Giving Skyrim another chance

It’s been years since I last played Skyrim. While I generally like being able to use mods for a game, I don’t really like having to rely on them to enjoy playing. The way I’m using my PC, I absolutely need a windowed mode when playing a game and I cannot stand the regular non-windowed mode. On top of that, there was some bad mouse lagging in Skyrim and no matter what I did, I could not fix it. The Special Edition does not seem to have this issue anymore, so hurrah for that! And the game now has a borderless windowed mode which does not work exactly as I would imagine, but it’s good enough to at least give Skyrim another chance. When I am in the game and want to e. g., switch to my browser, I have to click with an invisible mouse hoping that the mouse is actually outside of the game. Otherwise, I just attack whatever is standing in front of me… oops. So, this mode still isn’t working too well, but I think I can handle it (opening settings before switching out, for example).

My main problem – as always – was trying to figure out what kind of character I would want to play now. I considered re-creating my lizardlady that I had when I first started playing Skyrim, but I wanted to start “fresh” with a different character. I am not a fan of elves, so those were out immediately. That left the cat-like race, the orc and the zillion different human kinds. I finally chose a redguard and started playing her. I figured playing something more “like me” (at least, more like me than a cat or a lizard :p) would be easier to roleplay. But as soon as I started, I knew it was a mistake. All I could think of was: She’s missing something in her face… like… teeth. Sharp pointy little teeth like the orc lady I had considered choosing during character creation.

skyrim female orc character

So yeah, I now have an orc lady! I mostly see her from behind anyway, but knowing she’s not a regular boring human is good enough for me already. I guess I should add “boring humans” to the elves above. No boring elves or humans for me!

The next question is what kind of playstyle I want, although I chose sword and shield for the time being – I’m still at the beginning of the game – because it’s often the easy and carefree playstyle. Perfect when I want to concentrate on the actual world and not having to try to stay alive in fights. So I am all set now, I guess, and can finally go on my adventure – while perfectly ignoring all the other issues I had with the game years ago. Now that I know what to expect from the game, I am sure I will not be disappointed anymore. :)

Best “Main Theme” from a PC game – Blaugust Day 25

Bookahnerk was preparing our “pen and paper” roleplaying session and played around with the music. He’s going to add background music and mostly uses songs from the various game soundtracks that we have acquired over time. He also uses several programmes together to add e.g. thunderstorm and various other ambient noises where it fits.

So, he was playing the different songs when this one song started and I said to him: I’ve got a new topic for Blaugust: “Best…” – I didn’t get further than that as he finished my sentence. “Best main theme ever” for both of us, without a doubt, goes to Baba Yetu from Civilization IV. Raise your hand if you left the game open at the “launch screen” just to listen to the song. :p

There are a lot of awesome songs out there, a lot of catchy ones, even a lot of songs where you can probably easily sing along… like this one:

But for me at least, nothing comes close to “Baba Yetu”. It just feels so strong and powerful.

Number three on my list (yes, I would put the Skyrim one on no. 2, but mainly because it stays in your memory so easily) is “the theme song that is no theme song”.

I think before launch, ArenaNet had added that theme to play during a trailer or teaser video and I, among others, thought that this was the main theme. I’ve got to say I was disappointed to hear the real main theme then as it doesn’t come close in comparison. It has grown on me by now, but I still very much prefer the Norn Theme – even though in general, I am not a fan of the Norn at all. Sorry!

I could go on and on and list so many other great soundtracks. It’s actually a shame I usually play with the music turned off nowadays. But we’re usually watching streams or Netflix or just talk, and the music gets distracting quite fast that way.

One Day… I will play you…

I caught myself saying this very sentence several times in the last few days. I have also seen several people say that they won’t buy any more games on Steam unless they have at least played x other games that they bought in the past. How successful are we with that, eh? ;)

In my case, Trine 3 triggered that sentence, but it actually didn’t start nor stop there. The Trine series is a very odd one for me. I remember a guildie (Damagedself, actually) telling me about Trine 2 and that I should give it a try. I am not a fan of platformer games, though. Other than with the Gameboy, I never really played them. And even back then, I was more a fan of the setting, the world than the game itself. Anyway, I did give it Trine 2 a try and I clearly remember that after a few minutes, I was jumping up and down, squealing, telling bookahnerk how I needed to have that game because it’s awesome! I loved the music, I loved the art design, I loved creating boxes with the wizard, Amadeus. It was totally not the game I would usually play, but it was a game I had fallen in love with. I did buy the game not long after and even played it for a bit. I also own Trine 1. Still, up until this day, I did not play either of those games much.

The music and atmosphere in Trine 3 seem to be exactly the way it was in Trine 1 and 2. One Day, I will buy and play this game!

Torchlight I and II are also on my list of “One Day…”-games. I actually got into playing Torchlight I again recently and really enjoyed myself until that one evening last week where I bought weapons from the gambling vendor, got a really great rifle and… accidentally sold it again. I could not re-buy it anymore as the available stock had changed in the meantime. Now I’m broke and with my old crappy weapon still. But before I delve into Torchlight II together with bookahnerk, I am determined to finish Torchlight I. So… One Day…

Another recurring game on that list is “The Secret World”. I love almost everything about it. The only part I really do not like at all is the combat. Unfortunately, as with every other MMORPG out there, combat is an important part of the game (why is that, by the way? Do we really have to focus on combat so much?).TSW_scenery2

Defiance and Skyrim are on my list as well, but both are in the backseat for different reasons. I tried out Defiance, the game, before I had seen the first episode of the TV series. I did not like it too much, although I am always looking for a nice science fiction MMO to play. Then Netflix arrived here in Germany and I saw that they have the first season of Defiance available. I started watching it, more out of curiosity than anything else and I really enjoyed it and liked the world it is set in as well as some of the characters. So for this very reason, I would like to get into Defiance, the game. So far, no luck. Still, it is behind The Secret World for me. Skyrim is the game I want to love, but don’t. Mostly for technical reasons, actually. What annoys me most of all now is the clunky user interface and the lagging mouse for which I have not found a fix that works yet. I just always wonder: Is a game worth my time (especially with so many others on my list) that I cannot enjoy unless I dig through mods first? Still, One Day…


I am not alone with such a list, right? I’m pretty sure every gamer out there has games that One Day, they will get to play… maybe…, but for one reason or another, that day just keeps getting rainchecks.

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 – 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. :)


…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. ;)

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.