First Person: Skyrim is Soulless

Condiments

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DoomyMcDoom said:
Reason you get more world changing feel from new vegas is that new vegas was written and developed by obsidian, who may as well be a reincarnation of blackisle studios, who made fallout 2, in the old fallout games it was all about making a difference in communities, stuff you did mattered globally, faction influence, karma, all that stuff.

Bethesda "learned from fallout 3" when they made skyrim, and fallout 3 was all about this kinda stuff.

I went into skyrim EXPECTING this kind of stuff, so maybe I don't feel supprised that most of the npcs feel lifeless, and pointless. :p

Still, one might think they were going for a partially senile, completely rooted, not caring who else occupies the area around her due to it being in constant flux, due to the strategic import of the fort's location, character in agnis.
The reason New Vegas felt more "alive" so to speak, other than its well-written companions, is the fact a lot of the sidequests didn't feel disconnected from the main thread of the game. You had the large factions, and smaller ones trying to fill the vacuums of power. It would give you PLENTY of options of how to approach these said quests, and some even overlapped. Most of them felt consistent within the setting(other than the lol rocket ghouls). Having an actual faction and town reputation helps out a lot as well.

Skyrim is a vast land of stories that exist in a sort of "vacuum" to the events that surround them. Its really fun initially because you simply don't care, but the apathy creeps up on you slowly as time goes on. Its really the same problem Bethesda has had with most of their games.
 

Dissolve

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SonicWaffle said:
[M]y argument hinges on the fact that I find the game very immersive but ultimately pointless.
You've been mislead by your own expectations. Skyrim is a harsh, unforgiving land, and the people are reacting just as you would expect them to. In the sack of Whiterun, the shopkeepers comment that they didn't really care who was in control. The entire war is trivial to most people living in Skyrim. Their lives are driven by a fierce denial of their harsh motherland, and they do so through food, drink, and sex (all of which are dependent on a steady flow of coin). The dragons, whether you like it or not, are a pest. Stormcloak and Imperial forces complain of dragons as a mere "interference" in the war. You're misconceptions of the main character being a great self-made hero are the projection of your own effort spent building the character. The truth, whether or not you'd like to accept it, is that your character is not acting through choice, but because fate is controlling his or her every action. It will take generations before people to sing of your epic, and they will do so between goblets of mead.
 

5ilver

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Wow, so much nit-picking. I guess if this is the worst Skyrim has to offer, it really is a great game.
 

theonecookie

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Yeah that's the problem with Skyrim nothing really matters in the grand scheme of things making the whole choice point mute' which in all makes for a poor rpg

Maybe they should give up with npc and the like and just have you exploring some destroyed wasteland where your the last survivor and make it a journey of discovery, Instead of a pointless wooden rpg,despite this i still kinda like skyrim though but its not Goty
 

John the Gamer

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I agree. Playing skyrim often made(and still makes me off course) me slightly pissed at the little things, like what you had with Agnes.

When playing the imperial storyline, for instance, you start noticing that every imperial camp you visit during the questline is commanded by the same commander (Legate Rikke).

Even when you ran straight there from the last camp, she was there as if she'd always been. How could she possibly get there first? Miniture alien teleporter tech? It shouldn't have been that difficult to make a second legate so they could switch places sometimes.

And there are more examples, but the basis is that Skyrim is huge, filled with tonnes of stuff, but does not give you reason to care about it.

Maybe give the draugr a little more backstory, add some sympathy (or not), or add a few extra lines to sweat old Agnes.
 

Kojiro ftt

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If you had really paid attention, you would have noticed that there were dead bodies of guards lying around that fort. Those bandits had just taken over the place. Agnis is old and senile, and had no idea that the place had changed hands. She was very much role playing.

Granted, she could have reacted to the dead bodies at her feet, lol.
 

Casual Shinji

Should've gone before we left.
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Looks like the enthusiasm for this game is dropping and people are finally seeing it for what it is; NOT the best RPG ever made.
 
Nov 12, 2010
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Dennis Scimeca said:
Skyrim is Soulless

Skyrim doesn't seem to care about you or what you do.

Read Full Article
Yeah, a game that's your personal show and playground is all you need, eh? Well, help yourself to all the other games, because they provide that in spades. Ask yourself this, however, does the real world care about you to such a degree?

I, personally never liked to be the center of attention. The only game that really relieves you of that position is "Space Rangers", where on the easiest setting the game could be over with or without you. It's an extreme, but being Harry Potter each and every time I load a game gets old very fast.

The one and only reason why Skyrim doesn't deliver to the fullest is that its story (especially the main quest) is a "meh" fantasy cliche we've seen a thousand times before, but I kind of accepted the fact that fantasy just can't have a good story no matter what you do. It has everything to do with absolutes and, well, fantasy.
 

PhantomEcho

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Athinira said:
Pinstar said:
Why didn't she react to you killing those bandits? You answered your own question. You mentioned she spoke about how often the fort changed hands. The "fort changing hands" probably involved the new owners killing all the old owners. So the fact that you just waltzed in and murdered every bandit there and left them on the floor is nothing new to her, and she's probably been desensitized to death enough to not be bothered with it.

Heck, she even said she has a lot of cleaning up to do. What is she cleaning? All those half-naked corpses you left behind...just like she's done every other time the fort changed hands.

That isn't soulless, that's good writing on the dev's part.
No, that's you just imagining things, trying to cover up terrible writing. It's very clear that the pieces of dialogue they decided to give her is to give the keep a sort of backstory, but it is ENTIRELY unrelated to what he did. Fact of the matter is that if he had snuck into the keep without being seen (or had befriended the bandits somehow and had been invited in), she would be spurting the EXACT SAME LINES.

If you are going to pass off the fact that an NPC is going to use the exact same dialogue depending on whether or not you are a visitor or a mass murderer who have just murdered off her employees and looted her room as good writing, then I'm happy you aren't a game designer. It neither good writing, nor is it rational or immersive. What it is is making Agnis a robot that does her programmed tasks and spit out her programmed lines no matter what happens around her. That's it.

Again I say that this is hardly terrible writing.

In fact, this has NOTHING to do with writing at all. This is just one of the many core attributes of large games with massive numbers of NPCs in them. RPGs don't have time to develop multiple thousands of answers to every reaction for a character that's really only designed to fill space and provide a slight bit of humor.

She would be spurting the exact same line because it's relevant to her character: "Generic Housekeeper NPC for Fort". They only even gave her a name because she's a unique personality... but not much more than that.

If you're getting caught up in minor NPCs' reactions, then you're getting caught up in one of the LEAST IMPORTANT parts of the game. This is something that yes, while a bit jarring sometimes, DOESN'T HAVE ANY SIGNIFICANT IMPACT on the playability or enjoyability of the game.

Yes, we'd ALL love for the world to respond to our every action... but hey... didn't they do that with Fable? Isn't this the same internet where everyone hates Fable? So it seems like a lot of 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' to me.

Skyrim has it's share of problems, and flaws... but it is HARDLY terribly written, and a FAR CRY from soulless. If someone had said this to me back when we were still playing Oblivion, I would have agreed. But Skyrim?

Skyrim's got more spirit and substance than any other Elder Scrolls game to date. Even with the reduced content... even missing spells, and weapons... even with some wonkyness here and there... there isn't a single thing that Skyrim has brought to the table that was fundamentally broken.

You know... aside from a couple of quests...

But hey! At least they can -patch- those. No amount of patching would ever be able to fix Morrowind's completely worthless Marksman skill.
 

Shydrow

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I think this points out a huge flaw in the gamers playing a game like Skyrim over Skyrim not being the god game everyone knew it wasn't going to be. With that many NPC and that big of a world is isn't like they where going to spend a few more hours on making sure npc pointed out shit you did over and over. I mean i get the off hand comment of leading the Dark Brotherhood by a city guard or walker by. I get off hand remarks from people who don't like my wolfish grin. I get told about things i did in said city often enough and if i murdered a bunch of people and got caught the guards don't seem to kind to me so i am trying to figure out what exactly it is you wanted them to spend time on during development. Would you rather have them worked on a AI process so they react more realistically then i must say herp derp to you and have fun fighting a dragon with a fish merchant which you wont QQ about. It isn't about soul or anything the world is about you and how you go through it. YOU being a key part cause YOU have an imagination i would hope and if something isn't coded right into the game YOU in YOUR head can add it in.

The problem isn't the game being soulless the problem is you lazy bum not wanting to add to the experience past what the developer gave you. I've read like 5 of you talking about "role playing" well you must be shit at it cause you can't even imagine or add anything not in the game already past your character i would assume. BTW i'm not mad i'm annoyed that people who call themselves gamers/geeks/role players and such have forgotten such a simple and easy thing as ADDING to the world even if they can't hardcode it in. It is really sad.
 

Shadeovblack

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I was in the thalmor, I released all the prisoners and they just sit in their cells. I go up to one of them and he says "Leave me alone." this pretty much echos the response I get from all the other prisoners.


I have to agree, Skyrim has no soul.
 

Levethian

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Fappy said:
Part of the problem is voice acting.
D. Ein said:
The problem is voice acting.
Agree with this - the 'need' for spoken dialogue is very limiting.
unoleian said:
I find the New Vegas comparison suspect.
Agree. Consequences weren't will mirrored in that game either - or any Bethesda game. Why? Because they're too big to map out reactions to all your numerous status updates.
seraphy said:
I really wish Bethesda would learn something from New Vegas.
I wonder if people would feel this way about New Vegas if it actually let you play on after the main plot to reveal how little the world had actually changed...
Dennis C. Scimeca said:
A pattern quickly revealed itself: find a dungeon, kill everything within it, make multiple trips back and forth from said dungeon to my house in the city of Whiterun to stow all the loot, and then sort through and sell everything I looted and decided not to keep.
Multiple trips to town for 1 dungeon? Sounds like a lot of fast-travel going on, which I find more immersion-breaking than an innocuous unscripted NPC. The reaction of a role-player would be to sort through stuff BEFORE heaving it miles back to your house :).

Skyrim has soul, it's just thinly spread where NPC's are concerned. The mountains and cities are full of it.
 

seraphy

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Good article. And I agree, with it.

I really wish Bethesda would learn something from New Vegas.
 

Phuctifyno

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Without a player, a game is just inanimate code. It does not and cannot have a soul - you have to use your own.


(disclaimer: above statement is made under the assumpiton that the theoretical soul exists, but does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of its author, a soulless bastard)
 

Athinira

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PhantomEcho said:
Athinira said:
Again I say that this is hardly terrible writing.

In fact, this has NOTHING to do with writing at all. This is just one of the many core attributes of large games with massive numbers of NPCs in them. RPGs don't have time to develop multiple thousands of answers to every reaction for a character that's really only designed to fill space and provide a slight bit of humor.

She would be spurting the exact same line because it's relevant to her character: "Generic Housekeeper NPC for Fort". They only even gave her a name because she's a unique personality... but not much more than that.

(...)

Yes, we'd ALL love for the world to respond to our every action... but hey... didn't they do that with Fable? Isn't this the same internet where everyone hates Fable? So it seems like a lot of 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' to me.
...which is why Skyrim perhaps SHOULD have taken a cue from some other games. Particularly Baldur's Gate.

You see, the developers of Baldur's Gate understood that if you keep uninteresting/generic characters around, it brings out their robotic tendencies, and for that specific reason, the developers understood that characters sometimes needs to f*cking DISAPPEAR! If the mentioned Fort in Skyrim had been a sidequest in Baldur's Gate instead, BioWare would perhaps have made Agnis either do something useful (provide information) and then have her flee the scene afterwards, never to be seen again.

It's a perfect demonstration of the fact that sometimes, less is more, and Agnis ironically becomes a much more colorful and interesting character when you make her flee the scene and disappear so you can't track her down later and spam your "Talk" key until you realize she is a robot. There is nothing wrong with her being a shallow character, but Skyrim makes the fatal flaw of keeping her around, which eventually means that players are going to discover that she is shallow. It's like doing a long story, but stretching it out too far until the audiences becomes bored. Sometimes, it's best to stop while the fun is at its peak.

PhantomEcho said:
If you're getting caught up in minor NPCs' reactions, then you're getting caught up in one of the LEAST IMPORTANT parts of the game. This is something that yes, while a bit jarring sometimes, DOESN'T HAVE ANY SIGNIFICANT IMPACT on the playability or enjoyability of the game.
Ah, the good old "You are playing it wrong" argument. Is there where i go fetch the Steve Jobs "You're holding it wrong"-picture just for emphasis?

Listen, if it didn't have any significant impact on the enjoyability of the game, then this article wouldn't exist to begin with. It obviously had an impact on the article writer, and while i haven't been to that part of Skyrim yet, i can tell you that it would also impact mine (and have so already, just with several other characters than Agnis).

It might not have impacted you, but you don't represent anyone, and the shallowness of most NPC's in Bethesda Games is one thing they have been critisized for MANY times before, so obviously it's something many people consider to be detriment to their experience.

PhantomEcho said:
Skyrim has it's share of problems, and flaws... but it is HARDLY terribly written, and a FAR CRY from soulless. If someone had said this to me back when we were still playing Oblivion, I would have agreed. But Skyrim?
There is a difference between "not being something" and "hiding something".

Skyrim exceeds it's predecessors because it's much better at cloaking/hiding it's faults through improved design, but many of them are still there, and people - especially the ones who were annoyed to no end by the bugs - are eventually gonna discover them if they pay close enough attention.

Now don't get me wrong, it also directly fixed many of the flaws, especially of Oblivion, but the basic formula is still the same, and many of the same problems persist. I will applaud them for going so far and improving the series so much, but at the end of the day, they still have a long way to go.
 

Therumancer

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winter2 said:
Agnis? I could have sworn I killed her as part of the Dark Brotherhood storyline. Maybe I'm wrong.

For me, Skyrims soul lives in the environment it gives us. I have spent hours just jaunting through the hills enjoying the snow and wind.
I believe you are correct Agnis is a Dark Brotherhood target.

Most NPCs seem to have some use, if you haven't found it, then chances are you don't have the relevent quest/storyline.

You might be going "huh, what" only to find out what was going on later on down the road.

Going by the other games in the series, The Dark Brotherhood isn't as evil as they are portrayed even if the members are kind of twisted. The concept is similar to that whole Wanted/Weapons of Fate thing, where they kill people for the greater good without it nessicarly being obvious why. I get the impression Sithis and The Night Mother play the role of nilistic murder machines for a higher purpose and I believe that was spelled out in some other games. If you look into some of the things going on (the stories told through the enviroment) there is oftentimes a clear reason why your killing someone... like say a cult shrine in their basement, relation to another NPC, or whatever else.

Oh and if you attack Agnis if I remember she's a little tougher than you might expect... I'm just saying. :)

"Oh please don't hurt me..." :p Gullible much.

A response to the article as much as to the message I'm quoting.