The Internet had a tantrum, Valve and Bethesda gave in

Steam is a program made by Valve, the maker of Team Fortress 2, Half-Life, Left 4 Dead, and Portal. It’s a place to buy and download PC games into a library where you can play with friends, stream your games to them, unlock achievements, and even gift a game to a friend. It has become a Mecca for PC gaming. Before Steam, I wasn’t much of a PC gamer. Nintendo was all I knew. But then the infamous Steam Summer Sale happened, when games can be sold for 75% off or more. Like this past summer, I already had Skyrim for Xbox 360. But I wanted to be able to play the game with all of the cool mods and get a chance to play Skywind. Morrowind and Skyrim are both needed to play it and it just so happened both games were on sale at once.

Then I discovered the power of having mods for Skyrim. You can make this game look absolutely beautiful and have so much more depth in gear, weapons, quests, and more. If you can think of it, it’s probably a mod for Skyrim.

DBZ Overhaul Mod by Redman and Rigormortician

DBZ Overhaul Mod by Redman and Rigormortician

On April 23, Valve implemented a system to allow mod creators to charge money for their work. That sounds reasonable, right? Modders put a lot of hard work into their craft and never get any monetary compensation for it. As a consumer, I was bummed about it because I don’t like to pay for things that just yesterday, I didn’t have to pay for. The modders would only receive 25% of the revenue from the content sold. The Internet lost its collective mind.

Protest sign mod in Skyrim

Protest sign mod in Skyrim

On April 25, Gabe Newell, co-founder of Valve, hosted a Reddit AMA to answer questions and listen to concerns. Two days later, on April 27, Valve removed the pay feature from Skyrim mods on Steam. Well, that didn’t last long, now did it? So, what happened? Why didn’t this work? I can point to three things. People hate paying for things, especially after getting it for free for so long. Why all of a sudden can I not go to the well and get a bucket of water? Now I can only buy bottled water from this vending machine? The profit split with modders only getting 25% of the share and DRM or digital rights management concerns are the other two, which are more clearly explained here.

There were supporters of the paid mod system. Although the implementation was shaky, there were good ideas behind it. Some say there should simply be donations for mods if you wish to tip a modder for their hard work. But as one modder says, out of 200,000 downloads for a mod, he only received two donations, which means 0.001% of users donated. Valve claims it wanted to test this system out with Skyrim, but maybe such an old, more established mod community wasn’t the way to go. I hope they find a way to make this work, because I really feel like it could lead to some pretty fantastic mods that we as gamers would love to throw all our money at. Maybe we just needed to be dragged into it, kicking and screaming.

Skywind looks to bring life back to Morrowind

One of my favorite games of all time, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, was maybe the first immersive open-world game I ever played. It really made me branch out from my “Nintendo kid” games and enjoy other genres. Now I’m a lifelong fan of Bethesda’s games (We won’t talk about Elder Scrolls Online). Sure, Morrowind had its problems. The combat was pretty stagnant, there was a lack of a fast-travel system, and most interaction with NPCs was text based. There was a lot of reading, and 12-year-olds do not like to read.

There is a group of developers that are rebuilding the world of Morrowind, but with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim engine. It’s called the TES Renewal Project, “a community about merging the amazing worlds of The Elder Scrolls video games into more modern game engines.” To Elder Scrolls fans, this sounds incredible! Morrowind is a game that has the story content and huge questlines in place. A graphics update, along with volunteer voice acting for every NPC in the game and the improved play style from Skyrim would make Skywind a remarkable game.

This “the making of” video, gives you a sense of the massive scale of the project. At first I thought they were applying the Skyrim engine to the Morrowind game. They’re composing and recording a soundtrack and creating new 3D models and animations. That is a big, big job. /u/Ravanna7 is on the Skywind staff and talks about what the team is up against:

“[Bethesda] had 80 people working on Skyrim for three years. I’ve been at Skywind for 16 months and there are/were only 3-4 people who could be considered “full time.” We do have a couple of professionals in coders and 3D…it’s a full game. It takes time.”

They’ve had help from volunteers but it seems that most of the useful people don’t stick around long because of the lack of pay. Being a fan-made game from the ground up, there is speculation that the project may get shelved and never released. However, the constant updates from the team show that things are moving. The only thing in question is when? In the YouTube video above, the narrator mentions that they “don’t know when it will ever be released.” That’s a little discouraging, right?

If you personally love Elder Scrolls games and have experience in 3D modeling and animation, they surely wouldn’t turn you away. The more professional help they have, the faster the game will get done. They also have jobs for all of you talentless peons. In order to play Skywind, you will need legitimate copies of both Skyrim and Morrowind on PC. I bought both of them basically just for this.