A short treatise on open worlds: Or, one of the few ways Skyrim fails

SajuukKhar

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Jynthor said:
Well, we can just rule out walking since we're talking about getting to some place fast, then we only have up to 20% increases in speed, and unless you're playing an online game in which balance is very important, 20% isn't anything.
Also, I was kind of joking.
Balance is important in singleplayer games also....

And yeah, a 20% increase is a big deal, it takes those 20 minute jogs across Skyrim downs to 16, and over time, that adds up to hours upon hours of time saved. If you rode a horse everywhere while playing Skyrim for 200-300 hours, you would have saved 40-60 hours in traveling time, then had you just ran.

Also, making horses run faster would make them outrun the game's ability to load the next cell in time. same reason why you cant fly dragons across the whole map.
 

IceForce

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endtherapture said:
Well in Baldur's Gate, the cities are build over ancient ruins, or just factions infesting the catacombs under the city. Under Baldur's Gate there's the sewers, not unlike the ratway, and the Undercity which is the ancient ruins of a past city.

Under Athkatla there's a network of crypts, extensive sewer network with Wizards lairs etc. underneath them, and a deep network of catacombs home to a Beholder cult. Also slaver compounds riddle the city, all acting as "dungeons". It all gives the place a bit of character which would be nice in TES. I expected stuff like this under the Imperial City in Oblivion but was utterly disappointed.
You mean this sort of thing?

http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Oblivion:The_Old_Way

Because the Imperial City does have dungeons and ancient ruins under it, as the above link shows.
 

endtherapture

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bug_of_war said:
endtherapture said:
The world of TES is so rich and full, but the cities are so empty and lifeless.
Empty? Sure, there are far too few buildings and what not in all the major cities of Skyrim for it to even begin to be considered a major city (Same can be said for Oblivion), but lifeless? Can't say I'd agree with you there. Check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppIgwF1M9po&feature=youtu.be&t=40s

In it, an Argonian NPC steals some random NPC's crap, then the guards run the Argonian down and begin fighting it till the Argonian is dead and they go about their lives. It's not scripted, it's not tied to a quest line, it's just the NPCs doing what they do. Every NPC in Oblivion go about their lives purely independent from what the player character does.

Then look at Whiterun in Skyrim, Ysolda knows the Khajit traders, the Battle-Borns and Gray-Manes hate each other, and have no interactions, yet children from both families are intimate with one and other and go about it in secrecy, by killing someone in the city and getting caught their family will react negatively towards you for the rest of the game (For example, killing the Bosmer whom sells food in the Whiterun market will cause his brother, owner of the Drunken Huntsman, to call you a piece of shit every time you come into his house). Elven, Khajit and Argonian characters will acknowledge that you are of their people, Werewolves will take note of other Werewolves, random thieves will be encountered in Riften, the Vampire lady in Morthal will notice if you are a Vampire and will comment on how you should leave due to her coven already claiming the town as their own.

The Elder Scrolls series may lack in physical scale, but there is a ton of life and individuality to be found in the game.
Whiterun is an exception though. Windhelm and Solitude or really boring, really really boring, Markarth has a cool main quest and law out but not really any characters to speak of.. Falkreath just feels completely unfinished, with no main quest at all. Apart from Whiterun (and Riften to an extent) "cities" are just places you go to receive quests, sell off your gear, and sleep, as opposed to actual interesting places within the lore.
 

SajuukKhar

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endtherapture said:
Whiterun is an exception though. Windhelm and Solitude or really boring, really really boring, Markarth has a cool main quest and law out but not really any characters to speak of.. Falkreath just feels completely unfinished, with no main quest at all. Apart from Whiterun (and Riften to an extent) "cities" are just places you go to receive quests, sell off your gear, and sleep, as opposed to actual interesting places within the lore.
Falkreath's quest is the whole Sinding thing, just like how Dawnstar's quest is the nightmares caused by Vermina thing.

And I dont see how Solitude or Windhelm are boring.
 
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I think part of what makes travel in Skyrim rather dull is -- like somebody in this thread pointed out -- that once you've been playing for a while, you've seen it all. The things you come across are minor variations on stuff you've already discovered: caves, bandit camps, towers, it all gets a bit samey and predictable, especially when you've been back-and-forth across the same area a few times.

An interesting way of solving this problem might be to make greater use of randomness and procedural generation, so that no two playthroughs are the same, and you never really know what's going to be around the corner.
 

stroopwafel

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I found the aimless wandering one of the coolest things in Skyrim. While normally I get pretty bored with these things the world in Skyrim has a sense of breadth and scope that's very inviting. In fact I would say its the game's biggest draw. Even when you've seen it all or when there is nothing left to explore the world remains tempting for me. Fantastic game though, I still need to play all the DLC for it(well Dawnguard and Dragonborn that is, Hearthfire don't look/sound cool). My only gripe with Skyrim is the somewhat clumsy melee combat. Improved since Oblivion but still a far cry from being great.
 

bug_of_war

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endtherapture said:
Whiterun is an exception though. Windhelm and Solitude or really boring, really really boring, Markarth has a cool main quest and law out but not really any characters to speak of.. Falkreath just feels completely unfinished, with no main quest at all. Apart from Whiterun (and Riften to an extent) "cities" are just places you go to receive quests, sell off your gear, and sleep, as opposed to actual interesting places within the lore.
When I first played Skyrim I would have agreed 100% that it's very bland, but the more you play, the more you interact you can find that the game has depth hidden within. Windhelm is very important to understanding some of the Nords and their disposition towards the Elven races. The Dunmer live isolated from the whole of the city, and are treated as pariahs, and the way you are treated by a majority of Windhelm's citizens if you side with the empire is vastly different if you sided with the Stormcloaks. Solitude is similar in the sense of character disposition towards the player depending on which side you took. Markarth has some awesome Dwemer museum segments that can be seen through ways other than taking quests. If you talk to the people in Falkreath you learn that many of the people that live there have been killed or joined the legion/Stormcloaks, it is also the city where in which you start Hircine's quest "Ill met by Moonlight", very appealing to those whom chose to become Werewolves. Dawnstar is home to the Dark Brotherhood and the Daedric quest involving the Skull of Corruption (Many NPCs comment on the nightmares, and when they stop, they still make comment on the strangeness of the sudden halt). The Orc strongholds are a great way to learn of the Orsimer way of life, and one of the settlements tie into Malacath's daedric questline.

The lore revolving around Skyrim (the country itself) generally involves Nords fighting *insert other races' name here* and how they basically have everything destroyed. For example (I'm leaving out the initial Dragons ruling over mortals because it ties into the main story and such), the war with the Snow Elves revolves around a bunch of Nedes dying, followed by the Snow Elves being pushed to the brink of extinction by 500 pissed of companions. The next huge lore piece I can remember is the whole Dwemer/Dunmer fighting and the Dwemer's eventual disappearance, which personally I thought they did a very good job of dropping hints as to what could have happened and what life might have been like. The most recent major lore setting (other than the Breton/Nord war(which is tied into the Forsworn anyway...)) is the Thalmor vs the Empire, but even with that most of the fighting was set in Cyrodil, not Skyrim.

Most of what makes a good story is what you don't say, by not making every character fully fleshed out you keep some form of mystery to the world which you have to try to uncover, learning everything you can, but still not knowing the full picture is more immersing than having someone drop 5 minutes of expository dialogue, or 50 pages of text. Skyrim is plenty immersing, you just gotta dig a little.
 

Plasticaprinae

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bug_of_war said:
endtherapture said:
Most of what makes a good story is what you don't say, by not making every character fully fleshed out you keep some form of mystery to the world which you have to try to uncover, learning everything you can, but still not knowing the full picture is more immersing than having someone drop 5 minutes of expository dialogue, or 50 pages of text. Skyrim is plenty immersing, you just gotta dig a little.

I have to disagree with you. Like.. of coarse i dont think you should have hours of exposition. But a game should draw you into it. What I found with Skyrim is that most characters only said facts or have tasks for you. I never had a single character I loved. I never got invested because everyone was in groups. They didnt have a person that stuck out in my mind to represent them, so i didnt really care. The interaction with characters rubs me the wrong way. Theres no depth to the individuals. It felt like they were half-written sterotypes.

Though i did like the exploration. The dungeons tend to get a little bit tedious due similar surroundings and enemies. And on the subject of fast travel and such, I always liked fast travel personally. It saves me time so i don't retread the entire map and face enemies i dont want to face. Usually if im in the mood for exploration, I just find an area on the map where it seems kind of empty and run around.
 

bug_of_war

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Plasticaprinae said:
I have to disagree with you. Like.. of coarse i dont think you should have hours of exposition. But a game should draw you into it. What I found with Skyrim is that most characters only said facts or have tasks for you. I never had a single character I loved. I never got invested because everyone was in groups. They didnt have a person that stuck out in my mind to represent them, so i didnt really care. The interaction with characters rubs me the wrong way. Theres no depth to the individuals. It felt like they were half-written sterotypes.

Though i did like the exploration. The dungeons tend to get a little bit tedious due similar surroundings and enemies. And on the subject of fast travel and such, I always liked fast travel personally. It saves me time so i don't retread the entire map and face enemies i dont want to face. Usually if im in the mood for exploration, I just find an area on the map where it seems kind of empty and run around.
I don't think anyone could say they had a favourite character, there really weren't any worth of major note in the base game, but if you ended up getting Dawnguard, Serana is seriously fleshed out and is really worth having as a follower. Still, that is only 1 character...
 

Plasticaprinae

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bug_of_war said:
I don't think anyone could say they had a favourite character, there really weren't any worth of major note in the base game, but if you ended up getting Dawnguard, Serana is seriously fleshed out and is really worth having as a follower. Still, that is only 1 character...
Ill look into that. I havent gotten dawnguard yet, I hear its a bit of a power trip and if theres one fleshed out character, it might be worth it.

Also, The lore is really good for skyrim, Just wish there were depthier characters. I especially like the Daedra quests because the daedra really seem to have a power about them.
 

stormeris

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I honestly loved simply travelling from one city to the other on foot in Skyrim.

I also love the mod "Touring carriages" it makes the carriages not teleport, but actually have the whole journey, it's very awesome. I never use fast travel, i just miss out on so many unexplored caves and dragon encounters.
 

omicron1

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With the better hardware now available, procedural generation needs to come into its own.
Why have nameless 'citizen's when you can generate individuals on the fly? Why have pocket-sized cities when you can have proper medieval towns? Why have a 16-square-mile map when you can have a 256-square-mile one? And why worry about limited content when you can have the game generate dungeons for you - complete with unique monsters and loot, Borderlands style?
I've thought this for a long time now - the first game to do this and do it WELL will be an enduring classic.
 

Geo Da Sponge

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Zachary Amaranth said:
Geo Da Sponge said:
Having fantastical elements in your game/story/film/whatever does not mean you can be excused making anything and everything nonsensical. The whole dragon thing, battling the Dovahkiin, all that; those things are evocative, exciting, and add to the setting.
Keep in mind you are defending a post that says it would be unrealistic to add exciting things. I think you're fighting a losing battle on this one.
I was defending a post that was saying that adding even more locations and encounters to Skyrim would be ridiculous. And it would be; Skrim's map isn't exactly barren: [link]http://majamaki.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/skyrim-locations-map-lg.png[/link]

Zachary Amaranth said:
Yes, we wouldn't want to sacrifice realism in a game with dragons, undead and elves.
You've just repeated the last guy here, which means you might as well just re-read my post that you quoted. If you really think that I, or the person I defended, want to remove exciting things from Skyrim for the sake of realism, don't you think we'd actually be complaining about the vampires, dragons and mages? Saying that you've got to stuff more things in there, that the game has to be constantly exciting and never pausing for a moment is exactly the kind of thinking that got modern military shooters where they are now.

There's plenty of locations and enemies in Skyrim already; sure, they could do with more variation, but that's just an inevitable problem due to limitations in hardware, time, and money. If you just dump more stuff in there then you both ruin the setting by turning it into a mess and make each encounter individually less interesting.
 

Chester Rabbit

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I don?t know, I for one found travelling and exploring the wilderness to be one of the more enjoyable aspects in Skyrim as you then get to enjoy what the game does best. Look pretty of course. Perhaps it?s just the ?wild child? in me who gets a kick out of running through the brush noticing a few snowflakes falling around you and then the further you go wam you are running through the mountains in a blizzard and who knows what can happen along the way. A Dragon could try and cook you. Thieves could ambush you and try and slit your throat, or you find a hidden cave with a tone of creepy Falmer in it *shudders*

Of course it did help that I added my own soundtrack to that game. Nothing is more satisfying then running through said Blizzard while you have the Anvil of Crom playing along with you.
 

SonOfVoorhees

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Morrowind had great travel. You had boats to certain docks, beaming between wizard guilds and Stilt riders between cities. Then you had the mark/recall spell which was awesome. An there was beaming between garrisons, never did it, had to find those post things to allow it. Anyway, this made the world manageable so you could explore or just get on with completing quests. I think quick travel should be deleted and just give you better choices of travel. I think Skyrim had carts in cities if i remember correctly and wizard travel? Dont remember. But that made traveling a pain as there was a huge map. So beaming stones would be good, so you can recall to a number of different places.

I think FO3/NV could have done with motorbikes maybe to travel around.....same as horses in Skyrim.
 

BarkBarker

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large scale travel has been a fault of night every open world game that doesn't have cars and a small city, the bigger you go the more inventive you have to become and the more you have to design a open world racing game, imagine it, a car that also drives on wheels and can boost off of the cars in front, gotta get to the checkpoint? FUCK DAT RED LIGHT!
 

Bad Jim

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SajuukKhar said:
Bad Jim said:
Well, firstly, actual dungeons are prisons typically found in castles. Since cities often build up around castles, it is quite normal for real dungeons to exist in real cities.

As for why anyone would build a city on top of a Dwemer ruin, probably because the site was a good place to build a city. Naturally defensible, access to a river/sea, fertile land etc. The Dwemer built a city there because it was a good place, then others built a city on its ruins because it was still a good place for a city. Consider that a lot of real world cities are built in earthquake zones. If real people are living in and building cities in places where eventual destruction is almost inevitable, why wouldn't fictional characters build on Dwemer ruins when the Dwemer will probably never come back?
You are aware that there is a difference between a dungeon(a prison under a castle), and dungeons(long giant ruins in RPGs for the player to explore and loot shit) right?

Every major city in Skyrim has the former, and the latter being under a city is nonsense, so that's why they don't do it.

Also, re-read my post, I said Markarth being over a Dwemer ruin is an EXCEPTION to the rule, meaning its ok. Your entire second paragraph is trying to refute a point I never made.
My apologies for misreading your post. However, I think the earthquake zone analogy still holds. Serious and obvious danger does not mean no-one will found a city there.

The draugr might have only arrived in force after the city was founded. Or there might never really have been enough draugr to threaten the city as a whole, but exterminating them was too much trouble given the maze-like catacombs. Or a bunch of desperate refugees settled there in spite of the draugr because they would be slaughtered/enslaved if they went anywhere else. Or the ruler built fortifications there which later became a city. There are many plausible explanations for how a city could be founded in an obvious danger zone.
 

IamLEAM1983

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endtherapture said:
I really think the cities in the next TES game should be bigger and more epic - maybe more like Assassins Creed, filled with nameless people and houses and secret passages across and under the streets.

The "cities" in all TES games (apart from Vivec in Morrowind) all kinda suck and are devoid of much to do apart from shops and quest givers - compare this to Baldur's Gate where the big cities had tons of quests, sewers, hidden dungeons, wizards towers, slave compounds etc.

The world of TES is so rich and full, but the cities are so empty and lifeless.
I have to agree, but there's one outstanding problem that's really stuck out for me, throughout all of the TES games.

There's no johns anywhere. No outhouses, no porta-potties. Did Lorkhan's sacrifice and the creation of Mundus produce humanoids that don't have a digestive system? Do they just break down food into rose-scented mist and then exhale flower petals? I mean, whaddafuq?

We should see people take five in their work schedules for either bodily reasons or the simple need to grab a few gulps of nice ice water. Or mead, if you're a Nord.
 

SajuukKhar

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IamLEAM1983 said:
There's no johns anywhere. No outhouses, no porta-potties. Did Lorkhan's sacrifice and the creation of Mundus produce humanoids that don't have a digestive system? Do they just break down food into rose-scented mist and then exhale flower petals? I mean, whaddafuq?
You do realize that those buckets exist for a reason right?

The "john" was all of those buckets in forts and caves that are placed in out-of-the-way alcoves, usually with a book and a potion of stamina nearby. Same for houses.

omicron1 said:
With the better hardware now available, procedural generation needs to come into its own.
Why have nameless 'citizen's when you can generate individuals on the fly? Why have pocket-sized cities when you can have proper medieval towns? Why have a 16-square-mile map when you can have a 256-square-mile one? And why worry about limited content when you can have the game generate dungeons for you - complete with unique monsters and loot, Borderlands style?
I've thought this for a long time now - the first game to do this and do it WELL will be an enduring classic.
Procedural content is a relic of the past, better hardware cant fix the basic fact that it looks like shit, and always will look like shit compared to hand-crafted content.

Elder scrolls 2: Daggerfall is the perfect example of why procedural content simply doesn't work. It was a massive world no one bothered to explore even 1% of, because its all random BS, and all of it sucked in terms of quality.

Why have a 256 square mile world when most people dont even finish a 16 square mile world? Why make randomly generated people, that would have no dialog, when you can make NPCs have 3-4 lines of specific dialog? Why make dungeons based off of a computer's repeating pattern when hand-made dungeons are already considered too repetitious in some cases? Why bother making a system of "random" content, that no one is going to play, when you can make hand-crafted content people will?

All procedural content can ever do is lower the quality of a game to something below Skyrim's radiant quests.
 

ItsNotRudy

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Deshara said:
ItsNotRudy said:
guitarsniper said:
, but make normal travel so fun that player end up not wanting to use your fast travel.
But not fast-traveling gave you dragons and random camps to find. I found tons of stuff not fast-traveling places. It would be unrealistic to fill every inch with something to loot and something exciting.
Game design 101: If it's not fun, either fix it or cut it. It would be unfeasable to have a game with a hundred square miles to cross with interesting stuff.
That's why games don't make you cross a hundred square miles to get places. While this is an extreme example, this pretty much holds true for just about anything. Is walking for twenty minutes to get to a location boring? Then either fill the path with stuff to make it fun to do, or shorten the hike.
As fun as it was to wake up and read pretty much 3 of the exact same replies, I'll reply to yours.

The vast openness of Skyrim wasn't static. A place void of life the first time you passed, wasn't always like that the second time. Dragons ambush your ass randomly, some creatures spawn due to quests taking place there or for other reasons. A lot of times, revisiting even the most seemingly dull areas could become interesting. And you could pay for horse carriage to a lot of big places, any smaller area you'd have to venture to quest-related or otherwise was NOT a 20min walk, 5 or so tops and usually not an empty flat without anything to notice. I'm honestly not quite sure where people are going in Skyrim to encounter 20 minutes of emptiness and silence. The top of the snowed in mountains?