Friday, September 7, 2012
Oblivion Mod Review - Windfall
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Mod Review - Windfall (ver 1)
Summary: Worldspace and quest. A lot of annoying elements.
Why Get This: Quests to do, new worldspace.
This is a large and promising mod with a lot of little quests to do. Unfortunately, it is badly written, which makes it annoying to play through.
++ New worldspace (island) and a lot of quests.
+ Quite a few quests that don't emphasize killing or simple "Fedex" style delivery/fetching.
-- Extremely implausible situations. For example, you can stumble onto the supposedly highly secret smuggling route and locations of the "Righteous" faction, and even encounter their key leaders. And they don't even react to your intrusion. Instead, you can talk to them just like anyone else. You can find the leader of the rebels but you can't report your find to the authorities even if you are working for said authorities. There are really so many of these, and some are so bad, that this is worth at least 2 strikes against them. In fact, this is the main reason I dumped the mod without finishing it.
- Too much unnecessarily juvenile dialogue. For example, if you talk to the locals about Windfall, sometimes you will get their opinion. But there is also a good chance you'll get something inane like, "Yes, this is Windfall. Haven't you figured it out?" Or while you are on an intelligence gathering mission, some of the conversations you get are "Shoelace untied -- Made you look."
- Easily broken quests. If you find the skooma-smuggling operation on your own, you can pick up the skooma lying around (WHY such valuables would be carelessly dropped and lying around is just another implausible situation in this mod). If you are later tasked to discover the route, you will no longer have the skooma to pick up and you cannot finish the quest.
-- Some quests are very badly written with no quest markers, leading to a lot of wasted time figuring it out. It's not automatically a strike against a mod to not have quest markers. But when a modder deliberately omits quest markers, then their instructions, objectives, logic, and scripting must all be impeccable. Not so here.
For example, if you join the authorities, you will be tasked to gather intelligence. The quest update says you have discovered a skooma-smuggling operation, and that it would be even better if you knew the route. You can discover the route on your own before or after this quest update. However, you are not credited for it when you report to the quest-giver about the skooma smuggling. Instead, the person will say that your information isn't worth as much because you don't know the route -- even if you do. You are then tasked to find the route, but you must do it in a specific way with specific checkpoints done in a specific order -- which defeats the whole idea of not having quest markers.
Quest markers help you script a quest without having to cover every contingency. When quests do not have markers, you can no longer expect someone to do the quest exactly as you want it to happen, because they can have a perfectly reasonable way of going about it.
There is a quest to find a missing painting. At some point the trail directs you to talk to people who may have seen the warehouse workers who were supposed to bring the shipment containing the painting from the ship to the warehouse. The warehouse owner sent 2 persons. 4 showed up at the ship. Can't we just ask the warehouse workers who the other two were? No. That would be too straightforward.
You can ask around town, but no one can give you any useful information (not even the sailors at the cargo ship or anyone at the warehouse). The person you have to ask is the stationary guard outside the Jail. The problem is, if you ask at the wrong time of day, the guard gives you the same response as every other guard -- his route is a patrol and he didn't notice anything. You can ask all off-duty guards and they will say the same. So a plausible conclusion is no one saw anything useful.
The "correct" solution is to ask the jail guard between certain daylight hours. The correct guard is still a generic guard with no name, but stands in a slightly different location. Like the other jail guard (the one who told you his position is a patrol), he doesn't move. Why you would even ask this guard when you have asked every guard, on or off duty, is questionable.
Suppose you did happen to ask him at the right time. He will say that he saw 2 workers slack off early.
Why they would be allowed to "slack off", much less with a crate of cargo, is not explained. You are not told where they went from his location, so somehow you have to infer that they exited through a particular city gate. A broken crate and a note will now have appeared outside the city (why wasn't it there before?) explaining the "correct solution" that is so implausible for various reasons, some of which we have already mentioned.
When you have quests with no quest markers, then you have to do things the Deus Ex way -- set the quest objective to be something at a certain location, and allow the player to use any approach that works to get there -- instead of a specific sequence of actions that you think is the only solution plausible/possible.
If you have OCD and absolutely must finish this mod, you can try this forum for help.