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Author Topic: [PC/360/Ps3] The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Impressions, tweaks and more!  (Read 55812 times)
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CeeKay
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« Reply #680 on: November 21, 2011, 04:00:53 AM »

talk about insult to injury:



headshot and when she goes down it's face first into the fire after I kept tricking her into looking for me by shooting arrows at the wall so I could boost my sneak a few levels.

had an odd occurrence today:  I was robbing a lodge, and when I went outside a bunch of guards detected me but next thing I knew they were attacking a chicken and ignoring me.
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« Reply #681 on: November 21, 2011, 05:36:33 AM »

Quote from: CeeKay on November 21, 2011, 04:00:53 AM


had an odd occurrence today:  I was robbing a lodge, and when I went outside a bunch of guards detected me but next thing I knew they were attacking a chicken and ignoring me.


you have no shame,you'll dish the blame onto anybody and anything Tongue
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« Reply #682 on: November 21, 2011, 06:07:57 AM »

I killed a bandit and he fell into a fire too...I felt bad.
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« Reply #683 on: November 21, 2011, 10:25:43 AM »

Quote from: CeeKay on November 21, 2011, 04:00:53 AM


had an odd occurrence today:  I was robbing a lodge, and when I went outside a bunch of guards detected me but next thing I knew they were attacking a chicken and ignoring me.

Never under estimate chickens.. foul creatures I say
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« Reply #684 on: November 21, 2011, 10:43:16 AM »

The omens were true. The dragons were only the harbinger of... El Pollo Diablo!

The great daedric lord of all things foul.
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« Reply #685 on: November 21, 2011, 11:20:11 AM »

Quote from: Turtle on November 21, 2011, 10:43:16 AM

The omens were true. The dragons were only the harbinger of... El Pollo Diablo!

The great daedric lord of all things fowl.

FTFY.
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« Reply #686 on: November 21, 2011, 11:25:07 AM »

Was going for the double entendre. slywink
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« Reply #687 on: November 21, 2011, 11:43:16 AM »

ok, im about to wait for a random dragon be-gone mod. it's getting a bit tedious now. maybe if they were challenging, but god. every time i fast travel to the mage college i have to kill a dragon.
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« Reply #688 on: November 21, 2011, 12:24:20 PM »

Quote from: jersoc on November 21, 2011, 11:43:16 AM

ok, im about to wait for a random dragon be-gone mod. it's getting a bit tedious now. maybe if they were challenging, but god. every time i fast travel to the mage college i have to kill a dragon.

Really?  I have only killed 5 so far and I've yet to see many other.  Sounds like it's the Oblivion Gate all over again which killed that game for me
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« Reply #689 on: November 21, 2011, 12:32:03 PM »

I bought this on Friday. I've never really been a fan of Bethesda's RPGs until FO3. I never could get into Morrowind. I thought Oblivion was a bloated, aimless turd. I liked FO3, but then again I used to live in DC and that may have made the difference. But I decided to pull the trigger on Skyrim and give it a go. So, how does this Oblivion-hater like Skyrim? Read on, but the short answer is that it's been a long, long time since I put in 28 hours in a game over a weekend.

From a systems standpoint, I know Skyrim is built on the old Fallout 3 engine, but it's amazing how much they've cleaned it up. On my old computer (E6750 dual core @ 2.66GHz, 3G RAM, GForce 460 SE), I'm playing Skyrim on high settings with good performance. I've probably had half a dozen straight crashes to desktop, but I was able to start right up. I've encountered a couple of quest bugs, but nothing that prevented me from playing. I've seen a couple of bugs that I saw in FO3 (stuff floating in mid-air), but that's been rare.

From a graphical standpoint, I'm amazed at what I'm seeing out of Skyrim. The game runs and looks great. Unlike the Oblivion computer-generated terrain that never looked right, you can tell Skyrim's world has been lovingly hand-crafted. It's a brilliant pallet of colors, textures and areas each distinct from one another. Mountains appropriately tower above my character with snow drifting in the howling wind. Butterflies flitter in the breeeze in the lower areas, landing on flowers that can be picked for potions. Massive creatures like Mammoths literally make the ground tremble as they approach. It's a remarkable achievement in world building. I don't think I've played a fantasy RPG with an open world this good since...dare I say it?...Ultima 7. That's incredibly high praise from me, but the open world is just that good.

As I left my virtual house in Whiterun, I decided one morning to go mining. I knew (thanks to the hint guide, which is decent) that there were a couple of mines to the unexplored West, so I headed out that way. I figured I'd be there in a half an hour or so. Along the way, I solved a Vampire issue in a town, saw a couple of other towns, explored a cave or two, picked some herbs for potions and hunted some deer. But I kept pushing forward because I wanted to go mining. FOUR hours later, I finally arrived at the mines. The world is that much fun to explore...and it's that big.

The sounds of the world are superb. The wind whistles through the mountain passes. The bombastic - but never distracting - music plays during combat, then dies down to a whisper that I've yet to grown tired of. Voice acting is generally well done, which makes the really poorly spoken lines stand out. But the voices and music really help set the tone in this Nordic adventure.

One of the problem areas of past Elder Scrolls games was the questing. It often wasn't compelling, or well told, or there weren't enough of them. It was up to the player to make the story. Here, the quests are quite good. There's no "!" above quest-giver's heads, so you're going to have to do it the old-fashioned way - by talking to NPCs (even the guards). Do so and you'll be rewarded with well-thought out quests. Most of them boil down to the normal Fed Ex quests (get my sword, deliver this letter), but you'll often be rewarded with a good dungeon exploration or a beautiful vista along the way. Occasionally, there will be twists, which is why my character can sprout fangs and fur during a full moon. The main quest - of which I'm not that far through it yet - has been pretty good and I've almost forced myself not to play it because I want to savor the world. Overall, questing has been pretty average, but that's a massive improvement over other Elder Scrolls games.

There's a reason that questing doesn't have to be the end-all-be-all in a game like Skyrim - there's always something else to do. There's so many activities here it's incredible. Want to build your own armor and weapons? Then start mining, smelting and banging away on that forge. It'll take a long time to get good, but you'll be rewarded with some epic armor sets. Want to to bottle fame, brew glory, even put a stopper on death? You can do so...just head out to the countryside and start gathering herbs and other reagents. Cooking, enchanting and even wood chopping are all part of the world. They're generally well done and help serve as valuable distractions to questing/exploring.

Leveling has been discussed elsewhere, so I'm not going into many details (plus, this is getting long). Suffice it to say I find Skyrim's leveling system far superior than past Elder Scrolls games. I like how successful skill leveling helps push your character levels. I also like the ability to select talents each level from the many different talent trees. It's a well-done system that rewards the player for trying new tactics, skills or even just sitting around and crafting.

I'm not done yet, so I can't put a final stamp of approval on the game. Yet after 28 hours in the game, I can't wait to get back into it. As it stands right now, I've already gotten my money's worth and there's there's still so much to see and do. Boiling my experience thus far down to one sentence, I can sum up my Skyrim time with simply this - I feel like I'm playing one of the best RPGs of all time.
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« Reply #690 on: November 21, 2011, 12:49:41 PM »

Quote from: jersoc on November 21, 2011, 11:43:16 AM

ok, im about to wait for a random dragon be-gone mod. it's getting a bit tedious now. maybe if they were challenging, but god. every time i fast travel to the mage college i have to kill a dragon.

I have read other folks having a similar issue with the Mage College, but personally in over 60 hours of playing, I have yet to see a single dragon at the college, and in fact have only seen a total of 15 I believe.  Is there a dragon burial mound near the college?  I found a burial mound that had a named dragon at it.  After killing that named dragon I have not seen any random ones in that area since, not sure if it is coincidence or not.
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« Reply #691 on: November 21, 2011, 12:58:08 PM »

Quote from: Arkon on November 21, 2011, 12:49:41 PM

Quote from: jersoc on November 21, 2011, 11:43:16 AM

ok, im about to wait for a random dragon be-gone mod. it's getting a bit tedious now. maybe if they were challenging, but god. every time i fast travel to the mage college i have to kill a dragon.

I have read other folks having a similar issue with the Mage College, but personally in over 60 hours of playing, I have yet to see a single dragon at the college, and in fact have only seen a total of 15 I believe.  Is there a dragon burial mound near the college?  I found a burial mound that had a named dragon at it.  After killing that named dragon I have not seen any random ones in that area since, not sure if it is coincidence or not.

It's so bad at this point in my game that it feels like I have to fight one Blood Dragon on my way into the college, and another one on the way out. I try to avoid even going there in the first place now just so I don't have to go through that tedium again. Up there it's the cliff racer situation all over again.

I've seen several dragon burial mounds, but there has been no interacting with them whatsoever, and no dragons nearby. Perhaps you have to advance the main quest to a certain stage before this happens?
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« Reply #692 on: November 21, 2011, 02:05:07 PM »

I just bought it for the PC too.   I had a Skyrim marathon weekend which ended about midnight last night.

As far as criticism of the game, sure, nothings perfect.  But ummm..  Not sure what some people expect, hah.

 Its a fucking good game, I will even put it above the witcher and bg2.

Definitive in the top 3 best ever imo, and I am having trouble thinking of the other 2 games that are competing with it..   



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Morgul
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« Reply #693 on: November 21, 2011, 02:06:53 PM »

Quote from: Arkon on November 21, 2011, 12:49:41 PM

Quote from: jersoc on November 21, 2011, 11:43:16 AM

ok, im about to wait for a random dragon be-gone mod. it's getting a bit tedious now. maybe if they were challenging, but god. every time i fast travel to the mage college i have to kill a dragon.

I have read other folks having a similar issue with the Mage College, but personally in over 60 hours of playing, I have yet to see a single dragon at the college, and in fact have only seen a total of 15 I believe.  Is there a dragon burial mound near the college?  I found a burial mound that had a named dragon at it.  After killing that named dragon I have not seen any random ones in that area since, not sure if it is coincidence or not.

I got a dead dragon skeleton laying right in the mage guild courtyard.     I thought it was a fun fight, I was trying to deal with a quest and talk and crap and then I hear the music, heh..

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wonderpug
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« Reply #694 on: November 21, 2011, 02:18:29 PM »

I had really unfortunate random dragon timing during one of the main storyline quests

Shortly after the horn...
Spoiler for Hiden:
when you're supposed to disguise yourself for the ball.  I give Morgul my best weapons & armor, ok.  Still have some backup equipment.  Now the gal wants the rest of my stuff.  The instant we do the exchange and I have nothing but party clothes on me, I hear a roar, she draws her bow, I crap my party pants.
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« Reply #695 on: November 21, 2011, 02:27:54 PM »

Seriously - that hilarious! :-D
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Arkon
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« Reply #696 on: November 21, 2011, 02:31:42 PM »

Wonderpug, that is awesome, did you beat it down with your bare hands?

 icon_lol
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« Reply #697 on: November 21, 2011, 02:39:20 PM »

Harsh language would actually be a viable option here
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« Reply #698 on: November 21, 2011, 03:10:38 PM »

Quote from: Arkon on November 21, 2011, 02:31:42 PM

Wonderpug, that is awesome, did you beat it down with your bare hands?

 icon_lol

I did start to try to roleplay it, waiting for soldiers to die so I could grab their equipment, but since we were right in the middle of the suburbs I was worried some critical NPCs would die so I just invoked Power Word: Load Save Game.
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« Reply #699 on: November 21, 2011, 03:50:57 PM »

Quote from: wonderpug on November 21, 2011, 03:10:38 PM

Quote from: Arkon on November 21, 2011, 02:31:42 PM

Wonderpug, that is awesome, did you beat it down with your bare hands?

 icon_lol

I did start to try to roleplay it, waiting for soldiers to die so I could grab their equipment, but since we were right in the middle of the suburbs I was worried some critical NPCs would die so I just invoked Power Word: Load Save Game.

Bah, you should have seen it through, live and let die!
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« Reply #700 on: November 21, 2011, 05:28:51 PM »

A little help please with magic. I read somewhere that if you wear armor you don't cast spells at 100%. There is supposed to be a tab somewhere which shows what % you are casting at. I can't find it anywhere. Is this indeed true? Also, level 18 and still at novice destruction spells. Do you have to buy higher level spells from somewhere? Don't tell me where if this is true, I'm all for discovery, just it's been a while, I've finished up the mage line quests, and explored some other cities and still no destruction higher lever spells seen. Am I missing something?
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« Reply #701 on: November 21, 2011, 05:32:49 PM »

You can cast spells just fine in heavy armor - it doesn't mean anything what kind of armor you wear.

You will get acces to higher level spells as you level your skills from ...eh...well, people since you didn't want to know ;-) So, basically, level your spell skills and you'll be able to get higher level spells.
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« Reply #702 on: November 21, 2011, 05:46:13 PM »

Thank you sir. Good to know I haven't missed anything, just impatient.
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« Reply #703 on: November 21, 2011, 05:54:25 PM »

I, too, spent a lot of this weekend playing Skyrim (since there was no SWTOR beta to distract me) and thought I'd share some initial impressions. Of course, "initial impressions" of Skyrim covers about as much content as would be in a final review of most games, so this will probably rival Blackadar's post for length...

My first and overall impression is that this is very much a Bethesda game. There aren't really a lot of surprises in terms of the game's general strengths and weaknesses. They've made evolutionary progress in a lot of areas and, because of that, this is probably one of their best games but, if you really hate the mold Bethesda works from, then this isn't the game for you.

It's no surprise, then, that the game's greatest strength - by far - is the world-building. Environmentally, this a phenomenally beautiful game. I have the same sense of wonder at the vistas and awe at the lovingly handcrafted terrain that I had when playing Morrowind. You start the game near the foot of a massive mountain and it's quite something, several levels later, when you're looking down from the top of that mountain and thinking, "huh, I can see my house from here". What impresses me even more than the physical world, however, is that all the incidental characters have had just as much attention lavished on them: stumble into an otherwise-irrelevant lumbar mill along the road from Somewhere Important to Someplace That Matters and, instead of a cookie-cutter NPC, you're likely to find a story about a single mother struggling to keep the mill operating since her husband went into town to sell their goods and never came back, how she thinks that's because he's taken up with some slattern of a shopkeeper in the town and, if you're headed that way, would you mind finding his cheating ass and telling him to never come back? Except for some of the town guards and bandit underlings, almost everyone has a name and a unique story, if you care to hear it.

There are also already mods that improve on this already-exceptional aspect of the game. I've got one that adjusts the color balance to make things a little warmer (although I understand why Bethesda shipped it the way they did, given the otherwise frigid nature of Skyrim), one that improves the level of detail at distance, one that improves the night sky and one that makes the water prettier...and I'm sure there will be oh-so-many more in the weeks to come.

Your freedom of action is also undiminished from previous Elder Scrolls games. Follow the main plot, join a guild or two, make your fortune crafting jewelry or building potions, eeke out a meager living as an itinerant courier for the endless supply of people who need things carried from hamlet A to small town B, disturb ancient ruins, go Giant-tipping, or do some, all or none of the above: as with all of these games, it's your choice and all of these paths are pretty much equally viable. The classless leveling system is also marvelous for letting you mix and match your playstyle, be it as a heavy-armor wearing, axe-wielding assassin with a knack for illusions and a signature home-brewed poison or as an unarmored pickpocket schooled in Destruction, archery and summoning the undead to do his bidding.

And this is where I'll segue into the unfortunately-long litany of things that are wrong with Skyrim, because the leveling system, freeform as it is, still retains the far-too-exploitable (and simultaneously far-too-easy-to-gimp-yourself-able) "use it to improve it" approach. A better definition of what constitutes a "skill" does mean that Skyrim is better than Morrowind's ridiculous "jump up and down a thousand times to level up Athletics" approach but it's still possible to overpower most of the game by leveling your Smithing up to the maximum before doing almost anything else or, conversely, to make the game horribly difficult by reaching a high character level based on crafting, enchanting and pickpocketing while completely neglecting your combat skills. As long as you play "normally" or "carefully" (or "sanely", if you prefer) this likely won't be an issue but a game specifically designed to get you to invest in your characters over dozens or hundreds of hours really should have some sort of check in place to make sure you're not doing it horribly and completely wrong.

This relates, of course, to the fact that level scaling is still in the game. So far, it seems much better implemented - your basic bandits seem much the same at Level 18 as they did at Level 1 - but others have already pointed out that even these improvements are leading to odd juxtapositions between scaled- and non-scaled opponents, where you can take down a dragon with comparative ease but then be flattened by a much more mundane bear. At Level 18, I am also starting to see some of the simpler mobs in increasingly valuable gear - I met a thief on the road recently in a full set of Elven armor - although I'll withhold complete judgement about this until I level a lot more and see if they keep pace up to end-game gear (bad) or stop somewhere in the middle (better).

The interface also needs extensive work. There's already been talk about how cumbersome the menu screens are but my frustrations go beyond that. The main screen UI goes too far in being intentionally minimalist (for immersion, I assume) in that it completely omits some basic functions. There's no health bar for my companions unless I put the cursor directly over them, which is not practical in combat and made even more difficult by the fact that there's no minimap or even a compass indicator for where-the-fuck-is-my-companion after she's gone charging off on her own initiative to attack enemies two rooms away. There's no button to summon your mount, which would be OK except that your horse "realistically" likes to run off in a random safe direction whenever combat starts (except for the times when it "realistically" decides to charge right into combat and attack, which I can only assume means my horse is a realistic schizophrenic) and can be hard to find in the dense foliage or blizzards that make up much of Skyrim's terrain. Your list of active buffs or magical effects is completely absent from the main screen and buried three menu-clicks deep. There are a couple dozen different map / compass icons but no legend explaining them, plus the fact that the minimally zoomable and completely non-rotatable world map is almost useless by default because of the bizarre decision to include real-time cloud cover over it. I could go on but I think you get the point.

A complaint that's probably more personal is that I absolutely hate the Alchemy system, which is remains an absolutely befuddling morass of too many ingredients (that are too randomly spread about the map) with too many different effects (all of which are hidden from you initially), so that the best approach to learning how to craft powerful potions is "buy the strategy guide". What I find so bizarre about this is that Smithing, conversely, is so straightforward: there are only a handful of different metal types and, once you've taken the Perk to create a certain type of gear, all the possible items and their recipes are immediately known to you.

Also, despite the pre-release talk of how Bethesda hired so many more voice actors for Skyrim, there remain far too few of them, and far too few lines of dialogue shared among them. I've heard Claudia Christian at least once in every town I've visited, and I've had three different blacksmiths, upon being asked to show me their wares, ask me "looking to protect yourself or do some damage?". This may be an improvement over having entire towns voiced by one person but, in an age where Bioware is setting the bar for both quality and quantity of voice work, Bethesda is still lagging far, far behind.

So, this is far from a perfect game. If I were reviewing it now, I don't think I could give it more than a flat 90/100 and would seriously contemplate something in the mid- to low-80s, depending how harsh one wanted to be on the fact that many of the game's flaws have persisted through multiple Bethesda games. That said, it is still an absolute blast to play and it is incredibly easy to get swept away in the beauty and the depth of the world. When you're in the middle of a gorgeous, handcrafted dungeon, slaughtering Draugher with gay abandon and merciless decapitations, all of the flaws -- even the fact that this is the 50th entirely linear dungeon you've seen or that your companion has never heard of "aggro management" -- just fall away. This is not even a great game: too many of its systems are too clunky and/or exploitable. But it is an absolutely engrossing and incomparable experience in losing yourself in another world.

- Ash
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« Reply #704 on: November 21, 2011, 06:07:33 PM »

bought my first house last night after finally finishing the dragonstone quest, and had more than enough gold to furnish it right away so I would have a nice place to dump my belongings and Lydia.
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« Reply #705 on: November 21, 2011, 06:21:28 PM »

On alchemy, I love the way the system currently works, being trial and error.  First thing I do when I find a new ingredient is try it out to see what the baseline effect is.  Next I look to try combining it with some of the more common ingredients.  If an ingredient combo fails to create a potion, any time you select one of the ingredients, the other will be grayed out, due to now knowing they do not combine.  Throughout the game world, you will find recipe scrolls, and most potion vendors sell them from time to time.  For me, the alchemy system is all about exploring, just like the game world is.  Then once I find a good combo, that motivates me to go out and try to find more of the ingredients.

My Mace/Shield/Heavy armor fighter is up to level 41 at this point.  For the most part bandits are still carrying iron and steel weapons, bandit leaders will sometimes be decked out in steel plate.  The occasional bandit will have dwarven, orcish, glass weapons but it is not widespread.  I have not really seen any issues with the level scaling at all.  I also don't get the dragon complaints...they have always been a challenge for my character, second only to giants and some really nasty master vampires.  I am playing at the default difficulty, so perhaps at higher difficulty the dragons don't scale as well, not sure.
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« Reply #706 on: November 21, 2011, 06:24:30 PM »

Quote from: Asharak on November 21, 2011, 05:54:25 PM

A complaint that's probably more personal is that I absolutely hate the Alchemy system, which is remains an absolutely befuddling morass of too many ingredients (that are too randomly spread about the map) with too many different effects (all of which are hidden from you initially), so that the best approach to learning how to craft powerful potions is "buy the strategy guide".
I think alchemy can look intimidating at first, but as you start tasting the early common ingredients and making the few potions you can make, you naturally stumble across secondary effect matches that reveal those effect listings.

I never looked at a strategy guide or FAQ for alchemy and I've got dozens and dozens of ingredients with 2, 3, or even all 4 effects visible.  
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« Reply #707 on: November 21, 2011, 07:05:11 PM »

Steam just downloaded an 18.6 MB patch for Skyrim, though no idea what it actually does yet.
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« Reply #708 on: November 21, 2011, 07:14:25 PM »

Found a decent way to get my Enchanting and Smithing skills up. Basically when I clear out a dungeon I'll grab all the crap low weight items like daggers or low weight metal armors. When I head back to town I'll buy ingots as needed and sharpen/improve the items. Then I'll take those items and enchant them with low level soul gems. Then sell them.

You don't make your money back but the skills go up pretty quickly. For even faster progression use the "The Lover" guardian stone which adds the all skills improve 15% faster buff.
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« Reply #709 on: November 21, 2011, 07:18:20 PM »

Quote from: EngineNo9 on November 21, 2011, 07:05:11 PM

Steam just downloaded an 18.6 MB patch for Skyrim, though no idea what it actually does yet.

It disabled the ability to run Skyrim without running steam :-( People also report it makes some of their fixes like LAA not working anymore.
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« Reply #710 on: November 21, 2011, 07:29:09 PM »

Quote from: Razgon on November 21, 2011, 07:18:20 PM

Quote from: EngineNo9 on November 21, 2011, 07:05:11 PM

Steam just downloaded an 18.6 MB patch for Skyrim, though no idea what it actually does yet.

It disabled the ability to run Skyrim without running steam :-( People also report it makes some of their fixes like LAA not working anymore.

it looks it also makes you run though the Skyrim launcher even if you click on the main game .exe.  it looks like it overwrites any changes you may have done to the Skyrimpref.ini because of this patch too.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2011, 07:41:01 PM by CeeKay » Logged

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raydude
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« Reply #711 on: November 21, 2011, 08:31:05 PM »

Man I love power-bashing mages out of their spellcasting smile. Now that I have whirlwind they barely stand a chance. Its like "enemy mage casts spell" <VOICE: whirlwind> HIYO!!! <power bash> <power swing>. Next?
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« Reply #712 on: November 21, 2011, 11:54:42 PM »

need more dragons in your game?
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CeeKay
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« Reply #713 on: November 22, 2011, 05:39:45 AM »

'TF2 mode' http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Yeyzi8e6-yw#!
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« Reply #714 on: November 22, 2011, 06:27:59 AM »

For those posting about the key binding problem I have only had this hapen one time and I had two of the same item (quality and all).  I could bind the key but it wouldnt work until I sold off one of my elven bows. 
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Morgul
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« Reply #715 on: November 22, 2011, 01:20:58 PM »

Lockpicks...   Good place to buy them, aside from joining thieves guild?
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Razgon
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« Reply #716 on: November 22, 2011, 01:26:39 PM »

Quote from: Morgul on November 22, 2011, 01:20:58 PM

Lockpicks...   Good place to buy them, aside from joining thieves guild?

Travel between the regular merchants in the towns, they should have, and frequently stock up on lockpikcs. Usually 3-4 each time. Also, search everything in dungeons! I have 75 lockpicks and have only bought once :-)
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« Reply #717 on: November 22, 2011, 01:44:57 PM »

Yeah, my supply of lockpicks just keeps increasing, even though I pick every lock (other than to the homes/shops/chests of still-living NPCs who haven't done anything to offend me) I come across and haven't taken any of the make-it-easier perks, so I break several every time I try an Adept or higher difficulty lock.

- Ash
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hmm...


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« Reply #718 on: November 22, 2011, 01:51:54 PM »

Quote from: Morgul on November 22, 2011, 01:20:58 PM

Lockpicks...   Good place to buy them, aside from joining thieves guild?

Are you checking under the right tab in the merchant window?  It's under misc, and you see them stocked pretty often.  Check both the inside guy and the outside lady at the Whiterun blacksmith, as well as the general goods guy.  "Everything's for sale!"
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« Reply #719 on: November 22, 2011, 02:50:50 PM »

Quote from: wonderpug on November 22, 2011, 01:51:54 PM

...as well as the general goods guy.  "Everything's for sale!"

He has a name you know...why must you disrespect Belethor...
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