Tag: Skyrim

why Skyrim is still the greatest game ever, even four years later (g2)

If anyone knows me, they know I love video games.

Sure, I have my preferences. It has never appealed to me, in virtual or real life, to emulate any form of military combat. I like camo, I like the greens that are encompassed in it, but I like a lot of other things and colors too and coming up in the Cold War era, I really just have no interest.

My first real video game endeavors were things like Pong on my cousin’s Atari. Later on, they were first-person shooters. I went through Doom (I was a late bloomer and Wolfenstein looked like shit to me by then), Doom II, Quake and Quake II (with their NIN and Tool soundtracks, hell yeah) were a blast with the stereo speakers I spliced into my sound card. Nothing like making your desk shake from the sounds of an explosion. I played deathmatch and co-op with my former spouse. Some of our best times were taking it to their dad’s office to hook up the in-laws into a massive deathmatch after Sunday dinner. My father-in-law never could kill me even once, even with cheating. And I sucked.

When people started making their own player skins in Quake, I became more fascinated by that then game strategy. Plus, there really is nothing like smacking down prepubescent boys while skinned like Wonder Woman. I stood out like a Liberace billboard and was still killing them. I found a program that would let me make skins and I was hooked.

Duke Nukem came later and was sexist and misogynistic, but it kind of mocked its own misogyny and sexism by being laughably extreme, Archie Bunker style.

I spent two weeks trying to download a 50 meg demo of Diablo on 24.4k modem before the the days of “resume.”

What ended up becoming my great love later was MMORPG’s. This is when you can log in to a world that exists even when you aren’t playing and you are surrounded by millions of other players that are helping to shape and change that world. Ultima Online was my first taste of that, even though it started out as a gift for my spouse. It isn’t as cramped as my impression may indicate, but think about people all over the world who are present and playing in the same virtual space you were. You might have just woken up and they were just logging in after work, English being their second or third language. It was a new world with lots of varied ideas and I liked it.

Right now, WoW is the mainstay and perpetual example of the longest thriving MMORPG in existence and as much as it adds a lot of fun things that would be interesting to play, it has become a haven of the worst that gaming has to offer in gamers. The game itself forces you to interact with others instead of letting that happen organically and I suspect that will be their eventual downfall. I like it, and I hate it immensely.

When 2011 came around, I heard a lot of buzz and hype about Skyrim, but I had never really played more story-rich games so I had no experience or knowledge of The Elder Scrolls series. I’m a completionist by nature, don’t start me off at 3 or 4, bring them all and let me start at 1 and work my way through! It wasn’t until Spawn said they wanted it and Steam had one of their amazing sales that I grabbed it and it’s expansion packs. I watched Spawn play some and I just thought it was gorgeous. The more I watched the more I just couldn’t stop myself from trying it.

I want a collection of real swords in real life, so swinging a virtual one was right up my alley. They tried to make it as grey and realistic as the middle ages in many ways, but with real magic and dragons to boot. It has some gore, you start off watching a head chopped off. Blood will even splash in your vision when you kill something up close. People are dirty, wind-chapped, sun-burned and wrinkled. When non-player characters don’t know you, they’re rude, but they get nicer as you do more for them and become known.

In some aspects, the game felt very unfinished and kind of half-assed in areas. I suspect there was a deadline to push out another Fallout at the time. However, they left it a game that was open to modding. If you haven’t heard this term, think of as a shorthand of “modifying.” Mods are the things you download to mod your game… see, noun and a verb, very adaptive word.

As I was from waaaaay back with those Quake skins, I was a junkie for changing shit, bending it to my will. And the mod community of Skyrim especially stepped up and really expanded the hell out of the game. First, they fixed all the bugs the game-makers themselves didn’t. It was insanely prone to crashes, so they bumped up the graphics while speeding up the game and making it run more efficiently. They made it less grey and more beautiful to behold. They pulled out stuff that had gone unused and found a place for it. They expanded areas that were half-assed. They added new ones. They added new people. They altered the people already there to be… more. They made so many mods that you could make your game easier, harder, completely different or just fucked up for no reason at all other than its funny. Seriously… (it’s kind of loud, but I promise it is worth it).


Understand, I have none of that shit installed on my own game, but it is a great example of just how much people have been able to alter the game to their own twisted desires. Randy Savage dragons bitching about Slim Jim’s in the Middle Ages is certainly a level of delusion I’ve not elevated to myself. Riding around a giant yellow rubber duck that’s dressed like a princess certain is, but I digress.

If you are perhaps piqued but really want to laugh… a lot. There is a playthrough that visits a vast series of the stupidest, most pointless, irritating, yet beautiful example of adaptability of Skyrim, start here. You will laugh, I promise. A lot (continuations show in the upper right):

The Pew Pew Bow is my favorite.

I have been playing this game on and off for three years or more now and I have NEVER been able to complete it. NOT ONCE. I don’t mean the stuff that adds to the game, I mean the base game, it tells me I’ve seen barely half of what it has to offer…. HALF. I started out grabbing every wooden spoon and tankard I came across because “OMG, Cool!” and I am a completionist. My first character was started out stupidly, I didn’t care. I was such a mod junkie that I broke my first game to the point of not being able to progress any further. My completionist nature has that game stored until I can figure out how to unbreak it. In the meantime, I’ve had to start anew. So much had happened since then, I didn’t mind since it all seemed kind of new again.

I’m an equal opportunity sexist. From the mass amounts of armor and weapons I have added, most of that which is worn by me and my crew is very risque…. but the guys show as much skin as the girls. Metal diapers for everyone!

I found a bow that makes people explode occasionally.

I’ve added some of the most fascinating player-created, non-player characters I’ve ever seen. They entertain me immensely, just on their own. People and their creations are fascinating.

I can feel real fear. There is a point where you have dive towards the bottom of the ocean and it’s too dark to see and it’s set in an area of ice and snow. It’s terrifying because it pulls you in. You feel cold and isolated with it.

The AI on those around you are based heavily on their purpose. Some can sense you even when you’re stealthy because they are blind already and their hearing and sense of smell is stellar. Many times, they have gotten closer to me without me realizing, than I could to them.

You undergo a lot of ethical and moral dilemmas, and they aren’t easy to resolve. Sometimes, the best choice is the most painful. It forces you to garner some insight on what you might do if pushed to the wall. Sure, it’s a fake life with a fake outcome and easy to write it off as such to make you feel better, but we really cannot escape who we are. We all have dark sides, and my first play was to explore that.

As you play, you’re in the midst of a civil war about to erupt and there too, at some point, you’ll have to choose sides. It doesn’t force you directly, but you’re limited if you don’t in smaller but important ways. If you really pay attention, you realize that neither are all good or all bad, it’s all grey. You just have to pick the shade that you can live with.

I have my complaints of course. It’s very ego-centric. You, the player, are the coolest, biggest badass in this virtual world and you can become leader of all major organizations (except king… unless you have the mod for it). It would be nice if you had the choice of alliances instead, maybe vote for a leader of this or that organization. But the modding community responded to that too and you can start off as insignificant as you want, even an orphan child with dreams of being a farmer.

I wish Spawn and I could both play at the same time, in the same world. That would just be fun. Co-op is kind of underrated but it really teaches so much about cooperative interaction. Skyrim only has room for one and only one, and I haven’t seen a mod yet able to change that.

As much as you are allowed to make or destroy certain aspects, with as much freedom you are given, there are some big glaring oversights, an option C if you will, that never seemed to occur to the makers. Although I’m thrilled the mod community again, stepped in to rectify this, it’s not as fluid as it would be had the openness been present through all aspects of the core game. Maven Black-Briar is an epic bitch. When her part is done, I should be able to slaughter her and hang her on the rafters of her own home. I should not need a mod to do this. I don’t care if I have to go to jail. It would be worth it.

Yes, you can be sent to jail. You can also break out, bribe a guard or just raise hell and try to kill them all to escape. You will have a bounty on your head though and the more bad you do, the higher the bounty. You will also have guys come after you to take you out sporadically.

If I had other gripes, it would be how the guys look like they are all one generation from loinclothed Neanderthals able to scratch their knees without bending, while a large portion of the women are total babes. I don’t get how girls like that would deal with guys that fugly, but then that could be why there are so little children. Really, the base game with no mods has all ugly ass men. It’s truly sad.

Again, mod community to the rescue. With their help, you can have a more polished, attractive version of lesser cavemen to something that would put a teen vampire romance to shame with its sparkly, glistened androgyny. Of course, the women have their own variations. I’m a bit surprised how popular the larger thighs and butts seem to be, though of course they always have the boobs to match. However, it’s less Angelina Jolie and more Lainie Kazan.

But the best part… the really best part, is knowing, at one point when my player has to fight an epic battle beside some epic characters, one of them was voiced by the woman who brings it all full circle for me, Linda Carter. The real Wonder Woman. I squeed through the entire quest over getting to fight, even virtually, with fucking Wonder Woman. Hell, yeah.

so easter happened… (g2)

I ended up with a three day weekend this last week because the owners of my company are Catholic. For me, that’s just a huge score because hey, three day weekend! As you may know from a prior post, I’m not religious by even a molecule. I don’t believe much in a higher power, but I amaze at the phenomenal power in the human race to expand their knowledge and ability in ways their bodies were never meant to, yet spend a great deal of their lives trying to find and/or invent a reason why they are here.

Easter for me means one of the four major candy holidays. It means Spawn can have cadbury eggs for breakfast and I won’t care. I have never been one to regulate the chocolate in our house, most especially on holidays where its the the centerpiece of childhood. In turn, Spawn is one of those weird kids to whom binging means eating about four pieces and going off to find a bagel or something more wholesome.

I don’t get it either.

I guess it seems weird that I would honor holidays such as Christmas, Easter, etc… but I don’t. It was the period of my life where I only briefly could believe in the presence of magic. I think taking that away from any kid because I want to be a hard-nosed dick about religion is stupid. I may not believe in a higher power, but I’ve never try to force my kid to think the same way. Spawn knows religion is a journey of the individual, and whatever they believe should simply feel right for them.

Three-day weekend means we spent a great deal playing video games with each other. Both of us are spring babies, which by some sarcastic dick move in the gene pool also means we are completely allergic to most of the shit having orgies outdoors right now. If it grows out of dirt or orgasms yellow shit all over the place, I will be hiding from it or look like I have the worst combo of pink eye and COPD/bronchitis known to man.

When we play, I’m easily the one ooooohhh’ing and aaaaaah’ing over the visual eye candy going on all around us. So much so that Spawn goes to significant efforts to obtain the tools necessary to be able to maneuver me in game when I get distracted and wander off (teleport, tether spells for example). I love admiring the work of the programmer, I love when they spend so much making an environment immersive, its wonderful. I drive Spawn crazy. 🙂

I’ve been gaming long enough to have experienced my fair share of “d00d’s” along the way. These are guys who often bitch about “newbs” or “noobs” (new players) and generally seem to be having an overall penis size competition when among their brethren. They absolutely cannot handle criticism of any kind, are convinced of their own superiority, do not believe women are really gamers and everything is always someone else’s fault when things go badly. They are why I was pretty pissed with World of Warcraft when I realized it was not very supportive to solo play. They are also why I usually ignore the chat windows when I’m playing any game that has other players. Skyrim had my attention for a long time as a source of recreation simply because no one else was in it.

However, I like playing video games with my kid, especially now they are old enough to get into it. For the longest time, my kid was having to play catchup to my long history of WoW play, so we decided to start some characters from scratch that were different than what we’ve played so far, so we could get the experience of it being completely new to both of us.

Over the last few months of playing WoW again, since players can now interact with players across servers, I’ve noticed a huge reduction in the dickhead population. Dungeons have actually been fun, the people supportive, the feedback positive but informative and helpful, the interactions enjoyable. I’m a pessimist by nature, so it has been difficult to get comfortable. I’m always expecting it to end. This usually happens with the initial newness of an added expansion (or even a new game) while everyone figures things out and new people take up the game. It’s what I consider the best period to be playing.

Then the little pack of dicks who have spent most of their time power playing to get the best of anything that can be gotten finally get to the end of that, realize there is nothing else to do, then run through group events just so they can berate, criticize and blame anyone else they come across as “noob’s”. From what I can tell, they don’t even enjoy playing, it is simply something they can conquer quickly to lord over others, likely because they are rather small and insignificant otherwise.

This weekend, a religious holiday I might add, seemed to be the weekend they came back. For whatever reason, Spawn pointed me to a conversation going on in the general chat in which a group of players were discussing the disrespect of noob’s. They called them beggars, immature, made fun of their lack of knowledge, skills or gear. They speculated on how they were all probably twelve, etc and wondered what they would likely grow up to finally be.

Being the chronic shit disturber that I am, I joined in with “likely sitting around general chat-rooms bitching about how great they are and how everyone else sucks.”

It took a while, but I was honestly impressed that one of them showed enough self-awareness to realize I was referring to them. Of course, this garnered the you’re-nothing-but-a-level-x-character-you’re-the-exact-problem kind of response. I’ve been playing the game almost ten years, so I found it stupidly funny how the natural assumption is that if my avatar isn’t geared and leveled to the max, I have no credibility. It also exemplified just how stupid this bunch really is. The difference between us is that I can just enjoy the game and when I log off, I still matter… you know, in real life. For whatever reason, it seems like they just don’t, whether that is real or imagined.

Spawn and I did try to run a few dungeons, a couple were ok but we just seemed to perpetually hit the d00d’s one after another. The last being a particularly poorly abled player who was attempting to lead. I would usually not have a problem with this if they were somewhat humble about it. But the guy just didn’t have the right equipment, got in over his head, then wanted to turn and blame and boot everyone else, most especially the one person who had been trying to keep his weak behind alive (groups usually have an assigned healer). It goes without saying, most of us just left him.

I find it very ironic that on the day of a deeply religious holiday there seemed to be a higher presence of dickheads… are they the bored kids of the parents trying to honor the holiday? Does the sugar make some people stupid crazy? Was there simply a higher percentage of people online because of the holiday, a Sunday of all things? Spawn and I logged on again Monday to join in the holiday events going on and things seemed back to people being less shitty. You’d think every weekend would be like this, but it hasn’t been. It’s all very strange. I have seen the same anomaly occur during Christmas holidays as well. It seems the more religious or spiritual the holiday and the more empathy you are encouraged to embrace, the more some people show the shittiest sides of themselves online.

I wonder what the connection is…