First Person: Skyrim is Soulless

 Pages PREV 1 2 3 4 5 6 NEXT
 

Athinira:

Pinstar:
Why didn't she react to you killing those bandits? You answered your own question. You mentioned she spoke about how often the fort changed hands. The "fort changing hands" probably involved the new owners killing all the old owners. So the fact that you just waltzed in and murdered every bandit there and left them on the floor is nothing new to her, and she's probably been desensitized to death enough to not be bothered with it.

Heck, she even said she has a lot of cleaning up to do. What is she cleaning? All those half-naked corpses you left behind...just like she's done every other time the fort changed hands.

That isn't soulless, that's good writing on the dev's part.

No, that's you just imagining things, trying to cover up terrible writing. It's very clear that the pieces of dialogue they decided to give her is to give the keep a sort of backstory, but it is ENTIRELY unrelated to what he did. Fact of the matter is that if he had snuck into the keep without being seen (or had befriended the bandits somehow and had been invited in), she would be spurting the EXACT SAME LINES.

If you are going to pass off the fact that an NPC is going to use the exact same dialogue depending on whether or not you are a visitor or a mass murderer who have just murdered off her employees and looted her room as good writing, then I'm happy you aren't a game designer. It neither good writing, nor is it rational or immersive. What it is is making Agnis a robot that does her programmed tasks and spit out her programmed lines no matter what happens around her. That's it.

Again I say that this is hardly terrible writing.

In fact, this has NOTHING to do with writing at all. This is just one of the many core attributes of large games with massive numbers of NPCs in them. RPGs don't have time to develop multiple thousands of answers to every reaction for a character that's really only designed to fill space and provide a slight bit of humor.

She would be spurting the exact same line because it's relevant to her character: "Generic Housekeeper NPC for Fort". They only even gave her a name because she's a unique personality... but not much more than that.

If you're getting caught up in minor NPCs' reactions, then you're getting caught up in one of the LEAST IMPORTANT parts of the game. This is something that yes, while a bit jarring sometimes, DOESN'T HAVE ANY SIGNIFICANT IMPACT on the playability or enjoyability of the game.

Yes, we'd ALL love for the world to respond to our every action... but hey... didn't they do that with Fable? Isn't this the same internet where everyone hates Fable? So it seems like a lot of 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' to me.

Skyrim has it's share of problems, and flaws... but it is HARDLY terribly written, and a FAR CRY from soulless. If someone had said this to me back when we were still playing Oblivion, I would have agreed. But Skyrim?

Skyrim's got more spirit and substance than any other Elder Scrolls game to date. Even with the reduced content... even missing spells, and weapons... even with some wonkyness here and there... there isn't a single thing that Skyrim has brought to the table that was fundamentally broken.

You know... aside from a couple of quests...

But hey! At least they can -patch- those. No amount of patching would ever be able to fix Morrowind's completely worthless Marksman skill.

I think this points out a huge flaw in the gamers playing a game like Skyrim over Skyrim not being the god game everyone knew it wasn't going to be. With that many NPC and that big of a world is isn't like they where going to spend a few more hours on making sure npc pointed out shit you did over and over. I mean i get the off hand comment of leading the Dark Brotherhood by a city guard or walker by. I get off hand remarks from people who don't like my wolfish grin. I get told about things i did in said city often enough and if i murdered a bunch of people and got caught the guards don't seem to kind to me so i am trying to figure out what exactly it is you wanted them to spend time on during development. Would you rather have them worked on a AI process so they react more realistically then i must say herp derp to you and have fun fighting a dragon with a fish merchant which you wont QQ about. It isn't about soul or anything the world is about you and how you go through it. YOU being a key part cause YOU have an imagination i would hope and if something isn't coded right into the game YOU in YOUR head can add it in.

The problem isn't the game being soulless the problem is you lazy bum not wanting to add to the experience past what the developer gave you. I've read like 5 of you talking about "role playing" well you must be shit at it cause you can't even imagine or add anything not in the game already past your character i would assume. BTW i'm not mad i'm annoyed that people who call themselves gamers/geeks/role players and such have forgotten such a simple and easy thing as ADDING to the world even if they can't hardcode it in. It is really sad.

I was in the thalmor, I released all the prisoners and they just sit in their cells. I go up to one of them and he says "Leave me alone." this pretty much echos the response I get from all the other prisoners.

I have to agree, Skyrim has no soul.

Fappy:
Part of the problem is voice acting.

D. Ein:
The problem is voice acting.

Agree with this - the 'need' for spoken dialogue is very limiting.

unoleian:
I find the New Vegas comparison suspect.

Agree. Consequences weren't will mirrored in that game either - or any Bethesda game. Why? Because they're too big to map out reactions to all your numerous status updates.

seraphy:
I really wish Bethesda would learn something from New Vegas.

I wonder if people would feel this way about New Vegas if it actually let you play on after the main plot to reveal how little the world had actually changed...

Dennis C. Scimeca:
A pattern quickly revealed itself: find a dungeon, kill everything within it, make multiple trips back and forth from said dungeon to my house in the city of Whiterun to stow all the loot, and then sort through and sell everything I looted and decided not to keep.

Multiple trips to town for 1 dungeon? Sounds like a lot of fast-travel going on, which I find more immersion-breaking than an innocuous unscripted NPC. The reaction of a role-player would be to sort through stuff BEFORE heaving it miles back to your house :).

Skyrim has soul, it's just thinly spread where NPC's are concerned. The mountains and cities are full of it.

Good article. And I agree, with it.

I really wish Bethesda would learn something from New Vegas.

Without a player, a game is just inanimate code. It does not and cannot have a soul - you have to use your own.

(disclaimer: above statement is made under the assumpiton that the theoretical soul exists, but does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of its author, a soulless bastard)

PhantomEcho:

Athinira:
SNIP

Again I say that this is hardly terrible writing.

In fact, this has NOTHING to do with writing at all. This is just one of the many core attributes of large games with massive numbers of NPCs in them. RPGs don't have time to develop multiple thousands of answers to every reaction for a character that's really only designed to fill space and provide a slight bit of humor.

She would be spurting the exact same line because it's relevant to her character: "Generic Housekeeper NPC for Fort". They only even gave her a name because she's a unique personality... but not much more than that.

(...)

Yes, we'd ALL love for the world to respond to our every action... but hey... didn't they do that with Fable? Isn't this the same internet where everyone hates Fable? So it seems like a lot of 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' to me.

...which is why Skyrim perhaps SHOULD have taken a cue from some other games. Particularly Baldur's Gate.

You see, the developers of Baldur's Gate understood that if you keep uninteresting/generic characters around, it brings out their robotic tendencies, and for that specific reason, the developers understood that characters sometimes needs to f*cking DISAPPEAR! If the mentioned Fort in Skyrim had been a sidequest in Baldur's Gate instead, BioWare would perhaps have made Agnis either do something useful (provide information) and then have her flee the scene afterwards, never to be seen again.

It's a perfect demonstration of the fact that sometimes, less is more, and Agnis ironically becomes a much more colorful and interesting character when you make her flee the scene and disappear so you can't track her down later and spam your "Talk" key until you realize she is a robot. There is nothing wrong with her being a shallow character, but Skyrim makes the fatal flaw of keeping her around, which eventually means that players are going to discover that she is shallow. It's like doing a long story, but stretching it out too far until the audiences becomes bored. Sometimes, it's best to stop while the fun is at its peak.

PhantomEcho:
If you're getting caught up in minor NPCs' reactions, then you're getting caught up in one of the LEAST IMPORTANT parts of the game. This is something that yes, while a bit jarring sometimes, DOESN'T HAVE ANY SIGNIFICANT IMPACT on the playability or enjoyability of the game.

Ah, the good old "You are playing it wrong" argument. Is there where i go fetch the Steve Jobs "You're holding it wrong"-picture just for emphasis?

Listen, if it didn't have any significant impact on the enjoyability of the game, then this article wouldn't exist to begin with. It obviously had an impact on the article writer, and while i haven't been to that part of Skyrim yet, i can tell you that it would also impact mine (and have so already, just with several other characters than Agnis).

It might not have impacted you, but you don't represent anyone, and the shallowness of most NPC's in Bethesda Games is one thing they have been critisized for MANY times before, so obviously it's something many people consider to be detriment to their experience.

PhantomEcho:
Skyrim has it's share of problems, and flaws... but it is HARDLY terribly written, and a FAR CRY from soulless. If someone had said this to me back when we were still playing Oblivion, I would have agreed. But Skyrim?

There is a difference between "not being something" and "hiding something".

Skyrim exceeds it's predecessors because it's much better at cloaking/hiding it's faults through improved design, but many of them are still there, and people - especially the ones who were annoyed to no end by the bugs - are eventually gonna discover them if they pay close enough attention.

Now don't get me wrong, it also directly fixed many of the flaws, especially of Oblivion, but the basic formula is still the same, and many of the same problems persist. I will applaud them for going so far and improving the series so much, but at the end of the day, they still have a long way to go.

This is the core problem with ALL Bethesda games and is why i have simply decided to steer clear of most of them. They are sterile, static and souless.They just make you want to dick around and but sometimes their structure can penilise dicking around, like constantly having to repair everything in Fallout 3. to get any kind of decent use out of it. Why would the damage of my gun follow an exact curve of degredation? Surely it would just become less reliable and jam more like it did in STALKER.

The world, the mechanics, the asthetic and the story never really intergrate in properly are even in a logical way.

This guy still has a column with The Escapist? Go figure. I hadn't seen it in ages.

winter2:
Agnis? I could have sworn I killed her as part of the Dark Brotherhood storyline. Maybe I'm wrong.

For me, Skyrims soul lives in the environment it gives us. I have spent hours just jaunting through the hills enjoying the snow and wind.

I believe you are correct Agnis is a Dark Brotherhood target.

Most NPCs seem to have some use, if you haven't found it, then chances are you don't have the relevent quest/storyline.

You might be going "huh, what" only to find out what was going on later on down the road.

Going by the other games in the series, The Dark Brotherhood isn't as evil as they are portrayed even if the members are kind of twisted. The concept is similar to that whole Wanted/Weapons of Fate thing, where they kill people for the greater good without it nessicarly being obvious why. I get the impression Sithis and The Night Mother play the role of nilistic murder machines for a higher purpose and I believe that was spelled out in some other games. If you look into some of the things going on (the stories told through the enviroment) there is oftentimes a clear reason why your killing someone... like say a cult shrine in their basement, relation to another NPC, or whatever else.

Oh and if you attack Agnis if I remember she's a little tougher than you might expect... I'm just saying. :)

"Oh please don't hurt me..." :P Gullible much.

A response to the article as much as to the message I'm quoting.

Wow.
The way you play sounds extremely boring.
Do you really feel you need to take several trips to a fort only to empty it completely for loot? That's the most robotic playing style I've ever heard of. Hell, the last time I went through a fort, I just left everything that wasn't special items that would be useful for my character. And even though I play like this I am still carrying 17,000 septims.

It sounds to me like you are the one ruining your own experience.

Sabrestar:
I think the ultimate problem with Elder Scrolls-style open-world games can be pointed out by expanding the Uncanny Valley concept.

Games that fit into a 16Mbit cartridge were only very vague approximations of reality. Players didn't expect realistic responses from sparsely-animated pixels that marched along two-dimensional platforms. It was easy to divorce oneself from reality because the games of the old-school make no pretensions toward reality.

Now, technology can't possibly emulate the real world perfectly. Heck, we barely understand half of how the real world works at all; there's no chance under heaven and earth that we could have powerful enough technology in the foreseeable future to model that. Why, then, do we expect realism from Elder Scrolls and not from Mario? Because the pretensions toward reality are very much present. The Uncanny Valley is a computer-graphics trope originally, suggesting that a point when things get close to realism, but not quite there, the ability to accept and appreciate them falls off dramatically. In short, they're close enough to seem real, but that just makes them more obviously not real.

Elder Scrolls games since Morrowind have been firmly rooted in the Uncanny Valley. Back in Morrowind, aided by mods, I could adventure the world, dungeon-delve, cast spells, get my character pregnant (with attendant difficulties wearing armour) and carry a child to term... but the child would never grow beyond an infant. In Oblivion I could listen to conversations between NPCs... that would make no sense. (I'd make a Skyrim comparison but I haven't played it yet.)

Elder Scrolls games and their like don't feel real because they come so close, and clearly want to come so close. It makes the suspension of disbelief a lot harder because it only has to happen sometimes. I know I can't kill things by stepping on them like Mario does, so I'm already pulled out of reality when I play one of his games. Mentally I'm already prepared to accept a world I don't recognise, so things that don't seem believable are the norm for its existence.

Don't let it be said that I don't like Elder Scrolls games; I'm still hacking away at Oblivion mods. I kind of like living in the Uncanny Valley, but it never lets me forget I'm there.

The very first word that came to mind for me was Uncanny Valley. Thank you for typing it out so I don't have to :P

Yeah, this is one of my complaints too. There's all these things to do, a ton really, but nothing really interlocks. No one cares, and then I eventually stop caring. You can be the best at everything and occasionally someone will say how good I am at brewing potions or creating magic items... but how would they know? Bethesda needs to work on interlocking things better, and they have for a while.

It Doesn't Matter How Great Something Is, There Will Always Be Someone Who Says It Sucks And You Suck For Liking It.

Usually I just read through, agreeing and disagreeing with points here and there but your summary dealing with that old woman in the bandit's fort was not only well written, you also nailed the point at the end of the story.

What really bothered me while I was playing Skyrim was that I had a contract to kill a wood elf in Whiterun. Being a very skilled assassin, I went to the Drunken Huntsman Inn where his brother works thus sneaked my way into the target's room. I killed him with one simple attack, and his brother comes running in after the death of his own brother.

Reaction?

"Welcome to the Drunken Huntsman Inn, I do hope you enjoy your stay." I just stood my character up and looked at him. Even though I killed his own brother in sneak mode, his brother lied dead on the floor, his arm pressed against the bed while his other brother looked at me like a soulless shopkeeper only acting the same as he would when I walk in to sell weapons. Even did some business there, and used a zombie spell to bring his brother to life for a mere minute. Still no reaction.. he was immune to emotion that his brother died. I felt pretty annoyed by that, yet still love Skyrim all the same. We can relate, but I do tend to feel that the game is pointless, unless you're crazy like me to imagine conversations in the head between you and someone.

Jonluw:
It sounds to me like you are the one ruining your own experience.

I'll repeat again: The "You're playing it wrong" argument is no better than Steve Jobs "You're holding it wrong" argument.

Some people (including me) are min-maxers, and we don't enjoy a game unless we get every advantage we can get. In the case of Skyrim, this means getting all the gold you can acquire, which means that the limited carrying space and the fact you have to search the entire country for merchants who still has gold left is limiting our experience. This is NOT because we play the game in a boring way, it's because we can't enjoy the game as much if we don't min-max and the game is preventing us from min-maxing without having to waste our time en masse, or in short, it's a game flaw.

If a game can be played "wrong" in the first place, then it's the fault of the game, not the player, because for some players, playing the game "right" isn't enjoyable. It's like listening to raiders back in vanilla WoW telling casual players that they were playing the game wrong if they weren't raiding. Fortunately Blizzard understood that it's a terrible excuse, and instead gave the casuals more content and ways of progression in later expansions instead of telling them to raid or GTFO.

I like roleplaying. I like to make it up in my imagination as I go. I think Bethesda took that into consideration when designing this game. And I think it worked out well.

For instance, my wife is petrified that I am dead, when I've actually been press-ganged to join the Dark Brotherhood. And before that, she was petrified to learn that her husband had been sent to work for life in the silver mines of Markarth, only to tearfully reunite with him after secretly escaping with a group of murderous rebels and the Jarl clearing it up as a misunderstanding.

So yeah, I roll with whatever the game throws at me.

I think a game like this you get out of it what you put into it. If you want consequences... Do quests! There are tons of quests that have consequences. If you dont want consequences go into dungeons and kill bandits and the like.

I killed a cave full of witches and have been recognized for the feat because it was part of a quest. I killed some people in Markath now the guards will attack me on sight. Im currently fighting in the war between the Imperials and the Stormcloaks (on the Imperial side) and have dethroned a jarl that was a Stormcloak sympathizer. There would be New Vegas either if all you did was loot dungeons. Its just not how these types of games work.

Basically, its nit picking of the highest order.. yes we can bitch about the little things, but who here hasnt dumped at least 50 hours into it?

Athinira:

Jonluw:
It sounds to me like you are the one ruining your own experience.

I'll repeat again: The "You're playing it wrong" argument is no better than Steve Jobs "You're holding it wrong" argument.

Some people (including me) are min-maxers, and we don't enjoy a game unless we get every advantage we can get. In the case of Skyrim, this means getting all the gold you can acquire, which means that the limited carrying space and the fact you have to search the entire country for merchants who still has gold left is limiting our experience. This is NOT because we play the game in a boring way, it's because we can't enjoy the game as much if we don't min-max and the game is preventing us from min-maxing without having to waste our time en masse, or in short, it's a game flaw.

You're saying that the game having a limit on how much loot you can carry at a given time is a game flaw?
Or is it that a single dungeon contains more than that limit, forcing you to either priorotize or make several runs, that is the flaw?

This style of playing sounds incredibly boring and tedious to me, but to each his own. It doesn't seem that Skyrim is aimed at people with that interest though.
I would say "You're playing it wrong" is a completely valid criticism. You can't expect a game to appeal to every gamer's preferences and play-styles. That's why we have more than one game.
e.g. If you wanted to play as a field medic, you probably shouldn't have bought Call of duty.

You could say that the game should cater to the interests of people who are interested in the general style of the game, but honestly I don't think "people who need to have all the gold in the game" is such a big subgroup of RPG gamers that Bethesda should sacrifice realism for their sake.
For such people, we have mods.

Whenever someone refers to a game as a "Western RPG", I instantly know that they have an axe to grind.

Athinira:

Jonluw:
The way you play sounds extremely boring.

I'll repeat again: The "You're playing it wrong" argument is no better than Steve Jobs "You're holding it wrong" argument.

To be fair, there is a modicum of truth to the argument, except the false assumption is that a player can 'choose' how to play. Most cannot. They'll play how they'll play, and many will play in a way which will end up being unrewarding in a Bethesda game.

But if a player doesn't or can't role-play he/she won't find Skyrim enjoyable for more than 20-80 hours. It would be nice if Skyrim helped more, but nonetheless saying Skyrim is soulless is largely an admission of one's inability or unwillingness to role-play in the manner that Skyrim hopes players can/will.

I wasn't very good at playing Skyrim 'correctly' at first - too much fast-travel, too concerned with power and completion - but I'm getting the hang of it. Surpassed 200 hours and still finding fresh new things to do & see. :)

Jonluw:
Or is it that a single dungeon contains more than that limit, forcing you to either priorotize or make several runs, that is the flaw?

I'm not saying that the fact that you have a carrying limit is a flaw (although i did myself use cheats to increase it for exactly this reason). What I'm saying is that the game could still make the experience much smoother. Maybe they could have made it so when the bandits were dead, you automatically got the option to take ownership of the keep, and then perhaps made it possible to sell all the stuff much more easily through some mechanic. That's just one idea out of many options.

Jonluw:
This style of playing sounds incredibly boring and tedious to me, but to each his own. It doesn't seem that Skyrim is aimed at people with that interest though.

This was the same argument raiders used in vanilla WoW as well (WoW isn't for you), and it's another argument that doesn't hold up, because if Skyrim wasn't aimed at min-maxers, they wouldn't allow you to min-max in the first place.

This attitude always bugs me, because instead of aiming towards fixing the game (or improving a future game in the series), you are basically instead telling me to f*ck off because you just happen to be enjoying the fact that the game happens to cater to YOUR playstyle. This is where i could remind you that it might have been the other way around, and our roles could have been reversed. I'm fairly sure you wouldn't be satisfied with me telling you to go play something else then when you actually see potential for enjoyment in the game.

I would say "You're playing it wrong" is a completely valid criticism. You can't expect a game to appeal to every gamer's preferences and play-styles. That's why we have more than one game.

But it isn't, and it never will be, and I'll tell you why.

To reiterate what i said above, a game shouldn't be able to be played wrong in the first place. What i mean by that is that if a game INVITES you to do something, but then makes doing that something unenjoyable/sucky (for whatever reason), then it shouldn't have invited you to do that something in the first place.

To give an analogy, it would be the equivalent of Modern Warfare inviting you to play the entire game in stealth-mode (not thinking of the stealth-missions here) as opposed to full-on warfare mode, but then make the stealth mode crappy and unenjoyable while the shooting is still fun. In that case you CAN fault Modern Warfare for it's stealth mode sucking, but you can't fault players for complaining that it sucks by just telling them to go shooter mode instead. That's why Modern Warfare was smart to avoid inviting you to play the game in stealth mode in the first place by forcing action upon you. It might give you less freedom of choice, but it makes for a more compelling experience. And that is why you can't play Modern Warfare wrong in the first place, because it doesn't invite to any other gameplay than "Run in and gun everything hostile down".

Skyrim is a case of a game that invites you to play it in many different ways, but only made sure that half of them were enjoyable. And that can NEVER be the players fault. It's called spreading yourself too thin, and the game should just have avoided inviting me to play that way in the first place (or fixed the problems). The game would have been much more enjoyable if it just didn't invite to the boring half. Sometimes less is more, and constraint is good.

But since it does, we can fault it for them, but we can also suggest fixing them. A game that invites you to play in many different ways and SUCCEED in making all of them enjoyable is after all a rare gem that should be treasured.

I don't know about you, but I got pretty guilty after I helped siege Whiterun with the Stormcloaks.

Having spent so much time helping the Jarl, becoming his Thane, earning his trust (he even let me use his palace to capture a dragon!), I felt so bad when Ulfric gave the order to attack, and even worse when the city was conquered.
When the recently dethroned Jarl saw me, after surrendering, and said, "And you, a Stormcloak. I thought better of you." I felt awful for betraying someone who I had actually quite liked (as an NPC), especially since I was conflicted about which side of the civil war to join.

Athinira:

Jonluw:
Or is it that a single dungeon contains more than that limit, forcing you to either priorotize or make several runs, that is the flaw?

I'm not saying that the fact that you have a carrying limit is a flaw (although i did myself use cheats to increase it for exactly this reason). What I'm saying is that the game could still make the experience much smoother. Maybe they could have made it so when the bandits were dead, you automatically got the option to take ownership of the keep, and then perhaps made it possible to sell all the stuff much more easily through some mechanic. That's just one idea out of many options.

Jonluw:
This style of playing sounds incredibly boring and tedious to me, but to each his own. It doesn't seem that Skyrim is aimed at people with that interest though.

This was the same argument raiders used in vanilla WoW as well (WoW isn't for you), and it's another argument that doesn't hold up, because if Skyrim wasn't aimed at min-maxers, they wouldn't allow you to min-max in the first place.

This attitude always bugs me, because instead of aiming towards fixing the game (or improving a future game in the series), you are basically instead telling me to f*ck off because you just happen to be enjoying the fact that the game happens to cater to YOUR playstyle. This is where i could remind you that it might have been the other way around, and our roles could have been reversed. I'm fairly sure you wouldn't be satisfied with me telling you to go play something else then when you actually see potential for enjoyment in the game.

I would say "You're playing it wrong" is a completely valid criticism. You can't expect a game to appeal to every gamer's preferences and play-styles. That's why we have more than one game.

But it isn't, and it never will be, and I'll tell you why.

To reiterate what i said above, a game shouldn't be able to be played wrong in the first place. What i mean by that is that if a game INVITES you to do something, but then makes doing that something unenjoyable (for whatever reason), then it shouldn't have invited you to do that something in the first place.

To give an analogy, it would be the equivalent of Modern Warfare inviting you to play the game in stealth-mode (not thinking of the stealth-missions here) as opposed to full-on warfare mode, but then make the stealth mode so crappy and unenjoyable while the shooting is still fun, and in that case you CAN fault Modern Warfare for it's stealth mode sucking. That's why Modern Warfare was smart to avoid inviting you to play the game in stealth mode in the first place by forcing action upon you. It might give you less freedom of choice, but it makes for a more compelling experience.

Skyrim is a case of a game that invites you to play it in many different ways, but only made sure that half of them were enjoyable. And that can NEVER be the players fault. It's called spreading yourself too thin. The game would have been much more enjoyable if it just didn't invite to the boring half in the first place. Sometimes less is more, and constraint is good. But since it does, we can fault it for them, but we can also suggest fixing them.

I find that, while your argument sounds good on the surface... what you have is a fundamental difference in ideology from me. You see, I think the player is MORE THAN ABLE to be wrong. I also don't subscribe to the idea of the customer always being right. Why? Because asskissery and sucking up to whoever is the loudest opposition does absolutely NOTHING for quality.

And believe me when I say, having been around as long as I have, that Bethesda games have a LOT of vocal minorities. And unfortunately, the min-max crowd isn't really the target audience of Bethesda games. But they -let- you because the games are designed to be moddable... they're designed to let anyone who wants to put the time and effort into making the game do what they want do just that.

It has nothing to do with 'playing it wrong'. It has everything to do with attitude. You see, I can understand why someone might want to spend their time clearing out every dungeon, taking every item, selling it until every merchant is empty, and sitting on a MOUNTAIN of gold. I can dig it.

But what I can't understand is that same person begrudging the game for giving -me- a sense of limitation. I mean, I'm -more- than happy to meet the min-maxers half way, like Skyrim does. But it's fine and good to say that it's a flaw when it happens to YOU, right?

It's fine to call us all hypocrites when you're feeling jilted... how awful it would be if they took away what we want. But if they give you ALL of what you want, then they ARE taking away what I want. And that doesn't sit well with me. Not one bit.

The original poster does have a point in that the NPC's are all a bit mechanical. But that's because the game is mechanical. It's a machine, designed to give back what you put into it. If you want to invest your time into the Main Quest, then you can do that. If you want to steal everything not literally nailed down, you can do that. If you want to marry your nordic woman off to the Riften blacksmith, spend a thousand hours doing nothing but smithing gear and selling it to him, then go on to master enchanting and surpass even that Grey-Mane bloke... you can do that.

But if you want to do something the game doesn't allow, or you want to get all in a tizzy because the NPC's were designed to drift in the background rather than perfectly mimic human life... well, then I'm sorry to say but the game just wasn't designed to accomodate you. And if you take that to mean that you're "playing it wrong"... so be it.

It's not as though I'm saying "Piss off"... I'm saying "Take the compromise, or piss off...", because I've already had to compromise to accommodate plenty of folks.

I rather liked crossbows and spears, see. Oh, and being able to light my house however I wanted. Oh, and being able to actually have some SEMBLANCE of control over how I placed things. OH! And I really, -really- used to enjoy the ability to FAIL spell casting, or potion making. Not so much swinging swords, though. They definitely nailed that one right on the head.

My point is... the game is a compromise, offering a little of something for everyone. It's just asinine to complain that it doesn't suit YOU best, when the rest of us had to sacrifice things we wanted so that the things you wanted could happen.

Athinira:
I'm not saying that the fact that you have a carrying limit is a flaw (although i did myself use cheats to increase it for exactly this reason). What I'm saying is that the game could still make the experience much smoother. Maybe they could have made it so when the bandits were dead, you automatically got the option to take ownership of the keep, and then perhaps made it possible to sell all the stuff much more easily through some mechanic. That's just one idea out of many options.

snip

This was the same argument raiders used in vanilla WoW as well (WoW isn't for you), and it's another argument that doesn't hold up, because if Skyrim wasn't aimed at min-maxers, they wouldn't allow you to min-max in the first place.

This attitude always bugs me, because instead of aiming towards fixing the game (or improving a future game in the series), you are basically instead telling me to f*ck off because you just happen to be enjoying the fact that the game happens to cater to YOUR playstyle. This is where i could remind you that it might have been the other way around, and our roles could have been reversed. I'm fairly sure you wouldn't be satisfied with me telling you to go play something else then when you actually see potential for enjoyment in the game.

snip

But it isn't, and it never will be, and I'll tell you why.

To reiterate what i said above, a game shouldn't be able to be played wrong in the first place. What i mean by that is that if a game INVITES you to do something, but then makes doing that something unenjoyable/sucky (for whatever reason), then it shouldn't have invited you to do that something in the first place.

To give an analogy, it would be the equivalent of Modern Warfare inviting you to play the entire game in stealth-mode (not thinking of the stealth-missions here) as opposed to full-on warfare mode, but then make the stealth mode crappy and unenjoyable while the shooting is still fun. In that case you CAN fault Modern Warfare for it's stealth mode sucking, but you can't fault players for complaining that it sucks by just telling them to go shooter mode instead. That's why Modern Warfare was smart to avoid inviting you to play the game in stealth mode in the first place by forcing action upon you. It might give you less freedom of choice, but it makes for a more compelling experience.

Skyrim is a case of a game that invites you to play it in many different ways, but only made sure that half of them were enjoyable. And that can NEVER be the players fault. It's called spreading yourself too thin, and the game should just have avoided inviting me to play that way in the first place (or fixed the problems). The game would have been much more enjoyable if it just didn't invite to the boring half. Sometimes less is more, and constraint is good.

But since it does, we can fault it for them, but we can also suggest fixing them. A game that invites you to play in many different ways and SUCCEED in making all of them enjoyable is after all a rare gem that should be treasured.

But including a function in the game is not the same as inviting the players to take it to its logical extreme.
Modern warfare lets you use grenade launchers. Is the fact that there isn't enought grenade launcher ammunition in the game to let the tube-enthusiasts play through the game using only that? No, I wouldn't say so.

Including a system for selling items at shops is a handy tool for adventurers who play the game in the way Bethesda optimalized the experience for; it's not an invitation to go all Scrooge McDuck. I mean, sure, it's a possibility: a side effect of the freedom the game offers, but that doesn't mean Bethesda should polish that particular character path. You can do it, sure, but it won't be fulfilling. And I don't see why Bethesda should make every single possible character path fulfilling.
I don't see how Skyrim attempts to cater to min-maxers by... I don't know, including skills? And I don't see what kind of features they could include to stop the player from min-maxing so as to not give off the wrong message.

But listen: My heart really isn't in this debate, I think we agree in more ways than what it looks like from our posts and I have quite a bit of physics homework to deal with. I'd prefer it if we could just call it quits now.

Athinira:
What i mean by that is that if a game INVITES you to do something, but then makes doing that something unenjoyable/sucky (for whatever reason), then it shouldn't have invited you to do that something in the first place.

Not sure Skyrim invites players to indiscriminately pick up every item in every dungeon and trawl it back home repeatedly for hours non-stop, any more than it invites players to run into a tree.

I don't think Skyrim actively invites any manner of play, except by occasionally pushing quests in your face and making enemies hostile - it just lets you play how you like. That's the TES mantra I think, and long may it remain so.

PhantomEcho:

Athinira:
SNIP

I find that, while your argument sounds good on the surface... what you have is a fundamental difference in ideology from me. You see, I think the player is MORE THAN ABLE to be wrong. I also don't subscribe to the idea of the customer always being right. Why? Because asskissery and sucking up to whoever is the loudest opposition does absolutely NOTHING for quality.

And believe me when I say, having been around as long as I have, that Bethesda games have a LOT of vocal minorities. And unfortunately, the min-max crowd isn't really the target audience of Bethesda games. But they -let- you because the games are designed to be moddable... they're designed to let anyone who wants to put the time and effort into making the game do what they want do just that.

Are you seriously kidding me?

Pretty much any game that allows you to tweak your characters performance in detail is an open invitation to players who love min-maxing. In fact, the sheer amount of ways you can combine abilities and traits in Skyrim makes it, in my eyes, the biggest roleplaying invitation EVER to min-maxers second only to World of Warcraft. Min-maxers are VERY much Bethesdas target audience, and MANY mix-maxers bought Skyrim with the belief that it's an RPG that allows them to min-max to the extreme.

And we can min-max to the extreme, so obviously we are also the target audience. It's just that the experience doing so is way more painful than it should be.

As for the modding argument, another game that was heavily modded was Baldur's Gate, and it managed to do without leaves holes in the core gameplay the size of the ones we see in Skyrim :o)

PhantomEcho:
It has nothing to do with 'playing it wrong'. It has everything to do with attitude. You see, I can understand why someone might want to spend their time clearing out every dungeon, taking every item, selling it until every merchant is empty, and sitting on a MOUNTAIN of gold. I can dig it.

You might say that you can dig that some players will do the things you just described, but fact is that you are, at the same time, criticizing them for playing that way because in your eyes, it's not an 'appropriate way to play Skyrim'. See the hypocrisy? :o)

It's not an excuse to not design that part of the game properly. I can understand people who play Skyrim in a million different ways that i wouldn't personally play it. But fact is that it is POSSIBLE to make a game that makes every single of those million ways enjoyable to play in every aspect instead of just half of them, and therefore if you invite people to do it, you SHOULD make it enjoyable. It's not an impossible task, but as long as Bethesda didn't bother, then criticizing them for not bothering is perfectly valid.

I would have respected Bethesda if they had just gone that little extra mile and developed a few more gameplay systems in Skyrim that ensured that the rest of the playstyles they invite to were enjoyable too. In fact, the necessary tweaks aren't even that big (although it's not something we can expect the mod community to fix sadly). It's not major gameplay overhaul, it's simply quality of life improvements.

PhantomEcho:
It's fine to call us all hypocrites when you're feeling jilted... how awful it would be if they took away what we want. But if they give you ALL of what you want, then they ARE taking away what I want. And that doesn't sit well with me. Not one bit.

Wrong, wrong and wrong.

It's perfectly possible to have everything in a game, as long as it is designed well. Case in point, Metal Gear Solid 4, which introduced the game as a Third Person Shooter where you could spray bullets through the entire game and complete it. That still didn't prevent people from playing it in the stealth mode, and i completed the game just like i completed Metal Gear Solid 1 through 3: Stealth. Hitman: Blood money is also another example. Both of these games are still TREMENDIOUSLY satisfying to play through stealth, even though they made it more possible to do full-on gun combat.

Adding something to a game doesn't mean you have to subtract or ruin something else. It's perfectly possible to give Skyrim what i want, without ruining what you want.

Okay, I just beat Zelda: Spirit Tracks for the first time. As the credits rolled, the game flashed back to all the characters in the game I had met, all the people whose lives I had changed for the better... I had reunited a wife and husband, saved villagers from evil pirates, found a woman her true love, showed a child the wonder of the big city, helped a village defend itself, made one man rich beyond his wildest dreams, gave a young boy his dreams of flying, saved the business of a local fisherman, took a young explorer beneath the waves of the ocean to a forgotten temple, gave a soldier closure about the death of his best friend, and so much more... in addition to saving the world, defeating the great evil, and getting the girl.

That little game on my DS made my actions matter. The characters mattered. They all had history, personality, dreams, and a brand new future I helped create for them. The game allowed this and acknowledged my actions, rewarding me, often with treasure, sometimes just with verbal recognition.

Skyrim has very little of this. The world is big, the options are plentiful, and the gameplay compelling... but the world of Skyrim is, well, robotic. My main character feels quite unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Sure, he may slay a dragon or shout indoors or steal and get caught, but so few of my actions have any substance to them. It doesn't matter what I do; the game goes on regardless. It doesn't matter who I kill or spare, who I steal from, which factions I join, which towns I visit, which quests I do... the world, and those charactes, just go on (unless I kill them).

What's the point of freedom if there are so few repercussions for both good and bad choices?

It's not like Bethesda is any stranger to this. Look at Fallout 3; you could nuke an entire town... and it WOULD affect the game dramatically. Characters die or mutate from the radiation, resources from that location (and a potential home) are wiped off the map, and your decision is widely reported upon and acknowledged by others, either in person or over the radio broadcasts. It was a true roleplaying experience with true consequences and true repercussions.

Skyrim... as good as it is (despite all those game-ending bugs)... Skyrim just doesn't have that. I agree. It is soulless. Fun, vast, epic in scale... but "epic" is meaningless to me when the small, intimate, personal details are ignored or forgotten.

In Mass Effect 2, all my actions in the game, and the prior game, come back to reward or haunt me. There is an entirely optional moment in that game where I can help in a mini-quest to get medicine for a colony if I convince the person in charge to agree to a new contract, but she's defiant. Angry. Bitter. And as you talk to her, you find out way... she lost her lover to these people, and it destroyed her emotionally. As you talk to her, you get to the point where this "business deal" becomes something far more personal and raw, and it ends with her falling to the floor, weeping in tears, finally coming to terms with the death of her lover after so many long, hard years and agreeing to a new contract. That moment is more powerful than a hundred dragon slayings in Skyrim... and it made me feel like my character mattered, not just to a whole universe, but to these small, individual people as well.

Athinira:
SNIP

You're just talking in circles now.

You call me hypocritical in an argument which is at least as hypocritical as you claim for mine to be, all the while failing to understand the point. The point is that you're not SEEING the compromises that others, like me, have had to make to accommodate others. You only see what YOU perceive to be a flaw, and base your argument around that.

Well I see your PLAY-STYLE as being a flaw. And yet I welcome you to it.

What I don't welcome is Bethesda changing the entire structure of their game to suit you. Because you're not a majority, nor are you more important than me and folks who like to play like me. We all make compromises so that other folks can get the things they want.

But oh no! Not you!

You want a game that has it all? Make it. I've never seen one. I doubt I ever will. There's no such thing as perfection and what you want sounds like the perfect game that has everything and alienates nobody. Either that, or you really don't give a damn about what anyone else wants, and you just want a game that lets you play your way.

If its the first one, then good luck to you... because I foresee a lot of disappointment in your future. If it's the latter? Well... see my previous comment about the pissing and the off.

Metal Gear Solid 4 was a mediocre game in a long line of mediocre games that lost sight of their original demographic. It also wasn't a massive, sprawling, open-world RPG in which there were literally an infinite number of quests and objectives to perform. Sure, it gets repetitive... but there's an old saying... how's it go... "There's nothing new under the sun".

Comparing apples to oranges while making the case for 'the perfect game'... sorry... I just don't see this conversation going anywhere.

Anyhow, that's it for me folks. I've shared my opinions, now I'm off to slay some trolls before the wife gets home and takes over.

Cheers!

Jonluw:
I don't think "people who need to have all the gold in the game" is such a big subgroup of RPG gamers that Bethesda should sacrifice realism

Just a funny little tidbit: I like how you call having a carrying limit realistic in a game where you can carry a dozen pieces of armor without as much as a back pack.

Athinira:
A game that invites you to play in many different ways and SUCCEED in making all of them enjoyable is after all a rare gem that should be treasured.

"A Jack of all trades is a master of none."

I respect both of your viewpoints, I think an accurate summary would be that you have a fundamental disagreement over what this game should try to accomplish.

The Elder Scrolls series has gone the way of the jack of all trades, offering many things, but excelling in very little. This is a very justifiable choice, especially considering the mod-ability of the games. It's a compromise on many levels that delivers an extremely diverse, but ultimately hollow experience. So yes (Jonluw), the game is geared to cast a very wide net.

If TES had gone the way of the master it would have by necessity (in all likelihood) have become a far more narrow, focused game. I agree that if a game includes something, it can also be criticised on those aspects if it fails to deliver. So yes, from a mastery standpoint Skyrim fails in many ways to deliver on its promises. I think your (Athinira) criticisms are valid, but I think it's been a conscious choice on Bethesda's part.

The only way to satisfy both viewpoints would be to build a master of all trades game, but that's quite a tall order. I think Bethesda chose to go the way of the jack of all trades, and so far it's worked out well for them, and offers a lot of something for everyone. But, I do agree with the OP.

PS: just realised my wording's not exactly smooth, but I hope the content is at least legible.

I like to think characters like this one are prime targets for the Dark Brotherhood quests. They may not have any "important" connection to the world, but they're also innocent. Perfect. ;)

New game? Not perfect? Undoubtedly popular? Sensationalist topic head? Nothing new here...

People always want to complain about something popular when they think they're missing something. I think I will stick with Jims opinions, since I like it better and it relates more to my feelings towards the game.

Heck, even Yahtzee had a better experience then this guy.

Jonluw:
But including a function in the game is not the same as inviting the players to take it to its logical extreme.
Modern warfare lets you use grenade launchers. Is the fact that there isn't enought grenade launcher ammunition in the game to let the tube-enthusiasts play through the game using only that? No, I wouldn't say so.

Features/functions without limitations ARE going to be exploited by players to the logical extreme. They always will. And that is why your analogy is not appropriate, because grenade launcher ammo being limited is, ironically enough, a LIMITATION, and like i said earlier, limitations can be good. Even though there isn't infinite grenade launcher ammunition, Modern Warfare still allows you to play with it for a while, which is enough. You don't see the min-maxer complaining that there isn't infinite loot in the keep either do you? The mere fact that there is limited ammunition in Modern Warfare is in itself an appropriate limitation which only hightens the fun, because it makes the time that you actually CARRY the grenade launcher more enjoyable, knowing that you can't do it all the time.

Let me give you an appropriate example of how i would fix the min-maxing problem in Skyrim by imposing a limitation.

Imagine if the keep talked about in the original article got devoid of items after you leave it the first time. You clear out the keep, loot it, go to sell the stuff you looted, but when you come back to loot the rest, it's gone.

Not only can this limitation make sense in the context of the game (someone else looted the keep while you were gone), but it would also improve it for the min-maxers. Why? Because the goal of the min-maxer is to make the absolutely best performance with what he got, and by limiting what he got (you can only loot the keep once instead of coming back several times), you make him able to min-max faster and help him progress faster in the game without having to feel that he wasted an opportunity to min-max, and at the same time you also make him do a min-maxing consideration about which loot to bring and which loot to abandon, which further stimulates his min-maxing-mind for more enjoyment?

See how this works?

This is what I've been arguing all the time: Functions need limitations, else they aren't enjoyable. Another way to play almost every game is turn on god mode, but we can both agree that this typically isn't as enjoyable in the length.

Levethian:

Athinira:
What i mean by that is that if a game INVITES you to do something, but then makes doing that something unenjoyable/sucky (for whatever reason), then it shouldn't have invited you to do that something in the first place.

Not sure Skyrim invites players to indiscriminately pick up every item in every dungeon and trawl it back home repeatedly for hours non-stop, any more than it invites players to run into a tree.

I don't think Skyrim actively invites any manner of play, except by occasionally pushing quests in your face and making enemies hostile - it just lets you play how you like. That's the TES mantra I think, and long may it remain so.

An "invitation" is something that carries a benefit (either related to gameplay and enjoyment). Running into a tree has no benefit (unless you for some obscure reason find it funny, in which case I'd say i find you a strange human being) so there is no reason to do it.

Picking up every item in the game and selling it has a gameplay benefit for the min-maxing crowd, and since you can pick up every item and sell them, this is a direct invitation for them to do that, else they don't find themself stimulated (if they don't do it, they get the internal feeling of having missed an opportunity for more money which detracts from their experience).

btw, due to the "radiant" wild encounter system, you WILL be attacked for things you've done earlier, although to be fair most wild encounters are hostile anyway.

also, you're not really supposed to pick up everything because hell, there's a weight limit for most of the game

seriously, just put it down and don't bother, it's only like 20 gold

PUT IT DOWN

 Pages PREV 1 2 3 4 5 6 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Registered for a free account here