Y’know, as much as I praise Skyrim, that’s not to say there aren’t problems with the game. I’ve yet to play a game that didn’t have something that bugged me, no matter how much I liked it. Whether it was the zero gravity controls of the Mako in Mass Effect, the out-of-character-ness of watching my female gangster watching strippers in Saints Row 2, or the grind of Resonance of Fate, there’s always something that crops up every now & again to ruin my fun. And Skyrim is no exception.
But it’s not the bugs or glitches that, well, bug me. Yeah, it’s annoying to have to reload because a cutscene didn’t trigger properly. But in a game this big, some problems are bound to come up. So long as Bethesda keeps working on updates, I can tolerate it.
No, the thing about Skyrim that bothers me the most is also one of the things that make the game so enjoyable: the people of Skyrim. As colorful & interesting as they are, that blasted Radiant AI causes me more headaches than anything else. It’s certainly better than Oblivion, but there are some things that just keep coming up that bother me. So you can consider this a rare rant session.
- Haven’t you ever heard of personal space? This is probably one of the first things you’ll notice about the AI when you start exploring towns: everyone talks to you. And I don’t mean when you actually try to interact with them. I mean just when you’re walking by. I’m not sure of what exactly it is, but there’s a distance around the NPC’s that if you get into they’ll throw out some random line at you. Even if they’re the ones who walked into you. Even if you’re talking to someone else (which usually includes pushing you around in your conversation-comatose state). It’s okay at first, like when you enter a new town. But after a while you’ll start hearing the same lines repeatedly. This is something that, unfortunately, was carried over from Oblivion. Also carried over is the fact that characters will comment on your abilities. I find this very odd, because how would you know those things just by looking at someone? Some of the common phrases I hear are, “I’ve heard about you & your honeyed words,” “I find your wolfish grin… disturbing,” & “Keep your hands to yourself, sneak-thief.” And yes, I have heard them so many times I can say it with them.
- Get out of my house! This is sort of a carry over from the previous complaint. If you walk past someone & trigger their random line while going through a door, they will follow you through. It doesn’t matter if it’s a shop, a tavern or your own house. This happens to me a lot on Whiterun, because there always seems to be someone near Breezehome. My usual reaction is to turn around & tell them, “You shouldn’t be in here,” like they tell me if I go in their houses. Of course I know they can’t hear me, but I’m prone to talking to my TV when I play games. The very worst offender is that annoying Battle-Born brat. The scene always plays out the same way: she’s running one way, I’m running another. I pass & she stops to tell me, “I’m not afraid of you… yada-yada-yada” as I’m going through the door. Then she follows me in & finishes her line. Kid, you’d better be glad I can’t kill you (360 version) because I so would right now.
- Thanks for that… This is specifically a complaint I have against Followers. Now, I give Bethesda credit; they actually made Followers useful enough that I tend to keep one with me unless I plan to do sneaky, illegal things. I like having a tank to soak up damage for my assassin. But they can be more trouble than they’re worth sometimes. My specific complaint is them always setting off traps. I have the perk that I no longer set traps off, but Lydia doesn’t. And unfortunately, the AI’s pathfinding isn’t a point-to-point match to mine. Meaning even if I walk around the trap, chances are Lydia will just walk straight onto it. So she typically ends up sending rocks down on me or setting off fire traps while in combat. The absolutely worst case was while I was traveling to Sky Haven Temple. Eventually you reach an area where the floor is covered in pressure plates & you have to go across the room while stepping on the right ones to deactivate the trap. As I said, I don’t set off traps. But I forgot about Lydia. The giant fireball that hit us had me running for cover & to get her away from the traps. But she just kept stepping on them & burning herself. Then she’d stagger & crawl towards me, setting it off again!
I’m sure every player can make a list of random bugs with the NPC’s as well. I mentioned in a previous post about a bug that happened after I stole a horse in Riften & gave it to a Dunmer. I later found him at the Whiterun Stables embedded in the ground from his waist down. I recently ran across the man again in the same place, but now there are three of him. One is still embedded, while the other two just stand there staring at him. I might just have to kill him… er, them… to put them out of their misery. And although I haven’t tried it out myself, I know you can place buckets or baskets over characters’ heads & they can’t see you. But as hilarious or inane as this may be, I don’t consider this to be a bug. The AI detection works by being able to see your character. Cover their heads &, just like a normal person, they can’t see. So it ends up being a little stupid but impressive at the same time, from a mechanical standpoint. I think it’s a much better system than the AI psychically knowing when I’ve taken their things.
I’m not a programmer by any means, & I’m sure that programming AI is hard, but these are just constant, nagging complaints. If you’re playing Skyrim on the PC, I’m sure that there either are mods to fix these things or there will be. Right after modders finish making characters nude or adding breast physics. You know, the important things!