Monthly Archives: May 2009

The Tale of Garn Chapter 7

From Garn’s recollections:

My memory of this time has faded significantly though I still fondly recall the quieter parts of my journey though Cyrodiil. Making my way on horseback slowly across great shimmering fields of blowing grass and wildflower, the fresh air tickling my nostrils, without barely a care in the world.

Another dark, rainy day in jolly old Eng... Cyrodiil.
“Another dark, rainy day in jolly old Eng… Cyrodiil.”

Not everything was so enjoyable, however, as during the several months I spent exploring and mapping Cyrodiil much time was spent in and around many of the less the desirable areas of the world – ancient, haunted ruins, beast filled caves, and bandit camps. The threat of attack was a nearly constant reminder of the deadly nature of my task.

The only good imp is a dead imp.
“The only good imp is a dead imp.”

If I recall I rode north from Bravil, past the Imperial City, and through Eastern Bruma first, finding some interesting new sites amongst the frigid forests. I then circled back around to the west and to Skingrad to record my previous findings in the area.

Along the way I hunted for my food and bedded down in the occasional abandoned camp site or amongst the worshipers at various shrines. When convenient I’d stop at cities and villages in order to clean myself up, sell my wares, sleep in a comfortable bed, and actually eat a good meal.

Sometimes when you can't find an abandoned camp to sleep at you have to abandon one yourself.
“Sometimes when you can’t find an abandoned camp to sleep at you have to abandon one yourself.”

While at this time, not knowing much about my own origins nor my current status regarding the assassination of the Emperor, I continued to avoid much conversation about who I was and what I was doing. Still, a traveler spotted one of my maps while I was paying for an inn room and inquired about my profession. Another man, an alchemist by the name of Sinderion, propositioned me with an additional task – a hunt for a specific, exotic herb that grows near water all around Cyrodiil. Given that I was already going to be exploring and, from time to time, gathering herbs I accepted his offer.

I had actually obtained the Nirnroot quest much earlier but didn’t see Sinderion until around this time. I already had enough Nirnroot for the first three parts of the chain and gathered the rest during the rest of my journey.

Say hello to my little friend... summoned daedra!
“Say hello to my little friend… summoned daedra!”

I continued west past Kvatch, though I didn’t stop to pay a visit at the city proper. There many strange goings-on in the area immediately surrounding the city and there were even rumors speaking of an evacuation. Some rumors spoke of such unbelievable things as Daedric invasion but many, more believably, suggested a plague. As I neared the city something was obviously a miss so I avoided it for the time being and continued onward, along the road, to Anvil.

Another pleasant day in Kvatch.
“Another pleasant day in Kvatch.”

Something in Anvil jogged my memory. I had definitely been here before but further recollection was beyond me. I spent only a few hours in the town before heading out into the northern wilderness.

Hey, I can see my house from here!
“Hey, I can see my house from here!”

Making my way back east through Kvatch and into Chorrol I encountered quite a few deadly beasts such as trolls, minotaurs, and of course various species of imp. There were some very tough fights around this time but I was able to get myself out of every bad situation, thankfully.

I avoided spending too much in Chorrol itself, only stopping at the local Mage’s Guild to purchase some new spells. Weynon Priory, where I was supposed to meet Jauffre regarding the Emperor, was close by and I wanted to avoid it for now.

Winter Driving Advisory: Poor visibility ahead.
“Winter Driving Advisory: Poor visibility ahead.”

I continued back through Bruma, this time traveling through the northern mountains before stopping at the city itself. Around this time I stirred a great frost titan while exploring the area immediately around a rocky cave, and had to run for my life. The frost titan, in a rage, pursued me all of the way back to the city where it took a large number of the city’s best men to finally slay the beast. Quite scary.

Frost titans are some tough mofos. I ended up kiting him into Bruma hoping the guards would dispatch him but when they appeared to be losing I upped the cheese factor a bit and drug him directly into one of the guard barracks rooms in the castle. A dozen pissed off guards including a captain resulted in almost instant death.

Bullfighting Bruma style.
“Bullfighting Bruma style.”

I made my way through upper Cheydinhal, past the Imperial City once more, and make a quick stop at Bravil once again. The cartographer was delighted by my progress though I wouldn’t let him take any of my work just yet.

I continued south through the city of Leyawiin, along the coast, and back north through the deadly swamps until I arrived back at the Imperial City, my journey complete.

Sinderion has the good shit.
“Sinderion has the good shit.”

Of course, I made one more trip to Bravil to receive my payment and then headed back to Skingrad to present the alchemist with his “Nirnroot”.

Although this lengthy undertaking didn’t help jostle my memory as much as I had hoped I certainly had much in the way of opportunity to improve my combat skills, both in magic use and in swordsmanship. Feeling stronger, the next step in my preparation was to earn more funds. Most cities had odd jobs to take so figured I’d start there, in Skingrad.

Riding off into the sunset.
“Riding off into the sunset.”

I managed to make it to level 15 by the time my quest was over. I was shooting for more along the lines of 20, though riding on horseback for most of my journey allowed me to avoid many of the confrontations that would have helped me skill up. The trade off was worth it though as I’m dying to kick this Oblivion campaign into some of the more interesting stuff – you know, actual quests and the like. 😉


I ran into some remarkable frustration earlier this week as I continued my play through of Ninja Gaiden 2 on Warrior difficulty. I had just beaten a mid level boss in chapter 6 and decided to push ahead to the next save point so that I could make sure my game was saved one last time and get to bed.

Sounds easy enough, right? Well of course not! I ended up spending over an hour, wishing hideous acts of violence upon Itagaki, trying to reach this next save point.

After the boss battle I was met by several fiends, including the annoying scorpion variety that I had mentioned in my last game log, as I climbed upwards along the rocky paths that lead out of the cavern where the boss battle had taken place. Thankfully I quickly developed a fairly dependable strategy of dealing with them with a minimal loss of health.

There were also a few jumps that could be tricky to pull off when being harassed by enemies. Failed jumps themselves were not deadly but would result in a free fall back to the bottom of the cavern. This was most irritating early on in the process when I had made it to the very end of the journey only to fail to stick my last landing and fall all the way back down to the beginning.

Fact: 97% of NG2 screenshots contain severed limbs.
“Fact: 97% of NG2 screenshots contain severed limbs.”

This is where a fairly new enemy, the bone scorpion, comes into play. Bone scorpions aren’t particularly tough enemies yet they appear in such numbers in this section that killing them was quite time consuming and usually resulted in some damage to my health bar along the way. The big annoyance here is that after falling back to the beginning they respawn for some reason. The attrition of my health bar after repeated falls was a frequent cause of death. After awhile I began attempting to simply run past as many of the bone scorpions as possible though this didn’t always work out for the best. If I wasn’t quick enough they’d usually catch up with me in a deadly mass and overwhelm me.

Finally, while the game generously auto-saves at the beginning of boss fights to allow you to replay them easily it evidently doesn’t see fit to save afterwards. This meant that I had to replay this boss battle over and over again. Perhaps the most annoying factor was that I easily schooled this particular boss the first time I fought him. A great deal of our subsequent battles, however, were major struggles. Even when I did survive them I had often used a costly number of my health scrolls in the process.

This all added up to be the most controller breakingly angry I had been while gaming in quite a long time. While I did eventually succeed I’m now, not even half way through the campaign, left thinking that I may be playing through this game for a much, much longer time than I would have ever predicted.

Slaying Giant Bugs

It seems like it has been forever since my last game log so I guess I’ll go ahead and spout off a little about my current ventures. Other than playing a healthy amount of Oblivion with Garn, of which you should be hearing about fairly soon, the main thing I did was finally start Ninja Gaiden 2.

Ninja Gaiden 2 started off great. Despite the numerous changes since the first Xbox Ninja Gaiden game it looked and felt pretty much the same. it even seemed just as polished which was surprising given some of the reviews and impressions I had read. On the second level I ran into a horribly annoying bug, however. I received an minor achievement only to be greeted with a blade message stating that the device my user profile was stored on had been disconnected and asking me to reconnect it if I wished to have my achievements recorded. What the hell? I doubled checked my connections, eventually chalking it up as a fluke and continuing on. A short time later it came up again. Again, I ignored it and all was well. It popped up again, and again, and again. It continued popping up randomly every few seconds to every few minutes.

My (admittedly relatively brief) research into the subject lead me to believe that this was actually a fairly widespread problem which started cropping up after the first Ninja Gaiden 2 update was released. Not only did the pop up interrupt people but apparently their achievements weren’t being updated either, regardless of the status of their connection to Xbox Live. I read many theories but one of the most prevalent ones suggested that the problem was caused by particular bugged achievements and that the only fix, which didn’t sound 100% reliable, was to recover your gamertag. The only other options I had were to either either play offline or clear my 360’s cache and refuse the update (which would, in turn, also force me to play offline.)

How to get a head in life... and maybe an arm and a leg too.
“How to get a head in life… and maybe an arm and a leg too.”

I wasn’t fond of any of these solutions. I wanted my achievements and I wanted to be online, in contact with friends. Instead I gritted my teeth and faced the level 2 boss, who wasn’t too easy in the first place, while being barraged by constant pop ups. Argh! I was pretty pissed about the entire situation. How could such a major bug in such a big title go unfixed for so long? How could this affect earning achievements in other games? I even considered scrapping the whole game but scrapping Ninja Gaiden isn’t easy for me – god knows I tried to give up the first one plenty of times out of frustration before finally beating it.

I didn’t get a chance to play the game again for quite a few days and luckily, so far, I’ve yet to encounter the bug again. My theory is that they had “sort of” fixed the issue in subsequent title updates. When I originally encountered the message I didn’t have any problems with having my achievements updating. The only oddity I noted with them was one of my recent achievements lacking the date it was awarded to me on but I still had it and my gamerscore was still correct. The fact that the problem seems to have gone away after clearing my cache and/or cycling the console suggests to me that the nature of the problem, as it originally appeared, has changed. Here’s hoping it doesn’t reappear!

At the time of this writing I’ve made it about half way through level 5 and suddenly difficulty has ramped up drastically. I’m encountering these exceedingly tough scorpion monsters and my save points, at least where I’m at now, are starting to thin out a bit. I should also mention that for some reason (the extra 100 achievement points and minor bragging rights, maybe?) I’m playing on the harder “Warrior” difficulty instead of the default one. I hope that doesn’t turn out to be a massive, frustrating mistake.

Damn, it’s nigh impossible to find actual screenshots of this game online. I pray the next generation of consoles include a screenshot feature in their standard UIs.