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The Literary Merit of Morrowind 41

Gamers with Jobs has a piece looking at the literary achievement that is Morrowind. The author discusses the depth of Elder Scrolls III and contemplates the upcoming release of the fourth game in the series. From the article: "It comes down to this: In spite of my having devoted dozens of hours to conquering its enormity, I have only ever scratched the surface of Morrowind, the previous game in the Elder Scrolls series. I am frankly unprepared to move on to any further games in the series, knowing that there remains much to do in the previous installment. And with your permission, I would now like to inflict my piddling insecurities upon you, if only for a short time--after which, feel free to remove the wax."
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The Literary Merit of Morrowind

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  • Huge Big Game (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TomHenderson ( 458210 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:41PM (#14894266)
    I'm still in the first 1/3 of Morrowind, and enjoying it. I actually find the enormity of the game freeing--I'm gonna be playing this sucker so long, I don't feel any need to upgrade to an XBox 360 (or bigger PC) to take on Oblivion. By the time I "finish" Morrowind, Oblivion's going to be in the discount bin, or on the Platinum list.

    It's kind of like the Everlasting Gobstopper of video games.
    • Re:Huge Big Game (Score:5, Interesting)

      by caffeination ( 947825 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @06:10PM (#14894508)
      Morrowind reached the point of obsession for me. I built a beautiful thieves guild mod with hidden trapdoors to hideouts in each guild, plus a nice little extension to the balmora guild. My specialty was stealing. I stole everything, including that stupid heavy hammer that's of no real use whatsoever. I used to love coming up with newer and cleverer ways to steal. I used stealing to build a character with bought training, just to experience the parts of the game I was less interested in earning, and even that was worth it.

      Even today, all this time later, I could easily fire Morrowind up and play it. I still do from time to time, but only on the Xbox since I moved 100% to Linux on the PC. I've even done the hacks necessary to run mods on the Xbox (if you're thinking of doing this, be aware that it does hurt framerate - they optimised the Xbox version quite well).

      Only problem is that with so much intimacy with a game, you really start to see the flaws, and they really dig into the suspension of disbelief - Morrowind has some major freaky stuff that you don't notice at first. Even so, enjoy it while it lasts man, Morrowind is one of the best games I've ever played.

      Just don't get into the vain habit of giving a shit about Tamriel Rebuilt. Those guys are extreme addiction cases.

    • And then you have those who "finish" it in less than 10 minutes... []
      • I'm aware that you have the quotation marks around 'finish', but it's barely "finishing" the game at that. To beat the game, you must fufill the prophecies, find the Moon-and-Star, unite the Three Great Houses under one banner, and the 6 Tribes under one tribe, then destroy the Heart of Lokhran and Dagoth Ur (I never understood the Heart part in the story, must not've been paying attention.)
    • Both of the expansions are better than the main game, both in terms of gameplay and story (as far as the main quests in each goes, anyway). Make sure you play them, too.
    • Morrowind was (is), in a way, the best game I've ever played. Its graphics were occasionally on the lame side, its fighting ridiculous and its AI borderline retarded, but all these things paled in comparison of... of... of what Morrowind

      It's hard to explain. Perhaps it was just the idea that you lived in a world where you could almost literally do anything... assassinate random people and run from the guards, become a vampire and live outside of society, steal everything that's not nailed down (and
  • Actually, (Score:5, Informative)

    by Odin_Tiger ( 585113 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:47PM (#14894326) Journal
    Actually, the books in Morrowind can be quite entertaining. And if you're too lazy to hunt down all the parts of a series, you can always just open up the construction set and copy the text from there into your favorite editor (though I personally was obsessive about collecting things every time I played Morrowind.)

    Or, if even that is too much effort, this [] is a good site with the text of most / all books from the game available for your browsing pleasure.

    'The Wolf Queen' is probably my favorite series from the game.
    • by Cheapy ( 809643 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @06:50PM (#14894826)
      I do not remember the specifics of the Wolf Queen, but my favorite books were the "Lady Tressed", "Hunger", and the one about 'Shoot higher master! Shoot higher!" that gave +1 to Marksmanship. There was also the Fishystick book that you needed to be on the Forums (before they went Bad) to understand. That was worth a laugh.

      I guess professing that I have favorite books within a video game will mean that I'll never reproduce, but hey! I'll have oblivion to carry me thru those moments that I could be having sex.
      • Another vote for the "Shoot higher!" book.

        The one where the thieves get eaten was funny, too.

        Barbarian ABCs would be up there, if they'd actually done the whole alphabet.
        • Barbarian ABCs would be up there, if they'd actually done the whole alphabet.

          I think it's rather funnier as-is.
        • The one where the thieves got eaten was "Lady Tressed." They snuck into the castle, and seperated and were caught.

          And eaten.

          Another one I liked was one that had a Redoran warrior who was born immune to blades think he was invincible. He then started to rise thru the House. However, someone decided to fight him...and beat him senseless with a stick. Can you say Macbeth?
    • The fourth wave of attackers approaches. Go forth, and conquer them!

      I'd actually rather go fourth. Somebody else can be cannon fodder, thank you very much. :)
  • by Tibor the Hun ( 143056 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:57PM (#14894417)
    Why do none of the major gaming sites never mention Daggerfall? (ES2)
    Sure it would randomly crash upon walking through doors, but it had boobies!!!

    And for that reason, isn't walking into a tavern room to find a nude lady in it the most awesome thing that can happen in a game?
    I wonder why no normal games have more casual encounters with nude NPCs?
    • boobies... and horses, houses, and boats you could buy. and a lot more intuitive quick travel feature. those are good, too.
    • by Tetris Ling ( 836450 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @06:18PM (#14894574)

      My outstanding memory of Daggerfall is finding out it had corrupted all of my save games after an all night session with the game. After I stopped screaming, I booted up the game again, and started playing a new character.

      Not many games can have you coming back after that kind of abuse.

      • daggerfall had all the best bugs, actually.
        I had a character that would level up everytime he slept, which was rather fun at the beginning, but got horribly annoying since you couldn't quit the point attribution screen unless all points were spent. Kinda hard to do when you have maxxed everything. ;-)
    • My own experience with Daggerfall was that of disappointment. I had played Arena way back when, and looked forward to the "immersive 3-D experience" followup, but the huge, sprawling and randomly generated dungeons were way too easy to get lost in (even with the auto-map) and even after three system upgrades, including faster and more capable videos cards each time, I still fell through stairs on an alarmingly regular basis.

      Daggerfall had a far more sophisticated story than anything else available at the t

    • I wonder why no normal games have more casual encounters with nude NPCs?
      well, to be fair Morrowind *had* casual encounters with nude NPCs. It's just that all of them were male =D
  • by shoma-san ( 739914 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @06:11PM (#14894522)
    "In spite of my having devoted dozens of hours to conquering its enormity, I have only ever scratched the surface of Morrowind..."
    That's why I don't eat at buffets.
  • by ZJVavrek ( 952066 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @06:20PM (#14894591)
    The article writer says that we've only just scratched the surface of Morrowind. Uh, sure, maybe that's true for him. While I personally got bored of the gameplay style and mentally cracked the system the game ran on (it became no fun to play the game. I still love the setting behind all the Elder Scrolls games, though), this is not true of a friend of mine.
    This friend has, over the years, systematically worked through every aspect of Morrowind, Tribunal, and Bloodmoon. He's downloaded mods, made them himself, and played all he can. If you ask "But how? Morrowind is teh hueg!", well, the man started back when the game came out. Bloodmoon's been out for what, 2.5 years now?

    The article's author is content with Morrowind for now, but for all us veterens who have been waiting for the next installment, Oblivion will "be like a fresh drink of water" (In the words of another friend.)
  • Details (Score:5, Insightful)

    by syylk ( 538519 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @07:26PM (#14895101) Homepage
    I think this is one of the best games ever.

    The graphics, hm, maybe. The freedom, yes, interesting. The depth and complexity, again, is only a brick in a larger wall. The usual "gamer values" all apply to this title, no doubts.

    But still, what I found really astonishing during countless hours in Vvardenfell was the literature: the raw amount of "things to read" is per se staggering, but has also what I consider an extremely well done achievement, and done particularly well in Morrowind.

    Every event of history has been recorded with the "natural" bias and spin of the writer and the faction recording it. It's filology and storiography at its best, and the authors needed to take uttermost care in proposing different viewpoints on "facts" that are invariably narrated by a biased narrator.

    All the major events of the plots are written down in at least a couple of factions' "official version". And if you listen to each faction, each and every one of them is deeply convinced that their official version is THE only reasonable version.

    And IMHO to discover what really happened is the true quest of the game. Deciding who's right and who's wrong. Or who is enough right for you to follow and enough wrong for you to fight against, is in itself a breathtaking experience. Like in real world, you have views on facts, never raw facts, to help you form your own opinion on what's your duty to accomplish.

    I think this aspect alone - very often misunderstood and underestimated by gamers and reviewers - is what makes me put TESIII:Morrowind on the pedestal of best game ever.

    The rest of more mundane achievements, technical or strictly gameplay oriented, are minor compared to this aspect, merely functional, if you wish, to the presentation of a world where the Truth is never only one.

    I'm very, very glad this game and its expansions still work decently on my aging linux+cedega rig. Till I bought cedega, I kept a win partition only for it.
  • Hard to Top (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bahwi ( 43111 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @08:16PM (#14895494)
    Morrowind was great, huge, with lots of flexibility. I know others were good too(daggerfall), but Morrowind was just amazing. I've spent hundreds of hours playing it. I feel like oblivion will be cheating on Morrowind.

    I have done everything I've wanted to do set in Morrowind. I've done the whole vampire thing, the werewolf thing, lots of mods, lots of mods not loaded at all, all different types of stuff, all the guilds, none of the guilds. Way too much, and it was great.

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI