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What To Expect From Skyrim Special Edition And Mods, From An Expert

When Bethesda announced the current-gen special edition Skyrim, it lit a fire underneath me. After jealously looking at screencaps of mods for the PC version of the game for years, I was going to dive into that scene myself. My new gaming machine could handle it, so the only thing holding me back was my complete ignorance of how it all worked. Fortunately, I stumbled onto a fantastic resource: Dirty Weasel Media’s extensive step-by-step video tutorials covering how to do it all in exhaustive detail. Cal’s YouTube channel is loaded with helpful tips and overviews of some of the biggest mods around, as well as alternative choices for people who want to stray from the path a little bit.    

The release of the Skyrim Special Edition marks the end of an era for Skyrim modding, as well as the beginning of another. In addition to appearing on current-gen consoles for the first time, the PC version of the game has been reengineered for 64-bit versions of Windows. Both of those developments open up new possibilities for modders, but they also mean those developers are going to have to either retool or rebuild some of their creations to work in the new versions of the game. I spoke with Cal to get a sense of where modding is at on the new game, how things are shaping up on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and to get some recommended mods for players who don’t know where to start.

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that some of the tools that people currently use to mod Skyrim won’t be available at the Special Edition’s launch. That’s not to say that mods won’t be available – you’ll have plenty of things to choose from on day one – but the transition won’t be seamless. Most notably, SKSE, the Skyrim Script Extender tool that many of the game’s more ambitious mods currently use, isn’t going to be ready at launch. 

“The team that does that is having to do a ton of work, and they’re starting from scratch,” Cal says. Contrary to what you may assume, Skyrim Special Edition isn’t running on the Fallout 4 engine. Instead, Cal says people he’s spoken with have said that it’s somewhere in between Skyrim and Fallout 4. Because of that, Cal says the team that works on SKSE is optimistic that we’ll be seeing it running soon in Special Edition. “You could see the really big mods, the ones that require SKSE, the ones that make Skyrim really great, coming out in a couple of months rather than six months down the road. We should have SKSE functionality hopefully by the end of the year, which is pretty amazing.”

That’s for PC, though. Things are a little different as far as consoles go. Neither the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 versions of the games will allow mods that use script extenders. “The SKSE will not ever be available, because it overrides the game itself,” Cal says. “It adds functions to the game, and that’s exactly what happens. When you create a mod, you’re telling the game to operate in a different way, or you’re adding something. What a script extender does is adds more functions to the game through scripts. Anything with a script that uses the Skyrim Script Extender can’t be used.”

On Xbox One (and on PC until SKSE is released), mod authors can create light versions of mods that normally rely on that kind of functionality. “Things like quest mods, armor mods, character companions, followers – a lot of them will work just out of the box, with minor changes,” Cal says. More complicated tweaks, such as mods that add additional dialogue or more complicated facial mods, however, likely do require scripts.

Things are far more restrictive on the PlayStation 4 version of the game, unfortunately. “Because of copyright issues, anything that adds assets – if you create a mesh or a texture, that’s a no,” Cal says. “If you write a new script, even if it doesn’t use a script extender, even if you write a scripted mod, that’s considered an extra asset. Even if you use the script engine, Papyrus, to do something different, that’s considered an external asset and you can’t use it. … If you are unfortunate enough to buy a PS4 thinking it’s your favorite platform before all of this came down with the restrictions, then I feel really sorry for you.” You may be able to download mods that remove encumbrance restrictions or add structures based on existing in-game models, but don’t expect major tweaks on PS4.

Shifting back to PC, the move to 64-bit architecture is a big leap forward, thanks in part to the way the game previously operated. Due to limitations with DirectX 9, the game had a hard limit on the amount of video RAM it could access – at just over three gigabytes, it’s a number that’s laughably small as far as contemporary hardware is concerned. That limitation throttled the modding experience in significant ways. “All those creatures, all those people, all those buildings, textures – all those things you add to the game suck more VRAM usage,” Cal says. “At some point, as you get closer to your VRAM limit, the game slows down. Eventually it will slow down to the point where it will crash the game because you have exceeded your VRAM usage, or you will get major stutters. By having a 64-bit structure with DX11, the shared VRAM doesn’t stop at 3.1 gigabytes anymore. So all the stuff you put in – all the particle effects that a mod like Vivid Weather throws in, all the lighting, suddenly the sky’s the limit because of that shared usage.”

I asked Cal to provide a few recommendations for mods that will be available at launch, for both the Xbox One and PC versions of the game. He came up with a short list of downloads that will fundamentally change the way that you play the game, such as giving you freedom for your game’s start and adding intense survival elements. If you’ve modded Skyrim before, you’ll probably recognize more than a few of these must-downloads.

Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch
Unofficial Patch Project Team
The popular Unofficial Skyrim Patch has been adapted to work on the Special Edition. It addresses a host of major and minor issues for the game, fixing quests, textures, and other annoying problems. The link is to the Legendary Edition’s version, but the patch notes will give you a sense of how comprehensive this download is.

Alternate Start – Live Another Life
Tired of starting your journey on the execution cart? Why not choose your own origin? “It completely changes your perspective on the game,” Cal says. “You can start any way you want. That’s an amazing thing to be able to do.”

Campfire – Complete Camping System and Frostfall – Hypothermia Camping Survival
Both by Chesko
Campfire and Frostfall add survival elements to the game, including the ability to break camp. Players will also have to endure the elements, with damage accruing based on what you’re wearing, whether you’ve taken a dip in the water, and more.

Open Cities Skyrim
Cal says this mod was notoriously buggy on the original version of Skyrim, but that it’s working on the Xbox One. That’s a testament to the advances to the game’s engine and VRAM usage. It removes loading when entering walled settlements, so when the gates open you can see the town inside.

Carry On Skyrim – Professor Benjamin Doon
“If they’re looking for a follower mod, there’s a very funny one called Professor Benjamin Doon. It’s like Monty Python meets Skyrim – the guy’s just hilarious,” Cal says. As a bonus, he’s a change of pace if you’re tired of Lydia’s constant complaining.

Cal plans to keep making Skyrim-modding tutorial videos, even as the 2016 Guide to Modding Skyrim approaches obsolescence. He says he’ll have some videos getting Xbox One players up to speed, since players won’t have access to some of the load-order tools that PC players rely on to keep things running smoothly. He’s also working on a series of role-playing machinima videos. In the meantime, he’s looking forward to checking out the Special Edition and trying to figure out how everything all works. 

“It’s what I love. And with the Special Edition coming out, I’m also thinking, ‘I can just play it.’ I don’t have to roleplay, I don’t have to record myself talking – I can just play Skyrim, add some mods, enjoy the pretty, pretty pictures, and bash things over the head with a hammer.” – The Feed

This Dubious Doctor’s Note Has You Covered For Skyrim Special Edition’s Release

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition comes out Friday, October 28, and after nearly five years since the original game was released, the temptation to immediately start a new Dragonborn marathon will be strong. That's going to be tough for everybody with weekday commitments, though. Fortunately, Bethesda Marketing VP Pete Hines has given this some consideration.

Please note that Game Informer has not been able to verify Dr. Born's board credentials, and does not endorse the recreational use of Nirnroot.

To see how Skyrim Special Edition overhauls the game's visuals, check out the trailer here.

[Source: Pete Hines on Twitter] – The Feed

See How Skyrim: Special Edition Improves Visuals In New Trailer

Bethesda’s latest video showcases the transformation possible from last-gen tech to current-gen visuals for the impending re-release. 

An awful lot of players explored Skyrim when the game originally released back in 2011. As such, Bethesda needs to make a strong case for why it might be worth returning to the world of the Elder Scrolls for the new special edition. That seems to be the goal of the newest video showcasing the game. 

The new video should feel familiar to any player who once wandered the lonely and snowcapped trails of Skyrim, but the added layer of lighting fidelity, texture detail, and other polish can’t help but impress, especially when accompanied by Jeremy Soule’s stirring and memorable theme. 

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition is headed toward launch on October 28 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The new version of the game includes all the game’s add-ons,  plus all the new technical improvements on display in this new trailer. 

(Please visit the site to view this media) – The Feed

Bethesda shelves Fallout 4 and Skyrim mod support on PS4, blames Sony

Bethesda’s ongoing discussions with Sony regarding PS4 mod support for Fallout 4 and Skyrim have stalled, casting the future of the initiative in doubt.  …

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Skyrim Total Converstion Mod ‘Enderal’ Now Available In English

Enderal, a total conversion mod for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, has been available for a few weeks now, but only in German. Yesterday SureAI, creator of the mod, released a trailer announcing it is now available in English.

The mod, which SureAI anticipates will take most players anywhere from 30 to 100 hours to complete, features an entirely new area with a variety of landscapes, an original plotline with "psychological and philosophical undercurrents," and fully-voiced German and English dialogue. It also includes reworked survival and skill systems, along with harder combat and new special abilities.

You can watch a new trailer for the mod's English launch below. You can download the mod here.

[Source: SureAI via neoGAF]


Our Take
The size and scope of the Skyrim modding scene continues to confound and impress me. These mods have extended the life of the game far past its natural expiration date, and seeing teams this passionate about creating content for the game is always inspiring. – The Feed

Eiji Aonouma On Zelda’s New Look And Why Nintendo Wasn’t Inspired By Skyrim

The Legend of Zelda:
Breath of the Wild was one of the most impressive games of E3 2016. After
playing the game for over 40 minutes, we sat down to grill series
producer Eiji Aonouma on why Nintendo is changing up the series formula, what inspired the game's look, and how Breath of the Wild is different from other open world games.

This Zelda game is dramatic change from previous Zelda games, we're
curious why you felt like now was a good time to change up the formula.
Aonouma: So this came up a little bit in our Q and A session earlier, but
someone, a user who played Skyward Sword, said, 'We want to know what happens
in the places you can't go to.' And I think for people, especially the Zelda
fans, they have a curiosity to find out what happens in those places where you
can't go, where you're not supposed to go. So we wanted to create a world where
you can further that investigation, you can go further and further and continue
to search for places where you can't go.

And to make this happen,
we needed to create Zelda in a very different way and so that's why it took a
little bit longer than we had expected, the development took a lot longer than
I had expected. Mainly because as we're developing this game, we realized
there's all these new possibilities coming up. Like, 'Oh, we can do this' or
'Let's expand on that.' And so that's why development just took a lot longer.
And of course there's stuff that we couldn't include because of time
constraints, but I really feel like we were able to shape out the Zelda that we
really wanted to, that really lives up to what we had envisioned.

You mentioned the art style is drawn from anime and I'd just like
to know a few examples of specific anime. When we look at it, we see very
bright pastel colors that are very reminiscent of Studio Ghibli. Can you give
some examples of the specific anime that you were influenced by?

There's actually not any
specific animation that we took inspiration from, you know obviously there are
artists that work on this game  and part of that is what kind of animation
they watch as they were growing up since it's a build up of their past
experience. So instead of us trying to build a game that's like an animation it
was more about functionally in that animation is a process where you kind of
chip away at the unnecessary stuff and really return to the more simple and
basic colors. And in the same way we try to do that in where we had to make
some of the features of the game very clear, distinct so that it's visible and
clear to the player. So if we put too much detail, too much complexity to the
background and the characters, the character or anything that's going on will
start to blend into the background and be hard to see what's going on. And
that's why we wanted to make it very, pop out and make it very clear that our
intent and the focus is very apparent and clear to the user.

Did you guys look at any other games to see what they were doing?
For example, Skyrim or Witcher feel reminiscent of what you guys are doing with
the open world.

First of all I think
that many of the staff members do play many different kinds of games,
open-world games like you mentioned, but I don't think there was one game that
we really looked at and said we want to make a game like this. Instead like I
mentioned earlier we wanted to really expand on the world of Skyward Sword and
we kind of tried to think about what kind of cycle can we create in the game
that really encourages continuous exploration so that what came up was things
like needing to cook and gather ingredients to eat, needing to procure weapons
from enemies because they break, things that like there's a cycle of expending
something and then procuring something, that's like a main important part of
this game and it was kind of drawn more from that than any singular

When the demo begins, it kinda feels like you're collected with
nature and you can hear the birds and the crickets and there is no music and
then you eventually lead up to a little bit of piano. Can you kind of elaborate
on how the music plays out, does it go full orchestrated? Or are there certain
instruments that are used for certain things?

Definitely some of the music that you heard in the
trailer is all recorded, those are professional performers playing their
instruments, it's a raw recording. And so really what we wanted to do, and
throughout the game, we're using even with the professional piano players, so
we really wanted to make sure we capture recordings of those instruments
because they kind of act, they're more efficient and more appropriate in
bringing up those emotions and the reactions we want out of people and so we
were more intentional in the kind of music and recording that we chose to
include in the game. Obviously we still have a few more recordings to include,
they're not all in there.

So, you know, the person in charge of music he says
to me the dynamics of this music is really important, I don't really know what
that means but all I can say is that is has a lot effect in bringing out
emotion and giving the reaction that we want to the player.

did you guys decided to make weapons so they could break? Can you repair them
at some point? And with the master sword how might fit in there, if that's
something players might get at some point, do they have to worry about that

So initially when we thought about this idea of
something breaking and having to get it again, we thought about it with
different items instead of weapons and we tried it out and it was a lot of fun
and we wanted to expand on it and we tried different things and we found the
idea of having to go out and collect things and search for things was very fun
and we thought what about what would be the most fun and what can we apply this
concept to and we could get the most out of this and we realized that weapons is
where it is, because in a world filled with enemies losing your weapon is such
a crucial mistake and you lose your way of fighting and encourages the player
to carefully use their weapons and not swing it every which way however they
want. We also believe that by leading the player to go grab weapons from
enemies and increases the amount of battles they have to go to and gives the
battles a lot more intent, and it worked out really great. So that's why its in
there. And as for your latter two questions, I hope that's something you look
forward to in the release version.

think I see it in the logo..

(laughter) So this actually has a slightly different
meaning… There's actually a lot of meaning to the way the sword looks. So when
you do see it in the release version I hope you'll be surprised.

Warriors introduced a female version of Link, named Linkle, and there was a lot
of speculation thaty maybe you'll be able to play as the female version of Link
in Breath of the Wild, is that something you're considering?

There's no female Link in Breath of the Wild. In
terms of Linkle, that's something that Mr. (Hayashi?) from Koei really wanted
to include in the game and we thought for a game like that where you're
constantly switching characters it might work out, but for the type of game
we're making and the fact that there is a Princess Zelda and a Link we just
didn't think that it was quite right. And when I mentioned in the trailer a few
years ago that it might not be Link, and it kind of caught fire that it might
be a female Link, that is not what I had in mind and I was kind of surprised. I
should be careful what I say.

showed off the amiibo functionality with the wolf link which was really cool,
but are there other companions in the game that people might come across that
maybe are non-amiibo related?

As Bill kind of jokingly mentioned earlier, you know
when you have characters like maybe Navi, you get someone telling you go this
way or go that way, and we're creating a game that's so heavily focused on freedom
if we have someone like that we're going back to what we had started with a set
path or a set route to clear the game. Whereas Wolf Link, he's kind of in an
animal state, he doesn't talk first of all and he kind of moves on instinct,
he'll go attack an enemy or go hunt something. So he's a very reliable partner,
or companion, and even though he can't talk you have this connection, maybe
like a pet you have, this connection we thought was just right and so we don't
have any plans to have any another companion in Breath of the Wild.

the demo, you hinted that there are a couple larger dungeon areas and bosses in
the game. How do those differentiate from the shrines that are scattered
throughout the world and what are the benefits of the shrines?

As I mentioned earlier in the presentation, if you
go to the shrines some of the items you get will increase the growth potential
for Link in terms of the amount of hearts you get or the increase in the amount
of stamina gauge you get. And speaking about the bigger dungeons with bosses
they actually serve a completely different purpose than the shrines and so the
reason that Link has to go to those dungeons is different than the reason he
has to go to the shrines.

seems like a fun little game in itself, is there potential that you can make
things that are bad for Link, like poisons that you maybe shouldn't be eating?

Yes, you can make strange recipes. Depending on
what you make I think there are different qualities, but there's no (recipe?)
where Link will get sick or anything like that. So what we did was kind of put
a little twist on the way the food looks, so we look forward to it. If you
really wanted to you could probably make some strange stuff, even in the E3 version.

Yeah, I've done that at home. What do you think is
the strangest thing you can make?

I can't remember anything specific but I have had
time where I was trying mix insects and things like that with items you get
from enemies with the intention of making like a medicine or an elixir, and it
turns out something really strange, that I've had.

did the idea to allow Link to just climb on everything came from. I mean why
allow him to climb up a rock face to begin with?

So having to use some sort of stamina gauge and run
and dash that's a function that was available in Skyward Sword and we really
enjoyed how that feels and how that works out but we thought about how can we expand
on that idea. In Skyward Sword you're only able to climb in certain designated
areas and we kind of threw that all those limitations and made it so you can
climb anywhere. And when you're able to climb anywhere you're able to get to
high places, and look down and then adding the paraglider, you can really go
down and enjoy this experience. Where it started was wanting to expand on the
idea from Skyward Sword.

item upgrades sound like they were connected to these runes and the tablet you get
at the beginning of the game? Are all item upgrades connected to these runes? How
does that change the game's design when you're creating these new items?

In past Zelda titles there's a lot of useful and
convenient items, and when we were building Zelda before we thought if they had
it from the beginning people aren't going to appreciate it, its only after
going through all these trials and tribulations and then you finally get the
item you're really happy. So that's why we kind of held off on giving items out
until the end. But we kind of did away with all of that and kind of redid the
conventions of Zelda in that way, so you know, if its that much fun using it
why not hand it to the player in the beginning? But as you saw, to a certain
extent if you navigate through the shrines you get most of the items you would
need to navigate through the world. But then when you get to a certain point
you'll need to upgrade that and it expands where you're able to access and
where you're able to go. So there's definitely a sense of growth and
exploration there that you'll be able to experience later.

more on Zelda, be sure to watch our video interview with Zelda's creator Shigeru Miyamoto. Also, watch the E3 livestream here. – The Feed

Skyrim Special Edition Announced

The rumors are true, Skyrim is getting a makeover. Bethesda's massive, epic-scale role-playing game is getting a Special Edition for the current gen, announced at Bethesda's press conference at E3 2016.

Visual upgrades were showcased, comparing last-gen consoles to how things look on current-gen consoles (PlayStation 4, Xbox One) with the Special Edition – it's an impressive shift. Special Edition will include mod support. 

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Screen space reflections, snow, water shaders, and a slew of other eye-candy upgrades were also on display. It'll be out on October 28 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. – The Feed

Skyrim Special Edition Free For PC Owners That Own All DLC Or Legendary Edition

If you already own Skyrim on PC and have invested in all of the DLC, you won't need to shell out for the upcoming, upgraded special edition. The same thing is true if you own the Legendary Edition.

Bethesda has announced that anyone who has already bought into the full Skyrim experience will be taken care of. The special edition will be given to those PC customers free when it's released.

What we aren't clear on quite yet is how existing mods will function with the newer version. The PC version features a huge number of mods, including changes to graphics, sound, and user interface. We'll update once we have a better sense of what kind of work mod creators will need to do (if any) in order to get their creations compatible with the special edition, coming on October 28. – The Feed

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.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

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. …

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