Monday, January 16, 2012

How to stretch the endgame: Skyrim modding

As I was mentioning in my last post, despite still having a lot of side quests and miscelaneous quests to find and finish I am slowly getting closer to having seen and discovered everything there is to see and discover in Skyrim. I hit another benchmark yesterday when I finally pushed Enchanting to 100 and applied the perk that enables two enchanments on the same item. Yep, tonight I have to craft the last set of gear from the vanilla game and it will be devastating! But despite being so close to "the end" there is still a lot of fun to be had in Skyrim. After being done with the story of a game, I like to see what makes it tick, as well as finding little things that help my life without going into cheating territory. Let's enter the realm of Skyrim modding, especially the mods I use and plan to use; no, not the nude mods and that damn Macho Man dragon mod, useful stuff.

Quality 3D map with or without roads: Have you ever wished that the map had more flexibility? Or wanted to zoom in a lot closer to see if there is a way up that 80 degree rock face to reach that remote dragon lair? Or do you want the map to look like a proper medieval parchment map? Well look no further! This was the first mod I installed for Skyrim and every time I play the game I thank the guy who made it. It's that good. I strongly recommend you get it.

No More Blocky Faces: While the faces of the people of Tamriel look far better than they used to in Oblivion, they still aren't perfect, especially the humans. To put it simply it looks like they just came out of molds. This small one-file mod changes this easily and suddenly every human looks far better, especially your chosen wife/husband!

Weightless various items: OK, I admit that this is a borderline cheat mod, but one thing is easily noticeable from Day One of playing Skyrim: the ratio between "what you can loot" versus "what you can carry" is simply ridiculous, especially to a heavy armor character like mine. There are commands that put the weight of everything at zero, or that give the player millions of units of carrying space, but the mod I chose is more subtle than this. It does reduce the weight of some items to zero, but regular items in the world keep their weight. The modified items are all potions, books, crafting items (ore, ingots, alchemy ingredients, pelts, leather, Dwemer metal parts and dragon scales and bones) and quest items because sometimes either because of a glitch or because a quest hasn't been started the related item is stuck in the player's inventory. I will still be weighed down if I loot too much stuff, but if I happen to kill three dragons in a row (it does happen) I will NOT have to do a few trips to haul everything. And hauling in any game sucks donkey balls; I wonder what makes me say this...

Home Improvement mods: Move over Tim Taylor, some modders have talent! You wish your house had more storage and you also want to display the fruits of your adventuring, right? Or you want your own crafting corner so you don't have to go to the local blacksmith? We got you covered! My favorite ones come from a modder called Shawk and he's been busy lately. Before noticing his work I had installed a mod for my main house in Solitude (mentioned in my previous post) but his mod for the Riften house had something special: a quest to find it! Actually it's more like a treasure hunt because once the mod is installed you find notes from Shawk in your Whiterun house (you must have this one AND the Riften house with all furniture for the mod to work) pointing you to where your "new" house is located, somewhere West-South-West of the city right on a mountain side, with a quest-giving shack and a dragon lair as neighbors. Technically it's the Riften house but with a few modifications for crafting and display purposes. It's also possible to enter it from its original location in the city, but once you get outside, watch your step! But I may have to uninstall this mod and the one in Solitude because Shawk is working on something bigger (more in the "I plan to use" section). I also installed a completely new castle located on the mountain behind "Drelas' Cottage". After installation you have to travel to this cottage (and discover it if you haven't yet) and it will be right there dominating the view. You then have to climb the rock face which is tricky but doable and when you reach the door the castle is discovered and can now be fast-travelled to. And it's awesomely huge! It has everything you would ever need in one single location, including shrines to the Nine Divines and all the standing stones. It also has a large flat area on top and outdoors that would be the perfect helipad... I like where this is going :) The only downside is that so far you can't have your wife move in with you there. Maybe with the release of the Creation Kit...

Speaking of the Creation Kit (CK for short), it is supposed to come out this January and it will put a serious set of tools in the hands of the modders. This is when a lot of player-made quests and dungeons will start popping up, but there are three mods that I can't wait to see where they'll go once the CK comes out. Here they are:

SkyUI: It's no secret that the stock Skyrim UI can be a bit clunky and feels like it was made for consoles. What SkyUI does is give the power back to the PC gamer. As it is right now it has to be used in concert with a third-party application (found here) but it's getting nothing but rave reviews. I have yet to install the current version but I really like what I've seen.

Shawk's Dovahkiin Hide-out: This is the big project I was talking about earlier, and version 0.1 came out over the past weekend. Instead of modifying every house, the plan is to build one big underground area which is accessible from every player-owned house in Skyrim. It's not necessary to own every house to enter this new basement, but to return to a house, or enter another, one must own the desired house's key. The hide-out is pretty much the Bat Cave: it's kind of like the mountain castle only underground, but I'm not sure if it has the shrines and stones. But the amount of storage is simply insane and there are plans of many (like 20 or so, maybe more) mannequins, mounting plaques, weapon racks, and even mini-mannequins of which there are two in v0.1. All this is awesomely nice but I seriously hope this mod is compatible with the next one...

Tytanis Ultimate Mod: This is literally The Big One. New items, new spells, new shouts, new quests and dungeons, new crafting mechanics and recipes for smithing, alchemy and enchanting, new skills and perks, new and tougher opponents with new loot, the whole shebang! So far the version is 0.52 and the changes to the game are significant. Tired of riding a horse? How about a sabre cat, a cave bear, or even a mammoth! And yes, they do have plans for flyable dragons, and with this I can only imagine that there will be plans for new player-owned houses complete with parking/hangar. But that's not all. The Tytanis project is being worked on by three modding teams who got together with a common goal: Multiplayer Skyrim. No less. And looking at the work they've done so far without even access to Bethesda's tools I'd say the possibilities of one day seeing one form or another of Multiplayer Skyrim is fairly high. One thing is certain, this mod will be worth following at every step of its growth, and I sincerely wish the teams all the luck in the world!

And there you have it. A few ways to make an already awesome game even more awesome, and more reason to show that PC gaming is far greater than console gaming. If you don't believe so, well, too bad. I rest my case.

o7

PS: If you search just a little bit, yes there are mods to shut the NPC's up if you're sick of hearing about every other guard's bum knee condition XD

4 comments:

James said...

If you've got a powerful enough rig - and I mean powerful, like running vanilla Skyrim at Ultra settings without breaking a sweat - I highly suggest hitting up the Skyrim Total Enhancement Project (http://www.skyrimnexus.com/downloads/file.php?id=11). It's less one mod and more a bunch of graphical enhancements, tweaks, HD graphics packages, and some of the more lore-friendly mods, all tested to be working together and reasonably stable. For us lesser beings, it's still a decent way to point out some mods that can make the game a bit prettier.

xmadjackx said...

I can't help but notice you didn't mention the Zoidberg mod or the Macho-man mod....

Cozmik R5 said...

LOL Teist... that's what Facebook is for :))

Cozmik R5 said...

@James: no I don't have a beast rig yet, but with rFactor2 coming along nicely I will have to get one.