Mods And Ends: Daggerfall & The XL Engine

By Adam Smith on November 18th, 2011 at 6:40 pm.

VEEEENGEEAAANNCEEE

I haven’t been adding to the well of words about Skyrim, mostly because I haven’t actually managed to play it yet. Every day I think that I’ll put aside part of my evening for it but what I really need is a 48 hour period with no commitments so that my exploration can properly begin. Being a contrary entity, I have been thinking about Daggerfall this week though and talking with friends about the excitement of stepping onto that immense continent for the first time led me to check on its current status.

In the years since release, things have been fairly quiet but the following has never gone away. Mention of the game brings about a reverent sigh from the right sort of person. It is now available for free, released as such by Bethesda themselves, but can be a swine to run on a modern system. However, through the magic of Dosbox and the first of our downloads, things should go much smoother for you. Grab this, which provides the fully patched game along with a pre-configured DosBox and a few extra quests. Those quests were originally only available for people who bought the game at CompUSA, which may make them one of the earliest examples of this sort of bullpoo.

The majority of the mods out there come in the form of cosmetic tweaks (the faces were ugly and misaligned back then too) and extra quests. As I’ll establish below, extra quests are not necessary to expand playing time but they do add variety and what is life without that? Spiceless. But you don’t need them to add spice here because Daggerfall is the largest game that has ever existed. A clearly deranged reprobate once tried to tell me that “space sims are surely much larger?” but I scoffed at him so incessantly that he backed away slowly and then fled.

You can find all of those additions here under ‘unofficial add-ons’ and I’d strongly recommend the first ever, which goes by the name of AndyFall. Among many other tweaks, it places town guards on horseback, which makes being chased by them much more exciting. It also means that if they arrive at a house that you’re burgling, they’ll ride up the stairs on their mounts, which is a sight everyone should see at least once.

Then there’s the XL Engine, which is the main reason for this post if you discount the nostalgic warbling that follows these two paragraphs. If you haven’t heard of the XL Engine already, it’s a custom-built framework to run old games. Essentially, it totally overhauls them, with all sorts of visual enhancements and improved modding support, so it’s almost as if they are being ported onto modern systems. Daggerfall XL is far from finished yet but it’s a hugely intriguing project, which is seeing steady progress.

It goes without saying that Daggerfall is never going to look like Skyrim, but the results, even in the current 0.199 version, are impressive. As with so many mods, the work that has gone into this is astounding. The assets for the games aren’t publicly available so they have been rebuilt from the ground up. And in Daggerfall’s case that’s a lot of ground.

It’s about more than improving the game’s visuals though. Projects like XL keep these worlds alive and, hopefully, create fresh interest in them. The engine also supports Dark Forces, which is at a more advanced stage than Daggerfall, and ports of Blood and Outlaws seem to be coming along nicely as well. That’s Blood, the Build3D game starring Caleb, who was a trenchcoat wearing Ash-alike with a borrowed quip for every situation. And Outlaws, one of the very few decent PC versions of the wild west. It’s worth visiting the XL site just to be reminded of how incredible those games were and to look forward to playing them again.

Despite my seeming inability to find time to play the damn thing, I have shared in the anticipation for Skyrim and it has reminded me of the many trips I took to Electronics Boutique waiting for Daggerfall to be released. The internet couldn’t tell me when it had been delayed because this was the distant past and all communication between publishers and purchasers was performed through a teenaged middleman in the form of a monetary transaction at a till.

The shop had a cardboard cutout of the Lich King by the door and that was enough to make me believe the game was imminent, until a monthly magazine informed me of yet another postponement. But every Friday, as I stopped by after school, I would dutifully stop by only to find the release date had been pushed back yet again. When I finally had the unwieldy box in my hands, I was sure of it; this was going to be the best game ever. Bigger than anything I’d played before, with more scope to play a series of characters who would pick their own paths, never experiencing the same journey.

Dungeons were explored, often proving maddeningly unfeasible to map out in their entirety and occasionally containing twisting corridors that led to sudden drops into stygian depths from which it was impossible to escape. It’s probably a fair portrayal. If I chose to turn from leaping across rooftops and robbing houses to explore dank holes in the ground, it stood to reason that I might find myself trapped in the crumbled remains of a former prison or the labyrinthine temple devoted to some dark abomination.

Forget the broken interiors though. Approaching dungeons was often more thrilling than calamitously dying inside them. I hated the idea of quick travelling from the start – what was the point in having so much to see if I would be skipping across most of it? It’d be like taking a train through the Italian lakes and sleeping through the journey because you actually wanted to reach your destination. The destination be damned. I wanted to walk.

Did I mention that Daggerfall is bloody enormous? You could probably fit Skyrim inside the warren-like tunnels of one of its larger dungeons. It’s THAT big. True enough, much of the content is recycled, with every mid-sized town suspiciously similar to the last, so often the size serves no purpose other than to provide the illusion of content, but there is plenty of content. Just take a look at the list of available quests, many of which were of the generic nature and therefore could be repeated in different places for different people. Infinite dragons? Pah! Daggerfall was dynamically generating infinite everything years ago!

For the sake of my sanity I soon gave up on trekking from place to place but the approach to a dungeon was always worth savouring. Maybe because the terrain was so featureless, the area around a dungeon always seemed exactly as it should; a blighted and wicked aberration. Like a cigarette burn on finely stitched needlework. Apprehension set in and if the stars were wheeling in the heavens above, I’d often camp beneath the broken pillars that reached skywards like the rotten teeth of a dead god.

It was counterintuitive because where I was going, it would be dark anyway. But somehow, knowing that I could flee back to the sunlit surface if I ran into trouble was reassuring.

After Daggerfall, I fell out of love with the Elder Scrolls series for a while. That’s not a comment on Morrowind and Oblivion, it’s simply a statement of fact. I didn’t play either of them for long enough to form a critical opinion because I was investing the vast swathes of time they require elsewhere. Strategy games and skipping around the world in search of new horizons, my student loan nipping at my heels like a once-adored family pet now abandoned because its sickly face requires extortionate veterinary bills. And if that sounds callous, you don’t know how big those bills are. Not as big as Daggerfall, sure, but probably bigger than Skyrim.

I don’t know. How big is Skyrim? I’ve seen a map but that doesn’t really tell me anything. England looks massive on olden maps drawn by cartographers with imperialistic British paymasters. I really need to play it, don’t I?

However, first of all, I’m determined to spend some more time in Daggerfall so that I can compare the two without nostalgia completely clouding my view, and see for myself how the workings of time and technology have changed Tamriel.

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135 Comments »

  1. ResonanceCascade says:

    I tried installing this the other day, but could not for the life of me get it to work. Which isn’t the end of the world, because I’m still having a lot of fun going back through the vanilla game, even though it is depressingly repetitive and frighteningly huge.

    • lorddon says:

      Try this, they seem to have wrapped it up in a nice neat Dosbox installer that even works in Win7:
      http://theelderscrolls.wiwiland.net/?title=Daggerfall_:_DaggerfallSetup

      Edit: Ah, and I see they already included the link in the story itself. Pardon me.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Yeah, I worded that poorly. I have Daggerfall working fine, I meant the XL engine. It doesn’t register that my game files are in the folder for some reason.

    • gorzan says:

      yeah, I can get the DosBox ready version to work with the engine, and it’d be easier to use that version than installing the bugfixes and extra missions on bethesda’s version, it’s not an eye of argonia issue, I tryed installing it without it…

  2. Teronfel says:

    Wow it looks nice

  3. Rinox says:

    Ah, Daggerfall. One of my first great computer game loves.

    Yoy forgot to mention the almost unmatched character creation system though Adam! It was…glorious.

    • Adam Smith says:

      I would never have stopped writing if I hadn’t restrained myself – character creation was – nay, is! – superb.

      In some vague way, I wanted to concentrate on the feeling of the world, since that’s what XL seeks to change rather than the underlying stuff. I’ll no doubt revisit it all again at some point.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Indeed. I love that the game didn’t totally gimp you for being a lower level mage. In fact, being a mage kicks ass at lower levels.

      While I do consider Morrowind and Skyrim vastly superior games, the character-y stuff in Daggerfall puts them both to shame.

    • Wizardry says:

      Out of all the RPGs I’ve played, Daggerfall has the best character creation.

  4. Ted Brown says:

    The opening of Daggerfall is forever emblazoned in my mind. You stagger from a near-fatal boat accident and wake up in a cave. As far as the world is concerned, you have left it behind for the afterlife. Finally, you escape to open skies and snow-covered landscapes, dead as your old life, and yet full of promise for the next life to come. Then the music gently starts, wolves howl in the distance, and you wrap your tattered rags around your body as you march towards rebirth.

    The frosty realms of Skyrim might be denser than Daggerfall. But for meditative peace in primitive lands, and time to reflect on beauty, it is a return to form.

  5. asshibbitty says:

    This XL business may be the only mod of its kind that doesn’t make the world feel smaller. Trekking in Daggerfall. Heh. Well at least it’s possible, unlike space sims where you have to use jumps to get anywhere. Skyrim is pretty big, and feels even bigger since you can’t just walk straight. Still very compressed, sometimes not enough, like having to run across a loooong bridge to enter a city.

  6. DoctorChewy says:

    Daggerfall! I may still have played this more than any game in the history of time. I achieved bugger all, natch, because dungeons were endless, impossible labyrinths, but that game. The screaming dead guy used to scare the turd out of me. Also a serial killer vampire in a city. And that music.

    /nostalgiaoverload

    Almost impossible to control now though, but still fun if you get the dungeon cheat.

    • Waltorious says:

      You are aware, I hope, that the original game featured mouselook control? It was not the default option, however, so things start with clunky mouse-based movement. Switch that off and you’ve basically got the same controls as Morrowind, except unlike Morrowind you still have to actually choose which kind of strikes to use with your weapon rather than just selecting “always use best attack”.

    • Caleb367 says:

      Oh hell yes, one of the most underrated games ever. I still remember someone saying that its dungeons were convoluted like mating octopi, which is rather accurate XD

      ‘sides, damn you, now I have to fish youtube for that awesome music played on snowy days. I used to climb atop a building – namely the Odd Blades in Daggerfall itself – and do nothing save watching the city live under the snowflakes. Sigh.

    • Ted Brown says:

      Serial vampire killer in a city…. hahaha… I once had to murder half an infinite town’s supply of guards escaping a botched robbery, all because I had to find a matching black outfit, and thought it was in character.

  7. Carra says:

    Bethesda’s games are my favorite exploration games. They offer such nice, huge worlds where I just go off and explore. And the exploration is always rewarded when you find strange and wonderful things in the corners of the map. Few other games manage to do that.

  8. vecordae says:

    I never did play Daggerfall. I started with Morrowind and couldn’t wrap my head around the levelling system, so I cursed the series thricely before sodding off to play some overwrought Japanese RPG or another. But playing Skyrim has got me interested in trying out the older games in the series.

    You have convinced me, internets man.

    • tetracycloide says:

      Morrowind’s leveling system is such a horrendous pain I’d would strongly advise using the console to mod yourself to level 30, 100 all skills and attributes, and health of some number I’m not 100% sure of (maybe 150ish? It’s been a while since I played and I cannot recall how much damage you take from things). The game is so much more fun this way since, if you get the health number right, you will feel capable yet fragile at the same time without being super limited early in the game to the only tactics that work at low levels or enduring the awful attribute system’s whimsical nature.

    • Wizardry says:

      You’re basically telling him to play Morrowind with the RPG removed. You are an evil RPG hater and will surely burn in hell.

    • asshibbitty says:

      Pretty sure most will agree Morrowind is more fun before you become unstoppable.

      I wish people would stop shitting on random aspects of Morrowind in these threads.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Wizardy, you’d think after 15 years you would just accept that Bethesda no longer makes RPGs, they make action adventure games with light RPG elements. And a lot of us manage to like those kinds of games, too. This isn’t a binary proposition.

    • Wizardry says:

      @ResonanceCascade: What the hell are you on about? I think you either misinterpreted my post or replied to the wrong one.

    • vecordae says:

      I don’t understand why “role playing” and “monkeying around with complex mathematical abstractions as a form of character progression” are synonymous. I also don’t understand why “role playing” and “turn-based, small squad fantasy combat game” mean the same thing. I get that the CRPG as a genre has its roots in computer adaptations of pen and paper games, but I don’t understand why people gripe so much when it tries to do anything else.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Wizardry, this isn’t that tough, buddy. Put two and two together.

      “You’re basically telling him to play Morrowind with the RPG removed. You are an evil RPG hater and will surely burn in hell.”

    • Wizardry says:

      @ResonanceCascade: And do you even know what that comment actually means? Or are you assuming my post is a criticism of Bethesda?

      @vecordae: What are you talking about? My post has nothing to do with turn-based combat, parties, or TES’ RPG elements.

      It’s like I’m living in a different world where the word “hello” is the most offensive thing ever and is punishable by death.

    • TCM says:

      I think the problem Wizardry, is that the post you are replying to is one that advises removing the horrendous, obtuse, and very unimmersive levelling system from Morrowind. You then complain this takes the RPG out of the game.

      I am missing the part where “playing a role” is defined by “these numbers are higher than these numbers”.

    • Wizardry says:

      No, but you’re missing the part where role-playing games involve characters with different strengths and weaknesses.

    • TCM says:

      Do they really have to?

      If a man’s heavy armor stat is 100, does that imply he is always going to use heavy armor, or will he choose to use light armor?

      I dream of a day where role playing games are actually that — games where you play a role, rather than games where you crunch a number.

    • vecordae says:

      TCM nailed it.

      Maths =/= RPG. I’m not sure why they need to. And I do apologize if my questions generated any confusion. I do pay attention to what I read on the boards and dearest Wizardry’s given me the impression that, in order for an RPG to meet his (or her) standards, it needs to include most, if not all of the elements I mentioned. He’s not the only one who seems to feel this way, so I asked because I was genuinely curious as to why. Just because I don’t get it doesn’t mean it’s stupid.

    • asshibbitty says:

      @TCM

      God damn it. How is it not immersive? You do a thing, then you get better at doing it. It’s automatic. No need to think about numbers, no way to end up with a character incapable of finishing the game. 

    • TCM says:

      The same thing happens in Skyrim, with only the things you get better at doing involved. No need to sit someplace and “level up” random other numbers that have some effect on the numbers of the things you actually got better at.

      To say nothing of multipliers.

    • Stromko says:

      Part of roleplaying is that you assume the role of a character who has strengths and weaknesses. If you’re immediately good at everything you can do in the game and player skill is the only deciding factor, then you might as well just be Marcus Fenix or Doom Marine. Part of roleplaying is that your humble alchemist can’t suddenly find some plate armor and a two-handed sword and instantly master them.

      I think the dividing line here is whether the system must force you to play a role or not. In this case, a system is forcing you to play a somewhat weak person starting out, who must become strong and capable over time. Yes you could start with maximal stats and just act weak at first, but then you’d just be roleplaying a person in real life learning to play an action game.

      edit: The stat multipliers were annoying and silly, I’ll give you that. Having to ‘game’ my skill gain so that I get 10-15 stat points rather than 3, that’s not really immersive or fun for me.

    • asshibbitty says:

      That’s it? The need to assign three points every now and then to make levelling somewhat more meaningful. How immersion breaking.

      ^^^ you don’t need to “game” anything. Just play the way you way to play.

    • TCM says:

      I never said you shouldn’t improve over time — I said that having numbers involved is pointless, there are other equally valid ranking systems, that could be much more immersive.

      Hide the numbers, let me figure out how good I am at swinging a sword based on what people say about it.

      My primary problem with Morrowind — and Oblivion’s — levelling system is the need to decide _from the start of the game_ that you want to be a certain character type, and build to get to that type, or else you can screw yourself when levelling by not getting enough multipliers for stats you need. When I am thinking about what will happen on my next level more than I am thinking about how I am playing, that is immersion breaking.

    • vecordae says:

      @Asshibbitty

      It wasn’t immersive for me, either, and I can tell you why without belittling the system itself. The system works fine on paper, but how the rest of the world responded to it wasn’t balanced very well. The more levels I gained, the greater the power disparity between myself and the enemies in the world became, with my own character becoming weaker and weaker by comparison. It shifted my focus from enjoying the big, open world, to trying to make sense of the game’s mechanics. It seemed, at the time, to require me to play the game in a way that I didn’t enjoy in order to be able to complete it. That broke the immersion for me. I could have spent more time getting past that barrier, but I had plenty of other, less frustrating games to play at the time and never got back around to it.

    • asshibbitty says:

      The word role in RPG is just that, a word. Genre names don’t really mean anything. A game where you can play anyw ay you want will not strictly speaking be an RPG. 

      @vecordae

      You’re talking about Morrowind, correct? I never noticed the scaling to be that bad. Lower the difficulty maybe? Or get better equipment. Most games, not just RPGs, get harder overtime, they assume you’ve learned how to play.

    • vecordae says:

      @asshibbitty

      At the time I had neither the patience nor the motivation. It wasn’t fun for me trying to learn to play the game and I had other things I could have been doing. I am old and learning to do new things wasn’t something I was interested in at the time. I think that the system will click with me now that Skyrim’s eased me into the fundamentals of it.

    • asshibbitty says:

      Godspeed. Morrowind’s RPG guts do have some gotchas, esp. the magic path, so it’s best to start with a warrior. Read the books, talk to locals, don’t be afraid to get into the lore.

    • Stromko says:

      It is not the points that are the problem, the problem is that if you haven’t raised the ‘right’ skills, then the attributes you want to improve will improve at 1/5th the rate you would want, while stats you don’t care about might give you a 5x (or more?) bonus. It takes control away from the player, unless they want the distraction of having to constantly train the skills they need for their stats, while avoiding any others for fear of prematurely leveling.

      Maybe some players don’t care that they’re not maximizing their character growth, but hey it’s a bit of a tough game (until you sneak through your first Daedric ruin and come back with a Greatsword of Killeverything +1 and some bits of god armor), and since stat gain is part of how you defined what your character was capable of (and thus who they were), it sucked when you messed it up.

      Maxing out attributes and skills is going way too far, though. I’m about 50% sure there were mods for Morrowind that let you hit the point-gain maximum much quicker, thus making it less of an issue. Personally without the lure of growing a character, I can’t imagine spending anywhere near the time that I do in these games. It’s always going to get a bit samey, that I’m at various levels of power at different times helps add variety.

    • asshibbitty says:

      Yeah there are mods like that. There are also mods that slow down the progression. Morrowind, forme at least, is the opposite of tough, which is something like a sadistic roguelike.

      Skyrim isn’t so good at this either. I’m playing itrightnow, typing this on a tablet, and Ijust got to that part in the magic college questline. Getting fried almost instantly. I’ll eventually figure it out with a scroll or a potion or i’ll just hide behind a glitch in terrain. That’s the beauty of evolved RPGs, if you are to weak you can still outsmart the world.

    • Ateius says:

      I played Morrowind to death, several times, when I first got it, and recently re-played it for a few weeks while awaiting Skyrim, so I do have some small experience with the levelling system. This malarkey about needing to watch your skill use with hawk-like intensity to make sure you get the ‘right’ stat bonuses on level-up? Pure hogwash. Just play. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get an x5 multiplier to your Strength stat every single level. Morrowind’s level-scaling is gentle, and NPC enemies like bandits are at a set level anyway, so you’re not going to gimp yourself, and around level 30 you’re going to start going beyond the top end of the monsters. Not to mention that your stats aren’t terribly relevant given that most of your power is going to come from enchanted items anyway – now there’s a broken part of the system to whinge about.

      Oblivion is a different story, and a huge reason why I didn’t enjoy it was that you did have to watch your stats like a hawk. With level-for-level scaling, you couldn’t do like in Morrowind and piddle around pumping up Personality and Speechcraft and, I don’t know, Alchemy, because then suddenly there are Wisps and Trolls everywhere and you’re utterly useless in a fight. That was rubbish. Glad they’ve gone back to more Morrowind-esque scaling in Skyrim.

  9. Brian Rubin says:

    I’m one of those folks who would sigh. Sigh, I’ve not yet played Skyrim, but Daggerfall is still my favorite Elder Scrolls game. Enormous, varied, amazing and just full of stuff to do. I’ve never gotten tired of entering that world, and thanks to this post, I’ll be entering it again with mods aplenty. Thanks for this! :)

  10. Enzo says:

    I actually played a lot of Daggerfall few weeks ago. Nice fun, although very repetitive. Almost MMO-like.

    This will sound horrible, but I prefer to play it on a x360 controller. Dungeon crawling is a lot better and you dont have to swing your mouse around all over the table during combat. I configured my controller to behave just like analog combat in Dead Island – you pull the trigger and move the right analog stick to move your weapon. Very intuitive and pleasant.

    • sky_in_flames says:

      Seems like a good idea, thx!

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      nm.

    • pupsikaso says:

      Set your FoV to 90 or 95 and you’ll stop having to move your mouse all over the table just to look around a room.

    • The Tupper says:

      There’s nowt wrong with using any control interface you feel like using. As I’ve said before, I have a CH Yoke and rudder pedals bought for Flight Simulator X but found that my XBox 360 controller (bought for PC – I don’t own the console) is at least as good and a hell of a lot less hassle to attatch/detatch from my desk.

  11. Reapy says:

    Daggerfall is like their turning point. I think they just realized that to keep making something that big and interesting was an impossible task, which is a shame. I would have loved to keep seeing incremental updates to make the larger world interesting and changing. Skyrim is great for sure, and I enjoyed morrowind and oblivion too, but they all lack that reach for the stars attitude daggerfall had.

    I never really have been on board with the elder scrolls lore and the world, but I think I have always loved the idea of just trying to make a living world that was as vast as daggerfall was.

    • Brun says:

      I think that after Daggerfall they started putting more effort into attention to detail. Despite its impressive scale a lot of the content in Daggerfall appears to be either canned and recycled or generic and procedurally generated.

      I’m all for big, expansive games, but I think that the attention to the little things is one of the defining elements of The Elder Scrolls.

    • Bhazor says:

      I would have liked to see them carry on experimenting with procedural generation. Adding more flavour to it and making the world that much more dynamic.

      I mean Elder Scrolls 5 would be a confused glitchy mess. But it would be a glorious glitchy mess.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      @Bhazor
      My understanding is that there’s a lot of procedurally generated content in Skyrim (both quests and some landscape) but it seems to be so well done that I can’t figure out which is which.

      Might be wrong about that though, it’s just something I heard through the moonsugar vine.

    • Bhazor says:

      Well when I said procedural generation I really meant focusing more on the living world aspect. Factions that really fight and battle for control, monsters breeding in unclaimed regions, new quests appearing based on the state of the world at any given time, all that jazz.

      There is still a little bit of that going on but I just think its a shame they seem to have given up on making a truly responsive and truly open world.

    • Zippy says:

      I loved the idea of Daggerfall, but the reality was going into a temple, asking the guy standing at the front door greeting people about the god the temple was of, and having him say he didn’t know anything about that subject. Skyrim is more like what Daggerfall wanted to be, even if it’s not so random and infinite.

    • Wizardry says:

      @Zippy: No. Skyrim is not what Daggerfall wanted to be. The people currently working on the series are not the same people that worked on Daggerfall. There’s a huge difference between what Bethesda were trying to do with Daggerfall and what Bethesda were trying to do with Morrowind/Oblivion/Skyrim.

    • vecordae says:

      Daggerfall isn’t a person and can’t want to be anything. I’m not saying it lacks hopes and amibitions of its own. It has those. It’s just legally forbidden from ever expressing them after its personhood was revoked back in ’96.

    • Paul says:

      Yeah, except, you know, Bruce Nesmith, lead designer of Skyrim, was also designer on Daggerfall.

    • Wizardry says:

      Yeah, except, you know, the main people behind Daggerfall were Julian Lefay and Ted Peterson, who both left sometime between Daggerfall’s release and Morrowind’s release, which coincides with the series’ complete change of direction.

    • drewski says:

      I’m not sure exactly how responsibility for the direction of Daggerfall vs. the later Elder Scrolls games can be divided between the various designers and programmers, but I’m not sure those two guys leaving had all that much to do with the change of focus from random generation to designed environments.

      As a massive fan of both Daggerfall and Morrowind, I can’t say I particularly noticed a large change in direction either. Morrowind’s more focused, but they’re aiming at the same mountain. Morrowind simply reduced the scope to a more manageable level.

    • clockler says:

      Different people can have the same goals, you know.

      What would really be amazing is if instead of switching focuses between games, they simply expanded to include more space. If every four years I could pay $100 to receive another province of Tamriel added onto the borders of the ones I already have instead of appearing in some mysterious alternate reality, I would literally be breaking into Bethesda’s offices to hand them my money.

    • Wizardry says:

      @drewski: Interviews. Another important name is Vijay Lakshman who was the lead designer for Arena but left shortly after. Julian Lefay was the lead programmer for Arena as well as Daggerfall, before leaving shortly after. Ted Peterson was a designer for both Arena and Daggerfall, but left shortly after. These three were the biggest names in the early days of TES and all three were gone before Morrowind.

  12. Kamen Rider says:

    Daggerfall is the largest game? Are we choosing to forget Arena exists or something?

    • Ultra-Humanite says:

      Daggerfall had a larger area to explore even if Arena technically covered more territory:

      How is Daggerfall’s map bigger than Arena’s?

    • Dozer says:

      How do you even define the size of a computer game map anyway? x meters by y meters doesn’t mean very much. Transit time from one side of the map to the other? The largest game world is probably the one in Orbiter, as it includes the entire solar system, but the content is twenty-odd spheroids, a handful of runways and bases, and a space station. Meanwhile the Stalingrad level from Medal of Honor: Allied Assault Multiplayer Demo consists of three apartment buildings and a courtyard but contains about the same number of points of interest.

    • Brun says:

      My guess is that you assume the Player Character conforms to some known standard for size and/or movement speed.

      You assume that the PC (or any object really, not necessarily the character) is an average height like 5’8″ – that will define the scale of everything else in the world. If my player character is 2 meters high and it takes 10,000 of him laid end-to-end to span the map, the map is 20km long along that axis.

    • Chris D says:

      I’m not sure largest is a particularly meaningful measurement. (Although I nominate Elite for spanning multiple galaxies). While Brun’s method gets points for being a workable measurement I think you’re going to be left with something equivalent to saying the meaning of life is 42.

      It seems to me that more interesting questions to ask would be:

      Which game has the most interesting stuff to do?
      Which game gives the greatest sense of scale?
      Which game is the most fun to explore?

      Not that any of those are going to be any easier to answer than “which is biggest?”, but you’d probably learn more along the way.

    • Urthman says:

      Surely Minecraft is bigger?

    • Brun says:

      I’d vote Notcis IV for largest given that it takes place in a galaxy 90 thousand light years across.

  13. Vinraith says:

    A version of Daggerfall where I can clearly see what’s going on on a modern monitor? Bliss!

  14. Berzee says:

    “The game installer includes a password-protected ‘childgard’ feature that …. ensures the character portrait is wearing underwear at all times.” ~Wikipedia

    DUDES,
    how many times have I complained about the paper doll with no underwarez, and nobody bothered to tell me about this?
    Now I can totally play this someday, when Skyrim is behind me and I’m feeling open-worldy.

    • Bhazor says:

      Well I’m afraid they are still as anatomically accurate as a barbie doll. If you’ve been spoiled by the lovingly rendered orc cocks and minutely sculpted lizard vulvas provided by the modding community you’ll be disapointed.

      Though it does bring up the old issue of American censorship. Mutilated bodies left decomposing on satanic sacrificial altars? No child lock. Mutilated bodies left decomposing on satanic sacrificial altars with no pants on? Ban this sick filth!

    • Berzee says:

      Either you misunderstand me or I misunderstand you. I am happy because I will get to play *using* the childgard thing.

    • Harlander says:

      Wouldn’t lizards have some kind of cloacae?

      What?

    • Hematite says:

      @Harlander

      I’m glad I wasn’t the only one thinking that

    • pipman3000 says:

      The TES Modding community strives to be inclusive towards all sexual kinks and fetishes, whether you enjoy masterfully crafted hermcocks, demon wangs, ogre titties, lizard asses, elven hermaphrodites, ageplay, dragonshows multibreasts, redguard whitening operations, platemail swim suits or giant beachball sized anime boobs :)

      Such a diverse and inclusive community clearly has room available for both vulvas and cloacas, possibly both on the same creature

  15. Casimir's Blake says:

    The sad thing is, this 15+ year-old game has less linear, and therefore more fascinating and enjoyable, dungeons than Skyrim. What happened Bethesda!?

    Looking forward to the XL engine making Daggerfall fully playable, and hopefully more mod-able. The game could do with a lot more pre-made dungeons, more dungeon “prefabs”, and more diverse towns.

    • Lyndon says:

      I freaking hated Daggerfall’s dungeons. Ridiculous overly complex navigational messes. They really do show how hard it is to get procedural content right. Being more ‘non-linear’ doesn’t automatically mean it’s better. Good design is often simpler.

      Of course Skyrim’s dungeons are going too far in the other direction, but there really should be some sort of middle ground.

    • pipman3000 says:

      If Daggerfall’s dungeons were fun or enjoyable then I’m a giraffe.

      I mean, if I wanted to wander a bunch of boring corridors I’d play RAGE!
      *bada-ching*
      Tim Buckley, ladies and gentlemen!

  16. Wulf says:

    I had a lot of love for Daggerfall, but I think it was with Morrowind that the series really found its artistic soul (and I wish it hadn’t lost it there, too). Mechanically, Daggerfall was perfect, it was like clockwork, but there was no ghost in the machine there, so to speak. It was, despite being mechanically brilliant, just another typical fantasy RPG. The market was flooded with those at the time, and one couldn’t really attach a specific character to one that didn’t belong to the other. There were mechanical differences, but the worlds were very much the same.

    The thing that really intrigued me most about Daggerfall, thematically, I suppose is its pantheons, as has been true of every Elder Scrolls game. And there was quite a bit of interesting lore, there, to boot. Can’t fault it for that. There was a lot of good reading to be done in Morrowind, but it still lacked that intrinsic element that give it its own personal identity. When you put it alongside screenshots of other fantasy games of the era, there was nothing to make it really stand out as its own thing.

    I’m not talking about originality or uniqueness, here, I’m talking about the game having an identity of its own. There are games you’ll look at and you’ll think that such-and-such a game is distinctly so. There are a number of games like this, I’ll name a popular one: Psychonauts. And I felt that Morrowind also had that going for it, if you took a screenshot of Morrowind, it just stood out amongst the screenshts of all the RPGs that came before it. “I’m Morrowind,” it said, “and I know who I am. I’m not just the same face you’ve seen so many times before. And you’ll want to discover these things for yourself.”

    That’s why it’s still the best of the series, for me. I hope that’s something that Bethesda find their way back to, some day. I would love to play a Morrowind-style game again. A game where they just say ‘to hell with the excruciatingly dull expectations of fantasy fans, we’re making our own damn world here, and a world we can be proud of!’

    One interesting thing I’ll mention in relation to this is that I recently saw Guild Wars 2 catching some slack vs. Skyrim as ‘games that have dragons in them,’ and do you want to know why this was? Guild Wars 2 had clockpunk and engineers, it has tanks, and this was the part of it that stood out for me as something that gave it something of an identity. For me, Guild Wars 2 is the game where giant cats will drive tanks into battle, and I’m sure I’ll remember it for that. But it caught flack for that, for not being ‘true fantasy.’ And that makes me sad.

    ‘True fantasy’ is the most exceedingly boring thing imaginable. Why make fantasy mundane?

    And that was my problem with Daggerfall, I suppose. It’s mundane fantasy, and in being so, it lacks its own identity. There are a lot of mundane fantasy games out there, and that word suits them perfectly, because they’re homogenised, they’re exactly what you’ll expect. When you step into them, you know what you’re going to see and what’s going to happen, it’s cloyingly familiar. Sometimes I’d like to put fans of mundane fantasy on another planet, just so I can share the world with people who want to seek out exotic and exciting forms of fantasy. You know, fantastic fantasy. Which is what the word ‘fantasy’ implies. Fantasy was never meant to be mundane.

    So of the Elder Scrolls series, you will always hold my heart, Morrowind, for you were the best. You were the one, truly interesting black sheep of an incredibly everyday and normal family. You were the charismatic one, you were the leader, you had your secrets, you were interesting, compelling, and I wanted to know you. And there was something of the beast to you, you weren’t afraid to challenge me or put me out of my element, or to do things that even I found strange, perhaps even just wrong on some level (I won’t lie, how I gained immortality in Morrowind made me wince).

    Your other family members have friendly, familiar faces, Morrowind, but they’re never faces that I can remember. I can’t remember anything of interest they ever said to me, I can’t remember any brilliant acts or creations they were responsible for, they’re just sort of there. They’re familiar, but at the same time, they’re creepily faceless. I find it impossible to know them because I know them too well.

    Daggerfall, I find it impossible to know you because I knew you too well, even before I played you.

    So whenever the release of a new Elder Scrolls game rolls around, it’s Morrowind I’m thinking of. The only member of that entirely too normal family to find their own words, and to not be afraid to speak them. To be something other than mundane.

    • Brun says:

      To me there are three things that identify and distinguish Elder Scrolls games (and Bethesda’s Fallout games as well):

      1) Scale – this doesn’t necessarily mean a large geographical area, it’s more related to the amount of content and “things to do.”
      2) Attention to Detail – This is something that really started out in Morrowind and has steadily improved with each subsequent incarnation. I’m not just talking about looking pretty either – I see the little details in all of these games as absolutely critical to the experience. Without that detail the immersion is reduced.
      3) Absolute player freedom – This is a no-brainer, it’s really the reason that TES and Fallout are fun games to play. It’s the most important of the three as well.

      I understand those are pretty broad pillars but no other series really combines all three to the degree that TES or Fallout do. That’s why, to me at least, those pillars are the “identity” of Elder Scrolls games.

    • Dervish says:

      “Mechanically, Daggerfall was perfect, it was like clockwork”

      Unless this is some painful stretch towards a broken clock analogy, this has to be the most inappropriate description of Daggerfall I’ve ever read. Ambitious? Yes. Complex? Certainly. Polished to perfection? Uh, no.

    • khomotso says:

      This sort of paean is compelling, apart from the fact that it seems to miss the point of the Elder Scrolls games altogether. Put another way, I think you could have a non-fantasy Elder Scrolls game that would still be part of the canon.

      What’s fundamental to ES is the transportation to another livable world. The scale, detail, and even the irrelevant and mundane contribute to that livable space in some way. Or maybe better put: I seem to enjoy mundane things in Elder Scrolls games (wandering the wilderness, watching wildlife, chopping wood) that I don’t tolerate in other games.

      The extra ingredient that Skyrim seems to have introduced to the mix is actual personality. I now feel affection for some people, and others I loathe, for in-game reasons (not just because they are a frustration for my gaming).

      Each sequel seems to lay down a new layer: Daggerfall brought scale, Morrowind brought a real sense of place and history, Oblivion a natural verisimilitude, and Skyrim a richer set of characters and personal stories. These are all developments on a theme.

    • Brun says:

      Thank you khomotso for saying in a much more eloquent fashion what I’ve been trying to for at least a week >.<.

    • vecordae says:

      Mechanically, Daggerfall was perfect, it was like clockwork

      These words do not, perhaps, mean what you think they mean.

    • Wizardry says:

      Daggerfall was mechanically a mess. On the other hand, Daggerfall was 10x more mechanically interesting than Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim. It was full of stuff that was cut instead of improved upon in sequels. This is partly why I don’t really give a damn about The Elder Scrolls series, though the main reason is the move to action gameplay.

    • Wulf says:

      @Dervish

      That’s not quite what I was truying to say. By clockwork I suppose I was trying to explain that it was a world staffed by robots. Everyone said the same things, they all followed the same routines, and it just ticked over with them doing the same things day-in, day-out. It had this creepy, uncanny valley feel to it that I find hard to explain, because there was no personality there. Every person was every other person. If I had to describe it another way, it would be like an insect hive. They were like worker bees, but like bees, I have the distinct inability to tell one bee from another.

      That’s because that’s the way bees are built, though. They’re designed to work in a hive because that grants them survival in our world’s ecology, but these people shouldn’t have been like that. Yet it’s what they felt like.

      It was all stilted, and I often had this vision of a ‘clockwork city’ when thinking of Daggerfall. Not to imply ‘perfection’ in the notion of there being no bugs, I suppose, but that everything runs like a clock. And that no one ever disobeys the grand clock that runs them. Once this dawned on me, it became more and more unpleasant over time.

      @khomotso

      I think it’s fair to say that Morrowind, as a whole, misssed the point of the Elder Scrolls series. And yet contrarily I’d say that that’s precisely what made it so good. Morrowind stood out as not being an Elder Scrolls game, and thus it was better for it.

      And really, the way you’re enshrining mundanity isn’t necessary. It means that we’re forsaking the alien to embrace the familiar and that’s not something that I really find appealing. I think that whilst there should be a foothold of familiarity, these games should put people out of their comfort zone by introducing them to worlds, cultures, peoples, and environments that they couldn’t normally encounter. The point I think you’re missing is that what’s mundane for our world might not be mundane for another, and vice versa.

      You can have mundanity in another world, but a mundanity which is completely alien to us. And in such a way you can give a world its own identity. It can feel old (like Morrowind did) whilst still feeling like it has an overall character, personality, and identity which is entirely its own. But what later Elder Scrolls games have fallen into doing is including far too much of our world in their world, either that or they’ve taken familiar fantasy tropes and built worlds upon those, and in doing so they’ve lost the plot. They’re no longer creating worlds, they’re just reshaping existing worlds. There is no identity that belongs to that world, and what exists feels hodgepodge, too familiar and lacking in personality, or outright schizophrenic.

      One example I used prior was Skyrim stealing things from Morrowind, like the dwarven ruins, and the netches. That doesn’t result in identity, that results in schizophrenia, because you’re stealing the identity of something else and adding it on to your own. It’s less like a person and more like a Frankenstein’s monster, because it’s a conglomeration of elements which belong to other things, all stitched into the same creeature.

      And that’s precisely what Skyrim felt like, too.

      It’s vikings, with Conan epic fantasy, with bits stolen from Morrowind, and… where is the part that tells me what Skyrim is? I know what Morrowind is, I know what Conan epic fantasy is, and I know about vikings. But where in this is Skyrim?

      And whilst you’re right that these games have expanded on the underlying mechanics, you seem to be obsessing over mechanics. You see, every element you’ve described actually pertains to mechanics. Though I would disagree about actually loving or hating characters, because I haven’t found any that stood out like any of the characters in Skyrim did. But you’re most talking about the evolution of game mechanics. I talked about that, too. But what I said was tht releasing a game solely because of the evolution of game mechanics is boring.

      It’s like a new FIFA. Sure, it has flashy new things going on, but it’s still the same old. How is this any different than what came before it? What of it is there that truly belongs to this game?

      Loving characters, for example? That’s been happening in RPGs for years. Ultima VII, Mask of the Betrayer, New Vegas, Fallout II, Icewind Dale, Planescape Torment, and so on. What might be new for the Elder Scrolls is not new in general. So the game still overall lacks any sense of personal identity, we can obsess over the evolution of mechanics all day, but no one has answered one particular question:

      What exists in Daggerfall that was quintessentially Daggerfall, something that you could look at and say ‘Yeah, that’s Daggerfall all right!’?

      And the same question about Skyrim.

      See, I can post screenshots of Morrowind, and people will say ‘Yeah, that’s Morrowind all right!’, because Morrowind had an identity all of its own, and it wasn’t afraid to brandish this, and be itself, regardless of what anyone thought of this strange pseudo-fantasy experience. And for that it was bloody glorious. For that it had its own mind, its own personality, its own identity that’s unmatched by any other entry in the Elder Scrolls series.

      @vecordae

      Right. You could have asked for a clarification but instead you just opt for a nice little snide remark. I can see you have no real argument.

      What are you, some kind of mad sociopath or something? Well, I know sociopaths like winning, so… ‘you win!’ Maybe now I can get back to discussing things that don’t interest you. :P

      @Wizardry

      You’re correct. But what I’m saying is that in its complexity it lost its identity. See, when you try to be everything, you can’t be something. And Skyrim has exactly the same problem, in that it spreads itself so thin that it has no particular identity of its own.

      What absolutely astounds me is that no one understands that. Either that, or people are so intent on defending games that they’ll pretend they understand that.

      Look at it this way: Flight of Dragons was a really great fantasy film because it was bizarre and it had its own identity, it was hilarious because the final battle was won by a mad man in spectacles yelling the names of various sciences at a demon. That was grand.

      There were elements of fantasy in Flight of Dragons, but it had so many things that were entirely its own that it stood head and shoulders above the rest. It definitely had its own identity, and when you think of fantasy films, there are things going on in Flight of Dragons that occurred nowhere else.

      That’s because FoD used a fantasy scenario as a basis for its story, but it stopped there. The fantasy stuff was left in the background for the more interesting world it wanted to portray. And that’s what Daggerfall and Skyrim don’t do.

      Daggerfall and Skyrim try to be everything to everyone, they try to be all kinds of fantasy, they nick things from other games, from other fantasy settings, even nicking from their own prior incarnations, and then they weld it all together into some kind of mad monstrocity and call it a game.

      There are a lot of good ideas in Skyrim, there are in Daggerfall, but it all fell apart because both games were so homogenised. They concentrated on too many elements all at the same time, and they tried to make it too ‘familiar,’ and in doing so they made it cloyingly familiar. It was the same world you’d walked through before, the exact same world.

      And when I walk through Daggerfall, or Skyrim, I’m asking it to show me what makes it Daggerfall, or what makes it Skyrim? Why will I remember it under that name as opposed to ‘Generic Fantasy Game 23?’ Why is it Skyrim? Why is it Daggerfall? And both fail to rationalise and defend their existence, because neither of them have a raison d’etre.

      And that’s what bugs me.

      Skyrim reads like “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” and that’s it. Not “This is my world, and I designed it all lovingly because I give a damn about it.”, which is how Morrowind comes over. And all I’m saying is that PERSONALLY I prefer the latter.

      —EDIT—

      Really. After all this, can you all honestly say that you don’t understand what I’m saying? Because if so then it’s a lost cause and my disappointment will continue to just bottom out.

      I want worlds that have been designed to be a person, that concentrate on what makes that world what it is, and not just playing up to whatever is popular. Right now, vikings and dragons are popular, so everything gets those in them. So that’s fine. You have a vikings and dragons game. But why should I see it as anything more than an air-headed exercise in fun?

      It’s nothing more. It’s just a silly game about vikings and dragons. I can see that someone had some truly great ideas, there, but they were buried under apparently what marketing and their lead design thought would be ‘cool.’ So there’s nothing there that says “This is Skyrim.”

      I can show you Morrowind, you know Morrowind. But I could stand Oblivion and Skyrim side by side, and in many cases you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. Oh, you could now do that with Skyrim too, yes, but that’s only because Skyrim rips off Morrowind and bolts parts of Morrowind onto itself like some mad Frankenstein’s monster, as I’d mentioned.

      But where is Skyrim? I want to get to know Skyrim but I feel like… conversing with Skyrim, Skyrim keeps telling me about other, more interesting people. “So, have you heard of Conan and epic reality?”, it’ll ask. And I’ll nod my head blithely. “You know about Morrowind?”, it’ll ask. And I tip my head obliquely and give it a discerning stare. “So, can I tell you about these dragons? Dragons are so cool!”, it’ll enthuse. And I’ll just nod my head politely. “How about those vikings, eh?”, it’ll go on. And I’ll sigh.

      So when are you going to tell me about you, Skyrim? What gives you an identity? What’s your raison d’etre? Why do you exist?

      Same to Daggerfall, really.

      —EDIT—

      Okay, once more into the breach, I suppose.

      Wizardry, do you remember me singing the praises of Albion? A lot of that had to do with how much of an identity that game had versus other games. It was good, mechanically speaking, but its strength came in its identity.

      It was a game about a completely bonzo story of technology versus nature, and the avatars of such, in fact it’s often said that the film Avatar just completely ripped off of it. It’s funny, because wotshisface, Director person, has said that he thought of the story for Avatar back in ’94. Guess which year Albion came out? This is why I didn’t find Avatar anything special. It was a poor man’s Albion crossed with a poor man’s Dances with Wolves.

      In Albion you had living buildings shaped from flora, they were alive, you had toilets that might ‘grow completely out of control if you’re not careful’ because of ‘constant fertilisation.’ You had a scene where you defeated a robot army wit a magical seed, there was stuff about the weird telepathy and pseudo-immortality of the peoples of that world.

      See, Albion had so strong of an identity, there were so many things I could point at and say… yeah, that’s Albion. And that’s bloody awesome. I love that. Another example? Little Big Adventure, so many things there in that strange world that one could mark purely as being part and parcel of the identity of Little Big Adventure.

      But where is your identity, Daggerfall, who are you? And what of you, Skyrim? See, I want these games to tell me why they exist over Oblivion, and a billion other fantasy games. To me, some improvements in the mechanical workings behind the scenes just isn’t enough. That’s like the yearly FIFA scenario.

      I want fantasy games which are about fantasy, because they have an identity which is distinct from what I know so well. And so many games have done it, lots of games! So there’s really no excuse.

      —EDIT—

      On a roll, here, so screw it…

      Okay, what would happen with Skyrim if you stripped out all the nonsense about Dragons, Dovakhiins, and all that, and instead concentrated on stuff like the political struggles of the Thalmor versus the Nords, the Stormcloaks, the Imperials and all that, and actually built it around the cultures of the people there, Nordic pride, actually not half-arsing the Companions and giving them more of a prominent role, and actually concentrating on making that its identity.

      But Skyrim spread itself so thinly across so many bases that it just gave up on having one. So instead of perhaps there being something there, it all feels flat and two-dimensional. The political struggles could have been interesting, but instead they seem… simple-minded. Fascists versus racists and all that. The Nords could have had a strong culture, but instead they come over as puerile and childish.

      Sometimes I wish I could have been there helping them to develop this because this is precisely what I would have had them do. Strip out the dragons and concentrate on these elements. And make the Nords something more than “I R CONAN, IT IS COLD HERE, I HAS AXE, I HIT DRAGON. HURRR.” which is just depressing.

      (The only glimpse I got of what Nords could be in Skyrim was Kodlak, Vilkas, and Farkas. With Kodlak and Vilkas talking, I got a glimpse of what could have been, but what wasn’t. What wasn’t carried off with the rest of the game. Intelligent nords. Why is it that every other nord has to be an imbecile?)

    • JackShandy says:

      I’m not sure a single human being is ever going to read the words you just wrote, Wulf.

    • jaheira says:

      @ JackShandy

      I read it. All of it.

      @ Wulf

      http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/74850.html

      Perhaps Wulf is the Polonius of the RPS commenters.

    • Gundrea says:

      I’m always impressed that Wulf can write so much and say so little.

    • Unaco says:

      Someone should go back through all of the Skyrim/The Elder Scrolls articles, compile together all of Wulfs comments, get the wordcount, and see if anything in them actually makes any sense. Be sure to do it in an environment without cubicles though.

  17. Somerled says:

    Daggerfall is the Minecraft of RPGs. Or maybe the roguelike of FPSs.

    It seemed then that it gave you a gigantic world that you could do anything with. In hindsight, you see all the limitations, but they weren’t anything like the invisible walls and painted doors we get today.

    Plus, it was buggy as all fuck, but it played perfectly well and most of the bugs made for fun times. And the boat teleporting? The non-stop shop pilfering? “HALT HALT HALT!” Hearing the door opening and bat screeching sounds replayed in hundreds of movies and games, our very own Wilhelms. Etc.

  18. InternetBatman says:

    I hoping that we reach a graphics plateau with the next generation of consoles or at most the one after that. I think it would really encourage mod teams to do ground up remakes, or remakes of old classics in modern engines. There are many games that I’ve wanted to try but have sworn off because of the interface, or because I simply can’t make them work (I’ve spent hours trying to get either of my two System Shock 2 copies to run).

  19. gritz says:

    Adam Smith I am glad you write here. Between this and the Ultima 7 article you are definitely speaking my language.

    • Wizardry says:

      Now cover Wizardry somehow. I wouldn’t even mind if it was just Wizardry 8.

  20. PoulWrist says:

    Been following DaggerXL for years, nice to see it mentioned :)

    Good stuff. Spent many many hours in Daggerfall in the late 90s. It was a strange twist away from Baldur’s Gate, but unlike that and its sequel, Daggerfall would run on my own PC.

  21. The Tupper says:

    I genuinely pity professional games reviewers when something like Skyrim comes out. By definition they’re drawn to the trade because of passion and a title such as this, where a large part of the enjoyment comes from discovering the game world at one’s own pace (enjoying the scenery, reading books in pubs – just two examples of many) they have to do it on a timescale with an eye to critical evaluation.

    On the other hand, they play games for a living so fuck ‘em.

  22. Buttless Boy says:

    Yo Adam: is there gonna be one of those post-review things where all you guys talk about the game together? ‘Cause I wrote another Skyrim rap but I’m waiting for that to post it. It’s way better than the last one, it’s got a chorus and everything.

    (I am such a nerd)

    Edit: by “the game”, I mean Skyrim. You should all talk about Daggerfall too though, that’d be sweet.

  23. maerduin says:

    I had a Daggerfall moment in Skyrim last night. It was two in the morning (in real time) and two in the morning (in game time) and I was running to the nearest town, far to the north of where I was in the wilderness. A vast plain opened up filled with snow and sky and, in the background, mammoths. The music started. And suddenly I was sixteen again, feeling the exact same way I did when the same sort of thing (minus mammoths) happened for the first time in Daggerfall. I wondered if the designers built this continuity into the game; it certainly felt like it, but not in a “haha, we planned this” sort of way. It felt natural and like a real return.

    • Spark says:

      I also had a Daggerfall moment in Skyrim. I received a randomly generated quest that told me to kill a wild animal that had gotten loose in somebody’s house, and in true Daggerfall fashion that house was locked despite them calling me to go inside there. Who would have thought 14 years later I’ll still be killing virtual bears who have inexplicably found their way into an urban household? Albeit this time it’s high detailed polygonal bears with self-shadowing. There’s no way that was a bug, just good ol’ Daggerfall nostalgia on a developers mind.

    • Stijn says:

      I just wanted to note that I laughed out loud for a few moments at that, Spark, well done :D

  24. GC says:

    It worked when I reinstalled Daggerfall without the mods. Not sure if all mods need to be unselected…

  25. Dizzard says:

    I keep meaning to try this out….but ended up being a bit lazy when it came to the whole getting it to run on my computer.

    I’ll give it a go now.

  26. Freud says:

    The size of UK probably was a selling argument but it probably scared away people because a world that big is a world filled with repetition and emptiness.

    I think Bethesda made the right decision abandoning generated worlds and settled for smaller hand crafted worlds. They still are enormous. I’m 20 hours into Skyrim and have hardly made a dent.

  27. Anders Wrist says:

    I’ve been following this since it was announced, and am quite happy to see it progress. Huge Daggerfall fanboi here, who was disappointed by the lack of epicness in Morrowind. (Troll bait for people who think Morrowind was epic :p)

  28. Helfyr says:

    I too remember waiting for Daggerfall to be released. I had played Arena and was hooked on that type of RPG; I played others and found most others quite boring despite prettier graphics. Seeing there was a sequel from Bethesda I was VERY keen to play it. When i did i was stunned…awesome game. In playing Daggerfall i also learned that the internet gives good gaming advice (Daggerweb I think it was called) and i also learned that games could be patched…Daggerfall did NEED patches.

    The best analogy I have ever read about playing a RPG in forum was it was like whittling…you whittle a character. Watching and trying to direct that growth is where the joy lies for me; the monster slaying is fun but the whittling is where it is at for me.

    I have played all Elderscrolls games (except Battlespire) and they have all been great; but Daggerfall was the best. I agree, reach for the stars mentaliity is the key.

  29. James Murff says:

    I was reading about Daggerfall XL earlier today, wondering when RPS would cover it.

    Stop spying on me Adam.

  30. morningoil says:

    This is not constructive or of interest really to anyone else other than me. But I *despised* Daggerfall. Hated it. A non-game broken on every level: mechanics, design, aesthetics, heart, soul, playafuckingbility. I don’t personally find it conceivable that anyone at Bethesda stopped to actually try and play their game at any point because if they had they would never’ve had the temerity to release it.

    One of the steepest high-hopes-to-rage-uninstall gradients of all time (and yeah, GTA3: San Andreas is right up there too. Ugh.)

    Still enjoying Skyrim though.

  31. Daryl says:

    Strangely enough, I was thinking about giving Daggerfall another go myself. I haven’t properly played it, ever. I merely toyed around with some of the beginning areas. I played Arena much more than Daggerfall. Good to hear about that XL version as well. It’s something worth keeping an eye on, even though it’s probably going to be a while before we see anything come out of it.

  32. RyuRanX says:

    I’ve been following the development of DaggerXL since the beginning. I can hardly wait to play the one of my favorite games of all time with this new engine.

    By the way, the screenshot showing a vista from Daggerfall is mine. :D

  33. Big Daddy Dugger says:

    So if I make a game that infinitely recycles a modest amount of resources for sense of scale will all of you buy it and make me rich?$??

  34. remoteDefecator says:

    VENGEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANCE

  35. pipman3000 says:

    The best thing about Daggerfall was reading the patch notes.

    * When you are infected by a werewolf, you now become a werewolf instead
    of a wereboar.

    * You can now use potions when you are silenced.

    * The game no longer gets trapped in an infinite loop when you try
    to collect a reward while shape changed.

    * Randomly created monsters in quests now always have their
    items equipped. They should be more challenging now.

    * Illegally bashing down doors no longer gives you a revered legal
    reputation when you are caught.

    * Going into your inventory when you have left items in the
    tavern no longer crashes your game.

    * The “Master of BLANK” bug has been fixed.

    * The Create Item spell has been updated. It no longer creates items
    that do not exist in the game.

    * Equipping the Wabberjack no longer crashes the game.

    * Reputation is now calculated properly for the guilds. You should no
    longer get kicked out for completing a quest.

    * Starting a spell name with $ and ! no longer reduces the spell cost.

    * Your rewards will no longer be labeled as BLANK.

    * The skeleton no longer walks backwards.

    * Sleeping on a ship or in your own house no longer summons the city
    guards.

    I was considering tossing in a few made up bugfixes but I couldn’t come up with anything funnier then what’s really there.
    I made one of these up, can you guess which?

    • jaheira says:

      The skeleton?

      Actually I like the sound of that guy. I wanna see those bones moonwalk.

  36. quicktooth says:

    Believe it or not, one of my fondest gaming memories is playing the DEMO of Dagerfall. I never had enough money/etc back then to get the full thing. But oh I loved that demo :D. Guess I can get the full thing now, free, and improved :D :D

  37. Quirk says:

    @asshibbitty:
    “Pretty sure most will agree Morrowind is more fun before you become unstoppable.”

    I certainly wouldn’t. Morrowind, starting out, was a case of trekking places verrrry slooowwly and terrible immersion-breaking fights where your sword repeatedly passed through someone’s chest in first person to no effect. I came back to it again recently, and really found it trying my patience, it was just so far from my fond memories of soaring at high speed over the landscape, invisible, well-armed and with a legion of minions at my beck and call, exploring the nooks and crannies of the island.

    • Wulf says:

      Thankfully there are ways in Morrowind to allow you to play it however the heck you want, and you can get powerful stupidly quickly if you’re smart about it. I noticed this on one of my playthroughs, where I ended up with glass armour and some pretty high-end enchanted weapons very early on in the game, none of which was mod related. That was a real “Well then…” moment.

      It’s a shame Oblivion and Skyrim lack that.

      (One great way to get incredibly overpowered early on in Morrowind is to hit a vampire den. Not only do you gain vampirism, which can see you through the earlier levels until you get a cure later on, but you can also get some really neat stuff from vampires, too. All you need to do is kit yourself out to be able to cope with vampires from an early point and you’re laughing. Vampires in Morrowind tend to like their high-end armour.)

  38. Soon says:

    I think I enjoyed the roof-apex jumping bug the most. I don’t know if that says more about me or the game.

  39. bill says:

    I bought this game 3 times, and returned it twice.

    the bugs were madding, and half the time i had no idea what i was doing – but there was something magical about the size and freedom and sunsets. And the climbing… (spending 30 minutes climbing to the top of a tall tower, with many slips and falls, but catching yourself before you hit the ground.) and the running across rooftops.

    I think I only once made it to the whole southern desert land/continent.

  40. pupsikaso says:

    I’ve never played Daggerfall or Morrowind. I’ve only played Oblivion and Skyrim and I have been disappointed by both. Would you recommend me to try Daggerfall? Is it better than Skyrim?

    • Doesn'tmeananything says:

      Yes and yes.

    • jaheira says:

      No and hell no.

    • Wizardry says:

      Yes and yes.

    • The Tupper says:

      No, no, a million times no!
      Indeed, I would suggest that if Skyrim doesn’t do it for you you should probably abandon PC gaming altogether and take up pot throwing or something.

    • Wulf says:

      Depends on what you want.

      Arena: Very typical dungeon crawler. The setting is typical of fantasy games and nothing really makes it stand out. I felt that the Ultima Underworld games were better, or at least better thematically.

      Daggerfall: Dungeon crawler, highly procedural, taken to an open world. Lots of content, but very boring due to none of it being hand-crafted. Very complicated game, though. Very complicated. Incredibly impressive from a technological standpoint, considering the era. But it’s basically a dungeon crawler with an overworld. The setting is typical of fantasy games. Swords, sorcery, mages, wizards, monsters, all that. Good lore, but ultimately… nothing that really pops out.

      Morrowind: A massive diversion from all that Bethesda knew. The black sheep, the wild one, the mad hatter of the series. Exotic, strange, and beautiful. It sacrificed a lot of complexity from Daggerfall, and it lost all of its procedural stuff, it was all hand-crafted, all of it. It’s a brilliant world, strange, new, and quite unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. It’s evocative, and it just compels you toward adventure. It’s something you want to explore. But it’s mechanically shallow compared to Daggerfall.

      Oblivion: Ye Olde Fantasy Land of Yore. This was basically going back to the setting of Daggerfall, but at the same time sacrificing loads of complexity from Morrowind. So… no real character or identity of its own, no great mechanics to bolster it, but it did have some pretty great mods.

      Skyrim: A huge step up over Oblivion, but still spread very thin, still Ye Olde Fantasy of Yore, but with vikings (raison d’etre: because they’re cool), dragons (raison d’etre: because they’re cool), and bits ripped off from Morrowind to actually spruce it up a bit. There’s a diamond shining somewhere down there, but it isn’t as great as it could have been, but it is more compelling than Oblivion. Mechanically… it’s a strange beast, it’s less so than Oblivion in some ways, and more so in others. Your magic has been neutered, but yet you can go crazy with crafting.

    • Wizardry says:

      Put it this way: Skyrim is barely even an action RPG while Daggerfall has deeper RPG mechanics than many turn-based ones. I’m not sure why someone is telling you that you should abandon PC gaming altogether if you prefer Daggerfall. I’d say the opposite is more likely true, if anything.

    • pupsikaso says:

      Thanks for the replies, guys :) I think Daggerfall just might have what I’ve been missing in both Oblivion and Skyrim. (Just so long as I don’t get a chest at the end of a dungeon with 13 gold pieces, a potion of mana and a rusty dagger).

    • The Tupper says:

      Wizardry, I wasn’t being wholly serious.

      Addition: I haven’t played Daggerfall. My (daft) comment was entirely about Skyrim.

    • malkav11 says:

      Personally, I would recommend trying Morrowind and Skyrim of the Elder Scrolls games. They’re different styles but both have a great deal to offer. Oblivion is a dramatic step backwards from Morrowind in several important respects and, unlike Skyrim (which alas still maintains some of those steps backwards and even exacerbates a few of them) does little to compensate for this. Daggerfall has no flavor, no personality, and no balance. There are no characters and very little plot. It thinks nothing of creating dungeons that literally cannot be finished, or spawning enemies that are level 20 for a level 3 mission. It does have the greatest freedom of any entry in the series, but I can’t say as that means much to me in the absence of any compelling reason to play in the first place.

  41. Sidewinder says:

    Let’s not forget the wonderful three-dimensional map system. It was a bit of a pain getting used to, granted, and the larger dungeons were too big to fit in all at once (though surely a modern machine wouldn’t have that problem), but man, once you got the hang of it…

  42. RT says:

    Whoa, this is one heckuva coincidence. I played a bit of Daggerfall and realized that the only TES game I didn’t beat yet is Daggerfall, so I’m playing it right now.

    • Rinox says:

      That’s not that strange, since the final part of the main quest is shaky to say the least in terms of bugs. Still, with enough save spreading and reloading it should be totally doable.

  43. Nick says:

    Wulf.. I don’t agree with your assessment of Daggerfall at all, the main quest dungeons were hand created and there was lots to do above ground and in general, it had vampirism and lycanthropy (and possibly .. uh.. wereboar as well, I can’t remember if you could contract that though), the ability to buy houses and boats, quite a few non dungeon crawling quests as well.