Posts Tagged ‘Sandbox’

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True Nord – Thoughts On The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

December 7, 2011

Over the last month I’ve been racking up the hours on The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, but I know I haven’t been talking about it much. Quite simply, I’d always rather be playing the game than be writing about it. Certainly, I enjoy my time away from MMOs to be by myself and play games like this every once in a while.

I think I’m up to between 100-150 hours in that game (for some reason Raptr doesn’t always seem to log my time on the Xbox correctly, even when I’m connected) and yesterday I finally earned my last achievement. Not counting Arcade games, Skyrim is the only title I have for the Xbox right now that I’ve managed to fully “complete”. I think that alone is testament to how much I enjoyed it; there have been many other opportunities in the past to hit that 1000/1000 mark, but no other game has ever given me the delight and motivation to do it the way Skyrim has.

And yet, I’m still not done, judging by the dozen or so quests I still have left in my log, and I don’t doubt there’s probably a few more out there for me to find. But while I love huge games like this, at some point, I’m always wary of burnout. Despite the varied dungeon designs and gorgeous vistas, beyond doing the main quest lines, things could get a little repetitive.

I also have a tendency to want to do everything all at once — a dangerous habit for someone delving into a sandbox game, because I always end up spreading myself too thin. “A little bit of this, a little bit of that” is how I played, which is what happens when I’m not forced to prioritize. Friends I’ve told this to think I’m nuts, but I basically tracked every single quest (including the Misc. ones) so that my map would be filled with a mess of little markers. Instead of overwhelming me, the sight just made me happy. I think everyone tackles Skyrim a different way, but that’s how I did it — eclectically.

While I bounced between different quest lines with no rhyme or rhythm, I also varied using my abilities and took breaks out to craft whenever the fancy struck me. On the bright side, I think that’s how I reached level 50 so fast, because practically every skill was being leveled concurrently.

I also chose to play a Nord because I’ve always been drawn to the warrior archetype, but ended up being more “thievey” than anything. I love pickpocketing, but I think that has more to do with my curiosity with what everyone is carrying than any actual desire to steal.

I also enjoyed the dragon encounters. They definitely do their job of breaking up the old routine, being random and all. I’m sure everyone has an “unfortunate timing” story involving dragons. The funniest one I’ve heard belongs to a friend of mine, who was on the quest to burn 3 and exactly 3 beehives when a dragon descended upon him and incinerated the entire area, causing him to fail immediately. My own story involves a quest where I had to hand over all my gear in order to infiltrate a fancy function. Literally the second after the NPC took all my stuff, that was when I heard the dragon…and all I had were my party clothes.

So many quests of note in this game, but I think my favorite has to be the Dark Brotherhood story line. Funny how it turned out that way, since it creeped me out to do their quests initially, and I tried to save them for last.

Now all I need is the email that tells me my order of the epic soundtrack has shipped, and I’ll be a happy woman. Like many others, I also ended up purchasing the guide for Skyrim. It was invaluable to me in helping me get around the game’s massive world, and if the need ever arises I guess I can also use this monster of a book to bash in a dragon’s skull. And it’s not even the hardcover.

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My Minecraft Adventures

October 4, 2010

Hard to believe, just a little more than a week ago I didn’t even know what Minecraft was, let alone understand what the fuss was all about. To be honest, the first time I ever saw one of my Twitter friends tweet about it, I thought it was a game about blowing stuff up with explosive devices. Granted, there is a little bit of that in the single player survival mode, but no, I’ve found through experience that much of the game is about the other kind of mine, the kind that involves lots and lots and lots of digging. And more digging.

But after only a few days, I find myself completely addicted. What can be so great about a game that involves so much digging and blocky 1980s-era graphics, you ask? You’d be surprised. This is the only way I know how to describe its appeal: imagine yourself  as a six-year-old again with your big toy box of Legos, except you have essentially an unlimited number of blocks to play with and an infinite virtual world in which to build. Oh, and zombies, can’t forget the zombies! When the sun goes down, beware the creepy crawlies that emerge and do what you can to stay alive! Also, I must add that while I’m a stickler about game graphics myself, I find that the blocky visual style of Minecraft actually works in its favor.

And of course, if you’re playing multiplayer mode (which is where I spent most of my time), it is in essence a building simulator where you’ll also get to share your creations with other people or maybe even band together to build extravagant projects. Though it’s true that multiplayer is more alpha than single player is, the fun to be had makes putting up with the bugs and occasional crashes worth it. Thanks to my blog friend Blue Kae who’s taken the time to set up a server for us to play around in, a few of us have gotten a chance to be quite busy this past weekend getting creative — mining, crafting, and constructing. While single player has its merits, what I love most about multiplayer Minecraft — or any game, really — is the social aspect and the interaction with others.

To get an idea of what goes on on our humble little server, check out this fantastic videopost made by Arkenor of Ark’s Ark. Yours truly makes an appearance, as Stefferoo the crazy flower-planting lady who likes to throw eggs at the unsuspecting passerby, and later on you can catch a glimpse of my stone house by the bay and my boardwalk along the beach. Also starring Petter of Don’t Fear The Mutant, my road-building collaborator! Thanks again to Ark for the video, and on his site are a bunch of other great videoposts too, so be sure check those out for more of his Minecraft adventures. And despite what he says, I think his Skeletor impressions are just fine!

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Red Dead Shenanigans

June 25, 2010

I guess I haven’t mentioned it on my blog yet, but I’m currently playing Red Dead Redemption on the Xbox 360. I was going to wait to borrow it from my brother, but he was taking a really long time to finish and with everyone I know raving about the game, I just couldn’t wait. So last week, I traded in Alan Wake for it.

Anyway, I met up with my brother earlier this week, and we started trading RDR stories. Before I go on, I just want to mention that my brother is actually a really sweet guy in real life, but he can be a right bastard when it comes to video games. Games like Fallout 3 and RDR appeal to him a lot, because it gives him the chance to do these messed up things. So he asked me the other day if I’d had the chance to lasso and hogtie people yet. I said, “Sure.” He then asked if I’ve tried dragging tied up prisoners behind my horse. I was like, “Yeah, there’s even a statistic in-game that tracks it, but it’s not like something I relish in.” In fact, I’ve been playing pretty conservatively, doing things quick and clean, avoiding trouble with the authorities if I can help it. My John Marston’s a gentleman; he does some things because he has to, and he’ll put a bullet in the head of anyone who wrongs him…but at least he’s polite about it.

My brother, on the other hand, not so much. He went on to tell me how he lassoed and dragged this one bandit a few miles out of town, hogtied him and then placed him in the middle of the railroad tracks. He then sat back and waited patiently for the train. “Well, no doubt the scumbag had it coming,” I said, “but isn’t that just a tad sadistic?”

But apparently, that wasn’t it. “For some reason, there was this nun walking down the road,” my brother told me with glee. “She stopped to check him out. Then something must have bugged or something, because she just stood there with him on the railroad tracks. When the train came, the nun and the bandit both exploded in this huge cloud of red mist!”

Granted, I probably don’t experiment as much as I should when it comes to these sandbox-y type games, but seriously, sometimes I can’t believe I’m related to this guy. Feel free to share your RDR shenanigans if you have any. While I’m not inclined to get into too much craziness myself, it always impresses me to hear how much freedom and flexibility this game allows.