Thursday, 30 June 2016

June favourites 2016

A third of summer gone already! And this was the nice third. Oh, well, bring on the other two...

Books: I thought I'd manage to complete the set of books I started reading at the end of last month by now, but things have gotten in the way and so I haven't. I'll probably be done in a couple of days, though. And until then I'll keep it a surprise. Let's just say, for now, that they are really amazing!

Music: So last month when I had loaded my iPod with Sweden Rock music, I totally fell for Lordi again. So for June I loaded my iPod with music from my teen years. And you can bet I fell for Avril and Simple Plan again. But a few other groups from my teen years made it on the list as well.
• Avril Lavigne - "Here's To Never Growing Up" & "Give You What You Like"

• Simple Plan - "Outta My System" & "Freaking Me Out"

• Within Temptation - "Grenade" & Nightwish - "Dark Chest of Wonders"

• Panic! At the Disco - "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" & "There's a Good Reason..."

• Simple Plan - "Rest of Us" & Avril Lavigne - "Bad Girl"

Games: What have I been playing this month? A short trip in ESO, the Fallout 4 DLCs and Portal 2. Out of them I have to say Fallout 4. Or more specifically Far Harbor.

TV shows: Hmm, it's been Twin Peaks, 7th Heaven and Charmed this month. As well as catching up on Once Upon a Time and Agents of Shield, as well ass watching Game of Thrones every week. Difficult choice. But Game of Thrones wins with Twin Peaks at a close second.

Other: Sweden Rock was this month! I also did a short work course to be able to log more hours, which I'm really looking forward to (though I'm a bit nervous about doing the new things on my own later). Then there was Midsummer last weekend, which I couldn't really do anything about because we were both working all of that weekend. All I did was buy us some strawberries ^^

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Dealing with backlog: Portal & Portal 2

Yes, I know I'm the last one to the party here. I bought these two games on the Steam Summer Sale in 2013 :P The backlog sort of piles up when you're stuck on three games (ESO, Skyrim, DA:I). But I decided to pull myself together and do something about my backlog. It will probably take the rest of the year, but whatever. I've done a list, and I'm playing the games in that order (and I added some Skyrim quest mods into the mix as well).

Before I go into (short) detail about the two games separately I'll tell you my general feeling of them. I love the story based things. Like the first few test chambers in the first game which gives you a feel of Aperture, and then the ones in the end where GLaDOS turns on you, and the final battle. In Portal 2 they are the beginning when you wake up after being asleep for a reeaaally long time, then when you get GLaDOS back online, when Wheatley finally starts the escape, when Wheatley becomes corrupted, when GLaDOS is made into a potato battery... You get it... The funny things that are part of the story. But the test chambers in-between those moments just feel like fillers to me, and they got repetitive. Sure, I died a lot, and several times I had no clue what to do, so it's not like I just breezed through any of the games and was bored by the tests. They just became too many, you know? And not with enough variation to remain interesting. They just became a hurdle to get over so I could get to the next interesting part - the story.

The first Portal was very linear and between the original introduction and the point when GLaDOS tries to kill you in the incinerator nothing much happens. You do the tests and listen to GLaDOS's sarcastic humor and mean comments, the further you get the meaner she gets and it got pretty obvious waaaaaay before the revelation that she was the bad guy, and then it was just doing-as-you-were-told and waiting-for-something-to-happen. Except for feeling very bad about it when I dropped a companion cube into the incinerator after GLaDOS instructed me to, nothing memorable really happened before Escape time. The boss fight was cool, though. The ending scene had me really confused at first, because when you see the player character being dragged away and hearing the mechanical sounds I thought that my character had been an android or something all along and that the mechanical sounds was herself dragging her away from the explosion. It wasn't until I started Portal 2 that I realised that she had actually been dragged away by a robot and put back into Aperture.
Portal 2 was a lot better than the first game. I loved waking up and realising that all hell had broke loose. Wheatley as a companion was a lot of fun (he was admittedly a lot of fun as the bad guy too). And then when we got to GLaDOS's chamber and noticed her lying there (while Wheatley was telling the story of how some human killed her) and all I could think was "she's gonna wake up" - which she did and revealed that I had been the one to kill her. Nice. There was a lot of running for a while and then we were back to going through test chambers... Yay -.- Got back to GLaDOS's lair and defeated her by replacing her head with Wheatley. Fantastic! Except that the machine corrupted Wheatley so he became the bad guy instead. He makes GLaDOS into a potato battery (hilarious) and then he dumps us both waaaaaay below ground, which seems to be the old Aperture from the 50s and then we keep moving through the place seeing the technology advance until we're back up and chasing after Wheatley. I was hoping that we'd just be going through ducts and old broken things, and some security measures that were inexplicably still active. But nope! More test chambers! -.- And there were more of them in old, derelict Aperture, than in current, shiny Aperture... But as soon as we managed to get back up to the current Aperture, the story stuff started again (the only thing interesting in old Aperture was learning that GLaDOS had once been human) and the game got interesting again. I was waiting for a boss battle against Wheatley, but first - test chambers! -.- The boss battle was really cool, though :) I love the Space Core ♥ Getting kicked out of Aperture for being too hard to kill was fun, and then my poor burned and beaten companion cube was kicked out after me. I think it's the same one I tossed in the incinerator in the first game? :o
So yeah, totally worth playing, but I'm not as excited about it as I thought I'd be. Everyone I've ever talked to about Portal has praised it, but while I loved the story I found the test chambers a bit too much. Too much of the same thing, just in different angles. And yes, they had me stumped several times, but they were still too many and still too repetitive. So yeah, they were ok games.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Fallout 4 DLCs: Automatron, Far Harbor and Wasteland Workshop (+ the other endings of base game)

Yesterday I completed my second round of Fallout 4. I'm one of those people who tend to play one game at a time. After I previously completed the base game story I stopped playing it. In the last days of May I picked it up again to play the DLCs.

I started with Automatron because it was released first. Sad to say it didn't really leave an impression. It was too short. It was fun to see the Mechanist again (though I really doubt it was the same person as in FO3) and the reveal at the end of the DLC was unexpected, but other than that it didn't give me much of an impression. The inclusion of Robo-brains was fun, I guess, but when they said robots I expected something like the Old World Blues DLC for New Vegas. I wanted something totally out-there, like the robots were in OWB. I wanted Bethesda to show me that they could be crazy fun without out-sourcing it :P Jezebel was the closest I got to OWB, and even that hit very far from home. So you could say I was a bit disappointed with this DLC.
Afterwards I continued with Far Harbor. Now we're talking! This was really good and even made me question whether my SS really was a human or had been a synth all along. The story starts as a case for Nick Valentine, but evolves into a power struggle of a piece of land submerged in deadly fog (why would you fight so hard over this place?) between three groups: the Children of Atom, the synths of Acadia, and the people of Far Harbor. What I really liked about Far Harbor was that the story was complex, with several layers and several possible outcomes. I chose the most peaceful one, where no one (well, almost no one) had to die and no faction was destroyed. And although I was initially suspicious of DiMA, the ancient synth who led Acadia, my emotions changed to affection and wanting to protect after I learned what was in his locked away memories (that was a really cool quest btw) and seeing his own reactions to what he had done. This DLC was really good :) Though the foggy light was really weird, especially during sunset and sunrise and radiation storms. The light got so weird it made it hard to see properly.
On a side note, there was a side quest in this DLC that finally gave me the crazy Robo-brains that I wanted in Automatron. And also the crazy Vaults that I had been missing in base game. Double bonus!
 1). The Mechanist in Fallout 3. 2). Hermit Crab in Far Harbor. 3). Feral ghouls watching a movie that's been playing for 200 years. 4). Welcome to Atom. 5). DiMA ♥ 6). Nick telling it as it is

After completing Far Harbor I decided to gain the three achievements that came with Wasteland Workshop. I'm not at all crazy about the settlements or the workshop/building thing. Mostly I think the mechanics of the whole thing are annoying and that Bethesda should take a look at build mode in The Sims before designing any new building games. You want this wall at a 90 degrees angle? Too bad! It's gonna click together to a straight line! You have to choose an actual corner-wall (with lots of crap on it I just want a plain old wall you stupid f***) if you want a 90 degrees angle. Also, things will 99,9% of the time be floating in the air and not actually standing on the ground, although it looks like it's on the ground from the angle you're standing when you're building, so when you move after completing the thing you have to redo the thing because it's actually in the air and not on the ground. Are you f****** kidding me?!
But the three achievements were relatively easy to get. I had been a good player and completely upgraded the perk Strong Back so I could fast-travel and run while being over-encumbered. So I had collected every single collectable thing from every location ever. So I had the mats. The first achi was to build one of every cage. Done. The other two was to stage a spectated arena match, and to have five tamed creatures in one settlement. I struggled with the tamed creatures. Mostly because I wanted one of each, but although the creatures weren't hostile to my settlers or me they were still hostile to each other so they kept killing each other. Looked it up and it said I had to have creatures that are not naturally hostile to each other, and that the easiest would be to have five of the same kind. Alright. I decided to collect five deathclaws. While waiting for the deathclaws to be trapped in my cages I decided to stage the arena match, but I struggled again. I assigned random settlers for it, but they died too quickly and it didn't come up as spectated although I had built the quitting time siren. Read up on it and discovered that I hadn't actually turned the siren on ^^; and that it was better with companions because they couldn't die so the match would keep going long enough to become spectated. I saved before assigning Nick and Strong to their spots. At this point I had three deathclaws in my settlement. The achievement popped almost immediately, but strangely enough the deathclaws became hostile to Strong when he was fighting Nick in the arena, and I didn't want Strong to eventually kill my hard-earned deathclaws so I reloaded my save from before the arena. Didn't bother to redo the thing. The achievment had popped so I no longer needed the arena. Soon after I got my next two deathclaws and the last achievement popped ^^  While I was doing building stuff I decided to get the achievement for 100% happiness as well, while I was at it. I followed this guide, and chose the easy path - a settlement with only one settler. I realised that it worked as I watched the happiness slowly increase from 80 to 91. Then I got tired of waiting and used console commands to get to 99 so I only had to wait for that one last point :P

When I had recieved those achievements I decided that it was time to reload my old saves and discover the other endings to the base game. In my original run I had sided with the Railroad and seen it through to the end. I had created separate save files at critical points so I could go back and choose another path without having to play through the entire game again. I started with The Institute. I followed their path and was heartbroken when I was sent to kill the Railroad. The fight against the Brotherhood of Steel didn't impact me much. Being back at the Intistute made me remember how I always felt weepy when talking to Shaun. It's so unfair. Being with Shaun when he died was so sad, but it felt so redeeming after killing a dying man when I was siding with the Railroad.

Then I went to do the Brotherhood of Steel line. That took a lot longer. I had been spoiled that Danse was a synth so that reveal wasn't very shocking, but that quest was still amazing, and I'm so glad that I managed to get Danse out of that pickle alive. And then I awakened Liberty Prime. Walking alongside Liberty Prime and protecting him while getting him to the target felt incredibly nostalgic. That scene was taken from Fallout 3 and Liberty Prime is still so cool ♥ I still felt horrible that Shaun became a casualty in taking down the Institute, but the quest to destroy the Institute still felt awesome (same in BoS line as in RR line). While I maintain that the Railroad is the faction I like the best, the Brotherhood of Steel had the most amazing quest line and if I ever do another complete playthrough of FO4 I'll go full-out BoS. Danse quickly became my third favourite companion (he eclipsed Deacon and Cait) and I wanted to romance him but after his big reveal and the completion of the BoS quest line that didn't work - even with console commands. So I looked up his romance on Youtube and that only endeared him to me more.
 Liberty Prime in Fallout 3 versus Liberty Prime in Fallout 4

On a side note, when I picked up the game again I realised how incredibly sick I was of the songs on the radio so I permanently turned the radio off xD But here are the two I really like for good measure. The first one also makes me mega-nostalgic for Fallout 3 ♥

Monday, 13 June 2016

Sweden Rock Festival 2016

At 7.30 am on Tuesday morning me, Toni, R and F packed ourselves into R's car and started moving south. At around 2pm we arrived at Sweden Rock Festival and about 2.45 our camp was up and running. Same spot as previous years, but this year we were originally four people short. That changed during the second day when three new people moved in with us - so next year we will be the original four we were missing, plus the new three from this year, plus, hopefully, a friend of mine. Already looking forward to next year xD

Wednesday was mostly spent in the camp, until midnight when we went inside the festival area to see Blind Guardian. I don't know many of their songs, and most of the time they sounded like power metal. Bland, straight-up power metal where every song sounded the same. All I wanted to hear was Valhalla and Bard's Song. And of course they were among the final three songs xD The audience worked their hardest to match the video of Valhalla. I don't think we quite succeeded, but it felt epic. After the concert we went to bed, and tried to sleep, while we heard F running around the entire camp screamingly coaxing everyone into fights.

Thursday was a really cool day :D At 12 we went inside to see Lordi. It was amazing, just as I expected. I even started crying when they started playing Blood Red Sandman, and I have no friggin idea why xD I missed the fake blood and the pyrotechnics from the previous two times that I've seen them. But pyrotechnics wouldn't have made much of an impact during a concert in the middle of broad daylight (why would you set Lordi up to play at noon?! ffs). Immediately after Lordi we moved across the area to the smallest outdoor stage to see The Struts. They are very new, but so very very very promising. Their live was amazing. And immediately after The Struts we went back across the area to see Sixx:A.M.. They were incredible. (And their guitarist made for good eye candy). And just as we expected we were in for more tears when they played Skin. But that's more due to the song, than anything else. I can't listen to Skin without crying. Impossible. After Sixx:A.M. we went back to the camp and spent the evening there. At 10pm we went back to the area to see Queen. I was sort of out of it by then. I remember us getting there, and I remember us leaving, but I don't remember Queen. Amazing job, me! I was looking forward to Queen! -.-' I had originally planned to see Soilwork after Queen, but it was freezing cold out and I was too out of it. (And I had seen them three or four times before). So instead we had some food and then went to sleep.

On Friday I only had two definite concerts planned, and two maybes. In the end I decided to skip the maybes and focus on the definite one; Twisted Sister and Avantasia. Problem was that Twisted Sister played at the same time as Satyricon, and Toni would rather watch Satyricon than Sister. I wouldn't miss Sister for the world. Their farewell tour? No way I'd miss it! I planned on going with one of the new members of the camp, but she hooked up with one of the guys and I really didn't feel like third-wheeling them all night :P So instead I went with F to Twisted Sister. It was amazing! Dee Snider is a fantastic front man. We laughed so much at his MCing antics, and the hit songs were epic. We're not gonna take it, most of all. The Twisted Sister concert ended with a 25th anniversary celebration for the festival. Afterwards we went to see Avantasia, but we only stayed for four songs. The freezing night in combination with really having to pee made us leave the concert early. Tobi was amazing as per usual though ♥ I was told later that the concert was cut short, and that they didn't get to play their last song, and that the sound was all over the place. I noticed the sound a bit before we left. It was very jumpy. One thing that really stood out to me, though, was how the other singers looked like they might explode when they tried to sing really hard. While Tobi just effortlessly waltzed around and still singing explosively. Tobi, Tobi, Tobi ♥

On Saturday it was only one concert that interested me, and it was once again after 10pm. Our designated driver left early in the day. F was supposed to drive us home on Sunday, but he got an alternate way home and took it (understandably since he had work on Monday and wanted to spend some time at home before going away for work). The rest of us continued on. In the evening we went to see Sabaton, which was really cool, especially En livstid i krig. I don't listen much to Sabaton, but I feel like it's time to start. Usually a concert of a band from which you only know one or two songs takes an eternity, but with Sabaton it went by so very quickly. You guys are amazing, why didn't I see that before? :o

On Sunday we packed up camp and packed us into the car. Then R went to blow inside a breathalyzer, which proved he wouldn't be fit to drive for another 12 hours at least. Which made me our last hope of getting home. So I went to do the same. Came back with a 0, so let's get on the road. I was incredibly tired though, and after about halfway I noticed my reactions started getting sluggish. Damn. We stopped at a tavern and had dinner. It was next to a gas station with a shop where I bought coffee, energy drink, and sweets. Food, caffeine, and sugar! That ought to keep me awake for the last two hours. And it did. The last two hours went really well. When we got home we showered (best thing ever after not showering for a week) and unpacked. Then I went to bed. It was around 10.30pm by then, and then I woke up around 1pm today.

Evolution of the camp this year:

See you next year! ♥

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Ten years of running away

It's not to the day yet, but I figured I could be a little bit early. This month I celebrate 10 years of running away, or rather getting away. June 2006 was a big month for me. It was graduation time from Secondary. I was moving on to college in a new city where I knew no one, and after that university in yet another city. 

I grew up in a place that I hated. A small village (but the biggest place in the municipality) of less than 10,000 people. A thoroughly white place, where the most exciting far-away immigrants came from Poland. Thoroughly Swedish and thoroughly mainstream. If you didn't fit in the mainstream you got cut out, and I didn't fit. I had already been bullied for 6 years when I, at 13, decided to pick up studs, leather, black clothes, black make-up, purple hair, and hard rock/heavy metal. This didn't help my situation, because that made me even more of a freak. At 14 I hit rock bottom and while I was too afraid to die (I had contemplated that since I was 10), I made one single decision to cut. But the knife I found was too blunt to cut through my skin - and that was the only time I tried. After that I decided to suck it up. I moved through school like a ghost and when I came home I retreated into my favourite fantasy worlds at the time (Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, and The Belgariad). I didn't live. I existed. I wasn't happy. I was apathic. I could spend hours just lying in bed staring up at the ceiling doing nothing. When graduation day came I didn't cry. I smiled like a fool. I couldn't stop smiling, and my only thought was "I'm free". That was June 2006. 
In August I started college, in the nearby city. I still lived in the small village, but I could spend most of my days away from there, which suited me perfectly. I had promised myself that starting college would be a new beginning for me, and true to my word I told my new mentor my entire story at our first meeting. I had never told my story to anyone. Not even my parents. I still don't think they knew how bad it was. I think they noticed I wasn't exactly happy, but I don't think they knew to what extent. I quickly got friends in my new class, and after being used to cliques and an outcast that didn't exactly fit in any clique, my new class was refreshing and absolutely amazing. Although we all had our preferred groups of friends, we could all talk and all hang-out together, all 32 of us. There was drama, of course, but generally it was amazing. Those 32 people made it fun to come to school and this time I cried on graduation. In 2009 I graduated college with 21,23 total points out of 22,5. I got a stipend as Language Student of the Year, by getting top grades in all my four languages through all three years. I still had my bouts with apathy and general sadness, but overall I was happier in 2009 than in 2006. I still lived in the village, though. 

In September 2009 I started studying Japanese at the university. That class soon became my favourite ever. Studying Japanese in 2009 (when the interest in Japanese pop culture in Sweden still was peaking) meant that the whole class was packed with nerds and weeaboos. It was perfect. In January 2010 I enrolled in the next course of Japanese, but instead of studying (participation isn't necessary if you pass your exams) I went to Tokyo for an almost four month long language course, and it was the best time of my life. I then returned to Sweden, passed my exam in the Japanese course and then decided that it was time to get serious in life. Biggest mistake ever. I started studying at the Economics program, which would eventually lead to a Masters degree, serious life stuff. I quit after two months. After two months of stressful reading, and lots of math that I couldn't understand I came to a crossroads - quit or break down. I quit. Along with the math and the economic formulas I also didn't fit in among the proper people studying Economics, which helped destroy my motivation and contributed to me crying every night because I couldn't get the contents of the literature inside my head quickly enough. I then went on to study French, and while I like the language I hate the culture, and while my Japanese class had consisted of mostly nerds my French class was all proper like the Economics program. So I didn't fit. I hated not fitting in

During my first term of French I moved out from my parents and that's when I finally left the village. I still had to come back to visit my parents of course, and while I didn't mind visiting them I hated being back in the village. I was still afraid that I'd see my past tormentors and they'd throw some slur at me like 5 years hadn't passed since we graduated Secondary. I had no hope that they had grown up during those 5 years. I still expected the same idiotic teenagers. 
I studied three terms of French, and then went back to Japanese. The ones I had started with back in 2009 were now my senpai. But it felt wonderful being back among the nerds. I felt like I belonged again. Nerdville. That's me. I graduated from university in late May 2013. In September the same year I moved north. 372 miles (600 km) north to where I live now. And now I'm starting to reconcile my past. I still visit my parents, of course, but I don't hate the village anymore. I've started seeing past the bad memories and the pain is fading. Without the pain hovering over me, I'm starting to see all the good memories, and without the pain there I realise that there was a lot of good times too. Now I visit my old village with a sort of bittersweet nostalgic feeling, and I've regained enough confidence and self-respect to not fear my old tormentors anymore. Heck, I wouldn't even care if my old fear came true and one of them threw slurs at me again. I'm over it. Life got better. Life got great. 

From a 15 year old girl who was convinced no one would even look twice at her, to a 25 year old in a 4 year relationship with a wonderful guy. From a 15 year old who never thought she'd get away to a 25 year old living 372 miles away and doing a job she really likes. Life got great and my past can suck it. To anyone reading this who's currently living in a situation similar to mine 12 years ago; life does get better. Truly. Make sure you're here to see it.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

May favourites 2016

Where did May go? Didn't it just start? :o As usual I'm ambivalent about the recent summer weather. Part of me loves it, another part hates the heat, hates sweating, hates sunblock... But for now it's new so I'm mostly enjoying it. Remind me of that in August, when I'm just waiting for it to go away.

Books: This month I've technically read six books, but considering that four of them are part of a larger whole. I'll say it's really just two and a half books. My favourite this month is my second Alice Cooper biography. This one he was in on writing himself, and so it felt much more personal and earnest. Everything mentioned in the first biography was explained more in detail (which is funny because the first book is bigger). I've never been a fan of biographies before, but that's really starting to change.

Music: For May I loaded my iPod with music by bands/artists who are coming to Sweden Rock this year as a sort of preparation. Lordi is coming, and just like that I've rediscovered my love for them. But I've also been playing other things. Here's my top ten of songs in May (you'll see I've been looping Lordi):
• Lordi - "Monsters Keep Me Company" & "The Riff"

• Avril Lavigne - "Hello Heartache" & Sixx:A.M. - "Skin"

• Lordi - "It Snows in Hell" & "Beast Loose in Paradise"

• Lordi - "The Children of the Night" & Nightwish - "Last of the Wilds"

• Lordi - "Evilyn" & Sixx:A.M. - "Life is Beautiful"

Games: I don't know :P I completed the story of the DLCs in ESO this month and for now I'm feeling pretty done with it. But I'll probably pick it up soon again as the new DLC released today on PC and in two weeks on console. But I also completed my first major quest mod in Skyrim and I played the first Portal. I'll go with ESO again this month. I did play that the most anyway :)

Tv shows: This month has been mostly about X-Files and Buffy for me. I have this whole 20th century thing going on with TV shows, but it's mostly focused around the 90s xD Both of them are big time favourites!

Other things: There was ESC this month, which was awesome :D And I also enjoyed the work trip to the Royal Stables and Jamie's Italian. And today there was another work trip to another museum - The Nordic Museum, which was very interesting, but I don't have any pictures from that so I direct you to their website.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

ESO DLCs: Thieves Guild & Orsinium

When I got back into ESO again three DLCs had been released since last time: Imperial City, Orsinium and Thieves Guild. While I haven't tried Imperial City (PvP based 4 person group dungeons with all the elements of ordinary group dungeons + the added danger of getting ganked by enemy players sounds like mayhem to me), I have basically completed the other two. I waited until I had completed the base game and gotten to max level before I started on any of the DLCs, due to the fact that post-game solo content is so rare and I wanted to have something to do once I hit max (besides group content and PvP). So here are my thoughts of Thieves Guild and Orsinium.
I started with Thieves Guild, the only reason for that was because I needed Rubedite ore/ingots to create my new max level armour and a guildie told me the best place to farm that was in Hew's Bane - the Thieves Guild DLC zone. So off I went to meet Quen on the Woodhearth docks. Quen gave me a proposition to steal a valuable item (trying to be vague here) from a nobleman. I went along with her and was immediately introduced to the rules of the DLC. 1). You should be sneaking all the time as long as your stamina allows. 2). Hiding places are heaven sent. 3). There are simply too many guards in this game. 4). Someone should make a law against guards carrying lanterns. When you sneak you see blue circles around the guards carrying lanterns, if you enter one of those circles you immediately lose your ability to sneak. No matter how accidental it may be. To me the beginning of this DLC was hell. I hadn't invested any skill points into the skills that would help me with sneaking, and so I was spotted several times before I actually managed to get inside the place where the item was. After a small prisonbreak mission I finally arrived at Hew's Bane, the peninsula of Hammerfell. And while the early quests were a bit troublesome for me without the correct skills, I soon caught on.

I loved the characters and the story quests. Walks-Softly quickly became my favourite out of all of them. I had a lot of fun running around trying to complete Kari's Hit List, and the daily heist quests are pure adrenaline. The tip board quests get a little repetitive seeing as there are only five of them that circle round. The daily requisition quests are worth going for, especially if you're a crafter. The requisition areas are usually around the world bosses, and these ones don't kid around like the ones in the base game - you can't defeat these ones on your own (unless you have an extremely OP build and can one-shot boss enemies of your own lvl). But the bosses almost always drop a part from the Outlaw crafting style. No need to worry, though, as there are plenty of people around in the DLC zones (it actually gets crowded, which rarely happens outside the starting zones in the base game - now I know where all veteran leveled players went). All you need to do is shout in the zone chat and people will show up. Maybe they have a requisition quest, or maybe they're just farming the crafting style or the XP. Doesn't matter, they'll get there.

The main quest proved to be both gut-wrenching and heart-warming and I really enjoyed it. The personal quests of the characters were also really amazing and I kept coming back to do tip board quests so that I could lvl up my Thieves Guild rep and help my new friends some more.

The only thing I haven't done in this DLC is the Maw of Lorkhaj, a new Trial, which is a 12-person group dungeon basically. I don't know enough people to fill a group and it's too much trouble to find 12 random people :P

But apart from a few hiccups in the beginning this DLC was amazing. I loved it, and I actually missed it when I finally moved on to Orsinium.
Orsinium needed a lot more time before I became invested in it. Even more so because the zone chat there is incredibly confusing unless someone explains it to you. It's all "+nyz", "+poa", "+ogre", "+edu" etc... Turns out those were all shorts for world bosses. There are two daily quests there that requires you to kill a world boss (+ some stuff around the area of the boss) and the rewards sometimes contains parts of the Malacath crafting style, and like in Hew's Bane you can't really do these bosses alone. There are only 2 daily quests per person, but people work around this by creating groups and the sharing the quest with the group. So you can actually do more than two a day. So all of those calls in the zone chat were basically people asking to be added to a group doing a world boss.

But back to the story, it wasn't until the second half of the main quest line that I started to become invested in it, and after that it was mostly because I completely adored the Bosmer part-time companion Eveli Sharp-Arrow :3 Towards the end of the quest line came a plot twist that I really didn't expect and that helped making me invested in the DLC. The accompaniment of Eveli and the final heartbreaking quest of the main quest line helped this DLC immensly.

Orsinium also has a thing like Kari's Hit List where you collect artifacts for the House of Orsimer Glories, and that was fun once again :P The DLC also includes daily delve quests, where you go inside a delve and complete it and bring a quest specific item back with you. Since I basically explored the whole map before I even found the daily delves, I didn't really bother with them. I'm not a fan of going through a place again that I've already been just recently.

You got to reencounter a few people from the previous base game zones in Orsinium, which was a lot of fun - like Kireth & Raynor Vanos and Rigurt the Brash who were all throughout the Ebonheart zones, and Skordo the Knife and Lady Laurent from the Daggerfall zones.

As of this post, the only things I haven't done in Wrothgar (the Orsinium DLC zone) are the two public dungeons and the Maelstrom Arena. I've gone halfway through the Arena and it went well enough (apart from my over-consumption of health potions), and I'm planning to do the pub. dungeons with a friend at some point or other so that will change.

I probably have a worse opinion on Orsinium because I never liked Orcs or the Forsworn, while I loved the Thieves Guild in both Oblivion and Skyrim. So my heart was in it from the beginning with Thieves Guild DLC, while my interest was really low for Orsinium.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Playing Skyrim quest mods: Falskaar & Following Mercer

After I had completed Skyrim two times and started a new game about six times in total, I decided that I was done with vanilla. Skyrim was still my go-to game when I don't feel like playing anything in particular, but still feel like playing, so I decided to mod it. Mostly I have graphic enhancers (after Witcher 3 Skyrim looks outdated T_T), but I also added a few things like ghosts in the Dwemer ruins since I kind of liked having ghosts there in Morrowind. But to get new content I decided to get some fanmade quests.

Following Mercer was the first quest mod I downloaded. It's a small thing that ties in nicely with the Thieves Guild quest line. It's just one quest but it's one hell of a ride! Basically, when you break into Mercer's house you find a note in the basement (easy to find, it's right next to your Thieves Guild objective) that gives a hint on where Mercer has hidden everything he stole from the guild. I decided to follow this quest before finishing the vanilla quest line. Throughout the quest you get 5 clues at different locations, and you also have a secondary objective to collect plans for each of the Holds. First off is Irknthamz, a Dwemer ruin with a few surprises. After comes two caves (one with an entrance to Mercer's cabin) and a fort. Most of them are pretty small locations except for the Dwemer ruin in the beginning. Due to the content of the locations I may recommend completing the Thieves Guild quest line before completing the mod - but if you already know how the Thieves Guild quest line ends and have played it before it doesn't really matter. Though the fluidity of the mod may work better if you follow Mercer after the showdown at Irkngthand. Anyway - lots and lots and lots of riches, good fights, and it's also very lore friendly.

Falskaar was one quest mod that I really looked forward to. It's in the top 5 of Top Rated (All Time) in quest mods on Steam Workshop, and it really lived up to my expectations. Fully voice acted, with 26 new quests, lots of new items (loved the recipes, and there's a new house!), several new bard songs (loved them), two new spells, and a new shout. All in all the mod promises 20-30 hours of gameplay and it delivered. The voice acting is semi-professional, but there were a few characters I just couldn't stand listening to xD The mod also included cut-scenes (which is rare to non-existant in vanilla Skyrim), its own soundtrack, and the ending video made me think of Fallout 3.
Spoiler warning on the last video

Falskaar is an island outside of Skyrim that's basically its own country. It has three Holds: Amber Hold, Falskaar Hold, and the impassable Northern Hold. Basically the story tells of a group of Nords who came to Falskaar many generations ago and settled there. Hjalmar was the one of founded the settlements and declared the island their new land, but the land was harsh until Olav discovered a way to make it liveable. Because of this Olav's family, the Borvaldurs, became the ruling family of Falskaar, which rubbed Hjalmar's family, the Unnvaldrs, the wrong way. This supposed injustice has been the issue for several civil wars throughout the island's history, and now it's time again. Yngvarr Unnvaldr is looking to overthrow Agnar Borvaldur and claim the mythical Heart of the Gods, and the Traveler (that's you) must help stop him. Along the way you help several of the inhabitants of the island, and there's also a semi-Deadric quest line involving dream shards originating from Vaermina.

The most memorable moment for me was when I entered a cave while exploring, thinking it would just be an ordinary small cave. I have never been so mistaken in a game. The small cave turned into a huge Nordic tomb, which in turn morphed into a Dwemer ruin. When I emerged into an ice cave at the end of the Nordic tomb I thought I was done in there - then I noticed the Dwemer architecture sticking up in the ice. The ice tunnel led to a Nordic tomb front with Dwemer elements, where draugr and automatrons where fighting on the steps (that was cool). After having passed the draugr and automatrons the tomb completely turned into a Dwemer ruin. It felt like it went on forever, so when I got out of there - finally - I felt so relieved xD

The side quests included a lot of fast-travelling back and forth, but the main quest line gave me heartache several times. Emotional reactions is always a good review! Falskaar was amazing and I definitely recommend it to anyone who plays.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Royal Stables and Jamie's Italian with work :D

Two days ago I was invited with work to do some things in Stockholm. First off was a private guided tour of the Royal Stables, which proved very interesting (and the information is potentially something I could use in my writing later). Secondly we went to Jamie Oliver's restaurant in the fancy part of Stockholm, where the food was so delicious I was so full I felt like dying when we left. 

At the Royal Stables we started off in the - you guessed it - the stables. The stables have been around since the 16th century apparantly, but the buildings we have today were built in the 19th century. Before the introduction of cars the stables used to have over 200 horses, today there are 16. We were also told that Sweden is one of four states in Europe who still have their Royal Stables, the others have been disbanded in favour of cars. Kind of sad imo. The horses are only used during ceremonies. For everyday transport they have cars like everyone else. One of the horses liked to nibble at people, which he showed immediately by nibbling at the coat of a colleague and when she moved away tried to reach far enough to nibble at the guide. 
 Mr. Nibbles in the left picture.

One portion of the Stables is a garage today, and while we're not showed the modern cars (because they look like any car you see on the street), we were shown the only two old cars left. One from the 50s and one from the 60s. 

Then we moved on to the horse carriages. I immediately recognised the centrepiece of the room :P And we were told stories of all of them. We were also shown an old carriage that are not used today because it has never had any brakes installed. The only brakes for that carriage were the poor horses. It was fairly obvious that it wasn't being used even before we knew the reason - the carriages used today had rubber on their wheels, while the ones who aren't still had the original iron. 

After an amazing fika with delicious muffins we started moving towards the restaurant. But not before we realised that princess Estelle and crown princess Victoria were at the Stables riding. I felt really cool to see them IRL tbh. Since we were 50 minutes early to the restaurant we decided to go to a bar nearby and have a beer before going to the restaurant. When dinner started at 6pm we had no idea what to expect. It started off with a selection of antipasti, which really felt like tapas Italian style. Proscuitto, mortadella, salami, roasted vegetables, buffalo mozzarella, root vegetable salad with yoghurt and mint, and little crackers with cheese and chili marmalade. All of it absolutely amazing. We were then presented with three main courses: carbonara, a vegan pasta dish with tomato sauce and vegan cheese, and a truffle risotto with gorgonzola. The carbonara and the risotto were absolutely amazing. I wasn't a fan of the vegan dish though others liked it, and I forgot to take a picture of the risotto. Then there were a bunch of desserts to try: brownie with caramellised popcorn, cheesecake, triamisu, and another thing which name I've forgotten. All positively delicious. Loved the cheesecake as always, but could've eaten a lot more of the brownie too if it wasn't so thick and I was so full. My plate during the desserts gave me a flashback to Sweets Paradise in Tokyo :P
 And that was the whole evening. We decided to walk to our respective metro stations as well as the central station to ease the pressure of the food. I was home around 10.30pm and immediately sat myself down in front of the computer and played ESO until 4.30am. Oops ^^;

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Eurovision Song Contest 2016

Yes. I love this shit. Be surprised.

So now that that's out of the way, here are my thoughts of this year's show.

I only watched the semis half-heartedly, just to get a hum of what was going on, what the countries were doing and who would qualify for the final. And also to see the hosts and the usually funny opening and interval acts :) I was a little sad to see that no other Nordic countries qualified (that must be a first, right?), but then I thought that hopefully that would mean we'd get 12s from all of them since now they couldn't vote on each other :3

Yesterday I was ready in front of the TV with a big bowl of popcorn and Coca-Cola, and with my phone and all the social media (Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr for me). I had been on a buzz all day waiting for the show :3

This year soon turned into the most boring one, though. Where were my aluminum foil aliens, sexy sax guys, vampires, monsters, baking grandmas, burning pianos, men in hamster-wheels, flamboyantly gay people, bearded women, and blonde ladies sexually churning butter on stage? At least there was a Pokémon, a girl giving us a potato, and some men in cages :P Most of the songs were generic pop songs or ballads (seriously, no more ballads please?) So at the end, of course, my favourites were none of the generic ones. I liked Belgium's funk number, I loved the Netherlands' acoustic style, I've grown to like Sweden's simple yet pretty song, I liked Germany's song but more because of the cute girl and cool stage, France's song was ok, and Georgia's song was one of the best of the year.

I couldn't understand why the world was so hung up on Russia and Poland and Australia. Fair enough, Australia had the most polished number of the bunch and it somehow came off as the most professional one. Russia had the coolest stage show but the song was seriously boring - totally flat voice fromt he singer imo. And Poland had... a good-looking guy dressed in something inspired by British military uniforms from the 18th century? If you're looking for stage shows, though, along with Russia, Germany and Italy were the most memorable. (And honestly, Italy's song is growing on me.)

I wasn't expecting Sweden to win again. Winning two years in a row seems implausible no matter how good the song is, and this year (imo) we had a song that takes a few listens before you actually really enjoy it. The first time you hear it it's kind of bland. So I didn't expect Europe to get it on their first try. We did well, though, a fifth place! (And apparantly If I Were Sorry is now the most downloaded song of all of them all over the world - so take that!)

Justin Timberlake was invited to perform a song during the voting period, because for the first time the show was being broadcast in the US. I had a hilarious time on Twitter reading Jesse Cox's (an American let's player on youtube) tweets. He was watching it for the first time and didn't understand squat.
Justin didn't go over great though. He mostly looked like "where tf am I?" and people on Twitter called him Justin Timberlame and Justin Toiletbreak. And while I thought most songs this night was boring by Eurovision standards, Justin's performance was so generic that it made all the boring Eurovision songs seem good.

The real stars of the night were the hosts. I loved the opening act of semi 2 (a Eurovision themed version of My Favourite Things) and the interval act of the final was just as amazing. How do you get the ultimate Eurovision song? The Swedish hosts are here to show you! This interval number included basically everything I missed in this year's show - including previous winners Alexander Rybak and Lordi :D (Just look to the neighbours for prominent Eurovision guests to invite for the number).

Then there was the voting, which was all messed up this year. Well, messed up in Eurovision. The system they have converted ESC into is the same system we've used for the Swedish selection competition for years. But it screwed up ESC! Sitting through the results was always one of the highlights of the show. Now we get a quick view of the points and a member of the jury handing out a 12. It was over before it hardly even begun. And since it was jurys handing out the 12s and they're supposed to be unbiased, there was no longer any bittersweet joy in guessing which country would give a 12 to which. And then the people's votes were delivered in bunched points so there's no way to know how many 12s they got. The 12s are sacred! I want to watch them being delivered and being bitter about Finland giving their 12 to Russia instead of Sweden. All of that was taken away by the new system. Everyone hates when the neighbours vote on each other, but it's become a tradition. I want it. And then the results were all messed up. The jurys gave the most points to Australia - so according to the jurys Australia was the winner of ESC16. The people gave the most points to Russia - so according to the people Russia was the winner of ESC16. And then Ukraine ended up winning?! What the actual fuck?! O_o

I didn't like Ukraine's song. I know that it won because of the message. A song about her grandmother having to leave her country during WWII works well in today's Europe, where so many refugees now live having been forced away from their countries because of war. And some older generations may connect with that too because of older wars. It works. I get it. But the song wasn't good. Maybe I would've liked it better if I could actually hear her. (Actually, listening to the video on Youtube I could hear her better than on my TV - probably because the sound is closer to my ears in my headphones. I could grow to like it tbh.)

But for the second time in the last three years I've been living in Eurovision town. In 2013, when it was in Malmö I lived there. This year it was in Stockholm, and while I don't live there exactly I work there so I got to live Eurovision town again :D It's been great! Can we win again next year? The rest of Europe seems to think the same way judging by the comments section on YouTube:
And also, BuzzFeed agrees.

All in all, a pretty good year where the hosts were more Eurovision than the competitiors. And it also had a wtf ending which is a nice change from most years where the favourite of the polls always seems to win. That I didn't like the winning song is beside the point. It made good TV.

And now the ESC nerd in me will go to sleep until May 2017.