Single-Player Holidays

The last thing I mentioned playing was Divinity: Original Sin. I sort of gave up on it. It’s a great game and all, but it’s just too exhausting. I went through two boss fights in a row (SparkMaster 5000 and Radagoth) and both times, luck was the determining factor for success. That’s just not fun. I don’t know how all the people who play tabletop games do it. :)

I last logged into FFXIV on December 22nd, when I got the Christmas bear mount in about twenty minutes in the FFXIV Starlight celebration (I also got the Bard Perform skill, which was underwhelming).

I installed EverQuest II and started a new Conjurer, which seems to be one of the few classes in that game that I like (Warden and Necromancer are the only other two classes I’ve played more than like 5 levels). I had a lot of fun with it until I bought Divinity: Original Sin. I haven’t logged in since.

On January 6th, I finally re-installed ESO after my big SSD crash. This time, I realized that the breadcrumbs I thought had been leading me to Morrowind back in June of last year were not that at all, and I had been following some random quest that was totally unrelated to the expansion. My mistake I guess for thinking that the NPC who ran up to me after I logged in the first time after installing the expansion would actually be giving me a quest related to the expansion. It explained why it felt like it was taking such a long time to get to Vvardenfell. :) This time, I just waypointed right to Seyda Neen and looked around for a bit. It didn’t make much of an impression on me. I didn’t even take a screenshot. The most memorable part was an NPC guard telling me that her talents were being wasted guarding an empty building.

Right before I logged out I noticed that I had mail which had an attachment which I had to consume in order to finally start the quest that led me to Morrowind. It was a pretty convoluted set of steps hidden in a place I rarely look. I read my mail in MMORPGs about as much as I read my mail in real life–not very often. Mail is not a great way to deliver story content to me. I wish they would just put the new quest in my log without me having to do anything.

Anyway, I played ESO for about a half hour and felt like I had seen enough for the forseeable future. Maybe when they launch the new wardrobe system I will log in for another half hour to change my outfit. I don’t know what it is about ESO but I always feel like I’ve already done all of the new and interesting stuff way back in the months around launch time, so there’s never much of a “hook” to draw me into the game. It’s always just … more of the same.

Other than that I have been playing Morrowind (the old one) and Oblivion. I also installed the Skyrim Special Edition (the only other game I bought in the Steam winter sale) but I just can’t play three games simultaneously. It’s hard enough with just two.

Finally, the entire reason I’m writing this post is to test out a new Corsair K55 keyboard I bought to replace my 10+ year-old dying Logitech G110 keyboard. It was still mostly fine for playing games, but anytime I tried to use it to actually type words, for example, into a blog post, the keys would stick and it was just too frustrating to deal with. I got the K55 largely on a recommendation I saw on Keen and Grav–his criteria matched mine pretty closely. Non-mechanical, quiet, full-sized, etc. It “feels” different (the keys feel very tall to me) so it’s going to take a while to get used to, but overall it works fine. The “RGB” flashing disco lights thing is just ridiculous to me, but I was able to set it to a solid color by installing the “manager” tool. It still does a disco strobe thing every time you reboot though. I’m not sure this keyboard feels like it’s really designed for longevity, but we’ll see. (It does not feel any more solid than the old, dead Logitech it replaced.)

Incidentally, the best keyboard I’ve ever used for typing is the MacBook Air chicklet keyboard. My fingers fly across those keys at light speed with almost no effort. This Corsair K55 is a pale shadow of that, but at least it works without the keys sticking.

Morrowind – Learning The Ropes

I’m trying a new thing here. This is both a diary of my Morrowind adventures and an index to the videos.

P. S. Don’t spoil anything for me, I haven’t finished the game yet. :)

Morrowind 1 – Arriving in Seyda Neen. Story. I’m a Dark Elf Witchhunter. I was released from prison and transported by ship to Seyda Neen, on the southern coast of Vvardenfell island in the Morrowind district. Apparently I was released by a personal decree from Emperor Uriel Septum VII. After answering a series of questions, I was given some gold and a package to take to a man named Caius Cosades in the town of Balmora, who would have more information [15:20]. I found a healing ring in a barrel. I was told by a helpful stranger that a silt strider (a creature which to me looked like a giant long-legged tick) could transport me to Balmora. I encountered a man named Fargoth [25:45] who claimed the Imperials had taken his healing ring. I said nothing. Tee hee. Eager to find out why I’d been released, I took a silt strider to Balmora for 15 gold.

Morrowind 2 – Finding Caius Cosades In Balmora. Story, Thieves Guild. After arriving in Balmora, I began searching for Caius Cosades. I was told to ask for him in the South Wall Cornerclub. There, I encountered a Khajitt named Sugar-Lips Habasi and joined the Thieves Guild on a whim [13:40]. After many fruitless attempts at persuading the people of the corner club, the owner finally told me where to find Caius Cosades’s house. I made my way there and found the impressively shirtless Imperial Blades Spymaster Caius Cosades [23:05]. Caius read over the package I delivered, then, by order of the Emperor, made me a Novice in the Imperial Blades (a spy organization). Caius ordered me to establish a cover identity as a freelance adventurer by joining the Mages Guild or the Fighters Guild.

Morrowind 3 – Exploring the Countryside. Mages Guild, Random. I decided to join the Mages Guild in Balmora, since it seemed like it would fit my skill set better than the Fighters Guild. I talked to the local recruiter Ranis Athrys [5:05]. She accepted me into the guild and told me to find Ajira to learn my duties. Instead, I walked into the wilderness to try my luck with my starting weapons [13:40]. I found and explored the vendors in the Moonmoth Fort [15:05]. I learned to use my Ancestral Ghost conjuring spell [21:30]. I went up a hill, encountered a mage on a bridge, and died [23:55].

Morrowind 4 – Collecting Mushrooms for Ajira. Mages Guild. Back in the Balmora Mages Guild, I found Ajira in the basement and asked about my duties. Ajira, a student herself, asked me to collect mushroom samples from the swamp on the Bitter Coast for a report she was writing. I made my way to the swamp and encountered a Nord named Fjol, who demanded 100 gold, then killed me when I refused to give it to him [15:15]. I wandered through the small fishing village of Hla Oad. I fought Scribs and Mud Crabs using my trusty Bound Dagger spell, the only weapon I found to be viable. I collected samples of two out of the four required types of mushrooms before getting killed by a Nix Hound.

Morrowind 5 – Lost In The Swamp. Mages Guild. I found and investigated a cavern door to Zanabi [3:15]. I found the ruins of Hlormaren [6:30]. Eventually I collected the remaining mushroom samples. On the way back to Balmora I got lost in the swamp and fought many creatures, somewhat ineffectively, with a Bound Dagger. I found a door to the Andrethi Ancestral Tomb [12:20]. Eventually I returned to Ajira in the Balmora Mages Guild. Ajira rewarded me for completing my first duty with some potions [26:05]. Then I accidentally picked up an alchemy device from a table (I thought it was an alchemy station) and was killed when everyone in sight rushed to stop me from stealing it.

Morrowind 6 – Ajira Versus Galbedir. Mages Guild. In the Balmora Mages Guild, Ajira asked me to plant a fake soul gem in fellow student Galbedir’s desk so Ajira could win a bet [2:30]. On the way, I talked to everyone in the guild to find out their roles. I discovered that Masalinie Merian in the basement could teleport me to various destinations [15:40]. I bought the conjuring spells Bound Longbow and Bound Longsword from her as well. I planted the fake soul gem and returned to Ajira. Ajira then asked me to collect samples of four different kinds of flowers from the shores of Lake Amaya for her report [17:20].

Morrowind 7 – Collecting Flowers for Ajira. Mages Guild. On my journey to Lake Amaya, I discovered that the Bound Longbow spell is useless without arrows [2:30]. I encountered a lovestruck lass named Maurrie Aurmine by the road, who asked me to find a bandit [9:55]. I refused, because I was busy picking flowers. I collected samples of three of the four kinds of flowers required, but the Stoneflowers remained elusive. I passed a wooden door to the Lleran Ancestral Tomb [15:35]. I encountered another woman Nevrasa Dralor on the road [16:15], who was looking for a holy place at the Fields of Kummu. I agreed to escort her because she promised to pay me 100 gold.

Morrowind 8 – Advancing In The Mages Guild. Mages Guild. With Nevrasa Dralor tagging along, I finally found samples of Stoneflowers and returned to Ajira to complete my guild duty [8:50]. Ajira gave me more potions and asked me to buy a ceramic bowl for her. I stopped by Ranis Athrys and she promoted me from Associate to Apprentice to Journeyman in the Mages Guild [11:00]. I also heard a rumor that Larrius Varro at Fort Moonmoth wanted to talk to me. After delivering the ceramic bowl [14:35], Ajira asked me to find her two reports which she believed rival Galbedir stole. Galbedir told me a rumor that the Balmora magistrate Nolus Atrius was “on the take,” but denied stealing the reports [20:12]. 

Morrowind 9 – Escort To The Fields of Kummu. Random. I bought the Bound Mace spell, since my Blunt weapon skill is better than anything else (or so I thought). Since Nevrasa Dralor was still following me around, I decided to set aside my guild duties for a while to escort her to the Fields of Kummu. On the way we passed Fort Moonmoth, and I spoke with Larrius Varro [9:10]. He asked me to deal with a nord bandit on the road to Hla Oad (back in the swamp). I continued to the Fields of Kummu with Nevrasa Dralor [19:15] and she rewarded me with 100 gold. I then returned to Balmora.

Morrowind 10 – Confronting Fjol. Random. Continuing to ignore my duties, I left Balmora to track down the nord bandit for Larrius Varro. I passed a campsite at the Shulk Eggmine [1:10], and was surprised to find them harmless (I had previously avoided them, thinking they were bandits). I arrived again in the fishing village of Hla Oad, and talked to some of the residents [9:50]. I was killed by an assassin after resting [27:15]. After many unsuccessful attempts, I finally killed the Nord bandit Fjol using Bound Bow when he got stuck on a fence post [32:00]. Returning to Fort Moonmoth, Larrius Varro rewarded me with 100 gold.

Morrowinding

I was sick a lot last week, so I’ve spent a lot of time in the world of Bethesda games lately. First it was New Vegas, but I got a little burned out on it so I turned to Morrowind and now I’m totally into that.

Morrowind is enormous. I thought Oblivion and Skyrim were pretty big, but Morrowind seems to dwarf them. (Admittedly part of that could be because the movement speed is so slow it just feels bigger.)

The story seems quite a bit more complex, too. I can’t even remember Skyrim’s story except it was something like “kill that dragon.” And Oblivion was something like “kill those demons.” (I might be misremembering them.) Morrowind seems a lot more grandioise and interesting in scope.

I solved the problems I was having with the graphics settings. Apparently you have to run the game as Administrator to actually save your settings from session to session. I still can only run it in 1280×960 though, one of those old timey resolutions that used to be so high you could only dream of running a game that detailed. (I once had a roughly 100-pound 19″ monitor which could run graphics at 1280×960.)

I also discovered that the unofficial Morrowind Code Patch (MCP) which I thought I’d installed in the beginning wasn’t installed. I downloaded it in the Nexus mod manager thingy and clicked “install” and thought that was all I had to do. But nope, you have to actually run the MCP setup program so it will then patch the Morrowind executable. Whoops. (Also the Nexus mod manager installed it in the wrong place.) Fortunately there doesn’t seem to be any harm in installing it after I’ve started. My saved games are still working.

I got curious about the first two Elder Scrolls games, too. I didn’t see them on Steam or GOG (the only two places I even know about to look for non-EA games anymore), so I wondered if they were gone forever. But it turns out you can just download Arena and Daggerfall from the Elder Scrolls site for free. The first one is about the size of a floppy disk, and the second one is about the size of a CDROM. So adorable! I haven’t tried to run them yet since it involves a DOS Emulator and I’m a bit skeptical about it actually working on my PC.

Anyway Morrowind is a cool game, even if the graphics are dated. The real meat of the game is in the NPC interactions and story anyway. And it’s really interesting to see how little their core formula has changed from Morrowind to Oblivion to Skyrim. They have a laser-focused vision for the world of Tamriel in that series. And I have always loved the flexibility of the character progression system in Elder Scrolls. (I’m playing a Witchhunter this time, something I’ve never done before.)

The Delicate Balance of Beta Testing

I think it’s safe to say this: I got an invitation for this weekend’s TESO beta test. I assume it’s okay to say that because they made a big public announcement that they were sending out the invitations. I had to accept a rather harsh-sounding NDA though so I don’t think I’ll be able to say much of anything else.

Beta testing is a delicate balance. On the one hand, it’s super exciting to see a new shiney and possibly shape the course of its future (though to be honest, in my experience, beta reports are largely ignored unless it is a game-breaking bug), but on the other hand, you don’t want to play so much that you burn out before the game even launches. Not to mention all of your progress is going to get wiped anyway. So it’s like, "Yay, I’m in the beta!" Followed shortly by, "Crap, this could ruin the game for me."

Whoa, Elder Scrolls Online Character Creation

From what I can tell, the two most anticipated MMOs “coming soon” are WildStar and Elder Scrolls Online. WildStar I can only assume because it’s made by some former WoW developers, and ESO because, well, it’s Elder Scrolls, man, come on. Anyway, a video was recently posted showing ESO character creation options, and wow, it looks pretty awesome. I’m not sure why I thought this but I figured ESO would be a lot more graphically simplified than Skyrim, but it actually looks pretty similar. It does appear that there are fewer customization options than Skyrim, which to me is actually a bit of a relief. I’m not fond of fiddling with hundreds of sliders to get cheekbones exactly right. I’m fine with broader adjustments.

My First Look at Skyrim

I finally got Skyrim in a Steam sale. I’m not sure exactly what I expected but I kind of thought it would be something a bit more … well, different from Oblivion. All of the same annoying things from Oblivion are still there in Skyrim.

The most annoying of which is when five people walk up to you and start talking at the same time. While you’re already talking to someone else. Not to mention the laggy, unresponsive sort of feel to the interface, which is particularly annoying considering you’re supposed to play it like an FPS. I’ve played FPSs, Skyrim, and you, sir, are no FPS.

The story’s cool though. I guess. I don’t really know what it is. I just wander around trying to complete objectives, while simultaneously starting new objectives.