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Skywind preview

Loving what I’m seeing of the Skywind world (a Morrowind total conversion mod for Skyrim) in this late-autumn 2016 preview. It appears that 2017 is the team’s “big push” year and the voice-acting appears to be well underway too. I’d love to think this might be “main quest playable” by early 2018, but that’s just my guess on the timing…

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“My god, it’s full of bugs…”

Oh dear, The Escapist review of the new Mass Effect: Andromeda game is in

“Unfortunately, Andromeda misses the mark”

The story… “quickly devolves into something that’s going to sound all too familiar to fans of the series”.

“… the game’s writing seems oddly out of sync, varying from quests that feel agonizing and meaningful to those that feel worth ignoring entirely. Worse, the moments that did feel important had little lasting impact.”

“… a ton of quests that feel like busywork”

“… the planetary scanning is just as tedious and annoying as it was in previous games. Even worse, the planets you do land on feel empty.”

“… poor animations detract from the enjoyment”

And predictably “… the PC version of Andromeda has got its share of technical issues. … Four times, the game crashed to a black screen.”

“My god, it’s full of bugs…”

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Titan Quest: 10th Anniversary Edition

One of my all-time favourite games Titan Quest (2006) (my review), recently had a 10th Anniversary release. This mega bufferooni of a release was slipped out in August when I wasn’t paying much attention to such things, and I’ve only just discovered it. The new edition is on GOG.com and apparently also on Steam (I followed a switch-bait link to the game on Steam, and was sent to their home page instead. I guess it’s in Steam somewhere, maybe…)

This Anniversary Edition combines Titan Quest + Titan Quest: Immortal Throne, but that’s not new — since the old Gold Edition did that. It allows Steam mods, but the original game shipped with a full Construction Set of the sort that allowed mods up to and including massive total conversions such as Lilith. It also rolls up and includes all the fan fixes to date, and removes GameSpy, both kind of useful. Apparently there are also stability fixes, but I found the Gold Edition game with the fan patch as solid as a rock anyway.

Changes which seems most relevant to single-player gamers:

* Scalable UI for larger screens.
* Dozens of new heroes and bosses.
* Improved enemy and pet AI.
* Shader & renderer improvements.
* Updated loading-screen art.
* Quick loot pick-up option.
* Player run speed increased by 10%.
* Higher stack limits inc. 25 health bottles, and a larger stash.

That’s enough to tempt me back to the game, and I also see there’s a handy anti-creepy-crawly mod for the new edition: Turn all spiders into turtles or centaurs.

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Skyrim Special Edition for PC

I just heard something about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition (PC). But where is it? Erm, Amazon UK “knows nurthing…”, not even a release date. Durh. Steam may know something, but it slams me with an age verification check before it’ll show me anything about the game. And yet search engines show me that Special Edition PC game is apparently freely available from pirate sites. Seriously, if it’s easier to get from pirate channels than from the legitimate sources, is it any wonder that people pirate? However, it seems that PC players don’t need to bother. According to Rock, Paper, Shotgun the Special Edition is only meaningful for the konsole kiddies…

“[on the PC] you’ll be lucky to feel there’s been any meaningful change. If anything, you might find that it’s a step down from your modded original Skyrim with the Bethesda high-res texture pack, and a dark return to the infuriating official interface to boot. A brand new, truly 2016 Skyrim this is not. … I switched repeatedly between it and an unmodded Skyrim original install with Bethesda’s official high-res texture pack added in … Ultimately, I came damned closed to preferring the original. [and] the Special Edition does not yet support many mods”

Yuk. So basically it’s just a feeble excuse for some pre-Xmas marketing spam, at the cost of causing modders to have to work double-hard to support both versions.

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Life on the Mississippi as a videogame

The audiobook of Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi provides, in its first half, a near-perfect template for a business tycoon / colonisation / steamboat piloting videogame. Admittedly, in the PC Windows market anything that comes within a league of being a sailing/pirates game falls overboard and gets eaten by sharks. And I guess the pre Civil War setting (1800-1860) could also be off-putting for many distributors. But I’d like to suggest that the book could also be easily translated into space sci-fi. It’s all there, and of course the famous book is now a free public-domain resource.

giantsteamboatsatneworleans1853

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Civilization VI: Queen Victoria

Civilisation II was once one of my favourite PC games, but the follow-up Civ III was a buggy mess. So I switched to Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri (Civ in space, basically), and that was fun for a few days. But it just didn’t grip like Civ II had. I read the magazine reviews of the new Civ versions, but for some reason I never went back to the Civilization franchise.

civ6

But now, and perfectly timed for our glorious Brexit, it’s just been announced that the new version of the Civilization VI (Civ 6) game will allow players to play as Queen Victoria and the British Empire. Nice choice, and predictably the leftfascists are already impotently fuming at the alleged ‘political incorrectness’ of it. Expect Change.org petitions and tantrums.

Actually it seems there’s not that much to Queen Victoria in terms of unique abilities. But what there is, is interesting. In the early days of Empire she can turn a blind eye to her nippy Sea Dog privateer adventurers. These can harass the much bigger ships of rival empires, seizing the plundered slave-gold that opponents are hauling back from the South American jungles. While also discovering items of rather more long-term usefulness, like tobacco and potatoes. As our famous educational system develops in Britain, Queen Victoria can command the British Museum to “produce more archaeologists”. These cultured multi-talented gentlemen have a beneficial cultural influence on other nations, causing them to like and respect the British. Doing a bit of natural history as a hobby in their spare time, these archaeologists can also discover things like malaria-beating medicinal plants and the principles of evolution. For the less imaginative and more war-like Civ player, Queen Victoria can just have the Royal Navy Dockyards build lots of ships, thus producing our famous Royal Navy — which can then transport Redcoat soldiers overseas to conquer rivals and build the Empire.

Civilization VI launches on 21st October 2016 and, in large part due to the British Empire addition having got my attention, I’ll certainly be taking a look close look at playing it.

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Morrowind megamod for Skyrim – getting closer

The latest edition of PC Gamer magazine (June 2016, both the US and UK editions) has an interesting three-page profile of the team making the Morrowind total conversion mod for Skyrim. Yes, we’ll be able to play the complete Morrowind in Skyrim, enjoying the enhanced graphics and meshes, side quests as well as a whole lot more dialogue. There’s still no beta release date for the megamod, but the magazine hints that the mod is… “getting closer to its release”.

makeover