• written by Sisypheus   14 March 2017 15:54:03   6061 views   20 likes

    Why Skyrim is Dead and the Modding Community is Lifeless or Why I made Tinvaak-Talking with Dragons

    Yes, I know, I know this is long overdue (at least to the five people who actually played my mod). 

    Skyrim is quite a large an amazing thing: it's a masterpiece, a huge innovation, a blah blah blah...

    No doubt, you've heard this song and dance no more than a thousand times from journalistic sites as they desperately lick the arse of everything popular but hold on to your Lydia because someone has a different opinion (well, when I say opinion; its more of a series of logical premises supporting a rigid argument but God help us if that has any merit in this world anymore). 

    No doubt, you've played Tinvaak-Talking with Dragons. If you haven't I suggest you do so now. Don't read on, just play the damn thing.
    All of us up to date? Good.
    Tinvaak was no mere quest mod. It was the first in a line of what I call critical mods. A modification for the purpose of criticism of that which spawned it; namely Skyrim and the modding community. 

    I was disappointed with Skyrim.
    After Oblivion I had to accept that Bethesda games studios were going for a Lord of the Rings atmosphere for the rest of the Elder Scrolls and I made my peace with that. But gods above if Skyrim isn't bland.
    Skyrim had two of my favorite things in it: dragons and vikings, and yet despite aiming directly for my weak spots it was about as entertaining as watching a mime act out the cold mechanical process of a computer's reasoning as it attempts to appeal to humans, or similarly one of Todd Howard's speeches. 
    For the sake of brevity, I will only cover things my mod addressed directly. But don't worry that's plenty.

    Let's start with the mammoth in the room: Story.
    Skyrim's story is that of multiple stories weaved throughout a cold, frigid north (that isn't Winterfell). Which is to say, Skyrim's story is a series of fetch quests weaved throughout a cold, frigid attempt to derive currency from your wallet. One of Skyrim's boasts was its infinite quests and "radiant story" but if Bethesda's idea of a story is go over there, pick something up and bring it back then we'd better not show them Dickens; they'd think it was fucking space-age technology. 
    Outside of the sea of fetching, there was the main quest, a clumsy poorly written attempt at completely fucking up as much lore as possible within twenty hours. 
    The Blades for example, were shoe-horned uncomfortably into the role of dragon-slayers and shoe-horned painfully into the story of Skyrim. Just ask yourself this: what was the purpose of the Blades from a narrative perspective? To find out how to defeat Alduin? Well, they never really did that. After finding Alduin's wall Von Sydow just sort of hums and hahs and then triumphantly declares "it was a shout that defeated Alduin!" No shit Sherlock, of course it was a shout. Every bit of Alduin related lore mentions it was a shout. Even the pillars on High Wrothgar mention it was a shout. What shout?
    'Shrugs' "Dunno."
    Then there was that issue with the blades knowing that the Oblivion crisis was going to happen...
    Like I said, a series of twists and turns all flowing seamlessly into plot-holes. 
    Skyrim's story is a far cry away from the trials of the Madgod's champion or the intrigue of the package intended for Balmora.

    But even then, Bethesda managed to shit on that as well. 

    The lore of the Elder Scrolls was what made it unique and successful; Morrowind is above all evidence of this. With the release of Oblivion it seemed Bethesda games studios was jumping onto the Tolkein wagon with all the other imaginatively impaired, but Skyrim was in a generic league of its own. I honestly can't tell if Skyrim is ripping off anyone, probably because all of the characters appear to be wistfully unaware of their surroundings until you poke them and they begin violently regurgitating exposition; it's like what I imagine Hideo Kojima will be like in his old age. It's either that or they are like Lydiot: occasionally munching on some silage until you come over, strap an amulet of mara around her thick neck and fuck her. 
    I have fond memories of sitting in Balmora or Bruma, flicking through the leaves of a book describing Skyrim. I devoured the literature with wide-eyes as it conjured images of a race of eternal outsiders, solving all their problems by beating up Elves and tearing out tongues to present as trophies to their grim pantheon of twilight gods.
    When I got into Skyrim, I found nothing but a bunch of Tolkein dwarves growing wheat and grumbling about imperials only to finish their day by getting drunk and worshiping the wrong gods........and then having a civil war about the wrong gods (seriously, did Bethesda games miss the mark on their field trip to Iceland and end up in Ireland?).
    I know this is probably a bit on the head, but has anyone not noticed the Nords don't worship the Nord gods? When did that happen? There's nothing to explain it. How could it happen? I thought the Nords hated Elves and their deities. Why would they tolerate the amalgamation of Meric and human pantheons that places Auri-El's imperial counterpart at the head? But when Bethesda isn't fucking up their lore, they aren't using it. Skyrim's dragons were the main feature advertised. Dragons in e3, dragons in the trailer, dragons in the cover art, dragons in whatever Todd Howard and Pete Hines smoked before their interviews (I think they get it from Peter Molyneux). And yet what are Dragons in Skyrim if not just the next evolutionary step in Cliff-racers. Outside of the main quest you'll not find a single dragon in regards to quests and within that, there were only three dragons you could talk to in Skyrim (one more if you pay for DLC). Out of those three: only two you could talk back to. And the one who had the least contact with the player was the antagonist of the whole bloody game.
    Todd Howard made clear that he wanted to make dragons similar to how they are in all the fantasy books and movies people watched. And he succeeded: they are now generic flying lizards that any twat could kill with an iron sword. 

    But that's not suprising. Bethesda's entire game treats you like an idiot. From the puzzles a lobotomised Chimpanzee could figure out to the foam padded dungeons: even a five year old could complete Skyrim. 
    Worst of all has to be the dialogue. 
    Skyrim is an RPG: that is, a role playing game. One of the key features of such a genre is the use of dialogue to promote the player developing a personality for their character. But in Skyrim's dialogue choices, you can either play as a blithering moron who doesn't know what's going on or a blithering moron who doesn't know what's going on and doesn't care. So few are the dialogue choices I genuinely wonder at Bethesda game's studios concept of personality. 
    "Personality, oh yeah that's that thing where people have different one handed stats to you right?.......what's this love you speak of?"
    Furthermore, with everything being labeled for you and characters feeling the need to escort you like you're an A.D.H.D. compulsive in Las Vegas with the pin code for their credit card, it's hard not to succeed at this game. By the way, can anyone point out the sense in having a compass detailing all the available landmarks in a game about exploration and discovery?

    But I don't think Bethesda is stupid. They made Morrowind, the Shivering isles, Dawngaurd and that intro part of Fallout 3 for Pete (Hines)'s sake.
    The issue is that Bethesda doesn't give a shit. 
    They seriously don't care about the story (if you've gotten to the point where you'll just inject minecraft into anything you make, you've given up).
    They don't care about their fanbase (when they aren't trying to lazily capitalise on the modding community, that basically makes their games, they are flirting with casual gamer hussies). 
    They don't care at all.

    As if I could make my point any clearer. Take a look at this from Pete Hines, it was a little slip up in professional tone that I found deliciously revealing.
    Pete Hines pisses off Fallout fans
    Now, with that in mind think back to paid mods (they probably aren't done with that by the way). Bethesda's Pete Hines once again offers an insight into such matters regarding modder's rights to mod.
    "we made the game you're making the thing for."-Classic Hines
    Now, given that I haven't even scratched the surface on some of Bethesda/Zenimax's corruption (the unconfirmed hostile acquisition small games companies, the deal with Obsidian not being paid the full amount for New Vegas, Zenimax trying to kill the occulus rift based on speculation alone that it might sort of almost belong to them (technically)),
    but I just have to give some time to the lies Bethesda has spread.
    Oh sweet lord, the lies.
    There was the 200 fallout 3 endings.
    The "you can affect the economy" bullshit.
    And then there's everything that comes out of Todd Howards mouth.
    Seriously, everything.
    This little fool has been named "best game director" by the academy of interactive arts and sciences. He's also been given the Lara of Honor lifetime achievement award. The man responsible for this.
    Not Tim Schafer, not Feargus Urquhart not even Patrice Desilets.
    Todd "it just works" Howard. 

    I'm done with Bethesda/Zenimax If it weren't for their holding Arkane studios hostage, I probably would never buy any of their products (seriously Bethesda/Zenimax is nothing compared to E.A. and Ubisoft but saying that is like saying Bethesda/Zenimax is nothing compared to Satan and Hitler's taxidermist).
    I still have some interest in the Elder Scrolls and Fallout, but I need not rely on Bethesda/Zenimax for additions in the series. After all, I have the modding community.
    The modding community has kept Skyrim alive with nothing but passion for years since their release and continue to do so with content.
    A pity we're beginning to lose some of that passion.
    It seems like the days of passionate mods are going away. Modders have lost interest in not only Skyrim but the entirety of the Elder Scrolls. Now, the highest endorsed mods are simple titillation mods.
    Bikini armors.
    Nude female mods.
    Ridiculously revealing clothing (obviously for women).
    More nude female mods.

    This is all well and good (apart from the alienation of women from the modding community, oversexualising of content and low standards of decency) until you realise that these were all #1 Mods of the month (you should see some of the titillation that were in the top 5). It's not as if these mods aren't competing with more respectable content either. Take a look at this top mods rating for the first month of Skyrim's release.
    1. S.T.E.P. (a gameplay overhaul mod).
    2. No more blocky faces (a fix for hideous face textures)
    3. Skyrim 2k (a texture mod overhaul for all of skyrim)
    4. FXAA (a graphics improvement mod that's so complex I don't even understand the name)
    5. Nude females (self explanatory)

    Notice anything interesting? Well, the thing is: I've written it backwards. 
    Now, I'm not saying that a Nude Females mod isn't as deserving as a mod that overhauls the entire of Skyrim's gameplay or overhauls it's graphics. 
    And that's because I don't have to.
    It's obvious that something is a little fucked up in the nexus rating system. 
    Frankly, it's simply a matter of the flaws of using consumers to rate things. People aren't good at seeing quality. They are usually too busy getting on with their lives to bother. Therefore, it happens that people usually grab the first thing that catch's their eye on the shelf and carry on with their day.
    And unfortunately boobs are incredibly conspicuous. 
    The solution to this issue is to employ critics to take the time to dissect products so that they may make the things that usually don't stand out (i.e. don't have boobs) more noteworthy with their approval. 
    And we have that for the modding community in the form of independent reviewers. But seeing as they have no source of income from the task, they are on Youtube: a site where success means you have corralled enough cross-eyed, gibbering gibbons with your ability to pretend-shit-yourself in response to a jump-scare montage. 
    Hence, the most popular modding reviewer will be the one who get's the most attention. And what grabs attention? 

    That's how we have MxR
    In the beginning there were many big critics: Gopher's mod spotlight, Brodual, there was even a Gamespot review series
    But eventually all but Brodual died out, and whats left is...
    Look, here's some quotes: 

    “Elianora (the modder, in case you did not know) sure has a way of assembling fruits in a basket: I let her assemble my fruits in my baskets any day, kno-know what I’m saying.”-Nazeem strikes back-Skyrim Mods-Week 138“Download the immersive wenches mod, ride Theus and runover the hookers.”-Skyrim Mods-Week 199-immersive love making“make sure that he or she is your husband or wife, if not then you are a whore; I’m sorry to tell you that (re: kissing mod)”-Skyrim mods 200-My favorite mods everything“the lips lock together with the force of a 1000 virgins”-Skyrim mods 200-My favorite mods everything“it’s easy, its clean, its fun (re: spanking mod).”-Skyrim Mods-Week 199-immersive love making
    “considering that both her parents are black, I mean redgaurd and she does not look black (re: a redgaurd child that is pale)”-Skyrim mods-127-Braith is all grown up“(re:cannabis in Skyrim mod) people be like what are you smoking cause I want summa that and boom and Mexicans didn’t have to die for this”-Skyrim mods 200-My favorite mods everything.

    Now, one might easily see MxR as being a hapless clown, blundering into his success. But no human is completely stupid. Even horses, dogs and cats recognise patterns and are more likely to be conscious of behaviors that result in a benefit. 
    And so I will say that a hapless clown does not accidentally name all of his videos with suggestive titles and "click-bait-esque" questions, accompanied with pictures of women in various sexual poses, positions and implied situations (sometimes not even implied), just as a hapless clown does not accidentally find himself president of the United States of America.

    Frankly, I have no problem with MxR's channel (except the misogyny, casual prejudice, immaturity, tastelessness). Well, I do not think it should not exist now that it does. The right to free speech is a quaint enough thing, quaint enough indeed that I feel the need to preserve it in society (at least for my own benefit). 
    But what I do have a problem with is that while there are mod reviewers like Brodual who are working their asses off producing professional material like this and is then forced to rely on Patreon due to lack of views.
    Whereas MxR and other popular crap factories get away with stuff like this and are not defenestrated but instead get millions of views, a house and their own fucking wardrobe to sell.

    (I would just like to take a moment, to point out that I do not approve of MxR reviewing my mod. I would only be able to do so if I had the 100% guarantee he would not profit and hence I would not be apart of what I consider an unjust system. It is simply a matter of my own rigid principles, I cannot shake such a thing as morality from my self. Edit: Apparently there has been some misunderstanding, I do not want MxR to review my mod but that does not mean he is not allowed. I have not the power to forbid him from doing so, and neither would I use such power if it existed.
    MxR can review my mod but I do not approve of him doing so, I see it as him forcing me to support his lifestyle with my work. I. DO. NOT. APPROVE.)

    So you are probably wondering why I am telling you all this, rather then mailing anthrax parcels to MxR and Howard. Well, its because I don't see them at fault here.
    Truly, they are more victims than villains (though it is quite possible they are a little of both) in this circumstance.
    The fault lies mostly with us as consumers. It is us that downloads the mods, pays for the bad games and likes the inadequate videos.

    And so it is your responsibility, as well as mine to help promote a better modding community as well as a better gaming industry in general.

    I am not calling for those titillation or silly joke mods to be eradicated, nor am I asking for MxR to stop what he is doing as a content creator. All human creativity is valuable and just because one mere human such as I, feels some mundane adverse reaction doesn't mean it should be sacrificed so I can feel better.
    This is the case with everyone.
    No, I am merely asking that we at least give equal consideration for mods that take just as much, perhaps, even more effort and are far more beneficial to the human psyche than base pornography and frivolous memes. 

    You could try the following:
    1. Download your smutty mods (if so very necessary) but reserve your endorsement for that which is special, those mods that made your heart quicken, sparked your interest, showed you something that made you stop for a while and let the world move a few steps ahead.

    2. In the same manner, view MxR's videos for entertainment but also view Brodual's for content. I can appreciate that some people find MxR amusing (though it makes me feel like throwing up) but nevertheless they should support Brodual for the sake of the principal of promoting the creation of better and bigger mods rather than ensuring the eventual de-evolution of the Nexus into a pornographic site (with the occasional chicken wearing a funny hat ).

    3. Support those creators who break the mold, and do not simply wait for the hot files to show you stuff. Do you honestly think an algorithm knows you better than you, yourself? Rather than be spoon-fed whatever everyone else likes, look individually and express your own individuality through your mod order while supporting those who are, themselves, trying to creatively break free.

    4. Do not reward creators for their deceit: click-baiting or other such tactics. Be aware that Brodual, the nexus, Bethesda, MxR, everyone is doing something for a reason. Some are genuine, looking for expression and artistic endeavor. But be aware that there are those "Iagos" who will say anything and do anything for their own monetary gain. Do not trust or support them. They will try to enslave you. Many of them have already succeeded. Reward good behavior in the modding community and games industry with whatever currency they seek: endorsements, money, views.
    Doing so will result in more and more people attempting to become genuine to become successful. If we all bought Psychonauts and ignored Gears of War, Madden etc., maybe the game industry would have a little more heart and your life would be happier right now.

    5. Don't be afraid to criticise or be criticised. Socrates once met a baker who sold bread on the same street as another, the men hated eachother but Socrates corrected them: the men through their spite, made better bread and more profit and hence they were more friend than enemy.
    In the same way, the worst critic is your best friend. Think on what they say, and if it has merit; divulge more from them. 
    But nevertheless recognise that sometimes opinions will differ and sometimes people are not criticising but lashing out due to their own insecurities. 
    Your ability to tell the difference will be what separates the children from the adults.
    In the same way, do not be afraid to criticise. If you, seeing a man cutting himself, refrained from criticising his activity then that man's death would be on your head.
    Criticism is good, it helps people as long as one criticises with the best of intentions and with the other person's benefit at heart.

    6. Endorse Tinvaak-Talking with Dragons, not because it is great but because it is a sign that you believe all mods, not just titillation should be prized and all the more those that invest in the lore of that to which they are modding.

    7. Do not blindly believe all that I have told you. Question everything: what I have said, what I have implied, what you think, what you feel. Incorporate what I have said into your own philosophy while being weary of self-deceit. Argue these points in your mind and among others for the sake. Doubt my words and check to see if they are correct. Play with ideas in your mind, using logic as the tool to carve out truth. Beware your emotions, allow feelings to control you and you might as well be handing the next man to make you angry the leash to your collar.

    7. Elect me King of Everything (it could work).
    Edit: From the comments it appears that a lot of people are taking offense from this article for some reason. I have not pinned down exactly what it is, but I assure you I do not mean to offend you by making this article, I have the interests of everyone's happiness at heart. 
    So, as a condition of commenting to this article I would like anyone who has taken offense or sees the article as rude to quote the part that made them think this way. This will clear up a lot of things and hopefully allow me to understand the situation. 
    You, obviously do not have to do this. But it would make me very happy if you did. And you care about making people happy right?



    Oh, by the way, if you want to hear more from me go to my website:

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