a Lost Spire

Basic premise, the Archeology Guild needs an enforcerbodyguard for their researchers and you’ve been hired. This quest mod is way more fun than it sounds though. Intrigue, ruins diving, ancient artifacts, basically be Dr. Indiana Jones in Tamriel.

Technically the mod is well implemented with some solid custom models and textures. The voice acting is perhaps a little uneven but more than adequate.

The story is well-written. This mod strays a little from the official established Elder Scrolls lore. I am usually a stickler for lore-correctness in my mods but here the additions are explained well and, in any case, the fun to be had more than makes up for it.

One thing I don’t like, though, is that the player becomes *gasp spoiler* the Headmaster of the guild at the end of the quest line. Silly stuff, considering the player is, in universe, said to have no archeology skills. I just don’t think it’s necessary to reward the player so. Even for the vanilla Fighters and Mages Guilds quest lines I would have liked the option of deferring the Master and Arch-Mage positions to Modryn and Raminus.

Grab it at the official website.

fear me, I've got glowy runes on my blade

Blade of the Haunted

A short but challenging quest. You won’t find quest markers to use as a crutch or hints in the journal entries on what to do next. The story fits with the official lore of the Elder Scrolls, which is something I like. The voice acting is mostly decent but jarring as quite a bit of dialogue is added to existing vanilla characters. Of course, you also end up with that sweet looking titular sword.

Highly recommended.

Find it at The Elder Scrolls Nexus.

Requirements: OBSE >= v0019

Skyrim in-game screenshot

Here be dragons

The first in-game screenshots of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has been revealed and the “Creation Engine” looks fantastic. I’m a longtime Elder Scrolls fan and Skyrim is probably my most anticipated game of the year.

Thoughts on some of the info tidbits:

  • No class selection – that’s a very good thing, in my opinion. This way your style of play shapes your character and not vice versa.
  • 18 total skills – streamlining the available skills is probably a good thing, though we’ll have to see what’s been cut out.
  • Dragons – officially in an Elder Scrolls for the first time (apart from the Dragonlings in Daggerfall), fantastic!
  • ‘Developers promise combat is more “dynamic and tactical” than before. Focus was on improving combat and the feel of weapons in your hands.’ – cue taken from the Deadly Reflex and Unnecessary Violence mods for Oblivion I guess? Both are recommended, by the way.
  • Dual wielding – YES.
  • Improvements to AI and quest system – depends. The Oblivion Radiant AI turned out to be a little underwhelming. I certainly hope the development team achieves everything they aim for.
  • Other graphical and cosmetic improvements – hardly the most important factor for me, but the screenshots are looking good so far.
  • Level scaling – unfortunately it’s not going away, but at least the Fallout 3 scheme will be used which is more tolerable. In any case, I’m modders will come to the rescue yet again.

The little poem on the back cover of the February issue of Game Informer translated from the “Tongue of the Dragons”:

Dragonborn Dragonborn
By his honor is sworn
To keep evil forever at bay
And the fiercest foes rout
When they hear triumph’s shout
Dragonborn for hunger blessing we pray

And the scrolls have fortold
Of black wings in the cold
That when brothers wage war come unfurled
Alduin, bane of kings
Ancient shadow unbound
With a hunger to swallow the world

Video teaser:

I am properly pumped up!

Screen shot and information taken from Video Games Blogger.

Before you begin any serious usage of mods, you will need a few resources that will enable some other mods you will be installing.

  • Oblivion Script Extender (OBSE)
    The OBSE is an amazing piece of software. It hooks into the Oblivion executable and provides new scripting functions while keeping things rock-solid. If you don’t understand what that mean, just know that the OBSE enabled the creation of much more complex mods than what would otherwise be realistically possible. Note that D2D users and No-CD crack users are out of luck. Installation is simple, just follow the instructions in the readme file.
  • Pluggy
    This is a multifunction OBSE plugin, and adds more scripting functions.
  • Common Oblivion (Cobl)
    Cobl adds lore-friendly races, books, ingredients by itself, but its true value comes from it being designed as a shared resource for modders. It doesn’t come in an OMOD unfortunately, so read the installation instructions carefully. I have just the Core ESM/ESPs installed. Salmo the Baker is nice but unstable for some users, you’ll have to test it for yourself.

I’ll be doing game play tweaks next.

The Elder Scrolls IV - Oblivion

I’ve been a fan of the Elder Scrolls series since the Arena days and apart from the action adventure Redguard I’ve played them all (never did finish Arena or Daggerfall though, pesky bugs…).

The series really took off with Morrowind. While the main quest was OK, if a bit formulaic, the excellent plugins feature and the Construction Set were what really made the game shine, and almost instantly a huge community sprung up around Morrowind modding.

Oblivion continued the fine tradition of extensibility. I started playing it earlier this year, as I did not have a PC capable of running it. I did not even bother to finish the main quest as I did with Morrowind before downloading and using user-created mods.

I’ll be writing about a series of posts about the Oblivion mods I’m using mostly for my future reference, but I’m hoping somebody else will find them useful too.

And remember, whatever you want to change in-game, somebody’s probably already done it.

In this first post, I’ll be doing through files that I consider musts for every Oblivion on PC player (Xbox 360 and PS3 Oblivion can’t use user-created content, sorry).

Before everything else, make sure you have the last official patch (v1.2.0416 at the time of writing). You should ideally get the Shivering Isles expansion as it adds a few scripting functions. Well you should get it anyway, as the quest is actually more interesting than the Main Quest.

First up, you want, nay, need Timeslip’s Oblivion Mod Manager. As its name imples, it manages your mods. But more than that, it handles OMOD files which are specially packed mods. This utility can easily add or remove mods, warn of file conflicts and most importantly, mod authors can provide an installation script which allows one to, say, install optional parts of the mod. Always prefer OMOD if that option is available from the author or perhaps a third-party, and its usually worth it to make your own OMOD if not. And for the mod authors who are not yet providing OMODs officially, what are you waiting for? Get to it. Follow the instructions!

Even fully patched up, Oblivion has bugs. Modders to the rescue though. Grab the Unofficial Oblivion Patch. You will want the Shivering Isles and Official Mods patches too if you have them. Bethsoft should be paying these guys for what they do. OMODs are available.

You will want one of the UI mods too Out of the box Oblivion looks like a console game. Everything’s just so…big. And clumsy. Modders to the rescue, again. BTmod was the gold standard for a long time, but its been superseded by the excellent DarNified UI. It’s what Oblivion PC should have been. Personally I’m using DarkUI’d DarN. Both DarN UIs comes in delectable OMODs.

Now grab the Better Oblivion Sorting Software, fomerly known as the FCOMhelper. Official description: ‘A simple program for mod users to quickly optimise load ordering of ESP/ESM files in their Oblivion load-order.’ MS Visual C++ Runtime 2008 is a requirement.

With these mods you will still be getting the Vanilla Oblivion experience. Next up, foundations.