It has now been over four years since Daggerfall's release. As quickly as
computer games come and go, I have been surprised and delighted to find that
gamers all over the world are still discovering and enjoying it. If
my e-mail is any indication, the fascination with Daggerfall transcends national
boundaries. Gamers from Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, France, Spain,
Argentina, the Czech Republic (I still want to call it Czechoslovakia --
call me old fashioned), England, Norway, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and
China (to name the ones I can remember) have written to rave about the game
and/or the site.
Recent questions have concerned the next installment of The Elder Scrolls,
"Morrowind". I have not been keeping on top of developments at Bethesda
(getting married does that to you), but here is what little information I
there was some Morrowind artwork floating around at about the time of Redguard's
release. Being cursed with a very slow Internet connection at the time,
I did not pursue it, but there used to be a link at the official Redguard
site. Perhaps it is still there.
Morrowind was supposed to be on a "two-year development cycle" (Bethesda's
description). The last I heard (and this was a comment from someone
at Bethesda that was forwarded to me), it is scheduled for release in 2001.
Morrowind is supposed to be a full-blown RPG, as compared to the single-quest
adventures like Battlespire and Redguard.
Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine. I think I can safely make
a few prognostications (that's a two-bit college word that means "wild-ass
guesses") about it:
the story will center around something in the province of Morrowind;
there will be a lot of Dark Elves running around
you'll be dealing with swords, spells and armor as well as the occasional
critter that thinks your character looks a lot like lunch;
you will be able to pick up some money and magical-type items along the way;
the programmers will try very hard to close up a lot of the "holes" that
I've described in Daggerfall (i.e., you probably won't be able to gain levels
by sitting in your tavern room and casting spells and stores will really
close for the night);
the game will have hardware requirements that translate into buying a new
computer before I can play it;
a lot of people will complain that it doesn't work;
having worked with Bethesda as one of the testers for "Redguard", I think
I can safely say that Bethesda will do everything possible to turn out a
game with a minimum of bugs/undocumented features -- except for a few "minor"
problems with driver incompatibility (one of the advantages of a lower-end
machine is that you don't have to worry about whether the newest high-tech
gizmo is compatible with the game or not), "Redguard" was one of the cleanest
games I've played in a loooong time and, frankly, the alpha version of "Redguard"
was cleaner than the v.213 of "Daggerfall". Don't write off the whole
series because an earlier game was buggy.
after contacting tech support, a lot of people will find out that they have
to turn the computer or put the CD in the drive in order to play the game.
Within the framework of TES, I can also throw out a few hopes for Morrowind:
I hope they keep the item/potion/spell-makers. These were great ideas
that were a tremendous addition to the game. Generally, they worked very
well without seriously unbalancing the game (the low-level character with
a gazillion gp's acquired through "Midnight Adventurer's Supply" being the
I hope they expand the Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood and do something
with the Necromancers Guild. The glimmerings of an extensive underworld were
there in Daggerfall (you'll find them in the text.rsc file) and the Necromancer
in "Redguard" was truly delightful (what race was he/she/it, by the way?).
Take those ideas and really implement them.
I hope they make the dungeons smaller. The idea of using modular dungeon
construction was inspired, but the dungeons were WAY too big for what the
player was supposed to accomplish in them. For the opening dungeon, Privateer's
Hold was about right, but it would have been a little too small for a normal
quest. Something in-between would be much better.
On this same topic, I hope Bethesda provides a few clues about what dungeon
items do. The Mantellan Crux was a wonderful dungeon, but it took a lot of
lever-pulling and running around to see what happened or opened. Sentinel
(for the Lich's Soul quest) was essentially a binary combination lock with
an outrageous frustration factor.
I hope they keep the "open-ended" feel to the game. The faction-quests (guilds,
merchants, nobles, etc.) were wonderful concepts that generally worked very
well in execution. A suggestion: provide a mechanism for player-generated
quests. Sierra, in "Caesar III", provided an editing utility whereby players
could create scenarios. A similar utility would probably go far in keeping
player interest at a high level (there are one or two for Daggerfall, but
their workability is kind of "hit or miss" as they were created by reverse
engineering the game's quest-handling code).
I hope they either refine or get rid of Vampirism and Lycanthropy. The ideas
were wonderful and well implemented, but there were not enough consequences
to counter-balance the benefits. They simply made the game too easy, especially
for a low-level character. Perhaps increasing the amount of damage a vampire
takes in sunlight/holy places and eliminating the Hircine Ring?
I hope they fix the "Spell Absorption" ability so that it works consistently
in custom classes.
I hope they refine the interactions with NPCs. The dialogue concept was
good, especially the "rumor mill", but the NPCs had no personality. The
NPCs in Redguard definitely had personality, but I think it would be a
programming nightmare to carry that out to a full-blown RPG.
I hope they either do something with the concept of languages or drop the
idea entirely. Language skills in Daggerfall were just about useless.
I hope Bethesda makes a ton of money on it so we can start begging for TES4.
I hope they let me write the official hint book. (I asked and got "we'll
get back to you", which is usually a 90's way of saying "go away, kid. You
As for what will actually happen, I guess we'll have to wait for 2001 to
find out. But don't let me see you in line in front of me when it's time
to buy the game or I'll have to have Guido rearrange your kneecaps.