Saturday!

VINTAGE 1965 AJAX LAUNDRY DETERGENT with THE WHITE KNIGHT (OIL FIELD LOCATION)

Skyrim came out originally in 2011. (Remember the release date of 11/11/11? Good times.) Then they remastered it. Then they remastered it again. Then they remastered it again. I’m sure you’ve seen the memes where Todd Howard is telling you to buy it a fourth or fifth time. BUY IT AGAIN!, the memes suggest.

Well… I bought it again. For VR this time.

My experience of the game way back in 2011 was pretty much obsessive. Back when Xbox points were a thing, I 1000 pointed it. I achieved every single achievement that was achievable and then I put the game down and said “GRAH NOW I NEVER HAVE TO PLAY IT AGAIN.”

I honestly thought that I wouldn’t. Why would I? I beat the main story and I beat every single side quest important enough to merit an achievement and, on top of that, I got to level 50 and made one of my skills reach 100 and I got married, bought a house, then got arrested and skipped out of jail. I did it *ALL*.

So when I heard that Skyrim VR was coming out, I snorted… but then I got a VR helmet and wandered around in some of the littler VR games.

Holy cow. Skyrim VR is *AMAZING*.

I said a couple of weeks ago that VR, as it exists now, is also 3D. Well, in one of the opening scenes, there is a dragon who decides to interfere in some Imperial Business and there is a scene where you turn your head to the side and see a dragon land on top of a tower and inhale and then roar. You know how I said that the atomic bomb gave me goosebumps in Fallout VR? Dragons roaring give me goosebumps in Skyrim.

As for gameplay itself, I’ve only done a small handful of quests but I have moved from Level 1 to Level 10 and my highest skill (one-handed) is only 30 points but I’m far enough in to say that I’m boggling at the graphics, I’m boggling at the gameplay, I’m boggling at the world building. Again.

Some things of note: Bow and arrow is *AWESOME*. You hold your bow in the one controller and the arrow in the other and you pull back and let go and it feels natural. (I can’t hit the broad side of a barn, though.) Magic is *AWESOME*. You hold out your hand to cast “Sparks” and lightning jumps from your hand. Like, if you’ve ever daydreamed about casting lightning from your hand? This game will let you live that out. Sword and shield is less than awesome. (I usually have a sword in my right hand and a spell in my left… so I can cast sparks in between sword swings). Two handed feels like such an opportunity cost. (I COULD HAVE A SPELL IN THAT HAND!) Inventory management is a bear. You thought it was difficult to get leeks out of a bowl without picking up the bowl when you had an Xbox controller in your hand or a mouse and keyboard? Oh, you’re going to have a rough time with a VR controller. Better to just grab everything and drop the bowl when you’re done.

But I’m running around the countryside and picking the petals off of flowers so I can make potions and unguents and climbing mountains and looking off into vistas and, dang. This rig is amazing. I can’t believe that I ever thought it might be a gimmick.

And it’s not even really left the ground yet. I can’t even imagine what will be happening over the next few years.

So… what are you playing?

(Picture is HG Wells playing a war game from Illustrated London News (25 January 1913))


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Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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13 thoughts on “Saturday!

  1. Damn, dude. You’re really selling it. Like, seriously. You’re making me want buy Skyrim again as though I hadn’t played it a dozen times already.

    Can I import from my other game or do I have to start out as a noob?

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      • Jaybird didn’t even tell you about how amazing the littlest things that aren’t even really a major part of the game play are. I messed around in his game for like 20 minutes the other night, just to explore, and my so-far-favorite-in-all-of-VR thing now? walking into the water and riding a series of rapids. Holeeee crap. It looked like rapids, it sounded like rapids, it didn’t *feel* like bodysurfing rapids would but that was frankly a BLESSING (no ouchies, no real peril, no being soaked or fighting to keep your head above water), and my inner ear did this thing where it was perfectly willing to simulate actual gravity based on the visual/aural information it was getting…. so it was like swirling, and falling, and rebounding, to a degree I wouldn’t have thought possible. (There was some minor game-related clunkiness, but that was intermittent and the non-clunky bits lasted multiple minutes at a time.)

        One of the more exhilarating experiences I’ve had in a long time.

        Plus I’d been in an awful mood before I tried it and it worked just like meditating for 20 minutes would’ve in terms of letting me let go of things, only way more fun. (Is possible that shooting lightning at various things also helped with that. “Bar my way will you? TAKE THAT, wooden door!”). I came away feeling sated and relaxed.

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    • Skyrim VR is much more polished than Fallout 4 VR. For one, in Fallout 4 VR, you have to use the thumb touchpad to walk around. In Skyrim, you use the thumbstick.

      (You can fiddle with the settings and change that around, but do a backup first.)

      Skyrim also allows for two different ways to walk around. One is just regular movement… like in the version for the 360. You want to step forward? Then push forward.

      That way worked really well with a television set. However, in VR, I wanted to throw up after about 10 minutes or so. So I switched to the other way:

      Teleportation. It’s really limited teleportation. Like, tossing a beanbag in cornhole. You’re not teleporting much more than 5-10 feet in the game, but I don’t want to throw up after walking across a field.

      The rig I use is the Samsung HMD Odyssey (along with an extension cord and some adapters… the links to amazon to get a setup for yourself can be found in this post here).

      It’s kind of expensive (defined as “more than the cost of a PS4 or Xbox One X”) but if you’re wondering whether to get an Xbox One or to wait a couple of paychecks and save up a little bit more for the VR rig, I’d say wait and get the VR rig. Without hesitation.

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  2. Last night, we had a VR night at my boss’s house and we had two rigs set up. His rig was designed for people who wanted to spin around 360 degrees and walk around a 5×5 square in the middle of the living room. My rig was set up for people who wanted to sit and play Skyrim. I saved two games for people to explore. One was an area right before a fight with 5-6 “little” spiders the size of a tire and one great big spider the size of a VW bug. The other was a peaceful area without any monsters/creature next to a lake, in the middle of the night, and there were lightning bugs flying around and if you looked up, you could see the aurora borealis and it was breathtakingly beautiful.

    While Steam’s “the lab” is a great game for people just dipping their toes into VR for the first time, people who want to say “I’ve dipped my toes… now I want to see what this thing can *REALLY* do!” need to play Skyrim.

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    • so honest question, in light of your previous post on Skyrim VR, with just a brief background so you know where I’m coming from:
      I’m probably a just-below average gamer: have a Steam account, no particularly special equipment other higher-end graphics card on PC to keep up, ect. play maybe an hour or two average a day.

      What is the argument for someone like me to make a jump both physical equipment and time investment to VR? Or do you foresee it as an all-in type change in your gaming habits? Do you see VR expanding past “hardcore gamer” stereotype?

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      • Oh, jeez.

        First off, I do think that it’s something for people who play games and play a *LOT* of games. It’s not something for people who play for an hour every other Saturday.

        An hour every day? That might be enough. The helmet can be overwhelming and I probably wouldn’t recommend wearing it all day. Like, to the point where *I* don’t wear it all day even when I went to Safeway on Friday night instead of Saturday morning to make sure that my Saturday is wide-open and the only thing I have to do is laundry.

        That said, an hour in the system? Oh, yeah. I find it more than worthwhile.

        So I’d ask you “how much are you into the whole ‘immersion’ thing?”

        When you play, do you like experiencing the thing where you melt away and you become Donaldrew Spellsword for an hour before real life comes clawing back? This will give you that immersion.

        On top of that, if you think that a selling point of your PS4 is that it not only plays games, you can also use it for watching movies, movies are *REALLY* good in VR. You will think that your 52″ television is too danged small after you watch a movie in your helmet. (While you aren’t obligated to, you can recreate the experience of sitting in the 3rd row at the movie theater when you watch your film.)

        And, on top of *THAT*, you can also use your desktop as if it were that movie theater screen. I wouldn’t want to do, say, word processing on that setup but something like Candy Crush could still work. (I admit to not really exploring using the desktop but your hand controllers do approximate using a mouse so if your game doesn’t require fine control, you could play your boring old games on a seriously gimungous monitor in your helmet.)

        On top of that, and I don’t want to go into too many details here because this is a family blog, there are leaps in other technologies (niche technologies, say) that are uncannily different/upgraded from the old technologies. Have you seen the movie Strange Days? Yeah.

        I don’t want to say “YEAH YOU NEED TO DO THIS!” if you’re just going to use it an hour a week. If you’re going to use it an hour a day, though? Yeah. That might be enough to get me to tell you “check it out”. See if there’s a Best Buy in your area that has one for people to test drive. See if your local college has one. It’s worth seeing if you are able to put the helmet on and not get a migraine immediately. If you can put one on and not immediately feel like you want to barf? I could see mid-level gamers really digging this too.

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        • I think you hit exactly on the point I drive at, just better than I can word it. I know its a gamer and tech thing foremost, but I wonder if the demarcation on VR is really the immersion factor, as you lay it out. There is just going to be a swath of the population that cannot breach that barrier. Although not completely analogous think on how 3D/4D movie experience comes and goes with a new bit of technology, but never really goes “mainstream”. We’ve had IMAX for 20+ years now. No doubt technology will improve but we probably need to also have a conversation of that technology pushing the limits on senses, and for some people that’s just too far. I’ll probably try it at some point, but the immersion factor, which is admittedly an issue for me, will probably be the make or break far above the actual game experience. Believe me with a household of 9 right now a helmet sounds good most of the time, but impractical.

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          • If you’re thinking “this won’t work for me… I need my glasses to do anything!”, know that I wear my glasses when I play.

            Household of 9? Yeah, this is the equivalent of Dad’s Binoculars in the 1970’s. Very expensive. You’ll need to keep this out of reach of children. Additionally, if you’re not using them, you need to put them back in the box and close the box and then put the box away. Direct sunlight on one of the lenses is going to kill them. If you ever melted crayons in the driveway with a magnifying glass, you don’t need me to explain what direct sunlight will do to the monitor behind the lenses in the helmet.

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            • As someone who has been part of a large household I was responsible for, I think the problem is more “I have to keep an ear out / be somewhat available” and less Dad’s Binoculars. (Though that is also important advice for people to have.)

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