Skyrim EP10: Have You Seen Lydia?

By Shamus Posted Thursday Feb 27, 2014

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 126 comments

Link (YouTube)

Mumbles was so delighted that I knew who Gorgeous George was. But the sad fact is that I was actually thinking of George “The Animal” SteeleFamous for tearing apart the turnbuckle mid-match, and pretending to eat it., and got the names confused. So I don’t know wrestling. Sorry Mumbles!

The axe that Josh picked up in this episode is pretty heavy, has low damage, and by weight is among the most worthless trash items in the gameBy weight, it’s actually worth less than the ragged prisoner tunic you’re wearing at the start of the game. And just for fun, its hit box is quite a bit larger than the axe itself, meaning it’s possible to point directly at a coin that’s several centimeters away from the axe and end up grabbing the weapon anyway. Yet a level designer deliberately plonked one down in a pile of coins.

It’s sort of funny in this context, but over the course of the game this kind of thing actually gets to be really irritating. You go to pick up a free item, but accidentally grab the owned one beside it, thus stealing the object. You try to take the gems, but end up taking the worthless bowl that the gems are in. You try to pick up the coins but their hit box is fiddly and sometimes the game thinks they’re inside the desk instead of on it, so you end up crawling around, crouching, trying to find an angle that will let you grab them.

But where they really twist the knife is with the interface. The default Skyrim interface is ghastly. Horrible. A crime against usability. And picking up all this crap creates more trips to the inventory screen to scroll through all this crap and find that one thing you accidentally picked up.

I do wonder how deliberate the item placement is, and what the thinking is behind it. Is this supposed to be gameplay? Or is this mess the emergent result of a dozen different systems that are held together with duct tape and wishes?



[1] Famous for tearing apart the turnbuckle mid-match, and pretending to eat it.

[2] By weight, it’s actually worth less than the ragged prisoner tunic you’re wearing at the start of the game

From The Archives:

126 thoughts on “Skyrim EP10: Have You Seen Lydia?

  1. Benjamin Hilton says:

    You forgot picking up an item and having all those around it fall through the floor, never to be seen or heard from again.

    1. BeardedDork says:

      I usually solved this problem by jumping up on the surface and looking down and clicking where the items used to be. Usually this allowed me to pick them up.

    2. Hal says:

      I had a worse problem in Oblivion. Instead of selling gems, I’d try to pile them up in a basket or bowl to put on display in my home. Their collision detection was rubbish, though, and enough of the items in a single bowl would start “dancing” around, until their collective movement was enough to cause the bowl to flip over, causing the whole lot to fall through the floor.

      I haven’t tried this yet in Skyrim, the XBox being rubbish for moving items about, but I’m not confident it would be a good idea.

      1. Destrustor says:

        I’ve been slowly filling a basket of assorted gems in my house. It’s actually fairly stable; I think there are over a hundred at the moment and they have yet to begin jiggling around.
        Not sure if this is indicative of the general expected behavior or just a perk of the PS3 version, though.

    3. Steve C says:

      > fall through the floor, never to be seen or heard from again.

      Oh! I know where those go!

  2. Humanoid says:

    Enchant it with a fire damage enchantment and rename it the Incinerator.

    But yeah, it beggars belief that in this day and age of 1920×1080 just about being the minimum standard resolution, and with 4k on the horizon, that UI designers these days still manage to fit in *less* information on the screen than what their counterparts 30 years ago did on 320×200 CGA displays or worse.

    1. Annikai says:

      I think the problem here is that some of the developers haven’t found the happy medium for console users. On consoles, even when using 1080p, small text can be really hard to see because of distance between the tv and the player. Part of the reason I never beat Human Revolution is that every time I tried to play it I had to wear glasses just to read any of the dang text. That isn’t a good excuse though, because lots of console only RPG’s have great UI like say the Persona series where not only are the menus functional and easy to use but they are also damn pretty.

      1. Humanoid says:

        True, a lot of people have misguided reservations about buying TVs that they perceive as “too big”. They look at a 65″ plasma and think there’s no way that’d work out in a standard living room, which is patently false, a viewing distance of 2.5-3m is perfectly suitable for a screen of that size. But at some point a developer has to acknowledge that they can’t keep catering for people with old 14″ 800×600 CRTs.

        Then again, none of this is relevant for Skyrim anyway, which decides to arbitrarily shunt the dialogue options two-thirds of the way across the screen, and fade them out a line above and a line below for ABSOLUTELY NO RAISIN. That’s not a console limitation, that’s just stupidity.

      2. Well, as for the Text size problem, there’s an easy solution:

        Scalable Text sizes. Brand new, cutting edge technology, I know, but still, it’s there. If one were so inclined, I’ve heard that we can even make scalable IMAGES nowadays, with an arcane image format that the eggheads in R&D are calling Scalable Vector Graphics.

        So there’s just no excuse doing this. For no one. And sadly, it’s not only Bethsoft who can’t get their heads around such concepts…

        Also, @Humanoid:
        The rule of thumb for the optimal distance to the TV is:
        Distance = (2.5 to 3)*TVs diagonal. So, for the 65″ TV it’d be about 4.5 to 5 meters.
        For watching TV you can go with less, but gaming with less is a pain. You always have to move your head to keep the relevant info in your view. I tried it with my 50″ panel, playing Metroid Prime Trilogy, and since the Wiis max distance for their controllers is quite short, I ended up sitting about 2.5 meters away, instead of the recommended 3 or more meters. Always have to look around for my missile count, radar, health etc. It’s doable, but it’s far from relaxing.

        1. Humanoid says:

          Don’t know about rules of thumb, but this calculator is that most commonly used in home theatre circles.

          I guess the gaming thing throws it out, but as someone who barely plays console games I guess I have certain biases.

        2. ET says:

          Well, text sizes is pretty much a problem in 100% of UI.
          It’s been around for so long, that I don’t think people even realize how easy it would be to fix.
          For example: why the hell is text size linked to resolution in all OSs?
          OK, I know you technically can change the text sizes of stuff in Windows, Linux, etc, but changing resolution is an easy one-button thing, and all the text sizes are a clunky multi-menu affair, which you’ll inevitably screw up, because the options are so weird to use.
          Furthermore, I want to be able to set my text sizes, and then be able to change my resolution without altering my text sizes.
          You could pretty easily implement this, but it would require making the OS keep knowledge of how large the screen you’re using is.
          We all know that it would be impossible for the screen to communicate that over the friggin’ HDMI cable or anything…

          1. Ringwraith says:

            Which is why when games have options such as Final Fantasy XIII’s ‘magnify text’ it is amazing.
            Increases the size of all subtitles and also any highlighted options in menus and such.

    2. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Skyrim UI just reeked of “let’s make it like those new fancy phones with touchscreens, all sliding and moving, everyone’s gonna look at it and think ‘ooh, that looks so modern and cutting edge'”.

  3. Rutskarn says:

    No riddle this week–been too busy. See you all next week!

    1. Benjamin Hilton says:

      awww…no Professor Rutskarn either?

    2. imtoolazy says:

      Okay, I think this is maybe a reference to Morrowind? I never got very far beyond the first ten or so minutes after character creation, but from reading Rutskarn’s LP, I’m wondering if it doesn’t have to do with that one NPC who was incredibly annoying, unhelpful, yet somehow had the nerve to make insulting demands of him?

    3. Rick says:

      Of course this happens the time I’m regularly refreshing the page. Oh well. On a tangentially related note I have an extra beta key for The Elder Scrolls Online beta this weekend. Since no one I know wants it, I figured I would just give it out here.


      Anyone’s free to use it, just leave a reply so someone else doesn’t waste their time.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Damn,a free key for a game,but its an mmo AND in the elder scrolls universe.Just my luck.

        1. Rutskarn says:

          Dang. I mean, I am busy, so who knows if I would have time for it anyway…but dang anyway.

      2. Athatar says:

        Hey! I have just claimed it. Thanks!!! If you want a Broken age discount for steam or similar in return let me know

        1. Adam says:

          He seriously just left the beta key here? This is the nicest nerd blog ever.

      3. Humanoid says:

        For anyone else looking for beta keys, a number of people are offering them in the forums here. Everyone who was in round one of the beta got a second key to give out, so there’s plenty of them out there.

    4. Humanoid says:

      Because next week is in the future forever, and that’s impossible.

    5. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Well the solution to that one is obvious.Its oblivion.

    6. Athatar says:

      No riddle? Or just a cunningly devious one?

      If the latter my guess is poop. Always poop. But as it is Rutskarn, this poop is also a pun.

    7. Neko says:

      Hmmm, so there’s no riddle this week, and you’ll see us all next week…. yeah, that’s a tricky one. One week is busy, fraught with chaos, the other week is all-seeing. This makes me think it may be related to Daedra and Aedra. A move from chaos and uncertainty towards order and enlightenment… yes, okay, my answer is “The Greymarch”

      1. Benjamin Hilton says:

        Haha, this reminds me of a South Park (and maybe also SNL) sketch where investigators take things that clearly mean nothing but use insane logic to link them together a la most crime shows.

        1. IFS says:

          I think there was a hilarious recurring LRR sketch that was pretty much that, I forget what it was called though.

          1. Benjamin Hilton says:

            I believe you are right although I too forget what the episode was called.

    8. syal says:

      …Moon-and-Star sugar.

  4. Neko says:

    I found myself tagging all the items I was actually using as part of my equipment as Favourite, just so there was some slim chance I might be able to visually identify the ‘vendor trash’ loot from stuff I actually wanted to keep around. A few small improvements could really help their UI here:- An “Are you sure you want to sell your treasured Ebony Warhammer?” confirmation if you try to sell a favourite item, sort all the favourites to the top, or maybe a few more tags that you could browse by: “New”, for example, would help tremendously in finding that item you just picked up by accident.

    The thing is that the item tooltip for whatever you’re pointing your crosshairs at just doesn’t work. I can’t count the number of times I’ve picked up the wrong thing or opened a container even though the tooltip clearly said it was empty. I think a visual aid for this would help; a glow on or around the object under the cursor. It doesn’t have to be a Deus Ex neon outline – even a subtle boost to the object’s brightness is an enormous help. Thief Gold did just that, and it was pretty good at the “pick up all the things!” game.

    Edit: Missed a close tag.

    1. Viktor says:

      What they really need is a tag, similar to favorite, for “vendor trash”*. Basically, when you hit (blah) on an item in your inventory, it’s removed from the weapons page(where it only got in the way of selecting items you actually wanted) and placed on a page specifically for “loot to be sold”. The inventory would become a thousand times easier to manage, since now you’re only scrolling past that Forsworn Armor once.

      *Call it something better and lore-friendly if you must.

      1. Humanoid says:

        Then send Lydia to automatically sell them. God, that was one of the only, if not the only good innovation in SWTOR.

        You could flag not just that item but all future duplicates of that item that you end up picking up as being in that category.

        A solution I favour, though not necessarily one that would fit with Skyrim, is to foresake a loot system altogether. Shadowrun Returns (relevant, expansion just released today) copped some flak over it, but I absolutely love not having to worry about any loot at all while playing it. Hell, I’d settle for Dishonored’s system where any non-relevant loot would instantly transform into its equivalent gold value once picked up.

        1. Bubble181 says:

          Having a party member leave to sell trash and return is not exactly new – both Torchlight games did it, those two games by the same makers but with children as protagonists as well (sorry, I’m rubbish with titles) – and it wasn’t new then.

          It’s still a great idea, though.

      2. False Prophet says:

        Can you read anything in to the fact that Dragon Age 2 had loot actually labelled Trash, with a trashcan icon, on its own separate category screen, and it served no purpose except to be sold to vendors? It was basically cash that took up inventory space, and you needed to exchange before using.

        1. Humanoid says:

          There’s something to be said about being honest at least. (Also standard MMO design) As opposed to having to guess whether Finance Clipboard or Paperweight might come in handy eventually.

        2. Amnestic says:

          I liked it a lot better than Dragon Age 1 in which some loot (Garnets) were needed for a sidequest, but it was basically identical to other loot (other gems) so if you didn’t know about the quest ahead of time, you’d vendor things and actually screw yourself out of ever finishing the quest in question.

          Some might say that’s “more realistic”, but if it were “realistic” I’d probably be able to track down 15 Garnets in all of Ferelden after I already vendored 8 of them and had them disappear from the buyback list. DA2 being straight up about What Is Junk was refreshing in comparison, and its Move to Junk -> Sell All Junk selections were also quite nice.

          1. Ronixis says:

            DA:O did have a junk category, it’s just that nothing went there by default. You can still put stuff there yourself and sell it with one button, though.

        3. Raygereio says:

          That became rather funny when a NPC gave you an item as a quest reward and describes with something like “Thank you for saving my son. Here have this ancient tome. It has a rare magic, beyond price”,
          And then the game dumps it in the Trash catagory.

      3. ET says:

        Or they could have a cute assistant-imp or something, whose sole porpoise is to haul crap back to the shop for you.
        (Like in that game about loot. ;)

        1. topazwolf says:

          Sole porpoise? Man, I would love to have an imp assistant who rides on a dolphin selling all my crap for me. Since he only has the one dolphin, could the player somehow steal the dolphin and use it as a mount so they don’t have to swim anymore?

          Am joking, I know you meant purpose. I would still like a dolphin though.

      4. McNutcase says:

        Borderlands 2 has that exact thing. You can mark items as “Vendor Trash”, and whenever you hit a machine or vendor, sell all the vendor trash marked items with a single keypress. About the only thing they got wrong was making said keypress way the hell away from where either hand is, but it’s not like there’s a pretty much standard set of keybinds for first-person-shooters OH WAIT.

        1. Matt K says:

          Currently playing Kingdom of Amalur and it also has a Junk labeling system. Super convenient.

      5. War Machine says:

        Borderlands 2, with its 30-ish item limit inventory, has tags for Favorite and Trash.

      6. Trix2000 says:

        Kingdoms of Amalur had a function like this. Of course, it wasn’t really that necessary considering the inventory UI was better at sorting and there weren’t nearly as many trash items to pick up.

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          On the other hand, I found that most of the items I picked up in Kingdoms of Amalur were worse than the stuff I was using, so I’d often end up junking it anyway.

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    And the most baffling thing:I like lists.I like spreadsheat games.But skyrim made such an idiotic and useless list that its not fun even to me.

    1. Tizzy says:

      Basic sorting, the kind that every wiki table seems to implement now, would be already an immeasurable improvement.

      1. WJS says:

        Didn’t Oblivion have that? I mean, Oblivion had a lot of things that got cut, but this has to be one of the ones where there was literally no reason to do so.

  6. Nimas says:

    I was going to mention it before, but I’d actually like to put in a request for you to run a single mod, SkyUI. I mean, I understand why you’re not running mods (showing the game as created by Bethesda and not causing mod requests to snowball) but honestly I actually get a twinge of pain every time Josh opens up the inventory.

    Plus given that being so mod-able is part of the game its important to show that off too right? ;) (Incidentally, seems SkyUI is the most endorsed mod and 2nd most downloaded after 2k texture pack on Skyrim Nexus)

    1. ET says:

      Yeah, I wouldn’t have got this game if it weren’t for SkyUI.
      I have some other mods, like unofficial bugfixes, but this one was the most visually apparent, and useful for sooo much of the game.
      Like, the game is pretty unplayable with the default UI, in my opinion. :)

    2. Rutskarn says:

      We’re probably not going to do this on principle, but I will say that one problem is that SkyUI requires running the game via the Script Extender.

      1. Raygereio says:

        I think not wanting to use mods because you want to show the vanilla game is fine. But what is your problem with SKSE?

      2. WILL says:

        Running Skyrim unmodded is just silly, no matter the principle. At least get SkyUI and SKSE.

        I don’t get it, why not use essential mods? Or even any non story altering and not framerate murdering mods? Everybody who does a let’s play of these sort of games uses mods because that only makes it more interesting.

        1. Raygereio says:

          Oh lord. “Why are you not using mods?!” is going to be the “You’re doing it wrong!“-thing for the Skyrim season isn’t it?

          1. Tizzy says:

            I don’t even begin to understand it, either. I mean, who is watching Reginald Catbert for the UI??? And if Josh has to do boring inventory crap, this will only encourage the co-hosts to fill that time up with the good stuff, no?

        2. Amnestic says:

          I think the idea that some mods even warrant the term “essential” is sufficient reason to not use them in a Let’s Play dedicated to exploring the game.

          Not to mention this way whenever something breaks they get to point squarely at the developers (and Josh (and the commenters)) for breaking it, and not the modding community or any mod interactions.

          1. acronix says:

            That is a good point. If they apply -any- mod at all and then run into any bug, people might think it’s a problem with the mod and not the vanilla game.

            It’s extremely sad, though, because Skyrim’s default interface is physically harmful.

  7. I saw a mod for New Vegas that repaired the hit boxes for every item you could drop so they wouldn’t make the physics engine go berserk every time you stacked a can on top of a book or something.

    What’s funny in retrospect is that Bethesda should’ve done that from day one. Half the fun in their games is decoration, and the stacks/sculptures people were making in New Vegas were pretty cool-looking.

    1. ET says:

      I’m curious how they managed to do that.
      Do hitboxes in that engine have some kind of friction attribute, to affect how much they react to the physics?

      1. From the screenshots in the GECK, it appears to be from drawing a second, more simplified shape around your models (books, weapons, etc.). An ornate vase might have a hitbox that looks like a cylinder, a sword has one that’s just a long box, etc. and they don’t tightly conform to the object’s actual shape. The result is that everything behaves as if it’s got about an inch of invisible bubble wrap around it.

        I’m guessing making the hitboxes more accurate eats up both time (for the devs/artists to create) and memory (since the boxes need to have more detailed shapes).

        1. WJS says:

          My guess would be that you’re wrong on both counts, actually; making a simplified model shouldn’t take even a slightly competent modeler very long at all, and you should be doing it for everything anyway (LoD models). For the same reason, you should already have them accounted for in your memory budget. No, my guess for why they don’t do it is because of how much simpler collision calculation is for primitives (like cuboids and cylinders) compared to mesh objects (pretty much everything else). I’m at a loss for why the collision is so loose for things that you should be able to handily wrap in a primitive (such as coins or gems), however.

  8. “I find a note on them and it’s from someone who’s already dead!”

    Mister Burke is in Skyrim?

    1. Humanoid says:

      It gets worse, some of the reported entities that have been known to send hired thugs after you include:

      – Children, including the orphan you may have adopted
      – Generic NPCs such as ‘Whiterun Guard’ or ‘Bandit’
      – _________ – yeah, from null
      – Forsworn Briarhearts, for stealing their hearts in a very literal sense
      – Your husband or wife, or followers (actually this probably is pretty realistic, Lydia would probably pay millions for Catbert’s death)
      – Various household animals including the notorious chicken and various dogs
      – Paarthunax, for stealing from the Greybeards
      – The Night Mother
      – GHOSTS
      – Imaginary NPCs during the dream sequence
      – Hired thugs – I imagine this could be infinitely recursive
      – Workbench

      1. Hitchmeister says:

        A Courier handed me a letter early in the game. I stuck it in an end table in my house. The game forgot what it was and now it’s just a blank sheet of paper labeled, “A note from (Alias=Jarl) of (Alias=HoldCity).”

      2. Destrustor says:

        Ah yes, like those times “a friend” tells me I’ve caused quite a stir in (random dungeons/ dwemer ruins/ blackreach/ THE SOUL CAIRN/ high hrothgar/ _____ (yeah, null is both a person and a place)) by using my shouts.

        And those rare occasions I’ve been given an inheritance from [random shopkeeper I’ve spoken to like once in the entire game], or from lydia whom I had just murdered myself in front of several witnesses.

        1. Humanoid says:

          You can get both a thank you letter and hired thugs sent to kill you from the same person, for the same incident. Yeah.

      3. Brainbosh says:

        I actually remember that from my first game, where a child caught me stealing. I ran off, then a week later mercenaries attack me, sent by the child. The one time I ever wanted to kill a child…
        Really, how cheap are mercs? Children can afford to hire them for someone that stole a tomato.

        1. Humanoid says:

          Considering how much questgivers in this game reward you for the various backbreaking tasks you perform from them, it’s totally believable.

          1. Maybe the mercs are just in it for the XP. If there was some guy running around shouting and punching people to death, I’d want a few levels under my belt, too.

  9. tzeneth says:

    Hey Shamus, I just realized you haven’t been doing the awesome and unique opening images this season. Is there any chance you’ll be doing them later in the season? If not, that’s cool. If you do, you’re even more awesome. Now I need to go work on my vocabulary to make this sound better.

  10. Abnaxis says:

    What do you mean by “deliberate”?

    Working with the Creation Kit (supposedly what the devs used to build the game), I can say the tools for placing the items are at least as ghastly as the player interface for picking them up, especially when the tool first came into use.

    Setting aside the buggy, pain-in-the-ass 3D-Manipulation interface, you initially couldn’t hot-load objects, so you had to restart the game after every single manipulation to check it. A dev had to write a mod to add in hot-loading, and I’m pretty sure that only became available after the CK was released (i.e. well after Skyrim was released)

    Considering the necessity to reload the entire game after placing Every. Single. Damn. Object. in order to test, I’ll bet there was no small amount of “ah just toss down a pile of coins and call it good enough” simply for the sake of dev sanity.

    Although to be fair to the CK, I don’t have much use with any other game dev tool, so maybe I have unrealistically high standards. I’m likely spoiled by Blender.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Yay Blender!
      Yeah, investing in tools is difficult to justify initially, but it totally pays off down the road, especially for a large project like this. Developing a powerful development environment is crucial to developing sound software. Ahh well.

  11. anaphysik says:

    Rutskarn: “Do [the quest in the swamp town]? Nah, it’s pretty bog-standard.”


    1. Mathias says:

      They said you couldn’t build a house in the swamp, so they built it all the same, just to show ’em!

      …It sank into the swamp.

  12. Tychoxi says:

    I doubt this game had a detailed design document, so I’m gonna assume it was just the Guy in Charge of Clutter Design #64 who looked at the table and went “Hmm… needs more Worthless Axe #3.”

  13. Neruz says:

    I like how Josh very carefully didn’t read the Mystery of Talara, Book II for the restoration skillpoint in that room with all the Urns.

  14. PlasmaPony says:

    I am always down for MST3K references, but the thing that really tickled me was that I got to Campter’s Bob Johnson bit when I just discussed the Space Mutiny episode with someone not 10 minutes before that. It was uncanny.

    1. Hal says:

      I love Katie’s comics. She’s absolutely hilarious.

        1. anaphysik says:

          I love that comic. The eye popping through the Kuwashii visor in the last panel is especially great.


          And like Katie was hopefully able to herself, I quite enjoyed setting things up in ME2 such that only Miranda got the chop at the end.

  15. Wulfgar says:

    It’s funny how most people play rpg games. We are not adventurers on a quest, we are some kind of hobo hoarder (don’t know how to name it properly in english). We just missing shopping cart. We also behave like those people walking on battlefield after a battle taking shoes from dead. I think that carry capacity is influencing our behavior. I didn’t behave this way in Baldur’s Gare series where you had few squares of inventory, but in Gothic series i went hoarder berserk due to infinite backpack. Somehow my goal was to pick up every item in the game. I stopped taking quest for few days to gather shit. I had this feeling that if i don’t do it i will be in disadvantageous position.

    1. Amnestic says:

      It’s not just carry capacity, it’s the ability to sell everything you pick up too. SW touched on this in their Deus Ex season I think, on the difference in hoarding attitude between DX1 and DX:HR, due to the fact that you couldn’t sell anything in DX1 but you could sell pretty much anything you can pick up in DX:HR. Would reducing the vendor price for a large amount of stuff (to make it less desirable to strip everyone you see) across the board fix the hoarding mentality, or just make the hoarding desire worse though?

      And it got a lot easier to pick up everything in Baldur’s Gate once you started grabbing the Container items (Ammo Bag, Bag of Holding, Gem Bag, etc.) :P

      1. Humanoid says:

        Reducing it to any non-zero value would be futile, I suspect.

      2. TMTVL says:

        When I was saving up to buy the house in Whiterun I was like “I don’t have enough money, what do I do? …I know, I’ll sell all the silverware in Dragonsreach!”

        By now the only things I loot are lock-picks, potions, food and weapons to smelt (I have the recyclable items mod). Well, those and any equipment I can’t forge and don’t have yet, because I’m a collector.

      3. Paul Spooner says:

        One of the reasons this happens is that the underlying mechanics are still stuck in the pen-and-paper stage. The binary “encumberance” system, for example, is just total nonsense, especially when you’ve got a computer to do the math all the time. If you want to reward the player for keeping their inventory clean, how about making encumberance gradual instead of discrete? Carried bulk could affect the character’s attack speed as well as movement speed. Suddenly, players would be tossing anything not worth its weight in gold, at least until after combat was over. There would probably need to be a way to “drop your pack” if you got ambushed though.

        1. Amnestic says:

          That might actually be interesting twist to combat. Do you drop your pack – backup weapons, scrolls, potions, food and all – in order to be unencumbered, or do you keep it and suffer under the weight of things?

          It’d also, going back to the mage point of Experienced Points, give mages a boon if their magic didn’t suffer from the weight. With their light cloth robes and magic, they could keep a full complement of items on them, while the heavier warriors would have to drop it if they wanted to swing well.

          1. Humanoid says:

            I’m not sure we need another reason to Rutskarn to run around in the buff while questing.

  16. Amnestic says:

    Rutskarn: “The only reason to loot every urn is if you’ve done the [Stones of Barenziah] quest so gems show up in almost every container.”

    Of course, the other problem with that is that by the time you’ve collected all the Stones to get your buff, you probably have more money than god. Especially if you’re not using a quest item marker mod so you can more easily track them all down. What might’ve worked better is if each stone steadily gave you a higher chance of getting gems as you went along, with a decent boost once you got them all and the crown. That way you might actually get some real use out of it before you reach God Level Endgame.

    1. Tizzy says:

      I hated that stupid quest. God how I hated it! I had no interest in pursuing it, and every time I would see these unremovable stones in my inventory, mocking me.

      Surely and overreaction on my part: it didn’t cost me anything to have them there. But still, I found it galling for some reason.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        Well, it did cost you your time. Anything that distracts you from what you’re trying to do is seconds off of your life. Your real life that you only get one of.

        I’d say you’ve got grounds for ire.

  17. Zagzag says:

    My favourite experience with NPCs being kidnapped is with the Dawnguard radiant quests. If you ask one of the questgivers if they’ve heard any news about the vampires then sometimes they tell you that a family member or friend has been kidnapped and you have to go and rescue them. The problem was that in this particular case my husband was kidnapped, WHILE HE WAS STANDING BEHIND ME IN MY PARTY.

    NPC: “It’s your husband! The Vampires… they got him!”
    Me: “I’m pretty sure he was right behind me five seconds ago”
    *Looks around and sees no husband, only specially trained vampire hunting dog sitting alert as ever.*

    I’m not entirely convinced that the NPC wasn’t in on this somehow, given that he must have been looking at the guy when he was taken and apparently didn’t say anything.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      I’ve never done any of the Radiant quests for Dawnguard, but holy shit that sounds stupid.

      I couldn’t imagine a vampire being able to kidnap Aela, my follower/wife. She’d just maul them to death as a werewolf.

      1. Zagzag says:

        To be fair I was married to someone who seemed quite capable of getting themself kidnapped from under my nose inside a heavily guarded fortress with a giant vampire cooking sun lens during daylight while a group of NPCs and a guard dog watched, in the space of five seconds, so I was more amused than annoyed when it finally happened.

  18. PeteTimesSix says:

    So. On the topic of those gigantic holes in the ceilings occasionaly used in dungeons to provide light. I cant be the only one bothered by never being able to find those in the overworld, right?

    I mean it gets especially annoying when logically you should be able to bypass 90 percent of the dungeon by bringing a rope.

    1. ET says:

      Yeah, I would have liked if the game world had a bit more consistency like that.
      Also, a more interact-able world, where you could actually use stuff like ropes.
      But nobody seems to want to make a game like that.
      I get the extremes of either, 90%-plus scripted single-player stuff like Skyrim, or completely unstructured games like Minecraft. :|

    2. Humanoid says:

      I remember near the start of Oblivion in the tutorial dungeon there’s a bucket on a rope hanging out of what appeared to be a well opening in the ceiling. I thought the way forward was to climb that rope to freedom and was sorely disappointed when it turned out to be nothing more than a “hey physics object” demo.

    3. Tizzy says:

      I was thinking along a different track: “oh, I’d better watch my steps when I’m back on the surface, I’d hate to fall into that…” But yeah, agreed.

      I’ve actually visited places that do have big holes in the ground like this BTW, and you’d better check your steps indeed. OTOH, they don’t appear to bring that much light inside; or at least, the light doesn’t travel that far.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        Yeah, you’d think the sun was directly overhead all the time… in the high latitudes! Crazyness.

        The reason that surface-reflected light doesn’t go very far is that the albedo of rock and dirt is not high, less than 0.8 most of the time. Add moss, mold, etc and it gets even lower. Every time the light bounces off the surface it gets dimmer, as well as about half of it getting reflected back out of the hole instead of further in. Add it all up and, like you say, even a big hole in the ceiling isn’t going to light up a cave very appreciably.

  19. Raygereio says:

    Hearthfire’s attacks on your house is something that I honestly don’t understand. I guess Bethesda was afraid players would get bored or something. But probably the most common complaint about Dawnguard – the first DLC – was having to deal with constant attacks. I don’t think I’ve ever heard from someone who liked them. It’s odd that Bethesda then repeated that with both Hearthfire & Dragonborn.

    Thankfully we have a creation kit and can just disable that nonsense. Link.

  20. ET says:

    So, I pretty much stopped building my house after the main hall.
    I know there’s west and east expansions, but since the most useful-looking ones in the wiki had an enchanter and an alchemy table, but you can already build those in the main hall…
    Yeah, all you need is SkyUI and a single container, and your house is finished. :)

  21. Artur CalDazar says:

    The khajiit traders can be so hard to find, even if you have a quest marker to them. I kinda feel bad about them too, they are not allowed in the cities because everyone thinks they are thieves and skooma dealers which I thought was kinda sad when I first met them. But they fence stolen goods and sell you Moonsugar which is the main ingredient in skooma, in addition to being an addictive drug in its own right.

    1. Humanoid says:

      There was also Hadvar’s casual racism towards the Khajiit right at the start of the game, so there’s that too.

    2. Hal says:

      It would have been nice if the game acknowledged your racial choice beyond guards making random comments about it. If you’re a khajit, the caravans ought to be more friendly and welcoming to you than another character; Ysolda should find you more interesting. If you’re an Argonian, the Argonians in Windhelm ought to be more trusting of you. If you’re a Nord, Ulfric shouldn’t have any reservations about your joining the Stormcloaks.

      It’s just annoying. For as much as racism was a significant theme in the game, they did very little to allow your choices to impact that particular experience of the game.

      1. Tizzy says:

        There are minor variations in the way these characters address you. (“egg brother” and “marsh brother” (?) are terms of endearment between Argonians, for instance. But the behavior remains unchanged: too complicated, I guess.

  22. Tever says:

    Rutskarn, thank you! I had no idea about that Stones of Barenziah quest. I figured my reward for tramping all over Skyrim to find them would just be a shitty magic circlet and maybe some gold. Now, I have incentive to actually do the quest.

    1. Hal says:

      I believe you have to join both the Thieves’ Guild and the Dark Brotherhood to finish that one. When folks say that you almost have to complete the game for it, it’s not much of an exaggeration.

      1. Tizzy says:

        There is one in the Dark Brotherhood sanctuary, but you don’t have to join them. Wiping them out is equally effective.

      2. Amnestic says:

        Looking down the list, aside from traveling across the world thrice over, you have to: Join the Thieves Guild, Join or Destroy the Dark Brotherhood, Acquire the house in Solitude (25000 gold!), Join the College of Winterhold and gain access to the Archmage quarters (requires some quests), not to mention numerous dungeon delves.

        It’s probably the biggest quest in all of Skyrim which is weird because it’s really really really dull. I’d like to contrast it with Moira Brown’s questchain in Fallout 3. It was varied, it had you do weird stuff. Sure, you went across the world for it, but it wasn’t just the same thing over and over.

        Perhaps most offensively is that “Until the stones are appraised by Vex, they stack. After the quest begins, each new stone will take a new inventory line.” meaning that if you’ve got 23 out of 24 in your inventory, that’s 23 individual cases of the damn things clogging your screen. Terrible.

        1. Hal says:

          I get the intent behind such a quest. If you’ve played for a long period of time on one character, you’ll find most of these from just exploring and playing and eventually get a nice prize for covering so much territory.

          The problem I have is that the prize isn’t all that great. Finding more gems? Criminy, what’s the point? Finishing all of the content to get there will leave you with a veritable mountain of gems. There are so many easier ways of making money up to that point that it’s a bit superfluous, unless you’re just trying to stockpile a crazy number of gems.

          They really should have given a better prize. This reward would have been more suitable for progressing through the Thieves’ Guild quest line.

  23. acronix says:

    I think there’s two khajit caravans. Their route is a simple “from city A to city B” deal. I know the caravan going to Riften goes to Dawnstar because I’ve run into the same khajit trader multiple times in those places. But I forgot where the caravan from Whiterun goes to.

    1. Raygereio says:

      There are 3 Khajiit trader caravans.
      One travels from Riften to Dawnstar and back like you said. The other two travel between Whiterun & Markarth and Windhelm & Solitude.

  24. Chris says:

    Confession: I thought Gorgeous George referred to the character from Snatch.

    Bonus TF2 scene recreation for no reason.

    1. Grudgeal says:

      Judging by Rutskarn’s response, you weren’t the only one.

      /Me included.

    2. Humanoid says:

      I would have assumed Clooney myself.

  25. Abnaxis says:

    I wonder if the washed-out color thing is for consoles?

    I’ve played Skyrim both on PC and on PS3, and let me tell you, it was a royal pains in that ass to see what was going on on a sunny day on the PS3, thanks to glare. If the game was darker, I don’t know if I could have managed it at all.

  26. If you’re wearing a full-faced helmet, it should not only contain your dragon shouts, it should explode when you use one.

  27. Paul Spooner says:

    I’m really disappointed in all of you. Shamus makes fun of Josh for looting urns, and there’s not one “urn” pun to follow it up.
    “It would cut into his urnings!”
    “Shamus, are you in urnest?”
    Even something about “urn urges” would have worked…

    Otherwise it was a particularly insightful episode. Lots of interesting talk from everyone. Good work Spoiler Warning!

    1. Asimech says:

      Punning is draining, they need to pace themselves. Rutskarn in particular has certainly urned his rest.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        Normally I’d agree with you, but in this case, that’s just not urnough justification for me.

        1. Destrustor says:

          It would have been an interesting turn of events, though.

  28. anaphysik says:

    The Scourge of Gorgeous George Gorge.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Does “Scourge” rhyme with “Gorge” where you come from? I’ve always heard it pronounced as rhymes with “Urge”… fascinating!

      1. anaphysik says:

        Merriam-Webster says “ˈskÉ™rj also ˈskōrj, ˈskȯrj, ˈsku̇rj” (in their own pronunciation key, of course; that’s most definitely not IPA). ‘Rhymes with urge’ is the first of those. ‘Rhymes with gorge’ is the third. It’s simply a word with a lot of widely-used pronunciations. ‘Rhymes with gorge’ feels more natural to me when thinking about it (as I did here), but who knows what phonemes my mouthparts might use when the actually start flapping about.

        Also: either teether, either tither.

  29. Mumbles says:

    I just watched an Animal match the other day! Also, that’s why I was like WHAT YEAR IS IT

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