I'm not a bio-terrorist, I'm a conduit!

  07:14:00 pm, by Damon   , 671 words  
Viewed 4574 times since 04/02/15
Categories: Games

Man, I am on a roll with this whole "blogging" thing. Between my personal blog that I won't link to and promote as random spam and my game reviews/impressions that I share on the UESP blog, I'm on my 5th blog post in the last week.

Anyway, I want to do an impressions post on the first couple of hours of my first playthrough of Infamous: Second Son on the Playstation 4. This isn't anything more than a disorganised ramble, because I've accumulated about 5 hours on the game, and I've written down my thoughts beforehand... Each time I blog, I make one draft, and that's what I post with little revision. :p

In short, it's a pretty great game. You play as Delsin Rowe, an Akomish Native American living in Washington. He's dressed up like your stereotypical emo brat with a vest full of patches and pins and an beanie, and the story opens up to him vandalising a billboard on his reservation. Very nice start to the game... Just what I wanted to do was play as an emo Indian.

Anyway, he quickly gets found by his brother Reggie, the local sheriff, and Reggie's berating him is interrupted by a Conduit, a being with supernatural powers that I don't understand because I didn't play the previous titles. Anyway, he accidentally gives Delsin some of his powers, and Delsin becomes a conduit with fire powers, and he chases after the Conduit who turned him, because he threatened the tribe, and then the DUP, the Department of Unified Power, which is a bastardly evil military organisation that's occupying Seattle and the surrounding area in an attempt to stamp out the very few remaining conduits (or "bio-terrorists as DUP calls them), shows up, and they attack Betty, an elderly Tribal lady and torture the tribe searching out the conduits in the area, and Delsin resolves to take care of them.

That's the gist of it without spoiling it. I'm not that far into the story, because once I got to Seattle, I started exploring instead of actually doing the missions. The gameplay is gorgeous, it's fluid, and I was quickly doing awesome stuff with his superpowers, which include turning into smoke and using air ducts to fly up to the roof, using parkour free-running to climb, shooting firebombs, etc. It's quite fun.

Delsin actually isn't that bad of a protagonist as far as emo teenagers go. He's got the kind of banter that reminds me of the old Spiderman PS2 games that had witty dialogue in them for about every scenario, and it's actually fun to go tagging, fighting, or doing random things just to hear what he has to say.

The highlight of the game so far has to be climbing up the Space Needle in Seattle and having the big showdown on it with the first real "boss" in the game. The view was amazing up there! It was incredible to look down and see the whole city and see the mountains and the Puget Sound, although the gameplay does not extend beyond the two islands that make up "Seattle".

All in all, though, it's  a fun game, and I thoroughly am enjoying it. Once I finally beat it, there's definitely going to be a review of this, I believe. It's a great game.

Also, as a completely unrelated nostalgia thingy that has no bearing on this game or the UESP, I found an old video I made with one of my mates when we were cooking fries at 3am one night and needed busy work. 

The original idea was to make a full feature film, but as you kno there was a recession and since it was only 2011 our budget was cut, then there was a catastrophic hard-drive failure, so we had to salvage what we had left and make an iMovie template for the trailer... That is, of course, a complete lie, but it's my lie, so I'm telling it the way I want to. This trailer is just rubbish. :)

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Minecraft... In Space! (A StarMade Impressions Post)

  05:50:00 pm, by Damon   , 829 words  
Viewed 4858 times since 03/29/15
Categories: Games

Everyone else is blogging, so I might as well do so as well. It's time for another posting from what I'd hope would be considered everyone's favourite guy on the UESP... Me!

In this completely impromput, totally disorganised, and probably very boring "first impressions" post, I want to talk about Minecraft... In Space! The game is called StarMade, and is similar to Minecraft in that it's a voxel-based infinitely generated universe of blocks that can be harvested for crafting. The difference is that while Minecraft focuses on a single planet, StarMade is a whole galaxy. There are tons of planet types, asteroids, space stations occupied by pirates, other factions or are derelict, and more! It's really a fun game, I think, and it hits upon my love of creating that Minecraft used to offer, and it fulfils my love for space exploration.

The game starts you off outside a Traders' Guild space station, a shop where you can buy and sell resources for Credits, and you have enough parts to build a small ship and 20,000 Credits, the currency in-game, to spend as you please. Once you make the ship, you're free to explore the galaxy. You can fit the ships you make (you can make as many as you have money to make, and I happen to have two ships, one for mining and one for exploration and light combat) with cannons to attack enemies, you can attach mining equipment to it and rip terrain and resources from planets and asteroids (which can be totally removed! - although planets are so freakin' huge I've not tried it with them), or you can just explore and look at things... Something I've done a lot of.

On a rambling, off-topic comment, it's very disorientating in space. You're used to "Down" being the direction gravity pulls you towards, but when you're away from a planet, your cardinal directions become completely arbitrary constructs that have no meaning, and so it's tricky to get used to orientating yourself or your ship to do whatever you fancy when you're floating in the black with no nearby planets, stations, or asteroids to use as a reference to call "up" or "down" on.

I've not really gotten into huge epic battles with the pirate fleets or other factions, nor have I done a lot of mining, except when I needed parts/currency to update the main exploration ship, affectionately called the Space Shuttle Dreamer after my best friend who sent me the game on Steam. The mining I have done is nice, though, and it's fun to rip every piece of material worth owning on a planet or asteroid, and then turn around and return to the one I've dubbed "Home" (creative name for a planet with trees and grass, I know) and build more of my large land-based facility above and under ground in order to facilitate my exploration and acquisition of resources...

The next stop will be an eventual space station constructed in space somewhere! That's my end goal, since there is no goal currently in the game, aside from exploration and fun. I want to make a big, glorious looking space-station to serve as my mobile home out away from Home... Why spend forever on the planet Home when I can live in the black and explore ice and lava planets and other cool stuff in a large mobile home?

Since I'm a big fan of the British sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf, I'd like my space station to be a replica of Red Dwarf, though a ship of that magnitude is a little out of reach for me as far as resources and creativity go. Then, I'd probably fly that between planets and use the SS Dreamer (my combat/exploration vessel) and the "Pickaxe" (my mining vessel, named after Minecraft) as short-range vehicles to harvest resources and other things. (Ships have no fuel, by the way, at least in alpha, and I just want to have a space station to dock to, because why not?)

This post has gotten really ramble-y at things point, but TL;DR: I really enjoy StarMade. As it turns out, the alpha version of the game is currently free and will be free to download and play, although like with Minecraft and other games, you can purchase the game for $9.99 and get to receive the updates through Beta and into the full version when that comes around. And, it excites me, because there's already a lot of amazing things in the game, and it's only in ALPHA right now! This game will only excite me more and more as time goes by and I get to update it into Beta and then the full release.

Anyway, I shall return whenever I have something interesting to say in the future, and once I've had a length of time to get into everything about the game and create a formal opinion on everything about it, I might do a proper review of StarMade. Bye, guys!

An Analysis of the Skyrim Civil War, pt. 3: The True Path

  09:13:00 am, by   , 1277 words  
Viewed 7436 times since 03/29/15
Categories: Games, Elder Scrolls, Analysis

Author's Note: I apologize for the delay in getting the final part of this analysis posted. A change in my personal life has made it more difficult to find time to get this together in a timely fashion.


So here we are. After all that beating around the bush, it's finally time to answer the question that has dogged Skyrim players since the game's release: Which side should players take in the Civil War questline? In the previous part of this analysis, I discussed the role of the One True Dragonborn in the Skyrim Civil War, and how his participation would drastically alter the outcome. My ultimate conclusion was that neither the Stormcloaks nor the Empire were worthy of this mighty warrior's allegiance, and that giving his aid to either of them would have unfortunate long-term repercussions both for the people of Skyrim and for Tamriel as a whole.


The only remaining choice, then, would be to negotiate a ceasefire and remain aloof from the war, in what we might think of as allying with the Greybeards. This is the path that nobody seems to consider as being a legitimate option, and fairly so; it's hard to think of it as a true path when there's only a single quest devoted to it, which leads many to dismiss the Season Unending quest as a cop-out for people who can't be bothered to resolve the conflict before completing the main quest. From a gameplay standpoint, I'll admit that there's some truth to that statement. But you can't very well have a questline dealing with your actions in a war after choosing to stay out of it, and I refuse to believe that Bethesda, which goes to Tolkien levels of effort to build lore for the fictional universe they created, would program a quest for remaining neutral unless it could be tied into the lore. The path of neutrality is established not through the actions of the player, but through the game's own narrative in its depiction of the Greybeards, their philosophy, and the events surrounding the Dragonborn and the Civil War; the purpose of the Season Unending quest is to tie these narrative elements together, creating a third option for completing the Civil War which is not only viable, but the most preferable option of the three.

There are several reasons the Dragonborn must not take sides in this war, and I've already touched on some of them. For starters, he's the wild card, the deciding factor in the war. A one man army will cause the side he aids to win through his strength alone, but will make that side dependent on him as both a fighter and a symbol of its cause. If his allegiance changes or he dies (as all mortals do, dragon soul or not), then that side will have lost both a sizable portion of their military strength and a symbol to rally supporters around the cause. Furthermore, a new political entity would have to emerge regardless of who wins the Civil War. For the Stormcloaks, an independent Skyrim would emerge; for the Imperials, the success of the Skyrim campaign would lead to an attempt to retake the other provinces, in the hopes of restoring the Empire to its former glory. If the Dragonborn were to become involved in the Civil War, he would necessarily become a central political figure in the aftermath, as the winning side would petition his help against the Thalmor and other threats. He would become even more involved in the conflict than he already was, but would be unable to withdraw from it without destabilizing the political entity he helped to create.

These considerations are barely, if ever, mentioned in the game, but they are very real consequences of someone with as much power as the Dragonborn participating in political affairs. This is the reason the Greybeards remain aloof from the world: Much like the Dragonborn, they are too powerful. Even if they didn't take any formal positions or titles, their power would give them status and reverence among other political leaders, who would accept their counsel without question. Even in their current, isolationist approach to world affairs, they are already highly respected by the political leaders of Skyrim; Ulfric admits that “I have the greatest respect for the Greybeards, of course,” and Balgruuf outright admits that “They are respected by all Nords.” If they became any more involved in politics, the balance of power would become largely centered around them, and having the majority of power in the hands of a few is rarely a benefit, both to a government and the people it serves. Even if the Greybeards tried to use their influence to achieve more peaceful aims, they would end up doing more harm than good. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and even the Greybeards may be corrupted in time, as evidenced by Arngeir's threats after Paarthurnax is killed: “Begone! Before even my philosophy is tested beyond the breaking point.” The Way of the Voice is an essential philosophy for learning to use the Thu'um–lest we forget, the last time a mortal was trained to use the Thu'um without following the Greybeards' philosophy, he used his powers for regicide.

Then again, it would be equally irresponsible for the Dragonborn to do nothing at all with his power when he could be using it to help people. As Delphine so bluntly puts it, “If [the Greybeards] had their way, you'd do nothing but sit up on their mountain with them and talk to the sky.” Delphine's questionable understanding of the Greybeards aside, she brings up a good point. The threats to the people of Tamriel go beyond the dragons, and the Dragonborn has the power to stop these threats as well; consequently, he also has the responsibility to do so. Of course, Delphine would have him use his power to destroy the Thalmor as well, so following her is hardly better. Like all of the other players in the war, the portrayal of the Blades' philosophy provides only a small piece of the puzzle that is the true path intended for the Dragonborn. A hero of his nature has to be very careful about how he uses his power, and that means not getting involved in messy political disputes; his only recourse, then, is to protect people without allying himself with any organizations. By serving no master but himself and protecting innocent people from threats they can't stop themselves, the Dragonborn realizes his true potential as a hero, which goes far beyond stopping a single threat.


Being a freelance hero with no true political affiliations is not only the most responsible way for the Dragonborn to use his power, but the most suitable way to do things for the kind of heroes portrayed in Elder Scrolls games: They can't be tied to one group or place, because their power may be needed elsewhere. It's why Modryn Oreyn oversees the daily operations of the Cyrodiil Fighters Guild in the Champion of Cyrodiil's absence. It's why Tolfdir holds down the fort at the College of Winterhold once the Dragonborn becomes archmage. And it's (presumably) why the Nerevarine left Tamriel for an expedition to Akavir, never to be seen again. Now again, it could be argued that this is just a way to account for the nature of sandbox games without introducing plotholes, and again, it is. But anyone who doubts that the Dragonborn works best as a neutral hero need only ask Legate Rikke and Galmar, who will both say the same thing: “I suspect you'll be of greater good to Skyrim out there, in the world.

Revision History: Pre-Order Tales of Tamriel, Vol. 1 - The Land

  09:58:00 pm, by   , 288 words  
Viewed 6546 times since 03/25/15
Categories: UESP, Analysis

Pre-order Tales of Tamriel here!

Make no mistake: 2015 is the best year ever to be an Elder Scrolls fan! There's crazy amounts of stuff going on, and I'll cover as much as possible next time. It's never been the plan to make these blogs so frequently, but these are a few awesome highlights I didn't want to wait on!

For one, The Tamrielic Town Crier came out yesterday. I just call it Required Reading.

And I have just kept forgetting to bring this up: Portable Skyrim!

Rose of Sithis started a plug.dj room for the UESP forums:

Plug.dj is a website that allows people to connect through music. You can create a room in which people can socialise. People can create their own playlist and put songs into their playlist and can choose to be in DJ queue and get the chance to share their songs with the room's audience. There's a chat which you can communicate to each other and there's also avatar customisation which you can change your look in plug.dj. It's a fun website which is very user friendly.

To quote AKB on the forum topic, "I have no clue what this is, but I am intrigued."

What About Boob Window?
Enodoc just created Online:Abbreviations and Terms. To me, this might be the most helpful and informative ESO page on the UESP to date. I'm sure it will only get better as things get added and player slang changes.

This is basically an Urban Dictionary for ESO. If you know of any common ESO terms which aren't on there, please add them! Or make a talk page suggestion, as I imagine that will eventually have to become a mandatory step for this page anyways.

Revision History: ESO Drops Mandatory Subscription

  10:26:00 pm, by   , 1683 words  
Viewed 8380 times since 03/22/15
Categories: UESP, Analysis

With the mandatory subscription gone, I can only assume ESO has seen a massive influx of new and returning players. Perhaps it's no coincidence that the UESP is seeing a small rise in new and returning contributors (welcome back, RIM!).

Update 3/23/2015- A new addition to the Loremaster's Archive is available, Songs of the Stars!

Public Service Announcement: The General Namespace
Some might not realize that the UESP has a General namespace, which is meant to provide general information related to the Elder Scrolls games. And unlike the Lore namespace, there are relatively few restrictions regarding how content is added and presented. This is the part of the site that is really dedicated to everything Elder Scrolls, but it hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. Developer information and interviews, coverage of fan fiction and other TES-related websites, etc. There's even a whole page for the Fishy Stick meme, and I'm sure there must be others we could cover. Why not have a page about the Boob Window, for example?

There's a lot of room for expansion in the General namespace, so please, share your thoughts on the Community Portal and/or the New Page Requests page if you have some ideas on what you'd like to see. Anyone can go right ahead and make improvements, of course, but for bigger additions, you're less likely to face any friction by getting some input from other contributors first.

What did you think they meant by "loyalty"?
The final Loyalty Rewards were distributed March 19, with the "loyaliest" people getting the Striped Senche-Tiger mount shown above. Thanks for paying to beta-test the game for us, folks; enjoy your cats and what-not.

Absolutely kidding! If you've been happy with your experience, fantastic, and I know a lot of people are. But I also know some people, like this guy, are feeling a little ripped off. To anyone out there who feels the way he does: sorry, and I really honestly can't thank you all enough! I hope you have still gotten a lot of enjoyment from the game and will continue to enjoy it.

If you see someone with one of these rewards, give them a bow. And maybe a sweetroll.

I want a flying minotaur, Jedi, a Dwemer airship, a BFG, levitation, Muatra, Master Chief, cars...
I really hope everyone out there is posting their wishlists for items available in the Crown Store. Let 'em know what you want to see in there, and just as importantly, what you don't want to see.

As it stands, there's some concern that some items might be a bit too generous, and risk turning the game into a Pay to Win arrangement.

Lag: They're working on it
Some players are really aggravated by latency in large-scale PvP battles, which are often creating essentially unplayable conditions depending on the number of players in close proximity to each other. According to Paul Sage, they'd hoped that Update 6 would help alleviate problems. This ultimately didn't work, but they're not giving up:

Actively, we are looking at changing the behavior of the players to remove incentives for large groups to stay in the same area. We want to do this by providing larger incentives for Alliances to split up and take on multiple-challenges in Cyrodiil. We’ll continue to work on this.

They are already pursuing changes to experience gains in trials and Cyrodiil, see here and here.

By the way, whenever the official site asks me for my age, I select April 1, with the oldest year option they have. I'm pretty sure that used to be 1899 or 1900, but now it's 1915, so ... I have discovered the Fountain of Youth.

Enlightenment Accrual Stretched to 12 Days

As discussed here, a day's worth of Enlightenment is needed to accrue a Champion Point each day (at a reasonable rate). Previously, you could only accrue Enlightenment for three days before it was capped. So if you didn't pick up the game and earn some XP after three days, you were bound to leave Enlightenment on the table.

In what seems to be a big crowd-pleaser, this cap has been raised to 12 days. This gives players a lot more freedom to set the game down for a while, and then binge on ESO as they see fit while still leveling efficiently.

The Grand ESO Mining Operation
Looking at the enormous range of placeholder pages, icons, etc., which are flooding onto the wiki, it's abundantly clear that we have a long road ahead. We now have roughly 10,000 pages and counting which are blank or close to it. It seems like it's going to take a decade, if not longer, to put all the meat on these bones.

I'm in. Come June, that is.

Perfecting Oblivion
While the pioneers are mining that new frontier, SerCenKing has been moving forward with the Oblivion NPC Redesign Project. He's put the finishing touches on a few pages recently, such as Bhisha from the Shivering Isles.

A cat? Who likes dogs?! My mind can't handle this madness!

Tamriel Rebuilt charges on
Despite all the buzz about ESO and other newer projects, people shouldn't forget that Tamriel Rebuilt is still slowly but surely moving forward. I just got Morrowind for PC, and I look forward to finally seeing Tamriel Rebuilt for myself. I've been reading about it jealously for years.

Just recently, the modder Glisp got the Esurio Viridius working! This was a giant, very grumpy venus flytrap which was planned for the very first version of Tamriel Rebuilt, but was scrapped due to bugs. They'll continue polishing it, if history is any judge, but check out an early demo below.

Now I want giant flytraps in ESO.

Random Stories of Seyda Neen
While perusing Tamriel Rebuilt's forums, I noticed that they have been having a discussion for about a month regarding Seyda Neen. They've got plans for a big Dwemer lighthouse, but there's concern over how it might contradict some lore about Seyda Neen's lighthouse, the Grand Pharos. While I can't be sure, I think this may have inspired a recent reddit topic, which then elicited an interesting backstory for the Grand Pharos from Michael Kirkbride. And all of this discussion naturally inspired a fan fiction.

After reading all that, I then got inspired to polish up the Seyda Neen lore page a little. There's no point here, I just found that interesting.

Final thoughts on the mandatory subscription - tl;dr
TES games have always been a cheap option. Since Arena all the way to Skyrim, the cost of the games are absolutely miniscule compared to the hours of enjoyment you can squeeze out of them, even if you're a filthy console player like me without access to mods. While you can't judge all facets of the matter so quantitatively, the fact remains that for much of the last two decades, TES has been a great option for penny-pinching gamers. Often the best option. I believe that this is a core strength of the TES franchise. But the mandatory subscription for ESO made their TES experience one of the most expensive gaming prospects out there.

I think, when the marketers decided on the pricing model, they overlooked this somewhat implicit expectation of the existing TES fanbase in favor of what they thought the existing MMO community would tolerate. Don't forget, they hyped the crap out of ESO before announcing the mandatory sub. And how could any existing TES fans at the time give appropriate feedback on the game's quality when they didn't know how much it would cost them?

People like me, and I think most diehard TES fans, are not done with a TES game "after three or four weeks". That's not how we play the games. Three or four years, on and off, is probably a better estimate (although I personally trend higher). A monthly subscription is entirely antithetical to how I, for one, enjoy playing the games.

Point is, while the MMO crowd may tolerate and even appreciate subscriptions for "keeping the riff-raff out", much of the existing TES community was not, and is not, tolerant of this model, and that doesn't make them all riff-raff. These are people who remember the Horse Armor Pack in Oblivion, as well as Hearthfire, the so-called "major" expansion to Skyrim. These are fans who, in other words, are justifiably reticent to pay for any and all premium TES content up front, without regard for its ultimate merit. That Zenimax is a different developer dealing in a different genre is irrelevant; Bethesda's "sister company" should still have appreciated and understood the history fans have had with the IP. I get where they were coming from - but I don't think they got where many of us were coming from. Or else they just didn't care.

I think it's fair to assume that a great percentage of TES fans have been forced not to play ESO due to their financial circumstances. I thought this was a tragedy, because there but for the grace of God go I. I was willing and able to pay a subscription, but I was and am also more than willing to tolerate free-loaders. The more, the merrier, as far I'm concerned. By making the barrier for entry so high relative to what it had been in the past, they were retarding their own game's potential by shutting out a lot of TES players. People whose love of the games is not determined by the size of their wallets - or their apprehension at being fleeced.

Anyway, the mandatory sub is gone now, and I hope the door hits its ass on the way out. Let us never speak of it again.

Bravo, Zenimax! You are inarguably making one of the best TES games of all time... for PCs, at least. Any TES fan who remembers the debacles with the PS3 version of Skyrim should reserve judgment on console ports until they see the final version, regardless of the developer. But my Imperial Edition is pre-ordered and I look forward to subscribing, because the last thing any of us want is for another TES masterpiece to be left unfinished.