Tag Archives: Skyrim

Gaming Soundtracks by Jeremy Soule

Quite a generic title for this post. I’m sorry, I couldn’t think of anything witty. ;)

I’ve been wanting to write about game soundtracks for about a few days. Massively reminded me of that with their recent second post about MMO main themes. By the way, am I alone in (incorrectly) thinking the Norn theme is the main theme of Guild Wars 2? I’d realised it before and quickly forgot it again. For me, this theme IS the main theme. It’s so much more epic! This alone means I will have to make at least one Norn character! ;)

My question to you, dear readers, is: Do you know who Jeremy Soule is? If your answer is “no”, then go here and read. I never knew how influential he was. But Bookahnerk had been very excited when I mentioned his name at some point and he realised that it’s THIS Jeremy Soule that added the orchestral soundtrack to Total Annihilation. When we both mentioned him to a friend and told him that he’s the one behind the GW and also the GW2 soundtrack, he was very excited because he loves the Elder Scrolls soundtracks. This is about the only name of a composer for game soundtracks that I know, to be honest. But his name is worth knowing if you ask me. I can’t help it, I’m a fangirl. ;) Listen to the Norn theme of Guild Wars 2 and to the Skyrim main theme.

The reason I even had the idea of writing about soundtracks was that Bookahnerk had given me the Nightfall Collector’s Edition as a gift a few days ago. I was SO excited when I unwrapped the box. Nightfall is my favourite campaign – probably because it was the one that got me into Guild Wars (and I’d pulled him in subsequently). Speaking of Collector’s Editions: This one comes with two virtual items (a special dance emote and a mini pet), two pins showing two of GW’s skills, a little cardboard figure, two posters (one is a map), an artbook, a making of-DVD and the soundtrack DVD. Also, a special soundtrack song that you can download from directsong.com – the only bad thing is that when I try to do so, all I get is “internal server error”. Very annoying and disappointing. I’ve already contacted their support but haven’t heard back from them yet. I want that song! Or even more than one? Either way, this is quite a Collector’s Edition. And seeing how much stuff was in there makes me hope that GW2 will have an equal Collector’s Edition. I actually don’t care so much about the virtual items. I want physical goodies! A cloth map would be awesome, though. And, of course, another artbook! And the soundtrack! And maybe a mini asura figurine… *squeals* Or maybe even a miniature version of Destiny’s Edge? But I digress. Bookahnerk has already written about what we’d like to see in a Collector’s Edition.

One of my favourite songs of the World of Warcraft soundtrack is the tavern song (I don’t remember the exact name, although it’s the “exclusive track” somewhere, I think?). Which made me realise: There are no taverns in Guild Wars, are there? Have I ever seen a bed in Guild Wars? Entered an inn? That’s something I really hope to see in Guild Wars 2 – especially the home instance. Those will have a bed for your character, I assume. :) And maybe even different songs for each home instance – or just the race’s themes which I’d be fine with (again, I need a Norn character!). I can’t wait to listen to all the songs that Jeremy Soule has composed and I hope they’ll be as good and atmospheric as what he’s been doing so far. If you ask me, it was pure genius of ArenaNet to hire him! Although I do wonder who decided it had to be Jeremy Soule to do all the game’s soundtracks including the sequel (must be part-Asura?). :)

Expectations suck…

Attention: Skyrim story spoilers. If you don’t want to know anything about the game’s story, do not continue reading! I will try to keep them small but only you can decide if you want to read anything about it or nothing when you haven’t gotten the game yet. :)

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…they really do. At Christmas, I saw that German Amazon had Skyrim on sale (25€. I HAD to get that!). I ordered it and after our vacation visiting family, I could finally play the game. I’ve now played about 27 hours according to Steam. But make that 20 or so as I tend to idle around a lot. ;)

Still, the issues I have with the game have nothing to do with playing for a long time. Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s a solid game. A good game. A game I enjoy playing. It’s not that different from Dragon Age, Divinity 2 (the first area only! ^^), Drakensang or even Oblivion if you ask me. It makes some things better but there are other things that annoy me to no end and then there are things that I just like better in other games.

Issue 1: I kept reading about the great open world. And how you could ignore the story and just explore. I am still waiting for this point in the main story. Let’s see… There are dragons. And they scare everybody. There’s also a civil war breaking out. And my character is one of those special snowflakes that are there to save the world from the dragons (she can’t do anything about the civil war, I guess). Why should she bring a letter to somebody in another city? Why should she wear some shop’s tailored clothes to impress the Jarl and advertise their clothing line? Why should she go out of her way to explore the countryside and pick flowers (yes, I admit, guilty! ^^) instead of trying to figure out where the dragons came from and why they are there?

This annoys me so much. Yes, I have done some side quests and yes, I like them. But as soon as I think about what my character would do in such a situation, I cannot justify ignoring the main storyline. And let’s not forget that one NPC that told me to meet her in town X. We met in town Y because I was doing side quests and she reminded me that she had told me to go to town X when we accidentally met.

Issue 2: I am a special snowflake. I hate that. I don’t want to be the one that was sung about in a prophecy. I don’t want to play the one character that is able to save the entire world. I just want to be A character that exists and is part of some story. It doesn’t have to involve a possible apocalypse or mass slaughtering or whatever. That’s what I really loved about Drakensang (the first game). You start out investigating the murder of a friend. Then the story unfolds. But it never seems to be this huge adventure that gets you to save the world and make you well-known everywhere.

Issue 3: The NPCs. They are weird. They come up to me and tell me their life story even though they’ve never seen me before. Also, one guy got killed by a dragon. A little girl had seen it and she commented on it – though if I remember correctly, she commented on me killing the dragon. Not on a guy she must know (they live in a small village, after all) dying. And he was still there, on the ground, dead. Then his wife left their hut and… made a remark about something general. Then she turned around and left to do her day’s business. Hello? Her husband just died! The guards didn’t react either. After entering a village, I walked into a family’s house. Not nice, I know. The wife told me where to find an inn if I was looking for a room. The husband started telling me his life story and about his dreams and his family. Then his wife and daughter got up and started attacking me while the husband was still telling me how he has to be strong for his family. He didn’t seem annoyed with me being there – or else I would’ve left already! Then I got attacked for invading their house. I left the house but my follower didn’t. When I went back into the house, there she was in the middle of the three dead bodies. The family’s son had hidden in the cellar and he called for guards. After paying 5 gold, I was free to go. But really, that didn’t make any sense! I just went back to the village and the little boy is still telling me his random sentences when I click on him. No sign of him not having a family anymore, of him swearing revenge or whatever. His family’s bodies are still in the house, too. When I heard from another player how a guard came to them and asked if they could have the shield that they’d just dropped to the floor because they didn’t need it, I was impressed. But why aren’t bodies buried? Why is nobody mourning their loss? Why doesn’t the village hate me?

Issue 4: My follower. I only have one so far. But who is she? The things she’s said to me are “Oh”, “Hmm” and “You’ll lead, I’ll follow” and other random stuff like that. I cannot properly talk to her. She has no quests for me. Nothing. I remember Neverwinter Nights where the companion slowly kept telling me his life story. I remember Knights of the Old Republic and how annoyed I was with that one talkative companion. She wouldn’t shut up! However, she had character. I knew who she was, that she had a brother, that her parents were dead etc. And Dragon Age… oh, how I want to strangle my companions sometimes when they keep fighting and insulting each other. Gah. But in a good way because it makes the game more lively. I can talk to them and they agree or disagree with my decisions. Yes, my follower does that as well. She dislikes me stealing. But that’s all.

Issue 5: Back to the huge open world. When I walk around between towns and villages, I usually get attacked by wolves, spiders or bandits. One hit and they’re dead. There are other enemies and especially more challenging ones. But most of the time, I’m either all alone (with my follower… IF she’s not lagging behind thanks to AI pathing, I assume) or attacked by the aforementioned three types of enemies. I guess this is standard in most games. I just thought it’d be different and more exciting here.

Issue 6: The worst of all which has nothing to do with the gameplay. The interface. Whywhywhywhy do we PC players get a console interface? And why does it suck so much? Which slots for armour does my follower have, for example? It’s nice that she decides for herself if she wants to wear something I give her. That’s okay. But can she even wear rings, amulets, etc.? And speaking of rings: How many can I wear? One? Two? Three? You can try it out, of course. But having to scroll through a long alphabetised list of armour items I’m carrying can be bothersome as well. Especially if you’re currently wearing an ‘aggressive ring of blood’ and a ‘zealous ring of honour’. And then you try equipping a ‘massive ring of mediocrity’. Scroll up: Ring A is still equipped. Scroll allllll the way down: Ring Z is not equipped anymore. Aha. *sigh* And comparing what you’re wearing and what you may want to equip instead is just as bothersome. I’d really love to have a nicer interface. Made by Bethesda. Not by fans (though I love how fast they’re making great changes to the game. I did already get that one addon that let’s me have a windowed version that actually works!).

Issue 7: The shadows. What the… even on high settings, they look atrocious. Nothing else to say about that.

Now, those are all things I can live with (except for the UI issue. There’s no excuse for that. -.-). But after having such high expectations and hearing everywhere how amazing that game was and how it did everything right compared to other single player RPGs, I can only feel disappointment and it overshadows the joy I might have had otherwise.

I’d originally not planned to include the things I love about the game because this entry is about unmet expectations. But it might sound too negative otherwise. So, here are some of the good things:
- I love the character creation screen and my lizardlady!
- While the graphics might not be up to date or whatever, I still find them very pretty, pictoresque and enjoy looking at the scenery
- Jeremy Soule. Nothing else needs to be said here.
That, plus several other things. Or I wouldn’t still be playing the game. ;)

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And for a semi-random conclusion: Should I stop reading about Guild Wars 2 now? What if we manage to hype it just the same and then we end up being disappointed when we realise it’s also just another game. A good game or maybe even a great game. But due to not meeting our really high expectations, we still find it lackluster.