Saturday, 26 May 2012

Beta Patch 1.6 - Finally Fixed Navmesh and Horse Combat

I'm pleased to say that my game loaded with the 1.6 patch (with the SKSE update for UI and menus) and I played for over an hour fiddling with the horse combat modes.

I had to go and buy a horse since my current level 52 character never bought one because of the companion not riding issue.  I do have a very good mod that allows followers to ride, but it gets to be a real pain checking up on them all the time and next play through I'm vowing to go solo at all times except for when it's quest related.

Followers are a pain in the neck, except for Meeko and or Vigilance.  The only one I do like is Marcurio and a couple of the Khajiits, but they are too overpowered now, and so am I due to the easy nature of the game, even on Master.  I would fire Marcurio, but he's carrying gear for me.   Next time we get home....maybe.
One thing I do not get...and that's the attraction to Lydia so many people seem to have.  OK, I guess because I'm not male or attracted to females is probably one reason, but I find her so annoying I just want to shout her off the nearest cliff.

Back to business.  Since I had just arrived at Winterhold when I last left the game I purchased a horse from their stables, but I'm going to trade him in for the Whiterun horse when I get back there as I prefer the leather Nordish type of horse armour for this character. 

Anyway, I found the horse combat a bit of fun and I would like to have the patience to persist with it's awkward controls.   It's quite difficult to control the horse and focus on the enemy.  The biggest problem is that the horse cannot walk backwards, so if I want to turn to get into a better position I end up going in  circles, never easily facing or staying close to my foes.  The number of times I've died or almost died when trying to back a horse away from a great height is one example of this weird "no backup" mechanic.

It does work well for galloping past in a drive by hack and slash... and I even took on a dragon on horseback which worked pretty well. It was actually a named dragon just raised by Alduin, although it did have shock effects (Deadly Dragons) I managed to avoid them easily on the horse, surprisingly. A frost troll was also taking the aggro off me which also helped.

Archery is a bit hit and miss so I didn't even try it on the dragon.  Even with the crosshair it's very difficult to hit the target, but the animations are very good and smooth, both for melee and archery IMHO. I hope they update to include magic.

I've seen a number of people say they have animations issues, but that is mod related.  Mods that add animations should be checked first, ie pose mods, and in particular mods that add altered skeletons to the female and male races.

It's still 50/50 whether it's worth persisting with using horses at all, although being from a horsey background in real life I would like to try.   This is at least a start and it still a Beta, but the controls need refining.  One other thing that would make it a better experience is a new dismount animation rather than the clumsy one we have now where we, or the horse are being damaged because it takes so long to dismount properly. 

As far as the rest of the patch I haven't noticed anything yet as I only played for a short time, but the game didn't crash (for a change) and it might be my imagination again, but the graphics and shadows look better or sharper.

Horse archery.  No target around.  Just practicing.

I do a lot of complaining about this game and 99.9% of it is justified (like save corruption,) but I must say it's a nice change to see a game developer doing things like this for free.   I'm no "fangirl" of any game developer.  I pay to use their products and I expect that product to work as advertised, even if it takes a few months or more considering it's games we're talking about here, but Bethesda seem to be outdoing themselves this time round.  Maybe they are making up for lack of support for the previous TES and Fallout games, but in reality they don't have to do it at all.  Other developers have gone the opposite way and try to gouge as much money as possible from the consumer, much to their eventual detriment.   I can't help feeling suspicious of free stuff though.  There's always a catch.  But that's me.

Patch 1.6 info and changelog here:  Note this is a Beta which you can opt in or out of.

Updated SKSE:

According to modders on the Official and other forums the Navmesh (pathing) bug has finally been fixed once and for all....unless something happens to change it.   I can't wait to see the awesome mods we lucky PC users will get to play with in the future because of this important, and long awaited fix.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Persistence Plus - Sometimes It Pays Off

Well by some means and thanks to the Eight Divines (but I prefer Talos be included ) I've managed to get my game to load and play for an hour or so....just until it CTD'ed.  I would have reloaded but it was so cold here in the early hours (even with a heater on) I had to forego continuing because my fingers were cramping up with the cold. A CTD is OK though as I much prefer a crash to desktop than constant freezing. Not to mention corrupt saves.

I have all my saves backed up, although I don't keep all of them otherwise I'd have a folder with GB's of saves. But, I found one lonely Autosave that worked from a few levels back when I launched the game via the Skyrim launcher by mistake instead of with SKSE, and it detected my system settings again. I let it create the new ini settings so Auto saves were still on, until I changed it as soon as I got in the game, but it did have time to make one...the lucky one it seems.

Suffice to say I may be able to continue and I made a number of new hard saves (that are working so far) just in case since all the others are useless.

This time I've increased the difficulty from Adept to Expert because I'm just one hitting everything at level 52 which is no fun at all, (except Deadly Dragons!)but it doesn't seem to be any harder. Next playthrough I'm going to invest in some mods that reduce the fast leveling and make the game a bit more challenging, as well as trying out Master difficulty, but I'll try to finish with this character first. If I add anything to her mod list, or heaven forbid remove any mods which can be worse, I'm afraid it will break the fragile status quo.

A week or so away from the game makes one appreciate just how beautiful the world is though when you're not seeing it all the time.  Like the old saying..."Absence make the heart grow fonder."

No-one can say I'm not persistent.  And I didn't have to reinstall which would have been a pain.  Must be the luck of the Irish and determination to not let these things beat me.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Skyrim - Frustration Plus

What the hell is it with this game?

I don't get it.  Yesterday I played the game for two separate sessions of around 4 hours each. No problems at all. I saved at High Hrothgar and exited until today. In fact since the 1.5 patch I've had very few issues with CTD's and freezes.

Now tonight I can't play at all because the game freezes my system completely after a few minutes. The game just stops dead and I had another infinite loading screen as well. I haven't done anything today except browse the Internet and nothing else has changed.   I'm about ready to give up for good this time, but tomorrow I'll try reinstalling my graphic drivers just for kicks since I've done everything else like verify the game cache, defrag, make sure the PC is dust free etc, etc ad nauseum. Last resort will be to reinstall the game, but I'm not in the mood to do that just now and I'm certainly not reinstalling Windows for one blasted game to run properly.

Five times I tried to play tonight with the same result and I'm concerned about my HDD's with having to reset from so many hard freezes. I only bought my new HDD a few months ago because the last one died (faulty and different brand) and I don't want it to happen again.

I used to spend a lot of time troubleshooting Oblivion, usually because of mods, so I don't blame the actual game and I could fix my issues by research or just from previous experience.    A console port is another thing entirely because even a player like myself who researches and makes sure everything possible is checked is out of luck.

I haven't installed any new mods except for an armour mod, but that was days ago and everything was running well until tonight, so who knows.

It seems I will never get a character past level 57 (my 1st character before her saves were corrupted) or finish the main quest.  It's not a save bloat issue as my saves are only 9MB at level 51 with most of the Guilds completed and a ton of other quests as well.  This is so damn frustrating I feel like breaking the disc in half and forgetting I ever heard of Skyrim. I'd rather play my other games that don't do this, some of which are as system intensive, but obviously better optimized.

Screw the DLC if this is going to happen again and again, and since it looks like we won't be getting any new patches from Bethesda any time soon.  They haven't fixed a tiny fraction of what the Unofficial Patch team has done.

I said in my other post tonight that I have a love/hate relationship with this game and at the moment I HATE it.

I play games as an escape from reality so this is doing nothing for my depression and anxiety issues.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Skyrim Longevity Vs Previous TES Games

 This post involves some of the things I've said previously but is more about the longevity of the game compared to other TES games.  It has it's virtues and it's problems, unfinished features (followers and horses, guilds and other things) and my experience with it has come to the point that I sometimes I want to forget I ever bought it and other times I love it to death. 


I've just been reading through the latest Unofficial patch thread which is very informative regarding the pitfalls and limitations of the game, the CK and using mods. A very enlightening read. ... -thread-6/

I use, fully endorse and recommend the Unofficial Patch myself and I believe it has saved me a lot of headaches from previous attempts to play the game compared to the basic patching Bethesda has done for this game. One look at the very long list of fixes should be enough for anyone to wonder why the developers haven't addressed these issues themselves. While some things are edits to wrongly placed statics and what may seem fairly minor things to some people, a great many of them actually correct issues with quests and bugs that actually break the game in major ways.

This isn't meant to be an angry rant about Bethesda, or one of those "This game sucks" posts as I realize a game of this size and complexity is bound to have issues, however due to the fixed release date and apparent lack of attention to these issues I believe they've bought a lot of warranted criticism on themselves. Whether this is due to the business side of things which the developers would probably have little control over or not, I don't know. I do wonder if BGS are planning another patch before the DLC comes out which in my view will be pointless since it's already been done for them, so why would they.

A little history from my Skyrim experience. This outlines the main issues I've had and which I've written about in more depth in other posts.  I'm actually surprised that I'm still playing the game after all the crap I've had with it, although it has been more stable since 1.5, so I suppose this could actually be seen as a complaining thread depending on your point of view.

Currently I'm playing my 5th character due to save corruption on the others, the messed up Navmesh bug BGS tried to fix with the latest patch and failed, which made house and landmass edits or additions a disaster area and post official patch issues. This is with a vanilla game as well as modded. I did have one house mod that I liked, but now I don't use any because of possible future problems if and when there's another official patch where mods constantly have to be updated.

I have not yet managed to complete the main quest once past the first battle with Alduin at The Throat of the World which is mainly because I want to do it at an appropriate level and don't believe it should be done, or be able to be done early in the game. I'm not blaming anyone for that, it's just how I want to do it considering I'm supposed to saving the world at the height of my power, not as a lowly starter hero. I'm hoping to do it soon with my current character if all goes well.  So far so good...mostly except for some freezing and CTD's.

I played for over 200 hours with my first character from release day with virtually no problems at all on a totally vanilla game, (skipped the 1.2 patch disaster), and suddenly my game started freezing and crashing so much I had to start over. It wasn't a save game bloat issue either as my saves never reached over 12MB at level 57.  Then for some unknown reason the whole area around Riften and the town itself was a no go zone, which has resolved itself since the 1.5 patch, or by some miracle.   Needless to say that crimped my experience somewhat when I couldn't complete certain quests.

It seems to me that the further I get into the game, ie around level 50 or so, the more quests I do, dungeons explored etc the more the game becomes unstable and starts to falter. I'm a bit of a completionist when it comes to rpg's so if the content is there, I want and should be able to do it, except for things I choose not to do like some of the Daedric quests and the DB because I find them not to my taste.

I had thought about modding until I read about the limitations and bugs in the CK which is contrary to what we were told and more limiting than the Oblivion CS. I know of several well known modders from Morrowind and Oblivion who have mods in stasis because of the navmesh and other bugs that are waiting to be solved. There's also a noticeable absence of other well known great modders creating for this game, or they've already come and gone, back to Oblivion or for good.

I imagine BGS consider the modding scene as a huge success due to Steamworks and the number of mods there and on the Nexus, but what happens when all the armour, weapon, house mods and other mods that don't involve large quests and scripted changes come to a virtual standstill.  Unless something changes soon Skyrim's longevity will be years less than Morrowind and Oblivion.  That is not a complaint or meant to offend current mods and their authors, but in my opinion the limit will be reached much sooner than those previous games.

At the top of this post I linked the Unofficial Patch thread.  There's a good explanation about why mods can so easily mess up this game compared to Oblivion and it makes me wonder how long I'll play Skyrim after I've seen and done all there is to see and do. Which won't be that long since I've done most of it several times and even now find myself avoiding quests because I know what's going to happen and it becomes boring to do them again and again.

I used to play Oblivion with over 200 mods, some of them very complex overhauls and I could troubleshoot nearly any problem I came up against as well as mod it myself. I only stopped playing the game early this year in fact and it was my only constant game since it's release. Not so with Skyrim, and along with some of the other irritations and annoyances it's going to be almost impossible to even come close to that number of mods even though the limit is still 255.

All I can say is I have an extreme love/hate relationship with Skyrim and it's taken six months since release to be able to play it with some degree of confidence I can continue with a character without something going wrong. It's with great trepidation that I add mods now and nothing that adds scripts if I can help it since if I need to remove a mod that info is in my save for good and can possibly and probably will cause save corruption, so I'll be starting over again.   If I can be bothered.

I know I'm not alone in this and the longer it takes for the DLC to be released the less likely it will be I'll be playing the game, especially if the DLC is digital only and not released on disc. I don't do digital for a couple of reasons...budget and dislike of download only media.

I'm also aware that many people say they've had no problems with their game after many 100's of hours, but because of so many different PC configurations and other considerations I think they are the lucky ones. The fact I could play successfully myself for over 200 hours tells me something went wrong AFTER release with the incremental patches and having to start over after each one gets to be very annoying.

Now I've got that off my chest I've just had one of the never ending loading screens where I couldn't bring up the Task Manager to end the process, (first time it's happened.) so I wasn't impressed.   I imagine it's because the game crashed soon after saving and messed it up.  Luckily I save so often (paranoid) I had one fairly close.

Skyrim is a beautiful game, but graphics aren't everything.  The world is spectacular, I love the dragons and the combat, but there's so much that needs fixing to keep my interest and that means real fixes, not gimmicks like extra kill cams as much as I like them.  As soon as a month or two after I started playing the NPC's and repetitive voices started to grate on my nerves, so much that I use a  mod that shuts them up as far as greetings and vendor dialogue goes.  It's things like this and other stupid stuff Bethesda just keep doing over and over in their games that makes the issues with Skyrim that much more annoying. 

If another similar open world rpg came along without all the problems, it would be goodbye, but that doesn't seem likely in the near future.