Living in Oblivion

Nondrick Update

Well, I promised an update in April, and clearly I missed the window. But, I don’t want to break my promise — that’s just not something I do — so it looks like you’ll have to wait until next April. Seeya in 364 days!

Seriously, I’m working on it, and it should be here in week or so. It’s pretty obvious you have no reason to believe me, since I’m always saying stuff like this and never delivering. But it’s coming, and it’ll be here soon. If it’s not here soon, you’ll see it eventually. If, eventually, you don’t see it, it’ll be here someday.

In the meantime, why not subscribe to the feed? That way, you’ll know if it gets here soon, eventually, or someday without having to visit the page. http://livinginoblivion.wordpress.com/feed/

The Demo Man

Mob Ties Tokyo

This review of the Mob Ties Tokyo demo was published on Shacknews on April 12, 2009. Click here to read it.

The Demo Man

The Last Remnant: I’m Speechless

Before I downloaded and played the demo for The Last Remnant, I had no idea what it was. I didn’t know what kind of game it was, what genre it fit into, what the story was about, or how to play it.

After playing the demo, all of the above is still pretty much true.

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The Demo Man

Watchmen: The End is Nigh, And There is Punching

The prisoner is in front of me. He has long hair and is wearing a blue jumpsuit.

[Read more...]

Nondrick's Non-adventure

A Bitter Brew

I reach Leyawiin at nightfall, meaning the shops have closed and I’m forced to peddle my mushrooms and mushroom-related potions at the DragonClaw Inn. This isn’t a huge problem, except that innkeepers generally have a 50 dollar per transaction limit, so selling my 52 Restore Fatigue potions for 13 bucks each is going to take a lot of clicking.

Still, when I’m done buying, mixing, and selling, I’m sitting on over 2,600 septims. Noice! I’ll have to see what a house goes for in this town. For now, it’s off to bed in the Dragon Claw Inn.

In the morning, I hit The Dividing Line, a weapons and armor shop, get everything repaired, and sell off my extras. I’m ditching all my heavy armor — it’s just too slow and clunky when worn by an alchemist who is already far too slow and clunky. Leather armor it is, until I can find something light to upgrade to.

Next, I visit the Great Chapel of Zenithar. Forget what the tour books say: its not that great. It looks exactly like every other chapel Ive been in. On the other hand, I finally find a priest selling a spell that will allow me to heal my horse, Beaker. Its called Convalescence, and it costs me about 230 gold. Worth it, though, as now Ill be able to take care of my beloved horsie.

I visit a few other shops, plus the Mages Guild, looking for ingredients to cure my wolf-borne diseases. Im also looking for some shoes, since I dont seem to have any for some reason, and a leather helmet to replace my iron one. No luck on either front. Im also starting to get a bit frustrated about my disease situation. I just need one stinking ingredient with the Cure Disease property, but I cant find one, or buy one, anywhere. With all these canine diseases in my system, I’m more dog now, than man.

Meanwhile, the hot topic in this exciting new town is focused on one thing: a woman named Rosentia Gallenus and how her house smells.

Well, this is a bit sad. The game has definitely gotten the impression that I’m not looking for adventure — in fact, I’m actively avoiding it — and it’s stooping so low as to repeatedly invite me to check out a stinky house.

Two things about this. First off, even as a non-adventurer, it’s just not appealing. Okay, it doesn’t sound dangerous and thrilling, which is a plus in Nondrick’s book, but it doesn’t sound pleasant, either. Why not have her house smell like fresh herbs? Then I might take a peek.

Secondly, if I were an adventurer, running about trying to close Oblivion gates and stave off demon hordes, why the hell would I want to check out a smelly house, either? Sure, it sounds like there’s definitely a problem in there, but I’m busy trying to save the frigging world. This seems like a quest fit for absolutely no one.

Okay, that’s a little better. An adventurer might pop his head in now and see what’s going on. Still, I ain’t interested.

At the castle, I discover that the house for sale in Leyawiin can be had for only $7,000 bucks. Thats not bad at all. I check out some nearby houses to see what mine might look like, and its practically a mansion for your humble alchemist. Beats my one room hovel in Imperial City, though Im not crazy about the location. Leyawiin is in the very deep south, at the very bottom of the game’s map, and as a gatherer, I need fertile land in all directions to make a living. Id better check out the surrounding countryside to peep what groweth there.

I strike out to the west and north the next morning. Theres not much to find in the marshy landscape except more mushrooms. A Khajiit bandit (female, of course) attacks me after I poke my unprotected noggin into Undertow Cavern. She falls with just a two swings of my longsword. Should’ve spent more time practicing and less time on the complicated hairdo. Women!

Upon finding Telepe, some Ayleid ruins, I hear a voice yell Showing your face around here is the last mistake youll ever make! Im a little confused, since the speaker sounded like he was about a mile away and hollering into a bucket. No one appears and attacks me as I wander carefully around. Eventually, Im struck by a number of arrows, but I still have no idea where from.

I stroll away, arrows protruding, confused. I’ve learned my lesson, though, and I won’t show my face in that general area again.

In a small settlement called Waters Edge, I let myself into the home of Jolie and Eduard Retiene, a pleasant couple who have chosen to spend their day standing and silently contemplating one of the walls in their home. Guess theyre waiting for TV to be invented.

Im so desperate for finding a curative ingredient that I break one of my rules and raid their garden, picking all the vegetables and examining their properties. No dice. Feeling guilty for stealing from these humble, gently retarded farmers, I drop a silver cup and a couple repair hammers in the garden I just molested, as a form of payment. Its sort of like in a movie, when a mobster smashes a reporters camera and then chucks some bills from a roll of hundreds on the ground, only not even remotely as cool.

A little further up the road, I find the settlement known as Border Watch. Its sizable, with several homes and a cluster of citizens all standing around talking to each other about horribly boring things. I stop at the Border Watch Inn, where the owner has get this — a cheese collection.

How awesome is that? Thats way better than my collection of silverware Ive pulled out of wolf rectums. Way better. Im insanely jealous.

I step back outside, and chat up the locals. One of them has a cool black cloak and hood. Again, Im jealous. Nondrick would look great in a hood like that. At least from the back. Im starting to hate Border Watch its making me feel inadequate. These NPCs are much cooler than I am.

I approach a house and, since its unlocked, let myself inside. Its totally trashed. Weird. In a busted crate, a potion of Cure Disease mocks me. The game itself is mocking me, I decide. As I chose to snub the overflowing adventure it constantly attempts to drown me in, it has chosen to make my own personal quest, to cure my own diseases with my alchemical skills, impossible. Ill never cure my diseases. Not without having to resort to theft. Not without breaking my rules.

Im beginning to feel like a failure of an NPC. I dont have a kickass cheese collection and for all my time spent picking ingredients and mixing potions, Im still crawling with canine parasites. And I dont even have a pair of shoes or a nice hood. No wonder I never score with the honeys.

I wander around the town for a bit. There are several sheep walking about. Maybe its the wolf parasites infesting my system, but I consider killing one of the sheep. Mutton might have some curative properties, after all. No one is around. Im desperate. I hack at a sheep, which takes considerably longer to fall than the female bandit from earlier.

I kill it, and open it up to see what’s inside.

This sheep, somehow, is completely empty. Mutton-free. I guess it was full of air. Goddamn discount sheep.

Despondent, I let myself into another house, which is also weirdly trashed. I spot some shoes on a table and consider taking them. Why not? Ive raided a garden. Ive murdered livestock. The game is clearly denying my the few things I want and need, and it’s turning me into a crazed, thieving, half-wolf NPC.

I also spot a Shepherds Pie on the table. I pick it up to examine its properties.

Bingo. Its the ingredient I need to cure myself. And all it will take is an act of theft.

Is it really theft if I leave something as payment, like I did in the garden? Am I being un-NPC-like? Am I failing in my goal in playing as a benign alchemist? Am I betraying my inner-Nondrick by killing air-filled livestock and swapping near-worthless items with unknowing NPCs?

Screw it. I mix up my Cure Disease potion. One part purchased Elf Cup Cap, one part stolen Shepherds Pie. The deed is done. I drop a couple repair hammers as payment and walk outside.

I can cure myself right now. Right now! But should I? My one self-driven quest is at an end, but it meant buying one ingredient and stealing another, and then smooshing them together in a cup. One sip, and I’m cured.

But can I do it? Should I do it? Should I belt back this bitter beverage of betrayal? Should I deviously down this dirty drink of disappointment? Should I peevishly partake of this perverse potion of something starting with p?

Living in Oblivion

Hiatus

Nondrick is on a bit of a hiatus (obviously). Some other games (Fallout 3, Left 4 Dead) are keeping me busy at the moment. I hope to have some new Nondrick stuff up the first week of December.

The Demo Man

Mount & Blade

Welcome to a Very Special episode of The Demo Man.  Why is it Very Special?  Because I actually played a demo I kind of like, as opposed to the demos I usually play which are pure crap.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of crap in this demo.  But what isn’t crap is actually really, really good, so I’m afraid I’ll have to say some nice things about it. Bear with me.

[Read more...]

Interludes

Nondrone P. Carrikter

Just for fun, and so people would stop asking me about it, I created a distant future version of Nondrick in Fallout 3 today.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t make him nearly as goofy looking as Nondrick. There’s simply no “Trout” setting on the face creation tool. But, I did my best.

As I mentioned on my 1Fort blog, this does not mean I am doing, or planning to do, a Fallout 3 blog. Not in the slightest. Even though it appears fate would like me to, because check out what I found on a dead Feral Ghoul.

Even in the distant post-apcalyptic future, you can make a silverware set from the leavings of dead monsters. Some things never change.

Living in Oblivion

Ghosts and Doldrums

I think the adventure of this game is catching up to poor Nondrick.

Today alone, I’ve served time, been recruited by the thieves guild, killed a man over a hundred dollars, found a mysterious shipwreck, and been attacked by a ghost.

Two ghosts, in fact, that inhabit the aforementioned shipwreck. Forgive the lack of screenshots of the ensuing battle, but you do not fuck around taking pictures when ghosts are involved, not when you’re a fifth level potion merchant with most of his skills in Personality.

No point in using my powerful frost spell, as ghosts are immune to frost. No point in poisoning my blade, as ghosts are immune to poison. I have two things working for me, however. I have a silver blade (coincidentally collected the last time I was stupid enough to get on a boat), which is especially handy because ghosts cannot be harmed with conventional weapons, only silver or magical ones. And, while ghosts cast frost spells of their own, as a Nord, I am myself 50% frost resistant.

I hack and slash madly, not even bothering to power up my swings, trying to ignore the other ghost behind me. My spastic attacks don’t do a whole lot of damage but I manage to take down the first ghost, who collapses in a puddle of goo.

I’m worried about my health so I step outside to heal. The second ghost follows me and I wade in, swinging wildly, hacking and slashing and swinging until he, too, melts into a blob of ghost-flavored pudding.

Whew. I actually did okay. My health didn’t even drop to half. Plus, I’ve now got a place to spend the night, as the boat has a couple beds.

As cool as it would be to live in a shipwreck full-time, this is only going to be a temporary stay. I assume the ghosts will respawn after a couple days, and there may be other ghosts on the lower level. I’ll only live here one night, maybe two. I’m also a little concerned about Beaker. While I’m in here sleeping, will he wander off?

To be safe, I mount up, ride onto a rocky hill, and jump Beaker onto the deck of the ship. Hopefully he’ll stay put for the night.

I eat and get some rest, and in the morning, Beaker is still in place. I head out on foot, to the east, along the river, to gather up whatever ingredients I can find. I also switch back to wearing leather armor. The steel and iron is good for protection, but man does Nondrick walk slow when wearing it.

The day is fairly uneventful, save running into an Imperial Legion Hunter, killing a mudcrab, and, oh, very nearly dying after being double-teamed by two imps, one that roasted me with fire and another that shocked me with lightning. At the same time.

Again, not much in the way of screenshots because I was much too busy trying to stay alive. How close a call was this one?

The closest yet. The arrow is pointing to my health bar, or rather, where my health bar should be. It’s so low you can barely even see the end of it. Yoikes. I need some sort of Imp-proof outfit, clearly, because these guys are getting pretty vicious. I might have to invest in some sort of conjuration spell so they don’t gang up on me so badly.

I heal up and head back for the night. In the morning, I try to get Beaker off the boat with mixed results.

I’ll say this for Beaker: he’s got good posture, even when slowly sliding backwards off a shipwreck. Eventually, we’re back on land and heading south again. Tired of getting ambushed by bandits, we follow the river and stay off the road.

I come across Blankenmarch, a small settlement populated by three NPCs who walk back and forth, having stilted conversations when they happen to bump into each other, which is every time they turn around. It’s a pretty tiny town. I leave Beaker behind, and scour the area, still coming up short on curative ingredients. At some nearby ruins, some creature unlucky enough to have noclipped through the stairway growls and claws at me through the stone, but can’t free himself except for one paw.

I’m not sure what it is. A troll, perhaps. I give it a wide berth.

I come across a tomb by the river. It sports a headless statue and some scattered bones.

I take action to correct the problem.

There. Now he has a head.

Later, I find a dead deer.

Hey, look. Those are some pretty big mushrooms.

Yeah, they’re some big mushrooms all right.

Hah. Hah! Take that, game of Oblivion! You think you can force adventure on me? On me? Bring on your haunted ships and mysterious messengers! I’ll respond by inspecting dead deer and noting the size of fungus! Try to entice me into becoming a shady, selfish thief? I just took time out of my day to make sure a statue had a head.

When are you going to learn, Oblivion, game packed with thrills and adventure? You can’t win. You can’t beat me. You can’t beat me because I’m not even playing the same game.

And now, if you don’t mind, I’m off to Leyawiin to sell my mushrooms. Some of them are quite big!

Living in Oblivion

An Arrested Development

Like everyone else in prison, Nondrick is innocent.

I’d been harvesting mushrooms inside Castle Cheydinhal, under full view of the guards, which indicated such activity was legal. It set a precedent, that did. I spotted some flowers on the throne, and figured, hey, free mushrooms, free flowers, right? So, I helped myself. Turns out, these flowers were a token from the Count to his late wife, who died, ahem, falling down the stairs.

This is a clear case of entrapment. One plant can’t be okay to steal and another be verbotten. It just ain’t right.

At any rate, when you’re arrested in Oblivion, you have three options. Resist arrest, which means you fight or flee the guards (usually a combination of both), pay a fine, or serve jail time. In this case, the fine is one gold coin, something I can easily manage.

Problem is, after agreeing to pay the fine, the game crashes to desktop. I reload, and, being the honest sort, pick the same mushooms I’d picked and steal the same flowers I stole. Once more, I’m arrested, agree to pay the fine, and am treated to another crash. Swell.

I try this four or five more times, and each time I try to pay the fine, the game crashes. Looks like that’s just not going to work. I choose to serve time instead, and nary a crash — I’m sent straight to jail. Ah, well, that’s the legal system for you. My crime “spree”, as it was called, has landed me in the clink.

I’m stripped off all my belongings, dressed in tattered rags, and sent to a cell. This is a low-point in Nondrick’s career, to be sure. The lowest. Jailed, humiliated, no possessions, body festering with canine diseases.

I’ve got one lockpick, apparently smuggled in an unnamed Nondrick-hole, but if I break out I’ll probably just get in more trouble. I’ll just serve my time. You know what they say, you only do two days: the day you come in and the day you get out. West siiiiiiiide. Of course, as it turns out, they only hold me a single day anyway.

Serving time isn’t good for you, though. With no rehabilitation program, spending time in a cell will lower one or some of your attributes. Luckily, I only lose one point in my hand-to-hand skill, a skill I’m fairly sure I’ve never once used.

The Count himself has arrived to watch me be released from prison. Despite me stealing his flowers, he’s kind enough to introduce himself.

Sure, throwing a guy in jail for picking up some dead posies, that seems generous and just. I joke with him a bit about mushrooms, throw in some boasts about how I once stole some fabric from a hotel, admire his mohawk, and threaten his life until he trusts me enough to offer me a house for sale. For $15,000. Pretty pricey. I’m hovering around the 1,000 septim mark, and have been since I got here. This just hasn’t been a profitable trip for me so far. I thought, by now, I’d be rolling in loot, but I haven’t been turning much of a profit since I left Imperial City.

I think I’m done with Cheydinhal. Time to move on. I’ve only got two more cities to visit, Leyawin and Bravil, and I think I can hit them both up before returning to Imperial City.

I head back to the hotel, selling my junk before I turn in for the night. Then, I’m roused out of my slumber by a terrifying visage.

It honestly scares the bejesus out of me. I’m sitting there, watching the hours tick by on screen, and am suddenly treated to a jarring crash-zoom of that lady’s scary mug. She forces a note in my pants and leaves.

Apparently, the Thieves Guild has spotted my talent for stealing flowers while in full view of the most powerful man in town, and want to recruit me. Sure, who wouldn’t? I’ve stolen one worthless item and gotten caught doing it. I’m clearly a star. What is the Gray Fox going to say to me? “I’ve seen your moves, kid. The way you walked right up to the throne and grabbed those worthless flowers and went to jail for it? You’re good. You’re real good. With my help, you could be the best.”

I get a couple more hours of rest, and then find Beaker out in the stable. Come on, dude, time to blow this dump. I figure we’ll make straight for Leyawin, following the river along until we reach the road, then hit Bravil on the way back up to north Imperial City. That’s a long-ass ride, though, so hopefully we’ll find a couple stops along the way.

As we gallop along, I’m treated to a nice view of Imperial City and some ruins, get chased by a couple wolves, stop to gather a few ingredients here and there (at one point I actually lost Beaker for about five minutes after leaving him to go pick up some plants). Eventually, I reach the river and follow it out to the road.

The road sucks. I’m chased by imps, wolves, and bandits every hundred yards or so. Luckily, running from a wolf leads me to a bandit, and they fight with each other. Running from another bandit leads me to an imp, and they fight. In each case, I wait until one is dead and the other wounded before cleaning up.

So, I’ve got a couple suits of armor, some weapons, and a few portions of Imp Gall. I explore a bit around the road, gathering herbs, but still have found nothing to cure my barkin’ pnemonia or doggie woggie flu.

As the sun sets, another Khajiit highwayman accosts me as I try to cross a bridge. The whole “Your money or your life” deal again. Just for kicks, I give him 100 gold, then jump off my horse and stab him in the back.

We duke it out. He lands a blow with his axe and I turn green. He’s cleverly draining my fatigue with poison. I retaliate by cleverly draining his health by killing him.

I take his stuff, retrieve my gold, and as I look up from his corpse, I spot something in the fading light.

Is that a boat?

It is indeed, a shipwreck in the river. Cool. Ships have beds, right? This would be a great spot to hole up in for a day or two, if so. I find a huge hole bashed in the side of the ship, and step inside. Granted, the last time I slept on a ship I got into all sorts of trouble, but what’s the chance of that happening twice?

Guh-guh-guh-guh-guh… ghoooooooost!