Friday, June 10, 2011

But Wait, There's More!

In hopes of saving some time this weekend by spreading these mods across several posts, I decided to do another post similar to "What Else?" and touch lightly on all the mods I recommend but chose not to previously write about. Again, like that past post of mine, this will read much more like a list than an in-depth discussion, so feel free to skip this one if that's not what you're looking for.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Immersive Prison Sewer Exit

Before getting into more mods that will affect your regular interactions with the world and the people living in it, I thought I'd take a moment to talk a little about one that alters the beginning of the game. It's very simple, and I was rather surprised to find that nobody else has a made a mod similar to this until now.

All Immersive Prison Sewer Exit does is make a smoother transition between the tutorial dungeon and the rest of Cyrodiil. This is done by moving the final section of the sewer into the exterior worldspace, giving the illusion that the character is closer to the exit when fighting through the last of the rats and goblins. This obviously makes a lot of sense, since the prison sewer is indeed the last part of the tutorial dungeon. If you'd rather see how this is all done in-game for yourself, be sure to skip the video, since I walk through the entire section that this mod changes.

I'm particularly fond of the changes to the lighting and how you can actually see the world outside when looking through the bars at the end of the sewer. The view of the sewer looking back in seems a bit two-dimensional when you give it close examination, but it's nothing absolutely game-breaking. All in all, this little mod will likely find a permanent home in my load order, especially since it's compatible with both Liquid Water and Unique Landscapes. If Immersive Prison Sewer Exit looks just as appealing to you as it did to me, you can download it for yourself from TESNexus.

That's all for now; a tiny post for a tiny mod, but definitely worth the trouble. If I find myself with more time this week, I'll do my best to get more into the larger stuff. Until then, goodbye for now.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Unique Landscapes

I'm sorry to say that once again I have been lured into discussing yet another environmental mod over one that directly affects gameplay. However, this is one that should have been covered a long time ago, so it hardly seems like a crime for me to take the time to do so.

Unique Landscapes is an on-going project by a number of mod authors that seeks to flesh out the generic world of Cyrodiil and redesign the wilderness in a much more eye-catching fashion. The project is divided into several sections, each corresponding to a different region. While each fits right into Oblivion in its own little way, I've decided to instead zoom out and generalize by discussing the project as a whole. Whether it be the wind-swept Jerall Mountains or the humid swamps of Blackwood, every region touched by the Unique Landscapes project comes to life with breath-taking scenery and sophisticated intrigue unlike any landscape mod before it. Cyrodiil has never before felt so full and lush with the foliage, cliffs, rivers, and valleys that the mod adds to the environment. But of course, as many have noted when it comes to mods that solely relate to graphical additions, only a video can really demonstrate the admiration that the project deserves.

While some may like some sections of the project more than others, I've elected to install the compilation package that includes all of the sections that are currently released. If you install the package with the Oblivion Mod Manager, it should provide you with the opportunity to select specific sections if you would rather not install them all. However, all are at least worth seeing in-game for yourself, and I personally recommend the entire compilation. If you're interested in trying it out for yourself, you can find the Unique Landscapes compilation on TESNexus.

I'm not entirely sure which direction I'd like to take the blog next, but I'll do my best to attempt putting more of a focus on gameplay-related mods in the future. Until next time, have a terrific Sunday.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Crowded Cities Improved

I must immediately apologize for the delay between when I posted the video for this post and the time that I now have to actually publish the post on this blog. I finished editing the video the night before going out of town for a wedding, which I didn't really think about until after I had already uploaded it. Hopefully I haven't had anybody overly concerned for my well-being. I am most assuredly alive and well.

So the past couple weeks have been spent doing quite a bit of research on how to add more life to the cities of Cyrodiil. I was really hoping to make a post and video similar to Living Roads, which covered several mods that add a larger population of travelers, guards, and traders to the previously desolate main roads of Cyrodiil. However, there aren't as many mods that add to the city populations, which is likely due to the conflict between adding more people and taking the time do make their behavior in the cities believable in relation to the original residents. The one mod that adds NPCs similar to those found in Crowded Roads was created by the same author and was not surprisingly named Crowded Cities. Sadly there are several issues with the design that make the new citizens appear and disappear in the player's line of vision, which doesn't allow to the new NPCs to blend well with the behavior of those from the original game.

To remedy this problem and other small issues with the original mod, a new author rewrote a few sections of script and released the mod upon my request as Crowded Cities Improved. This new mod is still being worked on, and the author hopes to add more realistic behaviors to the new NPCs eventually, which will make the mod an even more valuable addition to the cities of Cyrodiil.

Some have noted that despite the nice appearance of having bustling streets filled with travelers and the like, the interactions between the player and these new NPCs are often too generic to be believable. For my game, I edited the script for the mod to eliminate the possibility of interacting with them, allowing your character to assume that these people are either too busy to take part in conversation or just don't like you enough to give you their attention. As with strangers in the real world, it make sense for your character not to be able to effectively communicate with everyone. Hopefully this non-interactive version of the mod will be released publicly soon along with the next update of Crowded Cities Improved, but until then, be sure to try out the current version. You can find Crowded Cities Improved on TESNexus.

That's all there is to say about NPC additions to cities at the moment. I'm hoping to go into detail on more mods that add to or further affect gameplay, so be sure to keep an eye out for that. Until then, goodbye for now.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Normal Maps

After taking a very short-lived break from the blog to try Nehrim, I realized that I prefer Oblivion just in time to completely wreck my current setup. Because of this minor tragedy, I was forced to start fresh with the game and start up my mod research from the beginning again. And since I had nothing to lose, I thought I would begin by trying an alternative to installing a massive texture replacer such as QTP 3 Redimized.

Before I begin discussing the two mods I chose to use together, I should start by explaining normal maps. Every texture in Oblivion is given a normal map, which essentially gives the model the illusion of having more detail than reality. You see this being used in wood to give it splinters, stone to give it cracks, and even metal to give it rust. Textures provide expressions and normal maps give them character. Because of this, just giving Oblivion's original textures a more detailed set of normal maps would add a whole new level of depth to the game. This is what led me to be interested in these two mods.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Really Almost Everything Viewable When Distant

This post may come as somewhat of a surprise for some, since I've been spending the majority of my free time on the official forums discussing my research regarding adding to the cities of Cyrodiil. However, my attempts at tweaking a mod that I was considering were getting too tedious, so I figured I would move on for now to something a bit simpler for myself.

Distant land has always been a troubling issue when it comes to Cyrodiil's atmosphere. Although the land occasionally is pleasant on the eyes from a distance, further exploration allows the player to discover that several structures and rocks that should be visible from afar seem to disappear after a certain distance. This results in forts, ruins, towns, and rather large rocks to instantly pop into view when approaching them and erasing themselves from existence when walking away. In order to give the appearance of a more consistent world, Really Almost Everything Viewable When Distant (RAEVWD) was created. When watching the video, be sure to note the ruins and forts that are visible when the mod is activated.

The models that are used to represent objects in Oblivion have two different forms, the structures you see when close to them and the images that you see of the objects from a distance. In the original game, distant models could have been generated for all the existing models of Oblivion, but only certain objects were classified as visible when distant. The reasoning behind this was probably due to the desire to produce a game that would be easier to run on the computers of the time. RAEVWD adds to the distant land a variety of structures that should always be easily seen from a distance, such as settlements, ruins, and larger rock formations. Since computers are much more capable of higher processing levels today, there is only a small decrease in game performance. If you have a more recent computer and like the idea of adding more to Cyrodiil's distant landscapes, you can find RAEVWD right here. Be sure to keep in mind that you won't see any changes without using TES4LODGen, which updates the game to recognize all new distant objects added into the directory. Also note that installation of the mod is much easier when using the Oblivion Mod Manager. If you'd like to use this method of installation rather than attempt doing it manually, you can also find the script and instructions for installing RAEVWD this way on TESNexus.

So that's that. Hopefully I'll be able to talk about adding life to cities in my next post, but I won't stop myself from posting if I can't. Just know that I'll definitely be discussing that sometime in the near future. Until next time, goodbye for now.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

DarNified UI

After much thought on where to go next with the blog, I've finally decided to briefly discuss user interface. As most people know, Oblivion was created to played on both the computer and the game console. There is very little difference between the original computer game and its console equivalent, which means that they both look very similar in design when mods are taken out of the picture. This isn't necessarily a problem, but because of this fact, the text for the various menus, books, subtitles, and notifications are significantly larger than necessary for the typical computer user. The game often feels like a typical console game because of this design, which can take away a lot from immersion.

In order to enhance the player's interaction with the game and adjust to a more appropriate size, Darnified User Interface completely redesigns all of the menus and displays in Oblivion, which ranges from resizing the character's health bar to expanding and allowing for in-game customization of the map menus. All of the changes are individually customizable when the mod is initially installed, and a few of the details can be changed using an in-game display that can be found through your skills and achievements menu. There are countless enhancements and adjustments that DarNified UI adds to the game, but seeing examples is much easier than describing all of them. Be sure to watch the video in high definition, otherwise you may have some difficulty seeing how the new menus are arranged.

I held off getting this for a long time, but after seeing so many people's displays looking so much less cluttered and being able to see so much more of the map at one time, I felt like it was worth the effort to install. But then I discovered how simple it was to add using the Oblivion Mod Manager. The installation process comes with step-by-step instructions and visual examples as you select the different options, making what I expected to be tedious to only take a matter of minutes. If you're interested in trying it out for yourself, you can find DarNified UI and many more screenshots of the different menus it changes on Planet Elder Scrolls.

Next time I'll be spending more time with mods that add to Cyrodiil itself. I already know what I'll be discussing, so hopefully that means I'll have another post up relatively soon. Until then, goodbye for now.

A side note: I've found that the any changes you make to the configuration of DarNified UI while in-game don't save when you exit the game and reload a save. In order to keep your settings, be sure to download DarNified UI Config Addon, which fixes this issue.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Missing with Projectiles

After spending so much time with atmosphere and the like, I figured it would be best to go back to combat for a bit. The two mods I'm going to discuss this evening are also much simpler in terms of installation than Liquid Water, but I'll get to that later.

One thing that bothered me when going through dungeons in Cyrodiil is that bandits always seemed to have no sense of peripheral vision. No matter how many times you cast a spell or shoot an arrow right past their eyes, it's never enough to get them to budge unless you actually hit them. To make this oddity even more confusing, when you shoot an arrow or spell at an archer and don't kill them, they'll be able to hit you without missing every time you're in plain sight, regardless of your own movement and their own marksman skill.

In an effort to balance the unusual vision patterns of these enemies, Duke Patrick created "Near Miss Magic and Arrows Alert the Target" and "Actors Can Miss Now." Now when you fire an arrow or cast a spell that lands within 20 feet of the NPC, they will either flee or start searching for you. If that NPC is an archer or spell caster, there's a chance that they may always be accurate in their aiming. This chance is determined by your movement to avoid the shot and their individual marksman skill. Being in the sneak position will naturally increase your chances of being hit, and an expert shot will naturally rarely miss.

The mods are both very small plugins that require nothing but the Oblivion Script Extender in order to run properly. This utility has been a prerequisite for a few different mods I've already discussed, so I would assume that you already have it installed. If these little mods interest you enough to try them out for yourself, Near Miss Magic and Arrows Alert the Target and Actors Can Miss Now can both be found on TESNexus.

Once again I must apologize for my extended absence, but I'm afraid the real world will always come before this blog. That being said, I hope to have at least a couple more posts up by the end of the week. Until then, goodbye for now.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Liquid Water

So a lot of things have been having on the official Bethesda forums these past few days, specifically with the mod that I'm about to discuss. It's a very stable mod at this point, but it wasn't initially, which is why I waited a while to talk about it. I try not to bring up mods that overlap or conflict with others that I bring up on here, but when I saw the first screenshots of Liquid Water, I knew this would be the exception.

For all the years that I've been dealing with mods for Oblivion, there was never a doubt in my mind that Enhanced Water was the best water was going to get. Even the team for the Oblivion Graphics Extender, which this mod is dependent upon, initially thought the idea of further improvement was hopeless due to the way the water system works in the game. The author of Liquid Water went beyond this wall by completely recreating the water. This isn't an exaggeration; part of the installation process of this mod is to disable the original game's water rendering. The main difference between this and Enhanced Water is that the new water has smoother transitions. This includes removing the sharp edges along the shoreline, providing a more realistic approach between going over and underwater, and blending the water in better with the surrounding environment. In the interest of time, I used my video from Enhanced Water to give you a good comparison between the three different options rather than taking completely new footage in each of the three cases. Be sure to pay attention to the difference in the shoreline, the surface from underwater, and the visibility of objects underwater from above.

There's a lot more to this mod than just the concept of prettier water. Since the water replaces the original system, several different variables can be completely customized using a file included in the mod. This includes but isn't limited to the level of reflection, the amount of fog underwater, and the color tint, both underwater and on the surface. For those that want the underwater to look more like what you see when using Enhanced Water, you can do this by lowering the blue tint and increasing the redness. And of course it does have a couple drawbacks, but it's nothing that should keep you from enjoying the mod. I haven't encountered anything unusual, but the author does a better job at explaining downsides than I do.

I'm sure seeing this video after reading my discussion may confuse you, especially since it sounds so complicated but looks so good. There are two ways of installing it, and I know both of them are explained in the document included in the mod much better than anything I could describe to you. However, just so you know I'm not just teasing you with this beautiful work and that you actually can use this for yourself, I'll briefly touch on what you need to know.

Before anything, be sure to remove Enhanced Water, Visually Realistic Lava, or any other mod you might use to change the way water or lava looks. For those of you who never tried going underneath the lava pools in the Oblivion Realm, they're actually just a colored variation of water with a different texture used on the surface. Because of this, though, Liquid Water is incompatible with anything that affects either of these.

After that step, you need to decide whether you're going to use any other shaders (visual effects) that can be employed using the Oblivion Graphics Extender or whether you would prefer to just use the new water. Note that I won't be discussing the Oblivion Graphics Extender in detail on this blog. The link should provide plenty of further information about that. If you decide you would just like the water, a package that can be easily installed with the Oblivion Mod Manager can be found on the same page as the full version. If you aren't scared off by my terrible explanation of the mod's requirements, or you'd rather just read what the author has to say about the mod, you can find Liquid Water right here. It's worth it. Promise.

For those of you that miss my discussion of tiny, simple mods, I'll be coming back to those in the very near future. The only reason I had to discuss this first was because of the need to spread word of its success. Until then, have a fantastic Monday.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Living Roads

So, it's been a while, but I finally have enough time to post again. I'm sure those that pay attention to my activity on the official Elder Scrolls forums have easily predicted the topic of this discussion, since I spent a significant amount of time inquiring about the various options related to it. But for those of you that don't, I'm talking about adding more life to the roads of Cyrodiil. I always felt so lonely when walking between towns. The guards that patrolled the paths were never interested in small talk, and the only other people you encounter just want to kill you. Where are all the other travelers? There's no underground passages connecting the cities that I ever discovered, so they must be around somewhere. Think of the next few mods I suggest as just making who should have already been around a bit more easy to find.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

What Else?

As sort of an intermission, I’d like to take the time to discuss the mods I use but don’t plan on taking the time to create in-depth posts or videos for. Naturally this is going to much more like a list than anything else, so feel free to ignore this if you just prefer reading my discussions or watching my comparison videos.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Strategy Master's Combat Hide

As some of you may have noticed, I tend to learn a lot more towards the stealthy side of Oblivion. Although occasionally it can be fun to storm a bandit camp, mercilessly lobbing people's heads off as you go, it just seems to make more sense to try to have the advantage of not being seen. That being said, I'm sure warrior-oriented characters sometimes feel occasional desires to assassinate an oblivious stander-by with a dagger as well.

One gripe I've always had with Cyrodiil's enemies is that they always seem to know exactly where you are as soon you make your first move. It makes sense to have a general idea of where an attack came from, especially if you can hear someone scurrying away after planting the shot, but you can only hunt down a person for so long before you have to start guessing. Strategy Master, a mod author that tends to specialize in realism mods, employed a new detection system for NPCs that would give characters a chance to lose their tails. This is Combat Hide.

When watching the video, note that this mod is much more difficult to capture than it is to actually experience in game. I tried to film a couple of examples, but I'm not entirely sure how successful I was in properly portraying the mod's effect. Hopefully it's enough to understand the purpose, and if not, at least there's always my discussion and the mod description.

If you're in an interior such as this Ayleid ruin, it's likely that you won't be able to avoid combat entirely. With NPCs running around looking for you, chances are you'll be caught at some point. The most useful method of taking advantage of this mod is to hide from an enemy only when you think you won't be able to beat him in head-to-head combat. This gives you a second chance at getting a good blow to the back in before trying to finish the job. If this sounds at all appealing to you, you can read more about Combat Hide or download it for yourself at TESNexus.

Another day, another post. I would have liked to get one more in before the end of the weekend, but I ended up having more to do than I anticipated. I might not get time for another tomorrow, so the next update will probably fall on Tuesday evening or Wednesday. Until then, blessings of Julianos upon ye.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Skeleton Diversity

As some of you may have guessed, I took the past couple days off of updating my blog to work on a little mod of my own. And again, as some of you may have guessed, I'm going to blatantly advertise my work by discussing it here. Obviously this mod is something I would have added to my game if I hadn't made it, otherwise I probably wouldn't have taken the time to create it in the first place. That being said, I'm sure a lot of people are grateful to have this as well. Or at least those that use creature mods the way that I do.

For those that have no idea what I'm rambling on about, I'm referring to Skeleton Diversity. Just like Zombie Diversity, all it does is add more creatures into the undead leveled lists, except this time it's more races of skeletons rather than zombies. Despite the fact the models and textures for Argonian and Khajiit skeletons had already been created some time ago, there was no standalone mod prior to mine that added them into Cyrodiil. Since I've made myself known as one that has little interest in larger creature compilations, I decided to create the mod myself (and of course giving all the necessary credit to the original author of the models, who is known as Wiruman on TESNexus). There should be a relatively equal chance of you running into these skeletons wherever you would find the vanilla skeletons, and there are Argonian and Khajiit skeletons of each rank of skeleton that you normally be able to find in dungeons all over Cyrodiil.

In case you were wondering why the human skeletons have a different texture on them, that actually is not a part of this mod. The Argonian and Khajiit skulls don't match up too well with the default skeleton body texture, so I hunted down a mod that did a better job at replacing them in the right style. The one I settled for is called "Da Bloody Skeleton Mod," which you can find right here. Even if my mod isn't for you, I highly recommend getting Da Bloody Skeleton Mod if you want skeletons to look like they should if they've actually been lying around in a tomb for several years. However, if you are interested in trying my mod, you can also get it on TESNexus.

I have a good idea where I want to go next with the blog, so hopefully that means I'll have another post out soon. I'll at least have the time to make a couple over the weekend. Hopefully. Until then, have a wonderful Thursday.

Monday, March 21, 2011


After a long Spring Break, I've decided to start up again small with another little mod that adds a bit more excitement into Cyrodiil.

If a character decides to dabble with magicka and wants to buy a new spell, the merchant limits the character in accordance with their school of magic. If you're taught a spell by a member of the Mages Guild or elsewhere, you may not be able to attempt casting it due to these limitations. In an effort to give the player the chance of success or accepting the consequences of failing, Fizzle removes these limitations. However, if your character isn't strong enough to control the magicka necessary for the spell, it may fail or physically harm the caster. An example of this effect can be seen in the video.

The mechanics behind the mod are relatively straight-forward if you don't want to customize anything. When your character "equips" a spell, you will be notified of the chances of successfully casting the spell in question. A number of factors go into calculating this percentage, such as holding a weapon, what kind of armor is weighing the character down, or skill level in the appropriate school of magic. If any of these factors are changed, you will be re-notified of your casting chances. If the probability is low enough, and your character happens to fail, the spell will affect the player in some way, such as damage to health, fatigue, or magicka. The result of your failure will also be told to you the same way you are notified of your casting chances. Both of these notifications can be turned off if you don't like to see them, but I chose to not customize any part of the mod for demonstration purposes. If my explanation doesn't make sense to you, or you'd just like to use the mod yourself, you can find Fizzle right here.

I apologize for my absence over the course of my Spring Break, but I figured being social in the real world would be better for me than taking that time to update my blog. But class is back in session now, so I'll be posting semi-regularly once again. Until next time, goodbye for now.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

MOBS and Multipliers

I've reached the point where I think the majority of my posts are going to be more focused on interactions with Cyrodiil rather than just beautification. To start this off, I'd like to discuss two similar mods that I recommend using together.

The Medieval Oblivion Equipment Balance System (MOBS) was designed to give the weapons and combat as a whole a much more realistic presence in the game, primarily by reworking the amount of damage weapons are capable of at each character level. Another major fix that MOBS adds is the changing of weapon reach during combat, which adds a lot more sensibility to how fights play out. Hand-to-hand is improved by adding more fatigue damage, and marksman is rebalanced by giving more speed to arrows and slowing down the motion of running backward. On top of all of this, damage as a whole is increased.

Kuertee's Attribute-Based and Skill-Based Damage Modifiers, which I'll refer to as Multipliers for convenience sake, can be layered on top of the changes that MOBS makes to create faster and potentially scarier combat situations. The amount that weapon damage is multiplied by is easily customizable outside of the game by the player, and these skill-dependent changes also affect NPCs. Multipliers makes the game much more intense at times, but fights to the death typically should be more nerve-racking than the original game's portrayal of combat as a tiresome and lengthy nuisance.

Whether these mods result in easy kills or not is much more dependent on the skill of the NPC now, which calls for much more attention to timing and calculation before lunging head-first into battle. As you may notice in the video, the couple times my character dies are mainly due to one miss or misjudgment. To properly see the effects of the mods on both the player and the NPCs, I left the menus on. Be sure to pay attention to how health is affected.

Using these mods completely changes the way the player handles aggressive NPCs, so I recommend taking some time to practice before going right into major quests and expect to know what you're doing. Obviously the best method of doing this would probably be to start a new character, though a new save game shouldn't be required for either of these mods. They both are very simple to install, and Multipliers can be installed with the Oblivion Mod Manager, which I've mentioned a few times in previous posts. If one or both of these mods sound appealing to you, here's where you can find MOBS and Multipliers.

It was a long day today, but I still managed to have enough time this evening to post this. With enough luck, I'll at least get another one up tomorrow before the weekend. Until then, goodbye for now.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Creatures Alive

Moving away once again from mods that enhance the graphical quality of the game, I thought I'd talk for a bit about animal behavior in Cyrodiil. It's hard to say that any mods really "fix" anything with creatures in the game because several of the animals that live in Cyrodiil don't exist in the real world. However, based on how animals act on Earth, we can infer that certain behaviors would be present if creatures were exposed to certain environments. With this in mind, I'd like to present Creatures Alive.

The original game did a few things right when making Oblivion, and their approach to animal behavior was actually something I really enjoyed. There was a chance you could run into a wolf hunting deer, which would travel in herds and run at the slightest movement it detected. Creatures Alive takes this idea of mimicking animals in the real world and applies it to more of the creatures in Oblivion. It also increases the chances of seeing this by giving the player a good idea of where to look. Animals will likely be found near water, especially wild boar and mud crabs. There's a greater chance of seeing offspring with the animals, such as a lion cub or a baby deer. And to add even further realism, it provides more equal opportunity, so stumbling upon a mountain lion isn't reserved for those strong enough to kill one. All of this makes for a much more dynamic world that the player has to survive in.

As you can see, it occasionally makes things pretty dangerous, especially for my Level 1 character that I've been using for testing these mods. A lot of what I discuss is about adding more challenge and adventure to the world, though. There are other options of mods that change animal behavior, but this one stood out due to the very specific changes it made to how the creatures are seen. Most of the others that can be found outside of overhaul mods generally focus more on levels of aggression. This did that and more. For those of you that are interested in learning more, you can find Creatures Alive at TESNexus.

That's all for now. As you can probably tell, I think I'll be a lot more consistent the rest of this week. Until next time, have a wonderful Mardi Gras.

A side note: A separate author on the official forums made some tweaks to Creatures Alive in an attempt to make behavior a bit less glitchy. If you experience any issues with the original mod, be sure to download this version by him first before deciding to remove it.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Dungeon Actors Have Torches

I thought I'd take the time this morning to write a quick, little post about a quick, little mod.

When using mods to make the world darker when in dungeons or at night, torches and other light sources become increasingly important to the player, which makes a lot of sense. Who wants to run around in the dark all the time in a dangerous place like the wilderness of Cyrodill? Well, apparently bandits do, because the original game doesn't provide them with any light source for them to hold. Dungeon Actors Have Torches gives NPCs who reside in the underworld of Cyrodiil a relatively high chance of having a torch to carry with them. Not only does it provide your character with light sources for when you're stumbling about in the dark while trying to be sneaky at the same time, but it also makes it much more difficult for you to surprise the bandits. In my opinion, this adds a decent amount of realistic challenge to the game and makes dungeon diving a lot more exciting.

Before complaining that the first section of the video seems too dark, keep in mind that this is meant to point out the necessity of giving the actors torches. If you're not familiar with the mod that is making my dungeons look so eerie, be sure to check out my post about Cava Obscura. Also, if you're interested in having this idea extended onto the NPCs outdoors, be sure to check out Exterior Actors Have Torches, which was made by the same author. Finally, if this mod seems like just your thing, you can find Dungeon Actors Have Torches right here.

It looks like this week is going to be pretty slow for me, so hopefully that means I'll be able to post more on here. Please please please be sure to tell me what you think about what I'm doing here. I haven't received any feedback lately, so anything would be wonderful. Until next time, have a fantastic Monday.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tamriel NPCs Revamped

Sadly instead of getting better, my illness has only gotten worse. Today I decided not to go to classes because of it, so I had the time to post this.

The citizens of Cyrodiil are an odd bunch for various reasons, but the one that is most obvious is their faces. In an effort to make non-player characters (NPCs) a bit more realistic and easier on the eyes, the team behind the Tamriel NPCs Revamped (TNR) project redesigned the facial structure of over a thousand people. Due to people's varied tastes, it's difficult to say whether they did a good job. My previous experience with the mod tells me that the result overall can be considered a massive improvement, but there are a couple NPCs that still look a bit scary. I'm only showing a minuscule fraction of the whole population, but it should give you a good idea of what they did with the faces.

TNR is extremely easy to install due to the mod being made to be installed using the Oblivion Mod Manager. Because of this, it's also incredibly simple to remove. If you're not sure whether the result will be appealing to you, try it out for yourself and just delete the mod if you don't enjoy it. The files that come with the mod shouldn't replace anything already on your computer, so uninstalling the mod won't affect your gameplay in the slightest. If this sounds appealing to you, you can find Tamriel NPCs Revamped on TESNexus.

Be sure to wish me luck while I'm fighting off this dreadful cough of mine. The sooner I get rid of it, the easier time I'll have putting this blog together. Until next time, blessings of Stendarr upon ye.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Animated Window Lighting System

I decided I had to go back to talk about at least one more atmospheric mod because this one does wonders to the towns and cities of Cyrodiil. In the original game, night time brought darkness to the exterior world, as I suppose it should, given the lack of electricity. But when you went inside a person's home, the candles always seemed bright enough to light up the whole place. If they really are that bright, why doesn't the light show through the windows? Animated Window Lighting System (AWLS) fixes this.

The easiest way to install this mod is through the Oblivion Mod Manager, which I've mentioned before. Included in the download are numerous customizable options such as the color of the lighting and the addition of chimney smoke, which I chose to exclude from my game when taking this video. I enjoy the look that the smoke adds, but I feel like I tend not to give it much attention when I walk around, so I decided not to exaggerate my interest in it in the video. However, I've been informed that the smoke is extremely compatible with other mods that I might be discussing in the future, so it would be best for you to make the decision about adding it yourself. If you'd like to learn more, you can get AWLS at TESNexus.

Luckily I had the time to post this today. Maybe this means I'll start being more consistent again. Until whenever next time may be, goodbye for now.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Zombie Diversity

I always thought it a bit odd that the human races were the only ones that were reanimated as zombies. Why would the other races be excluded? In an attempt to add a bit more variety to the ranks of the undead, Zombie Diversity was created. It doesn't have Khajiit, but all the other different races can be considered represented as zombies. I would go on to describe how disturbing Argonian undead are and how terrifying they all are together in one place, but I figured a video would be much more effective.

As you can see, they're a bit more distracting than your average walking corpse. That being said, their stats are the same and should only appear where any human zombie would normally be. Just don't expect to lose them as you gain level; there are all races of dread zombies, too. If you'd like to be mutilated by some of these zombies yourself, you can find Zombie Diversity right here.

I must once again apologize for the delay, but I suppose life can't always be so predictable. Hopefully next time will be tomorrow. Until then, have a good night.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Deadlier Traps

I thought I would attempt to break the monotony of all the passive additions I've been making to Cyrodiil for a bit to bring you all a something a little more violent. Deadlier Traps makes dungeon diving a little more nerve-racking by doing exactly what the title implies, making most large traps fatal. The difference is simple and fun to watch, so I'll let the video show the rest.

As you can see, this mod will definitely make you walk with a little more caution through ruins. If you're interested in making your dungeons a little more dangerous, you can get Deadlier Traps at TESNexus.

I'm sure I'll probably have time to post at least one more today, so I'll probably stick to the dangerous theme for a little while. If you know of any frightening, suspenseful, or realistically painful mods that I should look into, don't hesitate to let me know. Until next time, goodbye for now.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Alive Waters

As I mentioned previously, one of the main things that tends of bother people about the water in Cyrodiil is the fact that slaughterfish seem to completely dominate the environment. They've eliminated all forms of competition for the player's attention, and they seem to have devoured all the plants that the competition might have been interested in.

Alive Waters adds two very important features to Cyrodiil. It adds believable flora to the ground of the water and creates and entire community of water life that was previously assumed to be extinct. The fish that are added come in a multitude of varieties, but sadly it's much more difficult to capture them on film than I originally expected; they swim away when you try to get close to them. I'm a little disappointed in the video I made because of this issue, but I still wanted to show the seaweed and such because of how much I enjoy the difference this mod makes.

As I noted in the video, the only reason the lack of life underwater is so apparent in my game is due to Enhanced Water, which I previously described in detail earlier. If you'd like to learn more about Alive Waters and see what else it adds to the game, you can find it on Planet Elder Scrolls.

I apologize for the lack of blogging over the past couple days; I've been recovering from illness and haven't exactly been in the right mind to be able to write. Hopefully I'll be cured and ready to provide more tomorrow morning. Until then, have a lovely Presidents' Day.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Enhanced Economy

One thing that I never seemed to understand was how other citizens of Cyrodiil always seemed to have endless supplies of Septims at their disposal while I would have to run through countless quests and sift through limitless clutter in search of something that might let me get as wealthy as I'd like. In an attempt to redistribute this unfair placement of wealth in Oblivion, Enhanced Economy was created.

Unlike previous mods that I've discussed in this blog, Enhanced Economy will directly affect your decisions while playing. The main things I present in the video are the two reasons why I have an interest in this mod. The first one I've already mentioned. Merchants and traders in Cyrodiil will never run out of gold, no matter how many pieces of armor, weapons, precious stones, and family heirlooms you manage to sell them. Enhanced Economy fixes that. The more you sell, the less they have. It's as simple as that. Well, sort of. Depending on what time of day you come in, they could potentially have more or less gold than the last time you happened to visit. This is meant to simulate other customers coming into their establishment during the time you aren't present. It makes perfect sense, which is why it seems so desirable.

The second reason I enjoy this mod is because of its item repricing. I always found it so depressing to find some clutter in a crate that the world collectively decided was worthless. In an effort to provide a bit more promise of fortune for looting, Enhanced Economy includes customizable price lists, giving the player the option to almost completely eliminate the worthlessness of miscellaneous items. I'll attempt to explain the technicalities of this after the video.

While watching, pay attention to the value of the items in my inventory and the merchant's total barter gold.

Like All Natural, Enhanced Economy requires the same external programs in order to be installed. The benefit of this system is the opportunity it gives the player to customize the changes of the mod on an individual basis. Keep in mind as well that I didn't cover every aspect of Enhanced Economy. Even though I may provide a detailed account of a mod's capabilities, this shouldn't compensate for the author's description or the text document included in the mod. Always be aware of everything that you add to your game before you play, otherwise the results may be undesirable. If you'd like to read more about what Enhanced Economy can do, you can find it on Planet Elder Scrolls.

As I go on, the mods I'll be discussing will begin to be much more fine-tuned for very specific additions and replacements for the game's characters, combat, items, creatures, and more. Again, if you ever have any suggestions for where I should go from here, don't hesitant to contact me. Until next time, farewell.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Subtle Sunshine

Continuing on with little atmospheric mods, I thought I'd cover the sun, since it was such a disappointment in the original game. Only in Oblivion have I been able to look at the sun and see a nice, little, perfect circle of light in the sky. Such a tiny thing could never illuminate a huge planet like Nirn (in case you weren't aware, that's the name of the world Cyrodiil is a part of in the Elder Scrolls games). The first sun mod I tried was also the most popular, which goes by the name of Beaming Sunglare. As much as I enjoyed the dramatic difference it made, I decided this time I would go for a more realistic look. That's when I discovered Subtle Sunshine.

The difference between the original sun and Subtle Sunshine's replacement is quite impressive when you look for it, but once the texture is replaced, the result is so natural that it seemed like the sun always should have looked the way it does, which is the way something so standard as the presence of the sun should be. You can find Subtle Sunshine right here.

For those that have no interest in changing the appearance of the atmosphere of Cyrodiil, I apologize for these first few posts. I promise more excitement is on its way. Until then, have a wonderful Wednesday.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Enhanced Water

Today I'll be displaying a pretty simple mod that changes the world's atmosphere. This time we're dealing with water. Many people complained about Oblivion's water being unnaturally blue and blurry. Enhanced Water attempts to clear things up by making the water clearer and adding more visibility while underwater. This is great if you have a mod that makes water-life a bit more diverse because making water clearer only reveals more of Oblivion's tragic flaws. I'll go into more detail on making underwater experiences more exciting in the future. For now, take a look at the difference above the surface and see the massive improvements made by Enhanced Water.

Although life underwater currently seems quite lonely in the original game, at least with Enhanced Water you're able to see it. Plus it's hard to argue with the beauty of the water's reflections of the surrounding landscape. If you like what you see, you can find Enhanced Water on TESNexus.

Given the simplicity of this mod, I have nothing more to say. Maybe I'll have time later to post another before the end of the day. Until then, goodbye for now.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Weather - All Natural

It appears I've been blessed with the gift of free time this Valentine's Day, so I thought I'd take advantage of it by giving some more to the community. Double the fun, right?

All Natural is a weather mod. Like Cava Obscura, its sole purpose is to create a more realistic atmosphere, but this time the mod also affects the outside world. Although the video I made for this post only covers the weather element of the mod, All Natural is actually divided into three major sections: weather, interior atmosphere, and interior light sourcing. The first part is the main reason why most people are interested in this mod, though, which is why I've decided to pay more attention to it.

The goal of the weather aspect of All Natural is to change cloud movements, climate variations, nighttime lighting, and weather visibility. To put all of this in simpler terms, All Natural redesigns the weather system in a way that the player deems most realistic. The degree of change is fully customizable using an INI file included in the mod's installation, and the result varies depending on what specifications you prefer. When watching the video I made to display this mod, keep in mind that I elected to lower the brightness level at night to 20% of default. Anyone who properly installs the mod can change this as much as they would like.

All Natural is a little more tricky than the first two mods I've described, as I'm sure you've noticed. It requires three very important external programs: The Oblivion Mod Manager(OBMM), Wrye Bash, The Oblivion Script Extender, and The Better Oblivion Sorting Software(BOSS). I won't pretend to be an expert when it comes to using these utilities, but the sites I've linked to should more than give you a nudge in the right direction. Once you learn to use them, though, they'll become second-nature, which will be important for the more complex mods I may describe in the future. And if all that didn't scare you off already, you can get Weather - All Natural right here.

That's all for now. Hopefully I'll keep having so much luck with my schedule. Happy Valentine's Day everyone.

Cava Obscura

Next on the list is Cava Obscura, which can be best described as an atmospheric enhancer. In the original game, ruins, caves, and dungeons were generally pretty easy to dive into without a torch. For those that think this is unrealistic, Cava Obscura creates a darker setting in all the dungeons in Cyrodiil which still preserving the game's original feel. There are a few other mods that attempt to make these areas darker (such as Darker Dungeons), but the author of Cava Obscura took the time to edit each individual dungeon's light levels rather than just remove light completely. You can see the result in my video.

Some claim that this mod is equally comparable to others like it, but I prefer the looks of this over any others that I've tried. If you aren't convinced by my video, feel free to try it for yourself. You can get Cava Obscura for yourself at TESNexus.

These first two mods I've displayed are both very easy to install. As I go on, keep in mind that the process of installation gets a little more complicated and may require additional mods or third-party programs such as a load order software or a mod manager. I'll be sure to go into more detail about that when it becomes necessary. Until then, be sure to let me know if you find what I have to say useful or informative. I'm all ears for constructive criticism. Goodbye for now.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

QTP 3 Redimized

To get the ball rolling, I thought I'd start with something simple. QTP 3 Redimized is a world texture replacer. For those that aren't familiar with Oblivion modding terms, this means that the mod is designed to enhance the visual details of the world as a whole. Installing a mod like this only requires the player to replace the current game's texture files with the new ones, which is relatively simple when it comes to modding. The result is very stunning though, as you can hopefully see in the video. Pay close attention to the bricks in the sewer and the ground outside.

Although there are several different varieties of this texture pack, the Redimized version seems to work the best with most people's computers. That being said, I've never personally tried to use any others. If you're interested in getting this mod for yourself, you can find it here.

As I go forward, keep in mind that I'll be layering these mods on top of each other. That means that if you see a video in the future of me displaying another texture replacer, QTP 3 Redimized will be present as well unless otherwise stated. I'll be making more videos and posts on here as I continue to add more mods, so be sure to let me know if there's anything you'd like to see. Thanks for your time, and goodbye for now.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Hello all,

I just thought I'd take the time to explain what it is I'll be doing on here. The purpose is rather simple. I intend to post videos and descriptions of all the mods I install or create and use for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

For those of you that stumble upon this without any prior knowledge, mods are essentially addons to the game made by individuals like myself in order to enhance the gaming experience. They come in many varieties, and the online modding community for Oblivion is one of the largest.

 The categories I'll be discussing on this blog will range from texture replacers to gameplay overhauls. I'll take any suggestions that people make and will do my best to make my posts both entertaining and useful. Of course, if you are someone who has never played Oblivion or is unable to run the game on your computer, my contributions may seem boring to you. Consider this a disclaimer.

I hope I can get this going very soon, so be sure to keep an eye on it. But for now, this all I have to say. Blessings of Akatosh upon ye.