This episode of Skyrim Mod Sandctuary covers the new rain enhancements in the Realistic Lighting with Customizations mod, some fixes, and new look for Whiterun.
Realistic Lighting With Customization
HD Textures DLC Fix
Shadow Striping Fix
A Better Whiterun - City Under Construction - BETA
Tyrannicon, creator of the "Great Battles of Skyrim - Part 1 video has released another impressive battle video under the Youtube Machinima channel.
The video shows a Forsworn attack upon the city of Markarth, while a sinister figure looks on.
The video also features 25 different mods from Skyrim Nexus. Try to guess which ones (because it doesn't say in the video description...).
Update: Bethesda has announced that the first DLC is in fact named Dawnguard ("known" for some time) and that more information will be revealed at E3. Dawnguard and the second DLC will be exclusive to the Xbox 360 for 30 days.
Bethesda forum user Raestloz seems to have found evidence of the upcoming first Skyrim DLC. While looking through the 1.5.26 patch files, he found a number of additions explicitly named with "DLC01." Another user, Karellan, has listed out the individual files:QUOTESnow elf stuff:
Vampire feeding stuff:
No Idea what 'RF' is.
Snow Elves have been mentioned in earlier games (in Morrowind's Bloodmoon expansion, for example) and are now known to be the Falmer. The book Fall of the Snow Prince also has some information that may be relevant.
Meanwhile, Pete Hines recently tweeted that additional Skyrim DLC info might come "next week" (maybe). Let the speculation begin.
Following on from today's news regarding the splitting up of TESNexus an update to NMM has been released, which puts it at version 0.17.1. This version has primarily been rolled out to provide support for Morrowind, the fifth game supported by NMM, and also contains a few bug fixes and dialogue box changes.
Incidentally a couple of weeks ago NMM rolled past the 500,000 unique downloads mark, just before its 5 month anniversary since going in to open beta. It's great to see over half a million users have now tried out NMM and we'll continue to roll out more updates and changes soon as we work towards getting NMM in to general release and out of open beta.
Over the past month we’ve been working on getting the first game, of the first Nexus site, supported within our Nexus Mod Manager. Morrowind was where it all started for the Nexus, and all the sites dating back before it to 2001 so getting Morrowind mods supported in NMM seemed the right and proper thing to do. To better accommodate this change, and also to finally reduce the clutter on the site, TESNexus has now been split in to two independent Nexus sites for Morrowind and Oblivion.
Having Morrowind and Oblivion mods together on one site has been like planting two trees too close together; both have fought for the light and gotten in the way of each other. By splitting the two sites the browsing experience for users looking for Morrowind and Oblivion mods should be that much better.
The split should have been as non-destructive as possible. Hopefully (and fingers crossed on this one!) all the Morrowind mods should now be found on Morrowind Nexus and all the Oblivion mods should be found on Oblivion Nexus, complete with all their files, images and comments. The only “casualty” is that the Image Share cannot be so easily split, so the Morrowind image share is currently completely bare. Hopefully that won’t be the case for long. The Oblivion Nexus image share has not lost any images.
NMM support for Morrowind should be rolled out very soon, hopefully within the next 24 hours so NMM will get a new update, which should also contain a couple of bug fixes. In the mean time you might find the “Download with Manager” buttons don’t work on Oblivion Nexus with the current NMM version. If that’s the case, please be patient and wait for the update which should fix this issue for you.
If you think I’ve missed anything or you’re noticing any bugs with the two sites please let me know. Happy modding!
Hopefully by now you're aware that we have a Mount & Blade Nexus for Mount & Blade mods. What you might not know is that there is currently a Mount & Blade sale on Steam with a whopping 75% discount. You can now purchase all three Mount & Blade games for a measly £6.25 (around $9.99).
If you've been putting off getting the games, or weren't interested before but now your purse can stretch to this super low price then head on over to the Steam sale to pick up this bargain. Then head on over to Mount & Blade Nexus to pick up some awesome mods for the series!
Something I've been wanting to do away with for a while now is the need for a multi-part upload system for files that are larger than 1Gb, or for people who have unstable connections and can't upload large files before getting dropped.
Following the successful roll-out of our new code on all the Nexus sites (we're almost there, just 3 more sites to go!) Axel is going to be continuing work on a new upload system. This upload system is going to support upload resuming and pausing. Much like download resuming this means if you upload 75% of your file and then get disconnected for whatever reason you'll only need to upload the remaining 25% of the file when you come back to uploading your file. Really handy if you've got unstable internet or if you get disconnected at 99% when uploading huge files. You'll also be able to pause your upload, so if you're halfway through uploading a 5Gb file and you want to hop in to a multiplayer game, you can simply pause your upload and resume it later.
In preparation for these changes all the Nexus sites now support file sizes up to 5Gb. So while you won't be able to resume your uploads yet if you get disconnected, as long as you've got a stable connection you should be able to upload super large files now without having to split your files in to separate archives. Once Axel's new upload system is in place we'll do away with the multi-part upload system completely and work on combining all the archives that people have uploaded as multi-parts in to one single file.
For the month of March, Brumbek took home the File of the Month championship with his mod, the Static Mesh Improvement Mod, or SMIM. I had the opportunity to conduct an interview with Brumbek, which you can read below. Be sure to vote this month to see your favorite mod featured here on the site news.QUOTE
Q: So, Brumbek, tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into modding?
A: I'm just a guy who likes to play really immersive games, games I can live, not just play. To paraphrase Sir Francis Bacon's famous quote about books, I like games that can be digested, games to play wholly with diligence and attention.
Anyway, way back I started designing levels for various FPS games like Quake II. Then I had big FPS mod ideas like "Prozac Run" where Brats and Old Fogies fought each other in order to gather and horde pills from the Prozac Tree (still need to make this game...). So out of necessity I learned how to do 3D modeling and texturing by reading huge books and various online tutorials. Years later I played Morrowind and Oblivion and started making little improvements here and there.
Q: For those of us who don't know, what is SMIM all about?
A: SMIM creates a more consistent visual experience for Skyrim in order to maximize immersion. SMIM does this by editing some of the ugliest 3D models in Skyrim to increase detail, fix errors, or otherwise remedy oversights. A detailed world is a believable world, and believability is the foundation for immersion, or so my latest fortune cookie said.
Here's a more technical answer. Skyrim's characters, armors, and weapons are generally excellent, but these great assets are often placed in locations full of blocky and blurry assets. This is jarring and breaks immersion. Think of a 1080p screen. An NPC may make up 25% of the screen pixels when up close. The other 75% is floors, walls, fixtures, and clutter (and so on). Yet Skyrim devotes large 2048x2048 textures and roughly 6,000 polygons for NPCs but only 512x512 textures and roughly 500-1,000 polygons for most walls, fixtures, and clutter. The result is inconsistent visuals. The good news is modern PCs can push an order of magnitude more polygons than vanilla Skyrim without issue. For proof consider Trine 2, which pushes upwards of 600,000 polygons per scene. Or just look at SMIM, which in some scenes (Riverwood) increases the polygon count by 250,000 with zero FPS hit for modern PCs.
Q: What was your inspiration for creating the Static Mesh Improvement Mod?
A: My inspiration was the table in Alvor's house that you sit down at about two hours into the game. I sat down and was literally disgusted at how blocky and ugly it was. Before Skyrim came out I told myself I wasn't going to mod Skyrim until I played through it. I didn't want another Oblivion situation where I never really played the game until 5 years after release, but that table made me ask the age-old existential question: "Is a world worth saving if it doesn't even have nice tables?" So at that point something snapped in my brain. I realized I was going to have to fix all this ugly stuff before I continued to play. Thus began the process that would later be known as SMIMification.
Q: What are some of the challenges you've come across and how have you dealt with them?
A: The biggest challenge is dealing with the mostly undocumented proprietary, .nif (Net-Immerse Format) 3D model files. Every artist hates wasting time fighting their tools. I must massively thank the entire NifTools team and TheFigment, specifically, for creating the 3DSMax plugins. Without these guys, my mod would never have happened.
Even with the tools, it has taken hundreds upon hundreds of attempts to get everything working. I pity others who are new to the .nif format. They have so many hurdles to overcome. I do plan to write down all the things I've learned since it has taken me literally years of working with .nifs to get a solid understanding.
As a side note, it would be so awesome if Bethesda would take a few hours and write down some documentation on the .nif format. Moreover, if we did have access to their tools, I could be so much more efficient. If NifSkope was integrated into the CK, efficiently would go way up. I often wonder if Bethesda has this functionality internally. If I worked there, I'd beg/threaten the tools guys to improve a bunch of this stuff. But anyway.
Q: What was your favorite part about creating the mod?
A: Seeing my new and improved 3D models in-game is an amazing experience. Where there once was ugly, now there is lovely. I claim SMIM is life-affirming, and that is no lie, friends. There's just something transcendent about a gloriously detailed 3D model. But anyway, I really enjoy the detailed 3D modeling work where I improve the model. I used to play with LEGOs as a kid, but 3D modeling provides so much more freedom.
Q: What are some of your favorite games besides Skyrim?
A: I was raised on the classic JRPGs like Secret of Mana and Chrono Trigger, so I love games that create emotion and memories like the best JRPGs do. I also love competitive FPS games. I love knowing it all rests on me to win or lose - skill versus skill alone. Quake II was nigh-perfect. I also love Modern Warfare 2 & 3. The original Infinity Ward guys are world class designers, technically and artistically - MW2 still is the most polished FPS ever made.
Basically, I love well-made games where a love for design is mixed with technical mastery. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a perfect example - it has immaculate art and great design. The Last Remnant for PC is a monumentally under-rated modern JRPG that combines fantastic gameplay with world-class artistic design. Metro 2033's atmosphere blew me away.
Q: How long has it taken you to get SMIM to where it is now?
A: I worked many, many hours since about mid-December 2011, devoting nearly all my free time to SMIM. I'm sure I could have completed the game several times already if I wasn't modding.
Q: Are you working on any other mods at the moment that you can tell us more about? Or do you have any new features planned for SMIM?
A: SMIM is the only major mod I'm working on. I helped a bit on Better Dynamic Snow, too, but hit engine limitations. SMIM has a never-ending to-do list. If I could work full time on SMIM, I'd have everything improved in no time at all, but since I just work here and there, SMIM will keep me busy for a long time to come. Maybe in 3 to 6 months I'll get SMIM to a state where I feel it covers all the really important stuff. Then I play the game in full, I hope.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring mod authors out there?
A: Study. Use Google to find tutorials. Read books. Modding is tough, especially since you not only have to learn the base skills like art design or programming but you have to figure out all the game-specific quirks. Don't ask for help until you have Googled your problem for at least 5 minutes (which I find to be good advice for every life endeavor).
Q: And finally, do you have anything else you'd like to say to our readers?
A: I never thought I'd have a popular mod. SMIM started as a personal project, but I decided to share it just in case someone else cared. I really appreciate everyone who has supported SMIM. It is great to know I'm not the only one out there who wants consistent quality. And a big thank you to all the Nexus staff for creating such a tremendous site. Between the Nexus, the modders, and the users, we'll keep improving Skyrim for years to come. Lastly, thanks for reading my first interview ever!
Earlier today, the Bethesda Blog announced that a FREE update to Skyrim on Xbox 360 will give support for Kinect! It is supposed to be released this month, and will feature more than 200 Voice Commands, including Dragon Shouts!
So, now we can cross out another feature on the list from the Game Jam. ;)
In addition to Dragon Shouts, Kinect offers voice commands for Hotkey Equipping, Follower Commands, all Menus (Items, Magic, Map, Barter, Container, Favorites, and Skills) and even saving and loading! It also adds new functionality, like special map functions, additional hotkey options, and the ability to sort inventory items by name, weight, and value. The entire list will be revealed later on.
ThuuMic provides voice commands for all Dragon Shouts, follower commands and some special powers. (Requires ScriptDragon!)
On a side note
BGS are working on the first set of add-ons for Skyrim that will be released exclusively for the Xbox 360, then after one month, it will be available for both the PC and the PS3 as well. This additional content will add new quests, locations, features, and much more to Skyrim!
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