Issue time11:54:51 am, by Damon   2916 views
Categories: Welcome

So, a while ago, I posted why I felt like the story to Fallout 3 disappointed me. I know what the plot is, or at least have a really good idea where it's going (actually, I may have looked up online how it ended), and while the story as a whole was good, it felt too rigid in terms of roleplaying, despite Bethesda's excellent skill at making games appear open and roleplayable (indeed, most games they make are roleplayable in more ways than just one.

However, for the sake of the story, I decided I wanted to play the game with a fresh character and completely finish the story, just to give the game a fair shot over New Vegas, which I feel was a better game (and one I've actually completed... Many times). Here's a brief little observation I've noted:

Is it just me, or are caps and bullets in shorter supply in Fallout 3? It could just be me being a bad player with less time in F3, meaning I lack knowledge of where everything is at, unlike in F:NV.

Not that it's necessarily a bad thing, I mean. I feel it adds to the wasteland experience and the feel like you are trying to survive a post-apocalypse when you're short on money often, and you have to make every shot count.

Of course, on the other hand, the Las Vegas area was largely spared from nuclear armageddon, by House's anti-air defences, so the cities are still (somewhat) in-tact, and there is a feel of civilisation still (and gambling chips, NCR paper, and Legion coins as extra currency make it money in better supply, miserable exchange rates aside), and with that better hold on civilisation, there are additional services in the area like well stocked gun sellers, meaning that it makes sense that there can be everything in better supply, though it's still slightly less fun than having an ammo shortage.

There we go... I prefer Fallout: New Vegas over Fallout 3 generally, but this struggle to have money to meet your basic living needs in Fallout 3 does add to the feel of having to survive, which is more entertaining for me.

And, I have something else that's been bugging me. I saw on the Bethesda fora, specifically within the Fallout section (Duh, it's Fallout related), that numerous people complain that despite two hundred years of surviving the apocalypse, nobody had fixed up the buildings to appear as they would pre-war, opting to live in shanty towns on crappy roads...

I just want to point out that given that there were presumably at least two to three generations of people focusing purely on adapting and surviving the wastes, the art of paving roads with a machine probably fell off the radar, and when the people of Fallout 3 came along, they didn't know how to use the rusted, 200 year old pieces of machinery, nor were they necessarily functional.

For me, it makes perfect sense that less important things like roads would become less important when there are few cars (I say few, because I know that in Fallout: Tactics the Brotherhood of Steel shows they possess the know-how to rebuild and operate vehicles - presumably other people in other regions can too, though I don't know if that is demonstrated within any games), who have to use them, and the main focus is staying within your safe area and community to feed yourself and make a safe, permanent structure. Not to mention there's no guarantee the asphalt place even works, nor would the average joe know how to make it.

It's Survival 101, really. You don't exert unnecessarily calories and energy on a task that will not offer enough reward to make up for the energy output. While many appear to disagree with me and want to see a settlement completely perfect after 200+ years, judging from the forum responses to these various threads, I feel like there ought not be a solid settlement so soon, unless there were a particularly remarkable community somewhere, who happened to survive apocalypse, keep knowledge of pre-war technology, and were able to operate spared machinery that was saved and maintained... Meaning it's pretty much just the Brotherhood of Steel who could do it, though they've certainly got better things to do than help the common person... Selfish bastards.

Anyway, that's my random set of thoughts on Fallout.

And, here's some random fun facts: Using the Blog Archive button to look at old posts, I noticed that 2013 was the most prolific year for bloggers, with most of the year being posted during, save for May and June, and this month, January 2014, has more individual posts than the past months. Hooray for random facts!

I'm going now.

Issue time06:18:33 pm, by Jeancey   4766 views
Categories: Welcome

After watching the first of my two teams win the football game (GO BRONCOS!), I realized something. There are no sports in the world of the Elder Scrolls. Many games have some sort of fake sport that people talk about, but not in the Elder Scrolls series at all. I guess you could argue that the Arena in Oblivion was a type of sport, but I'm not sure that it qualifies.

I propose that for the next Elder Scrolls game, a sport be added. Not a real life, actual sport that people play, but a fake sport specifically designed for the Elder Scrolls series. Since it is my personal belief that the Summerset Isles are going to be the setting of the next single player game, I'm going to focus on the Altmer. I've always thought that the perfect sport for the Altmer would be golf. It is usually a quiet sport, it involved hills and greenery, which are abundant in the Summerset Isles, and the players are usually quite tall. However, this wouldn't be golf as we know it today. I picture the ball being much, much bigger, say the size of a basketball. The club, then, would also be much bigger. And near the hole, you would have your opponent (this being a sport where it is you against a single other player, in a match of sorts) who would be blindfolded with a bat of sorts. They have to try and swing and hit the ball away from the hole. However, they are not allowed closer than 5 yards to the hole, and are not allowed more than 15 yards away from the hole. I think this would be the perfect sport for the Elder Scrolls series.

Since I have another football game to watch, I'll ask this: What sport do you think they should play in the Elder Scrolls? Make one up, or use an existing sport, it is up to you!!

Also, GO SEAHAWKS!!!!

Issue time02:20:38 am, by Damon   2969 views
Categories: Welcome, Games, Elder Scrolls

There's totally a nonverbal conspiracy where we all post updates together or within a few days of each other! Haha... Nah, not at all.

There has been a lot of controversy regarding Master Neloth's reference to Indoril Nerevar's reincarnation being referred to as a "he". Even over a year later users are still complaining on UESP, on the various fora with a TES section (ours, BethSoft's, etc) that it was a bug or an oversight that Neloth assigned a gender to the Nerevarine, and it's gotten to where there have been many edits attempting to call it an error on UESP.

I certainly understand (and want to agree with the fans) the fans' frustrations at a definitive gender being assigned to the character, depriving the player the possibility of having a female character be Nerevarine. After all, there have been plenty of heroine's in the TES saga and in other sagas, and most of my own characters as of late have been female. There's just something so satisfying about the fairer sex rising up to become a grand saviour of the free world, I suppose.

However, we have to look at it this way: Regardless of whether or not the users agree, it's UESP's job to document the Elder Scrolls series as-is. It's not our place to pick and choose what's lore or not. Maybe it was an oversight, maybe it was deliberate. The point is, until Bethesda confirms the Nerevarine is male (which can make sense, seeing how Indoril Nerevar was a male), or until they confirm it's an oversight, we have official in-game content stating he's a male, and that's lore in my book. Look at the main character of Arena, for example. The in-game manuals, plus some out-of-game sources cite the character as being named "Talin". There is precedent to Bethesda suggesting certain qualities of a character are set, regardless of the playability of that game.

From the lore side of things, it also makes sense that a gender would be defined. After all, the authors of Tamriel are rather efficient and up-to-date about the happenings of their world, and in my own opinion, there has to be something definite about the characters, since it wouldn't make sense that such meaningful and important events are mysteriously glossed over when the game is so concise in any other way. In that aspect, there are some aspects and arguments that could be used to make it a necessity that there be some definition of who a character is, regardless of game mechanics.

It's a tough argument and controversy many Morrowind players are facing with Dragonborn, and we can argue in circles on both sides of the coin, but it's really all for naught. Whether we like or dislike, it's not our place to say, it's Bethesda's. And, until they confirm one way or the other, we have to accept it for what it is.

Issue time06:40:55 pm, by Jeancey   2900 views
Categories: Games, Elder Scrolls, UESP

Morrowind, by far, has always been my favourite of the Elder Scrolls games. Many people complained about its combat system or about the graphics, but I don't think they truly grasped the beauty of the game. In the early 2000s, game maps were essentially funnels; you had to go here through this specific path, with occasional offshoots and secret areas for you to find. As is often the case, if you saw something in the distance, you couldn't get there directly. You had to go through some elaborate path in order to get there. Often these barriers were logical, as long as you didn't think too hard about them. Neverwinter Nights, for instance, you were often blocked by cliffs and mountains, and masses of trees. If you think too hard about this, however, you realize that all of the open areas are nearly perfect squares, and you realize how unnatural that is.

Morrowind was different. You were open, and free, and allowed to go anywhere you could see. There was never anything on the horizon that, once you got closer, you realized you couldn't actually reach. In some ways, it was even better at this than Oblivion or Skyrim because it was set on an island, Vvardenfell. There are places in Oblivion that you could see, but you couldn't actually reach due to the barriers involved, as was the case in Skyrim, but in Morrowind, the entire world was at your fingertips.

Morrowind also felt so much larger to me than Oblivion and Skyrim. I'm sure if you look at the actual area involved in the game, Oblivion and Skyrim will both be bigger, but the impression one got from playing the game just wasn't the same. Morrowind felt huge, massive even. After hundreds of hours of playing, if you started a new game, you could still find places that you have never been to before. A large part of this, I think, is due to the map and travel systems. In the later games, every location, once discovered, will appear on the map. Even before they appear they can be seen on the compass so that you know when there are locations nearby. Once you found those locations, you could essentially teleport between locations at will. Morrowind didn't have any of this. Sure you had a map with locations marked on it, but only the most major locations or the largest dungeons were displayed. If you zoomed in on your immediate area, you could see markers for the entrance to a location that you had been to before, but not ones you had never seen. There was no compass pointing you to the entrance, or a easy way to move between dungeons, you had to physically run there. This, more than anything, is what made Morrowind feel so large. The world just doesn't feel big when you can go from Bruma to Leyawiin at the click of a button. Even the travel options in Morrowind, silt striders, boats, guild guides and the stronghold teleportation system provided easy and logical limitations on your movement. You can't simply take the boat from Khuul and appear at Tel Mora, you had to boat hop from place to place, getting yourself closer to your destination, just as you can't take a plane from Seattle and fly directly to Moscow; you have to stop a few times along the way.

More than that, though, the world itself felt more alive. You didn't go into a dungeon and kill some generic bandits who would respawn when you returned 10-30 days later. You killed real people, with names and uniqueness. When you went back to that dungeon ten, fifteen or even one-hundred days later, those people were still dead, and no one had taken their place. You could make a real impact on the world. You weren't limited in any way on what you could do, within reason or logic of course. If you wanted to kill Caius Cosades, the main quest giver for the main quest, you could. He wouldn't just be brought to his knees, only to get back up a few seconds later. He would be dead. Of course you have now ruined your game, but you were allowed to.

In all, Morrowind felt like the biggest, fullest, and most alive world that Bethesda has ever created, and better than any other game I have played to date. It might not have had the best combat systems or graphics, but who needs those in a role-playing game? All you need is a character, and the ability to affect any change you want upon the world.

Issue time05:47:32 pm, by AKB   6279 views
Categories: Games, Elder Scrolls, UESP

I do not want to write this. As a rule, I hate touching on this topic more than it is absolutely necessary. But I already did the teaser in the last entry, so I guess it's unavoidable now.

The Champion of Cyrodiil, the player character from Oblivion, is absolutely the most problematic hero this series has ever created. Why, you might be asking? Because the developers had the neat idea to allow the player to become The Sovereign of The Shivering Isles, Lord of the Never-There, The Fourth Corner of the House of Troubles, the Gentleman with the Cane, the Prince of Madness, The Mad God. I am of course referring to the Champion of Cyrodiil taking up the mantle of Sheogorath during the events of the Shivering Isles expansion for Oblivion.

It should be obvious to anyone that having one of your gaming avatars become a bona fide god in the context of the setting would be problematic. But making him into one of the "eviler" gods? It's madness. Rather literally so in this case, actually. Unlike the Nerevarine, who basically just exited Tamriel stage right, Sheogorath is one of the most integral elements of the world, and is one of the few reoccurring figures in the games. So not only did Bethesda make it so that the Champion of Cyrodiil would remain relevant in the future (as he would surely already be), but they also put him in a position where it would be rather hard for them to exclude him from future games. The Nerevarine, even without that little detail of him leaving the continent entirely, didn't mean we would ever see him again. All they would have to do is not have us visit Morrowind, or if they did, not a part of it where he currently was. The Daedric Princes, on the other hand, can easily pop up anywhere.

Considering the fact that Sheogorath had appeared in all of the games in the main series since his introduction, there is no good way to write him out of newer games. While there was a small way for them to avoid the old hero, by having Jyggalag take his place in the cast of often seen Daedra, that even would not have avoided the events of the Shivering Isles entirely, since the return of Jyggalag is one of the biggest parts of that expansion.

To speak tangentially here, for just a moment, the absence of Jyggalag from Skyrim did surprise me. It's hard to just ignore godhood, that's the issue with making a character that we controlled into one, as Bethesda can't ignore Sheogorath as easily as some inexplicably anonymous hero. I had figured that he would have shown up, in some quest where you help him branch out into the mortal realm again. But that doesn't happen, in fact, no one even mentions him a single time in Skyrim. Here's hoping we'll see our new orderly Prince make his return in the next game that isn't an MMO.

Even before the release of Skyrim, the Champion of Cyrodiil was causing problems due to this weird situation. As becoming an insane Daedric Prince isn't the ideal end for a character that you made to most people, a lot of fans of the series argued over the canonicity of him being the Mad God. The policy on the UESP is that all quests that do not contradict are assumed to be completed, with conflicting paths being mentioned as being so. But most people didn't want to listen to that, so they argued over it every way possible. Everything from fan theories (including such cliches as it just being a dream, or your character went crazy in the Shivering Isles (which is basically the exact same scenario we currently have, only with Sheogorath still being the old Sheogorath)), to demands that we change the policy, were thrown at us so that this wasn't put on the wiki.

Once Skyrim hit store shelves, the issues with Sheogorath grew so much worse. Bethesda included some lines of dialogue that clearly suggest that he is or was the Champion of Cyrodiil: "You are far too hard on yourself, my dear, sweet, homicidally insane Pelagius. What would the people do without you? Dance? Sing? Smile? Grow old? You are the best Septim that's ever ruled. Well, except for that Martin fellow, but he turned into a dragon god, and that's hardly sporting... You know, I was there for that whole sordid affair. Marvelous time! Butterflies, blood, a Fox, a severed head... Oh, and the cheese! To die for." (note that it is hard to attribute what the butterflies, cheese, or blood may be referring to, as there are so many options for them. However, the original line of dialogue, "You know, I was there for that whole sordid affair. What a marvelous time! I remember blood, and cheese, and there was a severed head." is much less referential than the one that was used) And people went nutters over that, arguing over how we might be interpreting it wrong, or that they meant Sheogorath was there in spirit, or anything to get around saying that the CoC went crazy. But I won't linger on those arguments more than I have already, they were rather not fun, and I would hate to spark them again.

The insane idea that the fans are not only the starring role, but also get a say in how the story goes is the unique problem to the RPG genre. There really is not a good way to handle these "used" characters. You can't write them out of the story, just say they went away, or have them remain in the story without some problems arising. After all, the player is not controlling a character, the player is the character. Yet, all the while the player is dictating the shape of the leading role, the development team clearly had some ideas on who that character is supposed to be. They usually express this through later decisions on which one of several possible actions occurred, or just disallowing certain behaviors. For example, the main character in the recent games did not kill children, for any reason (note that I say recent games, the Agent from Daggerfall cannot say the same). Still, while you don't want your fans to have too much input onto the role, by putting them in charge of it, you're going to step on some toes when you say they didn't remove the liver of every grandmother in the world, or even make it so they can't. That is the disconnect between what the player can do with a character, and who that character is. I could go around slaughtering every single nice person in the world as publicly as I want to, but that doesn't mean we have to say that the game character spent the next millennium in a prison cell for the murder of every citizen in the entire country. That wouldn't make any sense.

The historical protagonist just has to ignore all that messing about in between the quests, for the most part. It's hard to have the player's character from another game show up in another one if you do anything else, and you don't intend to piss people off. While some people may not like it, there really isn't a cleaner way to run things available. The only real issue with this approach is what happens when the story has split paths for you to take, which is coincidentally the number one issue facing the Dovahkiin, and is the next topic I am going to discuss.