The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition

If you have fond memories of the intro cinematic for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the new trailer for fan-made Skyblivion will probably give you goose bumps. The project to recreate Oblivion (yes, the whole game) as a Skyrim: Special Edition mod has been ongoing for years and every new look at it is more impressive than the last. 

This new trailer, featuring voice acting by Daniel Hodge, is a whole proper game trailer of its own, teasing Oblivion's plot while showing off its enemies and scenery. I can't help but recall the fly-by shot of the Imperial City in Oblivion's opening moments set to horns and strings. It was an impressive shot of a massive city and Skyblivion's new trailer captures that feeling without attempting to go shot-for-shot or word-for-word with the original. 

Previously, the Skyblivion modding team released a video showing off some of its environments, giving a look at a number of cities and locales faithfully recreated from Oblivion.

Skyblivion doesn't have a confirmed release date yet, a statement that reminds me yet again how professional a project it looks to be despite being created by modders and not a fully-funded studio. We do know that Skyblivion will be free, provided you own Skyrim and Oblivion including the DLCs, which Skyblivion's installer will check for. 

While we wait for this impressive recreation, you can still install some pretty great Oblivion mods to update the game's visuals and gameplay.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition

It's about time book burning came to Skyrim Special Edition. A Tragedy in Black? Boethiah's Proving? Pah! Those are not fine works of literature. They're heretical garbage, and should be treated as such: First ripped to pieces and then burned to a crisp. And really, how many copies of Argonian Account does any one person need? Enter Project Illiteracy, which promises to let you put your books to good use as fuel against the harsh winter nights.

The Skyrim Special Edition mod gives you a new ability, which is named "Destroy Books." No messing around here. "Picture your manly Nord barbarian just taking that book and ripping it apart," the description reads. "Yeah. Just really shredding that thing. So manly." The mod was originally released for vanilla Skyrim back in 2017, but a new version released this week supports the updated Special Edition.

A surprising amount of thought went into Project Illiteracy despite the jokey name: the longer the book, the more paper it will generate for you. The most practical application of that paper is in making scrolls, but burning is also an option. Other than the general glee of pyromania, that could be pretty useful if you're playing with a survival mod that requires you to keep warm.

Modder Epic Crab thought ahead and made Project Illiteracy compatible with the bajillion other mods that add books to Skyrim, to ensure you can, if you so choose, destroy them all. The cherry on top is compatibility with the Campfire mod:

"If you're running Campfire, the xEdit script will automatically detect that and generate recipes for burning books for fuel and replenishing your fires. Campfire is a soft dependency in the script, so if you aren't using Campfire, the script will still work."

There's a caveat to this mod crossover, which is that if you douse the campfire, it may return some of your books to you destroyed. "I think that's fair though, setting them on fire pretty much ruins books," the mod description says. Can't argue that one.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Five of the Best is going to be a series! Every Friday lunchtime, UK time, we're going to celebrate a different incidental detail from the world of games. The kind of thing we usually just WASD past, oblivious. But also the kind of thing which adds unforgettable flavour if done right.

Potions! We've been drinking them for years. In games I mean! I hope you haven't been knocking them back in real-life, they're bad for you. Imagine drinking something which alters your behaviour - how ridiculous! But potions we've been drinking for years. Red ones, blue ones... They're so common they've become a universal language. We don't even really see them any more. We just slosh them back when needed. Gulp!

But every so often, we do see them. Once in a while, a memorable potion pops up. Maybe it was a potion which typified a game for you - the port-key to remembering an adventure. A tonic from BioShock, perhaps. Or maybe it was one which made a character drastically more capable, or one which changed who - or what - we were. Can you think of any now? Good - hold onto that! Because I want your input below.

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Tacoma - (Brendan Caldwell)

It s International Cat Day! You know, one of those days reportedly invented by a charity, spread by the internet without question, and propagated by the scoundrel media because quite simply we are desperate to post pictures of cats, big cats, fluffy cats, kitten cats, any cat, any excuse for any cat, please, just let me have this day, please, I don’t care if it’s a fake day, please, I need this.

Here are some good videogame cats for International Cat Day.


The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition

If you needed it, this is your warning that images and links in this feature are entirely not safe for work.

There are mods to make the characters in just about any game you play naked. The virtual humans of Stardew Valley, Fallout, Fallout Shelter, even, and Hearthstone are all subjected to the whims of diligent modders. Every time I set out to grab mods for a new playthrough of Skyrim or Fallout 4 (the two most-modded games on Nexus Mods), I'm overwhelmed by the number of gravity-defying breast enhancements available. And yet the number of dicks on display? Dismal.

I first noticed this sexy mod dick-screpancy four years ago

Where are all the penis mods? One simple answer is that PC gaming, ground zero for modding, still suffers under the misconception that men (specifically cisgender, heterosexual ones) are the majority, when studies have shown that women actually make up half the audience. Game development still fights to retain people of marginalized genders, an effect mirrored in the modding community which requires many of the same skills. The mods they create reflect the interests of the creators and assumptions about the people playing them—but as I learned, that's not the only reason they're so pitifully rare.

After talking with modders and developers, it turns out that tacking-on the ol' wedding tackle is just plain difficult.

An unfortunate dearth of dongs 

When I went digging for more dick mods and the reasons why they're so rare, I discovered that for a few modders, scarcity is exactly why they want to create these mods. "All over the place there are nude female body replacers and [almost] nothing like that for men, and that's exactly the gap that I intended to fill with this mod" writes modder Ratrace, in the description for Better Males for Skyrim Special Edition

As Ratrace says on the mod's page, the dongs of Better Males are quite rigid, and not in the sexy way. They don't animate. It's as if you'd taped a banana to your character's crotch and called it a day (though for variety you can choose upward banana or downward banana, whichever suits your fancy). "Animating genitals [...] is something that is way over my head," Ratrace says. "A topic for the pros among the modders." Better Males isn't the premier expression of modded penis glory, but for many modders even that level of detail is unattainable, both because of the skills required and how games are built in the first place.

I first noticed this sexy mod dick-screpancy four years ago (yes, I have been stewing on it that long), when there were even fewer options. Today, there are a few more choices, with examples from Skyrim, Fallout 4, Resident Evil 2, and even Soul Calibur 6. Still, I expected more progress since 2015. I didn't intend to spend my work days looking for penis mods specifically, but here I am again absolutely livid that there aren't more of them. 

Ratrace tells me about some other notable contributions to the naked modding community for Skyrim, the well-known Schlongs of Skyrim and Bodyslide. But when I investigate, I find Schlongs of Skyrim is no longer supported by its original creator, gone from Nexus and available only on the adult modding site Lover's Lab. By comparison, boob mods are easy to find on Nexus for tons of games. Bodyslide, a body preset generating tool, supports penises, but I really have to know what I'm looking for to find them. Searching "bodyslide" alone yields pages and pages of fantastical boobs but very few penis presets. As one of the most-modded PC games today, Skyrim's few hard-to-find dick mods don't bode well for games with smaller modding communities. 

The creator of the Nude Greece mod for Assassin's Creed Odyssey (which originated as only Nude Alexios) explained to me that penises are at a distinct disadvantage right out of the gate. Characters in 3D games very rarely have them, and building a dong from scratch is a difficult anatomical proposition. He blames what he feels is a lingering taboo across all forms of media on naked nads. "In games that means Ken doll models that are hard to work with," he says. 

Feminine models, by contrast, already have the proper silhouettes right out of the box. Their bodies may not be highly detailed in the places that nude modders care about, but they at least have all the necessary geometry to begin tinkering with. 

"No studio would release a title with entirely flat-chested females," Nude Greece's modder says. He's right. Unless by specific stylistic choice, realistic-looking 3D games will always have women character models with some kind of breast shape. "So while female models are easy to strip, males need some level of editing or they'll look completely fake. The tools need to be available for mesh modding to even get one started."

Only a few pioneering games have launched with their own packages packed-in

Aspiring modders may not have all the requisite skills for enlarging or physics-ifying breasts, but they can start by learning to retexture the ones already there. When it comes to dongs, the barrier to entry is much, much higher. As Nude Greece's modder says, that means a lot more work up front for penis modders. 

Ratrace describes just part of the technical work required to slap a sack and shaft on a character. The mesh, which I think of like the chocolate skin of a hollow chocolate bunny, has to hold together in all the proper places. When a character moves around, the mesh has to accommodate that movement without just snapping back and giving you a view into the hollow inside of, say, an arm. Or a penis. Ratrace says that "painting" the proper influence or "weight" that vertices of the model have is tough enough for commonly-used areas like the line between neck and body, let alone the unexplored territory of penis to body. 

Nude Greece's modder encountered issues with his original Nude Alexios mod, where all of the crotches just looked a bit flat. "The first version got a good response despite having a pretty flat-looking crotch," he said. "Hopefully my next release will have more detail in the places that need it." He's learning the skills and tools for modding as he goes, meaning that progress involves spending more time modding games than playing them. Nude Greece's modder and I get to spend a few minutes bonding over our shared hope for penis-filled games in the future. We settle on Dragon Age as a good penis prospect—Inquisition being his first attempt at penis modding, and a natural fit given the softcore sex scenes.

Since we've spoken, Nude Greece released an update for his Assassins Creed Odyssey mod that suggests his skills are improving: "Adds depth to the v2 penis so it looks less flattened." Important progress.

The professional penis scene 

Even though we know designing after-market dicks is a chore, the discrepancy is there at the source in professional game development, too. Only a few pioneering games have launched with their own packages packed-in. One that we got a particular amount of pleasure from was Conan Exiles' "endowment" slider.

Joel Bylos, creative director for Conan Exiles, explained to me by email how his game's disco sticks came to be. "I was more interested in nudity for the adherence to the setting," he says. "The Conan stories feature plenty of it and nobody in the stories bats an eyelid at it. I wanted to try and normalize it in the same way in the game, both for men and women." Bylos also points out the generally mature nature of Conan's universe. Given that the game would feature plenty of violence, it would already fall on the mature end of ratings scales before considering nudity.

This was heartening to hear, as multiple modders expressed frustration that so many games give violence a pass but turn their noses up at nudity. "In Skyrim people get decapitated, burnt to death, electrocuted, bludgeoned to death, torn to pieces by dragons etc.," Ratrace says. "But the sight of a naked body is a no-go."

Bylos says that Funcom's experience with digital dongs was far less hassle than what modders experience. "I don’t think the penises caused us too much drama," he says. "If I recall correctly we used the same physics system for simulating cloth that we used for our wedding tackle physics." That too is an imperfect simulation, of course—I've never seen a penis as unanimated as that of Ratrace's Better Males, but I haven't seen one flap like a flag like Conan Exlies' do, either. Even with professionals working on Conan's willies rather than vigilante riggers hacking together body parts in their spare time, not all Wilhelms are well-behaved.

"For a period of time, every todger in the game decided to stretch across the map," Bylos says. "This was due to a cloth physics bug, but it manifested as every character in the game having a wang that stretched from crotch to the far horizon. We had curious developers 'following the stretchy dick road,' in order to figure out where the wayward members had buried themselves. As it turns out, they went to coordinates 0,0,0 and nobody found any treasure at the end of the journey. Shame, really."

We had curious developers 'following the stretchy dick road,' in order to figure out where the wayward members had buried themselves

Joel Bylos

After everything I've heard about keeping peckers in line, I ask Bylos if the work of sorting out all the various boner bugs was worth it. "For the amount of work involved, it would have been worth multiple times the amount of time spent on it," he says.

So perhaps we'll see more games following Conan's lead? "Sadly, but understandably no," in Bylos's opinion. "There have been a few (SCUM, for example) but I think that most developers don’t want to deal with the uncertainty (whether it involves the process of modeling characters or dealing with ratings)." 

It is a shame that Skyrim and Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Dragon Age: Inquisition, all of which could benefit from some dongs to better serve their realism or sex scenes, haven't included them as Conan Exiles has. All three have ratings from the ESRB, PEGI, and Australia's rating system permit intense violence and nudity or sexual content. It seems that where bodies are concerned, breasts are deemed a necessity but penises are still a luxury.

By and large, dong development will likely continue to fall on our noble friends in the modding community. As Ratrace says, there's a gap to fill with fully-featured dong mods. Although the audience and talent pools may both be smaller than those for big-busted characters, both are growing. The original Better Males for Skyrim has a download total of 7.8 million on Nexus Mods alone, while Ratrace's version for Skyrim Special Edition is on its way up at over half a million. I don't have the skills to model and mod willies myself (though like Nude Greece I suppose I could learn). But I have, inadvertently, become a devoted lobbyist.

"I get angry too at all the bias against dicks. But that's how change starts," Nude Greece says.  "More dicks for everyone!" Modding penises may be hard, but we wouldn't have them any other way.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - (Alice O'Connor)

When Bethesda released the first three Doom games on modern consoles last week, they added (by accident?) a requirement for players to register and sign into into their doodad before playing these decades-old games. What does that have to do with PC? Well! Continuing the fine PC gaming tradition of pulling the pisser of modern big-budget games with their modern ways, a new Skyrim mod has added the thrilling experience of failing to connect to login servers and being kicked to the main menu. PC gaming: making daffy jokes playable since 1873.


The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - (John Walker)

It’s never a good sign when Skyrim’s back in the Charts. It means mischief is afoot. And not the good kind. In this case, it’s Bethesda’s Quakecon sale, meaning a whole bunch of the dreariest of usual suspects return to droop our eyelids and weary our souls. And Nier and Flibble Glibble Pants are both on sale yet again. In fact, this week’s top 10 features precisely one game released in the last TWO YEARS>.

So this week I think I shall describe to you the feelings I feel when I see these games appearing once more.


The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind® Game of the Year Edition - (Alice O'Connor)

Continuing to impress with a commitment to fanciness and authenticity in remaking The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind as a Skyrim mod, a new Skywind trailer has drafted an actual Skyrim voice actor to natter while we see how it’s shaping up. Spears are in, levitation is go, and oh god go away cliff racers. Azura there is played by Lani Minella, whose voice spilled forth from the digifaces of Skyrim characters including The Night Mother and several Dunmer folks. Fancy! Authentic! The devs also send word that they’re now making it for the fancier Skyrim Special Edition, so it won’t hit ye olde originale Skryime.


The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition

Here's how it works. You travel to Riverwood's Sleeping Giant Inn, preferably with a brand new character who has skipped past the tutorial thanks to Alternate Start—Live Another Life or your preferred alternative. You track down the ghost lady in the corner of the bar and talk to her, and then you get whisked away to Transylvania, as interpreted by Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest and now recreated as a Skyrim mod.

Yes, you get a chain whip. The vampire killer weapon will be your best friend as you whip through the various skeletons, werewolves, and mermen that you meet on this questline (and who all drop hearts when they die, which you collect with a glorious beeping noise). 

It's pretty straightforward. In towns you talk to people and visit the church, hoping to find someone who will let you trade hearts for an upgrade. Then you march out into the spooky wilderness again, preferably in daylight, to whip your way through monsters on your way to the next town and the next objective in your quest to return Dracula to the grave.

Though of course it's not a 2D platformer, the CV2 mod does remain faithful to its inspiration in a lot of ways. Skyrim's regular levelling system is gone, and instead you trade hearts to priests for level-ups. They'll also heal you as well, which is nice because the regeneration over time that's normally part of Skyrim is also gone here. 

Another part of the original game preserved in this mod is your inability to swim. Touch the water in Transylvania and you'll die instantly. That makes the section where you have to cross a broken bridge while being shot at by mermen particularly annoying. First-person platforming is the worst, and in Skyrim's third-person mode it's only slightly better. I've drowned a lot more than I've been killed by werewolves.

The CV2 mod's an impressive thing overall, featuring a whole bunch of new music too including remixes of Castlevania tunes. You can download it for Skyrim Special Edition here.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The controversial Skyrim Together mod has reemerged with the release of nightly builds.

Lead programmer Max Griot took to the Skyrim Together subreddit to issue the long-awaited update promising nightly builds, the first of which is available to download now.

Skyrim Together, which pulls in $14,746 per month from nearly 15,000 patrons on Patreon, aims to add online multiplayer to Bethesda's hugely popular open-world fantasy RPG, but it's been some time since the Patreon-only playtest held earlier this year.

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