The California Literary Review has an analysis on the use of camera angles in video games and how they affect how you play. It examines the differences in first person and third person camera angles in Skyrim and Dark Souls respectively. It assesses how the camera angle affects how you play, with a particular emphasis on combat between the two games.QUOTEThe interesting thing about the first person perspective though, is that as it was used over and over (again primarily by Western developers in the FPS) is that it developed a . . . shorthand of sorts. Certain things that might be a concern when viewed from a 3rd Person perspective are left out of a game.
Mostly, these are little things. For instance in most FPSs when your character interacts with an object on a wall, say a light switch, you won’t see the character’s hand pop into view to physically touch the switch. The switch will just flip from one state to another as if you HAD done such a thing, even though the game never showed such an action occurring.
Bethesda, the folks who made Skyrim followed in the traditions of the previous entries in the Elder Scrolls franchise: they designed the entire game with the 1st Person Perspective as the primary view of the player, even though the game can be freely switched to a 3rd Person view at any time. This means that ranged combat, most likely found when playing as a wizard, works pretty darn well.
However, Skyrim is a game that relies on FPS Shorthand heavily. When you open doors or pick up a book these actions work as if you were using invisible magic, well before you learn the telekinesis spell that is the actual equivalent of it in game. It also means that when you swing your sword, it acts less like an actual blade, and more like a gun in any other FPS: you are shooting an invisible damage line at the spot you’re swinging at, and the animation of the swing is an illusion to sell the effect. The sword itself does not take up real space (unless you drop it).
This is very easily seen if you fight multiple enemies who group close together and swing a blade. You can actually see it go through both of them at times, yet it will only do damage to one of them; the one you’re aiming at. You can also see it when you’re next to a wall: the sword will slice through the wall during the swing to hit the enemy regardless of the fact that it just passed through brick and mortar like Kitty Pryde desperately in need of a bathroom break. Heck, unless you aim directly at a wall, your weapon won’t even produce a little hit “spark” or produce a reaction of any kind! Even when you do this, the reaction is simply graphical, and has no effect on the combat flow, like a bouncing back that causes your character to attempt to regain their footing.
When you look at Dark Souls however, you can notice the EXACT OPPOSITE REACTION. Differing weapons in Dark Souls have different types of strikes, and if you try fighting an enemy in a narrow corridor with a weapon that uses a lot of horizontal swings (say a scimitar), you’ll quickly find that your blade will bounce off the walls and leave you open to counterattacks by enemies, because when you swing your sword in this game it actually, you know, takes up real space. When you miss a strike your character takes a moment to get their balance back, and this sells the idea that your weapons have some weight to them.
Read the entire article at the California Literature Review. It's a detailed article that makes some good points.
It is with great pleasure that I announce the launch of the newest Nexus website, Legends of Grimrock Nexus, through my proxy, Axel.
Legends of Grimrock is a great throwback to the era of Dungeon Master style games, where you control a party of up to four characters and delve into the mysteries and puzzles of dungeons. For those of you who aren’t aware of Legends of Grimrock, here’s some of the blurb from the official site:
“Legend of Grimrock is a dungeon crawling role playing game with an oldschool heart but a modern execution. A group of prisoners are sentenced to certain death by exiling them to the secluded Mount Grimrock for vile crimes they may or may not have committed. Unbeknownst to their captors, the mountain is riddled with ancient tunnels, dungeons and tombs built by crumbled civilizations long perished now. If they ever wish to see daylight again and reclaim their freedom the ragtag group of prisoners must form a team and descend through the mountain, level by level.”
Legends of Grimrock is available for $14.99 right now from multiple different digital distributers, including Steam, GOG.com and Gamers Gate.
The developers, Almost Human, are due to launch their modding tools that allows users to easily create their own dungeons and items for the game and share them with others very soon. Almost Human have also kindly given us access to the closed beta and versions of the game so that we could quickly set up a Nexus site and integrate the game in to our Nexus Mod Manager (NMM). If you’re new to the Nexus, NMM is our very simple to use mod management software that allows you to one-click install mods directly from the site and on to your computer, with no need to fuss about with zip files and folder placements. The latest version of NMM, available now, is fully compatible with Legends of Grimrock.
At the moment the Grimrock Nexus site is quite bare as we’ve only just launched, and the open beta for the modding kit has only just started. I will be working closely with the Grimrock modding community to get the site up to scratch as soon as possible and ensure we can provide the very best and most feature rich service for all the mod authors out there. If there’s anything you think the site needs, just let me know.
PS. sorry I couldn’t do this in person, I’m currently travelling until the end of the week so have sporadic internet. I’m around all week for Nexus work, though :)
Kotaku has the story about a possible bug/feature in the Hearthfire.QUOTEAfter you’ve built an entryway and a main hall for your manor, you can start selecting optional rooms like a library or kitchen. Each set of rooms is attached to a wing of the house — you can only build bedrooms in the west wing, for example — but you can only start planning out one room per wing at a time.
This is where the problems start. If you pick a plan from the west wing, start building parts of it over at the workbench, and then select another plan from the west wing at the drafting table, everything goes wonky. You can lose progress and even deny yourself access to entire rooms. (One of my blueprints disappeared entirely, and I can’t get it back.)
So what’s the solution? Build one thing at a time. Don’t pick multiple blueprints from the drafting table at once: just select one, finish all of its pieces at the workbench, and then move on to the next plan. Don’t get cute and experiment with drafting, or you might lock yourself out of some of the game’s content.
Let us know if you understand what on earth this means. Read it and more at Kotaku.
TES Alliance, an Elder Scrolls games modding community website, has a whole heap of interviews (18 to be specific) with Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim modders. They have been compiled over the past two years. There are many well known names among the community in the list.
The interviews cover all aspects of modding, gaming, construction ket, personal life, etc. Have a read if you have a spare hour or two.
Find all the interviews posted at TES Alliance.
The Bethblog brings the news that the Steam Workshop for Skyrim has had its 10,000th mod uploaded. Steam Workshop conducted an interview with the modder joedamarsio, for whom the mod was his first mod.QUOTEThis past week the Skyrim Workshop reached another milestone – it’s 10,000th mod. The mod, Shannara Weapon Set from joedamarsio, with an interview from the Skyrim Creation Kit (Public) Steam Group. Here’s an snippet…QUOTEAny advice you would offer to anyone playing Skyrim who maybe thinks about trying to make a mod but is intimidated?
It’s overwhelming when you first look at all the options on the Creation Kit but if you follow the Wiki it will talk you through everything and make modding a pleasurable and fun experience
Read the full interview here, and if you haven’t checked out the Workshop yet, visit mods.elderscrolls.com.
Read the full interview at the Skyrim Creation Kit (Public) Group at Steam.
Malukah, internet famous for singing beautiful versions of "The Dragonborn Comes", "Age of Aggression" etc, has produced her own take on another Skyrim song - Tale of the Tongues. Tale of the Tongues tells the story of the original champions of Skyrim who initially vanquished the dragons.
Much better than Bieber.
Check out the video and more at Malukah's youtube page.
Alduin's wings, they did darken the sky.
His roar fury's fire and his scales sharpened scythes.
Men ran and they cowered and they fought and they died.
They burned and they bled as they issued their cries.
Dovahkiin Dovahkiin naal ok zin los vahriin
Wah dein vokul mahfaeraak ahst vaal
Ahrk fin norok paal graan fod nust hon zindro zaan
Dovahkiin fah hin kogaan mu draal
We need saviors to free us from Alduin's rage.
Heroes on the field of this new war to wage.
And if Alduin wins man is gone from this world.
Lost in the shadow of the black wings unfurled.
But then came the Tongues on that terrible day.
Steadfast as winter, they entered the fray.
And all heard the music of Alduin's doom.
The sweet song of Skyrim, sky-shattering Thu'um.
And so the Tongues freed us from Alduin's rage.
Gave the gift of the Voice, ushered in a new Age.
If Alduin is eternal, then eternity's done.
For his story is over and the dragons... are gone.
And so the Tongues freed us from Alduin's rage.
Gave the gift of the Voice, ushered in a new Age.
If Alduin is eternal, then eternity's done.
For his story is over and the dragons... are gone.
Update - this post originally reported in error that the Tale of the Tongues referred to the Dovahkiin.
We've passed a few milestones over the past couple of weeks so I thought that now would be a great time to announce them along with a belated birthday present for the sites.
August marked the 11th birthday of the Nexus sites in its varying forms. From Morrowind Chronicles, to Morrowind Source, TESSource and Skyrim Nexus and everything in between these sites have been up and running for over 11 years now. I've said it before and I'll say it again; the principle goal when I first started hosting mods for Morrowind back in 2003 (before that Morrowind Chronicles was a Morrowind fansite and forum community) was to provide a modder's resource that people could rely on to still be up in the future. 2002-2004 was a turbulent time in the Elder Scrolls modding community as many mod hosts failed to keep up with demand (Morrowind Files, EuroMorrowing, Morrowind Mods et al) so I really wanted to provide a resource that mod authors could trust to stick around. I stuck in there, despite people telling me that the NewsCorp funded FilePlanet would always outlast whatever I did (ironic, no?) and I think I've realised that goal.
As if fate smiled upon the birthday we also reached a milestone of over 1 million unique downloads for the Nexus Mod Manager. We launched the Nexus Mod Manager last year, on the 15th of November, so we've managed to hit over 1 million downloads in just over 9 months. It's a great achievement and one I'm really proud of. I'm happy so many people are enjoying and making use of what we've managed to get out there, and we've got lots in store. Happy Birthday to the Nexus.
Our timing has been a little off, and it's taken us a bit longer than anticipated, but we're very close to finalising our work on the new download mechanism for the sites and for NMM. Some people have been reporting some sporadic issues when downloading from the sites or through NMM and we're hoping that this new system will sort that out.
When we set out planning the new download system we wanted to release something that would benefit both normal members and Premium Members alike and we think we've got it right. Premium Members are the life-blood of these sites and without them we could not afford our mounting expenses (currently at $25,000/month and growing monthly), so I'm always glad when we can add something to the Premium experience without detracting from the service we already provide our regular users.
With the new download system your downloads are balanced across our entire file server network (currently 10 file servers). Non-premium members are capped at a download speed of 1MB/second (8mbit) across all their downloads. If you download 1 file, you'll be able to download at a maximum of 1MB/second. If you download 2 files, you'll download at 500kb/second for each file. 4 downloads would be 250kb/sec per file. And so on and so forth. Premium members are obviously uncapped and will be able to download as fast as their connections allow. We've also added another Premium-only download server in the US for their use.
All downloads have been opened up to download manager support, or even simple pause/resume functionality using the built in browser download mediums whether you're a Premium Member or not. This will now *fingers crossed* mean that if you get cut-off or the server drops half way through your download you'll be able to resume it from where you left off. If you're not a premium member you'll still be limited to 1MB/sec download speeds and you'll only be allowed to download 1 chunk per file, even if you use a download manager, but you'll have greater control over your downloads. Premium Members will be able to download files using multiple chunks/threads per file, even on the non-Premium-only servers, and thus get speeds as fast as possible. We still highly recommend using DownThemAll! if you're a FireFox user as this is the download manager that requires the least fuss when used in conjunction with the Nexus. We've also tested the system with GetRight and can confirm it works, but it requires a couple of settings tweaks which we'll write a tutorial for in due time.
Over the coming weeks we'll be updating the Nexus Mod Manager to take in to account these new download changes and we'll try to make it as obvious as possible in the download manager how fast you're downloading and whether you're hitting your download speed limits. The hope is to entice some of you to part with your hard-earned cash to help us out a little; not just with the server expenses but with bringing on more professional help to make these sites the best they can be. We've got 3 people working full-time on the sites now. 2 on the sites, 1 on NMM. And we'd like more. I'd never jeopardise the future of the sites by overspending, however, so can only get more people on-board if the cash flow is right.
Hearthfire has been available for download on the Xbox 360 for several days now and some reviews have come in. The general theme seems to be 'good for a free afternoon' and 'not for everyone'.
Eurogamer:QUOTEWhat sort of Skyrim player are you? Are you there for the story and the Achievements, taking advantage of the game's loose logic to play multiple characters in one playthrough, heading up the Mage's College even as you take charge of the Thieves Guild, and saving the world while playing as an evil assassin? Or do you use Tamriel's vast canvas as a backdrop for your own adventure, setting your own limits and rules and immersing yourself in its rich milieu?
If it's the first then you've probably got no interest in Hearthfire, the new DLC that lets you build houses. There are no quests here, with no story and no definable ending. You may have already posted a witty comment about Skyrim Sims. Congratulations. Hearthfire is not for you.
If, on the other hand, you've already started planning which of your weapons you want to display where, whether to store gems in the same chest as jewellery, and are actually looking forward to spending hours trying to wrangle floating items into display cases so they're positioned just right, then Hearthfire is most definitely for you. It's just not that good.
Computer and Video Games:QUOTEIt's totally bare inside, obviously. Building the house itself is only the beginning. You're going to have to source the rest of the materials yourself to build things like beds, cabinets, hearths, and sconces to light up the exterior. But remember, this is only the starter house. As you expand your property, it'll get much bigger. Your first house will become the entrance hall for a much grander one, and you'll get to add things like alchemy labs, trophy rooms, and libraries to store all the books you've collected on your journey. Because the plot of land creates a new fast travel point on the map, having your own self-contained base of operations is very useful.
There are three plots of land in all: one in Falkreath, one in Morthal, and one in Dawnstar. All three cost the same, and the only difference is the location; your house will always be in the same style no matter where you build it. You're also able to adopt children once your house is furnished. Constance Michel at the Riften orphanage (where Dark Brotherhood characters will have executed Grelod the Kind) will give you the chance to take one of the kids there back to your new home. You can adopt two at a time, and they get their own room.
There is no currently announced date or plans for the PC version. However, previous timed Xbox 360 exclusives have been made available for the PC approximately a month after initial release. Bethesda did not announce a release date for Dawnguard before making it available for PC, so the same may occur for Hearthfire.
A team diary on the Elder Scrolls website reveals the background of the development of the next Skyrim DLC 'Hearthfire'.QUOTELike Dawnguard, Hearthfire's inception came out of Bethesda Game Studios' first-ever "Game Jam", a weeklong exercise where members of the team shared in-game ideas for expanding Skyrim.
"When the Game Jam invitation arrived, I was looking for something different from what I'd traditionally do as a designer," lead designer, Bruce Nesmith recollected. "To make it a reality, I knew I needed an artist to tag team, so I approached Robert [Wisnewski] and we collaborated on the project that was presented to the team."
Wisnewski, an environmental artist for Skyrim, was inspired to expand upon the game's housing options in large part because of his enthusiasm for Skyrim's crafting systems.
"It started as a small idea to expand on the crafting element of the game because alchemy, smithing and enchanting were things I was interested in when we were playtesting the game," said Wisnewski.
Meanwhile Nesmith, a fan of the popular game Minecraft, wanted players to have more ways to create content in the game. "Being a fan of [Minecraft], I asked, ‘Why can't I build things in our game?'"
The diary also has some new screenshots from Hearthfire. The DLC is due out tomorrow.
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