Oblivion: The Dagobah Cave

Oblivion: The Dagobah Cave

It reminds me of attempting to picnic on the South side of San Antonio - the Barrio. Except in this case the peaceful tranquility is not destroyed by the trunk-rattling bass of the local gang enforcers, but instead by a correspondingly high-level creature who just happens to call that field of wildflowers I'm staring at slack-jawed home.

(Click the link above for the whole story)

Sadly, i also got to this point. However, i solved it for myself by simply turning the difficulty slider down (but only a little bit, because a little bit makes a big difference). However, some people don't accept this as a solution and i still understand your point. You don't feel like the Champion of Cyrodil, the Hero who closed the gates of Oblivion itself, when you wander into a mine infested with goblins who aren't impressed and proceed to cut you to pieces.

yep, this also happened to me around the middle levels. You get your ass kicked by some bear or spriggan all the time. The difficulty curve is pretty messed up, either that or I trying to be too jack-of-all-trades with my character. Eventually I decided to concentrate on sneaking+archery, and several levels later the outdoors was no longer a problem. I didn't really see it as a game-shattering issue as much as a regular game balance issue.

However you're not really missing much if you avoid random exploration. Either my memory of Morrowind is a bit too rosy, or Oblivion feels too much like Daggerfall. Nothing much out there but boring cookie cutter dungeons. Not a lot of "woah... what is this??" type stuff you come across when you adventure randomly in Morrowind. You'll get to see plenty of those repetitive, cookie cutter dungeons in Oblivion's quests anyway.

I haven't noticed it at all...

I have a level 30 or so character and have not really had a problem with the random enemies since about level 10...

When I first read the heading of the story, I thought it was some more Downloadable Content for OB... damn, or well...

ya, the idea of scaled encounters sounds fun, but under any examination should have shown itself to be disasterous.

personally i think its a problem with levels. when you make levels, you end up level 30 at some point and things you were fighting at level 1 are trivial. you can be nakid and afk for ten minutes, but they're still trivial, since they won't have done any damage and you can come back and kick it once and its dead. trivializing content is a quick way to trivialize your entire game.

progression through leveling is the first obvious fix to appeasing the "i want to feel powerful" mentality. as you level, you feel more powerful, simple and efficient, but with horrible drawbacks (trivialization of content).
scaling encounters to your level counters that mentality. its like freezing your water to make it cold because you were too hot, then putting it in the microwave to warm it back up because it was too cold, you end up with the same problem you started with, but with wasted product.

the solution to "i want to feel powerful" is the system in GTA:SA (if only that game had the proper setting and avatar choices lol). your character is your average person in GTA:SA, they can affect their basic stats a bit (nothing jawdroppingly insane like 50 times the hp you can get in most RPGs by level 50), and get decent equipment to make them feel very powerful, but at no point can your character just stand around letting people take shots at them without gaining a trip to the hospital.

mystical leveling schemes that make you invincible to previously difficult foes is a path thats been followed because of its easy time sinks, but it really has to stop. the scaled encounters was a really bad idea that really seems like such a good idea at first glance (because it seems to solve the problem of trivialized content).

makes me think of those weird big equations that end up equaling 0. its a lot of fancy work for ending up with what would have been equivalent to a no leveling and no scaling up system.

You, my friend, simply need better enchanted equipment.

In my experience, this period of insane difficulty came between about levels 8 and 15, where the monsters had started to ramp up in power but I hadn't had a chance to get equipment to match. I used a tiny adjustment on the difficulty slider to get me through that period, but once I learned the tricks of the enchanted equipment making trade, I found myself pushing the slider in the other direction.

Don't loose hope! There are many pretty fields waiting to have their flowers plucked by your eager hands. You just need to wrap those hands in gauntlets of strength +10 first. ;)

re: Wickedshot

500% agree. I was going to come back and write something similar, but good thing somebody beat me to it. Additionally a world that changes just to accomidate Player 1 is not a world I can find convincing. If Oblivion wanted to give player 1 a sense of how "the world goes on without you", then the adaptive difficulty subverts that whole objective if the environment decides to become more painful simply because Player 1 levelled up.

What I found is that the "scaled encounters" changed how I went about the world. In Morrowind you ran at break-neck speed from place to place. The color of the textures, maybe the weather changed as you blasted through Kagouti or out ran the cliff racers on your way to the far corner of the map... twice.

In Oblivion yes, there are beautiful things to see everywhere, but they are sirens calling to your attention. You have to be on your toes all the time because there are some mean and nasty things out there. Daedra help you if you walk ass-backwards into an Oblivion gate area, let alone the odd bear.

So, instead of hitting 'Q' and taking a hike across Tamriel, you bob and weave and wend your way through some beautiful country always on the look out for the odd bear. And I think that's okay.

However, I agree with te2rx. The dungeons are not as interesting. I remember walking into caves in Morrowind that were like Xanadu, "where Elph the sacred river ran/through caverns measureless to man" and I was entranced by their varied beauty. Now, with all the secret doors and traps and particle effects and shaders... they've lost their magic. They all seem the same. The long runs are now on the interior spaces, not the exterior ones.

But definitely tweak that slider just a bit, Fletch... It makes all the difference. Just don't forget that it's okay to tweak it back in the other direction a few levels later.

There are alternatives that give the same feeling, but manage to make sense.

Like, as you get into a game, you might make enemies. If you go butcher a den of goblins then others of their kind will likely hear about it and respond in their own way. One way might be to cower any time they recognize you, begging for pity. Another way might be to harass you with ambushes at every opportunity.
So, if you were to be walking around, there's a chance you'll be ambushed, but unlike Level based encounter, you'll be dealing with sensical things that have a reason to be finding you in all sorts of places, and would be appropriate to the story and common sense (ultra powered boars that require magical weapons to kill doesn't exactly strike me as sensical). The goblins would be ambushing you, which is definably more difficult then them being stalked and killed (the most likely way a single person could clear out their den), so "appropriate to level" (though i'd prefer a lack of quantifiable level, and instead use a mix of player skill and character skills) comes into effect due to it being similar monsters as previously, but with them on the offensive and as such in a slightly more difficult scenario then you've previously shown yourself capable of.

Assaults based on your previous actions, and more difficult scenarios instead of overpowered animals to meet your level, seems like a much better method. And the whole getting loot for your level thing is weird, with it you just create a system of exponential growth on loot, which just makes treasure gain an ever increasing guarrantee (which demeans the whole joy of finding treasure and turns it into an addiction - "i need more!!! a bigger hit!!! i wont keep anything not ebony or better!!!").

Excellent concept, Wickedshot. I only worry that the "Dark Brotherhood" scenario from Morrowind would creep up, i.e. the player getting jumped every time he turns his back or takes a nap. Being stalked in the way you describe would be a thrilling aspect for a game.

One other problem that Fletcher talks about is the absurdity of swatting flies with a baseball bat and having the bat bounce off. There is also an absurdity in Oblivion to the radiant A.I. On the one hand the game's NPCs are so alive and reactive as they go about their lives. On the other hand, a dungeon is filled with 19 trolls that do laps.

My favorite dungeon in Oblivion was the Maurauder dungeon with a level or two of high-end dungeon crawlers camped out and wandering around. They had bedrolls, a fire with a table and some beers, busted crates of loot and candles. They were mining a rich dugeon, even as you were. But at the lower level was a wooden door with a brace or two against it. When broken you were confronted by a massive minotaur that the Maurauders had clearly sealed off because he was too big for them to handle. The dungeon had a point, a purpose, and the minotaur made sense. He wasn't just another bear from that South Park episode where, "They're headed right for us!" *blammo* *blammo*. And yet, the Maurauders were still just wandering around, the Minotaur was still just aggro for no reason. There was furniture and scenery in the dungeon, but the enemies were the same as all the others.

Radiant a.i. in towns is all fine and good, but the dungeons are where the game play is. Where's the radiant a.i. in your enemies? Then your magical sword has a context to do its work in.

The Dark Brotherhood scenario was a huge pain because not only was it super deadly and you seemingly did nothing to cause it, but it also gave you unlimited high grade equipment if you beat them.

The idea with using creatures you've angered is that you know you are capable of defeating them one on one at the least, and now you've gotten more difficult scenarios involving them. The frequency with which they occur would have to be tampered I'd guess, and after a certain amount they'd either scale up their numbers or give up on it and live in fear of you. At which point, if you didn't attract the attention of more powerful monsters, you'd be safe for a while. But in general, each of their assaults would be a challenge because if you avoid character levels and unbelievable hitpoint changes then they would always present atleast some challenge.

But maybe you get better equiped and more capable with your character, and goblins aren't much of a challenge if you put effort into it (just like in GTA:SA, eventually once you get used to the game you can handle situations that would have seen you dead quickly due to your inexperience previously), so you find an orc cave and plunder it, then suffer their wrath for a while. And so on.

Scaling should happen based on the terrain as well, like running around a forest might get you the attention of some wolves, but going deeper into the forest or into a cave is more likely to find you wolves and bears in greater numbers.

Another problem with level-scaling encounters is that if you are properly equiped the situation is pretty much always "you can win" and if you aren't properly built/equiped then its pretty much always "runaway you're gonna lose or at best go poor from damages." Knowing that what you come up against is going to be manageable (or conversely knowing from previous encounters that you'll get killed easily) means you won't be trying to judge this new situation to decide what you should do (theres no reason to test it if you've already determined you're "strong for your level").

About the Radiant A.I in dungeons, I thought there was atleast a bit of it (not certain how complex or prevalent it was). I remember going through some bandit caves and listening to their conversations and seeing them roam around a bit.. though I guess that pales in comparison to what some of the city dwellers do.


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