Elder Scrolls Online Revealed to Be Worse Than Skyrim

… in terms of eating up your time, condescendingly laughing at your attempts to have a life and the number of catchy songs that you feel compelled to sing in the shower.

This here is your official “Kay plays ESO!” post which I’m starting to write now mainly because the NA megaserver is down for maintenance and will be for a couple of hours yet. (I play on the NA server because I’ve got friends there, and also because the timezones differ enough that by the time the rush hour starts, I really should be going to bed already.)

I didn’t purchase ESO via Steam and haven’t checked in-game, so I’m not sure about how much time I’ve spent in Tamriel this time around. I’d guestimate it’s about 100+ hours, what with three level 15-21 characters each in a different alliance. I’m in no way an expert – only enthusiastic! I also don’t engage in PvP, in case you were looking for tips on that.

All in all, if you’re familiar with the basics of ESO and/or other MMORPGs and have played yourself, scroll down to the nifty details or skip this post altogether in favour of planning your next group delve.

If you’re considering buying the game or just started playing, stick around! I’ll give a quick overview of the story and go through the basics of some important features before listing notes for beginners that I wish I’d known when I started, a summary of the payment system and talk about graphics. I’ll also link to some sites that have useful, quick guides to several aspects of gameplay, and recommend a live streamer or two in case you prefer to first observe for a while instead of jumping right in.

Elder Scrolls Online screenshot of fishing in a cave.

The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited (initially launched as The Elder Scrolls Online) combines the settings and rich lore of the previous TES games with the mechanics of MMORPGs, namely PvE/PvP play and the guild system, without compromising the sandbox element or the familiarity of the world.

And if I sound like the sales pitch for the game, well, it’s either that or keysmashing and high-pitched noises with kitten memes for emphasis.

You’ll know it from the beginning, so it’s not a spoiler to reveal that the big bad in ESO is one of the Daedric princes, Molag Bal, who is trying to merge the realms of Oblivion and Nirn into one large hellscape of much misery and moaning. At the same time, the Ruby Throne has no Emperor sitting on it and the races of Tamriel have formed three different Alliances in a bid to take over, resulting in a continent-wide war between the Aldmeri Dominion (AD), the Daggerfall Covenant (DC) and the Ebonheart Pact (EP).

Naturally, like the previous TES games, you start it in strange surroundings and in the middle of action, which teaches you the basic controls and provides the start of your story.

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Why Put Off Until Tomorrow

Mark Twain was a cheeky bastard, but I’m assuming he was in favour of procrastination instead of warning against its dangers when he said, “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.” This is true when it comes to writing essays and doing the laundry. As much as I’m a fan, however, I’ve come to intensely dislike the second cousin twice removed of procrastination: some day. (Also known as one of these days, one day and when I have the time to.)

Making sushi is one of those things that I’ve always wanted to try some day, when I have the time to, along with bungee jumping, writing a critically acclaimed memoir and organising my recipe book. It’s a dangerous habit to put off doing things you want to; I’m afraid of noticing that I’ve become old and simply can’t do most of the things I’ve always wanted to. Granted, making sushi is unlikely to become one of those unless I get arthritis bad enough to stop me from rolling a bamboo mat, but you get my point.

To combat some day when an opportunity arises, instead of thinking why should you, ask yourself why not. I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner today, and cold-smoked salmon was on discount today – and so:


A report on my success to follow!

I’m modifying the process some – for instance, I can’t be arsed to use the proper rice with vinegar – but hey, there’s nori, salmon, avocado and cucumber, soy sauce and wasabi. I’m planning on making some nigiri and some maki (note to self: sharpen your knife) and, if all else fails, I can probably make up something pretty and edible anyway.

It won’t be a catastrophe if the first attempt fails. It won’t even be a catastrophe if the second and third attempts fail; I can still try again.

Some day.

Pickup is not what YOU think it is, either

So I was stomping around the internet, inwardly fuming about gamer girls and sexism and the way lad’s mags constantly underestimate men, when I ran into this YouTube video which was advertized to me as “how to use a sex toy in public with no consequence” and “the boys from Simple Pickup do charity”. Okay, yeah; if you know me, you know that I abhor the mentality of PUA’s and the whole phenomenon in general – women are not goddamn puzzle games, guys! the cake is a lie – but their idea to donate the money to an organization that works to prevent female circumcision sounded good, so I decided to hold my horses for a bit and take a better look before raining fire on them on Facebook.

… Well. I should have remembered what my friends told me about putting unrealistic expectations on anything I find on the internet.

I’ll come back to that video later, but first I want to reply to the post one of the Simple Pickup guys wrote on their site in defense of their brand of pickup, Pickup is NOT what you think it is, and talk a little about the phenomenon in general. For those of you who have spent the past couple of years on a retreat without internet and only recently rejoined the constantly connected corner of society, pickup artists (PUA’s) teach men how to pick up women because – and I wonder why nobody told me about this before letting me have my woman card – they have figured out The Surefire Techniques that will make women Just Crazy For You! In addition, their spiel usually includes encouraging stuff about how you’ll never get friendzoned again, how even the hottest girl is available to you if you know the right moves, and how you’ll learn how to be a Real Man who makes women weak at the knees instead of a Loser who’ll never get himself a girlfriend. I know, I know.

Or actually, I don’t know, either. But let’s take a look at that post. Continue reading

Honor’s Lark by Rachel L. Hamm

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thanks to a friend, I got introduced to Choosy Bookworm (some of you might be familiar with a similar site, The Fussy Librarian) which provides subscribers with daily discount and even free ebook deals, the latter often in the form of a free copy in exchange for an honest review. Sure, I thought, I like ebooks (these days; I didn’t always) and discovering new authors via free copies for reviews benefits both the authors and me: the former get visibility and a review, the latter is forced to blog more often.

I signed up for a free copy of Rachel L. Hamm’s Honor’s Lark, the first book in The Lark Series, on Choosy’s site where the first twenty-five to request a copy get one – and what do you know, I did! The author gifted it to me via Amazon (introducing me to Kindle which makes highlighting and writing notes so easy, it’s a pleasure – so thanks for that!) and, upon discovering that the novel had come to life as a NaNoWriMo project, I really wanted to like it. Even though I’d run into the idea of soulmate marks in fanfiction, I wanted to see what an original story would do with it.

In a world where everyone is assigned a lifemate at birth by the Gods, thirty year-old Honor is still looking for hers. When her new boss, Sedric, points out that her mate probably died before they met, Honor embarks on a quest for closure. She needs to know who her mate was and what he was like so she can move on with her life.

Sedric is determined to help Honor, because he understands the emptiness she’s feeling. As they search for Honor’s lifemate and get to know each other, they start to wonder if the only kind of love is that which is fated and if there really is only one person for everyone.

If I had to sum up my review in one sentence, I’d say that Honor’s Lark is an alright book with an interesting premise and promising characters that needs more work in the writing and world-building departments. On a Goodreads scale, I’d give the book 2.5 stars: “it was okay” and a bit.

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Finncon 2013

Finncon is an annual Finnish SF&F convention in July that hosts a number of interesting discussion panels, SF&F related shows (this year there was heavy metal played on an electric kantele; we’re in Finland, alright). Finncon usually has several authors as Guests of Honour, as well as an artists’ alley, a second-hand book market and stands by SF&F publishers in the con bazaar. Admittance is free and all areas are accessible with a wheelchair. If you wish to support the con, you can do so by either volunteering as a gopher, or by buying con merchandise. More details on the official website.

Like I said to Wil, who attended with me and graciously tolerated my less-than-optimally-rested self, it felt so good to be among my own kind again! It’s been a few years since the last time Finncon was organised in Helsinki and I’ve missed the experience very, very much. We’ve got plans to attend next year’s con, too, which will be held in Jyväskylä. It’ll be my ten-year-anniversary with Finncon – and in the same city to boot!

After having read reports of women being harrassed at SF&F and gaming conventions in the States, I’m especially glad that Finncon always has a great atmosphere: relaxed and open to everyone regardless of age, gender or ethnicity. I was fourteen when I first attended, in a strange city and terribly nervous, but I felt welcome immediately upon entering the main area. Today it was more like… I don’t know, like coming home to people baking cookies shaped like the Star Trek emblem while they chat about writing fantasy fiction and the best video games this year.

Too Many Panels, Too Little Time

In a way, Finncon is like a music festival: you want to go see everything but many events overlap, so you need to decide whether you want to attend some panels for their entire duration or catch the beginning of one and the end of another (and a girl’s gotta eat, besides, but munching on an apple while someone else is talking is terribly impolite).

The official theme this year was ‘opposing forces’, which had been interpreted creatively but well! There were several panels on LGBT characters in fiction (such as mutantism in the X-Men comics being a metaphor for being homosexual), what e-books mean for the publishing industry, and how reading affects our minds and vice versa. I didn’t make it to as many panels as I wanted to – mainly because I’d masterfully organised my own house-warming party for Friday and slept very late on Saturday as a result – but the ones I did attend were fascinating and made me think, which is how I usually evaluate a panel discussion at a con.

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