The Heavy Metal Matador (rydain) wrote,
The Heavy Metal Matador
rydain

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Research and distraction

Spousal unit: What do you want for $HOLIDAY?
Me: I just ordered myself another textbook. That counts.
Spousal unit: I want to get you something.
Me: I really don't need any more toys- Is that the Skyrim collector's box?

Yep.

The first book in question is Reclaiming Chinese Society, edited by You-tien Hsing and Ching Kwan Lee. It's dense. It's academic. It's a worthwhile read if you want a detailed examination of activism and change in environmentalism, feminism, media studies, and so on. I mainly got it to improve my grasp on the modern Chinese zeitgeist. I'm not sure how many of its specifics will come up in my novel, but I can always do with more context - anything to decrease the influence of my Western gaze when writing.

A friend of mine linked to a documentary on the Kowloon Walled City, a former fort burgeoned up into an ungoverned warren where the sun rarely reached its lowest levels. City of Darkness, by Greg Girard and Ian Lambot, provides a deep look into the settlement run by triad gangs and some sense of collective order. Its photos and content come well recommended, featuring a variety of personal experiences from residents. I don't have it in my hands yet, but I will soon.

Skyrim is Fallout with magic and dragons instead of Vault Boy and mutants. This has its ups and downs.

I love the characteristic format of distracted exploration. OK let's go to the next objective oh look a windmill oh shit bandits yay treasure chest LOOT! Barkeep McRandom lost a McGuffin in some cave halfway across the map. What's this another cave OK let's kill all the monsters and get more loot and clear a quest I never knew existed.

My combat style is different enough to keep it fresh. In Fallout, I'm strictly guns. My Skyrim character is a shield bashing tank with archery sniping and conjuring magic as backup. It took me forever to get any good at actually hitting things with a mace in 1st person - my depth perception in such is crap - but I'm getting better. Finally. The loot helps, as does upgrading it via smithing. I love the leveling system, especially because I can save perks for later. There's enough variety to allow for a vast array of builds and styles, but it's all streamlined so those new to the series won't get overwhelmed.

That said, Skyrim has an annoying proliferation of legacy cruft. Assassins spawned after me for no reason just because Fallout 3 does the same. Much of the useless junk and traps were brought over with a facelift. Townspeople say the same awkward lines over and over, sometimes stupidly unaware of contexts or consequences, yet they're psychic when it comes to theft. Steal something sight unseen? Hired thugs show up to teach you a lesson. Try to sell said something to a merchant halfway across the map? Can't do it because I guess they invented magical RFID tags. I get that theft has its downsides, but such could be done better than copying over deus ex machina game mechanics verbatim. Generally speaking, I wanted to experience a wholehearted evolution of the Bethesda engine rather than a tweak and partial upgrade. I tend to meh at the game aspects that are showing their age.
Tags: china, video games: skyrim
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