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.