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Ambitious Mod That Expands The Cities Of Skyrim Took Three Years To Complete

Skyrim released five years ago, but the mod community is still going strong. One of the newest mods, Holds: The City Overhaul, adds a plethora of new updates focusing particularly on architecture and expanding many of the cities' histories, books, character backgrounds, and outfits, along with entirely new settlements. 

Areas such as Falkreath, Winterhold, and Dawnstar have all been rebuilt with new designs, and two new settlements, Amber Guard and Black Moor, have been added in. Mod creator Galandil explains in his post on Nexus Mods that the ambitious project took him over three years to finish. He hopes to make each place feel more "realistic and natural." He wrote, "The aim of all of this is to create a more memorable and diverse experience, making the cities actually feel like cities hopefully without ruining the natural and realistic design of the vanilla game."

The new books added to the game were written by creator Galandil and fellow modder Alfredasl, and these texts can be found in book stores in surrounding areas such as Falkreath, Solitude, and Windhelm.

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For the full description of the mod and its installation instructions, go here. You can read our review from 2011 on Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim here. For more mods, read up about Pokemon invading Stardew Valley and this weird deer cam mod in Grand Theft Auto V.

[Source: Nexus Mods via EuroGamer] – The Feed

Video: Using iterative level design to ship Skyrim and Fallout

At GDC 2014, Bethesda’s Joel Burgess took to the stage to share insights into the iterative approach used by Bethesda’s level design team plan, implement, test and polish massive amounts of content. …

Gamasutra News

Fallout 4 Development Began By Porting The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim To Xbox One

At the tail end of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim's development, Bethesda Game Studios was already hard at work on Fallout 4, even without knowing the specs of the hardware the game would release on. Microsoft and Sony communicated closely with Bethesda about the plans for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, but Bethesda didn't want to rush ahead and make Fallout 4 a launch title, a break in tradition as The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind and Oblivion were both launch window titles.

Bethesda instead viewed a longer development time frame – one that allowed the team to properly gather data before starting development on the new hardware. When I visited Bethesda Game Studios last month, Todd Howard and other key members from the development team walked me through Fallout 4's creation. Early on in our talks, Howard smiled at me and said, "The first thing we did was port Skyrim to Xbox One." After a brief pause, he quickly blurted out, "Don't get your hopes up yet."

This was strictly an exercise that allowed the team to understand the new hardware faster. Although Howard implied there's a chance of Skyrim coming to Xbox One with his "yet," I was led to believe there wasn't anything brewing at the moment.

Regardless, as we count the days until Fallout 4's release next Tuesday, we can dream about the idea of Skyrim, one of the previous gen's most beloved games, coming to new-gen hardware.

For this month's issue, we got the awesome opportunity to visit Bethesda Game Studios and find out how it tackled making the highly anticipated and secretive Fallout 4. The entire Making of Fallout 4 article is available now for Game Informer Digital subscribers, and will be released on Game Informer's website this Friday. – The Feed

Valve: Skyrim was the wrong place to try and debut paid mods

Some Valve staffers believe the company’s short-lived paid mod initiative was a good idea launched in the wrong place at the wrong time, & they seem open to trying again — with a different game. …

Gamasutra News

Valve changes its mind, removes all paid Skyrim mods from Steam

Valve has (at least temporarily) removed all paid Skyrim mods from Steam in conjunction with Bethesda and will issue refunds to anyone who purchased a Skyrim mod. …

Gamasutra News

Bethesda breaks down why Skyrim modders ought to be paid

Bethesda Softworks has published a lengthy explanation of why it agreed to let Skyrim be the guinea pig for the (aborted) launch of Valve’s premium mod storefronts. …

Gamasutra News

Update: Besthesda Explains Why It’s NOT Allowing Paid Skyrim Mods

Update: Bethesda has updated its blog to state that it will no longer support paid mods in Skyrim.

Hot on the heels of Valve's announcement that it is abandoning its paid-mod initiative, Bethesda has amended its blog post with a straightforward update:

"After discussion with Valve, and listening to our community, paid mods are being removed from Steam Workshop. Even though we had the best intentions, the feedback has been clear – this is not a feature you want. Your support means everything to us, and we hear you."

Original Story: Last week, Valve announced
a new update
to Steam Workshop that allows mod creators to charge money for
their content, starting with Bethesda's open-world RPG, Skyrim. The news was
met with criticism by some gamers, leading Valve's Gabe Newell to hold an impromptu
AMA on Reddit
to answer questions and concerns. Today Bethesda has written
up its own explanation of why it has chosen to participate in the program.

The post on Bethesda's
blog explains
that its participation in paid mods comes from a desire to
expand modding and support those making the content, and that it won't be
forcing mod creators to charge money. "We believe most mods should be free,"
the post states. "But we also believe our community wants to reward the very
best creators, and that they deserve to be rewarded. We believe the best should
be paid for their work and treated like the game developers they are. But
again, we don't think it's right for us to decide who those creators are or
what they create."

The post also breaks down how profit sharing will work.
Bethesda says it's up to the mod creator to decide how much to charge, citing Oblivion's
infamous Horse Armor DLC as the company's own personal growing pains for
figuring out what to charge. Whatever price is chosen, 30-percent of the
revenue goes to Valve and 40-percent goes to Bethesda, leaving 25-percent for the
mod creator. Think that's unfair? Bethesda explains its logic:

"The percentage conversation is about assigning value in a
business relationship. How do we value an open IP license? The active player
base and built-in audience? The extra years making the game open and developing
tools? The original game that gets modded? Even now, at 25% and early sales
data, we're looking at some modders making more money than the studio members
whose content is being edited."

Bethesda goes on to say that it considers this an
in-progress experiment, and that it's open to reassessing its decisions based
on feedback from mod creators and the community. You can read the whole post at
the link below.

[Source: Bethblog]


Our Take
It's great that Bethesda is outlining its decision to allow paid mods, but there are still tons of unanswered questions surrounding the initiative. While I think that mod creators should ultimately have the right to charge for their creations if they want to, we can only guess at the long-lasting impact that paid mods could have on the modding community. Will the availability of free, wacky mods dry up if everyone is inclined to charge a couple bucks for them? Will other publishers take bigger cuts or dictate what content creators can (or must) charge for their mods? And what will happen to all the websites and communities devoted to hosting and sharing mods? Only time will tell, but gamers have a right to be apprehensive about Valve's newest initiative. – The Feed

Skyrim Mod Size Now Unlimited

Bethesda has lifted the 100MB restriction on mods for Skyrim, and it's now being beta tested.

The unlimited size is part of an update to the PC version's Creator Kit (1.9.33). The Creator can be beta tested via Steam (click on the source link below for more info), as can the Skyrim Launcher. The launcher no longer downloads mods from the Steam Workshop – the Steam client will do it instead.

[Source: Beth Blog]


Our Take
Skyrim has been out for a while, but given gamers' persistent love of mods for the title, this is great news for a lot of modders. – The Feed

‘The Faces Of Skyrim’ Showcases Tamriel’s Most Beautiful Portraiture

It’s almost hard to believe that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is over three years old already. It still appears on Steam’s top 10 most played games list and modders continue to make the game more beautiful.

Andy Cull shared with us his work curating some of the most beautiful images taken from the snowy wilds of Skyrim. Cull tells us that all of the images have been taken directly from the game with no touch-up work in Photoshop or other image editing program. There are two galleries of character portraits featuring many (but not all, sorry Khajiit and Argonian fans) of the different races of Tamriel. 

In addition, Cull has assembled a gallery of Skyrim landscapes, featuring snowy mountainsides, hazy forests, and craggy ruins. A separate gallery houses images of Skyrim's gorgeous vistas.

You can see the Faces of Skyrim galleries here and here. For the Dawn’s Beauty landscapes (the Aldmeris name for Tamriel), visit this page.

For those interested in beautifying their Skyrim adventure, there are a number of options available. The Steam Workshop includes a number of different mods to tweak and enhance the experience.

For those looking for something a bit more technical, last year I spent a weekend going through a process called the Skyrim Total Enhancement Project (STEP). This includes dozens of mods that change visuals, sounds, textures, and menu elements.

While my results aren’t quite as striking as what Cull has assembled, the visuals are still a big improvement from what the game manages on its own. You can read up on STEP on the group’s website.

[Images: Rahna by Dovahqueen (top), TESV 2014-05-25 20-49-22-78 by Wanako Works (middle), Heading in by Pangaliosr (bottom)] – The Feed

‘Fry Scores’ Is A Gaming Cook Book Of Digital Delights From Skyrim, Zelda, And More

We have come a long way since we first ate fresh fruit in Pac-Man and found pork chops hidden in the walls of Dracula’s castle. Today, writer and photographer Holly Green released her cook book of gaming-inspired recipes called Fry Scores: An Unofficial Guide to Video Game Grub, and we had a chance to catch up with her to talk about the project.

Green tells us that the project has been over two years in the making. “I started the book at my last publication following an article I'd written about food in video games, and the idea took off from there,” she says.

The book is designed to provide accessible recipes that have a touchstone in gaming. ”Choosing the recipes was one of the more difficult parts of the process, as I wanted to present a practical list of dishes that could be eaten any day of the week,” she explains. “I noticed that a lot of video game food blogs updated infrequently and featured items that were either difficult to make or didn't hold general interest. I wanted to bring together a full list of recipes that would include cuisine staples and cover a basic level of culinary instruction.”

Fry Scores features a number of original recipes pulled from games in which their mention and inclusion is used as simple set dressing. Green makes these items, like Skyrim’s Apple Cabbage Stew and Cook Cook’s Fiend Stew from Fallout: New Vegas, the centerpiece instead of the background.

Green shared one of her recipes from the book, an original creation fashioned after Yeto’s Soup from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. In the game, Yeto prepares three different versions based on the quality of ingredients. The final one, Superb Soup, includes Ordon Goat Cheese in addition to the Ordon Pumpkin, and Reekfish included in the previous iterations.

Click to enlarge.


  • 1/3 lb. sockeye salmon
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 16 oz. heavy cream
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 4 oz. goat cheese
  • bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 3/4 tsp. white pepper
  • dill for garnish

The most important part of this dish is the quality of the ingredients. Choose a quality cut of sockeye salmon and a pure goat cheese that crumbles easily. For this recipe, a bourbon infused goat cheese was used, enhancing the soup with a light smoky flavor. If you cannot find a smoky goat cheese, a shot of bourbon can be added to the finished soup base.

The first step is to create a cream-goat cheese base. This is achieved by slowly blending the two over a low heat. Crumble the goat cheese into small chunks, then place in 2 quart saucepan over LOW heat. Slowly add cream, tablespoon by tablespoon, blending into the cheese with a fork or large wooden spoon. Continue until full 16 oz has been completely added. Once all the cheese has melted, the resulting liquid will be thick.

Add to it two bay leaves, paprika, salt, and white pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat, then add pumpkin puree by the tablespoon while stirring constantly. Once all pumpkin puree has been added, cover mixture and let simmer.

Next broil the salmon. Since salmon is thin it does not require a lot of heat. Once it is fully cooked it will separate easily from the skin. Place the salmon on a cookie sheet covered in tin foil.

Broil on the LOW setting for about fifteen minutes or until flesh has turned light pink, then switch to HIGH. Cook an additional six to eight minutes, monitoring carefully until the edges of the salmon are caramelized and appear crispy, then remove from the oven and cool completely.

When ready to serve, spoon hot pumpkin soup into a bowl, then place slices of cooked salmon on top. Garnish with dill, rainbow pepper corn, and smoked paprika.

Click to enlarge.

In addition to unique creations like Yeto’s Soup, Green’s book also includes clever twists on more common creations. “For recipes like grilled cheese, putting my own signature spin on it was a challenge,” Green tells us. “But it was also a major concern of mine, as some of the dishes were classic to the point of being universally known.”

Included in Fry Scores are recipes for French Toast (The Sims 3), Pork Katsu (Cooking Mama), and Red Curry (the Kirby series). “The idea was to not use too many convoluted or expensive ingredients, and just present simple food done well,” Green explains. “In fact with one recipe there was almost no creative leeway: Key lime pie, which requires a very specific ratio of egg to juice to condensed milk in order to cook properly and thus cannot be made any differently.  For that one, I offer a spin on the crust, suggesting flaked coconut mixed in with the graham cracker crumbs.”

Alongside each recipe is original photography. “That was probably the most time consuming part of the process,” she recounts. “Food photography, like many things, can easily be picked up through basic observation, but I had to reshoot many of the recipes as my skills improved over the past two years. I spent a lot of time looking at photos from a variety of artists and determined what it was I liked about each of them, then set out to incorporate those into my work. Good artistry often starts with mimicry, and from Flickr photographers and Martha Stewart magazines I learned the importance of color, texture, depth of field, and natural lighting.”

You can see some of Green’s photography above. The book is available now via iTunes and iBooks on Macs and iDevices. Additional formats will be available in the future.

As for “DLC” for Fry Scores, Green has thoughts about what’s next. “I would like to do a video game cocktail book but sadly there are few cocktails actually featured in video games (I would also never want to step all over the great stuff that The Drunken Moogle is doing),” she says. “One plan is to do a supplemental instruction guide on how to make homebrew beer, with a guest authorship from video games' biggest craft beer enthusiast/homebrewer Kinsey Burke. I'm also open to the idea of a future update with additional recipes, relying on suggestions from readers, but I would like to finish my next book, a history of gin, before I revisit Fry Scores.” – The Feed