TOR and Mirrored Classes

I don't have any real SW:TOR beta experiences or blogs b/c I didn't apply nor got into it and could only talk about what I saw briefly from watching my younger brother play. That being said, I have been reading your blogs and something I read was unsettling: Mirrored Classes.

Something I detest is classes that are shared against enemy factions. Especially when there are only 4 classes in TOR. Yes, there are specializations, but aren't they mirrored too? Once again, haven't done much research and haven't really read it on any blogs, but i'm quite sure its just another name for another class. If you have mirrored/shared classes, make sure you have 7+ classes. It was a bit odd to see my brother in Flashpoints/instances that consisted of just one class.

I did enjoy the fact that although there was class mirroring in WAR, Mythic did it right. The racial pairings had different class mechanics, so technically 10-12 different classes. Even then, the talents were unique (thinking about Pounce).. the pets were unique..the armors were different. You knew your opponent was a Black Orc, or a High Elf Swordmaster. Similar but not exactly the same.

Before I nitpick about Skyrim, lets just put it out there: Its a great game. I would seriously argue it is a GOTY. If I had it for PC, I would be able to tell you how many insane hours i've logged in just two weeks, but i'm guessing about.. 50+ easily.

That being said: I don't like how there is a high amount of invincible npcs in the game.

There should be some way to determine whether a character in Skyrim is killable or not. I'm already pretty paranoid (due to initial 360 data corruption issues) and save often, and this has saved me lots of fines and prison time, as i've found out the hard way that some seemingly innocent npcs are unkillable. It feels like a good 25% of them have this VIP status which takes away from seamlessness of the environment.


Skyrim Success

Follow these simple tidbits for good results in Skyrim:

- spend a bit of money at the blacksmith/fletcher and buy arrows; making sure you have around 150+ on any adventure
- level it as soon as possible, being able to slow down time to get that headshot while zoomed in will make ranged combat viable and easy
- raise your level easily by attacking mammoths and giants and using the terrain (rivers, rocks, buidings) to your advantage

- Halted Stream Camp; for the Transmute spell which converts any iron ore to silver and silver to gold; FYI, it doesn't convert ingots only ORE
- alchemy is a cash cow; just spend your time gathering materials, when my skill gets high enough, I even buy out all the ingredients from the vendors b/c I know ill end up with more high value pots
- don't loot everything; Iron has a poor value:weight ratio while steel has a better ratio; gloves, daggers and helmets generally have a better ratio as well. Unless you are CONSTANTLY going back and forth to every single town and vendor, you're better off looting high value but low carry weight items
- join the Thieves Guild to be able to steal and then sell frequently to the fence who can have anywhere from 250-500 more gold than normal vendors

Raising Alteration, Restoration, Illusion
- cast an armor (alteration)spell and letting wolves (something weak) attack you, casting a heal spell when health gets low, and possibly casting a fear spell to make them run away
- buy iron ore cheaply from vendors and casting Transmute for skill and profit
- once you get Invisibility, casting that with Muffle will EASILY get you to 100 Illusion 
- if your goal (which we know it is) is to get 75 Illusion for Invisibility, the easiest (but cheap) way to level is to get a follower and then cast Courage over and over

- do alot of hunting, turn those pelts/hides into leather and make a billion hide bracers; its the cheapest item and it gives a big chunk of skill increases, the only drawback is that it sells for very little
- coupled with Transmuting your iron ore to gold ore, you can then turn the gold ore into simple gold necklaces which is an easy way to increase your skill and money

- same thing with blacksmithing; save your greater soul gems and use your petty and lesser soul gems and just enchant everything to increase your skill
- many dungeons will have a few soul gems as it is a bit expensive to buy from vendors (both empty and filled gems)
- join the College of Winterhold (mage guild) and steal from them as there are alot of gems here


A Skyrim Thanksgiving - Spoiler Warning

I dislike dungeons in Skyrim... so unnaturally dark.. everyone must be Khajits in the world as they must have the Nighteyes racial ability. Oh but wait, its all Nords.. The guards have the right idea and patrol at night with torches.

Happy American Thanksgiving everyone! Although in Canada, i'm off b/c our department mostly does financing in the US, so if they're off, we're off! Yay!

Some things i've noticed in Skyrim these days *spoilers*:

It seems like all guild leaders are corrupt and will be the traitor.. convenient for you to take their place. I guess everyone wants to be the GM for the Dark Brotherhood, or Thieves Guild, but sometimes its nice to know there is leadership in place and you don't have to worry about day-to-day humdrums.

Invisibility + Muffle = Almost always invisibility.
I say 'almost' because animals can still smell you and will take a bite out of your invisible form. Try to stay atleast 3 meters away from them. I haven't tried crouching while invisible and muffled... but i don't think that is the point of the two spells.

Halted Steam Camp. Insta money. Find as many iron ore mines as you can and spend your time Transmuting all of it into silver, then into gold. Using Smithing, you can then easily turn them into gold jewelry for very high profit.

Near the end of the Dark Brotherhood questline, you get the most powerful horse in the game. Shadowmere. Black sheen. Red eyes. Regenerates when damaged and is an aggressive horse. Still afraid it will die though. And how are you supposed to pick reagents on a horse? You can't! Its like free money on the ground with some of the best weight to value ratios.

Make sure you don't keep any valuables in the Dark Brotherhood and make sure you pick anything you want up b/c at the end... it burns down and nothing is recoverable.

I find that backstabs doesn't always work. It for whatever reason only does normal damage. Be careful!

Also, there are alot of npcs that are apparently critical to the game and cannot be assassinated.. sad.

Besides the Shout that causes dragons to land, there has got to be a better way to bring them down. When you have melee weapons drawn, they will just land on houses. I find when you draw a bow (don't need to shoot them), only then will they drop to the ground.

Skyrim - Ultimate Thief

I love it when web comics draw about games that i'm so passionate about... unfortunately unless it is an mmo, it is only for a few weeks until the next big game.

So per the comic in the previous entry, I've played ALOT of Skyrim. I've reached the point that i'm no longer addicted and need to play every day and am unable to stop. Its all more about testing things out, in particular the Invisibility spells, sneak attacks and how it works. As I wait to get it for the PC (b/c everything is better on the PC), i've developed a build I intend on using. Similar to D&D, I find if you plan ahead of time, you can make a very powerful character, and though you may not gimp them, not having a plan can result in a weaker character. Below is what i've partially tested (I have all the skills, just didn't do it in the right order that I intend) to be the Ultimate Thief build in Skyrim:

Objective: To be invisible most of the time & for devastating backstabs


Primary skills:
Illusion - to be invisible and navigate easily via Muffle & Invisibility Spell
One Hand - to increase dagger damage
Sneak - for assassin blade perk for 15x backstab damage
Enchanting - decreased illusion spell cost, increased dagger dps and increased money

Secondary skills:
Speech - to sell
Alchemy - poisons, pots and money source
blacksmith - to make better daggers and improve gear

Perk choices (starting racial value - skill - needed end value - perk):
15 illusion 75 - expert illusion
25 Sneak 50 - assassin's blade
20 one handed 80 - armsman rank 5
20 alchemy 80 - alchemist rank 5, poisoner
15 enchanting 100 - enchanter rank 5, 2 effects

Shout: Ice Form/ Throw voice

Enchantment slots
Head - Illusion
Chest - illusion
Hands - one handed
Feet - one handed
Ring - Illusion
Amulet - Illusion

First steps:
Join Dark Brotherhood - gloves that provide double (so at the end 30 TIMES) damage!!!

Join Thieves Guild - to sell stolen items, and put money towards Soul Gems, bribe guards
join Mage Guild - to get access to many alchemy and enchanting things (must steal)
Do Daedric Quest for Azura - rechargeable black soul gem for enchanting
Join Bard College - for quest reward perk for 15% faster Speech gain


Skyrim - Easy Money

Think leveling your Illusion skill to 75 to be able to cast Invisibility is impossible?
The solution is a rather simple one:
Get a humanoid follower and cast Courage over and over. My level 9 mage has 50+ Illusion already.
Don't feel like being so cheap?
You technically could find one/two wolves in the wilderness and take turns casting Fear on them.

I found the location to the best way to make money in Skyrim:
Halted Stream Camp.
Almost (a bit west) directly north of the city of Whiterun; the actual location given to you as the second bounty quest by the Innkeeper at the Bannered Mare in Whiterun.
After defeating some bandits (and it's leader), inside the mine there is a spell tome of Transmutation. This amazing spell converts one piece of unrefined iron ore to one piece of unrefined silver. And then cast it again, and it will convert the silver to GOLD. Best thing is, the mine is filled with iron ore deposits.. when I left the mine, I had 34 pieces of iron ore in my backpack!
Don't mind/want to level your Smithing?
Smith that gold into gold jewelry for even more profit.
Every single character from now on will be going directly to that mine.


Skyrim - Hey I Know You

There is great profit in lockpicking houses/shops and stealing in Skyrim, in particular pickpocketing their jewelry and then fencing it.

Steel daggers (vs iron) and certain helms and boots are generally more profitable in a gold per weight ratio than other loot you'll generally find. 

The strategy guide suggests that if you pair the Khajit's unarmed damage perk with the Heavy Armor perk Fists of Steel that you'll do more damage b/c they stack.. not sure about that as I've tried it and haven't done as much damage as I thought.

Pure thief(no archery, very little melee skill) + melee/combat + lvl 20= death

Found Meeko the faithful dog who survives his master who died of a crippling disease, only to die hours after it joined my party... damn bandits..

Whiterun guards wanting to arrest me when I only have a ONE gold bounty.

Lazy thugs sent to kill me and ambushing me in a beggars house.. and not following me out the door.

Followers have a very hard tiem following you, even when you're not sprinting..

But you can sprint into followers to make them move out of the way when they block the doorway.. the radiation in Fallout makes for better thinking.

As a melee stealther, it is easier to see your surroundings by being in third person view. Make the camera zoom out more by unsheathing your weapons.

The Nighteyes racial perk of the Khajit is very useful, both for thieves and just in general if you don't like the dark. It replaces your shout and can be used as much as you like per day.

I can't figure out what skills level your character faster or slower. I found with my pure thief (sneak, lockpicking, pickpocket) that if he leveled his Smithing it would provide a smaller contribution to his overall level than if he leveled his lockpicking.

I miss using a mouse-keyboard configuration when playing Skyrim; it is incredibly hard to target and steal the correct items when using a controller.

- became the College of Winterhold Archmage and when fully geared up, my mage character has 233% increased magicka regeneration
- my Khajit pure thief finished the civil war storyline, helping the Imperial Legion defeat the racist Stormcloaks


Skyrim: The Enabler

An improvement that i'd like to see in Skyrim:

Granted it is more realistic never knowing whether that shadow is a bandit or a guard, it would be nice to keep track of allied units and horses. I watch my brother play and he loses sight of his horse all the time. With the glitching of the game, your npc followers will constantly get left behind and you never know where they are as well. Ain't good when you encounter a group of enemies and backup is nowhere to be seen.

Because Skyrim is such a huge game, hours just fly by and it feels like you're not accomplishing much when in actuality, you are. Here are some interesting things that happened yesterday:

Became Thane of Winterhold by assistng 3 villagers:
1. Making a delivery
2. Stealing another villager's staff
3. Giving the village drunk some mead

Bought my house as holding bones and scales of dragons are too much for my housecarl to hold onto. Also bought many tomes of magic to level my other areas of magic instead of just destruction.

Leveled my blacksmithing to learn and create a whole set of dwarven (shiny!)gear for my housecarl.

Found and corrupted the Star of Azura and turned it into the Black Star, a re-useable soul gem which uses the souls of humans instead of creatures.

Disenchanted everything and brought my enchanting up. Discovered although it may say "Gives 15% Fire Resist", if you use a petty soul gem, it will only give you 1% Fire Resist instead.

Drank all my magicka pots and needed to make and buy more.

Although my housecarl was under constant threat of being singed by my fire and lightning attacks, she never died.. which was a good thing.


Skyrim: 2 Quick Questions

1. Does armor (heavy in particular) affect spell casting in Skyrim like it did in Oblivion?
- everywhere I look online it looks like it doesn't; just mage robes tend to give bonuses whereas Heavy Armor normally doesn't cater to mages

2. Are there Doyens in Skyrim which can be used to decrease your bounty? And if not, are there any ways to decrease your bounty once its been applied to your character?


Just Enough Time

..to write something about Elder Scrolls: Skyrim.

Buy it.

Must I say why?

If you love your crafting in games, they did it in spades in Skyrim. Don't want to buy the plentiful materials from various (blacksmiths, traders, alchemists) vendors? Go out into the world and forage for them, whether its plants, hides (for leather), or ore. Go back to town and convert it into useable materials. Then craft armor (including shields), and weapons (including bows!). Want it to be more powerful? Use the Grindstone or Workbench to improve your newly made gear. Want it even better? Enchant the gear afterwards! Skyrim is a crafter's paradise.

A few things to nitpick on crafting; you can't craft arrows... which really sucks, although you'll find alot off enemies and can buy them from most appropriate (blacksmiths, fletchers) vendors. No spears... I love spears (trojans and helenists[from Immortals]).. just give better reach... slowest attack?

Never fight alone
I can't really remember how Oblivion was like, but its very easy to get followers in your party to travel. There are over 30 npcs that can join you in Skyrim. This includes a faithful hound as well. Npcs will join you in quests as well making your party even bigger, if only temporarily.

Problems: Friendly fire. Unlike Fallout: New Vegas, you can accidently kill your followers. It isn't hardcore mode where they die normally, as in a normal battle, they will just fall to the ground and only get up when combat is done(enemies will then concentrate on you). But if you accidently attack them when they are in this vulnerable position, you will end up killing them. There is no resurrection.. just need to get another follower.

Problem #2: Bland followers; there is nothing really special about these followers.. just a basic template.. or meat shield. No background story for them, development, personal quests while they're with you. I loved Fallout's character system, which made you really care about who went with you.

Problem #3: Dumb followers; I think in New Vegas, there were less cramped environments, but my followers are constantly getting in my way in Skyrim. My tank should know if a monster is in their face and use their melee weapons instead of using their bow. I could also tell my follower what to do: stay close, stay far away, use melee, use ranged, etc more easily.

Out of Mana
In Oblivion, mana was a scarce resource that made playing a mage very difficult. Unless you had alot of mana potions or liked to wait around in the game, it was very hard to be a mage in Oblivion. NOT in Skyrim; mana regens at a very nice rate with many early armor/robes that increase mana regen rates.

No drawbacks that I see so far.. being a mage is great! Watch your aoes tho, its an easy way to kill your followers.

Look Ma! Two Hands!
YES. Finally, can you dual wield weapons AND dual wield SPELLS! Like to freeze an enemy and then burn them but not have to switch spells? Don't. Right hand will freeze, while the left will burn. BEST. THING. EVAR.

Problem: dual wielding melee weapons do not allow you to block... which doesn't make sense as we've seen countless movies where characters are able to block. Maybe instead a dual wielder cannot block power attacks..

Thats it for now... fantastic game.. easily GOTY for me..  


Support Movember

Support my friend and coworker Dapinder who is growing a moustache for Movember.
I'll be posting photos each week showing the progress. I'd do it myself, but have a serious problem growing one.. being asian and all ;)

If you're being super generous, you can also donate to my friend Marco who is also participating, but don't have any photos yet.


Race for your life

THAT is a good catch phrase.

I normally never get/play racing games.. but avalanches.. explosions.. city street racing and gun firing helicopters? Yes please!


Wedged between a rock..

Had a biopsy on my tongue on Tuesday.. BIG mistake, should have done it Thurs/Friday as its taking it's sweet time to heal. Its hard to talk and hurts to swallow... I had a grand total of 2 potato wedges for dinner before I gave up from the pain.

Thank goodness for pain killers.

I've installed and tried Fallen Earth the past two days.. and i'm pleasantly surprised; its fun. Kinda annoying to gather mats.. not see any use for them, sell them and then a few quests up the road require them, but then buy them from a merchant instead. Its not very efficient that way, but it feels like you're cheating (in a good way) when you can just buy the materials for a quest. Imagine completing quests in less than a minute: you need 10 pieces of scrap steel? No problem... I already have 7 in my backpack and ill buy 3 more from the npc vendor right below you.

I would post a screenshot.. if i knew how to, but its ok b/c its unfortunately kinda drab and a colorless place.. even with the sunsets.

Still, there is a great crafting queue system and I don't mind the real time combat/shooting.