User Interfarce: Skyrim’s Silly Choices

By Jim Rossignol on November 14th, 2011 at 1:31 pm.

Graphics are options are just behind that mountain.
Oh, Skyrim. I really am so enamoured by your peaks, and your misty valleys. Oh, what a beautiful world, filled with possibility and with cheese. Oh, Skyrim, let us bask in the the spook of your ghosts and squirm in the horror of your catacombs. Let us be gleefully smacked about by giants and devoured by dragons. Let us steal hats and trade them for unexpected potions. Oh, Skyrim. There’s so much to you that there are even ants crawling on this log! Blimey.

And then we bring up the menu. Oh, Skyrim.

UPDATE: Someone went to the trouble illustrating what I am talking about, here.

I’m embarrassed, basically. Embarrassed that I have to sit here writing about fucking interfaces and menus when I should be talking about the fascinating bigger picture of a broad, detailed, open-world RPG. Man, when there’s so much going on in this game, and so much to talk about, why did I have to be the one who put up his hand and said: “But what about that crappy interface?”

I know I signed up to be a dork for a living, but for fuck’s sake.

My plight is so: this is the first Bethesda game I’ve ever actually been able to spend serious time in without becoming fatally annoyed. Skyrim has done what their other games have not: it has managed to not eject me from its world through sheer frustration (as did Oblivion and Fallout 3) and I have begun to get lost in side-quests and exploration as I plod slowly through my career in professional dragon shouting. I like the world. I am enjoying the story. That’s quite the thing.


Then I hit tab, and I sigh. I rumble. Even when played with gamepad, as it is surely meant to be, the back end UI of Skyrim is a horrible clonky mess. Thoughtless, awkward, unhelpful. I don’t think it even tells you to hit tab to exit when you first encounter it. (In fact Kieron tells me he got stuck searching for the exit key the first time he tried to pick something up.) Sure, Fallout 3′s wrist-thing was crap, too, but I don’t care about that right now. I care about Skyrim. And it’s not good enough.

Skyrim’s menu, a huge, unwieldy thing that wants you to scroll from a menu on the left, and then takes over the rest of the screen with sparse “details”, is as cumbersome as any I can imagine, and that’s without the general issues of navigating it with a keyboard and mouse.

Hell, Oblivion’s awkward interface was bad enough, but at least it allowed you to see almost everything at a glance. And sure, Bethesda, take away my stats, but at least allow me to see what I am wearing and equipped with inside the menus? The bonuses I have? Anything? No? And so I have to exit the menu system to look at my character? And I also have scroll through everything just to see what I am carrying? And even when you are clicking about in the menu there’s a huge margin of error with a mouse, that most precise of pointing devices? Come on, Bethesda, this is not the future of RPG interface design we were promised.

And you want to use essentially the same menu for trading? Okay. No. This is not okay. It’s time consuming and opaque. I am a bold fantasy adventurer, not a guy browsing ostentatious Flash-driven websites circa 1999.

Ah, but then there are also the twin horrors of the perk screen and the map. Selecting what bonuses you are going to get is, for some reason, built into a carousel of star constellations… no, stop right there. You can see the problem right away: “a carousel of star constellations”. That is one of those ideas that surely a design team would react to with “yeah, nice idea Dave, but really we just need something that allows the player to see what they are choosing, and what result that will have in the game…” Instead it seems to have made it through to release, delivering a +40% increase to bafflement for anyone who tries to use it. I mean it: a carousel of star constellations. A what. Why.

The issue with that, and much else here is a lack of summary: I want to find what the fuck is going on with my dude! Why are people saying I look like I have the plague? Look under magic -> active affects. Oh, of course. Lucky you bothered to put it in there. I MIGHT NEVER HAVE FOUND IT WITHOUT GOOGLING THE RESULT…. OH.

Then there’s the map. A lovely 3D map. Swish! ZooM! And I can’t see anything because of clouds, and I can’t zoom out far enough to take it all in, or give myself a proper sense of place. Why bother with this at all? Give me a static 2D map, thanks.

There are other crimes, too: you can’t get at the settings – the basic settings of the game – from the main menu. These come when you are inside the game itself. Huh? I can’t get at the parameters for play until I am playing? It’s this sort of illogicality of nesting that makes me want to cry. It doesn’t take an exhaustive study of PC interfaces to see how this stuff can be done sensibly.


Amazingly, if you have a gamepad plugged in the some of keyboard and mouse short cuts fail to work at all. Why? Why not just leave the original binds active, too? Worse, once the gamepad is deactivated, you are faced with keybinds that may or may not rebind, depending on what it is you’ve decided to rebind. The failures seem arbitrary, but they also seem totally unacceptable in one of the biggest PC releases of the year.

It’s funny. I step back and look at this, with Bethesda clearly trying to do something new and slick with their interface, and then I look at the Diablo III beta. And I realise that RPG back-ends work in a certain way for a good reason: we need information. And we need it immediately. And we don’t want faff about scrolling, or getting full-screen renders of the apple in question. We just want the goddamn thing to work – to compare hammer stats, to show us what armour we have, or could have. Diablo III does little that is new with its menus and interface, but it is always RIGHT THERE, and you know what you need. Hit the key and read off the info. Simple! And as a result the experience is silky. The difference here seems to be that Blizzard actually pay attention to the fact that their games are going to come out on the PC. Sure, Bethesda have their hapless console chums to think about, but that should not be at the expense of their fiercest, most loyal, and most creative fanbase. We needed a PC interface. We did not get one.

In conclusion, here are some helpful (and fun!) rules of RPG interface design:

  • When designing a UI, try to design not only for the platform your game is on, but also for the type of game you are making!
  • If it is broken, fix it!
  • If it ain’t broke, please do not invent totally new forms of interface, like those based in stars. Instead: get something that works and polish the fuck out of it.

That’s better. Right, back to thieving more ale.

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464 Comments »

  1. RakeShark says:

    UI apologist/indifference here, but with a twist.

    I like the idea of the constellation perk tree, and it does look good. It is annoying to navigate though because where you want to go isn’t often where you actually go. So having to divebomb around mashing keys in the hopes of getting to the right perk on the tree isn’t what I’d call great functionality. Additionally, the close up view of a single star doesn’t allow me to see what’s immediately next on the tree. However, I like the idea and presentation, it just needs refinement and better control.

    Same thing with the sidebar menu screens. I like the fact it’s not overly complicated, presenting options in plain text all at once as opposed to hiding certain things behind certain sub-screens. I also like that I can use either the mouse hand or keyboard hand to navigate and perform duties, for the most part. It doesn’t pull me out of the game, it let’s me get check on something relatively quickly and get back to faffing off. I don’t like how the mouse is inaccurate at selecting though. When having conversations with NPCs, I have to use a combination of both the keyboard and the mouse to select the talk point I want, as opposed to one or the other. It doesn’t do much other than list things, and doesn’t help you much when deciding between items at quick glance. Also, why couldn’t the vendor’s inventory be on the right side and your inventory be on the left when selling? However, I find the UI tolerable, functional at a base level, and almost always unobtrusive. It just needs more refinement and better control, like above.

    I don’t think this means I have low standards, I think it means I can tolerate these shortcomings and enjoy the rest of the game. Considering the steps taken backwards in Oblivion (and Fallout 3 to some extent), I’m glad BethSoft took a new stab at it rather than try to beat a broken system into our heads. This UI has potential, it just doesn’t reach it.

    Also, I like the fact that there’s no “push enter to start” speedbump screen, the intro movie is only 5 seconds long, and I can quit to desktop from inside the game. I know it seems silly to praise a developer for doing something we demand, but I think of it as training a dog. Sometimes you gotta say “Good boy!” to the dog for sitting when you tell it to sit, especially when it’d rather jump on you and be petted. In comparison, sometimes you gotta tell a developer “Good boy!” for getting the small things right, especially when it’d rather forget those things and assume you’ll deal with it.

    Additional also, has anyone else found Dogmeat’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandpa?

    • psyk says:

      Nope found a giant dead mudcrab though

    • RakeShark says:

      Head South-Southwest from Helgen (the city you were almost executed in) towards some wolf cave I forget the name of, and outside you’ll find a Irish Settler/Labrador/Poodle mix fighting some wolves. Yes, he will join you as a companion.

      I’ve named him Chester.

  2. Shadram says:

    At least there’s a new example for uni courses on UI design to rip apart as how not to design interfaces. Like… why is the inventory on the left, but the magic menu on the right? When I’m in the Inventory, why can’t I switch to the Magic menu without exiting the menus and opening them again? (Even Oblivion allowed this.) Why, when I’m looting a body, does E take an item, except when my mouse highlights my own inventory on the greyed-out parent menu, when E puts my stuff on the dead body?

    It is terrible, and yes, I’m used to it, but it is painful. Especially when the embiggened dialogue option is not the one actually selected, it is, instead the ever-so-slightly-lighter grey one in some random location on the list of options, selected because I nudged my mouse.

    If they can fix what is obviously bugged behaviour (like being able to do everything in the UI using keys, except select OK/Cancel on the confirmation dialogs, which makes me want to punch kittens), I think they could potentially salvage it.

    What they really need to do is use the huge amounts of empty space to give more details. On the inventory categories, why not add the current total weight of all items in that category so that we can easily see where all our junk is? When we open an inventory category, why not put all the stats of the items to the right of their names, so we can compare without having to remember them and click through everything? Maybe even colour code things like Damage and Armour rating so that we can tell if it’s better/worse than what’s equipped? (Again, Oblivion did this. I think. It may have been a mod.)

    On the map, add a Google Earth style overlay of roads, that we can toggle on or off when we want to see the pretty. If a location marker on the map relates to a quest, give at least the quest name in the label when we hover over the marker.

    The star maps… I’m guessing there’s not much can be done about that. But they really need to add which “category” each skill tree belongs to. One of the first things you do in the game is activate a stone to select which skills increase faster: Thief, Fighter or Wizard. But where in the UI does it tell you which skill belongs to which category? Is Marksman a Fighting skill or a Stealth skill? Light armour? Alchemy: wizard (potions) or thief (poisons)?

    All of these things should have been spotted by someone in Bethesda. I’m a dev at a mid-sized software company, and we have a team of designated “UI gurus” who have to validate every form or interface change that gets designed. I can’t imagine BethSoft not having the same. Even a small amount of focus testing would have revealed plenty of issues, and I’m baffled how these issues could reach the final release.

    • RakeShark says:

      Re: The color coding of stats if they’re better or not.

      The game actually does this. If you’re in the weapons bar of the inventory screen, “Damage” appears with a number next to it. Green and red numbers appear next to the Damage number when you mouse-over different weapons. With armor, you’ll be in the apparel bar, and “Damage” is replaced with “Armor”, with the same green and red numbers for better or worse stats.

      However, it seems as of now that’s a bit broken, as the +/- aren’t accurate. Selecting the sword I have equipped gives me a +9 to damage. I suspect it’ll be fixed in a patch.

    • Shadram says:

      Yes, but until you scroll to that item and select it, you can’t see this.

      There’s also little up arrows on some items in the list, which I suspect is supposed to tell you which is the “best” item in each category (that’s a guess, there’s no tooltips to tell you what the obscure little icons mean, obviously, since that’s a very PC idea) but since you can’t sort by item slot, etc, it’s not that useful. You still have to scroll to the item to see what it actually is and whether it’s better for you.

      Another thing I thought of: Weapon speed. It’s not listed anywhere. Maces have the biggest number, so always come out on top when you compare the damage stats, but they’re slow as hell compared to daggers and swords. But nowhere lists weapon speeds, or how the base damage can be interpreted as damage per second. So a lot of the stats they do give you are pretty useless anyway.

      Fallout 3 had DPS, so why not Skyrim? It seems that a lot of the decisions made were due to them confusing “streamlining complexity” with “removing information.”

    • RakeShark says:

      So if I’m understanding you correctly, you would rather the information be shown something akin to boarderlands. Like for example, if the weapon is laying on the ground, and you look at it, you want immediate information saying if it’s better than what you currently have equipped, right? I can understand the desire for wanting something like that. For me, however, that feels a little bit too much like a Diablo-style loot system, and Skyrim isn’t that. It’s not like an iron dagger you pick up at level 3 is any different from an iron dagger you pick up at level 38, skill enhancements aside.

      I will however say I do agree there should be a quicker way to compare items against each other beyond “Okay that’s 10 *scroll scroll scroll* and that’s 9.” A “Compare” option that lists the appropriate items for comparison (1-handed weapons against each other, helmets against each other, magic staffs against each other) would be nice.

      As for DPS, I don’t think that also fits the playstyle of Skyrim. For mouse-button mashing, base damage is fine for the system, I don’t think the game needs to spell it out for you how much damage an iron dagger does against an orc wearing ebony armor when he’s blocking. I do agree that weapon speed should be included in the item description. I kinda intuitively figured that swords are faster than axes, and axes are faster than maces (it’s also one of the loading screen tips), but for someone who can’t figure it out it’d be nice to have that information repeated on demand. I’d also like to know how much damage a standard power attack does.

      So yeah, there should be a little more information made available using the space given, but I’d rather not go stat crazy with it. I’m also ignoring those little up arrows, I guess you’re right in that they say that item is the best, but it’s inconsistent like the +/- thing, so I just base my decisions on the actual numbers, not the recommendations.

      Also, I disagree about the Google Map road thing. That’d be kinda like playing Batman: Arkham Asylum with detective mode on all the time, cheating yourself because there’s no downside to it other than missing the art. I like Skyrim for not telling me “THIS IS THE WAY TO GET FROM WHITERUN TO THAT LITTLE MINE OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE!”. If I really need that, I’ll use the Fable 2/3 spell Clairvoyance. It’s not spelled out for you, but you can select any point on the map, and Clairvoyance will tell you the least tricky way to get there if you have no quests highlighted/tracked. I also use the piles of stones as signs if I’m on a trail or not. I’m ex-Army, so land nav is kinda easy for me, especially with games like Morrowind/Oblivion/Skyrim because the world is consistent wherever I’m standing at the moment.

      I just think having roads spelled out for you on the map would hinder the encouragement to stop explore. I spent an hour faffing about while escorting a pilgrim to some tree, wondering if I should cross the river here or there, or which side of the river fork I should be on. I found things I’d otherwise had never seen if I just stayed on the hard-etched line of point A to point B. At most, I’d tolerate a major road between capitals, even then I’d want that to be an earned skill, not a given option.

      I will however agree with you in most that the UI could do to provide more of the right information that we need. I just don’t think a blanket demand of “MORE INFO” without care for how it helps you is what it needs.

    • RakeShark says:

      Actually, I think I can compromise with the Google Map idea without being bitter or stubborn about it. Just thought about it for a minute.

      If you travel on the roads, the parts of the roads you actually walk on are revealed as you go on the big map.

      That way, if you want to find the road again using the map, you can pick up where you left off. A completionist has the motivation to map out all the roads, a more casual player doesn’t feel like the game is making things hard on him/her without spelling it out, and the “screw what the game says, I’m going THIS way” crowd aren’t told they’re doing it wrong.

    • Shadram says:

      The DPS stat is the only useful stat for comparing 2 weapons. Damage per swing means nothing on its own, especially when combat is basically click-click-click-click like Skyrim’s, so you’re swinging as fast as the weapon allows. If you’re also given the weapon speed, all you’re actually doing is calculating the DPS by dividing/multiplying (depends how they represent speed) the two numbers together.

      I don’t think having tooltips appear when pointing at an item before picking it up is necessary (and would spoil the immersion in the world a little bit, too). But the information is needed in the menus (including the looting screen, so I guess that’s before you pick it up…) Either do the Oblivion thing and have the basic stats as part of the item list, or the World of Warcraft route and show 2 tooltips when you hover the mouse over an item name in the menu: one with its stats, and one with the stats of whatever item you have equipped in that slot, so that you can compare them.

      I may attract some ire for mentioning WoW, but I find WoW’s interface an almost perfect example of an RPG UI (unmodded, and for general questing, not raids). The character screen is tiny, the inventory not much more than a grid of icons, and yet I’ve never once been confused, or been unable to find information that I wanted to know. Yeah, it’s very PC centric, but I can think of many ways it could be easily converted to use for a gamepad.

    • RakeShark says:

      I still don’t think DPS is the right stat to represent weapon ability in this game. For a game based on dice rolls in realtime, that’s fine. But Skyrim isn’t dice based. You and I could be using the same weapon on the same beastie at the same level with the same effecting skills, but our DPS could be way different. It’s entirely possible that I could have a better DPS than you swinging once every 3 seconds than you constantly swinging away the whole time, and we’re not talking about lucky crits, we’re talking about simply attacking at the right time.

      The beastie’s I’ve come up against like to block a lot, so my DPS already doesn’t match the pre-calculated best-condition. The combat is also hitbox based, not swing/roll/hit’or’miss, so you can miss a swing and have no one to blame but yourself. DPS relies on the system of every fight being the same exchange every time, but I haven’t found a melee fight that’s been the same situation from before. I wouldn’t turn the damage number into DPS, because I think that would misrepresent the stats of a weapon as to how combat is actually performed in the game. I would however include how fast the weapon swings in the item information bar.

      Base damage and speed of attack are all you really need to know in Skyrim, DPS just gives you an arbitrary number in between that doesn’t tell you how the weapon handles.

      I haven’t played WoW in a long-ass time, and the UI for that is so varied between mods that I can’t really find a baseline for comparison. I think the style and functionality complimented the gameplay in WoW, but a relative copy pasta wouldn’t do the same for a game like Skyrim, except to give gamers that old-school menu feel. Which some of them long for I’ll admit, but I don’t think that’s the best way to do it.

  3. psyk says:

    To people who can’t work out what they’re wearing, What happens when you click on a bit of armour or a weapon? a hint look next to the name of the item you equipped what has changed from when it wasn’t equipped?

    “On the map, add a Google Earth style overlay of roads, that we can toggle on or off when we want to see the pretty.”

    That would be nice

  4. JackShandy says:

    I thought I was the only one who noticed those ants!

    At the moment I cannot for the life of me find the “Drop Item” key. R doesn’t work. Neither does any other key, or clicking on “Drop Item”. I have to plug in my Xbox controller every time I have to drop things – then unplug it when I want to use the keyboard.

    Skyriiiiiiiiiim.

    • Shadram says:

      Remapping controls breaks a lot of the menu keybinds. I originally swapped the F and R keys (I’ve always used F to draw weapons, and was getting irritated by the constant switching to 3rd person when I tried to put my sword away) but after doing so, I wasn’t able to set any favourites: R continued to drop stuff, and F did nothing at all. I had to switch back and force myself to get used to the key swap.

      EDIT: I also spotted the ants, and was then very disappointed that I couldn’t eat them. Fortunately, I’d filled up on butterflies, so didn’t starve.

  5. yrrnn says:

    I haven’t trawled through all the comments to see if this has been said or not yet, but:

    While I do think the PC interface is not great for pc, and a little broken in its current state, it of course still works well and is made for the gamepad. And the problem with making a different interface for PC is this: you can still use a gamepad on the PC version, and in fact that is a requirement of the Games for Windows standard.

    While I don’t think they’ve done things the best way they could have, and I would still love to see a redesign, I can understand why it is a lot easier to just mod the existing console interface to work ok with mouse and keyboard as well as the gamepad, rather than creating a whole new interface for the pc that then would not work properly on the gamepad.

    My biggest problem with the current interface is that it seems a little bit buggy with the mouse, where you keep selecting things that you didn’t mean to. There are two different selection methods at work at the same time – moving the entire list up and down with a button so the selected one is enlarged and highlighted, and selecting something with the mouse, which just gets highlighted when you mouse over it. The problem arises when both of these things are happening at the same time, and they don’t work together well in their current state.

    • Saiko Kila says:

      Don’t spread misinformation, please. Games for Windows doesn’t require a game to use a gamepad. It requires any game to support the xbox gamepad – if the game supports any gamepad at all. It may support only xbox pad, all pads, or no pads at all.

  6. Reiveth says:

    I hate to say it but all this sounds extremely nit picky, and just wrong.
    It sounds like you have major OCD and forgot your medication.

  7. DOLBYdigital says:

    I dunno… I don’t mind the interface. It’s not perfect but it doesn’t get in the way of a great game imo. The biggest issue is the odd selecting behavior with the pointer (which can be fixed by scrolling). Otherwise it does the job, although I’m not one to spend lots of time in menus. I like to just play the game :)

  8. tyrspawn says:

    protip RPS:

    Don’t review a game when you are still in the visual overload phase/new stuff is cool phase of being exposed to it. We see a dick sucking of a review by Alec, and then this. The truth is Skyrim is a deeply flawed game that has a number of fundamental flaws and failings, the surface of which is scratched in this review.

    This article is much truer to life than Alec’s piece, which reads like an endorsed writing.

    • BurningPet says:

      So true! how this game gets all those near-perfect scores is beyond me. anyone said Empire: Total war?

      blind reviewers. any single one of ‘em lost any credibility they may once had.

    • Saldek says:

      @tyrspawn: A protip from you? That’s just bizarre.

  9. Gwog says:

    I’m 100% on board with this article. If I could have somehow bottled my rage when I first started, got stuck in some menu, then couldn’t for the life of me figure out even how to fucking get back out to the game, I could have solved mankind’s energy needs for all eternity.

    Forget patches. Yeah, Bethesda MIGHT fix some of the flat-out bugs associated with the UI but they are by now so ultra-ivory tower that significant changes would be unthinkable to expect from them. Since each game is bringing the Elder Scrolls closer to becoming a pure shooter I would guess community response to things like this become less and less important.

    I am desperately awaiting the efforts of the modders.

  10. thebigJ_A says:

    This article boggles me.
    This game has the best interface, with a gamepad, of any rpg I’ve played!

    In a half second I go from leveling up, to setting my spells and seeing active effects, to managing my (well-categorized) inventory, to the map, and back into the game again. It’s smooth, fast, and effortless. There’s no need to see my character in the inventory, since I can switch back and forth from the inventory to my actual character, instantly.

    The favorites thing is helpful as well.

    Well done, for once, Bethesda.

    • Saldek says:

      For me, having an interface in a PC game that only works decently with a gamepad means having a bad interface. I’ll hardly be playing an RPG with a gamepad.

      I can’t recall Bethesda stating that a gamepad is a requirement, so I don’t see why people shouldn’t be annoyed about this. If using a gamepad works for you, that’s fine, but it doesn’t detract from the validity of other commenters complaints.

  11. gmcleod says:

    It’s articles like this that remind me of the Poms’ capacity to whinge about everything.

    As people have stated some stats are available, equipped items are marked, your best weapons and armors have little arrows next to them, and active effects are hidden away in the magic screen.

    While it would be convenient to have a proper character screen to better see current status, maybe make more use of that empty space occupied by the 3D item render, and while sometimes the controls go to shit, it’s really not that bad, and I’m having too much fun with the game to care.

  12. Lowbrow says:

    @yutt Maps of the kind you want weren’t really available til the Renaissance, and then highly expensive and not all that accurate. Medieval pilgrims were lucky to have a “map” to Jerusalem that listed the towns on the road in order.

  13. All4n says:

    Yep, it could be better.

    But it does not make me not love skyrim anyway.

    I hope for some good mods.

  14. amorpheous says:

    Oh, Skyrim! :’(

    Didn’t Todd Howard himself acknowledge the shitness of Oblivion’s menus and promise to deliver a better UI for Skyrim? I guess he was only talking about consoles then.

    Forty plus hours into the game now and I can’t be arsed with the shitness of the menus anymore. I think I’ll wait until the Creation Kit is released. Anyone know when it’ll be released?

  15. sebmojo says:

    I think you’re playing a different game from me Wulf. I’m playing the one where a shopkeeper says ‘I’ll, uh, even buy yer wife if you bring her in! That was a, heh, a joke. Heh.” Where kids goggle admiringly at my flamey hands then challenge me to a game of hide and seek. Game got so much fucking soul.

    But you know – it’s ok! Go! Play something else! You’re a smart guy, it’s a pity to see you wasting your time on something you hate.

  16. sebmojo says:

    That was a misreply, but it stands as a general Wulf-note so I’ll not bother finding the post I meant to reply to.

  17. vash47 says:

    The game is unplayable to me for those reasons.

  18. Cyberspark says:

    Bethesda are extremely unlikely to fix it, Fallout and Oblivion have been riddled with problems from falling through the world to DLC NPCs being locked inside locked areas. These expansion crippling issues were never patched or at least never patched well. There is little to no chance of them bothering to redesign the interface to be more effective, perhaps patch mouse accuracy and some bugs, but the chances that we’ll be able to see stats and effects? It seems to me they deliberately designed the UI to avoid people from seeing stats, to stop min/maxing and getting players just to focus on playing how they want to play rather than working out what is the best and most powerful route to take. But diseases being hidden away in magical effects? Come on. Some of the effects aren’t even named correctly, the description contrasts to the name of the effect. Ok, so I have 12 effects, 4 of them come from one item, and one of them is actually 5 different effects from one item, yet it puts them all under one name. Bethesda have never successfully patched a game yet in my eyes, we’ll have to wait another 4 years for Elder Scrolls 6 before we see an improvement.

  19. Randdalf says:

    You know I guess I’m in the minority because I think the menu is superb… then again I’m in another minority since I’m using a 360 controller to play on the PC, which is probably why it works so well. I did have a quick go with the mouse and keyboard and it certainly did feel a bit clunky. What I do not understand though, is the criticism of the map – it’s gorgeous and as functional as a map need be.

    On that Skyrim v Morrowind inventory screenshot, one thing that I can take away, is that I really like having text labels as opposed to icons.

  20. Squirrelly says:

    Oohhhhhhhh, I was also wondering why everyone said I looked awful…Thanks for the heads up!

    • Squirrelly says:

      But, I haven’t had any trouble with the menus (using a 360 controller). The map is a bit frustrating, mainly in the corners, but I actually like the way it looks enough to prefer it over a 2D map. I do wish there was a way to seem my character and his buffs at a glance, as well as a better way to compare weapons and armor

  21. uns3en says:

    The article is very valid. I find it extremely tedious to scroll through 300+ somewhat “sorted” items in my chest just to find what I need. And to make it even worse, there’s NO SCROLLBAR! 1 minor misclick CLOSES THE CHEST ALTOGETHER. Seriously? You go through your stuff and manage to miss while placing your mouse cursor over an item/option for whatever reason and you get completely thrown out of your storage container ending up scrolling through the whole list yet again. Selecting and viewing perks with a mouse is even worse since you can’t see the whole branch clicking around becomes just awkward and I have to resort to keyboard yet again. Same goes for map, you can’t see the whole thing, but you can’t even grab & drag it to find what you need. And those clouds make my VGA fans go wild (instant 100% fan speed). I too fail to understand the logic behind such a choice, since having no clouds at all would allow for a nicer map (the one you can actually see) and better overall performance (having map open for too long overheats my graphics card and causes Skyrim to lag badly).
    Otherwise mainly positive experience tainted by cumbersome, unpolished and buggy UI, what a shame.
    PS. Using a controller is a no-go for 2 reasons: 1. I don’t own any consoles or controllers; 2. I hate aiming with one (mouse is just so much better).

  22. The man stan says:

    “Hell, Oblivion’s awkward interface was bad enough, but at least it allowed you to see almost everything at a glance. And sure, Bethesda, take away my stats, but at least allow me to see what I am wearing and equipped with inside the menus? The bonuses I have? Anything? No? And so I have to exit the menu system to look at my character? And I also have scroll through everything just to see what I am carrying? And even when you are clicking about in the menu there’s a huge margin of error with a mouse, that most precise of pointing devices? Come on, Bethesda, this is not the future of RPG interface design we were promised.”

    Are you an idiot? They’ve divided everything into easy tabs (Skills,Items,Map, and Magic.) It makes the process much more simple than any other elder scrolls out. In Oblivion i had to scroll through the pointless screen telling me my name race and level and class then the stats or perks i picked at the beginning of the the game after that i see my major skills, then onto the quests, (which i have to push one button to view now.) Just to see my map. The interface for oblivion was a mess, which they improved on much in this game. You can even see everything you pick up in full detail. If you missed you’re skills since you stated they’ve been taken away your an idiot, also have you even looked through your magic menu? You’re bonuses are there along with the simple separation of each magic type (restoration,destruction ect..) They’ve even included a favorites where you can quickly equip anything you frequently use, let it be magic, armor, weapons, or food.

    “The issue with that, and much else here is a lack of summary: I want to find what the fuck is going on with my dude! Why are people saying I look like I have the plague? Look under magic -> active affects. Oh, of course. Lucky you bothered to put it in there. I MIGHT NEVER HAVE FOUND IT WITHOUT GOOGLING THE RESULT…. OH.” My question is, how do you have job?

  23. rps1 says:

    I’d like to respond to a couple of points I noticed browsing through the comments.

    1. Browsing through the in-game menus and looking what’s in the Magic section was probably one of the first things I did. You immediately see the Active Effects section (which is not really different from previous TES games).

    2. “The article is very valid. I find it extremely tedious to scroll through 300+ somewhat “sorted” items in my chest just to find what I need.” This is a valid concern. But you can remedy that by using different storage containers for different categories. I have ingredients and potions close to the lab in my house. Weapons and apparal in two different containers near my bed, etc. The only thing helping with this would be an interface with sorting and filtering capabilities. I don’t know of any game that comes even remotely close to such a thing (except WoW, but only with a custom interface addon). Certainly not Morrowind (who likes to hover over dozens and dozens of items with the same icon?).

    3. Regarding the left/right hand/mouse button complaints. Every game I know has the primary attack on the left mouse button, even though it triggers usually a weapon in the right hand of the character. Skyrim just follows this by default. I think I would be more annoyed if they just switched it by default.

    4. The Magic screen is probably on the right-hand side so you can just keep pressing left to open a sub-category (and the Items screen on the left, so you can keep pressing right). I don’t find this to be an issue.

    Maybe I’m a quick learner, or somehow gifted. But I find the navigation of the menus with WASD very efficient compared to aiming with the mouse (which is, regardless of game, more cumbersome even with a higher sensitivity). Mind you, as I said before, it’s not without flaws. Sometimes, when working on an item stack, the selection shifts to the previous item (probably a bug). And I’d love to have icons for items, and a slot view for my character.

  24. stillwater says:

    Hey, be nice. They obviously gave the interface design to an intern, and it was obviously his/her first time designing an interface. Actually, I think they did an ok job, considering.

  25. fastica says:

    Skyrim, the first RPG where you open the map and you have to guess where the north is.