The Game of Theseus

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Am I really playing Skyrim?

I had to let that question sink in for a moment because there’s an off chance that I’m not… Even though I am, at least I think I am.

Don’t go, let me explain.

There’s a thought experiment concerning logical paradoxes on Jake Roper’s channel Vsauce3, in which he briefly discusses The Ship of Theseus Paradox. Essentially, the experiment questions the authenticity of an object that has had its individuals parts replaced over time. The classic example uses a ship sailing around the world whose various parts are slowly replaced due to the inevitable wear and tear of circling the globe.
Ultimately, the question is asked whether or not the journey ends with the original ship even after ever part has been replaced or repaired.

Now take that ship, and switch it with Skyrim.

Mind Blown.

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Before Mods

Instead of broken sails, and damaged rudders, the Skyrim modding community dishes out bug fixes and improved character models. Even the passage of time, which had been known to sour the graphical presentation of even the best games, is given a face lift thanks to community mod support. It’s hard to believe that the game I’m playing now is the same one that I picked up on an impulse buy at a Steam sale. To be honest, I only played “vanilla” Skyrim for about an hour or so with the official HD patch before I got my feet wet with the Climates of Tamriel mod, so my perspective on “what was” might be skewed. I’m glad I had a picture before hand though, because things have certainly changed.

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S.T.E.P. it up

Pictured above is a glimpse at how many mods I installed to change the game of Skyrim. To be exact, I’m running  103 installed mods of which 100 of them are currently active. There are guides for this sort of thing, but it’s not for the faint heart. A full installation of the Core S.T.E.P. took me a better half of the weekend to finish. There were mods that covered everything the average player wouldn’t think of improving, but surprisingly I think that original game is still intact somewhere. According to an excerpt from the S.T.E.P. Guide:

Skyrim was originally created for the console, and while Bethesda has released official texture packs and patches to correct for the PC platform, they missed a great deal. Core STEP comprehensively enhances vanilla Skyrim for the PCin order to properly finish what Bethesda attempted – wiki.step-project.com

The changes were certainly worth it. Textures look fuller, the land looks less barren and more alive than the vanilla version of the game. SkyUI gives me a better look at the menus and the quests objectives are less cryptic. Weather feels real enough to desire shelter, and patches of forests untouched by snow have a lusher feel. Even Pajamicus is showing much more detail these days on his face and armor.

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After Mods

 

True to Bethesda fashion, I’ve wandered away from the primary quest. It wasn’t my fault though, a drinking contest with one of the locals at Whiterun turned into a drunken bender with a Daedric god of mischief. The morning after was an affectionate retelling of The Hangover, complete with the sale of a stolen goat to a local giant. So far, the only think I know is that I can suck out the souls of dragon, while my voice can blow the limbs off a person if enough dust gets into my reptilian nose. I’m 50 hours into the game, and I’m still side tracked.

With all the mods aside, the learning curve for this game is moderately difficult, but unfolds quite naturally. Even as I randomly traversed the game, following my every whim while blatantly ignoring the main quest, I found myself slowly learning the system of the game. Items such as soul gems, of which I had no initial use of, has a much clearer purpose with the discovery of a Staff of Souls (soul trap) and the exhaustion of magical charges on weapons. Even the crafting system becomes comprehensive over time, and I normally skip crafting. The real difficulty for me seems to be keeping on top of the primary quests. I’ll have to play more to find out.

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Hey Guys! Sorry for the lack of an update. Skyrim is a really hard game to pin down, especially since I didn’t finish it yet. I’m wondering if I should I continue the game or not since I’m no where near the end but I have 50 hours invested in the game. Skyrim seems so huge that I could be missing out on some games. Speaking of which, let’s get that out of the way now.

Completion:

  • None (Sadness)

Acquired:

  • The Age of Decadence – Full price! (><)
  • ZOMBI – On Sale for less than 10 bucks

Surprisingly enough, I skipped out on Invisible Inc. which means I totally fucked up somewhere this month. I did manage to play other games outside of Skyrim such as Superhot (Thanks PezTheReaper) and The Age of Decadence (Thanks for the tip CaptainTaco) I’ll probably still be playing Skyrim, and I’ll try to stick to the story this time to get better impressions. Some day soon, when I’m not bombarded with work, I can play more Alien Isolation for everyone.

I’ll leave you with this rant I went on about in a Slack chat at work. It’s about The Age of Decadence:

“I guess just so I can get my thoughts more organized, I can go into some impressions since this is the kind of game that should be written about. Everything about this game sucks.

I’ll state that right now

Camera is bad, graphics are kind of boring, no impressive sound, walls of text. archaic menu structures. Everything (about the game) boils down to bare-bones functionality. On paper, this game is TERRIBLE. 

But as most particle physicists agree, it’s possible to be greater than the sum of it’s parts, and this game some how manages to be that. At least for me, the beauty of the game is what would eventually be the breaking point for most video game players, which is the sheer difficulty in mastering its systems. Specifically, understanding how vulnerable the player is in combat.

The other bright point for me is the use of non-combat character traits. I’m the kind of a guy that makes a player in Fallout and puts all the points in luck till luck maxes out just to see how the game would handle me.

Often times, the roleplaying aspect of traits in RPGs are an after thought, but this game seems to really dig in and give players more opportunities to use them.  That makes me not feel bad allocating a point or two in trading since it could come in handy one day.

Right now, Age of Decadance is like a durian fruit. It looks inedible, even more so when crack it open, but after you brave through the stench of death the fruit is known to famously have and eat a few pieces, you realize that the fruit is actually pretty damned good. You can tell other people that it’s great, but only a few would actually come near you to try it out. Most will run at the first whiff of it.”

 

 

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