Storytelling In Video Games. Or Why I Dislike Skyrim

Jeff Cannata (two N's one T) from Weekend Confirmed (or from TRS if you're one of those people) was talking about what type of gamer he was and that got me thinking about what kind of gamer I am. Now if you know me, you'd know that I frown upon thinking of any sort, but just like masturbating, you gotta get the poison out once in a while. This thinking led me down a dark, deep and sometimes horny path of self-discovery and I'm here to talk about this enlightenment (I use the term loosely since I'm too lazy to open a thesaurus and find the actual word I'm looking for). 
 
One thing that has bugged me for a few years is the love and admiration people give to the Elder Scrolls games. As much as I tried, I just couldn't get into them, which is weird since they have all the elements that are up my alley. Sure, there are little things here and there that nagged me (like the atrocious amount of bugs) but the root of the issue lied somewhere else. Forward to this morning when I was listening to the Irrational Interviews between Ken Levine and Guillermo del Toro when it finally hit me: it's the storytelling. If you haven't listened to the interviews already, I highly suggest you do so here because they're quite fascinating. The thing that struck a nerve was when Guillermo (or should I call him Toro? Guilly? Mr. T?) said that when he played game and a cutscene happened, he skipped it because he was playing a game and he wanted to play not watch. He doesn't want games to take control from him in order to tell a story.
 
This is the crux of my problem. Perhaps it stems from my intense childish love of books (started reading when I was 4 and haven't stopped since) but I'd rather be told a story than craft one on  my own. This is party because I know that whatever I create in the 20-30 hours I pour into a game will be inferior to the story someone spent months or years writing. Furthermore, it sounds like more work than it's worth the trouble and if I'm one thing above all others, it's being goddamn lazy!  

It's like -40 outside. How is he not cold? 
So lets bring this full circle and talk about Skyrim. After all that's the only reason you're here. I know it, you know it, even your mom knows it (tell her I said hi). My problem with Skyrim is a fundamental one. Because it's so broad and it tries to give you so much choice, it looses out on the one thing that matters to me the most: great storytelling. Sure you may say you have had great stories like punching a dragon to death with your bare fists or dumping 10,00 cheese wheels from a mountain peak, but those aren't really stories. No, they are experiences. The stories Skyrim does tell are the ones in it's quests; the Companions, the Thief's Guild, the Stormcloak rebellion and the rise of the Dovahkiin. Yet none of these are engaging or deep enough for me. I simply can't get attached to a voiceless character or the supporting cast of characters around him. The terrible, in-game cutscenes and bad scripting don't help either. It all just feels soulless. 
 
You may be asking yourself: "Were you dropped on your head as a baby? Why the hell are you playing games for the stories?" And yes, I was, but most people don't like to mention it, you asshole. But that's neither here nor there. I will use the Witcher 2 as an example here. As another sword and sorcery game, I think it's a direct opposite to Skyrim. You play as Geralt of Rivia, a named character with an established origin and personality. Although his journey is heavily influenced by the choices you make as a player, it's ultimately still his journey, not yours. As such, I can connect to the character a lot more. Not to mention that the storytelling in general is much better, the side characters are more likable and have a greater presence and the story itself feels like it has more impact and gravity. A large part of that is because of the cinematics and the fact that you have a larger investment in the world and characters.    
A man with a past... and lots of amnesia. Like a lot.     
 I'm not trying to degrade Skyrim. It's a well-made game with a lot of great things going for it and some epic, epic music. It's just not for me. That said, I still enjoy fisting dragons, but it's a shallow fun rather than the deep emotional experiences I expect from my RPGs
 
A second point I want to make is an appeal for cutscenes. I've never understood the negativity cutscenes get from the gaming crowd. There's the infamous MGS4 example. You know what? I enjoyed every goddamn second of those cutscenes (plus you can make Rose's boobs jiggle so there's that). Not only do they offer you a break and help with the pacing, but goddamn it some are just fucking awesome to watch! My thumbs will not fall off if I set down the controller for five minutes! Plus I'll take a full cutscene over a QTE any day of the week. It makes me sad that the industry is trying to move away from them and into more "interactive" storytelling. 
*shake shake shake* 
 In short, Skyrim sucks, screw the Jews and I've got free candy for your kids in my van. ;)
39 Comments
46 Comments
Edited by Enigma777

Jeff Cannata (two N's one T) from Weekend Confirmed (or from TRS if you're one of those people) was talking about what type of gamer he was and that got me thinking about what kind of gamer I am. Now if you know me, you'd know that I frown upon thinking of any sort, but just like masturbating, you gotta get the poison out once in a while. This thinking led me down a dark, deep and sometimes horny path of self-discovery and I'm here to talk about this enlightenment (I use the term loosely since I'm too lazy to open a thesaurus and find the actual word I'm looking for). 
 
One thing that has bugged me for a few years is the love and admiration people give to the Elder Scrolls games. As much as I tried, I just couldn't get into them, which is weird since they have all the elements that are up my alley. Sure, there are little things here and there that nagged me (like the atrocious amount of bugs) but the root of the issue lied somewhere else. Forward to this morning when I was listening to the Irrational Interviews between Ken Levine and Guillermo del Toro when it finally hit me: it's the storytelling. If you haven't listened to the interviews already, I highly suggest you do so here because they're quite fascinating. The thing that struck a nerve was when Guillermo (or should I call him Toro? Guilly? Mr. T?) said that when he played game and a cutscene happened, he skipped it because he was playing a game and he wanted to play not watch. He doesn't want games to take control from him in order to tell a story.
 
This is the crux of my problem. Perhaps it stems from my intense childish love of books (started reading when I was 4 and haven't stopped since) but I'd rather be told a story than craft one on  my own. This is party because I know that whatever I create in the 20-30 hours I pour into a game will be inferior to the story someone spent months or years writing. Furthermore, it sounds like more work than it's worth the trouble and if I'm one thing above all others, it's being goddamn lazy!  

It's like -40 outside. How is he not cold? 
So lets bring this full circle and talk about Skyrim. After all that's the only reason you're here. I know it, you know it, even your mom knows it (tell her I said hi). My problem with Skyrim is a fundamental one. Because it's so broad and it tries to give you so much choice, it looses out on the one thing that matters to me the most: great storytelling. Sure you may say you have had great stories like punching a dragon to death with your bare fists or dumping 10,00 cheese wheels from a mountain peak, but those aren't really stories. No, they are experiences. The stories Skyrim does tell are the ones in it's quests; the Companions, the Thief's Guild, the Stormcloak rebellion and the rise of the Dovahkiin. Yet none of these are engaging or deep enough for me. I simply can't get attached to a voiceless character or the supporting cast of characters around him. The terrible, in-game cutscenes and bad scripting don't help either. It all just feels soulless. 
 
You may be asking yourself: "Were you dropped on your head as a baby? Why the hell are you playing games for the stories?" And yes, I was, but most people don't like to mention it, you asshole. But that's neither here nor there. I will use the Witcher 2 as an example here. As another sword and sorcery game, I think it's a direct opposite to Skyrim. You play as Geralt of Rivia, a named character with an established origin and personality. Although his journey is heavily influenced by the choices you make as a player, it's ultimately still his journey, not yours. As such, I can connect to the character a lot more. Not to mention that the storytelling in general is much better, the side characters are more likable and have a greater presence and the story itself feels like it has more impact and gravity. A large part of that is because of the cinematics and the fact that you have a larger investment in the world and characters.    
A man with a past... and lots of amnesia. Like a lot.     
 I'm not trying to degrade Skyrim. It's a well-made game with a lot of great things going for it and some epic, epic music. It's just not for me. That said, I still enjoy fisting dragons, but it's a shallow fun rather than the deep emotional experiences I expect from my RPGs
 
A second point I want to make is an appeal for cutscenes. I've never understood the negativity cutscenes get from the gaming crowd. There's the infamous MGS4 example. You know what? I enjoyed every goddamn second of those cutscenes (plus you can make Rose's boobs jiggle so there's that). Not only do they offer you a break and help with the pacing, but goddamn it some are just fucking awesome to watch! My thumbs will not fall off if I set down the controller for five minutes! Plus I'll take a full cutscene over a QTE any day of the week. It makes me sad that the industry is trying to move away from them and into more "interactive" storytelling. 
*shake shake shake* 
 In short, Skyrim sucks, screw the Jews and I've got free candy for your kids in my van. ;)
Posted by coakroach

Do you want to make your own story from scratch in an open world or experience someone else's story through tightly knit sequences of gameplay as well as cutscenes?

The great thing is with modern video games is that you can do both!

Yay video games!

Posted by Brodehouse

I'd definitely take half the content in Skyrim if it was given twice the polish. The quests and storytelling in Skyrim is MMO level, but the exploration and depth to the world is really good. It's 'codex' rivals Mass Effect's for depth, but the writing and dialogue just isn't there.

I was never able to play Oblivion or Fallout 3 twice, because once I'd explored the game once, the quest lines weren't interesting enough to want to see again, and there was no 'different angle' to approach from. I feel like that's something Obsidian fixed in New Vegas. I really hope they get hired to make Fallout 4 on the Skyrim engine.

Posted by Winternet

Well, you suck.

Posted by Enigma777
@Winternet NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Posted by Nighthawk871

The Elder Scrolls games are true RPGs in that they require you to, you know...actually role play. It's an integral part of the game's identity, and if you don't enjoy it then the game probably isn't for you. We all have certain genres that we just can't seem to enjoy. I have a lot of respect for racing and fighting games, but I don't enjoy playing them.

Posted by Claude

You're funny. I bet you masturbated while writing this. And to a picture of my mom, gross.
 
Yeah, Skyrim's characters are mostly forgettable except for a few. The story told is usually generated in my head as I explore the land and learn. I have a head for that, so it's all good for me. And Skyrim has a shit load of books to read.

Posted by Afroman269

@Enigma777:

That said, I still enjoy fisting dragons...

You sick fuck.

I'm outta here.

Posted by Hailinel

@Nighthawk871 said:

The Elder Scrolls games are true RPGs in that they require you to, you know...actually role play. It's an integral part of the game's identity, and if you don't enjoy it then the game probably isn't for you. We all have certain genres that we just can't seem to enjoy. I have a lot of respect for racing and fighting games, but I don't enjoy playing them.

You're not role-playing in The Elder Scrolls. Yes, you're making dialogue choices, but true role-playing goes far beyond what The Elder Scrolls presents, though no video game is truly capable of capturing the full effect of a pen and paper campaign.

Posted by Enigma777
@Claude Hah, I actually downloaded the Kindle file of all the books in Skyrim that some guy made. At around 300 pages, I'm 40% done reading it. Its pretty god so far.
Posted by MiniPato

I am also pro-cutscene! When a cutscene comes up in a game I don't go "oh no I can't play the game for a minute or two!" But I actually look forward to seeing what happens. I can stand to not push buttons and let go the analog stick for a minute.

The thing about Skyrim is that it's an open world RPG. The main story doesn't carry any momentum unless you yourself want it to, you'd have to play those quest missions back to back. But how I play, and I think how the majority of gamers play Skyrim is that they will do a story quest or two and then wander around the world for countless hours progressing in other quest branches and becoming leaders of organizations and stuff. And then you go back to do a story quest and then go exploring again for countless hours. It's not a very well stitched together story experience, but that's not really what you come to these types of games for, at least not me. I come to it to experience the world and make my own choices under the circumstances the game gives me.

I think all open world games suffer from stories that are difficult to follow. Maybe not from the game's fault, but the player's own. When you play a GTA game, I bet you always forget why you're playing errand boy for some drug dealer or something because you're off causing havoc for a couple hours. I know I do. Borderlands, Fallout 3, Grand Theft Auto 4, Skyrim, they all suffer from this overabundance of sidequests and activities to do that it detracts the player from the main story. But that's a choice you make, so it isn't necessarily the game's fault. I haven't gone back to power through the main stories of these games, but I imagine if I did, the story of these games wouldn't benefit too much from it cause in the end, these are open ended games. Developers have to spend as much time on the side stuff as the main quest stuff, so the bump in story quality wouldn't be significant.

In the end, I think Skyrim's story is less about the hero's journey and more about he world's lore. Some people like learning all the aspects of a fantasy world, some don't. Personally I don't.

Edited by MiniPato

@rebgav:

The cancer that is killing cutscenes is calling me the sickness? What comedy! I bet you like quick time events!

I would also like to note that I am only pro-cutscene if they are skippable. I am staunchly anti-unskippable-cutscene.

Posted by Shirogane

@MiniPato said:

@rebgav:

The cancer that is killing cutscenes is calling me the sickness? What comedy! I bet you like quick time events!

Come on now, that was harsh, nobody likes QTEs, even if they're horrible people who can't stand to not be pressing buttons constantly.

Posted by animathias

To each his own. To me, all those experiences in Skyrim end up making the story. I read my share of books when I was young, but when I was 4, I got my first Lego set and started creating. ;) I haven't stopped creating since.

Posted by MiniPato

@rebgav said:

@MiniPato said:

@rebgav:

The cancer that is killing cutscenes is calling me the sickness? What comedy! I bet you like quick time events!

Nice straw-man, Mr Interactive Story! I heard that you play Halo on "Normal."

You started it, Mr. Ad Hominem! You probably do some bad stuff.

Edited by Doctorchimp

@Enigma777: I'm also a guy who loves a story. And while you were inclined to start chasing them in games...that love of story has straight-up driven me away from some games.

I really think the majority of games, even the ones with that "awesome story" are shit when it comes to narratives.

And my love of Skyrim is directly related to the fact that it feels like a direct backlash against games these days that hold your hand through the entire campaign. Bethesda puts you in that realized world and says "fucking go man". That is goddamn refreshing.

The story lines are interesting enough and bite sized to keep you going and keep the world feeling alive while it fills out mythology. But it generally just lets you "play" it.

If you wanted a campaign though I can totally see why you'd hate it. And thank you for not clogging up the forums with "GOD SKYRIM IS SHIT WHY DO YOU LIKE THIS?"

This is a great blog....and you pointed me to Del Toro and Ken Levine on a podcast.

EDIT: also to answer your cutscene question. It usually falls under the fact that if the story is nonsense all it's doing is wasting your time with a shit plot when the gameplay is being held up for no good reason.

The games that do them tastefully are fine, but there are offenders out there.

Posted by MiniPato

@rebgav:

Posted by Sputty

The story of the Elder Scrolls games are often more in what the player knows than what the character could know. If you've played most of the games and paid attention to the books and back story you walk away with a lot of details about the world that go deeper than most, if not all, games. Things that would escape your notice like the nature of what Alduin is or the nature of his death. Both of these questions bring up possibilities that require knowledge beyond what the game character in these games realizes. Vivec is a good example of this, he has knowledge beyond what the character has and in ways, such as 36 Lessons of Vivec, gives allegorical stories to guide the Nerevarine to defeating Dagoth Ur. Most people would pick these up and see them as nonsensical poems without looking through them all but the book lays out lots of stuff about Morrowind, Vivec, Nerevar and the Elder Scrolls series in general.

The personal story is going to be a bit odd because of the freedom given the character but the story surrounding the player character is always interesting. For example, the possible nature of the Dragonborn being an avatar of Talos, or Talos's ascendency to godhood and its effect on Altmeri beliefs. There's lots to be discovered in the Elders Scrolls.

Edited by Aegon

Can I ask where the Jew hate comes from? Did you have a Jewish bully? Do your mommy and daddy hate Jews?

Online
Posted by Enigma777
@Sputty: Story depth and storytelling are two different things. 
 
@H2Oyea: It's the curly hair. What are they hiding in those Jewfros?!
Edited by devilzrule27

I must say for the most part I agree with you. My favourite games are the ones that engross me in a story and a world. Whether that be from cutscenes or through gameplay doesn't matter to me. Its actually a big reason I don't like many downloadable games, their stories are rarely engaging or compelling.

That said skyrim, to me, has a deep fiction that get me wrapped up in the world. And the questlines give me enough story threads where I can fill in the rest myself by weaving in the lore thats already in the game.

Posted by Turambar

@Nighthawk871 said:

The Elder Scrolls games are true RPGs in that they require you to, you know...actually role play. It's an integral part of the game's identity, and if you don't enjoy it then the game probably isn't for you. We all have certain genres that we just can't seem to enjoy. I have a lot of respect for racing and fighting games, but I don't enjoy playing them.

Except true roleplaying in a single player environment like Elder Scrolls is not only boring, but actually impossible. Roleplaying is the act of playing out a role in a world that dynamically reacts to that role. That reaction requires other people. Otherwise all you get are scripted responses and has always and continues to be the ultimate weakness in any game that tries to boast choice.

Posted by McGhee

@Brodehouse said:

I'd definitely take half the content in Skyrim if it was given twice the polish.

I completely agree with this point. Well said.

Posted by selbie

Yo, I heard you like story in ur videogames.

Yes there is some jankiness (thank you Ryan Davis) to the way Skyrim tells its stories, but as a silent protagonist, you can't really have the experience any other way IMO. Cutscenes? You'll just have Mr. Silent Douche standing around looking pathetic. If you give him/her a voice then you end up with yet another wannabe hero saving the world. Silent protagonists in open-world games work best with the Reluctant Hero type of story progression where you are given the choice to either save the world, or just punch some mammoths, or go commit genocide on a local village.

@Afroman269 said:

@Enigma777:

That said, I still enjoy fisting dragons...

You sick fuck.

I'm outta here.

*takes Afroman269's place*

...please continue :D

Posted by LiquidPrince

I think the Witcher 2 is an infinitely better game then Skyrim. I like Skyrim, but you're right, the story you get from something like the Witcher or Mass Effect has the potential to be so much more epic, then open ended "here is a series of quests" game design.

Posted by JordanK85

Hopefully you like playing games for more than just the story. If not then I'd say you're probably into the wrong medium at the moment as many books and movies have much better stories than any video game has ever had. This, of course, could change in the future as the medium matures but right now it's not even close. As someone above aptly pointed out already, the great thing about video games is that they can provide a wide range of experiences catering to the wide range of tastes that people have. There's nothing inherently wrong with Skyrim, it's just not to your taste and that's fine.

Posted by valrog

I really don't know why people hate Cutscenes so much. They're great.

Posted by Ghostiet

It's "Geralt".

@Hailinel said:

@Nighthawk871 said:

The Elder Scrolls games are true RPGs in that they require you to, you know...actually role play. It's an integral part of the game's identity, and if you don't enjoy it then the game probably isn't for you. We all have certain genres that we just can't seem to enjoy. I have a lot of respect for racing and fighting games, but I don't enjoy playing them.

You're not role-playing in The Elder Scrolls. Yes, you're making dialogue choices, but true role-playing goes far beyond what The Elder Scrolls presents, though no video game is truly capable of capturing the full effect of a pen and paper campaign.

Exactly. People associate role-playing on PCs and consoles with stats and numbers, that's why for example Mass Effect 2 was lambasted for "not being an RPG" and to prove it, they said you only have 5 skills to put points in.
Edited by Mister_Avatar

@Enigma777: Well written and argued. Also it's good to see that someone else listens to weekend confirmed.

Posted by AyKay_47

You cannot stop me from disagreeing with your filthy opinion, sir!

Posted by Enigma777
@JordanK85 Well, of course I play games for more than the story. However story is very important to my enjoyment of games. When I think about all my most memorable moments in gaming (The death of Aeris, the ending of Prince of Persia, the twist in Bioshock and so forth) it's all tied to the story and storytelling rather than the gameplay.
Edited by Dunchad

@Enigma777:

It really does comes down to personal preference, like always. I mainly play games for the story as well (few exceptions, like platformers and puzzlegames), but unlike you, I would pick Skyrim over Witcher 2 every time. The thing is, the way I prefer to experience stories differs from your way.

I always sort of play as myself in RPGs - every choice and action is based on what I'd do in similar situations. The games that create an amazing world and story within which I can do that, are always more satisfying to me compared to games like Witcher, where the protagonist has a well established personality and I feel like I need to conform to fit into Geralt's shoes. This is one of the reason that I can't play games with female protagonists - it ruins the immersion, since I would still be playing myself, except I'd be a woman. I don't know how to be a woman and I'd rather not try to imagine what it would be like to be attracted to men.

I can still enjoy a game like Witcher, or say, Assassin's Creed, but my enjoyment is different from that of Skyrim or DA:O, where I can play a badass version of myself.

As for the comment regarding Skyrim's story - I'm not sure I agree. I admit, I'm only 90hrs in, but I'm definitely enjoying the stories the game tells. The whole Dragonborn thing is pretty mysterious and I keep moving forward to find out what the hell is really going on. I'm interested in seeing how the military conflict turns out, once I kick it off. Mage college kept me interested throughout the questline with it's mysterious mages and cool setpieces. Finding a book in the world that tells you a story of something that happened way back that leads into a quest where you find out more about it is always fascinating. The few daedric quests I've done have always been really fun or surprising in some way.

The world feels like it's full of mystery and stories just waiting to be discovered - which is another thing that I really appreciate in games: the sense of adventure that comes from exploration. Not knowing what's behind the next corner, or checking a bookshelf in an abandoned house to see if they've got something I haven't read yet (the books within TES games are actually pretty good - really liked The Real Barenziah).

Summa summarum: For someone like me, who can't enjoy a book/game as much if the protagonist is a female or if his personality doesn't match with mine to a certain degree, games that give the player as much freedom as possible, like Skyrim, are the holy grail.

Posted by Galiant

I like the stories of Skyrim, and I don't like you.

I don't care if you're joking, there's so much bullshit in your post. "Screw the Jews"? How about fuck you?

Posted by Enigma777
@Galiant These are not the droids you're looking for.
Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

@Enigma777: I came in to this thread expecting to argue but I actually totally agree with you. I find my self using every choice when talking to the characters to father the story but it's just not enough. Theres a reason Final Fantasy and Metal Gear are my favourite computer game series and thats for the huge arching story lines and interesting characters but with Skyrim (even though I do love the game) a lot of that seems to be lost

Posted by DeadManRollin

While I enjoy playing pre-scripted (or to be more precise, pre-crafted) games a lot, I am really enjoying the freedom of doing whatever I want to do in Skyrim. It's like the GTA of RPG games for me. I hated Oblivion because I didn't find any direction nor any motivation to actually go with the story arcs and conquests, but I am loving Skyrim because whichever quest I am taking, it  has some impact on the world around my character (me). The game also does not prevent me from free exploration, and I can always strike a balance between exploring, fighting and just conversing with the NPCs.  
 
It's a choice between role playing a unique character (e.g. Geralt or Hawke in Dragon Age 2) or imagining yourself doing the things that the on screen nameless character is doing (Dragon Age: Origins and Skyrim). I prefer both, but if the game is good, the 2nd option is more immersing and gives me more "gaming pleasure". 

Posted by jetsetwillie

i think the importance of story in games is overstated, well for me it is anyway.

i come to games for the game. to play it. if a game has a great story brilliant! but if not then im not that bothered

i would never play a subpar game just for the story.

Posted by vidiot
@Turambar said:

@Nighthawk871 said:

The Elder Scrolls games are true RPGs in that they require you to, you know...actually role play. It's an integral part of the game's identity, and if you don't enjoy it then the game probably isn't for you. We all have certain genres that we just can't seem to enjoy. I have a lot of respect for racing and fighting games, but I don't enjoy playing them.

Except true roleplaying in a single player environment like Elder Scrolls is not only boring, but actually impossible. Roleplaying is the act of playing out a role in a world that dynamically reacts to that role. That reaction requires other people. Otherwise all you get are scripted responses and has always and continues to be the ultimate weakness in any game that tries to boast choice.

Exactly
It's all emulation to what actual "true" role-playing is. In the case of Skyrim the main actual design that get's the most attention, is literally sandbox/open-world, which is a design that is nowhere near a definitive description to a "true" role-playing game. It's a good emulative design, but it is not a definitive attribute.  
Presentation of story (Which at the end of the day is what this blog seems to be about) is not shoe-horned into just "one-way" for an RPG. This concept is ironically, quite narrow-minded. Trying to rely on a game's stimulative/scripted elements is something that is very risky, and if done not-correctly, make the flaws in the game's core narrative more pronounced. This is a concept that is not exclusive to RPG's.  
 
The comparison to the Witcher is something that bears repeating, especially in massive RPG definition debate threads that needlessly go on forever. There are most certainly choices to be had in The Witcher, but the game understands it is a multi-linear affair, which is what I personally find non-linear storytelling in games to be. You have either good choices, or bad choices, and both of those paths are about as linear in scope as any other narrative in a videogame. 
I find that The Witcher understands this base concept to a degree (self aware of the mechanics of it's own storytelling), and that's why while Geralt must make choices throughout the narrative, he is still Geralt and not some mute blank-slate. Why "Geralt works" also has to do with general storytelling, which I would counter to this blog (sorta a counter, you touched upon this a bit) is not just because of cut-scenes but because of general storytelling. There is no technical substitute for good writing and general storytelling.  
The cut-scene is simply a presentation tool, nothing more nothing less.
Posted by Skald

Everyone says they play games for the story. The problem is, the stories in most games are so anemic. I mean, I like a good plot twist or mystery as much as anyone, but if I want a story, I'm going back to my Kindle.

What video games like Skyrim offer is more like "exploration." You see things, fight things, save people, kill people, and yes, even experience an overarching series of events known as a story. The real joy comes from the intersection of all of these things. A scenic vista can be just as compelling as an ally-turned-enemy or a dragon burning a village. At least, that's what I think makes sandboxes so intriguing. After all, who hasn't been pulled off the main quests to look at something stupid? The Crabber's Shanty? The Alchemist's Hut? Maybe a mine, or a chopping block?

Posted by Catfish666

@Brodehouse said:

I'd definitely take half the content in Skyrim if it was given twice the polish. The quests and storytelling in Skyrim is MMO level, but the exploration and depth to the world is really good. It's 'codex' rivals Mass Effect's for depth, but the writing and dialogue just isn't there. I was never able to play Oblivion or Fallout 3 twice, because once I'd explored the game once, the quest lines weren't interesting enough to want to see again, and there was no 'different angle' to approach from. I feel like that's something Obsidian fixed in New Vegas. I really hope they get hired to make Fallout 4 on the Skyrim engine.

On the same tracks with you there, pal. Will from Tested said in one podcast that even though he enjoys Skyrim, what he's really looking forward to is Fallout 4. In my case, I really enjoy the Creation engine, but can't wait what Obsidian can do with it!

While I do like Bethesda for many things, there's few things about their writing that annoyes me. Asides from the general linearity that bugged me too in F3, there's one other thing it has common with Skyrim that I hate: the very self serious tone. I don't mean I'd want someone to run up to me every 3 minutes and tell me a joke, but it wouldn't hurt for some of the characters to loosen up. I just feel that some of the characters aren't talking, but reciting a poem.

That and the amount of voice actors. I used to roll a long while with Belrand, a merc from Solitude, and I keep meeting his voice familiars around all the time. Kinda breaks the immersion when I start to imagine that it's just Belrand pretending to be someone else, time after time, stalking me creepily. That, and I expect whoever he's voice acting to blurt out "Can I keep it? NAAAHH, just kidding!"

ps. And I do realize the last point is kinda impossible to achieve for the sheer amount of NPCs in the world, mildly distracting/amusing nevertheless.

Posted by PillClinton

@Enigma777: Can't tell if trolling or actually hateful, provincial anti-semite.

Posted by Brodehouse
@Catfish666 That's a good point; people in Skyrim don't seem like humans/elves/lizardmen who are living in a fantasy world.. They seem like aspects of that world come to life. They feel less like personalities and more like archetypes. And that's largely because the world is so wide, they can't afford to go deep with any single character. You wind up with a very wide but shallow pool.

The companions (followers, not the guild) are a clear example. There are way more companions in this game than any BioWare or Obsidian game, but none of them even have a shred of the depth and personality that you get from a Thane Krios or Arcade Gannon.
Posted by Enigma777
@PillClinton

@Enigma777: Can't tell if trolling or actually hateful, provincial anti-semite.

There's a winking smiley next to it. What do you think?