5 for Friday: Why I Love the Multiverse of The Elder Scrolls Online! (Re-blogged)

It’s a Full Moon Friday, and Morrowind is live on all platforms of The Elder Scrolls Online, so I figured this post of mine was worthy of a re-blog.

Also, here is the official launch trailer which details the actual in-game graphics and action…enjoy!

Random Ramblings; Myriad Musings

On Tuesday, 6 June, The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO) is launching the next chapter in the series, on all platforms that the game is played on: PC/Mac, Xbox, and whichever version of the PlayStation is being used now. That chapter is a resurrected, updated version of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. I’ve had early access to this new, online version of Morrowind since 22 May, as I pre-ordered the collector’s edition as soon as I was able to! I’ve been playing TESO itself since it came out three years ago, and figured I’d give the top five reasons why I’m still enjoying it after all this time. I was also inspired to do this post because I happened to see a TV commercial for Morrowind during a Torchwood marathon that I was binge-watching on BBC America over the weekend. With that, here we go!

1. User-friendly: I love…

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5 for Friday: Why I Love the Multiverse of The Elder Scrolls Online!

On Tuesday, 6 June, The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO) is launching the next chapter in the series, on all platforms that the game is played on: PC/Mac, Xbox, and whichever version of the PlayStation is being used now. That chapter is a resurrected, updated version of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. I’ve had early access to this new, online version of Morrowind since 22 May, as I pre-ordered the collector’s edition as soon as I was able to! I’ve been playing TESO itself since it came out three years ago, and figured I’d give the top five reasons why I’m still enjoying it after all this time. I was also inspired to do this post because I happened to see a TV commercial for Morrowind during a Torchwood marathon that I was binge-watching on BBC America over the weekend. With that, here we go!

1. User-friendly: I love the fact that, like with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, one doesn’t need to have played the entire series to know what is going on or how to play – you can just jump right in and run anywhere you wish. In many ways, starting the game as a newbie is easier now than it was when TESO first came out! For example, there are now in-game tutorials when there initially weren’t. Also, a subscription isn’t required; I personally subscribe due to the benefits and bonus perks of doing so.

2. Diverse, endless variety, and multi-layered gameplay: I love the fact that designing and customizing your avatar is available, as many games have very limited “cookie-cutter” options so your character looks pretty much the same as any other person’s who might be playing that specific character class. I love going into a bank in-game and seeing all of the different appearances and costumes of other players! One can create a short, stout Orc, or a thin, lanky Dark Elf. In TESO there are 10 playable races, each with their own unique passive abilities. There are five character classes, each one with a unique set of offensive and defensive fighting skills. The ranges of weapons and armour-sets that can be used are countless! I enjoy playing around with different combinations to see which ones complement each other the best.

3. Puzzles: In your travels you come across many different dungeons, or quests which may have you delving underground to locate specific items. Some of these quests require you to solve a puzzle of some sort in order to advance, and I find those to be loads of fun! They could be picture tiles, riddles, or light-shifting pedestals, just to name a few. Some are easy to solve, while others are real brain-teasers! They definitely provide a perfectly valid excuse for reading the lore-books you run across, which brings me to the next item on my list.

4. History and lore: Just as with the real world, the virtual world of TESO has a varied and rich history, as well as lore unique to the specific races. There are countless books which can be found almost everywhere you go, and reading them can teach you newer skills, raise your character level, or mark locations on your map for future exploration. Some give you clues to a quest you might be undertaking, and some are just good entertainment! The people who created and developed this series get high praise from me and all of the other gamers who enjoy and appreciate the historic depth put into this game.

5. Last, but certainly not least, the graphics and details. I can’t say enough about how awesome the graphics in this game are, and the various little details which make it stand head and shoulders above other games which are more popular with others. For example, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, just as in real-life. When the day is clear and the sun is out, the shadows cast are incredibly sharp and match the form of the object casting the shadow. Sound-effects are top-notch as well: when you’re riding your horse, for instance, the hoof-beats make a different sound depending on what terrain you happen to be crossing at the time. Water splashes around your feet if you’re jogging through a swamp, or you can hear the rustling of grass if you’re taking a short-cut across a farmer’s meadow. Birdsong and animal noises are also noticeable when you happen to be in the proper areas; everywhere you go, there is something to see and do!
There are a dozen more reasons I could list and I could go on and on, but that would interfere with important gaming time. Also, I have to update my guild-recruitment script by Monday, and need to change the in-game guild message of the day. I’m hosting an in-game house-warming party to celebrate the opening of our grand, spacious new guild-hall – and no, the celebration will not be broadcast on my Twitch channel! Private party, by invitation only…

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5 Friday Faves: “Author! Author!” Edition

LOL – see what I did, there? I used a movie title just to draw attention to this post, which is really about my five favourite writers of fiction! I read quite a bit, and have a long list of writers whom I admire and always look forward to their latest writings. They’re also great in that their older works are worth re-reading from time to time; like a nice, classic outfit, they never really go out of style.

I had to think long and hard about these writers, but was finally able to come up with why these specific five are awesome! I’m not doing a numbered list this time; instead, I have listed them in order by their last names. I’m listing past and present writers, as two people on this list are deceased. With that disclaimer, here we go!

Octavia Butler (22 June 1947 – 24 February 2006): Octavia Butler is still one of my favourite authors, even years after her untimely death. She was a science fiction writer, earning multiple Hugo and Nebula awards for her many excellent books. She was also the first science fiction writer to earn the MacArthur Fellowship, which is nicknamed the “Genius Grant.” I have all of her books, and I think it is time to pull them off of the shelf and give them a re-read! I usually go five years between re-readings, so that the stories are somewhat fresh. One can never have too many books, I think.

Harlan Coben: I happened upon this author when I was browsing the shelves of a bookstore that sold or traded used books. I was looking for some Jonathan Kellerman and Patricia Cornwell books, and since books were listed by genre and alphabetical order (by last name, of course), I saw Coben’s name just ahead of Cornwell’s. The title of one book caught my eye, so I took it along with the other selections that I’d already made – very glad that I did! I love a good mystery / psych-thriller, and his writings are perfect. He sprinkles funny lines in his tales, similar to Stephen King, and does quite well at throwing in unexpected twists that might keep most people guessing until the last page. I don’t think that I have all of his books yet, but I’m certainly working on it!

David Gemmel (1 August 1948 – 28 July 2006): David Gemmell was a phenomenal writer, and I enjoyed his books immensely. His untimely death in 2006 almost spelled the death of a series he was in the middle of working on; fortunately, his wife was able to do it justice and complete the works under a joint authorship. She did quite well, I have to say! I have all of David’s books, and again, must pull them off the shelves and give them another go – starting with Legend, of course.

Stephen King: Stephen King is the author whom I’ve been reading for most of my life. I think that the first short-story of his that I read was the one about the little toy soldiers that come to life and kill the head of a company. I was eight when I read it, then was re-introduced to his writings in 6th grade. He slowly overtook Piers Anthony and V.C. Andrews during my junior high years, and then firmly established himself as my favourite author for close to seven years. It was around that time that I was introduced to this next author’s writings by a close friend.

Dan Simmons: I had finished reading Octavia Butler’s Kindred and was talking with a friend about good sci-fi novels. He had just finished reading Hyperion and was starting on The Fall of Hyperion, so he lent me the first book – I was hooked from the first page! When I went to the local bookstore to look up what else he had written, I was pleased to see that he wrote horror and mystery novels as well. In fact, he has won multiple awards, including the Hugo, the Bram Stoker, and the Locus, to name a few. I have most of his books, if not all of them…and, I have a tattoo of the Shrike. It’s just fitting, for me!

Fun Friday Facts: My 5 Favourite…

This “5 on Friday” post is about my five favourite British comedies, inspired in part by the “Whovian” post I did a few weeks ago. They are listed in reverse, from fifth to first…so, let’s get to it!

5. Red Dwarf. This sci-fi-based comedy was accidentally introduced to me by my two older brothers during a Friday Dungeons & Dragons game-night. We had the TV on when there was a break in the action and were dealing with the minutiae of experience points, levels, and divvying up of treasures. One outburst of “Oi, you smeg-head, get me a smeggin’ curry!” from the television speakers made me whip my head around to see what the hell was going on, and I was promptly hooked! That show was hilarious, and I wish it would get the re-airings that it deserves. It just might, now that I think of it!

4. One Foot in the Grave. This sitcom was about an elderly gent who was forced into retirement. Curmudgeonly Victor Meldrew drives his wife, Margaret, to distraction as he wanders about the house and tries to stay busy while she goes to work and keeps up the bills. He’s a decent enough sort, but never seems to get on well with others – try as he might! An Aussie friend of mine introduced me to this show about 15 years ago and I’m quite glad that he did. I have the whole series on DVD so I can watch it at my leisure, and enjoy it just as much now as I did when I first watched it. It’s funny, poignant, and deliciously dry – in short, it’sgreat!

3. Absolutely Fabulous (AbFab). Most people here in the States only know of the show because of the movie which came out last year, but I first saw AbFab on Comedy Central just before Y2K. Blame my Aussie buddy for turning me on to this hilarious sitcom about two boozing, drugging, party-hearty broads who hate the idea of getting old! Patsy and Edina act as if they’re high-schoolers getting up to all sorts of antics, driving Edina’s straight-laced daughter, Saffron, mad with their shenanigans. That series will be the next one purchased on DVD, as soon as I’m able!

2. Blackadder. I had been a fan of Mr. Bean, but knew nothing of the conniving and cunning Edmund Blackadder until a co-worker at one of the radio stations I worked at introduced me to that series. He lent me the first two seasons to take home and watch – they were still on VHS at the time – and I howled with laughter! That show was only aired on PBS during their annual fund-raisers, so didn’t get to watch it as much as I wanted to back then, so I bought the entire series on DVD to view whenever I wish!

Finally, the number one spot on my list goes to The League of Gentlemen. This show shouldn’t be confused with the movie The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, as they are completely different animals! It aired on Comedy Central not long after AbFab was taken off; again, my Aussie buddy encouraged me to give it a chance, and I’m glad that he did! The little town of Royston Vasey has a unique population, to say the least. The only answer to the question “Are you local?” is “Yes!” This show was warped,dark, demented, and insanely hilarious – emphasis on “insanely,” LMAO! Of course, I simply had to get the series on DVD, and I even recorded one of my favourite lines from it on my phone so that people hear it if they call me and get my voice mail. One of my sisters had called the other day, and all I could hear was hysterical laughter on the voice message! She wasn’t expecting to hear what she heard, and it definitely took her off guard. My sense of humour isn’t compatible with most others, for sure!

This post wouldn’t be complete without at least one clip from each of these shows. A bit of laughter is perfect for this fun Friday, and the best way to start the weekend off with a smile. Enjoy!

Monday Musings: Review of an Interview

I re-read this, and decided to repost it for my “Mid-week Musings!”
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I still maintain that the best way to ensure a good blogger-to-blogger interview, is to ACTUALLY READ THE BLOG of the person that you plan on interviewing. It’s obvious, yes?
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Random Ramblings; Myriad Musings

Ah, interviews! Pretty much anyone of job-seeking age has gone through an interview of some sort, whether it’s a job interview, a pre-application review for a school or college, interviewing for a club membership, or interviewing with a military recruiter after taking the ASVAB. Those are mainly formal and/or professional interviews, which always have a certain format and tone, and certain expectations are of higher demand from the interviewer and the interviewee. The resume is what the interviewer uses to glean information about the applicant, while also having a formulaic list of pre-written questions. The interviewee has the added expectation of researching the company or organization he or she is applying to, and is questioned on the applicant’s knowledge of same. This is usually to determine if the applicant is truly interested in being an employee or member.

Another type of interview is the casual, informal one generally seen on…

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Tuesday Tidbits: 2017 Gaming Edition

All right, it’s that time of year again! With the anniversary of the release date of The Elder Scrolls Online looming (4 April), I figured that a gaming post was long overdue. I’m only really playing this game at the moment, so these are the only gaming updates that I do. Sorry, nothing about Final Fantasy, Call of Duty, Fallout 4 or Overwatch, here!

ESO Live did their first broadcast of 2017 on Friday, 27 January, and today they had a special broadcast for an announcement that has been at work behind the scenes – it was hinted at during PAX West 2016, but I had no idea what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised with the announcement!

First off, ESO will finally introduce in-game player housing, adding another layer to an already multi-layered, in-depth, and immersive game. I did some noodling on the Public Test Server (PTS) and like what I see so far! It will be very nice to have a private, secure area for guild-meetings, duels, crafting, or role-playing story arcs. The various homes available are nicely varied, with some located inside city walls, and others are out in the wilds, offering beautiful scenery to inspire you whilst decorating.

Friday’s broadcast showed off some of the buildings and decorations some people did; I have to say that I was impressed with the creativity and dedication on display! There were some great designs and layouts – click here if you’d like to take a look at the broadcast. I’ve met and spoken with four of the six people that you see; they were pretty cool and easy to talk to when we saw them at the gaming convention.
Last but not least, today’s announcement was about the very first expansion being added to ESO – not just a DLC, but a full expansion pack which introduces a much-loved land to the online multi-verse!

*insert annoying fangirl scream*

Here’s a little background: Skyrim, the game that I started playing The Elder Scrolls with, is officially titled The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I have played TES III: Morrowind and TES IV: Oblivion as well, and enjoy Morrowind almost as much as I do Skyrim. Well, in June of this year, Morrowind will be joining the world of ESO, adding an entirely new land to explore – but, a land that will be quite familiar to those of us who have played this series for a while!

A brand-new character class is being added with this expansion, along with new armour and weapons styles, mounts, pets, and emotes. Also, for the first time, the ability to own a pet that will actually fight at your side, not just run around in circles! The vanity pets are a lot of fun, but they don’t do anything that assists your character. Conjured familiars are only around if you conjure them, and are limited to three types – and, only sorcerers have the conjuring ability.

The trailer for the expansion isn’t as good as previous ones, IMHO, but it is still decent. I’d venture to say that the in-game graphics are better than the ones in this trailer! I’d say judge for yourself, but I have yet to find any other ESO gamers in the blog-o-sphere, LOL

Anyway, the release date of the expansion is 6 June, mere months after the addition of player housing – that happens this coming Monday, the day after Super Bowl Sunday. I have to say that I’m happy for the extra things to explore and enjoy over the next few years! Gaming is one of my hobbies, and it keeps me occupied and entertained. Travelling anywhere outside of the U.S. might have to be put on the back burner for a while – hell, even travelling INSIDE the U.S. could be treacherous! I figure that I’ll explore the new lands that my game has to offer, and “travel” from the comfort of my home.

Monday Musings: Review of an Interview

Ah, interviews! Pretty much anyone of job-seeking age has gone through an interview of some sort, whether it’s a job interview, a pre-application review for a school or college, interviewing for a club membership, or interviewing with a military recruiter after taking the ASVAB. Those are mainly formal and/or professional interviews, which always have a certain format and tone, and certain expectations are of higher demand from the interviewer and the interviewee. The resume is what the interviewer uses to glean information about the applicant, while also having a formulaic list of pre-written questions. The interviewee has the added expectation of researching the company or organization he or she is applying to, and is questioned on the applicant’s knowledge of same. This is usually to determine if the applicant is truly interested in being an employee or member.

Another type of interview is the casual, informal one generally seen on TV programs or the internet, or heard on radio stations. These include news interviews, “round-table” discussions, or late-night talk-show interviews. The format and tone of these are a bit different from the formal or professional ones, as the tone is set by the interviewer. The interviewer can do as little or as much research on the interviewee as they feel like doing, which can lend to a lop-sided, selective, and biased atmosphere. The interviewee has little to no control over the ebb and flow of the interview, as the questioner either responds with good follow-up questions, or takes cues on his or her whim.

This seemed to be the case with a recent blogger-to-blogger interview that was done between the Well-Red Mage and myself, published on his blog on 16 January. Some background: last November, on his blog, he said that he wanted to do informal interviews on other bloggers with the same interests as he has: namely, video games of all types, and animated TV shows and movies, including Japanese anime. I indicated that participating sounded like fun since I had read a few of the interviews that he’d conducted, but I was participating in the NaNoWriMo challenge so wouldn’t be available until December. The December holidays would also add to any delay on his end, since he’s a married father of two with another on the way. I indicated via email that doing the interview after the 1st of the year would be just fine. I thought that would offer plenty of time for him to check out my blog and read a few of the posts that I’d done about gaming, my computer issues and music. I felt that any discussions about anime TV shows or movies would be brought up during the interview, since I have written on that subject in the past, and have commented on other anime-related blogs. Needless to say, I was mildly disappointed! I guess that I set my expectations too high, especially after reading the other well done interviews of other bloggers. They got the grade-A treatment; I seemed to only warrant a C-minus effort, at best.

For example, the length of time it took to even get the interview started. We exchanged a couple of emails to figure out the best medium for the interview, and finally decided on Skype IM. No need for a camera, which was ideal for me. Skype can also be used on a cell-phone, so I wouldn’t need to be tied to my computer. I thought that IM would be quick and easy, but it was tedious because of the interviewer choosing to ask only one question per day. The interview took from 6 – 14 January. Eight fucking days to do something that could have taken an hour at the most. Time difference wasn’t an issue, as a person who lives in Alaska or Hawai’i is an hour or so behind me, not two or three hours ahead, as are most of my fellow online gamers.

On top of that, on the second day, I was doing some gaming and had Skype running in the background. The little indicator showed that Mr. Mage was ‘online / available.’ He asked one question, then nothing more during a four-hour period. I was doing some AvA in my MMO, but could easily have taken a break to complete the Q & A session. I sent two messages after my initial answer, in the first hour, in an attempt to give a cue that I was prepared. Not one reply came back the entire time I was on, and no other question was asked until I logged back on the next morning. Talk about disrespectful! Still, that was my first clue that the interview wasn’t going to be pleasant, and adjusted accordingly.

Next, the questions were just not at all what I expected, and some were essentially repeated, using different words. The tone of the questions was one of disinterest, as they were tossed out in a cavalier way – and, in a couple of instances, he answered the very question he asked by adding a statement after a question. Definitely not the attitude of a person who is interested in similar hobbies, nor one who took the time to read my blog and see what other subjects are mentioned there. Compared to the good interviews that he did here and here, the one that I participated in was less than satisfactory, from my perspective.

It seems to me, that, for whatever reason, this individual really didn’t want to interview me, but made a half-hearted effort to do so only because he said he would and wanted to get the obligation over with. Since the questions asked were apathetic, I pretty much ended up giving apathetic answers. I would rather have had no interview than the seemingly disinterested one that I was subjected to. Sure, I could have just said, “you know, I think that you aren’t really feeling this interview, so you’re off the hook.” But, I think that adults should be able to be honest and say something like, “You know, I said that I would do this, but I don’t think that I can. I’m just not into your blog; you don’t talk about gaming or movies as much as I do, so we have nothing in common. No hard feelings, okay?” That would have been honest and perfectly acceptable. As it is, I just think that the whole thing was pretty lame. At any rate, I copied the entire conversation to a Word document, only editing the names to reflect our respective blogs. That will help me answer any questions that anyone who read the interview, and this review of same, might ask. Who knows? One of my followers or readers might have an interesting perspective of their own to share! That would be pretty cool.

*** UPDATED 24 January 2017 ***

Well, the interviewer was displeased with my review and deleted the interview from his site – the link goes to “page not found!” The unedited version, which is time-and-date-stamped, is now in the comment section of this post, as well as in the ‘Open Thread & Comment Policy’ page of my blog. This way, you can see what I was talking about when it comes to the length of time between questions, and why I felt that my time was being wasted.

Saturday Screen-Shots: In-Game Fashions

I took a few screen-shots of some of the various costumes that have been added to my favourite MMO, The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO). These costumes are a bit of fun, and have the added bonus of your ability to ‘dye’ them any colour you wish, as long as it is a hue which has been ‘unlocked’ by specific achievements that you accomplish in-game. The more you earn, the more colours that you have to play with! The outfits are perfect for guild events and other role-playing activities, and sometimes it’s just fun to head to the battlefield in your finest gear, or look appropriately noble when you challenge some low-born, scurvy dog to a duel, LOL

The costumes, initially, were only available when you hit certain levels. Others are articles of clothing which you find in containers throughout the lands that you explore. With the addition of the Thieves’ Guild, finding these clothes is a bit more challenging than it used to be – guards don’t take kindly to people rummaging through the desk drawers in the bank! The newly added Crown Store offers many more options than there used to be, with some being limited-time offers! There is also an option to preview anything that you might want to buy, so you aren’t stuck with a costume that doesn’t look the way that you hoped it would. Mounts and pets operate in the same fashion – they are for personal customization, as well as a little harmless vanity.

Not that this post is an official review, but the costume option is one of the many reasons why I love this game. The variety and diversity are pretty much unmatched, compared to other games that I have played in the past. Only Ultima Online (UO) was or is comparable, but the graphics of TESO are phenomenal, making it much more visually appealing than UO – although, to be fair, UO was an excellent MMO when it first came out, and I played it for over 10 years.

With that, on with the show! I used my own descriptions for the outfits below, and have dyed them with some of my favourite hues. Coordination is crucial, after all…
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Silken gown with beads and bone

Formal aristocratic gown

Noblewoman’s high-collared ball gown

Noblewoman’s long-sleeved formal gown

Gauzy tavern entertainer’s outfit

Casual riding outfit

Close-up of bone necklace and beading detail

One of many of the hundreds of books found throughout the land – know your lore!

Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

I’ve seen this movie multiple times in the past, and will purchase it soon to watch in the near future. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend it. It’s a necessary, timely reminder.
Definitely not for the faint of heart and / or the weak of mind.
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fireflies_cover

“September 21, 1945… that was the night I died.”
-Seita

If someone were to ask you for an example of the power of animation, what would you say to them? I would say “Grave of the Fireflies“.

Anime may be a category of animation which is plagued by bizarre ridiculousness all its own but Grave of the Fireflies is a testament to the impact an animated film can have. It is the most powerful of all films in the Ghibli canon. It’s realism and tragedy are so potent that I would have to agree with the late critic Roger Ebert who said:

Grave of the Fireflies is an emotional experience so powerful that it forces a rethinking of animation. Since the earliest days, most animated films have been “cartoons” for children and families. Recent animated features such as The Lion King, Princess Mononoke and The Iron…

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Loneliness – Guest Post…

I usually don’t promote the books of others, as requests for assistance with mine have gone unanswered – but, this one is worthy!
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Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Loneliness

We fear loneliness, so we’re often frightened of being alone and place little value on solitude these days. Many people seem to feel singleness is a parlous state to be criticised or regretted, though so many people live alone these days. We live in a world that is becoming more and more intrusive and the intrusion more acceptable. The ease with which we can connect with family and friends tends to increase our dependency on others. Everywhere we look, people are hugging their phones to their ears or texting a message to someone, clinging to their instrument, as though it will allow them to actually touch the correspondent.

LonelyBut are we depriving our children of the opportunity to be independent and enjoy their own company? Previous generations of children were usually expected to play with the other children on the street or amuse themselves with their siblings or on their…

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