Original Concepts for Morrowind

General discussion regarding the OpenMW project.
For technical support, please use the Support subforum.
Posts: 27
Joined: 31 Jan 2015, 15:23

Re: Original Concepts for Morrowind

Post by austen1000 » 27 Jun 2018, 14:55

Procedural generation aside, there must be other features worthy of inclusion in the future, outside of what is already done, be it mods or engine additions.

Posts: 1565
Joined: 04 Sep 2011, 08:33

Re: Original Concepts for Morrowind

Post by Chris » 27 Jun 2018, 22:55

If we go by Daggerfall's example, a lot of the potential features relied on the massive procedurally generated world to make it feel sane. Things like disease progression, timed random/radiant quests, fast travel system, etc. A compact world like even Skyrim makes most of those features fall flat, because you're never far from a place that can offer healing (let alone the fact that recent games inundate you with a bajillion potions to cure yourself immediately), and you can get anywhere in less than a day or two. The timescale just doesn't work when you have a small handcrafted map; diseases would have to progress ridiculously fast to be a threat (in Daggerfall it would take several days, but in later games you can clear a dungeon and get back to civilization in a day), and time limits would have to be ridiculously short (in Daggerfall you'd be given about a week or so before they presume you fail, because of the amount of time it takes to get to the target area and back, but in later games that would have to be cut to hours to get the same effect).

And it's those time-limited failable quests that have a push and pull effect on your reputation with various regions/factions and their friends/enemies, which in turn affects how both potential quest givers and the general populous treat you. It's harder to get information when people don't like you (and there's no Bribe option to easily max out someone's disposition), and sometimes quest givers just won't talk to you, but that's okay because the world is big enough so you can look elsewhere for things to do if you don't want to work at repairing your reputation. You don't miss out on anything gameplay-wise -- you won't be blocked from going through the Fighter's Guild while Wayrest doesn't like you, for instance.

We see Skyrim try to add back in the regional bounty system, and while it's better than nothing, the compressed map size does kind of highlight the ridiculousness of the regional size. No matter what you've done, just walk down the road for a couple minutes and no one there will care. Survival mods also basically give your character narcolepsy who has to constantly be stuffing their face with food because of the 30:1 timescale (if you want a somewhat realistic 'two or three meals a day, sleep once every day or so').
Capostrophic wrote:
27 Jun 2018, 10:56
Procedural generation was used for Oblivion's map. It didn't work that well.
I would say that's because of Oblivion's map design, not the procedural generation (just to be clear for anyone who may not know, procedural generation doesn't mean completely random; there's still one or more designers giving the general layout and fiddling with various knobs and buttons to produce a desired output, and then getting that output into the game). In Oblivion, you had three biomes -- a mountain range in the north and east, plains in the west, then forests everywhere else -- all compressed into a relatively small world space. Additionally, the map was purposefully set up into a bowl shape, which made it so you could basically see the whole province regardless of where you were, and had White-Gold Tower smack dab in the center acting as a guide post regardless of where you were. It was impossible to get lost, and only a few places really offered anything interesting to look at. This wasn't the fault of procedural generation more than it was the designer not having it generate interesting things because of the predetermined size and general layout. It doesn't help that the engine wasn't really well-suited to having interesting terrain -- rivers were all but impossible, lakes and other bodies of water were limited due to a single fixed water plane per cell, and cliffs weren't something it could handle without objects being placed in the world. These could've been handled better if the engine was given the capability, but it wasn't.

Given a larger map with more biomes, a better general layout, and improved terrain capabilities, procedurally generating Oblivion's map would've had far better results. It should be telling that Oblivion's dungeons, all hand-made, didn't fair much better in terms in blandness. Procedural generation isn't a magic bullet, it still requires work. The resulting quality is a reflection of the effort put into it.

I will say that since they were already working with procedural generation for Arena and Daggerfall, and had plans to both continue improving it and expanding its capabilities to also do dynamic story elements, it's not as if it wouldn't have gotten better with what was originally planned for Morrowind and subsequently Oblivion. However, as another video by the same person goes into, the change with Morrowind had a rippling effect that put the series on its current course (and the increasing successes of Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim is telling them they're on the right track, even if that success is influenced by other factors rather than just the games' designs).

Posts: 19
Joined: 11 Apr 2018, 06:29

Re: Original Concepts for Morrowind

Post by Rovlad » 28 Jun 2018, 09:28

Chris wrote:
27 Jun 2018, 22:55
Additionally, the map was purposefully set up into a bowl shape, which made it so you could basically see the whole province regardless of where you were
That was also done to simplify setting up the navgrid for AI pathfinding.
Case in point, in Skyrim, where the landscape has more variance in height etc, the AI is even easier to abuse than in Oblivion.

Post Reply