The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

It's what Elder Scrolls fans everywhere have been waiting for for 5 years. The official announcement went public 11 months ago, on 12-11-10. Through a mass of hype, marketing, and general mayhem, we all managed to make it through in one piece to enjoy our new obsession.

Bethesda Game Studios has a long and rich history with the Elder Scrolls series. This marks the fifth chapter in the world of Tamriel as part of the mainstream series. Set in the northern realm of Skyrim, the game features multiple environments, huge improvements in graphics, leaps and bounds better story telling, and probably most important of all: rock solid stability. For the gory details, read on!

Story

The game has two main quest arcs to follow.

The first and most obvious is figuring out what it means to be the Dragonborn and working out how to use that to solve the world's problem with the dragons. This quest will have you going from one end of Skyrim to the other doing all manner of varied things along the way. There are numerous opportunities for side questing as you go too, which in themselves can lead you down some big rabbit holes.

The second quest arc is the Civil War which serves as a major backdrop to the events that are unfolding. You can choose to join either the Imperial Legion or the Stormcloak Rebellion and pursue missions given out by the commanders in each.

What sets the game apart from so many others is that each of these quest arcs can interact with each other in unpredictable ways depending on how far along either of them are. The result is that even with the main stories you can end up with vastly different outcomes, making for great replay value.

To a lesser extent, you have several major factions each with their own agendas and story arcs to follow. Unlike previous games, they don't exist in complete isolation from each other either. You will run into situations where one guild will mention another, and even one instance where one guild sends you to employ the services of another as part of its progression.

There is no shortage of politics, intrigue, racism, and grittiness spun throughout all of the various aspects of the story lines found in the game.

Gameplay

The actual gameplay of Skyrim is very well thought out. No longer are there monsters and enemies who are "just right" for your level. You can in fact venture too far out into dangerous areas and be made to pay for it. Get too close to a giant camp? Expect to get squished under his foot. No joke. Feel like starting a shooting match with the bandits holed up in that fort? Guess again, if they have the high ground you're going to become someone's pincushion. Want to square off against a powerful wizard? Best pray the wind carries your ashes home for you. That is to say, this isn't Oblivion, and you're not at Disneyland anymore. Combat is brutal, intense, and very much more realistic than it has ever been in a Bethesda game before. Including the two previous Fallout titles.

It doesn't end there though. Quests are generally varied and interesting, often far more than they appear on the surface. What may seem like a simple fetch quest could turn into 2-3 hours worth of hardcore dungeon diving. Sometimes even turning out to be one of the more major quests such as those tasked by the Daedric princes themselves. Do not make the mistake of thinking that it'll be a nice short trip. You need to plan ahead for anything. Stock up on potions!

While your in those dungeons, pay attention. Traps have been given a major shot in the arm. Yes, the usual tripwires and pressure plates exist. Yes, they are very much deadlier than you remember. Also, yes, there are some all new types of traps to watch out for - and turn to your advantage if you're clever. One fine example. That funny looking purple stuff on the floor? Don't stand in it too long. Enemies are smart enough to light your ass on fire with it. Yep, oil slicks. Play your cards right and you can use your fire magic to roast your enemies alive instead. It doesn't stop with stuff you can step on either - doors and chests can also be trapped to go off when you open them. These traps can also be disarmed if you're observant.

Stealth received a much needed major boost this time around too. It's never been quite so much fun to sneak into a dungeon and think you've got the drop on someone, only to boot a pot you didn't see on the ground and set off the whole room knowing you're there. Pay attention, stick to the shadows, and watch out for loose junk!

Similarly, archery got a much needed major boost as well. No longer do you need to fill your enemy with half a quiver of your finest arrows. Just line up your shot, and with any luck, the target is down in 2-3 hits. NPCs will even use cover if it's available and they can't find you.

Mages should not be counted out either. Magic is far more dangerous and deadly than ever and you can find yourself frozen solid, or burned alive, before you even realize what happened.

Creature balance needs some serious help though. Sabre Cats, bears, and packs of wolves have a tendency to be far deadlier than dragons. Some dragons are such pushovers they almost make skeevers seem tough. Get a bit further into the game though, and out of nowhere you could be facing down an Elder Dragon. NOT something you want to do if caught off guard. There are also numerous instances of pushover undead, then suddenly the next room is all draugr overlords that take 10 minutes to kill simply because they have so much health.

If you don't like fast travel, you don't need to use it. Each major city has a carriage you can pay to hitch a ride to any of the other major cities.

Graphics

I doubt I need to say a whole lot about the graphics. The game is quite simply stunning. Environments are varied and detailed. Many of which look almost real. For a going on 10 year old engine, Bethesda has managed to squeeze every last ounce of graphical goodness possible from Gamebryo. On Ultra level details, provided you don't get too close, everything is about as good as it gets. If you really want a good sampling, stroll through the gallery here in the Skyrim category. I've captured all manner of awesome visuals for your pleasure.

Buildings in each of the major cities are varied, interesting, and have nice details added. Noticeable influences from mods in previous games include such things as windows that light up at night, and chimneys that billow out real smoke. Fires have heat wave effects. Light sources produce momentary vision flares. Turning to view a darker area requires a brief moment for your vision to adjust. Snow accumulates on the ground. NPCs got the biggest improvement of them all though. No longer are you forced to endure looking at the plastic Barbie doll style from Oblivion or the blocky ugliness of Morrowind NPCs. In a return to Morrowind days, banners flutter in the wind instead of being stiff like Oblivion. All of which combine to truly flesh out the world in ways that none of the previous games could touch.

Distant landscapes are far more detailed and worthwhile. You can see most everything that's reachable in some form or another. There even appears to be multiple levels of LOD, unlike in Oblivion where it was all or nothing - or Morrowind where there was none to be had.

Dungeons are leaps and bounds beyond what they ever were in past games. The environments are as varied as the surface world. Everything from abandoned towers to underground forests, and of course, Dwemer ruins that even make the ones in Morrowind seem feeble.

By far the biggest improvement is in the water though. Game water has been something of a stumbling block for Bethesda over the years, usually resulting in water that looks like little more than a layer of rippling plastic on the landscape. Not anymore. Stand up close to the water and look down. It swirls and rolls and looks like it's actually there, flowing around things and even carrying a current that will drag things away floating on the surface. A great way to dispose of those inconvenient bodies :)

Audio

It goes without saying that audio in a game like this plays just as much of a role as visuals. Skyrim does not let you down in this area. Every sound available, from footsteps to that crushing blow with a mace is realistic. Although they did sort of drop the ball on the mundane background thunder during a rain storm. Voice acting is millions of times better than in previous titles, although there is still repetition they've tried very hard to minimize it as much as possible. Streams gurgle, waterfalls rush, animals roar, the undead moan and grunt, birds chirp, frogs croak, inns have music, in general the audio complements the game very well.

The soundtrack is also well done and features many tracks from both Morrowind and Oblivion along with some originals for Skyrim. The music is far less overpowering and blends into the scene so well you don't really feel much need to disable it or to tone down the volume. An added plus, combat tracks don't start until you're actively engaged and will only fade out once you're out of danger and on your way again, thus adding to the excitement.

Dragons

The biggest feature of Skyrim though are the dragons. Huge flying scaly dragons in the classical medieval variety. They are every bit as awesome as one might expect. They fly around, circling you to size you up. They will randomly attack anywhere at any time. Think your safe in the city? Think again! I have personally been attacked 4 times now by dragons in cities. Twice in Whiterun, once in Riften and once in Windhelm. They're also not dumb, they won't just happily land for you so you can beat them to death. Nope. They breathe fire from the air. They dive bomb you. They grab people off the ground and throw them aside like dolls. They'll disappear down a canyon, only to rush up the side of the canyon wall breathing fire on you as they fly up. Woe unto he who gets jumped by more than one, because the WILL coordinate their attacks against you. And yes, they will also fly away if they decide you're not worth the trouble.

Companions

No, I don't mean the guild, I mean folks you can hire to travel with you. Skyrim gives you the opportunity to hire on a single companion to aid you in your travels. Some of them come free with your houses, others you have to hire at inns, others will offer to join you after you've performed some service for them. They all allow you to share items with them and you can command them to do some simple tasks, such as using an object, or sitting on furniture, or even attacking a non-hostile target for you. There are even a couple of dungeons where having a helper is necessary to complete a puzzle. They may not have much more personality than previous games, but they are actually a welcome help and they ARE often the decider in a tough fight. Their tactics could still use some help though. At least they're good for being pack mules. Provided you don't get them killed.

In some cases you can even marry your companions. While initially this sounds like a cool idea, it's unfortunately a bit hollow. There is little to no courtship or getting to know someone. You basically put on an Amulet of Mara, then walk up to someone you hope to marry. Yes, it's really that shallow. Your spouse will live with you in your home, or you can live in theirs. They're good for cooking, getting a small bonus for sleeping in the same bed, and for providing extra coin in the form of a shop they supposedly run when you're not around. Rumor also has it you can take them adventuring, although the wife I chose doesn't seem to have the option.

Skills, Perks & Attributes

This deserves its own mention. You might be wondering if the lack of attributes such as strength, dexterity, luck, etc has hurt the game. I don't think their being removed has hurt anything. In fact, quite the opposite. Having only magicka, health, and stamina to manage has removed that nagging constant voice in the back of my head that tells me "be sure and level this or you'll lose a str point". It was once thought to be a dumbing down move and considered an insult to the fans. It is no such thing. It's actually quite liberating to not have to worry about it.

Instead, when you use a skill, it advances you one step closer to leveling up. When you do, you get to pick one skill to invest a perk into. Perks give you bonuses to that particular skill. Whether it be to make your one-handed weapon strikes more powerful, make you harder to detect while sneaking, or to be able to craft Orcish armor, you have to pick and choose what you want to specialize in. It is therefore entirely possible to level your way through the game without ever engaging in a single fight.

Bugs and Other Issues

Sadly, no Bethesda game is complete without a ton of bugs to plague the users. The usual crop of fiddly quests with conditions that break too easily.

There are several with the Bards' College where if you find one of the objects you're supposed to get, you can turn them in for the reward but the item is never taken off of you and the NPC will act as though you never provided it. My inventory is now awash with musical instruments that belong to various bards that I can't get rid of now because I stumbled on them while dungeon diving.

There is one in Windhelm that is broken for many people which prevents being able to buy the player house there and thus stops you from becoming Thane. Not even the usual console poking can fix it.

There are reports of some Thieves Guild missions being broken and stopping the quest arc from completing, but I didn't run into those.

The user interface has problems displaying the proper key to use for a menu action if you've rebound some of your keys differently. Some menu items stop working all together unless you click somewhere else. Dialogue menus sometimes require clicking twice. The location in which items in the left-most menu respond to clicks seems like it's misaligned. You can end up exiting the menu entirely if you click too far to the left. Nothing game destroying broken though, once you realize the quirks.

Texture quality in Ultra mode does not live up to advertised promises of being "face melting graphics" as Pete Hines claimed. In fact, many objects such as tables and furniture are extremely poor quality while thing ON that furniture are crystal clear, sharp, and obviously high resolution. There's some speculation that the game simply isn't loading the right files. There's a confirmed bug even on the XBox 360 where this is the case if the textures have been installed to the harddrive.

The nastiest one by far though has to be the one for the calendar. The name of the day, as in all previous titles, should change when the in-game clock struck midnight. No sooner, no later. Instead, it seems there's a bug somewhere in the game's timing code that causes the day name to switch at completely random times of the day. It could be 1PM, then suddenly it's now Tuesday. This has the unfortunate effect of completely disrupting NPC AI routines when the day change happens. It may also be accounting for some issues with quests mysteriously breaking.

There was already a day 0 patch issued which corrected a few things, and another is planned for this Wednesday to address a few more issues, sadly none of the critical ones.

Fortunately, and I can speak only for myself here, there has been exactly one unexplained crash to desktop. Given the fact that Bethesda has pushed Gamebryo beyond it's usual limits, this speaks volumes for game stability. Long sessions are now a reality. Also, I am happy to say, the rotating autosave system is (so far) flawless. That said, numerous users have complained that the game uses up all available RAM and causes unending CTDs and other problems relating to pushing too close to the 2GB allocation limit on a 32-bit process. Most of these folks have been able to solve this entirely through the use of a Large Address Aware flag patched onto the game's EXE.

Influence From Modding

One of the biggest selling points of the last 4 games Bethesda has produced is the modding kit. The Morrowind and Oblivion Construction Set, and the Fallout GECK. User level utilities which grant one a very powerful window onto content creation and game modification. There are virtually unlimited possibilities available with these tools. That isn't the whole of it though. Bethesda also incorporates many ideas that modders produce to improve their games. Skyrim is filled with examples of this.

The previously mentioned illuminated windows? The product of no less than 3 mods. One for Morrowind and two for Oblivion.

Containers that pop open when activated? A direct result of the Harvest Containers mod. Thinking back, no game I can recall ever had this until that mod surfaced. So even other studios are taking inspiration.

Plants that vanish when picked? Harvest Flora.

The vastly improved archery was directly inspired by the Duke Patrick archery mod.

The crafting system may well have been inspired directly by the one found in Mart's Monster Mod. Although Bethesda vastly expanded it with their own additions.

Decapitations and finisher moves while not necessarily original were almost certainly inspired by the Deadly Reflex mod.

The scarcity of gold and the much more brutal and visceral combat system are products of the influence from numerous overhauls that all had the same goal of making the game more challenging.

There are no doubt numerous other influences I'm not thinking of right now but that's the beauty of the symbiotic relationship modders have with the company. Skyrim and its Creation Kit will no doubt produce all new things to provide inspiration for future titles.

Steam

Sadly, the biggest brick hung around this game's neck has nothing to do with Bethesda at all. Skyrim is a Steamworks game. For those who may not know what this entails, it means you have to launch the game using Valve's Steam client running in the background. Regardless of whether it's set online or offline, it must be run, and cannot be shut down afterward.

Bethesda never provided any reason for imposing this ludicrous restriction on a single player sandbox game. It has absolutely no value to someone who is trying to play the actual game. We were in fact openly promised that the game would be activated ONE TIME on Steam and then forgotten after that.

Fortunately, when the game first released, it appeared as though they'd kept this promise. The game went through the motions of activating. It installed from disc, just as promised. You could even shut Steam down and run the game directly from the TESV.EXE file like you could do with Fallout 3 (and New Vegas initially too). This meant that you could play without Steam getting in the way.

All that changed last week when a stealth patch was applied to the game. Bethesda's tech support people know nothing about it, and insist that the only patch they have issued (as of right now) is patch 1.1 that came on day 0. The only other patch they swear is in the works is patch 1.2, scheduled for tomorrow. This leads one to the only logical conclusion: Valve patched it themselves without informing anyone. It was even delivered by force to anyone who had Steam in offline mode AND set to not update Skyrim. What did this patch do? Wrapped the executable with the DRM.

Chaos ensued on the forums and continues to do so to this day. As fully expected, Steam has proven to be a detriment. Those who were not savvy enough to keep backups of the unhindered EXE file are now complaining of numerous CTDs, massive loss of frame rates, and general instability in what was otherwise a smooth experience before the DRM update. Bethesda continues to deny all knowledge of what this patch did, but the result is that LAA patches do not work and now require a hackish user created workaround to fix it. And for what? So that the achievements will work? So Valve won't lose their precious spyware ability?

Bethesda, if you're listening, drop this crap and get back to the basics. Everyone knows DRM is useless.

Conclusions

Skyrim is game of the year, no question. If you are an Elder Scrolls fan, despite some nagging problems, you will enjoy Skyrim. At just over 120 hours played, I have yet to complete all there is to offer. Three whole faction story lines are left largely untouched, and who knows how many more locations there are left to be found. I know I'm looking forward to another 120 hours to find out.

I see some good potential for DLCs in a couple of areas btw, so I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with. Along with whatever the mod community cooks up once the CK is out.
.........................
RIP United States of America

July 1776 - November 2012.

       
« Don't Drink the Water. Eat the Pizza!
Damn You Linux »

Posted on Nov 30, 2011 12:04 am by Samson in: , | 33 comment(s) [Closed]
Comments
So I more or less concur, with the exception of Steam, but we've all had that argument before.

I do find the graphics pretty amazing, except when they aren't - Windhelm looks like it was done up by a third grader for some reason in my game, and the snow on stuff textures are either really good or really, really jagged. Nevermind the aforementioned blurry tables. It's sort of strange.

I'm also somewhat less than impressed with stealth, if only because the dungeons are so incredibly lit up that I feel like an imposter.

Dragons be whack, yo. Only saw two of them once, and I've never seen them attack closed worldspace cities (several epic battles in Dawnstar, OTOH), nor have I seen them do the pick up and drop move at all, though they do sometimes fight other people. Mine also seem to have a level scaling issue - my level 50 guy only ever saw the one Elder Dragon, maybe 5-10 Blood Dragons, but lots and lots of the various lesser dragons. No matter the type, their breath weapon didn't scale very well, and even 30% elemental resistance was enough to essentially ignore breath weapons. They're really good at fucking guards up, but unless they actually try to bite me, they're not overly dangerous.

       
Yep, should have mentioned Windhelm. Something not right there, though I can't say for sure what. Maybe the snow shader thing.

Also not sure how I let shadows go unmentioned. Excellent shadow quality past about 10 feet in front of you, but up close, GAH, they're blocky as hell and that flickery pattern. WTF.

My stealth experience clearly wasn't your stealth experience. Aside from unrealistically bright dungeons (gah, mod approaching) it all seems to work out well. I think they actually got the sound detection part dead on.

Everything I described about the dragons has happened to me. Specifically, that bit about people getting picked up? Tell the poor dead Argonian at the jewelry stall in Riften that dragons don't grab people. Or that they don't attack closed cities. His body got tossed over behind the Temple of Mara. Incidentally, if they attack outside the closed city and you get the bright idea to run inside? It won't help. That's how the Riften dragon ended up inside, he chased me over the wall.

That bit about flying up the canyon wall? That happened to me while I was out by a Stormcloak camp preparing for an attack on the Imperials. As we were turning to march out, suddenly there's this dragon. He flew around, sized us all up, belched some fire on us then I lost sight of him. The soldiers all rushed over to the edge of the cliff with their bows out. Before I could go see what they saw, the dragon comes roaring up the side of the cliff, belching fire, I get crispy, and then they filled his belly with arrows and crashed him to the ground.

I've also had the misfortune of being lunch for a pair of Elder Dragons. I've seen my fair share of Ancient Dragons too, and trust me, those guys pack a punch. Killed Lydia and not long after, killed me by ramming me over a cliff.

So the dragon AI is there, it just doesn't come out to play as much as it should. Given that I've killed more than I can count and only had a few cool engagements with them.

       
A quick followup for those who were waiting on Patch 1.2. If you haven't updated yet - DONT. There are confirmed reports that the entire resistance and immunity system has collapsed. So much so that you can fireball a flame atronach and kill it in one hit. There's also several confirmed reports and videos on Youtube to back it up of dragons that fly backward and are kept out of melee range from the player in some kind of odd forced distancing.

I am disappointed to say the least. Bethesda is really dropping the ball hardcore with this game and I don't understand why. I mean, there's silly mistakes, and God knows as a modder I've made plenty of my own, but there's a big difference between a silly mistake and outright incompetence. QA? Doesn't look like they have a QA team at this point.

I hate to say it, but I told everyone this kind of shit would happen with Steam. Forced patching combined with no ability to roll back unless you made a manual backup on day 0. This is nothing short of a recipe for disaster and it will only get worse the more of these catastrophes Bethesda continues to let escape.

       
Good thing I've been running steam in offline mode ever since I heard about the patch that stopped you from getting around using Steam to run the game.

My thoughts...I haven't had enough time yet to play the game to make any sound conclusions. But I've generally got a lot of faith in Samson and Dwip's opinions on these things.

       
Yep, I think the non-use of Steam has contributed heavily to my being able to avoid a lot of these problems people are now seeing. Since patch 1.2 did NOTHING that was of any importance, I feel vindicated in not having updated to it.

A bit of a follow up on that. People had said Skyrim.esm got changed. That did not happen. Only the Interfaces.bsa file and the EXE got changed, and both files are dependent on each other. So if you back out the EXE you have to also back out the interface changes or the menus will break.

       
By contrast, of course, I've had zero issues with Steam at all. No whack shadows, no CTDs, nothing. But.

And I really do wish my dragons did that stuff. As I say, something whack about dragon balancing. Something besides them flying backwards at the present time.

       
Anonymous [Anon] said:
Comment #7 Dec 1, 2011 11:04 pm
Holy fuck, this paraoid fool be at it again!

       
Oh wow. And I thought there were sycophants for Steam loose on Nexus and BGS! This takes the cake!

       
LMAO, you know i always thought you guys were a bit hard on the Giskard guy, but after listening to his rant, i think this tool needs some psychological help to take his tin foil hat off. Control freak or what. You knopw as much as i hate steem and valve, the idea of having GOOD QUALITY mods for a game in a central location on high speed servers with unlimited bandwidth is a HUGE PLUS for any community.

       
Edited by The_Fury on Dec 2, 2011 12:49 am
The problem, Fury, is that most mods can't just be installed in the plugin and play way that Steam Workshop seems to be aiming for without huge amounts of work on the modders part, which they shouldn't be expected to provide. Not to mention that resource management, another thing that Steam Workshop can't provide but that is essential to any install thats running more than a handful of mods at once.

The existing system the community has developed is extremely well designed, and it should really be the one that Bethesda should be promoting instead of setting up Steam Workshop as an inevitable sink for newbies to quickly run into problems trying to mod their Skyrim install with. Its well intentioned on Bethesda's part, and the publicity it can provide is good, but it simply won't be able to provide the support needed for this sort of modding. In fact, I think the delay their putting on the CK just for Steam Workshop will do more harm than having mods on Steam Workshop will do good.

And Giskard, you do realize the Gstaff explicitly stated that we will be perfectly free to not use Steam Workshop. Oh thats right, you live in a hole away from the rest of the community and have no idea. :tongue:

       
No, I can assure you we've probably been too soft on the guy. He's obsessed with a trolling problem that simply has never existed. All that crap about him getting banned from the forums? Entirely his own fault.

As far as Steam Workshop, nothing about that guarantees in any way that the stuff being uploaded will be of high quality. Steam also does not possess servers with unlimited bandwidth. Nor would they be capable of delivering the nirvana they claim to. Mods can't be installed as one-click affairs. They just can't.

The only potential positive that could come out of this is better exposure for modders.

       
...wooooooooow.

In reterospect, we probably shouldn't be surprised.

7:00-8:05 reveals basically everything.

       
You guys seen the What were working on post GStaff put up yesterday?. Also saw Kivan's mention of uploading a report to the devs derived from the Unofficial Skyrim Patch bugtracker I presume.
Skyrim is already awesome, I have never upgraded a machine purely for the needs of one game but I am seriously considering a new laptop for this. Nice review Arthmoor.

       
Oh yes, I've seen it. Just another in a long sad line of steps to make gaming less enjoyable on the PC. Whoever thought this whole Steam thing was a good idea for gaming should be shot.

Yes, the USP tracker info has been submitted to Bethesda twice now. I'm not sure to what extent they're paying attention but I guess we'll see once they start rolling out their "data" fixes as they put it.

       
Whoever thought this whole Steam thing was a good idea for gaming should be shot.

:smile: I wholeheartedly agree, especially for a single player game, its the only fly in the ointment, but one hell of an invasive fly. Its probably quite a while away but heres hoping they roll on a DVD GOTY edition. If I had my better glasses on when buying this DVD version, enabling me to actually read the tiny note about steam I would not have bought it.

Theres an awkward thing about the DVD steam installer too; for those of us who have never installed steam before, the DVD installer does not allow the install path to be changed for steam (so UAC problems when it comes to modding and installing utilities will rear their ugly heads again in future :rolleyes:).

I did the install again to check, there is no option. So on the thrid attempt after un-installing the second attempt, I went to the steam site and installed just the steam client which does allow you to change install path, then followed GStaff's post to install the actual game from disk.

PITA. But at least buying the DVD version avoided me having to do any monetary exchange of details with Valve, so any more hacking of steam accounts will not be a concern here, all they will get is a throw away email address.

       
Edited by alt3rn1ty on Dec 3, 2011 5:22 am
Wow. Nice video of doing nothing in your game. Nice rant while staring at a half naked chick.

Now if you want some real interesting and intelligent video blogging, check out DarkOne, linked in SkryimNexus news. I think I'm in love. His British accent left me weak in the knees.

(As an aside, he praises TESA at approx. 14:40. Wooo! )

       
So I did the Bards' College with my new guy. Imagine my surprise when it really was as short as what my first guy saw - who I thought was denied further advancement due to quest bugs. Nope. Good lord, a whole faction with absolutely no purpose. Someone needs to fix this right now!

       
So I'm sure by now folks are aware, but this update looks mighty good, so I couldn't resist reposting the changelog for the upcoming 1.4 update:

Current 1.4 Changelog (all platforms unless noted)

NEW FEATURES

Skyrim launcher support for Steam Workshop (PC)

BUG FIXES

General optimizations for memory and performance
Fixed occasional issue with armor and clothing not displaying properly when placed on mannequin’s in player’s house. (PS3)
Improved compiler optimization settings (PC)
Long term play optimizations for memory and performance (PS3)
Memory optimizations related to scripting
Fixed crashes related to pathing and AI
Fixed crash in Haemar’s Shame if player had already completed “A Daedra’s Best Friend”
Fixed rare crash with loading saved games
Fixed issue with accented characters not displaying properly at the end of a line
Master Criminal achievement/trophy unlocks properly in French, German, Spanish and Italian
Fixed issue where dragon priest masks would not render correctly
Fixed issue where quests would incorrectly progress after reloading a save
Fixed issues with placing and removing books from bookshelves in the player’s home
Fixed issue where weapon racks and plaques would not work correctly in player’s house if player immediately visits their house before purchasing any furnishing.
Fixed issue where the player house in Windhelm would not clean up properly
Fixed crash related to giant attacks and absorb spells
Fixed issue with ash piles not cleaning up properly
Fixed occasional issue where overwriting an existing save would fail
Fixed memory crash with container menu
Fixed infinite loop with bookshelves
Fixed issue where traps in Shalidor’s Maze would not work properly in French, German, Spanish and Italian versions
Fixed issue where transforming back to human from werewolf would occasionally not fail
Bows and daggers will display properly when placed on weapon racks

QUEST FIXES

The Unusual Gem inside the Thalmor Embassy is now accessible after finishing “Diplomatic Immunity”
In “Breaching Security”, the quest token is no longer required to receive a fortune reading from Olava the Feeble
Fixed issue where Galmar would not complete Joining the Stormcloaks properly if “Season Unending” was an active quest
Fixed issue where starting “Season Unending” after finishing “Joining the Stormcloaks” would prevent “The Jagged Crown” from starting properly.
Fixed issue progressing through “Message to Whiterun” while “Season Unending” was still open would block progression for both quests.
In “Arniel’s Endeavor”, fixed issue where a quest journal would trigger multiple times
In “Forbidden Legend”, the amulet fragment can no longer disappear after player leaves a dungeon without taking it
Fixed rare issue in “Forbidden Legend” where killing Mikrul Gauldurson while sneaking would make his corpse unaccessible
In “The White Phial”, the phial can no longer disappear if player leaves dungeon without taking it
“The White Phial” will now start properly if player already has a briar heart in their inventory
Player can no longer get stuck in Misty Grove after completing “A Night to Remember”
Fixed issue where leaving Riften during “A Chance Arrangement” would prevent quest from progressing
In “Darkness Returns”, a door in Twilight Sepulcher will properly open if the player leaves the dungeon for an extended period of time before completing the quest
In “Under New Management”, if the player leaves the Oculory for an extended period of time after placing the focusing crystal and returns, the quest will proceed correctly
“Onmund’s Request” will now start properly if player has already found Enthir’s staff before receiving this quest
Fixed instance where Tonilia would stop buying stolen items and also would not give Guild Leader Armor
“Repairing the Phial” will start properly if player already has unmelting snow or mammoth tusk in their inventory
Finding Pantea’s Flute before speaking with Pantea no longer prevents her quest from updating
In “The Coming of the Dawn”, fixed rare instance where a quest object would spawn incorrectly on the Katariah during Hail Sithis
Fixed rare issue in “The Mind of Madness” where player is unable to equip the Wabbajack
Fixed issue in “Pieces of the Past” where Mehrunes Dagon’s Razor will not trigger properly if player leaves the cell for extended period of time before activating it
“Blood’s Honor” will start properly if you visited and completed Driftshade and an extended period of time passes before starting the quest.
Fixed rare issue where “Dampened Spirits” would not start properly
Fixed issue where player would be unable to become Thane of Riften if they purchased a home first
Fixed issue where killing guards in Cidhna Mine woud block progression for “No One Escapes Cidhna Mine”
Fixed numerous issues with “Blood on the Ice” not triggering properly
In “Blood on the Ice”, Calixto can now be killed if player owns a house in Windhelm
In “The Cure for Madness”, killing Cicero then resurrecting him no longer impedes quest progress
Fixed rare issue in “To Kill an Empire” where an NPC would fail to die properly
Clearing Knifepoint Ridge before starting “Boethiah’s Champion” no longer prevents quest from starting.


I'm sure we all have our potentially most desired update, but this is mine: Fixed issue with ash piles not cleaning up properly. Holy crap, that alone is going to clean up my game like nothing else.

Second to that: Fixed numerous issues with “Blood on the Ice” not triggering properly. I'm looking forward to seeing if it will correct itself with my Argonian.

The CK is also nearly here! Thank the gods!

       
Actually, I hadn't been paying attention. Now that looks like a patch.

       
Giskard [Anon] said:
Comment #20 Jan 21, 2012 8:53 pm
Those idiots are letting trolls like you beta the CK? Fuck.

       
Somehow I don't think that is actually Giskard...

       
No way to know. It's a British Telecom IP, but that's as close as we'd get to knowing more.

       
IsmeldaLasombra said:
Comment #23 Jan 22, 2012 4:53 am
Well it sure does sound like him to be unable to see that he is the troll that no one want to talk about or see the name in their forums. Of course he wouldn't be chosen as a beta tester for Beth who do not recognize his existence or want to keep it in a dark closet somewhere where nobody can see him.

       
The latest Giskardism: apparently, (according to you tube) Giskard has made a mod for Winterhold college that if you follow the arrow, you will render the mod useless. Now, I understand that some people don't like to be lead by the arrow, but if you're going to have the arrow, it should work as expected.

Also, the top of Winterhold College makes an excellent landing facility.

       
Almost missed this in the other stuff. So he added a quest objective marker that deliberately goes to the wrong place?

       
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