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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Skyrim: Enchanting Guide

Enchanting is different than Alchemy in that, in order to enchant, you have to learn the enchantment you want to apply. It's also different than alchemy in that it uses one resource rather than many kinds of ingredients.

The basics of it are that you use the trap the soul spell (or buy/steal full soul gems) to trap the souls of enemies you kill in soul gems. You then use these soul gems to empower weapons and armor to have magical effects. You can also use charged soul gems to recharge enchanted items that use charges.

Like alchemy, the success and power of enchantments is determined by your enchanting skill, the quality of the soul gem, the power of the soul trapped, and any perks you might have.

It's useful to do the quest "The Black Star" to get Azuras Shard, a soul gem that can be reused. It can also be used as a cheap recharge for your weapons as you can summon a monster, trap its soul in Azura's Shard, and then use the power to recharge your weapons.

The Grind: The easiest way to grind enchanting is to recharge items from soul gems. The reason is that you can use petty soul gems, which are easy to get, and don't generate a large amount of waste items. You can also craft rings and amulets to sell. As with Alchemy, the more expensive the item is, the more enchanting skill you gain (I believe this is the change in value, so enchanting a super expensive sword won't get you any more value than enchanting an iron dagger). The ring and amulet method is good because if gives you valuable gold. The college of Winterhold sells soul gems, full and empty, and is a good "base of operations" for grinding.

Enchants you want to make sure you get soon after starting the grind:
Soul Trap (Saves you precious mana and time if your weapon soul traps for you, especially if you are like me and never remember to cast the stupid spell.)
Banish Daedra (Good profit enchantment, use on looted weapons and sell them to vendors)
Fear (good profit enchantment, use on looted weapons and sell them to vendors)
Fortify One-Handed (enchant rings and sell to vendors)
Fortify Two-Handed (enchant rings and sell to vendors)
Fortify Alchemy (useful for breaking the game with the fortify chains mentioned in the breaking the game post earlier)
Fortify Smithing (useful for breaking the game with the fortify chains mentioned in the breaking the game post earlier)


Gem Type
Creature Level
Petty
< Level 4
Lesser
< Level 16
Common < Level 28
Greater < Level 38
Grand All creatures
Azura's Star
Reusable Soul Gem
Black Soul Gem
All humanoids

Soul GemCharge

  • Petty – 150
  • Lesser – 300
  • Common – 800
  • Greater – 1200
  • Grand – 1600

Petty Soul Gem

Souls from the Creatures below will fit into a Petty Soul Gem.

Lesser Soul Gem

Souls from the Creatures below will fit into a Lesser Soul Gem.

Common Soul Gem

Souls from the Creatures below will fit into a Common Soul Gem.

Greater Soul Gem

Souls from the Creatures below will fit into a Greater Soul Gem.

Grand Soul Gem

Souls from the Creatures below will fit into a Grand Soul Gem.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Skyrim: Breaking Smithing, Alchemy, and Enchanting

I posted a brief guide on Alchemy, but how do you get some really screwed up and super powerful effects out of crafting? By breaking the system.

The idea behind it is simple enough. In Morrowind, where Alchemy was the only useful crafting skill, you could make fortify intellect potions that increased your effective Alchemy level, and then make more fortify intellect potions, which would be more powerful, drink them, and repeat. Skyrim's system works similarly, except that it is spread over three skills.

The basics of it are similar enough to Morrowind. You use the skills to enchance the skills, but instead of fortifying the same skill, you fortify both of the other two skills, and then switch to another skill, fortify the other two, switch to the third, fortify the other two, until you reach a point where there's no additional benefit. So, you make potions of fortify smithing and fortify enchanting, then use enchanting to buff two sets of gear that fortify smithing and fortify alchemy, then use smithing to make two sets of gear that fortify enchanting and fortify alchemy.

Simple enough of an exploit, eh?
-VG

Monday, November 21, 2011

More Skyrim Alchemy

Probably renting Skyrim later today, if I can find a copy (not having luck in that department), but I've been looking over information like mad to see what I'm missing in the mean time.

Grinding Alchemy is actually fairly simple, but time consuming. Alchemy skill increases in proportion to the value of the potion made. Since potions made with different items at different skills have different values, its hard to make a comprehensive list. The simplest way to grind it is to find a alchemy vendor with an alchemist table (I have heard the one by Whiterun is nice), buy up ingredients, make expensive potions, sell them, rest until their stock and gold are reset, and repeat.

In the beginning you will be more limited to what potions you can make, because you will not know most of the alchemy component's effects. As you grind, it will become easier to make potions (because you know more ingredient effects) but harder to level up (because of diminishing returns/higher xp requirements). A list of ingredients and effects is at the bottom of this post. The best potions are the most expensive (when you combine but before you craft it gives you a price). Potions with two or more effects are much more expensive than potions with single effects. Do yourself a favor and grind speechcraft at the same time.


Nice Potions to Grind (Some prices may vary; values are what the alchemy craft gives you, not the actual sell price)
Fortify Health (Value: 197; Ingredients: Blue Mountain Flower, Wheat)
Fortify Magicka (Value: 186; Ingredients: Red Mountain Flower, Briar Heart)
Damage Stamina Regen (Value: 285; Ingredients: Histcarp, Wheat)
Resist Frost (Value: 156; Ingredients: Purple Mountain Flower, Thistle Branch)
Resist Poison (Value: 167; Ingredients; Garlic, Troll Fat)
Damage Health: (Value: 226; Ingredients Red Mountain Flower, River Betty)

Damage Stamina Regen (Value: 1000-4000; Ingredients: Giant's Toe, Wheat)

Consequently; a smart alchemist makes potions that help him fight...that's the whole point of the discipline. Enjoy!

So that should get you started. As promised the list of items.

  • Cure Disease (Charred Skeever Hide, Hawk Feathers, Mudcrab Chitin, Vampire Dust)
  • Damage Health (Crimson Nirnroot, Deathbell, Ectoplasm, Falmer Ear, Human Flesh, Human Heart, Imp Stool, Jarrin Root, Nightshade, Nirnroot, Red Mountain Flower, River Betty, Skeever Tail, Small Antlers, Troll Fat, Void Salts)
  • Damage Magicka (Butterfly Wing, Chaurus Eggs, Daedra Heart, Eye of Sabre Cat, Glow Dust, Hagraven Feathers, Hanging Moss, Human Heart, Jarrin Root, Luna Moth Wing, Namira's Rot, Nordic Barnacle)
  • Damage Magicka Regen (Bear Claws, Blue Butterfly Wing, Blue Mountain Flower, Chicken's Egg, Glow Dust, Hanging Moss, Human Heart, Jarrin Root, Nightshade, Spider Egg, Spriggan Sap)
  • Damage Stamina (Blisterwort, Blue Butterfly Wing, Bone Meal, Canis Root, Crimson Nirnroot, Cyrodilic Spadetail, Giant's Toe, Jarrin Root, Nirnroot, Rock Warbler Egg, Spider Egg)
  • Damage Stamina Regen (Creep Cluster, Daedra Heart, Frost Mirriam, Giant's Toe, Histcarp, Juniper Berries, Large Antlers, Silverside Perch, Skeever Tail, Wheat)
  • Fear (Blue Dartwing, Cyrodilic Spadetail, Daedra Heart, Namira's Rot, Powdered Mammoth Tusk)
  • Fortify Alteration (Grass Pod, River Betty, Spriggan Sap)
  • Fortify Barter (Butterfly Wing, Dragon's Tongue, Hagraven Claw, Tundra Cotton)
  • Fortify Block (Bleeding Crown, Briar Heart, Honeycomb, Pearl, Slaughterfish Scales, Tundra Cotton)
  • Fortify Carry Weight (Creep Cluster, Giant's Toe, Hawk Beak, River Betty, Scaly Pholiata, Wisp Wrappings)
  • Fortify Conjuration (Blue Butterfly Wing, Blue Mountain Flower, Bone Meal, Frost Salts, Hagraven Feathers, Lavender)
  • Fortify Destruction (Beehive Husk, Ectoplasm, Glow Dust, Glowing Mushroom, Nightshade, Wisp Wrappings)
  • Fortify Enchanting (Blue Butterfly Wing, Hagraven Claw, Snowberries, Spriggan Sap)
  • Fortify Health (Bear Claws, Blue Mountain Flower, Giant's Toe, Glowing Mushroom, Hanging Moss, Wheat)
  • Fortify Heavy Armor (Ice Wraith Teeth, Sabre Cat Tooth, Slaughterfish Scales, Thistle Branch, White Cap)
  • Fortify Illusion (Dragon's Tongue, Dwarven Oil, Mora Tapinella, Scaly Pholiata, Taproot)
  • Fortify Light Armor (Beehive Husk, Hawk Feathers, Honeycomb, Luna Moth Wing, Skeever Tail)
  • Fortify Lockpicking (Falmer Ear, Namira's Rot, Pine Thrush Egg, Spider Egg)
  • Fortify Magicka (Briar Heart, Ectoplasm, Histcarp, Jazbay Grapes, Red Mountain Flower, Tundra Cotton, Void Salts)
  • Fortify Marksman (Canis Root, Elves Ear, Juniper Berries, Spider Egg)
  • Fortify One-Handed (Bear Claws, Canis Root, Hanging Moss, Hawk Feathers, Rock Warbler Egg, Small Pearl)
  • Fortify Pickpocket (Blue Dartwing, Nordic Barnacle, Orange Dartwing, Slaughterfish Egg)
  • Fortify Restoration (Abecean Longfin, Cyrodilic Spadetail, Salt Pile, Small Antlers, Small Pearl)
  • Fortify Smithing (Blisterwort, Glowing Mushroom, Sabre Cat Tooth, Spriggan Sap)
  • Fortify Sneak (Abecean Longfin, Beehive Husk, Frost Mirriam, Hawk Feathers, Human Flesh, Powdered Mammoth Tusk, Purple Mountain Flower)
  • Fortify Stamina (Chaurus Eggs, Garlic, Large Antlers, Lavender, Slaughterfish Egg, Torchbug Thorax)
  • Fortify Two-handed (Dragon's Tongue, Fly Amanita, Troll Fat) - Possibly other ingredients
  • Frenzy (Blisterwort, Falmer Ear, Fly Amanita, Hagraven Feathers, Human Heart, Troll Fat)
  • Invisibility (Chaurus Eggs, Crimson Nirnroot, Ice Wraith Teeth, Luna Moth Wing, Nirnroot, Vampire Dust)
  • Lingering Damage Health (Imp Stool, Mora Tapinella, Orange Dartwing, Slaughterfish Egg, Slaughterfish Scales)
  • Lingering Damage Magicka (Hagraven Claw, Purple Mountain Flower, Swamp Fungal Pod, Torchbug Thorax, Wheat)
  • Lingering Damage Stamina (Butterfly Wing, Chicken's Egg, Nightshade, Small Antlers)
  • Paralysis (Briar Heart, Canis Root, Human Flesh, Imp Stool, Swamp Fungal Pod)
  • Ravage Health (Cyrodilic Spadetail, Eye of Sabre Cat, Giant Lichen, Jazbay Grapes, Silverside Perch, Skeever Tail)
  • Ravage Magicka (Frost Mirriam, Grass Pod, Lavender, Orange Dartwing, Red Mountain Flower, White Cap)
  • Ravage Stamina (Bee, Bone Meal, Deathbell, Honeycomb, Thistle Branch)
  • Regenerate Health (Garlic, Juniper Berries, Luna Moth Wing, Namira's Rot, Nordic Barnacle, Vampire Dust)
  • Regenerate Magicka (Dwarven Oil, Fire Salts, Garlic, Jazbay Grapes, Moon Sugar, Salt Pile, Taproot)
  • Regenerate Stamina (Bee, Fly Amanita, Mora Tapinella, Scaly Pholiata)
  • Resist Fire (Bone Meal, Dragon's Tongue, Elves Ear, Fire Salts, Fly Amanita, Mudcrab Chitin, Snowberries)
  • Resist Frost (Frost Mirriam, Frost Salts, Hawk Beak, Moon Sugar, Purple Mountain Flower, Silverside Perch, Slaughterfish Scales, Small Pearl, Snowberries, Thistle Branch)
  • Resist Magic (Bleeding Crown, Chicken's Egg, Crimson Nirnroot, Hagraven Claw, Lavender, Nirnroot, Tundra Cotton, Void Salts, Wisp Wrappings)
  • Resist Poison (Beehive Husk, Charred Skeever Hide, Falmer Ear, Garlic, Grass Pod, Mudcrab Chitin, Slaughterfish Egg, Thistle Branch, Troll Fat)
  • Resist Shock (Blue Dartwing, Glow Dust, Glowing Mushroom, Hawk Beak, Pearl, Pine Thrush Egg, Snowberries, Swamp Fungal Pod)
  • Restore Health (Blisterwort, Blue Dartwing, Blue Mountain Flower, Butterfly Wing, Charred Skeever Hide, Daedra Heart, Eye of Sabre Cat, Imp Stool, Rock Warbler Egg, Swamp Fungal Pod, Wheat)
  • Restore Magicka (Briar Heart, Creep Cluster, Dwarven Oil, Ectoplasm, Elves Ear, Fire Salts, Frost Salts, Giant Lichen, Grass Pod, Human Flesh, Moon Sugar, Mora Tapinella, Pearl, Red Mountain Flower, Taproot, Vampire Dust, White Cap)
  • Restore Stamina (Bear Claws, Bee, Charred Skeever Hide, Eye of Sabre Cat, Hawk Beak, Histcarp, Honeycomb, Large Antlers, Mudcrab Chitin, Orange Dartwing, Pearl, Pine Thrush Egg, Powdered Mammoth Tusk, Purple Mountain Flower, Sabre Cat Tooth, Silverside Perch, Small Pearl, Torchbug Thorax, Wisp Wrappings)
  • Slow (Deathbell, Large Antlers, River Betty, Salt Pile)
  • Waterbreathing (Chicken's Egg, Histcarp, Nordic Barnacle)
  • Weakness to Fire (Bleeding Crown, Frost Salts, Ice Wraith Teeth, Juniper Berries, Moon Sugar, Powdered Mammoth Tusk)
  • Weakness to Frost (Abecean Longfin, Elves Ear, Fire Salts, Ice Wraith Teeth, White Cap)
  • Weakness to Magic (Creep Cluster, Dwarven Oil, Jazbay Grapes, Rock Warbler Egg, Salt Pile, Scaly Pholiata, Taproot, Torchbug Thorax)
  • Weakness to Poison (Abecean Longfin, Bleeding Crown, Chaurus Eggs, Deathbell, Giant Lichen, Pine Thrush Egg, Sabre Cat Tooth, Small Antlers)
  • Weakness to Shock (Bee, Giant Lichen, Hagraven Feathers, Void Salts)
-VG

Friday, November 18, 2011

Paradox Interactive and Multiplayer Modes

I'm a big fan of games like Entropia Univeralis and Hearts of Iron 3, as well as their developer, Paradox Interactive. Sure we've had our ins and outs, but their games are very solid, fun, and deep. There's one huge problem with them, in my opinion, and that is multiplayer. The problems with multiplayer stem from two areas: length of gameplay and no defined goals.

Length of gameplay isn't always a bad thing, but given that Hearts of Iron 3 runs from 1936 through 1948, there's a lot of game there. Most multiplayer games start in medias res between 1939 and 1942, but that's still a lot of gameplay. Add in the need for a constant speed to facilitate multiplayer, and you have a lot of time commitment for multiplayer to work. The large scope of the single player game is the best part, in my opinion, and multiplayer just makes that drag on. Usually playing single player I will divide it between several long gameplay sessions, or dozens of shorter ones. Entropia Universalis is even worse, as its timeframe spans four hundred years.

Lack of defined goals is another big issue for multiplayer. It usually comes down to eliminating all the other players by any means necessary. Hearts of Iron 3 gets around this by assigning goals to each of the factions, which helps somewhat, but Entropia Universalis doesn't have that benefit. This means that multiplayer games drift between aimlessness and utter destruction. Which is a slight bit better than games where one side gets an advantage and the other side is doomed from there out.

That said, the time commitment is a worse problem than the lack of goals. Players can always come up with goals, but they cannot do much to limit the time needed for the game. Sins of a Solar Empire suffers the same problem, even though it is a fun game, multiplayer is torture.

Just some thoughts
-VG

Webcomic Review: Loaded Dice

In our first ever review of a webcomic, I have chosen a recent addition to my reading list: Loaded Dice written by Olan Suddeth and drawn by Brittany Connolly.


(Image is property of Loaded Dice and its creators; click to link to their comic)

Loaded dice is a webcomic about a group of D&D players and their sadistic DM (I might be generalizing a bit there). Currently the group is on their second adventure, where beastmen have been their primary adversaries, and Steve, the DM, is up to his old tricks. I won't ruin any of the fun for you, but it is a good read, especially for someone with a sadistic DM streak in them, like myself.

Overall the artwork is solid. There is a good level of detail, and the characters are well and uniquely drawn. The only thing I find lacking is real differences between the fantasy and the reality pannels, but that is an aesthetic difference, and one up to individual taste. I like to see visual differences between "the real world" and "the fantasy world." This is something done better, in my opinion, by the original artist, Tiana Jackson, than the current one, Brittany Connolly, but as I said, it is a matter of taste (no offense to you, Brittany, I still think the artwork is good, and a far cry from anything I could dream of attempting).

The writing is also solid. I don't think there's anything exemplary here, its pretty standard fare as far as DMing goes. The writing does, however, recreate that feeling of a D&D session admirably. The tense moments rolling dice, the sadistic DM behind his screen of doom, and the very diverse group of characters. These characters each have their own foibles, but they are also fairly deep (insofar as 80 comics can show us). The puns are....terrible, however. That's kinda the point, and I do love the cheesiness of them.

Now for my arbitrary rating system:

I will rate comics in four categories: Major Plot, that is how the comics connect to one another in a complete sense, Minor Plot, that is how the individual comics stand up on their own (this is a serial work), Artistry (that is the overall beauty of the artwork), and Comic Art (how the artwork works with the comic).

Major Plot: 6 out of 10: The major plot is very good, and feels like a D&D module, as well it should. The one issue I have is that most of the suspense is put into the individual panels, and I feel more can be done between pages to fill out the suspense.

Minor Plot: 7 out of 10: Usually this is very good, most comics have a joke or two, and each bit is able to stand on its own. The use of suspense within each page is good.

Artistry: 8 out of 10: I'm not a great judge of art, but this comic looks good. The characters are realistic looking, and the fantasy elements are fleshed out beautifully.

Comic Art: 6 out of 10: While it looks good, I question how well it works with its subject matter. The first few pages of the adventure look amazingly epic, but that tone dies down swiftly into a more solid and reliable form. High Fantasy, to me, needs that epicness in it somewhere, and it isn't delivered enough in my opinion.

Total Score: 27 out of 40: A better than average webcomic that I think all D&D junkies should read.

That's it for now, until next time
-VG

Skyrim: Here Be Dragons

Okay, since I saw the commercials for it, something has bothered me about Skyrim. That thing is the frequency of dragon fights. Having still not played it (trying to justify the expense still, bear in mind I'm married so I have a partner to convince), I'm uncertain of how it impacts gameplay, but talking to several people that have, they certainly do appear a lot.

Dragons appearing a lot is a big burr in my saddle. Dragons are epic monsters that any Dungeon Master knows make a dramatic encounter, but loose all appeal if they are overused. When I see people posting that they've killed five or seven dragons and haven't gotten far in the plot, it worries me about the fun of the game. Dragons should not be lemmings to be killed at leisure, but they are dramatic and awesome. There's a balance there, and I think that Skyrim gets it right...or is just beyond right and on the overused side.

The reason I think this is because the dragon fights (at least the videos I've seen) are beautiful. The dragon does flyby breath attacks, screams in to fight on the ground, and is a hard encounter. This is great, as it makes the dragons a big threat, and a fun fight. Nothing is more boring than spamming a mouse click for ten minutes with a monster standing in front of you. Dragons moving around, using different attacks, and hitting and taking hits that are hard is amazing.

Now the big detractor is the ease of finding a dragon (seems like you just have to go to certain areas to find their spawns) and the frequency of their appearance (like I said, 7 dragons in a short period of gameplay). Dragons in games like WoW are still big encounters because 1. they are usually elites and need a group (talking real dragons here, not dragonkin), and 2. they are fairly rare. Dragons are bosses...at least dragons bigger than whelps. Heck, a good number of the hostile dragons in the game are raid bosses (including the delicious Zomnyxia battle...undead dragons ftw). Skyrim doesn't give this feel IMHO. They are common enough in the game that its not a surprise to be attacked by one...well, not any more than being attacked by random big bad #3 at least.

I'm starting to rant, so I will stop now...I will definately have to rent Skyrim soon if I don't buy it outright, just to get a fix.
-VG

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thoughts on Webcomics

Going to briefly chat about webcomics. it seems these days that everyone has one, and they all increase the popularity of a site by a large amount, or at least that is what it appears to me. Now, most of these people, at least those with the most hits, are good artists, good writers, and have a good reason to have webcomics on their site. Others, however, do not.

There are numerous examples of "good" webcomics, but it is ultimately up to taste. I vastly prefer story to art (though exceptionally crappy art is a turn off), and as such, I prefer the works of Somer (Least I could Do, Looking For Group, and The Gutters), Rich Burlew (probably spelled that wrong of Order of the Stick), Rob and Xin (of Erfworld), and, of course, Thunt (of Goblins). Now all of these have both amazing art and great story (especially the level of detail in erfworld). It really takes both to be super succesful, and these guys have it.

But what about those who lack one or the other? Simply put, you can overcome badish art, but you cannot replace a good storyline. The story is what keeps people coming back every few days to read more.

I'm considering doing a comic spotlight now...especially grabbing those lesser known comics, and criticizing them. I think I'll do it, but not tonight.

Anyway, rambling now so I will stop. If you know of a good comic you think I should see leave a comment, and if anyone is looking for a good writer, let me know.

Thanks
-VG

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Academic Articles Suck

Okay, for those of you who do not know, I am finishing up my Masters Degree in English. As such, I am deeply immersed in an exit requirement writing academic papers. These papers have me looking through dozens of academic articles and I'm frankly annoyed by it all. Don't get me wrong, I respect the field, I respect the opinions of these article writers, but I feel that they are being overly verbose about their subjects.

I can appreciate being precise, but its ludicrous to spend half a page on a thesis statement that isn't very clear at all. Maybe if it was clearer I wouldn't get so angry, but having to read, and then reread an article just to see whether or not it is even relevant to my argument sucks. Especially considering that most article writers believe that a heavy handed vocabulary makes them seem smarter. This is especially infuriating when the article writer assumes that you have read the same sources they use, instead of being able to place the source within their own work. I know that I never would have gotten away with writing a paper in which I cited a source and said the equivalent of "well, you should have read this source if you are interested in my article, so I'm going to make some obscure reference to it, and you will have to read the source to get how it applies to my argument."

Which brings me to my next rant...the whole edifice of academia is a lie. A typical paper in any discipline, except maybe sciences that have experimentation as their subject, is based on rhetoric, referencing other works to gain credibility. These works, in turn, have referenced more credible works to gain credibility, and so on. It makes the equivalent of a google search spiral, where people wanting high google ratings would make dozens of blog sites that link to one another, and since google rates a page based on the rating of pages that link to it, the whole thing grows exponentially. Then all you need to do is link your real page to the farmed pages, and viola; instant high ranked page (though I think they've modified their crawlers since this scam was popular). Academia is no different, it is endless stacking of credibility on sources that are only credible because their sources are credible, which are credible because their sources in turn are credible. Eventually it goes back far enough that the "credible" sources are major players in academics...but they got there the same way, by being "credible" by association with former "credible" sources. It's all a pointless lie built upon a lie.

The point I'm trying to make is that, no matter how valid your opinion, if you cannot support it by the arbitrarily credible sources, then your opinion is invalidated by academia. It's a pointlessly stupid practice, and yet this is how our colleges are built. The only real knowledge seems to come from the sciences, and even those are spoiled by opinion and speculation (don't get me started on climate change and evolution, I know you don't have all day to read the wall of text that would ensue.)

Anyway, mostly bitching because I am tired of reading these articles...oh well, back to work.
-VG

Alchemy in Skyrim

I've yet to play Skyrim, both because of lack of time and because I cannot justify the cost for a game that will have the same playability in six months when it will be twenty dollars cheaper at least (even more if I get it used from gamestop like I do for most of my games). However, I've been looking over the crafting even further, and have some thoughts.

First, I'm glad that the game allows you to make and use poisons. Don't get me wrong, you could make "poisons" in Morrowind, but you could only use them on yourself, which made them pointless (most of the "poisons" were just bad secondary effects for good potions). Not to mention the Purity perk which removes helpful stats from poisons and hurtful ones from potions. All in all, a solid improvement to the system.

Secondly, I'm glad that the intellect stacking problem has been solved by removing fortify intellect from the list of potions (at least that I've seen, I could be wrong). In Morrowind, you could make intellect potions, drink them, and make more. This would increase your effective alchemy level, because its intellect based. Also, since your alchemy screen paused the world, you could abuse the low duration of those first potions. It's quite beautiful in its simplicity, but also terribly game breaking when you have buffs that last for 8 years and fortify your skills and attributes (which should have a base max of 100) to millions.

In terms of a guide for alchemy being here, sorry I don't have the knowledge to help you. However, I can point you in the right direction. There are countless guides that show the herbs and the effects each has. After that, you just have to match two herbs that provide the effect without having an adverse effect matching as well. Then make your potions, the higher the alchemy skill the better the potion.

Have fun
-VG

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Skyrim Crafting

Okay, I've been trying hard to avoid outright buying what I feel are overpriced new games ($60 is a lot of money for someone on a budget), but Skyrim might break my will. The reason is not the dragons, the fact its Elder Scrolls, or the overall gameplay....but the crafting.

If you've read this blog you know I am a proponent of crafting in RPGs. While I haven't played Skyrim yet, descriptions from my friends and reading about it online has me believing that they have taken the alchemy system from Morrowind and made it much better. In addition they have added back enchanting, and various smithing/tanning/etc stuff as well. Is it perfect? Probably not, but it is definately a step in the right direction (over not having a crafting system at all). This sounds awesome...even more awesome than fighting dragons.

Brief thoughts, but I'm still debating getting the game now or waiting for a price drop/someone to sell it to gamestop to get it at a discount.
-VG

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

More On Economics Games

I was thinking more on economic games, and I have realized that it is a bigger genre than I originally thought. It seems to be made of a couple kinds of games: Trading games, production games, and a hybrid of the two.

Trading games are pretty self explanatory. You take the role of a merchant or trading empire, and you move goods from place to place to make profit (alternatively if this is a stock style game, you buy and sell stocks). These games are your space merchants, port royale, and the like. You don't care where goods are made, so long as you can trade them to make money. It does you good to have production facilities run out of raw materials because it will drive the price up. Your goals are to become richer, and that is about it.

Production games are the opposite. You have facilities that make things that you need raw materials for. Sometimes you will have to make farms and the like to produce these items, but more likely you will "trade" for them, usually in the form of an expense on your balance sheet and little else. Your money comes from the "value added" by refining/reprocessing the materials that enter your facility.

The hybrid version of this incorporates some of both. You are a merchant, but you can own production buildings. Because of this, you have to take an active role in supplying your facility, either by offering higher buy prices than average or by bringing the goods to your facility yourself. However, you can also can ensure the best price by selling them where they are really needed.

The game I desire is in the hybrid sphere because it is interesting. You are getting two or more games in one; the trading and the production game, as well as the hybrid areas. I'd prefer a space based game, but am not that picky.
-VG

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Economy Games

I've been playing a lot of economic games lately, Capitalism, Imperialism 2, being a trade empire in Europa Universalis 3...and I've found it all extremely lacking in that something that I am interested in.

I used to play Space Merchant, a game that is now Space Merchant Empires...it was fun, but now there are too few players for me to be interested in it. The best part was moving stuff from trade station to trade station, being able to take over and build stuff on planets, and constantly improving your ship and stuff.

There simply isn't a single player game that recreates this gameplay. X3 Terran Conflict comes close, but it is not a very well optimized game, and lags badly on my systems (including my desktop which is not so far behind current gen as to not be able to run that kind of game. There are games like Port Royale 2, which at least allows you to own businesses in addition ot being a dynamic trading game...

Oh well, I will keep looking. I'd like to be a single player in a dynamic world. Basically all the fun of the multiplayer games but able to do so without an internet connection, or dealing with people wanting to be complete assholes.

cheers
-VG

Friday, November 4, 2011

On Pandas

Frickin Pandas.

When I started playing Warcraft 3, there were no Pandas. When one made an appearance in the multiplayer and "founding of orgrimmar" parts, I thought it was funny and a nice hero to have in a party.

I did not think "hey, I want to have these things running all around my MMORPG"

Don't get me wrong, pandas are cute. The Chen's empty keg quest was a lovely piece of lore, but the whole reason they were interesting is because they were rare. I think you had the one in the bonus campaign in WC3 and the unlockable one during the rescue Illidan quest. They were rare, and because of that, they were interesting (as stated). Much like Jedi should have been in SWG, it should have been something you see rarely, but never en masse.

Now, since this is an MMORPG, there's no good way of limiting availability of something without people getting mad that they didn't have an opportunity to get it. I'm okay with it being unlockable through a time-intensive and difficult quest chain (as fewer people will have access to it), but tell me that on day 1 of this expansion we won't be inundated with panda DKs and panda monks everywhere. Imagine the DKs we had when WOTLK came out....every 2 minutes the faction leader yelled his "welcome the death knights" speech. It was annoying. Now we will have "welcome the brother panda" speech.

Don't get me started on the either or faction thing. At least most of the time when someone is coming you can roughly tell which side they are on. Now if you see a panda panda-ing down the road (wtf mount will be both asian and big enough to hold them? Or will it be the worgen solution?) you don't know if he's going to give you a bear hug or kill you with a bear hug.

And monks being healers? Seriously? Why not make them evasion-heavy tanks if you're going to do anything. Give them a stance or style or something that increases armor and stamina like a druid's bear form, and their evasion. That's much more monk-like than "my chi heals you" My opinion of course.

End of Rant, as you were
-VG