Category: "Analysis"

Clearing Some Misconceptions About Paid Mods

  06:38:00 pm, by Jeancey   , 685 words  
Viewed 5319 times since 04/24/15
Categories: Analysis

There is a TON of misinformation out there involving paid mods. I'd like to take this opportunity to do a sort of FAQ to clear some of them up.

Q: Is Bethesda allowed to do this? Don't I own my mod?

A: Bethesda isn't forcing you to charge for your mod. That being said, Bethesda owns the copyright to all things created in the Creation Kit or intended to enter their games. This is what you skipped past when you click agree on the EULA. Therefore, it is perfectly legal for them to take a cut of what you make if you choose to charge for your mod.

Q: Can't someone just take the mod I've released for free and put it up on the workshop for money?

A: They can, just like they could have taken your independent film you created and charged people money to watch it. In this, and that, case, you can file a Takedown request using Valve's easy form. This is the same form that you would use if someone releases your paid mod for free, or even claims your free mod as their own and puts it up for free as well. It is extremely easy to prosecute someone doing this because they are required to provide contact, bank, and tax information in order to get a paid mod approved. Anyone profiting from your work can easily be found. No more anonymous theft!

Q: Any money I might make is given to me in Steam Wallet funds, not actual money. How do I pay my rent with Steam Wallet funds?!?

A: No idea where this rumor got started. You are paid using an Electronic Funds Transfer into the bank account of your choosing. In fact, you have to go through some pretty extensive tax and bank disclosure just to get a mod approved for sale. Because of this, they will only pay in US dollars, and not in Steam Wallet funds.

Q: If I buy a mod with money, and get a refund, it goes into my Steam Wallet and not my bank account! How is that fair?

A: You are only able to buy mods with Steam Wallet funds in the first place, so if you do buy a mod and get a refund, the money is coming from your Steam Wallet, and is going back into it as well.

Q: What if someone releases a paid mod that requires another mod?

A: If anyone releases any mod on Steam, paid or otherwise, that requires the use of another mod, or even uses assets from that mod, they are required by Valve to receive permission from the original creator of the assets before they release it. If someone has used your assets and didn't ask your permission, and you are annoyed about it, feel free to contact the author of the mod, or file a Takedown request.

Q: What if someone charges unreasonable amounts for an essential mod?

A: Valve and Bethesda reserve the right to lower or even eliminate the fee on a mod prior to it being published, so if they are charging $200 for almost nothing, it won't get released at that price.

Q: Valve only gives us 25%, that's so low!!!!!

A: Yes, 25% is very low in terms of the amount the mod authors receive, but this has nothing to do with Valve. Valve's information states that the amount that the mod author receives out of the overall price shall be determined by the Publisher, not by Valve, so blame Bethesda for only giving you 25%!

Q: They should just create a donation system!

A: They are way ahead of you. Along with setting a specific price for a mod, the author can chose to set the price as "pay-what-you-want" allowing the downloader to decide what they want to pay. This is essentially a donation system, and if every mod author chooses this, everyone would be much happier!

If you have any further questions, feel I missed something, or would like the specific spots where I got the answers to these questions, feel free to contact me!

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Revision History: Catching up after the Welcome Back Weekend

  11:00:00 pm, by   , 1101 words  
Viewed 4466 times since 04/21/15
Categories: UESP, Analysis

Things to know: The Tamriel Town Crier, Issue #10, was issued today, and make sure to read All Things Guar, where ZOS Esqoo of Dhalmora was kind enough to corroborate the connection between the banded guars of ESO fame and the fabled tiger guar of Morrowind lore (if you remember Lorebits from Lady Freyja).

UPDATE 04/22/2015 - The console beta starts tomorrow!!!!

Also, buy Tales of Tamriel, Vol. I: The Land, available now!

Real-world references?
You may have noticed that we don't really do trivia on the UESP much. Sometimes there's a note on a gamespace page, and very rarely a blurb about something in the Notes sections of lore pages. But by and large, most active contributors aren't interested in maintaining that stuff, and it's typically speculative assertions which just weaken the credibility of the pages overall. If you see something on a typical UESP page, we want you to be able to take it as fact, and that can be hard to do when you see a bunch of speculative trivia all over the place. It can be very hard to agree on these things, and we get enough grief over on the Easter Egg pages.

But now, we're talking about making one big page for all real-world references in TES. The kind of stuff we don't typically allow on the lore pages, like, say, similarities between Norse and Nordic culture. If you're interested in such a project, keep track of the conversation here and maybe let us know what you think.

Catch-up
I've got a backlog of stuff I've forgotten to mention, and missed a whole lot of activity on the UESP recently I'll try to catch up on. In the community, Lady Nerevar tabulated the total word count of in-game books in the TES series at just over one million. By comparison, the King James Bible reportedly comes in at about 788,000 words. On the forums, the user Alodar came up with an algorithm for exploring Daggerfall dungeons. Don't know how well it works, but I thought it was a neat idea.

Obviously, the biggest news recently has been the Welcome Back Weekend. This was directly aimed at people like me, who played the beta but didn't buy/subscribe to the game. It was fantastic to get my hands on ESO again, albeit not for as long as I would've liked. I was already pretty familiar with changes to the game, but the free weekend still helped me to come to some important conclusions.

First, while my laptop can technically run ESO, a toddler can technically stage a sit-in protest. I've waited this long, I can wait another month and a half for the console release so I can have the TES experience I want. And if they push back the console release again, I'll just take up crack.

Second, rp-ing as a mentally ill beggar is a totally viable playstyle. When you first step into Daggerfall, it's practically encouraged. I wandered around in raggedy clothing, sleeping behind buildings, threatening bards, stealing, killing anyone who shined the wrong color etc. I look forward to taking an Argonian beggar into Cyrodiil to see how that goes...

ROOOOY!!!

Third, I've picked my faction. I mean, I'll play all the factions, but you can only have one main character, you know? And that's gotta be the Daggerfall Covenant. I loved my time in Morrowind during the beta, and I imagine that the Aldmeri Dominion will have all the most brand-new interesting places, but the Daggerfall Covenant has a nice blend of both old and new. More importantly, it has something neither of the other factions ever will: Roy. Roy, whose unforgivable murder in a swamp must be solved. I didn't know Roy in life, but he must have been a saint on Tamriel. Of all the dead bodies I came across and created during my time there, his was the only one anyone seemed to care about. He is survived by his dog Giblets, who my mentally ill beggar tried to eat, but that's beside the point. Roy must be avenged. ROOOOY!!!

Transcription Errors
Unfortunately, not every so-called transcription error is evidence of a Dragon Break. And most of them are our fault. You see, oftentimes, books will get some grammar changes and other tweaks from game to game, and despite our best efforts, they haven't always been transcribed 100% correctly due to reliance on bots (or, worse still, humans). This was especially true in the transition from Daggerfall to Morrowind.

Jeancey, Jimeee, and to a much lesser extent, myself and the rest of the internet, have been combing through these books to try and make sure all the pages are being transcluded properly to each namespace. I've seen errors fixed recently that go back to Oblivion and even before!

Salache, Boiche, Moriche
Most of the time, if there's been a transcription error, it's some small grammar tweak only wiki-gnomes would notice or care about. But occasionally, it's something more significant. In the Daggerfall version of The Wild Elves, three names are given for the elven races: "Salache (or High), Boiche (or Wood), and Moriche (or Dark)". In Morrowind and beyond, these were changed to Altmer, Bosmer, and Dunmer respectively, but no one here seemed to notice (or if they did notice, didn't care to change it). Many thanks to the folks over at Classic Elder Scrolls for pointing this out. By the way, there's a new episode of Classic Mark, Classic Elder Scrolls recording right now! Redguard's a helluva drug.

Anyway, since the lore page was never updated, and all the new namespaces for the last eight years have been exhibiting the Daggerfall version of the text, we have been inadvertently introducing the Daggerfall text into the Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim namespaces. We have gotten better about checking these things over the years, so I doubt there are many examples like this left, if any. But Jeancey has been reviewing the library like crazy lately, and I'll see about helping him out to make sure we can confirm every book appears properly in every namespace. Many apologies; it seems like something someone should've caught a long time ago.

Sooo, about the Daggerfall names ... retcon, right? We can just forget about the Daggerfall names? Aside from the appearance of "saliache" in Oblivion's The Adabal-a, nothing close to them has been mentioned in any game after Daggerfall (that I can find). That is, until ESO. Among other things, The Book of the Great Tree mentions the "Salache Elves", and Aurbic Enigma 4: The Elden Tree mentions the "Boiche Elves". Anyway, there's still no mention of "Moriche" I can find ...

The Sims 4 Impressions: Part One (Create-A-Sim)

  01:03:00 pm, by Damon   , 1097 words  
Viewed 6924 times since 04/13/15
Categories: Games, Analysis

After 8 hours or more in just two days, and after creating over 50 Sims-posts (most are still queued up and set to be staggered across the next few days since there are so many; only a relatively small handful of available to view) on my tumblr, I've decided to process my thoughts on the game and create a posting about what I think of the game after a while.

This will be a three part posting, because as a Sims fan with experience on almost all the Sims games, I have quite a bit to say about the game, and I can talk about this almost as much as I can talk about an Elder Scrolls game.

I'll start with Create-A-Sim (CAS), which is naturally the first thing you'll see after hitting "Play" on the menu for the first time. It's really the most impressive part of the new game for me, and I'm pleased that the developers have delivered on what they promised (the same can't be said for Ubisoft, but that's for a different post). It's truly the most amazing version of CAS released to date.

I love to make Sims, and it's probably my favourite part of the experience. For me, and the Simmers like me who want to just play around in CAS for hours on end, it's a dream come true. The new way of making Sims, which involves clicking on body parts to modify clothing and tweak minute details of the body is incredible. One I got into CAS for the first time, after I was able to understand the additional filters to narrow clothing selections, and after I was able to get the hang of making the small tweaks to the body mid-design, it went down really fluidly. I was able to get things like long cardigans, put them on somebody, think "I don't like the way that sits", then subtly tweak their waist or arms to adjust it.

A Sim that kinda resembles meThese tweaks come as a major improvement over the game's predecessors, where control over how the body was tweaked came down to clicking a preset body type, and then moving a handful of generic sliders that were never completely specific on what they'd do, meaning that unless you put in the time to practice with the sliders and understood what a 'pronounced cheekbone' or 'eyes up', and all that jazz meant, you became quite limited in what you could make. For me, personally, as a Simmer, that narrowed my creations down to one specific narrow type or set of types that I understood and could consistently replicate, which leads to a lot of similar Sims in the long run.

In the new CAS released with The Sims 4, even if you don't understand what a 'pronounced cheekbone' is, you still know what's visibly appealing to you as a person, so it's easy to click on the cheek and drag it until it looks right, or click on the eyes or hips and drag them 'til they look right, and I feel like that must have opened the doors to creation for a lot of Simmers, not having to work with sliders and all.

Clothing options have been improved, I feel, with a lot of variety added to the game, despite the lack of the Style Creator of The Sims 3, which enabled choosing textures, colours to a specific taste, etc. Each outfit tends to have a range of primary and secondary colours that have been paired, though it's definitely made up for with what I feel like to be increased variety overall, the most notable of which is the fact that there are a lot more shirts are sitting right with jeans on females, which means I don't have to give female Sims risqué outfits to wear at inappropriate venues, which was often the case when you wanted to pair a top with the normal-cut jeans instead of the high-waist ones.

A female Sim created in CASClothing itself is given an improvement, as far as filtering goes. When you're choosing aspects of your character, there are subsets beside the broad category of "Tops" and "Bottoms", etc, and you can filter between sweaters, hoodies, swimming tops, and more, same with the other types, making finding specific items significantly easier. The items in The Sims 2 and The Sims 3 tended to have no particular order to the sorting, I felt, so you could go from shirts to tanks to suits to hoodies to v-cut shirts, etc in a way that didn't usually make sense.

As far as traits and aspirations go, in The Sims 3, you could choose five, but in The Sims 4, you can only choose three, which is moderately restricting as far as personalities go, because everyone is a little more multifaceted than what only three traits can show, though when the emotions introduced to the game (which will be the subject of a future part) are introduced, having only three traits allows the emotional system to shine through, I feel, because that means attention to detail for the things most passionate or peculiar to the Sim are able to receive extra attention to detail.

The last CAS-related thing I'll touch on are the walking styles. Though my current household only has the default walks set, because a normal walk fit their personalities and what I wanted better, there are a fair few different walking types, which enable you to fine-tune the Sim's personality. For instance, while the Sim featured above in the flannel only has a normal walk because he's a little shyer and to himself, the red-head Sim in the next image is a bit snooty, and she has a strut that reflects her imagined superiority, and it adds a nice flavour to the game, knowing from the distance that the Sim walking to you must be a train wreck from how he/she walks and talks to you.

This post is getting long, so I'll call it here, but in a few days I'll return with Part Two of my impressions on The Sims 4, and in part two, we will cover general gameplay and living the lives of the Sims, followed by a part three that, in my current planning, will cover build mode.

I don't generally self-promote, but if you want to take a look at some of my many posts and images of The Sims 4 and get some impressions on gameplay and some screenshot variety prior to the formal posts where I actually analyse things, you can click this link, which will take you to all the posts on my blog that are tagged as being from The Sims 4.

Revision History: ESO Year One

  12:25:00 am, by   , 831 words  
Viewed 4686 times since 04/07/15
Categories: UESP, Analysis

ZoS is releasing Patch 2.0.4. They also released a new article, Reflecting on ESO's First Year, and Bethesda highlighted a fan tribute from Elloa commemorating the anniversary.

We're a little over a quarter of the way into 2015, and so far this year, over 1,000 new ESO articles and counting have been created. That doesn't include redirects, but does include many pages still waiting to be fleshed out. All you lurkers out there: there's nothing wrong with just dumping info, especially if you find a blank page about a topic you know something about. Don't worry about grammar, links, etc., if you don't have the time or knowledge. That's what the rest of the internet is for. But if you know even the bare essentials on a topic, a single sentence is infinitely preferable to nothing at all.

As of the time I write this, somewhere between 25-35 new lore articles have been created this year, not including book pages. Over 80% of them were put together by Legoless. This Irish robot has made over 500 edits in less than a month.

While that's a jaw-dropping rate of activity, Enodoc has been just as active, and Shuryard has had 500 edits in less than two weeks. Speaking of Shuryard, check out this heartbreaking work of staggering genius. Our actual Provisioning page is still woefully incomplete, but thanks to Shuryard, the arguably more important Provisioning Ingredients page is now up to date and beautifully arranged. It will tell you about not only the current arrangement established by Update 6, but illustrate how it differs from the old system.

Only about a dozen other contributors have exhibited activity roughly on the same level this year. I'm too lazy to list you all, but you're all aces in my book. And that's not to diminish the contributors out there who've helped on smaller scales; thank you all for taking the time to assist the project!

Skywind 0.9.6 Progress Update

Skywind is moving forward, but it will still be quite a while before it is completed. You can help keep it moving by becoming a patron.

Trades Welcome!
Dominus Arbitrationis set up a place for ESO Item Requests! Now, you don't have to leave the comfort of the UESP in order to make a trade.

I can't read Dom's name without thinking of this.

Hurricane Jeancey has hit!
Editors tend to go on editing sprees. They're furiously active for a while, take a break, and then come back. As I prepare this, the UESP is being ruthlessly inspected by Jeancey, who's a great example of this pattern. I think of him as a Quality Assurance expert, one of the folks who really sets the UESP apart. He brings unrelenting order to the madness, then disappears, only to return with a vengeance ... actually, a bit like Jyggalag.

Jyggcey ... no, Jeanalag!

Ogling the Mazken

In Daggerfall, the Dark Seducer was a beautiful topless winged demon. In Battlespire, she was still a winged demon, but kept her top on like a bloodthirsty prude. By the time of Oblivion, the Seducer had unfortunately lost her wings, and even worse, put on even more clothing, including a weird shell helmet of some kind. In ESO, she got a bit of cleavage back, which is a good step in the right direction (you got stuck with the mature rating, ZoS; you might as well embrace full frontal). Anyway, now, the helmets seem to be consuming the Seducers' heads? Not sure what's going on there. If there is a quest which requires the Seducers to wear virtual reality visors, then that makes perfect sense.

Answers and Questions
Since last time, as you probably already know, ZoS came out with this bit of awesome, a Crown Store Showcase, and also had another ESO Live.

You can hear Loremaster Lawrence Schick role-play the scholar Phrastus of Elinhir here. I love the lore, but I haven't listened to this yet. I've been cringing inwardly since I heard about it. The last time the devs tried to role-play in public, things got ugly.

This situation seems to be a whole lot different, in that it's just Schick providing some background lore, using Phrastus as a mouthpiece. He's not raping Daedric Princes or contriving an epilogue for ESO ... as far as I know.

Forum Crawling
Currently, players don't seem to be receiving XP for completing Dark Anchor Dolmens. They're fixing it, but for the moment, you might want to find something else to kill time in ESO. Also, the Palomino horse is coming to the Crown Store.

Players reported that they developed super powers as a result of a bug. You know, like Spider-man. Players reported "super hearing"; they could hear audio cues from the activities of other players from much farther away than they were supposed to. I'm not sure if this has been addressed yet; there's no mention of it I saw in the latest patch notes. But in the meantime, you all are honor-bound to use your powers only for good.

An Analysis of the Skyrim Civil War, pt. 3: The True Path

  09:13:00 am, by   , 1277 words  
Viewed 7326 times since 03/29/15
Categories: Games, Elder Scrolls, Analysis

Author's Note: I apologize for the delay in getting the final part of this analysis posted. A change in my personal life has made it more difficult to find time to get this together in a timely fashion.

 

So here we are. After all that beating around the bush, it's finally time to answer the question that has dogged Skyrim players since the game's release: Which side should players take in the Civil War questline? In the previous part of this analysis, I discussed the role of the One True Dragonborn in the Skyrim Civil War, and how his participation would drastically alter the outcome. My ultimate conclusion was that neither the Stormcloaks nor the Empire were worthy of this mighty warrior's allegiance, and that giving his aid to either of them would have unfortunate long-term repercussions both for the people of Skyrim and for Tamriel as a whole.

 

The only remaining choice, then, would be to negotiate a ceasefire and remain aloof from the war, in what we might think of as allying with the Greybeards. This is the path that nobody seems to consider as being a legitimate option, and fairly so; it's hard to think of it as a true path when there's only a single quest devoted to it, which leads many to dismiss the Season Unending quest as a cop-out for people who can't be bothered to resolve the conflict before completing the main quest. From a gameplay standpoint, I'll admit that there's some truth to that statement. But you can't very well have a questline dealing with your actions in a war after choosing to stay out of it, and I refuse to believe that Bethesda, which goes to Tolkien levels of effort to build lore for the fictional universe they created, would program a quest for remaining neutral unless it could be tied into the lore. The path of neutrality is established not through the actions of the player, but through the game's own narrative in its depiction of the Greybeards, their philosophy, and the events surrounding the Dragonborn and the Civil War; the purpose of the Season Unending quest is to tie these narrative elements together, creating a third option for completing the Civil War which is not only viable, but the most preferable option of the three.

There are several reasons the Dragonborn must not take sides in this war, and I've already touched on some of them. For starters, he's the wild card, the deciding factor in the war. A one man army will cause the side he aids to win through his strength alone, but will make that side dependent on him as both a fighter and a symbol of its cause. If his allegiance changes or he dies (as all mortals do, dragon soul or not), then that side will have lost both a sizable portion of their military strength and a symbol to rally supporters around the cause. Furthermore, a new political entity would have to emerge regardless of who wins the Civil War. For the Stormcloaks, an independent Skyrim would emerge; for the Imperials, the success of the Skyrim campaign would lead to an attempt to retake the other provinces, in the hopes of restoring the Empire to its former glory. If the Dragonborn were to become involved in the Civil War, he would necessarily become a central political figure in the aftermath, as the winning side would petition his help against the Thalmor and other threats. He would become even more involved in the conflict than he already was, but would be unable to withdraw from it without destabilizing the political entity he helped to create.

These considerations are barely, if ever, mentioned in the game, but they are very real consequences of someone with as much power as the Dragonborn participating in political affairs. This is the reason the Greybeards remain aloof from the world: Much like the Dragonborn, they are too powerful. Even if they didn't take any formal positions or titles, their power would give them status and reverence among other political leaders, who would accept their counsel without question. Even in their current, isolationist approach to world affairs, they are already highly respected by the political leaders of Skyrim; Ulfric admits that “I have the greatest respect for the Greybeards, of course,” and Balgruuf outright admits that “They are respected by all Nords.” If they became any more involved in politics, the balance of power would become largely centered around them, and having the majority of power in the hands of a few is rarely a benefit, both to a government and the people it serves. Even if the Greybeards tried to use their influence to achieve more peaceful aims, they would end up doing more harm than good. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and even the Greybeards may be corrupted in time, as evidenced by Arngeir's threats after Paarthurnax is killed: “Begone! Before even my philosophy is tested beyond the breaking point.” The Way of the Voice is an essential philosophy for learning to use the Thu'um–lest we forget, the last time a mortal was trained to use the Thu'um without following the Greybeards' philosophy, he used his powers for regicide.

Then again, it would be equally irresponsible for the Dragonborn to do nothing at all with his power when he could be using it to help people. As Delphine so bluntly puts it, “If [the Greybeards] had their way, you'd do nothing but sit up on their mountain with them and talk to the sky.” Delphine's questionable understanding of the Greybeards aside, she brings up a good point. The threats to the people of Tamriel go beyond the dragons, and the Dragonborn has the power to stop these threats as well; consequently, he also has the responsibility to do so. Of course, Delphine would have him use his power to destroy the Thalmor as well, so following her is hardly better. Like all of the other players in the war, the portrayal of the Blades' philosophy provides only a small piece of the puzzle that is the true path intended for the Dragonborn. A hero of his nature has to be very careful about how he uses his power, and that means not getting involved in messy political disputes; his only recourse, then, is to protect people without allying himself with any organizations. By serving no master but himself and protecting innocent people from threats they can't stop themselves, the Dragonborn realizes his true potential as a hero, which goes far beyond stopping a single threat.

 

Being a freelance hero with no true political affiliations is not only the most responsible way for the Dragonborn to use his power, but the most suitable way to do things for the kind of heroes portrayed in Elder Scrolls games: They can't be tied to one group or place, because their power may be needed elsewhere. It's why Modryn Oreyn oversees the daily operations of the Cyrodiil Fighters Guild in the Champion of Cyrodiil's absence. It's why Tolfdir holds down the fort at the College of Winterhold once the Dragonborn becomes archmage. And it's (presumably) why the Nerevarine left Tamriel for an expedition to Akavir, never to be seen again. Now again, it could be argued that this is just a way to account for the nature of sandbox games without introducing plotholes, and again, it is. But anyone who doubts that the Dragonborn works best as a neutral hero need only ask Legate Rikke and Galmar, who will both say the same thing: “I suspect you'll be of greater good to Skyrim out there, in the world.