Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Hardware and Levels 1 to 4

James and I have been having a few issues with Oblivion. It looks like there is some issues with the NVidia drivers released specifically for the game.
In-game movies are unwatchable due to jerkiness, which is a shame, as when I loaded up on my Sony Laptop the intro video played pretty well (GeForce 6200 Go drivers haven’t been updated since last May!) although the game needs to be cranked right back to Low Detail settings to be playable.
Once there is a definitive fix for these issues I’ll post a link, but in the meantime a suggested fix can be found here.
On my main PC the game is beautiful and runs like a dream. My specs of Athlon 64 3200, GeForce 6800 XT (256 MB) and 2 GB RAM seem to be plenty for 1280x1024 and high detail (although AA is turned off).
Looking at other peoples' setups I reckon the RAM is a big saver on lag as it allows to the game to buffer better. I noticed this in X3 as well which is prone to combat lag even with 1 GB of RAM.

OK, so you have finished the tutorial and are staring at a lake, a dock and some hills with towers in the distance…. What now?
First time through I decided to explore, wandered into a dungeon and had a great time. This is probably a bad idea. Why? Phat Lewt! After the tutorial I was stuffed to the gills with stuff to sell, so that last thing I wanted was a dungeon crawl with even more treasure.
I suggest you head straight to the Imperial City. If it is daytime (8 am to 8 pm – look on your Map for the current time) then head to the Marketplace to sell up. If it is night time then visit each of the city sectors and run around to reveal the minimap so that all the doors are revealed for future use.
You can also try Speechcraft on the Guards as it is worth putting in a bit of practice on the minigame before you hit the shops. The minigame for Speechcraft is not rocket science and is all down to practice. I’ll let you learn the details yourself (read the manual!) but each round (after the 1st) is a question of recognising that you either have a good starting position or lousy one! Good starting positions will give you a massive boost in NPC Disposition if you play them right and Lousy ones just need to be sacrificed to make certain that the Disposition loss is minimal.
I mentioned “after the 1st” round just there… The 1st round is generally a write off as you need to spend a few seconds extra working out which of the 4 options are positives and which are negatives. This costs you about 5-10 points of wasted disposition (which ticks down every second that you think) and so damage limitation is your main exercise here.
Initially both Serena and I struggled with this minigame but after a few practice sessions on Guards it is pretty straightforward and should be used on all characters to maximise their Disposition to you before you take any other options. (A Quicksave before you start is also a good idea!)
OK, so you are ready to sell. Different merchants buy different stuff and some have more money than others. Their money determines the most expensive item or stack of items they will buy, so a merchant with 100 Gold will not buy a 200 gold sword or a stack of 15, 10 gold potions. In the latter case he will buy the potions 10 at a time though. A merchant’s gold does not decrease as you sell stuff to them, nor does it increase as you buy stuff.
The price you receive when selling or are charged when buying an item is dependant upon the level of haggling that you have set. If you leave it alone and never change it you will get poor deals and your Mercantile skill will go up slowly.
Clicking the Haggle button brings up a slider that shows the merchant’s disposition to you, the merchant’s Mercantile skill title and your skill level. Dragging the slider to the right (haggling harder) means you get a better deal, but are more likely to get refused on a deal. Every time you get refused on a deal the merchant’s disposition to you drops by a point.
Your success at haggling is dependant on the difference between your Mercantile skills and the merchant’s disposition to you. If you can find a merchant with an Apprentice skill level and 80+ disposition then you can push the haggling over half way and get really good deals! Generally you can expect to get fleeced early on! Just tweak the haggling up a point on each sale until you start to get refused. Then drop back down two points to get the best deal and the highest likelihood of skill-ups.
Whilst exploring and selling I gained enough skill-ups to level (I have Speechcraft as a Major Skill). If you sleep for an hour or longer you will level up. This raises your Health, Fatigue and Magicka scores and allows you to pick three attributes to raise by a point. Depending on what skill-ups you have done (Major and Minor skills) some of the attributes will have multipliers, so in my case Personality had a ×3 next to it, which means that spending a point there will raise that attribute by 3 rather than 1. By carefully planning your skill-ups you can usually get three attributes with ×3 or better next to them each time you level. I think ×5 is the maximum, but I haven’t managed that yet, (and possibly only ×3 bonus from Minor skill-ups) so I can’t get any deeper into the mechanics at this time.

So do we do the main mission delivery quest or not? I have chosen not to, have explored the City and done a quest for the Merchants to bring one of their wayward fold back into line. I have also visited both city spell shops and bought some low cost spells for training the spell skills. I visited the Mage’s Guild only to be sent to my “local recruiter”, but no-one can tell me who that is! I assume that I have to do the first part of the main quest to unlock that.
James and I have both explored outside the city as well and have picked up quests such as Kill the Necromancer and Investigate the Missing Villagers, although I haven’t started them yet. The world is teeming with wandering monsters and dungeons / ruins / caves for you to investigate further.
If you are a Morrowind veteran you will be glad to know that I haven’t found a Cliff Racer anywhere yet!
So what next?
Well I really want to join the Mage’s Guild to get access to the Altar of Spellmaking, so I think I am going to do my core quest delivery and see what happens then. After that I reckon there is a Necromancer who is waiting to be slain and Villagers to be rescued!
To be continued…

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