No bull

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Finished off the rest of the Minotaurs today. The red cloth sections, wood, metal and bone are basically the same as on the rest of the other models. I couldn’t, however, use the same cloth colours as on the other models, as this was already too close to the Minotaurs skin colour. So I used a lighter brown set, with Khemri Brown as the base and Dheneb Stone as the highlight colour. I also watered down some Blood Red and lightly washed this over parts of the weapons, the ends of the horns and the knuckles of the fists.

Since the lighting was so nice, I also took a picture of how the Warhammer Quest miniatures are shaping up.

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Something to cow about

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It has been hot here the last few days, reaching at least 40 and above. So of course, it is perfect weather for sitting in the shed and painting Minotaurs.

I did the base colours yesterday, where I could get out small amounts of paint and get though it that way. Then this morning I got up fairly early (extremely early, for a Sunday) and did the washes and skin highlights before it got too hot.

The skin is a base of Bestial Brown, with Snakebite Leather layered on top. This was all washed in Bedab Black, and then I used a mixture of Snakebite Leather and Dheneb Stone to highlight it.

Skyrim – A year onward

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As any nerd worth their salt knows, 11-11-11 saw the release of The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. I really liked this game when it came out, and played it quite solidly for a few months. Then, the rest of life resumed its usual course. But for a while, Skyrim was the greatest thing in a long time. But how much of this was just excitement escaping, and how much was actually produced from a good game?

So on the 12-12-12, a little over a year after Skyrim was released, I decided to break the game out and start playing again from the start. What follows is not a review, I hardly think at this point a review is in any way appropriate or meaningful. Instead this is a collection of my thoughts, for good or ill, about the game and how it has held up over a year. Please note, this is for playing on the Xbox 360, and only takes into account the base game (though current updates have been applied).

First up, Skyims graphics still look great. There is a lot of detail in the world, as well as a lot of variety in the scenery and environment. I really appreciate the world that has been built, especially when you can wander though the woods or a town and stumble across little details that just bring everything to life. While I do enjoy the environments, both outdoor and in the ‘dungeon levels’, they do suffer a little for being realistic. I think this issue comes from playing the Oblivion expansion, The Shivering Isle. The environments in this were quite interesting and unique, and I think they spoiled everyone a little by being so dangerous yet beautiful.

Sound design is excellent. The weapons sound great, the music fits the world, and hearing a dragon roar overhead can be quite chilling. I don’t even mind the eventual repeated dialogue of minor NPCs. I am totally fine with the plague-like proportions of wounds suffered by arrows to knees.

The animations are generally pretty good too. One of the things that did bug me though, and this happened in Oblivion a lot too, was that you the player often suffered what I call ‘centre of the universe syndrome’. This is where NPCs can be going about their business, but once you enter their world within a certain distance, they immediately lock to you. This can work when there are only two of you in a room, but put a half-dozen NPCs in a market all staring at you at one time, it is creepy.

It is hard to tell the intentions of the NPCs sometimes, especially in a combat situation. Usually things are fairly straight forward, but when multiple NPCs with different ‘faction’ alliances come together, things can get confused. For example, there were a number of occasions where I was attacked by an NPC in a town or near a settlement, and when I retaliated the guards attacked me and ignored by continuing assailant. It also seems odd that you can kill a random traveller out on the road, with absolutely no one else around, and a bounty gets added to you for that hold. But kill someone in front of another NPC, and then kill that other NPC as well, and your bounty is removed because you eliminated a witness. Odd.

The big feature of Skyrim was the dragons. As character designs they are quite impressive, though erring a little far on the side of stereotypical European design for my taste. It would have been nice to see a bit more of a unique spin put onto the dragons design. Also, even with the updates, their AI is a little screwy. I have seen some dragons making impossible 90 degree turns, or flying straight towards the ground. Also, there have been a number of time where I have been in a battle with a dragon, flanked by city guards, only to have the dragon fly off twenty meters to attack a wolf. While we are talking about Dragons fighting, their physical presence never seems to match that of the game fiction. By level 30 my Wizard character was finding it easier to kill a dragon than a mammoth or giant.

I do like the skill system, though. Being able to see all the skill sets, what particular skills they have and what you need to unlock them, is really great. Also, I like that you can hold off allocating those points, so you can accrue some levels and then use the points to unlock a new skill. This makes it easier to focus on a certain set, and negates the frustration of accidentally leveling up a skill set you aren’t using. There are also some particularly useful skills available, and well worth the time it takes to work up to them. Of all the differences or improvements in Oblivion, this is my favourite. The skill system is a definite highlight. I am still particularly fond of the running shield bash.

Two of the skill sets work in tandem, blacksmithing and enchanting. I found making the armour, or applying the enchantments enjoyable. Though levelling up your character to unlock the weapon and armour types, or amassing magic weapons to try and find an enchantment you don’t have, was quite tedious. With the ability to not only create armour and weapons, and then give them specific characteristics and even name them, it is disappointing that some kind of player inter-connectivity isn’t available. It would have been nice to be able to create an armour set, for instance, and then gift it to a friend. This could then have been one of the items they randomly found throughout their own play through Skyrim. At least this way the enchanting and blacksmithing skills would have had some longevity, because as it is, once you reach the maximum of both skills and you have made your ultimate item with double ultimate enchantments, there is no need to use the skill ever again.

In fact, I really think some form of multiplayer is sorely missing from Skyrim. Even if it is only a LAN capability to run around Skyrim with one other person, I think this game would have a lot more longevity with it. The game is already designed to accommodate two active participants in it, the player can employ a follower at any time. Replacing this follower with a human controlled counterpart doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch. It would also make a lot of the spells or skills that effect other characters a lot more viable as choices. As it is, I never really had a use for the spell that heals another character. I never had an idea how hurt the other character was, or has the capability to call them off from a fight and retreat back enough to quickly heal them. Yes, I realise that now The Elder Scrolls is getting an MMO, but that just doesn’t seem as personalised as Skyrim.

Overall, though, Skyrim still holds up well. There was enough content in the game that when I came back to play over a year later I could build a character I hadn’t had a chance to try yet, as well as fulfill quests I hadn’t seen the last time around.

Welcome to the Year of the Skaven

A new year is upon us. 2013, which I think should unofficially be known as the Year of the Skaven. Just because.

WordPress alerted me to the fact that this is my fourth anniversary. Four years of Inane Courage. I look forward to cataloguing another four years of miniature wargame goings on, as well as continue to be met with indifferent silence. Thank you invisible and silent readers. Your patronage has not gone unnoticed!

Usually around this time I do a little breakdown of the last year. I will look at what posts were popular, fling up some stats and graphs, that kind of thing. But this year WordPress has done it all for me by compiling an Annual Report. So if numbers and market information is your thing check it out, and see that everyone still comes to Inane Courage for their Forgotten Realms and Twilight Saga info.

Happy New Year of the Skaven man-things!

The Three Adventurteers

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Spent any spare time I had during these Christmas holidays on two projects. One was the continued painting of my Warhammer Quest miniatures. I decided to treat myself and take a stab at the three adventurers.

Much like the monsters I have used Scab Red as a primary colour, accompanied by silver and Khemri Brown. I am really happy with how they have turned out, especially since I was a little concerned the colour palette wouldn’t work across all three without a bit more variation. However, I think the different material each is wearing (primarily flesh on the barbarian, primarily metal on the elf and primarily the cloak on the wizard) helps to give each model a distinct look while still operating as part of a visual set.

If I have time to fix one thing, I would like to go back and try the elfs eyes again. As it is they are quite neat, but they look a little like he is having some kind of intense staring match with an invisible opponent.

Finishing those orc archers

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Not the best weather for painting today, but I muscled through it to get the Orc Archers finished. Next up, three Minotaurs.

The Campaigner Issue 2

A quick one today.

Issue 2 of The Campaigner has been released. You can download a PDF copy from the website, or order a print copy from MagCloud.

No news is still news

No real hobby related progress this weekend. However, I did finalise and upload the second issue of The Campaigner. It is now waiting patiently for the 9th to roll around, and then it can launch. I am looking forward to seeing how this issue is received.

The boyz ov summa

Orc Warriors for Warhammer Quest are completed. I really like how these small groups of miniatures are turning out. It gives me a bit of time to give them some individual details.

Goodness… goblins

The Warhammer Quest monster parade is shaping up. Six Goblin Spearmen have been completed. I am particularly happy with how these guys turned out. Rather than paint the robes pure black, they are painted with a brown/black mix highlighted with a grey/black mix. This gives them really dark robes that still contain some nice shading.

Also, these goblin have tiny eyes. Like, really tiny. To paint them I took a piece of brass rod and touched the tip in red paint. Then I poked the paint onto the pupils. I can’t believe I never thought of this before. Live and learn.