The Elder Scrolls continues to be updated after Bethsoft moves on

TES Revisited

I’ve been revisiting some of the earlier The Elder Scrolls (TES) games lately. I keep an occasional eye on one of the oldest and largest projects, Tamriel Rebuilt. This project started in 2001 before Morrowind was released. For the amount of work that has gone into Tamriel Rebuilt, they have been very slow to release content. This is largely due to TR’s commitment to quality. Their rule is to release only material as good as Bethsoft would have, had Bethsoft created it.
 
The scope of the project is to release material that is about twice the size of Morrowind when it came out. In essence adding TR triples the world space of Morrowind. The team is also working with other modders doing projects around Morrowind with the thought that these things will eventually mesh. The team has also joined with Project Tamriel to establish a unified asset creation depot. Assets from other TES mods are available to the TR team and vice versa. Assets can be used in other TES mods. This is done with only one file to download. This is sort of modding Holy Grail.
 

An Open-source Replacement for the Morrowind Executable

In related news, OpenMW is coming along nicely. OpenMW is a Morrowind replacement engine. At this point, Morrowind is totally playable with OpenMW. The other day I cracked open my copy of MW and installed it. Afterwards, I installed OpenMW and found that there was virtually no discernible difference in play experience between vanilla and OpenMW. This was until I started playing with the CFG file; turning on the landscape options. BANG! My view distance became HUGE. 
 
In Morrowind, view distance is very restricted. With Vanilla MW, you walk around in a fog. As you look at parts of the sky, those parts disappear; covered when a building spawns. I find this tends to break my suspension of disbelief. With OpenMW loading lots of cells no longer bogs down game speed to unplayable levels. The executable uses a modern, multithreaded, engine. As a result, OpenMW can handle the added load. Looking across the map is amazing. Have you ever wanted to look at the whole of Vivec? Now you can. Of course, the side effect of this is it shrinks the perceived size of the world space.
 

TES Episode Two: Daggerfall

This brings me to the topic of Daggerfall. While messing with all this MW stuff I got to wondering ‘Is anyone doing anything similar with Daggerfall?’. Well, they are. Daggerfall Workshop has ported DF to the Unity engine. Unity is a well-supported engine with 3D, etc. Terrain in Daggerfall can now be better rendered. View distance is dramatically increased.  Currently, Tamriel is still populated by sprites, but textures can now be bump mapped, caused to glow, given shine, etc. Dungeon mapping has improved significantly. The sky looks amazing.
 
In terms of playable world space, Daggerfall is the largest RPG ever produced; 62,394 square miles, over 15,000 towns, cities, villages, and dungeons for the player’s character to explore. Daggerfall was essentially the “No Man’s Sky” of 1996. The problem was then in ’96 procedurally generated content was still very primitive. One of my dreams is that the assets of Daggerfall could be upgraded with more sophisticated content generation and some more handcrafting. I still want TES games to be huge. The games should have human-directed, procedurally generated, content included. I feel certain, this will be the future of content creation.
 
Daggerfall was like a human-defined canvas. Specific things were placed by hand. Then a machine sort of randomly splattered bits of paint on that canvas. Conversely, Morrowind had the creators hand stitch the canvas and then each one dipped hatpins in paint and placed every dot of color. I would have greatly preferred that the canvas of Morrowind been like that of Daggerfall with the handcrafting saved for dungeon locations, cities, etc.

About the featured image:
Screenshot from the OpenMW replacement engine
The view distance has been greatly increased. The downside is this reveals some real flaws in the game.

Zen and the Art of Towel Folding

Elevate all actions to the sublime

If one seeks to achieve a sense of purpose in a purposeless universe one must elevate one’s self. To elevate the self, one must elevate the actions of the self. All human action is purposeful and directed toward an end. Do not strive toward that end with meekness but rather seek to become sublime through determined actions that are themselves sublime. Every action you take for the rest of your life, you will take only once. No two actions will ever be the same. Eliminate all drudgery from your life by making all actions the result of precise thought.

Sharpen your skills and mind as you would sharpen a tool

A workman is only as good as his tools. Don’t forget that skills and focus are tools you use to accomplish tasks. Apply effort to all you do. Adopt the habit of focusing on the task you are engaged in. Be critical of every action you take and seek to make every effort one that you can take pride in.

What is a towel? What is its nature?

Is a towel merely a scrap of cloth? No. A towel, like many things, is an item created by man for his use. A quality towel is the result of careful thought and design on someone’s part. Someone thought through every aspect of a towel’s construction and design. The pattern of the towel is the work of a dedicated designer. Nothing in the towel exists by happenstance.

Folding, why should you care?

There the towel sits waiting for use. The color, the texture, the design, all these things sit outside your control. All you control is the presentation. When a chef makes a great meal the presentation is not left to chance. Nor should the folding of towels be given any less care. Painting, sculpting, flower arranging, towel folding; All of these things are not simply chances to be adequate. Practice precision in presentation. Seek to fold the perfect towel as you would seek to draw the perfect heart on a Valentine.

How?

Examine the towel; its precise dimensions, proportions and orientations. Each towel has an inside, an outside and top and bottom. When the towel is folded will these things be oriented the same way or placed haphazardly, wherever? Careful thought should be employed. Fold a towel as you would fold a paper crane. Though you might fold a thousand paper cranes, striving toward perfection, no two will be the same. It is in the subtlety of their differences one from another we derive joy and in their sameness also. Consider carefully how will this towel come to the user’s hands. How will they unfold it? What hand will they use? How should should the towel look? Will the user experience pain of regret when destroying your work or will they experience indifference? Seek always to make art in action and in substance.