Headline With A ?: Skyrim Texture Pack?

By Alec Meer on February 6th, 2012 at 11:24 am.

SO REAL

File under ‘extremely vague online reports that we’re honestly not going to take entirely seriously until there’s more proof’ and ‘oh, that would be lovely, and just the idea of it happening is enough to move me to post wanton rumour-mongering’ and ‘how to immediately upset a load of modders who’ve spent months diligently Photoshopping new high-res textures in pursuit of prettiness and online fame’.

Some news we managed to not report: the Skyrim Creation Kit, i.e. the official omni-mod tool, is ‘on track’ to land on Steam tomorrow. That’s according to Bethesda’s lead person-spoker Pete Hines, who teasingly added that “we also have a special surprise with it. What could it be?” Well, a few folk have dug up partial, alleged evidence to suggest that it’ll be high-res textures for the PC version of the game. Probably not accurate: but, oh, oh! Imagine if it was…

Here’s what a Bethesda forumite uncovered:

This was apparently taken from a deep dive into the Steam Content Description Records, which have at least proven to be accurate sources of upcoming releases in the past (e.g. Alan Wake PC), but it’s also the kind of image that could be fabricated with great ease. So I just can’t tell you anything about whether that image is convincing or not. I’m sorry. Go go data sleuths. But if it’s true: hummanah-hummanah, eh? Skyrim PC launched with rather too many Skyrim Console features ported over wholesale, with textures and interface being the key culprits.

I’m not sure which one I’d prefer to see an official fix for, so I’ll say ‘both’ and remain happy with even this faint and vaguely implausible prospect of the muddy textures being replaced with sharper, crisper official new’uns. Of course, there are multiple mods which aim to redress that problem already, but it’s more than likely that new versions derived from Bethesda’s image source files will be dandier and more of a natural fit than modders’ wholesale replacements. Or perhaps the mods will remain superior to any official update. Choice is a nice thing to have, in any case.

All being well, we’ll find out tomorrow. Fingers crossed. If it’s not textures – what might it be? EH?

Oh, it is worth noting that Bethesda have been pretty good about adding in stuff that the community’s cried for – for instance, using more than 2GB of RAM, improving compiler optimisation settings, having escape set to exit menus, the audio quality crash bug… While they’ve not always been amazingly speedy about it, they do at least seem to be listening – and that hopefully bodes well for other major requests being met.

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68 Comments »

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  1. Captain Hijinx says:

    Holy shit

    This would be fantastic!

  2. gingerpembers says:

    Rather a swanky new UI!

    • sqparadox says:

      My problem is that I’m not sure Bethesda can make a good UI, when have they? Morrowind’s UI was okay; Oblivion’s was terrible but not as bad as Skyrim’s (in some ways). Fallout 3’s UI was better than Oblivion’s, but it certainly wasn’t a good UI. And Fallout New Vegas was developed by Obsidian.

      Look at followers, they didn’t even port over the command wheel from Fallout New Vegas (for the love of God, someone please mod that in). They stuck with the same terrible dialogue based system from Oblivion/Fallout, and that work had already been done for them!

      At least I’m confident Bethesda can do a good high-res texture pack. What if Bethesda redo the whole interface and it still sucks? I’d still end up using mods, which have (for me at least) fixed most of the problems already.

    • Fearzone says:

      Rather a hi-res texture pack. First, I’d like better of the same graphics, not redone ones. Second, modders do better UIs anyway. Even if Bethesda did fix their UI, chances are I would still use a mod.

      Overall Skyrim is a once-in-a-decade great game, and appearances are a part of that greatness. But if Skyrim were graded on interface alone, it would deserve an F or a D. So if Bethesda can stick with what they are good at and leave modders to handle where they’ve crashed and burned, that makes sense to me.

    • Wut The Melon says:

      What? You mean you’re still playing with the vanilla UI? GO DOWNLOAD SkyUI NAO!
      http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/downloads/file.php?id=3863

      Seriously though, I’m a graphics freak and Vanilla Skyrim hurts my eyes, but this mod really is the best Skyrim mod there is. It really fixes the inventory and magic screen so they actually work on a PC. Still waiting for it to fix some other UI aspects as well but it’s doing a great job so far so I’m prepared to wait.

  3. caddyB says:

    By this time next week, Skyrim will be much different. And better, overall.

  4. amorpheous says:

    Lately it seems that nay-saying anything that Bethesda *might* do for the benefit of Skyrim players ends up with Bethesda actually doing it (except for replacing the crappy PC UI – they won’t change that any time soon). I’m hoping this trend continues.

  5. Premium User Badge

    piphil says:

    Sounds great, but it would have to be optimised so it doesn’t simply melt my machine, as Quarl’s texture pack used to when applied to Oblivion.

    As a random aside, I installed the 12.1 Catalyst drivers, the AMD game profiles and the 1.4 update before the weekend, and the result was much smoother gameplay (HD6870, C2Duo, 4GB RAM) than before. I know, “PC Gamer in latest drivers improve performance shocker!” etc, but I was surprised in this case how much better it played, allowing me to ramp up everything to “Ultra” settings with no problem.

    • amorpheous says:

      Do you know how it performs without the game profiles. I can’t install the Crapalyst Control Centre as it makes my machine BSOD on boot; I have to do a custom install with drivers and anything other than the CCC selected.

    • 2late2die says:

      Can I ask you what kinda performance are you getting from this?
      ‘Cause I have a system similar to yours, and actually a bit more powerful, but last time I checked I’m hovering around 30-35fps on average, which is less than what I’d like and that’s not with highest settings (certainly not on ultra). Although I haven’t tested with 12.1 and 1.4 yet. (P.S. I’m also not OC’ing so I guess it could be that as well)

    • Aezay says:

      @2late2die
      The Catalyst 12.1, or was it 12.0, drivers improved Skyrim performance a fair bit. On top of that, the Skyrim 1.4 patch improved the compiler settings, which as a result improved framerates for all those who were CPU capped, which most people with a good graphics card were.
      If you update your drivers and Skyrim, expect a 20-40% increase in fps.

    • Prime says:

      Just nipped into the game to have a look and Piphil is spot on: I’m seeing a huge FPS boost in the game. I’m not sure by how much but Markarth is smooth for me now; it’s never been smooth during any of the 108 hours I’ve put into this game! :)

    • Premium User Badge

      piphil says:

      Unfortunately, I don’t know exactly what has caused the framerate boost – the Catalyst driver and the 1.4 patch appeared to arrive pretty much at once for me, and I installed the game profiles out of interest just after the driver was installed.

      The game wasn’t chugging frame-rate wise before, just very stuttery, like it was having caching problems. Now it’s very smooth, much more immersive. I don’t know what FPS I’m getting, and frankly I don’t really care. :-P

    • Snargelfargen says:

      @piphil – Skyrim handles loading new textures and models far, far better than Oblivion ever did. So long as you have a 1gb video card, you should be able to enjoy the high res textures.

      There are some pointlessly high definition texture packs out there that are meant for 2gb+ video cards though, so read the fine print before downloading too many mods.

    • Premium User Badge

      piphil says:

      @Snargelfargen That’s good to hear. The 6870 is 1GB so I should be OK then. It’s odd what does and doesn’t effect framerates with modern GPUs and hardware. Effects like antialiasing that I normally turn off out of habit due to past experiences simply doesn’t have the same impact on performance as with previous hardware generations.

    • KlaxonOverdrive says:

      12.1 messes up TF2 for me. I had to revert to 11.3 or whatever that last one was.

    • 2late2die says:

      @Aezay: That’s good to hear. I do have both already installed just didn’t get around to checking Skyrim yet. I am probably CPU capped as I’m still sporting a i750 but have 6870 in crossfire (and 8GB of RAM), with that said, I don’t remember much impact from that MOD that was suppose to fix that CPU-cap related lag, still this is official patch and I also have the 12.1 drivers so I’m optimistic. I’ll check it tonight and report my findings. :)

  6. Noodlemonk says:

    I guess this surprise will be either good or bad. Perhaps average.

    • Synesthesia says:

      hah! this could be a good new meme. I expect to see it in every thread from now on. Now go, be free!

  7. Was Neurotic says:

    Whilst I’m personally very happy with the textures as they are, I’d much rather have ‘official’ features than mods like community-authored gfx packs in a new game. Which is to say, hurrah for Bethsoft!

    • The Colonel says:

      That’s like being very happy with a “Complete Hitman” franchise pack that doesn’t contain Blood Money. You can not particularly care about it because the first game is actually very good, some might say better, but to be very happy with getting less than you should be getting? That’s just very odd. Very happy. Very happy? But the textures stink. It doesn’t bother me that much – there are many more pressing reasons why I find the game unbearable. But very happy? With shit textures? Very happy?

    • Premium User Badge

      oceanclub says:

      “the hit zones under each menu option are not very big”

      It’s a small thing, but one of my biggest annoyance. Very easy to select wrong menu options.

      P.

    • Was Neurotic says:

      @The Colonel

      Yes, “very happy”, you nailed it in one. But then again, I’m one of those weirdos who has no problem with the vanilla UI either. ;)

  8. roryok says:

    You know what? I actually don’t mind the interface that much. Sure, it takes a second to find the potion you’re after, but it’s really not THAT bad. The way you lot all go on about it you’d swear it was made of dead babies

    • Prime says:

      It IS made of dead babies; you’re WRONG.

    • wccrawford says:

      I never minded it either, but then, I play with the controller on the PC.

      For me, the real travesty is the hotkey mapping on the controller. 2 hotkeys!? In a game with dozens of spells and hundreds of items? Yeah, that’s ridiculous. I’ve used a mod to remap the gamepad so that I have 8 hotkeys, and I still find that isn’t enough to avoid the menus fairly often.

      I feel really sorry for the console players who can’t fix that at all.

    • roryok says:

      Actually what bugs me most about it is the hit zones under each menu option are not very big. It’s possible to click on a menu item on the left, and accidentally click through it, exiting the menu. That shouldn’t happen.

      @wccrawford pssshhh. Don’t feel sorry for them, it’s their own fault for trying to play a PC game on a toaster.

      @prime when you think about it, in a way, EVERYTHING is made out of dead babies.

    • werix says:

      @roryok

      That same thing with the menu happens to me all the time, and really get on my nerves. Its even worse when it happens in dialog and I have to clock my way through so long little lorebomb I just heard and accidentally clicked on again due to those small UI boxes.

      I also will agree that the UI is horrible and so useless at times. Spells, weapons, armor are fine; but when i get to the misc. area and all my soul gems all over the damned place, or potions, MY GOD THE POTIONS PAGE! That page is such a hot mess, ive stopped using alchemy on my newer characters because having to scroll through tons of poisons and potions to find what I need makes me want to punch dead babies.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      Given that I’ve modded my carryweight and am carrying half of Skyrim, the interface couldn’t be a worse POS.
      It should get an award for one of the worst and most thoughtlessly ported interfaces on the PC.

    • KlaxonOverdrive says:

      No, no, the babies aren’t dead, they’re live babies who’s souls have been harnessed for their menu-making properties and enslaved for an eternity of torment. Dead babies just lay there.

    • roryok says:

      maybe I just havent played long enough. I’m only level 20

    • Zenicetus says:

      I’ve been using the SkyUI mod, which makes inventory organization, potion use, etc. much easier. Also cleans up the Magic and Barter screens. It’s a little fussy to use, because you need to launch the game through the SKSE launcher, and you have to track patch updates and download new versions. Still, for me it’s worth it. This is the mod I waited for, before bothering with mods at all:

      http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/downloads/file.php?id=3863

      The UI mod I really want to see now, is something that streamlines the Favorites menu and makes choosing and swapping spells and abilities smoother in combat. I know there are mods that add more hot keys, but that whole thing needs to be revamped somehow.

      Since the modders are doing okay with UI improvements, and Bethesda made such a mess of the original design, I’d rather see a high-res texture pack from Bethesda, or an announcement of new DLC.

    • Was Neurotic says:

      I have to agree with roryok tbh. I use the keyboard to play the game and navigate the menus, and I find it makes total sense using the keys that my fingers are already on (i.e. WASD) to move around the menus. The fact that you make the initial entry using a N,E,S,W (again, WASD) selection is completely natural, and choosing sub-menus a further logical extension of that.

      I’ve always wanted to go online and say that Skyrim’s UI is one of the best, if not the best, I’ve ever used, but I know I’ll get torn apart in seconds, so I’ve- shit *runs like the clappers*

  9. Prime says:

    I’ve been taking a break from Skyrim right through January. I was nearing the end of the game’s main plot, too. A high-res texture pack could be just the kick I need to go back and finish the damn thing. Here’s hoping!

    • amorpheous says:

      I haven’t played since just before Christmas. I’d easily spent a couple of hundred hours in game by that point, but I can’t bring myself to get back into it now. May try again this week.

    • caddyB says:

      I’ve also played for like 100 hours but haven’t played any since late december as well. I’ve been waiting for mods to give it another playthrough.

  10. Velvetmeds says:

    I hope not… There are already enough mods to make it look really really good. I’d prefer some sort of DLC announcement. Let the modders work on what’s already there and Bethesda on new content

    • Aezay says:

      I’m pretty certain they are working on DLC already. But you know, it doesn’t take an entire team to create/release a hi-res texture pack, maybe their artists just had some extra time on their hands?

    • Necroscope says:

      I think it’ll be great publicity for Bethesda, to give PC gamers something they can show off on the internet. + It may help that uneasy feeling I got at certain textures appearing to be of a bygone era lol. I personally am considering starting over if this information is true.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      The original textures for most games are created at a high resolution and are then scaled down for consoles. Chances are releasing a texture pack was the work of a couple days.

      This is also why there was such an outcry about the poor textures on pc when Skyrim first came out.

  11. Apples says:

    The image for this article cut off at the bottom of my screen at just the right place to look like the top of a Skyrim mammoth. “Bloody hell, that’s the best texture I’ve ever seen,” I thought. Imagine my disappointment when I scrolled down and found out it was only rubbish real life! Booo!

  12. Unaco says:

    Oh, it is worth noting that Bethesda have been pretty good about adding in stuff that the community’s cried for – for instance, using more than 2GB of RAM, improving compiler optimisation settings, having escape set to exit menus, the audio quality crash bug

    Bethesda and Valve also got together to make sure any future mods (specifically things like the Script Extenders), which change the executables while running in memory, don’t run foul of Steam’s Custom Executable Generation (CEG – which encrypts the executable and doesn’t decrypt it all at the same time in memory). Is great to see a company like Bethesda listening to the community and really putting in an effort to accommodate them.

    • caddyB says:

      I think it’s great as well, but we should keep in mind that’s also one of the reasons why their games are so popular/long lived. Without the massive modding scene and support for it, they wouldn’t be where they are right now.

      It’s still pretty cool of them to do this though *looks at other publishers* some guys don’t know how to play to their strengths.

  13. bill says:

    Well the textures look ok, but the shadows and lighting look rather last gen. It’s probably because it was developed for consoles.

  14. Premium User Badge

    MajorManiac says:

    Given that user mods will now be accessible on Steam, and that Bethesda are really pushing to make the modding community strong (even more so than it already is). I recon they may add a mod shop service. Where modders can charge a small fee for their creations.

    Steam and Bethesda will of course take a small cut of the profits.

    • caddyB says:

      Only problem with mods for cash is that the modding scene is volatile and filled with drama as it is, you put money in it and I don’t think the results will be pretty.

    • Velvetmeds says:

      I wouldn’t pay a dime for any mod

    • Stuart Walton says:

      Modding scenes in general have matured to the point that contributors are wary of and respect the copyright and IP issues. Usually if you just ask, a creator will let you use their stuff.

      The only real sticking point was when people wanted to put together mod packs but the whole Steam Workshop thing is meant to get around all that. Although things do get sketchy again when you get conflicting mods and someone creates a fix that requires the alteration of a mod they don’t own. Sorting those issues when money is involved will, I think, slow things down while agreements are made. It shouldn’t stop them outright, though.

      One of the challenges of Steam Workshop is to communicate what licenses each mod has and to make it easy for mod developers to share. Problems arise when creators make something using resources they themselves don’t have the right to redistribute. Letting creators know what rights they have before they start is the best way to deal with things.

    • Unaco says:

      Mods for cash is a terrible, terrible idea.

    • Necroscope says:

      So you’re not in any way in favour of the Starcraft Marketplace, that will enable modders to charge a fee for mods and maps? I personally think it is awesome. Gives guys another route into the games industry based on raw talent, but it may leave players unhappy at being charged for stuff they were able to download free previously. I’m in favour of it, if there is quality assurance, which the community in part determines.

  15. thegooseking says:

    I used to want better textures, but then I realised my graphics card is a little on the old side and was lower-mid-range to begin with.

    You thought I was going to say, “but then I took an arrow to the knee”, didn’t you? Apart from having passed the point of tediousness, that wouldn’t even make any freaking sense.

    • doktorfisch says:

      Actually, I was about to think of that, but then I took an arrow to the knee.

    • caddyB says:

      I’m going to make a mod that puts arrows in people’s knees.

  16. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    I say, it’s not only high-res textures, but a complete set of texture packs, easily switchable like in Minecraft. We will be able to switch out boring old classic Skyrim for Steampunk-Sykrim, Spacestation-Skyirm and Candy-Skyrim where the mountains are chocolate and the snow is cotton candy.

  17. RegisteredUser says:

    I was about to comment “Maybe this time they’ll release it as if it were really made/optimized/supported for the PC”, but then read the rest of the OP and realized yea, you pretty much said most of that already.

    I am also happy to finally see a proper modkit out now.

    The community was already doing great before, I look forward all the more to what will come.

  18. povu says:

    A texture pack as a free official mod, hosted on the workshop, would be a clever way of drawing new people into modding.

  19. deadly.by.design says:

    Well, the one Bethesda guy on Twitter DID say that a surprise was coming along with the Skyrim CK:
    http://twitter.com/#!/search?q=%23whatcoulditbe

    Official hi-res would make sense, as it gives people a reason to use the new service. (as povu said)

  20. Premium User Badge

    bear912 says:

    Hey look! That’s a picture of me! Or, at least, of one of my 912 personalities.

  21. Synesthesia says:

    Grizzly man!!
    What a fantastic film. I just realized i never made time to see the cave of forgotten dreams. Shit.

  22. Valvarexart says:

    High-res textures will probably be paid DLC…. Pay $35 for double the pixels, who wouldn’t do that?

    Oh, and also: Wasn’t it confirmed that they WOULD release a high-res texture pack?
    http://www.pcgamer.com/2011/07/06/the-elder-scrolls-v-skyrim-pc-to-get-mod-tools-high-res-textures-and-upgraded-interface/

    • Unaco says:

      “High-res textures will probably be paid DLC”

      I bet you they won’t be. Beth aren’t going to release (and charge for) some DLC that can be produced by the community and released by them for free. After Horse Armour, I’d expect them to play it quite sensibly/safe with their DLC.

    • Valvarexart says:

      I hope you don’t think I was being entirely serious.

  23. MythArcana says:

    Include the high resolution textures and exclude vALVe completely and then I’m game.

    • Davie says:

      Are you referring to Steam? Or do you actually have a problem with VaLvE and their apparently ambiguous capitalization?

  24. Roshin says:

    Launching the toolset and opening the Steam mod shop with an official high res texture pack would be an excellent idea, so I hope it’s true. If it’s not, then I will be very cross indeed and probably put too much sugar in my tea.

  25. Davie says:

    Oh. Well that’s a bit disappointing. Skyrim’s vanilla textures really don’t bother me at all, with the exception of the trees and water, which I have fixed. I was hoping for some small piece of DLC that showed something like the full extent of what the CK was capable of, or at least horse armor. Oh well. Creation Kit! Yeah!