10 most popular posts of the past 90 days

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1. Skyrim – Constructive criticism at its best

People are usually unable to express their opinions without coming across like toddlers stamping their pudgy little legs and screaming, “But I want …”

2. First impressions: Arx Fatalis

I’m not very good at wielding a bone. Hell, I’m not even good at throwing them for dogs.  Continue reading

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More awe-inspiring Skyrim, Morrowind and Oblivion fan art

the_caravan_by_lelek1980-d54t6s2

Freddo just threw me down the rabbit warren that is DeviantArt, where I found these astonishing fan images of our favourite Elder Scrolls games. I’m constantly awed by the infinite variety – the unique interpretations of that spine-tingling world by each artist. Each collection is distinctive, using its own palette and style. The Morrowind ones are particularly evocative, making whole and real that fabulously alien landscape and culture.

The caravan by ~Lelek1980

The group of silt striders is crossing the desert lands of Vvardenfell near the Red Mountain. Some daedric shrine has been left behind. The steam and smoke are bursting out from the bowels of the earth…

In this work I wanted to show Vvardenfell like a something between the Galapagos islands, Iceland and Kamchatka.

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New Skyrim add-on is pure fan service for Morrowind lovers

It’s my general belief that every game is automatically better if it has mushroom trees. Skyrim takes that to heart with its fan-stroking new delectable treat, Dragonborn. If, like me, your heart is already pounding through your chest at the titillating screenshot above, you’ll probably already know that the new DLC is set on Morrowind‘s island of Solstheim.  Continue reading

How to write the rules of attraction

A poster on a video game forum sparked a very interesting debate. (Presumably, a) he initially complained about the lack of LGBT-focussed mods for Morrowind, which resulted in a few short list of recommendations, and he said that they weren’t really what he was looking for. I pointed out a few others, including my own, where gender simply wasn’t specified. I’m very much of the view that the player decides how the game goes, and I mentally award brownie points every time I’m allowed to follow my whims and scowl disapprovingly any time I can’t. Bethesda’s games are very much designed in that way, so it follows automatically that I should avoid restricting the player. Continue reading

Dawnguard

I’ve left it far too late to write about this, since I was engrossed in the game all evening. Yes, it’s belated, but in my defence I’ve also been playing it on the Xbox and have completed Hearthfire in the interim. Besides, fans of Skyrim will no doubt have played it anyway and organised their own thoughts, but if you’ve been holding off, here’s what you need to know.  Continue reading

ORE interview with Bethesda’s Megan and Erik

The following article appeared in the January 2008 issue of the Oblivion’s Real Estate newsletter (a game modding site). Princess Stomper interviews Megan Sawyer and Erik J. Caponi from Bethesda.

Something’s very wrong here. Computer game designers, by all rights, ought to be socially inept nerds – the hellish spawn of Comic Book Guy and Napoleon Dynamite. They surely shouldn’t be like environment artist Megan “Ghostgirl” Sawyer – pretty in a cute, funky sort of way, with a penchant for cool toys and loud music. They certainly shouldn’t be like writer Erik “DoctorSpooky” Caponi – strikingly handsome, with “Vin Diesel’s haircut” and a rock band goatee. He has the highest quality-to-quantity ratio of almost any poster on the Official Forums. Oh yeah, and he makes quests. We’ll start with him.

Erik: I came on pretty late in Oblivion’s development. I got the chance to work on a few of the Settlement Quests as well as various late-stage writing and design tasks. I was one third of the design team for Knights of the Nine and was responsible for a few of the quests as well as the final battle against Umaril’s minions and the battle with his spirit in the sky over Cyrodiil. On Shivering Isles, I was responsible for Retaking The Fringe and Symbols of Office as well as a lot of freeform design. I was also the designer on a couple of the downloadable content packs. Primarily what I do around here is known as “Freeform Gameplay”. I started with it on Shivering Isles and it’s now my full time role on Fallout. What it means is that I’m responsible for gameplay content that isn’t related to quests. This can take the form of incidental dialog, NPC behavior, scripted scenes, town dialog, world encounters, lore, conversation systems, as well as any one of a million different things that might not be tied directly to a particular quest.  Continue reading

Skyrim Real Estate modding challenge – results are in

I didn’t win – dammit! – after busting my behind for six weeks. It doesn’t matter, though – I won a past competition for Oblivion and wouldn’t have entered at all except that I relished the challenge. Any innermost grumbling I might have entertained melted away the moment I saw the other entries – they were magnificent! The first one I looked at, I got shivers down my spine, and that wasn’t even the one that won!

These are the entries:  Continue reading