Posts tagged ‘Skyrim’

03/08/2013

My fears for The Elder Scrolls Online.

Tamriels darkest age is drawing ever closer, daring, dedicated heroes are needed more than ever. But a feeling of disquiet has stolen over this loyal daughter of Skyrim. What if Bethesda’s upcoming MMORPG episode of their wondrous Elder Scrolls Saga turns out to be just another MMO? What if…

* They have decided to make “their” World of Warcraft? Don’t get me wrong here. I love WoW, it’s immense, consuming, and fun. But no Elder Scrolls game has ever been similar to any Warcraft game. They play differently, they look different, they feel utterly different. But every single MMO since WoW has tried to make “their” WoW and failed. Often horrifically. My hope is that this MMO Elder Scrolls will feel more like Skyrim, with extra player characters wandering around.

* I. Stand. Alone! One of my favourite aspects of the Elder Scrolls games is that, of late at least, you can have companions, but you don’t have to. If you want to you can stand completely alone. You, your skills, and the enemy. I love this aspect. Yes, sure once in a while I wish for the ability to share my adventures with my friends; but over all I want, no I need to stand alone.  I hope that Bethesda have kept this aspect of their series in mind while they designed their new game. I may choose to team up with others sometimes; but I want to be able to solo everything as well. (Insert shameful, but much loved earwig)

* That Glorious Music. So, dearest reader, would you like to know how I play most video games? Well what would you think if I told you, in total silence. I generally do not have sound in my games. I find most game soundtrack distracting, and most game sound effects infuriating beyond belief. There are very few exceptions to this, Borderlands 1 & 2, Dragon Age: Origins, and The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and Skyrim. The sound, and music in the last two Elder Scrolls episodes have been nothing short of glorious. I just hope that in the inevitable rush to get Elder Scrolls Online out to the public that Bethesda  don’t let their perfect track record tumble down.

(Homework: Listen to the entire of the clip below. This is all three opening themes from the last three games. Bethesda if someone is reading this, you listen extra hard sonny-jim.)

* Criminality. It’s so easy to  become a criminal in Oblivion or Skyrim. All you have to do is have a finger slip, and whoops the entire town are out for your criminal blood. That said, it’s even more fun to do it on purpose. To rob every last character in the game blind. To become the death that creeps in the night. Or just the best/worst horse thief to ever walk the land of Tamriel. Elder Scrolls Online will lose something special about it’s predecessors if this is not included in this latest part.

* Dragons, Shouts, Vampirism, Lycanthropy and Dungeons everywhere.  Dragons are just awesome, and awe inspiring when you see them. They’re huge, dangerous, kind of random and deadly; and Bethesda got them exactly right. You can and do run in to dragons randomly, fire/frost breathing mountains of reptile flesh that bears down on you out of frikking nowhere. I hope that they’re much the same in the new Online format.

Shouts made for an interesting addition to the magical segment of Skyrim. And again represent something which would be a true loss if they were removed from the online game. Obviously they should only be available to Nords. And only after that Nord works her ass off finding, and developing the skills needed.

The curses of Vampirism, and Lycanthropy really need to always be a part of any Elder Scrolls game. I know people who immediately start looking for a vampire when they play, just so they can spend the game as one; complete with all the advantages and disadvantages this entails. And with Skyrim, ditto werewolves. They add an immensely entertaining, and enjoyable extra layer of game play to this series. So it would be a shame to see them left out of the Online experience.

And finally dungeons need to be frikking everywhere; and I do mean everywhere. Part of the joy of the last two games in particular has been the fact that you stumble on dungeons left, right and center. Not just a generic dungeon type either; but dungeons of every type imaginable.

Don’t feel like wandering the world? Find a hole in the ground and explore it.

Don’t feel like a hole in the ground experience? Raid a crypt filled with the undead.

Don’t feel like that? How about a day of hunting mammoths/wolves/bears/your fellow humanoids.

The greatest joy of the Elder Scrolls Saga, lately especially, is that you can do anything in this world. You can cook, you can make a home, get married, hunt, make new and better equipment, you can explore for hours, delve in to dungeons that take anything from 5 minutes, to hours to complete. It’s joy is the sheer flexibility of the games, and how that flexibility translates in to fun.

And that leads to my greatest fear.

* This kills off the Elder Scrolls. No matter what, the Online experience will not be precisely what we expect from an Elder Scrolls game. It may be close, or it may be so far away from what we’ve come to expect that it leaves us totally disheartened. I honestly see Elder Scrolls Online as a bold, and potentially dangerous experiment by Bethesda. If it’s successful, if it’s well received, and well loved by long established Scrolls fans, like myself, it will be a blinding success. But if it drifts too far from what we expect from the Elder Scrolls…it could end in absolute disaster.

But regardless of how it ends up, right now, I am holding all judgement until I’ve played it, and I can’t wait to get my greedy hands on the latest installment of my favourite fantasy role playing game series of all time.

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09/07/2013

I love a challenge. The Skyrim Edition Part 2 – Bored of the Ring.

Yeah I know, I’m posting a lot about Skyrim at the moment. But right now while my body and mind are doing their very best to shred what’s left of my sanity, I’ve found SKyrim to be a surprisingly healing experience. So much to see, so much to do, so many creatures to hunt down and kill. It’s just so relaxing. And as I play it suddenly hit me that you can play a version of basically every major character from the Lord of the Rings if you really want to.

So if you really want to, here is how you can play what I think of as The Fellowship of The “By Talos! Is that a dragon?!” (For the record, because all of the Fellowship let loose a decent war-cry at one stage or another over the course of the three movies, they can all use shouts.)

1: “They’re taking the Hobbits to Isengard!”

Yes, you too can play a character named Legolas. He won’t be as pretty. But he can be just as bad-ass. For this character you are limited to two bows over the course of the game, an a pair of elven daggers. You can only wear cloth (or if you’re some sort of wimpy girlie-elf leather) armor. Oh and no magic that affects other creatures, self buffing only thank you!

2: “I don’t want to be king…but sure why not.”

Who doesn’t want to Aragorn? So bad-ass he can kill orcs with just his scruffy boy beard. Aragorn gets a long-bow, any one or two handed sword (since in the movies he’s seen using both swords with whatever number of hands he feels like), an elven dagger, and leather armor. Oh, and a horse too. Has to marry an elf-maiden. But can not own a house. The last one is a huge handicap in playing Skyrim. Can use no magic of any kind, smithing, or enchanting, but feel free to use all the sneaking, and alchemy you can get your hands on.

3: “Do you think my beard is flowing enough?”

Everyone who doesn’t want to be Aragorn, wants to be Gandalf. And who can blame you when as Gandalf you get any staff, any one handed or two handed sword (for the same reason as Aragorn.) But Gandalf can only wear cloth armor…so you know, clothes. Nor can he own a house. That said he can use any magic, alchemy, and enchanting. And he gets an awesome black horse to emote at.

4: “Never mind me, I die at the end of the first movie, and you’ve never read the book…” *gasp, thud*

Would anyone really want to play Boromir? Well actually, yes. Of all the Fellowship characters he is one of only two who actually fits the Nord of Skyrim template. Give him a one handed sword, a good one. Give him a shield, and the best frikkin armor you can find; any heavy armor for pre-Fellowship days, any light armor for Rivendale up to riddled with arrows. No bows though, and definitely no magic. But perhaps, seeing as he was the student of Gandalf in brighter days, a good grounding in alchemy. But not too much sneaking about, it is after all an act beneath the contempt of this Son of Go…Whiterun. But he can have a horse, and even have as many houses as he likes.

5: “No-one tosses a Dwarf, the armor weighs way to fuckin’ much laddie.”

Gimli would be the other character who fits in to the inhabitant of Skyrim template particularly well. He can obviously wear any heavy armor, and wield any axe. Hell he can even ride a horse, badly; no charging at all for you mister Dwarf. He can also smith absolutely anything, while proudly owning a house. But that’s pretty much it. No bows, no magic, not even any alchemy. Better brush up on those cooking skills.

6-9: “They’re taking us all to Isengard…well two of us anyway.”

Make your character look short. No swords, daggers only. No magic at all. No missile weapons, no horses, no shoes. But, let’s face it, since you’re probably going to play Pretty-Boy…I mean Frodo anyway, your Hobbit can wear enchanted armor. Just no shoes. Oh and he can definitely own a house. One house. But to make up for all the suckage why not max out that sneaky, lock-picking, and pickpocketing type stuff? And you better carry lots of food, seeing as they’re too naive to bother to learn alchemy that doesn’t involve getting high.

And that is probably it for my Skyrim posts for a while. You know, unless I want to write another. But in the mean time I will leave you with possibly the cruelest earwig of the present age. After all they really are…

09/04/2013

Easy to use character modelling for the budding comic artist?

Had a moment of, what passes with me for genius, the other day. Of course it’s something that I’m totally, absolutely, completely certain every artsy-sketchy geek type person has had before, but just in case it’s a trick that has passed some of you by, here it is.

If you’re kind of an inexperienced artist like I am, creating the look of a character, faces, body-type and all the rest  from imagination is kind of tough challenge. I mean sure, once you know what they actually look like you can, with considerable effort, do it. But it’s creating that first, something lifelike from nothing, that kills brain cells.

Well anyway, there I was playing Skyrim. I’d decided to make a new character and had just made it through the opening. I was standing in front of the executioners block, and the game had just asked me to create my character. So I started building how she looked, dark hair, white eyes, pale-dirty skin, kissable  lips, ox-blood war-paint and of course a nice sexy scar running down her right cheek, when it suddenly hit me. The games character generation, and even more so the preceding game Oblivion, gives you the ability to create life-like faces that you can screen-capture and use as baseline references for drawing character faces, and even bodies.

You can then modify them as you wish to make them unique, but the crucial part, creating the basic face has been made much easier. Best of all even creating the models themselves will give invaluable experience in understanding what makes a face look more or less real.

And while I am sure there are plenty who will moan and say that this is cheating. But is it really? Yes, you are using an existing system in a way it was never intended, but you are creating the look of the model even if you don’t necessarily understand how the system itself works. And don’t most artists use references? What makes a photograph purer? Surely it’s better to use an image of someone who never existed. To learn by manipulating a malleable, resettable model when a character starts, and stops looking real?

Anyway thought I’d share that. Maybe it’ll help someone else out.

Oh and an afterthought. So many games have this sort of character creation now, but there’s actually one particular free-to-play PC based MMORPG named Perfect World International. It’s okay to play, a pretty standard Korean grind-fest. But it has the most near-infinitely adjustable character creation system I have ever seen. You can with effort make character models which are anything from divinely beautiful to hideously ugly with it. And as I said free to download, free to sign up, and free to play (if the grinding madness happens to strike.).

25/12/2012

Happy Turkey Day! And why Microsoft should grow the fuck up a little.

Well it’s Christmas Day, and since I already went in to precisely what that means me last year, I thought I would wax both lyrical and pissy about my present from my Partner-In-Crime. You see, as basically everyone with ears or a Facebook account connected to mine already knows, she got me an Xbox. And I am to say the very least chuffed. It’s a nice 250GB one, that came with a wireless controller, headset, some racing game I’ll probably never even open, and of course Skyrim.

So all goodness right?

Mostly, but Microsoft, Microsoft, Microsoft. You’ve been a very greedy little monkey (and not in a good way either), so Satan Claws will have to be informed. There’ll be no pretty kinky little flesh-stocking stuffer for you next year.

Why?

Well the wireless controller, you dear reader have undoubtedly assumed it would come with either a rechargeable power pack, or at least a set of rechargeable batteries. I mean, you would think that such a thing would be considered a standard part of such a bundle, right?

Well apparently Microsoft think that a pair of Duracell AA alkaline batteries covers things…Okay so let me get this straight, the multi-billion Dollar company, with an annual income which compares favourably with the gross national product of some countries, feels that it can’t stump up a rechargeable battery pack.

But that’s not all. The driving game, comes on a disk. Meh. But Skyrim is download only. Why in the fuck couldn’t they have included a hard copy? I mean would it have killed them? You know what? If it was an economy thing they could have left out the driving game entirely, given us Skyrim on disk, and I imagine that 99.999999999% of all customers would have been delighted with the result.

I mean I know why they did it this way. You HAVE to sign up for Xbox Live to get Skyrim. Which means Microsoft get their grubbing little fingers a little deeper in to your head. But this was just, just…sneaky.

And I’m totally going to tell Satan Claws on you. 😛

(In all seriousness though, I love my Xbox. Best Xmas gift EVER!”

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