Posts tagged " mods "

ESOTR Micro Blog: Creation Club Thoughts

October 22nd, 2017 Posted by Elder Scrolls Off The Record - Elder Scrolls Off The Record An Elder Scrolls Online & Elder Scrolls Podcast, Podcasts No Comment yet

The Creation Club was released since our last episode, and Evarwyn spends time thinking about what’s in the Skyrim Special Edition CC menu, the pricing and what it means, if anything, to the modding community.
ESOTR Micro Blog: Creation Club Thoughts
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Fallout 3 Followers

Fallout Off The Record Episode 13: The Unusual Suspects Part 1

October 3rd, 2015 Posted by Fallout Off the Record No Comment yet

Welcome fellow travelers to another exciting episode of Fallout Off The Record! Tonight we traverse the Capital Wasteland with a myriad of companions in tow! That’s right, tonight is the first in our Unusual Suspects series all about the companions and followers in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. We also have a mod review, game-play for the week and a few emails! Stay tuned for some Fallout Shelter lunch box codes during the live show! Enjoy!

Fallout Off The Record Episode 13: The Unusual Suspects Part 1
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Elder Scrolls Off the Record 152: What ESO Console Players Should Know

May 29th, 2015 Posted by Elder Scrolls Off The Record - Elder Scrolls Off The Record An Elder Scrolls Online & Elder Scrolls Podcast, Podcasts No Comment yet

Those funky ESOTR folk are back with a HEFTY gameplay section this week! In game discussion comes from Skyrim and Elder Scrolls Online, along with a solid helping of PvP and Mike discusses “Past the Sky’s Rim: The Elder Scrolls and Theology”. Later on, we name a few things, we believe, console players should know, when the buy Elder Scrolls Online. “What Does ZOS have to Say At E3?” is the topic of our rumor section, and we cover two mods: “Master Library” by Broski McDave from the Skyrim Workshop, and “Arkngthand 2.0” by Ragox from Morrowind Nexus, in The Crafting Table. We also have a great, “Rage of the Week”, plus your You Tube Comments, Emails AND your weekly gameplay challenges!
Elder Scrolls Off the Record 152: What ESO Console Players Should Know
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My Top 5 Skyrim Mods

July 3rd, 2013 Posted by Opinion 11 comments

I bought a PC 100% because of Skyrim. After seeing the game – unmodded – on my friend’s PC, I decided then and there that if I wanted the ultimate graphical experience, I’d have to buy a PC. Thus, Pandora’s Box was opened. I bought my PC and immediately began modding. Modding is arguably one the greatest strengths of the PC platform. We, the players, are able to modify games in ways unimagined by the developers. This is a good thing. Mods can greatly enhance your experience or, in my case, provide me with a completely new one.

A lot of you ask me which mods I use. I use roughly 40 mods, 30 of which are graphical enhancements – this may give you a hint as to what my top 5 mods are so forgive me if I get preachy for a second here. I firmly believe that if you have the machine to do it, you absolutely owe it to yourself to push its limits far as it can possibly go. Why not squeeze every last ounce of graphical enhancement out of your machine? Why not make your game look as good as possible? If you aren’t going to push your machine, then why did you spend potentially thousands of dollars on it?

Well, you guys asked, so this piece is for you! Here are my top 5 Skyrim mods, in ascending order. If you want to check out the mods, and I strongly encourage you all do so, click the title of each mod and it will take you directly to its respective mod page. I’ll also include any performance loss you can expect. For reference, I average ~40 fps with these system specs:

Intel i5 2320 quad-core @ 3.0 GHZ
EVGA Nvidia GTX 660ti 2 GB GDDR5

5. Pure Waters

Performance Loss: Minimal

If I can be brutally honest here, I really didn’t like the vanilla (unmodded) water of Skyrim. It never looked like the cold spring water that it should have been, and it never really gave me that mountainy feel. So, in my days of searching, one of the first mods I found was this one, and boy, what a difference it makes! Now, every single water source looks unique. The wind makes subtle ripples across the surface, the water looks more alive. Most importantly, it feels, well, pure. Combined with some ini tweaks (SkyrimPrefs.ini), your water will look absolutely amazing. It will look and feel as it always should have – cold, natural, and pure. Joe and I are huge proponents of this mod. Do yourself a favor and check this out. Lake Ilinalta never looked so pretty!


4. Realistic Lighting Overhaul

Performance Loss: Moderate

Before I continue, I must explain how lighting works in this game. When you enter a dungeon, for example, you generally notice a few torches lighting a hallway. However, the dungeon doesn’t seem truly dark, as if lit by only those few torches. The reason you can still see is because of ambient lights. Ambient lights are basically extra light sources that the developer includes to further light a scene. These lights are not visibile sources, meaning, they won’t appear to the player as a fire or a torch. Rather, the exist purely to provide extra light to a scene.

Pretty much every single game that doesn’t use true global illumination (with possible exception to the witchcraft that is Crysis 3) uses ambient lighting. It’s not a bad thing. But, I want immersion in my gameplay. So what do I do? I download this mod. One of the things Realistic Lighting Overhaul does is it eliminates those ambient light sources, making your dungeons much darker, the spells from your hands give off light, your eye adapting to changes in light levels (just like in reality), among other amazing tweaks. Like the other mods on this list, I simply can’t imagine playing the game without this mod. The entire world feels that much more real and you feel as though you’re actually in Skyrim. It’s truly amazing. Combined with Lanterns of Skyrim, you’ll have a truly immersive experience.


3. Skyrim HD 2k Textures

Performance Loss: ModerateHigh

The vanilla version of the game shipped with 512×512 textures – which is standard resolution on the consoles. Bethesda then released a higher resolution for the PC player-base, and these were at 1k (1024×1024). Guess what this mod does?

Yup! In what is the most downloaded Skyrim mod to date from the Nexus, Skyrim HD 2k provides you textures that are four times the resolution of Bethesda’s own HD textures, making for an unreal visual experience. On top of that, there are even optional 4k textures – that’s 4096×4096 – which are sixteen times the resolution of the official texture pack! That’s unbelievably ridiculously awesome. This mod changes the textures of pretty much everything you see in the game from trees, grass, logs, sky, roads, buildings, you name it. Beware though, I strongly recommend at least 1.5 GB of VRAM on your graphics card as these higher resolution textures will eat up memory incredibly quickly. Check this one out though. It’s just glorious.


2. Project Parallax

Performance Loss: MinimalModerate

Ok, I’m going to try and explain this one without getting too technical. On a very basic level, parallax occlusion mapping is a cheaper, faker version of tessellation. What is tessellation? In video games, tessellation can be used to create further detail in the game world. For example, if we look at brick walls in games, they are usually a flat plane with a brick bump map textured onto it. When you look at it at a normal (perpendicular) angle, it’ll appear as a wall with bricks, but as you approach a more adjacent angle, the illusion is gone and you’ll see it as a flat plane with brick textures.

Tessellation allows for those bricks to be actual bricks by way of increasing the polygon count and physically extruding bricks from that wall. So no matter what angle you observe the wall at, it looks like a wall of bricks because it is a wall of bricks. Parallax occlusion mapping is great cheap way to fake this. In this example, the bricks will look as if they are actual bricks from almost any angle by way of parallax occlusion – without increasing the polygon count. This means that you don’t have a massive performance hit, but you still get a very convincing illusion of bricks without being treated to flat brick textures. For example, in the before and after images below, those cobblestones look like actual stones, but there aren’t extra polygons added to create this effect.

Phew! Hopefully that wasn’t too bad and you guys understood what I was saying. Project Parallax in Skyrim aims to provide parallax occlusion mapping to many textures in the game, giving the player a far more immersive and graphically convincing experience. Be warned though, you need ENB in order for this to work. The good news, however, is that this series of mods works with the standard textures, Bethesda’s official HD textures, as well as Skyrim HD 2k. Yay!



1. ENB

Performance Loss: High (I mean, let’s be honest here…)

This was the sole reason I upgraded my graphics card. I saw the beauty and ultra-realism that this mod brought to Skyrim that I just had to have it. And so, I ran out and bought my 660ti – probably one the best decisions I’ve made.

So, what is it? Well, no one really knows what ENB stands for, if it’s an acronym at all. ENB is the brainchild of Boris Vorontsov who has single-handedly overhualed the visual quality of many games, including GTA IV. What does it do? Well, to understand that, we must first understand that Skyrim is a DX9 game. This means that it does not utilize the advanced features of DX11 like tessellation, ambient occlusion, Bokeh depth of field, etc.

By sheer brute force, ENB allows Skyrim to tap into the DX11 capabilities of your machine, but it does so at a significant performance cost. Some features it allows are:

    • High quality bloom
    • True High Dynamic Range lighting
    • Temporal antialiasing
    • Parallax occlusion mapping
    • Screen Space Ambient Occlusion
    • Complex indirect lighting
    • Bokeh Depth of Field
    • Image Based Lighting
    • Sun rays

In short, ENB is a showcase of what Skyrim‘s engine is truly capable of when pushed to the absolute ragged edge. It is fully customizable and so you see a myriad presets out on Skyrim Nexus. My current favorite is Project ENB. I have tweaked and tinkered with this to make it as stunning as I possibly can. This is by far my favorite mod and makes me proud to be a PC gamer.


And there you have it, my top 5 Skyrim mods. Are you surprised? I have to be honest, as I was putting this list together, I had a feeling they would all be graphical enhancement mods. I stand by my belief that if you have the means to do so, you owe it to yourself to push your machine to the limits and squeeze every ounce of visual fidelity out of it as you can.

What do you guys think? Will you be installing some of these mods? Sound off below!

Shadow hide you.

Modding Skyrim: Let the Consoles Play

December 7th, 2012 Posted by News Archive, Opinion 10 comments

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an amazing game on its own. Whether it’s the graphics, the story, the character development, or the ridiculous amount of content to explore, gamers across the world have been singing its praises since 11/11/11. So why would anyone ever try to change it?

Bear with me for a minute Xbox and PS3 players, I’ll be getting to you shortly.

With millions of mods downloaded from the Steam Workshop for Skyrim, it’s clear that there are a lot of people out there who like to tweak the game. From player-created housing to weapons and armor straight from The Lord of the Rings, PC gamers can do almost anything they can imagine in the game. That’s not necessarily to say that there’s anything wrong with the vanilla version of the game, but if there’s a way to make something even better, people are going to try it.

For example, I don’t think many people would argue that one of the few downfalls of this game is the terrible user interface, especially when trying to buy and sell items. I don’t know how many times I’ve clicked on an item to sell it and the interface thought I actually clicked on something else. Or if you have a full bag and you want to know which items are the heaviest to drop or sell that aren’t also very valuable, good luck trying to figure that out! But with SkyUI (available on the Steam Workshop as well as Skyrim Nexus), you can sort items by weight, value, damage, armor, etc. It’s still not a perfect system, but it takes almost all the frustration out of item management.

If you’re a lore nut you’ll like this one: Unread Books Glow (on Steam Workshop and Skyrim Nexus) is a mod that highlights books in the world you have not yet read. Maybe you think you’ve devoured every word in every book in Skyrim, but all of a sudden you walk through a room you’ve been in many times, and notice a shining, glowing book way up on the top shelf. You never noticed it before, and lo and behold, it’s a new book! Additionally, Improved Skill Books (on Steam Workshop and Skyrim Nexus) also adds the name of the skill that a book will level up (if applicable) to the end of the book’s name. For example, you might see a book titled, “A Game at Dinner (Alchemy).” Pretty useful when trying to find extra skill-ups throughout the game.

For the hero who’s seen everything, there’s Moonpath to Elsweyr. Download this mod to open up new quests, NPCs, and areas to explore. These quests require that players be at least level 15, and the NPCs are complete with voice recording to make it feel like an official Bethesda DLC. The content takes you into Tenmar Forest with a Khajiit caravan. It’s obviously not a fully-fledged DLC like Dragonborn, but while PC players wait for that release, it’s at least something else to do. This mod is also available at either the Steam Workshop or Skyrim Nexus.

So those are just a few of my favorite mods for this game, but there are thousands more out there to enhance your game in almost any way you can imagine. But what about console players? Shouldn’t there be a way to let them get in on all the great stuff happening in the modding community? Should Bethesda do something to get more content into people’s hands… maybe without even having to do much work?


Bethesda is known for hiring fans who created content for their games all on their own. That’s really great, but how about taking that one step further and putting together a “Best of the Community” DLC package? Bethesda could take some of the best mods out there and do whatever they have to in order to make them work on the consoles (and maybe do some patching for stability), and push those out as a free DLC. So PS3 and Xbox players could go online and download a small DLC pack that contained SkyUI, Unread Books Glow, Improved Skill Books, and Moonpath to Elsweyr.

I know Bethesda has stated in the past that mods wouldn’t influence future DLC, but I wonder with all the trouble the PS3 has had if it’s something they’d change their stance on. As a company that does everything it can to put out a stellar product for its fans, and considering that part of that fan base is pretty upset with them right now, Bethesda could go a long way towards mending fences by making something like this happen. I don’t know the economics of how it would work, because obviously Bethesda would need to compensate the mod creators and maybe a “free” DLC wouldn’t necessarily be feasible, but surely it’s something to consider. Bethesda could release one of these each month or so, nothing major, but just enough to give players the option of experimenting with their game and extending its life.

I often wonder if the ideas I come up with are crazy, impossible, or just plain foolish, and this one could certainly fall into the foolish category. But as someone who still plays this game every week, and genuinely feels badly for my PS3 brothers and sisters, I sure hope this happens. I know last week I talked about the Elder Scrolls VI being a massive, all-of-Tamriel adventure, and many of you seemed to be on board with that idea. I’d like to think that as fans, we have power to influence Bethesda’s decisions. If enough of us think something is a good idea, and it’s possible… why wouldn’t they implement it?

This is my optimistic vision, and I truly hope it happens. As a PC player I am often jealous that Xbox players get content before me. But then I think about how lucky I am to have access to thousands of mods that keep the game fresh and entertaining, and I’d love for everyone to experience it, at least in some small way. I know my idea may be foolish, but as my wife likes to remind me, I may be foolish, but at least I’m a fool with big dreams.

Hopefully Bethesda shares the same dream.


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