Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Heroes, Adventurers and Lackwits, Oh My!

No, that's not a screenshot from Skyrim... pretty close, though. But not on my system. Sadly, in order to keep the game playable, I've had to lower both my graphics settings and my resolution. Ah, First World Problems! Some people don't have a place to live or food to eat... my biggest problem is not being able to play a $60 game with all the bells and whistles turned up to 11...

Actually, that's not my biggest problem; I have plenty of others. I just don't feel like whining tonight, so I'm going to stay light (aka "vapid") tonight.

And, actually, even though Skyrim is a $60 game, I paid exactly $0 for it. See, with Citibank, I earn these things called "Thank You Points"... for every buck I spend using my bank card, I get a point. I've been accumulating these points for a couple years. Well, I just converted $150 worth of Thank You Points over to Amazon credit, and so BOOM, free game, plus lots left over for more Kindle Books.

Ah, livin' the dream.

But back to Skyrim for a minute... for those that don't understand the appeal of a fake life lived on a computer screen, let me (try to) explain. Picture a large (vast, really), open expanse of terrain, all mountainous and beautiful, with rocks and trees and snow and animals and villages and castles, etc. You can wander anywhere and explore anything and talk to anyone. You can go into caves and fight beasts or bandits, looking for treasure. You can fight baddies, get killed in the attempt, and then just reload the game from your previous "save point" and try again, or run away, or sneak around in the shadows. You can take on the Main Quest to save the world from peril, or you can ditch the Main Quest and do any number of other Side Quests, for little trinkets or treasures, or just out of the goodness of your heart. You can be a good guy or a bad guy. Or both. You can hike to the top of a mountain peak, stand at the very edge of a sheer cliff face, marvel at the view, save the game, and then leap off to your doom... then reload that last save game spot to the edge of the cliff again, and just walk away.

In other words, you can do all the stuff you wish you could do in real life, but can't. Shoot a bad guy with a bow and arrow? Check. Run a bad guy through with a sword, or cleave him with an axe? Check. Shoot magical fireballs or ice blasts out of your hands? Check. Pick locks and pick pockets? Check. Steal stuff and cause havoc? Check. Get arrested and then break out of jail? Check. Or be a hero of renown, winning the love and adoration of the masses? Check. Fight dragons? Check!!!!

There's just something about it that I find almost unfathomably appealing. I think in every guy (and maybe most of the women) there lives a strong desire to be courageous/heroic. To make a difference in the world. To cut loose and dive headlong into danger, knowing that if it doesn't work out, just rewind a bit and try again. To explore. To create. To love. TO LIVE.

There's probably negative theological ramifications to such an attitude, I don't know. But what I do know is that I love love love wandering around that game world, and soaking it all in. If I could somehow transfer that same awe and fascination to "real life," I'd be golden.

So speaking of heroes, I finished reading White Wolf, by David Gemmell. A story featuring two heroes, and some full-throttle villains.

Skilgannon The Damned and Druss the Legend make quite a pair. Both are impossibly good (and completely unalike) warriors, who use enchanted weapons. Druss has his battle ax, called Snaga, and he's built like a tank. A tank with a big bushy beard. Skilgannon is tall, handsome, clean-shaven, with piercing blue eyes (lol), and is a master swordsman, wielding two swords, called The Swords of Night and Day. Their paths cross, and they join forces to embark upon an Impossible Quest, each with different motives.

If it seems pretty formulaic, that's because it is. But in this case, it didn't matter to me, because dangit, I enjoyed the ride thoroughly. Enough so that I'll soon embark on my own Impossible Quest... that of trying to read all of Gemmell's 20+ books. His characters are complex creatures, and he writes great action scenes for them. In fact, both this book and the other Gemmell book I read last year (Legend) each have many "main" characters, as opposed to just one, and in many ways, they are all unique and work well as the focus of the tale, and even better when combined with the others. If that makes sense.

I don't want to get too far into White Wolf (the book), since it doesn't really matter at this point. If fantasy does anything for you, I recommend the book. If not, then no amount of elaboration on the story will convince you otherwise. Gemmell is solid; let me leave it at that. Grab a free sample or two of his stuff and try him out yourself, eh! That's an order!

What will I read next? Well, at the moment, it's more Free Samples. When I land on a full book and it hooks me, I'll let you know.

And now, the latest Damien Walters highlight video...

Awesome. Yet another thing I wish I could do.

I think I'll bring tonight's blast of hot air to an end. If it continues, it may raise the temperature in here so high, it will activate the blog air conditioner, and I can't afford that...

Adios for now,

Dave the Gemmellite


Abbie Josephsen said...

holy cow, that guy is crazy! is he a stunt double or something? good grief :P

hey, new topic for the next blog: why the heck are there three snow white themed movie/tv things out!!!! OH MY GOODNESS!!! and that was like, the lamest disney princess of them all! (no offense Grace). dumb dumb dumb....

:) thanks for the good post Dave!

logankstewart said...

I've ran into a glitch or two. My game crashed last night twice within 20 minutes. Need patch...

What, is that not how you go about your normal days, all flippy and twisty and Matrixy? I thought we all walked like that? [CRAZY!]

Good stuff. I used Discover rewards to take care of most of my Skyrim purchase. Two peas, bro.

Anonymous said...

I realized I'm way behind the times, but is the game your describing like "Sims?" I don't remembering the battling, but I remembering them (my kids) setting up a "life."

Congrats on the free game. My friends, do what you're doing but with plane tickets. They fly constantly - for free! (He runs his business through the card).

I'm not organized enough to monitor my expenses through a card. I'd end up paying more in late fees than I'd earn in bonus bucks! :)

Beth A.

PS: I wonder how much Damien's monthly health insurance runs?

PSS: I'm such an old lady.

Anonymous said...

I'd just like to say, I take great offense to the title of that David Gemmell book.....


David Wagner said...

Abbie: Yeah, Damien is crazy, that's for certain... as for the glut of Snow White stuff, typical of Hollywood, sadly... word gets out that a studio is working on something, so other studios have to jump on the bandwagon and crank out something similar. Not a bad thing, methinks.

Logan: The first official patch will be out just after Thanksgiving, apparently. I'd like to do the flippy twisty stuff, but I'd likely just land on my head a lot. Not good for the spine...

Beth: Believe it or not, I have never played any of the Sims games... they're only the highest-selling games series of all-time, you'd think I would have at least tried one of them at some point... but nope. So I can't really comment on similarities, sorry.

NJ: LOL, your comment made my day. I had to check my facebook friend list to see who had those initials. For those that won't know, Neal used to destroy me routinely at Unreal Tournament back when I played the game online, and captained a clan. Neal was on another clan, and his screen name was Blackwolfe. We had some great games. Ah, good times.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for outing my nerdness Dave. Seriously, in all the time I've spent playing games online, the UTEO period was the best gaming days of my life, hands down. I failed to recapture the magic with the recent revival. I think the obligations of parenthood and maturity made me realize the moment had passed me by. It's nice to see so many of us are still connected though.