Game Design Talk: Skyrim's Big Leap of Faith (That paid off)

Discussion in 'Games' started by Xylia, Jul 1, 2020.

  1. Xylia

    Xylia Tiy's Beard

    So, I heard about something recently, and that is OpenMW. It's an alternative engine to Morrowind that was written from scratch to replace Bethsda's official Morrowind engine and it fixes some of the various nasty bugs that the old engine has, and allows it to not only run on modern Windows systems, but also Linux and Mac as well.

    And Steam has/had Morrowind on sale for $5 so I figured "what the heck I'll give this a try again." I already owned Morrowind on CD but I didn't feel like messing around with the CDs, not when it was only $5 on Steam.

    I downloaded a few mods to fix some of the sheer annoyances with the game: I downloaded one to give you a slow magicka regen (about 1 point every 3ish seconds, calculated by a mixture of MP max/willpower/intelligence), a mod that removes stamina drain while running, and makes weapon swings take a wee bit more stamina to balance it, and a mod that guarantees x 3 stat gains on levelup as long as you leveled any skill that uses that stat at least once during the levelup, and one last mod to boost skill gains by 2x because leveling skills is just too darn slow.

    With these mods, I set out on an adventure, and I'm several hours in, and I've gotten to Level 8 or 9 IIRC and my character is starting to finally feel like they can competently battle things (I hated how weak your character feels in the beginning in an unmodded game).

    I've also played a good bit of Skyrim, some 300 hours in it almost and I can say that without a doubt, the game that wins hands-down in the mechanics department is definitely Skyrim.

    A lot of people will tell you that they "dumbed down" Skyrim.... it is true, that they removed a lot of things such as Statistics (there is no Strength, no Agility, etc in Skyrim), and they changed up how a lot of things work, but you know what?

    Sometimes Less is More.

    In Morrowind, I find that I am regularly going to a trainer to train skills just to get stat gains with skills I have no intention of actually using. I imagine the problem would be oh-so-much worse if it weren't for the guaranteed x 3 gains on levelup (I remember how terrible the game was before). I would do things like use sub-optimal choices for combat that my character just wasn't built for.

    My character is built around a medium armored person who favors long blades, destruction, and restoration magic but yet here I am whipping out a dagger hoping to get 1 level so I can get an x 3 on Speed (because walking speed is so bloody important in this game, because of how SLOOOOOOOOOW you are at the beginning and the fact there's no fast travel other than city to city).

    In Skyrim.... I don't care about picking skills at the beginning of the game and then regretting my choices later. I grab whatever I want to grab and start using it, and as I continue to use it, I will get better at it, plain and simple. No whipping out a dagger that I have no intentions of actually using just to gain levels with it (at least not until all of your main skills are 100 then if you want more levels you're going to have to level other stuff, at least until they added that 'Post 100 leveling system' that I've never tried yet because I never stuck with a playthrough that long).

    I can pick up whatever armor, whatever spells, and just.........use them. The only thing I'd have to say is kinda sucky in Skyrim, is how much magicka spells cost near the beginning and how long it takes until you can actually kill things with spells so that you CAN get levelups without having to spend money on training.

    In short, Skyrim took a giant leap of faith by taking out the attributes and just letting the skills speak for what your character can do, and it was nothing short of pure genius. Sadly it gets bashed all too often by people wearing rose-colored goggles.

    Now on the subject of World-building.... well, I can see why Morrowind fans like it. There's a certain charm to how the cities, and buildings, etc are set up. Too bad the world outside of the buildings and cities is so barren, even the green areas are lifeless textured grass. Though it's a 90's game, so I gotta give it some leeway.
  2. Jonesy

    Jonesy Sarif's Attack Kangaroo Forum Moderator

    I've read that Morrowind used to get bashed for being 'dumbed down' much as Skyrim was. Daggerfall is actually quite an impressive game in many ways, even if it resembles Ultima more than it does what we think of as the modern installments in the series; The Elder Scrolls really found its feet with Morrowind in terms of design and mechanics.

    I do think Skyrim is a little too streamlined in some ways, having gone back and played the older games, but I loaded up a class / birthsigns mod went a long way towards alleviating that. The faction questlines still feel a bit too short compared Morrowind or even Oblivion, but I think the expansion of repeatable content like radiant quests and random encounters helps on that front.

    That said, Morrowind does a lot very right, even compared to Skyrim. The setting and plot are much more interesting and unique. But at the same time, the mechanics of the game haven't aged well. The game does at least pick up a lot once attacks consistently hit and teleportation options become available. I'd still love to see it remade on a more modern engine, though.
  3. Xylia

    Xylia Tiy's Beard

    So I loaded up Skyrim again and...

    Yeah, the actual gameplay mechanics are just....... archaic in Morrowind.

    I get what they were trying to do and at the time they were absolutely amazing, but... the stats-on-levelup system (same mistake Oblivion made) are always going to be terrible and having your movement speed being so atrociously slow and the fail chances on everything you do as you said are just terrible.

    I think they went the right direction with Oblivion when they made everything always succeed but made the skill so that it makes these things more effective/do more damage/healing/etc and/or make spells cost less magicka the better you got at casting them.

    I think Skyrim made the right decision in getting rid of pointless skills like Athletics that took years to level. Seriously in Oblivion, I hopped in the water way down by Leyawiin or whatever that town at the very bottom of the map was, and I swam upriver to the Imperial City, and then swam all the way AROUND the Imperial city, and then I swam all the way East and I only got 75% of one level of Athletics and that took me a couple hours to do and swimming is supposedly the fastest way to increase Athletics, and your movement speed was based upon Athletics.

    And in this new Morrowind playthrough? I have a double skill gain mod going and it takes 45 minutes+ of running full-time to get one Athletics level with Athletics being a Major Skill. And it's only like 30. Not 90+.

    But I do get what you mean by the rich lore, the game world, and there just being more to do and sadly I don't think that Radiant Quests are the answer to making all the questlines so short. After awhile, radiant quests get real boring (hence why people favor mods that make the Thieves Guild a lot faster, because doing 5 quests per each hold to unlock the fences/expand the thieves guild gets boring AF real fast).

    So I agree there. Skyrim delivers far more awesome and fluid gameplay, and I know people bash Skyrim's UI but personally I love being able to WASD through the whole menu with only the occasional escape button press. Sure, it was made for a controller in mind, but the WASD keys are the same keys I used to move around so it's nice and fluid. The only thing I wish is that it wouldn't try to simultaneously read WASD inputs AND the mouse cursor and sometimes the menu wants to jump around if the mouse cursor is near the current highlighted item.

    And if you don't keep your favorites list trimmed then sometimes that is annoying.

    Oh, and the discrepancy behind "Retrieve Item" and "Take All" and "Store All" that sometimes has you accidentally dumping your entire inventory into a container or accidentally pulling everything out of a container when you didn't mean to do that.

    But otherwise I Love Skyrim's UI compared to Morrowind's.

    I would love to see Morrowind faithfully recreated in Skyrim's engine with just some balance changes to the enemies to keep combat interesting. Obviously they'd probably have to get rid of the Spellmaking system, but I think just simply porting over most of Skyrim's stock spells along with a selection of modded spells would do just fine. And that's OK with me, Spellmaking was always absolutely broken anyhow.

    EDIT: One thing I think Oblivion beats both of them hands-down in, is general aesthetics outdoors. Skyrim is all snow and tundra which gets dull when half of the game looks the same, and even when you have trees, they are all the yucky green color, no vibrance anywhere unless you catch the Riften area at JUST the right time and even then, the trees there are yellows and oranges.

    And in Morrowind.... vegetation was very sparse (thanks to the primitive tech in the 90s and early 00s) and half of the island is nothing but a rocky wasteland and don't get me started on how annoying the dust storms are constantly.

    But Oblivion....

    Man, I remember Oblivion being beautiful. Vibrant wildlife, lots of trees.... too bad the dungeon design was all done by like one guy and the same dungeon pieces were used, and reused and reused to ad infinitum.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2020
  4. Jim Witness

    Jim Witness Subatomic Cosmonaut

    The oldie that I remember best of them games was Dungeon Master 2 (Legend of Skullkeep. It was released back in the 90's I believe, and was a 2.5D hack and slash, with ten save slots, your choice of three characters to choose of seventeen (you always had one character with you, like it or not), and shops that you could buy from. Sadly, you will need something like DOSBox to play it.

    Original install compact disc:

    Totally not hinting at you to play it.

Share This Page