The best thing about Skyrim

Of course this may not really be the absolute best thing about Skyrim, but it is a biggie for me personally. I'm the type of gamer who absolutely hates spoilers. I like to watch some vids to get me excited for the design and art style and gameplay of a game, but I don't want to know too much. But in our modern gaming culture, you can feasably end up knowing more than you wanted to know without ever even looking for it.

That's the nice thing about Skyrim though. You could probably tell me the entire story outright, and it really wouldn't much matter. The joy of a game like Skyrim is in experiencing the world. Spending time there, exploring, learning about the lay of the land. Those are the things that make a game like this work so well. The story, and I am looking forward to it, but in this case it's pretty secondary.

Of course a spoiler doesn't have to come in the form of a story piece. Batman: Arkham City was very guilty of giving away too much in the media that was a prelude to release. Honestly, it would have been much much better if I didn't know just how many villains were in the game or which ones were there. If I'd never known (and as hypocritical as this makes me, Arkham City spoilers will follow; get out now if you're sensitive to them) about certain villains their impact would have been far greater had they not been readily advertised beforehand. Specifically, I think it'd have been so much nicer not to have known about Solomon Grundy. The way the game is set up, you hear a little bit about him if you listen to the thugs around town. But honestly, if the ads hadn't outright told us that the Penguin had a Solomon Grundy trap set for you, how awesome would it have been to be dropped down that big pit of the Iceberg Lounge and suddenly there he stands. Like an undead Hulk, waiting to chew on your sensitive areas. It would have been much more impactful than the video where the all but told you he was waiting.

I get how a studio can make this misstep. It's fun to go through con season with lots of goodies to build up the project you've spent over 2 years working on. You're proud of your work and your team and it's nice to pop that crowd with your big reveal. But ultimately, that is selfish on Rocksteady's part (or whoever, they are my example but they are hardly the only offender). It's selfish because when you're building a game you should know that the big pop is going to come to the player in his home. It's not like a film where you can run a test screening and get that elation that comes from a crowd reacting to your work like you may have hoped. But games are different. And getting big pre-release press may be important. But not at the expense of the experience. Which happens more often that I like.

Is it the developer's fault? The publisher's? Maybe it's our fault for wanting our constant need for hype and aksing places like GameTrailers or The Escapist to feed that need. But, it is nice when a game is all but spoiler proof. When "the knowing", doesn't really take away anything from "the doing" which comes after the game drops. And that, for a gamer like me, is the nicest, best thing about Skyrim.

11 Comments
12 Comments
Posted by ZZoMBiE13

Of course this may not really be the absolute best thing about Skyrim, but it is a biggie for me personally. I'm the type of gamer who absolutely hates spoilers. I like to watch some vids to get me excited for the design and art style and gameplay of a game, but I don't want to know too much. But in our modern gaming culture, you can feasably end up knowing more than you wanted to know without ever even looking for it.

That's the nice thing about Skyrim though. You could probably tell me the entire story outright, and it really wouldn't much matter. The joy of a game like Skyrim is in experiencing the world. Spending time there, exploring, learning about the lay of the land. Those are the things that make a game like this work so well. The story, and I am looking forward to it, but in this case it's pretty secondary.

Of course a spoiler doesn't have to come in the form of a story piece. Batman: Arkham City was very guilty of giving away too much in the media that was a prelude to release. Honestly, it would have been much much better if I didn't know just how many villains were in the game or which ones were there. If I'd never known (and as hypocritical as this makes me, Arkham City spoilers will follow; get out now if you're sensitive to them) about certain villains their impact would have been far greater had they not been readily advertised beforehand. Specifically, I think it'd have been so much nicer not to have known about Solomon Grundy. The way the game is set up, you hear a little bit about him if you listen to the thugs around town. But honestly, if the ads hadn't outright told us that the Penguin had a Solomon Grundy trap set for you, how awesome would it have been to be dropped down that big pit of the Iceberg Lounge and suddenly there he stands. Like an undead Hulk, waiting to chew on your sensitive areas. It would have been much more impactful than the video where the all but told you he was waiting.

I get how a studio can make this misstep. It's fun to go through con season with lots of goodies to build up the project you've spent over 2 years working on. You're proud of your work and your team and it's nice to pop that crowd with your big reveal. But ultimately, that is selfish on Rocksteady's part (or whoever, they are my example but they are hardly the only offender). It's selfish because when you're building a game you should know that the big pop is going to come to the player in his home. It's not like a film where you can run a test screening and get that elation that comes from a crowd reacting to your work like you may have hoped. But games are different. And getting big pre-release press may be important. But not at the expense of the experience. Which happens more often that I like.

Is it the developer's fault? The publisher's? Maybe it's our fault for wanting our constant need for hype and aksing places like GameTrailers or The Escapist to feed that need. But, it is nice when a game is all but spoiler proof. When "the knowing", doesn't really take away anything from "the doing" which comes after the game drops. And that, for a gamer like me, is the nicest, best thing about Skyrim.

Edited by believer258

I wish they hadn't told us that you can make friends with a dragon later on in the game, but that doesn't bother me too much.

The biggest reason I'm anticipating Skyrim is dual-wielding magic. I really want to shoot a wave of flame and a wave of electricity or something else out of both hands at the same time. Yeah, I'm not that hard to please.

Also, dragons. I get to take down dragons, possibly with my bare fucking hands.

Posted by Slaker117

Yep, the open-endedness of the game is a huge strength. Bethesda probably couldn't even spoil their own game if they tried.

Edited by BraveToaster

@believer258 said:.

I didn't know that...

Posted by whistlebottom

I don't play games for traditional narrative. I can think of at least two other mediums that do it better, and in general, most video game stories are crap. I skip cutscenes always. If a game is not worth the playing the part, it's not worth buying. If the story is so great, I can just youtube the thing and get the same experience.

So I agree that Skyrim is all about the world, which makes it very exciting.

Posted by BlinkyTM

I want to be one with the dragon. LET ME RIDE IT RIGHT NOW!

Edited by believer258

@Axxol

...oops.

Sorry. I'll get around to spoilering that. I thought most people knew that at this point.

Posted by SuperSambo
@believer258

@Axxol said:

@believer258 said:

I wish they hadn't told us that you can make friends with a dragon later on in the game, but that doesn't bother me too much.

I didn't know that...

...oops.

Sorry. I'll get around to spoilering that. I thought most people knew that at this point.

If only I'd read this thread 5 minutes later.
Posted by Willin

The best thing about Skyrim is buying the most powerful fireball and blasting people off cliffs.

Posted by ZZoMBiE13

@whistlebottom said:

I don't play games for traditional narrative. I can think of at least two other mediums that do it better, and in general, most video game stories are crap. I skip cutscenes always. If a game is not worth the playing the part, it's not worth buying. If the story is so great, I can just youtube the thing and get the same experience.

So I agree that Skyrim is all about the world, which makes it very exciting.

I'm to the point where I actually like games more than most other media. Good games anyway. What they lack in "traditional narrative", they make up with in atmosphere and the engaging ability that only an interactive medium offers. Books are probably the one exception to that, but it's hard to read a book in my house. There are always a lot of distractions and it's difficult to really let myself slip into my imagination and let the book take me.

Still, I do respect your opinion. It's true that game narrative is often an afterthought. That is sad really. I wish someone would make the video game "Citizen Kane". Of course I don't mean a license of that classic film but rather a difinitive work that truly took advantage of video games unique interactivity to it's best possible form the way Citizen Kane took film to it's greatest possible form all those years ago.

We can only hope, right?

Posted by whistlebottom

@ZZoMBiE13 said:

@whistlebottom said:

I don't play games for traditional narrative. I can think of at least two other mediums that do it better, and in general, most video game stories are crap. I skip cutscenes always. If a game is not worth the playing the part, it's not worth buying. If the story is so great, I can just youtube the thing and get the same experience.

So I agree that Skyrim is all about the world, which makes it very exciting.

I'm to the point where I actually like games more than most other media. Good games anyway. What they lack in "traditional narrative", they make up with in atmosphere and the engaging ability that only an interactive medium offers. Books are probably the one exception to that, but it's hard to read a book in my house. There are always a lot of distractions and it's difficult to really let myself slip into my imagination and let the book take me.

Still, I do respect your opinion. It's true that game narrative is often an afterthought. That is sad really. I wish someone would make the video game "Citizen Kane". Of course I don't mean a license of that classic film but rather a difinitive work that truly took advantage of video games unique interactivity to it's best possible form the way Citizen Kane took film to it's greatest possible form all those years ago.

We can only hope, right?

If I was forced to choose, I'd pick music over games, but VG's come in at a strong second. The thing is that games are such a different things than any other expressive form, that it's hard to define what a 'Citizen Kane' of games would be. To steal from Kojima, games are more like architecture in that the designer creates a space and opens it up for the player. Ebert's complaint was that games don't have enough authorial voice- which is fucking hilarious because 99% of everything in a game is created a person (i.e. an author)- and that player choices ruin the 'art' of it. Well, I've taken a shit in the Guggenheim, but that doesn't mean the building lacks meaning.

And there's also a few different ways games can create meaning- mechanically and environmentally. The way I spent money in Fallout 3 made me think about the way I spend money in real life. Simultaneously, the world aesthetics of Americana mixed with horror made me consider the politics of American foreign policy. Freytag's Triangle though? Maybe not so much.

I'm rambling. Games Rule. The end.

Posted by ZZoMBiE13

@whistlebottom: When I was in college art classes, the way I came to understand it the experience of viewing the piece was the art. Without the viewing, without the audience looking and taking note of the piece, it's just supplies on a canvas (or a sculpture or whatever). But the things crafted by the artist plus the audience appreciating it was at the very core of the whole thing. To that end, I'd say games have a special way of immersing us within the art, if you're the type who can appreciate it anyway. And not everyone can. Just like some dont "get" Picasso or Jackson Pollack, some people don't "get" games. Ebert is one of those to be sure. Which is a real shame. I've always held him in high regard and have just a megaton of respect for the man himself. I wish he could come around, but I suppose the generation gap is just too great there.

Anyway, it was good talking with you. Thanks for the thoughtful replies! :)