Saturday, 19 May 2012

Skyrim Longevity Vs Previous TES Games

 This post involves some of the things I've said previously but is more about the longevity of the game compared to other TES games.  It has it's virtues and it's problems, unfinished features (followers and horses, guilds and other things) and my experience with it has come to the point that I sometimes I want to forget I ever bought it and other times I love it to death. 


I've just been reading through the latest Unofficial patch thread which is very informative regarding the pitfalls and limitations of the game, the CK and using mods. A very enlightening read. ... -thread-6/

I use, fully endorse and recommend the Unofficial Patch myself and I believe it has saved me a lot of headaches from previous attempts to play the game compared to the basic patching Bethesda has done for this game. One look at the very long list of fixes should be enough for anyone to wonder why the developers haven't addressed these issues themselves. While some things are edits to wrongly placed statics and what may seem fairly minor things to some people, a great many of them actually correct issues with quests and bugs that actually break the game in major ways.

This isn't meant to be an angry rant about Bethesda, or one of those "This game sucks" posts as I realize a game of this size and complexity is bound to have issues, however due to the fixed release date and apparent lack of attention to these issues I believe they've bought a lot of warranted criticism on themselves. Whether this is due to the business side of things which the developers would probably have little control over or not, I don't know. I do wonder if BGS are planning another patch before the DLC comes out which in my view will be pointless since it's already been done for them, so why would they.

A little history from my Skyrim experience. This outlines the main issues I've had and which I've written about in more depth in other posts.  I'm actually surprised that I'm still playing the game after all the crap I've had with it, although it has been more stable since 1.5, so I suppose this could actually be seen as a complaining thread depending on your point of view.

Currently I'm playing my 5th character due to save corruption on the others, the messed up Navmesh bug BGS tried to fix with the latest patch and failed, which made house and landmass edits or additions a disaster area and post official patch issues. This is with a vanilla game as well as modded. I did have one house mod that I liked, but now I don't use any because of possible future problems if and when there's another official patch where mods constantly have to be updated.

I have not yet managed to complete the main quest once past the first battle with Alduin at The Throat of the World which is mainly because I want to do it at an appropriate level and don't believe it should be done, or be able to be done early in the game. I'm not blaming anyone for that, it's just how I want to do it considering I'm supposed to saving the world at the height of my power, not as a lowly starter hero. I'm hoping to do it soon with my current character if all goes well.  So far so good...mostly except for some freezing and CTD's.

I played for over 200 hours with my first character from release day with virtually no problems at all on a totally vanilla game, (skipped the 1.2 patch disaster), and suddenly my game started freezing and crashing so much I had to start over. It wasn't a save game bloat issue either as my saves never reached over 12MB at level 57.  Then for some unknown reason the whole area around Riften and the town itself was a no go zone, which has resolved itself since the 1.5 patch, or by some miracle.   Needless to say that crimped my experience somewhat when I couldn't complete certain quests.

It seems to me that the further I get into the game, ie around level 50 or so, the more quests I do, dungeons explored etc the more the game becomes unstable and starts to falter. I'm a bit of a completionist when it comes to rpg's so if the content is there, I want and should be able to do it, except for things I choose not to do like some of the Daedric quests and the DB because I find them not to my taste.

I had thought about modding until I read about the limitations and bugs in the CK which is contrary to what we were told and more limiting than the Oblivion CS. I know of several well known modders from Morrowind and Oblivion who have mods in stasis because of the navmesh and other bugs that are waiting to be solved. There's also a noticeable absence of other well known great modders creating for this game, or they've already come and gone, back to Oblivion or for good.

I imagine BGS consider the modding scene as a huge success due to Steamworks and the number of mods there and on the Nexus, but what happens when all the armour, weapon, house mods and other mods that don't involve large quests and scripted changes come to a virtual standstill.  Unless something changes soon Skyrim's longevity will be years less than Morrowind and Oblivion.  That is not a complaint or meant to offend current mods and their authors, but in my opinion the limit will be reached much sooner than those previous games.

At the top of this post I linked the Unofficial Patch thread.  There's a good explanation about why mods can so easily mess up this game compared to Oblivion and it makes me wonder how long I'll play Skyrim after I've seen and done all there is to see and do. Which won't be that long since I've done most of it several times and even now find myself avoiding quests because I know what's going to happen and it becomes boring to do them again and again.

I used to play Oblivion with over 200 mods, some of them very complex overhauls and I could troubleshoot nearly any problem I came up against as well as mod it myself. I only stopped playing the game early this year in fact and it was my only constant game since it's release. Not so with Skyrim, and along with some of the other irritations and annoyances it's going to be almost impossible to even come close to that number of mods even though the limit is still 255.

All I can say is I have an extreme love/hate relationship with Skyrim and it's taken six months since release to be able to play it with some degree of confidence I can continue with a character without something going wrong. It's with great trepidation that I add mods now and nothing that adds scripts if I can help it since if I need to remove a mod that info is in my save for good and can possibly and probably will cause save corruption, so I'll be starting over again.   If I can be bothered.

I know I'm not alone in this and the longer it takes for the DLC to be released the less likely it will be I'll be playing the game, especially if the DLC is digital only and not released on disc. I don't do digital for a couple of reasons...budget and dislike of download only media.

I'm also aware that many people say they've had no problems with their game after many 100's of hours, but because of so many different PC configurations and other considerations I think they are the lucky ones. The fact I could play successfully myself for over 200 hours tells me something went wrong AFTER release with the incremental patches and having to start over after each one gets to be very annoying.

Now I've got that off my chest I've just had one of the never ending loading screens where I couldn't bring up the Task Manager to end the process, (first time it's happened.) so I wasn't impressed.   I imagine it's because the game crashed soon after saving and messed it up.  Luckily I save so often (paranoid) I had one fairly close.

Skyrim is a beautiful game, but graphics aren't everything.  The world is spectacular, I love the dragons and the combat, but there's so much that needs fixing to keep my interest and that means real fixes, not gimmicks like extra kill cams as much as I like them.  As soon as a month or two after I started playing the NPC's and repetitive voices started to grate on my nerves, so much that I use a  mod that shuts them up as far as greetings and vendor dialogue goes.  It's things like this and other stupid stuff Bethesda just keep doing over and over in their games that makes the issues with Skyrim that much more annoying. 

If another similar open world rpg came along without all the problems, it would be goodbye, but that doesn't seem likely in the near future.

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