Other Commentary

Posts that aren't specifically related to games

  • Kendis Playthrough,  Other Commentary,  Skyrim

    Solstheim is broken in Anniversary Edition on Nintendo Switch

    I was going to hold on a post like this until the end of Kendis’ playthrough, even though I’ve been seeing increasing problems running the AE on my Switch. But as of taking her to Solstheim in her run, I’ve discovered that there are game-breaking bugs in the Solstheim content. And that’s vexing enough that it’s finally kicked me over into definitively not recommending the AE on the Switch right now.

    Details behind the fold.

  • Other Commentary

    Interrupting my playthrough posts for this important note

    Today on Mastodon I saw news going around of videos documenting how a particular employee of Zenimax/Bethesda received some extremely toxic, transphobic treatment, and was basically railroaded into resigning.

    If you’ve been following this blog at all, you know how much love and time I’ve been throwing into Elder Scrolls games since 2021. So believe me when I say that I was extremely disappointed to see this word going around.

    More behind the fold.

  • Harrowhark Playthrough,  Modding,  Other Commentary,  Skyrim

    Spoiler-free short review of the Forgotten City mod

    When I put out a call for what mods were recommended for a modded Skyrim run, one of the strongest recs I got was for one called The Forgotten City. This thing got a Writer’s Guild award for the strength of its plot, and the team that created it went pro and turned the overall plot structure into a standalone game, even.

    I can now say that I’ve run this mod in Harrow’s run, and I enjoyed it immensely. I had a couple of small quibbles with it, but these were minor quibbles indeed. So if you’re in a position to run mods on Skyrim, I do highly recommend you consider checking this out.

    I’ll be going into depth about my experiences with the mod in Harrow’s next full post. But by definition, that post will be chock full of spoilers. If you think you might want to run this mod at all, you might want to skip that post until you do.

    In this post, I will limit myself to spoiler-free commentary, just enough to offer up a few tidbits and let you decide if you think the mod sounds like fun to you.

    Deets (again, spoiler-free) behind the fold.

  • Kendis Playthrough,  Other Commentary,  Skyrim

    Bailing on Survival Mode in Kendis’ playthrough

    Calling it at level 32 of Kendis’ run: I am officially bailing on Survival Mode.

    What did it for me: a few things.

    First: reaching the part of the College of Winterhold plot where you get back with the news of where the Staff of Magnus is, only to witness Ancano taking over the Eye, and causing the death of the Arch-Mage. You have to run down into the town to save it from an outbreak of magic anomalies.

    Here’s the problem with that in Survival Mode: Winterhold’s climate is fucking brutal. Every single time I’ve set foot in the town in this mode, the air has been either “frigid” or “treacherously cold”.

    And this time, running down there to try to kill the anomalies, I rapidly proceeded from “Chilly” to “Very Cold” to “Freezing” to “Numb”. And I actively got frostbite. I had to run into the inn to prevent myself from dying from exposure to the elements, which meant I didn’t even get to help kill the last few anomalies. Lydia, Faralda, and Arniel did.

    (And also Meeko, though Meeko, noble hound, did not survive the fight. RIP Meeko!)

    As the player character, I am supposed to be the one leading the charge to kill attacking beasties. It’s just not fun to have to hide in the inn instead, lest I fucking freeze to death. Particularly when I am the only character impacted by the weather at all.

    And when the College of Winterhold is one of my very favorite parts of the game, it kicks a lot of the fun out of it for me if I have to run the risk of frostbite or freezing to death while doing anything at the college. 🙁

    Second: related to previous, it doesn’t help that a huge swath of the map is considered “freezing” territory. And if you want to get anywhere in those portions of the map, you have to go overland through them. I can take a carriage to Winterhold, which only mitigates and does not solve the problem–because I can’t take a carriage out again. Winterhold has no carriage. I have to ride out or walk out.

    Which means if I want to get anywhere at all in those parts of the map and not freeze to death, I have to haul camping supplies with me. Five or six sets of them. And camping supply sets are heavy.

    Which is a pain in the ass when your carry weight has been nerfed.

    Third: Speaking of carry weight getting nerfed, as anybody who regularly follows this blog knows, I get chronically overloaded in any Skyrim playthrough, never mind Survival Mode. Now, if it was just a question of my carry weight alone being nerfed, I wouldn’t necessarily mind that so much. I kind of like having to think harder about which things I do and do not want to bring out of a dungeon.

    But when I combine that with not being able to fast travel out of a dungeon, and in at least a couple of cases having to slog back while overloaded to wherever I left my horse… yeah. That got tiresome.

    So, that mode’s off now. Kendis’ run will continue without it.

    I’m a little disappointed by this, really. I feel like I should have held to the challenge! But on the other hand, if it stopped being fun, I also feel like I’m justified in just not frigging doing it.

    I will have to consider in a future modded playthrough if I can replicate the parts of Survival Mode that I like, and try that. For now, though, Kendis will return to a more standard run.

  • Other Commentary,  Skyrim

    Alternate possibilities for the Blessings of Nature quest

    I got into writing this up while working on my latest playthrough post for Harrowhark. But I found I had enough to say about this that it warranted its own post. After running this plot again with Harrow, I’ve decided that by and large, I really don’t like either option it gives you.

    So here’s a long post about how I’d fix this plot, either in a story, or in a mod if I had the necessary skills to make it.

  • Other Commentary

    How to do game captures on the Steam Deck

    One of the few things I like about the Nintendo Switch more than the Steam Deck is that the Switch has a built-in button for doing video captures. I hit that button, it records the last 30 seconds of what just happened on whatever game I’m playing. Super convenient! And I can yoink the resulting video right out of my captured data, right up to my computer.

    While running Shenner’s playthrough, I really rather missed having that ability. I really like playing on a laptop, but don’t currently have a way to do video capture set up on my Win11 VM. Nor, until last night, did I have any way to do it on the Deck.

  • Other Commentary,  Skyrim

    Some thoughts on the Anniversary Edition of Skyrim

    I’m not yet done with my first official playthrough of the Anniversary Edition of Skyrim, but I’m close enough to the end of it at this point that I feel like getting some thoughts down about the AE in general is now a thing I can do. So here are those thoughts!

    All of this so far is entirely based upon Shenner’s playthrough, as well, even though Faanshi’s playthrough now has access to AE content. I may have additional thoughts later about the AE specifically on the Switch. For now, though, I’m focusing on the experience of playing on the PC and Deck with Shenner’s game.

    Deets behind the fold.

  • Morrowind,  Other Commentary

    Morrowind doesn’t work on my Win11 ARM VM

    I cannot imagine there are too many people in the world besides me who meet the following criteria:

    1. Interested in playing Morrowind
    2. Are primarily Mac owners
    3. Own a M1 MacBook Pro (this is my new computer Lydia)
    4. Prefer to use a controller rather than a gaming mouse
    5. Has a Nintendo Switch Pro controller as current controller of choice
    6. Have set up a Windows 11 ARM build as a VM on said M1 MacBook Pro explicitly for gaming
    7. Have attempted to run Morrowind in that VM

    But if anybody else out there actually does fall into this extremely niche case, it may interest you to know that I learned tonight that at least out of the box, I cannot run Morrowind well in my VM.

    It does load and I can get into my prior save files from the Steam Cloud. But the game does not want to talk to my Switch Pro controller. I can’t move with it at all. Given that I have learned from setting up games on my ancient PC laptop (Savah) that I prefer to play with a controller, not having my controller of choice working in this scenario is sub-optimal.

    It’s also confusing, at least somewhat. This exact same controller is working well when I play Skyrim in this VM.

    But on the other hand, Skyrim is eleven years old. Morrowind is twenty. I’m frankly kind of stunned that Morrowind loads on an ARM build of Windows 11 at all.

    So now I’m torn between conflicting impulses. On the one hand, making Morrowind work in this VM is not a priority. I have a fully viable Morrowind set up on my Steam Deck, and arguably, the play experience is nicer on the Deck anyway, since I can take advantage of the back buttons there.

    On the other hand, I now have a technical problem before me! And it’s probably going to nag at me until I figure out a solution, or at least a plausible cause.

    As near as I can tell, Steam on both this VM and on Savah are defaulting to the same controller configuration for Morrowind, i.e., a keyboard (WASD) + mouse setup. But Savah is picking up on the controller anyway. The VM isn’t, and I’m not sure what step I missed.

    It’s clearly not a question of Windows in general not seeing the controller, because I can use it in Skyrim. What’s going on here appears to be entirely Morrowind’s fault.

    I’ve even tried the PS4 controller we had unused in the house (it’s not mine, but neither Paul nor Dara were using it, so I’ve co-opted it for use in ESO), and that controller shows the same behavior as the Switch Pro controller does. Morrowind’s EXE just doesn’t acknowledge that it’s there.

    Windows sees the controller. So does Steam. Morrowind, not so much.

    At this point the only other thing I can think to try is to doink around with the EXE’s compatibility settings, and see if that helps. I will report my findings when I try that!

    But other than that, if anybody has ideas for other things to check, let me know!