Dec 31, 2011
As the new guy in Windhelm, I'm doing my best to fit in with the local NPCs. I walk around the city, wearing regular clothing instead of armor. I hang around in the tavern, eating and drinking. I sleep in a rented bed every night. I make small-talk, or at least listen to the small-talk of others. Overall, I feel like I'm blending in well: if a real adventurer arrived in Windhelm, I'm confident he or she would be convinced I was just another local living a routine life. Nordrick the Bland, they'd call me.
And yet, a very un-NPC-like emotion has reared its ugly head inside Nordrick's even uglier head. I may walk, sleep, eat, and drink like an NPC, but when it comes to my professional life, I'm definitely falling short. While spending time with the locals, and seeing what they do for a living, I've come to an unexpected conclusion: I'm insanely jealous.
For example, there's an NPC in Windhelm who runs a museum out of his house. For two gold pieces, I get a quick tour of his collection of mundane junk, which includes some bones, an empty book, and a spoon. It's a boring collection of cruft, but he invents wild stories that make his assortment of crap seem interesting. Why can't that be my job? I collect plenty of junk, so why can't I put it on shelves, make up ridiculous stories about it, and charge people to look at it? Nordrick the Curator, they'd call me.
I also meet a fiction writer who lives at the inn. A writer! Now, that's a job I'm jealous of. I'd love to write a book, perhaps about a hero named Nordrick The Bold who single-highhandedly slays the dreaded Frost Troll of Dawnstar. Or I could pen a tome about Nordrick the Fair, who recovers stolen magic weapons and returns them to their rightful owners. I could sell them to stores in Skyrim and collect the royalties.
(I actually read one of the writer's books, which is pretty awful. He uses phrases like "I leave you now, good reader, with this gentle reminder..." Blech! I hate when authors address their audience. You know what I mean, gentle blog viewer?)
Even the beggars seem to have good jobs. I meet one who asks me for a gold coin and offers to train me in the art of pick-pocketing, which seems a bit dubious. If she's so good at picking pockets, why is she begging for gold? On the other hand, I did give her a piece of gold, and as I walk away I realize that she's so skilled that she tricked me into picking my own pocket for her. Now, that's talent.
I think all of this occupation envy I'm feeling is due to the fact that my chosen profession, smithing, isn't really working out so well. Sure, there's a nice smithing area I can use in Windhelm that has all the tools I need: forge and anvil, ore smelter, tanning rack, grindstone, and workbench, all within a few feet of each other. With the right materials I can fashion armor, weapons, and even jewelry. The problem is, it's not making me any money. In fact, it's losing me a ton of cash. Ideally, I'd be able to buy raw materials, fashion them into things, and sell them back for a profit. As it stands, however, the materials I buy cost more than the finished product, so I'm operating at a steep loss.
The only way to buy for less and sell for more is to boost my Speech skill, and the only way to boost my Speech skill is buy doing a lot of buying and selling, and since my Speech skill is currently pretty low, that means I'm losing gobs of money there, too. So, Nordrick the Silver-Tongued Blacksmith, at the moment, is a complete bust.
Luckily, there are several other ways to make money. Alchemy is one, and I've got plenty of ingredients after my long trip to Windhelm. I mix up all the potions I can, selling them to the local alchemist for a nice profit. I also spend a day visiting several nearby farms and gathering crops for the farmers, who had the time and energy to plant, cultivate, and grow the crops, but are suddenly are too lazy to spend thirty seconds picking them. I chop firewood as well, for people who have gone out and cut down trees, dragged them back to their farms, and cut them into small pieces, but lacked the follow-through for the final step: splitting the small pieces in half.
In fact, I do such a good job, the local farmers get together to hold a special election and vote me in as the new Jarl of Windhelm! And here this blog ends, as Nordrick The Helpful rules wisely over Windhelm for the rest of his days.
Okay, I actually just had a quick sit on the throne while no one was watching. An NPC can dream, can't he?
Funneling my earned wages into my smithing and vendor-grinding, it's not long before I'm basically broke again, so there's not much else to do but head back into the wild to do some hunting and mining. I blow the dust off my armor, strap it on, and head south. I come upon a small mining town called Kynesgrove, where I chip some minerals out of the caverns. They also have some spare bedrolls outside, so I spend a rent-free night and continue roaming the following day.
The morning passes as some wolves attack me and I attack some goats, both serving to fill my pelt quota. While wandering alongside a river in the afternoon, I spot what looks like a small wooden shack. As I approach, I spy a tiny flicker of motion through the broken boards on the side of the shack. Someone's inside. I drop into a crouch. Is it a bandit, wanting to kill me for gold? A necromancer, wanting to experiment on my corpse?
Unfortunately, it's neither. The flicker of motion in the shack suddenly becomes a flash. It's not a person. It's something big, it's something fast, and it's coming right at me. Sabercat. Sabercat! Oh flip, it's a mother-flippin' Sabercat!
A sabercat. I would honestly prefer to fight a dragon than a sabercat. Dragons are deadly, sure, but they lazily circle, then land, then take off and circle some more. Sabercats are all business. They're lightning quick and deadly: I've run into them with the other characters I play in Skyrim, characters with skill points in something other than Speech and Smithing, and the outcome has almost always been a quick death and a largely unscathed sabercat. Now I'm facing one with Nordrick, who can't even buy an apple from a friendly merchant without losing a few hit points.
I'm both crouching and creeping, the slowest possible combination of movement apart from sitting in a chair, and I frantically hammer at my keyboard, trying to get upright and running. I manage to get upright and walking, then crouching and scooting. Great. Trying to quickly draw my sword and shield results in me first readying my healing spell, and then my bow, neither of which are going to slow down this rampaging prehistoric cat. My Battle Cry power! Of course! That will save me, or it would, if I hadn't used it already earlier today to scare off some attacking wolves.
This is the end. This is the end of Nordrick. I won't be known as Nordrick the Blacksmith or Nordrick the Woodcutter, but as Nordrick the Cat Toy. Then I remember the river. The river! If not for the river, this blog would end, right now, with a brief description what it's like to pass through the sabercat's digestive system.
With the beast lunging and slashing and my vision filled with its fur and my blood, I somehow remember how to stand upright and run. I splash into the river and begin swimming, managing to reach the opposite bank. I turn and am mortified to see the cat paddling after me. As soon as it reaches my side of the river, I run back into the water and swim to the other side. The cat begins crossing after me, and I cross back. Okay. Good. If I can just keep this river between us for the rest of our lives, I'll be fine.
About three river-crossings later, the cat seems to come up with a fresh idea: to run up the side of a mountain and get stuck behind a rock. Hey, I didn't say it was a good idea. But if the Gods of Poor Pathfinding love anyone, it's Nordrick, and I find that by standing near the shack I can loose arrows into the cat from a safe distance. It just stands there angrily and takes the abuse until it dies, destined to become the next pair of boots I craft.
With that unpleasantness done, I heal up and check out the shack the cat was prowling around in. It's pretty gross in here: the cat was munching on the previous tenant when I arrived, and there's a bloody skull and ribcage and gore splashed all over the floor. There's a bed, though, unowned, which means I can sleep here, which kind of, sort of, means I can live here. Which kind of, sort of, means I have a home! Kind of sort of!
A home with giant holes in the walls and ceiling, and no door, but there's a wardrobe, a table with some books on it, and even a fireplace and a tanning rack. This might not be so bad. I can't pick up the skull and ribcage, but with some strategic walking I mange to kick the disgusting bones out the doorway and into the river, where they float away. As far as all the blood on the floor, I lay out some goat pelts over it as sort of a makeshift throw rug. So now instead of it looking like someone died in here, it just looks like a couple goats exploded. It's a conversation starter!
Not bad. I've got a lovely, gore-splatted home with no door and some dead fish hanging from the roof. It's definitely no Proudspire Manor. Hell, it's not even Oblivion's Imperial City shack. Still, finally, I have my own place. Nordrick the Homeowner. That's what they'll call me.
Dec 30, 2011
YouTube user Jason Yang cloned himself for one very special reason: to play beautiful Skyrim music to you. That's so nice!
And the Jason Yang clone orchestra doesn't only play the violin. There's some drumming, too. Clone drumming.
Skyrim Violin Cover [YouTube]
Dec 29, 2011
J.E. Sawyer, who worked as project director on Fallout: New Vegas and the game's DLC, created a mod for his own playthroughs. As Shacknews (via website No Mutants Allowed) pointed out, the mod increases the number of weapons and armor and cuts the level cap, XP gain, health, and healing.
The mod is available via Sawyer. You will need all Fallout: New Vegas DLC installed as well as the pre-order bonus packs and Fallout Mod Manager.
So why did Sawyer release a mod instead of a patch? "The game's over," he wrote. "The ship has sailed. No one is working on it anymore. No testers, nothing. This mod is just me working in my free time. If I horribly botch something, you can just un-check the mod and go on your way." Sounds good to me.
Fallout: New Vegas was originally released in Oct. 2010.
J.E. Sawyer releases his own Fallout: New Vegas mod [No Mutants Allowed via Shacknews]
Shacknews - Alice O'Connor
Fallout: New Vegas lead designer J.E. Sawyer has reworked the balance of Obsidian's post-apocalyptic RPG, amping up the difficulty and tinkering to his own preference. Intriguingly, these changes come in a mod of Sawyer's making, not any official patch.
You can download the tiny 88KB mod direct from Sawyer. To use it, you'll need to have every piece of New Vegas downloadable content installed, including the former pre-order bonus packs. You'll also need Fallout Mod Manager or the like.
As for why this is a mod rather than a patch, Sawyer explained that as well as technical reasons, "some of the mechanics changes make the game significantly more difficult... or at least more of a hassle... I'd rather have people opt-in to those changes than make them the default in a patch."
He added, "the game's over. The ship has sailed. No one is working on it anymore. No testers, nothing. This mod is just me working in my free time. If I horribly botch something, you can just un-check the mod and go on your way."
An Ultimate Edition of New Vegas, complete with all of its DLC, is due on February 7.
In today's memorable edition of Speak Up on Kotaku, commenter Eatplaysleepmore thinks he's found a major character flaw in Bethesda's latest masterpiece. Do you agree?
Just how forgettable are these characters?
I just finally finished Skyrim, kinda had to deal with some massive issues to finish it though (one of the unlucky PS3 copies). Story was ok, but here is my biggest realization, the characters in this "real living world" (as some Skyrim fans like to call it because they do jobs and stuff) are so non-existent.
I am trying to remember names of most of the people and I just can't. Ulfric Stormcloak and Alduin are the only ones I can remember, obviously because they play the biggest role in the story but that's really it.
Now I know a lot of people hated most (if not all) the characters from Final Fantasy XIII (hell I do too) but the names and faces stay with you. If someone came up to you and asked you a question about Lighting, her face would show up in your head and the way she dressed(maybe even her voice).
But if I were to ask, hey remember those siblings in the first town you run into? You would be like oh yeah, I forgot what they looked like and their names though.
Even with Dragon Quest 9, where you made your own silent character, I can recall 5+ names in there than I can with Skyrim.
I am just hoping Bethesda adds more "character" to these people, yeah I get that this is "my" story but can't I have some memorable interesting characters to interact with along the way?
About Speak Up on Kotaku: Our readers have a lot to say, and sometimes what they have to say has nothing to do with the stories we run. That's why we have a forum on Kotaku called Speak Up. That's the place to post anecdotes, photos, game tips and hints, and anything you want to share with Kotaku at large. Every weekday we'll pull one of the best Speak Up posts we can find and highlight it here.
Dec 28, 2011
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - firstname.lastname@example.org (Alec Meer)
The RPS Hivemind is still recharging, the major nodes soldered directly into the towering soul-capacitors necessary to sustain their thin simulacrum of consciousness for another 12 months. Fortunately, an errant pustule has attained basic mobility, and opted to present you with artifacts from the Shotgun archives to help see you through until our resurrection. First up, a return to the Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, with a haphazard diary series written by Alec back in Summer 2009 during a obsessive revisit of the game that many still feel is Bethesda’s finest hour. It’s a tale of hats, spider-dwarves, assassin-besieged home ownership, grand burglary, poorly-designed forts and existential crisis, in a land far, far stranger than Skyrim. (more…)
Perhaps these Dr. Zoidberg modded Skyrim mudcrabs aren't as freaky as the contorted spider Spider-Men, but their screams of agony when you kill them are pretty spot on.
Also, thanks to XtremeScope we get to see the two doing battle. Someone really needs to do a full-on Futurama mod for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Dec 24, 2011
I’m playing Skyrim as an NPC: walking everywhere, trying to avoid excitement, and seeing if I can scrape out a living without resorting to adventure. Part 1, Part 2.
After all the bandit and troll-based excitement in the last entry, I'm ready for a nice long stretch of peace on a nice long stretch of beach. This morning, so far, I'm finding it: it's so early the sun hasn't come up yet and Skyrim itself seems to be slumbering. As I stroll along, it feels like the game has completely forgotten I'm even here. No enemies come charging out of the pre-dawn gloom to greet me with whistling arrows. No monsters are at my heels, swinging at me with hairy fists. No thieves are trying to burden my inventory with stolen magical weapons. It's just me, the soothing music in my head, and the sound of my own footsteps. Then -- suddenly -- nothing happens.
I'm not simply out hunting for pelts today, either: I'm traveling. I've decided to leave Dawnstar behind, for several reasons. First of all, I want to have a real go at crafting as a profession, and while I can create weapons and armor in Dawnstar, the blacksmith shop has no grindstone or worktable for improving them, which is a bit limiting. There's also no general store in town: the only place to sell my collected miscellany is that Khajiit nomad camp, and, being nomads, they've packed up and left. The iron and quicksilver mines are stripped and it will take ages for the minerals to repopulate. Perhaps most importantly, trolls can wander right into town and beat the shit out of everyone at will.
I've decided Nordrick needs to be in a real city. A city with real shops, a full complement of blacksmithing tools, and big stone walls and a huge oak door to keep out angry snow gorillas. I'm tired of being a big dork in a small town. I want to be a big dork in a big town.
And so, I've hatched a plan, a plan so boldly cautious and daringly timid that it just might work. My target is the city of Windhelm, which lies far to the southeast. I'll have to walk there, naturally, but rather than stride through the interior of Skyrim, which is filled with forts and crypts and bears and giants and who-knows-what-else, I'm going to take the coastal route, along the outer edges of the map. It's a long walk, but I'll have water to one side of me and cliffs to the other, so any danger that wants to jump on my face will have to do it from directly in front of me. Skyrim is full of adventure, but my plan is to sneak around the edge of it, unnoticed.
So far, it's working. The entire morning is uneventful: I hunt a couple foxes with my bow, catch a few salmon with my bare hands, collect the meat of many vicious clams, and walk along in complete peace. In fact, I grow so accustomed to trudging around unmolested that when I see a charred corpse kneeling next to a spell book on a patch of land with a bunch of flames shooting out of it, I just walk right on over and have a look and immediately catch on fire.
Okay, so, that was incredibly dumb and fairly painful. Note to self: weird corpses are not to be trusted.
As evening approaches, I find a shoddy lean-to perched on a rock. I decide to camp there for the night, ignoring the shipwreck I can see in the water below (no more boats!) and trying not to think about the presence of skeletal human remains on the bedroll. I set my infallible mental alarm clock for 4am, hoping to rise early enough to continue slipping under Skyrim's adventure radar.
The next morning, the constant snow flurries give way to a proper blizzard. The wind howls, the world darkens, and there's so much snow I can't see my big nose in front of my face. I press forward until I notice I'm not actually moving because, in my blindness, I've walked directly into an angry horker. It bellows and fusses and flops around angrily, offended at having been stepped on, but it's fat and slow and easy enough to avoid. I briefly consider killing it for meat and tusks, but it just seems too charmingly huffy to hurt.
The blizzard continues. Wolves attack every so often, signaling their presence with mournful howls, then lining my pockets with their fuzzy, bloody pelts. I eventually come across two human skeletons and a bear trap. It looks like someone got their foot caught in the trap and perished, and someone else sat there, helpfully watching as the trapped person perished, and then perished themselves. The skeletons are at the bottom of a narrow mountain pass, and I climb it, slowly and carefully, to have a look around from higher ground. The blizzard stops, briefly, affording me a nice view.
While I'm up there I spot a little bit of dark rock poking up, and I walk over, thinking it might be another camp or shelter I could use. As I get closer, it starts looking less like a camp and more like an altar of some kind. And there's something... something... on it. It looks like a dead body, but it appears to be encased in ice or something... shimmery. I crouch down and creep up as slowly as I can, but just as I'm getting close: VOOOOM! A sudden burst of light and noise and magic hits me right in the face.
I just run. I run all the way back down the pass like a giant coward. When I catch my breath, I realize it was probably something similar to what happened with the burned corpse from the other day. Some idiot was trying to learn a spell, some sort of ice spell in this instance, and offed himself. And then I just come along and blunder into him despite having done the exact same thing earlier in the trip. Didn't I just say "Note to self: weird corpses are not to be trusted?" Is there any point in writing notes to myself if I don't read them? No wonder Skyrim isn't flinging adventure at me on this trip. It doesn't need to. It just lets me come across the dead bodies of people who were looking for adventure and I pick up where they left off.
Toward the end of the afternoon, amidst more snow flurries, I come across a small camp. There's a couple bed rolls, a horker corpse, some tables covered with horker meat and tusks, and a cart. The camp's inhabitants are nowhere to be seen, save a single horse standing around benignly. I remember the two skeletons from yesterday. Were they horker hunters? Did they perish out on a hunting expedition after becoming ensnared in their own trap? The horse isn't talking.
I sleep there and rise early. While I'm pretty sure the owners of the camp are the two dead guys I found yesterday, it doesn't seem right to completely loot the place. However, after much internal debate, I do decide to take the horse, because the horse isn't marked as owned, and if he is owned, the owner is probably dead. Plus, anyone who kills adorable pudgy horkers doesn't deserve their own horse.
I don't press the horse to gallop, so I'm not really traveling any faster than I would on foot, but it's been days since I've seen another living NPC and it's kind of nice to have a companion I can sit on. I decide to name him Flurry. Unfortunately, it looks like I won't get to keep him: every time I have to dismount to fight off wolves, Flurry starts wandering back to the horker hunter camp and I have hustle after him. I realize that having to chase a horse the wrong way every few minutes means it's taking me twice as long to travel to my destination, so I eventually just have to let him go. Bye, Flurry.
Toward the end of the third day, the massive stone walls of Windhelm finally come into view. I'm here! Windhelm! My cunning plan of skirting around adventure totally worked, with the exception of a couple magical traps I stupidly wandered into. Still, I came a long way and didn't encounter any horrible monsters or murderous humans. Plus, there are no new icons on my map, which means I didn't discover anything.
Three full days of walking around in Skyrim without discovering a single new map location? You can't get more hardcore NPC than that. I really feel like I've accomplished something by basically accomplishing nothing.
Dec 23, 2011
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - email@example.com (Alec Meer)
I can’t entirely attest to the efficacy of this performance mod for Skyrim as framerate is about the one problem I haven’t had while playing TES5 on my main PC, but it did seem perhaps a little smoother on my puny laptop. The creator reckons it can add a performance boost of around 40% in CPU-dependent scenarios; for instance, around 10 frames per second to chug hotspots such as the lovely waterfall-based city of Markarth. It’s been achieved, apparently, by fixing an alleged tiny oversight on the part of Bethesda. (more…)
There's no credit given forFancyPantz is the creator of this mod—which takes the giant spiders found in Bethesda's mega-hit action role-playing game and turns them in creepy multiples of Marvel Comics' flagship character—but I'm thinking the guy's last name in real life has to be Osborn.
You'd need to share the Green Goblin's insane obsession with Peter Parker's masked identity to cook up a tweak that mutates the already disturbing enemies and changing them to look like Spider-Man. And when the scrabbling abominations start running amok? That's probably just what the web-slinger's archenemy sees when he has nightmares. After watching this, I know that I, for one, will be having those same nightmares.