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Mod Feature Highlight - Day 3

Posted by wishfire Dec 07, 2011 at 23:47 UTC

For the last day of our three day mod feature, we take a look at a texture mod that seeks to make Skyrim an even more beautiful place by improving one of the most important aspects of the game – the people of Skyrim themselves.  Just like the previous days, we were lucky enough to get an interview with this author to understand the process behind its creation.

Be sure to look at both Day 1 and Day 2 of our feature as well to get caught up if you haven’t already!

Detailed Bodies

Be sure to click the above image for a higher resolution one, as it’s difficult to see just how much of a difference it makes in the thumbnail!

Xenius01 – normally known as just ‘Xenius’ – is no stranger to the modding community, having created quite a number of well-respected character and race mods for Oblivion.  Skyrim is no exception for this author, as he has already pushed out texture replacements for just about all features of the various races of Tamriel.  Even more impressive is that they are all meant to work together, making truly seamless and complete textures become a reality.

Detailed Bodies takes all non-beast races (although he’s got a mod for that, too!) and their vanilla textures, and then goes and doubles them.  Specular maps got a rework too, making these textures look as high-res as they actually are.  This means that bodies are smoother, more detailed, and all the blockiness (and most of the artifacts) have been removed.

Below are Xenius01’s thoughts on the creation process and the ideas behind his work.

How much work goes into making the vanilla textures higher res?

Xenius01: For me it didn’t take that much time, since modding and creating textures is nothing new to me. For Oblivion I’ve made a lot of custom races which mostly involved creating unique skin textures. Due to that I already had the skills and resources to improve Skyrim’s textures.

It’s hard to say exactly how much time it took as I didn’t count it, I’d say a few hours and that’s without testing and creating updates to improve on it, so all in all it would be a lot more than that.

Also I made this after I created the Detailed Faces mod, so I mostly knew how it would look in the game and how the lighting would affect the textures, which saved time as well. The reason for creating the Detailed Bodies was to make the bodies fit better to the Detailed Faces. The original body textures were already quite high resolution compared to the face textures, so that was not the most important reason for doing this.

In your opinion, what’s the most difficult aspect of Skyrim to retexture?

Xenius01: I mostly focus on character design and custom races. For me the most difficult aspect to improve would be the game world: architecture, landscape, plants, dungeons, and stuff like that. Most modders focus on one specific area (so others may find character design the most difficult), and for me that’s character design, although I’ve done a few other things before like weapons and clothing (textures only).

Can you tell us about any mods you have planned for the future?

Xenius01: I still have to update some of my mods here on SkyrimForge, also I created a compilation consisting of all of my character enhancements, this package will be available soon. It is meant for those who use all of my stuff and to make things easier by only having to download and update one file instead of a bunch of small ones.

Once the Creation Kit is available I also plan to start creating custom races for Skyrim, just like I did for Oblivion.

That does it for this week’s mod feature extravaganza! 

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Mod Feature Highlight - Day 2

Posted by wishfire Dec 06, 2011 at 21:37 UTC

In this second day of mod feature highlights for Skyrim, we’ll be featuring a wonderful compilation package of mods from a hard-working author who truly loves what she does.  Just like yesterday, we also managed to snag a rather informative interview to gain further insight into just what work goes into these sorts of mods.

If you missed yesterday’s feature highlight and interview, you can catch up here!

Cooking Recipe Bundle

 

Skyrimforge author Wolferoo decided that while the new food recipes and cooking skill in Skyrim were a wonderful additions, they just weren't refined enough.  In fact, the idea for the mod came to her as she was forced to use console commands to obtain items like Baked Potatoes, which were oddly enough in the game, but had no cooking recipe.

Enter the gigantic, often-updated mod by the name of Cooking Recipe Bundle – a compilation of all the cooking mods Wolferoo had released at that point – adding over 60 new recipes, almost 50 entirely new items, and a super refined cooking experience.  Skills and short-term food buffs were added, allowing for even more food options.  Taking this customization even further is the existence of four separate files, so users can get exactly what they want.

Below, Wolferoo shares her thoughts and goals with the project from creation to execution.

What considerations did you have to try to keep the new recipes and the edits balanced to the original ones from the game?

Wolferoo:  My goal was for resulting items to have similar quality to existing items, and scaled to the ease of acquisition. I can best explain this through examples...

-Baked potatoes was the first recipe I added.  Cooking the base potato into the baked potato gave an increase in quality from 1 HP to 5 HP for the work of carrying the potato to a cook pot.  The quality increase was small but so was the effort required.

-Cheesy bread results in a greater difference between ingredient quality and product quality, but takes a little more effort on behalf of the player.  He must find two different ingredients, and possibly use recipes to cut the cheese into wedges before using them.  Also when compared to other items of similar purpose, it is not overpowered.  Its strength is equal to a standard quality restore health potion from an alchemy shop, or something an intermediate level alchemy character could produce.

-Draugr Porridge and a few others provide long term but fairly weak buffs, and require collecting several ingredients from various sources.  I felt the difficulty in acquiring ingredients countered the long duration, and it would be too overpowered to have a strong buff with a long duration under any circumstance.  As far as what enhancements to group together, I took inspiration from WoW on this one.  The foods in this set are loosely based on classes, with the melee skills accompanied by stamina regeneration and the caster skills accompanied by majicka regeneration.

-Poached Warbler Egg and a dozen others were designed as an alchemy alternative.  The ingredients are based on the ingredients' effects for potions.  However the quantity required is greater than the two needed for creating a potion because there is no skill needed to create these items which have a greater quality than what a novice alchemist could create.  Some characters may not want to learn alchemy, but want something more satisfying than buying buff potions from an NPC.

What methods did you use to add all these recipes?  Was it difficult?

Wolferoo: I made the recipes using TESsnip. I got started by taking about two hours to go through a tutorial by Samutz on using TESsnip and trying out my own ideas for items to combine. Once I understood the pattern, which variables meant inputs outputs and quantities, making the mod was easy. I explored more of the data inside TESsnip and looked at what other modders were creating to get ideas for things I could make myself using the same patterns. Learning where spell IDs and variables were stored really opened up the possibilities because then I could put any buff on any item I created with whatever duration and strength I chose.

I have a background in programming, so understanding byte fields and how variables interact was simple for me.  But a lack of prior experience doesn't need to scare off anyone interested in doing mods. If you have the patience to walk through the steps, learning about one field at a time, you can figure out how to change things too. And once the CK comes out, these modifications will have a much easier interface.

I'd estimate the time spent on the pack at about 8 hours, but it's hard to say because I expanded it in several stages.  The learning curve is steep at first but once you've created a new item and a new recipe, most of the pain is over. 

If you're interested in making recipe mods, or changing the attributes of items, open up a mod in TESsnip and poke around. Read what others have done both in the .esp or in their words on forum posts.  And don't be afraid to ask questions.  I'll gladly answer any PMs about where to find certain data I've manipulated and I'm sure there are other modders out there willing to help too.

Can you tell us about any mods you have planned for the future?

Wolferoo:  My latest addition to the recipe package was the ability to refine sugar from honey, and then use the sugar as an ingredient.  I plan to add flour in my next update, and then many recipes involving flour, sugar, and eggs.  I would like to also add milk, perhaps sold by a farmer NPC, but I may wait until the Creation Kit for this addition. Depends on how ambitious I get, and how long until the CK is out.

Be sure to keep an eye out for updates from this author, as well as our next and final mod feature highlight and interview for this week tomorrow!

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