Tuesday, 29 August 2017


Oblivion is my all-time favorite game. I love every little detail about it, even the monsters who level up with you. When Skyrim was launched back in 2011, I was thrilled. Due to technical difficulties, it took me a few years to get my hands on a copy, and I just recently played it through. I would very much like to say I love it as much as Oblivion, but our relationship has been rocky at best.

The first thing that drew my attention in Skyrim wasn’t its beauty (which on occasion does exist, Bethesda really knows how to make skies pretty) or its technical superiority (which is the ultimate joke, one would think at least something was learned from Oblivions various bugs), but the fact that it seems to have been made for XboX. Skyrim completely abandoned the elaborate quest-lines that mark The Elder Scrolls, and reverted to being just another hack&slash wind tunnel. The enchanting world that made Morrowind and Oblivion so remarkable and the grasping story lines that made you forget about the real world are absent in Skyrim.

Skyrim seems to have been made for a next generation of gamers. It’s simple, it’s straight-forward, and the only part that requires concentration are the never-ending puzzles Bethesda has seen fit to place at every second entrance. Sure, it was exiting to place a dragon claw into a door and figure out a combo of images to open the door with, but when you’re required to do it for the twentieth time, the player asks a question.
Was it so difficult to come up with, like, another kind of puzzle? Maybe make us look for a key? Bring an herb? Dance naked with Sheogorath? Anything but this?”

The earlier parts forced us to think, to figure out how to catch an NPC at an opportune time, how to make them like us enough to share relevant information, how to put together a sequence of spells to open a stubborn door. Skyrim makes us turn pillars and stone rings around. And slay dragons.

In lore, any lore, every lore, dragons are rare. They’re elusive, magical beasts, friends to wizards and warlocks, rarely seen in the sky.
Except in Skyrim. The realm is littered with them! Every time I fast travel, I’m greeted by a dragon. Every time I’m I a hurry, I get stopped by a dragon in need of killing. Every time I hunch down to wait for someone to enter a secluded place fit for a quiet kill, a dragon starts spewing fire at me. Once, a dead one haunted me. It fell from the skies on me five times until I marked it for delete. A friend of mine crystallized this thought beautifully. "Skyrim", he said, "making killing dragons a nuisance since 2011". 

Upon completion of the main quest, dragons are supposed to be the Dragonborn’s best friends. Still, they need to be killed. Over and over again. Apart from turning pillars and shooting dragons, there’s not much to do. Skyrim, compared to Morrowind and Oblivion is as interesting as a grey brick wall. I felt it a duty to play through the main quest, Dark Brotherhood, Mages Guild, and several side quest (which were all nearly surprising in length, or lack of) and know that I have gained the right to say that Skyrim was a complete and utter disappointment in both plot and appearance.

If I ever see a dragon again, it will be too soon. 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Once Upon a Time

The greatest stories begin the same way.
Once upon a time.
In a place far from here.

Once upon a time.

Once upon a time someone started a broadcasting company.
It was called QBC.

Once upon a time, a little later, QBC stumbled upon an idea that would make them a shitload of money.
Naturally, they’d first have to spend a shitload of money.

Once upon a time, a lot earlier, the person who founded QBC had made a shitload of money, so that posed no problem.
The financial state of QBC was well in order to make this crazy idea both come true and work.

So once upon a time, QBC decided it would be a really, really good idea to push out a brand new kind of game show for national television. The concept was was called “when Saw meets BigBrother”, and it gained the interest of investors all around the US.

But once upon a time, around the same time the idea was first tossed into the air, QBC realized a need for a host.
A perfect game show host.
He shouldn’t be too young or too old.
He shouldn’t be too perfect.
And most important of all, he should not be fashionable.

Once upon a time, QBC created Jeremy. He would not be the last Jeremy, but he was the first.
This Jeremy, as all those who would come after him, was tall and middle-aged, white of hair and of perfect smile, and he donned a red sequent jacket that was tailored to conceal the extra bit of weight he carried around his midsection but which he always wore open so not to appear too perfect.
This Jeremy had a sparkle in his eyes that matched the sparkle of his coat, and a smile that put them both to shame.

Once upon a time, QBC put Jeremy, the very first Jeremy, in charge of running a game show they named The Mousetrap.

And oh boy, did it turn out messy.

If you’d like to know just how messy it got, once upon a time I wrote a book about it.

Heather Wielding

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Books of all Kinds

Books are my favourite things in life. They open portals to different realm, they open your eyes to see what you never imagined to exist. They broaden your mind, offer you an escape from reality.
I admit, I don’t read as much as I should nowadays, but for a long time, books were the only friends I had. I’d carry one around wherever I went. I’d spend most of my time in books, and a part of me wishes I still could.
Real life is nice, of course, but kingdoms made of dream dust are both more interesting and safer. You can’t full well battle a dragon and come out unscathed in this world, right?
When I was a kid, books were made of paper, and had hard covers. They were heavy and expensive, and one was forbidden from taking them outside. Naturally I broke that rule many, many times, and no-one really cared. Or maybe they just didn’t notice.
As I grew a bit, books started to come in smaller sizes and with soft covers. They didn’t cost as much, and they started appearing on my desk on Birthdays and namedays, and sometimes for no reason at all. I’d read them through over and over again, learning, growing, slowly figuring out books aren’t just my friends, they’re a part of me. A part so large I never can go without them, a part large enough to hide entire realms I need to paint out in words.
I started writing when I was relatively young. No-one had even imagined ebooks back then, let alone a small device that could fit an entire library in it. The though of carrying around an object that withheld every book ever written was absurd.
And only a few short years later, the first Kindle was introduced to us, and sold out of stock in a matter of minutes.
Ebooks are now more popular than paperbacks. Electronic reading devices are affordable, convenient, and available almost anywhere. You can take them along on trains and planes. They’re light, they make reading in the dark possible, and you’re never stuck with just one option like with the good old paperback.
Reading a book on Kindle can be easy and practical, but I prefer a real book. The sound of pages being turned and leafed through pleases me, the touch of covers bent with years of love is like seeing an old friend after too much time. There’s something romantic behind the notion of picking out a book from a crowded self, taking it to your favourite spot on the sofa, curling up with a cup of coffee only to wake up after spending hours lost in a realm made of dream dust to realize the lights gone out and your coffee’s grown cold.

With Kindle, you’ll wake up to notice your battery’s gone. There’s no romance in that.

Heather Wielding