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How bad did Bethesda screw modders (and everyone else) with Skyrim? A rant, or something more?


canderes

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After cracking my head open for about a year and a half understanding how Havok behavior works I think I finally understand why Bethesda was reluctant/never mentioned letting modders use their project files for anything Havok related. At first I just wanted to yell at console gamer's for all the things missing from the PC version of the game: where is my 64bit support? Why is this running on Dx9? No tesselation? Why are, or were so many of these quests broken/unfinished? I remember Oblivion/Morrowind having more complexity-what happened? Most of this was under the assumption that resources are limited on a console-yes that is partially true, but I think there is more to it than that.

 

Let us go back to the first delay: You will have a creation kit as soon as the game comes out, and will be able to use the tools that we release the same way we did to create everything. How many months late did the tools come out? It didn't matter because something like sated appetites until CK or an expansion:

 

 

But what was all that really? How much of that actually made it into the game? How much of that could actually have been made using only the CK? How much of what they did in the video heavily/entirely Havok dependent? Most of that stuff, the superficial junk anyway, like verlet surfaces, flowing water, and dynamic weather we could live without-good substitutes would be created by the community later anyway. But what about the rest?

 

This is what I would call the beginning of the "Havok tech demo, or Havok the game"-most everything else that didn't make it to the game. If you have ever dug through the hkb-behavior graphs, hkx-exported project files, and other havok containers you'll find that there is a giant spiderweb like relationship between Skyrim's animations. Havok Behavior connects all these animations with different states setup in a graph by the project. Each state can be appended with an attribute to trigger damage, ragdoll states, multi actor interactions, or for interaction with terrains.

 

New states can be created in Havok Behvarior Tool (Now Havok Animation Tool) that can be exported using the same file types as what is used by Skyrim. Technically any state can be made as long as you provide the animations and attributes if any for when you call to them in the game-this isn't anything like what we use right now though, attack animations can be replaced, but new attack animations and behaviors can't be added. Everything that is included by FNIS or the like is nothing but an idle, all preanimated using a short, and constrictive list of bones. Since it has no behavior, nothing can affect it and it does nothing to transition between states in that big web of Havok Behavior-which is why you have to use something to unload it when the animation is done(Which can actually damage the actor if done incorrectly-Note 1: SendAnimationEvent), or worse force the actor using it into a ragdoll state.

 

Most of the crap mentioned in the last paragraph would play a direct role in allowing someone to add these things from the video:

 

Spears-The master behavior for all humanoid/beasts would likely require that new states and bones be added for animation/kill moves. SaidenStorm was working on porting spears from Oblivion to do this but has since vanished and pretty much said on Bethesda forums that all we can add is glorified idles. Hey, but atleast we can add more bones right? Yeah with some ridiculous difficulty and care because you don't want to mess up animations for all those different skeletons people might be using (Cherry Hotaling, Dragonfly, xp32)

 

Where did SaidenStorm go?

 

Hanging/swinging platforms-Does anything like this exist? Aside from those moving gears in the Dwarven ruins I don't think I recall anything like this. It reminds me of those really dangerous and rickety looking bridges. The terrain can have its own behavior, although it doesn't look like they used any in the game, but I think it is what they used for that dynamic weather/seasons thing at the beginning.

 

Goblins-Are these the same ones you see on Solstheim? These are holding spears, but it could be that the spear behavior was only meant for these characters I think. The spear animations for the player at the beginning of the video are really jerky and they don't transition very well (look at how the feet slide around). Maybe they didn't want to throw away the spear behavior/animations and just decided to use it for a simple character like this. Maybe if we could carry over the behavior for Rieklings we could add spears-nope we don't have any project files, but that's ok you can use the Riekling spears as arrows :dodgy: .

 

Kill Cams-Any paired animations, kills, horse/dragon riding, whatever, requires that the behavior of multiple actors interact. We don't have that, and the hkx's for animation don't include something that can be added on a note track so that the camera latches on to "Camera3rd [Cam3]" for the victim.

 

No cloth-seriously you have to pay extra for that shit to be included in the game

 

Verlet-We have HDTPhysicsExtensions now for fabric/hair, but the verlet effect they use in the video is being used to animate an entirely new weapon. No flails were added either, but if we had access to what we needed we could just copy all the mace attacks and apply the verlet effect to a new mesh anyway. Havok drives the chain, but it doesn't look like its anything more than mace animations + rigid bodies. The giant/trees after the flail are using verlet too.

 

Werebear-Same as the spears, they included the Werebear as an enemy, but the player behavior for it has been removed. Anything like the Werewolf and Vampire Lord use entirely new behaviors and are listed as an independent character type, not in the beast, or human category. Does tc give you the same amount of control + behaviors for the Werebear enemy as in the Game Jam video? I didn't bother to check until I saw this video.

 

Giant Mudcrab-This isn't a regular Mudcrab with the scale jacked up, it has it's own animations and behaviors, especially since it can pull debris out of the ground. Not really an amazing enemy, but there would probably be some really cool looking giant monsters added to the game if they opened up the Havok side of things.

 

Here is where I think things get ugly: who is to blame for this? Ahh those inferior console owners-nope, the series was made more popular and anyone who liked Skyrim will go and play Morrowind/Oblivion. Too much was incomplete in the game so they finished what the could-yes partly, but would they have had time for everything they showed in the video if that were the case? More likely they wanted to milk as much money as they could for by selling those unfinished mods as an expansion.

 

B-But they could make more money anyway by releasing ALL the tools so serious mods can be made! Eh maybe for a while, but this is where it gets all murky: if we had the ability to add all those other things like states, attributes, animations and skeletons from scratch, we could technically put ANYTHING we want in the game, new interactions, new enemies, dynamic environments, and weapons-including guns. If that were the case though it could be a disaster because there are so many modders around wanting to do total conversions that it would make the game INFINITELY replayable.

 

There would be no real reason to go get a newer TES or Fallout if that were to happen because the community puts in most of the work anyway. When you think about it the only thing that really changes in these type of games is the render engine-better graphics. There aren't many games as open as TES/Fallout unless you the direct route of making it yourself, or building on Source/Crytek/Unreal. The only other company that could be going an open modding route is Volition but with Saints Row, and when/if that happens TES/Fallout won't have a deathgrip/monopoly it has on modability.

 

Maybe I'm just mad but this is my opinion: Creation Engine is just a fancy map/script editor (not to bash anyone there's much that can be done with it, but much more could be done if we had access to the rest of the tools), and Havok is what is doing all the cool shit. They spent a ton of money on a premade engine and didn't even bother to finish making the game. Eventually we'll all get bored of armors/idles/quests. When they said this game has become an action figure/barbie simulator they weren't wrong, and I cringe because it's true.

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Well, if you ask me, its worse than that, cause the answer rely in the simple mechanisms of selling and buying things in a targeted market.

Every company in the world (at least in this world) is making their products with a SINGLE reason in mind. There's nothing but money! This is number 1 rule, and number 2 and so on! It is nothing else that matters. And it will never be.

Because this is how this society has been build.

 

For that reason, a manager (I really hate that word) from Bethesda has decided probably that what they're offering is enough for them to hit the expected profit and adding more value to the product will not add its respective amount of return of investment multiplied by whatever coefficient they're used to calculate their expectations.

 

In very simple words this is it. Off course, real life could make things more complicated but golden rule about profit and resources involved to make it, stays.

Sadly, we have to take it or go somewhere else.... aye, I know a place where the sun's always shining...

http://youtu.be/uN7Yr-dMnOs

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The last point is the "bingo" to why there seems to be only so much the modding community can actually mod.  Bethesda like all other media selling companies need to be able to sell you the next thing.  Heck, most companies worst enemy is their own product.  If you sell a product that is too good, (other than consumables) why would the customer ever buy another one, or the newer one.  The car company the builds the automobile that never breaks down would shortly go out of business once everyone has bought one.  Although, they would have made a boat load of money in the process.

 

With that said, maybe the modding community should attempt to create a game from scratch.  One that at the center of it would start off just being a basic game kernel that could be easily modded in infinite number of ways.  With the army of modders out there all over the world, it would probably be easier than trying to wrestle with all the gotchas of an existing game like Skyrim for example.  Just a thought.

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Yeah I'd like to go the Unity route someday if I can do that. I never wanted to work for a game developer, but it would be nice to make something as a project. Obviously that is a long ways away, but I'm hoping I can knock something together when I have C# down well enough. It would pretty much be a clone of what this game does, but open to any additions once everything is set.

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This has been a rather informative "rant" for me. I always wondered why Bethesda didn't give the modders access to some of the tools they used to make the game. The CK is great and all, but it has serious limitations.

 

I had failed to understand that at the end of the day, Bethesda is a business. And like every other business out there, their main concern is to make money. Now it's a lot more clear on why modding any game will always have limitations.

 

Thanks, this has really given me some insight into the gaming industry and the modding community.

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Candares nice to know your thoughts on this, was interested what you got in mind for all that stuff man :)

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