I was never what one would consider a ‘pc gamer’, especially in my youth, where my experience extended only so far as Oregon Trail. However, as an avid console gamer, there was always something I craved from the games I had.
There was always a need to fantasize an original character, to immerse myself in these games. Zelda, Command and Conquer, Mega Man, what have you. Growing up, my friends and I were just barely testing the waters in tabletop gaming and roleplaying games – and we loved it. We made stories involving our characters in these already solid stories and games.
That is until, of course, the pure wonder that was Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. For the first time – for me, anyways – there was a game that was made Explicitly for a player to make their own character, to immerse themselves as much as they wanted in a perfect open-world experience. Hours upon hours were a flurry of exploration and immersion, and it was wonderful! For years, even, and when the Shivering Isles DLC arrived it was all made new again.
As new games come and go, from Skyrim to Fallout and so on so forth, the idea of the characters themselves were still important, but only as important as the world in which we explore. The world became something I looked at with a critical eye. I fell in love with landscaping. I fell in love with the world; the dirt and trees and mountains. The world with which you as a player and character can explore is just as thrilling as developing the character themselves, and indeed, the world itself IS a character.
Looking back, of course, Oblivion was innovative but still required a ton of tender, loving care. All of it was featureless land pelted with pebbles and trees – of course there being a limit to the game’s features. The realm of Oblivion itself incredibly repetitive, every cave as linear as the last. Certainly, it was the story and music themselves that drove the love and wonder I still admire today.
I was really late into the modding scene; I missed Oblivion’s creation kit entirely, but apparently I wasn’t missing much. And my first efforts in Skyrim were to mod the land and create custom player homes and castles. My efforts in learning how to craft the earth really branched out from there, thanks to the invites of this wonderful team and family who helped me progress.
And now, the Skyblivion project has given us an opportunity to combine the genius of its storytelling and immersive pull with the innovations a team with Skyrim tools can bring to the table. Mountains, Gandalf. We can see Mountains again! And with the grandeur of the Skyrim modding community altogether, the sky’s the limit to how much immersion we can take a character with us. And I wanted to make the world the best possible world it could be for all of us; a unique and eye-catching world where every nook and cranny is worth exploring, an altogether new experience for all of us who fell in love with Oblivion – or even those who’ve never had the pleasure, to play this prequel to Skyrim as a brand-new up to date experience, a mod with a scope like no other.
Indeed, Cyrodiil itself is massive, twice or thrice the size of Skyrim, so – you can imagine – a massive undertaking for us volunteers in its Landscaping department. Certainly I hope you’ve enjoyed the many hours we’ve put in thus far, often recorded on our Twitch or Youtube streams for your enjoyment! And as always, we love your support and are encouraged by your positive outlooks and constructive feedback.
And now, with the progress that has been made, I can remember exiting the Imperial Sewers, and now I get to see that featureless beach and Ayleid ruin truly pop out as something remarkable, as the first things seen under Nirn’s sun. The Imperial City island is now truly a realistic and fun little land to explore all around, rather than a relatively featureless mound. The Valus Mountains now sharing the foreboding nature loved in Morrowind, where we had the jovial time saving Lord Rugdumph’s daugther. The Colovian Highlands are now a breathtaking adventure on our way to the necromancers that stole a powerful amulet. The great marshes of the south now truly a dark and dangerous place when seeking Daedric secrets. The western coastline now an actual coastline – and my word, what progress on Anvil, one of the largest hubs of Oblivion’s guild questlines! Each land is unique and worth being in, rather than a continuous stretch of relatively similar dirt.
I do love Oblivion, and I love Skyrim, but now we can take both, and make something better, in Skyblivion! We craft like glassmakers, making for all of you and all of us, a Character. A land alive.
Joshua D. Guthaus, “ClefJ”