blog moving

I’ve started a new blog at http://www.starandshadow.wordpress.com   If you would like to continue reading, please update your links, readers etc :)

I will not be updating this blog anymore, although I will be keeping an eye on it and the posts will remain.

I have transferred some posts over to my new blog – the cook’s guild repast spreadsheet, some useful info posts, the red maid series and the sindarin series.

I’ve moved for a few reasons.  Firstly, I am now getting a lot of spam comments to deal with (even though Akismet saves me from loads), I don’t really want an audience of spammers ;)  Secondly, as this blog is now over 4 years old and was something of a learning process, I have hundreds of posts and screenshots all organised very badly…  Finally, the change from blogging about EQ2 to LoTRO meant I lost focus with what I wanted from writing a blog.  Really I want a place to share screenshots and details of my adventures.  I do occasionally write something that others find useful and I’ll continue posting anything I do like that.  I will also carry on sporadically adding entries to the sindarin and red maid series.

See you all over at the new site :)

2012 roundup

I usually do a roundup of my gaming activities around this sort of time, I suppose I may as well this year too ;)  The 22nd of this month will also mark the 4th anniversary of this blog.  Good grief – 4 years of wittering ;)  anyway, onto the roundup…

Team Orange wearing their spiffy orange outfits ;)

Team Orange wearing their spiffy orange outfits

MMOs
I am still having a lot of fun in lotro (especially with team orange), there are niggles (store + grind) but its where my friends are and its a visually gorgeous, lore rich game.  I expect to be spending most of my MMO time there in 2013.  The only other current contenders are EQ2 and Vanguard on F2P terms.  EQ2 just holds nostalgia and a superb housing / decoration system and Vanguard, well I’d just really like to explore there more.

Single Player Games:
Spent my other gaming time either in Skyrim or Minecraft.  Both great games and this year I will probably also play some Morrowind and I’ve just found Towns (on Steam) which is a fun, addictive, city builder.  There is new content for Skyrim on the horizon and talk of Dragon Age 3 to keep my eye out for too.

The Hobbit:
We went to see this yesterday.  We really, really enjoyed it.  Yes it is a bit long and the addition of Azog did seem a bit unnecessary.  Surprise shock was that I ended up really liking Radagast – bearing in mind I can’t stand Sylvester McCoy as an actor (he ruined Doctor Who for me :P).  As Radagast though, thought he was superb.  Looking forward to the next film.

We do also have Lego Star Wars and Lego Lord of the Rings to play on the PS3 with our littlun.  Both games are a lot of fun, though Star Wars is still his favourite.  We also treated ourselves to new 23″ WS monitors for the desktops, as I was sick of the UI clutter (MMOs) taking up most of the screen.  I cannot believe the difference it has made!  As well as the UI elements taking up much less space (proportionally as well as actually), its as though we have turned the graphics settings up a notch – wasn’t expecting that difference!

Happy New Year :)

august challenge ~ part 2

Ambermist’s latest challenge and July’s recap can be found here.  The challenge is, what do you keep and why?

Part 2 ~ Collecting

As for collecting, I do…  books and bows mostly.

I collect bows as I tend to get quite attached to them, they are the defining characteristic of the type of class I play and generally the best bows available have a high level of challenge in order to get them.  Rain Caller in EQ2 was the result of a Signature quest which I managed to do on level with the help of my Guild, the Ghostly Bow of Bylze was part of an extremely long quest chain, to gain my Mythical bow Eagle’s Talon I had to raid in some very difficult and very scripted raid fights.  Obviously as you level and expansions are released you have new challenges and new bows to get so I was really happy I could make my old bows into house items and display them.  They end up being a visual reminder of past achievements which show your development and history within the game.

Collecting books in games really reflects my love of reading in real life. I would love a proper library but its not possible so I make do with virtual game libraries ;)

I sorely miss this in lotro.  I would love to be able to have books displayed in my house and weapons on the wall but its not possible with their housing system.  I have sort of replaced those with cosmetic items and horses in lotro, but its not the same and I don’t really care about it as much.

Having said that about outfits, I do collect them to a certain degree.  I generally put together an outfit which says hunter-ranger-sneak thief to me and then mostly stick with it or update within the theme.  I don’t really go for girly outfits, I occasionally stick a dress on a character for a change but it tends to be quite short lived and I go back to my favourite hunting outfit.  Even so, my wardrobe and house storage in lotro are still bursting at the seams with cosmetic items that I *might* use one day…..  When I saw my favourite outfits from the three games below, I suddenly realised that really I’m going for the same look no matter the game…

my trio of bow-wielding wood elves :

so there you have it.  A gamer with a stuffed-full inventory and a penchant for bows and books.  Could be worse I spose :D

august challenge ~ part 1

Ambermist’s latest challenge and July’s recap can be found here.  The challenge is, what do you keep and why?  I ended up writing so much, I’ve had to split into two posts :P sorry…

Part 1 ~ Inventory management

I try very hard to keep my inventory manageable in games but usually fail miserably…  Out of EQ2, Lotro and Skyrim I’ve so far found Lotro the easiest, as you have so little space you just have to be ruthless.  So what do my storage slots usually hold?

  • gear – either situational or for alts to grow into
  • consumables – food, potions, poison, temp buffs and the like
  • shinies!  (eq2)
  • appearance gear (this is my worst offender in lotro)
  • house items
  • pets (if available in game)
  • crafting mats
  • legendary items and items for blowing up (lotro) or gear to be muted/used for other crafting needs (skyrim, eq2)
  • odd, nostalgic or unique can never get again items…. like Gandalf’s pipe in lotro, Falmer eye in Skyrim,
  • *stuff* for alts

I think this is fairly standard for most gamers and managing these items in game can be pretty tricky.  It is scary if you ever have a break from a game, open up your inventory and bank slots and WTF?! what is all this stuff?!

eq2 inventory
this is *just* my bank storage in eq2… this isn’t including house storage or inventory…

In fact returning to a game and trying to sort out your inventory can be so offputting that it can seem easier to start a new character.   After putting in around 80 hours in Skyrim from Nov to Jan this year, I then went on a break from the game until a month or two ago.  I looked at my character, I tried to remember where I was up to, I looked at her inventory and wondered why I was carrying all this stuff.  I went to what I thought was her main house and found it empty.  At this point, I just thought…. no…. no…. I just cannot pick up from where I left off and the thought of trying to track down her gear (spread across 5 or 6 houses) and then figure out what to do with it was too much….  So I started again.  A new bow wielding sneak thief….  I have now backtracked and started sorting out my first character.  It turns out my whiterun house was for smithing, my riften house for alchemy, my solitude house for general loot and displayage of weapons, markarth for enchanting…  stupid stupid stupid system!!  I’ve now downloaded the mod house The Reserve which has tons of storage, all crafting needs and many display areas – in short, its perfect for a packrat like me ;)

No matter the game though, I tend to be very nerdy about it all and have different boxes, slots etc, organised by type.  I keep stuff until I don’t have room and then have a purge.  I would like to say that I only keep stuff I truly need but clearly I don’t… A lot of stuff is kept ‘just in case’, and of course I never need it…

skyrim: mods and build

There are so many cool mods out there, Rakuno published a great list which I need to check out properly and Ocho also has listed his top 10 mods.  *Edit* Ravanel has also listed the mods she uses.  All 3 lists are definitely worth checking out.  I only have a few mods installed as I am over-cautious and worry about overloading my system and whether or not mods will clash with each other…

Mods:

  1. Better Females by Bella (core packs) by Teleportdactyl (original mod on nexus by BellaGail)  Its not a look I usually go for but I don’t particularly like the standard wood elf model.
  2. The Reserve by Lixthe  gorgeous home with everything you need
  3. Build Your Own Home by Supernastypants its just a lot of fun!
  4. Automatic Perks by Mecha Gamera  (CHEAT mod) Basically if you have levelled a skill and are entitled to a perk, you gain it.  You don’t have to wait and skill up one perk per level.  Yes it is slightly overpowered but given the amount of hours I’ve played, I felt justified ;)
  5. Salt Pile Crafting by SHiLLySiT  Make salt from mudcrab chitin.  Its just nice to have another source of salt rather than scavenging for it.
  6. More Rain by Zappoo  
  7. Better Dynamic Snow by DMP
  8. Arrowsmith: Vanilla Edition by Samutz A must for archers.

I think most of these mods are available on nexus too, I use the Steam workshop currently but I may go back to using the nexus mod manager.

Some screenshots of before and after screenies of Better Females, some Build Your Own Home shots (am still building the home) and a few from The Reserve (there are more rooms and facilities outside that I didn’t take screenies of):

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Playstyle:

I thought people might be interested in how I set my character up.  I play a sneaky, bow-wielding thief type.  I use my bow exclusively, even at short range (the only time I use melee weapons are either if my bow is disarmed and I don’t have a backup or against ice wraiths who are hard to hit with a bow).   I also don’t really use magic…  although having a few healing/conjuring spells and stock of scrolls can be handy.  I use the Shouts though (and normally, as I press Z for Fus do Rah or the turn to ice shout, I hope I haven’t got Whirlwind Sprint active :P)  I never use a companion, it doesn’t quite work with my playstyle and I just don’t really like it… I like being on my own :)

This is the great thing about Skyrim, there are so many ways to play and build your character, and they all work :)

The Thieves Guild questline is, in my opinion, the best questline in the game.  The characters are great and really well-voiced, there are twists and turns, lots of sneaking AND lots of sneaking with Brynjolf and Karliah and you end up with 3 sets of great sneaky gear.  I love the atmosphere of the Thieves Guild, it plays into the gentleman thief stereotype (no killing – bad for business ;)) or the old east end stereotype – bit naughty but their hearts are in the right place.

Back in the day, when I played Daggerfall I used to be a light armoured melee type (and levitate! I miss levitate!), Morrowind I was still meleeing but started using the bow a lot more and then in Oblivion, I finally found my calling and started properly down the sneak thief route.  It still feels a bit wrong when I walk around town in my thieves guild gear and I’m not kill on sight…  It was fantastic though when I found the bust of the Gray Fox in Skyrim!

Perks:

I get my health to a level where I’m surviving enough (200 is usually my first goal), then I bump up endurance so I can carry more and zoom with my bow for longer.  I will put some points into mana, so I can cast some last-resort panic spells.  Then carry on health > endurance > mana

I have now started using the Perk Cheat (listed above) but the perks that follow are easily achievable without resorting to a cheat.  I’ve only been using the cheat for the last few days and I already had my main trees sorted, so for me, its just given a boost to speech and crafting.  I prioritise the Archery, Sneak and Lockpicking trees, and will get those levelled first.

Archery tree:  I max out this tree.

Sneak tree:  I max out Stealth, Muffled Movement, Backstab – to get to next perk~>Deadly Aim.  I don’t find the rest of the sneak tree to be particularly useful (I like to setoff traps and lure enemy in, the roll looks very cool but erm doesn’t seem to have any actual benefit)

Lockpicking:  I max out all except for Locksmith (picking locks isn’t that difficult esp with the other perks) and Unbreakable (this skill would be more useful at beginning when picks are limited, by the time you get to it I tend to have picks coming out of my ears)

Pickpocket:  I just spend enough points to get to Extra Pockets which increases your carrying capacity by 100

Light Armour:  I tend to just spend in Agile Defender and Custom Fit as I prioritise damage.

Those are my core trees.  Once I know I have enough perks to do the above I’ll look at other trees such as Speech or Restoration.  For crafting, I would put points into alchemy first, then enchanting and then smithing.  Reason being, that potions are always useful, being able to enchant your looted gear is also useful.  You can make some awesome gear with smithing but… I find the game isn’t difficult with the quested or looted gear you gain so its not a huge deal for me.

So, what mods do you use and how do you build your character?

little by little, one travels far

Sorry, this is going to be a screenshot bare update as I don’t really have access to my PC at the moment (family staying :)), Avast is reporting malware from a Steam update (false positive I think, although Avast definitions are up to date), the .bmp screenshots are saying they are corrupt and I can’t open them and I just don’t have time to sort it all out :(

So I’ve been back playing Skyrim after a fairly long break.  Scarily I’ve now put in about 160 hours on the game and I’m still not bored or anywhere near finishing it ;)  After playing around with a couple of new characters (still bow wielding sneak thieves!) I’ve gone back to my original character to try and sort out where I’m up to quest-wise and I’ve now braved the shite spread across her 6 houses and am currently consolidating into one crippling monthly repayment,   a mess , a new house.  I will be posting on the inventory side of things for Ambermist’s latest challenge so I will say no more here.

I’ve also downloaded quite a few new mods (last time I played, the Steam Workshop had only just released I think) and they are proving to be a lot of fun.  I’m currently using the better roads and maps and SkyUI (which I had installed early on via the Nexus site) but now I also have Better Females (not entirely to my taste but stops my female wood elf from looking like a man ;)), The Reserve (a stunningly beautiful house which has everything you might need), the Build Your Own House mod (fun!), a couple of graphics enhancers, arrow crafting and erm a cheat…  Its basically a mod which gives you the perks you are entitled to based on skill level rather than the standard one perk per level.  Its slightly overpowered but I think I’ve put enough hours in by now to justify it ;)  I can’t remember the name and I can’t currently look it up – sorry (but search for perks under cheats and you should find it).

I’m currently deciding what to do next.  I’m thane in all available cities, halfway through the dragon shout questline, halfway through the main questline (sided with the imperials), guild master of the thieves guild and am archmage of the magic college (which is ironic given how little I use magic).  I may skill up the crafting and work on filling/completing the two new houses and just carry on dungeon running and exploring for now.

We played lotro on Saturday evening and had a lot of fun finally doing the Culling Pit quests with Team Orange (that’s my hunter, Dimzad’s RK and Aeowulf’s warden!  Aeo came up with the name….) and then doing Saruman’s armPits Pits of Isengard on T2 challenge.  We were successful but because Aeo and I popped out between kills, our quests reset so we’ll have to do it again to get the deed.  Its pretty easy once you get past Zaburz (sp?) which is quite hectic but fun.  Hopefully we’re grouping again on Wednesday night :)  I feel like I ought to be working on my Limlight Gorge faction, but with the expansion so close there does seem little point in grinding for level 75 gear.  I do want to try and push Mallendis to 75 though, as she is my Cook and it would be great if she could get the faction recipes.  She’s currently level 58 so it is possible….  I’m not intending grouping with her, although occasionally it might be fun :)

I haven’t had time or the mental energy to look at the new festival though.  There are a couple of cosmetic pieces I would like to get so hopefully I’ll get time in the week to check it out.

I may also have to pause the Tale of the Red Maid posts, August is a horrendously busy month and they are not in a fit state to publish as yet.  I will see how it goes and will try to get them out if I can.