Hello! I'm Tom. I designed a game called Gunpoint about rewiring things and punching people, I'm on a weekly gaming podcast called The Crate & Crowbar, I wrote these two short stories in the Machine of Death collections, and I used to write articles like these for PC Gamer. I'm now prototyping two new games, Heat Signature and one about grappling hooks.
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Massively single-player first-person RPG – a huge and freely explorable fantasy world, hundreds of quests, of which the main plot line – the longest game I have ever played – accounts for less than half. You can be stealthy, fighty, magicky or any combination thereof, you can join guilds, go anywhere, kill anyone and anything and – importantly – take its clothes and anything else it might have had. Combat is real-time, and requires nimble fingers to jump around, dodge and aim. Skills level up the more you use them, rather than by assigning stat points, so you become the character you’re trying to be.
RPGs ought to be the best games in the world, but virtually all of them have achingly dull combat and insist on a third-person view. The Elder Scrolls series has been chugging merrily down the lineage set out by Ultima Underworld, and with each iteration, more people say “Hey, that looks way better than the frustrating and unengaging rubbish we consider good!” Morrowind was when the series moved to what we recognise today as a true 3D engine – 3D accelerated, everything made of polygons. It’s about being in an RPG world for pretty much the first time – physically hitting monsters with a sword to hurt them, having to aim your fireballs like an FPS. Climbing mountains that even the developers don’t know are climbable. Stumbling upon a wooden door set into the rock, going inside and finding a smuggler’s hide-out with bodies, diaries and a story to be deduced. Short answer: it’s first person.
The Essential Experience
Filling out a form. It’s a clever conceit for character creation – the Census And Excise Office asks you to fill out your personal details for their records. The magic of the moment, though, is threefold: a) the music – the perfect fantasy theme tune, full of grandiose scale, promise and magic, b) the sheer range of options, even before you get to choosing skills and abilities – there are thirteen races, and c) seeing the world for the first time – you’ve just come out of a prison ship, so you get the three-hit combo of the lovely water effects, a giant tick standing in the lovely water effects, and the unearthly noise the giant tick standing in the lovely water effects makes.
DemonDoll: I want to point out that I respect this game above all others for not feeling the need to hold your hand. It's bastard-child Oblivion went backwards in this regard but in Morrowind you could run like the wind and leap over mountains without cheat codes. If you're dedicated you can make a 100% Chameleon set which makes your character !UNTARGETABLE!. There are virtually no games in existence which place no caps on the player. If you can drink a potion of +10 Intelligence, then you can drink 100 of them for +1000 Intelligence. There are just no arbitrary limits where the game tells you that you've had enough fun and it's time to stop now. At the same time the combat was rather boring and I couldn't slug through the whole thing (trying to do everything, of course, not the main quest).
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