Saturday, 11 January 2014

A Serious Case Study of an Insidious Illness

I'm on a bit of a roll here so I want to take a moment to talk to you about what I call...

The Lazy Bethesda Syndrome.

Now, we have played and loved a lot of RPG games over the years, from Neverwinter Nights to Oblivion to Fallout 3 and more. But these games all have a remarkable flaw which you'd think would rob them of some of their acclaim. This flaw is so outstanding, so ridiculous, so incredible, that it's amazing so many people overlook it.

They look like shit.

I'm not even comparing them to modern games, I'm comparing them to the mods that were available for them within three months of release.

The hair models were atrocious - Oblivion had the particularly egregious problem of the hair being literally separated from the scalp, visibly, and most of them had little to no animation of hair, and awful clipping problems with longer ears being cut in half by the hair model or longer hair disappearing into the tops of the shoulders when characters looked around. This looked AWFUL and was a constant irritation.

The clothing models were often just as problematic - I've been playing Oblivion a lot recently so it's gonna receive a lot of the flak. Quivers. You know what I'm talking about. They hover behind your character at a distance of about six inches. Apparently, all quivers are by their nature enchanted to hover near you when equipped.This is so awful and could have been handled by tossing in a couple of if arguments in the code (I think. Correct me if I'm wrong.).
Like, if light armor then quiver closer to body if heavy armory quiver further away. This is incredibly simple logic.

But the huge number of flaws and glaring errors and hideous screw-ups in armor, hair, and clothing models aren't even the worst problem. The worst problem was...textures.

The hay bales often had a finer, smoother, more vibrant appearance than hair textures did. The skin! Oh god, the skin! Either some sort of awful matte mask, or a super-shiny ultra-reflective surface that really seemed like it should have blinded the NPCs.

Oblivion, again, gets a special mention for the lady beards. Way to be lazy, developers. It was impossible to make a Redguard woman whose lower face did not appear to be solid blue or orange. Garish.

The reason I call this the Lazy Bethesda Syndrome is that I primarily associate this kind of horseshit with their game studio. Vastly superior low-resolution textures and low-poly models were often released within literally weeks of the release of a new Bethesda game, which looked way better AND improved game performance.

Who are you hiring, game studios? You should be hiring from modding sites.

Until next time,

K.H. Gray

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