Skyrim 2015 (Modding)

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Solaias
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Skyrim 2015 (Modding)

Postby Solaias » Sat Jul 18, 2015 11:21 am

Recently I started to play Skyrim again, and as most people like us do, I went straight to Skyrim Nexus and started looking for mods.

Then I stopped. I stopped because I usually spend days getting tons of mods, then I spend a couple of days more installing them, and finally spend another three days chasing bugs and conflicts so I have a stable game..... well, stable enough that I can stand to play it anyway. By the time I have done all of this I'm sick of mucking about and go play something else, so I never actually play the game.

So this time I stopped myself from doing that and sat back. I thought to myself, "Exactly what is it I want from my game? How do I keep it fun?"

That's when it hit me. What I want from my game is "fun". I know that seems obvious when I say it like that, but when was the last time Skyrim was about nothing but fun for you? You will have to judge for yourself when that was for you, but for me the last time I just had fun with Skyrim was when the game first came out 3 1/2 years ago. There were no mod crashes or conflicts because there were no mods yet. I just played the game and had a blast. It was (for a Bethesda game) rock solid stable and only crashed about once every three to four hours. Sure there were a few small bugs and it wasn't perfect, but fuck was I having fun.

This was what I wanted again out of Skyrim. I wanted a stable game, with the minimal amount of mods in it so it stayed as stable as Skyrim can be. This is so I wasn't spending tons of time sorting out issues, and I wasn't spending tons of time reloading because of a crash or saving every three minutes in case I did crash. However, I wanted to update the game to 2015 standards for gameplay by adding in a few mods that added to the gameplay that was already there but without going for a complete overhaul that changed the way the game felt.

With that worked out, the next step was to decide what was essentual. I started to think of what would I add to a game even if I was going to play a vanilla game without any other mods. What enhanced Skyrim so much that playing without it was unthinkable. What was, well, essentual?

What I came up with was a surprisingly short list. I thought of quite a few mods, but while nice they were not needed for a stable base. In the end I whittled the essential list down to these mods:


I don't think anyone who has modded Skyrim a lot would argue that these really are essentials, so I will avoid descriptions and why they are there. :)

With the essentials out of the way, what was next? Well there are four mods which were not essentials, but very close to it imo.

moreHUD.
This one almost made it onto the list above, but you can actually play without it and it wouldn't stop your enjoyment of the game. However it is such a useful extension of SkyUI that not using it would be like trying to ignore gravity - pointless. All it does it show you brief information about objects you can pick up before you pick them up. It saves you having to pick things up and open your inventory all of the time just to find out basic info. Read the description on the mods page for more info on how it improves your game experience. And although it's only a small tweak, it does make a big difference to your game.



Balanced Magic.
I have tried a lot of magic mods in skyrim, but I always come back to this one - it just feels right. Magic has been altered slightly by the author so that all magic schools are balanced. To quote from the mods description page: "I have attempted to make each school of magic uniquely powerful while staying pure to Elder Scrolls lore." And he has imo. Nothing feels weak like it did before, but it also never feels overpowered either. Because of the tweaks, magic wielding enemies are now stronger too, so be careful when dealing with them. ;)



Enemy AI OverHaul ---Revenge Of the Enemies---.
This just makes enemies feel like they should. Vampires can change into bat swarms, draugr can use shouts, bosses get more complex AI, etc. It does make enemies harder, but only because they are now using powers that they should be rather than just making them harder for the sake of it. It makes playing the game fun again. :)



Sands of Time.
This mod adds a combination of intelligent random spawns and placed set spawns. For example, if you go into bleak falls barrow, you get random spawns just inside the door that include extra bandits as bandits are in that area, but after this you get random spider and draugr spawns on top of the usual set spawns as they are the normal inhabitants of the tomb. Because they are random you never know what's around the next corner and it's different every time you play, but because the spawns are using the enemies you would expect in this particular crawl, they never feel out of place. On the other hand, once you get to the final chamber where the word of power and dragon stone are, you have set piece spawns that are the same each time, but make things much more interesting. (Don't try to do this tomb at lower levels anymore. ;) )



These four mods are a must imo. The first just makes things more convenient, but the other three blend together to make things very interesting. Every time you go anywhere you have random enemies. You never know what is around the next corner and you spend a lot more time moving cautiously through a dungeon (rather than charging in, because you (a) know what to expect, and (b) can pretty much win most encounters so why worry?). When you do run into something you have to fight carefully, the enemies act more intelligently and they WILL use their magic (if they have any) against you. And when they use magic against you, it will hurt more than it used to because it's now balanced.

Frankly it makes Skyrim feel like it should have in the first place. A cautious and fun exploration of the world as an adventurer. While the difficulty is increased, it never feels like it's just difficult to be difficult. It's fun and intelligent.

That is the core of the game setup now. You could play like this and have a blast, but I want to cover some other mods that add to your experience in the post below. However it is now midday of the day after I got up and I really need some sleep. So I shall continue this later tonight. :)
Last edited by Solaias on Sun Jul 19, 2015 12:53 am, edited 2 times in total.
Don't you ever tame your demons, but always keep them on a leash.
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Solaias
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Re: Skyrim 2015 (Modding)

Postby Solaias » Sat Jul 18, 2015 11:22 am

(Continued from previous post.)

VioLens
VioLens is a killmove mod. The most popular and well known of these is probably Dance of Death, which most people have used at some point. For those of you that don't know what these mods do, basically they unlock all of the unused kill moves in the game. VioLens take this one step further by breaking the different types of moves down into melee, stealth, ranged and dragon, and giving you control over them. I liked Dance of Death, but didn't use it much as, like someone who has drank 20 cups of espresso, it always felt a little twitchy and could cause crashes. However, VioLens is not only more advanced, but it doesn't suffer from this issue and is rock solid stable.



JK's Skyrim
Time for some eye candy. JK's Skyrim is a city and town beautification mod. JK slowly went around each city and town and improved the look of them, but did so without spoiling the feel of the location. They enhance the locations considerably, while never feeling out of place. In fact if you play with this mod for a while and then remove it, everywhere suddenly feels soulless. This is all of his mods in one, but if you want to pick and choose there are links to the individual mods on this mods page. Because "A picture speaks a thousand words", as the saying goes, I have added the videos for Whiterun and Riverwood below as they are the best known places in the game. ;)




SKY CITY - Markarth Rising
This mod adds some extra buildings to the mountains above Markarth, making the city feel like it used to be a capital. Which somehow it never did. This doesn't touch the main city and so is compatible with any city beautification mods you wish to install. (Including JK's from above.)



Solitude Docks District
For the capital of Skyrim, I always felt that two jetties sticking out into the water was a bit on the weak side. This mod adds extra buildings and docks outside of solitude and makes the area feel like it actually is busy and able to cope with the demands of the major city above.



Winterhold Rebuild
This mod is a small quest mod to rebuild the four destroyed houses in winterhold. It builds three shops and a player home to use while you are in the area. This normally clashes with city/town beautification mods, but JK has left the area around these four buildings alone so the mods can work together.



Immersive College of Winterhold
Leaving the city alone, it is time to look at the mages college. This mod makes the college feel like mages live there - which is a novel idea for the mages college I know. Gone is all the generic clutter, and every room now feels unique. The students have new rosters that they keep to, and the masters use more than the weakest spells available... Because they're masters. Once again, this mod makes the area it affects look and feel the way it should have done in the first place imo.



Guard Dialogue Overhaul
This mod tweaks the guard dialogue to be less random. When you are callow they will treat you like a milk drinker, but as you gain respect, so will their comments towards you. This also adds in unused dialogue and also relaxes some restrictions on other dialogue because the conditions for it to fire would never or almost never be true. So you end up with more varied chatter and also a progression in comments as you become a god among men.



Pure Waters
Pure waters is an overhaul of the water around Skyrim. Water has more depth, and the colour and surface textures are improved. This is a very visual mod, so I'll let the video speak for itself.



Pure Waters - Waterfalls
An add-on for the above mod that improves waterfalls by editing textures and meshes, and making the waterfalls themselves a bit more wild looking.



Cutting Room Floor
This is a small mod that adds back in a few unused NPCs found in the files, plus activates some complete (Voiced and everything) but not activated quests from the original game.



(To be continued)
Don't you ever tame your demons, but always keep them on a leash.
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Solaias
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Re: Skyrim 2015 (Modding)

Postby Solaias » Sat Jul 18, 2015 11:16 pm

(Reserved for semi-advanced modding.)
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Eris
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Re: Skyrim 2015 (Modding)

Postby Eris » Sun Jul 19, 2015 12:50 am

Some of those look like things I need to grab for the next time I play Skyrim! Thanks for posting this.
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Solaias
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Re: Skyrim 2015 (Modding)

Postby Solaias » Sun Jul 19, 2015 12:58 am

Eris wrote:Some of those look like things I need to grab for the next time I play Skyrim! Thanks for posting this.

You're welcome Eris. I've added videos to the first post now as well.

There are still a few mods to add to the second post, and in the last post I will be covering layering a couple of texture mods and also adding an ENB profile or two. (One as a full ENB, and one that just activates parallax normal maps.)
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Re: Skyrim 2015 (Modding)

Postby Shank » Sun Jul 19, 2015 10:40 am

I guess I am weird, I don't use mods on my games. I'm saying there is anything wrong with it, I just don't.
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Re: Skyrim 2015 (Modding)

Postby NotableJoe » Sun Jul 19, 2015 2:58 pm

Shank wrote:I guess I am weird, I don't use mods on my games. I'm saying there is anything wrong with it, I just don't.


I'm the same way.
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Eris
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Re: Skyrim 2015 (Modding)

Postby Eris » Sun Jul 19, 2015 4:59 pm

Skyrim was a very good game, even without mods. I played it that way when it first came out. (Well, I lie - I had 4 or 5 mods installed, but they were just graphic replacers for a few things - nothing that affected gameplay).

But mods can give new life to a game years after it's release. You can bring the graphics up to a higher standard, and add new quests and stories (Julan, Ashlander Companion for Morrowind is one that I remember very fondly). They can make an old game worth replaying again.
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Re: Skyrim 2015 (Modding)

Postby Shank » Mon Jul 20, 2015 4:03 am

Shank wrote:I guess I am weird, I don't use mods on my games. I'm saying there is anything wrong with it, I just don't.


That should read, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with it, I just don't.
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Re: Skyrim 2015 (Modding)

Postby Fettered » Fri Aug 28, 2015 12:07 am

I've been back to Skyrim lately heavily modded at the moment, I think I need to check out SSME since I've had way too many crashes. I'm a big fan of the Convenient Horses Mod, Camping Kit Mod, Dual Sheath and Ultimate Follower Overhaul. Skyrim is still an amazing game to just get lost in.

Edit: Anyone play ESO btw?

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