PC Gamer
Skyrim HD Enhanced Terrain mod


Being Dragonborn hath its privileges. For one, you have tons of time for heroic gazes across Skyrim's arboreal vistas, a Nordic breeze whipping your victory braids while a Hans Zimmer track (optionally) plays in the background. Skyrim's stock textures, however, tend to get smudgy at extreme ranges, and that just won't do for a warrior destined to save everyone and everything. The HD Enhanced Terrain Mod, then, returns the ruggedness to far-off ground with high-resolution grass effects.

Modder Hritik Vaishnav updated ground textures with a 2048x2048 canvas of grass-like foliage noise, a definite upgrade from Skyrim's dive in terrain quality at distance. He offers two versions for download: a high-detail, high-noise variation and a slightly less-detailed alternative that ties more seamlessly into existing textures.

The simplicity of the mod and the ease of its installation makes it a worthy addition to your collection. Looking for more? Check out a bunch of other mods we've found.

PC Gamer
Dishonored alerted City Watch


Many minds have weighed in on the effects of violent games after the December 14 Sandy Hook school shooting. A frequently cited modern example of interactive violence is Arkane's Dishonored, a stealth game which allows the player to choose a path of brutality. In a contributed article to RPS, Joe Houston, who worked on Dishonored before leaving Arkane, stressed that we shouldn't dismiss the debate.

"It’s important as gamers not to simply retreat to the easy reaction, that games aren't a part of the problem,” Houston wrote. “While I think that might be true, I think it’s a pity to stop there. Too often we think about what we might lose as players and developers if forced to engage in that conversation, becoming blinded by the fear of censorship. As a result, we miss out on more creative and effective ways to be a part of the solution."

Houston believes violent games employing non-linear mechanics and a stronger power of choice for the player leave a more lasting "personal ownership in violence." He used Dishonored's multi-pronged approaches to completing a mission as an example, writing, "One could argue this is largely because the game can be played without killing anyone. This doesn't change all the things you might do in the game, but simply by knowing that it allows non-violence you find that every violent act you choose in cast in a sobering light.

"If thrust into a game where the choices aren’t mine to make, violence (even horrifying violence) ends up making a statement about what that game’s creators are trying to express more than it makes a statement about me the player being forced into a role," he continued.

The ever-burning question remains: do video games cause violence in real life? No, contends Houston, but they "do little to prevent it." A game with substantive, consequential, and even "distasteful" choices, he says, "just might do better because they stand a chance of making the player think about what they're doing on screen."
Kotaku

Dishonored Dev Says That Games Don't Create Violence, But They Don't Prevent It Either If you read a recent piece on video game violence, there's a good chance that somewhere in that article, included is a screenshot of a Dishonored neck stab. Last year was the year of the neck stab, after all. Rock, Paper, Shotgun spoke with the developer that coded that move in-game—Joe Houston—and he had Opinions On Game Violence.


For those that haven't played it, Dishonored is a stealthy game in which you are free to choose how to approach a problem. This poses unique questions about video game violence and what a player chooses to do, versus what a game developer gives as an option. Who holds responsibility, the person choosing or the person that gave the option in the first place?


Delving into the issue a bit in relation to actual-life violence, Houston said the following:


So does that mean that linear violent games are better for society than those like Dishonored, those that touch only superficially on violent acts versus those that allow the player to make extreme choices? I argue that linear games that have a lack of personal ownership in game violence actually do so at the disadvantage of society.


I don't believe that game violence causes real world violence, but I do believe that it does little to prevent it. And games with meaningful (and potentially distasteful) choice just might do better because they stand a chance of making the player think about what they're doing on screen.


Linear versus choice-driven games and what they offer/do when it comes to violence is arguable; there's probably no right answer. But the idea of whether or not games even have a responsibility to prevent violence is a curious one.


Do they?


By nature of how ubiquitous the medium is, it's probably irresponsible to not even think about it, at least. Certainly we've had games that aim to educate or make the world better. So it wouldn't be impossible to make a game that tries to prevent violence.


Food for thought between our neckstabs.


Dishonored Dev Joe Houston On Violence In Games [Rock, Paper, Shotgun]


Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (RPS)

Just before Christmas, Nathan wrote a piece asking for a conversation about the role gaming violence plays in our lives. And as so many have when discussing the topic, he featured an image from Dishonored at the top – a man getting stabbed through the neck. For Joe Houston, the former Arkane developer who created that stabbing scene, this was the prompt he needed to give his own perspective on the subject. >

Whenever I’m clicking my way through game industry opinion articles, I tend to get hung up on pieces about video game violence. This is mostly because the image plastered across the top of the post is a screen grab from Dishonored. You know, the one where a member of the city watch gets his jugular opened in a first-person blast of arterial spray. But it’s not the shock of that image that stops me. No, I pause because I’m the guy that wrote the code to make the player do that in the first place.

(more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Craig Pearson)

Slap yourself and wake up! It's all a dream. This doesn't really exist.... haha, I made you hit yourself They did. They absolutely, utterly, completely modded a new world into Skyrim that’s based on Super Mario. Super Skyrim Bros. adds a new instance into Skyrim, so you at least won’t be converting all of Bethesda’s chilly wastes to the blocky nightmare you see here. Just a corner of it. A nightmare of question mark blocks, coins, Goombas, Koopas, secrets, and even Bowser. Want to see it in action? You’ll need sunglasses and a quiet room to lie down in after. I’m about to hit my sofa and hide under some cushions. (more…)

PC Gamer
Fallout Project Brazil mod
Project Brazil preludes the factional fencing matches between the New California Republic and New Vegas' other groups.

Fallout: New Vegas deviated from the post-apocalyptic franchise's extreme isolationism by populating its ruins with lots of people, smelly dogs, and those freaking annoying butterfly-hornet things. The wastelands seemed alive—but the tale of how people flocked to New Vegas remains untold. Until now: The in-development Fallout: Project Brazil mod sets up the backstory.



"Project Brazil is a quieter, more harsh and severe world than Fallout 3 or New Vegas," writes modder Thaiauxn. "It feels like a real place spotted with rare moments of absurdity and fear, split between multiple rising civilizations all trying to fight for what they want or need in a world recovering from the Great War."

Easily earning the spotlight is the amazing intro cinematic seen above. Though the famous "war never changes" line isn't uttered by Ron Perlman here, the narrator's low growl sets the mood. Plus, he sounds slightly like Bane from The Dark Knight Rises. Don't you want Bane telling you the consequences of a world consumed by nuclear fire?

As Project Brazil's Mod DB entry states: "This mod adds an all new story around a new player character, an adopted resident of Vault 18, embarking on a quest to a hidden complex called 'Brazil' in the ruins of Los Angeles. Along the way, you'll discover a pitched battle between the Survivalist Army, the New California Republic, and The Super Mutants, which shapes the politics and events leading to the NCR's invasion of the Mojave. The story takes place in 2260—many years before the 'Courier' awakes in New Vegas, while the Enclave struggles to rise again on the West Coast."

Thaiauxn's plans to release several chapters starting sometime in the next few months, with the mod's first split into three parts. The full campaign will eventually contain 16 primary quests and "several side stories, all related to the player's journey through Vault 18 and the wasteland of San Bernardino." It's definitely a work-in-progress, though, and Thaiauxn is seeking additional help from writers, scripters, and modelers.
Kotaku

Help Make A Video Game Magazine Called Sneaky Bastards (With Awesome Dishonored Art)Aussie writer Daniel Hindes, who for a while has run a niche site called Sneaky Bastards, wants to take the idea of discussing stealth games to a more tangible format. Hence, Sneaky Bastards, the magazine.


Promising that the magazine will feature 100% new content (as in, nothing that's been on the site before), the first issue also has a stunning front cover courtesy of British artist AJ Hately, who we've featured here before.


It's hoped that the print run can be a way of "producing more of a substantial, long-form, long-lasting analysis and exploration of stealth gaming in a format that this kind of material is designed to be read and consumed in."


You can check out more, and contribute, below. Which you should. The internet is a wonderful place to read about cats and fake trailers, but this kind of in-depth discussion about such a dedicated topic is perfect for dead trees between your fingers.


Sneaky Bastards [Kickstarter]


PC Gamer
Vireio Perception Oculus Rift drivers


Contrary to popular belief, the anticipated Oculus Rift virtual reality headset doesn't run on pixie dust and elf tears. Like all hardware, it needs software drivers. And while its 20-year-old creator, Palmer Luckey, focuses on manufacturing more developer kits to meet the exceedingly high demand, enthusiastic 3D fans are already planning homebrewed custom drivers. One such project is CyberReality's Vireio Perception which extends Rift 3D support to first-person greats such as Portal 2, Skyrim, Mirror's Edge, and Left 4 Dead.

As CyberReality describes it, Vireio (or Virtual Reality Input Output, but we like how the shorthand name sounds like an enemy boss) can "pre-warp the image to match the Oculus Rift optics, handle custom aspect-ratios (needed for the Rift's strange 8:10 screen), and utilize full 3D head-tracking." As we describe it: Whoa.

The drivers work with nine games so far: Left 4 Dead, Half-Life 2, Portal 2, Skyrim, Mirror's Edge, AaAaAA!!!, Unreal Tournament 3, Dear Esther, and DiRT 2. CyberReality plans to add additional games in the future after spending more time with the kit. If all goes well, the possibilities are enormous: Think of revisiting classics such as Thief or Deus Ex with full head-tracking vision. Oh, yes, this is exciting.

Thanks, PCGamesN.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Craig Pearson)

How... interestingI don’t know who the head of Bethesda is. I’ll assume it’s John Bethesda Softworks. Hello, Mr Bethesda Softworks! Mind if I call you John? Nope. Grand. I have an idea for you: crowd-source the content for next Elder Scrolls. Calm down, John. Stop throwing things and hear me out. I know your games are lorey love letters to the world you created with Adrian Elder Scrolls, but things are moving on. Fans of games don’t need developers, just tools and assets to make their own game. You could spend all your time churning out huts and swords, and leave it to the people to make something from it. I have proof: this Skyrim mod Interesting NPCs adds over 100 new NPCS to the game, with over 90 of them voiced by actors. (more…)

PC Gamer
Fallout 3 Three Dog


A constant companion in Fallout 3's blasted wastelands were the big band riffs of Galaxy News Radio and its slacktivist DJ Three Dog. Somehow, he always knew the perfect song to play whenever a Deathclaw decided to pull my head off. In a pair of tweets yesterday (via VGU), Three Dog voice actor Erik Dellums expressed a different kind of foresight by hinting that he may reprise his role in a Fallout sequel possibly underway at Bethesda.

To all my #Fallout3 and #ThreeDog fans: There may be more of the Dog coming! Fingers crossed!— Erik Todd Dellums (@ETDellums) January 8, 2013

@toasttherabbit How was that for a tease! I was given permission to release that tease, so fingers crossed.— Erik Todd Dellums (@ETDellums) January 8, 2013

Dellums' second tweet revealed Bethesda beamed its blessing to broadcast the clue, but the studio predictably stopped short of outright confirming another Fallout. Even if another entry in the long-spanning RPG franchise were to surface, it'd have to get in line behind The Elder Scrolls Online. Obsidian, developers of Fallout: New Vegas, is also busying itself with South Park: The Stick of Truth and Project Eternity. But considering the massive popularity and replayability of the Fallout games, a sequel from one of either studios seems likely at some point.
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