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MMO Money Magazine

Writings on the business of fun: Virtual Worlds and Real Money Makes Online Gaming a Big Business. My economic view on the world of online games - without the hype.

Author: Inktomi

Off the Grid: Playing Skyrim with The Immersion Rule Set.

Posted by Inktomi Tuesday November 15 2011 at 4:08PM
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With full knowing that Skyrim is not a MMORPG, I do think the subject content fits though.

Long ago a fellow blogger created a nifty set of rules that would truly raise the immersion level of MMORPG's. Recently with the release of Bethesda's blockbuster fifth installment of the Elder Scrolls Series: Skyrim, I decided to dig them out and apply them.

Here are the full set of updated immersion rules.

So with all that being said, let me get on with how I first sat down with Skyrim. After reading the posts and getting feedback from my friends over in Kangaroo-land, I began to get the feeling that Skyrim will have a lot larger scope than most rpg's. Possibly the most in any franchise, speaking of depth, I feel that Skyrim has more than most MMORPG's I have recently played. Asking myself, how am I going to go about it? Am I going to run with the herd and level fast, get all skills maxed fast, best armor and weapons in the game, finish main quest, dark brotherhood, mage guild etc...

No, I'm not going that route, not this time, not ever again.
With that decision being made, I wondered how I was going to go about it. Do I just level slowly and take my time, walking everywhere and completing one quest at a time? Then I stumbled across a recent post somewhere nameless and it detailed playing Skyrim in something called "Hardcore Journal Mode." Meaning that you write your backstory along with daily progress in a physical journal; also good for jotting notes and keeping maps etc. The post also detailed no fast travel, cheat codes or mods. Then it struck me to dig into my link bank and pull out the ole' Beau's (Turkey) immersion project guidelines.
Every single one of them could be applied in one shape or form. No fast travel is a given, even though its very easy to click on an area discovered and just zip there,  I have been walking everywhere with my trusty sidekick NPC. Although the chat rule of no realism doesn't fit into a roleplay scenario, it doesn't mean I have to sit and talk to myself in character but I do take the time to listen to every NPC's story. Fully hearing out and actually reading quest dialogue. I have the urge to PRESS X AND LETS GOGOGOGO, but I am not. I have learned a lot more about the larger picture of the state of Skyrim as well as small side notes about the people and towns within it. I also take the time to chat with NPC's  that make remarks in passing.
Realistic trade works great here as every NPC has a limit of how much gold they have, so if I dump a mass of stuff on them I might tap out all my gold unless I buy stuff in return. Leaving me with an overloaded inventory, but also makes me think about how important some of these nonsense items we collect that are just going to weigh me down aren't worth it. This includes the books, but I am a sucker for grabbing every single book I see. And speaking of books, actually taking a minute when I have downtime, possibly in an inn, to browse the ones that I have hoarded. You can find some really interesting stuff in them, you will recognize a few of them from Oblivion, but there are many new ones as well. 
I turned the floating quest guider off, but I am still using the map. I have 2 physical maps, one has no marking on it and I have been referring to that mostly unless I am trying to find a specific place. I do explore much more of my surroundings and landmarks that appear on the hud displays compass which leads me into some interesting situations. I took a few deaths in doing so and makes progress slower, but adds so much more to the immersion factor. 
No mods, not now, not ever on the PS3 version that I selected as my first go round. After the mod community has settled in with the new SDK that Bethesda is yet to release, then I will make my necessary upgrades and go get the PC version. Yes, I am going to own 2 skyrims. One will be my Vanilla version only, possibly my honest playthrough, then I will have my mad scientist version that will get modded to the teeth over time, just like my Oblivion and Morrowind was. I might actually be able to get enough immersion mods to create a really hardcore version of Skyrim that will add a realistic hunger and thirst to the game.
That reminds me, about food and drink: take a second to eat an apple ingame if I am having a snack in reality. All this dungeon delving can really work up an appetite. I also gave my NPC comrade at arms some food to hold, whether she eats it or not is her choice, not going to force her. That could also be another option for the modders to look into, imagine having another mouth to feed!
The weather and day-night system is one of Bethesda's strong points. The weather changes frequently, sometimes even violently in Skyrim, so if I get stuck in some downpour or a snowstorm, I will seek out some shelter and wait it out. Only sleeping during the hours of 11pm to 8am keeps me out of the night so I can travel in the day. Face it, who would realistically begin a long journey in the middle of the night in the rain unless they didn't have to? Or unless they were up to no good.
Speaking of no-good-nicks, I haven't found the Dark Brotherhood yet, but have heard of the thieves guild in a town that I am in now. I have decided not to go off too much of the beaten path and sticking with the main questline unless a small sidequest is interesting enough or close enough to make some coin off of.
The writing so far for the game has been top-notch and the story is engaging. I have been forced to walk across large parts of the map to accomplish these goals. I can tell you that I have already put some hours into Skyrim, and haven't really begun to scratch the surface. Sometimes the game feels so big that I get overwhelmed by playing it under these conditions, but it's not about beating it and putting it on the shelf, then crawling the internet for the next new, new thing. It's about enjoying a game to its fullest and having a truly great escapist experience. Isn't that why we play these games?
The "Official Hardcore Journal and Immersion Rule Version" of Skyrim is working for me so far. I am really enjoying this game and can see myself playing it for a really long time. This might become a standard in my gaming now, having gotten sick of playing as some newer MMORPG's have been fashioned. RUSH-RUSH LEVEL TO CAP THEN RAID-RAID-RAID GET PHAT LOOT AND ROLL AN ALT...
No thanks that way of playing has gotten old and leads to a high burnout rate. This way of playing is what you can call, "stopping to smell the roses." So instead of wishing this was an MMORPG, why don't you go out, buy a notebook, start writing and play the game the way its supposed* to be played. Not all the rules may be for you, but try a few out and see how you like it.
I would like to give big thanks to BT, or as he's now known as BH who writes the Rise and Shiny article on
Play safe,
*IMO Only.