Thursday, July 26, 2012

Morrowind Warpaints

I know this post is deviating from what I usually do, but I had enough time to test the mod out, so I thought I'd take the time to take a couple screenshots and post them on here. I'm going to make a post on Tumblr with exactly the same text and pictures, so I apologize for the overkill if you're following them both.

 Xenius redid these beautifully, and they fit right in with the rest of the originals in-game. There are a total of nine new war paints added to the race menu with this mod, each in the appropriate race in line with how they were in Morrowind. 
 I had to do a double-take to make sure they weren’t already in there before the mod! Seamlessly integrated and already in the lore, the warpaints from Morrowind are the perfect addition to anyone looking to make a Morrowind-related character.

I know I’ll be using one of them in my next play-through, but it’ll be tough to choose which one. If you're interested in seeing the rest and downloading them for yourself, you can find Morrowind Warpaints on Nexus.

Anyway, that's all for now. I'm glad I was able to at least post this week, but I doubt I'll have time to make a "real" post for at least a few more days. Let me know if you enjoyed this, and maybe I'll make little posts like this more often. Until next time.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Birds of Skyrim

Well, I told myself I'd be posting again at the beginning of July, but here we are in the last full week. Real life has been exceptionally social and productive, which sadly for the internet means that I haven't had too much time to blog. Luckily I've had the footage for this one sitting on my hard drive for a couple weeks, so it didn't take too long to put together once I found a couple hours to spare.

The last time I wrote here, I mentioned that I would begin discussing mods that implemented new creatures into the game. This is the first of that endeavor, and it's a pretty well-made one at that. I present to you Birds of Skyrim, a mod that feels like it should have been there in the first place. You already hear birds in the game, especially if you have a mod like Sounds of Skyrim running, and occasionally you'll see hawks flying high above you or in the distance and dead pheasants hanging from hooks in bandit camps. Why not add a few more to the landscape?

There isn't too much to say about the mod because it does exactly what you'd expect it to. None of the birds are aggressive, though you can kill most of them if you'd like. All of them fit right in with the climate of Skyrim, and some are variations of what few birds are present in the original game, such as chicks and roosters. Seeing pigeons in towns and the occasional gull by the water just feels natural, and now that I've been using the mod in my game, it seems ridiculous to imagine a world without them. Don't take my word for it, though; go ahead and see them for yourself.

For those who might expect a mod that adds new creatures to the game to be a bit of a pain to install, let me assure you that this is just as easy as any other little mod you can find on my blog. Because they're all hand placed and not replacing anything in the original game, there's little to no issues with compatibility, and it should be painless to uninstall if you decide you don't enjoy it. If this sounds promising to you, be sure to read more about it or download it from Nexus.

 That's all for now. I have a couple more creature mods planned for the future, but it's hard to tell when I'll have the time to post again. None of them are too gigantic, but it does take a considerable amount of time getting the right footage. I might be free next week, but I definitely won't be making any promises. Until next time, whenever that may be.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

SkyTEST: Realistic Animals and Predators

In my last blog post, I mentioned that I would probably continue talking about changes to the creatures of Skyrim. At that time, I wasn't sure how compatible the mod for this time would be with Real Wildlife, so I was mainly just hoping I would be lucky.

Apparently I was; SkyTEST works beautifully with Real Wildlife, and I made the video for today while using them both together. SkyTEST changes the various animals of Skyrim to behave more like they would in the real world. The wilderness with SkyTEST feels much more like exaggerated nature rather than simply a plain with generated monsters to fight. You'll run into large packs of wolves, sabre cats fighting for territory and food, goats and elk defending their young, and rabbits sneaking cabbage from the local crop fields. The animals will now behave as you expect them to, and it makes every encounter much more interesting to witness.

I've added a bit more commentary to this video and was surprised at how well I was able to match my words to the action. I'm still learning, though, so I apologize if you have to turn up the volume or don't understand everything that I'm saying. That being said, most of the mod speaks for itself.

As I said earlier, this video was filmed while using both SkyTEST and Real Wildlife, and I'm really happy with how well they've been working together. If you'd like to watch more features of the mod in action, be sure to take a look at the videos uploaded by the mod author. If you'd like to know more about SkyTEST or think it'd be a valuable addition to your load order, you can find a more detailed description of the mod and the download on the Nexus.

That's all for now. Keeping with the trend of creatures, I intend to discuss some mods that add completely new creatures to the game in the near future. I'll likely post again sometime next week. Until next time.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Real Wildlife

After I covered Resilient Dragons, I started paying a bit more attention to how the player interacts with his or her environment, and the various animals and creatures of Skyrim are a very big part of that. The next couple mods I discuss will likely focus on changes to wildlife behavior and new additions to encounters you'd find in the wild.

One of the main things that I always thought was a bit odd with killing various animals in Skyrim is that most of the resources you could potentially receive from a dead animal are wasted when you try to take from its body. All you can ever get from most animals is the hide or the meat. What makes this even more peculiar is when you can find body parts of specific animals but not of others, such as the Sabre Cat eye or the Troll fat. Why are trolls the only ones with enough fat to scoop up? This limit in the resources from animals makes hunting a lot less thrilling.

Real Wildlife aims to add a bit more variety to animal corpses and goes even further by adding variance in age and health to most of the common creatures of Skyrim. You can find herds of wild deer, horses, or cows, each with different ages and the potential to be diseased. In the dirtier settlements you may find small rats, ants or spiders. New ingredients also mean new recipes and new food, which can be cooked as normal. For a better idea of what this variety looks like in-game, be sure to watch the video.

Another important thing to keep in mind before deciding to get this mod is that each age of creature will have its own difficulty, meaning the mature animals may prove to be very difficult to take down. The youngest age variants are closer to Skyrim's original creature difficulty, which means most animals will be much tougher. But if the challenge is something you're willing to accept, the variety makes hunting and traveling through the wilderness a much more rewarding experience. If this sounds like your kind of mod, but sure to read the full description and download it from either the Nexus or Steam Workshop.

That's all for now. Be sure to check back later this month as I continue to discuss various improvements to gameplay in the wilds of Skyrim. Until next time.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Resilient Dragons

I've decided to be true to my word and continue to discussing mods that focus much more on gameplay rather than strictly visual changes. What this means for the blog is longer posts with much more detail in the descriptions. I don't think I'm going to hide the full posts on the main page initially, but I might have to go back and edit these if I can't fit a bunch of posts on one page. We'll see what happens.

When I think about Skyrim, one thing always pops into my head: dragons. Not only were they a huge marketing point of the game before its initial release, they also play a gigantic role in the main quest. Those of you that already have played through Skyrim obviously are aware of this fact. However, one common complaint about the dragons is that they never seem to be very scary after the initial excitement wears off. There have been dozens of instances in Skyrim where I've casually walked by civilians completely mutilating the poor beast as if it were a limping mudcrab. Why should Skyrim need a hero like the Dragonborn to stop something so weak if a couple guards and a housewife and take on the thing and live to tell the tale?

Resilient Dragons changes all of that, but not in the way you might expect. Most mods that aim to add difficulty to the game will make dragons deal more damage and destroy anything that gets in their way, including your character. The author of Resilient Dragons elected to focus more on making sure you as the Dragonborn are the most adept at killing the dragons, and other characters simply don't have what it takes to put the thing down. This goal is achieved by increasing the health of dragons and adding resistances against damage dealt by NPCs. Commoners will also know to run now due to an "aura" that scares anyone that doesn't know how to handle themselves in combat. This mainly means anyone but guards and potential followers. It's going to take a lot longer to kill a dragon now, and having the rest of the world on your side isn't going to be very effective.

The video that I've made for this mod is exciting for me because it's my first real attempt at recording my audio while filming at the same time. This feat was especially difficult while trying to fight off a dragon, let alone a resilient one. As you will see, I wasn't entirely successful, either.

There's a very noticeable difference in the combat after adding this mod, and I have a feeling it's going to take some getting used to. My character in particular was having a difficult time due to my lack of ranged combat, which now has become something of a necessity. I wouldn't recommend getting a mod like this if you aren't prepared to adjust your play style accordingly. For those that are, you can find Resilient Dragons on both the Nexus and Steam Workshop.

For those of you that didn't enjoy my dialogue or didn't think anything I said was necessary, know that I will only be adding my voice for when I consider it useful for displaying the mod in question. Please speak up if you feel this way, though; I'd like to know what kinds of mods should include a voiced video and which shouldn't. At this time, I plan on only adding my voice to gameplay mods that aren't strictly visual. I'd love to know what you think, so be sure to comment on here, YouTube, or my Tumblr. Until next time.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Mighty Magick

Welcome to the wonderful world of new content! From now on I'll be saving any strictly visual mods for my compilation posts. I've been saying for a long time that I'm going to shift my blog to talk more about mods that affect gameplay, so I figured that forcing myself out of the comfort zone is the best way to do it.

There a number of things about the various skills of Skyrim that people generally want to change, but for me, the big one is the magic system. I loved how in the previous games you could create your own spells, and they wouldn't be terrible in comparison to what's already available to you from merchants and the like. I also loved how every spell was useful in its own way, no matter what level you were at the time. Skyrim got rid of this by introducing a system of strictly better spells replacing the old ones as you increase in skill. For some schools this may make sense, but it's a bit frustrating to only have one really good destruction spell at your disposal that's in the element of your choice. The streamlining of all of the effects also makes it a lot harder to concentrate on the other schools of magic. Also, if you get enough enchantments strapped onto your equipment, you can be casting your one good destruction spell for free! Something about that doesn't really scream "balanced" to me.

Mighty Magick aims to remedy these complaints through a complete overhaul of the system and a reorganization of each of the schools. First of all, each spell has a label of the school's name in front of it now so that they are easy to find in a list. All of your spells will increase in potency as your skill increases, allowing all of your spells to remain useful if you choose to stick with them. Destruction gets more damage; Alteration, Restoration, and Illusion get more magnitude; and Conjuration gets more duration. Enchantments have been swapped with potions for the potential to cast free spells. Potions will now provide lower casting cost, whereas enchantments will magnify the effects of the school's spells. This allows both to still be useful without being game-breaking or overpowered. Dual casting costs more but amplifies the effect more, making using only magic a bit more exciting. Each of the schools have been made a bit more powerful in their own way, and there's been a bit of swapping between schools (paralysis and light spells now fall under Illusion instead of Alteration).

On top of the balancing act that Mighty Magick miraculously accomplishes, it also adds several of the old spells to Skyrim. Alteration now has Feather (increased carrying capacity), Sanctuary (targeting shield effects), Slowfall (falling from heights without being hurt), Elemental Resistance spells, and Elemental Weakness spells. Restoration has been given Resist Posion and Disease spells, unique Fortify spells for every skill, Absorb spells that work based on concentration, and spells to Fortify health, stamina, and magicka. Illusion now has a night vision spell that works the same way as the Khajiit racial power and a Fade Other spell to turn other people invisible. Conjuration has sadly only been given a permanent summon Dremora Lord spell, but hopefully the author will expand this a bit more in the future.

I've included my voice in the video because I thought a couple of my clips needed a bit more explanation. I must warn you; it's pretty boring. I suppose that's what happens when the majority of mod aims at balancing the game rather than making it more flamboyant. Definitely not a bad thing, though, at least not in my book.

As you probably noticed, all of the new spells are available at the College of Winterhold. It'd be nice if the author added some of the minor spells to leveled lists and the like, but that probably won't come until later updates. That being said, I really like this mod for the balancing effects; the new additions are really just an added bonus. If my incredibly lengthy explanation of this mod wasn't enough for you, or if you're completely sold on the idea of it, be sure to check out Mighty Magick for yourself over on the Nexus.

That's all for now. A bit of a side note: if you're interested in seeing some screenshots and more fun videos that show what I've been working on in my free time other than this blog, be sure to check out my Tumblr. I've been playing around with voiced dialogue in the Creation Kit, and the experimental videos I make with it probably won't be published on here unless I make a public mod out of them. I love hearing your opinions, and asking me questions on there might be the best way to reach me. Plus I'll be more inclined to talk about my personal life, which isn't something that's really fitting for this blog. Until next time.

Friday, May 18, 2012

My Current Specifications

Here's a list of my new computer's specifications for those who were interested. It's definitely not the fastest out there, but it's great for what I do.

OS: Windows 7 Home Premium (x64)
Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-2600 CPU @ 3.40GHz, 3401 Mhz, 4 Cores, 8 Logical Processors
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 550 Ti
Sound: Realtek High Definition Audio
Physical Memory (RAM): 16.0 GB
Virtual Memory: 32.0 GB

I'll post some screenshots of what my game looks like below.