Oblivion - The Cat Came Back
October 10, 2009 1:53 AM   Subscribe

"...call your custom class 'Loser'." IT-HE Software has posted its latest anti-walkthrough, this time for The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. posted by fearthehat (28 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
HA. Oh man, that's fantastic, and the first thing that's made me want to play oblivion in maybe two years. I definitely need to take this approach.

Also, I read the whole thing before coming in here to comment and seeing the more inside. I finished the article thinking "Okay, that was awesome but the anchorite watermelon picture totally made it". Glad to see it's not just me.
posted by Stunt at 2:29 AM on October 10, 2009

posted by 3mendo at 4:16 AM on October 10, 2009

A lot of this is good advice (such as not visiting Kvatch near the start of the game). I stopped playing Oblivion because my playing style kept gimping my character and all the advice I found online suggested doing counter-intuitive stuff like not levelling up, or putting your primary skill points in skills you never use.

I intended to start the game again using Oscuro's Oblivion Overhaul but never got around to it, presumably because I don't like sandbox games that ironically punish me for trying out lots of different things. I'm not a game-builder, but this just seems like poor design to me.
posted by vanar sena at 5:25 AM on October 10, 2009

This picture is my favorite. Because it is sleeping.

—Why are anti-walkthroughs and things like this article so interesting to read?

... I think has something to do with epic games like Oblivion being big, complicated structures. Makes you want to take it apart and see what's inside, while you also want the suspension of disbelief when you're playing.
posted by krilli at 5:58 AM on October 10, 2009

Also, WHAT IS THE DEAL with the creator/writer and furries and furry comics?

In the anti-walkthru, there's some computer-game hacking, all good and normal. There are screenshots of it and some sarcastic offbeat writing about game exploration. Which makes sense to me, I can relate.

But then the guy uses furry comics to explain his POV to the audience, as sort of a common ground. And shows pictures of how some furry comic person is the inspiration for the character, as if the furry thing is the normal common ground with the audience. Intersperses the story with "clarification panels" from obscure furry comics.

It's like having a food blog but strangely assuming that noone understands food, so you use allegories to Time Cube to explain the food.
posted by krilli at 6:05 AM on October 10, 2009 [4 favorites]

I thought it-he was a dead site- left up because webhosting for a low-traffic site isn't an onerous expense, but unattended and forgotten. This is glorious as usual.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:33 AM on October 10, 2009

Could someone explain what an anti-walkthrough is and why you'd want one?
posted by musofire at 6:37 AM on October 10, 2009

A walkthrough shows how you finish the game on the rails the developers put up.

An anti-walkthrough shows you what the game does if you persistently go off-rails, off-venue.
posted by krilli at 6:42 AM on October 10, 2009 [7 favorites]

Also relatedly, notmydesk's Living In Oblivion, the tale of an Oblivion character who doesn't care a whit for the adventuring life.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:58 AM on October 10, 2009 [5 favorites]

This is a really great idea, and it does show a kind of fun Yahtzee talked about in a Zero Punctuation review for Overlord 2. He explained that a lot of developers make games where you can either choose to be evil or games where you need to be evil, and they think that gamers will enjoy that because so many games make you the good guy. However, the fact is that gamers do like doing evil things in games where they HAVE to be the noble hero, but that's not because being evil is inherently fun. It's because it's fun to break the rules of the game. He summed it up as "It's lawful evil or chaotic evil."
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:05 AM on October 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

Ha! Great post. I loved Oblivion.

Incidentally, I also loved Living in Oblivion, and I really wish it would pick back up. :-(
posted by danb at 7:14 AM on October 10, 2009

Came in to post Living in Oblivion by MeFi's own notmydesk but Pope got here first so let my just give big ups to Chrises everywhere. I loved Living in Oblivion so much that I bought the game. Thanks Chris!
posted by Liver at 7:26 AM on October 10, 2009

Just want to put this out there...Alchemy isn't entirely useless. I started out by picking flowers EVERYWHERE. Seriously, I wandered the wilderness for days picking flowers, only to return to town occasionally to steal fruit, veggies, and meat. But the flowers were fun...I'd see a new flower and get soo giddy. Plus, they weight nothing. And once you got into the Mage's guild you have access to endlessly growing flowers in the back of the main city.

But here's the thing. You can level your Alchemy very easily with a pile of flowers and some doodad mixing things (I forget what they're called...alembic, is that right?) Before you know it, you have all four mixing slots open and are making ridiculous poisons and potions. I got so good at it that I'd see an enemy, go into my bag, drink a GoMe! and a GDIAF and then watch the creep try to touch me, and just wither.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:12 AM on October 10, 2009

metafilter: then watch the creep try to touch me, and just wither.
posted by litleozy at 8:19 AM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

> Also, WHAT IS THE DEAL with the creator/writer and furries and furry comics?
But then the guy uses furry comics to explain his POV to the audience, as sort of a common ground. And shows pictures of how some furry comic person is the inspiration for the character, as if the furry thing is the normal common ground with the audience. Intersperses the story with "clarification panels" from obscure furry comics.

Krilli, I would guess that the deal is that this guy is a furry, who has been enjoying the comic in question, and who has gotten most of their friends to read it too? Seems simple enough.
posted by egypturnash at 9:13 AM on October 10, 2009

I realize that notmydesk's Livin' in Oblivion is only peripherally related, but thanks to the other posters for mentioning it. It has that subtle-yet-intense humor that a lot of MeFi'ers seem to embody. Wading around all the other sites in his blog ecosystem, I found boatloads of quality material.

There is a theme to the progression of posts across all his sites that also rings true in this anti-walkthrough, and discussion of Oblivion in general. It seems as though we - the generation of PC gamers that really made PC gaming a "thing" (I don't know how to define that exactly, let's just say that Quake fell into your spectrum of PC gaming) - are finding the whole experience less entertaining and more of a chore as time goes by. I don't think it's because gaming in general has lost its appeal, as many friends irreversably have crossed the threshold to console gaming (not that they didn't play console games to begin with).

There are indy games, but with the progression of PCs toward appliances/commodity items and the increasingly-overlapping capabilities of consoles and other such devices, I think it may be time for PC gaming to write it's last will and testament.

posted by PostOfficeBuddy at 9:14 AM on October 10, 2009

krilli: "I think has something to do with epic games like Oblivion being big, complicated structures."

I think it also has something to do with Oblivion's retarded I-level-up-and-so-does-every-enemy system; note how the creation of the character focuses on selecting skills that won't be used and so won't trigger a level-up.

That's my main criticism with this kind of system - I kind of understand that in an open-world game it would be difficult to create clear zones with different difficulty levels appropriate to increasing character levels, but this way the following situation can happen:

Imagine you're a fresh-faced adventurer, out on your first journey. You run around town, kill rats and spiders, do fetch quests and take exp where you can get them. On one occasion Stinky Joe, the beggar behind the tavern, asks you to find his forked stick he dropped in a pile of dung. You find said stick, but forget to deliver it. Now we skip ahead: you gain levels, become stronger, learn the arcane arts and fashion ensorceled armor, craft weapons of mighty magical metals and become an all-round badass. Then, after taking a break from slaying dragons for fun and profit, you leaf through your journal and discover the forgotten quest. You return to the tavern, find Stinky Joe and offer to give his stick back. When he offers two copper pieces as reward you decline, which infuriates him and makes him attack you. You now face Stinky Joe Godslayer, a level 90 Warrior, clad in magical +5 armor of berserking, wielding a soul-stealing broadsword etched with insanity-causing runes who resists all your spells like a particularly resistant demi-god.

Seriously, when you're high enough in level lowly bandits that hide in the forests and forage for chickens to steal wear magical armor that would sell for enough money to keep a small village fed for a year.
When people dread leveling up (something that should normally be considered a reward) then there's something with your game mechanisms.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 9:43 AM on October 10, 2009 [7 favorites]

I thought fallout handled the auto levelling pretty well and much more subtly, but one I got the shocksword and stealth armor, I became an invisible 1 hit murder machine so the combat got a bit less fun.

Part of the fun of levelling in RPGs is being able to go back and mercilessly slaughter monsters that you ran in fear from the first time you saw them. You have to keep scaling up the opposition as you progress, but you should let the player go back in difficulty if he wants to, also.
posted by empath at 10:37 AM on October 10, 2009 [4 favorites]

Alchemy and marksman not useful skills? Bah. Those two skills, combined with sneak, make for long-distance one-strike kills. Enchant a bow with soul trap and weakness to foo, make a bunch of potions combining silence, paralysis, and foo damage 100 points. You are now an unstoppable killing machine, walking around pressing your "I Win" button. Get hurt? That's OK, because you have an inventory full of restore everything instantly potions. I dunno how you'd play the game without Alchemy.

And echoing the common sentiment that it is STUPID to see bandits in glass armor.

I'm so ready for another Elder Scrolls game.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:58 AM on October 10, 2009 [4 favorites]

It is worth noting that I specifically avoided buying Oblivion because I absolutely hate the idiotic 'monsters level up along with you' mechanic. If leveling up doesn't make the character relatively stronger than the opposition, why include it as a game mechanic at all? Final Fantasy 8 and Final Fantasy Tactics suffered from this as well - by far the best and most entertaining playthrough I ever had of FF8 was a low-level playthrough, which ended up involving none of the game's horribly tedious summonings since you could easily beat down level 5 creatures with melee attacks, even near the end of the game. And the final boss wasn't even a challenge with all of the characters under level 10.

Fallout 3 handled this a little better, since it tended to spawn harder enemies at higher levels instead of leveled versions of weak ones, but it still didn't make sense (you can find all kinds of giant radscorpions consistently spawning by settlements they could easily eradicate on their own.)
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:41 PM on October 10, 2009

Oblivion demonstrates one of the (many) problems with scaling enemy levels: if enemies gain in power along with you, why should you ever want to gain experience?
posted by JHarris at 2:24 PM on October 10, 2009

This mechanism, "inversion of gained power", accidental in so many of the produced-with-a-budget games that have it … is played so elegantly in Nethack.
posted by krilli at 2:57 PM on October 10, 2009

I have only ever played oscuros overhaul, and it does make the game bloody tough when you're a low level newb - maybe a little too tough for the casual gamer. I find as I get older I no longer have the patience to be remembering vast amounts of information about how the world fits together as I did when, say, Ultima IV came out. I have absolutely no interest at all in playing the actual game as released, however.

Still, good article - thanks for sharing.
posted by Sparx at 4:40 PM on October 10, 2009

I've only played Oblivion on XBox so I don't get to have all these mods. But once I mastered the arrow trick to multiply items, the world was pretty much my oyster anyway. Came especially in handy with potions, diamonds for cash & those Varla stones.
posted by scalefree at 6:12 PM on October 10, 2009

I've sunk a lot of hours in the Xbox 360 version of Oblivion (and will probably sink a lot more when I have some time), and can attest to the frustration of never actually having one of those nice cinematic moments where, on the way to fighting the boss monster, one first brushes off attacks from low-level minions - instead it's all storm elemental this and dregoth that. Eventually, being unable to fix the game with the hax available to PC gamers, I simply took the weenie route of enchanting myself up a 100% chameleon outfit and walked about the place completely undetected.

The article was hilarious.
posted by Ritchie at 6:33 PM on October 10, 2009

Mods like Oscuro's Oblivion Overhaul and FCOM completely rewrite the game's balance (every monster, every treasure, everything -- it's really an amazing amount of work) so the monsters don't level with you. Makes it a whole different, vastly better game.

And my favorite anti-walkthough is this one for Deus Ex by Old Man Murray.
posted by straight at 8:52 PM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

vanar sena DEFINITELY needs more favourites.

The OOO mod fixes what was wrong with Oblivion and makes Oblivion a 'Game Of The Year' candidate and even hit top 5 in best-game-ever competitions (I'm looking at you X-Com: UFO Defense - I keep loading that up every other year and play on Nightmare and win it, then forget about it for another year).

Oblvion, out of the box (and I bought the special edition with the worthless in-game dollar-piece-as-physical-coin) and it was broken.

Because it was such an ambitious and overachieving game, it was possible for Oscuro and others to both mod - and want to mod - the game. I don't have time these days to play something like Oblivion again, but the OOO mod is really seductive.
posted by porpoise at 9:07 PM on October 10, 2009

What a nice coincidence. I finally started playing Oblivion, and my son has been playing it for a while (and also recently discovered Living in Oblivion). He enjoys messing with the game as much or more than actually playing it straight. In fact, we just got back from a movie and the kids had been entertaining themselves with a hilarously surreal bug where paralyzed NPCs fall apart into their component bits joined by shimmering ribbons.


I've already encountered one drawback to the levelling mechanism. I wandered into Kvatch to find the town entirely destroyed by half a dozen scrawny scamps. No doubt their mischievous hijinks were just too much for the town guard.
posted by gamera at 9:20 PM on October 10, 2009

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