Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 26
  1. #1
    Activated Node
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Posts
    63

    Morrowind/Oblivion/Skyrim Map Comparison

    When I played Skyrim, I keep feeling that the map is "all over the place", and somewhat meaningless. By that I mean, I never really cared about how the map looks like, the only time I use it is to do fast travel. If I'm going to a location that I haven't been to, I just fast travel to the nearest location that I have been to, mark the destination on the map, and walk towards it. Call me lazy but I did the same amount of fast travel in Oblivion as well.

    The point is, Skyrim's map is lack of flow. The map has obstacles and mountains, sure, but they are not placed in a way that promotes flow of gameplay, and gameplay itself doesn't implement a flow either.

    Let's consider Oblivion's map. In the center of the map, there's the imperial city, and it radiates several roads out to the rest of the map towards the other major cities. In addition, there's also a circular beltline road surrounding the lake where imperial city is in. Player begins in imperial city, and the main mission takes player to different cities and every once in a while takes player back to imperial city. The imperial city serves as a "hub" where the player frequently visits to conduct business (buy/sell), and the game ending also happens here. Though other cities are very well fleshed out, imperial city remains the center of the game, and it results in an interesting flow: hub and spoke. When traveling, player naturally navigates based on this flow. For example, if you want to go from Chorrol to Bruma, you follow the road from Chorrol to imperial city, and then take the northbound road to Bruma. It makes navigation easy and doesn't encourage fast travel.

    Now let's consider Morrowind's map. As opposed to Oblivion's hub-and-spoke flow, Morrowind has a circular flow. The center of the map is the dangerous area where all the monsters show up, and the shores around Vvardenfell are peaceful and easy to navigate. So players naturally progresses around the map in a circular motion, with occasional visits to the central region for missions and ruins.

    You can see there's a similarity between Oblivion and Morrowind's map design: they both "direct" player's navigation in a non-linear but easy-to-do manner. Instead of going a boring straight line from point A to point B, in Oblivion player visit the hub (imperial city) first and then go to the other city, and in Morrowind player travels in a big circle. This actually makes the map feel bigger than it really is.

    But with Skyrim, which has the biggest map among all three games, there's no such flow that naturally directs the player. "Better" yet, there's no indication of roads on the map, which makes it virtually useless for navigation, so player has to rely on compass marker, which results in a straight line navigation (player keeps the marker in the center of the compass, and keep walking towards it), boring and unmemorable. If player doesn't want to abuse fast travel, there's really no fun in navigation. There's no main roads to follow and I don't remember seeing any road signs (maybe I'm wrong). The whole game is pretty much all about going from point A straight to point B straight to point C and D and so on.

    TLDR: morrowind and oblivion have good flow and skyrim doesn't have any.

    PS: I have posted this discussion on many forums to get different perspectives for my view of game map design :)

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    12,474
    I teleported about Morrowind, but I trained it and made heavy use of Mark and recall when I wasn't sure which town 'teleport to nearest mage Guild or Temple would dump me at. Magical cartography has its own merits.
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
    http://playingitwrong.wordpress.com/

  3. #3
    Lesser Hivemind Node Xzi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    545
    I did prefer Morrowind's layout to the rest, but with a couple mods, exploration in Skyrim isn't bad either.
    ~

  4. #4
    Network Hub
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    114
    Skyrim has road signs all right. Not marking roads on the map was a terrible choice, though. (There's mods to fix that, of course, but that can be said about every aspect of Skyrim.)

    However, I'm not sure I agree about Oblivion. I seem to recall it was actually safer and faster to run through the forests, because the roads had various encounters with bandits and whatnot whereas the wilderness was pretty much empty. I think I spent a lot of time galloping through the forests (yes, in a straight line), quickly outdistancing the monsters that hung out around the various ruins.

  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    12,474
    Safer? Son let me talk to you about cursed fire damage pants.
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
    http://playingitwrong.wordpress.com/

  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    1,706
    I feel like all your threads are using us as market research for your game...
    ... but that's ok.
    I've only played Morrowind, so I can't really compare. I'll think on it.

  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    12,474
    Quote Originally Posted by BillButNotBen View Post
    I feel like all your threads are using us as market research for your game...
    ... but that's ok.
    I've only played Morrowind, so I can't really compare. I'll think on it.
    He's clearly writing a paper, but live and let live.
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
    http://playingitwrong.wordpress.com/

  8. #8
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Posts
    1,660
    It's hardly advertising when it doesn't have any links or even name of project you could search for in web.

    Saying that Skyrim is badly designed game in almost every aspect including navigation isn't something new.
    It's worth to mention that Skyrim doesn't really support playing without magical GPS system.
    I remember my first time playing Morrowind. You're told to go to Balmora and find Cassius Coesadus (or something like that).
    Then you're navigating countryside using roadsings and when you reach Balmora you're talking with people and ask them about guy you want to find. Then you get told that his house is in corner of the city etc.

    In Skyrim you would just have a marker on the map and maybe you would need to talk to some person and ask about Cassius and of course that person would be marked on map too. It's really lazy and treats the player as a stupid hack who never had to ask for directions in real life.

    The good example of map is in first two Gothics. First game starts with rather linear path that leads you to first of three major camps which is first place most people will visit.
    The map looks just like this:

    It only shows you your current position and you must buy it first.
    Even with map you must rely on directions given to you by NPCs (at least when you're playing it for first time). You need to stick to the roads, because venturing into unpopulated areas isn't really safe for low-level character.


    BTW, could someone recommend me a game that doesn't have maps that magically shows your position and you must rely on specific landmarks and compass? I can only think of Miasmata.

  9. #9
    Activated Node
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Posts
    63
    this one is neither a market research or essay lol. it's me testing out my design philosophy:)

  10. #10
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus TheDreamlord's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    London
    Posts
    1,287
    Quote Originally Posted by GameCat View Post
    I remember my first time playing Morrowind. You're told to go to Balmora and find Cassius Coesadus (or something like that). Then you're navigating countryside using roadsings and when you reach Balmora you're talking with people and ask them about guy you want to find. Then you get told that his house is in corner of the city etc.
    Right you are on this. I still remember the exact thing you are describing and how I literally had to follow the signs and look around and eventually find myself the person I was after. I still think Morrowind is by far the best Elderscrolls game. The world was just magnificent, full of wonders, lore and meaning. I yearn for another RPG that will offer me that, but maybe I'm too old now with too many nothes under my belt. Still ....

  11. #11
    I went back to the Elder Scrolls series some time last year, and despite its age Morrowind is easily still the best of the lot. I think a few texture and filter packs went a long way to patching up the dated graphics, but the art and environment design was heads and shoulders above Oblivion and Skyrim.

  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus SirKicksalot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    2,795
    Skyrim's map is a more realistic mess than its predecessors. I'd rather have no flow than an overly artificial flow like Oblivion's cake slices promote.
    IIRC each biome has its own point of interest which serves the same purpose as the Imperial spire.

    I'm still salty over Cyrodiil's retcon. I wanted the jungle empire of the older games, not Romans in Uwe Boll's LOTR. I like Skyrim's Viking theme more than that and the ghetto Tatooine of Morrowind.

  13. #13
    Don't you remember the Cascadian Isles? Azura's Coast?

  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    1,706
    Morrowind's map/world was pretty good. I liked the way you kind of expanded out from the area you started, gradualyl building up a knowledge of your surroundings and getting your bearings.
    I think it did suffer a little from the landscape being pretty repetitive, but that was due to the graphics of the time.

    The fast travel kept throwing me off. I was starting to get the hang of the area around balmora, and then, for some reason I don't recall, I ended up taking a strider to a new area, and then exploring around that area.

    So rather than progressing circularly around the coast, it was more like a series of clear spots on a foggy window that gradually expanded until they joined up.

    I remember the Main City being a pain the in the arse though. Lots of identical looking pyramids. No sense of bearings.

    Daggerfall had the best cities.

  15. #15
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus TheDreamlord's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    London
    Posts
    1,287
    Quote Originally Posted by BillButNotBen View Post
    Morrowind's map/world was pretty good. I liked the way you kind of expanded out from the area you started, gradualyl building up a knowledge of your surroundings and getting your bearings.
    I think it did suffer a little from the landscape being pretty repetitive, but that was due to the graphics of the time.

    The fast travel kept throwing me off. I was starting to get the hang of the area around balmora, and then, for some reason I don't recall, I ended up taking a strider to a new area, and then exploring around that area.

    So rather than progressing circularly around the coast, it was more like a series of clear spots on a foggy window that gradually expanded until they joined up.

    I remember the Main City being a pain the in the arse though. Lots of identical looking pyramids. No sense of bearings.

    Daggerfall had the best cities.
    Vivec is/was such a monstrocity! In both good and bad ways. It is probably one of the few in-game cities which actually feel like a city. It is massive, with many buildings which have many floors and so many people in there. And it has proper segregation of areas, rich and poor, palace, temple, etc. I was in awe and horror the first time I visited it and I didn't know how to start mapping it out. Yes the buildings/pyramids are very similar looking, but man what a city. And that is a 13 year old game.

  16. #16
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    1,706
    TBH Vivec kind of killed my momentum in Morrowind.
    I'd been having lots of fun exploring the remote / starting areas, and then I had to go to Vivec for some reason*. Then I decided to try a few quests while I was there, and spent ages trying to jump up to the floating whatchamacallit. But then I just got kinda bored with running around identikit buildings and trying to remember where particular characters were.

    (Cos I'm playing it at the moment). The Witcher seems to do a decent version of a city. It's probably smaller than Vivec, but it's more realistic. It actually feels like a medievil city. For one thing, it's not flat. It's densely packed and has slopes and hills and confusing little alleyways and buildings that are mashed together. For another thing, they did a great job with the NPC animation. They all have set schedules. They go to bed at night, set up stalls and walk around in the daytime, run for cover under the nearest building when it rains, etc..
    That said, while it has specific zones (Outskirts, Slums/Temple, Merchant quarter, etc..) each of them is a different level and they unlock linearly with the plot (although you can then go back and visit previous areas). so it's a bit different from Morrowind where you can try to break into the high temple and steal Ordinator armor at level 1. ;-)

    *Probably because I bought the GOTY edition and installed it with the two expansions. Which means every time you sleep, even at level 1, you get awakened by high level magic-ninja-assasins who insta-kill you until you give up and go to Vivec to tell them to sod off.

  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Tikey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Argentina
    Posts
    3,279
    The lovely thing about Vivec is that it's still alien, like most of Vvanderfell but still has a logic to it that's characteristic for a city. It's hard to understand, it might get confusing at first but it is coherent with itself. Also it has an awesome floating rock prison.

    Quote Originally Posted by BillButNotBen View Post
    *Probably because I bought the GOTY edition and installed it with the two expansions. Which means every time you sleep, even at level 1, you get awakened by high level magic-ninja-assasins who insta-kill you until you give up and go to Vivec to tell them to sod off.
    Ninjas kill the game, not because they kill you a lot (they might at the beggining but because you kill a lot of them and then sell their armour making you rich quite early in the game)

  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus L_No's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Posts
    1,617
    Vivec killed the momentum in my Morrowind playthrough too. Having to find specific things in all those identical looking pyramids was a royal pain in the backside and sucked all the fun out of the game for me. As soon as I was done there, I never went back unless I really had to.
    Want to add me on Steam? Steam name: Mr. Gert

    Guild Wars 2 characters: Norgothus (Norn Necromancer), Maggrivo (Charr Warrior)

    Quote Originally Posted by Fumarole View Post
    Never go full Wulf.

  19. #19
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus karaquazian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    england
    Posts
    1,432
    The other expansion with the nords and werewolves was better

  20. #20
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Posts
    1,026
    Just playing Morrowind for the first time. It is kinda fun, if not very engaging, a relatively solid barebones RPG. One sees where MMOs got their templates. Oh, and I cannot run because I picked athletics as my main skill. Jesus fuck.

    Quote Originally Posted by L_No View Post
    Vivec killed the momentum in my Morrowind playthrough too. Having to find specific things in all those identical looking pyramids was a royal pain in the backside and sucked all the fun out of the game for me. As soon as I was done there, I never went back unless I really had to.
    Heh, copypasta is all fun and well in Bethesda games, but they sure could have fleshed Vivec's quarters out, especially inside. Cities of the Great Houses, for example, are quite different indeed. They could have made the insides of the pyramids much mroe mushroomy/shellcrabby/somethinghlaahuy.

    Also, there is that Levitation shrine in Vivec. It is the best thing eve for that place.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •