Lets play: Skyrim part 1 – Introduction

I’ve been watching a lot of Twitch TV and one game in particular actually. The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim.

Now the one thing more fun than watching people play Skyrim is to actually play Skyrim yourself. So I’ve been thinking about creating a character, what background, how to play it, etc etc. When it comes to TES games, I really like to roleplay the crap out of it.

So I’ve been thinking about playing through the game in a different way, a path I normally do not take. I always (for some reason) end up as a sneaky ninja bastard who kills things with a bow. Lets face it, the bow combined with sneak attacks are pretty damn powerfull in Skyrim. Magic & heavy armor based characters I’ve always avoided.

This time around, I’m going out of my comfort zone. And I’m starting by choosing a race I’ve never picked before: The Argonian.

Alien enough for you?

From the uesp:

” Argonians are the little-understood reptilian denizens of Black Marsh. Years of defending their borders have made the Argonians experts in guerrilla warfare, and their natural abilities make them equally at home in water and on land. They have developed natural immunities to the diseases and poisons that have doomed many would-be explorers and conquerors of the region. Their seemingly expressionless faces belie a calm intelligence, and many Argonians are well-versed in the magical arts. Others rely on stealth or steel to survive, and their natural agility makes them adept at either. They are, in general, a reserved people … “

” … Like all the odder-looking races, the Argonians experience quite a bit of prejudice and hostility, even from people not trying to enslave them. “

” … Argonians worship (or at least, deeply respect) the Hist. The Argonians apparently believe that the Hist have given them their souls and that when they die, their souls are returned to the Hist to be reincarnated as a new Argonian. They feel a connection to the Hist when in Black Marsh, but this diminishes with distance.”

Great stuff to base a RP character on.

So, onwards then.

A useful tool is skyrimcalculator.com . There are some things I like to try. Create / roleplay a hybrid character a la Darth Bane. Outcast from his homelands, drifting about, slowly growing in hate and the craving for power. I imagine this character as either a Heavy Armor wearing unstoppable brute that uses one-handed weapons and Destruction magic in his off-hand. Runes and Fire stuff to enhance his strong melee capabilities.

Or it could go the other way, a robe wearing Illusion magic using devious bastard, who thrills in the pain and suffering of his opponents. Using Alchemy and poisons to grind his foes down.

2014-07-18_00009

Here I used a Frenzy spell on this ignorant criminal. In his Frenzy, he pulled the lever, and by doing so he signed his own death warrant. The trap pierced him down with a thousand arrows.

Here I used a Frenzy spell on this ignorant criminal. In his Frenzy, he pulled the lever, and by doing so he signed his own death warrant. The trap pierced him down with a thousand arrows.

Same here, Illusion magic on one of these was enough to start a brutal and fast slaughter.

Same here, Illusion magic on one of these was enough to start a brutal and fast slaughter.

Anyway, there’s still plenty of time to decide about the path of this character. I haven’t spent and skillpoints yet etc. Just wanted to get my feet wet.

FFXIV dungeon and other complete nonsense

Victory!

Dungeon two has been completed as well. Pretty much the same linear stuff as the previous dungeon. Start, run towards final boss, kill. I do liked the design more. Felt more like a real dungeon.

Laz0rs and magic, it wouldn't be Final Fantasy otherwise.

Laz0rs and magic, it wouldn’t be Final Fantasy otherwise.

Up close and personal.

Up close and personal.

- I think I got some loot, not sure to be honest. The loot / gear drops so far have not been impressive. Intentional? FFXIV not centered about gear gear gear?

- Ten more levels to hit level 30. Then I need to get Arcanist to level 15 in order to unlock the White Mage.

- Playing a MMO without any connection to the lore and everything else is annoying. I get the Warriors of the Light stuff, the historical battle and sacrifice, the different ‘states’, the Adventurers, but it just doesn’t connect to me (like in an Elf / Orc kinda way).

- Maybe it’s just me and my life at the moment. So busy… work work work, daughter going to kindergarten soon, pregnant wife, still lots of house improvements to do … and I’m probably forgetting a dozen of other things I have oppressed in the back of my mind. I feel old …

- Ha! Interesting. I just read this:

World of Warcraft killed the MMO genre.

It’s and old(er) article, from a former Blizzard developer. I kinda agree with him, and then again I disagree with him as well.

It used to be a Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game.
Now it is called a Massive Multiplayer Online Game.

It is nothing more than that. The genre has evolved. It has become something different. The classic veteran mmo players they talk about in the article are now a bunch of old(er) farts like myself. We are OLD(er) now.

The current generation of people that are getting into MMO’s are a new breed of players, gamers. And it’s a breed the marketing and psychology / social guys have studied well.

Gamers, players today (warning: Generalization here!) don’t want to immerse themselves anymore, they don’t want to dream up their own game, they don’t want to roleplay anymore. Why not? Because they never learned how to. Everything is provided / implanted into their brains already. Through careful psychology & social marketing. Or whatever you want to call it.

When we old farts first went into the mysterious world of MMO’s like Everquest or Ultima Online, we were pretty much blank sleeves. Sure we had our fantasy fix from novels and comics, and the occasional fantasy game (Atari, PS, Sega, PC). But for the most part, in this new world of online fantasy games, where we met others like us, we chose our own identity for the most part.

Nowadays, young people / gamers / players have a very very hard time looking for, and finding or creating their own identity. Who can blame them. From the moment they wake up to the moment they get to sleep they are innerconnected with their mobile device, their favorite gaming platform. And constantly bombarded with marketing, about the ‘perfect’ identities.

So what do you get? Massive Multiplayers developed in close relationship with gaming psychologists, social engineers, all building the next perfect game. On rails, handheld, fast, checklist heavy, constant little gratifications to keep your brain saturated.

” The applications in game design become clear when you look at what Skinner and other psychologists found.

While experimenting with pigeons, researchers found that the pigeons were more likely to push the lever more often when there was a only a chance that they would receive a reward, even more often than when they always received one.

Specifically, they were most active when the chance of receiving a reward was 50%. This is an intermittent reward schedule: it gives a chance at payoff for any given action.

Specifically, they found that the most effective reward schedule was a variable ratio reward schedule – inserting randomness into the equation such that there could be many pulls of the lever with no payoff, but the average payoff is set. “

” Zynga is notorious for using variable ratio reward schedules in their social games like Farmville. Even World of Warcraft uses them by having killed mobs only drop the loot you need for quests some of the time and not all of the time.”

Anway, this turned out way longer than I intended it to be, and to be honest, it’s a bit of a beaten horse isn’t it?

FFXIV first dungeon completed

I’ve completed the very first dungeon of FFXIV yesterday evening. And it was hell.

Nono, not the dungeon itself, that went like a breeze. I mean unlocking the dungeon through storyquests. Jesus Christ, what a pain in the b*tthole …

I like cutscenes, most of the time, but the quest sequence I had to go through yesterday evening in order to progress and unlock the dungeon was just over the damn top.

And I dare say, it made no f*cking sence either.

*Spoiler alert*

Suddenly I went from being a newby adventurer to becoming an Emissary, an then an Envoy to the ruler of the whatever. And after that some barkeeper needed my help and I got access to the dungeon. Color me unimpressed, because that made no lasting impression on me. Cutscene, loading screen, repeat repeat. The very first time FFXIV got me annoyed …

Anyway, the dungeon I eventually got to do is called Sastasha Seagrot, and it’s this thing about Pirates in a cave. Bad people who deserve to die a thousand deaths by swords and magic rockets.

Like I mentioned earlier, the run went without any problems. Good tank and good DPS makes for easy healing. I got some nice loot pieces (greens) and a unique Puglist weapon I can stuff away if I ever need it.

What else?

- The dungeon was a nice entry level dungeon. Lots of trash, some harder hitting mobs in the packs to keep you awake as a healer. Pretty nice layout, and clicky mechanics at the final boss (bubbles of water you need to click on to prevent adds or something). In all, a nice learning dungeon I believe. Can’t wait for the next one.

- The party UI (healthbars etc) kinda sucks. To small, to much information around it (castbars). Weird colors, makes my eyes hurt after staring at it for more than five minutes. I need a bigger screen of better glasses. Or find out if I can change the appearance …

- A party of 4 people is actually quite nice.

- I’m leveling pretty fast without even trying. Just focussing on the main story quest nets you a lot of XP.

- Aha, I just found out FFXIV had a character armory system like WOW. View my character on the Lodestone. It really does look like a Jedi Padawan … with cat ears … and a tail.

ffxiv_16072014_224949 ffxiv_16072014_230013

FFXIV making my way into the world

My little Conjurer healing machine is slowly picking up pace. Made level 17 yesterday, and I’m well on my way to unlock the very first dungeon. Healing time!

And to be honest, it’s not going to be that diffcicult. I’ve only got 2 healing spells right now (single and group heal), and a party in FFXIV only is four people. I’ve done several guildheists and other things in the dutyfinder, actually I have no idea what they are or why they excist, but meh, I like to press ‘JOIN’ buttons :-).

In FFXIV there is a player commendation system where you basically commend a player at the end of a duty finder thing. You get a pop-up and you can select one player to give a commendation to. I have no idea if they have any real value besides a ‘feel-good’ moment. I have receved several already, and I feel good about it, ha!

The storyline in FFXIV is weird. The last time I played a Final Fantasy game was when I was a young teenager on the Playstation, so like a million years ago. And in all honesty, I cannot remember a damn thing about it. The only thing that sounds familiar is the music in FFXIV. It makes me think about Sephiroth.

What else is there to say about FFXIV?

- People bombard you with Free Company (guild) invites all the time when they see you are without one. I never accept it. Why would I? I don’t know you, your guild, your guildmembers, or anything else for that matter. Maybe it is because I’m playing a healer? Is there a lack of healers in FFXIV?

- Gear upgrades in FFXIV are weird as well. I’ve never once had a drop from a mob kill. Do mobs even drop loot? All I get is stuff from quests, and that is often just a little mini-upgrade. Do dungeons have loot? I hope so …

- I tried the Botanist job. It’s basically just a gathering profession, but in FFXIV they turned it into a seperate class. So you have seperate abilities, non of them combat (so far I know of). So you have to go into the wilds, in between mobs and angry critters and scorpions and birds and tigers and evil do’ers, and do your thing. Sounds weird if you ask me. I think they just wanted to add some extra time-sinks to the game.

- In FFXIV PC players and console players are playing together on the same server. So the guy tanking your dungeon could be playing the sh*t out of a MMO with a gamepad. I think that is totally awesome. It also means you won’t have long deep conversations with random people, because have you ever tried to type words with a gamepad controller? Dear god. Respect for the console gamer in FFXIV.

FFXIV a couple of days in

First overall take on the game ( about a couple of hours in) is an amazing holy crap. Great visuals, very very nice interface, story driven and lots of crazy Final Fantasy stuff. There is so much to suck in, it could be overwhelming. I say could be, because it actually is not the case. The way the story goes forward, the questflow, the initial zone progression, it all makes sense. Very very casual friendly, and very new player friendly. The game slowly tells you about all the little things that matter to you as a player, and that is a lot.

The first couple of hours are actually very very slow, and I’m guessing this is done intentionally so the game doesn’t kill new players with information.

I’ve made a Conjurer, thinking it was some kind of healer hybrid leading to summoner warlock kind of things. I was so wrong. Conjurers are the pure healing class of FFXIV, leading to the White Mage job (specialization).

Nothing wrong with that, except for the fact that you have so little DPS abilities. All this time I’ve been using the exact same two abilities to kill mobs with, and it’s getting boring. There is just not enough pew pew to the class.

FFXIV uses a nice system where you can take up many different classes on the same character, so you’re basically alting on the same character, but this takes time to unlock and blabla.

My only real issue with the game is the various unskippable cutscene you face all the time. Starting a new character because you’re interested in seeing a different race or class is annoying as f*ck due to this. Other than that, it’s been an entertaining ride so far. More to come …

ffxiv_12072014_001203 ffxiv_12072014_140249 ffxiv_12072014_153403 ffxiv_13072014_151625

Final Fantasy XIV it is

So I have decided to go for Final Fantasy XIV. A couple of reasons actually:

FFXIV : 19.99 euros
ESO: 59.99 euros

FFXIV : Digital download via store
ESO: Digital download not available due to store maintenance … two days in a row for me. If you don’t want my money then just say so ok guys?

But ok meh, what ever.

I guess if I need my fix of Elder Scrolls I can always fire up Skyrim again, try it with a bunch of mods this time.

So next was downloading and installing FFXIV. And this is currently a frustrating experience. For starters, when buying the digital download, then downloading the game, and then creating and managing your account and linking a new game in it … dear god. It has been a long time since I had to spend so much time in different account pages / websites / subdomains … it’s like the 1990′s again. Needlessly complicated and seriously annoying.

Then there is this …

Apparantly the digital download is the game installer that was used at the end of the beta. So that means you have to download about hm, half the internet to get the game to the current build / patch.

Apparantly the digital download you buy at the store is the game installer that was used at the end of the beta. So that means you have to download about hmm, half the internet to get the game to the current build / patch.

I hate that, you lazy goddamn cheap motherless sons of …

Is it to much to ask to update the download file to the latest installer? So you don’t have to go through this agonizing slow download hell? I’m not going to say how foolish I feel right now for buying FFXIV, because that would be really foolish. But this game better be goddamn amazing to play.

Battle of the MMO’s

A friend of mine is trying to get me to play Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. He’s been playing it for a while now, and he’s enjoying it a lot. The thing is, his playstyle differs a lot from mine, and his life situation is just completely opposite of mine. He has loads of time to play the sh*t out of games. He also streams a lot of his game on Twitch, so I’ve seen plenty FFXIV has to offer.

I’m still not convinced to be honest. FF XIV seems like a pretty game, the graphics and all that jazz. But it is a weird kind of game, and I’m not sure what to think of it. Seems like a serious grind to me.

I’ve been considering buying The Elder Scrolls Online, seeing how I liked Daggerfall, Morrowind and Skyrim. Playing ESO casually seems like a good idea, but then I watched Angry Joe’s review of the game, and it’s not a very good review. I challenge you to watch the review.