Tag Archives: Skyrim

Skyrim Mashup Pack

Skyrim MinecraftI love Minecraft. I mostly play on my Xbox since I prefer playing my games on a big screen with a controller, and my computer kind of sucks.

 

So, when I found out that two of my favorite things, The Elder Scrolls and Minecraft, were being combined, I got super excited. I present you with the trailer for the Skyrim Mashup Pack for Xbox 360. It’s out today. You should download it. I will be.

 

 

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An Open Letter To Bethesda About Elder Scrolls Online

Dear Bethesda,

I’m worried about you.

For some reason you bought into the great MMO myth and now travel a road littered with the broken bodies of game developers. It wasn’t that long ago that 38 Studios imploded while trying to fund an MMO. And how about Star Wars: The Old Republic? It was supposed to be huge less than a year ago, and now it’s going free to play.

It feels like a new flavor is out every other month. Do you remember when Tera was the next big thing? Is anyone even playing The Secret World? I’m just saying they got Ali Larter (or a reasonable facsimile) to be on their cover. Meanwhile, Lord Of The Rings Online and Warhammer Online are waiting in the wings for anyone who wants cliched fantasy gaming.

Here’s what I’m getting at. I love you. We all do. Your immersive Elder Scrolls and Fallout games have taken many an hour that should have been devoted to earning money or just generally trying to better my life. That’s why you need to know that an MMO is a risky proposition, and you’re probably doing it wrong.

We keep saying that the MMO bubble has burst. Lagging sales in even World Of Warcraft are a sign that the MMO market is saturated, and that we need a better game.

I’ve been checking out your Elder Scrolls Online page, and it doesn’t look great. And remember how the reception for your E3 preview went? Yeah, you’ve got some stuff here and there that makes me think of Skyrim, but you can’t win me over with pretty dressing. Halo 4 is coming out soon and your shit needs to be tight.

I’m not even sure this letter is going to the right place. Zenimax Online is developing your product for you and, as far as I can tell, none of those folks have ever actually worked on an Elder Scrolls game before.

And they maybe don’t have a lot of fresh ideas either.

I noticed they’re going with the factions-as-determined-by-race idea. WoW really did pioneer this with their Horde/Alliance motif, but it’s dated. Distilling the most stereotypical features of your races while plugging them into unlikely alliances to fight each other and a common enemy has been done. It’s how every MMO with PvP factions operates.

And it feels like the safe choice. It worked for WoW, so you hope it works for you. But the safe choice won’t save you. It couldn’t save f###ing Star Wars!

Your lore is getting sloppy too. I noticed that the Khajiit are now proud, hardy warriors at the front lines of their faction. Anyone who’s ever played any Elder Scrolls game knows they are all sneak thieves and merchants! All of them. If you are playing a Khajiit in Skyrim (as I chose to do), all your cousins are assholes, and you’re fantastic with a bow.

To someone reading this letter, they might think that cutting corners on the lore doesn’t matter. It’s totally straight geekery anyway! Who cares!?

But you and I know better. We know that you’re cheating on your own artistic integrity because you need the symmetry to create another cliched PvP dynamic.

But you can’t win here. We buy your games because of the immersive RPG experience and the desire to have a devastating impact on our digital environment. You can’t bring us that with the old-hat MMO pony every other developer has carted out.

To be sure, there are a few sparks of potential. You’re doing combat without cool-downs, which is probably going to make it feel more like Skyrim, but come on! You’re telling me the emphasis is on dodging and parrying? Skyrim/Fallout has two strategies: Either trade blows until one of you is dead or run and shoot.

And the Mega-server thing could be pretty cool too, but given how many people we can actually expect to play the game we may not care. Star Wars: TOR has well under a million players, and it has been one of the most successful MMO’s of the last few years. I guess that’s speculation though.

Here’s what it comes down to. I play your games because I can create a character story. Not to grind. Not to run the same dungeon over and over again. Where is my story in this? Why should I play this over any other giant calculator with cleavage-y elves?

So please, for all your fans out there, turn away from this path. And if you can’t do that, since you’ve invested millions of dollars and promised a game to the world, try to make it all new. Changing a few of the standard MMO options will not make this a success.

Love,

Every RPG Fan Ever

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Confessions of a Casual Girl Gamer: The Couple that Plays Together

My husband will take one look at the title of this article and probably snort. We don’t play video games together enough to suit him. And really (don’t tell him, though) we don’t play together enough to suit me, either.

I enjoy a rousing bout of button mashing, shooting bad guys in the face, and general mayhem as I undoubtedly rush unprepared into the fray. What’s the point of gaming if you can’t have a little fun with it?

But, apparently, there are people out there for whom strategy is a big part of gaming. (I know, right?!) You see these people deeply engrossed in snooze-fests like Skyrim and the Mass Effect games. Just how long can it possibly take to create a character? You collect stuff to make the character better? You level up stuff? UGH! GET TO THE ACTION ALREADY!

I acknowledge that I am probably in a minority with these feelings. That really doesn’t bother me overmuch, though.

So, when my dearest is up to his epaulettes in one of these games, I do my best to aid his cause. Seriously! I provide helpful tips and advice to create a better overall experience for both of us! Because, you see, I don’t like to play these games with him. Even when there is an option for two players, I opt for more of a consultant role. I particularly enjoy providing this service when he’s playing Skyrim.

“What’s that thing following you around?” I ask, secretly already knowing the answer.

“That’s Waoionstoi’xcior (I totally made that up), my (insert random beast name. I choose Cat-Beast) companion,” he says.

“So, he’s like your servant?”

You can’t see the deadly Ball of Yarn +2 attached to his belt. Image found on the Skyrim Forums.

“Not really. He’s more like my companion. He helps in fights and stuff.”

“Huh,” I say. “You should punch him in the face.”

“I can’t punch my Cat-Beast in the face!” he states indignantly.

“You should totally punch him in the face.”

Then, I’ll lose interest in the Cat-Beast and move on to other helpful suggestions.

“Where are you? A tavern? Can you set it on fire? You should set it on fire! Hey, who’s that? Stab him! What would happen if you stab him? STAB HIM! STAB HIM!”

My husband is a longsuffering man. He apparently loves me very much.

The last time I did this to him, he and his Cat-Beast had just come upon some kind of decrepit castle/tower combo filled with religious order types. I’m foggy on the details because, well, I just don’t really care. He and Cat-Beast just strolled around, looking in random chests and taking stuff.

“Don’t they care that you’re taking their stuff?” I asked.

“It’s there for me,” he said.

“Why is stuff for you in their castle? That seems questionable to me.”

Then, I returned to my fail-safe suggestion:

“You should kill these guys and take their castle,” I suggested.

“What?” He was actually a bit indignant. That pleased me.

“Do it!” I commanded.

Then, he did something that underscores why I love him so much: he humored me.

He saved his current game, and then went on a violent death rage, slicing and hacking through folks, while I gleefully looked on and offered encouragement. He totally got into it, too, and confessed that he loves shouting people off high places. (For those of you not familiar with Skyrim, there’s a power where you yell some made-up word and your target goes flying.)

Then, overcome with guilt after slaughtering the entire castle (and his Cat-Beast at my insistence!), he made his character throw himself off the tower, ending the mayhem and enabling a fresh, undeserving-death-free gaming experience.

IT WAS AWESOME!

But, lest you think I’m the only disturbed person in our relationship, let me just say that he gets an unholy amount of glee backseat driving when I’m playing The Walking Dead. It’s different, though. While I offer helpful suggestions, he just enjoys my discomfiture and general inability to keep my cool while fictional terror-creatures swarm my avatar. Oh, he does try to “help” in his way. Sort of. Mostly when I’m a shaking piece of rigid fear on the couch, and he has a huge beard smile.

“Have you tried shooting them?” he asks.

“Shut up,” I grind out through a clenched jaw.

“Watch out! They’re almost to you!”

“AAAAARRRGH! WhatdoIdowhatdoIdowhatdoIdowhatdoIdowhatdoIdo?!”

“They’re going to eat you!” he says. “Oh, no! They just got your plucky companion! Why didn’t you protect your plucky companion?”

“STEVE! Noooooo!” I screech, frantically button mashing.

“They’re coming!” he helpfully points out.

“Run away!” I yell, swinging my controller to the side in an effort to make the direction button work better. “RUN AWAY! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!”

He smiles, and we are even.

We have an interesting and terrific relationship. We sorta game together, and we annoy the crap out of each other.

It’s pretty great.

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Covering the Angles: YouTube Artists

(Bonus points for anyone who recognized Mitch Miller of “Sing Along with Mitch” fame on the cover photo!)

Cracking into the music business has changed drastically over the past decade. In years past, one had to be signed with some big record company to gain a certain amount of success.

Peter Hollens. He’s just a dude with a great voice. Image courtesy of Google play.

These days? Not necessarily. Take a stroll over to YouTube to see the good, the bad, and the terribly disfigured all desperately trying to catch the eye of someone who will let them make a lot of money. Many are already making money by making their songs and/or albums available for download, circumventing the system altogether. I love these guys! (The good ones, of course.)

And because I have a certain amount of geekery abiding in my soul, I tend to gravitate toward covers of themes from video games, movies and television shows.

And no, I’m not talking about that cat that meowed through the Game of Thrones intro. (Okay, so I chuckled. I’m not made of stone!)

Check out this awesome cover of the theme to Skyrim:

I’m not going to lie; I’m a bit addicted to Peter Hollens, now. I’ve always been a sucker for a capella music, and this guy’s got it going on for real. I’ve already spent way too much time on his YouTube channel listening to his other covers. I approve.

Hollens inevitably leads to another favorite of mine: Lindsey Stirling. (Here’s her contribution to Hollens’ Skyrim, which he actually recorded at her request in the first place. So, I guess it’s his contribution to her’s? Eh. Note the sweet silliness of costuming! Seriously, I love it.)

Stirling has a ton of great covers and some original stuff, as well. Here’s her “Lord of the Rings Medley.”

And, my husband would make a sad beard face if I didn’t include her terrific “Zelda Medley.”

I could literally spend all day on these two guys’ channels. Okay, maybe a couple of hours. I could literally spend a couple of hours on these two guys’ channels.

Here’s another fun one by YouTuber SUPRICKY06 (Seriously, that’s what you’re going by, dude? Um, okay.)

Name that tune(s)! A former Friday night favorite of mine for sure. Or, favorites, I should say. And more a capella!

*Happy sigh.

Who are your favorite YouTube cover artists? Share in the comments!

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A Better Class of MMO [Rocking the Boat]

John wrote an article yesterday about his disappointment with the current World of Warcraft. I agree with all of his points, but I thought I would take it a step further and talk about the kind of MMO I would want to play. As I was thinking about it, I came up with this formula.

Mass Effect’s character creation + Skyrim’s open world and skills + Minecraft’s building and crafting + EVE’s approach to PvP and economy + Some other stuff + World of Warcraft  = A game that I would throw all my money at for a chance to play.

Curt Schilling, if you’re reading this, and this was what Project Copernicus was going to be,  I am sad for you.

Mass Effect’s Character Creation:

Besides being very customizable, Mass Effect has you answer some basic questions about your character. I’d love to see this affect the game in different ways. I also hope that it would encourage a little more role playing from the people playing the game. I miss having roleplaying in MMORPGs. Large scale RPing would be amazing.

Image: PC Mag.com

Skyrim’s Skill System

Skyrim has a rich, open world for you to explore. Put this into an MMORPG and make it even bigger. Let me pick my own skills rather than be shoehorned into a class. Maybe instead of being a warrior, I want to be a simple woodcutter and carpenter (this ties into my next point). I don’t mind a framework that I could work from, but I hate being forced into one of three roles with my class. Instead, I want to play the game my way, unbalanced or not.

Minecraft’s Building and Crafting:

Azeroth has a problem. Everything is only related to war and making war. You can only build things that have to do with war. I, however, want to stake out claims on land. Build some buildings. Mine some stone. Cut down and replant some trees. Pick herbs and make potions/medicines for various effects. I don’t want to just be a warrior destroying things; I want to be able to create.  And this just doesn’t go for building either.

I want to be able to make my own weapons and armor. I want them to be customizable, I want them to look the way I want. And give them the effects that I’ve learned. I want to sell them and be awesome. This brings me to…

EVE’s Economy and PvP:

A player driven-economy. Let people buy and sell anything and everything. Let people found their own towns, corporations, cities, guilds. Let the player’s recruit new people and send them out on missions.  Yes, this could lead to imbalance. I don’t care. I have no problems living in an unbalanced world. Factions will rise and fall. People will band together and people will betray each other.

Imagine having to hire a high-level body guard. He’d watch your back. Go out and assassinate rivals for you. And you paid him a set amount of money per month… so long as he stayed above a certain level.

Yes, did I mention? PvP and death have consequences. They don’t have to be big consequences, but a small loss of XP and dropping everything on you is fair, in my opinion. We played MUDs like that for a long time… and instead of whining about it, we decided to get better. To play sneakier. To be aware of our surroundings. This would also force you to manage your resources well. Put your money in banks… and other safe havens…. but you might want to buy insurance… since banks can be robbed and safes can be broken into. It all depends on how the players decide to build things. It could be magnificent.

Want to be a dark lord? Do it.

Other Stuff:

I like the idea of capturing random mobs and drafting them into a faction’s army. You could then send this army to attack other factions. The army limit would be based on the cumulative power level of the mobs, and the size of the faction you run. This could replace high level content/dungeons/instances with what is essentially a strategy war game. Coordinate your NPC mobs with the PCs in your faction. Take over your opponents city. Rebuild it in your image.

Finally:

I’m not worried about game balance here… I think the free game market (with certain restrictions) could actually balance out play. Things could get ugly for you… but things could also be awesome. You could run a faction. You could lose everything.

Or you could just build a house in a town or in the middle of nowhere, and just farm, log, or frolic in the grasses.

You get to play your way. With hundreds of others.

Where can I deposit my money to play this?

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