Saturday, 30 June 2012

Still Playing Skyrim

 I know haven't written anything for awhile...not a lot to say at the moment, but I'm still playing Skyrim and working on other things.

At present, and with the 1.6 patch, my game has never been more enjoyable and that's saying something after all the problems I've had and complain at length about.  My only issue, and I've seen this on the Official and other forums, is regular and more frequent CTD's in the open world, but on the other hand I'm not having the annoying freezes so I'd rather have a CTD than a freeze.  Trouble is both can happen just standing around doing nothing, or in a dialogue or any other incomprehensible reason. Something changed in the patch as far as stability compared to 1.5, but that gave me too many total PC freezes, so I'd rather choose CTD over hard lockups.

I've also noticed some sound issues since this patch and I use no sound mods at the moment.  Things like fire crackling not playing properly and often looping sound on cell transition which nearly always happens in Riften and entering the Thieves Guild.  Sometimes the music stutters when changing tracks for a few seconds as well.  Possibly that can be fixed by reinstalling my sound drivers, but it's not a big enough deal at the moment and it doesn't happen in other games or programs like iTunes etc.

I also have to wonder when Bethesda are going to fix the dire dialogue bugs they introduced since the patch was released early in this month and now it's the 30th.  All I can say about that is thank goodness (again) for the Unofficial Patch.  Since I won't be buying the Dawnguard DLC until or unless there's a disc version, I imagine my choice of mods will lessen due to many that will require it.  I'll have moved on to other games by then so I can wait, or not bother.

It's possible the CTD's are caused by mods, but I find it unlikely due to the type of crash which as I said above can happen just idling or even in a menu.  I'm using the same mods, updated where necessary, that I've been using through several patches and a new game, so it's my opinion, right or wrong, that it's the crappy Gamebryo engine, thinly disguised as the new Creation Engine that's partly at fault.

I've also had a few corrupt saves and been unable to actually save after some of these CTD's, but I managed to overcome that without getting too frustrated.  Lost some progress, but at least not 100's of hours of play as in previous save corruption events.

Despite all that I'm being constantly amazed by the quality of mods being released for this game.  I'm having a great time with horses and the Convenient Horses mod which is just so well executed it seems more of a professional addon than a mod.  Then there's Wearable Lanterns, Deadly Dragons, Skyrim Monster Mod (Lore Friendlier Replacer) and my latest excellent find SkyRe Skyrim Redone.  Not to forget the brilliant lore friendly armours and weapons.

 To be clear, when I say Lore Friendly, I mean they fit into the world and don't look out of place in the environment.  Otherwise I don't really care about Lore as such.

To elaborate a little on SkyRe Skyrim Redone...that has brought back some (a lot) of enjoyable challenge to a game that was just too easy, no matter which difficulty was chosen.   Now I have to really use strategy and have even found it necessary to leave a few dungeons and come back later which never happened in vanilla.  I wasn't going to use followers this time, except for poor Meeko who I will always have with me, but I find I have to if I want to survive.  So, Marcurio...once again you're hired!  He's the only follower that doesn't get on my nerves and operates better than others I've tried, but I could do without his Chain Lightning spell which decimates everything in it's path and causes issues with other friendly NPC's, including Meeko.  A little FUS RO DAH usually fixes that though.  However, there have been many times I've been grateful for it with my latest game.

Marcurio "might" be retired soon though as I'm getting up in levels and I'm using summoned creatures, ie a wolf pack as a distraction, but I actually like having him along and he has his own horse.  Speaking of horses... I don't need my follower as a pack mule now because my steed has an inventory which comes in very handy when I've found hunters or other NPCs dead (by other means than myself) who have a huge amount of loot that I can use and hate to leave behind.

In other game news, unrelated to Skyrim, I bought Risen 2 which is also a very challenging and hard game, as I hoped it would be.  I'll probably start a topic for it later, but I'm really enjoying the pirate life.  I haven't played it lately because I'm on a roll with Skyrim and don't want to jinx it, but I think it's very good, even though there are some flaws.  I don't think the combat is as good as in the first Risen game, and I always find myself wanting to use a shield, but pirates don't use them.  I've gotten used to it though and have a pistol in my off hand, even though it's a bit useless at the moment.   I really love the voice acting and humour and the graphics are beautiful.

Anyway, that's about it for the moment.  Not much happening besides continuing work on LETHE the Indie game I'm involved with and progress is being made there, as well as a couple of things I'd like to be able to report about it, but can't yet.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Skyrim 1.6 Beta Patch - So far So Good

I've been playing with the Skyrim 1.6 beta patch and it's recent small update for around 20 hours and I must say the performance has been very good.  I'm running it with my existing character who is level 52 (I want to start new when it's official) and all the mods I was currently using and have had few problems.

The game runs better than it ever did, but I have had some CTD's and a freeze.  However, I put that down to mods, mainly the removing and adding I've done which is probably screwing up my saves and is my problem, so I'm very optimistic about a fresh game.   It's much better than the 1.5 performance and it's constant freezing, possibly due to the navmesh bug as I've been using the same mods without any changes for awhile now, and corrupted saves which so far hasn't happened again.  Fingers crossed.

I'm sure, unless it's my imagination, that my character now runs noticeably faster and more importantly, walks faster which was one of my bug bears when escorting or following quest NPC's.  At first I thought it was a fps increase and still may be, but I'm sure they increased player walk and run speed as well.  If I'm wrong, well I'm not complaining about it.  The game in general runs smoother, and load times have reduced noticeably even though they were pretty quick before anyway.  I've never had lag anywhere in the game since I first started playing, even at Markarth as some do, so I'm pretty happy at the moment with performance.

I rarely fast travel but when I did with the 1.5 patch I would often get a CTD on arrival or a never ending load screen, and sometimes a few areas would become off limits and I had to find another way round, which I attributed to bad spawns or navmesh issues and those spawns.  This hasn't happened so far with 1.6 as I've been fast traveling a bit more just to get this character through the main quest before I start over. 

I read the Official forums and the complaints about horse combat and animations, (and other stuff that is mod related), but I wish people would just use some common sense and realize if they opt in to a beta they should expect there may be issues.  After all, it's not Bethesda's responsibility to optimize the game around the many mods people may use.  The only thing they are responsible for is the vanilla game.