Friday 27 June 2008

More proof of the versatility of 'Obilivion'

The main point of this post is to link to Christopher Livingston's highly entertaining travel-blogue which is based around creating a character and role playing him as an NPC in the world. The travel-blogue is called 'Living Oblivion' and he uses a bunch of mods to starts his character Nondrik in the port town of Anvil (somewhat reminiscent of Morrowind) and roleplaying as an NPC, Livingston refuses to run to destinations or to use the quick travel feature, resulting in what must be a very leisurely pace at times.

An extract from 'Day 19 & 20' of the Travel-blogue:

I’ll be honest — walking everywhere and never fast-traveling isn’t… easy. The click of my mouse could instantly transport me to any city in the game. Sprinting would decimate my lengthy travel time. There are long stretches, like today, where I’m not attacked, there are few ingredients to pick, and not much of anything interesting to look at, and I think, man, why the hell am I playing like this?

But at moments like this it somehow feels worth it. In other playings of this game I’ve spent days, weeks even, in Imperial City. I know it inside and out. I barely even look at the city, I just zip there, run to the merchants, unload my junk, and dematerialize to my next location. But playing as Nondrick has restored a good deal of majesty and mystery on Imperial City, and catching a glimpse of it through the trees, seeing it grow closer and larger each time, is a bit of a thrill.

Oh, also, for a little bit of contextualisation, Chris Livingston is the guy who wrote, posed and print-screened 'Concerned: The Half-Life and Death of Gordon Frohman' which is a must read for anyone interested in the Half-Life universe.

Also, just wanted to give a heads-up for a post I'm working on "What Videogames have can learn from Digital Musicians" which is hopefully going to explain how I went from a Digital Musics major to a videogame theoretician (if I can even really call myself that...). I've got some interesting ideas, so I hope people will come back for that next week. Until then!


Anonymous said...

Ha! I'm really enjoying that Livin' in Oblivion blog. Thanks for the link.

I have to disagree with you, though, that it shows off the versatility of the game. It seems to me that, even with his realism mods, he's running up against immersion-breaking experiences at every turn -- the highwayman who ignores him one day and robs him the next, the mudcrabs and wolves that have lockpicks embedded in them, the place names that pop up via "Spidey-sense" before you see a sign or anything, etc. More than anything, it reads like a wry commentary on the futility of role-playing in computer games.

Still, the guy is a hilarious writer, and I love Oblivion, so it's a great read. :)

Ben Abraham said...

Ah, Dan... your perspective is, of course, correct. I guess what I was picking up on was the fact that this whole exercise is only really possible because the world of Oblivion is a flawed (as so often pointed out) simulation. Could you imagine trying to perform the same exercise in something like a Final Fantasy game? It would be almost impossible to try and live as an NPC...

Actually, I think I'd love to be contradicted on that point - I think someone eternally grinding mobs in one or two zones could maybe also make for an interesting narrative if someone as talented as Chris Livingston was writing! Think an ever more and more frustrated Tifa/Aeris/Barrett while cloud resolves to make his fortune in the slums of Midgar... =P

Now if only I had any skill at all at writing for comedy!

Fashigady said...

That would be an awesome idea! And just think; if Cloud never left Midgar, you'd never get to the second disc, and Aeris would NEVER HAVE TO DIE. :P

Anonymous said...

Well, I think you have the right idea on this project, and I'm just being nitpicky. :) There are few games where this sort of experiment is even a possibility, immersion breakers or no. Oblivion has one of those worlds that's just fun to be in, regardless of what you're doing in the game, and Chris has picked up on that and is taking it to its logical conclusion. Good on him for doing such a great job with it.

Worse than living as an NPC in FF7: living as an NPC in Super Mario Bros. You just walk back and forth between two giant green pipes, forever and ever...until someone comes along and kills you. It's a metaphor for life, you see.

Ben Abraham said...

Oh Dan, that's the best idea yet! You'd better act on that profundity before someone else grabs it and runs with it, stealing all your thunder. ;-)

Fashigady said...

living as an NPC in Super Mario Bros. You just walk back and forth between two giant green pipes, forever and ever...until someone comes along and kills you. It's a metaphor for life, you see.

Sounds almost 'xkcd'esque. I can almost see the green pipes, the brown goombas, the black stick figures...