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Default Skyrim - Motivation and Meaningless Choices @ Gameranx

February 16th, 2012, 01:52
A rather interesting editorial dealing with this aspect in games can be found at Gameranx.
The author compares the choices and the rewards for those choices in Skyrim to those of Dragon Age 2. While Skyrim definetely offers players a lot of freedom, Dragon Age 2 offers better rewards - according to the author. As to which model gives players the better game, the author has this comment:
That said, I’ll still take the cowardly road and give the unsatisfying answer: neither model definitively delivers a better experience. In Skyrim’s wintry tundra there is a playground of choice, a high fantasy dream for a player who with a strong desire to write their own narratives over the game’s central plots. However, choices without extrinsic rewards are generally ephemeral: I can recall the few yet major choices of my Hawke more readily than the hundreds of smaller choices of my Dragonborn. Each model carves its own memory: one of a series of dramatic events, and one of an unending world.
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February 16th, 2012, 01:52
Good, very good article!

It also poses very hard questions. Lots of choices with little consequence or a few well crafted ones with large consequences? I think one approach lends itself better to an active imagination, while the other is ironically more passive, like watching a movie, even though the consequences are deeper.

I think there is room for both approaches and opportunities for blending them.
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February 16th, 2012, 04:48
So which model makes a better game? Full disclosure: I’m a fan of Bioware’s other titles but have been openly disappointed with DA2, and I’ve logged over 100 hours in Skyrim. That said, I’ll still take the cowardly road and give the unsatisfying answer: neither model definitively delivers a better experience.
So which flavor makes a better ice cream? Full disclosure: I'm a fan of chocolate ice cream but have been openly dissapointed with Dryer's brand, and the last 10 ice cream desserts I've eaten have been Vanilla. That said, I'll still take the cowardly road and give the unsatisfying answer: neither flavor definitively delivers a better experience.

I read that whole article just to find out the point is that some RPGs are apples and oranges when compared to one another… well duh. Then the author doesn't provide an opinion over which they favor more? Seems to me another amateur internet article aimed at showing off a few vocabulary words some people (cough cough) might have to look up. Coward is right.

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February 16th, 2012, 11:17
I thought the C&C in DA2 was just as pointless because in the end everything still turns out the same. DAO had better C&C in that regard. There are so many things in DA2 that choices become meaningless … not to mention things like running around with Hawke as a blood mage as one example (not that I did that - I tended to kill them instead).

I also pretty much disagree with, "However, choices without extrinsic rewards are generally ephemera" as I am someone who tends to work best with intrinsic rewards - they often provide deeper and more meaningful rewards.

Course this gets into the age old debate about RPG styles and why some folks think Skyrim is more/less an RPG in regards to C&C. I make my own story and don't need the game to always confirm my choices as morally right/wrong or the like. Sure it can be nice … but I am fine with making my own narrative story.

I don't think the article was bad over all, I just don't agree with the authors examples and a few of their conceptions.

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February 16th, 2012, 17:19
Originally Posted by TheMadGamer View Post
So which flavor makes a better ice cream? Full disclosure: I'm a fan of chocolate ice cream but have been openly dissapointed with Dryer's brand, and the last 10 ice cream desserts I've eaten have been Vanilla. That said, I'll still take the cowardly road and give the unsatisfying answer: neither flavor definitively delivers a better experience.

I read that whole article just to find out the point is that some RPGs are apples and oranges when compared to one another… well duh. Then the author doesn't provide an opinion over which they favor more? Seems to me another amateur internet article aimed at showing off a few vocabulary words some people (cough cough) might have to look up. Coward is right.
"That whole article" eh? It was 900 words; just a sidebar really. I'm with you that it was incomplete and the thesis was left unexplored, but I'm going to come down hard on your sarcastic demand 1) for a binary decision on one over the other and 2) against tough vocabulary. I call nonsense on both.

1) This is easy because the merits of both game design styles are nearly self-evident. I like being rewarded by the game for certain action, but I *equally* like roleplaying (for realsies rather than have it structured through game systems) and making my own fun in a game. It's why early MMOs were so great with their emergent societies, weddings, and games. It's why people make such a buzzword out of sandbox. Sandbox play is an absolute blast. And I'll especially decry the necessity for having to make a binary decision, especially on preference for two valid styles of game design. And on a great many things it is, in fact, possible for someone to be thoughtful and of two minds. That is NOT a bad thing.

2)… really? Extrinsic isn't that bad a word and really useful to the thesis. The most highfalutin word I saw was interstitial. Honestly, Tycho posts more verbiage in a single Penny Arcade paragraph than that little article had. It really wasn't that bad.

So yeah. Incomplete thesis. Bad article, no cookie. But no thin-mints for you either.
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February 16th, 2012, 17:47
I think people end up with some negative feelings about Skyrim precisely because it tries to offer more than it can deliver well, hundreds of hours of entertainment.

I was reading "Thinking, Fast and Slow", which is a book on the psychology of making decisions, and there was a relevant discovery to this phenomenon. When people determine how good or bad an event was, they don't take in to account total duration. This is called duration neglect. Instead they average the peak experience and how it ended.* So when people who enjoyed Skyrim think about Skryim, they only take in account the moment when they were having the most fun and the amount of fun they had at the end of their last playing experience. The result could be like this:

Most fun (hour 10) = 10 (They really enjoyed themselves early on in the experience)
How the last time ended (hour 240) = 3 (They had seen most things by now and were perhaps annoyed with some mechanics)
How they calculate how much fun Skyrim was: (10 + 3) / 2 = 6.5
Result 6.5 equals it was pretty good but could have been a lot better.

Do the makers of Skryim feel that it is fair that people downgrade their game so much because they spent too long playing it? Probably not, but it is a good argument for more quality over quantity.

*There were fascinating studies to support this. One was they had people put their hands in painfully cold water for 30 seconds, and later they had them put their hands in the same cold water for 30 seconds followed by warming the water a couple of degrees (slightly less painful) for 30 more seconds. They then asked people which they preferred. They preferred the longer experience! This is crazy! Experience A hurts a lot, experience B hurts a little less. People want (A + B) over just A.
Last edited by Burress; February 16th, 2012 at 18:02.
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February 16th, 2012, 18:05
Originally Posted by wolfgrimdark View Post
I make my own story and don't need the game to always confirm my choices as morally right/wrong or the like. Sure it can be nice … but I am fine with making my own narrative story.
This. Skyrim is a game for the imagination. One where you can actually roleplay and create your own narrative. Are you the good guy who does no evil? Or do you steal from people and do quests for Daedric princes? Or somewhere in between? Skyrim in my opinion is one of the best "true" role-playing experiences I've ever had with a game. It made you feel as though you were actually your character traversing the amazing world of Skyrim.
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February 16th, 2012, 18:33
Originally Posted by Bedwyr View Post
"That whole article" eh? It was 900 words; just a sidebar really.
It was 900 words too many. I'm a big fan of having an actual opinion. Even better when the opinion is based on solid reasoning. I'm uninterested in analysis that concludes open-ended. It's a waste of time. And there's a lot of it on the internet. Usually because 'reviewers' are too afraid to praise or condemn things when they feel their could be negative economic reprecussions for having done so.

Originally Posted by Bedwyr View Post
2)The most highfalutin word I saw was interstitial.
Yep. That's the word I had to look up. I don't mind looking up words and expanding my vocabulary. That is not the reason for my jab. This article does nothing more than present the obvious and leaves you with an open-ended conclusion. It's fairly unspactacular. But the article cloaks itself in the 'spectacular' by including words the average-joe (well, at least me anyway) will either have to look up or won't understand. That would be fine, if the article was more than just an analysis of the obvious.

On the scale of 1 to 10 of the importance of this article or my rant (and the fact that I didn't have to pay to read it), it rests peacefully at -1 (as in, not important in the slightest). But it's my opinion, backed up with some reasons why. "Reviewers" should try both. Makes for good reading.

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February 16th, 2012, 19:04
Originally Posted by TheMadGamer View Post
It was 900 words too many. I'm a big fan of having an actual opinion.
So am I. But I'm definitely against requiring an opinion to end with "*** is good, *** is dumb." The best words ringing in my ears when I hear researchers present technical papers are "This warrants further research". It is hardly a bad thing for an analysis to fail to come to some bone-shattering conclusion. In fact, I'm inclined to distrust hard-set opinions. Extraordinary claims/extraordinary evidence and all that. This works for op-eds too. Someone making generalizations not backed up by fact I throw into the "just a thoughtless bloviator" bin.
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February 16th, 2012, 19:11
Exactly. Articles that make you think are MUCH better than articles that spout poorly supported opinions posing as facts.
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February 16th, 2012, 19:51
Along the same lines as my thought process:

http://xkcd.com/882/
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February 16th, 2012, 20:50
Originally Posted by Bedwyr View Post
It is hardly a bad thing for an analysis to fail to come to some bone-shattering conclusion. In fact, I'm inclined to distrust hard-set opinions.
My criticism is in the context of people writing things about games and gaming - not every subject in the universe.

When I read an article such as the one posted here, at some point, I'm looking for the author's own opinion. I want to know what he or she thinks.

It's possible to have your own subjective opinion while still providing an objective analysis. This article was a 'Wicker Man' moment.

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February 16th, 2012, 21:12
Originally Posted by Fluent View Post
This. Skyrim is a game for the imagination. One where you can actually roleplay and create your own narrative. Are you the good guy who does no evil? Or do you steal from people and do quests for Daedric princes? Or somewhere in between? Skyrim in my opinion is one of the best "true" role-playing experiences I've ever had with a game. It made you feel as though you were actually your character traversing the amazing world of Skyrim.
This is called "let's pretend" and not role-playing the Gygax way, methinks.

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February 16th, 2012, 21:48
LOL! The "Gygax" way? Guess what, the Gygax way using P&P required a lot of player imagination, too. It wasn't all handed to you on a silver platter by the dungeon master.
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February 17th, 2012, 07:44
As to which model gives players the better game…

That's like a choice between a luxury sedan that doesn't even run and an old beater that leaves you with chronic back pain because the suspension is so shot. That said, I've never been a Bethesda fan but at least Bethesda is making games I enjoy enough to get through them. Playing a Bioware game these days makes me feel like I'm just following a script that they wrote for me and which they didn't even consult me about. Not much difference between the player character and the non-player characters except the player character is required to randomly mouse-click every one in a while. A proper RPG would be a fusion of both styles, but that's not ever going to happen.
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February 18th, 2012, 01:31
If I want to play a game where I make my "own narratives over the game’s central plots" I can easily play ADOM for ex. This is a lame excuse. Also I don't see any real choices in Skyrim. Sure there's the civil war thing and maybe some quests here and there but it's nowhere compared to Fallout 2 for ex. I doubt that someone actually played Skyrim for the "many" choices that one can make. Morrowind was more interesting in the matter for ex,

Motivation is Skyrim is also arguable. It kind of kills the fun running in crappy dungeons just to get a donut and a butter knife in the last chest. Of course rewards come in many forms but in Skyrim it's more or less loot and this looses its charm very fast. I was happier when I got my stronghold in BG 2 than I ever was for getting all the artifacts in Skyrim put together.

In the end, I understand that Skyrim is the big thing right now, but writing and article about motivation and choices around the game was a bad idea. The Witcher 2 would have been more apropriate.

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February 19th, 2012, 12:13
skyrim is a game where you chose when , how and where you will combat something because it is all about combat , also take a look on the mods , most of them are about nude young women , sexy armors and ass shaking animations .
Now if you are into combat and you don't rely to pixelated boobs to fill your sex life can you give me one reason why not to choose mount & blade (original not warband) instead?

Skyrim offers nothing in role playing , no skill checks , no distinctive choices or paths , no motivation to do anything beyond killing things , no role .
Of course it is meaningless , unless you think that the only consequence of canibalism is bad breath.
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February 19th, 2012, 12:47
Originally Posted by Tragos View Post
Skyrim offers nothing in role playing , no skill checks , no distinctive choices or paths , no motivation to do anything beyond killing things , no role .
Of course it is meaningless , unless you think that the only consequence of canibalism is bad breath.
I really like TES for the "create your own adventure" / survival feel, that's roleplaying for me and the best moments from P&P RPG's for me, i dont care for linear RPG's at all - not roleplaying to me… All the TES games does require the player to come up with things to do to make it a fun experience, having some imagination is good.

There's a few stupid sex mods, but that goes for all games that has modding, no one is forced to use them so i dont see the problem. And no they're are not the majority of mods for neither of the TES games.
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February 19th, 2012, 18:08
Originally Posted by vurt View Post
I really like TES for the "create your own adventure" / survival feel, that's roleplaying for me and the best moments from P&P RPG's for me, i dont care for linear RPG's at all - not roleplaying to me… All the TES games does require the player to come up with things to do to make it a fun experience, having some imagination is good.

There's a few stupid sex mods, but that goes for all games that has modding, no one is forced to use them so i dont see the problem. And no they're are not the majority of mods for neither of the TES games.
This is how I feel. There are hundreds of mods out there that have nothing to do with sex.

Skyrim is a great RPG as far as my play style goes (create your adventure) with a great many tools and props at your disposal. My character has a rich and full history.

Course if the only way you know how to role-play is by having a game force you into some linear story and validate all your choices and decisions then sure … its probably not a good RPG for that style. I have always preferred to use my own imagination to wrap around the basic framework that the game provides.

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February 19th, 2012, 18:52
Originally Posted by Sir_Brennus View Post
This is called "let's pretend" and not role-playing the Gygax way, methinks.
I find this statement ironic. Isn't "let's pretend" exactly what RPGs are about in the first place?! That's what they are about for me. Every good RPG I've ever played (starting with Chrono Trigger for the Super Nintendo in the 90s) has been made better by using my imagination. Skyrim is no different, and really, is a monumental game in the fact that it is so imagination-oriented. You have players creating thousands of words worth of backstory for their Skyrim characters, using their imagination on quests, and generally role-playing in the truest sense of the word with this game. What more do you want?
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