Is Oblivion the game you were hoping for?
My first impressions of Oblivion, left me breathless. The musical score was rousing, the vistas and the landscape's vertical scaling were awe inspiring and the individual blades of grass and the leaves on the trees rounded out the stunning graphics. I mused that Bethesda had finally created a game that would be difficult for any software house to top. However, my character had just emerged into the light, out of the prison sewer and my anticipation of the all the great things to come was at its keenest. It took about 10 hours of gameplay to finally admit to myself, that something was seriously wrong with the game. I knew my character was leveling too quickly, but it hardly seemed to matter. I knew that my character could defeat every "baddy" and villain, that she came across, and this tiny breton mage could cripple massive Ogres with her puny 10 point flame spell. As a veteran of Morrowind, I was expecting great things for this beautiful breathtaking game, but instead of a wonderful new RPG, they sold me a console shooter. That's right - a console first person shooter, done with flame spells and melee weaponry. Choices, concerning race, faction affiliation, moral alignment, and initial skill sets, all seem watered down, made irrelevant or were simply excised from the game. This was the absolute "best" part of Morrowind -- the Choices. That's why I love the RPG format and don't care so much for the FPS format. It's the choice in character development that engages me. Why would Bethesda, with their great track record of telling superb stories in the RPG format, suddenly diminish the primary attraction of the RPG - the Role Playing??? That was a helluva disappointment, ladies and gentlemen. Do you enjoy playing it.
Of course, I enjoy playing it. Who wouldn't? It's still a pleasure to watch a sunrise, from the vantage point of the mountains near Azura's Shrine. I wait there panning the horizon until all the shadows diminish and the disc of the sun clears the ridge top to the east. At moments like that, I'm actually in Cyrodiil on that narrow ridge road, gathering my thoughts and planning my future. I've done similar in "real world" locations, and except for the missing thirst, the heat, and the breeze, the emotional feeling is about the same. If you were lead developer of Bethesda, what specific, major changes would you make to the game that you think would improve it?
First, they've got to keep their best people on the bug problem. Hire a really good code troubleshooter. They can save your entire project, especially, when they come in late in the development cycle with fresh eyes and no vested interest in the "existing code". Any "Code Functions" that are enabled for the Mod community, must be "bullet proof". It looks very bad for the Bethesda code team when a scripter, using Bethesda Script Functions, can put a permanent bug in a "save game". That is absolutely shameful.
Return to core values. I believe, that Bethesda can tell a good story if they want to. The Shivering Isles expansion, tells a damn good tale and does it with humour and style and provides the occasional "dread" moment when you believe your character might get killed. Those "dread" moments, seem to be totally missing from the original release of the game, and and need to be there more often. Shivering Isles, also allows the player to make a "choice" or two in the game world. While it doesn't make much difference to the plot line, I still applaud this attempt by the writers to "sneak in" this role playing device in a development environment overseen by "console shooter" lovers and trigger finger jockeys.
The Developers could also, remind their designers, that everything that has mass on a planet also has weight. Apparently, torches, gold, and quest items are not affected by gravity, and while I'm not against zero-weight items, I need a logical explanation for it. Use the "Lore" - sell us a spell or enchantment or something. Otherwise, we'll start to believe some of the bad things they're saying about you.
The rest of this thread covers most of what I wanted to add. However, I really want the return of the "factions", "race hatreds", "religious affiliations", and all the consequence of belonging to one or none. Allowing plot-lines to be denied because of the Choices that the player makes is of primary importance to an RPG. That is the missing "soul", that is the heart of the The Elder Scrolls franchise. Please, Bethesda Developer, return to us our beloved RPG.