Even though work was crazy busy and stressful, the sun was shining too much to skip lunch! It was wonderful outside and I'm glad I took a walk downtown.
And when I arrived home there was a giant box of girl scout cookies from my friend Kati. Huzzah! Two great things to combat a stressful Monday - sunshine and cookies!

Ok, so I know I said I didn't think I'd get enough out of an online Elder Scrolls game to warrant buying it and subscribing. Well, as time went on I started to kind of miss Elder Scrolls Online and I decided it was worth buying it and subscribing, at least for a few months. I played World of Warcraft for years, so I'm not necessarily against subscriptions for games, I just haven't found one I'd be willing to do that with.

At least I thought I hadn't.

So I spent a lot of today playing in the 5 day head start (for pre-orders, the game officially launches on 4/4).
We did take several walks outside and enjoyed the sunshine and warmer weather. There were plenty of people playing basketball at the park, skateboarding, and just running around enjoying temperatures above freezing.

We also discovered that the automatic cat feeder was set too low...so the cat wasn't getting enough food. That might explain his chewing on the wall yesterday in frustration. Oops!

It's all fixed now, so he's a much happier cat.
And then of course in the evening I played a little more Elder Scrolls Online.

The semi-annual Grand Rapids Toy and Comic Show is today, so we popped in real quick to see everything. Chris didn't end up picking up any action figures this time, but we did see more cosplay this time around. This event is only a few blocks from our house, so we pop in anytime it's going on just as something to do.
We ran some errands, walked around in the mall, and then went to see The Grand Budapest Hotel, which was delightful.

When we got home, the cat was not so delightful. He started to actually chew on part of the wall... Someone is very frustrated about the new cat feeder.

Leki is a smidge food obsessed. And by smidge, I mean destroys cables, knocks over things, chews fake plants and anything else he can get his mouth on. Basically he's slowly becoming a terror again about food.

The last pet feeder we tried, he figured out pretty quickly how to stick his paw up and feed himself.

So this time we've decided to try something a little sturdier. It even has a small guard on the front to prevent "food obsessed" cats from getting their paws inside the device.

He's spent a chunk of the evening trying to break into it and so far it's survived.

Most of the time I use Audible on my phone at work and listen to audiobooks. Occasionally I use another program called Smart AudioBook. Unlike Audible, Smart Audiobook will actually send the name of the file playing to the Pebble. That's a nice touch.

There's a new giant TV outside of MLive's offices in the skywalk downtown. It's kind of silly looking, really.


It snowed a little this morning, although the only thing that managed to survive past noon was what remained in the shadows.

It's snowing outside...

I have zero interest in Titanfall, which was recently released for PC and Xbox One. So this month's Loot Crate for me was less interesting. But there's a tshirt I'll probably sleep in, and a manga (Attack on Titan) that I've read (which wasn't bad).

Plus the cat is really interested in the lanyard.

Despite the cold, there was sunshine outside. So I took a very short lunch and walked across the Grand River that runs through downtown. There were lots of ice chunks floating down the river. It's only a matter of time before the flooding advisories start, now that spring is here.

It still isn't quite warm enough to read outside on lunch.

I'm starting to get really restless now. I haven't been able to do that for ages, it feels like.

Guild Wars 2 has been moving along, steadily adding content every two weeks to the game. Some of it I've really enjoyed, some of it I've missed, and some of it is focused more on PvP, which I don't play as much.

I still like to log in and check out the new content, so even though I missed the last few parts of their Scarlet story line, I still logged in to check out their cinematics and celebrations. I didn't play for very long, but I did run around to check things out.

For a game that doesn't have a monthly subscription, I think they add a fair amount of regular content.

The awhile back I was going through the dresser and realized I've amassed a lot of Woot shirts. So many, in fact, that I decided I really need to stop buying them.

So of course the next day there was a sale on random packs of socks and I bought four.

Guess what arrived today?

Chris received a temperature gun in the mail today. I now know the temperature of all things in the house!

So I was finally able to get into the beta this weekend before the game launches in a few weeks. I nearly 15 hours playing it. When I stop and think about it...that's a lot of time...
Elder Scrolls Online is basically just an online version of the sandbox games with a subscription. That sounds like what you would expect, but when you bump the game up against other MMOs that are out currently, it's an awkward experience - at least at first.

The Weird UI And Things That Took Getting Used To

The user interface (UI) is mostly hidden unless you call it up on the game (i for inventory, m for map, etc). That's different than most MMOs, which usually have action bars, mini-maps, and more.
The main problem I see with the UI and menu system is how they work more like a traditional offline game instead of an online game. Since this is an MMO, you can't pause the game. Checking anything in the menu system essentially pauses your character but nothing around you (you can still auto-run though). So if you want to down a health potion in the middle of a fight, you're immobile, but not necessarily your enemy. Then you're spending time scrolling through the bags looking for something while you're getting beat down. 
I also find it annoying that there's no mini-map on the screen, but maybe someone will create an add-on once the game launches that will address that.
The mouse controls your field of view. See that set set of arrows in the center of the screenshot? That's the center.
If you want to examine anything, swing the mouse around to put it in the center. So if you feel like pilfering some bottles from a table, your whole screen jiggles while you line up the mouse on the crate. For me, it's an uncomfortable and jarring feeling. I found myself wanting to use a controller while playing a PC game - which I almost never do.
Fighting is different than traditional MMOs as well. You click the mouse buttons to attack, similar to a single player action game. That's a departure from the traditional number row above the keys (1-0 buttons) used for actions that most MMOs have (you assign different skills to different numbers, then press whatever you want to do while fighting).
You do get a small action bar down at the bottom that appears once you're close to combat. You can also toggle it in the settings to always be on.
You slot various skills you've purchased through leveling up and you can choose between your class, guilds your affiliated with, weapon skills and more. Your action slots are limited (more so than even Guild Wars 2 skill bar) so you have to choose wisely before picking a fight.
The voice acting is nice (Jennifer Hale, John Cleese and more!). However, I can read the quest text faster than they're talking, so I found myself just clicking through and ignoring their voices. It reminds me a lot of Star Wars: The Old Republic in that regard.
Graphics are pretty good, but if you're expecting them to be like Skyrim you'll be disappointed. Once the game is out of beta it might be more polished, but I'd say they're still pretty good. Honestly, the graphics are pretty reminiscent of Lord of the Rings Online, though updated. Everything is pretty, but even at max settings the game is a few pegs below what I cant get Guild Wars 2 to look like.

Things That Were Awesome

There are plenty of nice elements to the game. The put a lot of detail in every aspect of the game. Plus you can loot a ton of stuff out of crates and sacks (and oddly no NPCs seem to mind).
They have lock-picking, which I'm terrible at so far. But I love it and look forward to getting better at it.
Fast travel is always nice. Gone are the days of having to take a flight path like in World Of Warcraft that used to take anywhere from 5 to 12 minutes (I think they've since changed this).
Plus you can buy a cheap horse early on. It's slow, but still beats walking everywhere.
They were sure to include books to read and, on those lucky discoveries, you can gain a skill increase. I thought that was a very nice touch. I loved that in past Elder Scrolls games.
And snobby elves that think they're better than non-elves. Historically different races in Elder Scrolls have been, well, racist towards outsiders. So if you're a Khajiit (cat person) wandering around in elf territory - they're a little more curt with you than if you're a fellow elf (as long as you're the right kind of elf that is!).
I haven't seen any terrible (and revealing) armor for female characters. I can't even begin to explain how wonderful it is to not have to run around with my butt hanging out just because I chose a female instead of male character.
You pick a class (basically a fighter, mage, paladin, thief) when you first create a character, but you can customize it pretty heavily - just like in other Elder Scrolls games.
For example, I created a Nightblade (thief) and I joined the Mages guild. I can level up magic skills and do some basic casting. While I'd never be as good as someone who started out as a caster, I'm not locked into never being able to access some basic skills in the other classes.
Crafting is similar to other Elder Scrolls games. That means for Alchemy you can still mix and match items to try and find new potions (which I love).
For cooking, however, you need to start with a recipe (that you find while exploring).
With blacksmithing, woodworking and cloth-making, you already know the recipes. Instead you just have to find the raw materials. Once I was able to collect various supplies, I started to get the hang of crafting pretty quickly. See that ugly hat on my character? I made that!
And if you should so desire, you can play the game in first person, just like past Elder Scrolls games.


So far I've really enjoyed playing the game, despite broken quests (it it still in beta, after all). It feels very similar to previous Elder Scrolls games. So similar, in fact, that I have to ask why exactly this is an online game (with a monthly subscription, no less).
I would buy this game in a heartbeat if it were offline. I'd even buy it if the model was similar to Guild Wars 2 where you buy the game and there's no monthly subscription. (There is a cash shop for various cosmetics and other items if you want to buy things, but none of the areas are locked out requiring purchase and no items in the shop give players who use it a big advantage over those who do not.)
I did find myself missing it when I wasn't playing it. I definitely want to play another Elder Scrolls game. I'm not sure $59.99 and then another monthly charge on top of that is worth it. I personally don't think I'd get much out of the online and connected portion of this game, so it's hard to justify a $14.99 monthly subscription.
But if you love past Elder Scrolls games and enjoy a lot of the elements of MMOs (dungeon running, partying for quests), this is a good game to play. Even if you can do the majority of the content solo (which you seem to be able to), sometimes it's nice to have a friend along.

It's been a pretty quiet day. I did some cooking out of a cookbook my mom bought me a few years ago...
..and then spent most of the day playing the Elder Scrolls Online beta.