Cooking might have been a useful subset of Alchemy if better implemented, but instead it seems to be a simpler version of Alchemy that produces health and stamina boosting meals but doesn't raise the Alchemy skill.
Because it isn't a subset of Alchemy. From a "realistic" or roleplaying point of view, I'd say it's gotten exactly the spot where it should be, delivering what it should do.
You miss the point: Cooking is redundant. It wasn't needed but might have been useful anyway as a simple subset of Alchemy that raised skill perhaps a quarter or less the amount of potion making. Otherwise, food items could have simply boosted health and stamina regeneration when eaten. Perhaps for eight hours, +10% per item eaten to a max of +100% total. You could recieve a message saying "You are already well-fed" when overeating... That alone would be worth it. ;-)
Alchemy seems to net a disproportionate monetary gain compared to other skills. Enchanting and Smithing seem to require non-immersive grinding to be of any real use.
Compared to what other skills? You can pretty much exploit alchemy, enchanting, smithing or pickpocketing so far, that you can purchase the whole country. Anyone doing so, is doing it unhesitant.
Compared to looting, hunting, smithing, etc.
You can easily generate hundreds of gold by gathering free ingredients, which have a neglible weight, along the roads. That's with low Alchemy and Speechcraft (which controls selling price) skills; the amount of money generated at higher levels must be ludicrous. Given the grind necessary to increase the Alchemy skill, it isn't a matter of "unhesitant" exploitation but rather a practical requirement.
Smithing seems much less profitable so far: The needed items are expensive to purchase or require effort to gather (hunting, mining, looting). You must loot or purchase armor or weapons (not cheap, and heavy) in order to practice the skill. Parts of the smithing process, tanning and smelting, don't raise Smithing skill. Produced items sell for low prices. The skill does seem to increase at a faster rate per use than Alchemy, but it doesn't seem to be enough (at least at early levels) to compensate for the wide gap in profitability.
I haven't tried Enchanting or Pickpocketing.
Enchanting involves destroying enchanted items (expensive), looting or purchasing soul gems (which seem to be in limited supply and are not reusable), and capturing souls (the better of which can be difficult to obtain). This might be counterbalanced by the value of produced enchanted items; as I said, I haven't tried it.
I read, here and elsewhere, that Pickpocketing is very
As for the grinding: compare it with how many times you have to hit an enemy to level your combat / magic skill - I would guess they're way easier to do, especially since you can buy all needed ingredients.
EDIT: Discovered after posting this that Conjuration increases VERY quickly with the use of the spell Bound Sword. The mechanics of Conjuration in Skyrim appear significantly different from previous TES games. SV suggests that summoned creatures increase the Conjuration skill by an amount relative to the amount of damage they deal in combat. I'll leave my original comments below, but bear in mind the above when reading (and see later posts for more information).
Combat skills increase quickly
because of their nature: In a given fight one strikes repeatedly with a weapon. In contrast, skills such as Conjuration (or Alchemy, as in potions per fight) are needed only once or twice per fight. There should be a corresponding difference in the rate at which these increase. Simple restrictions such as increasing Conjuration only while in combat (or a cap on potions produced per day) would prevent exploitation of the higher rate of increase. Voila: Natural increase, no grinding required.
Marriage is simple.... Rather than an open system scripted to check "can be married" and disposition variables and allow any available character to be courted, it seems that choice is limited to a small number of premade spouses.
No surprise here. The amount of coding involved doing for, let's say 30%, of the NPCs AND giving them anything meaningful to do after the marriage, would be massive - because let's face it, just giving them 5-8 different abilities / follow-up quests wouldn't cut it.
Check "married" variable or NPC property: If equals 0, character is married or not interested in marriage. If equals 1, character can be married. Assign dialogue/quests/abilities/whatever based on "job" variable/property or highest skills, etc.
Sucks for anyone wanting to play a Don Juan / Casanova role, but should be more then enough for others. If not, the Sims is that way. :p
That's not fair coming from someone who defends cooking as a good addition to the game. :-P
And it has nothing to do with wanting to seduce everyone: Rather, I'd simply like to be able to choose the *one* spouse I get as I prefer.
Loot and shop items are still leveled. Need I say more?
.... how many times has this been discussed already? How many different approaches have come up?
You can basically go with a leveled version or one with difficulty-sealed-off regions /items / loot. And last time I checked, I haven't found many open world games that work so good with the second option.
How about price and rarity as limiting factors? You know, like in Morrowind? And besides that, much of Skyrim isn't leveled anyway.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying "Skyrim sucks!" It's rather that I'm disappointed with several aspects of the game that I feel could have been much improved.
One VERY good change:
Picking alchemy ingredients is no longer so tedious: The plants are large and easily harvested without having to precisely align the crosshair with stems, flowers, mushrooms, etc. That simple change makes a significant difference in gameplay and enjoyment.