Skyrim EP43: VERY Irresponsible

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Jun 11, 2014

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 86 comments

Link (YouTube)

This is the Elder Scroll series Rutskarn is doing: The Altered Scrolls. He’s going through the whole series, starting with Arena (1994) and talking about each game in turn.

It seems like every time we bring Morrowind up it’s a conversation about how it completely sucked but is also the cast favorite. I’ve been trying to figure this out since I began Skyrim. I think the power delta is a big part of it. I like games were you grow in power by orders of magnitude. It’s also a reason I love Minecraft. On day one you’re naked and foraging with your bare hands. By day 100 you’re running around in enchanted diamond armor killing stuff with an enchanted diamond sword, gazing out over the conquered wilderness from atop your glorious doom fortress.


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86 thoughts on “Skyrim EP43: VERY Irresponsible

  1. Tizzy says:

    Skyrim shipped with terminally bugged weapon and armor stands. If Bethesda can’t even implement that correctly, I have little hope to ever see Rutskarn’s wishes for a physics system that allows the player to pose objects more effectively.

    1. Well even a “lock item so it does not rotate” button would be useful really. i think it would improve the placement of objects by loads.

      1. topazwolf says:

        All I want is an item placement mode like in everquest. Just allow me to enter a special mode where the item in question sticks to surface where I can rotate it. Physics can apply if I rotate it on a weird axis, but otherwise I don’t care if the physics are 100%.

      2. Andrew_C says:

        I know there is an Oblivion mod that does something like that (iirc it allows you to disable physics on selected objects, among other stuff). It wouldn’t surprise me if there is a mod for Skyrim as well. But “there’s a mod for that!” has to be the single most depressing thing about Bethesada games, if it can be easily modded into the game, then why on earth did Bethesda just not do it in the first place?

  2. Vipermagi says:

    “starting with Area (1994)”
    Initially, the titular arena didn’t feature walls.

    1. djshire says:

      But did it run on Windows?

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        No,it ran on widows.

        1. djshire says:

          The subtlety of my humor is lost in text form

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      There is a reason he is known as Shame,after all.

  3. Hal says:

    The “hamster ball problem” is one that plagued me in Oblivion. I put a big basket on a table in one of my houses and started dumping gems into it. The thing was eventually like a bowl of crickets, with the dang things bouncing around trying to find solid ground (and failing, because the basket doesn’t count). Eventually, the whole thing just kind of “exploded,” throwing gems everywhere.

    My experiment trying that with the Oblivion gate sigil stones was even less successful.

  4. Nick says:

    All in favour of adding ‘In the vanilla version of Skyrim’ to the drinking game?

  5. Raygereio says:

    Was Chris referencing this?

    Re: Physics and placing items.
    It’s not really feasible to finetune an item’s position with the grab function. You can however use the GetPos, SetPos, GetAngle & SetAngle console commands for this. Naturally there are mods that tie those commands to buttons and simplify the process.
    As long as your placement doesn’t have the item floating or clipping into another model’s hitbox, they won’t fly around.
    Important thing to remember is that if you want to place an item, you need to drop the item on the ground, exit and re-enter the room and then start placing it. If you don’t do that, often the game will reset the item’s position to where it fell out of your inventory the next time room loads.

    The biggest problem with decorating is probably that the hitboxes of items are often too large. This is actually a general problem with meshes in Skyrim, Fallout 3, etc. For example if you’re behind a streetlight in FO3 and you’re trying to shoot around it, there’s this 10cm aura around the visible model where you will hit an invisible wall.

    1. Chris says:

      Yes! You win the random UCB skit of the week.

      Now I’m trying to figure out how to get ass pennies on the show. Disney Melodies are easy, we sing enough.

      …Then I’ll pretty much be done. UCB was a pretty short lived show. :/

      It’s also sort of weird that although Amy Poehler was the breakout star from the show none of my favorite skits involved her.

      1. Aitch says:

        Aw but what about the Bucket of Truth? Bong boy, Detective Lou Natic, The Unabomber, and a Hot Chicks Room all in one place? That one stands out to me as a fan fav, and Pohler was (i think) playing the wife and the girl scout. But yeah, I can’t think of much funny she did on that show. Seemed more of the straight player for most things.

        Though in my mind nothing parallels the astronaut being kept alive in a basement, fed only edible underwear, stuck in a virtual reality simulation – oh yes. Use your gun arm!!

    2. Re: Meshes. I believe the Nexus has mods for every Bethsoft game that tightens up the meshes so you can decorate/stack effectively.

      Perhaps a programmer can enlighten me, but when I work with vector graphics, there’s usually a function that lets me select an object and I can expand it (and simplify it, if I want fewer connecting points) by X pixels/percent/etc. Why isn’t this an automated function in these games? Just select the 3D model, expand the mesh for the hitbox by a pixel or two, make it invisible, go to lunch.

  6. Destrustor says:

    The single heaviest piece of dwemer crap lying around can, actually, be smelted.
    The trick to know what can or cannot be smelted is that if the item’s name begins with “dwemer”, it’s useless. anything else (except the small dwemer levers) is a source of metal.
    It’s still completely unintuitive, but it’s not as much of a waste of time as Josh made it sound like.

    1. Tizzy says:

      I’d never noticed that trick.

      Of course, the other question is what is the ratio of number of ingots produced per weight of the item. Once again, Skyrim endlessly entertains by flagrantly disregarding conservation of mass.

      1. Destrustor says:

        The trick for that is to look at the value of the items, and divide by five. The items have a value of five times the number of ingots they’ll make. Weight doesn’t play into this at all. Yes it does indeed fail to make any sense whatsoever.
        Maybe they’re made of alloys or are just not as pure as what we’d consider armor/weapons-grade, and bringing them up to that level sheds a lot of weight, depending on the item.

        1. guy says:

          No, no, it’s fine when they shed weight. But there’s at least one where the ingots weigh more than the item.

          1. Canthros says:

            Rare alloy with helium, obviously.

            1. DIN aDN says:

              ‘Dwemer metal: alloy of corundum, iron, zinc, helium, phlogiston, cat hair, grease of uncertain origin, ice wraith teeth, chaurus venom, mushroom spores and a small melon of no larger size than a man’s fist. Combine under a full moon [either is suitable, though masser produces a more galvanically conductive material] and say “Dumac is totally baller” three times backwards’

          2. Groboclown says:

            It’s a bit like chicken processing plants. More weight comes out than what you put in.

    2. Hal says:

      It sort of depends on how you’re spending your time.

      If you’re trying to make money, smelting dwemer scraps into ingots isn’t a great use of time or your space. On the other hand, if you’re trying to level up Blacksmithing, and you can make dwemer gear, it’s about as good a method as you could want for getting raw materials.

  7. hborrgg says:

    The heaviest dwemer stuff you can smelt, but it weighs something like 25 pounds then gives you 5 pounds of ingots. Then there are some dwemer objects which weigh maybe 1 lb to carry, but then give you 2 lbs of metal when you smelt them down, that’s pretty weird.

    Also, there’s a object you can find called “dwemmer scrap metal” which can’t be smelted down into ingots. I hated that.

  8. TMTVL says:

    Am I the only one playing Skyrim on the highest difficulty or am I just playing it wrong? Because I don’t feel might or invincible at all when I play.

    I know magic is considered to be the weakest path, but I have to use all my magica up just to kill your average bandit, and that feels wrong.

    1. Tizzy says:

      Well, magic does suck. My destruction magic playthrough was on normal, and it was still like pulling teeth.

      More generally, I slightly disagreed with the crew here, in that I have always felt pretty squishy for the first 10 levels or so, especially in my first playthrough, before I knew which enemies to expect where and which ones were dangerous.

      Past level 20 is fairly lacking in suspense, especially if you’re not Josh and you’re actually packing useful potions rather than random crap. With one notable exception: the damage feedback loop is terribly designed, so that my character keeps grunting and shaking the controller if an arrow brings me from 100% to 98% health, but a dragon breath can melt away all my health in a few seconds without eliciting any protest or warning sound.

      Oh well, this way I can still run into stupid, avoidable deaths. Wouldn’t want to make things *too* easy…

      1. hborrgg says:

        Case in point: the frost troll on the way to high Hrothgar.

    2. hborrgg says:

      I think what makes you really start to feel invincible early on is once you have around 50 health potions and you are essentially sitting on a pool of 2000+ hit points. For that reason yeah, I’ve never really seen the appeal of trying higher difficulty settings if the only difference is “you need to buy and drink potions more often.”

      1. Tizzy says:

        Skills level faster on higher difficulties. Definitely worth it.

    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Summoning is pretty good for leveling early on.If you try to actually do stuff early on on higher difficulties,you will likely fail.You need to craft/buy a bunch of potions,but after that,its a cakewalk.

    4. Hal says:

      Maxed out two-handed will let you kill most enemies in a couple of hits. Stealth/one-handed perks will let you kill most enemies in a single hit. Magic really can’t compete.

  9. Tizzy says:

    Re: Falmer. Yes, they are deadly and annoying, yes, I’ve had more than my fair share of adventurers (and companions, damn poison effect!) lost to them, but I forgive them because they are such easy foes to hate. Who doesn’t want to simply go around the Skyrim underground on a genocidal spree? It’s not so easy to design enemies that cause that much of a gut reaction.

    1. fdgzd says:

      problem with that is that it takes so fricking long to kill the bastards and their bullshit pets! Maybe it was because I was a thief/mage but it took forever to kill them

    2. hborrgg says:

      Falmer are some of the more fun enemies to fight I think, aside from all the poison and occasional Charus who can take down most of your health in a single hit early on. Like Josh mentioned they actually do seem to be blind, so if you have decent sneak and light armor you can generally just tip toe past most of them and chain sneak attacks. The downside is that if you aren’t able to do that then since they tend to be encountered in whole villages at a time and have good hearing, you just get swarmed.

      1. guy says:

        Get Muffle from the Dark Brotherhood boots and it becomes stupidly easy.

        1. Hal says:

          Also good for making it stupidly easy: Command Animal shout. The chauri (chauruses?) are vulnerable to it, making your life a lot easier when the falmer bring them out.

          1. DIN aDN says:

            I’d guess ‘Chaurus’, in much the same way as ‘sheep’, ‘fish’ or ‘falmer’. Couldn’t say why, though. Is there maybe a loading screen tooltip that uses it like that?
            In any case, it’s not a Latin word, so it probably shouldn’t take a Latin plural (though, -us does look like a Latin suffix, granted)

            Actually, come to think of it, ‘draugr’ is also singular/plural, as is ‘bosmer’, ‘dwemer’, ‘khajiit’, ‘dreugh’, ‘sload’… Maybe whoever creates the fantasy names at Bethesda just has a thing for plurals that operate that way?

      2. Tizzy says:

        Also, the point of the Chaurus, and the occasional skeever pen, is to surround Falmer with sighted allies. So invisibility may come in handy even then.

        Also, sometimes, the best move is not to attack. It is definitely the case when you are saddled with idiot non-companion tag-alongs, as, say, in the Thieves Guils quest.

  10. hborrgg says:

    So, I decided to start playing skyrim again for some reason with all the DLC and some mods, and so far one thing has really stood out to me: Josh really needs to do more 3rd person bunny-hopping, the arm waving is so good in this game.

  11. Nick Powell says:

    A lot of skyrim feels like my hobby coding projects do when I rush around implementing random features for the fun of it but never bother to do the boring task of actually polishing them up.

  12. Henson says:

    In a similar vein of Rutskarn posting about the Elder Scrolls, I’ve been publishing the journal I kept of my first Skyrim character on my website. I didn’t expect to write a journal in-character when I started the game, but after downloading the Take Notes! mod, it seemed only natural. Take a peek if any of you are interested, the entries are pretty short.

  13. Flavius says:

    I believe positioning system of Skyrim is the worst of all the three modern games. Critically, Bethesda removed the location sensitive grab that Oblivion had, making everything lift from (if I remember correctly) the object’s center. This, along with the fact that they evidently found the “Bucket on Head” bug so funny that all urn-like objects flip upside down when grabbed, making decorating them a time wasting aggravation.

    1. Wide And Nerdy says:

      Maybe its just bodies, but I’ve been able to grab the edges of things in skyrim

  14. BeardedDork says:

    I like to take every light object in Morrowind and decorate the Seyda Neen Light house with them.

  15. Eathanu says:

    I wish they would just drop the item physics entirely and do positioning like Morrowind, honestly. That, or have item placement exactly like Morrowind (click item in inventory, click outside of inventory, item is where you place it and rotated relative to you but in 15° increments) and only run physics on the item until it settles into a place, then remove it until certain conditions are met (like Fus Ro Dah-equivalents would “wake” every item in the room’s physics long enough to see what happens to everything, but fireballs accidentally thrown around wouldn’t.)

    1. Wide And Nerdy says:

      It could use a little tuning, but I like the physics. Its better than no physics and I don’t see how you all are having these problems. I rarely ever have a problem bumping anything, certainly not in my house.

  16. Hitch says:

    I like Jenassa’s dialog under the end credits this week.

    It’s also good to have What-the-hell-are-you-wearing-on-your-head* back on the show.

    *Is that an Argonian name?

    1. Neil W says:

      Best end credits ever? Maybe not, but pretty good.

  17. Wide And Nerdy says:

    I will say this, as much as I’ve complained about Morrowind in these threads, I like that they were willing to put some interesting powers into the mix that hardcores would probably complain are “broken” or “break the game”. I hate that whole way of thinking. The concern about balance has led to things like Mass Effect where upgrades improve things 5%. Or Oblivion’s level scaling. Or 4th edition DnD with its almighty powers system that shoehorned every class into the same mechanical mold.

    It doesn’t matter if its fun, whats important at the end of the day is that its balanced . . .

    1. Tizzy says:

      The potentially sequence-breaking or game-breaking powers like Whirlwind Sprint and Become Ethereal are seldom even usable, Josh’s demonstration in this episode notwithstanding. (I would have been extremely impressed if he’d had come even close to surviving the welcome committee at the bottom of the shaft…)

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Out of those,only d&d has some merit in wanting to be balanced,because it is primarily a multiplayer game.Single player games really should not care about balance at all.

      1. Wide And Nerdy says:

        D&D is not PvP online. Its played cooperatively in person by people sitting around a table. That means everybody can talk about whats working and what isn’t and make your own adjustments. Strict railroaded balance is not necessary and in fact can be hugely detrimental in a game like D&D. The advantage of a tabletop rpg is it’s flexibility.

        Or at least thats the advantage when the game isn’t being designed by MMOers. I know people are tired of hearing about that about 4th edition but I won’t stop saying it because it was true. Its good to streamline and carefully balance mechanics in an mmo because then the computer can rapidly do rules management and simulation for you without the need for a human judge on hand to handle when players find loopholes. But in DnD, you don’t have a computer running that stuff for you. You have a human being, so you should take advantage of the strengths of having a human being on hand and allow your players more freedom.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          No,d&d CAN be played cooperatively,but it doesnt have to be.It can be played pvp as well.But thats also irrelevant.Coop or not,balance is important for any game meant to be played exclusively with other people.Look at diablo 3,for example,which is strictly coop.Yet they are constantly working to make every class be viable in all the encounters,despite the huge difference in their play styles and powers.

          And yes,p&p games are highly flexible and modable,but balance is still important in the vanilla versions because of the ever growing number of people that like to just sit and play at cons and other gatherings.

          Also,in order to mod a p&p game properly to have be fun and easy,you have to have a very good gm,which is not that easy to find.

          And while I dont like d&d,I have to admit that it was a great starting point for me,and 4th edition,as bad as I think it is for any real role playing,is even better an introduction for new people than the one I started with.So it is a good system for what it was designed to be,a gateway drug….I mean,an introductory rpg.

          1. Wide And Nerdy says:

            An introductory drug that leaves long time players in the cold. “Oh you enjoyed playing your character such and such way? Well too bad.”

            And as for saying “can be played coop” That is what the game is designed for. Its balanced completely on the assumption that party members are going to work together against an common threat or towards a common goal. Classes like the bard for example, can be quite viable in PVE if you play them right but its almost impossible to make them work in PVP.

            My groups rarely ever had balance issues and I seldom played with great DMs. Its not rocket science. Look at what your players can do, and give them opportunities to do that stuff. In dungeons, don’t let your players sleep. That takes care of the fighter/spellcaster dichotomy really easily. Employ any of the number of enemies who are resistant to common wizard attacks. Encourage them to fall back on secondary strategies like terrain control, buffing and summoning. The wizard’s job in battle then becomes setting things up so that the other characters can be awesome.

            Personally, I do think spellcasters should be allowed to be more powerful, especially wizards because they’re more work, especially at higher levels. You have to do research, anticipate challenges, spend lots of gold to keep your spellbook up to snuff (not to mention what happens when he loses it.)

            And again, Diablo 3 is a computer game. If a player builds a broken character in Diablo, nothing can be done about it till the devs release a patch. In DnD, the problem can be addressed immediately.

            1. Indy says:

              It seems like you’re complaining about the “straight out of the box” campaigns and rules of 4th edition and comparing them to custom campaigns and rules for previous editions. It’s still possible have all that flexibility in 4th ed because, as you said, there’s a human running it and not a computer.

              1. Wide And Nerdy says:

                My suggestions in the third paragraph require absolutely no adjustment of the rules. You can use standard beasts, dungeons and traps. Its easy enough to prevent sleep just by having a threat of roving monsters. At higher levels, you can place wards (which are in the standard rules) when you don’t want the spellcaster falling back on tricks like teleport or extradimensional hideouts.

                As for my fifth paragraph, all the DM has to do is ask the player to play something else or choose an alternate to an offending game option. To fix the problems I have with 4th ed, you need to invent rules systems whole cloth. Its a lot more work and its not my job to fix a broken game design (and as Pathfinder has been outselling D&D for a while now, this is clearly not just my problem.)

                4e would be fine if it wasn’t the 4th edition of Dungeons and Dragons. 4e did not serve all the needs that its predecessors met. Thats the problem. Thats why Pathfinder has been so successful and retroclones of AD&D have seen a surge. Thats why 5th edition brought some things back.

                1. Wide And Nerdy says:

                  I’ll say this for Deus Ex. At least they let you build a fort out of vending machines at the local precinct and steal a refrigerator out of a guys apartment and throw it off the roof.

            2. Ciennas says:

              Welp, if it’s designed to be more user friendly, that alone would be worth the loss of a few play-styles.

              But a question: Why does it bother you so much? The creation of 4e did not invalidate the older editions, and in fact they are cheap and easy to maintain or find.

              When a 4e campaign comes up, just play by the styles available or adaptable and try to have fun with what it’s offering. Consider it a challenge mode or something.

              Afterwords, or once the new players are acclimated, you can help everyone move over to 3.5 or GURPS or Munchkin or what have you.


              1. Wide And Nerdy says:

                It has an impact. Thankfully some of that impact was blunted by the introduction of Pathfinder and the rise of retroclones for older editions.

                But it means no new content gets made, books fall out of print and become more difficult to find with time, WOTC only has organized play for it’s current edition so there goes an opportunity to meet new players, and the player base was fragmented. New blood goes to the new edition a lot of the time. Again, Pathfinder helped.

                But now, as 5th edition comes along, WOTC tries to reclaim some of its old player base having essentially admitted they went too far, it has to compete with game products derived from it’s own older editions.

                4th edition also led to a greater deal of prescriptivism in terms of what was possible. Pretty much every class feature now had to be of use in combat because you have X number of dailies, X number of encounter powers and X number of at wills. If they were to introduce abilities that were not of immediate use in combat for those slots, players would be shooting themselves in the foot if they took them. This ruined spellcasters whose primary way of contributing outside of combat was their spells. And it removes an element of calculation from the game. Classes that prepared their spells used to have to decide how much in combat and out of combat stuff they wanted to do today. In 4e, the game decides that for you and don’t you dare gainsay it.

                Again, this would have all been fine if this was the first edition of a new game. But it wasn’t.

                I mean, within the narrow scope of what the game does allow, its mechanics are good. I liked things like the “reliable” daily power type which mean that you could keep using a once a day attack power as much as you wanted until it actually worked (Pathfinder has something similarly cool with their version of the Persistent Spell Feat which forces targets to save twice.)

                And to address your comments, they didn’t gain simplicity from the adjustments that were made. At least for a new player, 4th edition is just as hard to learn. They still have to know what all the stats mean, abilities, saves, attack, AC, how all that stuff is calculated, and everybody has to know how the powers system works, action mechanics, etc. None of that stuff was removed. The games moved just as slow.

                They did gain tactical options which I liked but those options could have been introduced in a version of 4th ed that kept the fundamentals of the previous editions. They also introduced a skill challenge for what few skills they had left that was awkward as written but still a good first draft and a useful guideline for crafting non combat challenges. I hope 5th ed has something similar. But again, the skill challenge system could have been seamlessly integrated into any previous edition and you wouldn’t have had to change a line of text. It didn’t require butchering the skill list the way they did.

                1. Ciennas says:

                  So it had some neat ideas but angered everybody who had been loyal before?

                  This sounds a hell of a lot like Bethesda somehow.

                  In all seriousness. Well darn. I have a 4e rule book (Player edition), but I never got a chance to use. It looked pretty encouraging.

                  A major overhaul that didn’t improve gameplay? That’s… that’s sadmaking.

                  1. Wide And Nerdy says:

                    Well, I’ll be fair, it’s a little more complicated than that. DnD is partly about the sheer openness of the experience but 4th ed funneled and limited focus to a subset of the possibilities.

                    The possibility it most focused on, tactical combat, did receive some of what I would consider improvements.

                    Damage, healing, buffing and debuffing had always been options in prior editions but 4th ed added lots of tactical movement. While you had your normal move action to move your character as in prior editions, you might also have an attack power that moves the enemy, or yourself or allows a friend to move, or swaps the two of you or swaps you with an enemy. You might have a power that allows a nearby ally to make an attack instead of you. And I’m sure they built on this sort of thing as the edition progressed.

                    They also made tanking easier to pull off. There were special esoteric builds that could achieve limited tanking in 3rd edition, like a spiked chain wielder with combat reflexes and improved tripping, or the shield other spell, or the taunt option that was introduced late in 3rd ed. But 4e had a core mechanic shared by all tanking classes, the challenge (if I recall correctly) which would affect how you’re able to use your powers and what your enemy could do (generally they penalized your enemy in some way for attacking someone other than you.)

                    But one of their big stated goals had been to make things simpler for new players and easier on DMs and from what I saw, 4e accomplished neither. 3rd ed made the biggest improvements, changing the attack system to be a bit more intuitive and streamlining the skill system so that it worked off of consistent modifiers making it easier to work with character stats without having to consult charts (in prior editions, each ability score had its own set of specific modifiers that modified different stats in different ways. In 3rd ed, each ability score provided a single modifier and you just had to know which places that modifier applied. Furthermore, the calculation of the modifier based on the ability score was consistent so it was easy for a player to remember how to calculate his modifiers and apply them often without consulting a book. 4th ed kept this feature and it looks like 5th ed is keeping it as well. But where 3e was able to achieve greater simplicity without sacrifices because prior editions had some needlessly warty mechanics that could be simplified without losing anything, 4th ed somehow managed to restrict things in ways that didn’t make the system simpler or faster.

      2. hborrgg says:

        Not exactly, single player games need to remain balanced enough to be complex and fun. Requiring constant metagaming from your player just to keep your game playable actually does have a negative inpact on the experience.

        In addition, the fact is that most players aren’t even willing to do that. They are only going to play until they’ve found their first foo strategy, get bored, and quit.

        1. Indy says:

          I’m with hborrgg. Single-player games should have a healthy respect for balance and most games try to do this with a difficulty setting. If you’re on easy, it’s okay to just walk through fire and swallow grenades but even then, there’s a limit to how much you can take. As you increase the difficulty, you get weaker and your enemies get stronger. This requires balance. If any single mechanic removes the difficulty from easy to hard, it can break the game.

          All that said, some players do think it’s more fun to be uber-powered (Saints Row is just this) or seriously under-powered (like any good Ironman run) rather than just playing the game straight. It is entirely up to the player whether or not they use broken builds or cheats or play on easy or whatever if they find the experience more fun.

          1. Wide And Nerdy says:

            I love Saints Row IV for being willing to go there. And yeah, its frustrating when I’m playing Adam Jensen, a freaking cyborg, and I gotta hide from ordinary dudes with guns and fight from behind cover.

            Its frustrating when you gotta shoot a guy in the head 4 times before he’ll go down because realistic headshots would be unbalanced. Its frustrating when a normal mook takes ten shots with a gun and you finally get a thermal detonator it takes down half the stormtrooper’s health. THAT IS NOT A THERMAL DETONATOR.

            I want to be able to turn a mook into a wrestling pig with a luchador mask. I want a pheromone bomb that makes bad guys write each other sonnets. I want to run at 50mph like in the old shooters. I want to be able to set up an illusion of an orc shaving it’s legs. But balance runs counter to imagination in the modern shooter dominated market.

            1. Ciennas says:

              Admittedly, I seem to recall that all of those features are either implementable or have already been utilized.

              (Ratchet and Clank 1 had the Sheep Gun, for instance. Or was it chickens?)

              It could just be that most settings are more serious than a sheep gun or a phere-blaster or a gerbil inseminator.

              Maybe it’s the cartooniness?

              1. Wide And Nerdy says:

                That is another aspect I don’t like. When I left the gaming scene, there were still lots of games being made where you could play silly and bizarre stuff (though sadly limited by the technology.) When I got back after 15 years, people were taking games too seriously in all the wrong ways (here I refer to grimdark, SJWs, and complaints about any remotely fun mechanics being “broken.”)

                1. Ciennas says:

                  SJW? I haven’t heard that one before.

                  It’s probably just a side effect of the industry going main stream. There are a LOT of reality shows that are functionally indistinguishable from each other (Who’s he/she gonna marry/date/turn into a chicken?)

                  Realism is what most of the audience want, so the developers chase it. They are then surprised when that makes games like Portal and Saints Row stand out much more than they would otherwise.

                  Perhaps we just need a different marketing team to get our interest? Because all those ‘realistic’ military shooters are the ones that get all the funding.

                  I dunno, I haven’t had TV in years. Maybe someone else can tell me what they’re trumpeting on the TV box?

                  1. Wide And Nerdy says:

                    I have no clue either. I have basic cable but I’m always playing Netflix or YouTube on my TV. I get all my info about upcoming games from gaming sites.

              2. Ciennas says:

                To clarify:

                The first Ratchet and Clank (Released 2002) had a gun that would turn anybody that got shot by it into a chicken. Fable 2 (2008) had a ‘Chaos’ spell, where random mooks affected would in fact either start dancing or making out with each other or whatever.

                And I’m almost positive that other games have similar powers, including realistically lethal weapons. (I know that headshots in Halo are just as devastating as you’d expect- you just usually can take a few because of your armors shielding. A shieldless character goes down in one headshot, regardless of difficulty.)

                All of your combat complaints are easily implemented and I seem to recall that Fallouts 3 and New Vegas have mods to that effect.

                (In edition to guns that turn people into deathclaws, or a shotgun that fired deathclaws at people.)

                However, I think that most settings are too ‘realistic’ to want to turn people into chickens or to spawn impromptu make out sessions or whatever.

                So, the more cartoonish the setting, the more ‘zany’ we let it get before we call shenanigans.

                (Saints Row being of course ‘zany’)

                1. Wide And Nerdy says:

                  The whole headshot thing is a bit more forgivable in settings with scifi style helmets and forcefields.

                  Argh, Fable 2 is the one version of Fable you can’t get on PC and based on Shamus’ Stolen Pixel series on it, I’ve always wanted to try it. I want to make statues of myself giving the middle finger and put them up everywhere. I couldn’t stop laughing for probably an hour after reading that.

                  1. Ciennas says:

                    Fun most of the way through, glitches a bit when you redress your character late in the game, and has two really bad DM moments where you want to set somebody on fire, but are prevented because he’s the author’s favorite.

                    It’s the same guy both times. Come to think of it, it’s the same guy ALL the times.

                    Not quite worth a whole new console to play… but Fable 3 was an improvement overall, and that one’s on the PC, along with the first.

                    (I thought Microsoft was letting you play the Xbox games on the new Windows.)

                    1. Wide And Nerdy says:

                      Fable 3 was fun, if strangely goofy. I just couldn’t stop adopting children. I had a wife and children in every city. They gave Cleese a bunch of quips for just that scenario.

    3. Khizan says:

      4th Edition D&D may have shoehorned every class into the same mechanical mold, but it worked because the mold actually worked. So while ever class had at-will/encounter/daily powers, the classes all managed to play differently while still being somewhat useful. I was a fighter in my first 4e game. In my very first fight, I protected my squishy friend from harm by marking an enemy and holding him still, shieldbashed a dude into an alleyway and moved into place to trap him there, and generally felt all kinds of badass and useful. And I had the resources to do that kind of thing every fight. No more “I swing my sword at it” every round. It was awesome.

      A wizard felt as useful as my fighter at level 2. This was awesome, because in 3.5, my wizard could color spray twice before becoming useless and could be killed by a common housecat.

      On the other hand, my fighter felt as useful as a wizard at level 12. This was awesome, because in 3.5 my fighter was a glorified porter at this level because the Batman Wizard had an answer to every problem in his toolbelt already. I could do some damage, but that was it. Wizards won the fights.

      1. Wide And Nerdy says:

        It destroyed everything fun and imaginative about the wizard. I used to love to play illusionists and I don’t play it to have some attack powers with illusion based flavor text. I play it so that I can creatively use actual illusions that are in my control. And thats just one of many playstyles 4th ed destroyed.

        If the 12th level fighter in your group is not useful, either the player built him wrong and/or the DM was not doing his job. And in any event, the solution was not to strangle the other classes so that the fighter could feel good about himself. Pathfinder had much better fixes.

        And WotC knows it. Thats why they’ve backpedaled with 5th edition.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          “If the 12th level fighter in your group is not useful, either the player built him wrong and/or the DM was not doing his job.”

          No,Khizan is correct,fighters were pretty much glorified posts at later levels.Sure,you get the powers to strike down multiple times a round with your big ass weapon and deal tons of damage to anyone who approaches you,but meanwhile,the wizard you helped reach that stage could literally slaughter entire armies from miles away.Pretty much every spell after 6th level is mass murder on an ever increasing scale.Heck,even the shield spell of a later level rains death and destruction on anyone trying to approach you.

          But hey,the casters did earn those bragging rights,seeing how the best thing they could do early on was blow their load in the first round,then hide until the battle ends,and then sleep on it until tomorrow.Three loads if you were really minmaxing them.Which is why sorcerers were so coveted once they were first introduced.

          1. Wide And Nerdy says:

            If by armies, you mean tightly packed portions of squads, and by “miles” you mean hundreds of feet, sure your hyperbole has a modicum of truth. A 12th level spellcaster can cast three or four spells of that level such that, if he’s really lucky, can kill a combined total of three or four enemies of proper challenge level or a few squads of bad guys who weren’t any real threat to the party anyway. In practice, he’s going to kill less because of saves, resistances and less than ideal arrangements of enemies.

            More commonly what he’ll accomplish is the softening of enemy ranks so that the fighter can more easily smash.

            At lower levels, before the spellcaster has enough spells to fight that way for the entire fight, the disparity in hp and attack ratings is much less so a spellcaster can help flank enemies or shoot them with ranged weapons (especially an elven wizard). And at first level a wizard who can cast sleep won’t be hiding under anything after he does so because he will have effectively turned the battle in the party’s favor.

            As for prismatic sphere. Thats a 9th level spell and if you want to do something other than buff yourself, you need to leave the sphere leaving yourself open to attack. How many games do you even play that make it to that level?

    4. Sleeping Dragon says:

      I agree, it was really fun to be able to levitate to places you weren’t supposed to reach yet, abuse invisibility or make stamina regeneration ring to be able to run without getting tired. Not to mention that it’s been years since I played Morrowind without a ton of mods that heavily overhaul mechanics. Crossing the land by jumping over hills and building Incredible Hulk style due to buffed acrobatics was pretty entertaining too.

      Oblivion felt really limiting afterwards.

  18. Ilseroth says:

    As someone who doesn’t care about becoming particularly overpowered; I still think Morrowind is the best. The world is substantially more interesting; the writing is better, the characters you interact with are somehow more interesting, despite lacking any real voice acting besides “N’wah!”

    I think part of this has to do with the fact the dialogue is written, not spoken. When I talk to someone in morrowind, my imagination takes over for how they talk. Their mannerisms, and with the still frame while talking even their movements while talking really take place in the head. so when I talk to the ladies man highway man I can imagine him with a classic over the top accent, while if it was in Skyrim the chances are he would be generic Dark Elf dude.

  19. TheHokeyPokey says:

    Weirdly enough, my Morrowind character did not feel as powerful as my Oblivion or Skyrim characters. In Morrowind, I would sprint up to a dude and rub my sword in his face for a second or two and it would die. I ran really fast and was essentially invincible, but the offensive options in that game were so limited it undercut that “I’m so OP” feeling. In Oblivion, making magic viable combined with the improved custom spell system gives you ability to literally kill a god (and its obviously nonexistent death animation gives you a cool sense of meta-power). I was able to make spells that would clear small villages in a single cast. In Skyrim, the broken enchantment system meant I could just one shot punch everything.

    I will agree that the power difference is greater in Morrowind than the latter two. Neither end of the spectrum is fun, however. I started the game thinking the combat was garbage because it was tedious and the outcome was essentially out of my control. I ended the game thinking the combat was garbage because it was “hold down attack for a second.” At least with Skyrim I can try to string together as many German suplexes as possible.

    1. Jeff says:

      Wait, how did Oblivion have an “improved spell system”? All I remember was us losing the ability to delete spells, and even mods only allowed us to delete the default spells.

      Morrowind I remember making triple element ultra-high radius murder balls that would also steal the souls of the victims.

      1. TheHokeyPokey says:

        1) Regenerating magicka
        2) No die roll to successfully cast a spell
        3) No die roll to successfully hit with spell

        Any combat ability that expends resources to use in a system where you have no control over success is not viable. The fact that spell casting has two die rolls (to cast and to hit) makes it even worse. Also, I believe there was a die roll for creating the spell in the first place.

        For reference: my spell (called too much damage) dealt 100 damage of all 4 types, paralyzed for 1 second and turned me invisible for 30 seconds.

  20. Neko says:

    Personally I loved Morrowind’s system; it meant that if I wanted to roleplay a frail merchant I could really feel that terror of going from city to city if I decided I didn’t want to pay for the Silt Strider. One of my favourite playthroughs was heavily focused on Enchanting, and much like the “Fantasy Iron Man” we’ve discussed before, defeating foes through superior technology. The “Power Delta” is definitely a contributing factor to my love of Morrowind, but I also appreciate it when I’m not wanting to max out all my skills and attributes.

    Also, yeah, the item placement worked so much better. I can’t help but notice that while my MW homes had everything neatly arranged on tables, in Oblivion and Skyrim I just shove stuff in a chest and be done with it. Oblivion and Skyrim want you to play as the hero, who is never home but always out on adventure; in Morrowind it’s much easier to just be another Outlander living in Vvardenfell.

  21. Grudgeal says:

    A coal mining podcast, eh? I think I know some people around here who might be on-board with that…

    1. Humanoid says:

      Tungsten Carbide drills? What the bloody hell’s Tungsten Carbide drills?

      1. Grudgeal says:

        One day you’ll understand there’s more to life than culture! There’s dirt, and smoke, and good honest sweat!

  22. Phantos says:

    I never felt strong or powerful in Skyrim. Even when I was in the 90s, with maxed out weapons skills and the best armour in the game, and every enemy in the game had enough health for the battle to last three times longer than it ever needed to. Even just common low-level thugs. I always felt like every battle came down to who could chug down the most potions.

    In that sense, it wasn’t all that different from Oblivion’s level-scaling.

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