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Monday, June 11, 2007

More On Oblivion

I spent a large portion of yesterday in Cyrodiil. We had been up late with Guitar Hero the night before, so this kind of virtual vacation was a good way to recoup. I'm still majorly impressed with the level of just pure tweaking which has gone into this game - I can't imagine the number of notes which they must have taken between Morrowind and now. Morrowind was good, but this game is improved in about a thousand subtle little ways - most of which you'll barely notice. I mean, just the whole aspect of levelling up feels less "gamey" - even though I still run and jump nearly everywhere I feel less like I'm just trying to beat stats in general and more like I'm simply playing. Tiny aspects of melee feel like they went over a complete overhaul (not just the obvious active block but things like stuns and recoils).

At one point I pickpocketed a Bandit Ringleader before backstabbing. That's how a Pirate Lord rolls. For the most part, the custom class is holding up quite well. Basically a mage with stealth, blade and speechcraft skills. It's a pretty good self-sustaining class, because I can heal without resting (takes a while), create potions to sell off, pick my own locks and talk people into giving me stuff for cheap. Everyone seems to like a Pirate Lord - at least with enough jabber.

I can't tell if the speechcraft minigame is brilliant or annoying. There is something genius about the design - which has you trying to hit larger aspects of a rotating discs on types of talk the NPC enjoys. Some like jokes more than boasting, for instance. What's odd is that you have to use all four kinds of talk - so you end up with the NPC riffing a series of odd statements. Mechanically it works great, but listening makes it seem like you're having a conversation with a wind-up toy with Torretts.

Still, the Elder Scrolls games are one of the few that gives off such a grand sense of scale. More like Elite than Ocarina of Time - most of the time your "mission" is simply to see what is going on over that hill. The "radar" system is great because it doesn't require you to wander aimlessly pass the same cave five times.

Later I'll probably play around with a few of the mods and report back. For now it's just a major time suck. Haven't coded anything since Thursday.

As of the announcement, Bethesda had been working on Oblivion for 2 years, since 2002,[25] just as Bethesda was finishing up with Morrowind.[26] In the same timeframe, Bethesda's Elder Scrolls team was split in two: half, mostly designers and artists, were sent to work on Morrowind's expansions; and the rest, mostly programmers, were sent to work on technology for Oblivion.[13] The team's goal then was, in the words of executive producer Todd Howard, to "create the quintessential RPG of the next generation", with a focus on a "combination of freeform gameplay and cutting-edge graphics."[6] Producing for next generation machines, rather than a cheap upgrade, gave Bethesda an additional four years of development: four years that "all but guaranteed" a punctual launch alongside the Xbox 360, four years that offered room for Bethesda to start from scratch.[27] Howard describes this as an aspect of Bethesda's greater goal of "Reinvention", where the team's goal is to make "a new game that stands on its own, that has its own identity"

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