Why did I play Oblivion without mods?

  1. So that I could get a sense of how well or poorly crafted it was (verdict: poorly)
  2. So that I could figure out what mods I wanted, and appreciate them once I had them.
So here's the things I would like mods to do!
  • Fix the gameplay mechanics which are unbalanced or broken or just plain not fun, i.e. all of the gameplay mechanics.
  • Set Mehrunes' Razor as a valid Daedric artifact sacrifice for the Xarxes ritual.
  • Some kind of reasonable leniency for friendly fire incidents during battles, e.g. Defense of Bruma.
  • Prevent containers in which I have placed all of my stuff from resetting their contents, thereby forever preventing me from reclaiming my stuff
  • Turn bones into bonemeal and other general craftiness.
  • Acknowledgement of the fact that I returned that one Lady's sword. Nobody mentioned that I'd recovered it!
  • Whenever there's an NPC whose survival isn't essential (e.g. the Mythic Dawn sacrifice), some way of receiving acknowledgement (if not reward) for getting them through alive.
Oh, and someone tell me what the hell an Elder Scroll is supposed to be.

Notes as I play Oblivion

  • This guy in the cell across from me is a huge asshole. Well fuck you buddy, I'm buds with the Emperor now! I'm totally going to swim again. First body of water I see, I'm getting in. That'll show him!
  • This Emperor is a pretty chill dude considering I'm some kind of convict. On the other hand, openly prophesying one's own imminent death in front of your bodyguards is kind of insensitive.
  • Lockpicking seems to be a dick mechanic
  • I hope I get to keep the Emperor's sword when he dies in front of me, it looks pretty good.
  • How am I supposed to help these Blades when they crush all before them with such speed? Oh well, free potions for me.
  • Hey, this guy took my sweet sword! I mean I guess I got my class in return. I hope someone remembers this later.
  • Not only did he take my sweet sword, he won't let me take the Emperor's sweet shortsword! I hate this dude.
  • I think I've figured out who leaked the secret sewer escape route to the cultists: The postmen! They've delivered a ton of mail to me here. They must be so ubiquitous, no-one even thinks to keep secrets from them.
  • I should rest and meditate on what I've learned. I do not know how to rest.
  • Died for the first time. There were two dudes! Also, I am not very good at this block and swing play. Possibly should have taken marksmanship instead of blade in my custom class.
Day 2!
  • I seriously need to get better at melee combat. 6x damage for melee, sneak attack, 3x for range, no bonus for magic. No bonus for stealth fireballs disappoints me.
  • I put a bunch of the non-combat skills that are generally important in RPGs in my custom class, on the grounds that seriously you always want persuade as a class skill, but now I've remembered all those old comments about how Oblivion and Skyrim scale up combat difficulty with your class level. I see here that my class level is going to go up with all of these important non-combat skills I've picked, and I am too bad at this combat to be screwing myself over with that mechanic.
  • Maybe I should just never sleep again, so that I don't gain these levels that are going to make the game harder for me. I'm a lizard, lizards don't need sleep, right?
Day 3
  • I finally killed this goddamn Goblin. That, and the highwayman afterwards, leads me to believe that power attack / block alternation is the best I can manage.
  • A farm is defended, but a son has fallen. I figure it was scripted but possibly I could have reloaded and saved him.
  • "This reunion is going to be the happiest day of my life" haha yeah you're going to be delighted to meet your surly drunkard twin. Sure thing.
  • I have found books with background. Apparently they recount previous games in vague terms to account for player choices. bluefall tells me that there were six endings to 2 and they all happened because WILD MAGIC.
  • Selene's sword was bullshit. I'm not sure why it stopped working but thank god.
  • Siege of Kvatch. Desperately brewing potions out of my heavier ingredients to keep my weight below encumbrance. Got me out of Oblivion without having to drop a weapon. I think I'm going to see if I can get this guy through the key carrying step alive, there ought to be a bonus when this is through.
Day 4
  • I've remembered that there's a difficulty slider. This combat doesn't strike me as very fun, so down it goes!
  • I hope this Captain retains his mission critical immortality throughout the quest. He "has fallen unconscious" in every skirmish so far.
  • This room in the Castle is on fire and I'm allowed to sleep in the beds.
  • The Count's room is also on fire. Sleeping in his bed is possible, but illegal.
  • This dude likes me so much he literally gave me the shirt off his back. It's an enchanted Kvatch Curiass!
  • Oh good, Martin didn't get mugged while he waited for me outside Kvatch, alone in the rain.
  • I can't tell if this Prophet dude is sincerely impressed by the fact that I'm the hero of Kvatch, or is being sarcastic with me.
  • Oh, you have to be humble to convince him to help you. Good thing I got 3 guesses to go with the 3 options!
  • Sten! Sten the Ugly? ... You're not Sten!
  • I am so glad I visited the fighters guild, this office is full of books!
  • The best thing about this video game so far is the virtual books.
  • Brother Martin is unconscious. Good to know!
  • I have picked so many flowers, I can no longer move. Time to brew!
  • Using "alchemy" to make a "restore fatigue potion" from food ingredients sounds suspiciously like cooking soup to me. Am I a poser?
  • Oh hey, it's the the guys with vanishing arms and armor. I suppose Jauffre is going to be dead when I find him. I hope the jerks won't have made off with the MacGuffin.
  • Oh right, this dude is a Blade, and these punks ain't shit to Blades. I guess they make off with the Amulet.
  • Sweet, free horse!
  • Oh god, I accidentally shot fire at my free horse!
  • The horse seems to be fine.
  • Fuck all y'all, I'm on a horse!
  • I stopped to help some NPCs who were being attacked by bandits. Afterwards, two Imperial Legion Soldiers were shooting arrows at each other. After one died and the other ran off, I couldn't find my free horse!
  • I am never stopping to help NPCs again.
  • FREE HORSE! Let's never be separated again!
  • I thought I'd missed something, so I quickloaded. My last quicksave was like five feet outside of the Priory.
Day 5
  • I am torn between feeling like "quick travel" is a kind of cheating that is built into the game, and feeling like no sane person could ever complete this game without using it. Since my stupid quickload yesterday nullified a lot of time spent on a horse, I'm going to use it to get back to Blades HQ.
  • I am now a Spectre Blade. Free sword!
  • My free cool kid's club sword has over-encumbered me. Time for cooking alchemy!
  • Hey, advanced alchemy equipment! And I can grab anything here I want!
  • This book about "Nightingale" and Barenziah reads like someone's (mine) vague idea of a cheap romance novel.
  • These arches with Akaviri swords hanging off them are a serious earthquake hazard.
  • Ah, so this oddly un-spartan bedroom is for Martin. Curiously, I'm allowed to grab all his stuff, but they didn't forget to mark sleeping in his bed as illegal.
  • This lady just pronounced comrade "comraid."
  • I'm stuffing a bunch of crap that I figure I won't have immediate need for in a cupboard next to where I found the alchemy equipment. I hope this temple is as secure as I have been led to believe!
  • Frostcrag Spire isn't far from Cloud Ruler Temple as the crow flies, but finding the path turned out to be a bit of a hassle. Nevertheless, here I am, and that sure is the Oblivion Gate sky effect as I approach.
  • "The Kvatch mages guild is no more" :(
  • I was expecting a lot more trouble from this place.
  • Portal from Frostcrag to Imperial City: Convenient! No evidence of return portal: Not convenient. Time to quickload.
  • Checked out a random Oblivion Gate. Quickloaded midway through because I found an enchanted weapon and didn't have nearly enough spare weight. Note to self: Stash aggressively before entering a Gate.
  • These brothers are awfully glad to have the run of a ruined cottage full of human bones and rotting, toothless ogre corpses. (I took the teeth.)
  • These better be some fucking monstrous rats.
  • Ahaha, well played, Oblivion questwriters. Well played.
  • This Allesia Ottus character is hella snooty.
  • I've exhausted the Fighter's Guild quests here. Time to find the rest of those way-shrines. And by "time" I mean "tomorrow."
Day 6
  • Dumped more of my stuff in the cupboard at Cloud Ruler. Wayshrines time!
  • Only two Shrines to go. Curiously, it's the two near Anvil. I thought I'd done those.
  • Time to close an Oblivion gate! Dremora maces are ridiculously heavy. However, the enchanted ones are worth so much money. I carried two out with me. Only barely cut enough weight to walk away.
  • Where the fuck is the Arkay shrine?
  • Shouldn't Pelinal Whitestrake have got all his wondering out of the way in, like, the first century after his death? Isn't that enough time?
  • This lady gave me scrolls to help with a quest and now I can't move.
  • She also gave me a key to the LIBRARY.
  • Apparently, just looking at someone's pockets is still a crime.
  • Hey Highwayman, do you see that soldier right next to me? No? He sees you.
  • I just mistook the guard's horse for my own. Got packed off to the nearest Castle (wasn't very near at all). Quickload!
  • Ghosts want me to assemble a bunch of holy stuff so I can fight the ghost who killed a bunch of people in Anvil.
  • I was gonna stash the Holy Relics in there, but after all my stuff vanished from inside of it I don't know what to trust!
Day 7
  • Ugh okay my shit is gone this save is hosed fuck everything that isn't the main quest
  • Crazy cult books have oddly frequent paragraph breaks with big fancy letters. GREENEMPEROR, WAYWHERE.
  • Two doors outside of the mage college: Green Emperor Way. I wonder if I can sequence-break this.
  • Tomb of Prince Camril has an action, but doesn't do anything. "Come bearing four keys." Looks like I need all 4 books.
  • This dude who was buying the third volume panics easy. TOWERTOUCHES.
  • Had to reload the Mythic Dawn meet because I friendly-fired Baurus. "My killing has been observed by powers unknown." Probably has to do with The Nine faction and the Relics quests; doesn't matter now.
  • Baurus lives. Fourth book: MIDDAYSUN
  • The quest arrows seek to tempt me into Trespassing!
  • OH RIGHT, Dark Brotherhood! That must be the powers unknown.
  • Jeelus is fleeing.
  • I guess that dude wasn't supposed to make it through? I hoped that there could be a hook if you get him out of the shrine alive.
  • Thanks for the lore, Countess, but I got shit to save.
  • I hope the blacksmith's shop is open now. Gotta re-stock myself on repair hammers.
  • Hey, Keep Baurus alive, get free blades skill.
  • So I need a Daedric artifact. I wonder if Mehrunes' Razor, an official DLC item, counts for this quest. I believe it's the most dramatically appropriate item to use.
  • So "steal hit points as a touch attack" is a Restoration spell. Why would anyone need any other school of magic? And what point could there possibly be to being a vampire?
  • This armor apprentice I just murdered seems to have been a decent sort. His ostensible friend, the weapon apprentice, was a petty social-climbing asshole. Now they are both dead and it doesn't matter!
  • I would expect Vampires to be less wasteful of blood. The stuff is smeared all over the walls!
  • The Razor is not a valid sacrifice. Looks like I get to stab suckers with it!
  • I have contracted Porsomething Hemophilia.
  • So, once I'm done granting her vampiric former followers the peace of death, I hope Azura doesn't seal me in here to become a vampire and then get slain by the next dude who comes through looking for a boon.
  • The quest log says I have killed all of the vampires in the gutted mine. About that...
  • Prayed at altar at nearest temple. Through faith, my afflictions are banished!
  • So, if you serve The Nine and get bit by a vampire, you go to the nearest holy pit stop and get it cleared up. Serve Azura and get bit, you get sealed in a cave until someone gets sent to earn a favor by killing you.
  • "I won't ask what you went through to get it. I know all too well the depravity of the Princes of Oblivion." I mercy-killed some vampires, dude. Azura was cool. Not as cushy a job as serving the Nine, but neither was it a pact with evil.
  • Joffre just asked me to close a gate to Oblivion as you would ask someone to go buy groceries. "Go show the guards how it's done, they'll be able to handle it on their own from then on."
  • Okay soldiers, time to play Diablo 2: LoD save your town from an Oblivion Gate! Here's the tutorial: Step through a gate to hell, fight past the demonic servants of Baal Mehrunes Dagon, Lord of Destruction, and grab the arcane keystone of the aforementioned gate with your bare hands, causing it to collapse while you're inside. You'll be fine.
  • Captain Burd is unconscious. He got laid out by a trap.
  • One of the guards was whittled down by attrition. The other barely survived the Sigil Key bearer and was finished off by the Caitiff. I gotta learn heal other before I take another NPC along for this ride.
  • See? Just as it looks like the tower is about to burn up or explode with us inside, pow! We're out. The magic also expelled the corpses of the two fallen guards, so they can get a proper burial or something.
  • I am so sneaky goblins can run directly into me and not notice I'm there.
  • So we need a Great Sigil stone like the one they used at Kvatch? Hey good news buddy: I still have the stone I got from closing the Kvatch gate and have thereby averted the need for this very dangerous plan you are about to describe. Right?
  • Wrong.
  • Gonna get a mod for that next time around.
  • Setting a hard save before The Final Battle, on account of I didn't get any allies and that might mean some kind of Bad End. Also, my automatic backup is happening and that causes Oblivion to freeze.
Day 7
  • Friendly fire incident during the Battle for Bruma. Counted as a murder; I've paid the fine but everyone's Attitude score got set to near 0. Quest dialog is still "oh congratulations you're a hero" but the expressions are determined by attitude.
  • The smith still likes me, and that's all that matters. My enchanted Curiass is repaired and it's time to retrieve a MacGuffin.
  • Stabbed Camoran in his arrogant face with Mehrunes' Razor. Shoulda kept better track of this thing, Dagon!
  • Dagon's dagger doesn't hurt him, but he's pretty dumb when it comes to trying to kill me and Martin.
  • Martin's voice says I get to write an Elder Scroll now. Was there supposed to be some explanation of what an Elder Scroll is? I wasn't even sure that they were A Thing in the setting.
  • So I guess there's no "hero retires, roll credits" after you beat the main quest?
  • I ain't gonna sit around for two game-weeks just to get a suit I can't use. GAME OVER.

Just sticking this quote here so I don't have to google site search it again.

If it weren't already obvious, there are a lot of purse string controllers in the entertainment industries who think that you're a retard. And a neurotic racist retard at that. They seem to think that any game that doesn't have someone you can relate to (read: a white-ass pretty boy) will fill you with disgust, and that any new setting or idea beyond what you've grown used to from a thousand identikit shooters will cause you to dive under the bedclothes and moan like a fearful camel. No-one wants to take risks, despite the fact that there are plenty of weird ideas out there that someone took a risk on and which did perfectly well, like BioShock.


It's a questions meme

Leave me a comment saying "Resistance is Futile."
• I'll respond by asking you five questions so I can satisfy my curiosity. (until I get bored)
• Update your journal with the answers to the questions.
• Include this explanation in the post and offer to ask other people questions.

The following questions originate from bluefall

1. Your house is on fire. What do you save?
I'll list items in priority; the plan is to retrieve as much of the list as possible before the flames prohibit further retrieval. First up is my closed headphones. I put them on to save my ears from the shrill keening that issues from the fire alarm. (Closed headphones are earmuffs with speakers in them). Next is my external USB hard drive, then my OS install DVDs. Computer itself is too bulky to remove. Fourth priority is recovering my bowler hat. Then the wii - wiring and controllers are expendable but the console itself has data (I have one star to go before I complete Mario Galaxy. LUIGI'S PURPLE COINS WILL BE MINE. Eventually.). Finally, the old SNES I got from a friend and the all of two games I have for it. If I can get all that out before it's too dangerous, I'll grab whatever seems lightweight and expensive until it is too dangerous.
2. What's the most awesome video game of all time?
Speaking of "all time" when the greater part of time hasn't happened yet seems rather presumptuous. Well at any rate I can only speak to the relatively minuscule subset of games that I have actually played, which naturally excludes the future.
But enough of pedantic philosophizing! It's Super Metroid. I'm normally a believer in progress, not nostalgia - I think Dragon Age is a marked improvement over Bioware's previous output, I like Mario Galaxy more than 64, and if you ask me everything about World of Warcraft is better than it was at launch.
But I put Super Metroid over Zero Mission, despite the latter having tighter controls, fewer bugs, and smoother sprites. I can identify two reasons why:
1. I like a little complication. Super Metroid has a few extra widgets, you can turn abilities on or off in the pause menu, and there's the tricks you can do with power bombs.
2. The story. It's not the first thing people think of when they think about Metroid but for my money it's a much bigger deal than they realize. Super Metroid was radically mimetic 4 years before Half-Life, and it never locked you in a room to let someone exposit at you. Zero Mission largely follows Super Metroid's example, but it occasionally resorts to cutscenes. Plus, what happens in Zero Mission is pretty much exclusively violence between Samus and Space Pirates, whereas Super Metroid has The Twist. (Zero Mission does have a nod to Samus' origin story, but that's backstory.)

Honorable Mentions:
  • Chrono Trigger (for being Chrono Trigger)
  • Final Fantasy XII (for Balthier, letting a woman have the story all to herself, defying the romance subplot obligation, and immortal spirits who speak in iambic meter.)
  • World of Warcraft (it's that popular for a reason.)

3. What's your biggest pet peeve?
Single-Player RTS campaigns. They generally devolve into "build token static defense to fend off token AI offensives, grind down the enormous AI base through attrition or a supply capped blob." It's tedious and takes forever. Supreme Commander is especially egregious in this respect, as it actively punishes you for achieving objectives as soon as you are able by expanding the play area to reveal a massive enemy attack, which once destroyed leaves a constant trickle of far less fearsome attacks until you complete the next objective. I will give credit to the three missions in Forged Alliance where you have to build up a base from scratch while under fire - on hard, getting to tier 2 before the AI decides to start sending t2 units at you is an actual challenge. Still, they never move on to t3 or experimentals and given the initial enemy base they could be swarming you with t3 assault bots as soon as you gate in!

The Red Alert 3 campaigns, by contrast, were pretty good about doing at least one of putting you under reasonable time pressure, consistently attacking with a challenging degree of force, or giving you a gimmick objective with fixed forces at any given moment.
4. What are you most proud of?
I've got a knack for math and coding. It's saved me from and perpetuated my terrible procrastination habit for basically my entire academic career.
5. If you had a character class in real life, what would it be?


These guys are really good.

I've been waiting years to hear a half-decent cover of the Terran Theme and here these guys are with one that is really good. I guess I wasn't the only one; it's got something like 5 thousand views, where most of their other videos have 200 at the most.

This isn't really fair, because all of their stuff is good. They've covered the obligatory classics and fan favourites, but also a lot of unconventional choices, like Wii Shop Channel.

You really should just go listen to everything they have.

Quality of Writing in World of Warcraft

It's spotty. Most of it is serviceable quest text - nothing to write home about one way or the other. There's a few clever lines here and there ("You know this because you are psychic") and some interesting characters emerge - Latronicus Moonspear has a distinct voice, despite the fact that whoever wrote those quests had every reason to phone it in - but occasionally you'll see a true gem, or a real stinker.

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So Team Ninja is working with Nintendo on the new Metroid. The obvious reason is Ninja Gaiden, and that's okay by me as from what I've heard NG is held up as an example of legitimate difficulty in a game.

Team Ninja is also responsible for DOA and DOA: Extreme Beach Volleyball. Wherever I see this dread spectre raised in conversation, the reassuring reply is invariably "Itagaki left the studio, so no worries." The implication is that that dude was basically the driving force between making DOA(:EBV) ... well, DOA and DOA:EBV and with him gone Team Ninja is obviously going to take a mature and appropriate approach to Samus as a character.

Is laying all that at Itagaki's feet really fair? As I recall the big breakup was due to either A. Itagaki not getting paid or B. Itagaki misbehaving somehow. The upper management or rank and file being dissatisfied with jiggle-physics based game design was not a thing I heard of.

But then again I didn't follow it too closely.
kermit yay spaz

I thought E3 was dead?

Apparently nobody told Nintendo, 'cos they thought it'd be a good place to announce

  • Mario Galaxy 2

  • Sin & Punishment 2

  • Metroid Gaiden1

  • New Super Mario Bros. Wii

  • Golden Sun DS


I'm a bit anxious that having actual dialogue (MP3 had expository monologues, which in principle weren't any different from the expository scan data, but generally the spoken stuff wasn't as interesting as the written logs) is going to lead to a plot that's unavoidably bad, rather than sufficiently minimalist that you can project whatever awesome you like into the gaps. Also if you've played Metroid 4 you'll know who The Other M is, and why that's a reason for concern re:genderfail.

I wonder if Ridley is going to talk? He was quite the jabbermouth in the Manga but his characterization was hilariously flat.

From a gameplay/aesthetic perspective, it's clear that they're pushing combat and Samus Aran: Space Badass moreso than Zelda-like exploration and "One Girl In All The World." Either is a valid take on the 2D games and Retro has already explored the latter take pretty thoroughly, so for now this is a neutral observation.

1. The actual subtitle is "The other M" but the nickname is more informative.