By ahoodedfigure 7 Comments
The Survival Kit
In Daggerfall, I've taken to counting the saves. You're sort of forced to. Even with all the patches there's still a chance, a dice roll if you like, that your save game will be corrupted, or your game will freak out mid-stream and have to be restarted. It's a game in itself, and not a very fun one, to preserve the work you've done. I've been playing for a few hours now, and my save count is up to 150-something.
So far I've had only one crash in all that time, although I've had my share of void glitches, including being reminded that a mountain chain has buggy dungeon entrances, such that one time I actually spawned outside of the dungeon, and saw through The Void TWO crypts, one that would have been the normal one, and one that extended from the EXIT. Not only was there another whole dungeon but there were bits of rooms floating in space, unconnected to anything, with orcs and giant bats wandering forever locked in these dimensional prisons. It was actually kind of cool, although I was annoyed I had no easy way to get back out again.
(For the sake of completion I'll mention that I did get out using the tools available to me by levitating underneath the starting room and accessing the exit from there.)
The spell Recall is pretty much required to maintain my sanity. It allows you to teleport to any place you've anchored to with the same spell, letting you zip to a point in space, cutting down on return travel time or making navigating its insane dungeons much less taxing once you're done in there. My usual practice is to anchor the spell at the entrance to a given dungeon, but I have sometimes, when I was feeling especially daring (read: stupid), set the anchor at the quest-giver's spot. Anchoring at the entrance, once you have a wagon, is very useful because if you overload on loot you can access the wagon through the entrance without leaving and dump all but gold into it. If you've cleared out the area, you can also rest without fear of anything but random encounters. Anchoring at the quest-giver's spot saves you some time but prevents any of these conveniences. And once you leave a dungeon it respawns, so if you're not done you'll have to start all over if you go back.
Exploring the Mind of a Mad Data-God
I can't remember how many times I've started this damned game. I love the little moments, when you enter a room with a weird configuration and marvel at how it all falls together. Or when you manage to knock someone off a cliff, use a spell to get around a trap, or find the next piece of loot that upgrades your gear. Yeah, the game is busted all to hell, but I sometimes feel that instead of playing a messed up game, I'm exploring a ruined virtual space, trying to make sense of a created world so massive that its own creators abandoned it.
If Daggerfall were MORE complex, this feeling would only be heightened. There's a sense that, sometimes, you're the first human being to ever see a given dungeon. Maybe a few players have been there before, but most of this stuff isn't fully documented. There could be even more crazy combinations of rooms and monsters, more weird traps, more quests even. If anything, I think the game would be better if it delved deeper into this Lovecraftian madness. I wish I knew how easy this was to mod.
Still, as a game Daggerfall is painful to play, as I've talked about before. Paralysis effects seem to last too long, some of the character creation options don't work, some of the skills are nearly useless, the errors can sometimes be so thick that you'll be screwed out of one or more saved games, and while the crypts feel too small, the random dungeons are just too damned big to be fun if you're looking for something in there, since there are no clues to where a quest object might be.
Where the Architects of Ancient Times Had Trod
But, enough of this! What I need to do is try the main game and see if those custom-made dungeons are friendlier. I'm not intimidated any more by this sort of thing, especially after beating Morrowind. I've tried my hand at beating Arena (contrary to myth, there was no Elder Scrolls game before Arena), and I was a bit bored by the lack of variety, although I'd say in some ways Arena is a better dungeon hacking system than any Elder Scrolls game that's followed.
I've spent enough time in the procedurally generated wilderness. Time to explore the parts of Daggerfall that were actually colonized by the designers and see if it makes any more sense.