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Hot Topic #1: The dumbing down of Oblivion


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#1
Dark0ne

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Hot Topic #1: The dumbing down of Oblivion

This is the first of (hopefully) many semi-debates regarding the Elder Scrolls series in some way to take place here at TESSource. The idea is to encourage visitors to throw around their own ideas on the games on the forums and get some deeper conversations started. If you have something to say then get in there and chime in; no doubt the Bethesda devs are watching! On with the topic...

Many people have referenced what has come to be known as the "dumbing down" of Oblivion (from Morrowind and other ES games before it) as one of their reasons for their disappointment with Oblivion. Examples include the reduction of 38 skills in Daggerfall, to 27 in Morrowind and 21 in Oblivion (with axes being categorised as "blunt" weapons) and the removal of crossbows and darts.

Despite this many people, including myself, still thoroughly enjoy the game even in its vanilla form. My TESSource Hot Topic #1 question is this:

Is Oblivion the game you were hoping for? Do you enjoy playing it and, if you were lead developer of Bethesda, what specific, major changes would you make to the game that you think would improve it?

#2
darthdnw

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Personaly, Yes, the dumbing down was quite crude, I think that the weapon cadigorys were nice in TES3 and I was dissapointed to see them gone in TES4, I think that they should be there... Just my opinion.

#3
lollerich

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The only thing that annoyed me about Oblivion was that there were a few quests where your hand was held a bit too tight. It's clear that this and similar adjustments were made to adhere to the less enthusiastic console player crowd.
As long as such things don't get out of hand, I don't see a problem.

#4
Ginji

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The reason most devs (including Bethesda) give for 'slimmed down' content is; time and money, not enough of either. how much time and money were spent on those god-awful voice-overs? Excatly.

That time and money should have been spent on adding content to Oblivion like decapitations (but then it'd probably be an 18) . (and yes I miss the armour system from TES 3).

#5
HeavyLocust

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Oblivion is a wonderful game, and they fixed many, many gameplay problems that existed in Morrowind. The combat system in Oblivion is excellent.

However, I think that Oblivion didn't have enough unique items, or alternative for high-end armors. With Morrowind, your end-game character could be wearing several different types of armor, and could even have a cool asymmetrical look. In oblivion, you are pretty much forced to wear a full daedric or glass set (or with the shivering isles expansion and KOTN addon, Madness, Amber or crusader armor). However, much of the armor clips with others, or simply looks hideous in combination. Morrowind definitely allowed for more complex looks in the end game. Oblivion made you go for the full sets, and the look could get boring after a while.

Oblivion was also suffering in the storyline, as far a any surprise endings, or ambiguity as far as good/evil is concerned. Most of this, I know, comes from the limitations of demons issuing forth from hell. Of course Mehrunes Dagon and his minions are evil. Of course we have to stop the Oblivion Crisis. Oblivion suffered from some predictability issues, and there weren't really any dynamic characters (this was fixed a great deal in Shivering Isles). We didn't have anyone like the False Gods of Morrowind, who were men and women trying to fill the shoes of things which had become greater than themselves. Almalexia's storyline was magnificent, and that Vivec allowed that he might die by your hand was cool too.

Which brings me to another thing. Oblivion doesn't allow for quite the same "I'm bored, I think I'll kill everyone in this city." There are far too many characters who cannot die. I know this was to fix many problems that cropped up from the radiant AI, but there has to be some way around this.

However, the quests in Oblivion are much better than Morrowind's While Oblivion still had some fetch quests, you didn't have to do 20 fetch quests to raise in rank high enough to be able to do anything of great import.

Morrowind both suffered from end-game NPC worship, however...

"eex--excuse me sera, but you are the nerevarine!!!"

Although, as a musician, I was more offended by what the bards had written to praise my defeat of Mehrunes Dagon, which was ripped off of the theme from Humpty Dumpty, of all things. And terribly flat. No more singing, Bethesda--please...

However, these two games are by far my favorites of all time, at least of this genre. Other things like Civ, etc are untouchable.

#6
Rhydderch Hael

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The reason most devs (including Bethesda) give for 'slimmed down' content is; time and money, not enough of either. how much time and money were spent on those god-awful voice-overs? Excatly. ...

What, you didn't like the actors inflecting on the wrong beat because the voice director didn't give them any cues to play off of? (listen to Terrance Stamp's objections in the voice-acting portion of the documentary— he's spot-on regarding the big problem with the voice directing in the game). Or the inconsistent and sometimes incorrect pronunciations? Or voice files that missappropriate genders to certain characters because those characters were changed during development? Or the female Redguards who could not project character even if you strapped them down on a rocket sled? ;)

"Krognak gro-Brok, I'm the one who is the landsman, not you!"

An ungodly portion of the game's code ended up as voice files. I'm of the opinion they should have devoted time and disk space to something less prone to getting mucked up by circumstances in game development.

#7
Malchik

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I have made my views of Ob plain in the past. Oblivion is a fair game of its type. I enjoy it. But with the exception of the graphics it cannot possibly be viewed as an advance on MW. The main reason for this is because the content has been so drastically cut back. Without the expansions for instance MW had c.400 quests, Ob has c.180; MW had 11 factions to join (some mutually exclusive, increasing replayability) Ob has 4. MW's factions had 24-34 quests each, Ob's have 11-18. MW had 9 types of dungeon each with a specific content, Ob has 4 (plus one sewer and five ships) with largely interchangeable content. The same can be said for clothing, armour, weapons etc.

An earlier poster has referred to the quests in OB being better. Certainly the wrapping of some quests does show imagination (inside a painting, the dream world etc.) but where the escort quests in MW were the chore, in Ob it is the repetitive Oblivion gates that soon get boring. Also, if being totally objective, how many Ob quests are not dungeon crawls of one kind or another?

As for what Bethesda should look out for in future, two things bother me. Most dungeons in Ob are window dressing. Outside those used in quests there are virtually no unique items or characters to visit them for and, as the content is random, you get the same chance of finding a specific item by returning frequently to one dungeon as to visiting new ones. In MW there were several unique items dotted about the dungeons. Something like this should have been kept. Povuholo and I are working on a mod designed to correct the overall pointlessness of the dungeons but it would not have been difficult to prevent it IMO.

The other total nonsense is that the factions have no requirements on the player for becoming a member and being promoted. It is possible to become Archmage for instance without a single 'magic skill' over 5. Realism can go too far I agree but in this case it's just stupid. Remember that next time Bethesda.

Finally let's have some real choices. Make it so being in one faction prevents you joining another. This greatly increases replayability.

All I can say is thank goodness for the inventiveness of the modding community for keeping my interest in Ob alive.

#8
SickleYield

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I LOVE Oblivion's combat system - the ability to natively cast spells while armed alone is awesome. I love the graphics, too, especially on my new card. However.

I still play Morrowind too, because I miss it. The quests were better written and, if not more numerous, they certainly seemed that way. Modders had more leeway and thus created massive things like Kat's Castle and the Underground, and tools for modding were made available by the developers as well as by third parties (back before they were openly saying they don't really care about modders because we're a small market share). In Oblivion we can't even use different bodies for different races.

I liked the medium armors, the larger number of skills, and the general worldbuilding. I don't really want to play a game set in Medieval Europe, or I wouldn't be playing Elder Scrolls. Mods mostly fix that blander aspect (especially FCOM and the mods it affects), but in Morrowind it wasn't really needed (except possibly for lowering the # of cliff racers). I miss my scuttle and shalk resin, and no, I'm not that enthused about the beef/potatoes concept.

I hope eventually I will have my Oblivion install modded up to a Morrowind-like level of detail and complexity, but I'm disappointed it wasn't that way to begin with.

#9
Povuholo

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Oblivion was a nice game... For an action-adventure game, not as a RPG or when you are expecting an improvement over Morrowind.

Too much handholding. In interviews they said the green compass arrow would be used to track down npc's easily who would otherwise be too difficult to find because of the great grand A.I. system. :rolleyes:

But most of the times it's more than that. If it's someone in a cave you have to kill, who never leaves the cave, you don't need a marker. Another stupid marker: First thieves guild quest. You break into the house to steal the diary, and the other thief enters as well. Instead of having to look around like the other thief has to and making things more exciting, there was a green arrow pointing to the exact location of the diary.

I don't know about Shivering Isles since I haven't bought it yet (I don't want to use the new construction set until it's fixed properly) but this Haskil guy sounds pretty bad. I will buy it eventually.

It's the mods that keep the game interesting for me. But it's mostly my own modding that keeps me going. I'm working on a quest mod I'm working on with Malchik as he mentioned in the above post.

#10
dde521

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First of all, this is the first game I have played in the series. I have and still enjoy playing the game. I shall even go as far as to say it it the best role-playing game I have ever played. I tip my hat to the developers. If I was the lead developer, I would work on details and a bigger picture. Oh, and I would make bows more deadly. The major details would be weapons, armor, clothing, characters, better interactions with NPCs, the quilds; allowing you to not get promoted if you don't want to and just keep receiving mission. This is only meant to be constructive critizism. I really like the game and like using mods to tweak it a little to my liking. I will definetly purchase the next game in the series.




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