Saturday, October 17, 2009

Oblivion: Fast Travel

I'm starting to realize that much of my review of Oblivion involves comparing it to Morrowind.  This isn't entirely purposeless, as much of the popular reaction to the game was comparison to Morrowind, both positive and negative.

That being said, let's talk about travel as it was then, in Morrowind, and as it is "now" in Oblivion.

Continue reading below the jump

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Speaking out

Just a quick follow-up:  The other day in my post on the use of animals in scientific research, I mentioned that most of my colleagues thought that scientists should speak out, do more to educate the public about the importance of animal research and how seriously we take it.  Well, recently I've seen some billboards here in Baltimore that do just that.  The one that I've seen says, "Ever had leprosy?  Thanks to animal research, you won't."  The boards seem to be sponsored by  I don't know if there's some larger sponsor behind the organization, but the premise is certainly a good one.

Side note:  The animal model for leprosy is an interesting one.  Apparently armadillos are the subject of choice when doing animal research with leprosy.  We once had a lecturer come to our school whose work was on this.  Since you can't breed armadillos in a lab setting (though not for a lack of trying), they have to catch them in the wild as needed.  The researcher assured us there were many amusing tales of the local universities paying undergrads to go catch armadillos.  It's fun to imagine so.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Oblivion: Factions

In this edition of my continuing series on the fourth edition in the Elder Scrolls series, I plan on talking about the various groups your character can align himself with.  This post should be a refreshing change, given that I started this series with the intention of discussing why I liked this game.  So far all I've done is . . . well, let's say I've pointed out some idiosyncracies.

So, factions in Oblivion, eh?

Continue reading below the jump

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Oblivion Skills: Magic

In my continuing effort to put fresh material on this blog while writing absolutely nothing of significance, I'm continuing my series on Oblivion.  Keep reading below the jump to get an eyeful of information on the nature of magic in the game.

Continue reading below the jump

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Oblivion Skills: Mercantile

Hmph.  While I have a bunch of studying I ought to be doing right now . . . I'm just not feeling it.  So instead, you're getting another video game-related post. 

In our last installment, we were discussing the stranger skills of Oblivion.  This time, I'd like to discuss the very strange state of Mercantilism.  The mercantile skill allows you to get more money for the things you sell to people.  In order to truly understand this, we'll need to go back to Morrowind.

Continue reading below the jump

Oblivion Skills: Speechcraft

First things first, I want to thank Chocolate Hammer for shooting me a link.  I always appreciate it when another blogger notices me.

That being said, let's talk about some of the stranger skills in Oblivion.  In my last post on the topic, I mentioned that some of the skills are pretty difficult to level.  Speechcraft is definitely one of them, but in order to understand just how strange a skill this is in Oblivion, we need to go back to its predecessor, Morrowind.

Continue reading below the jump

Friday, October 02, 2009

Oblivion: Skills, leveling, and auto-balance

In thinking about what I would write about Oblivion and why I sunk so much time into it, I ended up deciding to do a post first about the skill system in the game.  Then I thought about Shamus, who blogs endlessly on video games, and did a quick search of his site.  Turns out he wrote my exact post quite some time ago.

So, his post is worth reading, but I'm still gonna put my version after the jump.  Heh, "after the jump."  I'm so glad Blogger finally added that feature.

Let's play a time sink

Apparently there's this thing that some video game bloggers do called "Let's play." It's a series where the blogger starts up a video game and, through a series of posts, takes his readers through the experience of playing the game (through his eyes, of course). Shamus pointed me to a "Let's play" series about The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind. He subsequently started one himself for Champions Online.

Reading through the material at Chocolate Hammer has been amusing. The author there is playing Morrowind, which is the third episode in a series of games. I played it through once while he played it through enough to know the game inside and out, but his series reminded me of the fourth episode, Oblivion. Looking back through my archives, it doesn't seem that I ever wrote about playing the game, which amazes me considering the amount of time I devoted to it.

Morrowind and Oblivion were set apart from other RPGs by being sandbox games. While most RPGs will put you in a defined role and tell you a specific story, sandbox games drop you off in a setting and let you do your thing. There's a story, to be sure, but following it is up to you, and there's plenty of other things to occupy your time if you so choose. As for your role, well, you get to decide that for yourself as well.

Of course, both of these game types have their flaws (Chocolate Hammer highlighting those in a game like Morrowind), but one of the big strengths a sandbox game has is replay value. You can play as a wizard or a warrior, valiant hero or swarthy rogue. Each time you play through, you're likely to discover something else that appeals to you. Bethesda, the makers of the game, enabled player-made modifications to the game to be relatively simple, resulting in a vast trove of material to extend the game even further.

I don't really care to start up a "Let's play" series for Oblivion; I'm still trying to figure out how to break out of my WoW addiction, so it's not like I need another time sink. Still, I might end up writing about the game at least some. Considering the hours I spent in that game, I just can't believe I didn't say a single word about it. It's a few years old at this point, but still an amazing game.