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Default Skyrim, lacking a soul?

June 10th, 2011, 11:44
I have been watching the new videos and reading these previews and I am getting the feeling that the game lacks a "soul". I can't put a finger on why exactly but I think the world does not feel alive.

To me, in order for the world to feel alive or have a "soul", me the player need to connect with the people who live in it. I need to care about them in some level so that I care what's happening to them hence the world they live in. In other words, the NPC characters need to have a personality, the human like motivation, wants, desires etc. The Witcher 2 does this extremely well. I guess this is bit like reading a book really, if you can't connect with the characters you tend give up on that book.

I do like to explore an open world, see what's behind that corner, kill monsters, collect loot etc but this can only keep me motivated for so long.

This is why I quite Oblivion after 30 or so hours of game play. I did all the exploring and stuff but I did not connect with any of the NPC (to me they were like wooden sticks walking around) who lived in that world so I did not bother with the main quest or most of the side quests. Oblivion had other faults such as level scaling (so collecting loot is pretty useless) and crashes etc but if I cared enough about any NPCs or even the story I think I would have finished it while overlooking the faults.

So based on the new videos or previews I am getting the feeling that Skyrim is going to lack a soul (like Oblivion), i.e. not any interesting NPC characters. This is sad really since I do like to play a Witcher 2 like game (interesting characters and story) in truly open world like Skyrim.

Some of you may find my way of thinking bit funny but I thought I will share it anyway
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June 10th, 2011, 13:00
I'm the contrary. NPCs are just placeholders for quests
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June 10th, 2011, 13:28
The "soul" is very important to me in these games as well, but I seriously think its impossible to judge that from the videos. This connection you speak of happens (or doesn't happen) when you play, when you actively interact with the gameworld. Videos, per definition passive, and further designed mainly to show off graphics and various "cool" elements and bits and pieces of gameplay, can not really be informative in that respect.
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June 10th, 2011, 13:45
I don't think this is a strength of Bethesda. I get what you are saying about lack of soul. Their characters aren't compelling, at least not in Oblivion.
But these game are mostly about exploring and being in a huge fantasy world simulation, where characters and story are backdrops and not as important.

It would be nice if they could have better and more fleshed out characters in these games. I think its too early to say whether Skyrim will improve on this aspect or not.
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June 10th, 2011, 13:47
I agree with the OP that Skyrim looks "dry" but we have not yet see much of it other than fighting .
I find it very curious that Beth lost their way into creating atmosphere, both DF and MW were very atmospheric while OB was not . I don't think that it is about characters / NPCs so much but something else i can not properly describe.

I am not sure where i get that feeling , maybe for having play lots of games ? i didn't went very far in Gothic 3 but from minute 1 i knew that there was stuff there to be explored , mysteries, secrets , something to keep my interest. Watching Skyrim's videos bores me because the game so far looks paper thin atmosphere and immersion wise , or maybe i am just strange
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June 10th, 2011, 14:07
Wasn't it also stated somewhere that Todd Howard said the dungeon's wouldn't be that large? That's a red flag as well.

But, really, this is Bethesda… they're pros at making shallow ambience; we should not expect otherwise until after release.
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June 10th, 2011, 14:26
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
The "soul" is very important to me in these games as well, but I seriously think its impossible to judge that from the videos. This connection you speak of happens (or doesn't happen) when you play, when you actively interact with the gameworld. Videos, per definition passive, and further designed mainly to show off graphics and various "cool" elements and bits and pieces of gameplay, can not really be informative in that respect.
I do agree with you that it is impossible to judge from these videos alone and we need to see more. However I remember that when I first saw trailers and game play footage for The Witcher 2, they were showing off their characters, Tisss, Roche and Iovrth. It's the first confrontation scene when you just get off the boat in chapter 1. So from the start they were emphasising what's their game is about.

Bethesda (along with PB) does an extremely good job of creating an completely open world. They pay LOT of attention to details and there are aren't many immersion breaking element in their world design. I just wish they pay more attention to their story, NPCs and quests. If they did, that they would have made my ideal RPG
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June 10th, 2011, 14:34
It's not possible to have the best of everything in one game.

Skyrim's obviously not going to have NPCs as detailed as The Witcher 2, but it's going to have a lot more of them, as well as a lot more content in general. That doesn't mean it'll be better or worse though. It just depends what you're looking for.
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June 10th, 2011, 14:38
If you read the features, they say you will be able to engage in small social interactions that should help you to personalize the relationship of your avatar to the environment.

You can help them in their daily tasks (beyond quests) and if friendly enough, they might open their home door to allow the PC to rest/sleep. Potentially powerful in terms of feeling close to a NPC as being allowed to sleep somewhere might be a life saver or something like that.

Will the devs deliver? I wonder but time will tell.
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June 10th, 2011, 15:05
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
It's not possible to have the best of everything in one game.

Skyrim's obviously not going to have NPCs as detailed as The Witcher 2, but it's going to have a lot more of them, as well as a lot more content in general. That doesn't mean it'll be better or worse though. It just depends what you're looking for.
surely we can dream on about our best game ever? Even though deep down we all know thats not going to happen
Last edited by lostforever; June 10th, 2011 at 16:32. Reason: bad spelling!
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June 10th, 2011, 15:52
Don't call me surly !
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June 10th, 2011, 16:34
I think JDR13 does make a valid point. Its a bit unreasonable to expect the depth of a story driven game with that of an open world game. Yea, it would be the ultimate to combine the best of them, and it very well could result in a gaming masterpiece, but those tend to be very rare and take a long-ass time to make and also not be so driven by profit motives.
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June 10th, 2011, 16:39
The "soul" I found in Morrowind came from the way the world and the lore was built and interacted with the games story and quests. With respect to NPC's Morrowind was probably worse than Oblivion. Even the characters that I rember, that stood out in some way, did so mostly because of their place in the world, not so much because of my interaction with them.
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June 10th, 2011, 17:02
Lore was very deep in Morrowind though and it was more shallow in Oblivion. I could do with more lore this time around, and I'm guessing that we'll get it from the background story of this game. It seems lore is going to be super important in finding out how to handle the world dragon dude. Time will tell.

Also, each dragon has a soul that you can eat for lunch after killing said monster, so souls won't be lacking
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June 10th, 2011, 17:09
Originally Posted by crpgnut View Post
Lore was very deep in Morrowind though and it was more shallow in Oblivion.
Amen, brother!
I could do with more lore this time around, and I'm guessing that we'll get it from the background story of this game. It seems lore is going to be super important in finding out how to handle the world dragon dude. Time will tell.
Let's pray, brother, let's pray!
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June 10th, 2011, 20:36
The lore in Oblivion was not only shallow, but it contradicted past lore (though they tried to do some quick retcon band aids). It just seemed like everything was so genericized. I mean you could slap another name on that game and it could just as easily be any other generic fantasy game. Morrowind, was unique and Daggerfall, while less so, was still immersive and had lots of intrigue going on with various factions all with different motivations. The religion was also true paganism, not some Monty Python version of the Catholic church.

Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
The "soul" I found in Morrowind came from the way the world and the lore was built and interacted with the games story and quests. With respect to NPC's Morrowind was probably worse than Oblivion. Even the characters that I rember, that stood out in some way, did so mostly because of their place in the world, not so much because of my interaction with them.
I agree with this although I will say because Morrowind was text based for the most part there existed the option to mod in personality to the npcs. There are several NPCs I remember well specifically because of their dialog from the Less Generic NPCs project. It wouldn't have hurt Bethesda to write some of that dialog on their own, but that has never been a focus for them from the start.

Honestly when I see these videos of Skyrim it just looks like some viking action game. I'm very close to cancelling my pre-order and think I will probably do so and take a wait and see attitude after it comes out.
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June 14th, 2011, 12:45
Too early to tell.

That said, I've yet to play a Beth game with a real soul, though. Maybe Redguard? Hmm.

There's something…. mechanical about their approach to writing and lore.

Hard to put my finger on it, but that's the best way I can describe it.

Their stuff tends to feel like funtional separate systems put together and called a game.

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June 14th, 2011, 12:59
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
It's not possible to have the best of everything in one game.

Skyrim's obviously not going to have NPCs as detailed as The Witcher 2, but it's going to have a lot more of them, as well as a lot more content in general. That doesn't mean it'll be better or worse though. It just depends what you're looking for.
True. Personally I prefer the Gothic approach, which is somewhere in the middle (not as massive as Bethesda's games, nor as detailed as TW2, but somewhere inbetween). That's my personal preference.

To me, the scale looks something like this:
Massive world ——— | —————————— | ——— Lots of details
Oblivion —————————— Gothic ————————— The Witcher 2

Personally I feel FO3 landed somewhere between Gothic and Oblivion, and I'd be perfectly happy if Skyrim ended up there as well.

Like you said though: Don't expect TW2 level of detail. That's just not happening.
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June 14th, 2011, 13:10
Originally Posted by Motoki View Post
The lore in Oblivion was not only shallow, but it contradicted past lore (though they tried to do some quick retcon band aids).

I mean you could slap another name on that game and it could just as easily be any other generic fantasy game.
In what way? There are the daedra, the races, the books, the guilds, references to Morrowind … To me Oblivion was very much an Elder Scrolls game. Not as good as Morrowind, but still an Elder Scrolls.

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June 14th, 2011, 13:49
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
True. Personally I prefer the Gothic approach, which is somewhere in the middle (not as massive as Bethesda's games, nor as detailed as TW2, but somewhere inbetween). That's my personal preference.

To me, the scale looks something like this:
Massive world ——— | —————————— | ——— Lots of details
Oblivion —————————— Gothic ————————— The Witcher 2

Personally I feel FO3 landed somewhere between Gothic and Oblivion, and I'd be perfectly happy if Skyrim ended up there as well.

Like you said though: Don't expect TW2 level of detail. That's just not happening.
This is spot on! This is why I am looking forward to Risen 2 more than Skyrim. I need to play FO3 one of these days given that most people think its better than Oblivion.

This may sounds bit silly but one of my pet peeves with PB games is the general lack of good quality women NPCs! I don't mean stuff like looks, romance etc but rather interesting personalities. When I was playing Witcher 2, i noticed that almost half of (may be even more) well defined NPCs were women and this adds lot of "colour" to the game world. I think PB need to do this and I don't believe this will cost them any thing extra.
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