I must have some kind of distraction-causing brain worm.

For some reason, I keep thinking back fondly on Troika’s Temple of Elemental Evil like I want to play it again or something. I don’t. The game is a nightmare of bugs and slow-downs. Why is it so compelling?

Playing the game compelled me to read the 1e DMG. Playing TOEE compelled me to read the original module, which was a nightmare unto itself.

I’ve been thinking about this.

It isn’t the leveling up, because it’s tedious. The menus are slow and finicky and buggy. Sometimes spells just don’t work. Not like, arcane spell failure. I mean they don’t work. Dialogue trees are just . . . the worst.

The quests are terrible! Even the module they chose — The Temple of Elemental Evil — while technically a “classic,” isn’t the best. It’s pedestrian.

I could go on and on about what makes the game a pain, and I would really like to know why I think on it so fondly. Was it ’cause I spent so much time with it?

It wasn’t even a very good dungeon crawl.

What did I enjoy about it?

Let’s think about this.

I liked building my own party of five characters or so. Even if character-building is super-tedious. And the options are kind of lame. And everyone has to share an alignment axis. (It’s a nice thought but it will never catch on.)

And! I’m annoyed that you can never build another character to add to the group. Even if you lose one. (Or can you? I didn’t really try.)

I like that characters level up, but it takes forever to both accumulate experience and to apply a level-up. I kind of wish that, for a video game, it just gave you “average” hit points per level. It would have saved me some time.

On some level, I enjoyed the strategic depth.

In retrospect however, I think the options kind of sucked? I’m not sure everything was necessary, no matter how “nice” it was for them all to be listed.

Just because my Wizard has the option to Bull Rush. . .

I wonder if perhaps TOEE is a good game for projection. There are so many things I would have liked for the game to have done better. And Arcanum.

Some of these games I just . . . wish were better.

I keep stopping myself from playing Arcanum again because I know it isn’t worth it. Arcanum is buggy too, and there’s a whole thing about the beginning of the game where you need the right stuff or you suck at everything.

Skill systems, man. Let me tell you.

I like that encounters with undead can end with your Clerics commanding them. I like that you can basically have as many people in your party as you want, to a maximum of eight anyway (plus a ton of minions though).

I like that you can enchant your own magic items. Make your own wands.

There’s other stuff to do.

Now, some games have crafting systems built in — but a lot of times, they almost feel like they’re . . . required? I don’t know. Skyrim was an odd case, since you wanted Alchemy as a thief, Enchanting as a mage, or Smithing as a warrior.

You could mix and match, but . . . nah.

What Skyrim lacked was some deep strategy. I mean, it didn’t even matter what order you tackled most dungeons. The content mostly leveled to meet you.

And Skyrim was mostly really hard until suddenly it wasn’t? There were times when I died from something that really didn’t make sense to me. It was too random, and I was really just one character anyway.

In the end, I managed to get over the occasional loss of a follower. I may have killed half of them myself. Follower AI was really bad.

What would a turn-based Elder Scrolls game be like, with levels instead of skills and a party system where you got to build and control the characters?

Weird, that’s what.