10 most popular posts of the past 90 days


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

The Hunger Games, Dredd and the 12ification of culture


I initially thought that The Hunger Games was a really good film. A really good film. It had all the ingredients, after all: a perfectly-cast Jennifer Lawrence in the lead role, Suzanne Collins as screenwriter, and a sympathetic director who really seemed to understand the material. The opening scenes of shaky-cammed apocalyptic gloom offset against the slick Truman Show-style televisation were perfectly pitched, so it was disappointing as the film inexorably slid into mediocrity the minute the violence started. Or didn’t, as it turned out.  Continue reading

More awe-inspiring Skyrim, Morrowind and Oblivion fan art


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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10 Most popular posts of 2012


These are the most popular posts published in the past 12 months

1 Is it OK to think Skrillex is OK?

I didn’t put too much thought or time into an offhand musing as to the relative merits (or otherwise) of the wub-wub guy, so I was surprised by its popularity. Did the post’s 63,000 readers join Team Love or Team Hate?   Continue reading

First impressions: Skyrim Dragonborn DLC

dragonborn box art

If there’s one compensation for being stuck at home with a sick child, it’s the possibility of bundling up the sleeping tot into your lap so she can snooze while you get on with the important business of saving Tamriel from its latest threat. Players of Morrowind will remember the island of Solstheim, and those of who you haven’t played have absolutely no excuse since it’s currently about 29p on Steam and is arguably the best game ever made.

Let’s process that for a second. Everyone I know who played Brink was disappointed because what they really wanted was just Enemy Territory with better graphics, and – having made the mythical “perfect game” – the developers seemed to ignore everything that was beloved about it and went off and did something else instead. Some penny seems to have dropped somewhere at Bethesda, because this time around they have delivered what is simply, literally, Morrowind. With better graphics.  Continue reading

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

Can mages ever kick ass?

Morrowind mages guild sign

It’s a genuine question. A forum post complaining about magic in Skyrim got me thinking: are purely magical video game characters always at a disadvantage? Being a sword-waving brute or a stealthy archer is much of a muchness when it comes to staying alive, but I’ve always regarded mage characters to be wimpy, whether I’m playing them or fighting them. Is it just my playing style, or are they inherently gimped?  Continue reading

Tamriel Rebuilt for Morrowind’s huge new update

It’s now ten years since Morrowind came out, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that its loyal modding community would have given up on it by now. Tamriel Rebuilt aims to create the whole Morrowind landmass, rather than just the island of Vvardenfell that came with the game. When they first started and seemed to be making slow progress, I thought they’d give up before they were even a quarter of the way through. It’s taken them many years, but their achievement is outstanding – a fan-made expansion that’s now bigger than the (huge) game itself. This is what they’ve built so far.  Continue reading