Landscaping in Skyblivion II

The Elder Scrolls: Skyblivion

Skyblivion logo

Skyblivion is a volunteer-based project by the TESRenewal modding group. We aim to bring The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion to a new generation of gamers and re-introduce it to long time fans of the series. We are currently in the process of remaking Cyrodiil along with all of its quests, locations and characters into Skyrim and Skyrim: Special Edition.

Skyblivion is a volunteer-based project by the TESRenewal modding group. We aim to bring The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion to a new generation of gamers and re-introduce it to long time fans of the series. We are currently in the process of remaking Cyrodiil along with all of its quests, locations and characters into Skyrim and Skyrim: Special Edition.



Blackwoods development

First off I’d like to apologize to anyone who was waiting long on my part 2 of my Landscaping article, I suddenly got in the mood to right this up and was shocked to see that the first part was written and uploaded nearly a year ago, I still get surprised at how fast time moves and how long I’ve been a part of this amazing project, it’ll be 3 years this February. Good thing is within that year of writing my previous article an astonishing amount of work has been done throughout the entire team and Blackwood has been no exception.

In this article I’ll talk about the decisions that were made throughout Blackwoods development and the reasons behind them as well as my methods of landscaping.

The Flattening

In my previous article I mentioned that I had applied to the Skyblivion team using a small mod that I’d be working on just to get me back into the swing of things, that mod was a small re-landscaping mod to the Morthal region in Skyrim, specifically the marshes, that was the reason Kyle saw it fit to ask me if I was interested in taking Blackwood for my claim.

Upon starting I was surprise to see that the landscapers weren’t working off of a blank landmass that we were gonna have to fill in with the regions that were in Oblivion, rather instead we were working with the ported Oblivion landmass as a the jumping off point, we were literally gonna be building off of Oblivions older landscape, I was happy to see this since it made things a lot easier, rather than having to recreate everything we just had to improve the regions, I thought to myself that this wasn’t gonna be such a colossal task as I’d thought previously. Unfortunately, Kyle had other plans for my time on the team.

After taking a walk around Blackwood in Oblivion I realized one major thing, this place is BORING! This was supposed to be the part of Cyrodiil that shared a little bit of Black Marsh’s character although It hardly felt like a swamp at all, sadly It felt like another area in Oblivion that was just very hilly, forested and worst of all procedurally generated. One thing I decided was that I was gonna seriously ramp up the amount of bogs, ponds rivers and lakes, I wanted this area to be soaking.

This here is a map showing the Blackwood area in Oblivion, the area that I’ve circled is the only area in original Blackwood that showed any characteristics of a swamp, you can see the amount the water there is there and it isn’t just one river or lake it’s patchy like you would have in wetlands like Blackmarsh or Blackwood, this was the type of landscaping I was gonna build off of apply to the rest of the region.

About 3 months of work got done before Kyle (Rebelzize) came to me after seeing some of the work I had been doing and had many comments and pointers (rightfully so). My work was definitely lacking and just felt very messy and inconsistent compared to the other landscaping that the likes of our dear ClefJ had been achieving. He told me that he thought Blackwood needed something drastic done to it, to Flatten the entire thing.

That would mean three months of work would have to be thrown out, I would have to flatten the entire region ending up with 10,000+ objects floating In the air, all of which I would have to lower or delete individually myself, trees, rocks, creatures, npcs, entire forts and ruins, caves and oh GOD, so many Nirnroots! Here was the biggest problem for me, he was right, it was the best thing for the region, it made no sense for a swamp to be high up in the hills like it originally was, the entire region would make so much more sense if it was all flatlands like most swamps are.

I started looking at the possibilities instead of seeing this as a colossal huge chore because I would be spending a few weeks doing nothing but Flattening the land doing no real landscaping, very boring, very monotonous so looking at the bright side of things and the possibilities was the best thing to do, and there were many possibilities indeed. While completely wiping an entire region out and starting fresh is a lot of work it also offers me a lot of room in terms of design. Thinking of all these things I could do with the region is what kept me going through those boring few weeks of just Flattening the land to the same height.

The Real Work Begins

This what the entire region looked like after I was done flattening it, just a featureless landmass with 1000’s of trees and rocks floating above every cell showing the height that the land used to be at.

Luckily I wasn’t working with a completely blank slate here I still had the various ground textures showing me which grass was used where as well as things like dirt paths and main roads showing me where I old landmasses paths used to be so I could still keep those in. I lowered and cells that had high water in them down to sea level (0) and began the process what I call ‘Denting’ which involves punching dents into the land that will be the various ponds and bogs that would litter a swamp.

As you can tell within the cell theres more water than there is land, the land instead comes in what resembles ‘veins’ this is a good way of making the land look more like a swamp as well as a subtle way of directing the player in certain directions (should the area call for it), early on I decided I would have a lot of these and would fill these bodies of water with Slaughter fish and other deterrents that would make the player fear going into Blackwoods water. When landscaping it’s not enough to make it look realistic or look good, you have to always keep in mind how you imagine the player will be able to navigate it and when you keep that in mind it’s very easy to let some mechanical ideas pop into your head from time to time, those bodies of water that you may not want to go into for fear of the Slaughter fish? Those fish might have killed some other poor swamp traveler someone who may have been carrying some valuables on them that are worth diving to the bottom of the lake and searching for. You see how just shaping the land can already get ideas running through your head of what the end product will play like? And this comes not from the first part which is the landscaping but from imagining how the player might experience that land in the game.

Sorry for Rambling

I’m terrible at writing articles but I do enjoy doing them so sorry if I repeated things over and over and rambled on about things I shouldn’t have I realize that there’s a lot of smaller technical details about landscaping that are just a bit too boring to talk about in this article. My original draft for this article was just too damn long, I think, so instead I’m gonna chop it up into smaller parts and talk about different areas in each article such as:

  • Blackwatch
  • Atatar
  • Nocturnals Shrine
  • Deepscorn Hollow
  • Fort Telman
  • Arpenia

Luckily I already have most of the Blackwatch article written so you won’t need to wait another year for my lazy-ass to write the next one.

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29 Responses

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  2. Interesting process and article!

    I hope there is some really well thought loot placed like there was in previous Elder Scrolls games.

    I love the idea of exploring a “dead marsh” for treasure of fallen adventurers

  3. Is there anything I can do to help? I would love to see this also. Will you be changing anything besides the graphics? Also, what is the chance of putting this on a server for maybe a 100 people or so? Could increase the size of the map by 1.5. Come up with a system so when an npc dies their house will go up for sale. Add the better cities mod in. Let the guilds be player ran.

    1. You’re a moron dude they are focused on developing the mod not “putting it on a server.” The fact that you think they could just put it on a server and have a bunch of people start joining tells me you are completely incapable of comprehending even the simplest of concepts when it comes to game development. You’re literally retarded if you think their focus is pre-release multiplayer functionality.

  4. I’m gonna be completely honest here. I’m actually more exited for Skyblivion then TesVI.. For one thing, it’s revisiting a vast section of my childhood, but way redone, as two. It’s just really hard for me to feel exited about TesVI. I barely see anything about it aside from a walk through what looks like a very pretty of repetitive and eventually boring forest the longer I watch the teaser of it. I actually see progress with this project, and it’s something I’ve wanted since I first discovered it in 2015, when it was featured on steam. I can’t wait for the release!!

  5. It looks good. Every Skyblivion update looks good. It’s just…are you sure you guys will even have it out before TESVI launches? Because once that happens, either no one will care about this and Skywind or they’re going to be expecting Skyrim/Oblivion/Morrowind to be remade in TESVI. I want this project to succeed, and no I don’t think I’m entitled to have it done when I want it done, but you guys have to realize that after a certain point (when TESVI launches), most people aren’t going to care anymore.

    That said, I don’t mean to be a downer. I wish you guys all the best.

    1. I’m going to disagree with you there, Skyrim came out years and years ago, and people are still playing to this day. I feel that there are some people that have been avoiding both oblivion and Morrowind just for the fact that the graphic are not as good and that the control schemes are out dated, I feel that people are going to keep playing Skyrim for a long time, even after the new elder scrolls, and I feel that people will find these mods and be happy that they can finally experience these games.

        1. no better? I hope you mean “newer”
          Because Skyrim is about the most dumbed down, featureless TES game that has ever been released.

          1. “Wah wah wah Skyrim is dumbed down,” yeah we get it you think Morrowind, Oblivion and Daggerfall are infinitely better. Get off your high horse, you aren’t special for liking the older games more. TESV may not have had the classic MMORPG elements Oblivion and Morrowind had, but people are allowed to have their opinions you dunce.

          2. Absolutely right, but people don’t know what they’re missing.

            Previous elderscrolls had magic and potion making systems that dwarfed skyrims,
            You had a much more diverse set of skills and it was tailored to be more casual.

            That said it is still a good game.

            Taking the best parts of both games will surely yield an amazing one.

    2. I had the itch to replay Oblivion again after watching these Skyblivion vids. I actually completed the main quest in a couple of days.
      I’ll continue to replay my favorites over and over.
      One of the best things about Steam is tying games to your account to redownload at will.

    1. “I’ve been waiting for too long” shut the fuck up, they will release it when they are ready. There is a reason it takes so long, they are all VOLUNTEERING to help put together a mod that thousands of people will be able to enjoy. They don’t give us release dates because people like you don’t shut up after they have to extend it for the 4th or 5th time because it isn’t ready to be released. Learn some damn patience.

  6. This looks amazing!! You and your team really are a diamond in the gaming world. Speaking as a fan of the elder scrolls and of the gift that you are building us, is there anything that is fans and future players of your masterpiece can do to help you in your quest?

  7. So I just watched the new stream that kyle showed today(12/7/2019) and dang man you really have made it look swampy and nice. I know kyle is more of the fantasy look and likes to show the same things it seems in each video lol but when he went and showed off your work I must say you hit the nail on the head. You should be proud of your accomplishments and the dark gloomy look youve pulled off. I would think vampires and werewolves… nice setting for the darkness lol. You guys are legends man.. you have inspired so many people around the world, and you landscapers dont get recognized as much as you should but luckily kyle does seem to understand that aspect so in his streams he always wants people to see the landscapers work. You guys deserve way more credit because without YOU… we have hilly damn swamps and a mess of a map. Its because of landscapers the game looks like it does. Congrats! Looking forward to playing this game. Luckily ive never beat oblivion so this will feel like a totally new game to me.

  8. amazing im really looking forwart to when its done, it looks great already. keep up the good work but don’t work too hard.

  9. That’s hilarious to me that of all the nirnroot hunting quests, this one was likely the most challenging, haha.

    I have no doubt you guys forget how long you’ve been working on this because the trailer that was released reminded me I was a freshman in college when I first heard of Skyblivion! I’m glad you guys have stuck through as long as you have and hope this mod ends up doing great things for all of you working on it.

  10. I know it was painful to lose so much work (it hurts to lose a few hours because the CK decides to crash and you forgot the cardinal rule of save every 5 minutes, but losing 3 months?! That must’ve been agony), but the Flattening was needed.

    What you’ve done so far (and shown off) looks like a truly eerie swamp worthy of the title “Blackwood” and crucially, feels like the swamp it was supposed to be, not the mass of pointy green hills like the rest of Oblivion. Those shots of post-flattening really do show off how silly Oblivion’s omnipresent hills were in a place that’s supposed to be a marshy swamp.

    P.S. Keep up the great work, all of you.

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