Friday, 30 December 2011

The Long and Winding Road

Adventures in Skyrim - spoilers ahead! You can follow the whole story here!

Belrand and I made a stop at Riverwood to find the owner of a mysterious note. Upon finding this secret agent, she insisted I prove my dragon soul consuming ability by going to where she thinks a dragon is going to appear. This happens to be a -very- long way away but I decide to jog along with her the whole way there, marking out new land marks as we pass them. Finally we reach the site and the big black dragon who I saw at the start is here. Not missing a beat I engage it in combat and seem to irritate it. Without missing a beat it summons another dragon (who I know as "Sucker") from the ground before flying off. I call it that because as soon as it came out we just beat it back down to death and I ate its soul. Big black draggy has flown off, possibly because it saw how poor Sucker fared.

Secret agent girl is impressed and leaves to do some planning, so Belrand and I do the nearby tasks I have in the area, as well as for the people in a small settlement nearby. One of them is to find out what the hell I did when Lydia and I had that drinking contest awhile back. I've been slowly tracking down where I needed to go and it's led me to a fortress filled with magic users, including one psychotic pyromancer. Anyway, after dealing with him we find a portal to misty realm where I find the guy who issued the drinking challenge in the first place. He turns out to be the daedra Sanguine playing a prank.

I don't like pranks OR pranksters and immediately go on the offensive. Fighting an actual Daedra is quite tough though, as all my attacks seem to go right through him as if he wasn't there at all. The fight goes on for at least a day, and Belrand meets his fate at the hands of the bastard daedra. Finally Sanguine tires of all of this and teleports me back to Whiterun. Damn it. At least I got some good block and light armor training from that. Since I had a few more tasks to hand in back at Solitude I headed back that way, picking up Benor the coward as my pack mule from Morthal. I also was proclaimed thane in both Morthal (by idiot Jarl) and Solitude (by widow Jarl) and was assigned a new housecarl in the latter. I left her to watch the new house I bought in Solitude while Benor and I continued on to Dawnstar.

On the way we came across an Imperial encampment where I killed the lone lookouts, then came across a volkihar vampire which led to an epic battle that lasted all the way to the port city. True to form Benor spent most of his time cowering or running away. It took a bunch of brave travelling khajit and a number of town guards to help take down this foe but finally it was dead and I was at my destination.

Beware Benor's wrath! :P

Thursday, 29 December 2011

King and Queen

Adventures in Skyrim - spoilers ahead! You can follow the whole story here!

Found a Thalmor patrol in the mountains today and after killing them located their embassy high in the mountains. Unfortunately we could not break in. Continued onto the Imperial Stronghold of Solitude since it was nearby, and it must be a contender for the worst place to put a city. After overhearing general Tullius I knew for certain that the Empire and all who supported them were a bunch of sissies that loved bending over for the elves. At least the Widow Jarl there seems to be on the fence still. Helped out the people in town including my old buddy Sheogorath and a sneaksie Argonian Egyptian (Jaree-Ra?) which resulted in the death of some imperial fools, followed by a very obvious betrayal and the death of Mr. Ra and his marauder buddies. That actually worked out quite nicely for me as I left no witnesses alive.

Argis and I proceeded to clear out tombs of the dead men, including one King Olaf (a task which the bard's college threw a festival in my honor - very awesome) and for a change also some disease carrying Peryite worshippers (which, ironically was a task set by Peryite itself). Back outside we encountered a courier delivering a letter for me asking me to return to the Blue Palace where Widow Jarl is (good to see I'm not the only one delivering stuff). Once there we learn that old queen Potato who dabbled in necromancy was rising from the dead. We couldn't have that, so we charged into her quite deep burial chamber slaying all her minions until we reached her council chamber. There a large amount of dead men supported by the spirit of Queen Potato shooting lightning all over the place made for a good battle. All her minions were slain, but so was the Champion of Molag Bal. With only Potato left on her throne I decided not to use my 100 stealth or archery (which I reached sometime in this post) and instead challenged her head on with a glass dagger and Meridia's Dawnbreaker (very useful against the undead). It was a short battle because really, the Queen was no better than a Potato and my sword cooked her to non-existence.

The end of Queen Potato.

Back in Solitude I hired the crazy drunk spellsword Belrand to help carry my gear and we proceeded to the small town of Morthal which is run by a soothsaying, imperial supporting Jarl. My suspicions of her actually just being an idiot were confirmed when she said she assembled some fighting men to help me eliminate a nearby vampire nest. Instead of having well armed guards, she sends torch bearing townsfolk - most of whom lose their nerve once we reach the lair. Even Benor, the braggart who thought he was the "best fighter" in town until I punched his face in shat his pants and ran home. Whatever, this town seems to just be full of losers. After dealing with their problems I decided to head back to Whiterun to stow gear.

Monday, 26 December 2011

The Legend and the Champion

Adventures in Skyrim - spoilers ahead! You can follow the whole story here!

Found ourselves out at Rorikstead today where I recruited Erik "the Slayer" (after convincing his father that he should be allowed to go adventuring). The lad showed promise despite lack of experience, helping me retrieve a goat I sold to a giant (ehhh?), and a whole bunch of retrieval tasks involving more killing of forsworn. While helping the cannibal Eola clear a nearby cave of living dead (who she says tastes terrible) he stood up to another death overlord and survived. The kid, still travelling with me, seems to like him too and her ears perked up each time he told us stories of his favourite hero Red Eagle. It so happens I was investigating that partirular legend and we found his burial cairn atop a tall mountain. He also wasn't quite so dead. It was a drawn out battle, with the kid pitching in by throwing rocks and distracing the legendary dead man every now and then. By the end of it I finally struck down the ancient warrior, ending his unlife. We found Erik crumpled beside the sarcophagus, still and unmoving. He had been slain by his hero.

Overburdened with gear and a crying child I returned to Markarth to lighten the load. Decided to purchase property there as well and for my recent actions was proclaimed Thane of this region. Met my new housecarl Argis in my new home too and he agreed to join me on my travels. We also hired the priest -whatshisname- since Eola asked for one for some ceremony at the cave we cleared earlier. Wasn't quite paying attention again. Decided to first revisit the not so abandoned house to find the stupid Boethian I rescued earlier trapped by the altar I explicitly told him was going to trap him. -.-

The altar then proclaimed that it would win their duel of wills this time as it had a champion. Hah I think not stupid altar. Except it wasn't talking about me. Argis, influenced by the daedra, killed the idiot. The altar proclaimed him champion of Molag Bal and granted him an evil looking mace. Between myself, the kid and -whatshisname- we dragged him out of there before he was turned any further into a daedra's bitch. After dropping the kid off at her temple and a quick goodbye we went to Eola's cave and found a whole bunch of people waiting here, some I recognize from the city. Turns out they're all people eaters and -whatshisname- is for lunch. He's already mesmerized by Eola's voice. I have nothing against cannibals, but murdering some innocent dude whose name I don't even know for your happy meal is just not on. As she sashayed towards the altar I snuck behind her and in one awesome finishing move, slit her throat and tossed her body down the stairs. Her guests met equally bloody and violent ends and -whatshisname- returned to the city alive.

Argis and I then beat up some giants, delivered some items, and reunited a dog with its master before returning an artifact to the shrine of Meridia. She wanted us to clean out her temple from some defiling evil which turned out to be quite easy as the shades were no match against the champion of Molag Bal and his shadow. Indeed the most challenging part was talking to her statue which had a bad habit of bringing me high into the sky then dropping me to my death. With enough retries, I finally got through those sections without breaking every single bone in my body. :P

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Joe to the Rescue

Adventures in Skyrim - spoilers ahead! You can follow the whole story here!

With most of my tasks now lying on the outskirts of Markarth, I hired the mercenary Vorstag and bought the war dog Vigilance to tag along finding them useful against the pockets of forsworn we kept running into. The first major task was to pickup a "marked" child for the temple of Dibella, but it turned out she had been captured by a large band of those forsworn scum. Joined by her father we assaulted the ruined tower they were holed up in but alas during the opening assault he was stabbed to death and Vigilance was roasted alive. Vorstag and I massacred the remaining defenders and secured the girl whose name I cannot pronounce. I just call her 'the kid'.

It seems the kid didn't want to just trade one prison for another straight away and pleaded to come with me. After getting her old man killed how could I refuse? On the road we'd play hide and seek, and she looked like she was able to take care of herself; making herself scarce during combat and pointing out dead bodies for me to loot afterwards. Apart from that one time where Vorstag and I had to rescue her from a rampaging ice bear.

Speaking of Vorstag he was really beginning to show his powers, using all sorts of weapon combinations and being a general kickass, even summoning flame atronarchs every now and then. He even stood toe to toe against a zombie death overlord as well as a lich living at the top of Volkswagen tomb (or something similar).

It's a scary place!

Also came across a captured priest of Boetheia and freed him too, warning him that an altar of Molag Bal back in the city intended to do nasty things to him. The first thing the idiot does is head straight there. Well, he has it coming. Pushed on to the next major rescue for folks from Whiterun. The three of them had been camping out in the snowy mountains for weeks waiting for me to show up. Whoops. The hostage is being kept prisoner by a large group of well armed Thalmer (elf) bastards. I try to convince the barbarians that a sneaky approach is best, but before I can even finish sniping the first guard with my bow they all charge head on. It is a bloody skirmish, and while all the elves were killed we lost two of the three plainsmen as well as the mighty Vorstag (again in the opening assault). The remaining survivor and his brother (the prisoner we released) head off into hiding and it's now just me and the kid on the road.

After backstabbing a sleeping blood dragon that was full from eating imperial soldiers at a nearby outpost (quickest dragon kill thus far - under 10 seconds!), I helped a captured hagraven reclaim her tower from another witch allied with more forsworn. These guys seem to be everywhere in these parts. Well, the hagraven proved to be very helpful, had a good sense of humor and since she didn't try to kill me I left her in peace. If only more monsters were like that. :)

As an aside: Photo above is courtesy of AndreaS, who has more pics of abandoned and ruined places which is also an interest of mine. :)

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Digging too Deep

Adventures in Skyrim - spoilers ahead! You can follow the whole story here!

Woke up in a Temple of Dibella, with a very irate priestess telling us to get out. Lydia is here too, passed out beside me. We get our things and find ourselves in... Markarth? What the hell happened? Seems there are many things afoot in this city built into the mountain. I also find it funny that their Jarl lives in a hole. Seems fitting for someone being bossed around by snooty elves. Our first major task lead us to the depths of a halted excavation. After dealing with the delay-causing giant spider we proceeded further into the expansive dwemer city infested by goblin-like creatures. They are individually weak but in numbers are fatal as Lydia found out when she was overrun by a group of them wielding their wicked blades. Continued through alone and finally reach the "Control Room" where I activated all the automated security. As I made my way out I wondered what sort of technology these dwarves (who haven't been seen in years) possessed to make such things. I also have a theory as to where they went...

Afterwards I began investigating a conspiracy involving the forsworn (who really sound like fancy bandits), and it seemed the more I found out, the more I was warned to back off. Recruited the brawler Cosnach at the tavern after defeating him in unarmed combat to add some muscle to my side and discovered that the forsworn leader is running the show from within the city prison itself. I know the guards there told me to go away but I might just have to break in now. During the search I also came across a not so abandoned house where I was forced to kill a fellow investigator in self defense after he was possessed by the daedric presence within. For all his might the dark lord still had to ask for outside help to get things done, because his power is limited to the house? What a tool. If he wasn't hiding inside that altar I'd stab his face right now.

Discovered quite a bit about how Markarth was being run and when I returned to the small shrine of Talos to report my findings, I found my contact dead with a trio of guards waiting to arrest me. To hell with that I said and drew my weapons. Fighting in such tight quarters was disadvantageous to me and more and more guards seemed to keep pouring in, but not fast enough to replace the ones I killed. Even my newest "ally" Cosnach turned out to be on their payroll as he attacked me with the sword of Falkreath I had given him earlier, but much like our previous duel it was I that remained standing in the end. The Shrine was littered with bodies when I was done, and after healing up I headed towards the prison mine only to be attacked by even more guardsmen. I lost track of how many I managed to kill but eventually they just managed to swarm me, knocking me into one of the waterways running through the city. Surrounded, low on resources and almost dead I finally surrendered. [Hero fail. :(]

Found myself tossed into the prison mine with no gear. Saves me from having to break in at least. Seems the majority of the forced labour here are forsworn, each with sappy stories and a pure hatred for the Nords (which I am). Protip: If you want me to feel sorry for you, don't insult / express a desire to kill me or my people right after. The mine was smaller than I thought and I found the forsworn king guy easy enough. He wanted me to help him escape. So I did, by cutting his throat from ear to ear. Used his escape plan to sneak out through some conveniently connected ruins and found the Silver-Hand responsible for the whole mess waiting for me. Having sorted out his problems he paid off my debts, cleared my name and returned my gear. With an aboutface I marched right back where I came, slaughtering my way through the tunnel to kill all the forsworn scum imprisoned in the mine. Unfortunately the guards were way ahead of me, and all the prisoners were all dead by the time I got there. Satisfied by this turn of events I made my way back to the surface.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Unhealthy Drinking

Adventures in Skyrim - spoilers ahead! You can follow the whole story here!

Upon returning to Whiterun to stow more gear in my house, Lydia, my housecarl, was complaining about being bored so I took her with me to try retrieve the sap of some holy tree. A pilgrim called Maurice also wanted to tag along, promising he wouldn't get in the way. Well, Maurice was a liar. The very first encounter out of town and he gets himself killed by an old orc. We found the magical sap anyway and upon exiting the sanctuary the night sky had a beautiful and mesmerizing aurora. It was then that I heard the roar. A blood dragon peered down at us from the night sky. I was careless.

Caught in the open I bolted to the nearest cover I could find with Lydia right behind me. Or at least I thought she was. When I reached a more defendable position she was nowhere to be seen, and the dragon was seemingly busy attacking everything else in the area. Unfortunately for it, that included a giant encampment where it decided to land. While I did get a few arrows into it this one was definitely killed by the mammoth it decided to try fight. After the battle (and stealing it's soul) I scoured the area for my companion and finally at around midday I found her severely injured in a shallow pool. She could do nothing but crawl. Picked her up and took her right back to Whiterun where I ordered her to get some rest in the house.

While there I remembered that Skjor, one of the inner circle and probably a werewolf, wanted to see me... at night. Found him alone and secluded and thought this would be the perfect time to off one more werewolf bastard. Knives in hand I snuck up behind him and stabbed hard. He went down on his knees but wasn't dead, so I did it again... and again. What the heck. He doesn't DIE. As disturbing as that is, it is more disturbing that he doesn't seem to care either, despite limping slowly now. Ok whatever. I follow him to his secret cave where he and Aela want me to drink infected blood. Ew. It's my decision he says, though he implies I have no choice. Well, whatever. Bottoms up! Maybe my demonic blood can counter th... Nope! I awaken in beast form. I test out these new found abilities and quickly find I'm not a werewolf. I'm a were-corgi. That's just great.

Beware my wrath!

Aela finds me sometime later to hit a Silverhand stronghold. Seems these guys have been busy! I was wondering where all the "wild" werewolves were. If only they talked first instead of attacking me outright (like those Redguards before) I would gladly help them out. Also it seems they managed to kill Skjor. I'd like to think it's because I weakened him earlier instead of a plot device. Aela is pissed and wants me to go recon another of their hideouts. I take the fully recovered Lydia with me and eliminate a bunch of other bandits as well, becoming a thane at Falkreath while I'm at it. No special bonuses or bodyguards there though. As an aside, I think the Jarl there is an ass. With the Silverhand plans in hand Aela then sends me to go hit what sounds like a main base. Since we are still carrying stuff to sell and all the shops closed for the night, Lydia and I decide to wait in the local tavern. After checking the local rumors we are challenged to a drinking contest by some random dude. I think it's a bad idea. Lydia thinks it will be fun. Peer pressure. Not being a drinker myself I got maybe two gulps down before totally passing out.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Skyrim's Adventure Journal

Hi all! Awhile back I decided to keep a log of my thoughts and adventures while playing through the Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, and as I logged more and more it occured to me that I wanted a cleaner way of keeping track of everything. So here is my Journal post, which will contain links to each short "chapter" I write, and will be updated each time I write. :)

Obviously lots of potential spoilers ahead. Without further ado...

The Adventures of Joseph Skyrim in Skyrim!
1. Another Noob in Riverwood
2. Dragons and Death
3. 7000 steps? It was over 9000!
4. Full Moon Tango
5. Unhealthy Drinking
6. Digging too Deep
7. Joe to the Rescue
8. The Legend and the Champion
9. King and Queen
10. The Long and Winding Road
11. Triple Dragon
12. Ashes to Ashes
13. A whole lot of killing
14. The Cleansing
15. Last City on the Right
16. The Bastardly Guards of Markarth
17. Master Thief
18. Preparing for the End
19. Once a Traitor, always a Traitor
20. Alduin is a Punk
21. The War that Waited for Me
22. Gotta Catch them All
23. Back in the Saddle
24. Heroes of Darkwater
25. New Bad Guys and Allies
26. Team Wipe
27. Wizards and Warriors
28. Palace Guardians
29. Enemy Number One
30. Unsupported Preparation
31. Southern Patrol
32. They know what I did last Blogger
33. Gyromancing the Stones
34. The Lioness
35. Leftovers
36. Recruitment Drive
37. Training Surprise
38. Doing the Hard Yards
39. A Test of Skill
40. Rites of Initiation
41. Duelling the Dead
42. Skyrim Scenario: A Curse of Iron
43. Like a Fish in a Barrel
44. Curiosity Fed the Cat
45. Two of Nine
46. Even the Smallest Person
47. Swan Song at Falkreath
48. A Comedy of Errors
49. Old Acquaintances
50. End of the Road
51. Fighting the Forsworn Army
52. Showdown at Sky Haven Temple
53. The New Order (Dawnguard DLC added)
54. A Bloody Massacre
55. Two for Two
56. Too Good to be Bad
57. Quakey Shakey Heart 
58. Angry Fangs
59. Did I just Die Again?
60. Scavenging Spirit 
61. Reading is Bad for You 
62. Bane of the Falmer
63. Fielding All Assets
64. We Charge the Castle
65. Immortal Blood
66. Parting Ways
67. Good Help is Hard to Find
68. Girl Power!
69. Fall of Fort Greymoor 
70. King of the Hill
71. Whiterun turned Red
72. A Crushing Victory
73. The True Hero (Three years later...)
74. The Castle is Mine
75. Opportunity
76. Head Ambassador
77. A Death of Infinite Spears
78. Herecinde's End
79. Monsters of the Northern Sea
80. Bigger Fish to Fry
81. The Eternal One
82. Cassia's Request
83. The Lakehouse
84. The Forgotten City
85. Punching for Science!
86. Not Part of the Solution
87. Keys in the Deep
88. Drinking Past the Pain
89. The Arbiter
90. Third Time's the Charm
91. Out of the Ordinary
92. A Nice View
93. Death Mountain
94. Key to the Underworld 
95. Going Down
96. There can be more than One
97. The First Key 
98. Southern Justice
99. Zombie Horde
100. Nine Lives
101. The Dragonslayers
102. Sanguine's Apprentice
103. Moving Target
104. Dragonborn "D"
105. No Interruptions... Almost
106. The Steady Tide
107. Blood Bath
108. And then I died?
109. The Flash
110. Now you see Me
111. The Student
112. Plotting the Course
113. Summerset Isle
114. Middle of Nowhere
115. Teaching them a Lesson
116. End of Eternity
117. My One Weakness
118. Return to Nirn
119. Mellori's Minions
120. Simple Clarity
121. Flames of Oblivion
122. Tomb of the Nerevarine
123. Reincarnated 
124. Ur Dead
125. Tusaron
126. Unremarkable
127. Some form of Suicide 
128. Dolan
129. Matryoshka Orb
130. Equivalent Exchange
131. Impressive Abilities 
132. The Storm Dragon
133. Where one List ends, another begins
134. The Quick and the Dead
135. Samel Returns
136. Monsters Sighted!
137. Dragon God Mode
138. Battle of Experimentation
139. The Deadliest Dragon
140. Vithdovah
141. Altar of the Ascended
142. Bigger Baddies
143. No Ascension 
144. The Bold and the Clueless
145. The One that Got Away
146. Non-Starters
147. About Jarling Time (Dragonborn and Hearthfire DLCs added)
148. Familiar ash, unfamiliar Darkness
149. Ewok Slayer 
150. First Encounter
151. Shouting at Stones
152. After the Fact
153. Off to see the Wizard 
154. Miraak
155. The Settling Dust
156. You aren't finished!
157. The Fall of Solitude 
158. Worthless
159. Hearthfire 
160. Minecraft
161. Curiosity and the Karstaag
162. The Ebony Warrior
163. A Criminal from Morrowind
164. Even in Death
165. What's Inside 
166. The Lifeless Vaults
167. Moonpath
168. Crazy Cats
169. Meeting Death
170. Tartarus
171. Script Breaker 
172. No Undeath
173. Secret Agent 
174. Disavowed
175. Lull-Mor
176. Modified Bananas
177. The Boiling Foundry
178. Into Darkness
179. The Bottom of the World
180. Archeron
181. Falskaar
182. Dream Crystal
183. Robbing the Bandit
184. Recovery Specialists
185. Blood Lust
186. Yngvarr's Folly
187. Hammar Time
188. Thalmor Agent Yyon 
189. The Dragonlord
190. An Ancient Quest
191. Far Traveled 
192. Tomb Raider 
193. Cheetahs and Cheese
194. The Gray Fox Lives
195. Thirty Days of Skyrim (questionnaire)
196. New Life Unlock (The Elder Scrolls Online)
197. The Snake has Two Heads
198. Summon Cheese 
199. A Giant Problem
200. The Recruiter
201. The Secret Fire
202. Elf Nazis
203. Nothing goes to Plan 
204. Attack on Coldharbour
205. Dangerous Celebration
206. The Alchemy of Graphics Cards
207. Convoluted by Design
208. Heart Eater (Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen)
209. Stage One - DEATH!
210. Into the West
211. Many Heads, All Hungry
212. Vocational Dangers
213. The Bich
214. Settlements 
215. No Salvation
216. Safe as China
217. Placing Ports
218. A Tale of Women
219. The Demon of Indecision
220. Audience Gathering 
221. A Punishable Offense
222. Fool's Errand
223. Now You See Me
224. Rescuing the Girl
225. There's your god
226. Aught to Kill You
227. Just can't Win 
228. The Everfall
229. Ur-Stronger
230. Breaking the Loop
231. Beyond Reach (Return to The Elder Scrolls Online)
232. Perchance to Dream
233. Daedric Tharn 
234. All these People Suck

These adventures are currently on-going, please come back for updates! :)

Full Moon Tango

Adventures in Skyrim - spoilers ahead! You can follow the whole story here!

Having completed my shout training I found myself back in Riverwood and found my old buddy Faendal who made it back from the Barrow place on his own. He seemed keen on returning to the adventuring life so off we went defeating a witch circle led by a hagraven, hunting down a troublesome giant, clearing a skeleton-filled bastian out along with their (quite tough) vampire master, helping a hunter against some spriggans, and near Falkreath even had a run in with a talking dog who followed us around for a time untill he decided to go run off somewhere.

We also tracked down a werewolf who had killed a little girl in town. He claimed to be under the influence of magic at the time, which to me is no excuse at all. The beast was tough, and had killed many other hunters prior to our arrival. It tore Faendal into pieces with its teeth and claws but was far too slow to even be a threat to me. I laughed as I fired the last arrow right into the beast's face then as it lay near death, I skinned it alive (well, it was alive when I started). It will make a nice addition to my trophy room.

The next task on the list was to eliminate another vampire high up yet another mountain in a place called the Bloodlet Throne. Ran into Golldir who I had helped previously and he decided to come with me on this task. The trek up the mountain was again a long one, going through other caves to reach higher ground. Little did I realize that guarding the place was a large blood dragon. We engaged the beast in combat and early in the piece the monster grabbed the hapless Golldir in its maw, chomped down hard, then tossed him off the mountain cliff to certain death.

I avenged him, eating the dragon's soul then continued alone to the vampire's lair. Fortunately, despite the numerous blood suckers present none of them even saw me coming. My primary target had it worst as I plunged both my daggers into his back, breaking his spine into three with one hit. After looting the place dry I headed back down to warmer climates. Never did find where Golldir landed though.

Was disappointed this wasn't at the Bloodlet Throne. :P

7000 steps? It was over 9000!

Adventures in Skyrim - spoilers ahead! You can follow the whole story here!

Met two Redguards who asked for help hunting a fugitive in Whiterun today. After locating her I was still unsure whose side I would help as everyone involved was being vague. Decided to find those Redguards again and ask for more information but was side tracked by a bandit cave. My new housecarl Lydia proved her sword prowess as we cleared them out easily. To our surprise we encountered a small Redguard group hiding out at the very back and their leader knowing instantly he was in deep poo when I walked in called for a truce. Apparently the fugitive is a traitor and reading between the lines, cost more than a few lives. I've had experiences with traitorous scum before, and when we got back to the city I was more than happy to help them arrest that manipulative bitch.

At this point I found I was carrying too much stuff that people didn't have gold to buy, and that I didn't particularly want to just discard so I bought a cozy little house in Whiterun for around 8000 gold for storage. Given my healthy distrust of the Whiterun guards (not to mention a bunch of werewolves living there) I left Lydia to keep an eye on things while I hired Jenassa the bandit turned adventurer to accompany me to see the old dudes who summoned me to the top of a mountain. Her talents were tested right away when we came across another dragon attacking one of the outlying farms, and she proved her worth when she landed the killing strike.

The journey was long though, and one bandit camp (whose leader was smashed away by a giant) and a troll later we reached the entrance to a tomb where a cowardly warrior named Golldir asked for assistance dealing with a necromancer who was doing all sorts of things with his dead relatives. We accepted ofcourse and the undead had no chance between the three of us, however the necromancer managed to slay Jenassa in the final chamber firing an ice bolt through her chest, and with Golldir staying to fix up the mess I caused I was left to continue the pilgrimage up to High Hrothgar on my own.

The hike up the mountain was ardous, and one knife duel with a bandit on a log later I reached Ivarstead in pouring and oppresive rain. This was the "start" of the 7000 step pilgrimage up the mountain, but there were people in town needing aid so after sorting out their problems I continued the hike up, encountering a hilarous suicidal wolf before finally reaching the monastery near the snowy peak. Once inside, the old dudes began my training which, while really cool, only lasted around 10 minutes and pretty much consisted of yelling. Ironic that most of them have a vow of silence.

I asked what the best shout for a dragon was.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Dragons and Death

Adventures in Skyrim - spoilers ahead! You can follow the whole story here!

Before heading out with the Whiterun troops to examine this dragon sighting I decided to do a bit of preparation by cooking a whole bunch of food from freely available ingredients and mixing random potions. Also met Uthgerd the Unbroken, a hard woman who was pushing for some fisticuffs so I obliged. She certainly was tougher than the lady blacksmith but maybe that's because she was wearing full plate armor. Regardless, I put her in her place and she offered to join me in my travels, an offer I accepted thinking that she would be a good addition for dragon fighting. How wrong I was.

We had only reached the outer gate of the city where I was chatting to some travelling Khajiit when a bunch of three thugs attacked. She maybe swung her sword twice before they had her bent over begging for mercy. Unbroken my foot. So it was up to me and my trusty bow and knives to handle them. The fight led us back towards the Whiterun guards who seemed to be enjoying the whole spectacle and refused to take part. Uthgerd would occasionally try to hit them in the back when she wasn't pissing her leggings in fear and pleading for her life but they'd just knock her down with a dismissive swipe, much like one swatting a mosquito. Not being able to stand the patheticness of this so called proud and unbroken woman, I made sure she died in the battle. After searching the thugs I also discovered who hired them... the Whiterun guards themselves! No wonder they stood idly by, those bastards...

With a new found distrust of these people I stripped all the dead and lugged their gear back to the shop for selling. Also picked up the warrior Farkas to take Uthgerd's place. Seems he wants us to go somewhere to collect an artifact. I wonder if that will involve punching women too? Seems to be a trend in this place. No matter, we took a slight detour to meet up with the detachment of Whiterun troops to check out this dragon. And by detachment I mean six people. The tower is in ruins and before long the dragon MewMew returns! Ok, that wasn't it's name but I'll be damned if I can remember it. A very awesome battle commences, with fire and arrows everywhere. Farkas seems to be able to take the flame to the face quite well. Soon enough the dragon is slain. 50% surival rate. Not bad. Apparently I ate it's soul too. Now those traitorous guards think I'm something special. Hopefully that'll stop them sending hitmen after me.

Artist's rendition of the battle at West Tower against MewMew! :P

While the rest of them returned to base I continued on to the lair of the Dustmen with Farkas which was where he wanted to go in the first place. Figured I owed him for taking dragonfire to his face. Seems that four undead things are too much for him though and just in the opening room he is being knocked around like a pansy. Up to ye olde Skyrim (me, not the region) to save the day. At least Farkas doesn't beg, but I am concerned that I can't get him to carry stuff. Something's not quite right with him...

He's a werewolf!? That explains taking dragonfire to the face, but a werewolf? I am torn. Werewolves are scum and they ALL need to be put down.Worse, a bunch of his group back in Whiterun are monsters too. I'm collecting the silver swords off these dead wolf hunters because I think I'm going to need them. I really should backstab him now to stop him spreading his disease, but he hasn't done anything blatantly evil yet. Goddamnit. Fine we'll see how this pans out. A whole bunch of killing later we're out with whatever artifact in hand. I'm not really paying attention since I'm keeping an eye on this wolf bastard, just waiting for him to turn on me but he doesn't. Back at Whiterun his group welcome me as a fledging member and Farkas leaves my company. Good, now I know which ones I need to take out. The old dude confirms it. Somehow they've kept it secret too. We'll see about that.

Went up to the Jarl bossman who congratulates me for killing the dragon. He then tells me I'm being summoned somewhere and gives me a title and a new female bodyguard. That's great. Hey Jarl bossman did you know you have a werewolf infestation in your city? Unfortunately that line of conversation does not exist. Seems I'll have to take care of them myself. As usual.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Another Noob in Riverwood

Hi all! Decided to record my thoughts and experiences while playing Skyrim, so while not being proper updates, I thought they could be an entertaining read for anyone that actually stumbles in here. ;p Possible spoilers ahead! You can also follow the whole story here!

Woke up and was about to be executed. Bad start to any day. Got away thanks to some winged intervention and extra pleased I got to stab the female empire officer who had me lined up to die (for no good reason other than my name being the same as this region I might add) during the escape. Fellow escapee Ralof led me to Riverwood and after a day of talking to the townsfolk I decided to hike up to the scary Barrow place to kill some bandits with Faendal the elf. He owed me for helping him score and showed me a thing or two about marksmanship on the way. Apparently he also likes dressing up. None of the dungeon denizens proved to be challenging (even on master level), and both of us made it out just fine. Well, at least I did. Faendal didn't want to exit with me so we split up to find our own ways back. Didn't see him back in Riverwood, either I beat him there or he has run off with half the loot from the expedition. Either way people seem to want me to head to Whiterun next.

Encountered my first giants and mammoths after journeying North past the mountain. Managed to swipe some of their stuff too while they weren't looking. They seem docile enough though... why would anyone want to fight them? Seems my answer was at a nearby farm. Three hooligans were trying to take one down, and were successful too. They're mercs apparently. Famed in these parts? Followed them back to Whiterun which really IS quite hard to miss. Lots of people and things to see. Found the merc's base and they seem friendly enough for the kill for money type. They are accepting recruits so I signed up to see what makes em tick. If they're evil scum it's always easier to stab them in the back anyway. Afterall, in my perfect world the only -evil- thing that should exist is me.

First assignment is to beat up the nice female blacksmith. They're paid to hit women? I'm disliking them even more now. Snuck into her house in the dead of night to try sort things out. Seems she wants to fist fight. Her husband/partner just stands by and cheers. Too bad for her I'm simply more skilled in the dance. She's learned her lesson and my non-respect for her "friend", the one that stood by and cheered as I smacked her around, has turned to disgust instead.

Anyway, went and talked to the Jarl bossman who wanted me to get some sort of stone from that Barrow place. You mean this stone? He and his wizard are impressed. Speaking of Dragons, one's been sighted nearby and he has asked me to go assist his troops recon the site. Should be an interesting expedition I think.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Skyrim now has Skyrim

Big thanks to my big brother and sister in law for getting me the latest Elder Scrolls game that happens to have my name on it! :P Still in the download stage of this early Christmas present and potential Mabinogi killer (for a few months anyway). I'll need to get some time scheduling organized so I can continue work on DRM:EOTE (altered from FOTE) which I've begun drawing. It's gonna take awhile, even if I dedicated all my time to it, and with Christmas coming up that will be unlikely.

Put up two more links on the top right too, one for my other brother who is leading up his student team in making their final project: Omega Guardian, and a commercial I made for an event in Mabi awhile back. Figured I put in the effort so why not show it (and my poor russian accent) off? ;)

Also had a random encounter jogging through the fire trail today as I encountered three monitor lizards (that I could see, lots of brush noises that could have been more). Big thingies (length wise), kinda cute too. Didn't want to get too close to those tree climbing claws though.

Project Status:
Christmas Shopping - 70% (most need wrapping yet)
Mom's magic book - 5%
DRM:EoTE - 5.5%
DRM:O - 2% (onto ye backburner)
COTE (book) - 0%

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Crysis before Christmas

Thanks to Juris who got me the Crysis pack awhile back, I just played through the original Crysis in 4 days. Very awesome game, but I'm slightly disappointed it was so easy even on the hardest mode. I find that's what usually happens in shooters that have auto regeneration / shields. Are the gamers of today so unskilled that they need such a feature? Sure it keeps the action going, but it also makes the game shorter.

I much prefer the SWAT mechanic where you get shot, tough luck. You're shot. No healing. If your arm is hit, your aim is dodgy while a bullet in your leg makes you much slower and there's NOTHING you can do about it. Really wish more shooters would do that. Anywho, Crysis: Warhead is up next. Maybe that will have something that will actually be challenging for me. Guess shooting all those zombies and playing the ultra real war shooters such as Dragon Rising increased my skill somewhat.

In other news, I checked out the google sites area to see how user friendly making a web page would be. Looks ok but I think I'm better off here. Less hassle for updates means more chance of me updating. :P Also worked more on CKT2KM, the experimental flash thing and could not get the -why-. It was heading towards a mundane archaic finish which would not have been satisfying for anyone involved so in my typical fashion I've abandoned that project. I am thinking of scouting out this GameMaker 8 program too, I have one of the much earlier versions of it and remember it was cool but not so sure yet till I see into it's core.

What to work on next? Probably Christmas shopping tops the list, followed by Mom's magic book. Ironically Mabi has recently been having lag issues and not been so fun to play so I may actually get some stuff done.

Lastly I watched Undisputed II tonight. Good action film! Not quite on par with the third installment but I'm definitely a Scott Adkins fan now. He even kicks butt in Assassination Games, though not as much since he has to go halves with Van Damme. :P And if action is not your thing, how about some piano music - or failing that... some crazy funny cats and dictators? :)

Project Status:
Christmas Shopping - 1% (big list :P)
Mom's magic book - 5%
DRM:FoTE - 5% (planned)
DRM:O - 2% (planning, switched from BP idea to be DRM related)
FR - 1% (backburner for now)
COTE (book) - 0%
CKT2KM - (canned)

Monday, 21 November 2011

Poor Nervous Sloth

Yeah, that's me. Getting totally caned by Sloth in the form of high level stress. :( So much so that I've not even gotten the game with my namesake yet. So, what's causing all of it? Well, I just bought a house! Woohoo! :D *PANIC! STRESS!*

Paperwork, deadlines and large amounts of money are not a good combination. We'll only be getting the keys early next year if all goes according to plan. *crosses fingers* In the meantime, I think I'm going to go lie down. x.x

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Old and New

Seems my productivity levels have dropped off entirely as of late, I just cannot seem to find the "groove" that seems so easy for others to find. Still managed to pull off a few Mabi contest related things, but I'm beginning to wonder if it is worth my time doing them.

Yes, for the second one I was trying to make her look 10 years old. Didn't seem to turn out correctly. x_x

Also I recently visited one of my old Ultima haunting grounds: Shadowcove, where I was saddened to learn about the death of one of my friends there. I never met Tony Barnett in real, but his passing still upset me - someone who lives on the opposite end of the globe. Who says you can't make worthwhile connections through online gaming. Anyway, while I was there I grabbed some of my old stuff as a keepsake.

Speaking of MMORPGs, my brother is keeping an eye out for one that our guild can all get back into and his latest one is Fallen Earth. In its post apocalyptic future setting, you can run around, build guns and motorbikes and do the usual quest stuffs. Oh an every player is a "clone". That's how they explain getting revived in the game, as the last part of the tutorial mission requires your death. Its an interesting concept with heavily borrowed themes from Fallout but once you make it out into the massive world, it seems very lackluster, and lacking in people. Also it has the annoying feature that a few other games share, and that is putting all the text you *hear* into a chat log at the bottom left hand side. For me that's very amateur. Heck, UO and Mabi can put speech bubbles above the character who is speaking, why the hell can't all these ones do it? Its pretty much for the same reason I ditched D&D Online.

I guess that means we need something that fits 3 criteria now: Available world wide, free, and has speech bubbles. Ah well the search goes on. I've put a relevant and cool song on that last link, you really should have a listen (I bought the track). :)

I've added links (on the top right) to things I mentioned in earlier postings so that they can easily be found again and changed my mind about not listing the projects I'm not working on as that would just lead me to forget them at this rate. I've gotten rid of the generic name and replaced it with the initialized name that I plan to call them. You may even be able to guess what some of them are now. :P

Hmm I seem to be running out of webspace as well, probably need to sort that out shortly. Lastly, an old friend of mine has released a new game: Zombie Life! You should go check it out and his other stuff at the Playforge. :)

Lastly I watched "Undisputed 3: Redemption" recently and it is AWESOME. Solid fighting, plenty of feats of human ability, and a pretty decent plot to boot. I highly recommend it to any martial arts or action movie fans.

Project Status:
CKT2KM (flash) - 14%
COTE (book) - 0%
Mom's magic book - 5%
DRM:FoTE (flash) - 5% (planned)
FR (flash) - 1% (base idea is there)
BP (flash) - 0% (rough idea only)
Mabinogi: Labu Art comp: 100% (done)
Mabinogi: CyberEvent make your own race: 100% (done)

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Piano Zombie

Mabinogi sure has me in its clutches again as the next storyline arc (G15) is set to release in the next week or so, so I'm busy preparing gear for that in game. Also been hitting L4D2 with my guildies a fair bit trying to get through the campaign on expert mode (again) for one of my brother's lost achievements. It's great fun even if we only have managed to clear Dead Center so far. Infact my only gripe with it is the constant updates. It's great they keep updating the game. Not so great that I cannot play it if I don't update to their dictated patch. It's like they assume everyone has unlimited downloads or something. :(

Anyways I did manage to finish my sig entry, and just for kicks I'm putting a piece I did a few months back during the reneissance comp up here too. Other than that I've been busy learning piano pieces but not much else in the productivity track. Mr. Jobs' ghost would probably be upset with me. :(

Speaking of piano stuff, here is one of my favourite pianists - Arcadi Volodos.

Project Status:
Flash game #1 - 14% (Coloured in some BGs)
Mysterious book - 0% (oh yeah, I was meant to be restarting? :P)
Mabinogi: Forum Signature comp: 100%
Mabinogi: Labu Art comp: 75% (just need to fix some shading and add a BG)
Mom's magic book - 0% (just data-entry, but I'm putting it here to remind myself to do it)

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

All over the place

Whoa, I totally missed the update last week in more ways than one. Moving office is tiring... Ofcourse this means I am again behind in where I had hoped to be which is annoying but I've no one to blame but myself. This week I finished colouring the bad guys for flash game #1, next up is backgrounds then AI/gameplay I think. Still managed to pull off two more Mabinogi drawings too, and I am planning to participate in another Mabi-related comp in the next week or so:

As a reward for the second one I received the cutest version of my character ever (drawn by Emeris)! :P

Seems everyone on Mabinogi NA is getting premium service for the next month or so as well so hopefully this means my guild can finally setup a stone in-game somewhere. I don't think I've spoken much about my guild here have I? Well, we are a small group called Dragonarm and we traverse many games. You can find out a bit more in an old interactive movie I did here - Dragonarm: Chapter 1. :)

Also, if you enjoy Neverwinter Nights my brother made this campaign for our guild but it's free for anyone to download and play. Be warned it is designed to be played in a (large) group and uses the hardcore ruleset. Porting in a high level character to solo is possible but could be frustrating if you use a mage as it isn't geared for that.

As for the mysterious book I'm considering trashing what little work I've put into it and starting again (changing first POV character). Sigh.

Lastly, Junior Masterchef has started up showcasing another load of talented kids in the kitchen! It's really good stuff. For those who feel this isn't mature enough for their tastes may enjoy this hilarious Nigella Lawson mix instead (warning: not for kiddies :P).

Project Status:
Flash game #1 - 13% (enemies all coloured)
Mysterious book - 0% (restarting)
Mabinogi: Forum Signature comp -due Oct 8th: 1% (have an idea, need to study reference)
Mabinogi: Keenejl art comp -due Oct 20th: 100%
Mabinogi: Emeris silly sprite -100%

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Artistic Deviation

Managed to pull off two Mabinogi related works this week, unfortunately the Mighty Mugg one is not one of them. Simply didn't have enough time nor motivation to win the chance to "build" a mighty mugg. Especially as I'm trying to concentrate on flash-based art where as that one specifically was looking for real world works.

Both pieces were for player-run things and I used them as exercises in changing the cutesy anime style of Mabinogi into "altered" versions.

Really happy with how the second one turned out, especially as it was a last minute thing I decided to do. Also worked on Flash Game #1 briefly, but still no word from Mike at Newgrounds about API's for flash 5 which is a bummer. Must follow that up this week. I intend to hammer out game #1 to at least half way by next week because it's really getting in the way of the second one I have in mind. :P

The mysterious book laughs at me again, as instead of having any progress I've been playing Left 4 Dead 2 with my brothers. Incredibly fun game. I wonder how Dead Island compares to it? I'm sure Juris (one of my guildies) is finding out right now.

Speaking of artistic deviations, what about Scarlett Johansson ey? The incredibly stunning actress has been in the news recently as she has supposedly set the FBI to track down whoever it was that hacked her phone as she doesn't want you to see her "comprimising" pictures. Ironically, the majority of people now looking for said photos would not be doing so had that article not been published in the news. Also, I would be more concerned with what other data could have been pulled from the phone. Pictures are a good distraction, but birthdays, addresses, private messages and the like are more useful to creative minds.

Were you looking for a link to those leaked Scarlett Johansson photos? Try google. :P

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Tribute to Equilibrium

Alright! Using a trial version of a later flash I've managed to upload my "Tribute to Equilibrium" movie up on Newgrounds where it is doing around about as well as I suspected it would. I've PM'ed Mike over there who is working on a mini-ad thing that should hopefully work on Flash 5 but we'll have to wait and see how that turns out.

Why Equilibrium? Well, because I liked it! It's certainly my type of movie - a solid story with a good amount of action and a high body count. It helps that Batman (Christian Bale) and Ned Stark (Sean Bean) are in it too. There's also a really adorable puppy. If you haven't seen it yet then I highly recommend it. ^_^

Also in other fan-based things, there are two on youtube that I found very well done - Portal: No Escape, and Fallout: Nuka Break.

I'm continuing to work with Flash 5 while looking out for anything that remotely supports AS2 - seems Flash MX 2004 is the closest but it's not longer available from Adobe. I did see they have a semi affordable "subscription" version of the latest flash, but that means I should really have all my stuff (or a bunch of stuff) done ahead of time since I only want it for the AS2+ component. I'm just hoping porting AS1 stuff to AS2+ is not time consuming. Also was researching Bandcamp a bit, as it may be a good place to put up some of my music later on. :)

Lastly, the mysterious book now has one page. At this rate, its going to take forever!

I guess it doesn't help that I've been concentrating on Mabinogi this week, training up my brother's dragon. :P Which reminds me, there are two art comps over there that I should really participate in too. Really need to get back into creative mode in the next few days!

Project Status:
Flash game #1 - 9% (no change, was lazy this week :P)
Mysterious book - 1% (going slowly, now I have one page)
Salvage mission 2: "Equilibrium" - 100% (Done and up on NewGrounds)
Mabinogi: Mighty Mugg Contest -due 13th Sep: 0%
Mabinogi: Fan Contest -due 18th Sep: 2% (have an idea of what I'm gonna do)

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Bumps in the Road

Focused on the salvage missions this week; unfortunately I could not find the source fla for my "Hellsing: The Anderson Alternative" clip that I did ages ago for my old Hellsing Crucifix site, so for now I am cancelling it back into the void. I did have better luck with Equilibrium though as I still had the source for that. I figured it would be a good test of the Newgrounds CPMstar API as that is the only one I have found that you can put with movies but was severely disappointed when I found that it is not compatible with Flash 5 (more specifically, AS1). Due to this I've held off on uploading it until I get my hands on a later version where I can plug it in. I think there are later trial versions I can download but that's going to be a once off thing. :(

The mysterious book now has a 3 paragraph prologue as it continues to laugh at me. :P

Lastly I did a mini-project to make a sig for one of my guildmates, Niamh!
Turned out quite nicely I think... :)

Project Status:
Flash game #1 - 9% (few backgrounds props drawn)
Mysterious book - 1% (woo, 3 paragraphs? Lol)
Salvage mission 1: "Hellsing" - cancelled (fla lost)
Salvage mission 2: "Equilibrium" - 95% (all set, but need to upgrade base flash to test API stuff)

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Weak One

One week has gone by and I think I've only spent 2-3 hrs on flash game #1 which is a very weak performance on my part, largely thanks to learning more piano pieces and taking advantage of the recent events in Mabinogi. 5x EXP = 5 days of playing condensed into 1! I suspect I'll be a thrall to it's whims while it lasts... :P

Most of my focus will be on "flash game #1" which should end up to be a pretty small and wierd game. To that end I'll ditch the other two from the status list for now since they're not going to be changing till #1 is out of the way. I'm also tossing up the idea of salvaging some of my old flash movies and trying to monetise them somehow, if that's even possible. Would be great if I can as all the work is already in there, or possibly a compilation work of the best bits or something but I'll have to see how that goes. Unfortunately most monetising stuff I've looked at is aimed specifically at games. Also, I would need to add new sounds to the ones I have in mind either way.

Lastly, the mysterious book laughs at my futile attempts at starting a prologue. -_-

Apologies to anyone who stumbled across this page looking for flash stuff as I have none yet to offer, but I'd like so recommend Astromiau, or the mainsite of Vinnie Veritas (aka Kite-Ride). He makes a lot of Frame by Frame movies which are great to watch in any language. :)

Project Status:
Flash game #1 - 8% (most main chars animations done)
Mysterious book - 1% (no change)
Salvage mission: Hellsing - 0% (need to find fla, add sounds and music, possibly fix some stuff)
Salvage mission: Equilibrium - 25% (found fla, just need to find free music for it and alter credits a bit)

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Repurposing - Not so Random anymore

Rather than continue with the "review" type site as my previous posts were leaning towards, I think I'm better off time-wise (both mine and yours :P) in using this as more like a creative journal. Hopefully it will also encourage me to be more productive!

So, just what thingies have I got in mind? At the moment a book and a few flash games, all of which are just distant goals in the horizon at the moment. The main difference to the other stuff I've made before is I'm actually going to try earn money from these, and I'm going to track how well or how poorly each attempt goes. Why these mediums? Generally my flash stuff always gets positive feedback and my forays into writing have won me little prizes here and there on the various MMO's I've been on, so I'm interested to see how well it does in the "real" world.

They're mostly planned out and really just need me to get on and doing them! At least I've got a logo for the flash stuff.

Yeah, well - it's better than nothing. :P

I'll be with-holding the actual titles until they are closer to completion, simply because I may decide to change them later on... and I like secrets! ^_^

Project Status:
Mysterious book - 1% (planned)
Flash game #1 - non DRM related. Small - 2% (planned - and now I have a logo. Ho ho ho. :P)
Flash game #2 - DRM related. Largish? - 2% (planned)
Flash game #3 - mysterious, even to me :P - 0% (rough idea only)

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Wandering a Nuclear Wasteland

Fallout in Vegas? What a stupid idea! That was my initial reaction when I first heard about it, despite me truly adoring Fallout 3 and all of its DLCs. However after receiving it after my birthday I soon found myself well and truly sucked in, so much so that my Mabinogi adventures went on the backburner for awhile - with a pet thunder dragon card waiting to be used! After one month of the wastes, I'm glad to say I've come out alive, though towards the end there I was going a bit nuts with the to and fro quests.

While the main quest line can probably be finished in a few nights, the abundance of side quests and locations to discover really got me hiking all over the Mojave, which was the part I loved. In general the surroundings seemed less hostile that Fallout 3 (even in the most difficult setting with hardcode mode turned on), which was a bit disappointing - save for some deathclaw infested areas and hidden boss caves. Everything else was pretty much ok and entertaining enough, but I wasn't as invested in the protagonist is this one (who is a courier that finds him or herself taking a central role in a large scale upcoming war) as opposed to the Vault dweller from Fallout 3 who leaves the vault to find his or her dad. One of my friends described it perfectly - New Vegas is like a big expansion to Fallout 3. It doesn't really build on anything gameplay wise.

The Honest Hearts DLC is even more of the same, centered in Zion valley where no nukes hit it becomes very cowboys and indians and that whole sense of post-apocalypse is almost removed entirely. When I went through it, it was also bloody easy with only one yao guai boss causing me any problems. It also features a pretty big opportunity to stuff the whole thing up right at the start, when I accidentally started shooting someone who is mandatory to the storyline. At least there are nice scenic views, and a mini collectible story in some some of the caves which is very interesting but all in all it's a pretty weak DLC.

Dead Money however, for me is -right- on the money. This story driven adventure has the best written characters, scary opponents and a real sense of dread and foreboding throughout. There are instakill devices and traps a plenty, and with the very air you breathe slowly killing you - you cannot afford to be too cautious. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea but I loved it, so much more than the base Fallout New Vegas game and is actually the highlight of the entire experience for me.

Not Hot enough being a Yahoo

Having an email account in both Hotmail and Yahoo for awhile now it has become abundantly clear over my years of continued usage that one is simply much superior to the other. Your opinions may vary but since I exclusively use them for one thing only (being EMAILS), the winner is...


Why? Well, lets look at my judging criteria.

-Ease of use (tie) - They're both good at this. Though they both released new layouts recently which kinda threw me for a bit.

-Security (tie) - again, both pretty good. The weakness of passwords is always the users themselves.

-Adding attachments (hotmail wins) - Yahoo failed to attach a 4MB file after 30 minutes of trying to do so. Hotmail did it in under 5 minutes. Sure, yahoo may be trying to scan it as it uploads to the message but at the expense of -MY- time? I don't think so.

-Viewing attachments (hotmail wins) - Again, yahoo likes scanning stuff before displaying it to you. This is nice in theory, but can get really aggravating when you have a number you want to view. Nowhere near as bad as uploading them though.

-Login Page (hotmail wins) - Go to hotmail and you get a simple login page come up quick. Login, and you are taken to your email. Log out and you are taken to a sponsor page. Go to yahoo, and you get a full news page, search engine and have to follow a little link in the top right to actually login. Once you login, you are put BACK on that busy page and have to click again to actually get into your email. Those features are really good, UNLESS YOU USE IT PURELY FOR EMAIL.

In closing, if you are looking for pure email functionality and are choosing between these two, pick hotmail and save yourself some headaches and some time.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Jumping into Haystacks

More commonly known as the game series "Assassin's Creed", the player is put into the shoes of said assassins Altair, Ezio and Desmond - who is actually the main hero of the story but who you spend the least time playing (so far anyway). In the games I've played (the original AC, AC2, and AC Brotherhood) there is a lot of killing, a lot of violence, and a fair number of cleverly positioned haystacks.

Each game features an "open world" which lets the character run, climb and jump around pretty much wherever he feels like - and the scenery is absolutely gorgeous! This combined with a pretty engaging story line ensures that you will probably stop playing each session at least 30 minutes to 1 hour later than intended! :P Ubisoft really milk the open world mechanic too by having side missions galore, some of which tie in strongly to the story while others are more non-sensical, like collecting flags and feathers or beating up evil jesters... but hey, this is a world where you can cut people's throats with brooms, buy various murdering tools from Da Vinci, and survive a drop of any height as long as there is a haystack to catch you where you fall.

While this cuts into the realism a little bit (which is funny since most of it is essentially a Virtual Reality simulator), it doesn't make it any less fun. Combat is fast and wonderfully animated, and there are enough various guards to keep you "slightly" on your toes. This is perhaps my only gripe about the game. Your character, even at his weakest, is way too damn strong. There is not one fight or opponent who really poses any challenge and while there is an "incognito" mechanic in place, its really not necessary as you can walk about with your sword drawn and openly asking for the guards to come die at your hands. This also makes the missions where you must "sneak and not be detected" somewhat more frustrating than they should be as while logically the objective seems sound, in your head you are wondering why you need to sneak past 10 guys when you just killed 500 effortlessly while strolling up here?

In the Thief series, Garrett had the potential to be very deadly if you played him that way - but the tension was there because you knew that if it came down to sword play, you would often lose. In Batman: Arkham Asylum, Bats is a very dangerous close quarters/sneak attack specialist but when you come across the crazies with the guns you knew you had to be careful or meet a sudden loud and lead-filled end. That sort of tension doesn't exist in Assassin's Creed which is a shame, but it more than makes up for it with the sheer fun it offers.

Multiplayer on the otherhand, is extremely tense and fun! Though I think I only killed one guy once and got murdered 10 times in my last round, the idea that you can only kill one target of whom you have a -vague- idea of their location while trying to elude an unknown amount of pursuers is awesome. Hiding in plain sight has never been executed so well in a pvp environment I think, and given that I don't really like PvP but I like this should speak volumes. :)


As an aside, no silly pictures for this posting as I'm planning to get another flash thing up and running and am saving all my skills for that. I'll let you know how that turns out. :P

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

It's all about the cooking!

There are very few "reality" shows I get into, and Masterchef Australia is one of them. This is really strange since I don't cook at all, but am slowly being encouraged to try. Prior to watching it, I didn't know who Heston Bummenthal was, nor Nigella Lawson, Tetsuya, Adriano Zumbo, Matt Moran, Gary Mehigan, George Calmobaris and certainly not Matt Preston among a host of other names. I didn't know that there are people who can hold hot pieces of iron and meat straight from the oven with their bare hands, or that something called a croquembouche was a desert. I didn't know what the terms molecular gastronomy, shucking, and caramelisation meant. I didn't know there were an almost infinite amount of ways to prepare food, and that there were crazy chefs who worked out things that needed to be cooked then baked then frozen then cooked again then fried - what the hell man, was that just trial and error? O_O

And then came Masterchef Australia. A spin-off of the original Masterchef UK (some of which I also watch now), the Australian version focuses quite a bit more on the amateur cooks themselves rather than the cooking. This makes it somewhat less impressive for foodies sure, but I think grabs quite a few more of the non-cooking demographic like myself. The format is ye olde contestants facing a variety of challenges which sees them depart one at a time and the last one standing wins. It's a formula that seems to be working too, as it is now in the 3rd season of the show, with a very awesome Junior Masterchef season thrown somewhere in the mix as well. It also airs 6 nights a week during primetime which gives you an idea of how much pull this "little cooking show" has.

While there certainly is a lot of cooking - there's quite a bit of this too:

If you haven't seen any of it yet, you can find all their episodes online on the main MasterChef Australia site.

Just as amusing as the show itself are the forums that recap it daily, giving their own (usually hilarious) spin on the transpiring events. The two I visit most often are Reality Ravings and Shuckittome. Definitely something to have a little taste of if you haven't already! ;)