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Why Konrad Tomaszkiewicz is wrong about Skyrim being generic

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In a recent interview, Konrad Tomaszkiewicz uttered the most jimmy rustling sentence that I’ve ever heard spoken in regards to gaming. “Skyrim is generic.” The game director for the upcoming third installment of The Witcher series also claims that there is zero immersion into the world. Non player characters don’t respond the hero’s achievements and the quests in general were reused and fell into a repetitive rut.

Right off the bat I am going to say that I am a massive Elder Scrolls fan, so I am biased. However, I have played The Witcher 2 and have no ill feelings toward the game. It played well and had admirable voice acting supported by equally admirable writing. The combat felt a little shifty and far more complex than it needed to be, but it got the job done and offered a variety of options to appeal to several different play styles. All in all, it received the acclaim it deserved. I just want to establish that The Witcher 2 was by no means a bad game. We loved the game here at OnlySP, giving it a 9 out 10 so were certainly are not bashing a great title.

CD Projekt Red claimed that they turned to Skyrim early on for influence on the upcoming title. However, with everything that the game designer is saying in regard to his time with Skyrim, I can’t help but feel that they either misinterpreted or flat out missed the point of the game. I refuse to read his statements without thinking he’s just chest beating to conjure hype for his next title.  In the wake of the Colonial Marines disaster, I have taken a stand against believing promises from developers. There is just no way you can responsibly say that Skyrim was generic.

Geralt_Triss_Vernon

Mr. Tomaszkiewicz goes on to say They don’t get very good characters…I tried to remember 5 characters from Skyrim…and I can’t. Creating characters that players can attach themselves to is a time tested way for developers to really suck the player into the story. The Elder Scrolls has never held your hand in attaching you to a character. Your bond with the NPCs is measured by your choice to involve yourself with them. There have been so many times where I’ve seen Lydia fall to her knees and caught myself with crossed fingers, hoping the blow was not mortal. But the thing is, just having Lydia accompany me was my choice. I could have left her in Breezehome. Or I could have just never told her to follow me in the first place and left her at Dragonsreach.

Perhaps Konrad Tomaszkiewicz didn’t care to involve himself with the characters of Skyrim; I can’t know for certain. I can however speak on the characters of Witcher 2. I find it amusing that he claims that the figures of Skyrim are forgettable because, aside from the protagonist, the only character I remember from Witcher is Triss. Even then I can’t help but believe the only reason I remember her is due to the raunchy sex scene. Well, that and because she’s a redhead. That’s pretty shameful considering The Witcher 2 is vastly more story driven than the free to roam about approach in Skyrim.

As for his remarks regarding NPCs not acknowledging my achievements? I suppose he’s right. Apart from the time that Irileth continued commenting on my defeat of my first dragon, post story scripted dialogue. Or the time that the citizens of Riften acknowledged that I had aligned myself with the Thieves’ Guild. Or the time the people of Whiterun reminded me to put on pants before leaving the house. Or the time…

Skyrim-5

It’s the clear that the main issue this guy has with Skyrim was his level of immersion. For me, immersion is all about option. I feel more part of a world when I’m not bound by predetermined paths, invisible walls, and limited amounts of side quests. None of which are present in the past three Elder Scrolls games. I guess Mr. Tomaszkiewicz is just using his obviously shallow experience with vanilla Skyrim to rile up the crowds for The Witcher 3. Besides, it’s not like Skyrim was a big enough hit to spawn thousands of fan created mods, making the fifth installment of the Elder Scrolls series one of the most potentially immersive games I’ve ever played.

You can hear all of Tomaszkiewicz’s comments here.

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14 Comments

  1. Im sorry but skyrim was generic as hell Generic combat,generic story,generic characters, BUT it had great sound design,world, and monster design. but god its inventory system SUCKED so many damn menus still i don’t remember a single person or character from skyrim but i remember caesar from Fallout NV and THREE DOG AROOOOOOO from Fallout 3. XD Skyrim was generic there is no sugar coating it but it was fun. In short Bethesdas huge worlds make up for its generic combat.

  2. No offense, but anyone who tells anyone else that their OPINION is wrong needs to learn proper social skills. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and telling someone that their opinion is incorrect is about as egotistical as it gets. I have every Elder Scrolls game (even the floppies for Arena), so I’m not biased against Skyrim. I personally found Skyrim a bit repetitive and bland, but I thoroughly enjoyed it all the same. But I totally accept that it’s not the same experience for every person. I am, however, biased against people who think it’s important to tell other people they aren’t entitled to an opinion

  3. The only thing that isn’t generic about Skyrim is the world and the whole exploration aspect. The combat is boring as hell after the first few hours, the characters are boring and forgettable (you mentioned Lydia, yeah she might as well have been voiced by Kristen Stewart), the story and writing isn’t very impressive and the difficulty is either boringly easy or frustratingly annoying the overhyped dragons come to mind with their completely retarded decisions to fly off and attack a cow mid-combat.

    To be honest I’ve no idea why I actually enjoyed Skyrim, but that doesn’t mean it’s not generic. Not to mention dumbed down to hell, the inventory comes to mind (kind of backfired there a bit, didn’t it?).

  4. I wish to clear a few things up since I was not very precise with my intentions in this editorial. If anyone reads this and feels it is an attack on Mr. Tomaszkiewicz, I assure you it is not. I in fact look forward to what he has planned for Witcher 3 in hopes of one upping Skyrim. I’d also like to say that he is indeed allowed to take away whatever experience he wants from any game. Thats part of what makes gaming so unique. Everyone will have a different opinion about whats put on the table. That being said, I’d like to remind readers that this is an editorial, and therefore is a reflection of -my- personal thoughts and opinions.

    Despite my obvious bias towards Skyrim and my jab at Triss being the only memorable part of the Witcher 2, I’m not measuring the worth of Skyrim versus the worth of Witcher to the gaming community. Both were equally good in their own realms. Before these statements were made, I would have never even felt the need to compare the two. My issue here was that all of the points Mr. Tomaszkiewicz put out seemed the opposite of what the game actually delivered on a -factual- level. NPCs did in fact give commentary in direct relation to my recent accomplishments, for example.

    Lastly, I would like to say that if you compared Skyrim to every other Bethesda game, you’d be right to say that there is clearly a repetitive formula that’s being revisited with each installment. The combat has hardly changed since Morrowind and the -script- behind the characters is often only ankle deep. I’d like to re-point out that Elder Scrolls games have never been about the main story or even the scripted dialogue with the game’s inhabitants. You have to put in the effort. You’re obviously not going to remember a character that you immediately dismissed to go raid a dungeon. Bethesda doesn’t want to mess with what they know works, I guess.

    However, I’ve been playing a LOT of RPGs for a LONG time. I have distinct memories of playing D&D: Eye of the Beholder when it debuted for PC in 1993. Ever since then, if I tallied the number of games that played more similarly to the way the Witcher games have played, and did the same for -every- Bethesda title, I’d assure you I’d come up with a far greater number of titles that more closely resembled the former with regards to combat, character progression, story progression, and level design (with further regards to the formula of linear city-invisiblywalledmarshland-city-invisiblywalledplains-city-etc. I’m not really explaining that well but hopefully you get what I mean.)

    Once again I apologize for not being clearer in the article. I’ll definitely be buying Witcher 3 on day one regardless, as due to my compulsion to play role playing games. I merely felt, based on an interview that I did not conduct, that Konrad Tomaszkiewicz formulated his opinion after missing out on the subtleties of Skyrim. Which to be honest are what make the game unique. That’s what I intended for you readers to absorb. If despite the article and everything I’ve said here, you still feel that I need to “learn proper social skills” and that I’m “as egotistical as it gets”, I’d like to refer you back to the last sentence of the first paragraph of this reply coupled with the second sentence of Mr. Blayne Watt’s reply above.

    Cheers.

  5. I’m gonna toss my hat in the ring and say pretty much every western RPG out there is generic. I challenge you to name one that has a strikingly original story, visual style, or doesn’t fall back on fantasy tropes like orcs, elves, dwarves, wizards, generically dressed warriors/barbarians, dragons, and whatever else has already been done a bajillion times.

    And you know what? That’s ok. Tropes like these become popular because they work well when properly used, and there’s a certain set of expectations that RPG players have when approaching these games. Even films/TV shows/books like Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, and practically every fantasy novel out there falls back on genre conventions, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be masterfully done.

    Remember; it’s not about originality, it’s about making the best overall game you can.

    1. mass effect….but not an RPG anymore but ME1 still counts as one.

      1. I meant fantasy RPGs, sorry for not specifying. XD

          1. Dark Souls is not a Western RPG, nor did it have a real plot. The significance of events were implicit and left to the player to interpret. Fit the familiar RPG formula to the “T”. You’re not going to find a completely “original” RPG unless you travel back ten or fifteen years. Just remember, “original” and ” not generic” are not synonymous. Developers have figured out what works and are sticking too it.

  6. You’re damn wrong. I was also excited about Skyrim’s aesthetic, but in terms of gameplay there is NOTHING that exemplifies “generic” better. It is pure generic, and that’s the whole “point” of the game, which is supposed to make it “not” generic, except that it does, because you know it would be nonsense if it wouldn’t. It is a game about quantity above quality, everything about it except for the graphic models is completely unimaginative with no effort other than to produce lots of it. I thought I could have liked it and be immersed in it nonetheless, but no, it is the same as Oblivion. It has even a generic quest generator! Gamers are so bloody hopeless, they will never get the most obvious things and always just “like” everything and immediately defend it as the most amazing thing ever….

  7. Well, by definition, Bethesda games cannot be generic. They really drive the industry. Oblivion set a whole new bar for graphics in RPGs. Yes, the game was very poorly coded, and there were boring dungeons, boring cities and some boring NPCs. Here’s the thing though, they release toolkits, quite powerful (you still need like $3000.00 dollars of legit software to fully mod Beth titles), but gamers can change that world in some amazing ways precisely because it is such a blank slate. You cannot reasonably change a whole lot about the Witcher because it is a strictly narrative product.

    So, I take his point, and though I really don’t like Bethesda, he was wrong to criticize Skyrim in this way.

  8. Generic? GENERIC? I can think of countless reasons for why Skyrim is anything but generic however I only need to prove it on one, so I will. The storyline. Okay, so there were dragons…in a medieval setting..and there were Nords. Simple, right? Just like everything else, right? WRONG. All you have to do is take time out of your dungeon raiding to read some of the books to appreciate all of the intricate story behind EVERYTHING that is going on. There are even books interacting with previous storylines from previous elder scrolls games. THAT is how seriously Bethesda takes their storyline with their games. It isn’t just a game. It’s an entire world they created. They made a novel that people could PLAY. And then they wrote additional material just to add to it. Also…what about that entire language they created?! In addition to specific accents of the races, histories of the races, languages of the races, even special INSULTS pertinent to specific races. With Skyrim, they created an entire new 1,000 years of history. They might as well have their own Elder Scrolls encyclopedia. And seriously.. What game pays such attention to detail that they incorporate entire RELIGIONS into the game?! The dunmer have ashrams to store the sacred ashes of their dead?! And believe in spiritual transmigration?! I mean come on people, generic? Really? Obviously all of you must have been just running amok following the arrow to the next main quest, skipping all dialogue, and were completely oblivious to the world surrounding your character. Any person who plays a game like Skyrim CHOOSES their level of immersion. If you explore then you’re rewarded. If you expect to have everything thrown at you, you’ll receive a shallow experience back. Serves you right.

  9. The director of Skyrim himself (Todd Howard) even basically said their game was generic. “we want to make the best stealth game, the best rpg game, the action game, the best magic game and roll them into one”.
    Don’t get your panties in a bunch for saying something is, what it is.

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