Morrowind the Unsteady

Well the inevitable expansion has been announced and im dissapointed that they seem to have indicated no intentions of upgrading and rebalancing the previous content that so badly needs it. Morrowind is the poster child for the “RTS school” of game balancing. From the distribution of monsters, costs and availability of weapons, effects of leveling, ease of healing, ect, im afraid to say Morrowind fell on its face. It seems the designers only considered the first 10 player levels looking in the game data global variables and unit stats.

And its really painful for me to say this because clearly they put effort into content and an almost psycotic obsession with making sure every single peasant hut had properly placed tableware and bags of rice. But how can u miss the enchanted Bound Daedric dagger for 250? At first i believed it to be part of the whole accessibility arguement but after many more hours of playing ive concluded its because haven’t the foggiest concepts of balance.

Balance isn’t the end all and be all of game design, but it is nowadays as essential an element as graphics and sound and its absense is just as deliterious. I could probably write a few pages on the subject out of need for some cathartic release but who’d want to read it.

You can prove Morrowinds’ imbalance with four words; “Robe of St. Roris”. Its pretty much GG at that point.

>You can prove Morrowinds’ imbalance with four words; “Robe of St. Roris”. Its pretty much GG at that point.

That was nerfed in the first patch.

Stefan

There are drawbacks to a huge open-ended world like Morrowind has. I guess you accept it or not and move on to something else.

I thought the package said “guaranteed to get a bite”. Maybe i should try those squirmy plastic worms instead.

Oh well, i do like Morrowind but its just so easy. Like registering for a world renowned marathon only to find it never passes a mile in length. It seems if judging by the remarks made on their forums that the most pressing issue was the lack of difficulty. They sortof haxored a solution with the difficulty slider but i think most people were hoping for something more substantial.

I’m enjoying Morrowind and currently helping out as a beta-tester of patches and official plugins. But I do have to agree with the balance issue brought up in this thread.

Daggerfall, by comparison, was better balanced because the uberweapons didn’t start showing up until the PC was a designated level. As artificial as that device is, it worked well and kept me wanting to level to see what weapons would pop up next. MW’s random drops (chest contents, etc.) work in this way, but the super-items tend to be of the magical sort – and usually not terribly special, at that. For instance, who wants a ring that drains an opponent’s personality and intelligence? Good against casters, but by the time I fumble out my Ring of Caster Enfeeblement, I could have him mashed to a boney pulp with my warhammer.

Still a good game, though. We’re testing a rather good plugin with a pretty cool location and a new kind of feature. It’s still a little buggy so I don’t know when they’re releasing it. The MW devs are continuing to improve the game and are very responsive to the beta testers; I’m impressed with their responsiveness.

Balance is actually why I stopped playing the game. Well, that and the ridiculousness of lawnmowing an entire world.

>the ridiculousness of lawnmowing an entire world

There’s no reason to do so, if you don’t want to. You can get anywhere in the gaming world in a couple of minutes, and you’re always given decent directions to dungeons, etc. for quests.

>Balance is actually why I stopped playing the game

It’s definitely not consistently challenging, if that’s what you mean about balancing, although if you want a more challenging game you can just notch up the difficulty level.

Stefan

Maybe the issue for me is that I’m a completist, and I can’t easily lawnmow the entire world. If I have to do too much drudge work to explore every nook and cranny of the planet, I just get disgusted and quit.

Actually, I probably would have stuck with the game, but something about the character development system is just…off. I mean, once I maxed my character at level 80-odd, it just seemed pointless, because god knows the plot is ass.

Anyway, I’m just rambling.

The world’s background is definitely more interesting than the actual “plot” events.

Whether or not you like the game (and how much) will probably be largely dependent upon whether you just enjoy exploring the scenary – Morrowind offers the largest, most detailed 3D gaming world ever. If you view world exploration as just a means to an end, you probably won’t like Morrowind much, since the combat, character development and main plot are all less involved than in many RPGs (like all of the D&D infinity engine games).

‘If you view world exploration as just a means to an end’

That’s exactly it, actually. Hooray!

If that’s the case am I right in guessing you didn’t like Baldurs Gate II ? If you lawnmowed that world you would end up with 200 quests to complete and no way of keeping track of them all. :D

I love Morrowind but I do take an easy approach to completing it. I am certainly not power-gaming Morrowind and I am still on Level 1 (shock horror). The game is great to pick up for an evenings entertainment and then move on and do something else.

I certainly agree with this on how the game engaged in alot of scenic storytelling; oftentimes (perhaps most of the time) you could derive upon what the ‘idea’ of an area was although there was little to no text describing it. Like in Bal Fel - you see lots of NPC Orcs standing around, lots of dead scamps (mini-demons) - you imply that they’re treasure hunters despite when talking to them the same generic responces are given back. Has anyone looked closely at the banners of Mephala, the insane Daedric of ‘orgy, sex, and murder’? Ahem. The game does have that whole neo-pagan/wiccan philosophic underpinnings that often seep through. but anyway…

One other example of an ‘imbalance’ is the way that faction relations are handled. The game makes allowances for each faction to have interfaction relationships and has already spelled them out in the data files. So the Temple hates the Mages Guild, the Mages Guild hates the Telvanni, the Telvanni hate everyone, ect… But for some reason the multiplication factor used is made so low that most variables are only adjusted by 2-3 points. You go to all that trouble programming it and then make the whole system irrelevent. (well there is a bug with -0 disposition they might have been forced to botch around). Ive been making a faction/disposition mod that makes the game much more fun (or difficult, whatever).

I don’t mind the natural world all that much; though a few too many pterodactyls for my liking its ok that wild game isn’t uber. But somewhere, under some god-forsaken island, in the lurking depths of some irrelevant, forgotten tomb, i really pine away for a Lovecraftian evil to challange my full Daedric wielding super-uber badass. But no, unfortunately, poor monster AI makes this all but impossible. (Even Vivec is easy with some room jumping). So given this, why oh why do you give me 30k+ in ebony weapons when i build my ‘stronghold’ for a 5k investment? Take Nike from both sides why don’t you.

Just some sensible rebalancing by making high level monsters, levelled monsters and toning down or making more difficult to get some of the high end items would really go towards making the game more playable longer. Everyone whom ive introduced Morrowind to loves it - for a while. But when i go over again and see them playing another game, and ask why, i get literally “well, you know i got to level 10 and it was, i dunno…” “too easy?” “yea, just wasn’t a challenge”… Not making this up btw :(

>he game makes allowances for each faction to have interfaction relationships and has already spelled them out in the data files. So the Temple hates the Mages Guild, the Mages Guild hates the Telvanni, the Telvanni hate everyone, ect

Yep, but the only direct conflict is between the Fighters Guild and the Thieves Guild, and that’s easily avoided.

>Just some sensible rebalancing by making high level monsters, levelled monsters and toning down or making more difficult to get some of the high end items would really go towards making the game more playable longer

I agree with the need for some uber-monsters. I disliked the monster leveling in Daggerfall though, and prefer Morrowind’s less involved system (which, as you said, can be customized by just notching up the difficulty). I really like being able to take any item I find off of an enemy or creature though – the fact that all of the items are “there” for the taking, and always visible, is something I really like about Morrowind.

Stefan

Balancing a completely nonlinear game such as Morrowind is probably impossible, unless you just give mobs variable advantages based on the player character’s attributes. The player could go anywhere and finish a few quests, probably gaining a few items and raising a few attributes in the process, and that inevitably makes other regions & quests that much easier. They could make some regions tougher (and they did that to some extent) but if the difference is too step you have essentially a linear game that gives the impression of being non-linear – that’s what the Might and Magic games do, for instance.

The one point where Bethesda really goofed was the end-game region – the dungeons were laughably small, and the opponents very weak for any reasonably aggressive character that had thoroughly explored just two or three other regions. I loved Morrowind for the first 20 hours or so, but as it got repetitive I pressed on with the main plot, and the weak ending soured me on the whole game. The final region looked as if it was hastily thrown together just before the game had to ship, other areas were much better developed.

Balancing a completely nonlinear game such as Morrowind is probably impossible, unless you just give mobs variable advantages based on the player character’s attributes. The player could go anywhere and finish a few quests, probably gaining a few items and raising a few attributes in the process, and that inevitably makes other regions & quests that much easier. They could make some regions tougher (and they did that to some extent) but if the difference is too step you have essentially a linear game that gives the impression of being non-linear – that’s what the Might and Magic games do, for instance.[/quote]

I agree Morowind’s item system makes sense in a non-linear game, or moreso than random tables of items used in multiplayer rpgs, but like you said it suffers from a distinct case of ‘you are what you (b)eat’. Actually when you mentioned mobs i’d point out that most encounters in Morrowind are straightfoward duels, with only the occasional ‘mob’ of 2 or 3 monsters. The only large mobs come about in highly populated cities. Because of this, and the beat-or-die AI, there is no gradient of difficulty when facing monsters; either your tough enough and always beat them, or too weak and always lose. Its really a difficult delimma because players have such a huge advantage with potions and scrolls absorbing damage is quite a non-issue. It has to be dealt faster than you can heal it for a monster/npc to win. But to do this for an NPC you have to equip them with high end items that inevitably end up in the players’ hands. I love Morrowind’s editor and Bethesda is to be commended on giving players absolute control over the entire game, but there really isn’t even a haxor way of getting around this problem. Well, perhaps,… maybe if i increased their natural healing rate by about 20x… that might do it… hmmm. But then ive got to look up every darn NPC that needs fixing out of 2.5k - bleh. Who is in which cave? This is why i’d prefer the devs to do this in an expansion ^^.

I agree with Christoph – the endgame was pretty laughable. Why is it that the first dungeon you encounter (the Dwemer ruin where you seek the puzzle box) is also the largest?

My feelings about Morrowind are mixed. It had more good things in it than many a tighter or better-balanced game. I had a lot of fun wandering its beautiful world. But at the same time I did feel a bit empty when all was said and done, and other, more focused CRPG’s (i.e. Baldur’s Gate II and Avernum 2) were ultimately more satisfying to me. For me exploration isn’t just a means to an end, though maybe it helps if I can pretend it is while I’m playing, if that makes any sense. :P

But as others have said, it’s got to be nigh-impossible to balance such a nonlinear game, unless you just resort to flagrant techniques like adjusting the level of all monsters’ difficulties based on your character’s current level, etc. They did that a bit with the Ninja Monkeys, but the problem was that the “high end” monsters were still too easy after a while. There is the difficulty slider, but it seems somehow after-the-fact. Maybe because I’d already played the game to death before the patch was released. ;)

Why not balance it the way they do in other nonlinear games? Some areas are just more difficult than others. The food chain there is more brutal. I did think it was a bit wierd that I ended up meetingnearly as many cliff racers as I met townspeople, even when my character became powerful enough that one light hit would kill one. They were just a nuisance at high levels, but a real menace at low levels.

I remember the old Ultimas had areas that you really didn’t want to visit until you reached certain levels, or which you might not have been able to discover until you reached a certain point. Morrowind reminds me a little bit of those Ultima games where you have this overarching goal, but you can take your time about it while you just enjoy the game world. Some regions, like the Ashlands, seem to be a lot more dangerous than others, but still not that bad for high-level types. Now if golden saints sometimes came in bands of 3-6, that might be a lot more dangerous…

Hey, Desslock, great guide on Gamespot. How’s about an overview of the best mods and how to use them next? That is, if you’re not Morrowinded. :)