Thursday, 29 December 2011

Skyrim - Blackreach and Other things

Last night I spent a good few hours searching out red Nirnroot in Blackreach and eventually finding all of them.  I actually went looking for the Elderscroll which in itself took about three minutes when I went straight to it, but I decided to do the Nirnroot quest and spent ages wandering around.

I also did some geode mining for soul gems even though I have a ton of them, but one can never have enough for those enchanted weapons.  I even got a couple of extra black soul gems from mining which was a nice addition.

Blackreach is pretty amazing.  The size and layout, not to mention the actual environment, is very imaginative and takes ages to get through depending if you want to do it all of course.  Thankfully there actually were more than the 30 red Nirnroots I needed and I looked in every nook and cranny with a few to spare.  I only died once and that was to an annoying Falmer archer that skewered me in two shots no matter where I came at him.   I got him with a lucky Flame Breath shout and Chain Lightning on the second try while my companions kept him busy.

Somewhere in there I saw a giant in the distance, but couldn't find him again when I went back to look.  I even aggro'ed the Centurions and flamed them to death.  They are pretty fast for a huge mechanical monstrosity and their steam breath is deadly at close quarters, but then I don't get close.  Going toe to toe with one of those hulks would be suicidal for my sneaky little Khajiit mage/archer.  I'm level 37 focusing on stealth, archery, destruction and some blade, and can take most enemies with few problems, but hitting a big steaming, moving metal wall doesn't sound like a good survival tactic.

I must say though as much as I'm loving this game I do wish there was more variety in the enemies in caves and tombs.  Several versions of the same Draugr just upgraded in health and with different names and with maybe a few fragile skeletons in the mix occasionally gets to be very predictable.  The same goes for the Falmer and Chaurus in Dwemer ruins, although there were a few human Falmer slaves in Blackreach.  Even though I hate them, especially when they sit in their webs until you get close or drop on you, (shudder) the spiders could also do with some variety and their poisons never level up in strength either which makes them a bit useless at higher levels.

I feel like I've been playing this game for ages yet I still have a long way to go, which is a very good thing.

After getting out of Blackreach I cleared out some Forsworn camps with my companions, Vigilance the dog and Kharjo, a Khajiit warrior from the traveling caravans, and I wish I had gotten a screen shot but didn't think of it at the time.  Next time I will though.  Anyway, I gave Kharjo a staff of Chain Lightning to carry for me and he uses it well so I keep it charged for him.   However, somewhere along the line he must have picked up a Fire Staff (I don't remember picking it up myself and passing it to him) and he had one in each hand blasting enemies left and right with lightning and fire.  Dual wielding staves....It was such a sight that I just sat back and laughed.  It was awesome.

Not to mention earlier on in a quest I gave him a Staff of Zombies to carry and he methodically went round resurrecting bodies left and right to fight for us.  Not that they lasted long.   And people say the AI is stupid.....well it is when it comes to setting off traps and getting caught in them unable to get some of the Dwemer traps.  Good thing I made my companions essential.   Vigilance doesn't have that problem as he's short enough that most traps pass over his head....literally...XD.  Sometimes it pays to be short, but his problem is he's long and gets stuck in corridors sometimes.  Can't have it both ways I suppose..XD.

Anyway, this is my character Tukassi and Kharjo together ready for action.  He has Ebony armour and helm now though and I'm in Nightingale armour.

Speaking of Nightingales...

And a nice scenery shot of my horse at dusk.  Poor thing doesn't get out much since Kharjo can't ride a horse of his own though.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone

I'd like to wish everyone a happy and safe Christmas season and I hope it brings you all the good things you wish or hope for.

It's going to be a very hot day here so I'll be sleeping in, taking my dog for a walk and playing Skyrim later I imagine unless anything changes.  I'd like to get together with my family but that's unlikely even though we live in the same city.   Long story which I won't bore you with and is probably happening to many, many others around the world.

Not to put a further dampener on things but I'll be glad when it's over, the shops have made their profits and the world gets back to whatever is ironically called normality..  You know...after the peace and goodwill have worn off, the hangovers kick in and people remember they hate each other and are at war with each their homes and abroad.  War and hate are not of course what I want but it's the reality of the way things are.   I personally find this this time of year extremely depressing....or more than usual anyway.

The never ending circle of hate and cruelty will continue unabated as it always has, and not even stop for many over these few days, despite the major religions praying for peace and goodwill to all mankind.   I wonder if deep down the preachers of different religions even believe what they say when they can't even agree among themselves about the original story and what it's supposed to mean.

I have no religion and don't believe in any of it except the part about treating people the way I would like to be treated, (aka the Golden Rule) but if people only took 1/10th of the supposed true meaning of Christmas to heart for longer than it takes to unwrap presents, maybe the world wouldn't be in such a mess.

Around the end of next month when this Christmas is a distant memory, Easter eggs will be in the stores (they appear earlier each year) and that message will also be forgotten in the mass of  melting chocolate (summer here) in the run up to the actual Easter period which is several months away.  I like chocolate as much as anyone, but commercialism has gone mad in the name of what it's all supposed to mean.  Greed sucks.

To all the good people who try their best to be kind to others and especially the less fortunate or people who may be suffering themselves, I wish you hope and peace.

Please remember to be thoughtful and don't forget the animals we share this world with as they deserve better than they often get especially at this time of the year.  Our pets we share our lives with in particular need our care and kindness as much as family and friends.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Skyrim Damaged Archery Skill And How To Fix It

I noticed somewhere along the line my Archery skill seemed to be damaged and instead of being at 50+, it was at 20 and in red.  It appears to have happened between level ups and as I had no diseases or other negative active effects going to a shrine didn't fix it.

No wonder my arrows seemed to do nothing and just drop to the ground short of the target, and of course it was alerting enemies to my sneaky presence.  I couldn't work out what was going on until I looked at my Skills menu and I thought "Well crap, what's this?"   I was also wearing a ring with an archery enchantment and later found gloves of archery, but neither of those changed anything in the skills menu.  They did show up in active effects though.

After some searching on Google I found only two references to it and a comprehensive reply here.  Apparently it is one of the many game bugs.

This mentions using the console but also says it can be fixed just by using the skill until it levels again.  This worked for me, but I thought I would post about it in case anyone else has the problem. Apparently it can happen with the one handed skill as well.

I don't know if this bug crops up on consoles but the easy solution of using the skill until it levels should also work I imagine.  Otherwise it will be a wait until Bethesda fixes it if they even know about it.

Now here's a pic of my new and improved Vigilance (and all dogs) using Alienslof's textures. 

And a sabre tooth.  The snowy sabre tooth cats also have new textures but I haven't come across one yet.

A nice serene place for a picnic or just to  It's in a quest cave where nothing wants to take you home for lunch or worse.  A nice surprise that I wasn't expecting.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Learning Curve

I mentioned I bought The Witcher 2 last week and I finally got it installed and played for awhile after downloading nearly a GB in patches. 

Well it's been a bit of a learning curve I must say and I hate Quick Timed Events with a passion.  Didn't know about those beforehand and I detested them in the Resident Evil games.   I only put up with those because the RE series is one of my favourites and I think it's more than a little ridiculous, especially in an rpg like The Witcher 2.

I haven't even made it through the prologue yet, mainly because of Skyrim and other things, but I'm finding it needlessly frustrating in some places.   I have plenty of experience in combat orientated games but the system used in this game leaves something to be desired.   I guess I'll persevere though as the story sounds good, the graphics are stunning and it will probably get easier.

The weird thing is I chose to do the tutorial just to familiarize myself with the mechanics and because I died in the arena stage with one enemy still alive the game decided I should play in Easy mode according to  my performance...which is a laugh in itself because it is not easy by any means.  It's not so much the combat as the instructions on screen that flash on and off telling you to use this or that power which if I hadn't done the tutorial I would have no idea how to use and still don't effectively.  I have a good memory but the manual is no use in fast situations like that. 

Also some things aren't explained in the manual very well.  I had no idea what to do with the mutagens as the manual just says put it in an available slot.  Saying where would be nice.  I eventually worked it out but it was annoying.

Anyway, if I want to play the game I have to be sure to continue to access the game within a 2 month period or my code is revoked and I have to reinstall....and download those big patches again.  I assume if I just load the game now and then that will suffice if I don't get time to play it straight away.  Skyrim comes first.

Horses and Dragons

I recently discovered that Alienslof has made some beautiful textures for the horses in Skyrim and that she is planning to work on them more when the CK is released.  Here's hoping she will do something with the dogs.  I sent her an email to say thanks for the horses and I'm glad to see she will be modding for Skyrim.  Can't wait to see what she does next with the animals even if it's only the dogs (possibly I hope) and horses.

EDIT:  Just got a reply from Slof and she has done the dogs and sabre cats and they look just amazing.  Expect some screen shots soon.  

I like the horses in the game and would actually use them more if my traveling companion could ride which I think is a glaring omission.  I feel really bad when I can ride in comfort and my follower has to run behind and try to keep up.  It feels wrong so I only ride occasionally for the novelty factor.  Having to SLOWLY dismount or leave the horse a mile away to kill a few wolves and other assorted beasties is another annoyance.  I could just gallop past them but it's not always ideal and when a dragon spots me there's no other choice when they continue to hunt me down no matter where I go.

I've already mentioned in another post about their suicidal nature and that enemies always attack the horse first which I read somewhere was not supposed to happen.  Then I discovered they report you for crimes as well.   The guards must think it's their lucky day when the domestic animals do their work for them because I believe chickens also report you and not just for stealing their eggs from their nests.

This is my horse now thanks to Slof.   I wish I could name him/her though.  It was possible in Oblivion using the console and "setactorfullname" but it apparently doesn't work in Skyrim.

I'm now at the stage of the game where Blood dragons are appearing which is fine because I can manage them as long as I keep out of bite, wing and tail swipe range.  However, on one occasion I drew the short straw and had two at once out in the open which was a trial, and on the first try one of them landed while the other strafed me with flames, and it actually grabbed me in it's jaws and threw me into the stratosphere.  Needless to say I died.   What was worse was I was almost out of potions with nowhere to hide to regenerate magicka, but I got them on the second attempt.  They surprised me the first time.

What was worse than that was killing a blood dragon, absorbing the soul and relaxing thinking it was over.  As I walked toward word wall a coffin flew open and a named Dragon Priest flew out and proceeded to try and obliterate me.   I took a very nice mask with some great bonuses from his undead body and an excellent set of glass armour from the chest which I must say is a massive improvement on the neon green and horrible shape glass from Oblivion.

Well, I'm off to continue liberating Skyrim on the side of the Stormcloaks.  They may be biased against other races but when I listen to what the have to say about the elves and how their homeland was invaded and almost taken from them I find myself sympathizing.   I hate the Imperials anyway.  They remind me too much of real life government and they are only puppets working with a more powerful and oppressive group.

Plus, I got have very nice house now (besides the one in Whiterun) and luckily I didn't have the glitch a lot of people have had where the house isn't cleaned up after a certain quest.   I just wish I could put more than 11 books onto a bookshelf that has three shelves and only one is used, but at least I have more room now to store all my other gear and junk.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

RAGE and The Witcher 2

I bought RAGE and The Witcher 2 Premium Edition at EBGames today since they were having a big sale.

TW2 has a map, Premium Strategy Guide, making of DVD, soundtrack and a few other extras that I probably won't use, but it was one of two leftovers they had from the initial release and it was only $47.  

I haven't yet installed it because I'm tired from playing Skyrim half the night and because I had to do the shopping and bill paying thing today, but will get to it shortly, or maybe tomorrow.   I have a Skyrim itch at the moment even though I need to get the matchsticks out to keep my eyes 

I'm working through the Thieves Guild missions in Skyrim which I think are way better than the Oblivion quests.   I got a severe tongue lashing from my quest giver for burning down too many bee hives in the first quest.   It apparently made him look bad since he recommended me, poor   The all knowing eye sees all...or the house owner with connections reported me.

It didn't help that a dragon arrived at the same time and was causing havoc just as I was about to torch the hives, which should have been a distraction for the mercenaries but they still managed to split their time between the dragon, which they actually killed, and me, even though I was being sneaky.  I still got the soul though as I was swimming away and I never actually found the corpse.    I suppose the skeleton will drop on me next time I'm near there.

Back to the Witcher....I have the first game but I didn't like it that much and spat the dummy when I couldn't get past a boss, but I may or may not get it out again and give it another go.  For one thing you can import saves to TW2 and apparently people will recognize things you've done in the previous game.  It's not necessary to play first though as far as the storyline etc.   

I watched a few Youtube videos so I could see the combat which is an important thing for me and it looks pretty good.  It also has massive bosses but since I've been playing Age of Conan and that is a frantic and skill orientated game, I think things will be different this time and I will persevere with them. 

I did install RAGE and after the long install process and patch download from Steam, I played for an hour or so and really enjoyed it.   It looks like a fun shooter that doesn't require a lot of thinking so it can be a diversion when I want a bit of a change.

The install is 3 DVD's at 20 Plus GB so it must have a lot of content.  Or maybe that's all the speech and graphics which are very, very good.  It's also multiplayer so I guess that adds to the size, but I'm not interested in MP.   I like the game play even though it's a console port like a lot of PC games these days and at least the interface is more PC centric.  I absolutely hate the music though or at least what I've heard so far so I've turned that way down.  It's not the style so much but more that it's grating and the combat music never stops even when there's a lull in fighting.

I see a lot of complaints on Bethesda's Official forums for RAGE, but so far I haven't had any issues.  As I said I only played for an hour, but hopefully nothing will go wrong.  One gets to expect problems with modern games these days, yet I might be pleasantly surprised.

The Elder Scrolls Novels

I was at the public libray today and as I walked past the stand where they feature new books my eye was drawn to a book called "Lord of Souls" by Greg Keyes which is actually an Elder Scrolls novel.   Naturally I've borrowed it.

It's set 40 years after the Oblivion crisis where a floating city spawns a terrifying undead army that threatens Tamriel.   I don't know how I missed it but I bet it's common knowledge and I'm behind the times as usual.

There's a previous novel by the same author called "The Infernal City" which I'm going to see if I can find or ask the library to get it for me via inter library loan or something.

Anyway, I have a few other books to get through first including Terry Pratchett's latest, "Snuff" so I'll be sure to comment on it later.

Both books are mentioned on Beth's blog here as well as a link to an interview with the author:

Monday, 12 December 2011

Age of Conan - The Honeymoon Is Over - For The Time Being

As much as I have enjoyed playing Age of Conan, there are just too many problems with the game at the moment for me to continue which is a bit sad because I really do like it a lot.   After several months the novelty has finally worn off, mainly because of the game's current problems.   It surprised me really that I stayed with it so long which does, I suppose, say how good a game it is, IMHO.

The gloss wears off pretty quickly for me with most games unless they have something really special or can be modded.   Repetitive play isn't usually my thing, but AOC does have a lot of variety so it was fairly easy to stay involved.  Trouble is it has too many problems at the present.

The latest patch which was a huge update to the game engine among other things, was really the last straw.  I was thinking of subscribing and kept putting it off, but now I've finally decided I won't be going ahead.   Bit sad really because I would like to have seen and played with the Premium content, but it's just too annoyingly unstable and I have other games that don't cause me so much aggravation....and they don't cost a monthly fee plus more if I wanted to buy other exclusive content.   I can only guess how paying customers are feeling.   Actually, going by the forums I don't really have to guess.

That's another thing.  If you're looking for info on the game or solutions to problems, don't bother with the Funcom official forums.  The majority of important info is way out of date and is mostly from 2008 despite that there have been many changes to classes, game play and other areas in the interim.   It's a very unfriendly and in my opinion, rude and spiteful place that would  make any new player feel immediately unwelcome, except for a very few members who actually do try to help.

The game is supposed to be very well supported by a huge player base so they would have people believe, yet the forums are almost empty.  Questions either don't get an answer or some smart ass with an inferiority complex feels the need to shoot the person down to make themselves feel better, or the topic just veers off into bitching and off topic crap.  There are a lot of whiners who keep saying they will never play again, withdraw or not renew their subs and generally seem to enjoy making life hard for others, yet if they hate the game as much as they say, why do they hang around?......makes one wonder what their RL life is, not really, it must be a very sad and dreary one.  Just more cases of internet anonymity and fake personas.    I'm glad I'm not a member and don't plan to be.  Forums and I don't get along terribly well and that one definitely ruffles my feathers the wrong way.

From what I see and read there's a lot of resentment from paying players towards free to play people, but without the f2p players the game would be almost empty.   As it is I play at night which is prime time in the US or so I gather, (I'm in Australia) and I find it difficult to find other players to team with.   Entire zones are often empty or have just a few people playing and that's very often over a span of  8 hours because that's how long some of my play sessions are.  I'm talking about weekends when more people would most likely be playing, not so much during the week when it's expected to be quieter.

Funcom recently gave free players permanent access passes to some premium dungeons.  The only reason I can see for that is so other players can get a team together to do them because I've seen it mentioned and complained about, for good reason, by premium players on the forums.  The Sanctum of Burning Souls is one such popular dungeon.  While as a free player I appreciate the sentiment, it's still not easy to find others to team with to raid the group dungeons.

Between server restarts every night during prime time (which have settled down to 12 hourly) to CTD's, freezes, memory leaks, audio loop crashes, lost inventory space and items, lost friends lists, messed up trader transactions and missing items in the mail system, severe lag and rubber banding, crashes on certain bosses and at death, to list some of the problems, it gets really frustrating.

Thunder River especially around the Prison Colony pre patch was a stuttering slide show, but I did read it's not so bad now and it certainly couldn't have been much worse.  Being rubber banded into the river from a bridge or off a cliff to my death due to whatever the problem is...lag or bad optimization, is BAD.   It's always in the same places like the bottom of the palisades and on bridges over the water, which I think is half the problem, so it really needs looking into even more.  There's a huge thread devoted to it, but nothing seems to change.

I was highly annoyed to find my level 71 Barbarian had lost  more than half a page of resource inventory space and therefore a lot of rare materials for alchemy and armour crafting.    She also lost some normal inventory space even after having previously purchased a larger bag at an in game merchant, and therefore items I had in my bag are gone or unusable.   Another player suggested I petition it but what would be the point as I wouldn't get the items back and I've since found it's not just me but others as well, including Premium players.

My other character, a Guardian who is now at level 58 is doing gem cutting and weapon crafting so both characters have complementary crafts and can send things to each other via the Trader.  However, now with so much resource space gone it seems pointless to continue as gems, metals and other resources need a lot of room.  Free players only get a basic inventory and very little other storage anyway so losing what I already have on top of the other problems is not inspiring me to subscribe.

And then there's the 2 gold limit for f2p, but that's another story and not a glitch from the patch.

My friends list is now empty which is a pain because I thought at first I'd been dropped from their lists and felt a bit let down for a, wondering what I'd done..  Then I find this is also affecting others including premium players, as are the other problems.  Trouble is I haven't bothered to write the names down and some have unusual spelling so I can't really search for them and just have to hope I come across them sometime which seems unlikely now.

Anyway,  I'll probably not be playing until I read that the game has been fixed and is back to it's mostly stable Pre 1.3.3 patch condition.   At least Skyrim's problems are being sorted albeit it in a roundabout backward fashion and I can lose myself in the snowy wilderness fighting dragons.   That's also another story of woe and much gnashing of collective

Skyrim - I'm In Love

No, not in love with an  That's a level of role playing that doesn't interest me and as far as I've read it's pretty basic anyway.

Since the 1.3 patch and the unlisted stability fixes as well as the multi core support (and fixing the previous patch issues) my game has never been more stable.  No freezes....NONE in over 12 hours since I started playing again.  Last night I had one CTD after several hours and I restarted and played until the sun came up (several more hours) without a sign of a problem.

This is all on Ultra with a heap of added texture packs, but no other mods at all.

A few things I really notice are some balancing issues.  For example...once again last night a cave bear was in the area when a dragon attacked.  In fact the dragon aggro'ed it and sent it my way as in the last dragon encounter.   I killed the dragon solo in a couple of minutes with magic (shock), yet the bear almost one hits me even after using my entire mana pool on it, and summoning help.    I'm starting to think bears and dragons are in league with each other.

Another thing is the various companions one can hire.  Oh, and horses.  I have a dog which dies from one bandit encounter so I left him home at Whiterun and now he's gone back to where I bought him according to a screen message.  I assume I have to buy him again.  My horse zeros in like a kamikaze and attacks anything that looks remotely hostile including dragons, even when I've left him a long way back and far from the action.   No, he can't just stay out of it, he has to gallop up the road and get himself roasted, frozen into horse steaks by dragons or sliced and diced by bandits and other assorted sharp things.

Why can't human companions use health potions like they could in Fallout 3 and New Vegas (IIRC)?  I picked up a fighter in Markarth who isn't nearly as patronizing as Lydia and he died too easily fighting a dragon with me.  I resurrected him but he didn't have all the gear he was carrying for me so I reloaded.   This time I spent as much time making sure he was alive and using a heal other spell, as I did throwing fireballs at a frost dragon trying it's best to turn me into an ice cube.

He managed to survive, but as soon as I get to town where I can sell the gear he's carrying I'm letting him go.  Pity, because he's actually quite good looking in a rugged kind of way which I actually like, and the comments he makes aren't at all annoying.   Anyway, he wasn't working for free.  He charged me 500 gold coins for his sword arm and skill.  He's just not rugged enough for the wilds of Skyrim no matter what he says...XD.

In Oblivion I hated all NPC companions, modded and vanilla (also useless cannon fodder) except for my own creature mods, because they had stupid AI mainly due to game engine limitations, needed too much management or were just there for eye candy with no personality.   I believe later companion mods were more advanced but I was hardly playing the game by that stage.

In Skyrim they try to put the emphasis on companions and not being alone, but it doesn't work very well.   They should at least be able to survive a lot better than they do, use potions and use strategies like companions in Fallout 3, which ironically is made by the same developers for goodness sake.  It seems to me the companion system is another thing that wasn't finished.

It is functional, but I'm finding it easier to just go it alone rather than have them set off traps, get lost, disappear randomly and get in my way, especially in doorways with no way to tell them to move.  That is really aggravating...getting stuck in a small room and not being able to get past the companion.  Having to clip through them via the console is just so ridiculous.

Addit:  Well, I'm a moron and I did read the manual believe it or not.  I didn't really notice the option where it says something like "I want you to do something for me" where you can tell the companion to move to another spot.   Haven't tried it with the dog though and he got sick of waiting for me anyway and went back home.  His, not mine in Whiterun.

A lot of the survivability problems I believe are due to the level scaling which is still very much in evidence and I eagerly await the mods that will deal with that when the CK is released.   I do hope so anyway.  Companions don't seem to level with the player making them useless as fighting allies.

Then there's the leveled loot.  Why, oh why have leveled loot?   It was bad enough in Oblivion without bringing it to an epic game like Skyrim.  The mix of leveled and non leveled areas doesn't really work properly either.  If a player has the skill to get into a high level area and take the loot by possibly killing a boss legitimately and not cheating, or sneaking and stealing from a chest etc, they should be rewarded appropriately, not with low level rubbish if the player level is not scaled to the particular enemy or dungeon.     Mods will hopefully fix that....again.

Anyway, despite those niggles and knowing the quest and other fixes will be coming, I'm thoroughly enjoying the game now.   The quests doesn't bother me too much as I'm just wandering and exploring mainly....and getting distracted by anything and it should be in a game like this.

Friday, 9 December 2011

The Dragonborn Comes by malukah

I just saw this Youtube video linked at the Official forums in relation to a tweet by Pete Hines.  Not much info on that of course, but this girl has a seriously great voice.   When she sang in the dragon language it bought tears to my eyes.

I've played it over and over and of course bookmarked it. There have already been over 1.5 million plus views and I bet a lot are like me and watch it multiple times. I wish malukah the very best. I would tell her on Youtube but I'm not a member and I have no plans to join, so I'll give her more publicity here.

Her website has apparently crashed but there are other links. She has obviously made a huge impression.



Thursday, 8 December 2011

Back In Business - Skyrim Patch 1.3

Well, I'm very happy to be able to say my game is working again, and perhaps even better than before the patch.  I didn't even try 1.2 because of all I'd read about the issues, and because of the freezing which now seems to be resolved.

I played today for an hour (lack of more time) with the same character and with the same save in an area which consistently froze and this time I fought a dragon, (while keeping my suicidal horse from dying), entered and exited menus and the map lots of times, fast traveled to sell some gear, found Lydia back at home after deserting me some time ago and there was no sign of a CTD or more importantly a freeze.   Also made a heap of potions and enchanted some gear.  I left my faithful dog in a safe place as dragons and dogs don't mix and I don't want him to die.  I wonder if the "set essential"console code still works...will try it later.

Magic and armour resistances are working and dragons know which way to fly.  In fact while fighting me the aforementioned dragon took out a Forsworn camp, (just to show how big and bad it was), then attacked a cave bear which then came after me.   The bear killed me with one swipe which wasn't helped by me getting stuck on a tent rope and I didn't actually see it until the death video kicked in...XD.

I should add I did kill the dragon and absorbed it's soul, so there were no problems there.  Funny thing though, after the bear killed me and I reloaded, the dragon had changed from a fire breather to a frost dragon.   Versatile!

In fact I think a few things look different and better texture wise (not the modded parts obviously) and the map is somewhat clearer in that I can see some paths up the highest mountain and even other locations seem to be more visible.  There doesn't seem to be as much thick cloud cover over the map obscuring everything important.   I will never like this map system, but at least it seems to have been tweaked a bit....unless it's my imagination.  I haven't played for two weeks or so and everything else looks as good as I remember it.

The latest patch appears to have fixed the Windows XP problems because I'm now playing (still on Ultra) with all of Xenius face and body textures, a LOD mod, creature and dragon textures, wood replacement textures and more with no loss of fps at all.   When I first loaded the game my mouse was lagging but I moved the sensitivity slider in Options and that fixed it.

Suffice to say at the moment I'm very happy and hoping that's the end of CTD's and freezes....well not CTD's as that's a normal part of a Bethesda game and I can live with those.

A patch changelog can be found here:

Quest and other fixes are due in January which is fine with me as long as I can play and do my thing in the game world without too much trouble....and check out some more of the mods that are available. 

My system specs in case anyone is interested.

AMD Phenom X3 Triple Core 8450
Geil GX22GB6400DC 2GB Kit
GTX550 Ti Direct CU 1GB Vram
Realtek ALC885 8 channel HD (drivers updated this week)
New 700w Thermaltake PSU (might be overkill but will be handy if and when I upgrade)
LG Flatron 22" 1680x1050 - Can go much higher but menus and text are too small to read even with
Windows XP SP3

Friday, 2 December 2011

Skyrim Creation Kit Release Announced

Well it's nice to see this post where GStaff, Bethesda's PR rep, acknowledges they messed up with the 1.2 patch and that there will be an update next week as well as regular incremental updates.  I wonder how much the pressure from user backlash prompted it though as staying silent wasn't helping their cause.  One short sentence acknowledging the problems and that they will be remedied is all that was needed.

One thing that really aggravates me is how he thanks everyone for buying, supporting and enjoying their game.  That was because people wanted it so bad they pre-ordered like me or bought it on release day and didn't know about the big problems it has beforehand.   Much bigger and game breaking problems I might add than any of their previous titles.  Sales numbers don't equal satisfaction as far as I'm concerned, especially after the fact.

On a more sobering note:
The Creation Kit is going to be released some time in January long after the holidays when modders could have a go at fixing some of the bugs and have to go back to work or school etc.  At least it's coming I guess.

If you read the above link it also mentions the CK has been delayed so it can be tied to Steamworks, meaning you will need Steam to be active when using it.  There is speculation and much suspicion surrounding the possibility of paid for mods which GStaff did not dispel in his ambiguous reply to a PM here.

If you're a modder I suggest reading it.  It's very interesting and I have to wonder about the future of PC games, especially those that can be modded.  There's a lot of speculation here, but since I'm generally a pessimist which means I can often be pleasantly surprised (or not) instead of having my hopes dashed to smithereens, I do wonder.  When dealing with corporate bodies where the "money men" call the shots I wouldn't be surprised at people's concerns.

That's all I have to say on the matter as I'll just read what others are saying and wait for the inevitable.  It's not like we can do anything to change the outcome.   I just want a playable game sometime in the future and if it doesn't happen very soon I will be moving on to other games that work, old and new.

It will be disappointing since the game is spectacular even with the bugs and glitches, but I can't live with the hard freezes.  I played for 35 or so hours on Ultra, often playing for 6-8 hours straight with only a couple of silent CTD's, until this freezing caper started, so it's not like my PC can't handle it.  I should add that's without mods of any kind and nothing else changed on my PC except new audio drivers since I installed the game.  I want to play it through vanilla first.

Anyway, more info can be easily found on the forums if you weed through the rants and repetitive threads and posts.   It has decided for me though that I won't be bothering to try modding the game especially if the suspicions are true in any form regarding paying for mods.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Skyrim Unplayable After 1.2 Patch

Well, I don't really know whether to laugh or cry in utter frustration at the turn of events re Skyrim.

The release of the 1.2 PC patch is an utter disaster, especially for the people who were caught and had the patch download unintentionally, ie even with updates via STEAM disabled.  The luckier ones never downloaded it and the ones who did hoping for more are in dire straights.  It's often been said that if people aren't having issues they never post and that's been true of me in the past.   That may be so now in many cases, but I would also bet that there are many who just decided it wasn't worth it and uninstalled the game in a fit of fury.  When you see the numbers of people browsing the Official forums, and posters reactions on other forums this seems even more likely to me. 

Armour and magical damage resistances, including poisons resistance and Racial Powers are now non existent, menus are semi non responsive or crash the game, and in some cases people are unable to exit menus except by alt tabbbing and force quitting with the Task manager.   The map is also causing many people problems.  Dragons have been seen flying backwards or through mountains and don't react to the player, crashes and freezes are vastly increased for players who had none before, and more.  Some people in the know, (aka very experienced modders), say there's a large memory leak causing lag and eventual crashes.

I stupidly allowed the stealth DRM patch download because I forgot to set offline mode as I normally do, and even more stupidly I forgot to backup the release day 1.1 exe even though I intended to so I could revert it.  Now even if I chose to reinstall the game I'll be in the same boat so I ended up letting the 1.2 patch download and will now wait to see if and when there's another hot fix before playing again.

Since I have other STEAM games that do work and I want to play I had no choice in the matter and I have set offline mode now and it won't be changing until the game is fixed.   I have now shelved Skyrim until something is done by Bethesda.

You'd think I would have learned to NOT preorder games and get them on release day after a couple of other disaster Arcania Gothic 4, but no, I did it again thinking at least Skyrim would possibly only have minor issues, but be playable.

I will say though that the 35 hours I have played were pretty much problem free except for the 3-7 second pauses and a few silent CTD's, until a few days ago when the hard freezes became a frequent occurrence and I'm loathe to try again.  My PC doesn't like hard resets and neither do I.  I read on the forums that this the size of save games was possibly one cause of the PS3 problems like excess lag and crashing, and now some PC users are having the same issues.  The problem seems to start when saves reach 6-8mb or more in size and mine are now at 6.5mg.  Maybe that's co-incidence but the freezes started when my saves reached 6mb.    My save games in a heavily modded Oblivion never reached that size even after ten times the playing I have to wonder.

I'm also in the unenviable position of running Windows XP, not because of the OS but because the game isn't optimized to use more than single core CPU for XP users which causes freezes and constant exits to the Desktop.  At least I gather this is the reason from reading the thread devoted to it on the Official forums.   I have no complaints about XP as it does what I need and I don't care much about DirectX10 and even if I did the game doesn't support it.  This  has been another cause of intense anger among others using the same OS as myself.  The hard freezes, not DX10.

There's a user made patch called ENBseries which is supposed to help and many have said it does for them, but after installing it my game froze within ten minutes.   There's an update to the fix but I don't feel much like trying it because if the games freezes again I'll be fending off a stroke from sheer bloody anger.

One of the more ludicrous suggestions from a player, who was quite condescending I might add, was to try to get the game working by formatting the hard drive and reinstalling Windows, and it was posted in nearly every thread to many people's annoyance, including mine.  If I had to do that to get a game working when every other game I have including new ones don't require a fresh install of the OS there's no way I'm going down that road.  Driver updates where available, yes and other normal troubleshooting methods I can accept but that's just ridiculous. 

I was one of those people who was extremely lucky with Fallout New Vegas and had no issues whatsoever.  I can only remember one CTD and that was on a fully modded game with lots of projectiles, shaders and added monsters and NPC's (from mods) in an intense firefight after a long play session.  AND using the old graphics card I replaced with one I purchased especially for Skyrim.    I never had too many problems with vanilla Oblivion, but Fallout 3 was a stuttering mess and I uninstalled that after awhile because it just wasn't worth it.   I didn't like the game as much as NV anyway, so much so I never even finished the main quest or most of the side quests for that matter.

I appreciate that patching a game of this size and complexity would be a nightmare, but I'll say again that Bethesda's biggest mistake in all of this was setting a static release date and rushing to meet it.  Yes, there would have been complaints if it was delayed, but nothing like what's happening now on the Official forums and indeed all over other gaming sites.

I wonder what magazine reviewers would be saying about the game in retrospect, if they were allowed that is.  They would never get another game to review if they did point out the flaws and considering they only had a short time to play and had to base their impressions on that time, I don't really blame them. 

A lot of the topics on the forums are useless ranting and trolling, but many are legitimate complaints and there have even been suggestions that posts have been removed.  I imagine most of these are rants and unconstructive BS by people who don't or should know better, ie trolls and general flamers, but the threads devoted to actual bug reporting are interesting to read and very informative.  However, that in a way makes it more frustrating when the reasons the game I paid $88 for is unplayable and I can understand completely the anger directed towards Bethesda.

Something I don't understand when something of this magnitude happens and a patch breaks many things making the game unplayable for a lot of people, is why the developers don't post on their OWN forum to say "Sorry we messed up but we're working on it and hope to have a solution as soon as possible."   Keeping silent is only making players angrier, myself included. 

I remember playing Divinity II:The Dragon Knight Saga and I registered at the Larian forums to show my appreciation for the quality of the game and more importantly because of the constant presence of the developers in the forums.  They are a small company and actually support and acknowledge any problems directly with the players.  Big game developers should take a leaf out of their book and communicate with their paying customers if they don't want the kind of backlash that's occurring now with Skyrim.

Addit: Oh, forgot to mention....Divinity II also uses the Gamebryo engine but without the problems.  It's an action rpg, obviously not on the scale of Skyrim but I had no problems of any kind whatsoever with it and it's a VERY long game.

Oh well.  Back to Age of Conan while I wait with bated breath for the game to be playable.   By that time I hope I still have the desire to actually play Skyrim because at the moment I don't want to start it up and wait for the inevitable freeze...that's if it runs at all.