Desslock's PCG hands-on Oblivion preview

It’s in the Feb issue, starting on page 21. A few mouth-watering snippets:

In one Dark Brotherhood quest, for example, I infiltrated a dinner party and used various means to isolate and eliminate guests one at a time. The remaining guests dynamically reacted to the assassinations. . .accusing each other or equipping themselves for battle.

Morrowind may have offered roleplayers a big sandbox in which to play, but like a good book, it required you to inject your own imagination to make it seem lifelike. Oblivion improves on its predecessor in almost every way, especially in creating a living, breathing world. Based on my experience with the beta, I think Bethesda may be on the brink of releasing its masterpiece.

I can’t remember the last time I’ve had so much excitement anticipating a forthcoming game. The one thing the preview lacks, though, is any real commentary on the combat system, whether it feels quite as whack-a-mole as Morrowind’s, but the rest of the game–from the NPCs, the story, graphics, and A.I.–sounds pretty juicy.

Oblivion is the first game since…oh I don’t know…Quake to spark a child’s feeling of anticipation in me. I can hardly wait. If it’s at least as good as Morrowind or Daggerfall, I’ll be a happy camper.

I won’t even have the hardware to run it acceptably well until summer, but you damn well better believe I’m eager.

Those quotes above remind me of NOLF – it was so cool to see an FPS where upon seeing corpses, guards would walk over and ask if they were okay. Then, “Oh my god, I think he’s dead!” Then I’d pop out from cover as they were kneeling over the body and shoot them in the head while giggling madly. NOLF was great.

Edit: Gravy’s right, Thief did it first. And Thief was a great game. I guess I just remember it more in NOLF for some reason – probably because of all the monkey-selling and entitlement issues and disagreeable methodology.

Sounds cool, especially coming from Desslock. The NPC AI is definitely the part of Oblivion that I am watching with keenest interest.

Can you imagine what the mod community can do with the Radiant AI? The possibilities are endless.

I share the butterflies on this one. I really, really hope that the combat is more enjoyable this time, though. Ultima Underworld did it right over a decade ago. It’s not like decent first-person combat hasn’t been done before.

I am all for using my own imagination, but if it requires the same level as Morrowind I am going to be sorely dissapointed. Well after the pretty graphics charm wears off around ~24 hours of playtime.

Despite glowing reviews, I really have to have some hands-on experience before getting too excited about a game, even Oblivion. A game could be incredible in every way, but if a single global component, like the controls, for instance, are so awful to make it frustrating to play then the game will be a failure.

Have to admit, though, that there are no other games coming down the pipe that I’m more interested in playing than Oblivion. Just hope it lives up to the hype.

Morrowind may have offered roleplayers a big sandbox in which to play, but like a good book, it required you to inject your own imagination to make it seem lifelike.

This line is sort of a deal-breaker for Desslock’s preview doing much to make me think Oblivion will be any better than Morrowind (which was BORING… sitting in the waiting room at the dentist’s office reading a seven-month old copy of Entertainment Weekly is more interesting than Morrowind gameplay).

Oh, and it makes me think Desslock hasn’t ever read a book that’s actually good.

Oblivion is the pinnacle of “I’ll believe it when I see it” for me. I do hope it’s as good as they’re claiming, though.

You need to use imagination to immerse yourself in a book. Books don’t contain visual or audio cues. When a slavegirl is described as beautiful or a wizard as wizened or a king as majestic, you have to picture them in your head. There are no pictures. That doesn’t change with a really good book.

I took desslock’s RPG reviews as gospel until his glowing review of the craptastic dungeon siege 2. Now, I’m cautiously optimistic.

Um… what? If memory serves, the melee combat system in Morrowind was identical to the one in UU. You had the three different strikes based on how you moved the mouse, and that’s it.

Yeah, the more I see of Oblivion, the more I can’t wait to get it. Can’t come soon enough… the ambient AI stuff sounds great.

Sounds good to me. I never could play Morrowind because it felt so lifeless and lame. (Especially compared to Gothic). I never understood why people were always creaming themselves about how Morrowind was so great.

If Oblivion fixes that, then cool.

Come on guys, Morrowind was ahead of its time. OK, the time it was ahead of was the time of True Crime: Streets of LA, but still, it was forward thinking.

Sure the NPCs had no personality, the monsters were crap, the storyline was entirely forgettable, and character development and combat had no real effort put into its design, but it was a really big nice looking world and you could move books and plates around, and that’s what’s important. And don’t forget that everyone was in their late 30s or older, the mark of any truly great RPG.

A Morrowind/Oblivion thread isn’t complete until Matt Gallant makes his mandatory snarky post.

At ease, forumites.

Thief, circa 1998. The original and still the best. NOLF just ripped it off. “Brother, get thee to thy feet! By the Builder, this is no time for slumber. Brother? GASP!”

The fact that the behavior Desslock mentions happened during a quest makes me suspect that it was likely a batch of pre-scripted lines that the developers were able to write in for that specific circumstance, as opposed to being true emergent NPC responses. Who knows, though.

And I’m playing Morrowind right now, and the story is fucking fantastic. The thing that bites is all the in-game reading you have to do to get to it. I swear a good quarter of the sixty or so hours I’ve got into it has been just sitting there reading frickin novels or So-and-So’s notes or prophecies I’ve come across and felt compelled to read because I must know the story. Shit, it’s cool that they took the time to develop a decent story and the stuff about all the dark elf gods 'n all, but there has GOT to be a better way to spin the yarn than to make me sit there and read The History of Morrowind, Vols 1 through 37 onscreen.

I loved reading the books in Morrowind. I’d travel to the different villages and cities collecting them, and then after I gathered a few, I’d take them out to some scenic vista overlooking the ocean or some such and read them while enjoying the view and the game’s phenomenal music.

That’s pretty pathetic. I mean, I’m not against reading in general, but when I buy a game I want to play a game, not read. Morrowind is kind of like opening up a box of Settlers of Catan and finding a Britney Spears album of songs about sheep and clay and ore.

Yes, because RPGers never, just never!, geek out to world-building lore and history as is presented in those in-game books. And it would be so much cooler listening to some NPC spit that info out, eh?

Personally, I love the additional insight into Tamriel that those books give.