Tags: Oblivion, rpg, skyrim, video game
I come over the hill to Winterhold. How anybody could live in a constant snowstorm is beyond me. Oh wait, I live in Canada. Nevermind. Winterhold at first glance is less impressive than other cities. Immediately I notice several abandoned and ruined homesteads as I do some recon. And then I hear a familiar sound coming from the skies.
Just another day in Skyrim.
The dragon kills two guards before I can even get it to land on the ground. Once down I make short work of it. My ebony war axe is exquisite and does cold damage. Nothing like dealing death with something you’ve made yourself.
The first thing I do in any town or village is talk to every single person. I don’t care if it’s a child, a servant, or the Jarl, I’m looking for work and will take it where I can find it.
I’m in town on a number of jobs. I have to pick up an item for Riften’s court wizard, talk to a contact about translating an old journal, and I’m interested in joining the Mages College. Before I leave the village for the college I have collected yet more things to do.
I wander up to the college and repeat. Talking to every single man and mer, entering every room, and cautiously avoiding any area that looks like it may become interesting later on. The Midden suspiciously qualifies as one such area, so I look through my to-do list and pick out a random activity.
Because I’m incredibly anal and travel on foot (not horse since you sometimes miss interesting things from horseback) to locations that are generally on the way to my destination, I’ve already visited the spot in question and quickly make my way there.
I do a quick reconnaissance before entering a dungeon, every time, and then while inside, look over almost every burial urn, body, and chest. One reason they say I have the Golden Touch.
I switch between axe and bow, but I’m always sneaking. This is the first skill I completely master in Skyrim, but it won’t be the last.
The details of the dungeon don’t really matter. At some point I’ve avoided traps and tripped others. I’ve made child’s play of one enemy while another with the exact same skills nearly kills me. I’ve discovered one hidden door or chest and probably missed others. The final boss is either challenging or a walk in the park.
By the time I leave I am carrying at least 100 pounds of loot.
It’s fascinating to me that even though I keep to a personal rule of thumb (I only pick up things that are worth more than 10x what they weigh) I still get overloaded pretty quickly. Probably because I pick up too many weapons and armour, but if I don’t have anything to sell to the blacksmiths I won’t make much money and we come back to that whole anal thing.
This means that every two dungeons I have to return to town to visit various shopkeepers. At each shopkeeper I have to first purchase things, because by the time I’ve sold them all my stuff, they’re going to be broke. It ends up being a near zero sum game but it keeps me supplied and there is a reason my speechcraft is so high when I don’t work on it outside selling things.
It’s all incredibly pointless but fun to me.
There are of course the things I intend to keep as well. I stop off at home and drop those off in their respective chests. Each chest is organized in a way that probably only makes sense to me.
I have a chest for books and keys. The bookcases provided fill up quite quickly. I could sell the books of course but sometimes I want to read them later and sometimes they only make sense to hang on to since as a professional thief for instance I should hang on to tomes about sneaking.
In Oblivion I preferred the small squat shack outside the Imperial City because it was centrally located and easy to get to. In Skyrim Breezehome is very near the gates to Whiterun and easily purchased. I put my alchemy agents, potions, smithing ingredients, and soul stones in the first cabinet on the left.
I then proceed to the back where I shove armour and weapons. I usually hang on to anything with a rare enchantment that might be useful in a rare situation. Bracers of pickpocketing for instance, since pickpocketing for me isn’t a priority they might be useful if a situation calls for it.
After I’ve lightened my load of any and all extraneous weight, I start looking at my next quests. Rinse, lather, repeat.
Tags: bathesda, morrowind, Oblivion, rpg
People have been waiting for this for a long time. It’s hard to believe it’s been 5 years since I closed shut the jaws of Oblivion. People have suspected that Skyrim would be next as well. There were slivers of territory in the far north that you could ride into that were clearly Skyrim.
It’s funny, watching the Spike video game awards is such a waste of time. There is absolutely no credibility attached to the winners and losers, and I usually detest the hosts. I will commend them on their announcements though, they usually have something good.
I don’t really know a lot about Skyrim. It’s cold, the people call themselves Nords, and seems to be based on a noble viking themed society. The music certainly points in that direction.
11-11-11. Who knew it would be that soon?
Tags: bethesda, Elder Scrolls, morrowind, Oblivion, rpg
I love Bethesda games, the kind of open world they provide in their single player games would be a dream in any online game. There’s a significant problem with Morrowind though, I’m not playing the game, so much as reading it.
My journal is over 100 pages long. I’m pretty sure I’m not even a third through the game yet. It’s hard to go back and find which quest is which and where I’m supposed to go, for a quest that’s anywhere buried 20, 30, sometimes 40 pages back. ‘Words, words, words’ as Hamlet would say. Oh yeah I don’t mind reading, including such works but not limited to, Hamlet and other (are you impressed yet?) Shakespearean plays!
That’s just part of the problem though. Finding dialogue options hidden in the constantly increasing number of subjects with practically any npc is mind numbing. Just today, I was speaking with an NPC, forgot I had a quest with him, and skipped over the dialogue option to finish the quest because it was a very common dialogue option that I normally skip over. I just don’t think I should have to use the scroll bar to get through talking to a completely forgettable npc.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be complaining. The amount of lore packed into the game is incredible. For instance, a shop keeper wants you to shoo away an actor who scares people away from entering his shop. The actor would gladly leave if he could find a troupe. You hear that a patron is interested in the arts, and when you meet him he informs you of his new play, and you can read the play. It’s a horrible play, but you can read it. Having played Oblivion before Morrowind, I’m also aware of the fact, that that very play appears in book form in that game as well.
In fact, most of the books from Morrowind (I have to wonder how detailed Daggerfall was, it’s supposedly much larger than almost any game you can name) appear in Oblivion. The only problem with that is, I keep reading them. I’m not getting anything done because these books within the game are sometimes actually pretty long, like A Dance In Fire. It’s 7 editions long with each edition being something like 40 pages. It doesn’t exactly add up to a real book but it’s very time consuming. I could be reading Star Wars books people. Or Hamlet. Kudos to Bathesda, sincerely. Nobody puts the effort into these games (Bioware does try though.) like they do. The Argonian Account for instance. It’s a sequel, in Oblivion, to A Dance In Fire.
Yet, despite all that, I would actually prefer to be reading the constant stream of random npc comments as I walk by, than hearing them. “Speak Outlander!” I’m honestly tempted to start killing npc’s who I have to walk by often.
Those are my only complaints about the game, and honestly, that’s pretty impressive. Oh no! You’ve got too much lore! Ewwww stop trying to tell me a story! I don’t want to feel immersed in this role playing game. Oh my god! Don’t make me read, I’d rather be watching television.
So yeah, I’m reading Morrowind. It’s a good book.
Tags: Elder Scrolls, morrowind, Oblivion, rpg, video game
I’ve been playing through Morrowind while I figure out just what I want to do online gaming wise. I usually play online games with people I know rather than jumping into some game completely blind. Which has made me a bit hesitant because I don’t know anyone playing any games I want to play right now.
I had never played Morrowind and thought this was a good opportunity before I dive into Mass Effect 2. It’s an older game, and I’m not expecting the refinement of Oblivion or Fallout 3, but there are always small problems with playing older games.
The first thing I noticed when I started playing was, holy shit I move slowly. It was like crawling around on my belly. I know in Bethesda games that’s typically how it is, but, damn. I actually couldn’t stand playing for long periods of time just because I was so slow moving. It took me a while to level up but as soon as I did I poured points into my speed. I think in later games Bethesda got you moving faster much more quickly.
The quests are typical Bethesda, well put together, tons of lore and backstory. Very similar overall to their other quests. You can really see the roots of some of the things they wanted to do with their later games.
One problem though is the absolute giant amount of dialogue options. I typically get lost trying to talk to everyone and keep track of what they’re talking to me about. It gets kind of ridiculous. It’s almost discouragement from talking to people, even though that’s one of the main things you’re urged to do in Morrowind, even in the game tips on loading screens.
The journal is typically very useful but at the same time, it updates too often, I have 40 pages of journal notes but I’ve done maybe 10 quests. At least some of the lore and background information is hot linked in each entry to a little information on the subject.
One of your early quests is to go to a Dwarven ruin and collect some loot. I have this nasty habit of searching an entire dungeon before leaving it. It takes a lot of time. Unfortunately for me, I’m in this place, I’m way at the bottom of it, I find the furthest reaches of the place, and for some reason can’t fathom why I can’t find this puzzle box. I figure there must be some trick door or underwater cave I need to look for, start scanning the edges of the room, and of course get stuck. I get “haven’t saved lately” stuck. The worst kind of stuck. Not only do I have to go back through this place I still have to find the damn loot.
I go back through everything I’ve done, get back to the same spot and can’t find anything. Then after going back through everything again, I figure out there’s one door I haven’t checked, and it’s off the first effing room. I don’t know whether to celebrate that Bethesda has unorthodox quests that keep you guessing, or complain that they don’t follow typical conventions when it comes to hiding your loot. You hide the treasure away from the entrance people! I guess I’ve made my decision.
Anyway, I always judge a game on the amount of fun I’m having, and not the graphics, age, or other shallow aspects of a game. I’ve known a lot of people who would frown on the graphics of a game just because it’s old, or complain about the gameplay when it has become a bit old fashioned. Screw those people. As long as you’re having fun, what’s the difference. I can play a rogue-like game, Legend of the Red Dragon, or Subspace and still have fun. Just like I’m having fun in Morrowind.
Tags: Books, Elder Scrolls, Infernal City, Oblivion
Long ago it was announced that there would be two Elder Scrolls novels, set around 40 years after Oblivion. Now as I am a pretty big fan of Oblivion, I went ahead and got The Infernal City by Greg Keyes. It came out around the end of November, I picked it up in January.
My first problem with it was the cost. For a 300 page novel, it was $18. Setting aside the fact that Canadians get ripped off by publishers on a regular basis because of our fluctuating dollar, $18 bucks is too much for a 300 page paperback pulp fiction fantasy novel. The length of the novel itself is pretty short, big lettering, and slightly less than 300 pages.
The story itself has it’s strong points and flaws. It relies of course on the lore behind the Elder Scrolls games, to its great benefit. However some of the settings and motivations are quite droll and it steals from the urgency of the book.
It centers around 2 friends who hear rumours of a floating city approaching their home. Where ever the city passes over, those below die and become undead. Through various circumstances they flee and end up inside the floating city of Umbriel. Up until this point I was enjoying the story, a grand threat, two adventuring buddies, humour, conflict to be overcome. Unfortunately this is where the story somewhat leaves me.
Although Greg Keyes weaves his own universe inside Umbriel, a well created caste system, community, with its own motivations, drives, and people, it is undermined by one basic underlying flaw. It centers around cooking. The entire civilization of this city centers around the “food” collected below the city and then cooked by the kitchens of Umbriel. Each Kitchen is it’s own little army, fighting for the favor of it’s patron by making delicious food. The kitchens fight with each other, rival each other, steal from and kill each other. It’s a well created vision of a fantasy society but unfortunately, I’m just not that into Iron Chef.
As with any fantasy novel, there are cliches, but none so over wrought that it bothered me. The B story centers around the efforts of the Imperial prince to reach Umbriel and bring an end to the city. It’s a story I’ve heard before, coddled prince led to believe he’s a hero, turns out he’s been set up for the win over and over again. The C story revolves around an Imperial covert agent, who stumbles across a plot against the prince. I liked this story more, but he barely gets any pages.
By the end of the book I was satisfied with where it was going, if somewhat disappointed by the loss of credibility with the whole Top Chef theme. It’s well written, over priced, and a fairly original place to take the Elder Scrolls lore. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys Elder Scrolls, but would have to warn anyone who isn’t that they’d probably be pretty lost early on.