Concerning Elder Scrolls
I remember the Christmas of 2006, I got the Xbox 360 and three fantastic games Dead Rising, Just Cause and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. I’d been introduced to the Elder Scrolls series a few years before.
The first Elder Scrolls game I was introduced to was Morrowind back in 2003, my cousin was sitting at the dinner table playing it on the Xbox, alternating between holding the controller and scooping up the mushed peas and potatoes with his fork.
The world was so interesting looking, alien and fantastical, my cousin unraveled the map that came with the game and showed it to me, he took a tiny crumb off of his plate and placed it on the map and told me “That’s the size of the player compared to the map”
I was amazed, this was the first time the concept of an open world game was shown to me. I’d go over to his house any chance I had to play the game although I soon discovered that as soon as combat came into the mix, the game was quite unforgiving, especially to a young kid.
Flash forward back to Christmas 2006 again, the first game I choose to place into my new Xbox 360 was Oblivion, greeted by the fantastic theme of Oblivion by the amazing Jeremy Soule I was once again impressed as I was when I first heard Morrowind’s soundtrack, that similar glorious theme belting with a new orchestra behind it.
When I first exited those sewers at the start of the game I was shown the beauty of the province of Cyrodiil, those beautiful vibrant colours, I was playing a game I was gonna think fondly of for the rest of my life.
Modifying your world
One day I was looking for a walkthrough if a particular quest and decided to look for one on YouTube, in one of the videos I noticed that the player held a blue glass sword in their hand, if you’ve played a lot of Oblivion you would know that there are only green glass weaponry and no such natural way of getting a blue glass weapon in the game. So down the rabbit hole I went discovering the term ‘Mod’ and what it meant for a gaming experience and with Oblivion if found endless possibilities.
After saving up for the PC version of Oblivion I got to work on modding my game, through learning how to mod my game I learned the basics of using a computer, where the files needed to go, where games are usually installed, packing and unpacking folders and away I went, not just learning how to mod Oblivion but growing a love for Game Design.
Not longer satisfied with placing other peoples mods into my game I grew curious as to how people made the mods, how did they get into the game to place an object here and there, how did they place houses and buildings where ever they wanted.
A wild Bethesda Construction Set enters the room and by room I mean my entire life, I took to that thing learning everything I could about it, I was amazed at how much of the game I had control over, I could shape the land however I wanted place trees where I wanted, rocks where I wanted, buildings where I wanted. I could create worlds.
There were many little projects I made for myself, most were much too ambitious for a single person to achieve, I remember trying to create a metropolis that I wanted to name Snowstone, I dreamed of making Lionheads Fable: The Lost Chapters within Oblivions Engine and I immediately got to work on trying to re-create and entire game all by my naive self, the thought of re-creating an entire game with more up to date graphics and getting to improve upon elements I thought could have been improved upon made me energetic with enthusiasm. But alas soon school and sense got in the way of my ‘small’ little project and it died along with any future thought that I could do a project like that single-handedly ever again. But a project like that with a team?
Skyblivion's the limit
Fast forward even further all the way to February 2017 and i see the Return to Cyrodiil on Rebelzize’s YouTube channel, felt like I’d gotten slapped in the face by Christmas 2006. The beauty of Cyrodiil but with Skyrim’s updated graphics and combat mechanics, what a dream. I look at the description of the video and see and FAQ and at the bottom I see the question,
‘I want to help what can I do?’
Along with the answer of,
‘We currently need skilled people to help with landscaping, overhauling the lighting of interior locations and 3D artists for recreating assets so if you fit this description go here’
Not a single seconds hesitation I went right over to that application page and applied to be a Landscaper for the Skyblivion project, luckily just before I’d seen the trailer I’d been getting back into the Construction Set or as it’s known now The Creation Kit, so I’d had a small region revamp mod in progress for Skyrim to show the team as proof of my skills.
I didn’t have to wait long within a day they’d gotten back to me interested in taking me on and I was ecstatic, as much as someone would had they’d gotten a job with Bethesda themselves, I was getting an opportunity to work on a large project just like the one I’d tried to start so many years ago only I was doing it with a game I knew and had great passion for, I was getting the chance to work on one of my favourite games.
I got assigned to re-landscaping Blackwood the south-eastern point of the province closest to the neighbouring province of Black Marsh, I never remember Black Wood looking particularly interested in Oblivion so I realized that I had quite a task ahead of me to do, never before had I worked with such a large team, never before had I worked with such a large region and never before had I rebuilt and entire region almost from the ground up.
In my next article I’ll go into the specifics of my methods for making Blackwood look like the unique, creepy and hostile swamp that it will become when you play Skyblivion.