Old Grandma Hardcore

This blog is the chronicle of my experiences with Grandma, the video-game playing queen of her age-bracket and weight class. She will beat any PS2, XBox, GameCube, etc., console game put in front of her, just like she always has. These are her stories. She is absolutely real. She lives in Cleveland.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Week of April 3rd: The Elder Scrolls IV: Cocaine Addiction Fantasy Land

It all began so innocently, as most things do; with the best intentions. It started with Grandma flicking through the pages of EGM and GameInformer like self-imposed subliminal strobe hypnosis; flashing the minimalist images of the XBox 360, PS3, and Nintendo Revolution just fast enough to pick up the important phrases superimposed over them. "Next-Gen," "Ultimate System," "Everything you've ever DREAMED for in your entire LIFE inside a tiny box running on a 110V line." She carefully separated the hype and the promises to the true gold that could lie within. Sure, they wouldn't be the second coming of Jimmy Page, but they were still pretty damn cool.

Then came Oblivion.

If I look to my left right now, at this very moment as I type this, I see Grandma cycling through some dialogue options solving one of the many mysteries of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. She quietly navigates the cities and roads, talking, searching, killing, stealing, learning; and I quietly sit here waiting for her to explode into a terrifying rage that can otherwise only be seen in the withdrawal wing of the Betty Ford clinic. It's as though both of us are holding our breath; watching some poor child trying to cross a mine field. We love that kid, he's a good kid. This kid has great graphics and gameplay, an expansive environment, interesting and moving stories, great voice acting, let's face it- this is one fantastic, cool little boy. But god dammit why did Bethesda Softworks forget to clear the mines from the field before releasing the child from his cage?!

It's just bad parenting, plain and simple.

Allow me to explain: Oblivion has several now infamous glitches that can literally prevent you from advancing a story; real game killers, these. You want to explore the depths of The Mages Guild, discovering what lies within Arcane university and what it is to experience true power? TOO BAD, DIPSHIT!! On this PARTICULAR save, the game has decided that you never will. So... start over and try again. Maybe it'll happen; we're not saying. So you want to go the Fighter's Guild route instead, you say. You CAN'T DO THAT EITHER. The solution? Try starting a new game, invest another 30 hours getting your character up to level and hope the glitch has reset itself.

Look how much it costs to develop, release and distribute a game. It's staggering. The price of the game reflects the amount of work; coding, mapping, debugging, drawing, recording, etc., that goes into it. $60 US isn't a whole lot of money, even though nowadays we look at particular flavors of Ramen noodle soup as "gourmet selections." When it comes down to it, it's a bargain for all the work that goes into a great game. For a shitty or mediocre game, we look to the bargain bins at the local gas station, happily plopping down a couple of fivers to make fun of Shamu's digital effigy. I can think of one game off the top of my head the violated the class distinction cost/shittyness ratio- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

The similarities are SCARY. BioWare is one of the good guys; Grandma's liked what she's seen and gets the feeling that they truly work hard to make games great. The same could be said of Bethesda Softworks. KOTOR was compelling, beautifully done, and well worth the hype its fanbase works to expand. Again, the same thing could be said for Oblivion.

Want to get depressed? Do a Google Search for "Carth Glitch."

(Strangely enough, after doing it myself I find that we're on the first page of the search results. ....It's a god damn SIGN or... SOMETHING.)

Those of you who are familiar with the Carth Glitch are probably also familiar with its consequences, and perhaps you even have the scars to prove it. Maybe there is a patched up, repainted hole in the dry-wall of your living room where an XBox S-Controller once landed a bit too quickly. Maybe there is an unsent angry letter to BioWare sitting in a shoe-box along with your college student handbook and tuition loan agreement forms which you thought might earn you a visit from armed men in black suits if actually sent through the post. Maybe you named your dog Carth and kick him for no reason other than to satisfy your need for Dark Side completion and vengeance.

Whatever your ways of dealing with the pain of witnessing a beautiful game like KOTOR become ruined by a glitch, you also found, via forums and blogs (and from BioWare themselves) a work-around that, while not perfect, allowed you to continue with the story. Unfortunately, Bethesda Softworks hasn't released any hint of a work-around or even a console-functional path via XBox Live or SOMETHING to allow you to complete the game to its fullest extent without first killing yourself so that you may enter an afterlife where all things are possible. At the moment, becoming an omnipotent spirit in a land of milk and honey appears to be the only way out of this less of giving up your level 20 Battlemage and starting all over with a new character, and even THEN there are no guarantees.

There are so many bugs in Oblivion on par with the Carth Glitch, it's depressing. You folks know Grandma, so you can probably guess what she had to say upon the discovery of such a glitch first hand. Grandma displays her emotions in a very subtle way, see if you can tell how she's feeling.

"What the FUCK?! THERE'S NOTHING HERE!!!! I'VE BEEN HERE FOR TWO GOD DAMN HOURS looking over EVERY FUCKING ROCK, EVERY FUCKING CRACK IN THE FLOOR, SEARCHING EVERY FUCKING BONE EXHAUSTING VERY FUCKING... POSSIBILITY AND THERE IS NOTHING FUCKING HERE!!! Look, SEE?! THERE's the marker. It SHOULD be in this room, but I can't find a GOD DAMN THING. I went back! I talked to EVERYONE to see if SOME conversation option would do SOMETHING!! Then I came back and what do you know: FUCK-ALL!! If I don't complete this quest, I can't advance in the Fighters Guild. If I can't advance in the guild, I don't know what happens. If I don't know what happens, WHAT'S THE FUCKING POINT?! Am I just pressing buttons for the hell of it?! Shit, if I wanted to press 'A,' 'Left Trigger,' 'Up' all day I COULD, and I wouldn't have to spend SIXTY FUCKING DOLLARS TO DO IT!! FUCK!!

You can avoid one of the major glitches, so here's what we've figured out about the "Vidkun in a Motherfucking WELL" quest, otherwise known as the "Cheydinhal Mages Guild Recommendation Circle Jerk Glitch":

Do NOT approach the Cheydinhal Mages Guild for a recommendation until your Alteration is at LEAST 25. If you talk to the people, find out you can't use the Buoyancy spell because your levels aren't up, then go level yourself up for a while and come back- you're FUCKED. Here's why: from what we understand, bodies disappear after three days. It's just how the game is. It's not too big of a spoiler to know the poor bastard is dead down there, but that clock begins once you go down that well for the first time and try using that spell. If you climb back out, it's over. You can't restart the quest, you can't clear it from your active quests list and you can't progress any further. Similarly, the Harlun's Watch Quest for Fighter's Guild advancement wields similar results, although it took me three different characters with three different new games before what was supposed to be there actually appeared.

The game is EXCELLENT, if it wasn't for the glitches; and that's why this story is so sad. It could be such a wonderful game; SCREW the long load times and occasional cache crashes, it's a BIG game, that shit HAPPENS. If you save often that sort of bug is tolerable. But these plot-ending bugs afford only one response from Grandma, one piece of advice for all of you who have yet to buy it: "Wait."

Wait for Bethesda to respond to the thousands of folks who are desperately trying to play a game they would love, but can't. Wait for a patch or a fixed version to be released. Put it off; don't fool yourself watching the XBox Live friends list grow with more players to think everything is better. After it's fixed, it might very well be THE game for the XBox 360 for 2006. Not everyone is experiencing these problems, but from a quick glance at the Bethesda's forums we can tell it certainly isn't rare, isolated problems either.

Until then, the rest of us, those of us who have picked up a copy and begun the downward spiral into addiction will have to keep playing with new characters and multiple saves, because we're already pulled in; we're hooked. We'll have to suffer the random crashes, the dialogue mismatches, the people of Bruma walking around in the sky, disappearing NPC's, load freezing, quests gone uncompleted, training abruptly ended, all on cool, well performing XBox 360's running on immaculate disks, free of scratches. Grandma and I BOTH have separately witnessed all of these instances using two different copies of Oblivion (one rented and one purchased; yes I know, "fool me twice- shame on me" and all that) on two different XBox 360's.

We'll suffer it, all right. If we see a good friend who means the world to us all coked up and sleeping in a puddle of piss and vomit on the street, we HAVE to take him in. It's just our nature as enablers. We both LOVE Oblivion, but- and this goes especially for Grandma, the huge glitches are keeping us from truly enjoying it.

Game on.




[We're answering all the questions you folks asked in the past in a video, that (among other things) is what's taking so long, I apologize for the delay. Thanks for being patient with us folks!]

43 Comments:

  • At 3:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This game is the crack cocaine of our house. I have to fight my son for time on it and am seriously considering X360 #2 just so I can play it without scheduling time on the one X360 we share. We haven't hit any of the quest-ending glitches (yet! knock on wood...), and I hope we don't.

    Keep rockin' grandma! That Working Designs shirt looks good on you. :)

     
  • At 3:48 PM, Blogger CtrlAltDelete said…

    Woah.......... hold on a second, now.

    How did you know she wore THAT t-shirt today?

    Should we be afraid? ;)

     
  • At 4:29 PM, Anonymous Sammyboi said…

    My fingers are bloodied stumps and my eyes have melted and run out of my sockets because of this game.

    The glitches are a serious issue, but not none of them have affected me as of yet. I was nearly nailed by the Mages Guild well glitch, but as luck would have it I already had an item with water breathing on it so I didnt actually need the spell. It's a hell of an oversight though - sort of amusing if you bought the collectors edition, put the 'making of' DVD in and watch the rant about testing about halfway through. It's eerily accurate with hindsight...

     
  • At 8:48 PM, Anonymous Blue said…

    I'd say that one thing is that testing games of that length are ri-goddamn-diculous... as is trying to nail down anything not considered to be critical path. But those bugs you mentioned... those are serious progression-breakers. I find it almost IMPOSSIBLE to imagine Bethesda didn't find those, and didn't shit a whole house of bricks over it. Most I can figure is that the mage one dealt with something very very hard to deal with in terms of code - no fixes were going through - and it came down to the line and since the bug wasn't a showstopper, it was allowed to go through. I betcha certain people (probably the whole QA team, because they're the ones soonest blamed by most!) are just wincing over it even now.

    But yeah - I don't get that they apparently haven't said anything about that yet. Maybe they're afraid it will be a PR blunder to admit an issue about the game this soon? Maybe they don't want to say anything until the patch is done? Or maybe... they're hoping nobody notices? (har har) I dunno. Testing is one hell of a bastard on RPGs in general, ESPECIALLY long-form open-choice ones, and on a game with very very little critical path stuff, I can only IMAGINE how horrible it was to test. Barf.

    Anyhow! I'll yelp at you later. Take care, be well, and GAME ON! ::hug::

    -A!

     
  • At 11:53 PM, Blogger EazyCheeze said…

    Fortunately I have the PC version, where such glitches are nonexistent...

    Oh, and I love the Making of DVD too! "Kneel before Todd!" funny.

     
  • At 1:09 AM, Blogger Art Green said…

    I really wish I would have gotten the Collector's Edition of Oblivion, but I wasn't sure if I would enjoy it our not...I really want to see the DVD!

     
  • At 9:23 AM, Blogger Maharet said…

    how long do you suppose we as a community will continue to allow this? when will we rise from our couches as one to protest against companies that put games out this way? When will we begin to demand refunds!!!!!

    This is what I absolutely hate about console wars. We get caught in the middle of these mad dashes to get the best products out there, but get hosed in the process. It's not fair and I'm not paying full price for a game that could potentially have glitches in it that would prevent me from fully enjoying it.

    Thanks for the review! I'm buying the game, but not until I hear that those glitches have been addressed.

    Game on friends and compatriots.

     
  • At 4:36 PM, Blogger Corrina said…

    I so know what you mean when it comes to glitches in a video game. The exact same thing happend to me in the hobbit. I had to save the other dwarves and then get out of there. I got the dwarves out but, couldn't get out myself. I looked everywhere and did everything possible. I was at it for weeks before I gave up. Needless to day I was very dissapointed as I enjoyed the game up to that point. I hear you Grandma.

    Game On...

     
  • At 5:31 PM, Anonymous Dave said…

    I got past the Cheydinhal recommendation thing without using Buoyancy or feather or any of that. I just dumped everything I was carrying and wearing outside of the well before I went in. The ring weighs 150, and I had 200 or 210 capacity, so I went in, grabbed the ring and came back out. Then I gave it to the lizard woman and then went back outside and spent 15 minutes picking all my crap back up and putting it on.

    I haven't tried anything with the Fighter's guild other than joining and doing the cave quest at the beginning, so I don't know what the glitch is for that group of quests.

    Another way to get by without dumping your stuff (so I've heard) is to go get the ring (get over-encumbered), then drop the ring. Then use the left shoulder button to drag it along until you're near the ladder. Then pick it up and use the ladder. You should be able to climb up even over-encumbered. Once you're out, drop the ring and then drag the ring inside until you can show it to the lizard chick.

     
  • At 6:44 PM, Anonymous Liz B. said…

    As someone who succumbed to the Carth Glitch in KOTOR after 35 hours of game-play and actually sent that nasty letter to Bioware, I can sympathize.

    Here's hoping you remember to duck when Grandma hurls the controller.

     
  • At 2:47 AM, Anonymous Plutoxin said…

    'owdy.

    After about 70 hours into Oblivion on the 360 I got hit with a gamebreaking bug. Don't know what causes it, but all the floorplates & buttons in Aeylid Ruins fail to open any doors (and this does break the main quest depending on how far along you are.) I figured out a simple fix that I posted to the official forums and it's worked for others. Just save if it happens, exit to your dashboard, sign out, start the game, sign in after clicking start at the title screen and hit CONTINUE and not load. Fixed that particular bug up and I've not seen it since.

     
  • At 8:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    thats amazing grandma..
    ----------------------------
    safecutt says

     
  • At 3:05 PM, Blogger Collin said…

    I'm hoping to get a 360 around the end of the month and this WAS the first game I planned on buying. Now I might hold off if it isn't fixed by then.

    Game on Tim and Grandma.

     
  • At 8:16 AM, Blogger gamerxp06guner said…

    hi this is kevin. i just wanted you to know that i need your help finding galaga tournaments.i think your the best gamer ever. and that means that you probably one alot of tournaments.well i need help finding themk and tought you would know where i can find some.i am sasying this because i want to get into the g-hole.i am a good enough gamer.i have played and beat over 158 video games.

     
  • At 10:09 AM, Anonymous blackroseowl said…

    Oh crap. There's nothing worse than a glitch in an otherwise good game, and this sounds like the worst sort - one that literally prevents you from going any further onward. The sort that makes even a saint yell at the screen "I haven't put this many hours into this game just to have to start a new one all because you've decided to pull a glitch on me, you bastard!" My sympathies, Barb.

    PS I think playing Psychonauts is going to break my brain! Hahaha!

    Love, Jen

     
  • At 11:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Bethesda announced they are almost ready to release a patch for Oblivion on PC and Xbox 360. Hopefully it will fix some of the bugs that are interfering with our gaming.

    http://www.elderscrolls.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=348450

    Rock on Grandma and Tim.

     
  • At 12:51 PM, Blogger CtrlAltDelete said…

    Anonymous-

    I read Pete's post, and I'm glad Bethesda is taking action. It really is a great game for those who remember the old text adventures, it shouldn't be ruined by these glitches. Good on them.

     
  • At 5:23 PM, Blogger Master Yoshi said…

    I LOVE OBLIVION!!! Even more than Morrowind! FUCK the glitches!!! If they do come out with a patch (which I think they should) that would be kick ass! I bet Grandma is still playing Oblivion despite the technical flaws isn't she? Just like me.
    Much luv an respec.

     
  • At 5:42 PM, Anonymous Theodora said…

    Color me unsurprised; Morrowind was the same way. That's why I'm waiting a few months for patches and the parts for my new PC on which to run my new precioussss when I do finally get it.

    I love Bethesda, and I love their games to pieces, but damn, they do write buggy code.

     
  • At 10:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I've been chacking out this blog for awhile now and seem to get so excited whenever i hear about gramdma's newest adventures and watich her videos.

    Unfortunately School has put a serious damper on my game time. I just bought Oblivion and despite having only a limited time with it and hating Morrowind, I'm enjoying it quite a bit. Keep us posted and game on :)

     
  • At 10:29 AM, Blogger PiotrKropotkin said…

    If software companies -- it's not just the games -- persist in putting out unusable bugware, there's a simple solution, brothers and sisters. In the words of Buenaventura Durruti, general of the anarchist forces during the Spanish Civil War:

    "Basically the message is: Steal It! Art, music, culture, the odd book and the slab of cheese... the new will be built upon the ruins of the old."

    The Pirate Bay is your friend. ;-)

     
  • At 2:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Given how HUGE a task debugging a massive open-ended game like Oblivion is, the reported glitches aren't out of line, and Bethesda has already said they will be addressing them. Having extensively tested dozens of fairly linear RPGs, I am astounded at almost every turn in Oblivion, both in the game itself, and the insanely massive task testing it must have been. Yes, some of the glitches suck, but implying they're raping the fans and advocating stealing it, is completely inane...

     
  • At 8:15 PM, Anonymous Adam said…

    Look, paying for bad products is annoying - wether they be lame, predictable movies, buggy software, expired groceries, or "snake-oil" type dietary supplements. But guess what? Business can ONLY get away with it if you KEEP BUYING BAD CRAP!

    Perhaps the best example is that of the African-American bus boycotts. Blacks didn't make up even CLOSE to a majority of the bus customers, but just not paying for a BAD SERVICE (being forced to sit in the back of the bus) was enough loss of revenue to make it unprofitable for the bus companies to continue the unfair practice.

    So if you don't like something, make sure the people who cause it don't keep geting so much money out of you. In the United States, BY LAW a company MUST give you a full refund if you ask in writing within 30 days - not necesarily the store you bought it from, but the company that makes the product. It is enough to make it unprofitable for them to keep up so they HAVE to change their act or else go out of business.

    Videogames are the same way: lots of people stopped buying 2d-Sidescrolling Platformers recently, and now they have stopped being made because not enough people would buy them to make it profitable. If you wait to buy a game until after you've rented/tested it out, you keep the companies from getting your hard-earned cash if the game turns out to be bupkis. Maharet has the right idea. (Scroll up and read Maharet's post.) And if you've already bought a game you think is bad and you are in the US, just get the 30-day refund you are legally entitled to.

    And if in the end a game turns out to be super good, by all means GO BUY IT or else others LIKE it will never get made again (like the Monkey Island series and the Adventure Game genre as a whole).

    So when it comes to improving videogame releases, if even a small percentage of users doesn't buy any game until it is bug-free, it will still make it unprofitable enough to operate in this fashion that eventually developers will stop trying to push unready games on us (I'm looking at you Blizzard/Vivendi). Talk is cheap: put your money where your mouth is. I know I have.

     
  • At 9:13 AM, Anonymous rpm said…

    *sigh* This is the game I wanted a 360 for.

    No console is going to be on the net, hence no patches for me. So much for that purchase.

     
  • At 2:51 PM, Blogger Maharet said…

    well said adam!!! well said!!!! LOL *clapping wildly* :)

     
  • At 7:38 PM, Anonymous Varonika said…

    Are you guys okay...? Haven't heard from you in a while...

    -V

     
  • At 10:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Yeah..where's the update on Grandma? We get worried!

     
  • At 4:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I hope everything is OK with you guys! I was wearing my Old Grandma Hardcore T-shirt today while playing Kingdom Hearts II, my new crack!! It really enhanced the experience!

    Kristin :)

     
  • At 1:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hey OGHC! I just picked up an Xbox 360, and added OGHC as my first friend list entry. (That IS you, isn't it?)

    I'm Michael Spencer, and I hope to see you online! Game on, and all that!

     
  • At 2:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ya comon guys don't keep us in suspense, just a little "we're working on an update" update would be great!

     
  • At 5:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    yea its been almost 2 weeks...homefully everything is ok

     
  • At 10:04 PM, Blogger Tyrian said…

    That's what is so nice about the pc version. No such thing as a game breaking bug. Because -- I ran into the missing named dead in the Harlun's Watch (is that it?) quest. So... ~ then "CompleteQuest" or "caqs" and problem solved.

    It's worth noting that is the only time in the game i used a console cheat, as i love playing a game to win it, not typing in a game to win it.

    Maybe someone will put out a bugfix mod for that as well. I know they did that for another NPC that gets stuck.

     
  • At 11:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Has anyone seen Grandma on Xbox Live?

     
  • At 10:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Yeah, that account appears to have been online at least once a day for the past couple days. Last time I saw it it was "last online 23 hours ago", then after a bunch of DOA4 it was "last online 2 hours ago".

     
  • At 2:56 PM, Anonymous chrissylas said…

    Oh man.... Oblivion is killing me. I've yet to hit a glitch yet (finished both the Mage and the Fighter's Guild questlines and halfway through the other two). However, Oblivion has turned into pure unadulterated crack. I've got Tomb Raider Legends and Burnout Revenge sitting there waiting for me to play them but aside from a few minutes of Tomb Raider I haven't done a thing but play Oblivion.

    Keep playing guys, they will fix it soon I'm sure.

     
  • At 8:53 PM, Blogger Sicnevol said…

    NOT ON TOPIC

    Just got a job selling various video games. Let me know if you want a discount. I'm in Akron.

    Megan

    Sicnevol@hotmail.com

     
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  • At 9:29 AM, Blogger Archangel said…

    oh ...as far as glitches and whatnot.....

    my g/f has oblivion......hasnt hit the glitches yet....but it has locked up several times. Aparently a faulty game disc (first or second shipment?). hasnt had a problem since Gamestop swapped out the disk (that extra 3 bucks for the guarantee on games especially when they cost $60+ isnt bad.... they swapped with no questions)

    isnt crashing/locking up any more when talking to certian NPC's.... havent hit the bugs yet....but keeping eye open for them....i'll tell her about that mages guild bug.

    Stace

     
  • At 1:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i have 2 say oblivion is great but i have one major problem...all but 2 of my saves have fucked up, if i try to load one of the saves it always freezes on the loading screen, if i load one of the 2 saves that work and save it after that then load the new save, that freezes...im pissed off!

     
  • At 2:05 AM, Anonymous fuckin pissed off said…

    I just have to say your little quote about the cheydinhal recommendation was hillarious because that is exactly how i felt to the exact exclimation point i spent 3 hours in there looking at fuck all and then i finally read on the net that it was a glitch fuck i wasted my time i demand those 3 hours back

     
  • At 2:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    lol i purchased the official downloads from xbox live they wher working great 4 a while i was kilcking ass on the knites of the 9 quest and riding around with my horse armer pack but one day lol i load my game an what do i find thats write my updates are gone soooo i go to the xbox live market place and redownload my horse armer knites of the nine spell tomes and frost spire oh yea i can use my downloads but only on my x box live profile i cant use any of them on my normal profile so i have to start a new caracter if i want to use my downloads i never did start a new caracter its not worth the 7,000 hours of game play im pretty pissed as you can imagine i paid good money for those downloads and i ant even use them its so stupid becaus they where working i realy wsh thay would work. if any 1 has ran into the same problem and fixed it or jst can relate lol i would realy love to hear from them my email is nostroy77@yahoo.com plz i realy want to compleit my knites of the nine =):thanks

     
  • At 3:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    lol sorry bout the lack of periods here is to make up for it............................................and i hope grandma has fun kicking the unholy ass out of the deadra

     
  • At 2:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    how much Diablo III Gold time can you imagine wecheap D3 Gold being a area will continue to allow this particular? as soon as can we increase fromcheap D3 items our couches jointly in order to protest towards firms that set video games out this way? Any time will any of usCheap GW2 Gold start to require discounts!!!!!

     

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