Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Final Attempt

... to convince you to get Skyrim. If you don't like being convinced stop reading now.

As usual, I have been a perfect predictor of the success of a video game. I said before that my taste is so damn mainstream that I never really liked anything that the masses didn't, and vice versa. Sometimes this makes me feel a bit strange, but it has clear advantages.

Skyrim for the PC scores 95 at metascore right now. The only games ever better where the Half Life series and Bioshock with 96. The only other games to ever receive a 95 where Baldurs Gate II: Shadows of Amn and Portal 2.

IGN writes:
I was stacking books on a shelf in my house in Whiterun, one of Skyrim's major cities, when I noticed a weapon rack right beside it. I set a sacrificial dagger in one slot, an Orcish mace in the other. They were on display for nobody but me and my computer-controlled housecarl, Lydia, who sat at a table patiently waiting for me to ask her to go questing. The chest upstairs was reserved for excess weapons and armor, the bedside table for smithing ingots and ores, the one next to the Alchemy table for ingredients. I'd meticulously organized my owned virtual property not because I had to, but because tending to the minutia of domestic life is a comforting break from dealing with screaming frost trolls, dragons, a civil war, and job assignments that never seem to go as planned. It's even a sensible thing to do; a seemingly natural component of every day existence in Skyrim, one of the most fully-realized, easily enjoyable, and utterly engrossing role-playing games ever made.

As MMO players or designers we often load ourselves with the importance of character power progression, flawless gameplay, and the correct incentives. And, clearly, Skyrim can improve on these matters. But then, this may not be necessary because Skyrim manages to steer us away from our egocentric metagame.

At all times you can just press ^ (~ for US, I think) to open the console and type in 'TGM'. Congratulations, you just became invulnerable, can carry endless amounts of loot and have no mana or stamina constrains. It is four keystrokes away. But in this very moment you understand that not all games are about you; some are about the world.

Blizzard said repeatedly that they can't find the right gameplay for housing in WoW. IGN just wrote down this very gameplay. Is it good gameplay? Well, it keeps the mind busy and is not frustrating, because the player accepts that sorting things in his house makes sense. Of course, Blizzard would soon introduce an automatic sorting-algorithm; for your convenience.


  1. In all TES type games I went about decorating my houses. Some of the best mods were simple target type dummies that you could place armor and weapons on.

    Skyrim follows down this path. I have spent hours in the smithing, alchemy and enchanting part.

    And of course you can marry if you so choose. Then go questing on weekends while tending to a 'job' during the week if you want. So much to do and the game lets you decide what you really want to be and do.

  2. I am in favor of "player housing" - user customizable spaces.

    But I don't think your post is a completely fair analogy. I read that Blizzard said their biggest problem with player housing was that thousands of people in their own house makes the world seem dead. They want it to feel like New York City not Walden Pond.

    So there are things that can be good decisions for single player games that would be bad decisions for multiplayer games. Or getting away from good and bad let's just say higher or lower priority.

    E.g. I don't know what TOR cantinas will be like but it seems reasonable to me if a MMO designer said it was more important to invest in public bars rather than private houses.

    Perhaps before MMOs invest in "housing" the efforts should go into personal and personalizable public spaces. As a crafter, I think user customizable "stalls" in the "Friday market in city central" would allow your personalization to be seen without depopulating the world.

  3. @Hagu: Well, there is easy way to make cities look occupied to lowlevels AND tie it to Emerald Dream expansion - Dream Houses! :)

    Drink potion and visit house of your dreams! While to everyone outside you will look sleeping (and lag capital cities with your epic transmog gear!), in Dream you can be building your own castle! Endless terrain not bound by limits of Azeroth locations! Many upgrades to your house from raid or pet battle achievements! Connect your dream to your friends to create Dream Islands! Many new and exciting opportunities!

    ...too bad that this, as well as paladins getting charge, will probably never happen.

  4. Hagu, when the company which practically removed the open world from their MMORPG starts to argue that they don't do a feature
    - most other MMORPGs have
    - many players request
    because it would mske cities feel empty, I can't help but think they are making fun of me.

    There are many ways to not make cities feel empty if that really was such a concern for Blizzard.

    I think the more credible reason is that housing doesn't improve raiding, to be honest.

  5. But in this very moment you understand that not all games are about you; some are about the world.
    The irony for me is this is something I've long advocated about MMORPGs. How unexpecting to read this statement about a SINGLE player RPG, and witness how MULTIPLAYER ones insist on making things about the player.

  6. i think you're on to something. that snippet from ign has inspired me and given me hope. since the dawn of time humans have wanted someone else to do their work for them - slaves,servants, etc. and for the last few decades we've fantasized about having our own "Rosie the robot". i now feel confident that day is upon us. we have the technology to make robots that can move and perform tasks in a humanlike manner we just haven't developed acceptable AI. but the good news is, we don't need AI anymore! all you need is an internet connection. buy a robot, connect it to the internets and let the folks like mr. ign reviewer clean away! it's a win-win, my house is neater and you're having fun to boot.

  7. Nobody, do I own your stuff afterwards?

  8. only if you kill me and there aren't any chickens watching. but then, you don't know where i might have chickens hiding.

  9. If my female "partner" doesn't like my decorations, can she leave? Now, that is real.

  10. Being single player is what makes this kind of gameplay work. You can spend hours working your job, organizing your house and wooing the girl who lives a few doors down. In the mean time someone can be killing everyone in town and repeatedly crouching on their corpses, laughing the whole time.

    You never see that guy, he never sees you, and he never kills your employer, all of your customers and your wife-to-be; burns your house; and draws large images of one kind of genital or another where it used to be.

  11. My son was playing Skyrim and he got married. A dragon attacked the town and killed his wife. Talk about random events. Unfortunately, it still shows him as married so I guess it's not just till death do you part.

  12. Have just started Skyrim, looks like an amazing game in many ways. Predictably the interface is abysmal especially for left handers (my left handed mouse doesn't work properly...). However, I notice that - only a few days after release - there are already some useful mods viz:

  13. Another thing for PC gamers:

    This seems to have fixed lag/freezes on my config.