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Looks like TESO is the first entry in the Elder Scrolls series to have passable character art. Exciting!

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After having an unreasonable amount of trouble with the rats, I get back into it and start on the next Fighters’ Guild quest,

My next quest is to go to a cave! With all the trouble I had in the dark before, I am sure this will be a cakewalk. I just will have to be sure and buy a torch before I leave town.

I read up on where I am supposed to go. Just follow the road south until you get to a suspension bridge and it’s right there. So I go south on the road for quite some ways; I’m almost back to Seyda Neen before i realize the directions were to follow the river south, not the road. So I backtrack a bit, and follow the actual directions, and find the place quickly. I talk briefly to the two people huddled around a fire outside, but they are of no help.

Once I’m inside I realize that I forgot to buy a torch before leaving town. Fortunately, the eggs are bioluminescent and are conveniently placed slightly apart, to make it easy for the humans harvesting their unborn.

Convenient, but not as convenient as having a torch

Convenient, but not as convenient as having a torch

I follow along, looking for my egg poachers, but they are nowhere to be found. I pass a door fairly early on, but decide it’s more likely that they will be in the main cave. Thoughout the cave, I encounter a lot of Kwama (bug things), though luckily I find them one at a time, so I’m good. I snake my way through the caverns and finally wind up at a dead end with a door to the queen’s chambers. That seems promising, but my health is pretty low by now. None of the individual Kwama were that tough, but there were many, and my poor body is pretty thrashed. I decide it’s probably better to go heal, and come back rested. As I cower my way back to the exit, proverbial tail between my knees, i realize just how good a decision that was – monsters had respawned behind me immediately and I had to fight my way out.

I walk back to Balmora, and sleep. I know that this time I should buy a torch before I leave town. However, when looking for a store that sells torches, I find a bookstore instead. I know that as part of my achievements, I have to read every book, and decide to put in some work toward that. Rather than pay for them, I just stand in the book store and read the books from cover to cover right in front of the shopkeeper. I AM THE REASON BORDERS WENT OUT OF BUSINESS IN TAMRIEL.

MGE Screenshot 007

A few books in, I tire of that, and head out for adventure. I don’t make it too far out the gate, though, before I remember that once again, i have forgotten to buy a torch. Sigh.

I check a few stores. The first one doesn’t have a torch. The second one doesn’t have a torch either, but does have something called a “Bug Lamp”. Sure, I’ll take that.

MGE Screenshot 009

Fun fact – If you look closely at this screenshot, you can see he DID have a torch, and I am dumb.

I attempt to equip my Bug Lamp in the off hand, and hey, it totally works! Success! I leave the store and head back toward the caves. When I get to the cave, i get up from the couch for a bit to grab a soda or something, I don’t really remember what I was doing. What I do remember is that when I got back, my Bug Lamp was gone. Apparently torch-type items are limited use and i totally wasted my Bug Lamp walking to the cave in complete sunlight.

Well, I’m here, and the cave was lit okay, so I decide to brave the darkness again. This time when I get to the door partway through the cave, I go in and explore that area. These dang egg poachers have to be somewhere!

In the low light of the next zone, i see something moving – and it’s not a bug, it’s a humanoid. I think i’ve found my egg poachers. I pull out my axe, and attempt to sneak around behind him. I get up close, ready to strike…and realize it’s an NPC. A generic egg farmer, not one of the poachers I’m after. I was moments away from murdering this dude. Phew.

“Egg Farmer” tells me he doesn’t know where the poachers are, they could be anywhere (real helpful, dude) and that I should watch out for large killer bugs (also helpful). He also informs me that the giant killer bugs won’t attack the farmers because they know the smell, but I smell like an outsider. That’s secret speak for “The developers coded the bugs in this zone to not be hostile”. However, let’s unpack that statement a bit. The bugs will attack me, because they have no idea what my intentions could be. But they won’t attack the people that they KNOW ARE STEALING THEIR UNBORN, because they recognize them FROM ALL THE OTHER TIMES THEY HAVE STOLEN THEIR UNBORN.

I walk through this safe zone, past a few other people (also named “Egg Farmer”) and non-hostile Kwama, and the door on the other side also leads to the bug queen’s chambers. Pretty sure that’s where my poachers will be. I go through the door, and sure enough, I’m being attacked immediately.

MGE Screenshot 016

“I have face paint, so I must be evil!”

I start whacking this dude with my axe, over and over. It takes probably 100 hits to kill him, or at least 100 swings (many of them were misses). He gets in some pretty good hits, but I eventually best him. There’s nothing of value on his corpse. Disappointing. His friend is nowhere to be seen.

My health is over half gone, so if I get into another slap fight comparable to that one, I’ll die. So rather than head off in search of his buddy, I walk back to Balmora again and sleep. This time I buy a couple of candelabras before leaving town, hopefully they will work as torches.

I head back to the cave for the third (and hopefully final) time. On the way, this time, I stop to pick some flowers. And by “pick flowers” I of course mean “gather alchemical ingredients” because I AM WAY MANLY.

MGE Screenshot 018

In the cave, I equip my candelabra (see, I learned to wait until it’s dark to not waste them) and while it does provide some additional light, it’s pretty much useless. It illuminates my axe, and it illuminates itself, and that’s pretty much it. The rest of the room is still dark as shit. Not only that, but apparently this is some sort of demon candelabra with some sort of satanic flame, because the things it lights up are in this sort of blood red hue.

MGE Screenshot 019

Demonic Candelabra – better than nothing, but barely!

I head back to the queen’s chambers (I know the layout pretty well at this point), wander around for a bit more, and then find the other poacher. I bust out my axe and start frantically mashing Left Mouse Button.

The fight takes, and I am not exaggerating, three to five minutes. And a prolonged fight can certainly be done in an interesting way. This wasn’t that. This was me and one other generic opponent standing more or less motionless in front of each other, swinging our weapons repeatedly, sometimes missing, sometimes doing a small amount of damage. There are no health bars over enemies to let you know you’re even making progress. Just clicking for minutes, hoping that you’re doing more damage to them than they are doing to you. At a certain point it looped back around and got so ridiculous that it was actually kind of fun.

Eventually he dies. He also has nothing of value. There’s no indicator on screen that I have finished a quest objective and now need to return to the fighters guild, I’m just expected to remember that (which is fine, because I do). No journal update, nothing. The whole experience feels a bit anticlimactic. But I head back to town, turn in the quest and get my next job from the fighters’ guild, which we’ll go into next week! See you then!

Before I go, though, here’s a fun note. Apparently all the items in Morrowind have a durability rating. If your stuff gets too banged up, it won’t work as well. Apparently in the very small amount of combat I had done up to this point, my axe had taken almost 500 points of durability damage, which explains why I was so inefficient in dispatching those poachers. I’m going to have to figure out how to repair things immediately, or this is going to be a slog.

MGE Screenshot 020

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(This is part of a series – see the explanation or part 1)

As I prepared to leave Seyda Neen for Balmora, I asked Rose an important question: “Should I walk there or take the Silt Strider?” (Silt Striders are giant bug things that are the fast-travel system for the game). Rose, unsurprisingly, suggested that I walk there and have adventures.

As you travel the world, the way you know where you are headed is that along the road, you’ll run into sign posts whenever the road forks that will point you in the right direction. In the base game, these are all identical, and you have to mouse over every one to see what they say. Well, apparently one of the mods that got installed changes these signs to actually say the names of the towns they are pointing too. It seems like such a small thing, but it makes a huge difference.

My walk to Balmora was mostly uneventful. I ran into one woman who looked like she was having some trouble, so I went up and talked to her. Apparently she was violently robbed by a bandit. But rather than hiring me to exact revenge or get her shit back, she just wants me to pass notes to him during class, because he was DREAMY. This seemed… odd, to say the least, if not downright creepy. I’m not going to set this victim up with a criminal. THAT’S NOT HOW I ROLL. So instead, I leave her pining on the road for all eternity. I’m not sure if that’s better.

When I get to Balmora, Rose tells me Caius Cosades’ house is in the top right corner. First she goes on about how great it is that the game doesn’t have quest markers, then she turns into one. I ignore her and continue my quest the way it was given to me, I’m supposed to go to the south wall corner club and ask around.

If this is what its like to go clubbing in Morrowind, count me out. It’s just some dude’s well lit house, and there about 3 people in here standing still. Worst rave ever. One of the guys tells me where Caius Cosades lives. It’s where Rose said.

Caius greets me inside. He is not wearing a shirt, and due to an interesting choice made by a modder, is RIPPED. This guy works out. I remember him being kind of a sad sack originally, but this dude has a six pack. I turn in the quest, and rather than giving me the next main storyline quest, he tells me to go out and do side quests for a bit. I’ve mentioned before that I think this is interesting. Most games will drag you through the story whether you like it or not. This one makes you work before you get any. I’m not saying that’s good or bad, but it’s certainly different.

Then he offers to let me sleep in his bed. And if a shirtless stranger (who is also a drug dealer, did i mention that?) offers to let you sleep in their bed, NOTHING BAD CAN COME OF IT. It’d be rude not to, right?

Well something bad came of it, because before I could finish sleeping, I was attacked by the Dark Brotherhood.

Did I survive the encounter? Tune in next week to find out!

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For a bit of background on why and how I am playing Morrowind, read this first: Morrowind – Now with Achievements!

The first thing I did, before I ever even attempted to play, was install Morrowind Graphics Extender 3.0. I may have been a bit overzealous with the settings, and the framerate drops to about 20fps when I am outside, but it is definitely playable and looks MUCH better.

So I boot up Morrowind, and make a new game. I had saves from a previous playthrough in the Steam Cloud, but they were using a different mix of mods and were unplayable. Bummer.

After creating my character (Kellierae, a female Nord fighter), I proceeded through the Census office, and when I got to the part where you are supposed to pick up the dagger, I instead did what I do in every Bethesda game and took EVERYTHING. In Skyrim and Oblivion, hovering over an item will give you one of two prompts, “Take” or “Steal”. Unless it says “Steal” you can grab it without repercussions. I would very quickly learn that this is NOT the case in Morrowind. Everything says “Take” and you have to rely on context to guess whether you are stealing or not. Luckily this time the only penalty for theft was a stern talking to from a guard. Lesson learned!

Once I got out into Seyda Neen, I started doing the standard first time quests in the area. I gave Fargoth back his ring, then later that night, stole it back from him. I bought a cursed ring from a sad sack so he would have enough money to leave. I’ve played these first few minutes of Morrowind several times, so I was able to fly through these fairly quickly.

I did run into some difficulty on the quest where I was supposed to find the corpse of a tax collector. There were two problems: one, Morrowind is a game made before there were quest markers prevalent in RPGs – they expect you to explore on your own and find things, rather than being guided right to it, and two, while the tax collector was fairly easy to find in vanilla Morrowind, I had some foliage mods installed that add grass and plants and hide the body fairly well.

I did eventually find the body and continued my quest to find the perpetrator of the evil deed, and when I did, got my first taste of Morrowind combat. I took out my axe, charged straight into melee…

…and whiffed, magnificently and repeatedly. With a large axe from 2 inches away.

See, Morrowind does a calculation based on your skills and attributes to see if an attack hits or not. It’s the same mechanic that is in every D&D based game. But again, we’re experiencing a relic of a different time: nowadays most games bank on player skill; if you are in range, properly aiming and attack, that attack hits. It’s not bad or wrong that Morrowind doesn’t, but it was jarring for me – I was not expecting that.

I did kill him though. My first (well, first in years) Morrowind combat experience was a success! Clearly I am an unstoppable juggernaut of skill. Nothing could go wrong for me!

Well, after buying some gear and reading every book in town (Rose insists that reading books is an important part of the experience)  I headed off into the wilderness, headed toward Balmora and Caius Cosades.

Tune in next week for more adventures!

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Rose and I are both big Elder Scrolls fans. If you read this blog that’s probably not news to you.

When Morrowind first came out, I briefly played it, got bored, and moved on to Dungeon Siege. I later got hooked on Oblivion (though I got frustrated at several game-ending bugs) and Skyrim. Through the years I attempted to play Morrowind several times, but never made it past Balmora. For those of you unfamiliar with the game, that means I made it to around the 1 hour mark.

Rose, on the other hand, LOVED Morrowind, putting literally hundreds of hours into it. She also played Oblivion and Skyrim, but despite the improvements that have come to the series with time, Morrowind remains her favorite.

So what’s the discrepancy? I think the main thing she loved about that game is the same thing that turned me off about it: there really isn’t a driving force. The game expects you to wander about and do your own thing. There is a storyline quest, but one mission in, the guy tells you “go do other shit for a while and come back.”

For some people, like myself, this is boring and loses me. You can do odd jobs around the city for cash. You can walk from city to city looking at the wilderness. You can stand around and read a book in game. For others, like Rose, this is amazingly fun. Odd jobs! Wandering! BOOKS!

I wanted to give the game a try, though. It’s obviously very important to Rose and I like having shared experiences with her (even if they are solo experiences separated by 10+ years). However, I knew that if I just attempted to play normally, once again the overabundance of freedom and lack of a driving force would once again burn me out quickly.

I figured, since the game doesn’t intrinsically motivate me, I could create an extrinsic motivator. You can probably guess where this is headed – Achievements!

I managed, with help from Rose and a great deal of research on UESP, to put together this list:

Morrowind 25/1000
Exit the Census Office to Seyda Neen 5
Main Story: Complete “Report to Caius Cosades” 5
Main Story: Complete all of Caius Cosades’ quests 50
Main Story: Complete the third, fourth, and fifth trials 50
Main Story: Complete “The Citadels of the Sixth House” 100
Complete “Sleepers Awake” and “Yagrum Bagarn and Wraithguard” 20
Join one of the three houses 5
Get a stronghold in one of the three houses 5
Complete all quests for House Hlaalu 20
Complete all quests for House Redoran 20
Complete all quests for House Telvanni 20
Join the Fighters Guild 5
Complete all Fighters Guild Quests 20
Join the Mages Guild 5
Complete all Mages Guild Quests 20
Join the Thieves Guild 5
Complete all Theives Guild Quests 20
Join the Tribunal Temple 5
Complete all Tribunal Temple Quests 20
Join the Morag Tong 5
Complete all Morag Tong Quests 20
Join the Imperial Cult 5
Complete all Imperial Cult Quests 20
Join the Imperial Legion 5
Complete all Imperial Legion Quests 20
Complete all miscellaneous quests in the Cities 20
Complete all miscellaneous quests in the Towns 20
Complete all miscellaneous quests in the Forts 20
Complete all miscellaneous wilderness quests 20
Complete all Ashlander quests 20
Complete all Daedric quests 20
Become a Vampire 5
Cure your Vampirism 5
Complete all Vampire quests 20
Complete ALL quests (requires multiple playthroughs) 100
Find an Artifact 5
Find Every Artifact 30
Raise a skill to 50 5
Raise a skill to 100 10
Raise all skills to 100 50
Read a Book 5
Read 50 Books 10
Read 100 Books 20
Read Every Book 50
Get a complete set of matching armor 25
Visit every city, town, fort, and camp 30
Visit one of each Tribunal Shrine 20
Shoot an Adventurer in the knee with an arrow 5
Talk to M’aiq the Liar 5
Find the Mudcrab Merchant 5
Tribunal 0/250
Main Story: Complete “Dark Brotherhood Attacks” 5
Main Story: Complete “An Attack on Mournhold” 10
Main Story: Complete “The Mad God” 25
Complete all optional Royal Palace Quests 20
Complete all miscellaneous quests in Godsreach 20
Complete all miscellaneous quests in Great Bazaar & Temple Courtyard 20
Complete all Tribunal Quests 100
Donate or Sell all 32 Artifacts to the Museum 10
Find Every Artifact added in Tribunal 20
Visit every location added in Tribunal 20
Bloodmoon 0/250
Main Story: Complete “An Island to the North” 5
Main Story: Complete “Hircine’s Hunt” 25
Main Story: Complete all the quests up to “Hircine’s Hunt” a different way 10
Complete “Rite of the Wolf-Giver” 20
Complete “Factor’s Estate” 20
Complete all the quests up to “Factor’s Estate” a different way 10
Complete all miscellaneous quests 20
Complete all Bloodmoon quests 100
Find Every Artifact added in Bloodmoon 20
Visit every location added in Bloodmoon 20
Total 25/1250

I tried my best to create a list that would reward me not only for completing the quests in the game, but for doing many of the things Rose enjoyed, such as exploring the world and reading books. I also tried to give each achievement a “gamerscore” value, and normalized them around the concept of 1000 points for base game, 250 per DLC pack the way xbox games are, so my brain can easily compare the two values.

As you can see, I’ve played a bit but have still got a long ways to go. I’ll make another post soon featuring my exploits so far. Thus far I’ve still only made it as far as Balmora, but with achievements motivating me, I’m far more engaged thus far than I have been on previous playthroughs. And if you count the time I have spent on the massive google spreadsheet I’m using to track these, I’ve spent more time on this playthrough than my others!

If you’re familiar with Morrowind, let me know what you think of these achievements! Too easy? Too hard? Not varied enough? Too many playthroughs required? Just right? Let me know in the comments!

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After a fair amount of grunt work undertaken on behalf of the Fighters’ Guild, I’m back to my old stomping grounds…

Bright lights, big city. Well, the latter, at least.

O yes, labyrinthine Vivec — with your many cantons of many levels each, and your twisty little passages, all alike — how you still vex me! At least I know to stay out of the sewers this time. The prospect of trying to find my way around the city isn’t a pleasant one, but I think I ought to ramp up my skills a bit before pursuing this whole Nerevarine gig.

In other news, I have discovered that Morrowind humor is alive and well in 2012.

Random linkage — I thought this forum post was a nice little summation of what sets the third installment apart from the rest of the Elder Scrolls series. And on a side note, I’m really hopeful that playing classic video games will soon become as easy and culturally acceptable as enjoying TV shows and music of yesteryear.

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Don’t miss this amazing post about the wonderful world of Oblivion mods on MetaFilter!

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