Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Escape and adventure

Turns out the guy who got me arrested had informed the imperial guards that I was a "Stormcloak", some kind of rebel in Skyrim. I was put on a cart to Helgen where I was scheduled to be executed, along with some strangers, one of whom was actually Ulfrich Stormcloak himself, the leader of the rebellion in Skyrim.

After arriving at the imperial bastion of Helgen, I had little hope of escaping and figured that everything was over by now. One of the guys from my cart tried to escape and was promptly shot in the back, discouraging that idea. By the time it was my head on the chopping block, the most incredible thing happened! A dragon from the old legends showed up and attacked the town! In the ensuing chaos, I managed to escape the area and evade the dragon, even though I nearly got burned a few times... What a horrible creature!

I suppose I should be thankful, however, as I would have been dead if it didn't show up when it did. It's almost suspeciously well-timed but who am I to argue? Still, I've attempted to sketch one out, in case someone wanted to see what they look like:

After my near-death experience, I decided to go to Riverwood, a nearby village where I could offload the stuff I managed to pick up from dead Imperials along the way and learn a little bit about Skyrim. I kept a couple of maces for myself and managed to pick up a few spells like Spark, Flames and Conjure Familiar. While in Riverwood I learned the location of Winterhold, where I could enter into the College to better understand my magical talents. However, I also learned that a local trader had lost a golden claw of some value, which was taken to an old temple on top of a small mountain nearby. I decided to put my College ambitions on hold for a little while, as I figured that I needed more practice, plus I really wanted to have a look inside the temple itself. My curiosity is strong and occasionally lead me to trouble, yet it is a feeling I must obey.

The temple looked very impressive, worthy of a sketch to show I was there:

Inside and around the temple were a bunch of bandits, whom I dispatched with relatively little trouble, as I had a good chance to practice my magical abilities during my escape from Helgen. However, I hadn't gone far into the temple before a disturbing, yet not entirely uncommon sight met me: A walking dead, locally known as a Draugr:

The smell of death surrounds them and their blue eyes are frightening. I knew it had to be put down, as no ancestor of mine deserved a fate like this. It turned out that most of the temple was filled with these things and they were all hostile. However, the worst thing I encountered in there was a gigantic spider, which had taken the thief of the claw as its next meal. He was still alive and complaining, although strung up in a web, by the time I had killed the creature. At his request I cut him loose and as a reward, he decided to taunt me and run off, speaking of some sort of treasure in the temple. I gave chase, only for him to turn hostile, meaning I had to kill him. He had the claw on his person and a journal speaking about some sort of treasure behind a door at the bottom of the temple.

Although now in possession of the claw, I chose to continue exploring since I was already there, and I did indeed find such a door, with strange markings that could be rotated, along with a slot for the claw to fit in. The solution was carved onto the claw itself, so the puzzle was hardly a challenge. Expecting to be challenged to open a door if you have the key is a little bit silly, now that I think about it, but such was my thoughts at the time. Inside the area was a large rock wall with some strange words carved into it and when I approached, one of these words seemed to speak to me. I had no idea what it truly meant but I did keep it in mind for a later point in time.

There was also a very strong draugr in a coffin, which I managed to kill after a tough battle, and it had some good gear on its person, along with a weird stone tablet. For someone magically inclined as myself, the things weren't useful as such, but it WAS quite valuable. I put the things in my bag, so I could sell them the next time I'm in a larger settlement. I went back to Riverwood to collect my reward and I am now preparing to set out for Whiterun, a large nearby city, where I have been tasked to inform the Jarl of the dragon attack...

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Character and oppinion so far

Well, here's a screenshot of my character. Skyrim is eating up a good chunk of my time but there will be some blogging to come. The events will obviously be somewhat behind what happens "live" in-game (otherwise, his first diary entry will cover exploring half the map, joining the College, becoming arch mage, slaying dragons with barely a scratch on him and so on) but I am taking plenty of screenshots for his artistic images and to remind myself of what happened.

The game is extremely awesome and it suffers from surprisingly little "consolitis", as I call it. Sure, some sorting could be nice, and in some cases a different menu layout, but it's a very well done port IMO. I did have to switch hands (left click defaults to right hand and right click defaults to left hand because you must always be right handed for some reason and because it's the natural PC scheme for attack/block) as well as switch Sneak for Sprint. The Favorite Menu also works well as long as you limit the contents a little bit: A quick tab of Q and you're in business.

The only thing that sometimes annoys me is the Bethesda classic where the dungeon is easy and the boss is ridiculous. I'm not going to spoil anything but the boss of the second-to-last College quest was far more than a level 15 mage with no potions could handle, even though the remaining 99% of the dungeon was a cakewalk. I did end up cheesing my way through it by exploiting some pillars, positioning bugs and magicka regen but I think the boss alone took me an hour to beat :P

My favorite thing so far, mechanically, has to be the magic: It finally works and it works very, very well. It works so well, in fact, that my guy is likely to reject the teachings of his father until a later point in the game. Most of the melee experience will be saved for my Paladin. I was also pleasently surprised that my favorite bit of Solitude related lore was in the game, in form of a quest, and all I could think was "no way" when I realised that it was definitely happening.

Finally, I can't stress how much more immersive than Oblivion this game is. The extra voice actors mean that even though you're likely to hear a few repeated ones every now and then, you hardly notice it because many people in the village or city has a different voice. This game is GOTY, all year, every year :P

Some sneak previews, though no spoilers:

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Preload available!

Well, I simply wanted to announce that preloading is well on its way on Steam. That and throw my loose concept for a second character out there while I'm here:

Name: Chrysanta
Race: Imperial
Gender: Female
Age: 26
Profession: Paladin
Skill focus: Heavy armor, Block, One-hander, Restoration, Smithing, Enchanting.

Chrysanta, born and raised in the Imperial city, comes from a well-off but not particularly prominent family. Her father is a merchant and her mother is a former soldier in the Imperial army, giving her a firm basis when it comes to fighting and diplomacy. She has always wanted to be a Paladin, also known as a Crusader, because she believes that magic should be used for healing and that the Empire must regain its lost strength.

She joined the army when she was 16 years old, where she underwent the same rigerous training her mother did. She is quite skilled with both mace and sword, while also being quite good at blocking with a shield. She was stationed in Chorrol, a fairly quiet area, where she picked up smithing and enchanting, since a good warrior knows how to maintain his or her gear and that Paladins should know how to infuse magic to their weapons. The undead won't slay themselves, after all, and it's quite easy to get stuck in areas where a professional blacksmith and enchanter isn't around.

While she doesn't have any hatred for most of the undead, as they are simply cursed, it is an important part of her job to rid the world of them. This world is meant for the living, not the dead, and she has often accompanied archeologists or provided assistance to adventurers who enter areas that likely contain old tombs. One day, she returned to her station and found a brand new set of orders: A civil war has broken out in Skyrim and the Empire doesn't wish to have yet another region seccede, especially one with such wealth and power. Thus she and some fellow soldiers stationed in Chorrol were ordered to go to Solitude, an Imperial bastion in Skyrim, as reinforcements.

They set out for Skyrim but it wasn't long until they were set upon by rebels. Unable to defeat the rebels, she was captured and scheduled for execution. Hopefully she will find a way out of that situation, as she doesn't wish to dissapoint her parents by being captured and killed so easily.

Well, I was a bit bored and given the many undead we've seen in the trailers, I wanted to do a proper paladin who would heal the injured and slay the undead. Of course, this journal will still be about my other character but it's fun to post other concepts as well :P 

Friday, 4 November 2011

Artistic Talent...

I wanted to do a small test of how one could make a "realistic" drawing from in-game footage and hopefully I succeeded. Of course, my character picture will be in full color and such, once the game is released, but I figured it would be nice if my character had the ability to draw certain characters or locations as a visual aid in the journal.

For the Photoshop-inclined, the technique was extremely simple:

1) Open the desired image in Photoshop

2) Go to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate.

3) Copy the image onto a new layer (you can drag the current layer to the "new layer" button in the bottom to do it quickly).

4) Select the top layer and go to Image > Adjustments > Invert

5) Now, while still having the top layer selected, go to the layer panel where it should say "Normal" and change that to "Color Dodge". By doing that, your image should turn completely white, perhaps with a few black spots.

6) Go to Filter > Other > Minimum. This will pretty much turn it into a sketch. You'll have to decide for yourself how accurate the sketch is, by adjusting the radius. The closer to 1 it is, the closer it is to the original photo.

In my case, I merged the two layers and added a parchment background to fit the layout of my blog. I could probably also have done some sort of border to make it fit better but I just wanted this little tutorial up for people to see. I got it from this excellent little video on youtube:

Most of you probably recognise the picture I used for the sketch, and if you don't, here it is:

Tuesday, 1 November 2011


Here's a small backstory I quickly typed out about the first character I plan to play, once the game starts, and whose journal we'll be following. I have yet to decide on his looks, as I want to play around with the character creation. Also, being from a Nordic country myself, the whole Blonde/Blue Eyes thing gets boring quickly, since it's about as unique as a LEGO block around these parts. Funny thing is that my real name would be a great Skyrim name, since it's properly nordic (in fact, two of my four names are straight from viking times) but it irks me a little bit to see, plus I prefer my gamer-name. Anyway, on with it:

Name: Zinn
Race: Nord
Gender: Male
Age: 25
Profession: Battlemage
Hometown: Bruma

Proficiencies: Maces, various types of magic.

Born and raised in Bruma, Zinn lived a fairly normal life, helping his parents run their magic shop. His father, a renowned fighter back in the day, trained Zinn in the peculiar style of dual-wielding maces. It is a fighting style that requires a very offensive mindset, as defensive capabilities are limited and blocking is difficult. One day, Zinn found out that he also possessed magical skills while playing around with some spells in the back of the shop: He accidentally summoned an imp, which wreaked havoc in the storage, and despite his training with maces he was unable to kill it quickly. When hearing the ruckus, his father rushed in and took care of the imp.

Upon hearing that Zinn was able to cast the spell from memory, rather than using a scroll, his parents decided that he must venture to their homeland, Skyrim, and join the College of Winterhold for proper training. Magic can be dangerous when you can't control it and accidents when trying to cast a spell can be very serious in nature, harming innocents along with the caster. The reason why his parents decided to send him to Skyrim is that the Mages Guild was dissolved after the Oblivion Crisis and that joining either Synod or the College of Whispers could be politically charged and force their child to make choices he shouldn't have to. Besides, Zinn possessed some of his father's fighting skills and could certainly take care of a few stray wolves on his journey to Winterhold.

On his way to Skyrim, in a village near the border, Zinn ran into a girl named Sif: She was actually an old friend of his who used to live in Bruma but chose to move close to the Skyrim border, so she'd be able to visit her family in a small village a few miles into the neighbouring country. It turned out that she was heading into Skyrim and asked if Zinn would provide an escort, so they could catch up on what has happened in the last few years. Zinn accepted and they set out for Skyrim.

Short before the actual border, the two of them were attacked by 5 bandits who had crossed into Cyrrodil. Zinn and Sif did a good job of fighting them off, Zinn using his maces and summoning, while Sif used her bow. Suddenly, an arrow zipped past Zinn and struck Sif in the head, killing her instantly. Enraged by the death of his friend, Zinn finished off the second-to-last bandit and chased after the archer, crossing into Skyrim. Unfortunately, the archer had reached the border patrol and told the harrowing tale of how Zinn had slaughtered his friends and Sif, the girl they were escorting to Cyrrodil. In a turn of events no one could have expected, the remaining bandit was from a neighbouring village to Sif's and knew her name and routines. Thus the guards took his words over Zinn's and brought him in, scheduled to be executed.

Zinn now needs a way to escape, find the bandit behind his execution and to get into the College of Winterhold to control his magical talents. He knows the latter is possible, as no one in Skyrim knows who he is, but the first two will be tricky. However, an opportunity to escape might just present itself on the day of his execution...

Yeah, I'm not exactly a stellar writer, since English is my second language (well, technically 4th, but Swedish and Norweigan barely count - at least for reading). Also, as a sidenote, I'll keep his journal in purple and my OOC stuff in black, for easy distinction. I might still screw around with the blog, as I just set it up, but I hope I'll remember keeping it up.

And yes, I'll add a picture of my character when I have made him :)