Friday, January 20, 2012

Oh, oh Switzerland...

I never thought I'd have you as a friend
I'm praying it was not at all pretend
I need you now
To help pick me up from off the ground...

So, lo I have returned again, in accordance with the prophecies. If you didn't miss me - or even note my absence - don't feel too bad; it was just a quick jaunt out to sea, less than a full calendar week in length, down off the coast of La Florida for fun and games with the Navy. We did very little, for all our time out to sea; not many customers, and not much fuel given to those we did see. It was, in summary, pretty ridiculous.

But ridiculous is what they pay us for, so off we went, and did what we must do. There are a number of things I hate about going out to sea, especially for such a short time and for such little reason; leaving my wife and daughter, sleeping on the narrow, uncomfortable Navy bunks (even if we do have better mattresses on them - and I use the term "better" with slightly cavalierly), my snoring roommate. My wife occasionally snores. I occasionally snore, and receive my wife's elbow of death for it. My brother and my dad both had issues with snoring, and both have submitted to sleep studies and been equipped with CPAP machines. My cubemate, herein dubbed The Bear in any further blog posts, puts all of the above to shame - and then some. And for any of my family members reading this, YES. He is actually louder and more obnoxious than DAD. The noises the man makes when he sleeps are almost terrifying - I've given him the nickname "Bear" because that's what he sounds like, an angry bear.

Going to sea is a matter of giving up the little things, the things one takes for granted. For example, without fail, the moment the ship gets underway I want a drink. I drink very seldomly when I'm home, which is pretty amusing for a home brewer; I give away more of my product than I consume myself, and even then the stuff that I keep for myself often ends up going to waste, simply because it goes off before I get around to drinking it. One of the reasons I switched from brewing beer to making wine and mead; they last longer, sitting in their bottles waiting for me to get into the mood to drink them. Likewise, I have more than a few bottles of harder beverages sitting on top of my fridge, and filling one of the upstairs closets; I simply don't drink very often, and when I do, it's seldom more than a couple fingers of whisk(e)y. And yet, the moment the ship gets underway, I find myself longing for a tall and frothy mug. Is it the increased stress of being out to sea, or just because I want what I can't have? I may never know. I've been home a little over an hour as I type this, and I have yet to have anything stronger than a Vernor's ginger ale and a mug of tea. I'm still working on the tea. Hole Mole, if you're interested. Mmm, chocolate and spices.

One of those little things is Skyrim. I play on PS3; sure, I could drag it back and forth to the ship with me, but I don't have a TV really worth playing it on (the one in my Fire Marshal shop is incredibly small, and so far from HD you can't see it from there), and running off with it would deprive my wife of half of her Blu-Ray capabilities. Most of them, really, since we haven't gotten around to hooking the Blu-Ray player back up since we got the PS3, but that could be arranged. It would be a temporary joy, anyway, as I can't bring it on deployment with me; I'm planning on leaving the ship mid deployment, and flying it home would be... problematic. Ship it? Risk the baggage handlers smashing as they carelessly fling luggage about? Risk it getting stolen? All of this assumes, of course, that She Who Must Be Obeyed would allow it to wander off on high seas adventures with me; she doesn't have many PS3 games, but she does have a couple and, sooner or later, will want to play them. Getting it for PC would involve getting a much more powerful laptop than my little Eee; expensive, heavy, and other than Skyrim, I can't think of too many PC games out there that I would be interested in. Besides, it would involve starting all over again, and at level 60 (or damn near), that's not something I'm looking forward to.

So, I endure. It occurred to me, just before this last trip, that I could maybe replace the urge to play Skyrim with something else, something similar. And it occurred to me, that my Eee has specs actually slightly superior - in some ways - than my first laptop, the one that I used to play Morrowind for hours on. So... one thing led to another, and I found myself once again firing up The Elder Scrolls III, and wandering about the island of Vvardenfell. It's not a perfect experience - I have to keep the view distance and several other graphics options dialed down, for starters, and I'm not sure if I can take a Solstheim snowstorm yet, although rain and duststorms seem to process just fine - but it's enough to scratch the itch, just a little.

It did lead to a list of various things that Skyrim lacks that Morrowind has, and vice versa. Most of these involve around various methods of fast travel; playing Morrowind is not unlike watching the extended cuts of The Lord of the Rings, it's about a hundred hours of walking. Vvardenfell may be a small island, but without horses, or the ability to return directly to a location once you've visited it, it takes forever to get around on. Worse, when you find yourself lost in the middle of the wilderness, there's very little alternative other than continuing to walk. One thing it does have, though, are the Mark/Recall spells that allow you to return to one predetermined location, and the Almsivi/Divine Intervention spells that allow you to teleport to the nearest temple of whatever flavor; Tribunal or Imperial. These are godsends for overburdened adventurers who want to haul back as much loot as (in)humanly possible. On the flip side, I prefer Skyrim's overburdening system; sure, you can't fast travel, run, or jump when you're overburdened, but at least you can move. And in Skyrim, there are no Burden spells - so you don't have to worry about an opponent dumping a bajillion pounds on you and freezing you in place.

I've run slightly over wordcount for this entry, and the wife is looking to fire up Sherlock season 2, so I'll condense the rest of these down into a quick and dirty list, and maybe elucidate on them at a later time.

*Weaponry: Crossbows, spears, daikatana, throwing items, sabres
*Medium armour
*ability to fight underwater ('cause, seriously, screw slaughterfish.)
*breath monitor (how long do I have until I start taking damage? Guess I'll find out when I DIE!)
*Open spells ('cause locks you can't open suck. On the other hand, I prefer Skyrim's lock minigame).
*Shops open at all hours: This is more of a stylistic thing, I just hate constantly having to wait around for the shop owner to appear and open the doors so I can sell off my tons of loot. On the other hand, as a thief, I kinda like them going home for the night and leaving all their valuables around for me to plunder...
*Levitate spells
*Guild halls in different cities: Skyrim moots this, a little, with the ability to buy houses in every city, but I kinda miss being able to pick up different quests and sleep in a faction bed in different cities. It also added a bit of verisimilitude to the world, I felt. On the other hand, since the Fighters Guild has been replaced with the Companions, and the Mages Guild with the College at Winterhold... again, a stylistic thing, I suppose.
*Unlimited training per level: If I have a million gold pieces, I should be able to go up a million gold in levels. For one thing, maybe I'd have a decent spellcaster...

*HUD for destinations/places of interest
*dual wielding/spellcasting
*sneak attacks! Sneaking, period, is so much better handled in Skyrim that there's almost no comparison.
*Simpler armour (Not having to wear a million different pieces.)
*Simpler alchemy
*Arrows are weightless
*NO CLIFF RACERS ('cause seriously, FUCK cliff racers).

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