Skyrim: MIY – Mod it Yourself
I’m going to call it now. There will be a large gap between Skyrim and the next Elder Scrolls sequel.
Yes, you heard it here first. With Dishonored, DOOM 3 BFG and even Elder Scrolls Online looming ever nearer, RAGE 2 and Fallout 4 are twinkling in the distance. Add support and DLCs to each of these and factor in several more DLCs likely for Skyrim, I am, as I said, calling it now: There will be a LARGE gap between Skyrim and the next Elder Scrolls sequel.
Surprised? No, I didn’t think you were.
So where does that leave Skyrim, Bethesda’s current shining jewel?
Well, thankfully, it leaves it in the same place Oblivion was towards its end. And as far as I’m concerned that is a very good place indeed.
With the release of the Creation Kit and nearly unabridged access to game files, Bethesda have, once again, handed the reins over to the community. If you’ve checked out the Steam workshop, Planet Elder Scrolls or Skyrim Nexus at all in the last 9 months (yeah it’s really been that long) you’ll no doubt be aware of the staggering amount of mods, tweaks and overhauls available for Skyrim. If you’re not, I’m a bit worried – you should get out more. Or less.
Even without mods, Skyrim is bursting with things to do and will continue to be that way until the DLCs run dry. But with mods, well, something quite magical happens.
Creativity abounds when we’re given leave to do whatever the hell we want, and the community will never run out of ideas. Sure you get the odd giant chicken mod, one-hit kill swords or socks of infinite wealth, but you also get the few individuals who dedicate hours, days, months even years of their time to creating mods that are simply mind-blowing in their scope and potential. Some of these already exist (though I’m not here to advertise specific mods) and doubtless there will be plenty more to come, so you can be sure that Skyrim will be kept alive long after Bethesda let it rest.
But what am I getting at, really? I guess this is a plea. I urge you to try mods you wouldn’t usually try. But, more than that, I urge you to try modding yourself.
Skyrim already has the potential to be the game you want it to be with the incredible amount of choice available. If you’re into the roleplaying scene, you might even get a little more of that feeling. But if you’re willing to get your hands dirty and start creating your own mods I can guarantee you’ll find a new layer of depth that you’d never even dreamed of.
I cut my teeth with Oblivion, using the Construction Set regularly to make mods for myself, for friends and for general release. I didn’t go much beyond the Construction Set – I have little knowledge with 3D modelling for example, but there was a whole lot you could play with if you were willing and able.
Skyrim is no different. The Creation Kit is very similar to the good old CS, implementing new technology surprisingly well. If you’re familiar with the Oblivion scripting language you may have a bit of a shock when you delve into Papyrus, but the material for teaching yourself is readily available online and the community is more than happy to help newcomers.
It didn’t take me long to personalise my Skyrim experience. I started by adding my past-played characters to the game world, and intend to continue each time I ‘finish’ with a character. I am one of those wacky roleplayers so I find the incongruity of playing so many different characters a little rankling. Now, thanks to my own creation, I can wander about the world bumping into characters I once battled dragons, studied magic or stole a thousand cheese wheels with. Sure, I have to add a little backstory to them to explain why they’re no longer head of the mages/companions/whatever, but hey, I enjoy that.
Eventually I remade a mod I’d released for Oblivion. Not for release this time, but it was nice to see how it looked with a spit-shine and a real challenge to replicate with the new objects of Skyrim. This one had plenty of story, custom books and was shared with a friend.
And that’s what making your own mods is all about. I think a lot of people have yet to try because they don’t want to make something for other people. But, much like Skyrim itself, modding is all about choice. You don’t have to send your mods to your friends, let alone publish them for the whole world. You can be as entirely selfish and indulgent as you like. Make yourself king, give yourself twenty wives. Make a mod for yourself.
But I challenge you to be as creative as you can be. Don’t settle. Use as many objects and scripts as you can, in a creative way. Create something to be proud of, even if you’re the only one that sees it. If you want to do something but don’t know how, join the modding community and ask for some advice. If that doesn’t appeal, see if you can teach yourself from the fantastic wiki and other resources.
Modding really is all about choice. I personally believe it adds a depth to the game that wouldn’t exist otherwise. Perhaps purists will disagree with me and believe that mods only spoil the vision that Bethesda had for the game. But, like Oblivion and Morrowind before that, we’ve been given the tools to do as we wish, so why not use them?
Have a dabble, start small. If you’re anything like me then as soon as you see your addition in-game for the first time you’ll be hooked. The only warning I can give is that if you’re the type to be forever hanging on the edge of the suspension of disbelief, playing with the Creation Kit will probably push you over. After extended sessions with the Creation Kit I often find it difficult to fully immerse myself in the game, knowing that the thick walls of Windhelm are in fact infinitely thin, or that all those people wandering about their daily lives are strictly controlled in their seemingly random actions.
Yes, modding for yourself may rub some of the shine off, for a while. But if you can keep the same childlike wonder that I have, you’ll get through it, and have an endlessly better time than you would have done otherwise.
So get to it, make Skyrim yours. And if you feel like sharing, drop us a comment to let us know what you’ve made.
For me, I’m off back to adding a maze-like series of tunnels to the bowels of Riften. Why? Because I can.
Image Link: CreationKit.com