Thursday, 26 July 2012

Skyrim: Rav goes Skyrim

The Steam summersale is over, and one thing I can conclude is that it's bad for your purse. I'm specifically talking about my boyfriend's purse, as he can hardly resist to buy everything. The positive side of this all is that I can 'steal' his games as well, so I now got many games on my menu! One of these games is the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim...

...wherein I immediately got stuck in the all too familiar trap of all such games: the character creation. I've already spoken before about my talent to take hours to pick a character, so please help me a bit. I created three characters I like, but I really can't choose which of the three I should continue with. As usual, I tried to give each their own characteristics and story. I've completed the introduction with each, but like them all in their own way. Which of the following characters should I stick to?

Who of the three?

1. Ravereth
Elf (Wood Elf)
Favorite weapon: Longbow and daggers (for the occasional sneaking)
Character: The hunter-type that has great knowledge of nature and wildlife around her. I hope I can fight with animals on my side.

The hunter playstyle usually doesn't appeal to me, but what I've seen so far in Skyrim actually looks like much fun. I started this character because I'd like to play something else than a human, and I can't set myself to play a cat or lizard (they just look so weird!). A wood elf of the hunter-type made sense to me.

2. Tessel
Human (Imperial)
Favorite weapon: Two-handed Sword
Character: This probably is the most 'normal' character of the three. Even though she herself is an Imperial, she fled with the rebellion after she was caught and almost beheaded for seemingly no reason by Imperial guards. She doesn't know which side to pick and is probably a lonely survivor type.

Funnily enough, this character looks the most like I do in real life (both in fighting style as in looks), but feels the hardest for me to play. Even though I have a lot of experience with medieval sword fighting as a sport, I usually don't play melee classes in games. That has a reason: I generally suck more at it.

3. Ravanel
Human (Nord)
Favorite weapon: Magic
Character: Ravanel is a fiery, talented girl, who loves to put things on fire and brawl potions. Eager to learn new scrolls and zapping left and right, you don't want to be on the wrong side of her.

I usually play mage-like classes in games and generally love them. In fact, I play them so often that I wouldn't mind playing something else now. Still, I enjoyed my mage elf in Oblivion (magic was great in that game) and think I will in Skyrim as well.

First impression

I love what I'm seeing in Skyrim. So far, it looks like Oblivion, but... better. The landscape is well done and the light is nice... somehow it all looks very realistic and medieval. The start of the story was also very exciting, with nearly being beheaded and having to run through a very realistic burning village from a dragon and all. In Oblivion, I got a bit bored by the repeating storyline (close this hell gate, close that hell gate, close this hell gate... etc), but there doesn't seem to be anything like that in Skyrim, as far as I've seen. I can't wait to get starting, at least, as soon as I know which character I should continue with.

So have you also played Skyrim? And do you know any tricks / do you have a a favorite of the three characters above? Let me know!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

SWTOR: Pursuing the matrix

Hunt for the datacrons

I should stop writing about datacrons. Really, it starts to sound like some sort of fetish of mine. Truth to be told, datacrons are just very addictive, even though I'm extremely bad at finding them. Right after my first Star Wars raid ("operation"), I and my guildmates took the art of datacron hunting to the next level by roaming the galaxy to find a dozen of them. On Corellia, we passed through a hologram of a door that I doubtlessly had passed without noticing a thousand times... and found a datacron. On Nar Shadaa, we jumped up some crates and then some tubes... and found a matrix cube. Aargh! You know those crates I talked about when I was so determined to find at least one datacron on Nar Shadaa? I had jumped those exact same crates back then, saw the tubes and thought "Nah, that's too high, there's no way I get up there and there's nothing there". Turns out there was. Gah, so close!

Matrix cube or datacron?

So that evening, we hunted both matrix cubes and datacrons: two things that look almost the same, but have a different effect. Datacrons (from "data holocron") are easy to explain: they give you a permanent bonus to an attribute (willpower, strength, presence... etc, you know the drill). Matrix cubes are another story. I had vaguely heard about them before, but didn't really know how they worked. So, just in case you're a noob like me, here's a short explanation.

Some datacrons will not give you an attribute, but will give you a colour shard instead. A combination of three of these shards can be used to make an item (also called a "matrix cube") that fits in a relic slot. There is one matrix cube for each class/role and it will have the best stats of all relics you will encounter in the game, so it's definitely worth getting one. The level 50 matrix cubes (there are also lower level ones) require three shards of the same colour. This is what you do:

1. Find out which shard colours you need for the (level 50) matrix cube of your choice:

* Note how force users and non-force users may pick cubes with the same name, but with different stats. 
** The stats of these cubes are from various websites, I haven't checked them all myself.

2. Find out where to get shards of the colours you need:
For instance, I found a very easy red shard in a hut on the roof of a base on Illum. There might be easier and harder places depending on what colours you need. It's probably best to just look it up in this post from Gallitin on

3. Go to the Jedi temple on Coruscant and combine your shards into a relic. (Or, if you are evil, the Sith temple on Dromund Kaas.) has a guide in case you don't manage to do it by yourself.

Tadaa! You got a relic!

Athletic tricks

While looking for datacrons on your own can be quite frustrating, it was major fun with my guild. Some places where so horribly hard to get to! Some would no doubt have taken hours to do without mistakes, but luckily we used to some tricks:
  • Rescue (Jedi sage skill): pulls the target towards you
    • This was great for pulling other people up to some hard-to-reach buildings. We were with two sages, so we could pull each other up if something went wrong. Ideal!
  • Guardian leap (Jedi guardian skill): jumps towards the target
    • Handy for guards who accidentally jump down at the wrong spot. As presented by my boyfriend on the picture below.
My favorite place was a crawler on Tatooine, where you could only get up if one person stood in front of it and pulled you, and you jumped when you were just above that person. Once one sage was up, we used Rescue to pull the others up (this apparently was the alternative to the buggy balloon ride). A bit complicated, but so much fun.

Own discovery

While "datacron hunting" was great, finding a datacron all by yourself still is the best experience. Yesterday I was doing the Tatooine bonus quest series on my sentinel, when I noticed a pink datacron on a rock wall. It was out of reach (too high), but it looked like there was a cave leading to it. In the evening, I returned to look for the cave entrance together with my boyfriend. It was well hidden, but we did find it, hurray! It even turned out to increase my will, which is always a good thing for a sage. To the right you see the location details, just for personal future reference (spoiler). You can see the datacron from the road, but you'll have to jump down on some rocks in the gorge west of it to get to the cave entrance.


I don't know how much it's worth to really go find all those datacrons. Finding that will datacron yesterday gave me +3 willpower, and on the 1500+ I already got, that really isn't so much. I wonder how much of a stats boost you would get by finding all the datacrons.  Would it be something like +50 to all stats? In that case it would be a good thing to do, but finding a single one doesn't immediately make a noticable difference. Nevertheless, I'd like to get them all eventually, for completionist and fun reasons.  

Okay, that was the last time I talked (at length) about datacrons, I promise!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Back from the mud, living on a tree

Catching steam

So I'm back from my holiday, which turned out to contain a lot of wet feet, dirt, rain and mosquitoes (why did nobody tell me it was going to be a Neeker-breeker marshes kind of re-enactment?), but it was a lot of fun nonetheless. The first game-related thing I did when I got home was something I had been planning for a long time: I installed Steam on my computer. For those who don't know the program: Steam is a platform wherein you can buy games, and connect with friends. Remember back when we used to be online on MSN all the time? Well, much like that, but then it's even more awesome, because you can talk to each other while being in-game, even if you're playing different games. It has an overlay that's very neatly done. Anyway, I should stop advertising for Steam, I'll just conclude with saying I wish I'd started using it a long time ago.

To be able to add friends in Steam yourself, you need to own at least one game (protection against spammers etc, I think). It so happens there's a summer sale going on (some games are 80% off, really, ridiculous prices), and I suddenly found two games gifted to me by my boyfriend: Myst V and Botanicula. Such a great surprise! And it was the latter game that I tried out first - it immediately stole my heart.


Botanicula is a game about... yeah, what is it about, really? It is a game without spoken words, a game of images and sounds only, and I love it. You need to explore and discover yourself what's going on and what you need to do through these images and sounds only. Everything feels very intuitive, though (apart from the weird shit that happens after you've solved something). Base story? You live on a tree and need to save the beautiful and special treelife from some sort of evil black spider creatures. I think. To be honest, playing this game for the most part creates the impression of being on a magic mushroom trip and there's no end to it.

  • Awesome animations, with all sorts of funny and, above all, super cute creatures.
  • Fun music and great sounds, of which almost all are made by voice.
  • There are many 'easter eggs', funny animations of species to discover that have no use to the main story but are just, well, fun.
  • Overall: playing this game feels like looking at art, not just like playing a game.
  • Getting 'stuck' and spending time running around, clicking everything left and right in frustration before you find out how to proceed. It's a game rated for 7 years and older, so I guess that explains a lot about me...! Luckily this doesn't happen too often.
Overall, I think this is a great game to play in between other games. It keeps surprising you. You shouldn't play it for too long, though, as you'll start to feel a bit dizzy (at least I did). It's typically a game that you'll either love or hate.


One of the most fun things in Botanicula are the many different creatures you encounter on your tree, of which many are not really interesting for the level continuation, but do add a lot of fluff. Their only use is a spot as a card in your collection book, which I'd like to get as complete as possible. Here are some examples from screenshots I took:

Top left: Soukac
Third from the left, second row: Dzin

Bottom left: Zio A

As you can see, the names of many of these creatures are unknown, but the ones that do have a name have an alien one that sounds a bit Czech (the nationality of the game developers). I thought it would give some sort of impression of what weird stuff you'll encounter.



Monday, 9 July 2012

There and back again

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

- J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings

I'll be on a trip until the third week of July. Let's say it's a sort of Middle-earth re-enact thing, as we're going to be camping, cooking on fire and living without electricity and shower etc. Instead of horses we'll have bicycles. You might already see this one coming: I won't be able to blog anything either. Be sure to check in after a while, though: I'll be back and kicking around July 20th. See you then!

Friday, 6 July 2012

SWTOR: Orokeets in the desert

Look at me, I found a bird to match with my new Columni robe! Don't we look great together? I promise I won't ditch it if I find a differently tinted robe in the future, honest!

So after the successful Operation I wrote about yesterday, we went hunting some holocrons and matrix cubes with those that stayed. On Tatooine, someone miraculously pulled five eggs out his bag, and asked if we would like one. Of course we did!

So now our journey began. We searched for a water tower in Archorhead to get refreshed by some water (a buff called "Refreshed and Sustained") that would protect us from the strong desert sun. Then we traveled to the furthest reach of the known desert, in the far west of the planet. You had to take your egg with you under a construction of solar cells to make it hatch, and then quickly run away from it so you wouldn't burn yourself. And then we all had our sweet little green orokeets!

Want an orokeet as well?

I'm really a hypocritical girl in the sense that I don't enjoy looking up cheats and locations on the internet myself if I haven't done something before, but I'm fine with it if others do so for me, as long as it gives me the feeling I've discovered it in-game with friends. The best feeling is of course if you literally walk around and discover something by accident, but it's near impossible to get all achievements of Star Wars done without spending a lot of time being bored and running around in vain. For me, that would take a lifetime.

I can't tell you myself where to get the egg since it was a gift, but if you're not such a hypocrite as I: here's a good Orokeet pet guide at STWOR Spy.

You can also watch a video tour here:

Good luck!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

SWTOR: A new home

We've done it, we've found a guild! And it seems to be a damn nice one, too. We dismissed the thought of a raiding kin because we're also raiding in Lord of the Rings Online and don't want to commit to four days a week, and then we talked to an old friend and he just invited us to his, that included some other old acquaintances of us as well. They raid a bit, but also are a social guild, so it seemed perfect for us. What happened then, was not really what I anticipated...

Guild chat, along the lines of:

Member 1: Hmm, only 7 on for the raid tonight.

Member 2: I rather go watch the football finale, to be honest.

Member 1: Tiger and Rav, would you like to come?

Me: Erm, are you serious? You do realize that we kinda dinged level 50 yesterday, right? Like, literally.

Member 1: We've never serious.

Me: Just saying, inviting us will result in certain death.

Member 1: Sounds good, you're in.

So there we went, with our amazingly crap gear (I was wearing level 41 homemade implants and other horrors), to our first Operation ever. And apparently that was...

Eternity vault 

in Story mode, and I was supposed the heal the buggers. Which was actually good, because I've never DPS'ed before and my gear, though crap, is totally focused on alacrity (= diminished inductions). It was sort of scary, though, to be responsible of keeping people alive right away.

This Balrog-like fiery boss ("Gharj") could've known it wasn't going to end well when he saw himself confronted with this wood of lightsabers. This was pretty fun, jumping around a bit, healing everyone back up when we were together. He didn't live long.

This was Storymode, but I must admit that I'm not really sure why we had to fight this giant Rakata ("Soa"). Either way, we did. Note how I'm still wearing the boring brown Corellia sage robe here.

This one was actually a bit tricky and luckily the other healer knew where to jump and when to take a short pause and heal everyone up with Salvation. I was trying to be a good healing bot and follow the orders, and luckily we made this one too.

But this was not all, no, apparently they thought we didn't die enough, so we had to try harder at a place called:

Karagga's Palace  

Also known as the place of the "Hutt with the Hat". Apparently you can win that ridiculous hat that the fat brown Hutt on the picture below is wearing.

Did you notice my awesome, rose-ring parakeet coloured new robe? I was trying to pass at stuff that dropped in Eternity Vault, but it didn't really work (it probably all was crap to them and the other healer already got everything) and they gave me two pieces of the Columni set, which gave me a set bonus and was like hundred times better than what I was wearing. These guys are far too nice for me.

I love the picture above, showing the first boss of Karagga's Palace. I can't recall exactly what he did, but we apparently beat him, because we ended up...

...dead here, at the third boss ("Something Crusher"), where you can see the tragic happening. We were eaten alive! Only once, though, after that we made it.


This night was... So. Much. Fun. It was incredibly nice of my guildmates to take two rookies like us with them and we had so many laughs on Mumble (the voice program they use, it's much like Ventrilo). It was all very overwhelming to me. I hadn't expected that the Operations would feel all that new to me. In Lord of the Rings Online I always have a good sense of what's going on, even if I have never done the fight before. Now I realize that five years of playing Lord of the Rings Online has just made me very accustomed to recognizing mechanics in that game, and I'll have to develop the same reflexes in Star Wars. Still, it would have been a totally different story if I would never ever have raided at all.

For healing I'll need some more experience to get the hang of it. For many fights it seems to boil down to if you need to save your big AoE heal ("Salvation") for a certain spot or not, and that wasn't always very clear. I might have been a bit too hesitant with it because of that at certain times. However, the few wipes we had were more due to tanking at the wrong spot and that sort of thing than due to lack of healing, I think (hope). Of course, now I've said this, the other healer of the group is probably going to come to me and will say he had a terrible workload because of me sucking, hehe. Nah, I think there is hope here.

Now I just feel really humbled at all the kindness offered to me tonight and want to stick around and do something nice to them back in the future. We stopped the raid because it was getting late, but we went on with a small group doing other things, of which I will tell in later posts. I ended up going to bed at 3 am with a very happy feeling.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

LOTRO/ME/SWTOR: Gimme six!

Vaneeesa from I Rez Therefore I Am started a challenge called Gimme Six: show us your favorite 'must see' places and tell us where to find them. Most authors connected to iRez walk around in Second Life, one in World of Warcraft... It will be fun to see what they all come up with, what all those other worlds look like. For that to happen, I should of course start with my own selection, covering the three games I play. So here we go!

1) Stangard

Lord of the Rings Online 

This small Rohirric town near the border of Rohan is the current 'place to be' in Lord of the Rings Online (together with the Dunlending village Galtrev) for level capped players. It is filled with authentic looking Rohirric wooden buildings with many horse-themed decorations, as well as with sexy Rohirrim men with long, waving blond hair. Can you imagine a better place to hang out? The game developers did something right here that they failed to do in other towns (such as Bree, the major old town for low level players): you can open each door and take a glance at what's behind it - even if this has no direct purpose in the game. This makes Stangard in my opinion the most realistic town so far in this game.

Where: To the Southeast of Lothlórien, in the Great River region. The area offers quests for players of level 70-75.

2) Households

Star Wars: The Old Republic

IKEA has evolved into true design in the age of the old Republic! Almost every household in this game looks absolutely gorgeous and stylish. If someone would offer to make my own, real-life house look like this: please, go ahead! The thing I love the most about the Star Wars interiors are the Roman-looking flasks. So beautiful! If only these were in fashion in real life... I would fill my house with them!

Where: nice interiors with the distinct SWTOR-style are found in almost every building you enter. The picture above was taken in the cantina of Anchorhead on Tatooine.

3) Evendim

Lord of the Rings Online

Evendim is a beautiful area where the sun (almost) always shines. This is a favorite place for me to take screenshots, because it has a brilliant blue sky. Even during the night it's great to look at the stars above the big lake of Evendim. This lake used to have the nickname "Everswim" upto until the developers had an eureka moment after four years and invented boats that port players to the other side. Before that, it took at least five minutes to swim to the other side. Evendim also shows many ancient remains of the Numenóreans, now guarded by the Dúnedain rangers. A must for Tolkien lore addicts.

Where: West of the North Downs, South of Forochel. In general in the Northwest of Middle-earth. The region contains quests for players between the levels 30 - 40.

4) Tatooine

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Famous for all Star Wars fans from both the movies and several games, Tatooine is a place you cannot skip. In SWTOR, Tatooine has it all: far reaching deserts with nothing in it, the Jawas, Sandpeople, old deserted sand crawlers, the countless times recolonized town of Anchorhead... The only thing I miss are the swoop races. I'm not sure why they are not there, perhaps they don't fit in the timeline (I'm not much of a Star Wars lore expert). Either way, I still enjoy the famous two suns of this planet and its well designed quest chains.

Where: Desert planet in the Outer Rim, the first of three planets orbiting the suns of a binary star system. Contains quests for players between the levels 24 - 28.

5) Rannoch

Mass Effect

It struck me that I couldn't think of a nice landscape in Mass Effect, even though I've visited hundreds of planets in the course of the three games. The stories, actions, the characters of this game are all much more important than the surroundings. That, plus, as you play a soldier, many landscapes you encounter are scarred by warfare and devastation. Not my favorite type of places to walk around and enjoy the weather. Thus my favorite place to be in Mass Effect is the planet Rannoch. To get there, you need to end a war between two peoples that has been going on for centuries. It is not only the end of a war, it is a victory over racism and prejudice, a story about accepting and reconciliation. When you stand here, on this barren planet, inhabited for several hundred years, you gave the Quarians their homeworld back. Your good friend Tali, member of that species, stands besides you, both of you are filled with happiness. You are looking at a barren, empty landscape, yet you see so much more. A beautiful moment in the game.

Where: A planet orbiting an old star in the Tikkun system, behind the Perseus Veil. Accessible near the end of Mass Effect 3.

6) Voss

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Voss is a lovely autumn planet that already inspired me to write a post about its beauty before. It has a special storyline: the planet is inhabited by the mysterious Voss people, of whom some master the force and use it to create visions. The Voss believe blindly in the visions of their so called Mystics, and would blindly leap from a mountain if they would be told it was for a greater good. I'm always fascinated (and a little terrified) by such faith. The Voss don't choose for the light or dark side of the force, but find their answers in the grey middle, that may sometimes be more harsh than the light sided jedi hippies ('peace!') would prefer. This was a beautiful nature planet to explore, accompanied with an interesting storyline.

Where: Planet in the Outer Rim, the third one of the so called Voss system. Contains quests for players between the levels 44 - 47.

Is that all?

Well, these are the six I came up with. It was a hard choice and I'm already regretting not having included some places (LotRO's Lothlórien comes to mind...), but it was "gimme six" and not "gimme hundred". Nevertheless: did I do it all wrong or did I miss your favorite place to hang out? Write your own post about it, or leave a message below in the comments!

Edit: Reposted on iRez, as I was apparently supposed to post it there instead (oops).