Posts Tagged ‘Oblivion’

The Overwhelmed Video Gamer

Okay, okay.  So we all know how incredibly excited I am for The Elder Scrolls: Skryim to come out.  I literally cried a little when I watched those developer gameplay videos.  So yes, I am ecstatic for Skryim.

However.

You know what?  I’m also a little afraid.  Aside from the obvious ‘My social life is going down the drain for a month or so after Skyrim drops’, there’s another issue here.  Sometimes, I feel like an overwhelmed video gamer.

Oblivion's Open World

Over the river, through the woods... Damn, must've taken a wrong turn somewhere.

What exactly is an overwhelmed video gamer?  Well, since we’re talking Elder Scrolls, let’s take Oblivion, for example.  Oblivion, I’m sure, is a great game.  I own it, in fact.  I just never played very much of it.  Sometimes, when I’m playing a game with a massively open world, I get overwhelmed with the amount of sidequests and optional content there is available.  I get distracted.  I get overencumbered faster than you can accuse my character of stealing.  I feel… almost lost.  Directionless.  With no major push towards the main quest, I can look at the game as a whole and go, “Wow, I can’t see actually finishing this”.  So I don’t.  With Oblivion, you don’t necessarily have to immediately begin doing the main quest.  In fact, it’s very open ended.  Bethesda is adamant about not forcing you into doing the main quest.  But to me, in a way, that can be harder to deal with.

Okay, sooooo... where to next... ?

Bethesda is known for making their games open ended.  In Fallout 3, once you escape Vault 101, you don’t have to follow the main mission you were given.  In fact, you could walk out into that deserted wasteland and immediately being exploring the opposite direction of where you’re vaguely pointed to check out in the main quest.  And this would be perfectly acceptable, welcomed, in fact, by Bethesda.  But to me, a “I’ve gotta finish every single side quest” type of gamer, this is actually overwhelming.  I think it’s easier for me to be pushed in some way towards a main goal, and then side quests and additional content seems more manageable.  In Fallout 3, I can get easily distracted by a new quest that pops up.  Continually starting a new quest and finishing (maybe) 1 in 5 can be frustrating.

On the flip side, I feel that a game like Dragon Age: Origins or Mass Effect 2 balances the amount of drive you’re given towards your main goal in the game and still gives you freedom to go where you want, to complete optional side quests.  Despite the epic proportions of those games, I never felt overwhelmed by the amount of possibilities of where to go next, or of how many side quests I was receiving.

The Elder Scrolls Skyrim Logo

This logo strikes both awe and fear in my heart.

I’m like this in real life as well.  I have a tendency to look at the big picture and get overwhelmed by the whole thing, rather than take it and break it down into manageable chunks.  It can be enough to turn me off from large projects.  I would never make a good project manager.  A college report, for example, could be incredibly stressful for me, because all I could think was, “I need to write HOW many pages?!”.  (By the way, let it be known that I am not currently in college; the example is simply that – an example.)

With Bethesda stating that Skyrim will be loaded with additional content, packed into approximately the same size map as Oblivion, I’m scared of getting that overwhelmed, disoriented feeling.  I don’t want to end up frustrated with how many open quests I’ve started and how few I’ve completed.  Hopefully I can push through and keep playing, because Skyrim is definitely going to be incredible.

Anyone else ever feel like this?

-Kat

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Video Game Social Interaction: Games need a "Jiggle Button"

Certain video games do a marvelous job of reflecting reality when dealing with people’s reactions and affects in social interactions. In some video games your outward appearance affects how people react to your presence. Take Fable: the bigger bastard you are, the more your characters appearance will reflect you blackened soul, while inversely the kinder and more upstanding you were, the more handsome and welcomed you were thought of by the people.

In some video games your actions determine how others react to you. I could hardly go anywhere in Cyrodiil without people yelling about the “Hero of Kvatch” or how I was the new “Arena Champion”. This is in fact progressing into a more realistic scenario in coming games like Fable III. Recently Joystiq touched on Fable III’s “touch mechanic” by stating in their article X10: Fable 3 impressions (spoiler: we’re not pissed off):

“The second demonstration of the touch mechanic. The character walked up to a beggar and took him by the hand. The beggar, thinking he was being taken home for dinner, began to exclaim his gratitude. Only the demonstrator was going to be naughty — he led the beggar to a workhouse, where he intended to sell him. As they got closer to the factory, the beggar become more and more afraid, eventually pulling against the character’s arm in an attempt to escape. It was pretty horrifying.”

This touch mechanic represents a more in depth and user oriented experience in video games. Soon characters like Link will not longer be able to wander into people’s homes and raid their chests for money without feeling the repercussions cascade through the people in a ripple effect of justice. Pushing tombstones aside and taking the entombed treasure will brand you a depraved grave robber. Hoisting chickens above your head and jumping from high places in order to gently glide down to earth will label you as a ne’er-do-well who frequently engages in unusual forms of animal abuse. Come to think of it….what the hell is up with the Zelda games and their morals? (I’m not complaining, I’m just confused by it.)

The one aspect video games lack is a distinct…feminine touch. It’s no big secret that women have a strange powerVideo Game Boobs: DOAover men. That power is typically located around the same area on all of them. To get any guy to succumb to their wile requires little (if any) effort. I have always been somewhat let down that when selecting a female character that my interactions with my male NPCs didn’t go more smoothly than when I selected a male character. Boobs are pretty much the greatest weapon a woman has when asking for information/favors/help/anything at all.

Video games have never really taken this into account. With one little button a female character should be able to easily get what they want. I refer of course to the “Jiggle Button”. It would be the ultimate game changer. NPC won’t give up the key to the locked door in the back of the room? [Jiggle Button] PRESTO! Security Guard won’t divulge information as to the objective’s whereabouts? [Jiggle Button] “Pleeeaaaaassseeee?” SUCCESS!! Can’t win the fight against the horde of male enemies? [Jiggle Button] for distraction and VIOLA!!

The downside is eventually video games run the risk of deteriorating into:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbcMI0FjlBg]

Personally, I’m a pretty big fan of the last guy in a robe with a bottle of wine. Nice!

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