Every hero’s favourite snack   Leave a comment

Never go dungeoneering without them.

Friday was the 11th of November 2011. The 11th of November is always a day of note, even when it’s not the 11th year of the century. Gosh, it’s only three years until the centenary of the start of World War I, isn’t it?

But this particular Friday was the release date of one of my most anticipated games of the year, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, as I’ll never refer to it again. After spending best part of 200 hours wandering around Cyrodiil in Oblivion (and quite a few more in its closely-related Fallout-flavoured cousins), I was eagerly anticipating my adventures in its sequel’s chillier, mountainous lands.

But first, while waiting for the postman to do his duty, was work. I finished off my round of performance optimisations (reducing the start-up data use by a factor of 30 was only one of the improvements) and updated the system, not telling most people to see if they’d notice (nobody’s mentioned it yet).

Royal Mail didn’t let me down; I had my copy (£20.41 from Tesco, on release day. Not bad, especially as I’ve already played it for 30-odd hours) and had admired its included map before lunchtime.

And after lunch, thanks to flexitime and the previous day’s working late, I could commence my adventures. After a spot of the fiddling in .ini files that is a compulsory part of PC gaming; I don’t know how or why developers go out of their way to break mouse controls out of the box, but there’s always smoothing or acceleration or something to turn off, that doesn’t have an option in the menu, before it stops feeling like you’re dragging your hand through treacle. Fiddle with a few also-not-in-the-menu graphical options to make it look a bit prettier, delete the startup movie files whilst you’re there, and you’re off.

My character is a Dunmer (Dark Elf) called Alana, and she’s a bit of a Jack (Jane?) of all trades, leaning slightly towards sneaking and archery. But she can turn her hand to almost anything in a pinch, except heavy armour. She’s rubbish with that.

I’d not made it far from the introduction and tutorial sequence (as in Oblivion there’s a linear, scripted bit at the start to give you the gist of what’s going on, until they get fed up taking the reins away and trying to cram the plot down your throat, and finally unleash you on the world at large so that you can get on with what the game’s really about; doing whatever you feel like, with nary a care nor constraint) before my friend turned up. He was waiting to get his copy of Skyrim, so we had a chat about that and I had the chance to show my espresso machine off again. Half-past six came and he rushed off to grab his game and get home to play it.

Similarly I returned, packet of Lidl’s Fairy Princess Sandwich Biscuits in hand, to the frozen Nord country of Skyrim. And I intended to stay there for as much of the weekend as possible.

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