Thursday, February 9, 2012

Float On

I've been playing more of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, and I came across what I thought was the most exciting glitch I could have hoped for.

On a pilgrimage to various holy sites across a vast continent, my hero came across an altar at which I needed to sacrifice that which was most precious to me: a potion of levitation. Given how many steep cliffs and mountain ranges have blocked my path in my exploration of this 3-D fantasy world and the relative rarity of this type of potion (at least, when you only obtain potions by stealing them from unsuspecting townsfolk who have left their bedrooms without posting a guard), I was reluctant to part with my precious potion.

I did it anyhow. Not that I'm after 100% completion of this expansive game's sidequests, but I've committed myself to at least a few missions outside of the main quest. I'd already learned a levitation spell, and would no doubt find another potion or two eventually--I could live without it.

I placed the potion at the altar. Swirly special effects ensued, and I was suddenly propelled backwards. I attempted to leap forward again to see what had happened--I don't run; I jump everywhere, simply because it's fun--and found that I couldn't jump anymore. Well, that was it. Quickload my previous game, and we'd try it again.

Except...I didn't quickload my game. I discovered why I couldn't jump: I was already floating in the air.

Conveniently, there was a low-hanging moon hovering overhead that I had been curious about visiting, so I floated up there. Sort of a prison carved into an airborne rock; very cool. At this point, I thought I had somehow glitched myself into the sky, so I figured I'd just run (well, fly) with it until the effects began to hamper my questing.

I opened the door to the prison, and immediately found myself hampered. People apparently don't like you just barging into their floaty top-security prison, and angry workers started shouting for the guards to take me away. With such a low ceiling, I was no better off levitating than standing on solid ground, except for the part where any door frame or table corner would catch my leg, and I'd get stuck trying to slowly maneuver myself around it.

I hadn't even pointed myself in the direction of the exit before the guards took me down.

Well, that was probably for the best. A glitch like that could completely wreck my chances of finishing this game. I'd just reload my save right before placing the potion on the altar and...

BOOM. Launched backwards again. Weightless once more.

This time, I decided to put the glitch to better use--getting a bird's eye view of the areas on the map I'd never visited. I set out for the tiny islands to the south. I'd recently tried to swim to a few of them, but found I couldn't swim fast enough to avoid a conflict every two minutes with one creepy sea creature or another; this might be the only time I'd have a compelling reason to continue exploring there unless the main quest demanded it.

I saw the islands. I was pecked at by birds. I kept flying. This must be a glitch, I thought; no spell or effect I'd encountered aside from a few crippling diseases had lasted so long, and even the diseases and poisons had remedies. Chronic fly-itis? No cure that I could find.

Not that I was complaining--by now I was headed off to the eastern reaches of the continent to see what else there was to see. I've always found a fair amount of joy in exploring the various locations in any given roleplaying game, but Morrowind has been especially satisfying because there are so many places to go, and virtually every session I play has me filling in huge portions of my world map. The ability to fly so quickly and effortlessly was something I'd been longing for ever since buying that levitation spell, which consumes my entire magic meter and lasts for only a matter of seconds, assuming it works at all. For the most part, I was incredibly happy.

However, I felt like this was taking something away from my gaming experience.

Had I received a message saying, "Hey! Congratulations! Your offering at the altar has been rewarded with 24 hours of continuous levitation. Use it well!", then I'd've been in hog heaven. Flying hog heaven. And you know what kinds of things finally happen when pigs fly. But I was under the impression I had accidentally broken my game, and was inadvertently cheating my way through it. I didn't need to cheat. I began to feel guilty about skipping out on the sweat and labor that go into real exploration.

But hey, I got to visit a sweet tower that didn't give you any way to the top except flying.

After doodling around in the tower for a while, I started to wonder if this was wise--what if something was going to trigger this glitch to go away? Should I really be wasting this valuable gift on random tiny sidequests that I swore I'd only take on if they were incredibly easy or convenient? Shouldn't I be charting a path to the Red Mountain or seeing how far over the ocean I can soar before hitting an invisible wall?

It was around this point that I finally noticed the little "You are levitating with 100% efficacy" icon at the bottom of my screen. OK, so this wasn't a glitch. Oops. Still, I'd traveled a quarter of the way across the continent! Surely this magic would end soon!

It did. I suddenly fell out of the sky. Unfortunately, I was hovering a short distance over a mountain at the time; I was kinda hoping for a grand Wile E. Coyote moment where I realize there's no ground underneath me and plummet to the bottom of a ravine, leaving a mushrooming dust cloud in my wake and a nice, big "poof" sound effect. Actually, it's more like a "pif" or a "paf," isn't it?

Ah, but I digress. I was a mere mortal again, standing on top of some mountain in who-knows-where territory. But hey, there was a cool statue on top of a sanctuary there.

Is there a point to this story? There probably was initially. But, like my mysterious levitation ability, I completely lost it.


JoeReviewer said...

Adventure ho.


Mr. E [PostApocolyptica] said...

A [kind of] similar glitch happened to my best friend, Spyke, during a day of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. He showed my a screenshot of him on his horse. It was pretty neat.

Except they were floating in mid-air. Whilst an innocent NPC stared at them. We both laughed for about five minutes, thanks to the magic of Skype calls (Spyke on Skype, huh?).


Christian Porter said...

I always had a hard time properly enjoying Morrowind. Not because it's bad - it's really excellent - but because I'm a greedy idiot. No matter how much I'd tell myself not to abuse the glitch that makes me super powerful I could never resist and would just end up floating above cities and incinerating them with enormous firey explosions like a vengeful god.

Flashman85 said...

JoeReviewer: Indeed!

Mr. E: Hah! That sounds amusing. :)

Christian: Now THERE'S a glitch that oughta be fun! I just blow up the guards who catch me stealing pillows.