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July 4, 2012 10:04 AM   Subscribe

Skyrim: The Real Dragonborn reveals some of the downsides of living in the Elder Scrolls universe. [slyt]
posted by quin (37 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
one second, I have to consume 80 wheels of cheese in a field.
posted by The Whelk at 10:07 AM on July 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

The best thing about this is that until 0:06 when they cut to the mage, I was thinking: "wow, the running animations are a lot more realistic on the PC.
posted by 256 at 10:10 AM on July 4, 2012

I was running fine until I picked up that wooden plate!
posted by The Whelk at 10:14 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

The dumbest thing in this game, to me, was the starting sequence in which the large dragon saves the player from beheading and then intervenes a bunch more times to clear the way for escape... And I spent the whole game thinking that dragon loved me until I had to **Spoilers** kill it. Turns out the dragon wasn't helping, and nothing needs to make sense any more to make money.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 10:21 AM on July 4, 2012 [6 favorites]

Yeah, that's a little frustrating. I mean, I understand that coincidence and miraculous timing is an established thing in epic fantasy (Like, seriously, I have seen/read so many scenes where the protagonist's friends save him/her from execution at the last possible second and wondered, "why wouldn't you have, I don't know, just done the exact same thing five minutes ago and maybe left yourself some fucking margin for error?").

But things that really truly strain the limits of serendipity--like, say, a dragon happening to attack a town at the exact right moment to prevent the execution of the only person in the world who could stop its diabolical plan and then proceeding to destroy the town in the exact right pattern to allow that person an otherwise impossible escape--those things maybe require at least a conspiratorial nod at some point in the narrative.
posted by 256 at 10:34 AM on July 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

Also diabetes
posted by crayz at 10:57 AM on July 4, 2012

As stupid as this crap is, this movie makes me want to pick up Skyrim again. It's a great game despite all the suspension-of-disbelief-shattering elements. I'm really interested to see just how far people can go with the worldbuilding-by-obsessive-handcrafted-detail thing, or whether in the end we'll be able to get more believable fictional worlds through procedural generation.
posted by Scientist at 11:01 AM on July 4, 2012

Saddest thing is I can't find anyone working on a proper overhaul, like Oscuro's Oblivion Overhaul for the previous game in the series, Oblivion. I read in some random forum that Oscuro got a real gaming job for his efforts, so he won't be doing this kind of thing any more. I hope I'm wrong, or someone else does it.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 11:07 AM on July 4, 2012

In a similar vein
posted by Wossname at 11:11 AM on July 4, 2012

CautionToTheWind, could you point a brother to some of the best tweaks and mods for Skyrim, or to a webpage that has a good list of same? I love me some Elder Scrolls mods but I stopped playing Skyrim before the world builder kit even came out so I feel like I must be out of the loop.
posted by Scientist at 11:18 AM on July 4, 2012

Scientist, let me first say that I too stopped playing before the world builder kit came out, but I have been trying to go back and look for mods that will make me want to play again. I feel the money I paid was wasted because I was planning to play for years.

Having said that, the top site I look around in is Skyrim Nexus. However I believe there has been some integration of the mod system with Steam and now you can (must?) install mods through Steam and also browse them there.

Most mods seem to be naked female mods, pretty sword/armor mods and "more of the same" mods (more weapons, more armor types). To be honest now I only search for "overhaul" and come out disappointed, about every couple months.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 11:25 AM on July 4, 2012

Ah yes some combat mods make combat more interesting, by making blocking more useful and needed, and some staggering when hit. I guess I got a couple extra gameplay hours out of that... :/
posted by CautionToTheWind at 11:27 AM on July 4, 2012

Turns out the dragon wasn't helping, and nothing needs to make sense any more to make money.

Spiler-type discussion ahead...

It was my assumption that the description of how you were picked up at the beginning of the game had something to do with the mysterious, and strategically timed appearance of the dragon as well. You were basically wandering too close to a battle, and you were picked up as a captive.

Then, near the end of the main quest, we find out that that main dragon was set adrift through time via the Elder Scroll. I don't know that it's ever mentioned, but my first thought was: "I wonder if this time-drifting problem affected the hero that read the scroll the first time around...." And it all seemed to fit together: You pop out of time travel in a sort of Terminator mode, but with more clothes, and close on your heels the dragon pops out as well. He can either sniff out Dovakin or he saw you come out, and has been trying to find you ever since. He's a bit of a blunt instrument, so when he figures out you're in Helgen, he just burns the place to the ground...

At least, that made sense to me.
posted by thanotopsis at 11:33 AM on July 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

I was just going to mention the Skyrim Nexus. You don't need to get the mods from Steam, you can use the Nexus Mod Manager to install and manage the addons.
Recommended (by me - this is why I didn't get the XBox version. Add-ons rule.): SkyUI: redoes the user interface into something manageable. UFO - Ultimate Follower Overhaul: Much better follower controls/stats/magic/etc. Quality World Map: With roads! WATER - Water And Terrain Enhancement Redux: makes all types of water look better, will probably decrease frame rate if you go nuts with it. Bandolier - Bags and Pouches: carry more stuff! Skyrim Monster Mod: more and different monsters. Check out the screenshots. There's tons more too.
posted by Zack_Replica at 11:44 AM on July 4, 2012 [8 favorites]

Well in Helgen the dragon covers and hides me with his massive wing while killing the Imperial humans that would have me killed. That and the very first attack the dragon does, aimed right at my Dovakin face, is a stunning/non-damaging attack, unlike his other attacks.

Before that, when I am trapped in a tower with Imperial soldiers on top, he kills the imperial soldiers and breaks the wall in the right place so I can escape through the roof of a nearby building.

And bears kill dragons... sigh
posted by CautionToTheWind at 11:44 AM on July 4, 2012

CautionToTheWind - sounds like you want the "Deadly Dragons" mod, which makes them really nasty adversaries. I would think that the "Everyone Get Inside - Dragon Attack" mod would be mandatory, as they'd gank all the NPC's in a town and wreck quests if the questgiver is dragon food. I haven't installed these yet, so as always, make a hard save before running the mod.
posted by Zack_Replica at 11:53 AM on July 4, 2012

Saddest thing is I can't find anyone working on a proper overhaul, like Oscuro's Oblivion Overhaul for the previous game in the series, Oblivion.

The final release of OOO was in December of 2007, almost two years after Oblivion was released (March 2006), and the FCOM suite of mods (which includes OOO and several other overhauls) was still making releases in late 2010. So there's still time.

But Skyrim doesn't have the kind of level-scaling that so infuriated RPG fans playing Oblivion (and which was the initial impetus for OOO), so there's not nearly as the same kind of demand for an overhaul as there was with Oblivion.
posted by straight at 11:55 AM on July 4, 2012

And bears kill dragons... sigh

This is the actual way mythical creatures were made extinct, such as geese killing off unicorns.
posted by fleacircus at 11:59 AM on July 4, 2012 [9 favorites]

Skyrim 2012
posted by Gordafarin at 12:08 PM on July 4, 2012

OK, so I just picked up Skyrim again and found it absolutely mind-numbing. WTF? I really liked that game back when it came out (not very long ago!) but now it just seems like an endless grind of unchallenging battles, pointless inventory management, and uninspiring dialogue. What the hell happened?
posted by Scientist at 1:12 PM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

This could apply to pretty much all RPG video/computer games ever. If/when someone creates a game that somehow manages to be more "realistic" (or at least significantly less ridiculous) they'll have something really interesting on their hands, but there's always a chance that nobody will want to play it for want of it being just too bloody difficult.

Consider this: I spent a day just walking around touring a bunch of old forts and palaces in the middle of a very hot day. We had plenty to drink and eat and yet still when we got home that night we just crashed into our beds and slept for 8 hours straight. Makes sense.

Now imagine if we had actually been a band of adventurers, wandering around old forts and palaces all day, plus expending vast amounts of energy killing hordes of murderous animals and hedge wizards and shit. Do you really think we'd only need eights hours of sleep after that? This is something that never really gets touched on: that not even super athletic humanoids could actually run (not walk, but run) around for 15 hours a day killing and climbing and jumping and hauling a hundred pounds of gear and do it every single day without ever taking a day off once and a while or eating more than a turnip or an errant head of lettuce.

Real adventuring would be grueling in the worst possible way. Like running a marathon and winning ten boxing matches every day, forever. Sheesh.
posted by Doleful Creature at 1:21 PM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wow, timely discussion. I just started a new game yesterday. Skyrim Nexus and the Nexus Mod Manager is the way to go. The Steam Workshop may be convenient for some, but not all mods are available through there.

I would recommend at least looking at S.T.E.P., the Skyrim Total Enhancement Project which is a PDF outlining a tested procedure for revamping much of Skyrim's visual and UI elements. It is at least worthwhile to follow the mod links to look at them on SN and see if they interest you. (Particularly, check out the Realistic Colors Real Nights mod. Beautiful!)

The Skyrim Monster Mod and related packages appear to be heading toweard something approaching Martigen's Monster Mod. SkyMoMod adds a bunch of new creatures and monsters, though some not lore-friendly (The Witcher's Drowners). There is another mod available on the download page that then trims out or adjusts the names of non-lore creatures. I just noticed last night that there is now a Monster Wars mod that takes SkyMoMod and adds factions and conflicts between different creatures, which may make things even more MMM-like.

SkyTEST is revamp of animal AI to make them act more realistically toward each other and the PC. So far it seems nice. Animals don't necessarily come chasing you down for you to butcher them. Bears will yell at you at a distance but unless you stumble right on top of them they won't aggress you. Animals will move in herds and packs, attack, migrate, hibernate, etc.

So far the only overhaul I have found even attempting something similar to OOO is Skyrim Redone. It revamps the perks trees, racial attributes, leveling, weapons, you name it (including a new Vampirism tree.) So far I am really enjoying it. It depends on a level uncapper, so leveling seems fast in the beginning, but it is deceiving in its effects, because there is no race to 100. The top-end perks require skill levels above 100. The mod author changed monster leveling so they randomly vary around the vanilla level value.

SkyRe doesn't create the stark feeling of a new game in the way OOO did, nor is it as ruthlessly difficult as OOO in its purest setup. But it does make battles more challenging and you feel like you have to be a bit more strategic. I enjoy the dynamic combat system, where you have to time your blocks and strikes more carefully. There are other mods out there to add increased challenge, e.g. Dangerous Dragons, More Dynamic Injuries, etc., but I haven't gone down that route yet.
posted by at 1:24 PM on July 4, 2012 [6 favorites]

Doleful Creature: Sounds like Day Z is the game for you, then.
posted by tmt at 2:03 PM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

insert, I am so going to try some of those mods.
posted by Scientist at 2:38 PM on July 4, 2012

Man. I was going to mention both the all of the Skyrim mods mentioned above AND Day Z.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:38 PM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, while everyone's here, does anyone have a link handy to an approachable tutorial on bringing items from Oblivion (i.e. OOO) into Skyrim?

I really miss Almalexia's Love (the blocking staff) from the Sideways Cave.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:43 PM on July 4, 2012

If by "Day Z" you mean ADOM
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:21 PM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

I play Skyrim on the XBox, the way Talos and the Bethesda-Microsoft DLC agreement intended.

I started playing when it first came out, got frustrated with the silly combat system and gave up.

And then they brought out Kinect support for Skyrim (and a couple of patches to fix some of the most annoying bugs), so I did something impulsive: I bolted to the store, bought a Kinect, and started a new game.

There's no gesture-based controls, but the voice controls make menu navigation, equipping items, and ally commands a lot easier (I no longer have to listen to Lydia's whining). There's also a little feature that allows you to designate a value-to-weight ratio threshold as desirable 'loot', so you can strip bodies and empty containers of the best stuff and leave the junk behind with a voice command.

That's not the reason I bought the Kinect though.

The reason I bought the Kinect is that you can bellow Dragon Shouts at your TV screen and activate that Shout in the game.

I can say without fear of being accused of hyperbole that this is the best thing that has happened anywhere, ever.

There is, however, a downside.

Some context is required. There's two ways to activate a dragon shout:
  1. hold down the right bumper button and say the shout in dragon language, i.e. FUS RO DA!
  2. simply speak the name of the shout aloud in plain English, i.e. UNRELENTING FORCE!
It's the second method that is causing me some grief. Because the Kinect voice recognition is maybe not so good sometimes and occasionally some ambient dialog being spoken by NPCs in the game will be picked up by the sensor and oh god I just set all those innocent people on fire oh god I turned the jarl to ice and now his guards are attacking oh god I totally alerted those chatty guards who I was trying to sneak past.

I am the Dragonborn With The Apocalyptic Tourettes.

I try to avoid towns, and companions, and indeed any friendly faces whatsoever. When I do have to engage with civilization I do so with my crosshairs directed firmly at the sky or ceiling. And sometimes even that's no help. I'm still haunted by the time I inadvertently belched out Storm Call when walking through Rorikstead. All that lightning. All those bodies.
posted by Ritchie at 6:58 PM on July 4, 2012 [19 favorites]

nothing needs to make sense any more to make money

Few things prove this more than:
  • Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
  • Nickelback
posted by juiceCake at 7:16 PM on July 4, 2012

"I play Skyrim on the XBox, the way Talos and the Bethesda-Microsoft DLC agreement intended."...
"The reason I bought the Kinect is that you can bellow Dragon Shouts at your TV screen and activate that Shout in the game."

Third party modders had added voice-activated Dragon Shouts to the PC version sometime in December or January. Bethesda hadn't even hinted that they were working on Kinect voice integration until February, and the actual patch didn't drop until even later. Just sayin'.
posted by radwolf76 at 7:33 PM on July 4, 2012

Wait, voice-activated shouts? !! I...must have...
posted by at 8:01 PM on July 4, 2012

If you're on PC, the mod you're looking for is Skyrim Total Voice Control. I'm pretty sure this is their latest video.
posted by radwolf76 at 8:37 PM on July 4, 2012

Hmm, looks like that one might be abandoned now. The Nexus page is disabled by the author, and the only version I can see available for download is on Planet Elderscrolls and for Skyrim 1.4.x.

I found Thu'uMic which is up to date, but I am having some difficulty getting it configured correctly and recognizing my commands. I haven't used the speech system in Win7 before, so it is probably a misalignment of those constellations.
posted by at 9:22 PM on July 4, 2012

I think they've moved their most current versions off the Nexus for whatever reason. Check, I think that's the link to the most current version of STVC. (Would love to verify that, but I'm behind a filter right now.) It's been a while since I've poked around with either, but I strongly recall STVC being an expanded / more complete version of Thu'uMic.
posted by radwolf76 at 10:16 PM on July 4, 2012

Thanks, radwolf76. I took a closer look at STVC, but didn't care for their implementation of the Voice. I finally got ThuuMic working, and it is AWESOME! I really didn't use my Voice much before, but now... :) And with ThuuMic, you can shout just the level you want: "fus" for the 1st level of Unrelenting Force, "fus ro" for the second level, and "fus ro dah" for the third and most powerful level (which also takes the longest to recharge.)

*sorry about that little derail*
posted by at 11:08 PM on July 4, 2012

What the hell happened?

When you're first starting, you're confused and off balance with the various mechanics, and focusing on learning the gameplay means you don't notice the many, many problems the game has. But then, on a replay, they're all crashingly obvious. Between the amazing landscape and the novelty of the mechanics, it's hard to see at first just how poor an actual game it is.

Bioshock was that way for me, as well... the first trip through was amazing, but it had almost no replay value. It was too easy to rip the paper-thin illusion.
posted by Malor at 12:58 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm loving the Dragons Diversified mod. Instead of just the fire breathing and if breathing versions with increasing damage and hitpoints, I get fourteen different breeds of dragon, each with unique abilities and ai behaviour. Dragon attacks are finally scary again, even at high level. You don't know fear until you've had an invisible fast-moving shadow dragon toast you to a crisp at midnight in Morthal, and you realise that there's suddenly nowhere to take cover, because until the gouts of flame come belching in your direction, you have no way to know where its coming from next.
posted by talitha_kumi at 4:40 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

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