Since the company I work for are a bunch of heartless wraiths, I'm being forced to stay on 'til 5:30 to man the phones, while everyone else gets to go home early. Thanks, fuckers.
As such, I'm refusing to do any work, so I'm writing a blog instead.
As Christmas is just around the corner, I thought I'd talk about 'the good old days', when I was a young whippersnapper in the early days of console gaming. I remember it like it was more than twenty years ago. I tore downstairs to see what the Fat Man had left me and pounced upon the largest box in my pile. As my sister daintily removed the paper from one of her gifts, careful not to damage it, I went in there with teeth and claws, snarling like a cornered honey badger, before scuttling under the sofa to bury my prize.
It was a Sega Megadrive. I know, awesome right? (I was a little too young for the NES, but I've owned one since, because come on. You have to have owned a NES!)
Now, my parents weren't all that knowledgable when it came to games, so they'd bought me Michael Jackson's Moonwalker for some reason.
Man, old box art was just awful.
It wasn't a terrible game, just weird, and as a child I wasn't really aware of Michael Jackson or his music. As far as I was concerned, it was a game about a dude who could only communicate by saying 'ow' and thrusting at people (so I was pretty much spot on). In the game, you walked oddly through levels that, now I think about it, were modelled on Michael Jackson's songs. There was a gangster-type setting in a club, a graveyard zombie level etc. and the aim of the game was to rescue a bunch of kidnapped clone-girls, who would shout 'Michael!' when you found them, before being whisked away by Michael's magical flying monkey, Bubbles.
The attacks were pretty flashy. You could kick 'em, punch 'em, throw your hat at 'em, or spin around for 10 seconds and then launch into a full on dance number that none of the enemy could resist joining in with. You'd finish the dance by doing that awesome lean thing Micheal used to do, and then break the spell making everyone fall over dead. I knew his dance moves were hard, but come on.
Oh, and you could turn into a car and fly away. And at the end of the game you morphed into a giant laser-robot. Pretty standard stuff...
Despite the game, that console completely changed my life. Since that fateful day in 199x I have been a gamer. I've been there through every triumphant new console, every appalling failure, every gimmick, accessory and add-on. I've seen it all. I think the new generation of gamers will always take the quality of games we're seeing today for granted. They didn't have to suffer through the years of low-budget drivel that we older gamers did. They didn't have to deal with only having three lives and no save points. They've been given an easy ride.
And when I'm old, and my grandchildren aer plugging their brains directly into Skynet to play Virtual Space Molester VIII, I'll bore the crap out of them with tales just like this one, because it's important to keep history alive!
Right, so I've posted three blogs here on Dtoid and haven't formally introduced myself. How rude.
I'm Steve. I'm a gamer, writer, desk-based phone minion and all-round disillusioned twenty-something wearing a permanent look of what the fuck happened to my life? I enjoy long walks in Skyrim and going to the gym (I decided that if I'm going to be a nerd, I might as well be a ripped nerd). I live with my girlfriend and our dog, Merlin, who likes to wake me up by sitting on my chest.
"Dude, personal space!"
I was published a few years ago, which prompted a huge surge of enthusiasm, where I decided to become a writer full-time. That lasted about three weeks and then I just stayed in my shit-awful job that pays well.
I've restarted Skyrim four times and haven't completed it once.
With the complex matter of pleasantries out of the way, the two men leaned on their respective farming equipment and examined the surrounding countryside with the practiced eyes of two men who did very little farming and an awful lot of standing around.
"Don't mean to pry into another man's business, but there seems to be a dead giant where some potatos ought to be." said Frank, nodding in the direction of the unmissably large corpse rotting nearby.
"Aye, you'd be right about that, Frank," said Bob, squinting into the distance with some interest, "Found him there this morning. Got no toes on."
"No toes on, you say?" said Frank, raising his eyebrows. "Well, there's a thing."
"Reckon it's one o' them ale creamists."
"That'd be an alchemist, Bob, and you'd be right, sure enough."
"Use 'em in potions and such."
"They surely do."
Bob's squint had become a pained scowl and he leaned a few inches further on his hoe, which made all the difference in the world.
"Forgive an old man his eyes, Frank, but would you reckon that that figure over yonder is that there Dragonborn feller who went and killed that dragon in the watchtower?"
Frank looked across the field until his eyes found their quarry.
"Aye, that's the one. Friend of mine in the pub told me that he saw him stab a bear through the head with a big black sword, that was also on fire if you believe such things."
"I'd believe that, Frank."
"Then he took one of the bear's claws."
"Why only one o' them?"
"I asked the same question, Bob, sure enough. Plenty of claws on a bear, I said, if you want bear claws your best bet is to take all o' them off one bear, not one o' them off lots, I said."
"You'd be right about that, too, Frank."
The two men watched the rapidly approaching figure for a while.
"Likes doing fetch quests, so I'm told," said Frank, scratching himself on the chin. The stubble sounded like a hedgehog being dragged behind a horse.
"Is that right?" asked Bob thoughtfully, "The wife's been nagging me for some Tundra Cotton for a few days. Wants to spin a tunic, she said. Think I could ask him to get it for me?"
"Oh, aye, he'd do that for you, to be sure, but I was talking to this Redguard feller up in the city and he told me that he'd asked the Dragonborn to find his lost sword for him and it took him eight weeks. Said that sometimes he'd see him just standing outside Warmaidens for two days straight."
"Just standing there?"
"Just standing there, as I live and breathe. Can't say as I'm all that surprised though, Bob. I was walking over to Riverwood t'other day and I saw him jumping backwards up a mountain."
"I'd say you'd be pullin' my leg right about now, Frank."
"I wish I was pullin' on that leg o' yours, Bob, I truly do. I wanted to tell him that the path up was just around yon corner, but he don't talk much at the best o' times, I'm told, and I heard that he went and killed everyone in a town in the North, because this lady he was travellin' with got killed by one o' them Ice Wraiths, and I didn't want to talk to 'im if he was still in a bit o' a mood, you see."
"Nasty things those Ice Wraiths."
"Truer words were never spoken, Bob."
"Bad for the potatoes."
"Quite so. How's your boy these days? The adventurer."
"Ah, bad news on that score. Took an arrow in the knee."
Frank winced and shook his head. "Bad business, is that. He'd be a guard now, then?"
"O' course. Stands to reason."
"Lot o' guards becomin' guards because of arrows in the knee these days, I'm noticin'."
"Lot o' arrows flying around these days, is why. Civil war."
"Lot o' arrows in a civil war, right enough. Still seems like a lot o' arrows hitting a lot o' knees though, Bob."
"Best not to ask questions about stuff like that, Frank. Not our place to be askin' questions like that."
At that point, the Dragonborn went hurtling past the farm, breathing heavily. The two men turned slowly to watch him go.
"In a bit of a hurry, I'd say." said Frank
"I'd say so, too."
"These questions that it ain't our place to be asking. Would they include me seeing a backwards flying dragon up in the mountains just now?"
"That'd be what's called a perfect example, Frank. A perfect example."
Mining in Skyrim is... pointless, as far as I can tell.
For the most part, buying the lumps of ore, or just buying the smelted ingots, isn't all that expensive and saves hours of trekking around looking for the correct seam for the job. It may just be that my character's speech skill is so high he could talk you into giving him your skin, but I find that money really isn't that hard to come by, and once you're able to make ridonkulously expensive potions, you're basically sorted for the rest of the game. I crafted myself a set of Daedric armour and weapons by simply buying a bunch of hearts and ebony ingots from various alchemists and blacksmiths, and it barely made a mark on my wallet.
That being said, I wouldn't begrudge anyone who did want to do it the hard way. I'm sure the sense of achievement once that armour set was complete would be far higher than anything I experienced, and there's endless enjoyment to be had just exploring the wilds.
For those who are struggling to find the ore they need, and don't want to simply buy the stuff from blacksmiths, there a several places you can go looking. The obvious locations are the mines. There are a lot of them about, and quite a few also come with side quests, where you're required to clear the mine of enemies so the miners can get back to work. One or two might even lead to a Dragon Shout, but I won't spoil the surprise by telling you which ones. Some of the better ore seams are well hidden; up in the mountains or in the middle of nowhere under a bush behind a rock which currently has a giant standing on it, but there are plenty to find if you don't mind hunting around.
For the most part though, my main reason for disliking mining is that the sound of metal hitting rock cuts through me like an enchanted flame sword through mammoth cheese.
Kudos to Bethesda for their convincing sound effects!
*** Mod Update: There's an article over on Skyrim Nexus that explains a new mining mod (PC only of course). Basically, there are two options:
Option 1: Faster Mining - mine the regular amount of ore in a third of the time.
Option 2: Triple Ore - there will be three times the amount of ore in a seam, but you will have to mine it for three times as long.
That information still doesn't make me want to be a miner, but it might interest some people! ***
I can only assume that you do in fact still live with me, because the dog hasn't died of starvation yet. I only know this because he just stole the sock from my foot and is now burying it under a pillow.
I am alive and well in Skyrim, living as a warrior/alchemist in the fine Nordic city of Whiterun. You might be shocked to discover that I have spontaneously changed races and become a lizard-like humanoid known as an Argonian. I can only hope your love for me can see through my hideous new visage to the sensitive homicidal maniac beneath. On that note, if a group of armed guards come looking for me about the 'Great Riverwood Dragon Shout Massacre', please try to explain to them that it was a total accident. I wanted to use Unrelenting Force and accidentally used Storm Call, which frazzled the majority of the town where they stood. If it's any consolation, I feel quite bad about it (because I invested money in those damn businesses and now the owners are all dead). I'm still not paying the fine though.
In my defence, it wouldn't have happened if those mercenaries hadn't shown up threatening to kill me over a trivial robbery three towns over. Once I'd murdered them with the unfathomable power of the skies, it came to light that the hit was taken out by my wife! Oh, I was married by the way. I hope that doesn't effect our relationship too much, it's just that there was an achievement for it. It's okay though, I killed her with an arrow.
During the day, I walk the countryside gathering ingredients for my potions and slaying the local wildlife en masse for their precious pelts. Occasionally I'll enter a long-forgotten crypt and kill all the dead guys inside. They're alive, you see, but not. It's hard to explain to an outsider like yourself, but needless to say I'm only doing it to make the world safer for you and the dog.
I suppose I should own up to having had a companion for some of my travels. A female one. The marriage I mentioned earlier was a sham, but Lydia and I shared a special bond that can only be achieved through hours of exploration and getting stuck in doorways. Sadly, I sacrificed her to a Daedric demoness because I wanted some awesome enchanted Ebony Mail. I would have liked to have ended it on happier terms but, come on, enchanted Ebony Mail!
I'm sorry I haven't been around much lately, but I'm hoping to see as much of Skyrim as I can before coming home.
You should probably pencil me in for sex in about a month.