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Development Info Gamespy delves into Oblivion

Whipporowill

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Tags: Bethesda Softworks; Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

No, <a href="http://www.gamespy.com" target=_blank>Gamespy</a> isn't exactly shutting down - it's just the first online media to <a href="http://pc.gamespy.com/pc/the-elder-scrolls-iv-oblivion/558955p1.html" target=_blank>cover</a> Bethesda's upcoming The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. While the write-up in part sounds like a straight PR job, it goes into a few interesting things as "Radiant AI" - inspired by Ultima VII and The Sims. This piece in particular had me a bit astounded though:<blockquote>The problem was, Morrowind was so huge and free flowing that it turned off as many gamers as it turned on. Many of the people who started playing Morrowind stopped playing because they didn't have a specific direction or they simply got bored. Howard and the Oblivion team acknowledged the problems inherent in their previous games and are working to fix them in the new game. "That's what we want to address," Howard said. "Never let the player be bored, always be entertaining. We want to 'show you the fun,' and always be pointing you to something fun in the game, even if you don't know it's there." One of the major ways that they're doing that is by completely reworking the game's navigation and orienteering tools.</blockquote>Gee, I wonder if Bethesda <i>actually</i> understood what people meant by Morrowind suffering from "lack of direction"? Somehow I don't think most people were talking about a faulty compass. Also, being pointed to that hidden grotto instead of stumbling upon it yourself takes away half the fun...
 

kathode

Novice
Developer
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Jul 13, 2004
Messages
76
There will still be tons of stuff to stumble on, and no, the compass is not the only thing we're doing. It's mainly just trying to get away from the Big Empty feeling that people complained about in Morrowind. Less frustrating and aimless wandering around is the goal, though going off and finding things on your own is of course still an option.

You might also note that elderscrolls.com got some updates as well because I know you love us that much ;)
 

Jung

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Feb 12, 2004
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The seamy underbelly of your seamy underbelly
There was plenty of stuff in MW and finding the stuff was fun(ish), but a lack of things to do with the stuff once you aquire it is the problem. Example: There were all these machine parts lying around in some of the ruins, but I never found a puzzle to use them in or any NPC who cared.

The size of the world was not a problem for the player(not me, anyway), but rather for the developers to flesh out gameplay to fill it such a giant area. I really love the idea of having a large world to discover, but only if there is something worthwhile to find.
 

Brillo

Novice
Joined
Sep 19, 2004
Messages
47
kathode said:
There will still be tons of stuff to stumble on, and no, the compass is not the only thing we're doing. It's mainly just trying to get away from the Big Empty feeling that people complained about in Morrowind. Less frustrating and aimless wandering around is the goal, though going off and finding things on your own is of course still an option.
Personally Morrowind's feeling of emptyness for me was due to the NPC's and general randomness of a lot of the world rather than the landmass size. Good to hear there should be some unknown stuff out and about to find however. :) Hopefully there'll be something like a story to go with them...

I was curious though, whether you all could confirm what engine you're using? Something written by yourselves, or are you using the updated Gamebro engine like I've heard a few folks speculate about?
 

taks

Liturgist
Joined
Oct 31, 2003
Messages
753
Whipporowill said:
Also, being pointed to that hidden grottoe instead of stumbling upon it yourself, takes away half the fun...
well, actually, in morrowind, many people got tired of "stumbling" onto another carbon copy grotto every hundred yards or so. same shit, different day kinda feeling. "oh gee, yet another useless tomb to die in!..."

taks
 

geminito

Liturgist
Joined
Sep 24, 2003
Messages
144
I loved the "blank slate" feeling I had at the beginning when I started a new game. It's a similar feeling in The Sims and other Sim* games.

What do I want THIS character to be? He's an impoverished hedge wizard! Time to loot some soul gems and wrestle some kwama foragers! The construction set helped me to add scripts to things and houses where I thought they fit my make-pretend story for my characters. (Much like The Sims' "buy" and "build" modes.) The construction set even allowed me to start the game somewhere else. Morrowind really was what I made of it.

Besides, there was always the Main Quest to follow. And if you joined one of the guilds, they gave you many direct orders. Why did people feel so lost? My quest log filled up pretty fast.

Maybe Oblivion should have an optional leash attached to your character's neck that drags you around and a giant hand that slaps you when you do something wrong? Oh wait, that's Black & White.
 

Whipporowill

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Well, Taks - I agree with that one, as well. Initially exploration was the thing that hooked med to Morrowind, but that got old after the first 4-5 dungeons between the first two towns.

And Kathode, I guess you might have taken other steps to avoid the mentioned "lack of direction" Morrowind suffered from. I just found the reply in the Gamespy interview unsatisfactory, as to what I and many others found lacking with the games storyline - rather than not finding enough dungeons.
 

Elwro

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Divinity: Original Sin Wasteland 2
Personally, I also liked to be a tabula rasa in the beginning. I think the biggest improvement that could be done to the game in correcting one feature would be changing the internet browser-style dialogue engine. Dialogue trees+various responses to be chosen+less generic lines would be a more important thing for me to include in the new game then catering to the needs of those people who feel lost whenever they don't see a "For you next quest, go here!" signpost every 5 metres.

BTW Whip, you might like to correct the typo in the first line of the newspost.
 

Avin

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Messages
377
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brasil
i was looking at oblivion screenshots and, i don't know why, i have this strange "ultima pagan" feeling looking at wilderness... maybe the small walls... the green... i don't know... it looked absolutely good to me.

dear santa, make oblivion a HUGE success in a way they think a next elder scroll would be GREAT and couldn't afford to make FO3, selling it to troika.
 

Elwro

Arcane
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Messages
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Krakow, Poland
Divinity: Original Sin Wasteland 2
I don't see any clear mistakes. Well, maybe that it's usually "AI", not "Ai". If "the Sims" is to be a title of a game, maybe you should write it as "The Sims". I also think that you can't say "in particularly", but only "in particular". My dictionary also does not contain the word "grottoe", but only "grotto" (plural "grottoes"). The indispensability of the last coma in your newspost is also disputable. :D
 

DemonKing

Arcane
Joined
Dec 5, 2003
Messages
6,076
These are the things they need to fix for me before I buy the next ES game:

* Combat - it sucked. The variety of monsters was limited and any CRPG where you actively try to avoid combat only because it just isn't fun has a problem, IMHO.

* NPCs. I couldn't tell them apart. Whole villages seemed to be cloned to me. Also it was even hard to tell a lot of villages apart, they looked so similar.

* Dialog. Again, it sucked. I prefer the branching dialogs of the IE games to the "find the new word" ES variation.

* The endless walking back and forth - especially to that damn village in the middle of nowhere you had to visit a dozen times. If I have to go somewhere a lot, make it accessible!

* I would prefer less random/open-ended dungeons and a better main quest, although I can understand some people prefer the other extreme.

Well, I don't have high hopes as I prefer isometric CRPGs myself generally (although I am enjoying replaying Wizardry 8 at the moment) with a strong main storyline, but I'm willing to wait and see.
 

kathode

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Developer
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Jul 13, 2004
Messages
76
We've definitely gone to great lengths to improve every one of those things you've listed. The specifics will hopefully become clear in time.
 

Whipporowill

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We'll at least I'm looking forward to hearing more on the game - can't say that the stuff at Gamespy was that suprising though. Now, when you start pulling out the real stuff on the other hand...
 

Vault Dweller

Commissar, Red Star Studio
Developer
Joined
Jan 7, 2003
Messages
28,038
Howard described it this way: "It's amazing how many people played Morrowind and said (to us), 'Why is my character missing when he swings? The enemy is right there!,' or 'Why did that guy see me? I thought I was hiding.'"
That's hilarious! Listening to dumbfucks is always a good idea. Hahaha! "I thought I was hiding!" That's priceless. What is he? 5 years old?

The team is also focused on creating a world that's interesting enough that the player would want to take sides. The game's factions are much more polarized this time around and they include options as diverse as the Fighters' and Mages' Guild who are generally good, the Thieves Guild, which is generally bad, and the Dark Brotherhood, which is really evil.
Wow! Sounds really polarized! Well, joining and becoming the leader of all them really helps to put that "polarized" thing in perspective.
 

Saint_Proverbius

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Behind you.
DemonKing said:
* I would prefer less random/open-ended dungeons and a better main quest, although I can understand some people prefer the other extreme.

I'd actually prefer a little randomness to the thing. If it's as open ended as they claim it will be, then randomness actually works in favor of the game - not against it. It's like the idea of job board style guilds instead of those linear guild missions that are the same, time after time. It applies to the dungeons as well. There's only so many times you can go through a dungeon in Morrowind before it becomes a matter of, "Okay, I enter. I walk ten feet, then make a left. Open casket. Get loot. Exit room. Go forward thirty feet. Open door. Kill same monsters always in room. Open chest. Get loot. Walk through door on the right side of room. Go down stairs. Fight bigger monster. Collect special item. Leave dungeon."

It probably wouldn't be a bad idea for them to go along the lines of TES2, but do a lot more work on the random dungeon generator.

Without randomizing the dungeons, the other option is to just make them HUGE dungeons so the player doesn't have a chance to memorize them quickly and easily. However, huge dungeons get annoying very quickly because of the nature of role playing games. Fill up your sacks with the loot, then have to haul them back to sell them, then return. That gets rather old quickly. Morrowind's first dwarven dungeon is like that. You can only carry so many dwemner coins before you have to haul them back to town. Since you need the money at that time, that's what you're going to end up doing.
 

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