Demiath wrote:Thanks for proving my point; core gameplay mechanics is all that matters to me, and whenever there's a substantial similarity in that respect there's bound to be more to the comparison than the Zeppelin/Linkin Park analogy. Your exhaustive and admirably precise description of differences between Morrowind and Oblivion was an interesting read, but apart from the level scaling (which is indeed a huge deal!) I can't see how any of it is truly consequential from a mechanics-oriented perspective. While things like a relative sparsity of voice acting, lack of quest compass and a conversation system involving a HTML-esque collection of key words certainly make a difference on some level, it's most definitely not the kind of features which would convince me that there's any real substance to the constant Morrowind/Oblivion dichotomies which so many RPG fans obsess about.
To be perfectly fair, though, one way of interpreting my "core gameplay mechanics is all that matters to me" assertion is that I'm simply categorically against any open world game in the Morrowind/Oblivion school of action RPGs; whereas you and many other respectable RPG gamers are perfectly fine with the overall concept, which is then expressed in different ways by the mechanics of various games in that general category. Thus, from your perspective every part of the implementation of the concept matters, whereas I would not be satisfied with anything less than a complete change of subgenre. In that respect (and that respect only) I can admit to being a tad bit unfair. Then again, I did like New Vegas a lot more than I thought I would, so that's not an uncomplicated theory, either...
Well, it seems we disagree on what makes a good Elder Scrolls, and open-world, game. In the grand tradition of the Internet, this means we must now fight to the death! (death of course meaning that one of us is unable to post for a day and the other declares himself the winner)
Anyhoo, you're right. It is completely inconsequential from a mechanics-oriented perspective. Had Oblivion been comparable to Morrowind in all other respects that I pointed out I would have immensely enjoyed it. As I mentioned before, from my own personal experience and time spent reading message boards (including the official Bethesda ones), the differences have nothing to do with mechanics. In fact, most seem to agree that (apart from level scaling, quest compass, etc.) Oblivion is actually better than Morrowind in the gameplay-mechanics department. I wish I could point to surveys and studies, but people don't do that kind of thing with games yet, so all I can really give you is a vague, "Yea, I've read some stuff..." unfortunately. What can be, however, easily pointed out is the outcry over the ending of Fallout 3 - specifically that it ended. As we all know, FO3 was basically an Oblivion mod, and was marketed not towards fans of Fallout but fans of Oblivion. The anger over the end, which was changed in one of the DLCs, was because people found themselves more involved with exploration. They didn't want to "win" the game, because to them, there was nothing to "win".
You are right in asserting that if you do not like the genre as a whole, it will be difficult to find games within that genre enjoyable. You are also right in asserting that from my perspective the "implementation of the concept" is the most important thing, while the tools you use to experience that concept are of lesser importance. In fact, the reason I rank Icewind Dale over Baldur's Gate (I and II) is because I enjoy the setting a whole lot more. In the Elder Scrolls, having bits of skooma around in a Khajiit's house, a love letter found inside a drawer, a corpse deep inside of a daedric ruin reaching for a broken potion bottle several feet away, the mention of a minor NPC from a past game in an obscure book... these are all infinitely more important to me than being able to shoot a fireball while wielding a sword, or a balanced method of leveling up your stats and attributes.
The problem with Oblivion, in my view, is that the team tried to focus more on correcting the physical mechanics of the system to the neglect of what actually made the games appealing in the first place. Of course, it did incredibly well because it opened up gamers who were used to crap like Halo to this amazing genre (imagine only eating bland rice your whole life, when not starving, and suddenly being given a McDonald's cheeseburger).
When I think of the upcoming Skyrim, I imagine vast mountain ranges, ancient architecture, and the scars of past wars dotting the landscape.
Would I prefer ESV having amazing balance and properly implemented mechanics? Of course. Would it detract me from the experience if it didn't? Not at all.