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Old 11-05-2012, 06:39 PM   #21
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Weiherhof, Germany
Posts: 510

Daggerfall has quite a few weird little things like a faction member/affiliate that says s/he knows nothing about that faction (I think same things may happen if you ask for directions, although it is kind of strange to ask a shopkeeper, for example, for the directions to the same shop you're in, but anyway), most of which probably come from too much content being dependent on randomization. This is noticeable with both NPC dialogues (I've observed some NPCs randomly react oddly, for example telling the player not to talk down to them when addressed in the "Polite" mode) and quests. In general, I'd say I have the impression of the game being somewhat half-baked in that a) it is very obvious that many more features were planned but some got cut or were never completed along the way and b) the game shows different styles and design attitudes that come from different periods during its development. The latter, for example, manifests itself in the lack of consistency in graphics and art: on one hand, there are hand-drawn sprites for most static characters, while monsters and moving NPCs/opponents are pre-rendered 3D models; on top of that, different character images of both types vary in sizes, resulting in a visible difference in detail, especially in close-up view. There are also some minor but very annoying graphical errors and glitches here and there, in characters' clothing, armour and other things.

Random dungeons are another matter. At first, they can be very confusing altogether, but very soon it becomes obvious that they are made of pre-set segments that are more or less easy to familiarized with. This fact, however, has both positive and negative sides: once you see a familiar part (even if wall textures are different), it's pretty easy to navigate, however the pre-set segments themselves are pieced together in a random pattern, so you may never know where you find yourself next. After some time, dungeons become familiar enough to feel repetitive, yet random and unpredictable enough to get annoying (especially on closely timed quests).

This is not to say that Daggerfall isn't an enjoyable game. It is. But it could have probably been a lot better if the developers spent more time on polishing its mechanics. Overall, I find the review of the game by Theodor Lauppert pretty insightful:
I have made the experience that the games I love most are all what I call "if only" games. Sure, they are good, enjoyable, but they could be so much better if only…

Not only is Daggerfall no exception, it is actually the best example. Technically, it is not even a good game. This huge world not only lacks variance, it is illogical, inconsistent, and everywhere the game mechanics that should be hidden are plain to see.

An important aspect of gameplay are the randomly generated quests you can get from guilds, merchants, and nobles. They get repetitive quick, and the few that are actually interesting sub-stories are often buggy beyond playability. Dungeons quite obviously never served any purpose but being dungeons in a role-playing game. Travelling overland you only have the choice between walking/riding right through the countryside, which is beautiful but difficult because there are no roads and you will probably miss your destination, or "fast travel," which deprives you of any random encounters and completely takes away any feeling of distance. You can climb over city walls right in front of the guards, but resting in town is regarded as a serious crime. The houses you can buy are practically useless—all you can do in them is rest and drop stuff on the floor,—and the ship, though useful, does not behave even remotely like a ship and is, unless you set your own rules, mainly an official cheat.

But despite it all, the game can keep you playing for hours, days, months. Why? I guess it is simply this fascination of living in a virtual world. It is the basic concept that, even if not executed well, makes this game unique and well worth playing.
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