Monday, March 27, 2006


First of all, I need to apologize to my wife. Since I purchased Oblivion for the 360 last week, it's all I talk about. She's so sick of me talking about it, that when I do, I need to preface the discussion with a guarantee that I won't talk about it any more on that particular day. I've also been bad about stopping play at the appointed time so that she and I can watch TV or do whatever. It's getting to the point where I need to set the clock in the basement to be 10 minutes ahead, so that I can stop playing on time.

I haven't been sucked into a game so completely in a really, really long time. Sure, I've played a lot of games where I look forward to playing them, or even think about them a little when not playing them, to work out a particularly engaging puzzle or situation, but this game has seeped into my soul. I think about it constantly. When I'm not thinking about it, I'm discussing it with folks online. When I'm not discussing it, I'm reading different tips about it. Basically, when I'm not playing it, I'm just looking forward to when I can play it again. It doesn't help that I haven't played a good RPG in a while. It also doesn't help that I have a limited amount of time to play each night (usually around an hour) and that my alotted time goes by in the blink of an eye. What I need is someone to pay me to play the game all day. Then I'd just be upset that I had to stop to interact with my loved ones. Curses! There's no winning!

It's just that the game is so damn good. I mean, it's a really impressive piece of gaming, both in design and implementation. There's so much to do, and there's no rush to do things, so you can just hang back and take care of whatever you want to. Granted, the lack of a rush does seem odd, as the basis of the story is that your world is facing some unspeakable evil that you are now instrumental in stopping. To be given such a responsibility and then, upon emerging from your first dungeon, get sidetracked by picking flowers seems odd. I'm not complaing, as I like picking flowers, and have even come up with my own version of V8 (tomato + potato + leek + carrot = a restore fatigue potion), but it does seem strange. If you're a real go-getting kind of person, you can save the world first, and then make juice drinks, but I'm just not that kind of person. My badass lizard dude needs to get down with his botanical self before he takes on saving the universe.

So far I've joined the Thieves Guild, have joined the Mages Guild and am trying to join some wacky Brotherhood that likes killing people in their sleep. Kind of like the tooth fairy, where they take lives instead of teeth and leave misery instead of quarters. They may leave misery and quarters, I don't know. I haven't read all of the brochures yet. In looking at my Gamer Card, it would appear that I also joined some sort of fighting Arena, which I only vaguely remember. I should probably look into that. I'd hate to be on the Homecoming committee or something and not know it. I refuse to make banners.

Based on my decision to surround myself with thieves and murders, you can tell that I'm going down a darker path than usual. The thievery isn't anything new, as traditionally, I strive to lighten the pockets of my neighbors, but killing people in their sleep is a recent development. I find that being evil provides me with a lot more leeway in how to get things done, which can lead to some interesting situations. For example, currently I'm under contract by this crazy dude who thinks that his neighbors are spying on him. He approached me, and not wanting to turn down an opportunity to fleece an obvious lunatic, I entered into his employ and spent some time watching his neighbors. The local militia also approached me about turning this guy in, in the event that he asked me to do anything nutty, but where's the fun in that? When I report back to the guy, I lie and tell him that his neighbors are, in fact spying on him, as it gets me paid, and it gets me more work. The problem is, is that now he wants me to go and kill one of these folks. I don't have a problem with killing people (in the game people, in the game) but I'm starting to get a little annoyed at being this guy's lackey. Plus, the last thing I need is for him to hire someone to come after me. I may just turn him in after all. Either that or I'll pick a fight, put him down and loot his corpse. I haven't decided yet. Had I been a good, upstanding member of society, I would have turned him in the minute he opened his mouth, which would have been a lot less interesting.

I should admit that I haven't been playing in a totally honest manner. There's an exploit in the game that can net you a substantial amount of cash, if you're content to spend 20 minutes furiously mashing a button. You also have to be OK with breaking into someone's house at night and killing them, so those roleplaying good characters need not apply. I'm not one to cheat in games, usually, except with FPS's, and then it's to hurry up and get the game over with so I can see how it ends, and not so that I can try and brag to my friends that I beat Doom 3. They don't care, and neither do I. Oh sure, if I get stuck in a quest, I'll go online and see what I'm supposed to do, but using such an exploit to obtain such riches is not something I've done before. The reason I did it is to buy my way out of my obsessive compulsive behavior. When I play these kinds of games, I will take everything that isn't nailed down, in an effort to hoard as much money as possible. Invariably, I end the game with more money than I could ever use, but the compulsion remains. This also has the effect of causing me to continually head back to town so that I can sell the 5 pairs of clogs I found in some random crate. By having a nice nest egg at home, I can ignore the 3 bolts of cloth at 1 gold piece each, or the green shirt that would fetch a hefty 3 bucks. Don't get me wrong, I still loot for weapons and armor, as that shit is money, and I still steal everything I can get my hands on, as that helps me in the Guild, but now when looting corpses, I can avoid taking every last piece of clothing and at least leave them with some dignity. Them and me. The nice thing about the game, is that the merchants won't sell you an uber weapon if you're not the right level to handle it, so even with tons of cash in the bank, you're still limited to pretty basic stuff until you get farther in the game, and by then you would have had enough money to buy it anyways.

I hope that this initial burst of frantic activity and love isn't just because the game is new, and won't turn into tedium which then causes me to never finish the game. I tend to think not, as the game gives you glimpses of what you can do if only you get better at making potions, or stick some more zombies with arrows. At the very least, I can see the game being one that if I do get bored, I can put it down and then pick it up 3 months later and have it feel like an entirely new game, due to all of the quests I haven't done. Whatever happens, I need to make sure I stop talking about the game, as if I don't, Linda is going to kill me, and then how would I play it?


Scott said...

Great post. You did justice to my own feelings regarding Oblivion. It does have a tendancy to consume one's soul rather completely.

I actually took most of last week off from work so that I could play. I just hit level 16, I've been at it for about 56 hours... Yikes.

Bones said...

I finally broke down after all the reading I've been doing on XBLF. I spent about 3 hours on it tonight, the first of which was just creating my character, Batte Ma'nn. I play these game just like you, I'm currently carrying about 15 skulls, some bones, 8 lbs of rat meat, several cups and vases, some lettuce, etc. I have no idea what I'm supposed to do with most of this yet, but it asked me if I wanted it, and I did.

Capt Crash 31 said...

My life is over.... please foward all of my mail to the world of OBLIVION

k o w said...

What scares me about this game is that I think about it when I'm not playing it.

suburbanjoe said...

Bones, if the stuff you have on you has no value (skulls and bones) don't bother carrying them around. You can't use them for anything other than decoration. The other stuff you can either sell or eat.

Keg, I think about this game constantly. I swear, if I gave my life as much thought as I give my Oblivion life, I probably would have worked out the answer to all of life's problems by now.

Scott, thanks for the compliment. You are truly hardcore.

Crash, I'll take the PO box right next to your's. :)

Bones said...

Woah! I can use the skulls as decoration? I'm guessing in a house whenever I get to the point to where I can buy one? My house is going to be freakin sweet! Everybody will pass by in fear, "That's where Batte Ma'nn lives, those are the skulls of his, run for your lives!!!"

suburbanjoe said...

Yep. Buy a house and you can fill it with whatever you want. Spoons, skulls, potatoes, whatever floats your boat. I don't think you can fill it with boats though.

Greg said...

Yeah - my wife is also named Linda, and she also has been getting annoyed at my continued forays into the world of Oblivion. The sad thing is - I wish I had more time to play the game. Best game since Ultima V!