Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Faulty Code Towers: Bitches get Glitches

It's that time again!  Hold on to your butts ladies and germs, we got a wild one today!

Before we go off on our adventure, I'd like to address the nature of glitches within Skyrim for a few of you.  I'm not insinuating any of you are dumb and don't know what a glitch is, but humor me, for the folks who haven't the foggiest why this nonsense is happening.

See, Bethesda's been doing this for a while now.  And bless'em, they're really good at it.  Except their games pretty much since Oblivion onward (Oblivion, Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas, Skyrim, etc) all have the same problem; they're very. and I mean very large in scope.  Skyrim's overworld map is roughly 37 square kilometers' of terrain, mostly of it navigable.  There's a few bits here and there like geometry-wise you can't cross because mountainous borders here and there.  This doesn't take into account either the actual dungeon maps, so the place is huge.

Now here's where the problems start to occur.  Take this big map, and put a dungeon there.  The player hasn't gone in yet, so the game has everything set to 'default' within that specific dungeon.  Player's only level 1 anyways, and has the clothes on their back and a rusty dagger.  Not much to their name, but what they lack in swag they make up for in pure gumption.

So our fearless player goes through that there dungeon, kills all the rats, loots all the chests, knocks over all the calipers and cloth bolts and brooms, essentially either picking up / moving everything there is that is in there that can be interacted with.  And then they move on, with a bit more to their name, and level 2.

Now smash cut 28 levels later, when the player has repeated this pattern 75 times to gain the required experience to be level 30.  The game has had to keep track since that very first dungeon a full list of what is there in that dungeon still, where it is, what was taken, where those items are now, etc.  Save files become bigger and bigger and bigger to a point where poor lil'Skyrim's computing engine gets confused.

This is why I love these games on a PC.  Because the Playstation 3 and to a lesser extent the XBox 360 versions suffer from near-fatal memory leaks with every increasing hour played in the game, my computer's built (see: Frankenstein'd) to withstand a good beefy session and then some.  I've logged in roughly 135 hours so-far with Skyrim, across a few playthroughs.  My first character (A Nord mage) I sank in 75 hours alone within the first week.  I'm probably around the 50 hour mark with this run.

This means I've got a ticking timebomb worth 50 hours of random number strings just itching to pop something weird at me.  And today?  I think it begins.

Here comes the weird.


SO.  Florentius asked me a favor because regardless of how awesome Arkay is to him and how Arkay is all-mighty and all-powerful and all-knowing he's also all-talk.  Someone's got to make the donuts 'round here.   Bring home the bacon.  Flo (I'ma call him Flo from now on until I forget somewhere further down this post and/or later on.  whatever.)  Flo see, he's got this buddy.  Buddy 'name of Lucan.  Lucan is a friend of his and needs to be recruited or whatever.  Flo isn't too hands-on as to WHY Lucan is special, only that 

1) Lucan needs a-rescuin'.
2) There's also a vampire there, and hey WHEN IN ROME.

So off I go then!  

New tennants?


 I've been here before!  I even cleared it out of highway bandits!  Seriously!  Like 16 episodes ago!  Also: new armor?  OOOOH.  I'm gonna beat him up tenderly just on principle that I want his threads.  I am a voracious and aggressive fashionista, always looking to meld haute couture with form and functionality.  Why punch people dressed in rags, when you can punch people with style and flare!

Lemme hear ya say: Hunh..nah nah nah nah NAH.


This specific set-piece is pretty cool; its a semi-ruined tower overlooking two cliffs and a raging river below. Before I rescue good ol' Lucan, I decided to have fun.  By dragonshouting the master vampire and a few of his cronies off the bridge to a plummeting doom.  Only the vampire survived!

But I need it for strategic living purposes!


Well 'survived' is a loose term; technically undead, a few seconds later just dead.  I managed to loot his dust after his body kind of drifted away down river.  Well then; time to go get Lucan unkidnapped.

I did.  I'm special like that.  You probably were.  You're welcome.


Whew.  I need me some apple dumplings.  Time to head on to the ol' homestead, see what Lydia's been up to these da--

SONOVABITCH.


Goddamn wolfpack attacking my livestock!  GO HORSE GO!

THERE IS ONE THEY FEAR.  HIS NAME: DOHVACOW.


Even Mr. Macmoo got in on the action!  I mean it.  My cow rammed the crap out of the 2nd wolf after my horse killed the first one.  Why?  Because the wolves dared kill one of my chickens.  Normally these animals flee conflict, like the elks, rabbits, foxes and deer roaming Skyrim's lands.  But the game suddenly decided they'd had ENOUGH.  Glitch #1.

IRON BEAR ARMOR
 So I decide to try out that bandit chief's equipment; not bad!  The accompanying weapons would look good too, but I've my bargain to honor here.  Oh well.  Gonna catch a few Zzz's then head on out to do something for Sorine.  She needs me to fetch some plans agai--

Mannequin 2: On the MoveOH GOD I'M SORRY I DID THAT JOKE.


So y'know.  Mannequin.  Just floating there.  off of its pedestal there in the background.  No reason, just floating.  I swear if the plot of land they sold me is haunted...  Oy.   Glitch #2.

Where did you come from!?


What the; I evicted you!  No seriously, I did! OK Game's just randomly generating dead people back to life.  Fine I'll just kill'em again.  No problem.  Glitch #3.

SURPRISE!


And then this guy materializes out of THIN AIR the second I kill the necromancer AGAIN.  Glitch #4.

Whatever.  Now that the universe has started conspiring against me, and that I've sufficiently stood up to its challenges; time to go get whatever bullshit plans Sorine wants.  The map marker leads me to this cave, despite that the dwemer ruins are further up the mountain range.  Maybe there's a tunnel?  who knows.

Spooky-ooky!
Aaaaand he's floating halfway through the log.   Great.


And Glitch #5.  Corpse is 'floating' as if it were adrift the water, but also half-stuck through the wooden beam.  The area is weird because there's no enemies yet, just that corpse.  Usually quests like these tend to have a few guys around to act as a distraction or whatever.  I press on, down that cloying and moist tunnel.  (Awwww yeah.)

I've been found out!
Swirly; medieval-style!
EXTREME BAPTISM: In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Fist.


It's a dead end.  Well, sort-of.  Tunnel takes me to this giant cavern-like room with a waterfall, and a tunnel above it that leads further down into the mountain.  Except its just a straight vertical wall here.  Nothing to climb.  So the map marker effectively lead me the wrong way.  Glitch #6.

Even worse: I push up against the wall, and start jumping around looking for maybe a pressure switch of sorts; manage to 'climb' the SHEER VERTICAL ROCK WALL COVERED IN WATER 'UP'.  and get into the tunnel.  Glitch #7.  Turns out this is the 'Exit' of the dwemer ruins, and I should've came out this way, rather than enter. How'd I find this out?  The second I opened the door at the end of the waterfall tunnel, a chest was there with the bolt plans, but it clearly extended out into a full on dwemer ruin section.

Screw it, I'm not going out the front door.  'sides I got some mining to do.

YAIE YAIE.  MOON ROCKS.


Can't have enough moonrocks.  I mean just on principle.  So I head back to Fort Dawnguard to tell Flo that his boy Lucan be totes on the rescued.  This is what he had to say to me.

Oh?  I kill dragons with my bare hands for a living.  Tell me how badass you are again?


Whatever.  He says there's another vampire out there (YA DON'T SAY!) who is amassing a band of bandits into a ragtag crew of sellswords, under the promise of great power if they obey.  Essentially an army of dimwitted pawns.  Bravo.  We can't have that, so I head on out there.

Nice scenery, well-lit from sunlight.  PERFECT vampire hideout.


As I approach the tower, my objective suddenly dings "Defeat the master vampire."  I mean ok cool, but I'm not even THERE yet.  Sure enough I find the dude there, dead.

Did he jump off the building to avoid being murdered?


I mean its a legit question; is this groundbreaking AI, or bogged down programming?  Its the latter, unfortunately; (Glitch #8!) as this guy was hanging around for some reason.

Don't mention biting my kneecaps, dude.  they're filled with arrow shrapnel.


This cultist; this RANDOM cultist just so happened to walk by the tower at the same time as I was heading here, and decided to go to town on the bandits.  Crazy.  I kill him though, because he's pretty much attacking me on-sight.  He also is a dark elf!  Hey!  I need his blood for that thing with the crazy giant dwarf cube guy!

He's also the LAST blood sample I need!  Coincidence or not, I'm now super excited to see what's inside that thing.  Back to the glacier we go!

Bloody Marys, Bloody Caesars, Bloody... mixtures.  Eew.
 Septimus is nutso.  So he makes the drink, pours it in the machine, and it opens up like the goddamn Lament Configuration it is, but instead of Pinhead popping out, torn-out nipples and all, the giant cube just VORP!s inside-out and there's a tunnel in there.  Its clearly larger on the inside than the outside.  Ancient dwemer technology... Timelords!?  YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST, FOLKS.

Never judge a book by its cover's smiting-ability.  No wait.  ALWAYS judge a book by that standard.


Anyways.  He tries to take the Oghma Infinium, and prompty gets zapped into dust.  At this point, I don't care.  I'm just going to take the book back to the Moth Priest, alongside the Elder Scroll, and he can pick which one he wants to read.

Euuuugh.  Swirling evil God-poop.


Not this bozo again.  He's glad that Septimus is dead, and wants me to take the crazy-book to one of his followers, so we can get this show on the road.  he even claims that the book itself is his own writings.  Whatever buddy.  I say 'sure' just so he can let me by.  I have no itention of giving up the book, if only so I have another Daedra-cult to slaughter.  Back to the office.

See now you're just straight goofin'.


Oh Dexion.  Go home.  You are drunk.  (Glitch #9!)

DOGGY DOGGY DOGGY DOG DOG


 I can actually recruit these guys!?  WHY DIDN'T GUNMAR TELL ME.  WHAT THE HELL.  This is awesome!  Gonna have me a vampire-huntin' dog named G√ľnther.

I AM SPARTAKIIN.


Well, that's it for now!  I leave you all with the random event that triggers the newest DLC: Dragonborn!  Where we get to revisit Morrowind in some amount, and find out more about the very first Dohvakiin!  Miraak!  Why's it always gotta be cults?  I hate cults!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Gleaming the Dwemer-Cube: Falmer's Market

Greetings, sportsfans!

It's that time again; Monday morning, you're just in to work/class/not-a-job, and have to sift through all those emails/social media posts/reddits, and y'know what I don't blame you.  I'd rather be fishing as well.  But that's OK, we're here now, lets have some coffee and start our day off RIGHT.


So, Gunmar has tasked me with dispatching an errant vampire, masquerading as a lowly pilgrim searching the Skyrim countryside for wayshrines to pray at.  More like prey upon.  Thing is?  These vampire folks are tricksy; they can cloud peoples' minds and coerce them to hurt you.  So I have to be discreet about it, if I don't want to tarnish the Dawnguard's reputation.  Which is already shaky at best right now.

Portrait of a bloodsucker


I'm not usually one for ruse or guile, and have not invested any points within the Speech tree at all.  So this'll take a whole lot of luck.  At a time like this I somewhat miss the old Oblivion dialogue wheel where you could cajole & sweet-talk your way into someone's good graces; or just buy them out.

No funny stuff?  Well there goes my 5 minute balloon animal musical number.


So-far the "come with me, we'll defeat monsters!" ploy has worked.  He does seem hesitant, but he follows me to the outskirts of town behind a few abandoned and destroyed houses.  Only two scenarios start like this.  Horror or Porno.  And he ain't my type.

Not sure if want.


Sumbitch is TOUGH.  He doesn't look like much, but he's got the gumption to keep at it, and is pretty good with that blade.  However my spirit is strong; and my body stronger.  Ultimately, the predator becomes the prey.  Get me out of this stinkin' hole, Billy.  I am a broke-dick dog.

If you kill a vampire in the tundra with no city guards around to see it; do they still tell their arrow story?


This task for Gunmar is also directly next to the main meat & potatoes of this Dawnguard DLC; I'm to find the Blood and Dragon Elder Scrolls, so Mr. Moth Priest can read them and further get the info about Serana's kin and their dastardly plan.  Where would I find an Elder Scroll, or at the least information about one?

COLLEGE.

The mage's college of Winterhold, to be specific.  Which is where Mr vampire was hiding out!  Convenient!

WHAT is the weight of an unladen MY FIST IN YOUR FACE!?


I charm my way through the 'intiation' which is lame and involves lighting signal fires with magic.  Whatever poindexter I'm not here to learn how to shoot lightning out of my ass, I'm here to talk to your utmost scholarly expert on Elder Scrolls you got.

That expert is an Orc who's trying to 'drink' bread.


Great.  Pappy smell-butt here is the foremost Elder Scroll expert Skyrim has.  He's given me no real help other than to find the other foremost expert who came before him, and was driven insane by their work on Elder Scrolls in general.  Great.  Just great.

A room with a view to a kill. (PUNTASTIC! x5 Tricky!)


Oh look; is that a window with a majestic view of Winterhold's cliffs?  Is that your favorite goblet and personal bottle of fine cyrodiilic aged cheerwine?

FUCK. YO.
SHIT. SON.


You want that shit back?  Its at the bottom, go fetch.  I'm gonna go swim out through the ice floes to find the crazy dude you recommended me, because my life as Dragonborn isn't nearly filled with enough crazyfolk as-is you gigantic asshat.

Why do I feel like MacReady right now...


So Crazy-guy lives inside a glacier out in the middle of nowhere.  Gee I wonder wh--

Ancient dwemer rubik's cube.  BRILLIANT.


Turns out he found the thing a decade ago outside; and after consistently tinkering with it, he got it to work.  Once.  And then it melted into the glacier and so he had to dig down into it to further his studies.  Which involves me taking a tiny version of this thing to an ancient dwemer excavation site, and having it 'read' an Elder Scroll because somehow the dwarves figured it ALLLLLLLL OUT.

If they were so smart why are they all dead as shit?

Broken dwemer artifacts; staple decoration for an ancient dwemer ruin.


Whew; those things look scary.  I'm glad they're broken and none of them are ali--

So scary, I randomly ate ingredients in my backpack out of fear.  Yes I ate vampire dust.  Its gross.


Smaller than the frostbite spiders out in the real world, these guys are chugging metal deathmachines that some can shoot lightning out of their faceholes.  They are susceptible to punches though.  That's good to know.

Wasn't aware viagra was available in Skyrim.  


Oh glitches.  It even wavered in the slight breeze blowing through the caves.  This is also the first part of the ill-fated expedition in this place.  These two were brothers.  And they turned on one another at some point.  Sucks.  Sibling cat rivalry has to be the most treacherous of rivalries.  On account that cats are assholes.

MECHANICAL MONSTROSITY!
Dwarven Spheres!  The Droidekas of Skyrim.  These guys are actually pretty cool; they unfold out of their little sphere casings, then use that bit to roll around and their pneumatic stabby arms to well; stab you with.  Stronger than a spider construct, but less fear-inducing to me.  I handle my shit, and move on.

Ominous, yet alluring.  Like a dark alleyway with a 'free kittens' sign...
Something is laying eggs down here.  Why do I feel I'm on LV426 now all of a sudden.
Clearly I'm not alone.  Also SWEET! Health potion.


More of the excavation party found; this time this guy clearly looks like he stood his ground against something; but what.  The dwarven spheres?  Maybe.  but there's a whole mess of arrows and axes, so I don't think that's the case.  Also; there were egg sacs earlier.  Last time I scienced, I was pretty sure that mechanical creatures animated with eldricht forces could not reproduce, and if they could the gestation clearly would mimic mammals.  No eggs would be involved.

So that leaves the unknown; something ELSE is down here with me.  What could it b---

Oh god it has a vajayjay for a face
FALMERS OH GOD FALMERS.  In the Elder Scrolls lore, these guys are essentially the dark elves of the world.  Except we already have dark elves in Skyrim.  These are the real deal.  They're blind albino cave dweller subrace of elfdom who over the years have devolved to a point where they are little more than chittering ghouls feeding on bold adventurers staking claims within the long forgotten dwemer holds.

They. are. scary. as. fuck.

New & Improved!  Now comes in Magic flavor!


Oh god the caster version is even more rugged.  These guys are FAST.  Not only do they dodge my power attacks, they get a whole bunch in on me, drastically reducing my healing potion count.  I overcome, but I'm gonna have to go shopping at some point.  This is ridonk.

Even more of the excavation party.  Poor gal.
I don't.  No.  Not gonna. Nope nope nope. [FILLS BAGS WITH MYSTERY MEAT]


I don't know if there's anybody left of this expedition, but it sure isn't looking good.  For them at least.  Me?  I'm fine.  Never been better.  Havin' a bad hair day, but I got this here helmet on, so nobody will notice.  Thanks for asking!

I have to go deeper underground.  Again.
Well shit.


Door's locked.  I then proceed to run around the wall, and for a good 10 minutes attempt to glitch my way up and over, when I finally realize the mechanism for lowering the gate is RIGHT NEXT TO THE GATE.

I feel stupid, but hit that switch and...

I. AM. IRON. MAN.  ♫ BREEEEOOOOOWWWNNNNNN
HUGE ROBOT IS HUGE.  The game's really tossing the big guns out now.  I love a good challenge!  This guy involved a lot of running around him and punching him in the ass; his weak spot.  also the one place he cannot commit murder on me from.

I won, because I'm quicker, and I ate my wheaties that morning.

The remainder of this ill-fated expedition.


So this is what happens when you survive for this long inside an acient dwemer city.  You're driven mad.  The last two members are busy duking it out until they see me.  Where they decide to stop their feuding for just long enough to kill me.  Sad really.  I offer them their final release, sending them to Sovngarde as champions for they died in battle.  Then I take the elevator down into the even deeper depths.

I don't think we're in Whiterun anymore, Barbas.


So it led to this giant and I mean GIANT underground system of caverns filled with huge glowing mushrooms, lakes and other phosphorescent fungi, as well as what looks to be a whole ancient dwemer kingdom, complete with a castle and surrounding hamlet.  I actually find a quest here to research red Nirnroots, but that'll be for another time.  Seriously this place feels like an entire section of content.  But first things first: Elder Scroll shenanigans.

Dwemer optometrist contraption?


The puzzle here isn't that puzzling.  Put the cube into the machine; check.  Press each button repeatedly until it 'locks' in the correct place; check.  Have the information of the Elder Scroll contained within large machine put onto cube for easy reading; check.  BONUS: pick up Elder Scroll while at it, since it's just there for the taking.  Hooray!

Now back to the crazy guy.  He's pleased as punch for sure, but now says I need blood to work the thing.  He can do it, he just needs blood from every elven race ever.  Plus orcs blood.  Why?  because I don't know.  He's crazy.  Whatever sure.  I need this to stop vampires and they want all the blood ever; so a little sacrifice for the greater good and all that.

What the; oh noes, a cthulhu!
Eeew.  I need an adult.
This tentacle wall is trying to recruit me to its cause of chaos and nonsense once I unlock this dwemer lament configuration.  I told it "No." only because it gave me the heebly jeeblies, and went back to Fort Dawnguard to tell Gunmar the job was done.

While there, I figure why not try out this 'Falmer Armor' I found off those dead falmers I killed and stuff.  Maybe it looks cool, y'know?

KSSSSSSSS!


So I look like a giant cockroach now.  Eew.  I'll save it for later, maybe.  As much as I want to wear it since its better than my current Dawnguard threads, I don't know if I can handle looking that.


UNTIL NEXT TIME!