Skyrim: Hearthfire – The Dragonborn Buys a Dolly

I’m not sure why I bought Hearthfire, except that it was on sale for like a dollar, and I’d already spent several of those earlier at the casino bar, so my judgment was either

1. impaired
or
2. better than usual

depending on your opinion of me.

Anyway, I did, and soon after received a visit from the Courier.  I panicked for a moment until I remembered I wasn’t playing New Vegas,  then he handed me a letter asking me to consider the benefits of adoption.

I wasn’t planning on starting a family;  my home life was complicated enough, what with my wife having an affair with my housecarlnot to mention my obsession with Lydia.  So adding a child into that kind of situation just didn’t seem right.

But, I mean, how could I say no to this face?

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Especially when she tells me how her parents died and her dog ran away and her aunt kicked her out on the streets and now she has to work 16 hours a day assembling iPhones.  Seriously, your aunt kicked you out?  That’s so hardcore, it’ls like living in a Dickens novel.

And since they haven’t lifted the restraining order from the last time I asked the biology department what would happen if a cat mated with a monkey, it looks like adoption is the way to go.

Although apparently you have to build a house first, because when I offered to be Lucia’s daddy (is there any way that dialogue could not come off as creepy?  Ans: No.) she helpfully informed me I didn’t have a room for her to sleep in.

Right.

Because currently, you’re sleeping on cobblestones.  I may not be Bob Villa, but even some straw by the fire’s gotta beat rocks, kids.  I’m starting to understand why your aunt sent you to the iPhone factory.

But never mind.  I’ve got some land over by Falkreath that’s zoned for development.  Let’s go build a settlement, since that worked so well in Fallout 4.  At least Skyrim has a tutorial:

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That seems … less than helpful.

Oh.  Wait.  Apparently all I have to do is convert an existing room into a child’s room.  Ok, I guess since I have the kid and all, I can give up my alchemy lab in Riften.  I was only using it to homebrew BlackBriar mead anyway, and now that I’m a daddy, I probably need to stop hanging out with the guys at the Frat House.

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Well, all was well except Iona had a freakin’ meltdown.  No, Iona, I didn’t ask you opinion, ’cause you’re not the one who had to pony up the gold for the renovations, ok?  Sure, it’s a little crowded now, but whaddya want?  You wanna go pick up a hammer and renovate Lakeview Manor yourself?  Didn’t think so.  So now, I’m off to deal with this Harkon fellow …

… wazzat?

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Would I like to play a game?  Um … I really need to go take care of this vampire lord

Okay, just one quick game, then I have to go.

So I’m supposed to be playing tag which, considering my sense of direction on the best of days, is probably a bad idea.  I started out on the dock of Honeysides, and never did find Lucia.  She may have wound up in Afghanistan, for all I know.  I ended up swimming somewhere in the lake outside Goldenglow estates.  The quest marker said I was done, but I felt kind of bad just fast traveling to Fort Dawnguard leaving Lucia hiding in a barrel someplace, but I knew I’d never find her anyway.

When I finally got back and found she was still alive, and CPS wasn’t waiting for me, I let her have a dog.  The next day, she shows up with this:

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Um … wait.  Lucia?  That isn’t a dog, honey, that’s a fox.  Vulpes vulpes, I believe.  It is not a pet.  It is a wild animal.  It … watches you while you sleep.

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Maybe she would have been safer on the streets.

So now I’ve got Ysolda, Iona, Lucia, and a possibly rabid canid running around a 2-room lakeside shack.  I think I need to get some space.  Maybe take a vacation.  I hear nice things about Solstheim …

wazzat?

No, sorry, Lucia, I really don’t have time to play another game.  What’s that?  Did I bring you something nice?  Lesse … um … I’ve got:

10,000 gold pieces looted from ancestral tombs
enough weaponry to go on a UN watchlist
the severed heads of my enemies
an ancient forbidden tome of magic that melts the eyes of anyone foolish enough to read it
and
the totemic shield of a plague god.

So … take your pick!

Wazzat? A dolly? Why no, I did not actually happen to come across any dollies while I was looting the tombs of Draugr Deathlords.

<high powered orphan guilt>

Yes, love, Daddy will fetch you a dolly.

I suppose at some point I should do something about this “World Eater” guy, and maybe think about handling all these damn vampires, but for now – where the heck do I find a dolly?  I haven’t come across any while raiding Forsworn camps or ancient wizard towers, although really, that sounds like a pretty neat idea.  I mean, if I ran across a Master Necromancer who had a stuffed ragdoll named Pookie, I’d beat feet the hell out of that joint.  That’s a whole nuther kind of crazy, right there.

Turns out they have them in the shop that I don’t remember the name of, in Solitude, with the super snobby elf lady … oh yeah, Radiant Rainment.  So I just popped in there, then spent 10 hours drinking in the tavern because fast travel messes up the game clock worse than jetlag, and then easy as pie, I got …

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HOLY SWEET MOTHER OF JESUS WHAT IS THAT THING?!?

Straight from the nightmare factories of the Iron City of Dis to your child’s midnight bed wetting terror – the Dolly Of Ultimate Evil, from Hasbrononono.

Being a kid in Skyrim must suck.  You gotta work in the iPhone factory all day and night, get kidnapped by Forsworn cultists, and your only comfort is some demonic entity made from sackcloth, with soul sucking black holes where their eyes should be, that they have the nerve to call a “dolly.”

The way it’s framed there, it almost looks like it’s actual size, like maybe it’s just hanging out in the doorway until they notice it, so it can drag them in the closet and suffocate them.  I think I saw that in a horror movie once.  You can almost hear the music box playing in the background.

But it’s what Lucia wants, probably to go with the rabid fox, because apparently I adopted Christina Ricci.

Me?  I’m gonna give her the Doll of Evil and beat it the hell out of there.  She’s Ysolda’s problem.  I’m gonna hang out with plague gods and world eating dragons.  You know, normal people.  Not creepy little kids.

 

 

Call of Cthulhu: The Most Important Question

I’ve scoured the Internet high and low, to no avail.  I’ve gazed into the Nietzschean abyss, but lo! there was no wisdom to be found.  I even asked the crackheads at the Bottle Shop, and they usually know everything.

No one can tell me the most important thing about Call of Cthulhu:

Will we be able to unlock new haircuts?!?

Investigator
I’m thinking … Bob Ross afro

Or at least – some new hats?

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Maybe someone will write a mod

Or … OMG … could it be possible!  Think of the sanity-shattering implications of that most awful truth, kept hidden for centuries in the unhallowed corners of the distant and abominable earth, watched over by drug-crazed adepts of forbidden cults ….

Will we be able to dress up Cthulhu?!?

Speaking of the maddening abyss, Sunless Sea is free to play on Steam.  Go get eaten by a squid.

 

Call of Cthulhu: The Noodle Dream

In case the inauguration wasn’t enough to cause permanent SAN loss, the good folks over at Cyanide Studios have released another trailer for Call of Cthulhu:

 

which delves into the terrible nightmare world of … the visual arts?

What is it with horror and painters?  Just last autumn, jonesing for a horror video game to get into the proper Halloween mood, I picked up Layers of Fear during one of Steams “F Your Budget” sales, and it looks like CoC and LoF both went shopping at the same trope store.  You’ve got

Insane painters.  I guess it’s a stressful art.  Makes no sense to me.  Back in school, the kids who could draw were always super popular, while us poet types were forced to hang around with the shady, disreputable band kids.  Insane poets, now; that I could understand.  Insane mathematicians?  Hell, it’s practically a job requirement.  But insane drawer-ers?  Nope.

Creepy paintings.  Obviously.  What other kind would insane artists paint?

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CoC 1 paint.PNG

Actually, I think an insane artist should paint only happy pastels, maybe with bunnies and flowers.  That would be awesome.  And by awesome, I mean “pants wetting terrifying.”

Fire.  Because you’ve got to do something with all the creepy paintings would couldn’t offload on eBay.  Also because what would be the fun in wandering around a perfectly structurally sound house with running  water and working electricity?

Skewed visual perspective.  We should have seen this one coming, but we couldn’t because the angles were wrong.  Ha ha!  Narf!  But seriously, while it makes sense for Call of Cthulhu, I’m not sure why a schizophrenic painter would acid wash his eyesight.  I mean, I have anxiety disorder, and my most hellish nights are usually when I see things for what they really are.  But I guess a two hour video game that consisted of staring at a barren room while you tried to calm your breathing would be bordering on postmodernism.  So F that.

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The doll is really just an added bonus.

But the part that really got me was the line about “dozens of dead whales.  With … lacerations.”  If nothing else, the smell is going to be abominable.

Also, we get this guy:

bug-eyes

who … okay, who’s with me?  This guy needs to be in the next Star Wars movie.

We still don’t know much about the plot, although I’m willing to guess it doesn’t end well for the hero.  You play Private Detective Edward Pierce, who is hired to unravel the mysterious doings on a small New England island (I assume it’s New England; it is HPL) only to find, as with all good horror, that he has become trapped within the story.  And worse, that this may have been his fate all along.  Toward the end of the trailer, a mysterious voice describes dreams of a “lightless city,” and then asks Pierce:

“Have you had those dreams as well?”

“Is that the one with all the noodles?  Wait – you mean you had the Noodle Dream too?!?

“Those aren’t noodles, Mr. Pierce.  They’re tentacles.”

AIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEE!

Skyrim: Ooh, shiny!

I couldn’t have been more than seven or eight, I guess, when I saw my first UFO.  Maybe not even that old, since Star Wars came out when I was around four1, and I define everything in my life from that moment, and I wasn’t thinking about Stormtroopers when I saw it.  Call it 1978, then, when I saw the UFO gliding silently back and forth just above the backyard fence line.  Back then, there was nothing but vacant lots behind us, so I had a clear view, and there was no mistaking it: it was a narrow band of white lights rotating vertically in the air as the craft itself moved silently back and forth, almost as if it was looking … or, maybe … hunting … for something.

It was night, and I’d never seen a UFO before, so I had no way of knowing how far away it was.  At one moment it seemed little more than a speck in the distance; the next, it might have been hovering directly over the fence.  And while that would have made it a very small UFO, that wasn’t much comfort to a pre-K rugrat who was witnessing an alien invasion in his own backyard.

Naturally, I ran inside screaming at the top of my lungs.  Fortunately, and further proof that life rarely meets its full potential for comedy, the babysitter didn’t faint or have a panic attack.  Instead, she pointed out that what I was seeing was a night-flying advertising plane:

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But it’s an alien plane, I tell you!

I don’t know if they even have them anymore, but back in 1978, advertising planes were the hottest thing next to the G Channel Saturday night movie2.  During the day, they’d tow banners for for insurance companies and tire stores.  At night, using esoteric technology we still do not fully understand3, they’d use a lighted banner that ran across the wings:

 

Tell me that isn’t a UFO.  OK, maybe the propeller noise gives it away, but my personal UFO was too far away for me to hear that.

Ever since that day, I’ve had a fascination with lights in the sky, like the reflections of car headlights across low-lying clouds (my second UFO sighting) or the test-firing of a Polaris missile of the Pacific Coast (seen at the drive-in, which went the way of the Edsel, the dinosaurs, and the G-channel movie).

Which is why Skyrim is messing with my head.

Fallout, too:

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So … SHINY … 

But I think Skyrim’s visual style makes those lights more tempting – I’ve walked through parks that looked a lot like Riften, but I haven’t yet walked through the urban ruins of a post-apocalyptic city4,, which means there’s less to relate to in the darkness of Fallout.

So very often I’ll be roaming around Skyrim late at night and I’ll see, off in the distance:

And … I … just … can’t … help … myself!  Like a moth to the flame … and usually with the same results, ’cause it’s not like anything wandering the wilderness of Skyrim is looking to sell you Amway insurance5.

Granted, the light isn’t in the sky, precisely, but it makes up for that by reminding me of a jack o’ lantern.  In fact, maybe it’s not just lights in the sky, but lights in the darkness, or unusual lights in the darkness …  the actinic glare of streetlights, or the dull tint of taillights; even the cheerful glow of a porch light is too common, too expected.  But the flickering orange grin of a jack o’ lantern in the warm velvet night of October, or the electric flash of a radio tower aircraft warning beacon… something is happening with them.  There are secrets to be found.

In Skyrim, those secrets are usually fatal:

 

But I just can’t help it! I see a flash in the darkness and I wonder if it’s a video glitch, or maybe the alcohol is beginning to dissolve my optic nerves … then I see it again … is something there …?  There is!  And it turns out to be a pyromancer hurling flaming death at a dragon, all of which had nothing to do with me.

That’s part of the appeal, I think – you don’t expect to come across activity at night, in the wilderness.  You’re not expecting anything to be happening, out there in the woods, except for the occasional wolf.  Fantasy is about the forgotten, the lost and lonely – ancient dungeons, untravelled wilderness.  And especially at night, when horrors abound, you don’t expect to see people about.  And the glow in the distance is the mark of something active, often something intelligent.

Of course, when those others are a void demigod and an Elder dragon, that’s probably a party you don’t want any part of:

So I’m trying to restrain myself, although I’m not sure why, since in any video game, the general rule is, if you can see it, you’re gonna have to kill it.  Which makes me wonder why Lydia is always screaming “I’ll kill you if I have to!” ’cause, c’mon Liddie Bug, it’s not like there’s some other way this fight is gonna turn out.

I thought I had a pretty good handle on my peculiar obsession, until I moved up here to cow country.  From what I hear, there are more UFOs than people up here, and the only reason we have any cows left is because the aliens won’t go near all the secret military bases.  Now I find myself listening to the police scanner and watching the horizon for that telltale glow.  Which is when Skyrim decided to go meta on me, because I went outside last night and discovered …

… my neighbor has a drone.

Yeah, this is not gonna help the schizophrenia.

  1. Yes, the original New Hope one, back in 1978. I’m old.
  2. The G-Channel was the cable company’s TV channel. Back when cable had those A/B switch boxes. It played a movie on Saturday night. One movie. Usually five years after it was out in the theatre. And that’s what was happening, on Saturday night. Nothing like the G-Channel movie and a big bowl of popcorn drowned in butter, salt, and MSG. Then you’d go play Space Invaders on your Atari 2600 with the wood paneling. Hey, all you kids get off my lawn!
  3. Roswell space alien technology, is what we now think.
  4. Post-apocalyptic suburbia, yes.
  5. Do they even have Amway anymore?  Or is that another of my antiquated 70’s references?

Call of Cthulhu Video Game: First Trailer

I haven’t been blogging as much ’cause I’ve been sick.  The doctor says it’s just a cold, but I’m pretty sure it’s zika, even though they’ve been spraying for mosquitos …

… hmm.

Actually, I got sick right about the time they started spraying.  Coincidence?   If I were going to test a secret Army bioweapon, I’d look for a small, isolated town in the middle of nowhere, ideally with limited road access, so I could blockade the population if it turned into a pandemic.

This is a map of Modoc County.  The red dot is Alturas.  The white space is miles of untracked cow-haunted wilderness.  There are no other towns with a significant population in the entire county.  There are two roads out of the city: one leads to hellish badlands of the Nevada desert, the other to mountains that are impassible when it’s snowing.  We could be Ground Zero for the zombie plague, and no one would know until the weekly beer delivery at the casino.

Modoc_County_California_Incorporated_and_Unincorporated_areas_Alturas_Highlighted.svg

Attribution: By Arkyan – My own work, based on public domain information. Based on similar map concepts by Ixnayonthetimmay, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2486002

Yeah, I’m surprised we’ve lasted this long.

So this may be my last post, although as bioweapons go, “bad head cold” probably isn’t going to terrify the Chinese.

Speaking of certain and utter doom, the first trailer is out for Cyanide Studio’s Call of Cthulhu game.

Okay … see … I just … you know that old joke about what happens if you drop a nuclear bomb on Cthulhu?  How he reforms fifteen minutes later, only now he’s radioactive?  And how you’ve heard it so many freakin’ times you swear you’ll slap the shoggoth out of the next drooling fanboy who tells it to you?  It’s like the joke that is as undying as the Big C Himself?

That HPL quote about “the oldest and strongest emotion is fear” is kind of getting that way for me.  It’s everywhere!  Is there a form you have to sign or something, that says you’ll use that quote whenever you talk about Lovecraft?  I mean, here are some other Lovecraft quotes:

I am well-nigh resolv’d to write no more tales but merely to dream when I have a mind to, not stopping to do anything so vulgar as to set down the dream for a boarish Publick.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/h/h_p_lovecraft_3.html

I am essentially a recluse who will have very little to do with people wherever he may be. I think that most people only make me nervous –
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/h/h_p_lovecraft_3.html

“But as for jam or jelly—I am your utter opposite, for I like it so well that I pile on amounts thicker than the bread which sustains them!” (to J. Vernon Shea, 10 November 1931) from http://www.hplovecraft.com/life/interest/foods.aspx

But no, it’s always gotta be “the oldest and stongest …” yada yada yada.

Lemme tell you, buster – if you open a horror game with an HPL quote about strawberry jam, gamers would be wetting their shorts with terror.  What’s that?  What’s jam got to do with horror?  That’s my point!  What does it have to do with horror, and can our febrile minds survive knowing that unspeakable gelatinous truth?!?

You see?  You have to think outside the box, especially because in non-Euclidean geometry, the box actually looks kind of like one of those Blair Witch stick men:

sticks

https://www.etsy.com/shop/BehindTheRowsStudio?section_id=14925676

But I think I’m getting sidetracked.  Oh, right – Call of Cthulhu: Far Harbor.

No, stop that, Raymond!

Although you do have to admit:

Far Harbor

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The similarities are eerie, although I’m going to assume in the Cthulhu game you don’t have a machine gun.  ‘Cause we did once, in a pen-and-paper session, and while eldritch monstrosities might strike fear into professors of antiquarian literature, they don’t do much against a 7 foot Rastafarian with a Thompson gun.

Not that it would matter – if you shot Cthulhu, he’d just reform in 15 min… <taze>

Thanks, I needed that.

From the trailer, it appears that our hapless investigator has stumbled on a sinister plot to raise up Our Lord and Destroyer, Great Cthulhu.

Investigator
Be in a Cthulhu game, they said.  It will be fun, they said.

So we know right away that you won’t be able to customize your character – no battling the unspeakable evil as a 90 year paraplegic with asthma.  Which is disappointing, as part of the fun of Cthulhu games was designing ludicrously inappropriate characters, then loading them down with crippling shoggoth-induced neuroses, until the game became a race to see who could overdose on lithium the fastest.  Good times!

One the other tentacle, the plot will be more involved than just survival horror.  That will be a nice change of pace.  Also, apparently at some point you will have to fight Casper the Friendly Ghost:

Sheet ghost

So let’s just hope to heck Wendy doesn’t show up, ’cause she can mess some sh^t up.

Call of Cthulhu is releasing some time in 2017, assuming we aren’t all dead of the zika virus, or whatever it is they’re testing up here.

Fallout 4: Minecraf … er … Far Harbor

Sigh.  Should have known they were gonna screw it up.

I’ve really been enjoying running around Far Harbor; it has an atmosphere to it, a sense of place that I think was missing in the base game.  Between the fog and the dark and Maine’s primeval forests

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If this is Far Harbor, that’s probably a preschool.

bordering on the ancient and unchanging ocean depths that probably hide horrors too unspeakable to contemplate …

… I am really craving sum fish and chips.  And it didn’t help when I met this guy:

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Trust the Gorton’s fisherman

I developed an excessive interest in the doings of Far Harbor, from Small Bertha and Tom’s undeveloped stories to wondering if I could romance the Mariner.  (Ans: no.)

Plus I found me some cool armor that makes me look like Boba Fett:

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At its best, it became rather like Skyrim: a fun place to spend a few hours, a place you might want to live, if it didn’t have all that radioactive fog.

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And like in Skyrim, I spent a lot of time hunting.

Heck, I didn’t even mind when I ran into this guy, despite him looking like the black and white TV I used to watch Petticoat Junction on as a kid:

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Have you tried adjusting the rabbit ears?

After all, Fallout’s gotta have its robots, and a moody, philosophical robot who quickly draws you into a conspiracy centering around his vague, shadowy, and best forgotten past is just what the game needed.  It was a good plot twist, and they did it right.

So, of course, they turned it into Minecraft:

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Why, Fallout?  WHY?!?

You have to access Dima’s memories, and rather than just have you hack a terminal, like you have been doing in Fallout for the past 10 years, they turn it into a minigame where they replace the relaxing, somber colors you’ve been enjoying with something out of an 8-bit nightmare.  I swear to Tron, I think this is where bad cartridges go when they die.

The point is to destroy firewalls, which look like (get ready for this one) walls.

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Oi!  Where’s my lightcycle?!?

Then you can build bridges over the ridiculously inconveniently incomplete pathways using “code blocks” because apparently “code” isn’t the important part of that term

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Master Control Program?  Is that you?

so your “Data Retrieval Bugs” or whatever they’re called can go upload the data

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And … bloody hell this is not what computers look like!!1!

Look, I don’t even write code and it hurts my geek brain to look at this!  The Internet is not a giant Lego!  You don’t need visual metaphors to write a freakin’ program!

Worst of all, the old hacking minigame was fun! It also fit the vibe of Fallout perfectly.  If they wanted to make it harder, there were probably a dozens ways to do so while still keeping that retro future feel to it.

But no.  Minecraft’s popular, so they made Minecraft Lite!  Oh, and did I mention it involves puzzle solving?  You have to figure out which paths to take, how to align the “decoder” (it’s a fcking laser, ok?  Just call it a laser.  A decoder is an algorithm, it doesn’t shoot green energy.) and yada yada yada.

I play Fallout to fck sh1t up, not to solve physics puzzles.  When I want to solve physics puzzles, I play Portal, or – just to up the geek ante – I tutor physics.

Oh.  And there are 5 levels of this.  Longest part of the game so far.  By the time I was done, I no longer craved fish and chips.  I craved beer and bloody vengeance on whoever designed this stupid level.

I even tried doing some hacking in the metagame, but I couldn’t even use console commands to clear the quest.

Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the best part?  Are you still with me here?  Remember when all we wanted to do was take the Mariner out, buy her some clam chowder and go sailing around the island?  Those days are over, buddy.  No clam chowder for you.  Just endless hate when you discover that the mechanism they used to build their hated minigame was the equally hated settlement workshop mechanic:

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Perspective is for sissies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fallout 4: Dead Mo … er … Far Harbor

I have a problem.  Well, I have a lot of problems, but I don’t want to talk about my incipient alcoholism today.  I wanna talk about pattern recognition, which I got from studying too much math, and is one reason I don’t have any friends – people don’t want to analyze everything, they just wanna watch sum lightsaber fights.  So they get upset when I explains why Star Wars: The Force Awakens really should have been called Star Wars: The First One Did Okay, So We Made It Again.  They also don’t want to hear how every Marvel super hero movie is just the same damn origin story told over and over again – I mean, we get it, Stan, great power = great responsibility, ok?

But I can’t help it … what has been seen cannot be unseen, at least not without massive quantities of Lost Coast Brewery’s Tangerine Dream.

So after I’d spent ten minutes wandering around Far Harbor, I sensed a certain … familiarity …

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Sure is foggy on this island …

They’ll tell you in Far Harbor that the fog wasn’t always this bad.  But it was always radioactive.  Yeah, that red counter on my health bar?  Wasn’t there when I got here.

It’s not that terrible – you don’t need a power suit, as it’s less than a rad a turn or round or however they count time in the game.

Which is good, because your first missions take you to the far sides of the map.

Hope you like walking.

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This is about as bright as it ever gets in Far Harbor.  Most of the time I had my Pip Boy light on, which was okay, because most of what you encounter (spoiler) are ghouls, and ghouls have better enemy detection sensors than frickin’ DARPA.

Partly it’s that the damn fog is everywhere, partly it’s that somehow, some way, it always seems to be night …

… well, I guess that kinda makes sense.  Fallout 4 is set near Halloween, and Far Harbor is farther north than Boston.  I know where I live, the sun sets at 4:30 PM in the winter, which is one reason re: alcoholism.

So maybe it’s just that there isn’t much daylight.  But not really.  Really it’s so that can have these:

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What …what … is making this hellish glow?  It feels like I’ve wandered into the set of Blair Witch …

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Ah.  OK … so, there is a fungus, that is literally called “blight” that glows hellfire red?  IS this the Steven King school of botany?  Between the dead trees, the poison mist, the endless darkness, and the ghouls …

oh, it’s not Blair Witch.  It’s Dead Money.  OK, OK.  Thank Bokrug, it’s not actually Dead Money, because Dead Money really, really, really sucked:

On Tue, Sep 9, 2014 at 7:20 PM, Donald Raymond wrote:
> I hate Fallout:Dead Money so much.  So very, very much.
> The Nazis were bad, yes, but not even they demanded you make a blind jump
> onto an invisible catwalk in a room filled with poisonous gas that causes
> auto-damage.  Nor did they put traps on time-limited pathways (ok, they
> might have done that).  Cruelty, thy name is Dead Money - but since it's
> about a woman, I guess that just makes sense.

Actually, I take that back.  Dead Money had some really good qualities – a complicated storyline, some fascinating characters, and phenomenally depressing ending that moved me to tears, plus that gut-wrenching slideshow music

… it just sucked as a game.  It was like they wanted to make a movie, then realized too late they were working for a game studio.

So no, from the roughly 5 hours of play I’ve put into it, Far Harbor isn’t anything like Dead Money.

But it is the Halloween episode of Fallout 4.

There’s that old pattern recognition ruining everything!

The DLC for New Vegas basically took a post-apocalyptic science fiction game and morphed it into other genres – Dead Money was survival horror, Honest Hearts was a western, and Old World Blues was cheesy 50’s SF comedy.  I don’t know what Lonesome Road was, since Old World Blues annoyed me enough to stop playing.  Srsly, the resource limiting in OWB, and DM, were frustrating beyond measure.  That’s really the problem with themed DLC – I had created a great character for the base game – a fast-talking scientist who specialized in energy weapons, and who was hopelessly useless in the more melee-oriented OWB, because every damn enemy in that game, including the food, had like +100 energy resistance.

Fallout 4 doesn’t seem to be following that trend – Automaton seemed to build on Wasteland Workshop’s concept of “you WILL experiment with our building minigames” but added a small adventure that did have a neat twist at the end.  (I should probably do a blog about that, but I’m lazy.)  And since their settlement mechanism is still hopelessly counterintuitive, time consuming, and vastly unrewarding (Look!  I spent two hours building a shack that looks so terrible even jet-addicted homeless ghouls wouldn’t sleep there!)

But Far Harbor is definitely bringing the creepy.  I mean, all of Fallout 4 is bringing the creepy, but Far Harbor … well, allow me to demonstrate:

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This hulking monolithic granite tomb brooding beneath an eldritch sky … THIS

… turned out to be …

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Aldersea Day Spa.

It’s a resort – For.  The.  Damned.

No, not really.  I mean, I don’t know.  I haven’t gone there yet.  That wasn’t my destination, it was just a distraction.

Along with this:

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Glowing plants I could except.  Glowing skulls?  Now you’re not even trying to be reasonable.  This is the point in the horror movie where everyone knows the monster is real, and they’re all scrambling around for weapons and someone inevitably decides to go off alone and get help.

Speaking of being eaten by monsters, my actual destination for that mission turned out to be filled with

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Which look like little glowy marsh lights but are actually attached to ginormous fish that erupt from the swamp and try to devour you.

So my advice while playing Far Harbor is to remain tense and nervous at all times.  Drink lots of caffeinated beverages and develop a nervous facial twitch, just to be on the safe side.  Ideally, you’ll reach a state of such extreme paranoia that even the trees will look like they’re out to get you:

It’s Bethesda.  They are.

 

 

 

Fallout 4: Fashion Police

I’m slow sometimes.  Personally, I think it’s because no one ever tells me anything.  Apparently, I never get invited to the “how to people” meetings.  Maybe there’s a comic shop or something all the rest of you go to?  Was this supposed to be covered in preschool?  ‘Cause I missed preschool.  Anyway, it’s the charitable interpretation, that no one ever tells me about stuff.  Like that time in 1st grade where I learned that it didn’t end at noon like kindergarten did, which I discovered while waiting for the bus like a moron when everyone else was inside.

But enough about my childhood emotional traumas.  The point is, I found a copy of La Coiffe!  I’ve been on the lookout for one, because it was the only way I was gonna get a beehive hairdo.  Since this blog’s thing seems to be “hair” – which frankly is so absolutely bizarre I’m pretty sure I’m on peyote right now.  IRL, my involvement with hair is that I get a buzzcut every month, unless I forget or get too busy or the barber is closed because he’s out elk hunting.  Also, sometimes I shave my head.  But heck, we all have to stretch our boundaries, and apparently my horizon is a hairstylist.  And since a beehive ‘doo is inexplicably not one of the starting options (neither are mohawks) I was thinking I’d probably have to pick up a Cosmo or something out there in the Wasteland.

Which was a problem, because while I’d found a half dozen Taboo Tattoo rags, and some Hot Rodders, and a whole crapton of Special Ops mags … hmm … you know, it’s kind of a Rorschach Test for your character, isn’t it?  I tend to prefer crawling around abandoned military bases and breaking into high security areas, which is where I find all my reading material.  I suppose it’s not surprising that the 140th Boston Power Armor regiment doesn’t stock back copies of Vogue.  And, while I won’t spoil where I found this one, it wasn’t the Revere Satellite Array.  (I’ll put the location in a footnote so I don’t spoil it for the actual competent players.1)

So now I faced a new conundrum: now that I’ve unlocked my new hair, how am I supposed to know what it is?  There’s just a vague laundry list of hair cut names, most of which aren’t particularly informative, so how was I to know what the one was?

Well, here’s a hint:

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It’s called the Megaton.

Well – no one told me!  And copies of Picket Fences don’t show their new items on the cover.  (Neither did the Wasteland Workshop, which … ugh … that’s a whole other blog post.)

I headed down to Diamond City and plunked down 15 caps.

“Darling, make me look radiant.”

“Is that a pun?” he asked.

“No, I’m pretty sure the hair has to glow.”

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It’s not a beehive, but … you know what?  I like it.  It’s completely fcking insane, and you’d have to be wacked out of your brain on Nuka Cold and rancid stimpaks to even consider dragging that thing through the Wasteland, but then … that’s kinda the whole point.

But it wasn’t long before I realized that as awesome as it looked, not only was I playing a first person shooter, but I also needed to put a helmet on:

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’cause the first rule of fashion is, never suffer from head wounds after Labor Day.

It’s one of those times when I wish the game would allow for breaks from reality … I mean, beyond the “breaks from reality” that include super mutants and mirelurks.  I understand that I need armor, but that haircut freakin’ rocks, and I think it should come with some armor value so I don’t have to make these kinds of fashion decisions.  Damn you, style!

So I was feelin’ a little bummed out about my hair, and I decided, like many girls do when they’re feeling depressed, to go get a tattoo.  Well, and also I finally figured out that you could get them from a facial surgeon.  I’m slow sometimes.

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Huh.  It’s nice and all, and one that totally works for a rockabilly princess, but right on the forehead?  That’s not a tattoo, that’s a cattle brand.

Ok, never mind.  Hey, what’s this?  Face paint?  Hmm  … could be interesting.

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Oh.  Hell.  No.

I know we’re trying to bring back that 50’s motif, but …no.

Let’s try this again:

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I thought about adding the tattoo with this, but in the end, I wasn’t playing Arkham Asylum.

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Groucho Marx got nuthin’ on me!  Note to game designers: subtlety, guys.  Makeup shouldn’t be applied with anything you can buy at Home Depot.  How am I even writing these words?!?  Good thing I don’t live in North Carolina, or I wouldn’t be able to pee.

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Ummm … okay.  Kind of ironic, considering we’re in Diamond City.  Also, I’m a girl!

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How the hell is this lightning?!?  Personally, I’d go more for “Kabuki Actress Who Desperately Needs to Sneeze.”

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Just in time for the “Edward Scissorhands” mod.

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Why?!?  Just .. why?!?  

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It’s only “tribal” if you’re a zebra.

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We’re really working the Goth thing, aren’t we?  Are there that many gamers who hang out at Hot Topic.  I mean, it’s better than the “told her twice” black eyeshadow, but walking around with makeup that looks like a fatal injury just seems like tempting fate.

Hmm … maybe it’s because I selected black makeup.  I’m blonde; I’ve got to work with color to bring out my best features.  Let’s try red:

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Sigh.

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Good thing I’m gonna kill that guy later in the game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s in Malden Center. Where I don’t recall. I did mention the “incompetent” thing, right?

Easter Astronomy and Sunken City update

Happy Easter!

As we all learned in school, Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday following the third full moon during a conjunction of Saturn and Mercury in the constellation Ursa Minor … ok, I’m confused; what this has to do with chocolate rabbits, I don’t know.

Hopefully this article can explain.

Okay, simple enough – something something … ooh, the equinox!  Now we’re cooking!  The equinox falls halfway between the solstices, when day and night are equally long.  From here, the days will begin to get longer, leading up to the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.

If you were the type of person (i.e., one with more patience than I’ve ever had, and also one with a fancy camera) who would take a picture of the sun at its highest point in the sky, every day, and then superimpose those pictures, you’d get something called an annalemma:

tutulemma2_tezel_big

The point where the figure eight meets are the equinoxes; the sun crosses once in the spring and once in the fall.

Unless, of course, Mithra held the world still, and the sun traced that path in a single day.  Imagine looking up and seeing the sun and stars all superimposed on the twilight sky … that’s the stuff of nightmares.  Or religions …

… but until then, it’s time for boiled eggs and chocolate rabbits, because it’s the Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox …

ech.  My head hurts.  Simple version:

Easter is when the stars are right.

Speaking of eldritch monstrosities, Frogwares Games has an update on Sunken City.  I think their focus on urban design (if you notice, the writer has a PhD in urban planning, which is more qualification than I will ever have for anything) is a good sign they’re on the right track.  Lovecraft and I share a passion for urban landscapes.  For me, it’s not as much the architecture as the possibility of discovering some secret place – a hidden street, an unusual house (which could only be, at minimum, the lair of a sinister haunt) or even a hidden time: a quality to the gloaming of a spring evening as the lights in the distance can suddenly cross darkened space to impress themselves upon you.  I’m even starting to sound like him, don’t I?

The level of thought they’re putting into the geography means they’ve hopefully caught some of what Lovecraft was really about, which wasn’t always tentacles and aliens, but an overwhelming sense of place.

But that’s not until 2017.  In the meantime, let’s celebrate the rebirth of nature by eating baby chickens.  Never made sense to me.

 

Killin’ Time in Fallout 4

I’m sick.  My eyeballs ache.  Can’t breathe.  Can’t sleep.  It’s two in the morning and I’m lying here in bed staring at the wall.  The only reason the tick-tick-tick of the clock isn’t driving me crazy is ’cause I can’t hear it over the sound of my heart jackhammering in my chest.

Everyone in Alturas has whatever this is.  We think it might be some kind of Army experimental bioweapon.  I finally gave up and went to see the doctor.

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“I think it’s zikebola, doc.  Is this the end?”

Hendra hell should I know?” he said.  He checked my pulse.  “I’ll tell you this, you’re beri beri ill.”

“Well, you know what they say about a sick chemist…” I said.

th (3)

“Get out of my office.”

I finally managed to get to sleep, mostly by thinking naughty thoughts about Overseer McNamara…

Overseer

There’s just something about her … of course, she’s a redhead 1 … and she wears her hair in a bun … kind of a librarian thing going on, really.  A 50’s retro librarian.  Which is all that is good in life.  Which is why I’m kind of excited for Automatron, ’cause even through robots aren’t really on my bucket list (pun intended) it has that retro feel that I’m all about.

fallout-4-automatron

So I just managed to drift into blissful slumber when I hear …

“Meow.”  “Meow” “meowmeowmeowmeowmeowmeowmeow…”

Silver woke up and realized no one was paying attention to her.  She doesn’t want anything, per se, but she’ll keep making noise until I get up and go in the other room to be with her.  It’s the cat equivalent of:

Dad
Dad
Dad

What!!?!

Hi.

The odds of me going back to sleep are about the same as this flu not being spread by black helicopters, so I  figure I might as well just kill some time playing Fallout.

I went over to Sanctuary to see what was happening, but they were all wacked out on something Mama Murphy brewed up:

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So I just grabbed Piper and headed out.

I was going to try to romance Curie first, since I didn’t do that in my initial game, but it turns out that you can’t help Curie become a real girl until you complete the Dangerous Minds quest, because even if you go to the Memory Den, Dr. Amari doesn’t do anything but smoke insolently and make derogatory comments about your intellect.

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Not that much different than in the main quest, actually.

So I left Curie … holy crap, where DID I leave Curie?  I think it was the Castle.  I hope it was the Castle.  Well, there’s a quest line I may not be completing.

So instead, I stopped by Diamond City and met Piper, then relived those glorious first few moments when she acts like someone’s crazy aunt.

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I am EMOTING, here!
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“Oh God!  Quick kids, hide the steak knives!”

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I’m all for some melodrama, but Piper – you know that hole in the Diamond City wall?  I’m pretty sure it’s only there because you chewed through the scenery.

But after that first date awkwardness, she calmed down quite a bit.  I dunno – maybe she was just jonesing for a smoke.

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But I still couldn’t get Overseer McNamara off my mind … I finally decided to head over to Longneck Lukowski’s Cannery and see if I could get Trader Rylee to come work for me … I figured, now I had the 9 charisma (thanks to the power of console commands), had a perk in Local Leader, and was the hero of Vault 81, it should be a piece of cake, right?

No.

Hey, Rylee –

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You might

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wanna try

20160319163625_1toning down the …

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would you hold still?  I’mtrying to talk to you, and you are pacing around me like a tweaker looking for a pack of smokes.

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Speed kills, Rylee

I finally shot her with a thorazine dart; that slowed her down enough I could engage her in dialogue.  I got:

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Notice there is no option for “come work for me,” or to open a trade route to my settlements, or to come live with me and be my love.  She just tells you about Vault 81 and then tries to sell you toy cars and used ashtrays.  If I needed that, I’d start going to the flea market again.

Dammit, Rylee!

Turns out you need to have like 3 levels in Local Leader, enough to build a Trading Emporium at a settlement.  But don’t bother telling that to my heart … it can’t hear you anyway, what with the 83 pulse from the zikebola virus.  Me?  I’m going back to bed.

 

  1. “Once in his life, every man is entitled to fall madly in love with a gorgeous redhead.” –Lucille Ball