Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Skyrim and Philosophical Introspection

As I mentioned in the previous post, my interest in Skyrim is waning quickly.

I still don't think it's a bad game... it's just missing too much without proper mod tools.

The other day, I trashed the save-set I'd been playing on since first running the game. It clocked some 85 hours and change. The saves weren't corrupt; none of the game was "broken" (at least, any more so than it's supposed to be) -- I had just reached the point where I didn't want to play on any more.

Had explored some 85 - 90% of the game map; done dozens of quests, still had dozens active. Main quest wasn't played much, The Companions and the College questlines had been abandoned from lack of interest; Thieves Guild was done (and good riddance), and Dark Brotherhood untouched.

So, the game was hardly unplayable; nor any faction reactions destroyed, or anything like that.

In nearly any RPG I find my first game is a throw-away. I waste so many perks/points/whatever figuring out which skills work for me and which don't that my character ends up with a slew of useless skills that I never end up using. This proved true in Skyrim, where I wasted numerous points on things like Destruction, Light Armor, and Lock Picking.

Compounding the annoyance of this 'flawed' character was the facegen results I ended up with:

Even by male character standards, far from my best work...

...very far.

It got a bit better when I installed skin and eye texture replacers, but the face was just too far off, and ShowRaceMenu works in Skyrim about as well as it did in Oblivion -- which is to say it fucks over your character's skills in ways both random and most impressive to behold.

Loathe though I was to throw away 85 hours of play, I decided a fresh start would be best.

Even with the improved textures, I found little more luck with the facegen the second time around. Instead, I swore, decided to hell with the cries of 'crossdresser' and kicked the option over to female.

I then proceeded to smoothly and comparably quickly turn out this gorgeous and dangerous looking thing:

...I'm a bit of a sucker for facial scars on my warrior women. Gives them that veteran look, in my opinion. I had considered adding 'war paint' on that side, with the story that she wore it to cover the scars (Moe! Kawaii! And other annoying shit); but then I thought harder and reminded myself whatever I chose would be for the whole game, since face paint can't be removed or changed. After the SuCK is released we'll probably see equippable face paint, but I'm not aware of any existing right now.

Still not my best work... but to be fair, I've done things with NPC faces in FO3 that I'll probably never be able to top; and this character doesn't exactly have custom textures designed specifically for her, either. Vanilla hair could be better, too.

The ease with which I threw this girl together made me stop and ponder.

I've always had problems creating even moderately attractive males in any Gamebryo based game. Conversely, attractive women are pretty easy for me to turn out.

This made me wonder: is Bethsoft really half-assing the males as badly as it looks to me like they are? Or rather, is the issue that I'm not attracted to men?

I can easily picture an attractive woman in my head; I know quite readily what I like, what I think 'works' for whatever particular look I have in mind, from cheerleader to evil overlord-ette. Eyes, nose, mouth, ears, jaw, hair styles... it all flows pretty easy.

Attractive man? Insert the sound of crickets here. I draw a complete blank. Only even moderate success I ever had was in Oblivion; and there it's pretty easy to turn out guys with girl-faces... so I'm not sure that one counts.

In those "show your character" threads over on the Nexii forums, I've noticed plenty of people who don't seem to have this problem... but I also notice that they turn out characters who -- even matching their own gender -- are heavily idealized. Tell me to picture an 'ideal man' and again, I draw a blank.

I'm hoping that the SuCK includes a proper face editor and the ability to set NPCs as presets; since the chargen editor in-game is... decidedly limited. I can tell this game was made for consoles.

The one real boon in the whole thing is that the game isn't really gender sensitive -- character interactions, followers, and even marriage all seem to ignore gender. Nice that they finally figured that out. Now if they just added a 'wedding night' cutscene.

...What? I'm not asking for porn, here -- a Dragon Age-esque cut that doesn't actually show anything would be fine. I just think it sucks when games want to be adult, but then refuse to show any affection whatsoever between characters. It's like watching an R rated movie on basic cable -- by the time they bleep the profanity and cut out the sex and more severe violence... what's the point?


  1. I've read several threads on the Nexus Forums (and even participated in one for some unknown reason) on the topic of why males like to run female characters. I'm of the opinion that it's perfectly normal to want to spend a hundred hours of gameplay looking at a character that you find attractive as opposed to one that you don't. In those forum threads they always question the sexual preferences of these male players and throw around Freudian theories, but not once has anyone ever mentioned that the male facegen process is lacking despite the fact that it is indeed. I've found this to be true in the game editors as well. Just look at my RR Scouts: except for shuffling around facial hair and hairstyles, there were actually only a few male face types that I found acceptable.

    TL/DR: I think you've hit upon something here that frankly I'm surprised hasn't been complained about more regarding the previous games. But I've noticed that criticizing Bethesda or Steam is practically an auto-ban on the Nexus these days, so perhaps that explains some of the silence on this topic.

  2. 'Tis true, the male presets seem to be rather unappealing. It does make one wonder about what, if anything, was going through the dev's heads when they designed them. I agree that it is most likely one of the main reasons so many male players go with female characters. That and they are bigger pervs than I am...

    I can understand your scrapping your initial play through Nos. I think the first few attempts at playing either Fallout and Oblivion (not to mention NWN) have never made it to the end. It takes a while to get a good enough feel for the game that you end up being comfortable enough with the system to make better choices in your advancement.

  3. Ditto on the initial playthroughs. You gotta get used to the controls, combat systems, etc. before you can start a serious campaign in any game. And yes, having cool mods helps too.

  4. Like I said, Oblivion had some variety... but the Fallouts and Skyrim only seem to have one or two male faces; and the rest is just different hair and/or facial hair.

    But yeah, I know better than to go to the Nexus forums and bring the topic up. It's become the socialist PC ideal -- no insults of anyone permitted... unless you'd care to insult file authors who actually upload things and produce something. Then you're welcome to do it all you like.

    I found that taking the Warrior Stone after getting out of Helgen and concentrating on combat skills made a huge difference in the early game. I was able to breeze through things that were ordeals the first time.

    Also: I miss Jordis. Lydia still sucks.

  5. I have to wonder if the (probably male) devs have the same difficulty making devastatingly handsome males.

    Not that I'm any better, all my characters are female. Gives me that Charlie from Charlies Angels feel ;)