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An Elder Scrolls Retrospective

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the too-busy-playing-oblivion-to-read-it dept.

91

With the release of the fourth chapter in the Elder Scrolls saga last week, UGO has put together a piece looking back on the long and successful history of Bethesda's Elder Scrolls series. From the article: "Some RPGs take the restricted world premise so far that they are practically on rails. Thankfully, the team at Bethesda Softworks decided back in 1994 that that wasn't the way things would be for their series The Elder Scrolls. Now at its fourth installment, we have decided it was about time to take a look back at the series that broke the mold on what an RPG should be and that gave players the most important ability of all - the ability to choose how to play the game. So ready your horse, grab your finest set of gauntlets, and prepare to embark on a journey through the history of the series that brought the amazing world of Tamirel to life, and don't be afraid to slay an orc or two in the process."

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91 comments

<3 TES! (4, Interesting)

Southpaw018 (793465) | more than 8 years ago | (#15020994)

Morrowind was my first TES game. And I loved it. The greatest kick I got out of it wasn't even the game - it was screwing with the system and the dev kit, building my own house, doing crazy superhero-like things in game with my character, fucking with the physics and the game's backend - and, of course, playing through the storyline. It was really cool. The best part of the whole thing was the total freedom. And while I didn't follow this example, I remember seeing a quote from one of the Morrowind devs that summed up how I actually played the game (I must have gone through the main story line half a dozen times with different characters). He said something like "If you want to spend $50 on a game and create yourself an invincible sword and beat it in a few hours, that's your perrogative."

And I remember thinking YES! Someone gets it!

Re:3 TES! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15021242)

This might sound crazy, but some of us actually really like short games. Shadow of the Colossus and Prince of Persia: Sands of Time both offered maybe 10 or 12 hours of original playthrough, but WOW what a 10 hours! I can still remember every minute of each game like I played it yesterday (rather than months or years ago).

Quantity does not equal quality! I am not slamming Bethesda, from the sound of things they offer plenty of both, which is awesome; just don't damn a game for being short. Long games can be intimidating to some players because we know that we will never get the full value of the game, we just don't have that much time.

A lot of us only have a few hours a week to play, and love being able to fit a whole adventure into those short hours!

Re:3 TES! (1, Funny)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021478)

> both offered maybe 10 or 12 hours of original playthrough, but WOW what a 10 hours!

WOW being based on monthly subscription model MUST offer more than 10 hours.

Re:3 TES! (1)

ArkonChakravanti (953458) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021907)

I think that was WOW as in "WOW! That was hella cool!" not as in "World of Warcraft"

Re:3 TES! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15022437)

> I think that was WOW as in "WOW! That was hella cool!" not as in "World of Warcraft"

Or, "Wow! You really didn't get that joke!"

Step 3: Profit! (0)

Behrooz (302401) | more than 8 years ago | (#15023661)

You only need more than ten hours if you can't fool them into thinking the half-hour of actual content you created is new and different the second time they see it! Go WoW!

Step 1: Create a mechanism by which gamers can be coerced into voluntarily repeating a thirty-minute span of playtime over and over, with no additional content development required!
Step 2: ???
Step 3: PROFIT!

Re:Step 3: Profit! (2, Funny)

mconeone (765767) | more than 8 years ago | (#15023821)

Step 2: Charge a monthly fee!

Re:3 TES! (1)

Mycroft_VIII (572950) | more than 8 years ago | (#15022771)

It's not really quantity vs quality, more like open ended vs storyline on rails.
yeah a few of the dungeons and quests available are pretty run of the mill, but some are pretty interesting with good story and the kind of choices that make you want to try all the options.
    Oblivion (sofar) tilts more towards the interesting quests than Morrowind, which in turn was better than Daggerfall (with lots of very generic "go get $rand_item from $rand dongeon" and such).
    The point of the games (more and more so) is you create a character that happens to be in a position to be involved the BIG events going on, but then again you could just run for the hills, or better yet keep bussy doing whatever untill you feel ready to face up to what fate (Bethsoft) has placed at your feet (but not forced you to pick up).
    You really can play Oblivion in small pieces here and there without necessarily worring about the main quest.
    Also Morrowind and Oblivion have some pretty good modding tools out (comes with it's own disc and the moddable content pre-depacked for Morrowind, and is a 6.5MB download for Oblivion). The Modding community has done a few LOC's for Morrowind, and I have no doubt they'll do the same for Oblivion. The games are both built with modding (and expansions of course) in mind.

Mycroft

Re:3 TES! (1)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021284)

I played the last version on Xbox my own special way: serial killer. Forget the story line, that takes too much reading.

Basically I went around killing everyone. Sneak into their homes and get them from behind! YEAH!

This was easist with an archer character as you could perch yourself somewhere and fire away with impunity. I guess this was a bit of a bug. I would take 10 minutes to kill a guard. The only downside is that guards would respawn, spoiling my ability to be the last man standing in the game!

Getting a 360 on Sunday when the next shipment comes in and cannot wait to try this in Oblivion.

Re:3 TES! (1)

Mycroft_VIII (572950) | more than 8 years ago | (#15022692)

Do that in Ovlivion and next time you take a rest the Dark Brother will offer you membership, not shure if declining is an option they're prepared to accept.

Mycroft

Re:3 TES! (1)

Mycroft_VIII (572950) | more than 8 years ago | (#15022789)

gak, so thats what preview is for.
I meant Dark Brotherhood, there being more than one 'brother' in the group, just sometimes not more than one active braincell in my head when it comes to typing.

Mycroft

Re:3 TES! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15025307)

The "Dark Brotherhood" is a blatantly racist jab, a disgusting attempt by Bethesda to oppress the black man. I never thought it of such a remarkable game development firm, but when I saw an entire segment of the game dedicated to an organization of "dark brothers" who run around "getting people from behind", I was apalled.

The sheer fact that this game allows you to play a Redguard "Dark Brother" named "T.V. Swipes" is a crushing blow to the respectable African American in contemporary society.

Join my protest! Stop this vile title in its tracks!

Wine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15021001)

Would be curious to know if II or III work well through wine. Anyone have any experiences with it?

Re:Wine? (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021442)

I havn't been able to get Arena (freely available on the Elder Scrolls site) to run under Cedega.

Havn't tried II.

III works about as well under Cedega as it does under Windows (so, expect the occasional crasy). Doubt it'd run under stock Wine, though.

Re:Wine? (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021561)

so, expect the occasional crasy

Er, "crash".

Should have previewed :(

Re:Wine? (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021827)

For Arena and DaggerFall, try DosBox [sourceforge.net] . I'm pretty sure DosBox is Bethesda's preferred method of running Arena, and since DaggerFall is also a DOS game I'd start there rather than trying to get it to run under WINE (does WINE emulate Windows' DOS emulation?).

Patch up Morrowind and you shouldn't run into too many crashes (I've run into a few after multi-hour-long play sessions), but make sure you save often. No idea how it runs on Linux, so I'll take your word for it. Good luck getting Oblivion to run under WINE.

Re:Wine? (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 8 years ago | (#15023805)

The installer .exe from their site says that it's a win32 program and can't be run in dos if you try to use it in dosbox. It's been a while since I tried, I can't remember if Cedega could run the installer but not the game itself, or if it wouldn't even run the installer.

If it's the former, then one might be able to make some kind of Cedega/dosbox combo work. I don't think I ever tried that.

And yeah, my saving habit was cultivated under Morrowind. It's carried over; I save like crazy in every game I play now.

I've heard that Oblivion is topping the "we want this game to work" polls on Cedega's site. I don't have a valid subscription at the moment (I usually get the minimum 3-month one every time they have a major release, then let it lapse) so I can't verify this. I didn't think they'd be able to get Half Life 2 to work so well so quickly, but it had a similar large turnout at the "polls" and they had it running in no time, and that included all the hoops they had to jump through to get Steam working. I'd bet that Oblivion will be mostly or entirely fuctional within 6 months.

Re:Wine? (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 8 years ago | (#15024411)

The installer .exe from their site says that it's a win32 program and can't be run in dos if you try to use it in dosbox. It's been a while since I tried, I can't remember if Cedega could run the installer but not the game itself, or if it wouldn't even run the installer.

The installer executable from Bethesda is a simple self-extracting archive in RAR format. Any decompression tool that understands RAR should be able to read it (such as the shareware RAR for Linux [rarlab.com] ). It should also run just fine under WINE or the Cedega branch of WINE. The game itself is a DOS executable, which I'd be surprised if WINE/Cedega could run that.

I'd bet that Oblivion will be mostly or entirely fuctional within 6 months.

That's assuming that Oblivion is functional at all :). Bethesda as a history of ambitious but buggy games, though they're also pretty good about patching the worst problems. Of course, I don't have a machine that's beefy enough to run Oblivion, so I'm playing it on my Xbox 360 instead. Very satisfying. Much better than Morrowind was on Xbox (I ended up getting that for PC since the Xbox version was so much crap).

Re:Wine? (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 8 years ago | (#15029112)

Huh, I didn't even think about running it through unrar or unzip or anything like that.

I just checked the DosBox website; it says that Arena runs just fine. Some of the user comments make it sound like you've gotta have a monster machine to be able to emulate a fast enough box to run the game smoothly, or else be willing to have a high frameskip setting.

As for PC vs. X-box for Morrowind: man, I don't know if I could have played through the game a second time without some improved face models, which could only be used on the PC version. For a game with such beautiful landscapes, it had some damn ugly (as in "poorly made", not "whoa, that person fell out of the 'ugly' tree and hit every branch on the way down") NPC faces :(

Re:Wine? (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 8 years ago | (#15029854)

I just checked the DosBox website; it says that Arena runs just fine. Some of the user comments make it sound like you've gotta have a monster machine to be able to emulate a fast enough box to run the game smoothly, or else be willing to have a high frameskip setting.

I can believe that. DosBox is about up to 1994-96 level of speed for games. Daggerfall pretty much maxes it out, while Arena should be playable (maybe adjust the in-game detail slider a bit). I went ahead and set up Arena last night on my laptop (1.7GHz P4m) and it was a little chunky. Raising the cpu cycles beyond 15,000 didn't really do anything for me, as I believe I was maxing out my processor already. I'll have to try it again while watching CPU usage. I didn't play too long on the game, as it's pretty bad with a trackpad. For now, I'm having too much fun playing Oblivion, but at some point I'll go back and finish up Morrowind, and play some of Arena just for history's sake.

(Note: I'm doing this on Windows. DosBox should be just as stable under Linux, but may have better or worse performance depending on the underlying OS and display mode. For example, I choose to use OpenGL as DosBox's display mode. If I was running linux on this laptop, I wouldn't be able to get OpenGL accelerated and would suffer for that even though the game itself doesn't use 3D acceleration.)

Re:Wine? (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 8 years ago | (#15031240)

For example, I choose to use OpenGL as DosBox's display mode. If I was running linux on this laptop, I wouldn't be able to get OpenGL accelerated and would suffer for that even though the game itself doesn't use 3D acceleration.

Why not? No 3D drivers for your graphics set? Just curious.

Re:Wine? (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 8 years ago | (#15031359)

Why not? No 3D drivers for your graphics set? Just curious.

Actually, I haven't even tried. It's an ATI x300 mobile chipset, which I guess might work with ATI's opengl drivers. I should've said more along the lines of, "OpenGL acceleration would be less-performant than on Windows," given that ATI's drivers generally perform worse on Linux than on Windows (compared to nVidia's, which perform the same or better). That's a problem with ATI and not Linux, and was only meant to be an example of how DosBox may perform differently on different operating systems even though it's the same underlying code and hardware.

Re:Wine? (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 8 years ago | (#15031478)

Actually, I haven't even tried. It's an ATI x300 mobile chipset, which I guess might work with ATI's opengl drivers. I should've said more along the lines of, "OpenGL acceleration would be less-performant than on Windows," given that ATI's drivers generally perform worse on Linux than on Windows (compared to nVidia's, which perform the same or better).

Yeah, I've used 'em, and the ATI drivers are pretty much crap. They're way, way better than nothing at all, but they still suck. They're about as bad as ATI's Windows drivers from 5 or 6 years ago, except that they're bad for different reasons than those were :)

That's a problem with ATI and not Linux, and was only meant to be an example of how DosBox may perform differently on different operating systems even though it's the same underlying code and hardware.

OK, cool, I was just wondering.

Re:Wine? (1)

idonthack (883680) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021974)

Morrowind works under Cedega? Awesome. I was told it didn't. I'm installing now though :D

Re:Wine? (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 8 years ago | (#15023771)

Yeah, I played it under Cedega over a year ago. I assume it works with newer releases.

I hate that line... (-1, Flamebait)

DesireCampbell (923687) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021019)

"Broke the mold on what an RPG should be." I hate talk like that. I say to you the same thing I say to everyone who said 'Harry Potter' was imaginative: "Dungeons and Dragons, 1974. You may have heard of it."

Re:I hate that line... (2, Insightful)

9mm Censor (705379) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021033)

Its in reference to video games. Video game RPGs specificically. For that Genre TES did break the mold.

Re:I hate that line... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15021500)

Watch out, Elder Scrolls geeks are very protective of their little time-waster!

Re:I hate that line... (0, Troll)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 8 years ago | (#15023263)

D&D is boring, though, and frankly, it can really only be played with people I don't wanna be around.

Sorry for the bluny opinion. I'm sure someone will mod it -1, Unpopular Amongst the Unpopular.

Re:I hate that line... (1)

DesireCampbell (923687) | more than 8 years ago | (#15023335)

I think they'll mod it 'flamebait' and mod you 'stupid, ignorant, and a hoodlum'.

Thanks you, and good night.

Re:I hate that line... (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 8 years ago | (#15026761)

You were close, it caught a 'Troll' mod. Troll, of course, means exactly as I stated: Unpopular Amongst the Unpopular. It's the nature of this site, populated as it is by traditional 'losers,' as it were, to have the people band together into a sort of groupthink where any opinion that doesn't meet mass approval be suppressed. This is the basic problem with human interaction. It's a nonstop feedback loop that merely reinforces previously held ideas. After all, in no way could someone not like playing D&D, right?

I am, however, neither stupid, ignorant, nor a hoodlum, despite your desire to dismiss me as such. Don't worry, it's natural for people to be unable to overcome such base instincts as you have - that is, to violently ignore those whom with which we disagree.

Re:I hate that line... (1)

DesireCampbell (923687) | more than 8 years ago | (#15027401)

The problem isn't with us - it's with you.

"D&D is boring, though, and frankly, it can really only be played with people I don't wanna be around"

You didn't say "I find D&D boring because I'm rather anti-social and refuse to try new things." That would've been alright. You could've said "I have no one to play with, so my interest in D&D has wained." That would've garnered our support and sympathy. Saying something like those would have shown your statement was 'opinion' and thus cannot be disagreed with.

But you said "D&D is boring, though, and frankly, it can really only be played with people I don't wanna be around". You stated "D&D is boring" like it was 'fact' - not 'opinion', 'fact'. Stating false facts are tantamount to treason with the 'unpopular'.

For something to be 'fact' you must state it and back it up with reasoning. Then that reasoning can be evaluated and discussed. The point is to create a "nonstop feedback loop" that doesn't "merely reinforces previously held ideas" but instead looks the truth.

You do not understand the basic principles of the English language. Ignorant and stupid people do not understand things. You said things to obviously incite hostility. Hoodlums try to incite hostility.

You are and ignorant, stupid hoodlum.

Re:I hate that line... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15029119)

Just because it wasn't marked flamebait doesn't mean you should still fall for it.

Is it a continuing story? (1)

Tofino (628530) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021054)

Is the Elder Scrolls story an epic saga that continues through all the sequels, or is each game completely stand-alone? Obviously the "same world" is used, unlike, say, the Final Fantasy series, but do the storylines of the previous "episodes" affect the new games?

Re:Is it a continuing story? (4, Informative)

corrosive_nf (744601) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021106)

No, you get references to each past game but they dont affect the current game. Like in oblivion you are told that slavery was ended in the province that morrowind was in, but other than that....

Re:Is it a continuing story? (5, Informative)

masklinn (823351) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021275)

Each game stands by itself, but every installment has an impact on the following games (mostly in books, sometimes in quests that are somewhat related to what happened in the past).

Oblivion, for example, has a lot of references to Daggerfall's storyline. But having played daggerfall isn't a requirement, because the Daggerfall events have become part of Tamriel's history. In a word, when you play oblivion you might realize that some books are talking about what happened to you while you were playing Daggerfall, Arena or Morrowind, but if you haven't played them then it's still part of the world's history, it's just slightly personal. You don't feel like you lost anything though, because you don't actually know that it was part of a game's previous plotline.

You couldn't say that it's an epic saga, because you don't impersonate twice the same characters, and your characters aren't related, but the world is truly the same and coherent, and the what happened in the previous games stays part of the current game's history.

The Lore is part of what makes the Elder Scrolls so amazing. These are the only games in which people try to collect and read every single book just for the sake of knowing Tamriel's Lore.

Re:Is it a continuing story? (1)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021381)

What the hell are you talking about?
There was more to Dagerfall than the 4th door on the left in the second dungeon?

I thought the resulting clipping was a funny way of displaying the credits!

The whole game took maybe 35 minutes to get to that door and complete...

Re:Is it a continuing story? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15031166)

There are references in Morrorwind that mention the events and the pc (mysterious stranger) from arena. I've also seen references to battlespire. I suspect some of the mentions of redguard are references to redguard, but I haven't played that game. So far, Redguard and Oblivion are the only two I haven't played.

I've liked them all, but everything from before morrorwind looks like pixelated junk by todays standards. If you want to try out Arena, go to Bethesda Software's web site, they have it for free download.

Daggerfall stank (3, Insightful)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021095)

Sadly, while Morrowind and so far Oblivion have been filled with goodness (I'm working on an Oblivion quest wiki in my meager spare time), Daggerfall was - blech. Crashes, needed patches, the whole "randomizing" dungeons just made it too hard to go anywhere and know what the hell was going on - and the map system was this 3d thing of horror. Towns were full of people, most of whom were just empty bodies, and there was hardly any way of keeping track of quests.

Luckily, they learned from their mistakes - the only thing I need in Oblivion to make it "near perfect" is the ability to write notes on the map and in the journal myself, like "to do: check out that little island at location X".

Re:Daggerfall stank (2, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021128)

> Sadly, while Morrowind and so far Oblivion have been filled with goodness (I'm working on an Oblivion quest wiki in my meager spare time), Daggerfall was - blech. Crashes, needed patches, the whole "randomizing" dungeons just made it too hard to go anywhere and know what the hell was going on - and the map system was this 3d thing of horror. Towns were full of people, most of whom were just empty bodies, and there was hardly any way of keeping track of quests.

In other words, it's like a MMORPG. But not as buggy. And with more content. And the only reasons the NPCs failed the Turing Test was because they had better language skills and personalities.

Yeah, I felt that way too when I played Oblivion after WoW.

Re:Daggerfall stank (1)

tengennewseditor (949731) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021155)

Daggerfall was just way too ambitious, it was unplayable due to bugs and the random dungeons. But that ambition is what makes the TES series great, it just can't necessarily work every time. Daggerfall was even _more_ ambitious than Morrowind or Oblivion, it tested the limits of what you could do with an open ended RPG and made the last two in the series possible.

Re:Daggerfall stank (1)

EvilIdler (21087) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021194)

Oblivion is near-perfect. Shift-click the map to make note.

Re:Daggerfall stank (1)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021223)

Damn it - now I feel like a friggin' moron.

Thanks!

Re:Daggerfall stank (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021304)

You feel like a moron because you didn't think to shift click on the map? Shift clicking doesn't do anything, else, so why would you have thought to try it? It's not your fault the interface is so poorly designed.

Re:Daggerfall stank (1)

masklinn (823351) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021430)

Actually shift-clicking is also used to drop an item that you have in your inventory. That, or click&hold (no, you can't just click&drop out of you inventory, doesn't work).

Re:Daggerfall stank (1)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021468)

Shift-clicking on item drops it.
I wonder if shift-clicking on a spell deletes it, I wouldn't be surprised.

Re:Daggerfall stank (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15023694)

I hate to say it, but you're doing a Wiki on Oblivion, but you didn't even RTFM? jeez =P

Re:Daggerfall stank (2, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021286)

Now all it needs is a way to resize the map, zoom in and out on the map, have the map on the game screen, allow you to drag items out of your inventory without closing the menu, get to your inventory from anywhere with a single button, drop things without having to close and re-open the menu several times because you happen to be standing close to something, have tool-tips or some easy way to figure out what on-screen status icons stand for, not say 'Loading Area...' every six seconds in huge-ass text, have font sizes that scale with resolution, allow you to haggle in shops without 4 clicks and a dialog between every attempt, select all items in a stack by holding shift, select one item in a stack by holding control, converse and persuade people without having them repeat the same four annoying lines over and over again, have a conversation history on screen while you're talking to somebody, and... [gasp for air]... Oh, hell. Just give me the Morrowind user interface back please.

The Oblivion interface is remarkably deficient. It's as far from perfect as it can get without crashing (and it does that sometimes too. Don't hit shift too many times in a row.)

Re:Daggerfall stank (2, Insightful)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021454)

All in mods to come or already present.

> Now all it needs is a way to resize the map, zoom in and out on the map

UI improvement mod, already present remedies some problems by making visible area of the map WAY bigger.

> get to your inventory from anywhere with a single button,

F2.
Get to your stats, inventory, spellbook and map with F1-F4 (Read the Release Notes goddamnit!)

>drop things without having to close and re-open the menu several times

Shift-click.

"Loading" sign removal mod available already.

Haggling is way better than in Morrowind where you had to haggle over every single item. Here you set "haggle level" per shopkeeper.

> Don't hit shift too many times in a row.

Hit shift 5 times in a row WITHOUT Oblivion running (just plain windows) then disable that junk that pops up and shot the designer at M$ who invented it.

Re:Daggerfall stank (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 8 years ago | (#15032191)

Haggling is way better than in Morrowind where you had to haggle over every single item. Here you set "haggle level" per shopkeeper.

You don't have to haggle for every item in Morrowind. You can select a ton of different items to buy and sell, and then haggle over the entire deal in one go. I just started playing Morrowing and this was the first thing I figured out.

Re:Daggerfall stank (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15045782)

Haggling is way better than in Morrowind where you had to haggle over every single item. Here you set "haggle level" per shopkeeper.

That's not how Morrowind worked though... You picked all the stuff you wanted to sell, and then you haggled over the whole lot. And the haggling was all done on the same screen with two clicks.

The 'haggle level' method is dumb, and the selling of items individually instead of being able to do it in one lot is stupid (and annoying from a voice-acting perspective).

Re:Daggerfall stank (2, Informative)

masklinn (823351) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021464)

Now all it needs is a way to resize the map

There is already an interface mod that (among others, like making fonts smaller and displaying 12 items/page instead of 6) gives you a much larger map (map basically takes the whole screen). Not resizable though.

allow you to drag items out of your inventory without closing the menu

shift+click item

get to your inventory from anywhere with a single button

F2. F1 to access stats, F2 for inventory, F3 for spells and F4 for map & journal.

drop things without having to close and re-open the menu several times because you happen to be standing close to something

shift-click item takes care of the dropping, it always works.

have tool-tips or some easy way to figure out what on-screen status icons stand for

Just read the manual, they're all there on like a single page.

not say 'Loading Area...' every six seconds in huge-ass text

There are already, like, 3 mods for that.

have font sizes that scale with resolution

Agree, but there are already directions to get smaller fonts, which is a first step.

allow you to haggle in shops without 4 clicks and a dialog between every attempt

Agree here.

Just give me the Morrowind user interface back please.

hehe. Quite a lot of people (probably rightfully) feel that way. Oblivion's interface is way too console-oriented :/

Re:Daggerfall stank (1)

snuf23 (182335) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021914)

"Oblivion's interface is way too console-oriented"

I agree, in fact that's one reason I'm still debating whether to buy it. While you mention some good fixes, the interface feels like it was built for Xbox first and not rebuilt for PC. Compared to the MMOs I've been playing recently it leaves a lot to be desired.
My friend's copy also seems to crash to the desktop from time to time. Maybe I'll wait for the patching to start before I tackle the game.

Re:Daggerfall stank (1)

masklinn (823351) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021992)

I agree, in fact that's one reason I'm still debating whether to buy it. While you mention some good fixes, the interface feels like it was built for Xbox first and not rebuilt for PC. Compared to the MMOs I've been playing recently it leaves a lot to be desired.

Interface mods are already starting to tackle the issue, quite a lot of people have fond memories of the Morrowind interface and we should get a much better and much more PC-oriented interface in a month or so. Unless Bethesda does it's homeworks and re-does the interface from scratch in the first patch, that is

My friend's copy also seems to crash to the desktop from time to time.

Happens to me too. Annoying, forces you to quick-save extremely often.

Oh well...

Maybe I'll wait for the patching to start before I tackle the game.

That's a very good idea if you're not a hardcore Elder Scrolls fan (if you were, you'd already have your Oblivion copy, so you ain't)

Re:Daggerfall stank (1)

toleraen (831634) | more than 8 years ago | (#15023734)

I've logged 36 hours (at least that's the played time on /save), and haven't had a single crash. This includes (probably obviously) 6+ hour sessions. Damn this game is awesome! That said, there are some bugs that need fixing, but nothing like Daggerfall had.

Also, I haven't really noticed the "console" feeling of navigating through menus. I actually would think it'd be very annoying on a console.

Re:Daggerfall stank (1)

snuf23 (182335) | more than 8 years ago | (#15029826)

The crash problem may be specific to video card or needed updated drivers. Not my computer, so I didn't get a chance to try to fix it. A couple reviews I read noted that crashing to the desktop was a problem - probably specific to particular hardware I think.

I guess I'm just used to being able to bring up inventory and map information in windows on the main screen (ala World of Warcraft or Everquest 2). The font size on the interface screen also seems really big (as in for easy viewing on a tv) even though my res is set to 1280x1024.

Re:Daggerfall stank (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15022948)

There is already an interface mod that (among others, like making fonts smaller and displaying 12 items/page instead of 6) gives you a much larger map (map basically takes the whole screen). Not resizable though.

I've seen that particular mod, and it seems sketchy.. It also is an all or nothing deal.

not say 'Loading Area...' every six seconds in huge-ass text

There are already, like, 3 mods for that.


And it kicks ass. Thanks.

Still... Morrowind worked the way you'd expect. You didn't need to know any tricks because the way you interact with just about every other PC everything was the way you interacted with the game. You shouldn't have to read the release notes to figure out how to play... And F[1-4]? What the hell? Is this a Sierra game from 1988? Why do they insist on me moving my hand when there are already plenty of useful but unmapped keys near my fingers already? And why not do whay, oh, every other PC game does and let me map those keys myself... Or even let me map them to a mouse button?

It's a great game, and I've played it for many hours already, but it doesn't live up to it's predecessor. As far as I'm concerned they could just make a whole new batch of content for that engine, perhaps with some updated textures, and I'd be happy for another 300 hours.

As an aside... Morrowind had official add-ons within days after release, but not so for Oblivion. I wonder if this is because they want to cater to those anti-competitive bastards at Microsoft who are bribing them to keep both versions the same...

Re:Daggerfall stank (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15023766)

You shouldn't have to read the release notes to figure out how to play...

Are you honestly suggesting you shouldn't have to RTFM to know how to properly use something you've never used before?

Here's a hint. There's a reason the game comes with a manual. Not just an install guide that most games come with these days.

Re:Daggerfall stank (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15025637)

Ok, first of all, I dug out the manual and double checked just now because I did read it before, and F1-4 aren't even documented in there. Only F5 and F9. Same goes for most of the other "shortcuts" listed in this thread.

Second, yes. I'm suggesting that an immersive game world that austensably contains a built in tutorial should have a user interface that stays out of the way so much that you shouldn't need a manual to figure out how to play it. Other games manage it. Morrowind managed it. So yes. You shouldn't have to RTFM.

Not just an install guide that most games come with these days.

That's a joke, right? Have you seen what's been happening to game manuals for all but the most complex of games lately?

Re:Daggerfall stank (1)

balthan (130165) | more than 8 years ago | (#15022075)

I agree that the Morrowind interface was better.

And they way the implimented level scaling stinks, too.

Re:Daggerfall stank (2, Insightful)

masklinn (823351) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021359)

Oblivion still has quite a lot of room to improve, and some parts of it are actually worse than Morrowind.

  • The leve system should've been dropped a long time ago. It doesn't really make sense anyway, just grow the stats from the attributes. And because of the redesign, to get the ability to improve the statistics you need enough to not make the game too hard (especially if you're a magicka-oriented character) you have to make primary skills the skills you will NOT use. That is annoying.
  • The interface is much worse than Morrowind for a computer user. It's good for console, it's not too bad for a computer (except that it's far too big, the font is frigging huge and stuff), but Morrowind's was mostly better
  • Water was better in morrowind. Strange, but quite a few people feel like that, it felt more natural (if you had a card handling shaders that is)
  • In Oblivion, the ennemies level with you. So do the merchants (most of what they could sell is locked, they sell only a selection that is considered "interresting" for your current level). This completely breaks the immersion.
  • So does the fact that Oblivion's dungeons respawn. It's probably due to a limited save size on Xboxes, but it's still extremely annoying.
  • Seems like they removed the levitation thingie.
  • Fast travel is idiotic.
  • You could probably find a lot more, but that's a basic list of my own gripes with Oblivion.

    In a word, Oblivion is real good, but still not enough to be called "near-perfect". By far. For a PC game that is, for consoles it doesn't have any contender anyway.

I'd mod you up if I could (1)

DoctaWatson (38667) | more than 8 years ago | (#15023252)

You summarized what are my (and presumably many others') main problems with Oblivion. It's a fantastic game, but in many ways seems like several steps backwards from Morrowind.

Re:Daggerfall stank (2, Interesting)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15024311)

# The leve system should've been dropped a long time ago. It doesn't really make sense anyway, just grow the stats from the attributes. And because of the redesign, to get the ability to improve the statistics you need enough to not make the game too hard (especially if you're a magicka-oriented character) you have to make primary skills the skills you will NOT use. That is annoying.

Or not trying to game the system and just follow on with the standard skills you're going to use most as 'majors', then playing the level of difficulty the authors intended, making the game as challenging as it should be.

# The interface is much worse than Morrowind for a computer user. It's good for console, it's not too bad for a computer (except that it's far too big, the font is frigging huge and stuff), but Morrowind's was mostly better

The mods are on the way :)

# Water was better in morrowind. Strange, but quite a few people feel like that, it felt more natural (if you had a card handling shaders that is)

heh. Nope. This one feels more natural. MW was more shiny and beautiful, beyond reason. Go visit some RL lake and see for yourself. It's common WATER for god's sake, not quicksilver or some odd polymer stuff.

# In Oblivion, the ennemies level with you. So do the merchants (most of what they could sell is locked, they sell only a selection that is considered "interresting" for your current level). This completely breaks the immersion.

Merchants - *shrug*. Enemies - uh well, keeps the game challenging :) Think of it as 'they level with time', the Oblivion gates open, more powerful enemies appear.

# Seems like they removed the levitation thingie.

Yeah, sucks. What about Icarian Flight stuff? Jumping really high etc?

# Fast travel is idiotic.

Never used it yet :)

Re:Daggerfall stank (1)

Hellsbells (231588) | more than 8 years ago | (#15031693)

# In Oblivion, the ennemies level with you... completely breaks the immersion.

Merchants - *shrug*. Enemies - uh well, keeps the game challenging :) Think of it as 'they level with time', the Oblivion gates open, more powerful enemies appear.


I don't know about this. My level 3 character just wandered into a dungeon and took out a vampire matriarch with a silver dagger. In Morrowind, I would have had the snot beaten out of me.

It seems kind of pointless to scale all your battles, so that you know your character can take on pretty much everything. What's the point of leveling then if you can beat a lot of the stronger monsters in the game as you start out?

Re:Daggerfall stank (1)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021697)

Side note - that just lets you place a marker - you can't actually write anything.

Re:Daggerfall stank (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15054812)

Shift clicking the map puts a marker there. Putting a marker anywhere else removes the previous marker. That's a far cry from leaving notes anywhere you'd like on the map, which you could do in Morrowind with as much text as you'd like so you could read it at any time in the future, and was clearly what the parent poster was talking about.

Things like "I've already been in there"...

At least the world in Oblivion is pathetically tiny when compared to Morrowind, so you're less likely to forget a place without a marker... if that's any consolation anyway.

The more I play Oblivion, the more I wish it was Morrowind. It's so far inferior... Luckily Morrowind was excelent, so Oblivion can be inferior and still be fun.

other games (4, Informative)

MoreNoiseThanSignal (916548) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021125)

Just in case anyone is interested there are 2 other non-RPG TES games:
battlespire [avault.com]
Redguard [bethsoft.com]

I stil maintain that daggerfall was the best, barring it's incredibly nasty habit of eating your saved games every 10 minutes or so. I really liked the ability to buy horses with wagons, houses, and boats (I haven't played Oblivion yet so I'm not sure if they brought those features back).

Re:other games (1)

Bwerf (106435) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021346)

Dunno about the rest, but you can buy houses and horses at least in Oblivion.

Re:other games (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021350)

I really liked the ability to buy horses with wagons, houses, and boats (I haven't played Oblivion yet so I'm not sure if they brought those features back).

Horses are back, though without wagons, but the fast travel feature makes them pretty much redundant. Houses are also back, though there are only one or two available to purchase per town (unlike a game like Fable, where you could kill the current owner of a house and it would come on the market and rent it out -- the Oblivion houses are more analogous to Fable's "newlywed" houses). Ships aren't purchaseable or sailable. But then, I haven't played Daggerfall (yeah, I know, I suck), so I don't know exactly how these features were implemented there.

Re:other games (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021377)

TFA includes Battlespire and Redguard.

And Battlespire is an RPG, but in the dungeoncrawl model rather than the open model of the other Bethesda RPGs.

Re:other games (1)

MoreNoiseThanSignal (916548) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021403)

Yeah, for some reason I didn't see those in the game listing when I first started going through the article.
note to self: read, then post.

Re:other games (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15025581)

Though a little extra exposure for people who don't read TFA never hurts...

So ready your purse (3, Funny)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021352)

So ready your horse, grab your finest set of gauntlets, and get the newest super-mega gfx card.
The gfx is wonderful, the idea great, the execution of the idea neat, but I'm completely dizzy from riding the horse really fast through the forest during storm at 3 frames per second.

First Time playing TES... and loving it (4, Interesting)

9mm Censor (705379) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021393)

Oblivion is the first time I have played a TES game. Being someone who loves FPS (hardcore UT and Battlefield player), it takes some thing special for me to play something that doesn't have quad damage and a rocket launcher. I can count the number for non FPSers I own in two hands. A need for speed game that I bought when I got my first car (which I played breifly and haven't touched since) and Oblivion. Having put 30 hours into one character, mostly in 6 hour spurts after work, I am hooked. Who would have though bows and arrows were as cool as rocket launchers?

Re:First Time playing TES... and loving it (1)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021588)

Bow and arrows are about as fun as a sniper rifle. Get some kickass spells through spellmaking and these are as fun as rocket launcher.

I'm not sure if in Oblivion you can do it but in MW you could make a ranged wide radius fire damage spell. Kaboom! I love nuclear weapons! :D Beats Redeemer from UT, all BFGs from all Quakes and is -somewhat- comparable to the explosion at the very end of Half-Life 2 :)

Re:First Time playing TES... and loving it (1)

Ayaress (662020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15029080)

I was bored one time, made a spell that was stacked something like this:

100 Fire Damage On Target, Radius: 100
100 Frost Damage on Targe, Radius: 100
100 Thunder Damage on Target, Radius: 100
100 Poison Damage on Target, Radius: 100

Doubled over (You're allowed eight effects per spell). I should have called it "Oops" because the only time I cast it (and it took a good few Fortify Magicka potions just to get the mana pool to manage it), I broke the main quest and several faction chains in one blast.

Re:First Time playing TES... and loving it (1)

MMaestro (585010) | more than 8 years ago | (#15024107)

it takes some thing special for me to play something that doesn't have quad damage and a rocket launcher.

Or you could simply find some trick (or simply create a mod using the insanely easy to use content creator) and create a super enchanted weapon that could kill anything in an area the size of a small town in one shot using the in game weapon Enchanting. It was so bad in the previous game, Morrowind, people figured out how to essentially give themselves god mode without leaving town, leveling up or cheating/modding all in game.

Heck, people even figured out how to do a speed run through Morrowind in under 10 minutes. You can be INSANELY powerful if you know what to do, how to do it and when to do it in any of the TES games.

Re:First Time playing TES... and loving it (1)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15024260)

> Or you could simply find some trick (or simply create a mod using the insanely easy to use content creator) and create a super enchanted weapon that could kill anything in an area the size of a small town in one shot using the in game weapon Enchanting.

That's no trick. That's the standard gameplay experience! (yeah, scary!)

> It was so bad in the previous game, Morrowind, people figured out how to essentially give themselves god mode without leaving town, leveling up or cheating/modding all in game.

Wasn't so much of a god mode but possibly an omission, the problem is that stats stored in int normally ranging from 0 to 100 were REALLY stored in int, with upper bound somewhere around 2000000000 and could be boosted indefinitely (if temporarily) with easy to make potions. So while normal person has 30 strength, a good warrior 60, a master overlord 90, you'd easily boost your strength to 3000, kill anything with one hit (and break every weapon in that single hit. Carry LOTS of swords with you, with your weight capacity no problem. Oh, and of course boosting INT, brain the size of Universe ;)

> Heck, people even figured out how to do a speed run through Morrowind in under 10 minutes. You can be INSANELY powerful if you know what to do, how to do it and when to do it in any of the TES games.

Look for the new speed run, about 6 minutes total and a completely different route without exploiting the potions trick. (most of time the guy of the 10min run spent was making potions and buying ingredients.)
Here the player is using the 'new exciting' ways of travel through Scrolls of Icarian Flights (Fortify Acrobatics [jumping] 1000 for 3s) and Boots of Blinding Speed (Speed +200, Blind 100%).
Or, well, don't look. The guy is wearing the boots most of the time. Not much to be seen in the movie.

Re:First Time playing TES... and loving it (1)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | more than 8 years ago | (#15026576)

I also love the bow and arrow. Just the fact that the arrow takes time to get to the target and falls to the earth as it goes makes aiming really fun. Lead the target and aim high... adds a bit of challenge, which makes hitting a crit shot from the edge of sight radius really special. Now I'm waiting for an FPS that uses bows and arrows.

Restricted RPGs (1)

PaganRitual (551879) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021525)

Some RPGs take the restricted world premise so far that they are practically on rails.

Yeah, they are more commonly called 'Console RPGs'.

Re:Restricted RPGs (1)

theStig (960440) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021957)

that's too kind! I was thinking "choose your own adventure" storybook!

Re:Restricted RPGs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15027666)

I'm sorry, but that's just erroneous. There are non-linear RPGs on consoles, but it's just the sad fact that the majority are Japanese "RPGs." The Japanese things passing themselves off as RPGs thanks to levelling up and fantasy elements are not, in fact, RPGs. At least, they're no more role-playing games than God of War or Halo. RPG indicates that you get to play a role and control the character's development and affect the gameworld or outcome, and to that end, there are RPGs on consoles that are true RPGs (or as close as videogames can get) that don't follow the simplistic, battle-simulator role that the Japanese RPG series' use.

Bottom line - Don't point your finger at console RPGs in general when you're most likely thinking about that very specific, cannibalistic subset.

prison.. again? (1)

theStig (960440) | more than 8 years ago | (#15021895)

I've missed daggerfall but have played the others.. is it me or are you always a criminal in the beginning of the game??? I was experiencing some MAJOR deja-vu in the beginning of Oblivion in the dungeon.

Re:prison.. again? (1)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15022198)

You should play Planescape: Torment sometime. There, you start in a morgue. A very creepy one, at that.

Re:prison.. again? (1)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15024320)

It's not Deja Vu, it's a TRADITION! :D

(Yeah, Arena was there by design. Daggerfall started with you getting imprisoned too, for a decent tutorial dungeon. With Morrowind they made it a prison ship just for laughts. With Oblivion they decided not to break the tradition.)

Re:prison.. again? (1)

Elshar (232380) | more than 8 years ago | (#15068379)

In daggerfall, you don't start out as a criminal. You're set on a mission by the emperor, and your boat crashes during a storm. You start the game just waking up from it in Privateer's Cove with your ship destroyed.

Hats off to Daggerfall! (1)

Guuge (719028) | more than 8 years ago | (#15022641)

Some of those new innovative features attributed to Morrowind actually have their roots in Daggerfall. In particular, vampirism and lycanthropy in Morrowind are based on nearly identical features in Daggerfall. Morrowind is the impressive engineering feat while Daggerfall is the inspirational work of creative genius. Hats off to Daggerfall!

TES (2, Insightful)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 8 years ago | (#15022887)

Daggerfall is still the most ambitious of all of their titles. I played through the game, then went back to look at some of the spoilers for it, and... WOW. There's a gajillion things you can do in the game that I hadn't even touched upon. Not only could you become a vampire, but they had 12 different clans of vampires, with different abilities, inter-clan politics. The most detailed character generator yet, which just played up to the powergamer in me (fear of animals flaw FTW). Werewolves. Unique Artifacts. Quests for different religions, guilds, etc. A crazy awesome magic item creation system (My top gear only worked during the full moon, to keep costs low. I spent a lot of time sleeping.)

And I thought that my flying horse was pretty cool.

Sure, they used a "dynamic map" system of pseudo-random generating the dungeons and towns, but you know what? I liked the fact that there was 20,000 dungeons in the world. Every so often, I'd hop down into one for a nice randomly-generated-ala-diablo-2 experience. The sucky part was when you'd get quests to fish items out of the dungeons -- the dungeons were litterally huge, and could take hours to complete sometimes, especially if you couldn't find the one secret door behind the double-hairping corridor turn. So if I was doing quests for the mages guild (which I spent maybe 75% of my game time doing), I'd just drop any dungeon fetch quests and request a new one.

I wish they'd do a "digitally-remastered" version of Daggerfall, kinda similar to what they did with FF1&2 (improved the graphics, added a lil' bit of new content). If it looked as good as Oblivion, I'd never leave my computer.

The trouble with TES games is the fact that Bethesda doesn't believe in that whole whacky "quality assurance" thing. Daggerfall wouldn't run on my computer. Period. Until the 18th patch or so -- had a Cyrix CPU in 1996, remember those? Battlespire was almost a great game (online multiplayer with real working castles, catapults, drawbridges!) but was so buggy I had to stop playing. Redguard wouldn't run for more than 5 minutes without crashing. Morrowind once corrupted a section of the world (forcing a reinstall), and another time ate one of the quest items I needed to complete the game (had to go into the TES Construction set and drop a new one on the ground for me). Oblivion crashes every time I quit (ironically enough), but then also if I alt-tab, hit the windows key, reload too fast, click too fast, hit the keyboard too fast... or basically any time your hard drive can't keep up to speed (I have a Raid0 hard drive, so it rarely happens). It did crashed once on my girlfriend after she'd spent an hour without saving, which is really the only way I got to get my computer back from her after she spent her entire spring break on my own computer playing Oblivion. =) I was relegated to doing work with an old laptop.

Oblivion is great though. Maybe not as big in scope as Daggerfall, but damn. It looks awesome if you have the rig to run it, the quests (and the quest system) are about 100x more interesting than Morrowind's. All in all, it's one of the better RPGs I've played (and I thank the lord it's not an interactive movie like FFVII or FFX), and if the only time it reliably crashes is when I quit... well, I can deal with that.

Re:TES (2, Interesting)

Entropy248 (588290) | more than 8 years ago | (#15023288)

Absolutely not. No. The most ambitious of their titles is called "The Elder Scrolls:Travels" and it's for your cell phone. It is a "Bard's Tale" style RPG on your cell phone. It doesn't have an immersive plot, but it does have 4 classes, a huge dungeon that I got extremely lost in, and portability that I just can't fight. I had the game for 6 months or so (Yes, you can save the game) before I beat it. It's difficult to find, but it worked on my Sanyo SCP 5200. It was such a great game, I transferred it to my next phone. After that was stolen, I downloaded it again. These are not Treo/Pocket PC type phones either, they are regular flip phones. It's such a great game, it got me interested in the PC versions, which I love. At $2.99, it was absolutely the best value I have ever gotten out of any game. No, I don't work for them. Peace.

Re:TES (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 8 years ago | (#15023925)

I actually have Dawnstar on my cell phone, played it for an hour or two while stuck in various places without anything better to do, haven't been particularly impressed by it. What did you like so much about it?

First with a freely explorable world? Wrong... (1)

squisher (212661) | more than 8 years ago | (#15028121)

I read in the article that Arena is from 1994, but I know a german computer game "Das Schwarze Auge" (based on a german pen&paper RPG similar to D&D) which had exactly the same principle that you could go wherever you wanted and find little quests etc. and only go for the main quest when you felt like it.
Sorry, The Elder Scrolls were not the first (but hey, I'm playing Oblivion right now as much as I can find time... (: ).
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