This skill system is OK, if you want to "just play" the game, like first person hack and slash (but why did you choose RPG then?). As you have no choice in the ways you approach the quests, whenever you feel the need to increase one of your (primary or secondary) skills, you have to be ready for some boredom. Plus, in these games, you need to be careful NOT to level-up, as it makes your character weaker. All this leads to some boring, repetitive and unrealistic situations like fighting zombies barehanded (so your strength increases) and naked (so you don't level up by increasing the armor skill).
It is optional , if you don't like it then don't do it ; in other games you are either forced to go questing or search for trainers that are not available "right here , right now" or ….pray and pay to get hitpoints ?
Freedom can never be a bad thing .
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December 29th, 2010, 15:48
TES levelling system is terrible.
Utterly unbalanced in all kinds of directions, heavily encouraging metagaming and grinding and no, it doesn´t work nicely if you just "roleplay" since you´re heavily penalized for doing so.
Also, the concept of "improve skill you use" is worthless without "how you use" being taken into account.

Xp based systems are much more flexible, can support all kinds of play styles and simply reflect character development more efficiently. That they are more abstract doesn´t make them less "realistic".

The only games I´ve played which used the "improve with use" system well were Wizardries and that´s mainly because there it was paired with the usual xp scheme.


Originally Posted by Tragos View Post
It is optional , if you don't like it then don't do it ; in other games you are either forced to go questing or search for trainers that are not available "right here , right now"
You mean, you actually have to play those other games, right?
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