Saturday, 19 August 2017

Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind

It's been out for over two months now, but with my computer dead it was hard to make a proper blog post about it. So here goes.

I was so hyped about this release, mostly for nostalgia reasons (and I didn't even play the original that long ago! is 2014 long ago enough to qualify as nostalgic?) The fact that Seyda Neen looks exactly like it does in the original Morrowind is slightly lore breaking, but I'm one of those people who Just.Didn't.Care. I was half-expecting Fargoth to show up when I was walking around Seyda Neen in ESO and being dazed by nostalgia. Ofc he didn't, because no one lives to be that old (except Mannimarco). Once again being able to take silt striders across the island of Vvardenfell and listening to the sound they make was ♥♥♥ And the new intro!!! They incorporated the original soundtrack of Morrowind!!! :D:D:D:D:D:D *fangirling*

Ok, so with that part out of my system... Let's get a bit more serious.

The island of Vvardenfell is the single largest addition of game area since ESO launched, and you kind of notice that going through the main quest. Vvardenfell is just one single zone, but it feels larger than any one single zone from the base game. The main quest revolves around you helping Vivec, which takes you around the whole island of Vvardenfell, which consistently brings you to all the places you visit in the original Morrowind, even the Cave of the Incarnate. And of course every single town that the main quest takes you to have their own quest lines. My personal favourite is the quest line found in Sadrith Mora, but I also really liked the one in Balmora.

There was also an addition of a new class; the Warden, which is the first class addition since the Templar came around a few months after original launch. The name Warden brings immediate Dragon Age associations to me, which I'm sure it does to lots of other people too, so while I haven't actually played much Warden yet, I did log on to quickly create a Warden and grab that Dragon Age name I wanted (Elissa Theirin). From what I've heard from guildies and other players, the Warden seems extremely versatile (like the Templar). It has class specific healing abilities, which makes it a good healing class, and I've seen it being used as a tank successfully so there's some good sustaining there too, and like every class it makes a good dps.

Something new that was added was Battlegrounds. ESO's PvP has been lack-luster for a very long time. Duelling was introduced late last year, but before that all we had was a large scale two-front PvP war in a zone that was larger than all the other ones. Battlegrounds added some classics like 4v4v4, Catch the Flag and Deathmatch. While I'm not a super fan of PvP, I did try it out and it reminded me of that time I played the PvP in Bioshock 2.

We also got a brand new trial (12-man dungeon or raid) called Halls of Fabrication, which is basically the other trials on steroids. There's so much mechanics required even on normal difficulty. When we did that first blind run we spent two hours on the first boss, and then had to give up at the second to last boss (because it was Sunday and people had work/school in the morning). Just a week before my computer died, we managed to complete it for the first time and it was soooo good :) So much cheering and applause as the final boss died.

Apart from these big things, there were also two public dungeons added, in which you can collect fragments (either Dwemer or Sixth House) and when you've collected a certain amount of them you can combine them into collectables. There were also a few new crafting motifs added, some new dailies, and a whole bunch of achievements related to exploration.

Monday, 14 August 2017

My last 5 books: Vampires, ghosts, sci-fi and a bit of Japanese

1. Fairest, by Marissa Meyer. This is the story of Queen Levana, the Evil Queen of the Lunar Chronicles, based on the Queen in Snow White. While this book didn't do much for me, it was interesting to get some background to Levana. This book didn't justify any of her horrible actions, but it ventures to explain how she became that way, and it shows how she truly thought that she was doing right by her people. It explains the ban of mirrors, and more in detail what Cinder saw when she saw past Levana's glamour. It explains where Cinder came from, and how Channary died. It explains how Winter became her step-daughter. From an outside perspective it also explains how someone who endures life-long abuse, goes on abusing others, and not realising that that's what they're doing, because they themselves have never known anything else. As a story this book didn't do much for me, but it gave a lot of depth to Levana's character and for that I really appreciate it.

2. Stars Above, by Marissa Meyer. This is a short-story collection, in which all the stories take place in the Lunar Chronicles 'verse. A few of them were a little too fanfiction-y for my taste, but they still gave some extra depth to the main story, and explained a few aspects that were left out from the four main books.

  1. The Keeper. This story explains how Cinder came to be in the care of Michelle Benoit. It also features a very young Scarlet. 
  2. Glitches. A story about how Cinder was awakened from her life-long coma and sent to live with her new family. It also tells how it happened when Garan got the plague and how Cinder figured out she was good with mechanics. 
  3. The Queen's Army. This one tells the story of how Wolf was recruited into the special ops and how his brother came after him. It explains more why Wolf isn't a full-on wolf-hybrid like the Queen's footsoldiers, and how he came to be an alpha. 
  4. Carswell's Guide to Being Lucky. The true story of what really happened with that classmate that Cress admired him for saving from the bullies. Also explains where he came from, and gives him a nice background story. 
  5. After Sunshine Passes By. This is the story of how Cress came to live in the satellite. 
  6. The Princess and The Guard. The story of Winter's and Jacin's childhood together. It also says what happened that made Winter stop using her ability and the immediate consequences of it. 
  7. The Little Android. A futuristic re-telling of The Little Mermaid (re-telling of the original not the Disney version). It briefly features Cinder, otherwise there are only brand new characters.
  8. The Mechanic. This is basically the first chapter of Cinder but told through the eyes of Kai. Their first meeting and how he viewed her. 
  9. Something Old, Something New. This story is set 2 years after the event of the four main book. All the main characters get together and share stories, and the occasion is the upcoming wedding of Scarlet and Wolf. 
All in all I enjoyed these short stories. My favourites being The Princess and The Guard and The Little Android.

3. My Darling is a Foreigner, by Saori Oguri. Way before I picked up this book I had seen the movie, and I really liked it, so when I found this book I immediately bought it. I have never lived in Japan long enough to recognise all of the situations depicted in the book, but there's definitely some recognition and it made me laugh several times. It's nice that it's both in Japanese and English, because my kanji-reading has deteriorated terribly so when I couldn't make sense of something the English was there to back me up.

4. Anno Dracula, by Kim Newman. Let's play spot the reference! When I saw this book my thoughts went like this: "Ooooh, vampires!" "Ooooh, Neil Gaiman commentary!" "Ooooh, Kim Newman! That's Gaiman's 80s comics buddy!" Those three things made this book into a must-have for me. Reading it quickly became a fun game of spot the reference. Being very interested in Victorian stories this was a lot of fun for me. Especially the off-handed comments about Count Orlok (from Nosferatu) and Sir Francis Varney (from Varney the Vampire). I really enjoyed reading this twisting retelling of the Jack the Ripper legend, the only thing that brings the overall grade down for me was the lack of a defined plot. Half-way through the book I still wasn't sure what the plot really was, but I still enjoyed reading it so it didn't bother me that much. Still, a book should have a clear plot to be considered amazing.

5. Brännmärkta, by Lena Ollmark. Part 2 of a horror series for children. I loved the first book, and this second one was good too. Not as good as the first one because I found it confusing. What where we really up against in this book? Who's the bad guy? And every time I'd come as far as thinking that this must be the antagonist of this book, it's all turned upside down and I had to start over. I'm still not really sure what was happening. The ghost influenced the girl, ok, but where did the school cafeteria lady fit in? Was the ghost influencing her too? If there's one thing I really liked about this story is the part where Teddy makes a video game, and it makes the ghost stronger and makes her aware of them and what they're doing. That feels very inspired by Asian horror and I thoroughly enjoyed that part. Really looking forward to reading more from this author. Except the fact that it was a little confusing, there's really nothing I can complain about. I was even scared by this book, which is hard to achieve.

July favourites 2017

Two weeks late due to computer problems. But it's all solved now so here we go.

Books: With no computer there was a lot more reading. I read 9 books in July. Best one probably has to be Cress by Marissa Meyer.

• Alice Cooper - "Take it Like a Woman" & All That Remains - "This Calling"

• Amberian Dawn - "Talisman" & Berryz Koubou - "Ai wa Itsumo Kimi no Naka ni"

• Bowling for Soup - "Since We Broke Up" & Cherry Filter - "Nang Man Go Yang-i"

• The Cranberries - "Zombie" & D'espairs Ray - "Kogoeru Yoru ni Saita Hana"

Games: I did manage to play a little bit of ESO and Trine 1 and 2 before my computer broke. But most of July I played Fire Emblem: Awakening on my 3DS. Best game is definitely Fire Emblem.

TV shows: Due to broken computers there wasn't much watching. But I did watch a bit of Buffy and Angel, and also some Doctor Who. Best of those is easy.

Other: In July there was Toni's birthday party and also our annual trip to Malmö, to visit my parents and the annual smalltown festival in my hometown.

Friday, 21 July 2017

My last 5 books: The Lunar Chronicles with some horror on the side

1. Scarlet, by Marissa Meyer. I didn't like this one as much as Cinder, probably because I was never a fan of Scarlet as a character, and also because this book was extremely predictable (and not just because of the fairytale thing). Also, I'm really not a fan of the kind of romance that's in Scarlet that's so common in YA and fanfics, the really fast-paced but very pained one. "I like him, but I probably shouldn't, and does he like me, should I just go with it, but we haven't known each other for very long, this probably isn't a good idea, we are so not good for each other, but omg I like him so much and I suspect he likes me too, omg, what should I do, waaah~~" Ffs. The really good parts of this book were the ones with Cinder, Thorne and Kai in them, there were also some nice glimpses of Scarlet and Wolf when their budding romance wasn't so very painful to read (most of the time I was afraid my eyes would get stuck in the back of my skull reading about them). But yes, Cinder and Thorne saves this book, big time, and they are also the reason for the unreasonably high grade I gave this book on Goodreads.

2. Yuko, by Jenny Milewski. I had really, really high expectations for this book. Swedish story, in a Swedish setting, by a Swedish author, but with a Japanese ghost story twist. Seeing as The Grudge is the only horror movie that has ever given me nightmares (and recurring ones at that!) I was expecting some spine-thrills. I got annoyances. This story takes place in the 90s, before mobile phones, when the phones were actually plugged into the wall, and there's this one guy in the entire dorm that has a computer, and they still play records alongside CDs. A girl finally gets a room in a dorm after having rented a couch from a family in the university town. She moves in right away, only to discover that a Japanese exchange student had killed herself in the bathtub of her room. From here it's just a long repetition of scenes taken directly from The Grudge and put into print, mixed with some drunken university scenes. From the mysterious shoes thrown everywhere in the hallway, to the patter of bare feet to clumps of hair coming out of the drains and from inside newly opened butter packages (butter instead of eggs). Even the scene where the ghost crawls over the main character under the cover of the bed is described in detail. All of it was so extremely obviously copied from the movie. And then the dorm buddies decide to put the ghost to rest, by stealing her unclaimed body from the morgue and giving her a proper burial. All the while reading this I felt like yelling "you can't apply Western logic to Eastern myths!" and ofc it didn't work. The main difference between Eastern and Western horror is that in Western ones there's always a safe place you need to get to and there's always a way to defeat the evil. That's not the case in Eastern horror. There is no safe place. There is no end. You can't defeat it. It's never over. Ever. And that's why it's so scary. You're completely helpless in the face of this evil- There's nothing you can do. You're doomed, and you will die. That's the feeling I was looking for in this book, and I was sorely disappointed.

3. 30 Days of Night, by Ben Templesmith. Omnibus of the three comics making up the 30 Days of Night series. I really liked the story in this, but I thought the artwork was too odd and too messy. The setting of the Alaskan winter and the long night, is the same kind of setting that was used in the first Swedish vampire movie. I like the twist of the vampire legend in this story, and I liked the idea of the main character of trying to bring the truth about vampires into the public knowledge. Not much more to say about this book. I liked the story, didn't really like the artwork, but it made for a few enjoyable hours.

4. Cress, by Marissa Meyer. The best book in the Lunar Chronicles alongside Cinder! Probably because I absolutely adore Cress and I love to watch her grow as a person. I love every single part of the story in this book. It's fast-paced, it's never boring, and it keeps twisting. It made me laugh out loud a few times, because their plans always turn out ludicrous, but yet always work (duh!) and the reaction of Kai when he discovers he's been kidnapped by Cinder is amazing. And Torin definitely grew in my eyes and gained a whole other aspect to his character in this book. I loved every single moment between Cress and Thorne and between Cinder and Kai, and the never-changing comic-relief in Iko was especially on-point in this book. I kind of, sort of, actually cheered a bit when Cinder defeated Sybil Mira. But, yes, probably the best book in the series.

5. Winter, by Marissa Meyer. This final installment of the Lunar Chronicles, was good, but loooooong. And there were to many times were I thought "now the rebellion starts!" And then it didn't, then we got to a point in the story later on and I thought "now the rebellion starts!" And it didn't again. I think that happened three or four times before the rebellion actually happened, which was mostly annoying. At first I found Winter adorable, but the more I saw of her character the more annoying she got. Scarlet really improved for me in this book, though. From not liking her at all in her own book, to kind of actually enjoying reading about her in this one. Confinement suits her :P

So that happened...

So almost two weeks ago both of our computers decided to go on holiday. I'm currently on my ancient laptop, which is extremely slow doing anything and everything. Playing any game newer than 2008/9 isn't possible.

On the 8th (Saturday) we had a party and everything worked great. Went to bed about 4 am and there was nothing weird. The next morning we wake up and I start up my computer, which is placed in the bedroom, and it worked fine. Played ESO for a little while. When Toni went to turn on his computer, though, we discovered that there was no power in the living room. Went to look at the switch board and discovered that the switch for the living room was off, which is most probably due to thunder. Flicked it back, and power came on. Toni's computer, however, started acting up. The computer turned on fine, but it couldn't find his monitors. Weird, but decided to wait until the day after to figure out what was wrong. Went out to dinner and when we came back I went to continue playing Trine 2. A short while into my session my computer lost connection to my monitor, and then it started sounding like an airplane taking off. Turned it off. Tried waiting for about 30 minutes and turned it back on. Everything was back to normal, until I turned the game back on and the same thing happened. I knew for a fact there was nothing wrong with the game, I had played it several times over several days earlier.

The next day (Monday) we decided to clean the inside of our chassis of dust, hoping that it would fix whatever problems we had. We even removed the fan of the processor in my computer to thoroughly clean it. But when we went to put the fan back, we couldn't. The plastic around the pegs just bent, and so we couldn't plop the pegs back into their holes. Broken processor fan, time to buy a new one. Only that we were going away in two days and it wouldn't arrive before that so we waited. After turning Toni'scomputer back on after the cleaning, one screen came on, but not the other. He tried to check the settings in BIOS, but there was no change. Tried changing which output the monitors were plugged into and nothing. And then for some reason when we turned on his computer the monitors both came on, but on a reset screen for Windows, prompting him to press enter to accept the reset process. Except that while that screen was on it couldn't find the keyboard or mouse. Starting the computer into BIOS and it found both keyboard and mouse fine.

So we have no idea what's going on with Toni's computer. He has some ideas, but nothing is fixed yet. As for mine, I'm hoping it was just dust. Otherwise the hardware update I had planned for this autumn will have to come a few months early. Because if it's more than just the dust (which is now cleaned out) and it still sounds like an airplane taking off after we've plugged in a new processor fan, then I'll just go with a hardware update. I've needed a new graphics card for a while, and if I get a new graphics card I'll need a new and more powerful power supply. And if I get both of those I might as well get replacements for my ancient harddrive and monitor.

It was just such a weird coincidence that my computer decided to turn strange the same day Toni's did. We think Toni's may be due to thunder, because the switch had gone off for the living room, but my computer was in the bedroom (different switch, which wasn't affected). It's just weird. And it's probably not a virus, since neither of us hade downloaded anything whatsoever in over a week or so.

So in the meantime, Toni is playing the new Zelda on Nintendo Switch (instead of Mass Effect Andromeda), and I'm playing Fire Emblem Awakening on my 3DS (instead of working on my huge backlog, which was my original plan for July). I did decide to bring out my anicent laptop, though, and clean out a whole lot of useless files on it as well as uninstalling a bunch of stuff and going through it with CCleaner, and it's actually slightly faster than when I first turned it on. That said, it's still going in tortoise speed, instead of snail speed.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

June favourites 2017

Books: I read five books in June. Granted that none of them were very big and most things were in Swedish, which makes for a very fast read. The best one I read was Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

• Alice Cooper - "Salvation" & "Wind-Up Toy"

• Avril Lavigne - "Give You What You Like" & Black Veil Brides - "Lost it All"

• Dark Sarah - "Dance With the Dragon" & "Rain"

• Elder Scrolls Online - "Stagger and Sway" & In Flames - "Scream"

• In This Moment - "Sick Like Me" & Lindsey Stirling - "Shadows"

Games: Only Elder Scrolls Online in June. But Morrowind was released!!!

Tv shows: American Gods, Buffy, Angel, Doctor Who. It's a tie.

Other: Sweden Rock Festival!!! :D

Thursday, 29 June 2017

My last 5 books: Fantasy, sci-fi and vampires

1. A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin. I've been meaning to read this for ages, basically since the first season of Game of Thrones aired, but I didn't get around to it until now. And it was amazing!! I am always sceptical towards a TV show or movie based on a book, because I know they've probably had to cut a lot out, but with Game of Thrones I was surprised at how closely the TV show had followed the book. Things like feeelings and backstory are always easier to portray in books, and there's a lot more of that in the book. Which I really enjoy, because it gives more depth to the characters. I don't have all that much more to say about it. It's amazing; there's more backstory than in the TV show; read it!

2. Fevre Dream, by George R.R. Martin. The second book that I got off of BuzzFeed's vampire book list. This was written before ASOIF, and one can tell just how much his writing has evolved from this to ASOIF. I really enjoyed this take on vampirism. It's a version that even 30+ years later isn't all that common, and it was a nice change. A world where vampires are a completely different race from humans. Humans can't become vampires and very few of the mytological tricks to keep vamps at bay actually work. The main character is Abner Marsh, and all he dreams of is to own the biggest, fastest steamship on the Mississippi, along comes Joshua York who offers him a chance to do exactly that. But Joshua is odd, and dark happenings seem to follow him around, Marsh grows suspicious and finds out the truth. Joshua is a vampire on a quest to cure the Red Thirst. This revelation sets both of them on a course of adventure that lasts decades. I enjoyed reading this book, but at the same time there was a lack of the feeling I get when a book is amazing. It didn't take over my mind or make my heart beat harder. But it was most definitely a good book.

3. Ascension, by Drew Karpyshyn. The second book in the Mass Effect book series. This one takes place after Saren's attack on the Citadel at the end of the first Mass Effect game. It introduces the Grissom Academy, which features briefly in the third game (and is mentioned in the second). Once again we follow Kahlee Sanders, who (alongside Anderson) was the main character in the first book too. She is now a teacher at the Grissom Academy. Grissom Academy is being inflitrated by Cerberus operatives, and when she finds out she embarks on a mission to keep Cerberus' objective from them, which includes escaping from them and go into hiding on the quarian Migrant Fleet. I really enjoyed reading this book, partly because of the unique insight into the workings of the Migrant Fleet.

4. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson. This is a classic. I had no idea that the book the movie was based on was that old until I picked it up. The book, however, is nothing like the movie. Absolutely nothing. Not even in the slighetst. How is the movie allowed to carry the same name as the book? Neville wasn't a very likeable person throughout the book, but I guess that's understandable, and I did get sick of reading about his repetitive life (probably as much as he got living it), until Ruth showed up at the end. I really liked Ruth and I really liked finding out that the vampires were figuring out how to embrace their new physiology and making life work. I did notice some similarities between the plot of this book and modern day zombie stories, and I can't help but think that if this story had been written today it wouldn't be vampires that Nevilee was fighting, but zombies. But despite the slow beginnings and the confusing way that Matheson chose to show what had happened to make the world this way, I really enjoyed reading this book and I basically had to force myself to put it down and not finish it all in one sitting. But I don't agree with the horror label.

5. Cinder, by Marissa Meyer. Futuristic spin on classic fairytale. What's not to love? I loved this book, the world, the characters, the plot... All of it sucked me in and refused to let me go. Cinder was a badass girl that I could identify with, and I loved the twist that one of her stepsisters actually was her friend. I enjoyed puzzling together how this world came about (which isn't explained in-depth, because it simply isn't relevant to the story). Because it's a spin on a classic fairytale there are obviously places in the story where you know what's going to happen, but that didn't bother me as much as I thought it would, and the story's twist was enough for it to be unrecognisable as Cinderella in several places. I couldn't put this book down (although I tried to make it last longer), and as soon as I was done I continued the story by reading Scarlet and placing the rest of the Lunar Chronicles on order so I could read the whole series.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind Collector's Edition unboxing

Time for my second ESO Collector's Edition!!! :D If you want a look back then here's my unboxing of the original game.

I preordered the physical Collector's Edition back in April and thus I've played Morrowind since early access dropped at the end of May. But opening this box made my day :3

Opening the box the first thing you see is the Dwarven colossus figurine, with the game case tucked neatly on the side. I removed the game case. To get the figurine out of the packaging you had to lift the whole plastic thing it was tied to with metal strings. Remove the metal strings and get the figurine out of the box. Attach the spinning blades on the right arm and it's all set :) It's huge! Bigger than the Molag Bal figurine you got in the previous Collector's Edition!

The game is in a beautiful metallic case. Under the plastic that contained the figurine was the book. It's the journal of Naryu Virian, an NPC in ESO who shows up in two previous DLCs as well as in the Ebonheart Pact part of the base game. The book is in the same faux inbound leather style as the book in the previous Collector's Edition, and it's absolutely beautiful! I read the other one from front to back and I'm looking forward to doing the same with this one :3 The book contains the story of Naryu as she travels all over Tamriel in her mission for the Morag Tong, and accompanying the story is lots and lots of concept art.

With the book was also a map ov Vvardenfell. All the names on the map are in Daedric lettering and framing the map are pictures of Almalexia, Vivec and Sotha Sil.

When I picked up my Collector's Edition I was told that you got 25% off on the Collector's Strategy Guide if you bought it with the game, so I decided to pick that up too as it wasn't very expensive. But inside it is an extensive guide on builds and exploration etc etc etc. I'm really looking forward reading this from front to back! There was also a map ov Vvardenfell that came with the Strategy Guide. This map will be extremely useful in exploring Vvardenfell in-game. as it has pointers to where everything is, from quest-givers to unmarked locations and fishing spots.

So there we go with everything! :) Another Morrowind themed post will show up later when I have completed the expansion :3