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Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Post-Release Discussion

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Fans of Morrowind will remember the interface as being somewhat clunky when the game made the transition over to the Xbox. The same cannot be said of Oblivion. The interface is both attractive and extremely functional. The game breaks down your ?journal? into four major categories that includes character information, items, spells, and map/quests. Each one of these main categories has a number of sub-categories that gives you access to more pronounced information such as different levels of your quest journal, or a map of the current area as opposed to the world map. Moving through these categories is extremely easy. The game also gives you the ability to hotkey up to eight items, spells, weapons, and scrolls of your choice. It?s as easy as hitting a direction on the d-pad to switch from your sword over to a bow and arrow or from a Destruction spell lover to a Restoration spell.

 

Also, I can?t say enough good things about the map interface in general. The game does a superb job of never letting you get lost. You can pull up any active quest in your journal, select it, and then click on the map option which will show you exactly where you need to go to complete the next leg of the quest. Selecting it will make that your current active quest. That will also place an indicator arrow on your compass to show the direction in which you need to head to reach a quest goal. You can also set your own marker on the map if you need a temporary location marker to get back to. The only disappointment is the inability to set various markers and label them on the world map. It seems logical to allow the player to do this and it would have made an already stellar mapping system just about perfect.

 

I have to disagree. I think the new interface is a total disaster and speed of use was sacraficed to make it appear "streamlined" or whatever. It seems like a lot of time was wasted subdividing everything into seperate menu tabs that are annoying to sort through. There wasn't really any reason to do this other than giving the illusion of "accessibility" to someone who has never played a Elder Scrolls game before. Really though, it's a complete pain in the ass because each tab doesn't display nearly enough information and if there is a way to drag/drop/resize menus, I sure haven't found it.

 

In Morrowind, all the information I could ever need was right at my fingertips. It was possible to move the menus to where I could see EVERYTHING at once. Now, instead of only needing to look at a different part of the screen to see items or my skills, I have to click through two separate levels of menus. Furthermore, each menu doesn't show nearly enough.....in Morrowind all items could usually be seen on a single screen unless you just had hundreds of them. In Oblivion, I have to scroll down a long list of items just to see what my Level 2 character's paltry possessions are.

 

The maps don't show a wide enough area, and I absolutely hate it that there is no mini-map when walking around. The new quest system is definately easier to manage, but I also wish they would have kept the chronological journal of everything merged together for those who want to look at it.

 

I'm also a bit annoyed that some of the skills were removed....what in the world were they thinking with that choice? There should be more skills, not less. The new Novice>Master system seems like it's going to be awesome though.

 

These things might not seem like a big deal, but I think they'll get very annoying over the course of a few hundred hours. It really seems like they spent too much time taking token steps that would pander to casual fans while ignoring the fact that they make the game more difficult to enjoy for the hardcore. These changes are worthless for achieving their purpose, as a new player is much more likely to be turned off by the game's unchanged open-ended structure than any of the things that were "fixed".

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I have to disagree. I think the new interface is a total disaster and speed of use was sacraficed to make it appear "streamlined" or whatever. It seems like a lot of time was wasted subdividing everything into seperate menu tabs that are annoying to sort through. There wasn't really any reason to do this other than giving the illusion of "accessibility" to someone who has never played a Elder Scrolls game before. Really though, it's a complete pain in the ass because each tab doesn't display nearly enough information and if there is a way to drag/drop/resize menus, I sure haven't found it.

I'm not playing the PC version so I can't comment on its useability on that platform. On the Xbox 360, I have no issues getting to what I need when I need it. I like the appearance of the interface, and I find it works extremely well. No illusion of accessibility needed here either as I've been playing The Elder Scrolls since Arena. Everything works really well IMO, and far better than Morrowind on the Xbox which made managing your inventory a chore to the Nth degree. To each thier own in that regard.

 

I do agree with you on the mini-map comment though. It would have been nice to have a Diablo/Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance like mini-map to toggle on and off and move to the various areas of the screen.

 

It really seems like they spent too much time taking token steps that would pander to casual fans while ignoring the fact that they make the game more difficult to enjoy for the hardcore. These changes are worthless for achieving their purpose, as a new player is much more likely to be turned off by the game's unchanged open-ended structure than any of the things that were "fixed".

I don't agree with that one single bit. Unchanged open ended structure? . Any new player can come into this game and avoid 90% of the world if they so choose by using the fast travel system and following the main quest alone. They have no need to bother looking anywhere else since the game practically hands you the main quest without any need to bother dealing with any of the open endedness you mention. This is easily the most accessible game of the series.

 

In Oblivion, I have to scroll down a long list of items just to see what my Level 2 character's paltry possessions are.

Or you could move over to the separate windows that auto-organizes your items by category and view what your paltry character is carrying that way. Therefore foregoing the need to scroll down a long list of anything.;)

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My initial impressions are mixed, with a lot of little complaints, but I've only played for just over 2 hours so I'm going to give it a lot more time. I'm definintely with Big Daddy on the interface. Sucks.

 

Some improvement I’d like to see is actual movement from the NPC when you’re speaking to them though. There are some quests where the NPC’s get very emotional and show that with the expressions on their face. However, I’d love to see a pissed off Captain start flailing his hands about as an example. It just adds that further level of realism. I’ll wait for Elder Scrolls V for that one.

 

That's something that bothers me a fair bit. Did anyone else here play Outcast? Low-poly models, 320x200, and yet the NPCs in that game were so alive when they talked. Their heads moved about, they made perfectly appropriate gestures with their arms. That, combined with the great dialogue and voice acting, made talking with them a pleasure. By comparison, chatting with NPCs in Oblivion (or the KOTORs) is simply painful.

 

EDIT: Should say that I'm playing it on PC.

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Speaking of fast travel, I haven't used it once yet....haven't seen the need yet. And BTW I could never get into Morrowind ( I tried 3 times). Oblivion is a lot more accessible and the interface reminds me a lot of KOTOR's, after a few hours it's second nature.

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This game just moved to the top of my wish list. Now all I need to do is get my INCOME to go up just as quickly so I can afford this damn game.

 

The one review I read online said to basically skip the rest of the review and buy the game now. Damn.

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I can't speak as a hardcore Elder Scrolls player. I tried Morrowind but couldn't get into it. Beyond some scattered and futile moments there, I am a complete Elder Scrolls (although not an RPG) newb.

 

Oblivion, from its first moments, gave me a completely different feel. After exiting the sewer, I didn't feel lost, overwelmed, or perplexed. The main quest is well highlighted without overpowering the freedom to do what I want, when, and how I want.

 

As for the interface, I was able to pick up and learn all the controls and the menus without having to peep into the manual. To me, that indicates good design.

 

While I can see why one would want the mini-map, I'm glad it isn't there. To me, it reinforces the sense of roleplaying, the sense of wandering and travelling. I find myself following the road, the contours of the land, not just the tiny arrow on the corner of the screen. And the maps are only a click or two off if you need them.

 

Edit: Just for clarity, I'm playing on the x360.

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EDIT: Should say that I'm playing it on PC.

Hmm, I'd definitely be curious to try the interface on the PC now to see how the useability has changed. Looking at it from a PC perspective I can see how breaking the categories down would stunt the speed and useability of the interface. Especially using a mouse and when compared to Morrowind's interface which worked really well on the PC (and decently on the Xbox with some serious deficiencies IMO).

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I have agree with everyone who doesn't like the new interface; I also found it a real pain at first (and I still dislike it). I also am irritated that the keyboard cheat sheet in the back of the manual only covers the basic movement keys and doesn't cover any of the other keystrokes (like ctrl->left click to drop inventory, etc). For that matter, I don't think you can remap all of those controls either, at least from within the game. I haven't done any snooping through the .ini file yet.

 

As far as Covaks comments on Outcast; yes that is truly, truly awesome game, and for a voxel based engine looked pretty great, at least from a distance (you could edit the .ini file and go higher than 320x200).

 

I played part way through and stopped to play something else, but I have kept around my old Pentium III running Win98 for the sole purpose of going back and playing that game again. I know it doesn't run on anything newer, and the installer was buggy even on Win98.

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Alright, continuing Elder Scrolls Newbie 101: What's the best way to use the alchemy skill? Do I need to collect every food item, plant, flower, and mushroom I see? Is it something worth while, or should I concentrate more on the game and just buy the stuff?

 

If it matters, I'm a (very handsome) wood elf and aspiring sneaky thief. Thanks, professors.

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Just for those that asked: you can buy unlimited lockpicks from your doyen in the thieves guild, he charges 5 gp per lockpick though. I think he has 100 on him, but it refreshes every few days. So essentially unlimited unless you are a maniac ;)

 

Also, the lockpick minigame freezes time when you do it, so relax and get a feel for bouncing the tumblers before you 'click it'. I've done hard and very hard locks now (breaking a LOT of picks on v hard), the key is to get a feel of the rythm for bouncing all the tumblers before you click.

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Just for those that asked: you can buy unlimited lockpicks from your doyen in the thieves guild, he charges 5 gp per lockpick though.

Note to self: Join Thieves Guild.;)

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Do I really have to suck it up and drop 2500g on a horse? :)

 

*** SPOILER WARNING ***

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No, see what happens after you complete the first two tasks of the main quest.

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One thing that i'm missing (or just haven't run accross yet) is the Alteration spell to Levitate. has anyone seen this spell? has it been scrapped? Levitate was one of my favorite spells.

 

I remember in Morrowind, I would make a spell for Levitate 20 points on target, cast it on an NPC, PUNCH them, then cast levitage on myself... floating high in the air. the NPC, being mad at me for punching them would naturally try to chase me.... up into the air (since they have the levitate spell cast on them). Once we got high above the tree tops, the NPC's levitate spell would ware off, (while mine was a constant effect)... the NPC's levitate wares off and there they go... plummiting toward the ground at 32 feet per second. hahahah! Great fun. Sometimes they'd die on impact, sometimes not... sometimes i'd drop them over water and watch them drown. hehe

 

So, no levitating in Oblivion?

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Hmm, I'd definitely be curious to try the interface on the PC now to see how the useability has changed. Looking at it from a PC perspective I can see how breaking the categories down would stunt the speed and useability of the interface. Especially using a mouse and when compared to Morrowind's interface which worked really well on the PC (and decently on the Xbox with some serious deficiencies IMO).

 

 

I am loving the new interface. No problem at all on my pc. Very intuitive and pretty to look at. I like this a lot better than Morrowinds cascading windows all over the place. Very smooth design, even if it feels like it was designed for a console.. I love it.

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One thing that i'm missing (or just haven't run accross yet) is the Alteration spell to Levitate.

Levitate has been removed from the game cancer. That was an early decision made by Bethesda. (I'll have to do a bit of digging for the actual reason why)

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LOL... I just started playing a bit between classes today; got out of the sewers and walked around a bit...

 

Anyways, I was walking down the lakeside taking in all the pretty polygons when I was attacked by a wolf. I'm fighting him, walking backwards and I fall off a cliff into the camp of a couple NPCs. They immediately go "oh snap!" and grab their weapons and, well, I had to defend mysef! So I've already become a 3-time murderer in my first 20 minutes outside. Did get some cool weapons though ;)

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Levitate has been removed from the game cancer. That was an early decision made by Bethesda. (I'll have to do a bit of digging for the actual reason why)

 

He just gave us the reason, levitate totally broke Morrowind in half and fed it it's own private parts for dessert. Beth decided to remove it entirely rather than risk having players 'fly' everywhere they want screwing up all level designs and combat encounters. I believe they commented that it was just easier to nix the spell than to redesign every aspect of the game to account for it.

 

Sorry cancer, it was cool but they considered it a bug.

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Is it me, or is everyone just watching the clock waiting for work to end so we can play Oblivion again?

 

This game swallows your f'n soul. Whole.

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I was looking for some official developer commentary on it to cement the reasoning for those that may miss the spell (this was actually a huge raging debate on the Elders Scrolls forums for months when the devs announced it) but that'll do Joe.;)

 

Is it me, or is everyone just watching the clock waiting for work to end so we can play Oblivion again?

This has been the longest work day I've dealt with in a LONG time.:)

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My only complaint with the PC interface is that mouse movement is dog slow and somewhat laggy. Playing the actual game, mouse responsiveness is smooth and fast and I don't have issues. But on the interface overlays it's just incredibly slow, and cranking the sensitivity on my G7 makes it move somewhat faster but very laggily and imprecisely.

 

Also the game will mysteriously lose focus at the worst times possible (which minimizes it if I'm running fullscreen and is pretty distracting if I'm running it windowed). Even running it with MouseJail, the problem still happens a fair bit.

 

Edit: I wonder how many more copies they would sell if they had made it so you could sync your saves between the 360 and PC versions. With how great the game is so far it seems like a lot of people would have no problem justifying the double-dip for that.

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I was looking for some official developer commentary on it to cement the reasoning for those that may miss the spell (this was actually a huge raging debate on the Elders Scrolls forums for months when the devs announced it) but that'll do Joe.;)

 

 

This has been the longest work day I've dealt with in a LONG time.:)

 

I'm actually considering bailing early and blaming it on the indian food I had for lunch. :o

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Is it me, or is everyone just watching the clock waiting for work to end so we can play Oblivion again?

 

Exactly. Not only do I want to play more, but I'm exhausted from staying up way too late last night. I can only imagine how painful tomorrow and Friday will be after even less sleep. Any way to cast an "Appear Attentive and Productive" spell?

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Exactly. Not only do I want to play more, but I'm exhausted from staying up way too late last night. I can only imagine how painful tomorrow and Friday will be after even less sleep. Any way to cast an "Appear Attentive and Productive" spell?

 

 

I hear that, man was I wiped this AM. Today wasn't too bad up until an hour ago when I basically wrapped up all the work I had for today. Away on vacation for a week starting tomorrow so no point in beginning a new project so late in day. My idle mind is now drifting ever more to Tamariel and all the secrets I have yet to discover.

 

Oh man, it's only 4:15 pm. Damn!

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