Modding is Life

I started playing Oblivion again.

Some years ago, I made a mod called Lindum Village which had an alternative game start function which meant you could bypass the usual dungeon/Emperor killing start of Oblivion and start the game in a little town called Lindum instead.

The mod has really started living its own life since I’ve been gone from the Oblivion scene in a year or two! First, a modder named Highlord90 had a tremendous interest in it, and did some really awesome changes to it. I decided to give him the rights to the mod’s page and, in practice, hand the mod over to him. I wouldn’t play the mod without his changes and work. He’s done an amazing job. Then, just as I reinstalled Oblivion, I noticed another modder, Fienyx, had created a submod of the village called Lindum – Altered featuring his own personal changes to the project too!

This is why we mod. We create stuff together. What I create leads to something else in someone else’s mind, and all of a sudden we have a project that’s expanding and living its own life. I like it!

Every time I play these Bethesda games, I get an itch to get back into modding and start doing something again. I might, we’ll see. At least, I’m not giving up on this blog, so rest assured that anything I do in the future, will be published here. So keep following, although the uploads have been a bit sporadic these days.

Tear This Wall Down!

Bethesda and Steam have rolled back their pay wall in response to the outrage among Skyrim’s fans about paid mods. For once, in this cruel world of injustice and corporate greed, the good guys win. The masses of the video games community have risen up and made Steam and Bethesda withdraw their absurd idea.

Not only has the Elder Scrolls been protected, but other games as well, since they were planning to introduce paid mods in other areas too. They will try again in the future, they will try to sneak it in by subversion, because that’s the nature of these forces, but for now, the Elder Scrolls modding scene is free from money interests. Stay vigilant!

Remember this, people: This was democracy and people power in practice! If we all rise up and outrage about injustice in the world, they can’t stop us. Not the governments, not the corporations or banks or anyone else. They can’t stop us! They are few, we are many. We Are Legion!

I saw a Mudcrab the other day

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Everyone wants an Argonian Maid

Say what you will about the mostly stupid little random conversations between NPC’s in Oblivion. You know, “I saw a mudcrab the other day” answered by “I avoid those creatures whenever I can“. NPC’s were actually talking like they knew each other in Oblivion and it was influenced by how much they liked each other, race, faction and things like that. It was awesome. When you came through the forest in my Oblivion mod Dibella’s Watch, you could hear the villagers talking in a distance. They were talking about world events and topics changed as the player progressed in the storyline. Mostly they talked about Mudcrabs. Those little conversations added A LOT of life though.

Not so in Skyrim. They’re silent. I can pack a room full of NPC’s and they still don’t even give the slightest impression of being alive or even being normal people. Bartenders will repeat “Huh?” in eternity if I stand close to them. That’s as far as conversation goes. NPC’s only stare angrily at each other or blindly into nothingness and then robotically follow their AI packages (ie walk into tables, push cups off, warp around or stand on chairs). The sentences the vanilla NPC’s constantly repeat are no better than Oblivion’s system. We all know Solitude: “Getting old is not so bad. Daughter keeps me fed blah blah” and “You should see me when you get bored, stranger.” What kind of people repeat stupidity like that to passers-by all the time? Even the bloody Mudcrab topic is better! I’d need an army of voice actors to even try and make an impression of my town being alive.

Bethesda cut them out, but they should have built upon them, the conversations. We all laughed at them in Oblivion, but Skyrim’s silence is a whole lot worse.

Checking out Dragonborn

OK, so I’m checking out Dragonborn. I love the Morrowindesque atmosphere. This DLC is a very obvious flirt with us Morrowind-lovers, and at least where the atmosphere, parts of the landscape and architecture and even sound environment are concerned, it has succeeded. I got chills when I heard that Silt Strider screaming in the distance with accompanying music from Morrowind. Quite extraordinary. Visiting those same locations where I lived and fought 200 years ago also has its charm.

The land is really dangerous and you have to fight for every inch of it. I can’t tell you much about what I think of the story yet. I’ve done one dungeon and it was pretty much standard vanilla Skyrim, unfortunately. Run through, kill the boss and grab the treasure.

But well, yeah, Dragonborn has resources I’m drooling at for Frontier as well. I guessed it. I mean mushroom houses. Who can resist!? Some screenies without getting spoilerish.

 

LOD can drive you nuts

Generating LOD (the objects and landscape you see in the distance) is one of those areas of modding the Elder Scrolls games that can really drive you mad. Last night, I was generating object lods and distant trees with no great success at all. In the end, all of the Frontier’s lod had vanished and I stood there in a one-cell-at-a-time type of world.

It was really the weirdest thing, since I followed the procedures I’ve been following numerous times when updating my lods. Nothing worked last night, and I left it at that. This morning when I started up the mod to take screenshots of the phenomenon, it was all there again just as before I started messing with the new lod. My lod has just miraculously reappeared and is back in all its loddy glory!

I am going to redo Frontier’s lod from the very beginning and see if I can make it work properly using the procedure I’ve been following before. It’s always a pain though and takes time. You also need to use a lot of third-party tools for it, since Bethesda gave us nothing working in this department.

 

And then this

And then this comes along. We’re being warned of an error with the CK and the latest update of the game on the official forums. Read the post here.

I don’t quite understand half of it, but I do get that the Creation Kit and Skyrim’s Update 1.5 are obviously not communicating correctly, which could result in corrupted files when saving them in the current CK version. In practice this means no modding with the current CK because it’s broken.

Stupid me opted in for the beta, just because of the fancy new killcams, so I’ve been modding Frontier with this broken, corrupt CK for days. I have to wait for more information on this issue before I know what to do. The worst scenario is that I have to start Frontier from scratch, actually. I mean, geez, Bethesda!

EDIT: There was a CK update a couple of minutes ago, and it’s all alright now! No need to remake Frontier either. They had me and a whole lot of other people sweating rivers there for a while.

This is a good morning

There’s been an official confirmation from Bethesda on the bug I mentioned in the previous post. “A fix for the issue of .esp-based navmeshes reloading from the masterfile (or not at all) is in the works. This is getting addressed.“, Bethesda states on the official forum.

This is really good news. It makes a lot of us modders very much more at ease. On my part, it means continuing modding as before, releasing Primby village during this weekend and not stopping with just one mod for Skyrim, but going on to greater projects as well. Bethesda does care about its Skyrim being as perfect as possible. I bet they are also addressing the other bugs we’ve been reporting. It also means that they are indeed listening to us (actually Bethesda has proven that time upon time), which is rare for these kinds of super-game-developers.

But yay! Good morning to me. Now I need my coffee.