Oblivion And On

By Alec Meer on October 29th, 2008 at 9:05 pm.

It’s almost as if Bethesda Softworks have just finished a game and so have decided to work on a new one. Imagine! Yes, a date for The Elder Scrolls V has been confirmed. Well, sort of confirmed. Well, mentioned. A bit.

“Potentially there’s a new Elder Scrolls title in 2010,” says Bethsoft exec Chris Oughton over at GI.biz. Woo!


Frankly, I’m going to go with reading that as “we’re definitely working on a new TES game, but we’re not quite sure about the release date yet” rather than “we’re only thinking about doing TES5.” It’s possible he wasn’t meant to let that slip, but let’s face it, it’s hardly a surprise. And with Fallout 3 scoring universally between Very Good and Really Bloody Very Good, riding that goodwill train seems a smart idea.

So, what do we want to see from TES 5? If you’d be so kind as to resist wholesale Oblivion-bashing that’d be nice (c’mon, we’ve done that to death already in other threads) – instead let’s nobly stick to constructive critique as to what can be improved, kept, removed, added, changed, funny-hatted, whatever. Let’s build TES5 right here, with the power of mere words. Strong, beautiful words.

Me, I want those bizarre insect taxi things from Morrowind to come back. Oh, and does anyone know the TES lore well enough to guess at what the setting/storyline could be? Again, I’m hoping for something closer to Morrowind’s weirdness (that ribcage city was extraordinary) rather than Oblivion’s somewhat vanilla Tolkieniess.

Edit – A helpful fellow named Luke drops me a line about the discovery that Bethesda’s owners Zenimax have apparently recently trademarked the following for clothing, video games, documentation and telecommunication respectively:

Serial Number Reg. Number
1 77051779 SKYRIM
2 77017500 SKYRIM
3 77044247 SKYRIM
4 77022291 SKYRIM

Which rather suggests TES5 will be set in Skyrim, chilly home of the fighty Nords. Which perhaps sounds a little plain, but hopefully a good opportunity for environments rather different to Oblivion’s lush forestry.

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115 Comments »

  1. Gorgeras says:

    McCool, I have no problem with the TES levelling system. I enjoyed Morrowind very much. But Oblivion is not Morrowind in regards to the way a character makes ‘progress’. In Morrowind, I didn’t get weaker as I got stronger. I was able to go five levels as a fighter and then dabble in magic or stealth stuff without suffering to hideous unbalance. Not so in Oblivion, where hideous imbalance strikes at at level 3 if you were stupid enough to choose the wrong pre-made class(most of them) or badly designed one yourself to put your most used and useful skills nowhere near high enough to earn a useful ability.

    Morrowind allowed me to adapt if I got it wrong, Oblivion denies me this.

  2. Pidesco says:

    I hope they finally decide to actually improve on the Daggerfall game model, instead of making a Daggerfall with nerfed character development options, again.

    They could start by giving some life to NPCs through schedules, and changing behaviour based on location. Creating an ingame economy would a must. Also, how about giving the player things to do other than crap fetch quests? Like allowing the player to actually become an alchemist, for instance. Or a merchant king. Also, being the head of a guild should influence how the game plays, instead of just being an empty ending to a quest line.

    And stop making the game world smaller.

    The Elder Scrolls’ core design philosophy has always been about creating a living, breathing world for the player to faff around in, so Bethesda shou+ld start acting like that premise isn’t just marketing speak.

  3. McCool says:

    @Gorgeras

    Hmm, I’ve never really considered how the scaling system could make the game that unbalanced. As I played it, all you needed was one way of doing damage (be it a weapon skill or Destruction) and the game pretty much completes itself. Even in the event you picked no damage-dealing skills what-so-ever, it’s still always possible to just train yourself some and not level up so fast, isn’t it? That said, I feel sorry for anyone that bought Oblivion expecting to get very far in it without being forced into combat. For as we all know, “Role Playing Game” now translates only to “choose how you want to kill Goblin Game” /rant

    Um..constructive criticism. To reiterate, as long as they keep out level scaling, they can’t go wrong! Yeah!

  4. guardian says:

    “Oblivion remains virtually untouched on my shelf due to the unfuriating consolised level system making the game impossibly hard unless you min/max with thorough knowledge of stat building.”

    It has a difficulty slider, it’s as hard as you want it to be. I didn’t pay any attention to the stats and completed the main quest etc with the difficulty in the middle with no problems. I love the slider and really hope they keep it, when I go back to the game I turn it down until I remember how everything works.
    I’d like to keep the auto-levelling but make it in some way so that people who OCD over the numbers don’t get pissed off this time, and cap the gear levels so bandits don’t get fancy magic swords. The fundamental idea of an RPG where you never, ever have to grind or get locked out of an area because the monsters have three times your hit points is a fantastic thing and made me see the whole genre in a new light.
    And more physical and skill-based combat a la Dark Messiah would be cool too, so long as you can still pause and spend a minute in combat thinking about which potion to drink.

    Also more flowers! I loved flower picking for some reason. They should make that the main quest and keep the goblins for side stuff. :)

  5. McCool says:

    @guardian

    It’s not anything to do with OCD number-lust why the Level Scaling is so widely loathed and thought of as what killed Oblivion. Personally, it’s the fact that it killed any oppertunity of roleplay, immersion, storytelling danger (be that adventure or intrige) from the game, making it an entirely hollow, empty experiance to anyone who wasn’t able to double-think the system away.
    Alot of us LOVE the idea of visiting a temple only to get our ass handed to us, barely escaping alive. We note it on our maps, and remember to return one day when we are big and strong. Morrowind did this easily by making the Daedric Ruins so obviously terrifying that if you actually entered one as a Lvl 1 character you deserved what you got. And so what if early in the game I find an awesome lvl 20 sword lying under a bed and steal it? All that means is my story is entirely unique, I have an advantage I’ve earnt (through luck and low moral standards) and get to feel smug/guilty every time I thwack a scamp dead in one easy swipe.

  6. Cooper says:

    Regardless of where this goes, I would love once all areas are covered for them to go back and import all the old games into the final.

    Imagine the size of the game world!

  7. noom says:

    I doubt it would be done, but one (admittidly slightly silly) thing that bugged me in Oblivion was having really good armour that I just didn’t like the look of. I like having a really pimped out character looking just how I want without the nagging feeling that I could be doing better wearing something slighty ugly. Call me crazy but perhaps a system where your armour choices are purely aesthetic, and actual defensive bonuses and such are determined by interchangable enchantments thingums. Maybe the more powerful enchantments could embellish your armours in some way so you still got some correlation to how powerul you are and how powerful you look.

    I’m just thinking out loud here though. What do other people think about this..?

  8. devlocke says:

    I appear to be completely alone in this, but I always thought the great thing about TES games was the massive scale, and thought Oblivion continued the downward spiral of the serise by tightening the focus too MUCH. My ideal TES game would be the massiveness of TES: Arena meeting Morrowind’s functionality. Arena sucked for me because I kept getting stuck in walls in dungeons and having to re-load and remember not to go into any tight corners or anything.

    Morrowind was virtually perfect as far as meeting my expectations, but it wasn’t as wonderfully huge as the earlier games had been. TES has always had a problem with cookie-cutterness, but it seemed like it was virtually just as cookie-cutter/samey on Oblivion’s scale as it was on the nearly global scale (hemispheric, maybe?) of Arena.

    I should note that I may be getting Daggerfall mixed up with Arena. I played them both a gajillion years ago, compared to Morrowind which I finally beat last year, and Oblivion which I quit playing last year because my PC was suboptimal for it and I got tired of dealing with stuttering.

    I didn’t have any problem with balance in Oblivion, for the record, except for the first gate city. I died ten billion times there and in the demon realm that I think happened right after it. But once I leveled enough to avoid hits occasionally and score hits occasionally, I was fine. I did a custom class I called ‘Drunken Lunatic’ where I just picked the skills that it seemed to me a vagrant drunk would pick up on his own (fisticuffs and clubs and running, etc.). It was a lot of fun trying to imagine how a drunken lunatic would react to any situation, and like I said, once I got competent enough at punching people and wearing armor to not die every time an enemy noticed me, it was quite fun. I played it a lot before deciding to stop until I could upgrade my PC; I think I was one or two quests away from the end of the Thieves Guild stuff.

    Someone earlier mentioned that they’d rather have the plot introduce itself subtly through the gameplay. I’m pretty sure it did in both Arena and Daggerfall. You eventually got a note telling you that some strange person wanted to meet you at a local tavern or something. It was really low-key. I had tons of fun with Arena and never did a quest related to the plot. Or maybe it was Daggerfall. One of them I played a lot, and one I didn’t play so much.

    Anyways, yeah, make it bigger, so I don’t mind that it’s just as bland as the others. There’s something awesome about taking 30-day-by-ship journeys to places, and seeing a bunch of different styles of terrain and architecture in a way that makes sense, instead of seeming crammed into a video game. The only drawback was that there was a lot of sameness in the quests and characters, but… honestly, that was a drawback with Oblivion and Morrowind too.

  9. Cibbuano says:

    Again, I’m hoping for something closer to Morrowind’s weirdness (that ribcage city was extraordinary) rather than Oblivion’s somewhat vanilla Tolkieniess.”

    I can’t agree with this more… despite the fact that you were trapped on an island, it really felt like different parts of the island were strange, new places.

    Also, the fast-travel system takes you out of the game. I ended up just zipping around, never getting an appreciation for where I was going.

    Morrowind, on the other hand, taught me to fear certain regions, to seek secrets out and to enjoy the scenery…

  10. sinister agent says:

    1) Improve combat – as someone said, copy Mount & Blade for a start, then try to improve on it.

    2) Improve – totally rewrite – the AI. Combat AI above all – stealth was useless in Morrowind and close to it in Obliv. There needs to be more of a grey area between ‘utterly invisible and undetected’ and ‘every living thing within a mile magically knows exactly where you are’, and the enemy and creature tactics were non-existent. That needs to be fixed, badly (I know you said no oblivion bashing, but I’m saying this in a constructive spirit of demonstration, not mud slinging). It would be fantastic to have other stealth characters attempt to backstab you.

    3) Locational damage. Seriously, this shouldn’t have to be pointed out, but it needs to be in there.

    4) Other adventurers. Other notorious killers and villains and merchants, and any other characters who change the state of the world regardless of what you do. It would be particularly neat if you could have a rival (friendly or otherwise) travelling around, stealing treasures from under your nose, and perhaps once in a while showing up to save your life if you’ve been respectful to them in the past.

    5) A new bounty system. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be wanted in one town and hailed as a hero in another, or at the very least, it should take a few days for news of your crimes to spread (petty ones never spreading, obv). In fact, towns and cities should be essentially independent, disunited entities, especially out in the sticks – it fits the medieval-ish theme better and makes more sense for a land under an emperor’s heel. This would fit well with…

    6) … meaningful faction relations. Each town could be divided into a bunch of vague factions or groups (even just general groups like ‘merchants’, ‘politicians’, ‘peasants’ and so on), and your actions or lack thereof could affect how each one treats you, and you should have to choose which of a pair of factions to join or appease (if any). If you get enough power within a faction (or even just sufficiently impress them – let’s say you fight a notorious monster type in the wilderness with magic and the news spreads – the mage’s guild should give you some sort of recognition whether you’re a member or not) you should be able to affect it in some way – get the guards to crack down on pickpokets or vagrancy, or get the mages to ban nords (annoying most nords, of course, and triggering some suitable missions), or encourage merchants to start smuggling (then grass them up to the guards for a profit/control of their shop). You could do anything. Yes, it would be a hell of a lot of work thinking of all the possibilities, but you can choose where to draw the line, and it’s the obvious place for a massive world to go.

    7) A secret underwater town. No, seriously. It should be possible to reach only if you’re a lizard or a very good magic user (or befriend one). And it should be (a) worth the hassle and (b) genuinely secret, leading me to…

    8) Rumours that are actually rumours and not invariably hints about a quest. So far the games have been set in a bizarre-o world where you can believe, word for word, literally everything you ever hear, and never put a foot wrong as a result.

    9) Deceit. Characters who trick you into murdering someone (unless you refuse mid-mission), but instead of having your hand held or having a scripted “stop, I am innocent, you are being deceived” scene, you have to work it out for yourself, or suffer the consequences. Having to actually think about missions would be a major plus.

    10) Non-lethal combat. Hand to hand in particular, or blunted weapons and stun spells/narcotic arrows.

    11) Decent music, and lots of it. I got sick of all the tunes within a few hours because they were so few, and also because the ‘danger music’ invariably gave away all surprise and suspense, particularly in stealth.

    12) A notice on the title screen saying “for christ’s sake, go to bed, you fool”.

  11. sinister agent says:

    Oh, and a third person view that means clothes are actually worth buying (combining clothes and armour should come back, too, or at the very least, bring back the unarmoured skill so clothes serve a purpose), and strolling about is a bit more pleasant.

  12. Caiman says:

    POOP is clearly the best way of playing Oblivion:

    http://www.poopmods.com/

  13. sinister agent says:

    An economy. A way to play as a nondescript opportunist instead of a superhero, a lá Christopher Livingston, or at least to day job as one – perhaps even a secret identity, so that you only became a hero or villain (with the suitable reputation and perhaps powers you’ve earned) when you put on a particular costume or cast a particular spell (which would fail if you cast it with a witness around).

    The economy in particular. That wouldn’t be too difficult to do, and it’d make speech and trade worthwhile skills. It’d tie in with more advanced repercussions and factions, too, since you could open a shop and set prices, or press to legalise certain goods, etc.

    Okay, really shutting up now. But really, all you need to do to come up with ideas for this is sit down and play obliv and morrowind with a notepad and write down “this would be improved by…” every time something disappoints or annoys you.

  14. Thiefsie says:

    You’ve got some great ideas there!

    Espec the alter ego one, and the rumours of rumours one :) I also like the being deceived to murder someone one without it being too bloody obvious – that would be pretty easy to do even now in games.

  15. Acosta says:

    I would really like if they went back to think in terms of scale. I miss the bold ambition of Daggerfall and I would love they had the time to figure some way to bring back scale such massive scale to TES, or the ingenuity of the spell creation system.

  16. Mr_Bacco says:

    I would really like the Morrowind-era system of dialogue to come back. I think it offers a lot more scope for complex quests and development of the character of individual NPCs.
    Also, reinstate the old racial accents in the TES world, the old Dunmer voice was top-notch. I found the fact that all the three elven races were voiced by the same female and male voice actors in Oblivion really jarring and quite offputting.

  17. Malagate says:

    There’s a hell of a lot of mods that beth could learn from, for instance some of the leveling mods handle it so much better than the normal leveling system.

    Also as mentioned before improve the combat to be more like Dark Messiah and Mount & Blade, so mounted combat with physics interactions.

    Speaking of Physics, apply it more often. I remember they touted their Havok physics gubbins and all I can recall it doing in the game was make some very questionable traps and some odd ragdolls after you killed someone. I would like to see some physics involved when I hit someone with a power swing from a two handed warhammer, although there are bigger concerns that have already been mentioned involved with NPCs that don’t involve hitting them.

    Finally I’d like to see a better way for handling objects and stealing in game, it was quite a pain to move around objects to get them to sit exactly right without bouncing around and it was extremely odd that you couldn’t pick up and examine a shopkeepers wares without being called a thief and arrested (note not taking it into your inventory, just moving it around). Also the way they handled “hot” goods was strange as well. For something expensive or unique I could understand the red hand, but every generic or petty item you take also getting the red hand? As if a trader is going to be able to tell the difference between a stolen apple and an apple taken from the wilderness. They could do a lot more with it, for example if you steal from a shop who is a member of the traders guild, then all traders in town will be aware of what was stolen, so if you try to sell the stolen goods in that town the traders will call the guards on you. If you take it to another town or find a non-guilded trader then they are none-the-wiser and will buy it up (unless it is a very well known treasure).

  18. Dante says:

    Well the obvious thing I’d like is the the much vaunted ‘radiant AI’ they touted for Oblivion to actually make an appearance, rather than the ‘like every other AI but slightly more stupid’ version we ended up with.

    One path to getting that could be approaching the problems the AI poses as if it were a real world problem. One of their tall tales from development involved a quest in a drug den where the player would inevitably find the dealer dead, killed by his clients for his product. Their response was to hobble the AI, whereas I would have liked to see them approach this as if it were real, ie: give the dealer a big badass bodyguard.

    Anyway, I think the NPCs are the thing that needs working on the most, they really pulled you out of the game with their stilted interaction, rubbish AI and terrible voice acting. Either get it to work or just make them static quest givers, we accept them, if you shoot for more you have to deliver it.

  19. Bobsy says:

    Apart from the obvious “ARE YOU THE COUNT” problems, what I found most dispiriting about Oblivion was the lack of character the gameworld had. It suffered from trying to emulate the LOTR films, but there was a kernel of a good idea at its heart. That is to say, a sort of medieval roman empire.

    But it didn’t work. One thing this resulted in was that all races from over the empire had migrated into its heartland and they were all “romanised”. That is to say, they were all the same.

    I got bugger all impression of any culture, any heritage, other than rather bland-looking ruins that meant very little (despite being fun to explore – one thing I loved in Oblivion was the dungeoning and questing) in a wider context.

    In short – Tamriel was not a place I liked being in. Which for an open-world game was a pretty major problem.

  20. Bobsy says:

    Oh, and as sinister agent says, much, much more music. For reference, Oblivion’s entire soundtrack lasts 90 minutes.

    My final savegame is clocked at 100 hours of play.

  21. Ian says:

    If the combat is to be like Dark Messiah, we presumably DON’T want the Many Convenient Spike Racks of Doom. :D

  22. Ergates says:

    If, as seems to be the case, it’s being set in Skyrim, it would be nice to have weather than mattered.

    e.g. If there’s a blizzard, you can see very far in front of you, and if you don’t find shelter, you freeze.

  23. Malagate says:

    @Ian, ahaha, yes it would be better not to have a game where almost every fight can be won just by kicking people into or off of things. As hilarious as it was, a hard fight against 2 Necromancers and 6 Guards on a ship should not be as easy as hiding behind a box and then kicking them off the boat one at a time as they come for you.

    Which also reminds me of what that system was based on, Arx Fatalis. Arx would probably be a better system to base TES combat off of, that is to say power attacks that can be held rather than instantly used and dismemberment. If they included the oh-so-lovely system of baking pies from Arx as well then I would be most blissfully thankful.

    Weather effects Ergates? I approve most wholeheartedly! Warm fur coats all round, I’d imagine glass isn’t that insulative.

  24. Dante says:

    They probably need to hire some new art designers too. The first time I saw the forest it was pretty, but it was just a forest. Anything original was largely a bit poor.

    Especially helmets. They all looked so bad I refused to wear one.

  25. Turin Turambar says:

    I would like some dialogue with the NPCs! In Oblivion the amount of dialogue decreased dangerously close to an hack & slash game.

  26. Flubb says:

    I’m actually surprised at all the love for Dark Messiah in this thread. I loved the game and it’s the first game for a long time that I played all the way through (with only a sleep break) in which I actually wanted to know what was going to happen next (I really don’t understand why it scored so low on metacritic.)
    I felt roughly the same way in Morrowind (albeit on a much longer time scale) but less so in Oblivion. Maybe familiarity bred contempt in me, but I felt less involved in something bigger than myself in Oblivion (too much of the hero perhaps?). Morrowind I felt like a small cog in a wheel that only got bigger over time. Kvatch pretty much told me I was the saviour of the world from the beginning.

  27. Quine says:

    I’d like to see some more advanced types of quest- eg. get hired to guard/run a caravan between cities- if the caravan master then you get some budget to hire NPCs (or not) and do some equipping, then have some basic shouty commands to move/halt the wagons and order the defenders, then go through a tense (and scenic) jaunt through the world, picking campsites, ordering watches (or pulling all-nighters with proper lack of sleep effects), scouting for ambushes and so on.

    It should take some organisation to pull off, and even if nothing much happens you should feel immersed in the responsibilities, and eventually have the funds to start your own lucrative runs.

    None of this is rocket science and would be a lot more interesting that the usual lonely solo runs most RPGs insist on.

  28. AndrewC says:

    Vertical gameplay, possibly even going so far as platformy elements if they can get the control system responsive – not insta-death jumping sections or anything, but more sections where there is skill involved in traversing the environment. This is just a suggestion under the wider category of making the world more visceral and not just a pretty postcard slapped over a spreadsheet.

    Players having a real effect on the world. The reason why complete destructability is never really implemented is that a player will destroy the world completely and, thus, the game. Good – let the player do that. You can destroy any town and it will slowly get rebuilt, but all the quests and shops and that associated with the town will not be available while it is being rebuilt. And everyone will hate you. So a player will be able to grief the entire world, and will get obvious feedback on the consequences.

    Feedback in general. It is difficult in games with complex mechanics to know what anything does. Equally, Oblivion’s population had lives and routines and faction affiliations but it was difficult to tell. More behaviour from the people to tell what they are doing. So, in general – more information that can be got just by looking at the gameworld, rather than from sub menus.

    To be fair Bethesda seem to be moving roughly in this direction in previous games anyway – so I just want them to do it better. And get some more voice actors and better animators, obvs.

    But those looking for a more hardcore game should probably run away now. It will only go further in the accessible direction. Remember that scaling levelling was there so the player could have an adventure wherever they happened to be, rather than getting murdered 20 times in five minutes for no reason they could understand. For those who get worked up by the stats behind these games, Oblivion is not for you.

    I want TES5 to be an RPG for those who don’t care about the stats.

  29. Ergates says:

    I’d imagine glass isn’t that insulative.
    Or that effective as armour whilst we’re at it.

  30. Urael says:

    Simply go back to the levelling system in Morrowind and I’ll be there for TES5. I hated the system in Oblivion, where the entire world upgraded its various creatures to match your might. At Morrowind’s conclusion I was a collosus, smacking down all before me with glee. I almost never finished Oblivion, what with the perpetual hassle of levelling up only to grind away at the new and harder bad guys: what, then, was the point of levelling up if fights were going to be just as hard as they were at the start of the game? Yes, make harder bad guys: I initially want a few areas that I cannot go near for fear of having my butt soundly kicked but don’t replace the lesser ones when I’ve become an all-conquering god-character, or else how will I *know*I’ve become an all-conquering god character unless I can smack Cliff-racers down with one bored wave of my hand?

  31. Gurrah says:

    I’m with you there Alec, the insect taxis were the best thing in Morrowind. Well not the best thing, but the whole mode of transportation in Morrowind was awesome. No quicktravel whatsoever, you had to plan your route the transportation tools you had available, and there were quite a few. Mages Guild teleportation, the insects, ships, spells for teleportation to the nearest shrine and last but not least a bit of walking, which didn’t matter at all because if you knew where to find which insect-stop and townportal-mage, almost every location could be reached within a few minutes. It was a believable system, and it worked great.

  32. blindpsychic says:

    What everyone here has said, in addition:

    Hire an animator. Like, a real one. Not some dudes who just do the basic animation, or just leave what ever the animation capture gives you.

    Ok, Bethdesda, I know you want to hire a big name actor to do the voice of some great badass, but DON’T DO IT. NO. DON’T. Stop wasting your budget on getting some famous guy to sit in a recording booth for a few hours. Hire some real voice actors who are good at what they do now that you have crazy money.

  33. Morte says:

    Hmm, I’ve just looked at a map of Skyrim and noticed Solitude. Which reminds me that “The Wolf Queen of Solitude” is one of my two favourite bits of TES lore (with “A Dance In The Fire”).

    This could actually work out well, as a dark/nasty/different game instead of a vanilla Tolkeinesque first person slasher for kids. If they have a change of heart and go back that way, that is.

  34. Gorgeras says:

    Let me put it this way. The spells you start off with are fine for level 1. For level 2 it is a very good idea to pick up the free spell you are given when you join the Mage’s Guild at the first chapter house you come across on the way to save Sean Bean. This spell is ok for level 2, as long as you don’t come across some fire-resisting loony elemental. Oh wait, this is exactly the kind of thing you have to fight as you get closer to Sean Bean. Oh sod, I’ve just hit level 3, this spell is now utterly inadequate against anything with even moderate fire resistence. The only effective spells I have are the ones I started with, which are useless against almost anything at level 3.

    There is a difficulty slider, but why the hell should I use it? It’s not my job to balance the game, it was Bethesda’s.

  35. perilisk says:

    1. Less irritating character advancement system (particularly the HP calculation and the stat multipliers). Keep ‘Use to Learn’, but just give a perk and a limited number of stat-improvement points at level up. Oh, and either unlimited training or rollover training points. I’d love something closer to Daggerfall’s system, or SPECIAL, or GURPS, but that’s not going to happen; but you can at least give us one that doesn’t practically demand metagaming.
    2. Flatter challenge curve, no/less leveled content.
    3. Build a world, not a game. Everything in Oblivion, from the story to the items to the characters to the guilds, screams “game” to me. None of it works, or even builds the illusion that it could. Put some real thought into how your cities work, where your factions fit in society, how people treat one another, the state of the economy and politics, and so on.
    4. Not every NPC needs to have a name and a story. Focus on building a convincing illusion of simulation, versus a crappy shot at real simulation. Also, as long as you’re not giving NPCs names, don’t litter the screen with them. Oh, and get some variety in bodies and animations. Kids, old people, crippled beggars, whatever.
    5. Less boring magic. Woot, 45 pts of damage. That’s like, a lot, right? If your character can’t quantify it, I don’t need to see a number. I’d love to see Frost freeze water (especially if armored enemies sink), Fire ignite flammables, Night Eye give me catlike pupils, and so on. Magic could be so much more interesting, but it will take effort.
    6. Fix the NPC conversations. I don’t care if it means having less variety — just have fewer of them. While you’re at it, drop the one-keyword conversation system. Name, job, bye worked for Ultima, but we expect full lines now. Oh, and don’t let whoever designed the speechcraft minigame near the game.
    7. Lockpicking in real time, as per Thief 3 (or Thief 1/2). It’s tense, but less prone to either being ridiculously easy or hard for certain gamers.
    8. Drop the Big Name Voice Actor, and hire more Small Name Voice Actors. And maybe some quality animators too. Or at least make some of your Small Name Voice Actors do mocap.
    9. Urgent Save the World Quest and Free Roaming Sandbox don’t go well together. Big complaint about Oblivion (and Mass Effect). Pick one or the other. Or, at the very least, let us trigger the Urgent Situation, and then compel us to resolve it before going back to Free Roaming. You can have a game and “Do Anything”, but if you want to create a world, you need reasonable consequences and structure. Suspension of disbelief can only go so far.
    10. Fast travel without encounters or any sort of survival requirement was incredibly convenient, and incredibly boring. You had a much better system in Daggerfall, go back to it and expand it. Oh, and make mounts suck less (mounted combat, maneuverability, etc.). I’m trying hard to think of a game that had mounts and implemented them worse than Oblivion.

  36. Thirith says:

    perilisk, while I agree with most of what you wrote, this one I don’t agree with at all:

    Fix the NPC conversations. … drop the one-keyword conversation system. Name, job, bye worked for Ultima, but we expect full lines now.

    Pre-written, full sentences work for pre-defined main characters, but if I’m supposed to play any character I want fully written lines are counter-productive. They define the PC’s personality, and you can’t provide the equivalent of “name” and “job” for a dozen different personalities.

    There are exceptions: lines where you’re not asking for information so much as making a point, threatening, trying to flatter etc. For those you can easily provide full sentences, but the more generic ones? Leave them as the equivalent of “name, job, bye”, as far as I’m concerned.

  37. OJ287 says:

    Mods are the best market research you can get for a sequel – they need to look at the best mods out there for the predecessor and do them to a pro standard.

    New game areas like moving ships and a castle builder would be a step up. I want Bethesda to be ambitious.

  38. MetalCircus says:

    Skyrim? Snooze.

  39. Moonracer says:

    while my ideas are perhaps still far to ahead for games I would like to see and Oblivion type game where the NPCs and buildings/vehicles are all controlled through a sort of very slow RTS system. Like a giant RTS skirmish between two or more computer opponents and you essentially acting as a freelance unit on the field.

    Set the pacing and AI gamemasters up right and you’ve got a real live dynamic world with an insane amount of replay value (every game plays out different!

  40. Ergates says:

    What perilisk said.

  41. Jason Moyer says:

    Eh, Skyrim? So basically Bloodmoon then?

    I’ve always wished they’d do a game in Black Marsh or Summerset Isle.

  42. David says:

    I want to see werewolves with 2 claws visible for attacking people, and vampires with coven quests, and a coven that you can interact with. please. if not I really will not buy this new game.

  43. David says:

    the whole surprise of “hey the main game quest just got easier because i was attacking this thing and it infected me with a disease that makes my stats stronger but i have to pay a small annoying price” has just faded off into the distance… what’s with the segregation of this element of power and mystery? this was not something that was meant to be on a seperate cd people…

  44. John says:

    This is what I want:
    SHIPS that you can sail around on.Pirate combat between ships.

    Horses/mounted combat, modelled directly after Mount And Blade. Like Bethesda should just buy the Mount And Blade company and use that engine directly.

    More openness.
    A better developed ecosystem- the plants look good but I’d like to see more animals running around in it.
    More atmospherics/weather. Morrowind nailed that but Oblivion really felt dry in that regard.

    Keeping the levelling system about like it is in Fallout 3. Much better than the Oblivion one.

    Tons and tons of equipment and spells.

  45. John says:

    Thirith, they actually did a great job of good dialogue in Fallout 3, and had it character-dependent by making basically any character stat be fair game for triggering a new dialogue option. When talking to Reilly I used the Gun Nut Perk, the Medicine Skill, and my Karma Level all at once. That’s a great way to have it character dependent.

  46. theRobzilla says:

    I agree with Pidesco, an in game economy would be a nice addition. With traveling traders, ala Fallout 3. Also, after buying all the houses and everything to go in them, and selling Daedric armor for less than half of what it’s worth just to acquire huge sums of septims just became a dead end. There should be more opportunities to spend your wealth on worthwhile things. Like hiring a merc do to your dirty work, or opening a shop where traveling npc’s and traders could buy all the loot you’ve acquired. I know it would likely not be a main focus for Bethesda, but it would be a great addition.
    Also, bring back Boats and Giant fleas for fast travel; and mark and recall to more than one location.

  47. Blindtostito says:

    Look theres only one thing I want in this game. That would be skooma. Not just skooma, no fuck you. A mountain of skooma. One I can dive in then come up look at all the people who try to get my skooma and go “No fuck you! This is my skooma, fuck you! Then I can make a tower where I throw skooma down at crowds then jump down and retrieve it, no fuck you thats not it! You can only drink four potions, no fuck you, I can drink skooma like a wolf that just came out of hibernation! And the city of skooma! What about the city of skooma!? No fuck you, I didnt get it in Oblivion, I want it this time around. Yes where there is skooma showers and the lightning bolts hit you with a jolt of skooma, no fuck you it is possible. You have the power to make this game out of pure skooma, do it. It shouldnt matter where it is, no no no fuck you, all that matters is that there is skooma.

  48. Blindtostito says:

    I also agree with the other opinions posted despite the fact that I am distracted by my brilliant ideas. Really, a mountain of skooma, think about… no fuck you.

  49. Jeremy says:

    Spoiler alert for Oblivion? Maybe? Play it for 10 minutes and you’ll be unspoiled at any rate.

    I’d like to see the story develop in a way that is more interesting and lends itself more to justifying the 35 hours of exploration before actually advancing the plot. In Oblivion, you’re in jail, then holy crap the King dies then… is that an elven tomb? Oh look, a run down fort.. 30 hours later (or months in game time) you suddenly remember you just witnessed the murder of the king and should probably investigate it for a bit. Strangely, everything else stands in the same place too. It just seems like there are these huge things happening in the world that nobody cares about. Oblivion gates? BFD, I’m going to wander back and forth between the castle and my home. This is more a complaint with plot development than anything else, it just seems like Bethesda jumps into this huge dramatic story arc so quickly that it doesn’t make sense to include any exploration (thankfully they still do). I know its a game, but still, if I just witnessed a king get murdered and he cryptically mutters a prophecy of cataclysmic portents, I *might* check it out before satiating my wanderlust. Maybe that’s just me. Perhaps easing into the story would make things like traveling for 5 months straight more acceptable. Would it make sense to have a point of no return? Functionally it may not work, but in the world of reality it certainly makes a whole lot more sense.

    I also liked the idea (I don’t remember who wrote it, and quite frankly, I’m not going to reread all the above posts) of rumors and things like that actually referring to something in the game that is not quest related. It’s all about building a world and creating smaller stories within that world to make it authentic. Fallout 3 started things moving in this direction and, honestly, I connected more with all the little side stories in Fallout than I did in the main story. Bethesda built a better world than a main quest, and I applaud them, now they just need to bring those concepts together.

    Which brings me to another point, don’t make a single followable main quest. I’m going to reference Fallout in this little quip: If I leave the vault and decide, hey, I’m evil and I’m going to become a raider, why in the world would I even care about my father or fighting the Enclave? It just doesn’t make sense that I would go about murdering, pillaging and cavorting… then find my dad and save the WORLD. Seriously.

    Last thing, make the characters a part of the world around them. React to things around them, like shooting their partner with a sniper rifle. I would run, why doesn’t the npc? Hey, I saved your life and all you’re going to say is, “Welcome to Megaton” for the next 45 years of your life? Even a repeatable yet believable phrase would be better, like, I don’t know, “Hey, what’s up?” or whatever periodically / geographically / racially correct dialogue that would be.

    Honestly, a lot of these things are minor in the sense of functionality. Does the game work without these things added, sure, it’ll still get a bunch of 9s and 10s, but it just breaks the immersion of a game when NPC’s react just the way we would expect a code controlled AI script to react.

  50. Thirith says:

    Definitely agree on that one. What gets me about Oblivion is that they have the toolkit to make all of that happen, but they screw it up with writing that’s at best perfunctory, at worst laughable and with plotting that is transparently “gamey”. Heck, they even manage it every now and then with great quests, but the main quest is so… nothingy.

    I enjoy Oblivion for the world it creates (especially with the Unique Landscapes mods) – I basically play it as a sort of soothing walking simulator with the occasional quest in between, though.

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