Monday, 28 March 2011

Dues Ex: Human Revolution

I am so looking forward to this game which will be out before Skyrim and looking at the system requirements means I can play it without a computer overhaul.  

The first installment was a triumph in game play and story telling and I absolutely love the music.  It was and is a very long game, but doesn't suffer from it by losing focus or filling in content to make it last longer which can be an issue with some games.  Even though it was released in 2001 (I think) it is still being modded and is very popular.   I even dragged out my old CD's and installed it again not so long ago and played a few of the larger mods which are very, very good.   A couple I could mention are Redsun 2020 and The Nameless mod.

Now, I want to get it out again and have a play...Ah!  nostalgia for real games.

The second game wasn't so great being aimed more at console players, was around 1/2 the size and didn't have the same depth, but was worth one play through.

Here's hoping the 3rd installment is as good as the first and from what I've read it will be.

My Bloody Neighbours

I'm sitting here in front of my monitor trying not to have a fit of screaming.  I live in a semi-detached house and my bloody neighbour is once again playing music so loud I can't hear myself think.  I retaliate by turning my music up to try and drown his out or what I normally do when playing games or playing music,( because I try to be considerate), use headphones or ignore it which is getting very hard to do.

Thankfully for him it's presently mid afternoon, but this goes on in the early hours of the morning as well.  Also, which is just as well for him,  he seems to have a short attention span as this usually goes on for around an hour and then stops.  Until next time of course.  I suppose I should be grateful it's often music I like and not crap like rap or country.

Oh damn!   I spoke too soon.  He's playing Achy Breaky Heart by Billy Cyrus...cringe...

I have spoken to him, but he's very abusive, very big (more than 6 foot tall) and prone to hitting things, like walls, and he scares me.  He's even threatened my dog and myself when he thought I couldn't hear.  I've heard him hurl disgusting abuse at his mother when she visits him, so I'm not feeling particularly brave about confronting him. 

I'm tempted to call the police next time I hear the screaming matches and door slamming, but I'm worried about retaliation which I'm sure would happen.  I imagine his mother is used to it, but for the life of me I don't get why she puts up with it.  Actually I do, as I have a family member very similar who drinks to excess and blames his problems on everything and everyone else, but he's not violent.

The neighbour on the other side who moved in a few months ago after the 93 year old lady who used to live there went to a nursing home, revs his wreck of a car at top volume and plays AC/DC which must be the only CD he has because its always the same songs.   I'm often up playing a game or browsing the Net in the early hours when it should be quiet, but I've seen (and heard) him sitting in his car on the front lawn also playing this one tape or CD, yelling and cursing at who knows what.

He's a skinny little guy in his 70's or looks it anyway.  I've only spoken to him once, not about the car and music though, and he told me all about his time in prison, how he gets violent and punches people out when he drinks and other stuff I didn't want to hear about.  I'm not worried about him though as he looks like a strong puff of wind would blow him over as well as the fact he needs a walking frame to get around.

What's the price of a quiet life?

Gremlins in the Machine

I don't know what the heck is going on with my Oblivion game.

Earlier this year I removed the large overhaul mods I was using, ie FCOM being the main one, because I felt like a change and I also wanted to focus my game around Waalx Animals and Creatures which is not compatible with other overhauls.  Plus, I was finding playing the game a chore more than a pleasure and got sick of the micro management, so I virtually put the game aside for nearly six months last year except for modding.

At that time, with FCOM,  my game ran perfectly with no stutters, no black screens when loading textures or any other problems.  I also had Qarl's Texture Pack Redimized as well as a couple of hundred other mods and texture replacers running on the highest settings including shadows etc.  All of those together had the potential to cause problems with frame rates, stuttering and/or crashes, but I had none of those.  Thank you Wrye  for Bash!

Now, for some unknown reason I've had to resort to using an even lower version of Qarl's textures even though you can't really see much difference, turn down some settings and even try Game Booster which is a small program that turns off background processes while you play.

Otherwise, I get a black screen while the game loads a new area for sometimes almost 30 seconds if I fast travel, enter a building or go through any load door.  It doesn't always happen which is more perplexing.  The only mod I've recently added is Weather - All Natural, which I think is amazing,  but these issues were happening before that and hasn't gotten any worse because of it.

I've done all the usual things like defragging my drives as well as game directories, stopped unnecessary programs loading with Windows ie Adobe Acrobat which is a huge memory hog and some others, made sure my graphics card is free of dust, etc, etc.  I haven't upgraded video drivers because every other game, including Fallout 3:New Vegas runs perfectly fine and that is heavily modded as well.  Playing with the Game Booster makes a big difference but shouldn't be necessary as my Oblivion game doesn't currently have anywhere near the script intensive and heavily overhauled mods anymore.

I'm getting to the severely pissed off stage with Oblivion again because I can't work out what's causing it and some of the little irritations I find with the game annoy me even more than usual.  I did work out that one cause was using some clothing and armour mods with very high (unnecessarily so IMHO) textures, but they are rips which explains that little issue.  Even having them in my inventory caused the game to slow down to 1 fps let alone equipping them which could take up to 30 seconds or more and then I was unable to move at all.  So, I don't use them anymore.

The thought of re-installing the game and configuring it to my liking again gives me the shivers.  I'm between a rock and a hard place because I cannot play vanilla under any circumstances and at the moment it's a pain the neck.

Personally, I don't see how it would make any difference to re-install.  I know what I'm doing with mods and how to troubleshoot, remove and add them so if it came to having to re-install, other than if I have to re-install Windows for any reason, I don't know that I could be bothered with it.  Mostly all I do these days is try new mods, take some screen shots and that's about it.   Thankfully there are some awesome mods like WAC and Elsweyr the Deserts of Anequina which has some great quests.

Anyway, I will persevere for the time being and hope to find out what the cause of my problems are.

UPDATE:  May 3rd 2011

Well I worked out most of my problems.  Too many mods, specifically inactive ones which is a pain because I have different profiles for each character.  They have different mod sets according to their history, so if I'm playing a particular character a lot of other mods will be inactive and the limit is around 300-400 including BSA's in the data folder.

Every character also has their own bashed Patch as well so that adds to the numbers.  There's no way I'm going to remove all the inactive esps and replace them, as well as sorting my load order every time I change characters. 

The other main contributor is\was high resolution clothing and armour that sometimes brought my system to it's knees so I plan to do something about that when I get to it, thanks to a little Gimp tutorial SavageArtistry wrote for me.   Who knows I might even get the drive to learn a bit about textures, but I wouldn't bet on it these days.  I have a list a mile long of things I want to do for my game, but don't seem to get to to it.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Gothic 3 - Forsaken Gods Enhanced

If you have Gothic 3 - Forsaken Gods mouldering away in your PC games collection the much awaited Enhancement Patch has finally arrived.  

For anyone who plays and loves the Gothic series of games like I do, this is a very nice surprise.  I've been following the progress of the patch and was very delighted to find it's now done.

I have the DVD which is fortunate for me, but the full game including the patch is now also available on STEAM for a small price.

I installed the game and then the patch tonight, played for around three hours, (until I couldn't find an item I needed and it's early hours of the morning) and I have to say what the community have done for this game is nothing short of a miracle.

Previously, it was virtually unplayable, massively buggy and just tragic.  Another JoWood disaster.   The changelog alone reads like a short story, so much that they more or less rewrote the entire game.

If anyone thought Gothic 3 itself was buggy and problematic, Forsaken Gods was aptly named.  Now, it runs smoothly, is optimized and bug fixed as much as humanly possible.  So far, about the only thing I can't get used to is that Nameless has a different voice actor, or seems to.  But, sometimes there have been a few phrases where he speaks and sounds like the hero of old.  It's certainly not awful, in fact he doesn't speak in the stilted way he used to, but I used to like his narratives as it gave him character. 

The game continues on from two years after the ending of Gothic 3.   It's familiar territory in Myrtana for the most part, except for some of the cities which have been altered a bit to reflect the changes after the last war with the Orcs.

This is the World of Gothic page announcing the Enhancement Patch.   Go to page 10 for download links at the moment since they haven't updated the first post as yet.    Page 9 has the Changelogs in various languages.

Kudos and thanks to the Community Patch team who made the Gothic 3 Enhancement Pack and now this one for Forsaken Gods.

Upgraded to Firefox 4

Wow!  I just upgraded to Firefox 4.  What a difference it makes.  So much faster that it seems my internet speed got a boost, a nice new interface, better security and more.

Some of my addons are incompatible at the moment, but the main AddBlock and NoScript certainly are.

Very impressive to say the least.  Thumbs up to Mozilla for this one.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

My Favourite and Recommended Mods

UPDATE:  I can't be bothered adding links for every mod except the main mods I always use and have already added links to.   The names should be enough to find the rest.

This is something of a breakdown of the mods I like and particularly recommend.  Where there are addons I use for various mods I'll add them with the mod description.
Some will be mods I've used and loved in the past but for various reasons have moved onto others.  My tastes in weapon and armour mods changes like the wind except for a very select few.  There are mods I wouldn't even consider playing without, so they will get a mention first after the main tools and utilities I use.

Essential tools and Utilities:
Wrye Bash, Oblivion Mod Manager, B.O.S.S. (Better Oblivion Sorting Software), TES4Edit and/or TES4Gecko and TES4LODGen.   These are the exact names so they are all easy to find without linking every one.

If I had to choose only one mod from my very large load order it would be Waalx Animals and Creatures which can be found here:  Registration is required to view and download the file but there is an open screen shot thread to give any idea of what it adds.
This mod adds more than what the title alone suggests.  It creates the kind of world I envisage as a true medieval experience along with of course the awesome animals and creatures.   If you know of the Realswords series, it is made by the same author, Waalx, and those mods are integrated as well as a lot of armour and clothing suited to the era.

Take no notice of the Beta status.  The mod is extremely stable and has caused me no problems whatsoever.

Since I use HGEC as a female body replacer there is also a conversion available at this blog which works perfectly.You will need to translate the page using Google or other translator, but the files work with any language version of the game as they are only meshes.

Now available at Tesnexus:
I used to use FCOM and OOO and MMM themselves are still dear to my Oblivion heart, but the time finally came when my computer started to protest and I felt the need of a change.  My thanks to the people involved in those mods.  You gave me many uncounted hours of enjoyment. 

Next is Elsweyr the Deserts of Anequina which completes the entire province of Elsweyr in the tradition of the home of the Khajiit.   This mod is a work of art and I spend more time there than in Cyrodiil.  I love the desert landscapes and exotic locations.  There are some very good quests as well.
Tesnexus link which leads to a mirror download.  This mod is also very large as is WAC, but eminently worth the download many times over.

This site has a large selection of screen shots to get an idea of what the mod contains:,283.0.html
HGEC and Robert's Male body replacer patch for Elsweyr the Deserts of Anequina.

Reaper's Anequina Manor.  A beautiful and detailed player home with a nice quest.

Maps of the Province are available and linked with the main mod description at Tesnexus as well as other addons of interest.

COBL (Common Oblivion)
Taken from the actual description this is a world enrichment mod adding lots of things that enhance the world without being intrusive.
Among many other things it adds The Luggage, a sentient chest that's featured in novels by one of my favourite authors, Terry Pratchett.
Qarl's Harvest
Adds apple and orange trees throughout Cyrodiil as well as the ability to harvest mushrooms from logs and feed horses with hay to heal them or just for ambience.  This includes your own horse as well as other vanilla ones and there is a patch for Alienslof's beautiful horses.  I don't use the patch though as I have WAC horses in my game.  You can pick the fruit from the trees or use them as target practice.   You can also harvest Nirnroots and flower bouquets which will regrow after three days.

I suppose Shivering Isles deserves a mention somewhere here since this list is so far taken from my load order, but I really only have it for the added functionality of the CS etc.  I've never finished the main SI quest and always forget when I'm in game that it's even there.  It's not that I don't like it, because I do, but it has a few of the annoyances the vanilla main game has and it puts me off.  The main one of those is the ridiculous level scaling although I think the SI Main Quest is better than the Oblivion one.  It's certainly more entertaining.  Maybe I'll finish it one day.

I have the Knights of the Nine DVD but only tried it and the other DLC's once.  There are far better user made mods than these and less buggy.

Next is All Natural.  The ultimate in weather mods, which includes an updated version of Real Lights and Natural Interiors.    To be continued....

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Summer's Over

Finally summer is over and Autumn has arrived, but that doesn't mean Ol' Sol has loosened his grip just yet.  The nights have become cooler and the days balmy, but we often have very high temperatures right up until late April.

In the city where I live it used to always rain buckets on ANZAC Day, but the past ten years or so it's been hot and dry nearly every time.  This year so far we've had good rain and expect more in the coming weeks leading up to winter.  Despite the disaster that occurred in Queensland, I live in a drought prone area and when rain is predicted it often seems to move around and past us.  The irony is my city was founded on swampy ground back in the late 1800's.

I can't say I'll miss summer.  I don't mind days with temps in the low to mid 30's C, but when it's 40+ for days on end AND humid it gets a bit much.  It's even worse when there are Northerly winds that dry everything up like a dust bowl.  Tempers fray, everyone is tired, gardens dry out and water is restricted, there's the fear of bush fires and it's generally unpleasant.

I've always loved Winter.   It's easier to get warm when it's cold than it is to cool off when it's stifling hot and even the cold water tap spouts hot water.