This post was a inspired by a thread where I expressed my view that arbitrary gates on avenues of content are actually counter intuitive to gameplay, but that instead the player should be allowed to choose when/where and create their own story around their decisions, not necessarily hard-coded locks in place by the developers. These gates could include needing to be rank 20 in each magic school before being allowed to enter the college of winterhold, for example; and while I don't necessarily think that that's a bad design, it is definitely outdated and doesn't really have a place in an ambitiously open world game like skyrim. Does it really add to your gameplay if you sit in a corner and spam spells over and over until you reach the required threshold? Personally, that should be left up to the player, and if they find themselves in a position where they are out of their element, such as being disadvantaged in a boss fight due to being overly melee heavy: that's perfectly fine. That is much more in tune with a role playing game than, again, hard coded barriers.
I caught some slack for saying that, it seems some people see role playing, or using your imagination, as "playing make believe in your own head." Well…isn't that literally what inspired RPGs in the first place? Daydreaming and make believe of fantasy and….role playing? So to better explain exactly what I'm talking about, here's just one run that I had in skyrim:
Using the alternate start mod, I began my run as a poor, out of place wood elf in the riften sewers. not a septim to my name, nor any friends or family or any semblance of hope. Just a roughspun tunic on my back. I also use a survival mod, which requires eating/sleeping/warmth in cold areas, so while at first i simply relied on killing skeevers and eating their meat to keep myself going, obviously that is no life in an elder scrolls game, so I started taking to stealing septims and food out of peoples homes. at some point, a particularly unsavory individual approached me and commented on my thieving habits, and offered me some work. Finally seeing a way out, my wood elf agreed and worked to become a full on thieves guild associate. I worked my way through the thieves guild, unraveling the secrecy and mystery around the prominent members, until eventually I *was* a prominent member myself, even coming into possession of the skeleton key. Realizing I had something extremely powerful that could allow me to get into pretty much any place in skyrim that I wanted, I took the skeleton key and vanished from my known associates, doing odd jobs here and there and still honing my skills and becoming quite possibly the most prolific criminal at the time. Eventually I found myself accosted by the dark brotherhood, who I began working with seeing as my moral compass was very obviously broken, but my character was becoming very, very rich and more and more powerful, so of course she would take every opportunity to infiltrate the secret societies of skyrim. I could go on and on about the choices I made as a player that allowed me to build a fleshed out roleplaying experience, but the coolest part about it, imo: thanks to the alternate start mod, and having never entered helgen, my wood elf never encountered any dragons, never got involved in the civil war(making profit off both sides), and simply was never even the dragonborn. She was just a poor wood elf who, out of necessity for survival, became one of the most powerful underworld criminals in skyrim.
Obviously, that's a very specific instance, but was only one of the runs I played through, with others being similar in scope, such as an imperial who began in the imperial army, eventually rising through the ranks and also becoming a companion etc. I truly believe that the better design choice will always be player freedom, as opposed to hard coded barriers that do nothing to facilitate compelling gameplay whatsoever. Obviously, certain restrictions are needed to drive narrative, but I'm really not sure why people would rather game developers tell you what you need to do instead of crafting your own, unique adventure. Sure, you can equip a bow, go stealth archer and faceroll the game, but if that was your choice *then you complain,* I only have to ask: why would you choose to do that in the first place then? There's nothing wrong with role playing, and in fact everybody role plays to some degree when you play video games. If you make a decision for your character based on how you think your character would decide, that is role playing. I would seriously also suggest: not equipping armor you found on corpses, as that armor would be crafted for the individual that was wearing it and probably wouldn't fit your character, and instead purchase/craft your own armor. weapons are mostly fine, but again up to you to decide if your khajiit would be more inclined to use daggers or a warhammer. ALSO STOP TALKING TO NPCS IMMEDIATELY! There is SO much more dialogue and information if you allow npcs to talk to each other/continue their dialogue before you enter your own conversations with them, that's something that took me too long to figure out. I promise you, this type of gameplay is much, much more rewarding and invariably more fun than a developer telling you that you need to be x in order to do y. It's supposed to be a world, not a theme park. thanks for coming to my ted talk
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© Post "Since when did people forget that RP was part of RPGs?" for game The Elder Scrolls.
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