Matt Chat 118: The Dagger Has Fallen and It Can't Get Up!

Matt Barton's picture

This week, I finally get around to retrospecting Bethesda's 1996 masterpiece Daggerfall, the game that for many fans is still the best ever Elder Scrolls game. While not without its share of bugs and interface issues, it's still a terrific achievement and demonstrates the possibilities of procedurally-generated content in CRPGs. Just don't make the mistake I did of not checking ALL the options for keyboard and mouse. :)

Still, the resulting misadventures are pretty darn funny.


Download the mp4.

Comments

Rampant Coyote (not verified)
Oh, wow...

Man, now I feel an incredible urge to play Daggerfall again.

I actually beat that game. Well over a hundred hours in, and they had some bizarre-friggin' environments at the end (in Oblivion or something like that?). After a while you really got to know the mad-libs templates for most of the quests, but it was a lot of fun for a while.

Plus there was always the feeling that as huge as the world was, nobody could possibly have seen everything... and it was quite possible that you'd discover some dungeon or something out in the boonies that nobody - even the developers - had ever entered. Which probably explained some of the bugs. :) But of all the algorithmic-world RPGs I've played, this one was by far the most interesting.

clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
Couple things stuck me when

Couple things stuck me when watching that.. A game i really enjoyed, and even played a couple times. Im sure its a long time since I played it last.. It really looks dated... But that is to be expected. The cumbersome interface really sticks out, something I didnt remeber.. but the biggest thing. That game felt much like Coyote said.. was so huge.. undiscoverd stuff at every corner.. but today.. lookibng at it.. it looked so bland. Its very unfair for me to say that after playing modern stuff, but it really struck me. I think maybe as I loved the game so much and its been so long since i looked at it. I think as its one of my top games of all time (in memory) maybe im just dispointed it didnt live up to those memories.. I looked much better in replays in my head. The towns seemed more "lived in" just a wierd dispointment.

With that said I still think it was one of the greatest RPG's ever made.. The cockie cutter story 99% of hem used.. it was here.. but this game gave you so much lee way you could create your own story. I was Indy... of he Fantasy times.. exploring looking for my treasures.. not to share.. well except wenches and ale.. The game just seemed limitless when i played.. and now.. not so much.. but it was still awsome to see again... Bittersweet feeling.

Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
I hear ya, Clok. I didn't

I hear ya, Clok. I didn't play this one back in the day, even though some of my friends had it and would tell me stories. I KNOW it was a great game because, as I've said earlier, they didn't speak of other games with that same reverent tone. People who were lucky to be able to play Daggerfall in its glory back in the day all loved it; it was downright magical. In their heads it became a masterpiece. I remember one guy that contracted the lycanthropy (werewolf) disease...For him it was a transformative moment. He probably still talks about that with the same tone that somebody might talk about being touched by Christ!

In retrospect, though, I've gotta say I don't know why (outside of nostalgia) someone would prefer this to Morrowind. I DID play that one back in the day and enjoyed it, though even it had the same annoying problems with the skills (as did Oblivion). In principle it makes perfect sense--you want to level, pick a set of relevant skills and practice them--but it just doesn't work out so well in, er, practice.

As for me, I've pre-ordered Skyrim and hope that it's at least as good as Morrowind. Probably won't be, but I can hope. If they could somehow capture the magic of Daggerfall in a modern interface, I'm sure I'd be in hog's heaven.

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Jonas (not verified)
Daggerfall

I remember read about Daggerfall in a game magazine when i was 15 years old, the article was very long preview of Morrowind and the guy say: "blah blah...but my first love was Daggerfall: I spent hundred of hour with my horse and travel all along High Rock, i have a coleccion of books with forgottens legends and houses in almost all the big citys, mi reputation in some places is bad and I have to waith after midnight to climbing the walls and then enters the towns"
That article blow my mind "You can do all that things in a game? No way!", I ask a friend to dowload the game and see if was real all that hype. Yeah i Know, it was piracy but in 2002 buy a game online in my country (Argentina) was almost a fairy tale.
Weeks pass and my friend give me a copy of the game, first encounter with Daggerfall was the compativility, lucky me I still have my old all mighty pc a Pentium MMx 233 and 32 MB of RAM.
A nice introduccion with real actors (a lost art that games have forgot for bad), the creation of character all very generic...and then the first dungeon...the horror. I took me weeks to exit that little place!, and then to find the "door" of exit (it was a skin in the wall and not a door like other parts in the dungeon). I was almost to quit the game when finally I found the holly exit, to see the rain and the sky in the screen was a bless.
I press the "M" key to see the map, and then my world change forever: my warrior wood elf travel all along the map, my merchant skills was high enought to make a profit and have a house (you have to be millionare to have more than one). I complete quest of diferents guilds but never make the main quest.
In total I spent 1 year of my life in Daggerfall, and I never regret it!

Rowdy Rob
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Joined: 09/04/2006
Great episode!

I liked the amped-up humor in this episode. "More rats than Pizza Hut" indeed! :-) It was humorous, but not crossing over into "Angry Videogame Nerd" type of schtick.

It seems that the follow-ups, "Morrowind" and "Oblivion," are also considered classics. Are there any plans to cover these games as well in the future, or is this your singular foray into the "Elder Scrolls" universe?

I went ahead and downloaded Daggerfall off of Bethesda's website after viewing this episode, but after viewing the "Skyrim" videos there, I had the strange compulsion to reinstall "Oblivion!" Perhaps it's because, as awesome as Skyrim appears to be in the promos, Oblivion doesn't actually look that far behind it, gameplay-wise.

I recall giving up on "Oblivion" after tediously wandering around a town looking for a particular person to complete a mission, but perhaps it was just my mood at the time. After watching this episode, I'm now in the mood for some "Quake-style" CRPG'ing! But after viewing the "Skyrim" promo videos, I'm less inclined to play "Daggerfall" now, especially after seeing how much trouble you were having with the interface.

Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Interface Issues
Rowdy Rob wrote:

I recall giving up on "Oblivion" after tediously wandering around a town looking for a particular person to complete a mission, but perhaps it was just my mood at the time. After watching this episode, I'm now in the mood for some "Quake-style" CRPG'ing! But after viewing the "Skyrim" promo videos, I'm less inclined to play "Daggerfall" now, especially after seeing how much trouble you were having with the interface.

To be fair, I missed part of the interface options. I figured out how to reset the keys to let me move around using WASD, but assumed there was no mouse look. However, under mouse options, you can set it to "view." Of course, then you can't access the other stuff (map, journal, etc.) without either memorizing the hotkeys or toggling the view mode with the ENTER key. If I'd know about this beforehand, I'm sure my experience would have been MUCH smoother.

However, I have to object to the people bashing me over this. The fact is, it IS buried in the options menus, whereas it should have been there by default. The way I'm playing the game is apparently how the designers INTENDED it to be played, since they made the other stuff optional and not at all obvious, especially to newbies.

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
BASH!
Matt Barton wrote:
Rowdy Rob wrote:

I recall giving up on "Oblivion" after tediously wandering around a town looking for a particular person to complete a mission, but perhaps it was just my mood at the time. After watching this episode, I'm now in the mood for some "Quake-style" CRPG'ing! But after viewing the "Skyrim" promo videos, I'm less inclined to play "Daggerfall" now, especially after seeing how much trouble you were having with the interface.

To be fair, I missed part of the interface options. I figured out how to reset the keys to let me move around using WASD, but assumed there was no mouse look. However, under mouse options, you can set it to "view." Of course, then you can't access the other stuff (map, journal, etc.) without either memorizing the hotkeys or toggling the view mode with the ENTER key. If I'd know about this beforehand, I'm sure my experience would have been MUCH smoother.

However, I have to object to the people bashing me over this. The fact is, it IS buried in the options menus, whereas it should have been there by default. The way I'm playing the game is apparently how the designers INTENDED it to be played, since they made the other stuff optional and not at all obvious, especially to newbies.

mess with the Cult of Daggerfall you will be BASHED!!!! the game is beloved.. :)

clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
BASH!
Matt Barton wrote:
Rowdy Rob wrote:

I recall giving up on "Oblivion" after tediously wandering around a town looking for a particular person to complete a mission, but perhaps it was just my mood at the time. After watching this episode, I'm now in the mood for some "Quake-style" CRPG'ing! But after viewing the "Skyrim" promo videos, I'm less inclined to play "Daggerfall" now, especially after seeing how much trouble you were having with the interface.

To be fair, I missed part of the interface options. I figured out how to reset the keys to let me move around using WASD, but assumed there was no mouse look. However, under mouse options, you can set it to "view." Of course, then you can't access the other stuff (map, journal, etc.) without either memorizing the hotkeys or toggling the view mode with the ENTER key. If I'd know about this beforehand, I'm sure my experience would have been MUCH smoother.

However, I have to object to the people bashing me over this. The fact is, it IS buried in the options menus, whereas it should have been there by default. The way I'm playing the game is apparently how the designers INTENDED it to be played, since they made the other stuff optional and not at all obvious, especially to newbies.

mess with the Cult of Daggerfall you will be BASHED!!!! the game is beloved.. :)

Hammer
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Joined: 03/23/2008
Ranting
Rowdy Rob wrote:

I liked the amped-up humor in this episode. "More rats than Pizza Hut" indeed! :-) It was humorous, but not crossing over into "Angry Videogame Nerd" type of schtick.

I agree, I just had to post to say that I really enjoyed all the ranting, side jokes, etc in this episode, especially during the FMV sequence. :)

Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Thanks
Hammer wrote:
Rowdy Rob wrote:

I liked the amped-up humor in this episode. "More rats than Pizza Hut" indeed! :-) It was humorous, but not crossing over into "Angry Videogame Nerd" type of schtick.

I agree, I just had to post to say that I really enjoyed all the ranting, side jokes, etc in this episode, especially during the FMV sequence. :)

Thanks, Hammer. It's been a tough week so far, good to see some support coming through.

I think there are groups of hardcore fans out there for most of the games I cover. These guys are usually feeling pretty defensive, I guess, convinced that their chosen game or franchise is unfairly passed over or criticized by people who just don't know any better. I can't think of any equivalent group for other media, though I guess there must be people out there who get very upset if you don't agree that their favorite movie or band is the best-ever. In short, the only way to make them happy is to convince them that you know their favorite game by heart and also love and respect it as much as they do.

I'm of course a very diverse gamer and do have genuine affection for most of the games I cover, but I just can't fake it. Not every game I "should" like clicks, even when I myself agree that, on paper at least, everything looks great. There's just some X-Factor that a game either has or it doesn't have. Games like The Witcher and Daggerfall, now. I can APPRECIATE them. I can RESPECT what their designers tried to accomplish. But a game either grabs me or it doesn't. I try to keep an open mind, discounting things like the tech of the time, etc., but if I'm still "blah" after 5 hours...

I'm very torn about what to do. Just stick to games I genuinely love? Cover games that people request me to cover, and try to fake loving them? "Tear into" games I don't like, exposing what I see as flaws and angering their fans?

On an unpleasant note, my donations have reached an all-time low with the Chris Taylor interview and now the Daggerfall retrospective. I'm going to have to do something else to earn donations or cancel the show.

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