Logic and Worldcrafting (Gimme yer thoughts!)

#1 Posted by Grimhild (723 posts) -

Dear Duders,

I recently started making a new landmass in Skyrim and I find myself at odds with interesting level design and realism. I consider myself a fairly pragmatic thinker when it comes to design, with form following function and such. Almost to a fault at times. It's distracting to me when I see things outside of common logic and completely removes me from the experience. I know we're talking about a fantasy setting and all, but it's not the major bullet points (such as giant flying lizards and MAJIKS!) that I'm talking about.

It's things like "how is that completely normal 30 foot evergreen tree growing on that stone cliff that has no more that half a foot of soil able to sustain it's own weight with little to no roots?" Or, most importantly, "why are all these torches still burning in this supposed ancient tomb that for some reason still has perfectly edible food on the table?" Things like that cross the line of suspension of disbelief and hurt the immersion for me, personally.

I'm definitely going for a Cthulhu-esque spin on an Indiana Jones/Jason and the Argonauts/Clash of the Titans (the 81 version) vibe with the level of decay and neglect, and my tombs will be dark, yes, but "how dark" I suppose is the question I'm posing to you. I take advantage of roof fractures and such to let the sun in, but where do you guys usually draw the line when it comes to the balance of aesthetics and realism? Or does it bother you at all? Maybe I'm being overly analytical. One can only place so many MAJIKS braziers before it becomes repetitive.

Also, I still have to figure out how to get the landmass's LOD to render past the immediate exterior cells so they don't just pop into view suddenly. I think I'm on the right track, but the menu window I'm looking at says it will take 20 hours to render, so I want to make sure it is, in fact, what I think it is before I commit to it. The CK wiki doesn't really cover much on exteriors, and there's no info on it on the official or Nexus forums that I've found. So if anyone wants to share how to do that, I'd be grateful. Thanks!

#2 Posted by Ulain (315 posts) -

@Grimhild: It's your baby, you should do what feels best to you. Maybe not the answer you're looking for, but I'm guessing you had something already in mind and just want reassurance :P

In any case, I never find myself fully immersed in Elder Scrolls games simply because I've been cultivated with a power-gaming mentality (i.e.this number is bigger, therefore better; what's the exact percent chance of crit chance from this perk? etc.). I suppose if I had to choose one, it would be aesthetics.

I get where you're coming from though; currently playing Skyward Sword and wondering how the hell any of the puzzles are still intact, how the monsters got in, and why there are puzzles anyway (one "dungeon" is a ship, why the hell would you make your own crew hit a switch to open a door to another room on an entirely different floor?).

Anyway, good luck with it, it sounds pretty awesome just from the description.

#3 Posted by PixelPrinny (1030 posts) -
It's things like "how is that completely normal 30 foot evergreen tree growing on that stone cliff that has no more that half a foot of soil able to sustain it's own weight with little to no roots?" Or, most importantly, "why are all these torches still burning in this supposed ancient tomb that for some reason still has perfectly edible food on the table?" Things like that cross the line of suspension of disbelief and hurt the immersion for me, personally.

I ask my self these sorts of questions while playing, but it always ends up boiling down to this: We're playing in a world where magic exists. The blood of dragons is somehow coursing through our characters veins, yet as far as any of us know, they were born like any other character in the world. It's all matters of just accepting tropes that exist otherwise the game would almost be unplayable. For example, if you had an inventory of "whatever you could carry in your hands", you'd be sorta boned unless you took a packmule with you to every dungeon (which for what it's worth, would certainly be an interesting concept for a mod)

Though with the torches, that's simple -- Fire Salts. That stuff burns forever and ever. ;P The food thing is a bit weird though (since they physically decided to include those objects in the dungeon... weird there's no "stale / petrified bread" objects they could use lol

As for "how dark"... I prefer more visible dungeons, even if it's not as "realistic" as a pitch black one where you're forced to use your torch. I should probably mention I'm an archer so holding a torch isn't exactly condusive to my playstyle (although I could always use that ball of light spell, but MAJIKS is for nerdy mages!) Having to traverse with a torch in my hand and then swap to a bow and arrow every few moments to kill something just isn't all that enjoyable, but I'm sure a lot of people really enjoy that sorta thing. To each their own!

Although that being said, I think there's definitely an appeal to very dark dungeons when you're not required to fight things every step of the way -- ie. a dark maze (with traps, even!) where you're having to basically navigate almost blindly with only your torch to help you. In such dungeons, you can use enemies for good jump scares or atmosphere (ie hearing the clacking of skeleton bones but having no idea where they are). I think as long as enemies are used sparingly, a dark dungeon is appealing even to sissy archer types like me :D I played a player-made dungeon recently called... lemme see... "The Secret of Dragonhead" and bugs / glitches aside, it had some really good moments and some really poor ones. One of it's big bullet points was that it was a super dark dungeon full of atmosphere and monsters. For me, it worked really well when the developer held off on the monsters and forced you to almost blindly traverse through a maze like area to find three keys. It didn't work so well when it was just a dark corridor with spider after spider after spider because at that point the darkness is nothing but an artificial combat handicap; it provided no atmosphere or sense of confusion/dread/whatever else people like to use dark areas for. I'm kinda repeating what I said earlier now, aren't I? ^^;

Anyways, I'm always looking forward to trying out new stuff in Skyrim, so if you need a guinea pig for the area you're working on (the whole Cthulu meets Indiana Jones/etc concept sounds really interesting) , feel free to gimme a shout. Following ya on GB and looking forward to any progress reports you post on here!

#4 Posted by Grimhild (723 posts) -

@Ulain said:

@Grimhild: It's your baby, you should do what feels best to you. Maybe not the answer you're looking for, but I'm guessing you had something already in mind and just want reassurance :P

Well, like I said, the tombs will be dark, because that's how I want them to be. But Ideally, I'd rather have a seamless blend so others can enjoy it, too. Like PixelPrinny pointed out, some people prefer to play mostly ranged or 2hander, which would kind of handicap them if a torch is needed at all times. I mostly wanted to get a general consensus of how people feel about the issue.

@PixelPrinny said:

Although that being said, I think there's definitely an appeal to very dark dungeons when you're not required to fight things every step of the way -- ie. a dark maze (with traps, even!) where you're having to basically navigate almost blindly with only your torch to help you. In such dungeons, you can use enemies for good jump scares or atmosphere (ie hearing the clacking of skeleton bones but having no idea where they are). I think as long as enemies are used sparingly, a dark dungeon is appealing even to sissy archer types like me :D

That's pretty much how it's playing out at the moment. I'm really trying to make the tombs themselves be more of a hazard (borderline sentient) and make encounters meaningful, and not just waves of fodder. It's a challenge, since the puzzle mechanics within Skyrim aren't exactly brain twisters to begin with, so I'm having to get into the nuts and bolts. Which is unfortunate since I don't have a tremendous amount of time to devote to these sorts of things lol. And I'll definitely take you up on your guinea pig offer, should the need arise *tents fingers/cackle*

Appreciated!

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