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My Skyrim Snit

X-COM: Enemy Unknown is down for patching.  Quite a mean feat when it's a single player game (with an optional multiplayer mode) that you can currently play right now, but when they're busy patching what's broke and those patches are breaking more things, that's "down for patching" enough for me.  Until the smoke clears and the game is in good enough shape that one could actually play in "iron man" mode without fear that their one-and-only-allowed saved game file will have something terribly wrong with it, I'm instead attempting to play Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim again.

I must have some confidence I'm going to get back into the game, because I have both add-ons now.  I just bought the Hearthsfire DLC largely because it's only $5 and I've spent more on a discounted McDonalds meal, but I'm well aware it doesn't exactly review well and I'm not surprised because I don't particularly see the point in adding extravagant player housing in this action adventure game, particularly one that already had housing (albeit not as customizable).   A couple months ago, I picked up the better-recieved Dawnguard DLC, which I've barely touched thus far.  There's clearly some new content I could be getting into here.

The only trouble is I can't quite settle on a character.  It's a strange little snit because, technically speaking, you can have one character be anything in Skyrim - the entirety of the character generation is such that you can get the maximum score in all the abilities in the game, and the only real limitation is the number of "perk points" you have available, but even this is circumventable with the right mod installed.

The difference between the characters, then, is what you want to do first. That comes down to establishing the identity of your character.  What are their (possibly your) primary interests in Skyrim?  What are the skills and related spells/equipment/tactics that you want to make this the focus of this character's climb to the lofty levels where most content is trivialized and all the skills run together anyway?

They say you should focus on the journey, not the destination, but I do like to look ahead at what I'm eventually planning on doing with this character.  Being the exacting little hardcore gamer I am, I've set up some difficult premises:
  • I prefer to tackle problems with cunning instead of with brute force wholly because it's more interesting gameplay that way.  This is tricky because the game design only humors this so far, as sooner or later your character gains skill points enough to perform acts of cunning (such as backstabbing or illusion spell-slinging) relatively effortlessly.   Player skill is a factor as well, as subtle tactics lose their element of cunning when you've done them often enough that they've lost all novelty.
  • I prefer to be a good guy, but simultaneously I don't want to miss out on the Assassins Guild and Thief Guild quest arcs, neither of which I've completed.  Neither do I want to miss out on the "oblivion walker" achievement, which involves consorting with (doing quests for) a number of Daedra, few which can be considered benevolent.   There's a definite loss of identity in such moral ambiguity as that, unless perhaps I were to suggest my character was some kind of undercover investigator who played ball with the bad guys because that's the only way he could defeat the true face of evil.
In a way, both of these guiding premises are bunk.  They're learned suppositions about what I think I aught to want to do.  Yet, Skyrim is a game built to have character progression go naturally and, if previous attempts to do that apparently didn't pan out, should I really force myself?

What I do know is that I'm basically looking to exhaust as close to 100% of the game content as possible.  This is because, from past experience in Fallout 3-4 and Elder Scrolls VI: Oblivion, I've found that once the main quest line is complete I likely won't be making the time to run through Skyrim again.   That being the case, it would be best to witness all Skyrim has to offer in one go.

To an extent, 100% consumption of all game content is impossible, despite character progression allowing you to unlock all skills and (with help) perks, because accessing some of the content in Skyrim requires you exclude other content.  For example:
  • All weapons, spells, and armor in the game are scaled with the intent that a character might be using them on the way up.  Any given character will only need to use some of this, and so some of that content will go unused.
  • As opposed to doing the much longer and more rewarding Dark Brotherhood (Assassins Guild) quest line, you could also pursue a karmatically-sweeter quest line of putting them down.  
  • During the civil war quest line, you can side with either the Stormcloaks (rebels) or the Imperials (loyalists) and the changes this introduces to the world are quite distinct, even though many of the quests are the same.  
  • Perhaps the latest choice of going vampire or vampire hunter (in the Dawnguard expansion) is the most polarizing of the choices available, two complete quest lines that are mutually exclusive by design.
There's not  too much mutally exclusive content overall, but it's just enough to make me wonder if multiple playthroughs may be a better path.  I question if I would have the motivation to care after I've completed the game once already.

Ultimately, resolving altaholicism is a matter of settling for an unsatisfactory solution.  If I'm going to be a sneaky mage thief, I'm not going to be a heavily-armored juggernaut because those fellows are far from sneaky.  However, while playing the thief, there will be times I wish I was the juggernaut, and vice versa.  Because this happens to me fairly regularly, it leads to much dukkha with the current character, and that leads to switching characters.  (Come to think of it, I could try being a sneaky heavily-armored fellow, with the right spells and enchantments I might be able to pull that off regardless... oops, there's another venue of cognitive dissonance.)

While Skyrim's lousy balance and general simplicity is a factor, a larger part of the blame probably rests with an inner fault of my own person: an unwillingness to deal with dissatisfaction.  I suspect a lack of exercise (brought about by inactivity while playing the game) may be leading to an generalized sense of agitation, in addition to my already mentioned issues with dissatisfaction.  It should not be this challenging for me to sit down and enjoy a computer RPG but, due to various factors, but it is.

I have a week to finish Skyrim.  Come the following Monday, I start the orientation at a new position, and I'm not entirely sure how many hours that will consume, but I'm wanting to dedicate myself entirely to that endeavor.

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