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.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Road So Far

After what seems like a lifetime, I'm happy to say that I finally have Skyrim up and running again on my new computer. I'll make a separate post with the exact specifications for those who are interested, but now that I can finally play again, all I really want to do is talk about all the mods I can finally get.

I've been keeping a list of all the mods I plan on adding to my game, and there are several that have already been installed but haven't been discussed simply due to the size of the mod in question. I try to avoid making large posts about tiny mods because I feel like it's too much of an effort for something that could be covered together with others. Because of this mentality, I like to make slightly larger posts every once in a while to talk about all the mods I haven't been able to feature. Those of you that regularly read this blog or my Oblivion blog know that I do this due to my previous explanations and posts regarding these kinds of mods. So for those of you that have no interest in reading about the little things, feel free to move along or skip to the video toward the end of this post.

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Fresh Start

Well, May is here, and as promised, I have returned to Skyrim with a new and much more capable computer. I've already installed my previous setup and can play on Ultra with a steady 30fps. Needless to say, I'm pretty happy.

But ever new beginning comes with new challenges, and I definitely have a couple. I've been spending quite a bit of time fooling around with the Creation Kit because I now have my new microphone and can create custom characters with voiced dialogue. Sadly the Creation Kit's dialogue system is much more complex than I anticipated. It look my several hours to figure out how to make my voice show up in game and paired with lip movement, but now I know how to make basic dialogue options complete with topics and varied responses. However, I haven't had any luck with custom greetings yet, so that's the next big item on my to-learn list. I've posted a very short video below of an NPC I created using my voice. Be sure to let me know what you think.

The second major issue is deciding on what mods to cover next. I really want to go into quest and gameplay mods, but sadly my new character needs a bit more development before I can start running through exciting dungeons and the like. I do still want to make a new post for character beautification with whatever I find that's better than UNP's faces, but obviously that's on hold until I can find a good replacement. Because of this dilemma, I'm ever more open to suggestions than usual, so please don't hesitate to send your recommendations my way. If you're a mod author looking to promote your work, I'd be more than happy to take a look at what you've done. Anything to get me back in the swing of things again.

I'm not sure when I'll be starting up with blog posts with new mods, but I can promise that I'll do my best to start up again this month. Until next time.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Sample of My Voice

While waiting for my new computer to be built, I decided to purchase a new microphone. I'd love to try doing some voice acting for mods, but if nobody is interested in using me for their work, I may have to finally open up the Creation Kit and try to make some for myself. Let me know if you like what you hear and if you think I'd be good for any particular character types. I should be be getting my new computer within the next couple weeks, so look out for an update with more information about that. Until next time.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Temporary Halt

For those of you wondering why I haven't been contributing anything to the blog this past month or so, I went ahead and made a video explaining a little of what's been happening with my computer and what I hope to do about it. Be sure to give me your thoughts on what you'd like to see in the future, and I'll probably be able to start back up again around May. Until next time.

Friday, March 16, 2012

UNP & Better Males

First of all, my apologies for the semi-extended absence. I recently took on new employment, so it's been eating away a lot of my free time. Shouldn't be a huge problem after this week, though.

Today I'm actually going to talking about a mod that I'm not completely fond of, which is kind of a first for me on here. I generally only like to give recommendations, but I felt compelled to cover this one in detail anyway since I sadly will be forced to use it until I find something better. Both mods I'll be discussing are body and face enhancers. I didn't have any major complaints with the default bodies (a first for The Elder Scrolls), but the improvements that mod authors have made to them are just too astounding to ignore.

The first of the two that I'm going to talk about is the one I'm not entirely happy with. The mod is called UNP, which is a body replacer for females. The author did a lot of previous work with the Fallout modding community, and I liked the images I've seen of people using the mod, so I figured that I would enjoy it. And it's true that the body is very nice and much more beautiful than the vanilla one. However, installing a body replacer comes with the sad consequence of finding a good face replacer to match. If the two don't work well together, you find yourself with a dreadful neck seam that always feels impossible to ignore. Because of this, I found myself with no better option than to use the author's face textures. Sadly, I was very disappointed. I wanted the faces to have less worry lines and bags under the eyes, but these textures make the characters look more like plastic dolls than actual people. I have no problem with semi-artificial beauty when it comes to in-game characters, but when all the lines on the face are completely invisible, the image takes a turn for the worse from pretty to shocking. Needless to say, I intend on making another blog post in the future that will feature female faces with realistic detail.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, I was amazed at how much I loved the improvements made by Better Males. The author compiled the perfect combination of face and body mods for men and arranged them beautifully. Each of the races are improved in such a way that their original feel is maintained. I couldn't be happier with the result. Take a look at the video to see what I mean about both of these mods.

I know I just focused on the faces, but that's generally what I look at to determine whether the mod makes enough change to make the mod worth installing. The body improvements for men that I chose to install only affected the skin texture and the detail of the hands and feet. There are things that I definitely pay attention to in-game but generally don't when looking at screenshots and the like. If you disagree with what I said about UNP or are wondering what the body looks like, you check that out and download it from here. And if Better Males looks like just what you were looking for, you can get that from here. Neither are available on Steam Workshop due to the nude options for both body replacers.

I would love to say that next time I'll be covering a better female face replacer that works well with the UNP body, but I'm not sure how likely it is that I'll find one or whether it'd be a good idea to waste a whole blog post on it. I'll probably include my findings in a compilation post at the end of the month. I'm almost done covering atmospheric enhancements, so watch out for posts about new content for the game in the very near future. Until next time.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Sound of It

To do something a little different for the last day of month, I thought I'd do a compilation post and video. There are only a few mods here this time, so I won't be presenting them in exactly the same way that I did with my compilation posts in the past. That being said, I'll still try to keep the descriptions just as brief as possible so the post doesn't go on forever.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Realistic Lighting

As I've said many times in this blog, I have very few complaints with the original version Skyrim. I think Bethesda finally got the majority of the visual aspects of the game right the first time around, which is great for a lot of different reasons, the main one being that the majority of mods that people want to make after the release of the Creation Kit focus more on adding new or different content than replacing it. Because of this change from how things were in the modding community in Oblivion, it's better to call the majority of replacement mods as "enhancements" rather than "fixes". However, there is one thing that Bethesda really should have put in the original game.

Why does everything have to be so bright? The original nights and dungeons are so light that the various fires and lamps that have been scattered around feel more like overkill than actually useful or necessary. The first thing I noticed with my first play-through was how I never even considered picking up a torch. What's the point if the whole country is already bright as day? It kills immersion in a lot of different ways, so a mod to correct this misjudgment was very high on my list.

The best and most customizable mod I've seen published to-date that deals with this problem has to be Plutoman's Realistic Lighting. The nights are darker, the changes in weather types seem more dynamic, and the dungeons are at least twice as terrifying. Non-dungeon interiors are now much dimmer to match the light sources inside of them, and exterior daylight is now less tinted and unnatural. To get an idea of what the change feels like, see it for yourself in my video.

Another great thing about this mod is that its effects are added to the game without any kind of post-processing, meaning that there should be little to no decrease in performance. The Steam version of the mod is incredibly easy to install, and the customizable version is very simple to edit once you understand the various sections of the configuration file. Clearly the best way to see the difference this mod makes is to try it out yourself, so if you like what I had to say or want to know more, you can download Realistic Lighting here from Steam Workshop or here from Skyrim Nexus.

That's all for now. I still would love to hear any recommendations or suggestions you have for me about the mods I discuss or the design of the blog, so please don't hesitate to contact me in any way. From here I'll probably continue with a couple more environment mods, then hopefully move on to more exciting topics like creatures or combat. Until next time.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Enhanced Blood Textures

One thing that Skyrim is great for is its combat. Oblivion's combat system was a massive improvement from Morrowind, and Skyrim took what Oblivion got right and went even further. I doubt I'll be spending much time on mods that change the combat, simply because I love it the way it is. However, there are certain qualities that are tied to combat by association that could use a little help. The biggest offender out of these is blood.

The best way to notice the poorly done original blood is to look at static blood stains. They're all over places like forts and tombs, so it's hard to ignore. But if you pay close enough attention while fighting, you can see that the blood that comes from people and animals is using the same texture. Enhanced Blood Textures does what the name implies; it replaces the blood with higher quality textures. This is great not only for combat, but also for the scenery of dungeons and the like. Check out the video to get a better idea.

Just like any other texture replacer, the install is as simple as extracting the file. The download page on Nexus has a few different optional features as well. I recommend the blurry screen blood, as it keeps closer to same style of screen splatters in the original game. For those using Steam Workshop to install their mods, I'm happy to say that I was finally able to find this on there. You can download Enhanced Blood Textures from Steam Workshop right here, or if you're like me and prefer using Nexus, you can find the main download and optional feature downloads right here.

There has been a few problems with the Creation Kit that have been limiting new content to be leaning more towards replacement rather than addition, so it will probably be a while longer before I begin to discuss mods that actually add more to the game. Next time I'll probably be discussing adjustments to the light of the game, so keep your eyes open for that. Until then.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pure Waters

As I'm sure some of you are aware, I'm a really big fan of mods that improve the quality of water. It's a huge part of the game because you see it almost everywhere you go. Why not make it as beautiful as possible? In Oblivion, I wrote a rather detailed post on Liquid Water, which became known as one of the best water mods ever released for the game. However, the implementation of that system required a Graphics Extender and a great amount of detailed scripting. The mod I'm going to discuss today took significantly less time and effort to create, which just goes to show how much the quality of the vanilla game as a whole has improved since 2006.

Pure Waters makes takes the original water and essentially smooths it out. It blends all the choppy light reflections into the surface of the water and adds a bit more transparency so you can see the wildlife swimming underneath. The rivers flow better and larger bodies of water look less like rapids and more like lakes and ponds. To see the difference yourself, take a look at the video below.

Also unlike Liquid Water from Oblivion, Pure Waters is extremely easy to install. It works just like any other simple mod; just extract the file and you're good to go. I haven't noticed any kind of performance hit, either, which is a bit surprising. For some reason I haven't been able to find any of the mods that I've discussed on here on the Steam Workshop, but I still intend to post links to them whenever I do. If Pure Waters looks good enough to be in your game, you can download it here from Skyrim Nexus.

That's all for the moment. As I said in the previous post, I plan on continuing with atmospheric mods before moving onto a different subject, so now is the time to speak up if you'd like me to cover something in particular in the future. Until next time.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Glorious Grasses

The mod I'm going to discuss today is another beautification mod that is different than something simple like a texture replacer. Due to my overall satisfaction with the official High-Resolution Texture Pack, I doubt I'll be making too many posts that solely focus on replacing textures. But I've been wrong before, so I'll leave the possibility open in case the community comes up with something that pales it in comparison. Until then, though, mods like this one will be much more interesting to me.

There is very little actually wrong with the look of Skyrim. Bethesda really did a terrific job at creating lush and living environments. But there's always more that can be added, which is why this mod is terrific for those that are interesting in taking that extra push forward. Glorious Grasses adds more grass to essentially every area of the game that had grass already. It's hard to say how the author accomplished this task, but it sounds like something that would take a lot of work and a great amount of patience. But the result is very nice and worth the very minor performance hit. Just how much it affects the speed of the game can probably be observed by watching my video.

The mod doesn't add anything that wasn't already in the game, which means its completely compatible with anything the replaces the texture or mesh of the original grass. Because of the lack of new content, it's also very easy to install, since all it is is a single plugin file. I haven't been able to locate the mod on Steam, but if Glorious Grasses caught your eye here, you can download it at your leisure from Skyrim Nexus.

I'll probably continue talking about mods that focus on affecting the atmosphere of the game for the next few posts, but after that I'm still indecisive. I haven't received any kind of feedback on the blog yet, so please don't hesitate to contact me with suggestions! Until next time.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Static Mesh Improvement

For those of you that haven't been keeping up with recent news related to Skyrim, Bethesda recently released free downloadable content for PC users in the form of a high resolution texture pack. The difference for objects like equipment and creatures is stunning, but there a few items that the developers seem to have left out. I considered this a good way of determining which texture replacement mods I would discuss here on the blog.

However, before I go into textures, let me first talk about meshes. The mesh is of course the model onto which the texture is applied, so the level of detail of the mesh is often just as important as the texture. So when you improve the texture of something like a table, the object will only look better defined if the mesh is represented well enough. Brumbek, the author of Static Mesh Improvement, believes that the best way to improve the visual detail of the game is to focus more on changes to the model rather than what texture you put on it. The author's long-term goal is to replace somewhere around two hundred different objects in the game with higher-quality meshes. The most current release includes changes to several pieces of food and furniture. The mod also includes a new opening animation for barrels to go with their new models. A few of these changes can be seen in my video.

Although these changes add a great amount of new detail to various objects within the game, I have yet to experience any kind of performance loss when around these new meshes. The real question is how you want to install it. The modding community now has various options of downloading, uploading, and installing new content due to the creation of the Steam Workshop and the new Nexus Mod Manager. However, these new options don't change my previous preference of using Wrye Bash to install my content after downloading the mod manually from Nexus. Sadly those who are more partial to the Workshop will find that this mod in particular is currently unavailable there for download, but I will always include links to both sites in the future if they are available on either. If my words and video were enough to convince you to try out Static Mesh Improvement for yourself, you can download it from Skyrim Nexus.

The majority of the mods that I will discuss tend to have a large visual component to them simply because it makes them easily to film, but several gameplay mods will also qualify depending on the nature of their changes. I will also always be open for new suggestions and recommendations, so please don't hesitate to let me know what you think. Until next time.

A Fresh Start

Greetings and salutations,

What a better way to introduce my project than to start from the beginning? A year ago yesterday, I decided to begin a blog to make public record of my experiences with modding Oblivion. I began with a series of recommendations on various mods in the form of written commentary and companion video. The order in which I presented them was in the order in which I installed them so that followers could follow my posts and add to their game accordingly without having to worry about incompatibilities and so forth. After I was satisfied with my setup, I stopped adding more to the blog and began enjoying the game.

After the release of Skyrim, I knew the best way to reintroduce myself to the modding world would be to recreate the same project that I started with Oblivion. The whispers from the North beckoned me away from the lands of Cyrodiil. It's time for a fresh start in Skyrim.

I'll now repeat the same words that I gave a year ago. For those of you that stumbled upon this without any prior knowledge, mods are essentially addons to the game made by individuals like myself in order to enhance their gaming experience. They come in many varieties, and the online modding community for The Elder Scrolls is one of the largest.

The categories I'll be discussing on this blog will range from texture replacers to gameplay overhauls. I'll take any suggestions that people make and will do my best to make my posts both entertaining and useful. Of course, if you are someone who has never played Skyrim or is unable to run the game on your computer, my contributions may seem boring to you. Consider this a disclaimer.

I'll likely begin posting either tonight or tomorrow, so be sure to keep watch for updates. Until next time.