Elaini Aug 7 @ 5:45am
Skyrim game graphics vs. design
Warning for fanboys and -girls: "speaking my mind, not trolling" -post!

Skyrim graphics have gotten a lot of comments, but sometimes I have to wonder whether by "graphics" the actual graphics are meant, or the game design.

I have to agree that the grapcis are lovely to look at, in function. Physics engine works like a dream and metal, stone and gems look real, and light behaves in a realistic way on them. The only thing missing is soft physics for cloth and hair - the kind of engine that Arkham City or Mirror's Edge has.

However, it's the character design part that doesn't always fit to my taste.

For example, let's just say that some elves in Skyrim are plain ugly - in my own eyes, mind you. I know for sure that I can't speak for everyone there. But I'm apprently not the only one having this opinion. "She's an elf." a boy said playing my Skyrim and I've heard his dad responding "Really doesn't look like one".

Anyway, discuss the game graphics vs. design.
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Zefram Cochrane Aug 7 @ 5:52am 
Originally posted by Elaini:
Warning for fanboys and -girls: "speaking my mind, not trolling" -post!

For example, let's just say that some elves in Skyrim are plain ugly - in my own eyes, mind you. I know for sure that I can't speak for everyone there. But I'm apprently not the only one having this opinion. "She's an elf." a boy said playing my Skyrim and I've heard his dad responding "Really doesn't look like one".

Subjective. Since elves don't exist for real they can be what whatever anyone, Bethesda included, wants them to be.
Elaini Aug 7 @ 6:01am 
Originally posted by Zefram Cochrane:
Originally posted by Elaini:
Warning for fanboys and -girls: "speaking my mind, not trolling" -post!

For example, let's just say that some elves in Skyrim are plain ugly - in my own eyes, mind you. I know for sure that I can't speak for everyone there. But I'm apprently not the only one having this opinion. "She's an elf." a boy said playing my Skyrim and I've heard his dad responding "Really doesn't look like one".

Subjective. Since elves don't exist for real they can be what whatever anyone, Bethesda included, wants them to be.
That they don't exist is also subjective. There are still people who believe that they exist, consider that certain places shouldn't be disturbed for them (such as mounds or forests) and some claim that they have even seen them or that they can be called.

But real life faith and religion aside, in the ancient myths the elves are described both stunningly beautiful, tall and alluring, as well as ugly, small and hideous. I guess Skyrim wanted to go for something in between, so in concept they look more alien and beauty is in the eye of beholder?

Perhaps they just don't fit my own image, and I go for the "fair and alluring" part.
Last edited by Elaini; Aug 7 @ 6:04am
FPrefect42 Aug 7 @ 6:04am 
I agree about the character appearence. I think they were trying to go for that hard life Skyrim look. The way the Elves look is...well...painful. It's not what comes to mind when we think of a world with a Middle-Earth (the original Elder Scroll) type backdrop. I use the Epic Elves mod (cross between Bretons). Much nicer and I need for my animation mods.
Elaini Aug 7 @ 6:18am 
Originally posted by FPrefect42:
I agree about the character appearence. I think they were trying to go for that hard life Skyrim look. The way the Elves look is...well...painful. It's not what comes to mind when we think of a world with a Middle-Earth (the original Elder Scroll) type backdrop. I use the Epic Elves mod (cross between Bretons). Much nicer and I need for my animation mods.
I can't say that either Skyrim or Middle-Earth elves have lived an easy life. They do have some major differences though. Mortality for example. As Skyrim elves are mortal but long living, Middle-Earth elves are immortal and resurrectable, and thus bound to the earth itself as long as it lasts.

In a long period of time, seeing things continuosly being sacked, rebuilt, being born and passing multiple times inevitably takes it's toll. It just normally shows on Middle-Earth elves a lot less than on Skyrim elves, thought there are exceptions. Mainly the orcs are changed elves in M-E, or "marred" elves, as the Dark Lord changed them to the savage cannibal hunters that they are.

Then again, Skyrim orcs seem more civilized in some ways, but not any less eager hunters and warriors.

I guess the change is one attempt to explain the "stunning" and "hideous" elves in ancient lore, that something changed them. Skyrim elves are more prone to that change, it seems.
Zefram Cochrane Aug 7 @ 6:19am 
Originally posted by Elaini:
That they don't exist is also subjective. There are still people who believe that they exist, consider that certain places shouldn't be disturbed for them (such as mounds or forests) and some claim that they have even seen them or that they can be called..

Belief and reality are two different things. And since I don't think anyone has taken a verifiable photograph of one them, I think my point about their appearance stands.

Originally posted by Elaini:
so in concept they look more alien and beauty is in the eye of beholder?

Yes. I don't have a problem with them myself. I don't find them "ugly", just "different". If theres anything that I would describe as "ugly" that would be the argonians, but again thats subjective.

Originally posted by Elaini:
I guess the change is one attempt to explain the "stunning" and "hideous" elves in ancient lore, that something changed them. Skyrim elves are more prone to that change, it seems.

Now you're creating your own mythology...
Last edited by Zefram Cochrane; Aug 7 @ 6:32am
Ilja Aug 7 @ 6:51am 
Väki was a spirit folk in old Finnish mythology, bound to places and elements. There is a dividing line how they are viewed in modern literacy and folklore. Many people consider them as only elves, but others would separate elves from Väki.

I understand that most peoples around here are not familiar with local tales. I brought this up, because Väki is indeed often considered as elves – gnomes, spirits and others are related to them, but their own people -, but never truly described as anything that resemble elves as we see them today. They were in constant war against each other and could even live in a humans – causing them illness and scare.

They weren't malicious, though, but just guarding their grounds. Väki could even help humans in their area, if they were pleased with their friendship and offering. Spells in Finland were often meant to please Väki and ask for their help in times of need.

I love this subject (being more than a little fantasy and mythology nuts that I am) and could spend a week lecturing about it. While Väki did not resemble elves at all, elves were still considered as part of it. They could look like a humans or something else. In fact, elves are actually very rarely described at all in mythology, because their forms were often as secret than their names – and real names of elves and spirits were considered being very powerful words. While descriptions do exist, the definite descriptions of elves are lacking.

While elves exist in most european and nordic mythologies, they could have looked like anything. Very often they were even considered as shapeshifter spirits and being able to adopt different forms.

I don't honestly think that Bethesda based their elves to any ancient mythology. I think that they just made their versions of modern understanding of elves and gave their most fitting outlook traits they could find, when comparing commong understanding about elves to Nirn lore.
Last edited by Ilja; Aug 7 @ 6:53am
Allyden Aug 7 @ 7:06am 
Originally posted by Ilja (Ref):
Väki was a spirit folk in old Finnish mythology, bound to places and elements. There is a dividing line how they are viewed in modern literacy and folklore. Many people consider them as only elves, but others would separate elves from Väki.

I understand that most peoples around here are not familiar with local tales. I brought this up, because Väki is indeed often considered as elves – gnomes, spirits and others are related to them, but their own people -, but never truly described as anything that resemble elves as we see them today. They were in constant war against each other and could even live in a humans – causing them illness and scare.

They weren't malicious, though, but just guarding their grounds. Väki could even help humans in their area, if they were pleased with their friendship and offering. Spells in Finland were often meant to please Väki and ask for their help in times of need.

I love this subject (being more than a little fantasy and mythology nuts that I am) and could spend a week lecturing about it. While Väki did not resemble elves at all, elves were still considered as part of it. They could look like a humans or something else. In fact, elves are actually very rarely described at all in mythology, because their forms were often as secret than their names – and real names of elves and spirits were considered being very powerful words. While descriptions do exist, the definite descriptions of elves are lacking.

While elves exist in most european and nordic mythologies, they could have looked like anything. Very often they were even considered as shapeshifter spirits and being able to adopt different forms.

I don't honestly think that Bethesda based their elves to any ancient mythology. I think that they just made their versions of modern understanding of elves and gave their most fitting outlook traits they could find, when comparing commong understanding about elves to Nirn lore.

Indeed. Each company has its version of elves. D&D RPG and Lord of the Rings are kinda similar but the one saw in Harry Potter movies is a lot different. Warcraft has its variety of elves with large ears same as their brows.
Yggdrasil Aug 7 @ 7:13am 
The game's graphicengine does a fine job. The game's design is what it should be: as harsh as the landscape, as blunt as the people of skyrim and sometimes as ugly as it's history. That's my opinion anyway.

Elves are really quite ugly in TES 5 (dunno about the previous games) but they should be for various reasons:

a) Skyrim tries to be serious and mature, so it shoud look that way. I don't think elfmen who look like ladies would fit into the world of this game bc they'd stick out way too much and maybe even break the immersion.

b) It can't hurt to have an offset with so many RPG like tera around (design wise) ;)

c) Most importantly though, I just can't imagine the altmer to look (fr)agile and beatiful. After all, they are a race that feels naturally superior to men and therefore tries to dominate all of them "for their own good". A race that claims this supremacy through manipulation and brute force. It just doesn't fit.
Last edited by Yggdrasil; Aug 7 @ 7:18am
prometheus.mh Aug 7 @ 7:31am 
Originally posted by Yggdrasil:
The game's graphicengine does a fine job. The game's design is what it should be: as harsh as the landscape, as blunt as the people of skyrim and sometimes as ugly as it's history. That's my opinion anyway.

Elves are really quite ugly in TES 5 (dunno about the previous games) but they should be for various reasons:

a) Skyrim tries to be serious and mature, so it shoud look that way. I don't think elfmen who look like ladies would fit into the world of this game bc they'd stick out way too much and maybe even break the immersion.

b) It can't hurt to have an offset with so many RPG like tera around (design wise) ;)

c) Most importantly though, I just can't imagine the altmer to look (fr)agile and beatiful. After all, they are a race that feels naturally superior to men and therefore tries to dominate all of them "for their own good". A race that claims this supremacy through manipulation and brute force. It just doesn't fit.

Elves (like everyone in Oblivion) looked like Mr. Potato Head. In Morrowind they look like blurry polygons. Skyrim is the first TES game with the graphical fidelity to tell the races apart.
Two Bears Aug 7 @ 8:05am 
I have no issue with "our elves are different". While most fantasy settings, TES included, keep to the trinity there are always differences. In fact, one of the few things I like about TES design is that the elves are not inherently beautiful or graceful, as opposed to the short, fair and frail elves of D&D or the aryan supermen of Tolkien.
Last edited by Two Bears; Aug 7 @ 8:05am
Brandybuck Aug 7 @ 8:45am 
Originally posted by Elaini:
That they don't exist is also subjective.
Utter rubbish. That they don't exist is objective fact. That some nutters believe otherwise is irrelevant. If you disagree then as the claimant the onus is on you to produce the independently verifiable objective evidence that they do.
Elaini Aug 7 @ 9:41am 
Originally posted by Zefram Cochrane:
Originally posted by Elaini:
That they don't exist is also subjective. There are still people who believe that they exist, consider that certain places shouldn't be disturbed for them (such as mounds or forests) and some claim that they have even seen them or that they can be called..

Belief and reality are two different things. And since I don't think anyone has taken a verifiable photograph of one them, I think my point about their appearance stands.

You believe what you see then, and that's fine.

Originally posted by Zefram Cochrane:
Originally posted by Elaini:
so in concept they look more alien and beauty is in the eye of beholder?

Yes. I don't have a problem with them myself. I don't find them "ugly", just "different". If theres anything that I would describe as "ugly" that would be the argonians, but again thats subjective.

Heh, true enough. Then again I don't think argonians as ugly at all. They just look exactly like lizards do in my eyes - neither attractive or ugly. They do have a rather disturbing smile though.

Originally posted by Zefram Cochrane:
Originally posted by Elaini:
I guess the change is one attempt to explain the "stunning" and "hideous" elves in ancient lore, that something changed them. Skyrim elves are more prone to that change, it seems.

Now you're creating your own mythology...

Not so much as trying to find a point or theory of why the elves are interpreted today like they are, based on the ancient mythologies.

Originally posted by Brandybuck:
Originally posted by Elaini:
That they don't exist is also subjective.

Utter rubbish. That they don't exist is objective fact. That some nutters believe otherwise is irrelevant. If you disagree then as the claimant the onus is on you to produce the independently verifiable objective evidence that they do.

That is a belief - and beliefs are always subjective. Each of us build our own perceptions of reality, and some see things about it that are hidden from the others. Even Atheism is a belief. But it's a fact that some ancient religions, out of old Celtic, old Norse or old Icelandic mythology are still alive.
Last edited by Elaini; Aug 7 @ 9:47am
Grathagis Aug 7 @ 9:54am 
I like anime and in those shows, elves are equiped with VTOL ears. While that is a nice touch for me when it comes to anime, I wouldn't want to see it in Skyrim.
Two Bears Aug 7 @ 9:58am 
Originally posted by Elaini:
That is a belief - and beliefs are always subjective. Each of us build our own perceptions of reality, and some see things about it that are hidden from the others. Even Atheism is a belief. But it's a fact that some ancient religions, out of old Celtic, old Norse or old Icelandic mythology are still alive.

I believe the salient issue is that the burden of proof is on the individual asserting the positive. You are free to believe what you like, but one cannot expect expect a belief system to be taken as fact without proof; nor is it reasonable to label a lack of acknowledgement of said system as relative. Otherwise we are back to the flying spaghetti monster.
Elaini Aug 7 @ 10:03am 
Well, I believe in a good humanity, even if bad things do happen. As long as people are good to each other and the planet as much as it's possible in the circumstances, I don't much care if they're spiritual or not.

Back to the topic, shall we?
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Date Posted: Aug 7 @ 5:45am
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