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Update: Some users were apparently having issues with logging into the website and/or redeeming the free Morrowind code. Those problems appear to have been resolved, and Bethesda has extended the free offer through the weekend.
The Elder Scrolls: Arena is 25 years old today, and to celebrate the big birthday Bethesda is giving away The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind. Just pop over to bethesda.net, log in to the site (or sign up if you need to) and then—wait!—do not hit the "Redeem Now" button yet!
I know, that seems like the obvious thing to do but first you want to take note of, or perhaps even select and copy, the "TES25TH-MORROWIND" code, without the quotes. Now hit the redemption button, put the code into the field, click where you're told, and the game will be added to your account, accessible through the Bethesda launcher.
The previous Elder Scrolls games, Arena and Daggerfall, are also free (and have been for awhile now), but Morrowind is the one that put the series, and Bethesda, on the map. It's big, bold, and beautiful, unconstrained by the bug-ridden wonkery of the games that came before it or the comfortable conventions of the ones that followed, and it is free. Today only, though, so get on with it.
This is not the only thing Bethesda is doing to mark the 25th anniversary of The Elder Scrolls: There's also a free-play event coming this weekend to The Elder Scrolls Online, some anniversary loot in The Elder Scrolls Legends card game, and new in-game content for The Elder Scrolls 5: 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.
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."
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!"
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.
You know what the problem with a horse is? It only has one horsepower. One! It's pathetic. That's why you should upgrade to a hog—by which I mean a motorcycle. This mod for Skyrim and Skyrim Special Edition adds a Dwarven motorcyle so you can cruise around the world in style, full throttle.
The mod even lets you choose how you'd like it to sound: it can make standard Dwarven machinery noises, or sound like a real motorcycle. The gif above, by the way, is made from this video by Arctic Scrolls, which is pretty funny if you watch the whole thing.
The motorcycle is 'essential', meaning it can't be destroyed. From the animation of the rider, and the fact that that the motorcycle attempts to attack hostile wolves in this video, it appears the bike still has the brains of a common horse. No matter, though! It looks cool and I'm sure some Skyrim fan out there can probably somehow make the case for it being lore-friendly.
Bethesda taking the Fallout series online with Fallout 76 was met with, shall we say, mixed results. Modders, meanwhile, have been trying to take Skyrim online for years, and now it's almost a reality. Skyrim Together is a co-op mod that lets you play Skyrim with your pals, and after a few false starts it appears to finally be ready for a closed beta trial.
"Yep, it's finally happening," reads a dev post in the mod's subreddit. "Soon we'll be opening the doors for our loyal patreons for a temporary closed beta - Don't fear, this will shortly available for all."
The closed beta period will be used to test stability and make fixes, and won't last long according to the mod's developers, with an open beta available to everyone following a week or two later. The mod, when released, will feature its own launcher (Bethesda objected to the release of the mod on Steam). The current cap is set at eight players max, though it's possible this may change in the future. Servers for the mod are currently only located in Europe, but again, this may change after launch based on player demand.
The developers haven't given a specific start date for the closed beta beyond "soon", and to be fair, we first heard the mod was nearly ready to launch back in 2017. Stay optimistic, though—your next trip through Skyrim could be with friends at your side.
Is Skyrim’s existing story not epic enough in scope for you? Need more giant, world-ending cataclysmic monsters for the Dragonborn to fight? Have I got the mods for you: Here There Be Monsters and its sequel Here There Be Monsters—The Call of Cthulhu, in works since 2015, are nearly finished as of this year. It’s a big, post-endgame quest chain that sees you taking on (or joining) the eponymous tentacled world-devourer as it awakens to slurp up the people of Tamriel. It’s also fully voiced, so it won’t be too jarring a transition from the regular game world. The update released on the first of this year finalizes much of the mod, adding the last of the dialogue, craftable weapons, new followers, and debugging the main and side quests for the new locations in the game.
I’m not sure I can convey the ambition of this mod without asking you to take a look. It adds not only new races and models but also large new areas inspired by works of the cosmic horror canon, like the plateau of Leng… and beyond.
You can check out Here There Be Monsters—The Call of Cthulhu at Nexus. Deep Ones! Forbidden books! Ancient temples! Terrible secrets! It’s all there.
Beyond Skyrim’s scope would be impressive even if it wasn't a mod. It’s a collaboration between several different Skyrim mod teams, each taking on the challenge of building one of the chilly province’s neighbours. In the last development diary, we got a look at Cyrodiil, Roscrea, Atmora and Elsweyr, and now the Beyond Skyrim: Morrowind team is showing off what it calls the ‘New North’, made up of Morrowind’s northern islands. Check out the new trailer above.
The New North looks a bit more familiar than some of the other regions, with the islands simultaneously evoking Skyrim and Morrowind. There are big mushrooms, people wandering around in chitinous armour, and imposing wizard towers, but next to them are thatched roofs, wooden halls and longships. The final Skyrim DLC took us to Solstheim, just off the coast of Morrowind, so some assets have been reused, but there’s a great deal of new stuff, too.
We get to see quite a lot, from the threatening, rocky coast to ominous, haunted crypts, accompanied by what sounds like professional voice acting. It bodes well for the future of the project, though it boggles the mind that this is all being created by volunteer enthusiasts. Speaking of which, you can apply to lend a hand yourself.
There’s no release date yet, but some of Beyond Skyrim is available to play now. Beyond Skyrim: Bruma lets you explore Cyrodiil’s northern area once you travel south from Skyrim, and alone it’s still an extremely meaty, polished expansion.
If you’re craving more mods, check out our list of the best Skyrim mods.
Of all the ambitious mods recreating areas of Tamriel, Beyond Skyrim is the one I'm most excited about. It's essentially made up of seven separate projects aimed at remaking parts of the Elder Scrolls world—including Cyrodiil and Morrowind—in the Fourth Era, when Skyrim is set. Yesterday, the developers released their first ever development diary, showing just how much progress they've made in each region, and you'll find footage from Roscrea, the lost continent of Atmora and Elsweyr.
The video, above, runs through each region's progress in turn, starting with Roscrea, an island located in the Sea of Ghosts north of Solitude, Skyrim. The first landscaping of the island is nearly complete, quests and characters are largely written, and most of the major towns and villages are designed. The team is even making progress on creating a unique Roscrean language for the island's inhabitants—both alive and undead.
In Cyrodiil, the team has numerous cities, including Chorrol and Skingrad, at the level design stage, while others are still in art development, including the iconic Imperial City. The region of Colovia has nearly reached first-pass level design completion, and the team has begun shortlisting fully-fledged companion characters that will travel alongside you. It's worth noting that the Bruma portion of Cyrodiil is already complete, and was released last year. Chris was impressed by it, and the fact that Beyond Skyrim has already produced something polished is the main reason I'm hopeful about its future.
In Atmora, the lost continent to the north of Tamriel, the team have completed design of the fjord and Staglands regions, and are working on a custom weather system. They've also made progress on the local quests: the finished version will have five main quest chapters as well as numerous side quests.
In the video, you'll also find details about Iliac Bay, Elsweyr and Black Marsh, which look to be earlier in development. The team wrapped up the diary by teasing a "very special announcement" for the Morrowind project in the new year. They've been working hard writing characters for the region's numerous dungeons and towns—could the announcement be that a portion of the map will be playable soon, similar to Bruma in Cyrodiil? I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
For more information on Beyond Skyrim, visit its official website.
After writing about the latest update for the excellent Morrowind: Rebirth mod yesterday, the allure of the best Elder Scrolls game was strong. But I can’t just reinstall Morrowind; at the very least I need to spend a couple of days finding more mods, like Morrowind Enhanced Textures. It might not have a flashy name, but it sure is pretty.
HD texture mods often look strange and out of place, especially in older games like Morrowind, but this appears to be one of the exceptions. Don’t expect it to suddenly look as good as new, but there are places where it looks not far off Skyrim. The character models still look goofy as heck, but that’s The Elder Scrolls for you.
The technique used to enhance the textures is called Enhanced Super-Resolution Generative Adversarial Networks (ESRGAN), and gosh people need to do a better job of naming things. It’s an AI upscaling method that generates realistic textures without the artifacts that you get from plain old Super-Resolution Generative Adversarial Networks.
Modder DassiD says they made several passes with the tool and upscaled the textures by four times Morrowind’s original resolution. They’ve included some comparison screenshots on Nexus, where you can also download the mod. It looks impressive, though it’s worth noting that a few other mods have been used in the screenshots to make them look even lovelier.