Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Dark Souls PTD : Had To Give Up

Sadly, I haven't played Dark Souls for a couple of months.  Not because I don't want to but because I cannot get past the dragon archers, (or one of them at least) on the walls at Anor Londo. 

I've tried every tip I could find, including removing all armour for faster rolling although I'm a Dex player anyway, and try to force the archer to go melee so he falls but I can't do it.  After 20 or more tries I got sick of running all the way there, being invaded and back stabbed, losing all my humanity only to be knocked down and fall over and over again.    I'm sorry to say I even tried a Trainer in offline mode, but that doesn't stop me dying from falls.

I've been in the Catacombs, even as far as the main Boss door which I can't enter since I don't have the Lord Vessel, and persisted through other hard levels but this defeats me I'm afraid. 

Sad face....

Dishonored - Very Excellent

Here I am back after a long hiatus of a month or so.  Been busy with various things, playing games and despairing being between two sets of neighbours who are, to put it mildly, trouble.  It's like a war zone with the language, boozing, mindbendingly loud and aggressive music, and general mayhem at all hours of the day and night.  I feel a police presence soon although that would almost be a last resort on my part because I'm scared of retaliation.   I really want to move somewhere else, but that's not going to happen unless I win the Lotto, or some long lost relative leaves me an inheritance.  Both solutions are extremely remote, unfortunately.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand:
I know I complained about the possibility that Dishonored would be possibly not play well on Windows XP, that I was pissed about it and that I was going to cancel my pre-order, (which I did), but things have changed a bit since then.  I've altered that complaint post a bit, but I still have no idea if it runs on XP and don't really care now, unless of course I have to go back to it....

Due to a stroke of luck I now have Windows 7 x64 which I'm finding to be very good, albeit the stifling security features which annoy me no end at times.   I could have used the money for something else like updating my motherboard or CPU, (or clothes and other stuff), but they still serve me well and all I really needed extra was a couple of GB of extra RAM.  So, I renewed my game order and have been extremely happy I did.

I've played through the game twice, once on high chaos which got me the worst ending, and once on low and I plan a few more playthroughs which says a lot for this game as it's not my usual style, except for RPG's.  I played through on the default difficulty, but I'm going to ramp it up and "try" to go full stealth on at least "hard."

I love pretty much everything about this game.  The watercolour washed style graphics, the lore, the stealth mechanics, the exploration, multiple endings and a very important factor, consequences for my actions.   I could just kill, kill, kill if I wanted to but that changes the world and can be seen and experienced, not just implied, so I have to reap what I sow, so to speak.  

The voice acting is excellent and not overly repetitive, the NPC's have real character, what I do matters and the game is stable as a rock.   I had one CTD, but I think that was due to Windows Updates trying to shut the PC down or Flash notifying me of an update which always causes problems.   I've since reconfigured things and it hasn't happened again.

Possibly the only thing I found to be odd was that guards and NPC's are vertically sight challenged, but maybe that changes on harder difficulties.   This is also a console port, but one done properly and taking the PC into consideration something the publisher could take heed of with their own most recent game.

I've seen people complain about the length of Dishonored, that's it's too short, but I explored every possible corner with a fine tooth comb, because I'm a bit of a completionist and I like the Lore, and I found it to be a good length.   More would be nice of course, but the coming DLC will fix that.

I could write more on how good Dishonored is but I'd rather play it.   Do yourself a favour if you like stealth games and try it out.   Or even if you want to just be a murderous in your face assassin.  It works both ways and more.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Ah! Dark Souls: Prepare To Die. A Rare Gem.

I've finally gotten around to writing about Dark Souls: Prepare To Die and my impressions of it.  I had to re-install my OS and a few other real life things so I haven't had time.

Before I start let me say I know this isn't a game for everyone's tastes.  This is a hard game, but the difficulty can also be what you make it.  It's not a button masher so heading straight into a fight expecting to win will get you killed 99% of the time even against the lowliest enemy.  Combat is a matter of planning and strategy, watching the enemy and how they move, and then reacting accordingly. 

Dark Souls requires patience and preferably low frustration levels....easy to say, not easy to do though. I've had my fair share of raging moments.  Falling off cliffs to my doom would come high on that list, especially when it's my fault for not always being aware of my surroundings.

The game has a huge learning curve.  There is no map, no hand holding, no quest log, one difficulty level, realistic and tactical combat, a HUGE interconnected world that opens up via exploration, and death, lots of death.  There is also no pausing the game during combat so make sure you have the correct gear equipped if possible for whichever area you are in.  For example, poison resistance in Blight Town, keep your weapons and armour repaired and never ever run into a new area without knowing what to expect . Well, you can actually open the inventory in an unsafe area if you wish, but that will get you killed post haste if you aggro enemies you haven't noticed or in the middle of combat. 

You also cannot manually save but the game autosaves often, and this game has consequences.  So if you attack and/or kill an NPC or make some other mistake you live with it.  Attacking an NPC will make them permanently hostile, however, you can get absolution from a particular NPC after a certain point but it won't bring back NPC's from the dead and is expensive depending on your level. The lesson is don't attack NPC's as they may be your vendors early or later in the game, or be helpers or have quests of their own.  In some cases you may as well start over if you go on a killing spree because it will adversely and permanently affect your game.

There are checkpoints throughout the game in the form of bonfires where you level up, repair and modify gear (if you buy the kits) kindle the fires which gives more healing items and to become human.  The currency for all things is souls.  You can't sell things until later in the game, but you can purchase a "Bottomless Box" to store excess items which is also done at the bonfire.  You can also trade for items with a certain NPC, but that is limited. Players in human form can drop items they don't need for others in co-op to pick up which is nice.

Dark Souls has it's own Lore which is discovered by talking to NPC's, reading item descriptions and generally exploring the world.  For more info on Lore there are some excellent videos by EpicNameBro on Youtube.

I more or less found out about this game by accident when I read about the petition to have it brought to the PC, but was too late to sign up.  Ever since, after doing some research and watching videos I pre-ordered it immediately and have been very happy with the game.

Considering there was a petition by PC users and FROM Software decided to port the game, there is still the usual and expected whining and complaining from certain sectors of the PC community.  FROM always said it would be a straight port as they had little experience with PC games and that's what we got, a direct port.  That means console graphics, tutorial tips using the Xbox controls, a 30 fps lock and a few other things that personally don't bother me.  Maybe they could have done more but the thing is they didn't even have to port it at all so those complaints are just that, more whining from the usual suspects.   I wouldn't blame the developers if they said screw the PC with their next game and didn't give us a PC version at all.

There is keyboard support and many players seem to get along well with it, but since I already have a 360 controller I prefer use it.

I've been gaming for over 20 years and I've seen and played worse.  This game runs smoothly, doesn't crash every five minutes, (or at all in my case), and has no loading between areas.  I'm looking at you Skyrim, and while I know these are very different games, it's a huge pleasure to not have to have a loading screen every time I enter a small one room building which irritates me even more when it's such a CTD prone game.  So much so that even though I installed it again after my OS I haven't bothered to play it and probably won't, but that's another story.  After Dark Souls it's just boring.

There's also the fact that the PC version of DS has had improvements like stat adjustments to weapons and armour, a few bug fixes, and more importantly a complete DLC of new content which the console players will have to pay for later in the year.  The game can be registered on Steam if desired, even with the retail version which I have, but I haven't seen any point in doing that as it still requires GFWL to run.

There are now mods for improved graphics and other things which can now be found at the Nexus, Reddit and I imagine other sites I don't personally know about.

I've never been a fan of online games except for when I played Age of Conan obsessively last year, but I like the online features in Dark Souls. You can summon other real players to help with bosses, play co-op or even invade other people's games in PVP.  You have to be in human form to do that though as you start the game as an undead or "hollow." You can stay that way to avoid invasions or play offline if you wish. 

I've read that some people have trouble summoning but I've done it successfully to defeat a boss which was much appreciated, and been invaded which didn't go well.

Unfortunately, there are trainers and hacks for the game which some people use in online play.  If people want to cheat in single player only that's their business, but to spoil it for others online is just sad.  I really don't know what satisfaction they get out of ruining the game for others.  They are just scumbags with low self esteem trying to be superior, which is putting it nicely. 

I haven't played for a week or so because I've had other things on my mind, but for people who know the locations I have reached Anor Londo after many tries getting through Sen's Fortress which was made harder by Gravelords dropping their signs.  Unfortunately both times I reverted to human in Sens Fortress and Anor Londo I was invaded and immediately backstabbed by Red Phantoms before I could even get out of the way which pissed me off.  One instance was when I was about to enter the boss door to fight the Iron Golem and the phantom appeared right behind me and backstabbed me, and the other was when I was in combat with the gargoyle at Arno Londo which led to me backing up and falling off the ledge.  At least that one didn't actually get to kill me.  Both of them were assholes and I didn't have any Indictments on me.   Besides, I'm not really fully up on the system of invading and Indicting, but I do know next time I go human I'll try to watch my back a little better.  I'm still new at the game in a lot of respects really.

I forgot to mention Covenants, and I'm in the Forest Hunter Covenant so maybe one day I can get my revenge.  I relish a fair fight even if I lose which will probably be the case, but if you're going to invade me at least be fair about it and let me see you coming.   Don't back stab me before I can even see you.  Becoming human and being invaded is a risk and I don't mind that, but there are rules of etiquette that most players follow.   Maybe I expect too much, after all the point of invading is to defeat the host.  
Anyway, there's so much more to this game than I can write here and it's getting to be quite long, but if this game interests you I would advise getting hold of it.  Just be aware it will more than likely  take over your life..lol.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Dishonored - Will It Work On Windows XP?

 Update...November 13.   Things have changed so I've changed the title and the first paragraph of this post.  

I pre-ordered Dishonored and cancelled it, then renewed my order due to changing circumstances.  However, I'm not going to change the text of the rest of this complaint post or delete it.  I still have no idea if the game runs well or at all on XP so the question is still relevant, however it doesn't concern me now.

The system specs don't include Windows XP which a large number of people world wide, including myself still use.  This game is DX9 and not for XP.   Amazing.

Bethblog Info including system requirements -

Support for Windows XP finishes sometime in 2014 so I just find that unbelievable.  As GStaff says in the above link it runs on XP but the drivers aren't supported.

So I ask, why would I pay $70 Australian for a game that may, or may not run on my computer and that I can't return if it doesn't?  I already have games that haven't lived up to their pre-release hype so there goes at least one sale.  I'll put my money towards Resident Evil 6 and other games that support an existing and still supported OS instead.

I'm not in a position to upgrade my OS as well as extra RAM and have no other reason to do so, especially for a game that's essentially another console port.  I can run The Witcher 2 at highest settings as well as other new games released over the past year.  Everything else checks out on my system according to the posted specs except my OS, which I'm otherwise very happy with.

I won't be buying Dishonored even if they add support for XP in the future considering Bethesda's track record for patches and rushed release dates even though the game is being developed by Arkane Studios.
The publisher (Bethesda in this case) has the final say after all.   I feel a bit sorry for Arkane Studios as they have produced quality games in the past and may lose out on this deal.

I still haven't gotten around to posting my views on Dark Souls: Prepare To Die, but suffice to say it's an awesome game out of the box even though it's a straight console port, and will keep me entertained for some time to come.  Dying has become an art form in this game and serves to teach you to learn from your mistakes and overcome them.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Games For Windows Live Rant

After setting up Dark Souls: Prepare To Die, which I am enjoying very much and will write about a little later after I die a few more dozen times, lol, and remember to get a screen shot.  I am making progress which is very satisfying.   Most of the early deaths were due to not being familiar with the gamepad after so many years of not using one, and luckily I already had a 360 gamepad that I bought last year for another game and never used so I didn't have to go out and buy one.

All the later deaths are because the game is brutally unforgiving, which I'm loving, the combat is awesome and I need to practice more.

BUT I'm about to have a raging apopleptic fit over Games For Windows Live.

GFWL...doesn't even deserve it's full title.   What a rage inducing piece of crappy software.  Many people hate STEAM but I'd have that any day than the debacle I went through with Live.  In fact I've never had a problem with STEAM and I've used it since the Half Life days.

OK, so I install the game and have to setup a Live account which I knew the game would have but wholeheartedly wish it didn't.  I really wanted the game so I'm not complaining about not knowing about it beforehand.

The login is your email address which is pretty easy you would think, but no, it wouldn't accept that and kept telling me either my email or password was incorrect.   I tried more than half a dozen times until I discovered it wouldn't accept my email address which is from the largest ISP in Australia for heaven's sake.

So I had to change it to my Yahoo address which was accepted.   I then get an email at said Yahoo address to verify the email so when I try to do that I get a blank page OR a Live page saying there's a problem and "Try again later."  Later is two days ago with several attempts until I finally searched Google and found out how to get them to send me another confirmation email, which actually worked.

Stupidly, I ticked the boxes to auto log me into the game so I don't have to enter the details every time and now when I start the game I see another person's user name flash by at the top of the screen and I seem to be logged as that person in the game.  I cannot find out how to change the auto login for the game despite extensive searching and the Live help files don't say anything about it.  I can login to the Live site with the correct details but can't change that bit, so who bloody knows.

When I get over my rage I MIGHT reinstall the game although I don't want to and see if that fixes it, but I'm not hopeful.

Edit:  Sorted this out or at least found out it is my account but not the user name I provided.  At least I can play the game so I suppose it's something. 

This is THE last game I will ever buy with GFWL no matter how much I want it.   I'm going to try and setup an offline account which will probably mess with my saves but I'm not that far in so I can live with it as long as I can actually save offline.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Big Brother Is Watching Indeed

Well we shouldn't be surprised at this.   The Australian Government has passed new Cybercrime laws to enable unprecedented access to our information.  1984 here we come.  That's the book by George Orwell for anyone unfamiliar with the term.

It can be argued that if you're doing nothing wrong you don't have to be worried, but let's see how long before this is misused.


In case the article is changed or the page moved I'm quoting it here. 

"New Cybercrime laws have passed the parliament, allowing the government unprecedented access to our information. What do the changes mean for you?
Phone carriers will soon have to store text messages, emails and other data to help police fight cybercrime.
Government legislation that will allow the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and foreign law enforcement agencies to seek communications data under warrants cleared the Senate on Wednesday.
The bill allows for increased co-operation between local and overseas cybercrime investigators, extends the scope of existing Commonwealth computer offences and brings Australia into line with the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime.
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon hailed the passage of the bill.
"This will help combat criminal offences relating to forgery, fraud, child pornography and infringement of copyright and intellectual property," she said in a statement.
During the Senate debate on Wednesday, Australian Greens senator Scott Ludlam raised concerns about stored data being given to foreign countries for use in criminal cases involving the death penalty.
But cabinet minister Joe Ludwig argued the federal police had strict guidelines about the level of co-operation it provides to foreign agencies.
Senator Ludlam argued there was a need for laws to catch up on technological developments so authorities could net tech savvy cyber criminals, however, privacy protection should not be completely sacrificed.
He pointed to the location data from mobile phones as an area in need of privacy safeguards.
Opposition legal affairs spokesman George Brandis said Senator Ludlam's concerns about privacy were laughable because he was a key supporter of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who had published thousands of diplomatic cables.
In doing so Assange had disregarded the privacy of those mentioned in the cables.
The Senate passed government amendments to address 12 out of 13 recommendations from the joint select committee on cyber-safety, covering privacy protections and assistance to foreign agencies.
The amended Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 will go back to the lower house for approval."

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Dark Souls - Prepare To Die

Finally!   I've been waiting for this game, watching Youtube videos and reading about it for ages and now I have it in my hands.   Picked it up today from EBGames and it includes a hi precision gaming mouse, a beautiful artbook, poster, soundtrack and behind the scenes disc...all for $68.00 Australian.

I just got home so haven't installed it yet, and I'll post my impressions a bit later, but I'm excited to actually play this game.  I'm not a newbie at combat games of this type and this might be me for a bit with this game, but I can't wait to get into it.   

 I'm afraid Skyrim is going on the back burner for the foreseeable future, probably until a game of the year edition comes out in a year or so if I even care by then.  I have no intention of buying Dawnguard or any other DLC until, and if ever the bugs are actually addressed by Bethesda and their treatment of the PS3 players is sorted out to their satisfaction.    I must say I'm surprised and dismayed at them this time round and their forums, (particularly the PS3 section) are running hot with complaints that are not answered.  I'm not going into all that here though as anyone can read up for themselves, but I do know if their next game uses the Gamebryo engine, even tweaked as the Creation engine, I won't be buying any of their buggy games in the future.

I just hope they don't screw over Arkane Studios with Dishonored.  One of my favourite games in years past was Arx Fatalis and that was a game well ahead of it's time.  I'm tempted to pre-order Dishonored, and probably will unless I can resist the temptation and wait for user reviews. 

Anyway, I'm now about to install Dark Souls and see how far I get before I die. 

Addit:  Well that was quick.  Even though EBGames was allowed to sell it from today (23rd August) it seems I can't play until Friday 24th when Windows Live says it's actually released.  Oh well, at least it's installed.
I called EBGames to let them know in case they get calls from angry customers...lol.

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.

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 enemies...as 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.
http://forums.bethsoft.com/topic/136686 ... -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.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Skyrim - Post 1.5 Patch Happiness!

After the last downer post I can at least say I am very, very happy with my game since the 1.5 patch.  In dozens of hours and two new characters I made out of necessity because previous saves wouldn't load due to mods I removed, I've only had a few CTD's and a couple of "Skyrim is unresponding" incidents. I can live with that...lol.

I even like the archery and magic kill cams since they don't happen too often to be annoying and the water and DOF looks great...under and over.   Shadows on the grass look a bit crappy, but I've read upgrading to the latest Nvidia drivers can fix that.  I have them but haven't gotten around to installing them yet.

I've revived my sneaky Khajiit, Tukassi and in a twisted kind of masochistic way (after all the drama I've had with my game) I'm glad I had to because I've built her class much better this time round.  The first incarnation was my first ever character and more of a leaning experience with the new perks and such.

The second new character is a Redguard warrior, one handed, shield and archery who I'm is rapidly becoming my favourite.  I guess you could say the other short lived characters i had were test runs.

Her name is Eshe which is an Egyptian name meaning Life...or so the name site I found it on says.

Not the greatest screen shot but this is just after killing the dragon at Whiterun which was an experience in itself with awesome Deadly Dragons mod and it's "Events" which I had to turn off for the time being.  Being suddenly confronted with a Deathlord and a Lich summoning minions at level 5 was a bit much and I only got to see them for a split second before I died anyway.  They popped up behind me as I was entering the scripted dragon zone at Whiterun.  After two deaths to the same event I reloaded again and got another very powerful dragon instead, so I spent most of the time hiding in the tower and taking potshots at a fire dragon and a shock dragon like a little coward.  They both could one shot kill me otherwise.  I did actually get the final kills on both and it took half an hour, real time, but I enjoyed every minute of it.  The adrenaline was really high, I can tell you.

 I'm also using the Ultra Realistic World Lighting mod which is just excellent.  I never knew the game could look as good as it does with what may seem a simple mod, but must have taken an insane amount of work and that has no performance loss at all, which is great for us who can't, or don't want to use the Bethesda Hi Res texture pack.  I don't because I use better 3rd party texture replacers and then not for everything.  Besides, my system would hate me if I tried the Hi Res pack and personally my game looks beautiful to me and that's all that really matters.

I'm still keeping the game offline with Steam in case another patch messes something up, but as I said before I've stopped reading the "horror" posts after a patch is released because it's more often that not, user error and mods that need updating.  Not always, but usually. 

My only gripe now is Steam and how long it takes to exit and that it sometimes it errors on exit because the Game Overlay doesn't shutdown making it necessary for me to log in otherwise Steam says it's not present on my system, which I don't want to do, but things could be worse.  It could be Origin.  Now, though I make sure Game Overlay shuts down through Task Manager before exiting Steam which is a minor annoyance in the scheme of things. 

On Depression and Other Life Downers

I'm probably going to regret this but I'm past caring.  A few days ago I had thought of writing something much different than I have below, more in the form of a goodbye, but I'm taking steps to prevent that kind of outcome.  So, I'd advise not to read if depression isn't one of the things you believe exists or is a real illness.

I'm writing this as a kind of therapy for myself, something like the way therapists tell people to keep a diary or journal to keep a record of one's thoughts and feelings.  Personally, I've never found it of much use or help, but talking about problems does help, particularly if it's someone you don't know personally and can't judge you directly.  That's if you can actually make yourself do it and recognize there are problems to start with before it gets to be too much.  Sometimes the downward spiral creeps unknowingly beyond the point of self realization and if you don't have family or other support it can be a living nightmare.  Ironically, at times even when there are family or friends in the picture depression can be worse if they don't know how to help or don't want to know. 

I'm not sure where to start and it's not normally something I like to talk about with people I know, let alone publicly and to the world at large.  In reality I know one of the things that lead to some kind of healing, is to talk about it and not keep the darkness screwed down so tight that it affects every part of life.   It's not that easy though.  Depression has a massive stigma attached to it.  Many people disbelieve depression is a real illness and tell you to "just get over it."   Others can be controlling and smothering yet not really understanding, and there are people who shy away from anything even related to mental illness almost as though it may spread like a cold or the flu.  Depression is a genuine mental illness and something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy....if I had any that I know of that is. That's not to say I'm without enemies, more that I have neither friends or enemies because I rarely let people get close enough to me to be one or the other, especially in recent years.  I've often found that when I try to reach out it backfires and I withdraw even more. 

One correction to the above is that I do have two very good online friends who I met several years ago  through PC gaming, which is something that keeps me "sane" besides my very loving, faithful dog.   BTW I'm not comparing them to my dog...lol.  Just thought I should mention that.   We've never met and live on opposite sides of the world, but they have been more supportive to me than anyone in recent years although I try not to project my problems on them.  I do know that's not always the case though.  One of these friends has been constant over that time despite that sometimes we argue and it's usually me that goes off the deep end about something or the other, and the other reconnected recently and I thank them both.  They will know who they are.

I'm a very private person and have never really been very social and ongoing.  If I want someone to know something about me I'll tell them myself, otherwise it's no-one's business but mine, whatever the situation happens to be.  It's not that I'm secretive or devious but more that I don't feel anyone would be interested or more, that anyone would care.  This often leads to more stress and worsening of my depression, (this post is about me, but applies to everyone who suffers) but even knowing this, it's still difficult for me to open up and especially hard to ask for help.   This is partially due to many negative childhood experiences and how they've shaped my life, consciously or subconsciously, it feels like weakness to me to admit to having "issues."   Intellectually I know it's not, but the mind is a powerful thing and can work against the best attempts at self realization.   Another example...it makes me feel weak and powerless to cry in front of anyone, partly because it always leads to questions and also because it's been ingrained in me from childhood.  Without getting into more detail I was told if I cried, for example after being punished for something, I would be given something to really cry about so I quickly learned to keep those feelings inside and take whatever was meted out.  Of course that extended to other aspects of life's hurts and disappointments and relationships.

I'm not going to talk at length about family and upbringing except to say that our family was insular and punishment, deserved or otherwise was the norm rather than expressions of love or caring.  To this day I'm not really sure what love means and how it really feels, but I know what fear, humiliation and anger are.  I will say I have two brothers, both younger, one of whom was treated the same as myself and has as many problems as myself, probably because both of us occasionally rebelled much to our regret.  The other, the youngest, seemed to escape it all by being the "favourite" by being the one who was always the good little boy who told tales on us to gain favour.  If that sounds like I resent him for that, I do, even to this day, because he hasn't changed.  Another irony is that the older brother and myself were the ones who stuck around, even as adults when we had our own lives outside the family home, when the going was tough at home and were always there to help out, yet the younger remained the golden boy even when he was nowhere to be seen or heard and made sure of it.  That wasn't out of fear or avoidance but out of selfishness and lack of compassion due to having escaped what the rest of us went through for reasons I'll never understand.

I don't want to talk about my father except to say he was the perpetrator and cause.  He died years ago, I don't even think about him if I can help it and I still hate him even now, as harsh as that may seem.  Forgiveness is supposed to be another healer, so they say, but it's not something I can do in this instance.   My mother had the best years of her life after he died until she herself finally passed on.  No more beatings, suspicions and mental cruelty. 

In latter years, in fact only the last few really, I've come to the realization that I'm sick of being the one that always gives of my time, resources or emotional support and never, or very rarely do I ask for, or get anything in return.  I don't mean material things as they mean little to me, but I've always only  felt useful as long as I have something someone else wants.  I'm sick of being taken advantage of.  Being assertive doesn't come naturally to me and I've been called passive aggressive because of it.  I can see now how that perception came about and often know it's happening even though I now try harder not to be that way.  It, and other things have caused complications over the years.  Sadly, it's taken over 50 years to get to that realization, and people would more than likely say it's my fault and it probably is to a degree, but sometimes things can be so overwhelming.  I don't expect or want sympathy though, but I hope others who find themselves in a dark place like myself can identify and the people who care about them can gain some understanding.

I've watched some of the self help shows on TV and read a lot of the books and it all seems to be something unattainable or more that I'm undeserving of happiness and that is an obstacle I can't climb over.  One thing they tell you is to learn to love yourself, a concept that's so alien to me it's like a fantasy.  I don't know how to put into words or admit what I feel about myself, but love or liking doesn't come into it.

Anyway, there's more I could say but that would be getting too much in the realm of things I don't wish to share further.  Suffice to say I'm doing something about it before I get to the place I was in ten years or so ago when it could easily have all ended and made easier due to where I worked and my job at the time.  Back then I resigned from my full time job because I knew it was only a matter of time before I took the most drastic step, and it took three years before I could go back to the job I loved.  I just have to wait until the end of the month for that to start because that's the only appointment I could get to see a psychologist where I live.  I do feel some hope though now I've taken that step and actually asked for help.  Today anyway.  Tomorrow's another day.

Monday, 26 March 2012

RealSwords and WAC Content for Skyrim

Just a quick additional note for anyone who used RealSwords and/or Waalx Animals and Creatures in Oblivion and might be interested in knowing that some (a lot) of these things are being converted.   Some things, mainly creatures, can't be done though because they are based on Oblivion meshes, but some can and are being done.   Not by me though.  I'm not that talented.

RealSwords Nord is already released at the Nexus as I mentioned in a previous post, but you can read about what else is happening either here at Waalx forum (needs registration)

Or here at the Official forums, but not all info is there.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Skyrim and a Late New Year's Resolution

You know I really, REALLY have to stop reading doomsday posts on various forums when new patches are coming out, or have been released for Skyrim, and how people's games are adversely affected.  I'm going to attempt to make it my late New Year's Resolution for 2012, but how many people stick with their resolutions...lol.

Sometimes it can be entertaining in a "face palm" kind of way.   The number of posters who create threads, particularly on the Official forums, complaining about what they hate about the game, are never playing or buying another Bethesda game, or just want their 15 minutes of forum fame by starting a flame war never ceases to amuse me.  It might be a bit twisted but I often enjoy reading about the drama and stupidity of my fellow humans as long as it's not about me.

And there's another subject I'll be talking about at some point in the near future.  Forums and the people who inhabit and hide behind them.   It won't be especially pleasant and I know there are a lot who will agree with me.  It won't be about any specific forum, but I'm sure people will get the gist of it and will know of similar situations.  I'm just happy to have found this outlet to voice my frustrations on various topics, and though I could, if I wanted to be, quite outspoken and vitriolic, most times I find that to be counter productive.  Anyway, as I said, that's another story.

 Back to business...After reading the "horror" posts on a couple of forums (again) I was once hesitant about updating my game to the 1.5 patch.  I finally bit the bullet and ended up going ahead, and I'm having no issues whatsoever.  Not the underwater bug, no shadow problems, (in fact I think they look much better) and no crashing on fast travel or entering buildings which seem to be the main complaints.   I also think the graphics look better or sharper, which might be my imagination, and I'm not using the DLC graphics patch because my system would hate me.  I do have a lot of  mod texture replacers though.

Having said that I am still using, and will continue to use the Unofficial Skyrim Patch.

However, I think a lot of problems, (but not all obviously since I've had previous genuine issues as have other people), are due to the fact many users have no idea how to manage their game or the desire to find out.  Sometimes it comes down to laziness, not reading the documentation and unreasonable expectations.  Patches to a base game are NOT supposed to be made to accommodate the myriad number of mods and their users and the sooner people realize this the better.  For the most part mods are also not created with other mods compatibility in mind otherwise it would be almost impossible to actually do anything.

I have noticed a few things with the 1.5 patch though.  My bow damage skyrocketed and the archery kill cam often doesn't complete or kill the victim.  I'm not really sure about the bow damage part as it may be tied into perks or some other variable and I'm not into the facts and figures behind it.  I'm not complaining though as it still seems to be balanced between enemies and myself.   Apparently there's a glitch with smithing, but I'm already at 100 so I can't comment on that and I only have one character at present.  The navmesh bug was supposedly fixed, but it seems it needs another look over as this seems to be the cause of the problem with house mods causing CTD's and I believe Bethesda are aware of it.

I have noticed improvements to companions.  I have Marcurio and Meeko.  They both have much improved sneaking and the biggest bugbear of mine where they would block doors seems to have been fixed, especially for Meeko and I assume Vigilance.  Meeko now moves away as soon as I bump him.  I saw Marcurio do a sneak roll move as well when we were creeping up on a bandit camp, which was quite a surprise and he doesn't break my sneak anymore....or not so much, but it's usually because he's been spotted while I'm still in sneak mode.

I realize the humanoid companions can be told to move via their menus, but that annoys the crap out of me.  I hated companion menus in Oblivion and I detest it in Skyrim.  Since there obviously has to be a way to communicate with companions I would have liked to see the same system as used in New Vegas with the companion wheel, but you can't have everything.  Unfortunately.

 I've done my fair share of complaining here about issues I've had with the game and when it actually comes down to it they are relatively minor things in the grand scheme...for the most part.  I almost gave up altogether when all my saves were corrupted, or so the game thought awhile back.  That made me so angry I can't describe it after 100's of hours invested but now with my new character I'm at 119 hours and level 59,
(oops 49) so I'm crossing fingers and toes it doesn't happen again.  I haven't even finished the main quest once yet because of the problems I've had, and not for lack of trying.

I have a list of things I think should have been done better, but neither am I a programmer or game developer.  Games with the scope of Skyrim are bound to have bugs and glitches and the rushed release date made that so much more obvious this time round.   That's where I put the blame the most and that's not so much on the developers as the "money men" and hype filled advertising with the usual failed promises.

I'm not a fan"girl" by any means though.  Bethesda games are always buggy and I don't worship the ground any game developers walk on like many do.  If it weren't for the fact that Bethesda games are so moddable and open world, I probably wouldn't even bother keeping the games installed after one play through.  I've always been of the opinion that Oblivion was like a half finished canvas shipped so modders could finish and polish it.  I found it to be shallow and highly repetitive and the only reason I continued to play it was because of mods.

People keep comparing Skyrim to either a fully modded Oblivion, which is unfair, or to Morrowind which is also a bit silly.   MW was the first RPG I ever played and as much as I loved it, at the time, I would never go back to that style of play.  It's also another game main quest I never finished despite the time I put into it over the years until Oblivion came along.

One of these days I'll post the mods I'm using and recommend, if anyone cares...lol.  But, I tried out the Horse Armour mod and it is just amazing.  Much better by far than a cheap DLC, I might add.  Another mod I added last night is Skyrim Monster Mod and I'm having a blast with that one as well.  I used MoMod for New Vegas and the authors work is just as good this time and importantly for me, lore friendly.

Horse Armour - works with companions horse mods as well as you can see.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Skyrim Official Patch 1.5 Beta Vs Unofficial Patch Beta

Well the Official Skyrim Patch 1.5 is in Beta at the moment, but I'll be holding off this time and making bloody sure Steam doesn't download even when it when it goes live out of Beta, UNLESS I damn well say so.  I don't know how many times I've changed the options in Steam to say "Do not keep this game updated" and it doesn't apply.   I'm sure new killcams are very exciting for some, but I'm more interested in bug and quest fixes before cinematics.  Besides that this patch breaks the CK so that will also need patching. 

However because of a Steam issue I'm having it will probably bite me in the backside and download, but maybe, just maybe I'll catch it first.  I'm finding myself joining some of the Steam bashers.  Lately I've been having an issue with Steam where it won't shutdown when I want it to after I exit the game, or if the game CTD's and I've finished playing for the time being.  This requires me to login to Steam, otherwise it says there's no valid info on my computer and it cannot be run offline because of whatever is causing the error.  This would probably be fixed by rebooting the PC, but since the process won't end and is looped, ie - shutdown any program using this app - (and none are after ending an offending one in Task Manager, which is usually a process called Game Overlay), or I get an error message followed by the same shutdown process crap.   Steam updated last night after one of these little forays into annoyance land, so hopefully it fixes itself next time I play.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.   The Unofficial Patch team (Kivan atm) has released Beta 1.2 which when you compare the list of important fixes against the Bethesda patch is really something of wonder.  Four  months approximately, including testing and checking, and only two of those months with the CK, and this is what is produced compared to five patches from the developers and one of those in particular broke so many things...

Official topic with download link

Download link which is in the forum topic anyway.

The wise dragon says...check out the Unofficial Patch now....

The list is huge.  Granted many things like misplaced trees aren't that dire in the scheme of things, but the number of quest and other things like game mechanics, mesh and textures fixes, creature and NPC fixes, dialogue, item placements, and much, much more is amazing.  Why has it taken the actual developers of the game this long to even acknowledge a tiny fraction of these, in particular the important yet broken quests, some of the perks (ie block), crafting exploits and other much talked about issues that need to be addressed. 

Bashing Bethesda for their buggy games is just a pointless exercise and the fanboys and girls who worship the ground they walk on can think what they like, but I have to wonder why Bethesda is focusing on things like killcams and gimmicks they know all the cool kids will go ape over, when vital things like broken quests and perks seem to be way down on the list of priorities.  New features would be nice, and I like the cinematics myself as long as they aren't too frequent, and as some have asked, there's an option to turn them off if preferred.    The game bugs and glitches should be fixed once and for all by the actual people who made the game and not leave it to modders to fix as every other TES and Fallout game.  And, yes I know they probably have different teams for different things, they also have to code for consoles, and these things have been said a million times by people, but really....

Here's a link to the Official Beta Patch changelog and a video.   It's opt in at Steam at the moment so back up important saves before trying it out.   You may or may not detect my lack of enthusiasm due to previous experiences with "Official patches."

Oh, what happened here.....they are broken.

Let's wait and see.  I'm afraid I have more faith in our experienced and respected modders to do the important things than the actual developers, and more results in a shorter time frame.  

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Lottery Win

I got a letter from the South Australian Lotteries last week with a cheque for $10.00.  It was from December so I must not have checked it properly.

A few more zeros would have been nice, and they took out a small commission, but it amused me.  I have a membership card so it I do hit the big one at least I'll get the money at some point.  Then again I only buy a coupon once in a blue moon so that doesn't seem likely... One can only dream.

Horses, Followers and Fun With Draugr

I found an excellent mod that allows followers to ride their own horse and to say it works beautifully is an understatement. 
Horse For Followers

There are a couple of mods like this but I tried this one first and I cannot say enough how much I'm loving it.  I wish Bethesda had done something like this for followers at the very least.

Mind you there are a lot of comments where people are having problems but it may be other follower packages or something else.  I have no idea really.  All I know is it works for me.  I purchased my first horse at the same time as Marcurio's from the stables at Whiterun via the dialogue options and it worked.  I also don't have any other mods that affect followers or horses except Essential Horses and I don't plan to use different followers, at least for this character and she's my only one at the moment since i got my game working properly.

I must admit I've only used it so far with Marcurio, but he's well and truly got the idea.  But, I can't see why other followers shouldn't be the same as their packages should be basically similar, except maybe for the House Carls like Lydia, who I don't use as her comments annoy me.   Not only does Marcurio mount when I do, but he dismounts when an enemy is near and attacks them.  If I remount my horse and ride off leaving him to find his horse, he does so, no matter how far back it is and catches up to me.  It's like it was already in the game.

I just wish I could do a quick dismount myself instead of the awkward almost fall off my horse animation, and sometimes having to mash the E key to get off when I'm ambushed.   The only thing about this mod and it's not a complaint...is the author, Jorne, made the horses run away a short distance when danger approaches, whereas my horse runs in like a kamikaze. Sometimes we have to find his horse, especially if we're in a wooded area...and mine as well since they don't have a location marker.  However, as I said, I've taken to just mounting up and moving on and he finds his horse without any problems. 

This is a better pic of my character Sonje.  She's a Nord, a light armour, sword and shield warrior.and I have Marcurio as ranged backup. Sooner or later I'm going to do some writing and outline some characters and adventure stories which I'll post here.

These next two screen shots are of Draugr using weapons from RealSwords Nord which is soon for release.
Shingouki is doing a great job of getting these weapons in game and the other racial blades will follow later.

Poor Farkas.  I did heal him after although he's essential for this quest.  Just makes me feel better...lol.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

RealSwords Skyrim

In case anyone is interested Waalx RealSwords mods are being converted to Skyrim by Shingouki and great progress is being made.  So far only the Nord weapons are in being made, but if all goes well the others will probably be converted as well.

It's a lot of work and Shingouki really deserves kudos for doing this.  It's not only going to be a conversion of the blades, but there will be added content and lore as well.  The textures look beautiful and the blades work well, as expected.

Info here (registration required)

Or here:

This is a shot from my game so the textures will look different on a better system than mine.

So Far, So Good

Well, I've reinstalled Skyrim and got as far as level 8 with a new character with only one freeze and no CTD's at all so far.  I'm also using the same mods I was before, plus a few more.  I cringe every time I save though and shut my eyes hoping it doesn't crash on saving again and more importantly that it doesn't corrupt all my saves.

I've even been to Riften and done a number of quests there, but I made sure to do it before progressing the main quest where dragons start spawning.   That's because every other time my game has crashed or frozen around Riften when a dragon appeared there (with one character) or just froze or crashed for no perceptible reason anywhere around and south of Riften with both characters, and that was right from the start when the game was first released.

Anyway, this is Sonje, a Nord warrior.   The screen shot was taken at night under a house light so she seems to have weird blotches on her chest, but that was shadows as well, I think.   I don't care really as long as I can continue playing without problems and maybe get her to 200 hours like my poor lost Khajiit.
R.I.P. Tukassi.  I may just remake her at some stage anyway.

BTW, the new drivers from NVidia make a massive difference to the game.  It runs even smoother than before.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

NVidia Beta Driver Corruption (Beta 295.51)

As if I hadn't had enough problems lately with my PC, mainly Skyrim, I was just browsing the Net (Bethsoft forums actually) and my screen went all shades of pink and froze.  At first I could move the cursor but not actually click on anything.  Naturally I thought "Oh hell, dead graphics card," but since rebooting and entering the details in Google I came up with this.


Co-incidentally, I had installed the latest beta drivers which are 295.51, the subject of the above forum page link so it seems it is a driver issue as it's happening to others using the same driver.  Hopefully, my card is safe.  I was starting to feel like someone had put a curse on me...lol.

There's a screen shot of exactly the same thing that happened to me on that page.  I had also been using Firefox which is my default browser and I also have had the freezing issues on Youtube as others on that page have had which I had at first thought may be Flash related.  Uninstalling Flash with their own uninstaller and then reinstalling seemed to fix it temporarily but the problems returned.  I even started avoiding Youtube for a few days in case it happened again, but it seems it's not their problem after all.

Interestingly, the NVidia Tech support guy denied that it could be the drivers, however when so many people report the same thing and revert to previous drivers and have the problem go away, I have to wonder about denial.

Usually I avoid beta software like the plague, especially device drivers, but considering the Skyrim problems I've been having I decided to try them.  Big mistake.

Anyway, now there are new Certified Drivers (295.73) released which I have since installed (cleanly.).  Remains to be seen if it happens again.  At least I can roll back to the last stable release as I keep them on backup.

Just a heads up in case anyone has the same issue and may read this.  My Skyrim issues happened before installing the beta drivers though so now I'm about to try and sort that mess out.

Skyrim: I Now Cannot Save My Game....Literally.

I've just about had a gutful of this game.  Really. 

I don't understand why I can play for hours one day and then the next play session, when absolutely nothing has changed on my PC from one day to the next, (the PC has been shutdown between sessions in fact) and something like I'm about to describe below occurs.   I've played and been able to troubleshoot Morrowind and Oblivion (modded Ob), both Fallout 3 and New Vegas, but I'm starting to agree with other naysayers about this game.  At least the ones with intelligent complaints, not people who say "it sucks" just because they have nothing better to say.  None of the aforementioned games gave me anywhere near the frustration and problems as Skyrim has, even from the start and I bought them all on their release days.   I even upgraded my PC to play this damn game.

The best period of all was after the 1.3 patch where I had very few if any problems for many, many hours.   I've persevered through the stages of constant random freezing until that was mostly fixed by the 1.3 patch, then the random occasional CTD's which are tolerable since they were only happening infrequently.

The comes the 1.4 patch.   More random CTD's, freezing again, still the Riften issues persist and is in fact even worse and now.... this mess...   I've done a few searches on Google and some other people are having similar issues, sometimes mod related and others just vanilla, but no real answers. 

Last night I was fighting Spriggan Matrons in a cave during a quest for the beggar who is a war veteran in Solitude.  I was retrieving his helmet.  There were several Matrons and some normal Spriggans.  While in the middle of killing the last Matron the game had a massive CTD, combined freeze where I has to reset the PC.  Unlike other total freezes my mouse still worked momentarily, but on a frozen screen so I couldn't actually do anything.   Also this time, unlike other crashes the music and sound effects continued.  Never had that happen before either.  I don't believe it was the actual creatures as I'd already killed several of them, as well as a couple of bears. 

The problem isn't so much the CTD, but the after effects of this one which seem to be permanent.  Now I CANNOT save my game.  If I try to save, whether it's Quicksave, via the console, or ESC to Menu and save, the game just CTD's.   I could initially load any previous save without a problem and play as long as I liked (pending the next inevitable CTD of course) but as soon as I go to save....I'm at the Desktop.   Now the issue has progressed so all the saves are supposedly corrupt and cannot be loaded.  What was different about this CTD that it caused this to happen?

So then I deleted my ini's, removed a couple of mods I installed recently, logged into Steam and verified the game cache which was fine, and disabled mods I'd been using for 100's of hours.   I was able to finally load from an Autosave made when I used the Showracemenu to change my character's hair many hours of progress back.  Normally all autosaves are off.   I could then save normally, BUT only a couple of times and then the CTD's started again on saving and the saves I was able to create were corrupt when trying to load.  When saving I get a file with an ess.tmp extension instead of the normal save and it's half the size it should be, obviously because of whatever is causing this.  None of my "good" saves are larger than 14mb and that's on the oldest character who is level 57.  The other character's saves are 9.5mb at level 40.

Tonight I started a completely new game, deactivated mods that I've been using for 260 plus hours over two characters with no issues, got through the entire tutorial, ran to Riverwood with Ralof, did a couple of things there as well as enlisting Faendal, then went on to Whiterun fighting wolves along the way without a problem.

When I got to where the Companions were fighting a giant near Pelagiad Farm just outside Whiterun...instant CTD.   Tried again from a save near Riverwood, as the one I made near Whiterun was corrupt, including my Quicksave, headed back towards Whiterun, and this time I had enough time to release a prisoner being led by Imperials, kill them and head for the Whiterun stables.   Instant CTD.   Once again I CANNOT save and all of my previous saves are corrupt. 

The game even thinks the saves from my other characters (which are all backed up), are also corrupt, even the ones that have never been loaded since this problem started.  How the hell does that work?  Does the CTD cause a Registry error or something because I don't get it.   As I said two characters with over 260 and more hours between them and all their saves are seemingly corrupt as well, and starting a new character ends up the same after a few hours and one CTD.  This is utter bull crap.

Tomorrow I'm going to uninstall the game again, remove all traces of it, reinstall and see if anything changes and then I'll be on edge all the time waiting for the next big problem or the same one to reappear.  If that doesn't fix it the game will be shelved for six months until it's properly patched, or more likely forgotten about entirely when something better comes along.  I enjoy it immensely, love the open world and exploration, the dragons and more, but that's not enough to get me to persevere with this rubbish.  It's not worth the aggravation.

I'm waiting for Risen 2 and I hope to goodness Piranha Bytes doesn't rush it like Skyrim was rushed to a set date.   I actually haven't been keeping up with Risen 2's progress as I usually would, partly because I don't want to be disappointed and find they've dumbed down their game and also because I almost forgot about it.  Piranha Bytes are pretty true to their style and develop for the PC first though, so I'd be very surprised if they veered from it....unlike Jo Wood and the tragedy that was Gothic 4.

I try not to get too caught up in hype, but you know how that goes with newer games.   Sadly, we would all love to believe the spin and BS hoping for something half as great as is touted during development.  
I've seen a number of people say on forums that they would never buy another Bethesda game after the ongoing Skyrim bug fiasco, and I'd bet some of the same people said it about previous games, yet bought the next one.  However, if I am unable to get this game fixed and stable after trying every avenue, and if Bethesda don't patch it properly instead of worrying about the damn Steamworks for mods (ala the latest beta patch info) I will be one who will not look at another of their games.  

Out of interest, I wonder how the pirates are doing with their versions.  I paid for mine and all I get are headaches.