Posing in Sovngarde.

Two years to the day after its release, and after 71 hours of play time, I have finished the main quest line of Skyrim.  What a brilliant, brilliant game.  I really enjoyed the main story and thought it finished quite well.  The best part?  I’m not even close to being finished with this game; I’ve got a boat load of quests still left to do, locations to explore, factions to aid… the list goes on.  Just yesterday I picked up the official game guide for Skyrim, so I’m sure I’ll find plenty more in there to see and do.  This game is easily among the top few in my personal list of top games of all time.

It’s Been a While…

Flying around the Isle of Dawn
Flying around the Isle of Dawn

It’s been almost a year and a half since my last post here. The reasons for that are many, but the long and short of it is, I just haven’t had much time to play games. I still manage to pop into a game now and then, but there hasn’t really been anything that has grabbed my interest and pulled me in to the extent that I’d want to write about it… until now.

In the year and a half since my last post I’ve dabble with quite a few different games. I may not have much time to dedicate to them, but that hasn’t prevented my Steam library from expanding beyond a sustainable rate. Many games lay in wait, reporting nothing more than a few minutes played; just enough to check them out quickly to see what they look like. Some poor souls remain un-played at all; purchased on the cheap during one of the Steam sales, and to this day have never even been launched. It’s ridiculous.

One game has finally hooked me though, and it was a little unexpected. A few friends of mine have started playing Neverwinter, the recently released free-to-play MMO. I initially rejected their suggestions that I try it; I was done with MMOs I said. Eventually however, I relented and checked it out. My first impressions were positive; it looks gorgeous, and seems very accessible without obvious restrictions for those who want to play for free. As I played though, I found myself just going through the motions, it wasn’t grabbing me. It did however, spark an itch.

Entrance to the Earth Den.
Entrance to the Earth Den.

Neverwinter left me with just a hint of a longing for an old-school MMO, a taste for recapturing the feeling I had while playing EverQuest II during my heyday of MMO gaming. I wanted something a little different from EQII though, that game having run its course for me long ago. It was then that I decided to step into the world of Telon and give Vanguard: Saga of Heroes another try.

I bought Vanguard at launch, paying $60 for the game, but didn’t play it right away. Having played in the beta, I was all too familiar with the many bugs and various issues plaguing the game at launch, so I decided to wait before starting my subscription.  It wasn’t until quite some time after launch that I finally activated my first 30 days, but unfortunately, I had completely burned out on the MMORPG model of the day, and had no motivation to continue.

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Vanguard. Yes, it had its problems, but I can remember the last day of the beta, when I was able to create a max-level (or close to it, can’t remember) character, and obtain a flying mount. As I flew all over Qalia, I was amazed at the detail of the world, and that impression never left me. Since then, I’ve always maintained that I would love nothing more than to fly all around Vanguard’s world, and just explore.

So, I loaded up Steam and downloaded the now free-to-play Vanguard and re-visited Telon. My old character was still accessible, but I had no idea how to play him, or where I needed to go, so I decided to start anew, creating a Thestran Human Shaman, and started on the Isle of Dawn.

It didn’t take long for a nostalgic wave to rush over me. It took me back to my first days with EQII; not knowing exactly how the game worked, or where I was going. I was hooked. The graphics are beginning to look a little old, yet still look great. My machine can now handle the game at its highest settings without a problem; definitely a switch from my first go around with the game.

The Steam client tells me I’ve logged 17 hours played in Vanguard. To me, given all my “real life” responsibilities, that’s a lot. I’m hooked; so much so that it’s inspired me to come back after a year and a half and write this. I have even, for the first time ever, spent real money in a free-to-play game. As you can see in the first image of this post, I’ve purchased a flying mount… and I love it.

As of tonight I have finished all the adventuring and diplomacy quests on the Isle of Dawn. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed doing the diplomacy quests; it’s not something I would have thought I’d be interested in, but here I am, a level 9 diplomat, having completed the main diplomatic quest line on the Isle.

As soon as I finish this post I’ll be hopping back into the game, and finishing off the last quest of the adventuring series which will take me off the Isle of Dawn to one of the main continents, where the first thing I do will likely be to fly all around Vanguard’s world, just exploring.

A State of Things

I’ve been finding it difficult to come up with something to write about here for some time now. I haven’t really been spending a lot of time playing games these past few months, at least, not games that are worthy of writing about. I’ve certainly purchased my fair share of new games, thanks to Steam’s various sales, but most of my purchases haven’t even been launched once since their purchase. In my last blog update, back on September 14, 2011, I urged readers to check out Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon. I bought that game on the day of its release and have yet to play it. It’s shameful really, because I really do want to get into it.

Now and then I have been playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim in short bursts, and what I’ve seen and done is absolutely fantastic. I love the game. Actually, it’s not even the game so much as opposed to the world that has been created. Aside from being nice to look at, more than any other game I’ve ever played, it feels like a real living, breathing place. Oblivion was nice looking, but its never-ending forests got a little repetitive. That’s not to mention its main quest as well; those damn Oblivion gates got flippin’ annoying.

I’m not very far into the main story of Skyrim, having just visited the Greybeards for the first time, but it seems pretty good so far. The problem I’m having getting anything done in the game is that I keep getting sidetracked. There always seems to be something interesting just on the horizon that I just have to check out.

I’m playing as a Nord fighter, fighting with a one-handed weapon (currently a mace) and shield. I’m also working on my archery, something I’ve never spent much time with in any of the Elder Scrolls games. I must say, it’s extremely satisfying killing a foe from a distance as he’s running towards you, sword in hand.

I’m “only” about 18 hours into the game at the moment, and I can’t see my interest in it waning any time soon.

Some Well Deserved Promotion

One of my favourite blogs, Tales of the Rampant Coyote, has updated with some exciting news. Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon, the first episode in the “Indie Computer RPG Series of Comedy and High Fantasy”, is nearing release. The announcement came with a trailer: (best viewed at 480p)

Now, I don’t know Jay Barnson, aka The Rampant Coyote, but I’ve been reading his blog daily for several years now. I’ve always had it in the back of my mind that I’d like to develop my own game one day and it’s been fascinating following the development of Frayed Knights. I was fortunate enough to beta test the game several years ago, and I quite enjoyed the experience. Reading about its development since then it is quite apparent that the game has come a long way and I’m very excited to play it.

Honestly, I’m just eager to purchase the game as a “thank you” for the Rampant Coyote blog; I really want to support the game, and hope it sells well. If there’s just one thing I could take away from the few years of reading the blog, it’s that my eyes have been opened as to how incredibly difficult it is to make a game. You have to be seriously passionate about it to follow the process through to completion, and it’s easy to see just how much of his heart and soul The Rampant Coyote has poured into Frayed Knights.

His blog, more than anything else, has really opened my eyes to the world of indie development, and I’ve bought a few games that I never would have heard of after reading about them on the blog. I don’t have the largest readership in the world on Timesink, but if I can steer just one other person to his site, I’d be happy. Please check it out:

Frayed Knights:


Top of the World

I have completed the tower I began constructing as outlined in my post from yesterday. The picture above shows the tower at night as viewed from across the bridge spanning the chasm between two peaks. I ended up mining quite a bit of cobblestone for this project, and while doing so last night, got side-tracked again as I stumbled upon a naturally formed cavern which branched off from the quarry that I’ve been digging. I’m continually amazed at how deep this game can be (literally).

This second screenshot shows the completed tower from about half way down the opposite peak. The building in the foreground was where I was originally going to build a house until I decided to construct the bridge, followed by the tower. Just below the bridge on the tower side, you can see a balcony that I created by digging down from the base of the tower and out the side of the mountain. I may eventually extend the balcony over to another peak off in the distance, but I have a couple other projects in mind first.

Finally, this is the view from the top, and when i say top, I mean it. I cannot build any higher than this, the game won’t let me put down any more blocks. So now that I’ve gone to the top, I’m going to head to the bottom, and dig down as far as the game will let me. My understanding is that there are a few layers of bedrock which signify the bottom of the world. While digging down there I hope to come across a bunch of iron so that I can connect my tower to my original home with a mine cart rail.

I am loving this game.