Thursday, June 22, 2006

Oblivion: Pea Soup or Peanut Butter

Alright... I'll do my best to stop my Oblivion rants here. I already railed on poor town loading, the invisible walls and the auto-leveling system. But the sole reader of this blog, good ol' Rocky, told me that the mod community has once again come to our rescue.

It seems like I'm not the only one who believes Oblivion is, at times, half-assed. GameSpot's article "Oblivion: Make it Pretty" brings to light several important points. When looking at terrain deep towards the horizon, things start to look more like it was written in Microsoft Paint as an 8-bit bitmap. I didn't realize that Oblivion forum magnates already had a term for this kind of rampant pixelization: "pea soup." Right on.

But yea, GameSpot offers an amalgam of hacks in order to set things straight, including:
  • Engine tweaks courtesy of TweakGuides, which fix water reflectivity and, like so many TweakGuide hacks, allow the engine to actually use the RAM you have
  • Fixes to texture resolution and normal maps, so distant textures scale correctly
  • Max Tael's "Natural Environments" mod, which changes weather patterns and textures to be more realistic and true to life. My jury is still out on this one; while it's nice to retexture in the name of realism, I worry about changing the Bethesda's artistic vision too much. I'm definitely of the mind that the artwork in-game is an expression of the artist, and if you change one you change the other.

    Tycho also has his list:
  • the bookbinding mod which re-skins and proofreads the books in game, and
  • BTMod, which offers a more "PC Centric" experience by reorganizing the UI

    Brad (by way of Rocky) also offered up the Open Cities mods, such as:
  • Chorrol with its city gates removed, as well as
  • a wide open Anvil. Notice both of them state the goal is to be more Morrowind-like.

    The Oblivion Mod Wiki loves:
  • Beautiful Stars and
  • a Better Night Sky
  • Stopping psychic guards from noticing you did something wrong, even if it's in a basement under a lake under a cave under a rug, and mystically teleporting themselves right into your shoes

    And Atom PC's:
  • Unarmored skill set, which was in Morrowind but somehow omitted by Bethesda in this incarnation
  • and the Actrobatics unarmored skill set, a cousin to the previous mod

    The crazy thing is these are all mods that don't necessarily add anything radically new... they fix what is already existing. There's tons of mods out there that add or enhance new content... but these are just the ones that "fix" existing content. While I might skip some of these that change the artistic vision or might cause some quests to be wonky, I'm definitely going to make the engine tweaks.

    It's good to know I'm not alone in thinking things are kinda... uncanny.
  • 1 comment:

    1. Anonymous9:16 AM

      I went to Brad's last night to record the podcast and he showed me a tweak that you can make in the INI file, which removes the borders, and lets you walk anywhere on the map. The textures get a little weird in some places, but it opens things up. And, he told me of a project to build Morrowind into the game.

      * Variable: bBorderRegionsEnabled
      Values: 0 = Off, 1 = On


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