Mods And Ends: Skyrim

By Adam Smith on November 25th, 2011 at 6:01 pm.

all thanks to Charles Atlas

I’m not a wizened grumblepuss who only enjoys the oldest of RPGs, honest I’m not! I’ve even finally managed to play some Skyrim this week and that’s probably the newest RPG in the world. Unlike most people, I haven’t actually done very much yet; instead I’ve been tinkering around to see how far I can push it before my computer starts weeping tears of molten graphics card. Mostly visual tweaks but there’s some lovely stuff here. To round things off, my favourite new Mount and Blade mod, which I mentioned before its release and now urge you all to download. Urge, you hear?

Skyrim then. Jim’s already covered some of the prettification techniques available for the intrepid PC-fellow and there’s a brain-aching amount of non-mod related tweaking detailed over here. The FXAA Post Process Injector is mentioned but skirted around, since those chaps are concentrating on editing files to unlock the capabilities that are inherent in the existing code. However, the FXAA Injector seems to be the first port of call for many people wanting to beautify their world.

I haven’t been delving into my .ini files too much, instead hovering around the Skyrim Nexus and letting other people do all the work for me with what is already an impressive array of mods. I’m still missing something to make night time and dungeons pitch black and terrifying but otherwise, everything is looking better by the day. The only problem is, I’m almost afraid to explore. At the moment, Skyrim’s world feels like the memory of my back garden when I was a boy on a day near Christmas when it had just snowed. I just wanted to stand back, hold my breath and wait before ruining the perfection of it with my footprints. Yes, I can be a sentimental dolt.

I’ve looked around enough to have a play with most of the following though, so here’s a quick roundup of what I’ve liked, or expect to like, from the multitude I’ve tried.

First of all, if your computer is feeling particularly spry, why not take a look at Nebula’s HD texture pack. Perhaps you think your already playing with HD textures – I thought so too! However, just look how much HDier these beauties are.

Very much HDier is the answer. The workshy blighter hasn’t redrawn all of Skyrim yet but there have been frequent updates and it’s mostly very impressive work indeed.
Now that you’ve got all those ultra-detailed textures, the trees look a bit shabby, don’t they? Skyrim is the land of majestic trunks, reaching to the heavens above and defying any passing dragons to singe their foliage. Best get a gardener in.

I suppose that will do. It’s Vurt’s Flora Overhaul, perfect for those herb gathering expeditions and strolls through the woods. I’ve hardly done any quests yet but I have enjoyed following foxes through clusters of trees, seeing where they lead me. Quite often they run into a vast body of water and vanish from sight, which is incredibly disconcerting, but they probably think I’m a hunter and are using their submariner abilities to escape. Can’t blame the little fellows.

I’d say we’ve got everything under the sun looking rather splendid right now so let’s turn our attention skywards. Not bad, is it? The shafts of light cutting down though those splendid trees, clouds gathering overhead. Watch, perhaps with a loved one by your side, as the stars begin to break out overhead, the dark sky a velvet pincushion into which unseen gods are pushing these glittering worlds.

There’s nothing like camping out, with the heavens your roof, contemplating the vastness of creation. Except…

Oh yes. That’s much better. Make your midnight strolls even more special with Enhanced Night Skyrim.

Those are my three constant companions at the moment (haven’t seen hide or hair of Lydia yet) but there are many more out there. With Bethesda games, it seems there’s always a large demand for better looking people, but the two best face altering mods I’ve seen concentrate on smoothing off faces and improving textures rather than making everyone look generically handsome. They are the wonderfully titled No More Blocky Faces, which sounds like the terrified plea of an infant trapped in Minecraft, and Detailed Faces, both by Xenius.

The most comprehensive round-up I’ve seen of mods is actually hosted at the Nexus. Going by the name Skyrim Total Enhancement Project (STEP), it’s a thorough list of performance and visual mods released so far, with recommendations and instructions. It’s already enormous and the game has only been out for a few minutes. Take a look and try not to be intimidated into inaction.

Woody Beautiful

I couldn’t leave it just as visuals so even though it’s early days, I’ve tried to dig out a few nuggets that tweak the game itself. I’d like every game to be honoured with a mod that makes ragdolls more realistic so this one is a no-brainer for me. It does nothing more than make people die in a more realistic fashion but that’s enough for me to give it a tip of the hat. It also contains this note in the latest changelog, “may resolve decapitation not working”, which is splendid.

As well as appreciating the crumpling of a corpse to the cold ground, I’m also an advocate of crafting. I’m hoping for mods to allow even more cookery, around campfires preferably, but for now the only major crafting addition I’ve seen is Lost Art of the Blacksmith. It adds “every missing weapon and armor improvement recipe” while being “lore-friendly and balanced”. I honestly haven’t played enough to know how true any of those statements are but I don’t like the idea of not being able to craft anything – I’d like to build houses if I could – so I’ve installed it in preparation for the future.

Messing about with the passage of time can be a tad strange, inevitably leading to the world feeling smaller as the minutes grow longer. But I like having the option of elongating the days and nights, purely to soak up the atmosphere. There are several options, ranging from Skyrim’s default of 20 minutes to every actual minute spent playing, to a minute per minute option, which quite frankly would probably drag a little. Something in between can be quite pleasant though.

Finally, if you’re already finding dragons as easy to slay as popping a clay pigeon, you can make the bastard things harder. Again, I’ve not encountered any apart from the inevitable introductory one, but I’m such an idiot that I like the idea of them being fearsome and almost unstoppable. When I first explore a new world, I’m not interested in being the best; I just want to see how long I can be a tourist without getting killed by something large and unpleasant. The harder it is to survive the toughest encounters, the more satisfaction I feel when I manage to run away and hide.

A boring but helpful interface tweak to finish off. Hard Coded Key Tweaks makes screens easier to navigate by recognising remaps everywhere. It even makes the inventory slightly more tolerable, as does the QD Inventory mod that changes the default layout – perhaps just as you’re getting used to its negligible charms.

Now go and play Mount and Blade: The Last Days (of the Third Age of Middle Earth) because it’s bloody brilliant. Alternatively, tell me which Skyrim lovelies I’ve missed and berate me if any of them are particularly worthy of my attention.

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134 Comments »

  1. mikmanner says:

    I have to be honest, I cannot tell the difference between the modded and normal versions, though the one mod I’ve tried out (FXSAA whatever injector) really detracted from the ‘style’ imposed by the natural lighting and post-processing effects.

    • Demiath says:

      Thank the Gods it’s not only little me who can’t tell the difference between the unexciting wooden plank on the left and the equally unexciting wooden plank on the right in those “before/after” split images, which therefore become unintentionally comical…

    • Was Neurotic says:

      Yeahhhh, I had a disappointing result with Preset 1 in the FXAA Injector. It was the pre- and post-sharpening which kind of spoiled it, so I commented them out and it looks great now. Default Preset 1also doubled my load times and introduced mouse lag, but again, without the two sharpening stages it’s back to normal now.

    • OJSlaughter says:

      I can see quite a difference to be honest!

    • DrGonzo says:

      I found the presets included with FXAA Injector to be pretty ugly too. But now I have a lovely vignette effect, which makes dark caves much darker. And I’ve desaturated it a lot, so there is quite a bit less colour than there normally is in Skyrim. Makes the game look much nicer (or more grim) in my opinion.

      It’s really worth tweaking about with it. You can simply alt tab out, change some settings and jump back into the game to see the effect.

    • sinister agent says:

      You guys are not alone. The mods that change how it plays make a difference to me, but I’ve had a look at tonnes of visual mods on that nexus site and the majority are barely distinguishable at best from the vanilla settings.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      I can see the difference, but the problem is these things are still works in progress, and as such, you’ll be constantly running into that sudden immersion breaking object or area that glares out “I haven’t been patched yet.” Better to wait a while till things are actually *done* and optimized for bugs imho then install incomplete.

    • NathanH says:

      The usual problem I have with more HD textures is that I never really find I’m enjoying them noticeably more after installing them, but then if I remove them I start enjoying the originals less than I used to

    • The Tupper says:

      I have an ancient 2.4Ghz core 2 Duo with a Radeon HD 4770 card and tried vanilla ‘Ultra’ settings for the first time tonight. It actually works! That’ll do me for the time being. I know many PC gamers hate the plateau in hardware requirements of the last few years, but (as a very poor man) I’m loving it.

    • Zak T Duck says:

      The difference can be summed up in two words.

      It’s brownier.

    • 9of9 says:

      The FXAA injector really is very awesome, but with tweaking. There’s plenty of other presets with previews on SkyrimNexus and, moreover, you can actually just open the settings file and tweak the settings on the fly while you alt-tab back and forth between it and the game, if you’ve got the patience for it.

      Otherwise, just wait for the ENBSeries injector for Skyrim to come out: http://enbdev.com/ss_skyrim01_en.htm

    • Starky says:

      90% of these “HD texture” mods…

      Copy-paste to photoshop > sharpen > save

      Seriously, how can people stand overly sharpened textures like that – it doesn’t look real, or HD.

    • stillwater says:

      I think that the differences between the before and after shots in those HD texture ones are pretty apparent – all you have to look at are the abnormal blurriness of the before ones, compared to the slightly sharper and slightly more realistic after ones.

      But I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks that that FXAA Injector mod makes the game look worse! I can’t believe how many people have been suckered in by a crudely applied unnatural-loking sharpen filter.

    • David256 says:

      Obviously, aesthetics are subjective. For most people, they can tell the difference with HD textures (in some areas more than others). FXAA can be good or bad, though.

    • qwiggalo says:

      You can’t tell the difference because the images they have in this article are low res and compressed to shit.

  2. Pyrosity says:

    I dunno. I’m always wary of these “Even more HD!” graphics mods for games that already look damned good. A lot of them just add more grime or change everything to photo textures and all they end up accomplishing is making the game look slightly different and screwing with what the devs intended it to look like.

    Not that they’re all bad. But so far this just doesn’t look that much better than the original and I can see it does change some things to entirely different looking textures. I mean, yeah, that little picture of some leaves looks lovely, but with my modest rig I’d rather it just deal with the defaults.

    • Riztro says:

      Yeah, I had a closer look at the HD-tex mod and the only thing I found nicer-looking were rocks. Everything else looked either too similar or flat out worse. They also seem to have replaced a lot of things with high-detail brown, I had plenty enough of brown in Morrowind thank you.

    • simoroth says:

      Indeed. A lot of them change things that were designed by the art director to be that way.

      I’m not allowing myself Skyrim at the moment, so instead I have been writing tons of shaders for Morrowind and loading it up with mods. Its now more beautiful than most the screens of Skyrim ;)

      http://twitpic.com/7id5ux
      http://twitpic.com/7ig1gf

      When I get Skyrim next month and some spare time I’ll probably release a shader pack to make it actually look better. :D

    • Snargelfargen says:

      A lot of them just put the textures through sharpening filters and then add strong color and normal maps. So you end up with a very grainy, very bumpy world.

    • Tams80 says:

      @ simoroth

      Still far too much brown. Your work looks great, but it’s not the shaders that put me off Morrowind.

    • simoroth says:

      @Tams80 How about this then? ;)

      http://twitpic.com/7ig24w

    • Specials4uc3 says:

      Looks good for Morrowind but Skyrim is quite pretty when correctly fiddled with, http://specials4uc3.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=189&p=605#p605

    • 9of9 says:

      Yes, so far it’s been very much pick-and-mix when it comes to finding HD textures. Some are quite good and fit well with the game, others… not so much. The other thing to watch out for is HD normal maps. The thing is that a lot of the objects (eg. rocks in particular) are given their shape to a large extent by virtue of their normal maps… when someone converts their own hi-res texture into a normal map, you get a very flat surface with lots of detail but the larger features are lost. In particular, this is noticeable with the snow shader.

      Also, some people just don’t know what normal maps are. Some of the hi-res armours just have purple-on-black heightmaps and I was just scratching my head.

    • Shadowcat says:

      With the sole exception of the degradation on the stone staircase, which I thought looked quite nice, those “enhanced” Skyrim textures all look worse than the originals.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I don’t see that much of a difference in those screenshots, but many games, like Stalker for instance, have some absolutely fantastic graphical mods.

  3. jplayer01 says:

    Oh, man. I misread the first paragraph and thought there was a Mount and Blade mod for Skyrim … got me all excited over nothing. :(

  4. strange_headache says:

    When I need 10 minutes to notice the difference in a still picture, does it really make a difference in the game? I don’t think so.

    • Vinraith says:

      Exactly. A game like this needs a graphics mod perhaps 5, more likely 10, years later. It does not need one a few weeks after release.

      Morrowind needs graphics mods, IMO. Oblivion (absent the faces) still looks just fun to my eye, as do the Fallouts.

    • pakoito says:

      I’ve played thousands of hours of Oblivion. I also play any lo-fi indie shit you can think of. I’m playing 5 games of Dominions 3 PBEM at a time.

      And I loaded up the game and thought “what the fucking shitty textures we have here!”. First thought after “woah cool game”, I swear. Low quality stone and wood pops in the eye instantly, and the snow is just horrendous. Then comes the ingredients and my dealbreaker were the weapon/armors.

      It is not that I can’t play with them but I felt like modding the game ASAP 5 minutes in because Nehrim’s textures looked better. This come straight from the console and it shows (5gig game? my Oblivion was around 16), everyone knows they have to be better for this price and budget.

    • Durkonkell says:

      I was also struck by the poor quality textures – perhaps because my expectations were so high. The game looks absolutely amazing from a distance, but if you get up close to something, it gets blurry and low resolution surprisingly quickly. Screenshots don’t really tell the full story – things already look pretty good from some distance.

      Everything’s relative, though. My heavily-modded Morrowind still looks a lot more primitive than Skyrim, yet I accept it and love it, perhaps because my expectations of what it will look like are considerably lower?

    • The Greatness says:

      I’m glad people are modding Skyrim’s graphics. The textures are really appalling. Think about how Skyrim is only 4GB big despite it containing a huge open world. Fair enough if you don’t want to use them but it’s good that they’re there if you want them.

      @Vinraith:
      Morrowind does have graphics mods. Tons of ‘em.
      http://forums.bethsoft.com/index.php?/topic/1216870-relz-morrowind-overhaul-sounds-graphics/

    • Vinraith says:

      @The Greatness

      Did I suggest it didn’t? I haven’t looked at them in a few years, though (because I haven’t played Morrowind in a few years) so I appreciate the link to newer ones.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Skyrim needed graphics mods now and it has them. I found it to be a wonky looking game in places. With a few glaring niggles that I couldn’t help but constantly notice. Already the game looks miles better with the small amount of tweaking and mods I’ve applied.

      My favourite being the smoothed out faces, people don’t have weird polygon heads anymore!

    • povu says:

      The problem with Skyrim’s textures is that they are inconsistent in quality. Most items look great, but tables and such look like crap compared to the items. http://i.imgur.com/2zOpO.jpg

  5. discopig says:

    I’m looking forward to AaGeOn’s HQ Texture Pack (http://www.thenexusforums.com/index.php?/topic/461820-aageons-hq-texture-pack/) more than any of the others I’ve seen. I think the problem with most of them is they change the actual aesthetic of the game, whereas it seems like AaGeOn is trying to retain that look. Also, no photo textures.

    TC1984′s armour/clothes textures and all of isoku’s stuff (water textures, rain ripples, sun glare, smoke and embers) are worth a mention too.

    • alundra says:

      I was just going to comment on this, I would settle for a mere resizing/upscaling, it’s very nice that people want to increase the visual quality, which imo is already great btw but then everyone is entitled to their own opinion, yet as soon as people want to start changing, instead of just improving, the original looks it automatically turns me down .

      A sensible approach would be to equalize the lower res textures to the better ones already on the game, or maybe we all should nag the crap out of bethesda to give us an official high res texture pack, after all we have been good children and massively purchased their game.

  6. pakoito says:

    It is all a setup for that M&B mod.

  7. oatish says:

    Middle-Earth mod for Mount & Blade!

    I haven’t tried this yet but my weekend of packing seems very unlikely now…

  8. Durkonkell says:

    It really is a shame that The Last Days of The Third Age of Middle Earth (henceforth: The Third Age) appeared so close to Skyrim and ended up buried as a footnote in a list of Skyrim mods. It really is remarkable, and the closest you can currently get to being a Rider of Rohan. All of the major towns and cities are reproduced (only west of the mountains, sadly – so no Rivendell or the Shire), siege-able and explorable. There are many, many playable factions, and all of them with unique equipment and units. And in the case of the Orcs, wargs instead of horses! They ride around and continue attacking people even after you kill their riders, so you have to kill them too! It’s slightly annoying because your mounted men can’t really work out how to hit them at the moment.

    With that said, I DID stop playing it in favour of Skyrim. Poor The Last Days. I’ll get back to you soonish!

    Also: Right now, there are nearly 1300 mods listed on Skyrim Nexus. The creation kit isn’t even OUT yet…

    EDIT:
    Also also: Thanks for the link to the QD inventory mod, Sir! I wasn’t expecting anything to make the interface less terrible until after the CK was released.

    • Adam Smith says:

      Fear not – one of the many mysterious ways in which I work is expanding footnotes into longer articles at at a later date. It really is a marvel deserving of attention.

    • Elmar Bijlsma says:

      TLD used to be The One Mod for M&B.

      I have only re-discovered it a few days ago but it seems ready to take that crown back once more. It really has some great tricks up its sleeve, the aformentioned wargs being a nice example. Having them as mounts, well anyone could do that. But have them be enemies in their own right at the same time, that is just such an enjoyably neat touch.

      And the weapons, armour and above all scenery once again set new modding standards like TLD did in the olden days.

      It does suffer a little from being on the old M&B and not Warband. And it is slightly crashy.
      But when you peer out in to the mist and see warg riders crest the hill and charge down on your thin line of Mirkwood’s finest… all the little niggles go away.

      Back to hunting Yrch!

    • Durkonkell says:

      Expanding footnotes? Into full articles?! Mysterious ways indeed.

      We need an equivalent of ALMSIVI, referring to Morrowind’s Tribunal of god-kings Almalexia, Sontha Sil and Vivec for the RPS hivemind.

      And the ending of the words was ALJIADJO no it doesn’t work…

    • Limey says:

      It’s truly fantastic, I agree. Be warned though: in its current state the AI siege mechanics are a tad broken. If you play all the way through the poor man’s hero stage and reach the endgame, you’ll find yourself waiting around for years while your Allies sit twiddling their thumbs instead of besieging.

      There have been a few threads about it on the forums, so I’m hopeful for a fix. But to be honest I’m not actually that bothered. The early days are always so much more fun than the endgame anyway; doubly so now that you’ve got lots of starting races to play around with.

    • Casimir Effect says:

      1200 of which are for naked bodies, larger… body parts, weird character interactions, and naked body part interactions.

      This MnB mod looks interesting though. Might be the thing that finally gets me to pick up one of those games.

  9. Casimir's Blake says:

    Excellent stuff.

    Now, all that needs to happen is for some modders to make some non-linear, multi-level dungeons that are more than simple obstacle courses and exercises in press forward and follow your nose, and maybe it’ll make the game feel like a challenge…

    • Rawrian says:

      Like in Daggerfall? Thanks, I’ll pass, those were a nightmare, except for the labyrinth fans. At least not until they add a magical ball of string.

    • Soon says:

      Clairvoyance seems like a magical ball of string, although I haven’t had cause to use it yet.

      But I’m sure there’s some middle ground between a u-bend and a labyrinth.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      Well heck, seems like the idea of a game providing a challenge beyond stats, levelling and endless hack and slash (or shoot), is out of the question any more.

    • Rawrian says:

      I’ve played a lot of old RPGs in their time, to name a few, Menzoberranzan, Thunderscape, and Daggerfall, and can’t say I enjoyed the mazes then. Actually, it was quite frustrating. Let’s just say they are not everyone’s piece of cake.

    • vecordae says:

      It’s not that gamers don’t want challenges that fall outside of the typical hack-n-slash fare. Many of us do. We just don’t have the free time to devote to a task we don’t find, in and of itself, all that rewarding. If I’ve only got an hour a day to play video games, I’d rather spend it by doing a short dungeon crawl, advancing the plot a bit, and doing a bit of crafting instead of back tracking through the same maze for several weeks looking for some hidden doo-dad just so I can get out.

      On completing said dungeon I would not feel proud of what I had accomplished. I’d feel vaguely relieved that that’s over and slightly irritated that I had to do all of that in the first place. Then I’d get back to doing the other fun stuff in the game.

      I wouldn’t mind having one or two really tough dungeons to get through, but I’d rather not have an entire game full of them. It wouldn’t be a challenge at that point. It would be tedium.

    • Grygus says:

      The main problems with Daggerfall’s dungeons was that they often didn’t make any sense at all, which made them tedious. The occasional labyrinthine cave dive would be nice, but by and large people don’t live in mazes (for obvious reasons.) I agree that Skyrim could use more approaches to a given destination, Deus Ex-style, but having virtually every indoor location outside of a city be this insane collection of random twists and turns was not better than what we have now.

      I used Clairvoyance a few times; sometimes my eyeballs just don’t see side passages for some reason, and it was good for that. When the pathing got remotely complex though, it was much less helpful, more than once disappearing into a wall or floor.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      Yeah, I don’t think adding in some hidden areas and branching paths that reward exploration and perhaps support different character strengths like stealth or toe to toe melee necessarily equates to “labyrinth”.

      Not every dungeon needs to be as long or complex as every other, but the dungeon design, while improved, is still the most disappointing aspect of the game for me. The game is is extremely bipolar. It goes from a huge wide open world on the surface, to almost a shooter on very rigid rails below. The best dungeons in the game I’ve found so far, are in the Thieves Guild line, with more wide open space, alternate approaches, and exciting traps, and yet none of them qualify as this “tedious maze” some here fret about. They are all the more interesting for their complexity, not less so. I would have liked to have seen more of that.

      I too am very excited for the Creation Kit for precisely this reason. I’m very interested in exploring the tools to create more of an old school, survival oriented Undermountainesque deep dungeon crawl, complete with some sort of hunger mechanic so you actually get really excited about finding food ( I love hearing the groans of the casual gamers at that), and a means of illumination to ward off the darkness. I think Skyrim has most of the functions in place to do this really well, with a bit of re-balancing and design love placed into the dungeon.

      Obviously, not for everyone in these days of games designed for the broadest possible appeal around an ever diminishing lowest common denominator, but for some people it represents an experience that is hard to find done well any more.

    • djbriandamage says:

      I love that the dungeons are now more circular, usually looping you back to the front door or giving you another door outside so that you don’t have to backtrack after killing the big bad in a dungeon. Good riddance to squinting at a 2-dimensional map of a 3-dimensional dungeon to decide how to find the sun again.

    • ffordesoon says:

      I like the dungeons. They’re fun and mercifully short (I hate saving inside dungeons I’m afraid my character will get killed before I come back to the game YES I KNOW SHUT UP). If Skyrim’s melee combat system was more involved, a la Dark Souls, I’d agree that the dungeon-delving should be more involved. As it is, I like being able to slap some bandits and zombies silly, earn a Shout, and get out of there before dinnertime.

      But I’m pleased that mods will offer the experience you crave.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      With regards to “gamers don’t have enough time”. This is what quick-saving is for.

      The dungeons in Skyrim pose absolutely NO challenge outside of differing amounts of enemies to fight. Some of us preferred RPGs that DID have labyrinthine, maze-like, multi-level dungeons and miss them in first-person games.

      There are no modern RPGs today, outside of a few top-down 2D offerings (Avadon!) that bother to provide dungeons that extend any further than a couple of levels or areas. This is hugely disappointing, and leaves me wishing for Ultima Underworld 3. Still.

      Bloody hell, RPS disappoints today. Where’s Wizardry when he is needed?

    • vecordae says:

      @ Casimir’s Blake

      If I spend four hours doing something I don’t particularly enjoy on my free time, then I have just wasted four hours. I don’t have time for that. I doubt, perhaps unreasonably, that being able to quick save really addresses that.

      I understand that that’s what you want in an RPG. This puts you in the minority. This also means that the majority of RPGs wont’ have those features. It is disappointing, I know, but with rogue-likes having a bit of resurgence in their popularity, it’s entirely possible that the game you actually want will come out soon. When that happens I promise not to complain repeatedly about how its game design fails to live up to expectations the designers never actually set.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      I really wish Skyrim had more Football Manager capabilities, I used to play Football Manager on the spectrum and it was great, and I really miss not being able to play it in current generation action roleplaying games.

      Bah.

      End snark: if you want dungeons, play roguelikes, or Zelda – I’ve been enjoying Skyrim for what it is.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Casimir

      I sincerely hope the mod community does pick up the slack on this issue. A TES game without proper dungeons is a truly sad thing.

      @many of the rest of you

      Thanks so much for contributing to the delinquency of the genre. One should not have to play “roguelikes or Zelda” to get a proper dungeon, this is something TES has historically done quite well and it’s certainly reasonable to expect the same of Skyrim. Applauding a reduction of content, depth, and challenge is frankly unthinkable. If you don’t enjoy the game enough to play through a multi-level dungeon, I would humbly suggest that you just don’t enjoy the game period and should probably be playing something else.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      FunkyBadger3 : if you want dungeons, play roguelikes, or Zelda – I’ve been enjoying Skyrim for what it is.

      A game world with a surface peppered with dungeons every 50 feet or so?

      Thank god no quest ever requires you to check one of those places out, so commenting on the quality of them is of course as relevant to the game as asking for football management sim mechanics.

    • Soon says:

      Right. Labyrinthine dungeon doesn’t have to mean bland, labyrinthine dungeon. There’s an expectation that they’re just a quick visit as a side quest, grab the shiny and back in a few minutes. And while there’s certainly a place for those, some should be a big event.

      Why should exploration underground be any less exciting and involved as exploration on the surface. Uncovering ancient ruins of an underground empire become reduced to walking down several pretty corridors. A network of caves, excavated by some mysterious creature is a quick jog down a couple of tunnels. It’s the compression that’s made them seem uninteresting, and so we’re thankful they’re mercifully short. But a vast dungeon can be more than an expansion on the dull aspects. I don’t want labyrinths for the sake of it, I want awesome labyrinths. It’s hard to awe in a corridor.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      Vanilla Morrowind and Oblivion didn’t have huge complex dungeons you could spend hours in either. Skyrim’s dungeons are pretty much the same, only prettier and MORE diversely sculpted. This is a good thing people. Sure it’s not epic RPG darkness crawler of our youth style, but it’s still better then it’s predecessors.

    • JackShandy says:

      If you go outside, Skyrim is a massive non-linear game filled with forts and castles and challenges that you can approach in multiple ways.

      If you go underground, Skyrim becomes a linear indiana-jones thrill ride.

      That’s totally fine. Why else would you go underground in a game like this? You put a quest underground because you want to constrain the number of possibilities, and the number of ways players can complete it.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      Why else would you go underground in a game like this? You put a quest underground because you want to constrain the number of possibilities, and the number of ways players can complete it.

      That’s easily the most depressing thing I’ve heard uttered thus far, and it’s been a pretty depressing thread. It’s going to haunt me to know that someone out there believes this is the reason why you put a dungeon in a game as steeped in tabletop rpg tradition, and with such a strong exploration component as TES games.

      Dungeons are about mystery and exploration. Why does the exploration component of the game have to become so mediocre underground? Whats the point of finding all those interesting looking doorways above ground, if they keep taking you to a corridor shooter on rails, indistinguishable from the last 5 you just played? What’s more exciting, finding a random door in the wilderness, after beating down the 5th random animal encounter that hour for some skins, or exploring where that door leads in the hopes of shiny things?

      The argument I keep hearing is, “The Dungeons in Skyrim arent interesting enough to sustain long exploration, so I want to get in and get out”. How is burning through mediocre content faster, better than making the content less mediocre? A dungeon where you wander in circles without knowing what to do to the point of boredom is a poorly designed dungeon in any event, but that doesn’t mean every one has to be on such severe rails. Well designed dungeons with interesting content are a pleasure to explore, regardless of the length or complexity.

      Skyrim’s dungeons are definitely better looking than Oblivion’s, with a little more variation in art design, better fixtures, some light puzzles, and the occasional non-threatening trap. But for the visual polish, and a few exceptions, I think they’re every bit as cookiecutter. I actually remember a few (not many) in Oblivion that were better, with multiple levels of increasing challenge, and alternate routes accessed through discovering secret doors.

      Not every dungeon has to be Watcher’s Keep or Undermountian, nor could they be for purely practical reasons. But it would be nice if some of them were, and the rest fell somewhere in a range in between that and what there is now. It remains an ongoing weakness in TES games.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      My reply was lost in RPS spam limbo, but rest assured it was scathing, and all you “linear corridor-shooter dungeon apologists” withered under its onslaught and repented your positions. Just thought you would want to know.

      I’m going to go cry myself to sleep on a stack of Undermountain modules now.

    • ffordesoon says:

      @Vinraith:

      I like big multi-level dungeons just fine, for the record.  I just don’t think they would really work in Skyrim specifically.  The flow of the game doesn’t support it.  And, to be clear, some dungeons in Skyrim are more involved than others.  I know I’ve gotten turned around in at least one, and they always offer interesting things to do and look at.  Some are long, some are short. Oblivion’s dungeons were procedurally generated snoozefests.  I’m sorry if that “contributes to the delinquency of the genre” (oh, how snarlingly angry that phrase makes me, as someone who loves RPGs and non-linearity as much as the next RPS commenter), but I spent as much time as possible away from those things, because they sucked.  They were long and not fun, and they were easy to get lost in, which made them take longer and feel like massive wastes of time.  I hated them.  If that makes me a heretic, then hang me, because I like what I like.

      Understand: I’d be interested in a few big dungeons, perhaps as sort of “boss” dungeons.  But 150?  No way.  I want variety.   And interesting opportunities for emergent play, and interesting things happening, like traps or conversations.  But most of all, I want variety.  The current dungeons give me these things.  Do I think they could be less linear and perhaps more involved?  Multiple paths, some dead ends, a less “designed” experience?  Sure, I’d like that.  But I don’t want TES to be a near-constant dungeon crawler, because there are plenty of better dungeon crawlers that give me what I want in that respect.  I play TES games for the wealth of options they present, not to do one thing for a long time that I can’t get out of easily if I want to.  Other games already provide that experience.

      And, for the record, I’ve played some pretty tough dungeons, and some fairly open ones.  I’m not going to argue that their design isn’t ultimately linear, but MW3 this absolutely is not.

      Also, I play as a kleptomaniac, so longer dungeons would drive me crazy with how overencumbered they’d make me.  But that’s more of an issue with my playstyle than anything.

      Look, I love non-linearity, I love dungeons with multiple levels… I love everything you grognards love!  I just don’t think everything I love works in every game.  I love Mario, but I don’t want to see him suddenly show up in Skyrim and start jumping on a dragon’s head, because that wouldn’t work in Skyrim.  It would break the flow of the game as it’s designed.  It’s more or less the same with vast, multifaceted dungeons; I have absolutely no problem with them in theory, I have absolutely no problem with them in other games, and I even have absolutely no problem with them being in Skyrim occasionally.  But I don’t think they should be common, because that doesn’t fit in Skyrim as the game was designed.

      Tl;dr: I’ve loved RPGs my whole life, and I refuse to be blamed for the decline of my favorite genre because I want Skyrim dungeons to be only as lengthy and multi-tiered as they are interesting.

    • kemryl says:

      I am having trouble following this conversation. It looks like Casimir’s Blake and a few others expressed an interest in playing a Skyrim containing non-linear, multi-level dungeons, which he currently cannot do. Now assuming it is implemented well, that makes perfect sense.
      However, people who disagree with him seem to think that he asked for a superhighmegaultrocomplex labyrinth from or like something from either Daggerfall or a spectrum game, which if you read the original text, he clearly did not ask for. Did somebody’s comment get eaten again? Or are people putting words into each other’s comment boxes?

      In my quest to understand what is going on here, I have reasoned that what people who disagree with Casimir’s Blake are assuming is that he would like these things added to a game in a very poor state with little thought being put into their execution, relying only on design sensibilities from two or three decades ago, and he wants them to be non-optional and hinder the enjoyment of people who just want to complete their quest. What I do not see, is why they are making that assumption.

      When someone asks for something to be put in a game they enjoy, it seems only logical (and statistically likely and of sound mind and really the only sensible thing when talking about a product you paid for) to assume they would want it done WELL. The assumption that dissenters are making is one that ensures it won’t be done well, and is therefore, as far as I can see, plain-old silly to assume.
      What is most disturbing is that it sounds like some people think that games of one genre should not learn from the mistakes or triumphs of games in another genre, or worse, should not seek to interpolate between genres or invent new ones, ie. INNOVATE. On RPS, of all places! Of course, in this case it is hardly a matter of innovation to add complex dungeons, because there are already loads of games in the RPG genre’s history which contain dungeons that are simultaneously interesting, complex and yet fun to play.

      So to finally make a point: if something is added to a game, and it is optional, generally well-made, doesn’t intrude on what originally made the game good, and yet also expands upon its world and diversifies the sorts of gameplay you can hope to encounter in the game, why not add it?

      Also, sorry if my grammar or formatting is poor/in poor taste. I don’t do as many internets as I could. And sorry aboot the length.

    • ffordesoon says:

      @Kemryl:

      I believe the issue is that Casimir’s Blake, Vinraith, et al are treating the people who like the dungeons the way they are are simpletons who hate RPGs and want them to die so we can play our CoD-ified tripe that we obviously like since we’re defending the dungeons that are in the game, which offer no strategy or challenge or anything of interest.

      Except, of course, that none of that is true.

      I’m fine with Casimir’s Blake getting what he wants. I like well-designed, lengthy, enjoyable, interesting multi-level dungeons. But I like the dungeons I’ve played in Skyrim so far too. I don’t appreciate being accused of contributing to the ruination of a genre I love because I liked some things some other people didn’t like.

      But yes, it’s the snooty contempt for my taste that rankles, not Casimir’s Blake’s stated desire. I’m cool with that.

    • aerozol says:

      “Why should exploration underground be any less exciting and involved as exploration on the surface.” – I think many of the dungeons are entertaining and well made, and I don’t think anyone can put forward a convincing statement that these dungeons would actually be universally better if they were a. randomly generated, and b. much bigger. Skyrim just is not that game.
      While those two things would be cool and all, I think the level editors in Skyrim did a great job in most cases. And exactly those Dwarven Ruins that are big, and could easily have been randomly generated, are boring as shit, and too long imo. The small lovingly crafted caves, where I occasionally uncover a small and interesting substory, or a really cleverly hidden secret space, or a unique trap I genuinely fall for, are the ones that I like most.

    • kemryl says:

      I don’t mean to sound like I have contempt for anyone’s taste, as I certainly don’t. I thought contempt was being held toward Casimir’s tastes, in fact, and to me it sounded like some commentators were saying that such an addition should not be made even if optional and well done. What I thought I read sounded illogical to me so I attempted to explain what I thought didn’t make sense and what did seem logical to me. So I understood it still even less if that’s not what I read, and I’m sorry if I offended as I was simply trying to see if I was missing something and express my concern over what I thought I was reading.

      I definitely understand how simplicity can be desirable, though, and I think to some extent it is a game’s duty to retain simplicity while offering a deep experience if it is to be enjoyed by many people. I think some of the most successful, interesting and beatiful games have excelled primarily because they were able to do just that, for example Minecraft, most of Valve’s games, perhaps Metro 2033, and some others.
      Also of course, Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim. They do an excellent job of that and are getting better with each release at providing a complex world which is also easy to play in. But indeed they are not perfect, and I think at least Oblivion felt a bit of an impact by simplification. Whether it is worth it is probably left up to taste, and I am not at all trying to say that adding complexity is always a good idea. Needless complexity is why the most roguelike-like game I have been able to play for any decent extent is The Binding of Isaac, and its ‘roguelikeness’ is debatable.

      It seems to me however that both modders and Bethesda are capable of introducing more elaborate dungeons without spoiling the experience for anyone. Perhaps not though, maybe they completely hit a wall with Skyrim’s dungeons and it is at the apex of design allowed by its engine, but I just don’t think that’s likely. I would encourage them to try, because I don’t see why not.

      Edit: I shouldn’t say it’s needless complexity that roguelikes have, just often a LOT of complexity that I’m bad at managing well enough to get heavily invested in the game. As are some other people, surely. I like roguelikes.

    • Demiath says:

      TES hasn’t had the kind of dungeons Casimir’s Blake asks for since Daggerfall, and even then they weren’t well-made. Skyrim improves in small but important ways upon Morrowind and Oblivion by having more diverse indoor designs and more unique events (such as side quest givers inside the dungeons themselves/dungeon-specific AI companions, Shouts to find which may or may not be directly related to the side quest in question etc.).

      I consider myself a fairly old school RPG gamer who also want even better, more complex, more multi-everything dungeons to explore. For example, it’s interesting to go back to the recently GOG-released Lands of Lore 1; which was always supposed to be more accessible than most dungeon crawlers but now comes off as almost mind-bogglingly complex in its dungeon design compared to just about any modern RPG.

      That being said, TES has never been the series to deliver that level of intricacy and engagement in the past, so I find it puzzling that some people would expect TES5 to be any different in this regard. Within the specific context of the established Elder Scrolls formula, I’m quite happy with the improvements Bethesda (finally) made.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      I’ve only played the first Ultima Underworld, so my old school rpg pedigree may not be perfect, but from what I recall it was a lot of fun. It was a game that stranded you in an endless claustrophobic netherworld. I never beat it, but its a game I still plan to return to and finish. I remember desperately wanting to escape, and yet always being curious about what was going to be in the next room.
      Then you have Skyrim which is an exploration game with added dungeon bits. You are supposed to be able to do whatever you want, whenever you want. Fight a dragon? Bandits? Go picking herbs, or go into a dungeon if that’s what you feel like doing. The dungeons are bite-sized because they are just one of the features of the game. Not hard to see that games are doing completely different things, so I don’t really know why this debate exists. I actually really like dungeons. They are a huge improvement on the last 2 games. Almost every location has at least one set-piece or gimmick that makes it memorable and there’s a surprising amount of variation. The exception to this is the draugr barrows, which do get really stale.

      For the record, a modern dungeon delving game would be really cool, but Skyrim’s combat and levelling system would be a terrible fit for it.

    • kemryl says:

      I definitely didn’t expect Skyrim to do anything horribly different from Oblivion, only improve upon what was already decent. As someone who’s never been a big fan of anything Bethesda has developed, I wasn’t really expecting to suddenly fall in love with Skyrim itself, much less the series. I would very much like to love it though, as the games are quite obviously well made and have things to offer that other games don’t, and the dungeons can nearly without a doubt be improved without sacrificing enjoyment for anyone.
      You may be right though, that I simply have to look elsewhere for a game that I will love to bits, however there are too many things that I do like about the series and too few other games that offer the same thing for me to accept that lying down. Hence, an argument about mods on the internet.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      It sure feels good to point out the flaws of the popular kid, doesn’t it?

    • Metonymy says:

      I was one of the people who adored the metro tunnels in fallout 3, and I wouldn’t mind seeing a similarly cruel labyrinth in skyrim.

      The challenge for skyrim is the setting. The metro tunnels were repetitive because that’s what subways look like. That was ok, and you didn’t feel cheated, because they had good mini-stories, and the surface connections felt meaningful and mazy too. With skyrim, a dwemer or cave mega-dungeon would be painful, and unfortunately, the dwemer interior design just didn’t work out that well.

      It’s got to have, at minimum, a mix of themes, a very plausible layout, and a very good reason to exist. Vertical design is powerful, and fits the theme of skyrim.

    • Zyrusticae says:

      I feel compelled to point out that there *are* some non-linear, multi-levelled dungeons in Skyrim. Try Nchuand-Zel (or however it’s spelled, Dwemer names continue to mystify me) in Markarth. It’s definitely non-linear, and definitely multi-levelled.

      It is not, however, mazelike. Give it a shot, why don’t you?

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      I believe the issue is that Casimir’s Blake, Vinraith, et al are treating the people who like the dungeons the way they are are simpletons who hate RPGs and want them to die so we can play our CoD-ified tripe that we obviously like since we’re defending the dungeons that are in the game, which offer no strategy or challenge or anything of interest.

      There has certainly been some of that. But for the record, that didn’t start until the original response, which was a direct, personal opinion on the quality of the dungeon design, and nothing about anyone else, was immediately met with statements equating more complex, interesting, and non-linear dungeon design with vast, tedious mazes which no one would want to play…a notion as ridiculous as suggesting every dungeon in the game take hours to complete and be an entire game in itself, which no one ever suggested, nor is even possible from a practical standpoint. You make silly assertions, you’re going to get silly defensive reactions.

      Also for the record, no one ever suggested every dungeon be that heavily designed, nor has anyone said that there arent some instances in the game of higher quality dungeon design, just that they feel like sparse token gestures, and we ‘d like to see more of it.

      Skyrim certainly deserves praise for a lot of things, but god knows is far from perfect. Dungeons just arent one of the things it does particularly well (IMO), and even if the series has never done them that well, it is not unreasonable to hope that it might. I don’t think you can downplay the importance of dungeons in the game (despite attempts here to the contrary). They make up a huge part of the gameplay experience, and every significant quest will eventually send you into one or more.

      Not every dungeon needs branching paths and alternate routes that might support different playstyles, secret doors, meaningful traps you actually care about avoiding, multiple levels of increasing difficulty, or hidden areas which reward careful exploration. But it would be great if more of them were like that, and others occupied a range in between that and the meager (opinion!) fare we have now. Dungeons are about mystery and exploration, and for a game that hangs its hat on a strong exploration component, it would just be nice if that aspect of the game didn’t become so predictably sub-optimal once you’re below the surface.

  10. Rawrian says:

    Thanks, but I’ll finish the game at least once before I step on the slippery slope of adding mods.

    • Feet says:

      I concur with you, though I suspect my definition of “finish” is more nebulous than yours. Having said that… that Inventory mod looks like it’s worth a crack straight away…

  11. bleeters says:

    On the topic of HD’ing things up, the water effects in this one are wonderful.

  12. Joshua says:

    Don not forget the HLP night sky mod:
    http://www.skyrimnexus.com/downloads/file.php?id=468

    Because variaty is the spice of life. Also, this one is from Freespace 2 modders.

  13. Jonith says:

    You dare do a mod list… Without the nudity mod which is a certainty nowadays. Of all things, thats what takes us “civilised” PC Gamers away from those “savage” Console ones. Actually, thank you for not including the nudity mod, who makes those things?

    Oh and that Lord of the Rings mod makes me wish I owned Mount and Blade, I might get it while it’s £6.00.

    • Durkonkell says:

      It is good the people wear clothing. M’aiq wears clothing. Who would want to see M’aiq naked? Sick, sick people. Very sad.

      (I am now going to do something else before I end up replying to absolutely everything with a quote from M’aiq the Liar).

  14. Bogart says:

    I’d like to recommend another crafting mod, JaySuS Swords:
    http://www.skyrimnexus.com/downloads/file.php?id=1002

    Haven’t actually crafted any of them yet but some look pretty neat.

  15. MistyMike says:

    A lot of time and effort put into rendering every thread of twine on every character’s codpiece in super-duper HD. I’d really like if a siege of a castle looked like a siege and a crowd during a public execution looked like a crowd, instead of 8 (eight) people. Even in Morrowind-level graphical fidelity.

  16. Spider Jerusalem says:

    Am I the only one who likes how Skyrim looks?

    I’ve tried many mods but I end up uninstalling them all (except for the no more blocky faces one, the pixelation or whatever on the chins was driving me batshit).

    • Revenge says:

      While some textures are dreadfully low-res, I’d rather have the most appropriate texture rather some photosourced 4096×4096 grainy mess.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      Ya, it’s curious. I spent all day messing with ini fixes trying to solve my only complaint – tree LOD pop at a medium distance, and ended up going back to my back ups by the end of the day. Nothing looked noticeably better, and the trees still popped after dozens of variations *shrug*

  17. GeForceFX says:

    PM me when i can play as a sexy Japanese schoolgirl !

  18. vecordae says:

    I usually find something vaguely insulting about the majority of mods for some reaon. Most mods seem to be aesthetic changes of some sort. They add thematically inappropriate clothing, brighten up a purposefully dreary landscape, or simply go though the game and make all of the characters attractive as though ugly people shouldn’t exist. There are thousands of mods specifically designed to make romanceable companions “hotter” by giving them skimpier clothing, bigger boobs, changing their faces entirely or by simply making them white and blond. It offends me on some core level that I can’t verbalize all that well.

    Fortunately, the most popular mods are the ones that actually add to the game experience or improve its aesthetic while keeping true to the game’s artistic designer’s vision. I wholly endorse these mods. Also, I endorse the mods that ensure DA2′s Isabella wears pants from time to time despite the fact that I am now a hypocrite for saying so.

    • aerozol says:

      I agree that I personally appreciate mods that truly expand on the ‘original’ experience, rather than subverting it, but there’s probably no reason to put down (or feel insulted by) mods that make everything a highlighter pink hentai erotica adventure. That’s the great thing about mods, people can do whatever they like. And if other people don’t like it, that’s ok, don’t install it, and make something that you do like. My 2 cents.

  19. KingCathcart says:

    I currently have Skyrim and The Witcher 2 locked in a box with a bottle of Babycham and some Barry White.

    Fingers crossed.

  20. henben says:

    Tinkering with the graphics seems like the least interesting thing you could do. I’m surprised nobody has done the obvious and made a hard mode that works like the hard mode in Fallout: New Vegas: ie you need to eat and sleep regularly, potions take effect over time instead of instantly, and so on.

    • aerozol says:

      The editor kit isn’t even out yet, but there’s probably already someone working on it…
      But if you’re after a ‘hard’ mod (as opposed to a ‘realism’ one), there’s one or two out there that will ramp the difficulty up (excessively) for you. Just search on Skyrim Nexus.

  21. Danny252 says:

    I remember working out that Oblivion must’ve been on the equator, going by the paths of stars in the night sky. I wonder if Skyrim is the same…

  22. piderman says:

    Let’s not forget Arrowsmith. Seems the arrows are not yet in that blacksmithing mod.

    http://www.skyrimnexus.com/downloads/file.php?id=1178

  23. TODD says:

    You aren’t going to get decent HD texture mods until months, if not a year+, after release. The graphics mods that are out now are shovelware from people who don’t have a clue about color theory and fail to adhere to the themes of the original game; either that or they just used “upscale – sharpen” in Photoshop on the original textures to produce the grainy, unnatural look you see in those “enhanced” screenshots.

    The best graphics mods available now are simple .ini tweaks you can perform on your own in SkyrimPrefs.ini (anytime you see lots of zeroes here, it’s an example “supermax” value, feel free to moderate it):

    fGrassStartFadeDistance=20000.0000
    fGrassMaxStartFadeDistance=20000.0000
    fGrassMinStartFadeDistance=10000.0000

    dTreesReceiveShadows=1
    dDrawLandShadows=1
    fShadowDistance=50000.0000
    bDoDepthOfField=0
    iRadialBlurLevel=0

    There was also a uGridsToLoad tweak listed on RPS shortly after Skyrim’s release, which is the single best graphics mods available but will result in frequent crashes unless you have lots and lots of RAM and maybe an SSD.

  24. Freud says:

    You know what the problem with Skyrim is these days? Everyone is obsessed with graphics.

  25. Abundant_Suede says:

    It adds “every missing weapon and armor improvement recipe” while being “lore-friendly and balanced”. I honestly haven’t played enough to know how true any of those statements are but I don’t like the idea of not being able to craft anything – I’d like to build houses if I could – so I’ve installed it in preparation for the future.

    I’d really like a good crafting mod, but I dont think you can just remove the token scarcity from items that are balanced around being scarce to some degree at least, like Lockpicks, and call it “balanced”. And some of the items that mod allows to be upgraded are not designed to be upgraded…they have specific powerful bonuses that you trade off for, say, having lower armor. If you can now upgrade them as well, they become a no-brainer, the right choice in every situation.

    So I sympathize with wanting a crafting mod, but don’t kid yourself that a casual one isnt going to make the game even easier than it already is. I think any really good crafting mod will probably be part of some larger balance overhaul mod, that takes these things into consideration, and doesn’t just add them in without tweaking the rest of the game to accommodate them.

    In the meantime, I’d settle for a smaller mod that simply allows me to craft and improve silver weapons, which does seem to be a genuine omission from the vanilla game.

    • aerozol says:

      Have you checked out the mod, and what the crafting costs for those ‘rare’ items are? Because if they’re high enough, I don’t see why it would unbalance things.
      Uhm, but I don’t want to start a back and forth, here, I definitely see your point, and it’s going to change the balance no matter what, esp. regarding the ‘trade-off’ points. But in a game like Skyrim, where 99% of the items are throw-away anyway, with very specific ones that are clearly head and shoulders above the rest, I personally wouldn’t see the harm, if it’s being reasonable about crafting costs.
      You could probably just delete some lines out of the code, and then have just your silver items craftable.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      I have not checked them, but how high would the costs have to be in a game where money is abundant, unlimited, and freely available, where the only thing to spend it on is a bunch of houses you don’t need, and the vendor down the street street sells a big stack of ebony ingots every few days? Lockpicks are too common as it is, which already makes the need of putting any points into that skill a pretty dubious prospect ( My sword and board dragon slayer opens locks as well as my thief by just throwing picks at it). Even if the requirements were somehow rare, it still wouldnt be a problem for some of those special items, because you wouldn’t need those components for anything else, since that item then becomes the right answer, every time.

      Like I said, Im totally for crafting mods. I just think that one in particular is a little too optimistic about being “balanced”. A good crafting mod will probably have to be part and parcel with a larger game re-balancing overhaul, something Skyrim needs anyway. It’s not just something you can tack on and call it balanced.

      Just speaking in principle here. However someone wants to play their own single player game is fine by me. Skyrim already has any number of lazy mechanics and balance issues that break the game’s challenge level, so it would be tough to make it that much worse.

    • aerozol says:

      I know what you mean. In a game where you can get a build not even an hour in, that kills pretty much anything one hit with fists on hard, adding variety for variety’s sake can be all right.
      On your ‘Lockpicking Skill’ note, not only is it useless to put points into that, but it actually damages your characters effectiveness when it skills up, as monsters scale. Ughhh, so annoying. That’s not even taking into account the skeleton key..

  26. iucounu says:

    Skyrim already looks rather lovely to me – it’s running just about flawlessly on Ultra settings and apart from some chunky up-close textures I’m very happy with it.

    It is, however, Oblivion. Don’t get me wrong – I like Oblivion a lot, once you fix the most broken bits of the game mechanics with mods – but Skyrim is a more pretty Oblivion with the aforesaid broken bits much improved. The levelling, for example, is not overtly fucked, which is a massive step forward. But I’m rather wondering, are there a bunch of missed opportunities here?

    I was watching Frozen Planet the other night, in which the Antarctic wastes howl with freezing blizzards, and under the ice elegant or bizarre creatures contend with brinicles and the like. I’m thinking, I can stand at the top of a mountain in Skyrim for as long as I like and not die. I can swim in freezing waters and a) not die b) never see anything weirder than a salmon. I can’t help feeling that’s less interesting than it could be.

    Skyrim is cold. Let’s see some mods where you actually die if you linger outside too long. Let’s see hunting actually being a survival skill rather than a way to create useless chests full of Leg of Goat Roasts. Climbing a tall mountain or exploring the depths of a freezing ocean ought to be something you work up to by acquiring various magical endurance traits, and the stuff you find there ought to have the weird alien thrill you get from seeing what echinoderms get up to at the Poles.

    I’m very happy zipping around Skyrim like the demigod I now am, occasionally biffing trolls, but the really interesting developments in this game are going to come when modders start exploring the logic of a very cool setting (no pun intended, honest.)

  27. dee says:

    The texture mods don’t impress me too much. I think the landscape textures, by and large, are fine, it’s the blurry clothing that gets me.

    But, my goodness, Realistic Water is indeed the most realistic water rendered in a video game. I say.

  28. Scare Tactics says:

    No coverage on the first mods that were made? Obviously, it was a nudepatch

    • asshibbitty says:

      Nudity is a test bestowed upon you from our Lord. Stay strong, brother. Allahu Akbar.

  29. asshibbitty says:

    Thought this was a satirical post at first, from looking at pictures. Man, that fxaa crap can make the game really ugly. I’ve only got two mods: the one that removes a bunch of markers from compass, and the snowflake textures replacer which reminds me of some older RPG that had weirdly hi-res snowflakes for its time. 

  30. Abundant_Suede says:

    reply fail.

  31. stilzchen says:

    Edit: Comments not displaying for me.

  32. stilzchen says:

    Anyone who is disappointed by the dungeon linearity and lack of opportunity for exploration should play the main quest till Blackreach.

    I agree that it is better to wait for the final texture pack versions to avoid bugs and having HD textures in Whiterun and low res everywhere else, I also dislike this HD texture pack because it diverges too much from the original art design. Only graphics mod I’m running at the moment is Enhanced Night Skys.

  33. Lemming says:

    Is there a mod/way of changing my perks? I allocated a few before I really knew what I could be arsed to experiment with.

  34. JackShandy says:

    Can anyone who’s tried that more difficult dragons mod tell me if it makes them harder, or just longer to defeat?

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      Honestly, it just makes them take longer to defeat. At least right now, until he figures out how to increase their damage without also affecting player spell damage.

      Im thinking thats ok, though. Really, what you want is for the battles to be epic (lengthy) contests, and force you to burn consumable resources and special abilities, but you dont want a creature that kills you in one hit. I’m fine with dragon battles being a test of endurance.

      Because the alternative is something like the Bandit leaders or Draughir lords, who when you scale the difficulty of the game up in order to make garden variety fights a bit more challenging, become unstoppable killing machines, who take out 75% of your health or even one hit you through a raised shield, at least until you’re over level 30, at which point the game’s challenge is essentially non existent on any difficulty setting.

      There’s not likely any realistic way to increase the quality of their AI. I think I’d settle for dragons simply being an epic struggle in terms of length, and the amount of resources they force me to use.

  35. Abundant_Suede says:

    JackShandy : Why else would you go underground in a game like this? You put a quest underground because you want to constrain the number of possibilities, and the number of ways players can complete it.

    Congratulations. I hereby admit I’m going to lose sleep tonight thinking there’s anyone out there who actually believes this is why you put a dungeon in a game based as thoroughly in tabletop rpg traditions, with as strong of an exploration component, as an Elder Scroll game.

    Dungeons are about exploration and mystery. Why does the exploration component have to become sub-par underground, with linear cookie cutter dungeons? Whats the point of all that exploration above ground, finding beckoning doorways, if the doorways never take you anywhere interesting to explore?

    The dungeons certainly look better in Skyrim, with more interesting doors, fixtures and light puzzles, and the occasional completely non-threatening trap. But on the whole I think they are every bit as recycled as the ones in Oblivion. In fact, I distinctly remember a few dungeons (though not many) in Oblivion that were distinctly better, with multiple levels, and alternate routes accessed through the discovery of secret doors.

    You cannot tell me that making the dungeons more interesting, less predictable places to explore would in any way make the game worse. Obviously, a confusing or boring dungeon where you wander aimlessly in circles with no idea what to do is a poorly designed dungeon in any event, but that doesn’t mean that rails are the only way to go. There are degrees in between, available to willing designers. As always, Beth prefers quantity to quality, which is fine in some cases…quantity has merits of its own. But what does it gain you to have 5 more dungeons, if those dungeons are virtually indistinguishable from each other ?

    If anything, the recurring argument I’m hearing is, “Skyrim’s dungeons aren’t interesting enough to sustain my attention for very long, so I want to get in and out as fast as possible”. The idea that simply making it faster and easier to burn though mediocre content is in any way a preferred solution to making the actual content better, and into interesting places you *want* to explore at length.

    Corridor shooters on rails don’t do it for me for dungeons. Not every dungeon has to be Watcher’s Keep, or Undermountain. Nor could they be for purely practical reasons. But it would be nice if some of them were, and the rest of them were somewhere in a varied range between that and what there is now.

    But again. Congratulations. You win. I am now officially too depressed to continue here.

  36. psyk says:

    @pakoito

    Console players pay more so surely they should get more?

  37. alundra says:

    I tried the water and the trees mod, the water one indeed brings it to a while new level, but there are graphical glitches here and there, and the tree improvement, well, looks nice for the most part but the trees now look like cheap plastic xmas trees.

    stilzchen is right and it’s better to wait a few months for more complete versions or perhaps an all encompassing pack that improves the looks while respecting the original artwork.

    now I gotta figure how to uninstall this…

    • aerozol says:

      Just delete the files (;
      You haven’t over-written anything (assuming you’ve been dropping things into the data folder). That’s what I’m loving about the edits out so far, it’s ridiculously easy to apply and get rid of them. In a few months it’ll inevitably be a mess of incompatible complicated installs.

  38. Tyrone Slothrop. says:

    I’m not sure whether it’s something I’m doing but the next time you post texture-comparison images RPS, please make the image large enough to actually discern differences.

  39. benx says:

    Have any of you been to Darkreach or Blackreach or whatever it was called? I spent a couple hours clearing out that massive, massive area and I have to say, as cool as that place is, I did get pretty sick of it. I prefer the nice and quick dungeons that most of Skyrim is.

  40. matrices says:

    FXAA injector is easily the best graphics mod to the game to date. Preset 3 with graininess set to 0.03 rather than 0.05 (the second to last setting in the .h file). You can see the difference even more clearly by pressing the pause/break key on your keyboard while in-game.

    Default is way too washed out and nights don’t look anything like nights.

  41. Blackseraph says:

    Ah dammit I only have warband.

    Perhaps I should buy mount&blade then.

  42. Bodylotion says:

    Dragons are easy ? If u turn difficulty to “Master” They’re pretty hard to beat at a lower lvl.

  43. Saiko Kila says:

    Thank you for that Mound and Blade mod.

    Skyrim mods… I do try too, the vanilla game’s looking kind of bland (I do understand the general hype, I don’t understand the buzz about graphics and looks of this game).

  44. qwiggalo says:

    Can you guys post hi-rez uncompressed shots? You’re not going to be able to tell the difference with these poor images.

  45. Ultra-Humanite says:

    I’m sure no one will read this but I’d be wary about screwing around with the timescale settings. In Oblivion, certain quests (the ones, not surprisingly perhaps, dependent on time of day) would break when the timescale setting was messed with.