The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Ever thought you could do a better job than Legolas at the Battle of Helm's Deep? Well now you can prove it, as the final version of this incredible Lord of the Rings Skyrim mod has just been published.

The Elder Scrolls V Middle-Earth began back in 2014 and has seen several updates, but Maldaran told me the Redone version adds new content, solves bugs, re-works the portal corridor and streamlines all the past versions into one neat package.

The remarkable one-person project, made by 26-year-old Maldaran from Germany, allows PC players to explore many of the most famous locations in Lord of the Rings, including The Shire, Lothlorien and Rivendell. You can re-enact the Battle of Helm's Deep, fight goblins in the mines of Moria and even battle the Balrog. Players can also craft Mithril armour, and Maldaran told me the latest version introduces even more craftable items, along with new spells to learn.

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

There are so many elements of this story which elicit slow, confused blinking from me, but honestly, the revelation that an Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim mod has been pulling in $25,000 per month from Patreon was the one which really twisted my melon.

Unfortunately, the rainbow which leads to online multiplayer mod Skyrim Together‘s pot of gold has lost a little of its lustre this week, following an acknowledgement that its developers had pilfered code from another mod.

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The Skyrim Together mod is currently embroiled in a controversy that has seen its developers accused of stealing code. Meanwhile, there's increased scrutiny on the modding team's Patreon, which currently pulls in over $25,000-a-month.

Skyrim Together is an ambitious and high-profile mod for Bethesda's hugely-popular fantasy role-playing game that lets players play together. It recently held a beta open to those who backed the Patreon.

The recent controversy revolves around an accusation the Skyrim Together mod "steals" code from Skyrim Script Extender (SKSE).

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Update: The Skyrim Together team has used its March 2019 report to apologise for using code from the Skyrim Script Extender, clarify how it happened and detail what it's done to fix the issue. It's an unusually comprehensive, formal apology that's been split up into different sections. It could be given as a presentation. There are probably slides. 

Like the original developer response on March 1, this one confirms that SKSE was used previously, but after a falling out between the teams, it was removed. Some of the code could have remained, however, and further investigation by the Skyrim Together team, along with assistance from SKSE's creator, showed that it was using a loader similar to an older version of the SKSE loader, which the team claims was grandfathered in from the Skyrim Online mod. 

"There is no excuse as to why this code has remained in the codebase for this long and was distributed without credit or acknowledgement," the apology reads. "Going forward we will do our utmost best to respect the SKSE team and their work and ensure the license request is maintained in the long run."

All "dependencies, associated content or related code" have been removed from Skyrim Together, the report claims, and SKSE's creator has been invited to confirm this when next update is ready. 

Original story: The Skyrim Together mod, which allows up to eight players to play Skyrim in co-op mode, has been in the works for years, and it recently inched a bit closer to the finish line with a playable closed beta. This week, however, drama erupted as the developers of Skyrim Script Extender accused the makers of Skyrim Together of using SKSE code without permission or attribution.

"Skyrim Together is stealing [Skyrim Script Extender] code, uncredited, without permission, with an explicit term in the license restricting one of the authors from having anything to do with the code," a SKSE developer posted on Reddit. "The proof is pretty clear when you look at the loader and dll in a disassembler. They're using a hacked-up version of 1.7.3 classic presumably with some preprocessor macros to switch structure types around as needed between the x64 and x86 versions."

The SKSE developer also points to a Reddit message from a Skyrim Together dev a year ago, which states: "We aren't using SKSE at all but the mod will be able to be loaded by SKSE's loader." 

The Skyrim Script Extender , if you're not familiar with it, is an important and highly regarded mod in the Skyrim modding community as it expands Skyrim's scripting capabilities and allows for more complexity from other Skyrim mods that use the SKSE.

A Skyrim Together developer posted a response yesterday, admitting that SKSE code was in fact used earlier in Skyrim Together's development, and that there may be leftover code that wasn't entirely removed:

"We have had disagreements with the SKSE folks in the past, I have tried to communicate with them but they have never replied, so we stopped using their code. There might be some leftover code from them in there that was overlooked when we removed it, it isn't as simple as just deleting a folder, mainly our fault because we rushed some parts of the code. Anyway we are going to make sure to remove what might have slipped through the cracks for the next patch."

Mod controversies get murkier and more heated when there's money involved, and there's quite a bit of money involved in Skyrim Together. The Skyrim Together team has a Patreon, and the closed beta of Skyrim Together required a contribution of at least $1 to access it. A buck to beta test a mod doesn't sound unreasonable—any number of modders have Patreons and some, like GTA modder JulioNIB, give supporters early access to the mods they create

The Skyrim Together Patreon, however, is massive, with over 28,000 subscribers contributing over $33,000 a month for the Skyrim Together modders. This leads some in the community to consider it a 'paid mod.' It's not entirely inaccurate: the only way to get into the Skyrim Together closed beta was by subscribing for at least one dollar. But, as the Skyrim Together modders point out, the mod, when it is completed, will be free to use for everyone.

"If you don't think we deserve your money we are not forcing you at all, you are free not to use our mod while in closed beta or even when it's released," the modder posted. "I have been working on this for 8 years, and we are 10 people working on it right now, 35k after taxes for 10 people and years of work is less than minimum wage."

On the other hand, if Skyrim Together is indeed using code lifted without permission from SKSE, and then earning thousands of dollars per month, they'd be profiting from the work of the SKSE developers without permission or attribution.

I've contacted the developers of Skyrim Together and the Skyrim Script Extender for any comments they'd like to give beyond what has been posted publicly, and will update this article if I receive a reply.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Dominic Tarason)

Enderal: Forgotten Stories is out now on Steam, making it the first Skyrim mod to launch as a (mostly) standalone game with achievements, cloud save support and even its own mod workshop. Set in its own, somewhat darker and grittier fantasy universe, Enderal is a well-known total conversion mod from SureAI, with this free Steam release being an expanded and polished edition. You’ll need the original version of Skyrim, but otherwise it can be installed as a totally separate game. Sadly, if you only have Skyrim: Special Edition, you’ll need to grab the original version too.

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Dominic Tarason)

After some behind-the-scenes wrangling with Valve, Enderal: Forgotten Stories hits Steam next Thursday, February 14th as a free, standalone game for anyone who owns Skyrim. Originally a mere mod (set in its own world entirely separate from The Elder Scrolls), you won’t even need Skyrim installed to play this version of Enderal. Developers SureAI say the Forgotten Stories version boasts more quest-lines, new character classes, a new (hidden) ending and other upgrades – it even has its own Steam Workshop for mods. See the very dramatic new trailer below.

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Photography by Silavon.

Remember Mjoll the Lioness? If you spent much time in Riften, you'll have heard her railing against the Thieves Guild and the corrupt Black-Briar family, and you might have found out she lost a magic sword called Grimsever, leading to a sidequest to recover it from a dwemer ruin.

Kirie Cosplay, who estimates she spent two months of her spare time working on the armor, wig, and makeup for her impressive Mjoll the Lioness outfit, didn't have a convenient Dragonborn around to search for Grimsever and had to craft that herself as well. 

"My Grimsever is all made from EVA foam," she explains. "I drew out all the detailing and used a Dremel tool to create the curves and ridges, and placing layers of foam where larger details were needed. The blade has been coated in a gloss and even with a glow in the dark coat!" As cool as the finished result looks, there's one downside to owning a glow-in-the-dark sword. "I keep it in a wardrobe so it doesn’t spook me too much at night," she says.

In a game where NPCs can sometimes blur together, Mjoll's a memorable standout, which explains why Kirie's still cosplaying her years after Skyrim's release. "Mjoll the Lioness is a unique character," she says. "She has strong features, while also having face markings which makes her appearance very appealing to me as I love to play with makeup."

How will you make this fabric look like it survives running through caves, snowstorms, even dragon fire?

Mjoll's practical armor, complete with fur lining, turned out to be a challenge not just to make but to hold together. "I think the hardest part of this costume was to create attachments for the armor pieces," Kirie says. "A few of them sit fine with just some strapping but I had to come up with ways for the hips and shoulders. The leather straps are slid up under the shoulder armour to meet the velcro pieces inside them. The curve along the top of the shoulder also has velcro to have it sitting just right."

Like the sword, the armor is mostly made from EVA foam, with some foam clay from Lumins Workshop. "I used contact adhesive for the foam pieces and super glue for all the tiny fiddly bits. It was fun to make the foam pieces look metal and rusted! Other pieces used fabric and fake fur. I dirtied up the fur as well to make it look not so shiny new."

That's a big part of the appeal of making a Skyrim-themed cosplay for Kirie. Being a Nord means getting to look like you've been through the wars, or at least knocked down by dwemer automatons a few times. "Making Skyrim cosplays is exciting because of how creative you can be," she says. "Almost every piece will need weathering or dirtying. How will you make this fabric look like it survives running through caves, snowstorms, even dragon fire? I would say never do a costume from this kind of environment and have it look like it's just come off the shop rack!"

You can find @KirieCos on Instagram, where she's uploaded a story showing the process of creating this cosplay step by step.

Photography by Snap Happy Ian.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

There's a dragon near Bethesda - dubbed "the Dragon of Bethesda" by its creator - and it's causing a bit of bother.

No, not that Bethesda. The Bethesda in Wales, the one on the River Ogwen and the A5 road on the edge of Snowdonia, in Gwynedd.

The Draig Dderw (oak Dragon) stands 6ft tall and 12ft wide, and guards the A5, presumably from misguided Skyrim fans. It's quite the sight - perhaps too good a sight, because motorists are apparently slowing down, or even stopping, to gawk at it.

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Skyrim’s NPC companions aren’t very useful, but if you still want company on your mountain hikes and dragon-slaying adventures, Skyrim Together might scratch the itch. Following the announcement earlier this month, a closed beta is now available for Patreon backers. It’s expected to run for a week or two, building up to an open beta. 

In the closed beta, players will be able to invite friends into their game and start private sessions, fight each other, travel wherever they want—separately or together—and join each other in quests. You can read the list of features on the subreddit. And here's a list of planned features.

Bethesda’s official multiplayer spin-offs have left a lot to be desired. The Elder Scrolls Online has grown into a solid if slightly bland MMO, but it was a complete mess at launch, while Fallout 76 has been a bit of a disaster. Hopefully the mod will fare better. 

A separate launcher is required to use the mod, as well as an account on the Skyrim Together site and a linked Patreon account. It’s out now for Patreon backers.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

An impressive Skyrim multiplayer mod enters closed beta soon, with an open beta to follow.

The eye-catching Skyrim Together mod is more than someone's pipedream - it's a functional mod that currently lets up to eight players play together in Bethesda's hugely popular fantasy game.

The mod is the work of a group of talented software engineers who have spent some time tinkering with Skyrim in order to get multiplayer working. The closed beta is for those who back the project on Patreon. The open beta launches immediately after the closed beta, which the modders said wouldn't last long in an announcement post on the Skyrim Together subreddit.

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