Tuesday, August 07, 2012

How Bethesda could have resolved so many Skyrim glitches

Skyrim's a big game so sure there are going to be a few things that remain untested - it's difficult to predict that a player may find a way of unbolting a door from the wrong side or approach an area from over the 'impassable' mountains and thus negate and balls-up a huge chunk of quest storyline. I'm not going to talk about that it's the stuff Bethesda should have been able to test and more importantly could have got right before the game even shipped by changing how they handled quests.

There are a few notable quests that glitch but I'll deal with two biggies, see if you can spot the connection and suggest the solution before I give it.

First off the Riften Skooma Quest. This is an important quest that will lead to the ability to purchase property in Riften and head up the Thieves Guild. It's surprisingly easy as well - simply head to Cragslane Cavern and kill all you find there. What could go wrong?

Well if you're travelling by foot to explore all those locations in the world chances are you've passed the Cavern on the way to Riften and already cleared it out when the guard outside attacked you. Except that doesn't count. You've been instructed to clear an area that you've already cleared out.

Second is the Darklight Tower Repentance Quest. Enter the bottom of the tower and meet with Illia who asks for help in clearing out the tower and killing her mother. Don't worry they're all evil so it's okay. Except again if you're coming from another quest it's possible to reach the top of the tower before the bottom and kill 'mother' before meeting Illia. You now have a quest to kill someone already dead.

Seeing the connection? Here's a simple bounty quest "Kill the giant at Tumble Arch Pass" though it could be in a few places. Again already killed. Visit the area and the marker points to where the giant was standing and it can never be completed.

So the solution that Bethesda should have done? It all lies in how the game handles 'cleared' areas. Return and, although you won't face any unique enemies again, after a period of time generic ones will move to fill the area (sometimes). In game-speak the areas respawn enemies after a variable time-period.

In other words there's a built-in method to drop specific enemy types into a re-loaded location. So when a quest is handed out,feature buil if that area pertaining to said quest is marked as cleared set that area for an instant respawn  Cleared out the cavern, no worries get the quest and the cavern will repopulate. Told to kill a giant? Ping! Respawned giant.

Even better this method can be used with quest objects - don't spawn the objects until the quest is given. There are several quests that bug because you're already holding the object they're about to ask you to find.

The joke is that they've already used this method for some quests. A specific object was dropped into a chest I'd already cleaned out; I just went back and got it. So why didn't it get used for all quests? I'm guessing with such a large team some handled it in different ways to others and this 'better' method didn't get circulated - points to bad team management here.

So yeah thanks to that I have three quests I can't complete, and one that's going to take around 210 in-game days to resolve all because a lot of the quest setters at Bethesda didn't click to using the spawn/respawn features built-in to the game.