By ahoodedfigure 4 Comments
I was thinking about trying to work these videos, namely the second one, into a discussion down the road about Elder Scrolls in general, but at one point Bethesda's own dragon Todd Howard, lead dude behind Bethsoft's E.S. series for a while now, actually talks about the mechanic, and the lore behind it, that I'm going to mention in the post.
Here are the videos.
They're not necessary for understanding this short column, but the second interview mentions one of the features in Game Informer's article about Skyrim that didn't seem to get mentioned very often when people were repeating details everywhere. Of course if you don't want this minor spoiler in your head, click away before it's too late.
One of the new features of Skyrim, something that may not site entirely well with some people, is the idea of dragon speech. Dragon speech is something your character will learn over the course of the game, which will grant them powers akin to the dragons your character comes up against. You receive syllables that are part of this ancient language that have the power to change reality in dramatic ways, which reminds me a bit of the rune spell system in Ultima Underworld. You combine the syllables to make effects more dramatic (the article says that there are three levels of power, presumably with each power, although that may mean that the actual number of unique powers is divided by three), and I imagine it will have something to do with puzzle solving as well as helping in battle and navigating the world.
While a lot of the spell effects in the game seem rooted in a system that doesn't seem exclusive to the character, this IS unique to the character and seems only usable by him or her, and its part of their destiny to master them. That's all lore stuff, but what I find a bit different is that it almost feels like an adventure game, giving the player a set of recombinant tool parts you can use to do various things.
I'm still not clear on what these things are all going to be used for, though. The article says that there are "over 20 unique shouts" using these syllables, so it's not a huge amount of special abilities, and it will be interesting to see if the order you gain these abilities will be set, or if you may be able to collect the language components (locked in the souls of the dragons you kill, I think) in any order.
The powers listed seem to complement existing ones: a gust of force that blows enemies back, slow time relative to yourself, aid in stealth, or even summon a dragon tied to a name. I'm willing to bet there's a pyro word as well since, y'know, dragons.
This seems pretty minor to me on the face of it; a set of spells in a sense that aren't necessarily tied to your spellcasting abilities. It might be neat to be a die-hard warrior character and get a spell-like ability to throw people around-- might go along with the adolescent power fantasy thing that Howard talks about in the interview. But would these things feel too narrow? Too powerful? Superfluous? Or would you come to depend upon them so much that, no matter what character you decide to build, you feel obligated to use them, which makes character choices less distinct?
I'm also not sure if these are revealed specifically through plot advancement, or if it's just an outgrowth of incidental dragon-slaying. I guess we'll find out eventually.
Edit: Here's a series of short videos interviewing sound designer Mark Lampert. The third mentions these Dragon Shouts, although it's pretty clear stuff hasn't really been finished on them yet, at last as far as sound design is concerned.