It’s been a loooong time since we did our last modding interview on Bethesda Blog, but I thought it was something that would be fun to bring back.
This week we’ve Scott Chaunce (aka Soolie). A college student hailing from Tasmania, Scott’s gotten some attention for his popular Tropical Skyrim mod…
What compelled you to create this project? Do you live in a cold weather area and needed a vacation?
I guess I never really ‘decided’ to create this project, it sort of just happened. Before I started work on it, I had always wanted to play through a tropical/desert climate in an Elder Scrolls game. Because I enjoy creating new environments and landscapes, I decided I might have a go at creating a few small tropical islands and deserts just for fun. However, I started to get a little excited about it, and I wanted to see results before I had even started. So, to satisfy the little part of me that just wanted to know what it would look like. I quickly made up a few desert textures and applied them to the tundra area. I then launched the game, turned the grass off and what I saw surprised me.
What I expected to see was simply “Skyrim with sand”, but what I saw didn’t even look like Skyrim anymore. Then out of curiosity I decided to try some more things. I quickly changed the lighting and some more textures. It really was starting to feel like a different game. It was at this point that I realized that I didn’t actually need to create my own new lands to play in a tropical environment. I realized that I already had a brilliant landscape to work with; a landscape that was already populated with NPC’s and towns, all with their own unique quests and dialogue. Despite being full of snow, ice and towering pines; Skyrim had essentially become an empty canvas for me to work on, with the potential for it to become absolutely anything. This is really the point where I decided to create Tropical Skyrim.
As for the second part of the question; it can occasionally get quite chilly in the area I live, but I wouldn’t say that it was a huge influence on my decision to create this mod. However, it’s funny that you mention needing a vacation. I say this because a few months before starting this project I spent some time in Thailand. Actually, now that I think about it, the Thai landscape was probably one of the strongest inspirations for the creation of this project.
Who helped with the creation of the project?
Originally I planned on creating the entire project myself. However I came across a number of assets created by other modders that were perfect for Tropical Skyrim. So rather than re-inventing the wheel I decided to use the content created by others (with permission of course). However, I did end up modifying most of this content to fit the tropical atmosphere.
You can find a complete list of people who contributed to the project on Tropical Skyrims download page. Nevertheless the main contributors were:
- Ga-Knomboe Boy, who created most of the trees that were tweaked to fit Tropical Skyrim.
- Tamira, who adapted a number of plants produced by Yughues to be usable in Skyrim.
- Muppetpuppet, who allowed me to use some of assets from his Moonpath mod.
- lookout21, who retextured some of the wild animals for me.
Any plans to continue updates for the mod? If so, can you give us a sneak peak of what you have in store?
YES, I plan to continue updating this mod until I can show it to the most hardcore Skyrim fans without them recognizing a single thing. As of right now I have changed/added the following things since the previous update.
- Windhelm has been retextured to fit the tropical landscape.
- Most of the foliage including trees, bushes and grass has been improved. Rather than the foliage being dense and cluttered, it is now slightly more sparse, but also a greater emphasis has been placed on making it look more tropical and lush.
- The Reach has had a complete makeover; it now features dense cypress trees, which gives it more of a sinister feeling than the other areas.
- A lot of the meshes and textures have been optimized to improve performance.
- Most textures have been modified so that they blend together more realistically.
- New high resolution rock textures.
- The caves have now been tropicalified (Is this even a word??). They are now a lot more green and mossy. Also, some of the larger trees that block off some sections of the caves have been removed.
- The distant trees have been significantly improved, (correct lighting, proper sizes, and they don’t look 2D anymore).
- New high res textures for the distant terrain. In some cases, it looks even better than the close up terrain.
- A lot of ivy and other small plants have been added to the cliffs and mountains.
Before I release the next update I would also I would also like to replace some of the common sets of armor and weapons found within the game. Let’s be honest… thick fur coats aren’t really the most appropriate apparel for the jungle.
I have also added real 3D clouds to the game which react to the weather and time of the day. Adding a whole new layer of depth and immersion to the world (and also creating some truly majestic views from the mountain tops). It definitely suits the snowy version of Skyrim well, but I’m still thinking about whether it would be as appropriate in a tropical climate. Therefore I will most likely release this as a separate mod
What’s your favorite part of using The Creation Kit?
This is quite a tough question because there are so many different aspects of the Creation Kit which I love. It’s also tough because there are some features that I have only briefly looked at, and haven’t had a proper chance to use yet.
Although this doesn’t directly relate to any of the Creation Kit’s features. I would have to say that my favorite part of using the CK would be the moment when I take a step back and just look at what I’ve created. It really is a great feeling when you can take a break, and just look at what you’ve done, and to also feel proud of yourself for persevering throughout all the crashes and the bug fixing. But an even greater feeling is the one you get when you realized that you are creating content that is going to improve the gaming experience for thousands of players.
But to answer your question in terms of functionality. I would have to say that my favorite feature is the region editor. Ironically I haven’t actually used it a lot for Skyrim; however, it appears to be the same as the one in the Construction Set which I did use extensively for Oblivion.
There are a lot of people who are against the idea of using these sorts of tools to create landscapes; because they think that they produce very generic, repetitive and uncreative results.
I completely disagree. I believe that when using these sorts of tools, the results they give you will only ever be as good as the instructions that you give to them. But I suppose that’s the thing I like the most about the region editor, because it means you can create landscapes as complicated or as simple as you want. For example, you can use it to simply scatter rocks and trees around randomly, which in some cases is all you need. On the other hand, by tweaking only a few parameters you can create some very detailed landscapes. The only limit is your imagination.
Another favorite, which I have only just started scratching the surface of, is Papyrus, the Creation Kit’s scripting language. From what I have seen so far, it seems to be a very powerful and flexible language which can be used to achieve almost anything.
What other modding projects have you worked on?
I haven’t actually released that many mods so far, Tropical Skyrim is the only large scale mod I have ever released. I have also released four mods for Oblivion, the largest being Realistic Water. However most of them were only very small mods which only took a small amount of time and effort to create. The only other mods I have ever released were a few mods I did back in 2008 for Empire Earth. They weren’t particularly high quality, but then again I was only 12 at the time.
Although that’s just the mod’s that have been released. I do have quite a few Oblivion projects that have been abandoned for various reasons. The biggest by far would be a total conversion mod I was creating, which featured many unique climates and landscapes; unfortunately I had just finished placing objects in the world when I started to run out of time to work on the project. Because I was only able to spend small amounts of time working on it, I started losing interest and the project was never completed.
Any other user mods you recommend using with this project?
Tropical Skyrim has only been available for about 2 months. So consequently there aren’t a lot of mods available that were designed with a tropical climate in mind. However, there are a few mods I would like to talk about that were originally designed for snowy Skyrim, but also fit in with the tropical climate as well. I also expect that as time progresses we will see a lot more tropical based mods.
The mods I recommend using with Tropical Skyrim are:
Prides of Skyrim – This mod adds prides of lions, tigers and panthers to the world. Each pride lives in their own den which is often filled with the bones of their prey.
SkyBirds – This mod adds thousands of birds to Skyrim. The great thing about this mod is that these birds don’t just fly around aimlessly. They build nests, eat insects, perch on other objects and even fly away when startled. Essentially they behave just like real world birds.
Fantasy Music Overhaul – This mod replaces most of Skyrims background music. With about 100 new fantasy themed tracks, the music is now a lot more fitting for a tropical climate (somehow choirs of chanting men just didn’t seem appropriate for the jungle).
101BugsHD – This mod adds 28 new varieties of insects that will randomly spawn across Skyrim. All of these insects can be collected and used as alchemical ingredients. But the main attraction is that it makes wilderness feels a lot more alive and colorful, especially with optional file which increases the spawn rate.
HighAlgoBoost — I would recommend this mod to everyone who is having performance issues with Tropical Skyrim. I would love to go into the technical details of this mod. But to keep things simple, it makes the game a lot smoother and responsive while maintaining a minimal loss in visual quality.
What are your favorite mods to use with Skyrim and/or Oblivion/Morrowind?
There are so many different mods I could list here, but I’ll try not to make the list too long. Generally, my favorite mods are always the ones that seamlessly integrate into the game, and that will allow me to “install and forget”. For many mods that add new content such as armor or weapons, the only way to obtain the new items is by use of console commands or by traveling to a specific NPC or location. In my opinion, this can completely ruin mods by making them way too simple and predictable. On the other hand, mods which add weapons/armor that randomly appear in caves or on NPC’s are much more enjoyable. And that’s because of their unpredictability.
I also prefer mods that affect everyone, not just the player. I think there are way too many mods that add spells which are only available to the player. The problem with this is that if I’m playing as a warrior for example, I will most likely never come across the spells in the game. However, if the spells are also used by NPC’s, things get a lot more interesting. Because then I won’t have to be actually using the spells myself to enjoy the mod.
As I said before, there are hundreds of mods that I could list here, but these are the ones that I enjoy the most.
Duel – Combat realism – This mod enhances the combat in ways that you probably won’t even notice. Mashing the attack button as fast as you can is no longer a successful strategy. This mod forces you to be a lot more tactical with your fighting, by placing a greater emphasis on timing and making the overall ‘flow’ of combat a lot more believable and realistic.
Warzones – Civil Unrest: () This mod causes a lot more random battles to occur across Skyrim, thus making traveling a lot more dangerous, quite a few times I have come across hordes of angry bandits that I couldn’t possibly take on by myself, so I was forced to run away (something that rarely happens in Skyrim). You will also find many more skirmishes between the Storm Cloaks and the Imperial Legion, thus making the civil war more noticeable within the game.
Weapons of the Third Era — This mod adds hundreds of new weapons to the game, all of which are seamlessly integrated. You can find them anywhere you would normally expect to see weapons, such as on bandits, in chests or for sale by merchants.
The Dance of Death – A Killmove Mod — This mod unlocks almost all of the kill moves for each type of weapon. It also gives the player a lot more control over the kill move system by allowing them to toggle options such as the removal of the last enemy restriction, and the overall chance of performing a kill move.
Deadly Mutilation – Dismemberment Blood and Gore — This mod does as It’s title suggests, it adds a lot more violence and gore to the game. You will now see dismemberment, evisceration and even people being cut in half. Now this mod is definitely not suitable for all users, and I would advise younger players NOT to use this mod. However, I do believe this is a great addition to the game.
Thanks for the interview!
Update: Less than 24 hours until this limited edition shirt is no longer for purchase.
Soon you’ll be able to go through life with a different (and hopefully clean) Vault Boy shirt for weeks on end. Today at store.bethsoft.com, we’ve officially kicked off our ‘Vault Boy Tee of the Month’ sale. As the name alludes to, we’ll be selling a different limited edition Vault Boy shirt each month.
Our first VBTotM shirt celebrates the Animal Friend perk which appeared in the original Fallout, Fallout 3, and Fallout: New Vegas. Pre-sale has begun today and we’ll be taking orders until next Friday. After Friday, May 17th, they will no longer be available for purchase, ever!
Come back next month when we reveal the VBTotM shirt.
ESO creative director Paul Sage describes how you’ll find useful, interesting items in every corner of Tamriel.
For more information about the game, visit http://elderscrollsonline.com. Other site highlights include:
Happy to report one of our most popular items on store.bethsoft.com, our Vault 101 hoodie, is now back in stock.
Update 5/14: Void Walker’s Arsenal is now available on both Steam and Xbox LIVE. The PlayStation 3 release will be available later today on the North American PlayStation Store and tomorrow afternoon on the European PlayStation Store.
The gifts of the Outsider are bestowed unto those who walk the Void.
With the Void Walker’s Arsenal add-on pack, gain immediate access to four content bundles previously available only through pre-ordering Dishonored. The Acrobatic Killer Pack, Arcane Assassin Pack, Backstreet Butcher Pack and Shadow Rat Pack offer unique character bonuses, additional bone charm slots, unhidden books and bonus coins that will aid you in your pursuit of revenge. Found in the Hound Pits Pub, use these items to enhance your playthrough of Corvo’s main campaign in the original game.
Full details on the bundles included after the break…
CONTENT BUNDLES INCLUDE:
Acrobatic Killer Pack
- Bone Charm Bonuses:
- Raven – Health Bonus for Drop-Down Assassination;
- Quick Dodge – Bolt/Arrow-Dodging Bonus;
- River Affinity – Increased Swimming Speed
- Hagfish In-Game Statue that unlocks one additional slot for Bone Charm Bonuses
- Unhidden Book entitled Rumors and Sightings: Daud
- 500 bonus coins
Arcane Assassin Pack
- Bone Charm Bonuses:
- Void Channel – Powers Duration/Damage Bonus;
- White Rat Friend – White Rats Not Hostile;
- Gutter Feast – White Rat Consumption for Mana
- Whale In-Game Statue that unlocks one additional slot for Bone Charm Bonuses
- Unhidden Book entitled Field Notes: The Journal of Granny Rags
- 500 bonus coins
Backstreet Butcher Pack
- Bone Charm Bonuses:
- Fencer – Sword vs. Sword Advantage Bonus;
- Blast Resistant – Reduced Explosion Damage Taken;
- Fire Water – Increased Whiskey Bottle Explosions
- Wolfhound In-Game Statue that unlocks one additional slot for Bone Charm Bonuses
- Unhidden Book entitled Early Life and Times: Slackjaw
- 500 bonus coins
Shadow Rat Pack
- Bone Charm Bonuses:
- Delicate Touch – Breaking Glass Noise Reduction;
- Voyeur – Keyhole Peeping Magnification;
- Deep Breather – Underwater Breathing Capacity Bonus
- Golden Rat In-Game Statue that unlocks one additional slot for Bone Charm Bonuses
- Unhidden Book entitled Field Notes: The Royal Spy
- 500 bonus coins
Watch as Dishonored producer/game designer Seth Shain explains his role at Arkane to his mother.
To Joanne and all the other Moms out there: Happy Mother’s Day! Everyone else: Be sure to call Mom this weekend!
Start your weekend off right with an inside look into the creation of the The Evil Within live-action trailer. Creative Agency Prologue talks to Polygon about designing the dark and unsettling trailer for the newly announced Survival Horror game.
Delve even further into The Evil Within’s terrifying world. Shinji Mikami and the team at Tango talks to Famitsu (via Polygon) about their game. “I want users to get so scared that their hands are in a cold sweat on the controller.”
Youtube user and Bethblog familiar Tyrannicon has put Ironman and Skyrim together. The results are pretty much epic.
Gamespot’s Cam Robinson and Seb Ford discuss their Top Five Skyrim Mods of the Week. Speaking of mods, ever see a Mudcrab and think, “Wow, I wish that was the size of a mountain?” Well, wish granted. Enjoy the enemies of Skyrim in Giant form.
Minecraft and Wolfenstein go hand in hand thanks to Youtube user thornofnight’s recreation.
And finally, Senior Designer Joel Burgess and Senior Environment Artist Nathan Purkeypile explain in depth the modular approach to level design.
Last week we opened the doors of Oblivion to the plane of Coldharbour, the realm of Molag Bal; but even more events are happening within the ever growing world of ESO.
- The latest Developer Question of the Week video features Associate Content Designer Leamon Tuttle. Watch it above and share your answers on the ESO Facebook page.
- Two latest ‘Ask Us Anythings’ are up. Learn more about on PvP and lore and more.
- Matt Firor talks to ZAM about the ESO closed beta.
- Issue #5 of the Tamriel Chronicle has been released. Check out some of the newest Community Highlights.
- ESO will be playable at Gamescom 2013. Thousands of people will be given the opportunity to try it out.
- Calling all artists – We’re searching for the best ESO-themed poster. Submit your entry by Friday, May 17th, 2013 to have a chance to win awesome ESO prizes!
We’re not working on a DOOM/Elder Scrolls crossover project, but you can always pretend while playing with our ever-growing collection of Bethesda figures.
In the imgur slideshow above, check out Symbiote’s newest additions, including:
Over the years, we’ve gained valuable experience from player feedback, and now we’re ready to take it to the next level. Beginning this month, we’re opening our Bethesda Play Test Lab in Dallas, TX (stationed at idSoftware’s offices).
In the coming weeks and months, we’ll be kicking off our first play tests with folks that apply from our official website. Folks that apply will be able to play games before they release and even score some cool Bethesda swag.
We are looking for people of all skill levels who enjoy playing games. We’re interested in your feedback, whether you are a person that only plays games once in a while or the hardcore gamer that plays everything. If you’re over 18 and in or around the Dallas area, apply at playtest.bethsoft.com.
Molag Bal, the God of Schemes, threatens all of Tamriel in The Elder Scrolls Online. Watch this new video to visit his Oblivion plane of Coldharbour and learn more about his plans.
We’re taking you straight to Molag Bal’s realm in this new video. Watch it to get a glimpse of Coldharbour and some of its inhabitants and to learn more about this malevolent Daedric Prince’s plans for Tamriel—and your soul.
Today we’re sending congrats to everyone at Arkane Studios and our German office, as Dishonored was named ‘Best International Console Game’ at this year’s LARA — a.k.a. the biggest video game award show for Germany.
On hand to receive the award and smile for the camera are (from left): Kurt Krömer (German Comedian), Harvey Smith, Julien Roby, and Raphael Colantonio.
Flying cars? Not yet. However, to hold you over until they arrive, we can show you how cool 3D printers are – and give us a glimpse into how amazing this technology is.
BGS character artist, Dennis Mejillones has one of these newfangled devices, and he was nice enough to capture footage of his Zbrush design for Dawnguard’s Vampire Lord being brought to life.
Watch the video above and check out more pics, including his printout of a Daedric Dagger, below…
Expand your Bethesda art gallery with our newest limited edition lithographs for Skyrim, The Elder Scrolls Online, and Fallout 3. Previous lithographs for these titles have sold out quickly, so order these (limited to 300 each) before they become rare art.
Visit store.bethsoft.com to order.
Today we’re happy to announce plans to release the complete Skyrim collection with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim® Legendary Edition.
Coming to Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on June 4th for $59.99 (European territories will see its release on June 7th), this package includes the most up-to-date version of the original game (employing the 1.9 title update),as well as the game’s three add-ons: Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn.
It’s been a few weeks since PAX East, but we wanted to share this short video that shows off all the fun had around our booth. It’s always a thrill to meet our fans — even if you don’t have awesome cosplay :p
Hope to see you this August in Seattle for PAX Prime!
Looking to further your adventures in Dishonored? In the past week numerous gaming sites have reviewed The Knife of Dunwall and believe it’s a great way to extend the game. In the embed above, watch Gametrailers review in which they scored the content an impressive 8.9/10!
At Kotaku, they don’t give review scores, but they emphatically say “YES!” to the content — with Jason Schreier’s conclusion summing things up nicely:
“Just more Dishonored,” it must be said, is not a complaint. You don’t go to a steakhouse expecting to get fish. Sometimes another big chunk of meat is just what you need—even if you won’t get to finish eating until later this year.
Elsewhere, check out reviews at these fine sites.
OXM (9/10) – It’s been a long seven months since Corvo’s tale ended, but we’re glad Arkane didn’t rush out the next chapter. Knife of Dunwall sharpens Dishonored’s storytelling and combat in one slice.
Gamespot (8.5/10) – Watch the video review.
NBC News – Watch the video review.
Gametrailers (8.9/10)– Whale vivisection, electric mines, and other fun toys make this story-driven DLC a must have for any fan of teleportation-assisted assassination!
Polygon (8/10) — “The Knife of Dunwall is almost exactly what it needs to be. Familiar without feeling the same, comprehensible but more demanding. The Knife of Dunwall artfully builds onto Arkane’s world, even if it shares some of the fictional and design difficulties of its foundation — and the most exciting thing about it is what it promises for the continuing story of Dunwall.”
Eurogamer (8/10) – “It’s all that’s great about Dishonored, essentially, a subtly tweaked and well fleshed out return to the dirty streets of Dunwall, and its handful of shortcomings and taste for blood over stealth are never really enough to stop it from being essential.”GamerLimit (8.5/10) – “It takes the core fundamentals from the original game without sacrificing the integrity of it and provides its own spin on the formula. Honestly, at this point I wish Daud was the main character of Dishonored to begin with. If you even slightly enjoyed Dishonored, this is a no-brainer.”
OXM UK (8/10) — “Level design still invites experimentation, but your tool set nudges you towards combat rather than stealth. The tougher difficulty means you’ll likely rely trial and error to get the perfect stealth run, and Daud’s arsenal often feels against you if you’re not getting into bloody combat.”
Forbes (8/10) — “In our first trip back to Dunwall, we control Daud, the hard-as-nails assassin who kicked off Dishonored by murdering the Empress. He plays like Corvo, only just different enough to make him feel like his own man.”
The Koalition (8/10 — “Knife of Dunwall is a nice addition to an already excellent game.”
Destructoid (8/10) — “The promise of more DLC has me excited, if not to finish Daud’s adventure, then to explore more of this detailed world, and embark on more devilishly challenging assassinations.”
GamrReview (8.7/100) — “I’m glad that this DLC was made: we do get to see a little more of everyone’s favourite Dishonored character, the Outsider, and we do get another two and a half levels of stealthy brutal goodness.”
Gaming Trend (93/100) — “If you enjoyed Dishonored you know exactly what you are in for here.
Later this year, the adventures of Daud will continue with The Brigmore Witches. As new details on the content become available, we’ll share them here.