Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

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Review RPG Codex Retrospective Review: The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (2002)

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Infinitron, Feb 15, 2017.

  1. Zanzoken Savant

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    The best aspects of Morrowind are the worldbuilding and storytelling.

    The world feels interesting, fleshed out, and believable from top to bottom. The environments, creatures, politics, history, books -- it has it all.

    The storytelling is quite good as well, particularly the back story of Nerevar, the Dwemer, and the emergence of the Tribunal and Dagoth Ur. It is one of the few good executions of a true mystery in an RPG. The factions are also well-constructed -- the Tribunal Temple is the best example, with its various agents, rituals, of course spearheaded by the cult of personality surrounding Vivec.

    I look at these aspects and I think "this is how people really act". Not many games make that happen in a satisfying way.

    Where the game failed in this regard was reactivity. The realism falls apart with how the PC interacts with the factions, and the nonexistent interaction among the factions themselves. The world feels static after awhile, and it becomes apparent that you aren't really affecting much other than completing quests for its own sake.

    But they still hit on something here, and it was a good foundation to build on. Instead Beth went for the cash and sacrificed the depth they had achieved in exchange for a bunch of hiking and random bullshit, essentially achieving in Skyrim the Grand Theft Auto of RPGs.
     
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  2. Falksi Scholar

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    Couldn't agree more.
    I know there's a lot about Morriwind that doesn't hold up now after 15 or so years, but I still think Bethesda's best bet for an epic RPG would be to revisit the Morrowind approach.
    The alien enemies & landscapes alone would make it stand out in a genre infested by Tolken-Esq rip offs.
     
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  3. Xi Arcane

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    I think we can agree that Skyrim had lots of dumbed down mechanics. Still, to me, without going into too much detail, it was a far more intriguing experience. It was a much better hiking simulator than Oblivion. I'm not even considering graphics.

    I think TES 6 can improve by utilizing static loot, enhancing character customization, expanding branching quests, improving main quest story writing, and moving to an entirely different graphics engine. One can only hope.
     
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  4. Falksi Scholar

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    Yep, dead on suggestions. Lets hope it's a more "alien" experience too, with more original npcs, enemies & environments.
     
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  5. fluent Arbiter Possibly Retarded The Real Fanboy

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    I see things like this around and I'm honestly blown away each time I do. I'm not sure why people play RPGs if they don't read anything or invest themselves at all. But that's just me.
     
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  6. Invictus Arcane The Real Fanboy

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    Magic Candle was such an awesome game man you should definetly finish that and review it
    As for not playing the final Wizardry games... your loss man they are some of the finest games ever made and Wizardry 7 is tied for my number one RPG of all time
     
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  7. Lord Azlan Arcane Patron Shitposter

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    Bad eyesight
    Small screens
    Plus I was reading many books back then anyway

    Wasteland 2 and PST have taught me to look at these types of games differently - plus I can afford a decent screen.

    Re MW - I don't quite agree with you as a lot of the text was the same - but this thread certainly has giving me the gumption to try MW again. Either that or Ultima V which had the most beautiful box I had ever seen.

    Plus in my old age I seem to have gained some patience.
     
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  8. fluent Arbiter Possibly Retarded The Real Fanboy

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    Lots of text was the same in Morrowind, but a lot of it wasn't. I'm glad to hear you have more patience for RPGs, though. That's great. :)
     
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  9. thesheeep Arcane

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    Gotta agree about the travelling.
    Walking from A to B in most games simply is not fun. Not at all. Not even close.

    In Morrowind, it is already exceptionally good, but even there:
    After you have walked a path once, you have seen it. But you will need to walk it again to pick up the loot you had to leave there (especially as a puny mage).
    Travelling is only interesting if something is happening.

    So what I'd like to see is some kind of compromise.
    Quick-travel, but done in "fast forward" on the map (think Indiana Jones style) and there's a chance for random encounters, and of course only to places you have already been to.
    Probably even only using paths you have already walked - so that if you know places A,B and C and paths A<->B and B<->C, quick travel will not directly take you from A to C.
    And there could still be the "teleporting" quick travel in the form of transports (like already existing in the ES games).
    I do wonder a bit why it was never done that way, seems to me a pretty natural solution (and not too hard to implement).
     
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  10. Tigranes Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Why do people waste time going back and forth just to sell a bit more loot? Do they like playing Manual Labour III?
     
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  11. ESh Prophet

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    "Oh, I can't carry all of this loot. No problem, I'll just..."
    1. "...make priorities, and leave behind what's not necessary!"
    2. "...drink this Potion of Feather that I had prepared just for occasions like this!"
    3. "...drink this Potion of Strength that is commonly found in dungeons, including the one I've just explored!"
    4. "...cast Mark, travel by foot to the trader, then after I've sold the loot I could carry I'll cast Recall and pick up the remainder of the loot!"
    5. "...carry all this loot regardless, but use a Scroll of Almsivi Intervention to teleport directly to a nearby Hub!"
    Your only justification for a casualized travel system is that you sometimes have to leave loot behind... which isn't even an issue to begin with, it either presents the player with an interesting dilemma, or a problem which they have to use their creativity and the tools they have at hand to solve - see above. The fact that you point out mages as having especially much trouble with this, who in reality have gazillion solutions to overencumbrance and travel, really makes me wonder...
     
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  12. Mackerel Savant

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    My strategy was cast/use item with Mark, cast/use item with Almsivi/Divine Intervention, sell/store loot, cast/use item with Recall, and continue exploring.
     
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  13. fluent Arbiter Possibly Retarded The Real Fanboy

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    The problem, ESh, is the fact it presents a dilemma. Modern gamers do not like dilemmas. Either that, or they don't understand how to deal with such situations beyond "I should be able to carry all of this!" I don't blame modern gamers, it's the developers who have taken these elements out of the RPGs. Thus newer gamers get confused when they see strange mechanics like figuring out which loot to carry, or having to leave something behind, or hitting some impossible enemy and having to turn around and come back another day, etc.. Things like planning your journey, or carefully weighing options regarding inventory space or loot, these don't really exist in mainstream RPGs anymore

    It's essentially like giving the generation who grew up with smartphones a VCR for the first time and asking them to use it. They'll look at you like you're crazy as they are used to the smartphones.
     
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  14. Invictus Arcane The Real Fanboy

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    I honestly liked to get lost in Morrowind, do a quest and take a different way back, check out a cave or dungeon, and try to carry back the choicest items. If I wanted to do something else or wanted to deliver some fedex quest I would use the teleport chamber, mark and recall or get back to the mage guild
    I honestly think that the term hiking simulator applies well to Morrowind where the traveling is part of the adventure and since most quests are not locked and you can stumble upon quest items you later would use you dont end up wasting your time
     
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  15. Fenix Arbiter

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    I once stumbled on body in expensive armor, like you know, forget it's name, like those with golden face mask.
    It was some isle maybe, in caves below.
    Somebody told me it was plot related.
     
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  16. thesheeep Arcane

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    I really should have made more than one example, to avoid triggering some oldfags, but let's just stick to this one for a bit more.

    Especially in the beginning of the game, there is no such thing as stuff that isn't necessary. Well, at least not if it is worth something. You hunger for gold, as you need it to get your skills up. Again, especially as a mage. At least if you, like me, refuse to level to 100 "instantly" by just resting and casting spells, resting, casting spells and doing gamey shit like soul trapping your own summons. Not entirely sure about warriors, but I almost never play them in games, since they are usually boring as hell.

    We're obviously visiting different dungeons. Or the Rebirth mod somehow removed most of these.

    Either way, none of the things you said really solve the problem.
    You're still backtracking the same way you just walked. By spells or potions, you might be saving some parts of it or do it faster. But: It's still neither fun nor interesting, it just feels like wasting time.
    I have no interest in playing a walking simulator, even if that walking simulator is a proper RPG by making the speed and athletics skill matter. I mean, come on, the starting walking speed is just ridiculous. You barely run (!!!!) at the speed of a toddler and can only do that for a few seconds because your character is seemingly asthmatic :lol:

    Yes, there is an optimal solution to this, combine Mark/Recall and Intervention (I vaguely remember that's how I did it years ago), but how will you know about it?
    If you want to throw a "RTFM!" at me now, have this "GTFO!", because the need to read manuals has thankfully disappeared from most games. I want to start enjoying my games without spending a few hours of reading manuals or guides beforehand, thank you.
    Games should let players figure out interesting new problem solvers slowly as they go to end up with a world full of interesting things eventually. But not expect players to know everything right from the start just to get from A to B without being annoyed.

    And this is not only about transporting loot, it was just one example. You often walk the same paths for other reasons.

    I like if games let you figure out solutions for something, but I'm talking about actual problems that are worth solving.
    Just walking from A to B is
    a) interesting when doing it for the first time
    b) interesting if something noteworthy happens (which cannot be guaranteed after a) is done)
    c) a chore in all other cases

    I do love to have some dilemma in my games. But you are confusing dilemma with a waste of time.
    Figuring out a way to beat an otherwise too tough enemy: Wonderful dilemma. Give me in-game tools to fiddle around with for this.
    Figuring out how to best spend your money: An interesting dilemma. If the game offers enough valid choices, that is.
    Walking from A to B without either a) or b) from above: A chore. Not a dilemma.

    And really, what do you even lose by Quick Travel? Especially one implemented as I wrote above.
    It just allows you not to do something that is annoying.
    It allows you to not walk the same paths you had walked already. You're not losing any part of exploration, because known paths already were explored.
    What exactly is the problem?
     
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  17. Bohrain Learned

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    The good thing about Morrowind was that it actually made you think about how to get in place X efficiently. The travelling is piss slow if you just stick to running, but the game gives you the mark and recall, various forms of paid travel, amsilvi/divine interventions, fortify speed/athletics/acrobatics and levitate spells.
    It's actually a good design decision since the default slow movement makes the island feel larger than it is and all the forms of fast travel are acknowledged by the world itself, which makes it feel more authentic.
     
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  18. lukaszek Magister

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    sounds like foot in the door tactic employed by mmos:
    - quest compass
    - tooltip help windows
    - early game invulnerability buffs

    As I see it lack of quick travel makes sence only if there is resource management in place. Unless you need to plan your exhaustion, food rations, whatever, I dont see a reason to prohibit quick travel.
     
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  19. thesheeep Arcane

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    Nothing wrong with tooltip help windows in moderation, but either way, I fail to see what any of this has to do with quick travel.

    Agreed, I don't like how it is done in Oblivion or Skyrim, but I don't like the complete lack of it in Morrowind, either.

    Yes, obviously walking at snail speed is very authentic :lol:
    If you think that is a good design decision then I hope you will never have any influence on design of games.

    Don't get me wrong, I love most of Morrowind, but the whole walking/travelling aspect is just ranging between annoying and stupid.
     
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  20. fluent Arbiter Possibly Retarded The Real Fanboy

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    Nah, I have to disagree. And I'm not old, by the way. :)

    You are assuming the game is meant to be played as a hoarder. I.e. You HAVE to go get that loot you dropped, or you HAVE to come back and loot every chest. That's the point, you don't have to do any of that. The idea is to make a choice. Do I really want to carry this item? Sure, it's worth some gold, but it's very heavy. Maybe I could drop a few lesser items and just carry this back to town to sell. Ah, I have a nice Feather potion! That will do. Or maybe I'll just teleport to the nearest Temple. Hmm, I did want to explore that other cave I saw back down the road. Guess I'll do that some other time. And on and on.

    This creates emergent and immersive exploration and gameplay. They may seem like boring things to you, and YOU call them a waste of time, but they are old-school RPG mechanics. The idea is to make those decisions, i.e. have some sort of resource management or decisions and planning to do. Fast travel removes a large chunk of that and makes travel meaningless.

    Didn't plan your journey by buying any necessary potions and scrolls? Just insta-travel back to town! So you're encouraged not to use your brain and plan the journey ahead of time. Planning a journey. This used to be a thing in RPGs.

    It's not perfect in Morrowind, but that is what they were going for. A consistent world where you had to use your brain a bit. You had to figure out directions, have a sense of direction in general, learn various landmarks and generally just pay attention more. The attention factor has been removed significantly from all RPGs. Not a diss on the newer generation of RPGs, just an observation.

    Anywho, I think there should be a simple toggle option at the start of the game so players can choose their own style. Do you want Morrowind's travel system? Or Skyrim's? Toggle options. If someone finds slow travel boring, turn on fast travel. Many advanced and old-school options should be toggles in new RPGs. But instead they remove them completely.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2017
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  21. lukaszek Magister

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    it was about reading manuals.
    I despise tooltips.
    For the way I see games they should be 2 levels: beginner and advanced. Beginner should understand basic game mechanic. World should be self explanatory enough within first few lvls to teach everything one needs to know to complete the game.
    There will be players wanting more, wanting to understand how his favorite skill work(advanced players). No amount of tooltips would suffice. After few h of reading wiki(without spoilers) they will be ready to go past tutorial zone.
    Tooltips is lazy way of giving half-assed truths.

    Now, to quick travel. There are a number of valid scenarios about revisiting location for story purposes, but its not how its used most of the time.
    Most of the time its used to destroy game economy. For there is well defined knapsack problem(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knapsack_problem) and fast travel is in most games abomination around it.
    And dont have the wrong idea, I believe its worst in morrowind. It is the game that allows you to rob each house treasury. Few ways to get in and in the end you are in the room with valuables exceeding your inventory space.Each player will cast mark and recall at this point. Few times. I fail to see how different it is from game allowing to do so by fast travel menu.
    To sum up game gives you the opposite: fast travel to carry ALL THE LOOT while denying option to revisit location for story purposes. Cmon, there were even potions of recall if one didnt want to cast spells from spells or scrolls.

    And then comes the question if you even need all that money coming from fast travel abuse. You end up using fast travel because its optimal
     
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  22. fluent Arbiter Possibly Retarded The Real Fanboy

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    Again, the idea is to play, not to metagame and min/max every possible way. When I robbed the treasuries (if I even did it, if I was not roleplaying a Thief I stayed away), I only took what I could carry.

    By the time you can even rob the place you don't really need it. At least, that's my experience. Then again, some people like to metagame an RPG. I say put options in the game to turn various RPG elements on/off.
     
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  23. thesheeep Arcane

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    The thing is, a well-done quick travel would still allow all of that.
    The thing I don't like about the lack of quick-travel is pressing W for 10 minutes straight with nothing else to do.
    You cannot seriously tell me that you like that, pressing W and waiting 10 minutes, and nothing is happening other than you walk by trees and get pestered by the occasional Cliffracer (seriously, their spawn rate is absurd ;) ). It isn't exploration any more if you've already been there.
    With a well-implemented quick travel, you could still make all of those decisions, but would not have spend 10 minutes doing nothing.

    Again, this is not just about loot. You are constantly treading the same paths in those games for other reasons as well.

    What planning, really? Always buying the same scroll and 2 potions and that's it. It never changes, no matter what kind trip you wanted to take. This is neither challenging nor interesting. It's like opening a door by forcing you to dance each time instead of just using the handle. Nonsense.
    If there were actual planning involved, it would be more similar to how the RoA/DSA games did it where you would be in serious trouble if you did not buy proper equipment prior to venturing to a swampy area or have no character who knows his way around nature, and those requirements change with each trip, depending on the target.
    And lo and behold, in those games you mostly move via quick travel (Indiana Jones style, just as I suggested) and you need to do actual trip planning and it works way better than in Morrowind.
    Quick travel or not has nothing to do with planning, if the quick travel is an actual "fast-forward" instead of just the Skyrim/Oblivion version of a teleport.

    When it comes to Skyrim vs Morrowind variant, I agree it is a matter of preference.
    But don't go around claiming that quick travel itself would remove the need to plan. Teleportation does, and that is unfortunately what the later ES games did.

    That I can surely agree with, but a strangely large amount of games do not offer many options concerning how to play them.
    At max, you get to choose how your saving system works.
     
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  24. fluent Arbiter Possibly Retarded The Real Fanboy

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    You say you are treading the same paths in Morrowind, but you have so many fast travel options. You don't have to travel the same paths endlessly. A few times, sure, but a well-equipped adventurer who is ready for the journey will have several means of transportation in the game. You do not have to travel the same paths over and over again. Besides that, it's an open-world game! Why wouldn't you want to travel some paths if you didn't explore all the caves or ruins along the way? You can roam around and find things to do.

    I like RoA's travel system a lot. It's probably my #1 in terms of journey planning in RPGs (at least quickly off the top of my head), but if you didn't carry proper gear in Morrowind you could be stranded at times. Feather potions, scrolls of Almsivi/Divine Intervention, proper healing potions/scrolls, even down to the more obscure stuff like fatigue regen potions/scrolls (have fun fighting a tough enemy with no Fatigue!) and even water breathing and water walking (don't want to step on a Dreugh's nest at level 5!) The planning element is - do I have enough of these items to make a successful journey? Am I outfitted well enough yet still have enough carry space, i.e. not overburdened?

    I'm not saying Morrowind is perfect at this by any means. But what things like this do you have to think about in Skyrim? How could this even be an element if you can just teleport from location to location? And if the enemies are basically the same strength all game long everywhere you go?

    The bottom line of all of this is, how invested do you want to be when you play an RPG? Do you want to just teleport from dungeon to dungeon, "get right to the action" and have a quick session where you clear a dungeon? Or do you want to immerse yourself and invest in the world? That's really all it is, IMO. Morrowind forces you to invest more because you can't zip around the map. Movement is a resource. Not as much of a resource as Lords of Xulima, for example (which makes physical movement actually use resources), but it is something to be pondered at times and accounted for.

    The last thing I'd like to say, is that while Morrowind is not perfect in this regard, I'd still like to see modern RPGs made in its likeness. Oblivion was not it and Skyrim certainly wasn't, either (even though I do enjoy those games.) I think there is room for a Morrowind-like experience today, albeit for a niche RPG audience. But if they add options on how to tailor these types of games to the player, it would please more people and more groups of people, IMO.
     
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  25. Falksi Scholar

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    Boom, spot on. Even though Morrowind incorporates a lot of elements which other open world games do, the way it uses them and overall context make for a far better experience.
    Combat aside, it's just a great game made well and caringly crafted.
     
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