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Give me 10 minute quests - a GamersInfo Editorial

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Give me 10 minute quests - a GamersInfo Editorial

Editorial - posted by DarkUnderlord on Tue 19 September 2006, 05:44:56

Tags: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

There's an interesting and seemingly contradictory article up at GamersInfo.net. It's an Editorial on "open ended, epic-scale" games by a guy who hates them. While I disagree fundamentally with his conclusion, he does have some interesting points. Here are a few:

Super-Duper Cliff's Notes version -- RPG Developers: Stop creating "open ended, epic-scale" time-consuming worlds while ignoring the people that only have 10-30 minutes a night to play *and progress* in your game, i.e. the much sought-after, "casual," "mainstream" player.​
Now at this point, with its quest compass, hand-holding instructions and fast travel, I'm thinking "Oblivion was made for you!" but I'd be wrong because later...

I'm going to invoke a game here that many people may not consider an RPG, but in my opinion, had collected some of the best elements of an RPG, and combined them in a less-than-traditional RPG manner. I'm talking about Grand Theft Auto III. Personally, I put WAY more than 100 hours into that game. Yet, I put less than 17 hours into Bethesda's Oblivion before I completely lost interest. Why? What did GTA3 have that kept me coming back, while something as in-depth and engrossing as Oblivion couldn't? Simple. It had in-game distractions.​
Did you ever get the feeling that some games simply weren't made for some people? Despite that though, he does make some interesting points. Namely that "Long, open ended, epic style quests can certainly be a good thing for an RPG. As long as they are written well, and serve to draw the player into a compelling, deep, rich and satisfying game world." Oblivion certainly didn't make any attempts to draw you in with it's poorly written, less than compelling, shallow game-world.

For instance, I'm able to ride a horse in Oblivion. I can't do much else with them though. I can't fight while I'm on one. The horse can't carry any additional inventory for me. All it is, is a slightly faster, yet far less maneuverable version of walking, and a ridiculously slower version of teleporting from one known destination to another. Given the fact that in the short time I played with them, the horse always tried to wander off any time I got off of it, it's not like I was able to explore with it, then tie it up to a tree once I found a cave or ruin that I wanted to go into. Maybe I missed something with the horse, but still, Bethesda failed to make it accessible, or even make it understood that any of that could even be done.

So I ask, why couldn't I do any of those things?​
... because they blew the budget on the forest! Which is why I disagree with his conclusion. He's played it and thinks that adding in more "useless but fun things to do" will make games like Oblivion better where-as I'd say that it's all about making a compelling, interesting story that draws the player in. If you make a game that BEGS people to play it, they'll find the time. Even if that means turning up late to work or calling in sick.

So while his conclusion is fundamentally flawed, it's an interesting read.

Thanks Elwro and Dolar!

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