Saturday, 18 February 2012

Playing Two Games (with a badly bruised hand)

Last week (on the 9th) I bought Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition from EBGames and bought it home expecting to be able to play, or at least install it straight away, except I kept getting a message from Steam to say it's not available in my country.   So, after checking on the Beth blog I discovered that it should be able to be activated on the 10th which was Friday.   

Since most nights I stay up half the night either playing a game or reading because I don't sleep well, I waited until just after midnight on the 10th and tried it again.   I wasn't really expecting to be able to activate it then, but I did see some angry posts when I searched Google out of interest, to see how many people were complaining.  I also called EBGames the next morning (I wasn't the only one either) and they had no idea except that there was no restriction on when they could sell the game as it was released to them for sale on the 9th.   It was all down to Steam as far as I could see, but at least it was resolved reasonably quickly around lunch time.   It does piss me off that the rest of the world has to operate on US time when the games are available for sale here the day before it can actually be activated on Steam, but we in Australia and Europe have to wait another day.

That's the DVD version obviously, and I don't care about digital versions as I want to play the game I paid for when I get home with it not wait a day to be able to even install the thing.  I have the original game, but none of the DLC's, as I don't buy anything online, especially games which I prefer to have in physical  form.  Besides that I don't have the internet speed or patience to wait a day, and more at times, for a game to download, and then if problems occur and it has to be reinstalled for any reason, download it again.   I'll be doing the same if and when there are DLC's for Skyrim, even if it takes another year or so for Game of the Year packs or if they perhaps release a separate Expansion pack earlier.

Anyway, I don't know why but this time NV Ultimate Edition was a crash and freeze fest, unlike the original game which I never or very rarely had problems with, even heavily modded.  There have been hardware and software changes as well as OS re-installs since I last played FO:NV, but nothing that should have caused such a frustrating and hair pulling experience.  And that's before I added mods.   Anyway, to cut the story short a lot of fiddling and ini tweaks to force the game to use only 2 cores, plus getting rid of a codec pack I had installed "seems" to have fixed it.

However, I never had to make these changes last time so I don't know what the deal is.  I had the K Lite codec pack previously, and the same system, except for a new hard drive and graphics card, but as long as that's the only cause of the freezes and CTD's, I'm happy.  I was able to play continuously for four hours or so last night with no sign of a crash or freeze where otherwise it would previously freeze within a few minutes (or less) to an hour, completely at random and always outdoors, or sometimes on a loading screen from an interior to an exterior.   I ended up with a couple of corrupt saves because of this as well which didn't impress me, but since these games are known to be unstable I have a ton of hard saves in case of this happening.  That play time last night was also with all the mods I'm now using, so I hope it continues to be problem free.

Another thing I never noticed with the original version, but must have been there, is that the Audio options are absolutely useless and I've seen mention of it on various forums.  The only way to turn certain sounds down (I play with headphones) is to use the Master slider and that turns all sounds down.  Thankfully, I can interact with the radios in game and switch them off as I find them, (the ones that are found everywhere not just in the Pip Boy), as I just cannot stand the same few songs over and over and over again.  I do have a mod with many more choices, but haven't installed it this time as I prefer to be without the radio and just listen to the game theme music.   I remember in Fallout 3 there were times I used to shoot the hell out of the radios from sheer frustration, especially when the preacher started raving about world order or whatever, and I was tempted to do the same with the preacher in Megaton more than once.  If he only shut up occasionally.  Sorry, I can't be bothered to look up the correct  Why did they have to add another annoying character like him in Skyrim, but at least he's easier to avoid. 

I'm trying to spread my gaming time between Skyrim and FO:NV at the moment, at least until I get to play the NV DLC content and by that time maybe all the problems in Skyrim will be fixed.  That's optimism overdrive on my part.   I am keeping an eye on the Unofficial Patch team's thread on the Official forums and what they've already done is amazing.  This, however shouldn't be up to modders.  Bethesda should be fixing the quests and balance problems, but I can't see that when others will do it for them as has always been the case.   Kudos to Kivan and team (which I think is a team of one atm) for a monumental job though.  The list of fixes to date is humongous.

That's not to say my Skyrim game isn't stable now, mostly, but there are quests still in my list that I've already done and a few other things that aren't really that much of an issue I suppose.  I would like the Riften bug investigated and it's not only me.  (See previous posts about that for info).  I have found that I need to up the difficulty with my sword and shield warrior who is currently around level 40 as enemies are almost no challenge on Adept, even in groups.  Even Deathlords. 

I was pretty annoyed though when I read a post on the Beth forums about broken perks, especially Blocking, and discovered that the Deflect Arrows perk is totally broken, which makes the following perks not only useless, but overpowered.  Then, I found some of the Enchanting perks are broken as well.   This is ridiculous.  It's bad enough that Smithing is so easy to spam and potentially break a character build if one doesn't restrain themselves, but broken perks are inexcusable.

Another thing I noticed is a distinct lack of dragons since the 1.4 patch.  I never see random ones now even if I fast travel which usually guarantees one especially at the College, and I have to go to the specific dragon locations to get one to spawn, and then it always a frost dragon.  It appears Fire dragons have become permanently extinct.  Another thing I've noticed at level 40 post 1.4, is most of the dragon mounds where Alduin revives the dragons are still covered in soil so his dragon army is still sleeping it seems.  With my other character (lvl 57) and previous to the latest patch, these dragons mounds were always empty when I came across them, but now I can't find an empty one, except for the one at Kynesgrove, and another where I came across Alduin resurrecting a dragon while also giving me the extremely evil eye.  That was somewhere north of Whiterun I think, but I can't remember exactly and that was also a frost dragon.  Maybe that was also a scripted event.  Perhaps the leveled lists were altered in the last patch and fire dragons were left out altogether.

I do see some passive dragons that just fly around as though they are just enjoying the experience of flying in the thermals, watching the mortals below.   I think that is supposed to happen as NPC's don't react and they don't show as red on the compass.  I quite like that myself.   I am however using the excellent Deadly Dragons mod and I see enough dragons from the mod to get enough souls for my favourite shouts and the others remain unactivated, but the missing vanilla dragons problem was happening way before I installed DD, so that has nothing to do with it.   Vanilla dragons are still missing even after waiting for 30 days to reset the world.

I've decided, at least for the time being that I probably won't bother with modding Skyrim as I don't feel like learning a scripting language, not that I was great with the Oblivion one, and really most of the type of mods I would use are already being made.  Especially "realism" mods or what I call believability mods that fit into the Skyrim game world.  I might give it a whirl later when summer is over as the heat just does nothing for my creative side.

On the subject of the title of this post and my hand....  I have arthritis in all the joints of both hands and both wrists and sometimes (most times) it gives me hell.   Yesterday I was out the back playing catch with my dog, but we had to eventually give it in when the wind became really strong a thunder storm started rolling in.  Anyway, I still had my right hand on the door frame when the door slammed shut on it and it's a heavy door.  I thought I'd broken the first two knuckles and the pain was excruciating to put it very mildly.  My hand swelled up immediately, but I was still able to move my fingers so I didn't go to the hospital.  Instead I wrapped it between a bag of frozen peas and another of frozen beans for 30 minutes which helped immensely.  I wouldn't have been able to drive anyway and I didn't want to call an Ambulance for something like that, even though I'm fully insured.   I suppose if I thought it was fractured I would have had to call an Ambulance as there's no other way for me to get there but walk.  It's a long way from my house, and with an injury, but I have done it before with worse.

Anyway, today I have a lovely black bruise, a chicken egg swelling on the back of my hand and luckily it's not nearly as painful, just extra stiff.   I did manage to play FONV last night for several hours so it definitely isn't fractured.  It takes a lot for me to give in to pain anyway.   I live with it every day, not just the arthritis but other things as well.

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