Monday, November 5, 2012

Revisiting Northern Tamriel

The sudden break from all-out drumline rehearsal rush means I've been getting back into my gaming hobby something fierce. While I do try to keep on top of my drumming form, at least I don't have to go places every other day to meet up with the rest of the drumline and fine-tune every bar, every break, every stick opening, etc. I can do my own practice casually. This gives me plenty of time to be active at my 'puter doing the things I love, which is a good mix of flying the New Eden space lanes and exploring and adventuring throughout the province of Skyrim, carefully avoiding low-flying arrows. When summer was just starting and the drumline rehearsals started getting serious I was already unsubscribed from EVE but my computer was starting to die while playing games. It turned out it was my video card that was roasting alive and a quick swap later the computer was running like new. There is only so much drumming I can do before I need to frag something!

Over the summer I played a lot of Fallout 3 because I found it was easy to get in and out of my game, but I was avoiding getting back into Skyrim because I knew what all Elder Scrolls games do to my own personal space-time continuum. So I waited until after the show to dive back in, and I rejoiced when I did because the game was running so much better than even before the old video card started dying. And of course because I play Skyrim on a computer and not a console (cue Nelson Muntz "HAHA!") I dove right back into mods, updating some that needed it, removing some superfluous ones, and browsing Skyrim Nexus for anything of interest that may have come out during my summer hiatus. I haven't bought the Dawnguard and Hearthfire DLCs yet but playing the game with mods I already have so much more; though there are more and more mods appearing that require one or the other DLC so I just may get 'em soon-ish.

While I do have some weapon and armor mods, and also some HUD mods and even a few for the environment (Morning Fogs is awesome), my main interest has always been player abodes, from quaint little cabins and camps all the way to fortified castles as big as cities. I try to look for mods that meld seemlessly into the vanilla game; a lot of people give modding a shot and sometimes the results are either buggy or atrocious, or both. When a castle sticks out of the landscape like an eyesore I will avoid it like the plague. Or sometimes the setting is really nice and all but the insides turn out to be a gawdy over-stuffed laggy mess where the modder tried to cram every single object the Creation Kit will allow. And once in a while a jem pops up. For the longest time I've been using the Dovahkiin Hideout which is like a small Bat-Cave giving access to all the game's original player houses, and a couple other areas like the Ragged Flagon and the Archmage's Quarters. It's very well made but now being used to playing with a god-like character (don't laugh; the Deadly Dragons mod can chew up a level 81 character with max skills and all perks with ease if set properly) and having completed the entire game a few times I felt it was time I moved in somewhere more approriate to a Dragonborn who is Thane in all the holds, Archmage, Listener and all-around bad-ass.

A few mods looked promising but unfortunately fell into either of my previously mentioned categories. Two mods got my attention for a while, Deus Mons and Dragonius Tower, but both were causing my computer to glitch out, and the latter mod to crash to desktop repeatedly so I had to keep looking. And then I found it, Rendspire Palace. Located in a canyon set inside the mountain situated between Bleak Falls Barrow and Whiterun, the first hint of the place is the wooden stair path leading up to a small horse stable and a cave entrance next to a single Greybeard statue. The canyon reminds me a bit of the location of Hircine's quest, with a deep mountain clearing complete with waterfalls, pools, vegetation, and one big building with Solitude architecture. The fun part is that the castle itself is a mini-quest as you have to do some serious exploring to not only visit the place but to discover all the teleporters located within. These are pretty much essential unless you want to take all your time walking around; the secret smithing area is very deep below the castle, and the secret (and epically massive) armory is inaccessible until you've found and unlocked its teleporter, and defeated a vampire which... well I gotta stop talking now :)

The EVE front is a bit quiet these days; I want to give my buddy's corp a chance but us Montreal players are having multiple schedule issues, so sorry if I don't have many New Eden stories these days, but at least my #2 game is still very interesting to me and modders are expanding far beyond what the original game offered at launch. To me, if you're not playing Skyrim on a computer, you're not playing Skyrim. Or at least a very tiny part of what the game can actually be. I'll leave you with some screenshots of my Tamriel-based home; I have a Sovngarde-based home on the way soon but I need Dawnguard before I install it. And maybe a new machine. Yes... soon™ :)

Fly like a dragonbone arrow (yes, you read this correctly!)


Meet Cozmik Debrizzt, the Level 81 mod tester!
The entrance leading to the Canyon of Tears
"This is no cave!"
Rendspire Palace
The Great Hall
This is the public armory. The secret one is secret :)
Minions having a snack in the main dining room
The office... Like a boss!

PS: This is "only" eight screenshots; I'd need about 30 to 40 to show all this place has to offer!

No comments: