Mods are Frustrating! Still!

#1 Posted by Akrid (1356 posts) -

The Steam Workshop for Skyrim is totally awesome, but it also has caused me to examine why I don't generally don't get much of a kick out of mods, even now when the technical hassle has been removed.

The first (and smallest) issue that I have with mods is that, it's just, like, your opinion man. I mean hey, maybe you thought the texturing on that one rock in Whiterun needed "fixing" - but personally, I don't really like pixels so sharp I could poke an eye out on one. The graphical ones bug me the most because when it comes to visuals there are so many shades of grey that it's impossible to please, well, anyone really, and the gameplay stuff is in a similar but lesser situation. Mods allow you to actualize what you and maybe 10 or so other dudes want out of a game, and somehow that concept annoys and frustrates me to no end. The endless second guessing shows that they're all wrong in their own special way.

I'm maybe being hypocritical here however, because I've already found a couple mods that suit my needs. There are a couple mods where, yes, I'm one of those ten dudes, and I agree with your very specific take on this issue. And yet I can't understand or deny my irrational hate for these people who want to put like 30 trees in Whiterun for no discernible reason. Perhaps it stems from the times I've been burned by mods, buying their bullshit claims only to find they either break the game or make it look terrible. Some may come tantalizingly close to being a positive change, but I've yet to find one that approaches the work that's already been put into the game professionally, qualitatively speaking.

Modding in pursuit of stupidity, however, is something I can get behind any day of the week!

However, there's always the small stuff that's done to near perfection - a mod I truly couldn't argue with - and yet I find even then dissatisfying. I suspect that this is because there's always a niggling feeling that I'm moving further away from the game that it's meant to be when mods are added into the mixture. For example - so far the only mod on the Steam Workshop that interests me is the lighter dragon bones mod. Anyone who has played a decent amount of Skyrim will know how unnecessarily heavy the dragon bones and scales are, to the point where they can fill a good quarter of your inventory per haul. This is ridiculous, and I know it's ridiculous. I shouldn't have to throw 35 potions on the ground to be able to carry a couple items back to my home base in Whiterun. I know this is silly, and yet I can't help but feel that I'm cheating by using the fix for this issue. This is because I take a lot of comfort in the fact that I'm playing a game how it's meant to be played - that it's exactly the intended experience. This, I believe, is a part of the reason why so many would opt for consoles over PCs any day of the week - there's a lot of frustrating tinkering involved in making sure you get what you want out of a PC. So even if I'm fairly certain that a mod would be a categorical improvement on the game, I guess I just would rather trust a professional game designer to give me a good time rather than risk an amateur in the first place.

But I think my ultimate problem is simpler then the rest - it's the inconsistency that stops me from getting too enthused about modding. Aspects of a mod can be extremely well done, but there's always that one thing, that one letdown, that brings the seam between user-made and developer-made content into stark contrast. Hell, simply the act of installing a mod shows that you're aware that it's in the game, and no matter how tightly integrated that mod may be, I tend to scrutinize it to the nth degree simply because I know it's there, and I know it's non-essential.

I guess that all together shows why I'm so curmudgeonly about what is actually a wonderful community effort. All this negative Nancy-ing combines to make modding a rather unpleasant experience for me, even now when it's been removed from the hell that is filefront and very messy game folders. I'm curious to know if anyone feels similarly about it, or at least sympathizes with some aspects of what I've said here. Or, y'know, come from the other side of things and tell me why I'm looking at this the wrong way!

#2 Posted by Talis12 (488 posts) -

the greatness of mods is that its completely optional..

i didnt download the high res textures from Nexus because i felt like i didnt need them and often those things are half done, yet i downloaded the high res textures from Bethesda (wether or not they are the same, i dont care) and the game does look a bit better..

from my view, modding is a great thing.. those that are disappointed with some aspects of the game can do something about it and get a better experience out of it for themselves. those that dont care for mods, can just leave the mods alone.

i agree with you that there will be a ton of mods out there that nobody will ever use and are kind of useless.. on the other hand, what would have happened if nobody modded for Half-Life? some great games would have never been made.. the same thing can happen with Skyrim, something awesome can show up that could be incorporated in future titles or even get to be a title on its own.

in any case, YOU decide how you play the game.. mods do not change that.

#3 Posted by TEHMAXXORZ (1133 posts) -

You're entitled to your *wrong* opinions.

But really, I'm not really into mods. Maybe because I can barely run shit on my computer or the fact I have messed some stuff up really badly by rooting around in game folders...

#4 Posted by Swoxx (3008 posts) -

I know what you mean, that damn , what a punk!

#5 Posted by AlexW00d (6431 posts) -

Hey dude as soon as someone makes a mod that let's me run a shop in Skyrim, all those other thousands of mods will mean nothing to me.

But no, I like hi-res texture mods, because the stock textures in that game offend my eyes.

#6 Posted by Asrahn (555 posts) -

"trust a professional game designer to give me a good time rather than risk an amateur in the first place."

Maker does not include Melee tree in game.

Maker creates an UI that makes the majority of the player base pissed off.

Mods are entirely optional, free, and doesn't concern you in the least if you don't use them. Just roll with what you want, man, and leave it to us who enjoy mods to download, test and use them.

"This, I believe, is a part of the reason why so many would opt for consoles over PCs any day of the week - there's a lot of frustrating tinkering involved in making sure you get what you want out of a PC"

Entirely irrelevant. What the fuck man?

#7 Posted by Evilsbane (4736 posts) -

Love mods they can literally take a 100-200+ game and turn it into a 300-400 hour affair plus that 4x-8x texture mod on Nexus is super easy to install and looks Fantastic and has caused 0 issues I find myself staring at the snow just because of how F'in good it looks.

#8 Edited by NellyK (78 posts) -

SPOILER: I like the Save Paarthurnax mod, cuz dammit, no Blades dame is gonna blackmail me into killing ole Paarthunax.

[Moderator's Note: Spoiler tag added]

#9 Edited by Swoxx (3008 posts) -

@NellyK said:

SPOILER: I like the Save Paarthurnax mod, cuz dammit, no Blades dame is gonna blackmail me into killing ole Paarthunax.

pzzzt, Might wanna use the spoiler tag

#10 Posted by Akrid (1356 posts) -

@sideshow said:

on the other hand, what would have happened if nobody modded for Half-Life? some great games would have never been made.. the same thing can happen with Skyrim, something awesome can show up that could be incorporated in future titles or even get to be a title on its own.

I do like the idea of total conversion mods because there's never the comparison between the 'real' content and user, but they still have they're own set of problems... Mainly, that they can be really terrible. Making a game that you want to make is very commendable, but more often than not, total conversion mods get a little self-serving in that there is no thought of another persons point of view. The creator makes a game that he or she wants to play, and, well... Somehow that often turns out a poor product. Not to say that there aren't some good things out there - I did really like The Stanley Parable - but despite it being far removed from the original game, results can still feel pretty shoddy. But of course, then you get things like Dota and I'm all of a sudden hopeful.

@Asrahn said:

"trust a professional game designer to give me a good time rather than risk an amateur in the first place."

Maker does not include Melee tree in game.

Maker creates an UI that makes the majority of the player base pissed off.

As I tried to explain above, I just don't feel good about fixing the game. It's sort of backwards to have to play the game, identify the problem, and then fix it yourself. For one, there's no personal satisfaction in it - the modder who fixed the issue was already bothered by it enough to be driven to work on fixing it himself. And for two, there are shades of gray - nothing is the one right answer. The melee thing, yeah, sure there's no particular reason they couldn't have put that in. But personally, I was totally satisfied with Skyrim's UI.

And for the melee thing, I have little confidence in the users to devise something that is fair and balanced. But even if it is 100% up to par with what's in the game, hey, some of those skill trees in Skyrim are pretty broke. If the melee tree is equally as broke, it would only draw more scrutiny from me. It's a twisted line of reasoning for sure, but it bugs me just enough to add to all the other issues I have with the mod scene. All of this just distracts from playing the damn game for me, which is all I really wanna do.

Mods are entirely optional, free, and doesn't concern you in the least if you don't use them. Just roll with what you want, man, and leave it to us who enjoy mods to download, test and use them.

Absolutely! I don't mean to hate on them, mods are really a positive thing for sure. I'm just airing my petty personal grievances really.

"This, I believe, is a part of the reason why so many would opt for consoles over PCs any day of the week - there's a lot of frustrating tinkering involved in making sure you get what you want out of a PC"

Entirely irrelevant. What the fuck man?

It's sort of relevant.

#11 Posted by MattyFTM (14432 posts) -

@Swoxx said:

I know what you mean, that damn , what a punk!

You know, whenever I see a thread like this, I automatically assume it's going to be someone badmouthing the moderation team, and like a coiled spring I jump into action to defend my fellow moderator brethren.

And then I realise it's just someone complaining about game modifications and I get a weird mix of emotions in which I'm happy that no one is badmouthing us (and therefore everyone must think we're totally awesome) and sadness that I have nothing to jump into action over.

Moderator
#12 Posted by Asrahn (555 posts) -

@Akrid:

I'm glad we agree (save for the UI bit. Gods). I just have to ask: have you ever played a game and thought "wow, I love the concept, and the game in itself is awesome, I just wish -this- and -that- was just a bit different, and it would have elevated this game even further"?

Opting for console superiority due to the tweaking and tinkering it requires to get mods working on PC's is entirely irrelevant. Mods, to my knowledge, does not exist on consoles, and are thus simply an extra addition (read: option) for those who would want to tinker with them on the PC. The core game is the same on console and PC, save for the fact that my PC have shorter loading times and better graphics. The comment is irrelevant, unless you have another angle at this?

#13 Posted by SlasherMan (1725 posts) -

@Akrid: I disagree with your wrong opinion. I can't be bothered to write walls of text as to why (I'm sure you can hazard a few guesses), but all I'll say is that there are experiences I would never have had without the availability of mods, experiences that were made by amateurs that far exceeded anything made by the actual game makers themselves.

#14 Edited by AhmadMetallic (18954 posts) -

First of all, you need a hug. Afterwards you need a slap. 

so far the only mod on the Steam Workshop that interests me is the lighter dragon bones mod. Anyone who has played a decent amount of Skyrim will know how unnecessarily heavy the dragon bones and scales are, to the point where they can fill a good quarter of your inventory per haul. This is ridiculous, and I know it's ridiculous. I shouldn't have to throw 35 potions on the ground to be able to carry a couple items back to my home base in Whiterun. I know this is silly, and yet I can't help but feel that I'm cheating by using the fix for this issue. This is because I take a lot of comfort in the fact that I'm playing a game how it's meant to be played - that it's exactly the intended experience. This, I believe, is a part of the reason why so many would opt for consoles over PCs any day of the week - there's a lot of frustrating tinkering involved in making sure you get what you want out of a PC. So even if I'm fairly certain that a mod would be a categorical improvement on the game, I guess I just would rather trust a professional game designer to give me a good time rather than risk an amateur in the first place.

Not only can you use a potion to increase your carrying capacity temporarily so you can fast travel to your house/a shop, you can also give your companion some heavy stuff. Dropping potions in order to be able to carry some dragon bones? come on! 
You shouldn't be carrying so much to begin with, anyway. Have discipline and carry only 250 out of 350 for example, you dont need to carry 100 potions and 20 weapons! 
 
Yes, you are cheating by using that, and I don't see why you'd get there in the first place. You said you didn't WANT to cheat, you wanted to play the game as intended, I don't see how mods change that. I have 15 mods installed and my game is still, quest and char strength and challenge-wise, the same as vanilla. 
Just pick the mods that make the game better by your standards, which for me is some graphical mods for foliage and lighting and smoke, dovahkiin hideout to pimp my crib, richer merchants, faster horses, and mudcrabs that curse when I slash them with my sword. 
 
mods =! cheats .. not necessarily. 
 

But I think my ultimate problem is simpler then the rest - it's the inconsistency that stops me from getting too enthused about modding. Aspects of a mod can be extremely well done, but there's always that one thing, that one letdown, that brings the seam between user-made and developer-made content into stark contrast. Hell, simply the act of installing a mod shows that you're aware that it's in the game, and no matter how tightly integrated that mod may be, I tend to scrutinize it to the nth degree simply because I know it's there, and I know it's non-essential.

You're expecting too much from a mod and being too "self aware" of yourself installing it and how it should perform. Like I said, I have 15 mods installed, and the "letdowns" I've noticed for some of them are very superficial and insignificant.. Hell the only one I can think of is that the faster horses mod makes my FPS drop a little more often while on horseback. 
 
There doesn't have to be such an emotional and philosophical maze here dude, mods don't have to be so complicated, just install whatever fixes the game in your opinion, don't install too many and don't install those that give you an advantage, and focus on the GAME not the MODS.
#15 Edited by Nentisys (893 posts) -

I couldn't agree less with Akrid. Mods have been trivial to install since morrowind.

Now im not saying all mods are wonderful, I couldn't care less about "HUGE BOOB ELF RACES!!1". Bethesda really sucks at many things (UI, faces, combat...) and modders fix that + millions of bugs that bethesda won't fix.

edit: also forgot to mention that I think that mods like Natural Selection (HL1) and Dystopia (HL2) are really quality games. CS/DOD all that stuff started as a mod.

#16 Posted by bvilleneuve (266 posts) -

Mods are amazing. Even when they're basically cheats, if it's a cheat that will improve my experience of the game, I'll install it. And the best part of this whole deal is that you don't ever need to know that I've installed it.

And may I just say the idea that a game has to be played "the way it was meant to be played" is one of my least favorite arguments in video games. Skyrim is a great game, and part of that greatness is the fact that Bethesda knows their own limits and allows the community to fill in the significant gaps so that every player can have the experience they want.

#17 Posted by Akrid (1356 posts) -

@AhmadMetallic: You call it a cheat and then say you have faster horses, richer merchants. Those are also entirely convenience mods, and exactly the same as lighter dragon bones. And the fact that dragon bones are too heavy isn't really debatable. You can't tell me you haven't made trips back to town specifically to store dragon bones, because your last 25kg+ was filled by them (Unless you didn't do blacksmithing). You must have stored your shit at some point in the game, and the truth is, dragon bones are a stupidly large contributor to that. Anyway, what I was saying is that the mod did sit well with me, as much as any one could. It's as much a cheat as richer merchants or faster horses, streamlining the game and cutting off the truly boring parts of it.

I can't really help what my brain thinks without me. Mods bother me and I decided to figure out why. I think these are legitimate issues with how mods work, and they can't be fixed. Personally, they bug me a fair bit, but it may be less so for you. I'm really arguing the pettiest and whiniest of semantics and attacking what can only be a good thing, as I often do on here. I tend to write things that may be technically true, but just serve to annoy people... Maybe I'll try and stop that bad habit. But hell, if not to piss people off, what else is the internet for?

Oh, and I was joking about the potions.

@Nentisys: I think you'd agree the Steam Workshop makes it even more trivial.

Total conversions can be really cool, but they have an equal chance of being some of the worst things you've ever played. I wish it weren't so, but from experience the mission statement of a mod and the actual content of said mod are often worlds away. Still, I'm much more open to total conversions then just a regular mod.

#18 Posted by bvilleneuve (266 posts) -

@Akrid said:

Total conversions can be really cool, but they have an equal chance of being some of the worst things you've ever played.

You can say the same thing about video games as a whole, or comics, or movies, or just media in general. 90-99% of everything is utter shit. The same is true for mods, but that doesn't mean modding itself is a bad thing.

#19 Posted by pyromagnestir (4339 posts) -

Skyrim is the first game I've ever modded, and it has greatly enhanced my experience. Potions weigh nothing, like stimpacks and the equivalent in Fallout 3 did, scrolls weigh less, merchants have a more reasonable amount of gold so I don't have to trudge around to 2 or 3 different towns to sell my last haul from dungeoning, a map that shows the roads more clearly, a favorites menu that's organized more than just a long alphabetical list of your favorited shit, and I have a magic basement connecting all my houses because fuck it that's awesome. I don't consider this cheating, I think of it as optimizing the game for my enjoyment.

Also I went for a couple more superficial upgrades that I do notice and enjoy like a prettier night sky and stylized snowflakes because I liked them.

So to each his own I suppose. I'm curious if a game was legitimately broken and a mod fixed that, would that bug you? Or would you still insist on sticking to the intended experience? Do patches bug you? I guess I think of mods as an optional patch, more or less.

#20 Posted by Mirado (1053 posts) -

@Akrid said:

As I tried to explain above, I just don't feel good about fixing the game. It's sort of backwards to have to play the game, identify the problem, and then fix it yourself. For one, there's no personal satisfaction in it - the modder who fixed the issue was already bothered by it enough to be driven to work on fixing it himself. And for two, there are shades of gray - nothing is the one right answer. The melee thing, yeah, sure there's no particular reason they couldn't have put that in. But personally, I was totally satisfied with Skyrim's UI.

You feel bad about fixing the game? In other words: you identify that the game has flaws (technical or otherwise), agree that they are flaws (i.e. imperfections that the developers would love to iron out), understand that you have a solution to fix said flaws, and then proceed to throw your hands up and just live with it? Even if it detracts from your experience?

How about this: let's say the game crashes every third autosave. Straight crash to desktop each and every time you hit your third save in one session. Would you feel bad about fixing that, if the community provided some solution? Would you still think it's backwards? This may not have happened in Skyrim, but you can find fan patches for other games that deal with this.

Here's another: let's say Bethesda decided to drop the weight of dragon bones to 1/4th of what they were before in a latest patch (due to player grievances or otherwise). Would you consider that cheating? Or, since it's official, would you redefine what it means to play "a game how it's meant to be played", aka the "intended experience" as you call it (how you can define something so nebulous in a game like Skyrim is beyond me). This kind of thing happens all the time; developers realize a value was mistyped, and correct it. Why does it seem to only bother you when something is fan made?

And back to your original post:

But I think my ultimate problem is simpler then the rest - it's the inconsistency that stops me from getting too enthused about modding. Aspects of a mod can be extremely well done, but there's always that one thing, that one letdown, that brings the seam between user-made and developer-made content into stark contrast. Hell, simply the act of installing a mod shows that you're aware that it's in the game, and no matter how tightly integrated that mod may be, I tend to scrutinize it to the nth degree simply because I know it's there, and I know it's non-essential.

I hate to break it to you, but games are usually full of inconsistencies all on their own. I don't like this equation between" user-made" automatically meaning lower quality (or less consistency) then "developer-made". I've seen user made content which is above the quality of the game it's placed in, and I've seen developer additions (DLC being the most common source of this) fail to seamlessly integrate with their own damn game.

You know what breaks my immersion in Skyrim? You know what stops me from enjoying the game "the way it's meant to be played"? How about when I'm climbing a mountain and I sink into the rock texture up to my torso. How about when my character slowly winds up for a kill animation, and then proceeds to speed through the rest of it in a blink of an eye, looking completely janky and comical? How about when the dragon I'm fighting stops animating, when I can put pots over the heads of the townsfolk to rob them blind, when everyone says "I've never seen a dragon before!" even though they had to clip through two dragon corpses to get there, when the whole town goes apeshit after I kill a chicken, when none of my actions ever really affect the world (beyond token conversation pieces), when I can slaughter everyone but the main quest givers are invincible, when giants can launch bears into the horizon (no, wait, that's just awesome), when my guildmates treat me like a scrub even though I'm their master now....

Get my point? No game is perfect, most are full of inconsistencies and uneven spots of quality. And I agree; there are a lot of trivial mods out there that I would never install myself. But if a mod fixes the busted combat animations (and that's it, nothing more), how is that a bad thing? Where is the downside in that? It affects everyone, and if it's well done.....I just can't see how you can argue against that. Unless watching heads randomly fly off because the animation broke is your idea of the "intended experience"? Hell, on that note, I've seen games where the designers have taken fan solutions into account and made them parts of official patches! How do you rationalize that one?

I'm not sure why this topic set me off, but the more I look into it, the less I understand where you are coming from at all. It just seems like you're worried to take a risk on something that isn't officially sanctioned, which (without knowing you) I'd have to guess that may run deeper then just in video games.

Give some more mods a shot. Stop looking for the seams. Who knows, you might find something else you like.

#21 Posted by Akrid (1356 posts) -

@bvilleneuve said:

@Akrid said:

Total conversions can be really cool, but they have an equal chance of being some of the worst things you've ever played.

You can say the same thing about video games as a whole, or comics, or movies, or just media in general. 90-99% of everything is utter shit. The same is true for mods, but that doesn't mean modding itself is a bad thing.

No, modding is certainly not a bad thing. But within the category of video games as a whole, mods can be the bottom of the barrel, even lower than bad games that are professionally made.

@Asrahn said:

@Akrid:

I'm glad we agree (save for the UI bit. Gods). I just have to ask: have you ever played a game and thought "wow, I love the concept, and the game in itself is awesome, I just wish -this- and -that- was just a bit different, and it would have elevated this game even further"?

Opting for console superiority due to the tweaking and tinkering it requires to get mods working on PC's is entirely irrelevant. Mods, to my knowledge, does not exist on consoles, and are thus simply an extra addition (read: option) for those who would want to tinker with them on the PC. The core game is the same on console and PC, save for the fact that my PC have shorter loading times and better graphics. The comment is irrelevant, unless you have another angle at this?

I'm watching the Jagged Alliance QL and at first glance it seems like it'd be better off with a quicker "TTK", as they say. But y'know, I might be wrong about that. And therein lies the problem with mods.

I'm not talking about mods here, I'm talking computer specs. I meant with that comment that consoles have a leg up on PC in the way that they're one unified experience. One game will play the exact same on all consoles. For many people, there's comfort in that fact, that they won't have to upgrade next year for the new hotness. It's similar in the level of customization that mods offer for a game, but of course that's an entirely optional thing and can only be considered a big plus for PCs. Making sure you have the right hardware is not optional, and in that sense for some people is a negative against PCs. Yeah, maybe not terribly relevant in retrospect, but I don't mean to disparage PCs if that's what you were thinking. Hope that clarifies.

#22 Posted by Akrid (1356 posts) -

@Mirado said:

You feel bad about fixing the game? In other words: you identify that the game has flaws (technical or otherwise), agree that they are flaws (i.e. imperfections that the developers would love to iron out), understand that you have a solution to fix said flaws, and then proceed to throw your hands up and just live with it? Even if it detracts from your experience?

How about this: let's say the game crashes every third autosave. Straight crash to desktop each and every time you hit your third save in one session. Would you feel bad about fixing that, if the community provided some solution? Would you still think it's backwards? This may not have happened in Skyrim, but you can find fan patches for other games that deal with this.

Here's another: let's say Bethesda decided to drop the weight of dragon bones to 1/4th of what they were before in a latest patch (due to player grievances or otherwise). Would you consider that cheating? Or, since it's official, would you redefine what it means to play "a game how it's meant to be played", aka the "intended experience" as you call it (how you can define something so nebulous in a game like Skyrim is beyond me). This kind of thing happens all the time; developers realize a value was mistyped, and correct it. Why does it seem to only bother you when something is fan made?

I would not hesitate in installing a fan patch if it's purpose is to fix true bugs.

It would be easier to swallow if Bethesda fixed it themselves, yes, because that's what they intend. It bothers me if it's fan made because they think they know what's best, but almost always there is a decent reason that the developer made the original decision. The dragon bones is one of the few times where the reasoning behind their decision is flimsy, flimsy enough for me to want to fix it myself. But often, there are changes that are actually detrimental to the experience the game is trying to give. Now, obviously those are optional, so I don't really have any reason to complain.

@Mirado said:

I'm not sure why this topic set me off, but the more I look into it, the less I understand where you are coming from at all. It just seems like you're worried to take a risk on something that isn't officially sanctioned, which (without knowing you) I'd have to guess that may run deeper then just in video games.

Give some more mods a shot. Stop looking for the seams. Who knows, you might find something else you like.

I think it comes down to the fact that mods put the weight on my shoulders to make the game I want. But I don't trust myself to know what I actually want out of the game. And it's not just me either - nobody really knows what they want. Because we're not game designers! How could we?

To craft something I would truly enjoy, it would take a long time of testing out each mod individually, making sure they play perfectly together, making sure they're balanced, and most of all, making sure this somehow enhances the game beyond what it was originally. At a certain point, I would become the designer picking from a selection of pre-packaged fixes. And that's generally not what I want out of my games. It's simply too much work, and every time I see the content that could be potentially not there, I feel the need to scrutinize it. All this just prevents me from actually getting into the game! It's impossible to be immersed in a game you yourself are designing, because there's too much thought going on in the background of what needs changes or tweaking. I'm fine with a flawed but stress-free experience.

I appreciate your input!

#23 Edited by Asrahn (555 posts) -

@Akrid said:

@bvilleneuve said:

I'm watching the Jagged Alliance QL and at first glance it seems like it'd be better off with a quicker "TTK", as they say. But y'know, I might be wrong about that. And therein lies the problem with mods.

You may have to elaborate on this. I just don't get the problem. But thank you for clarifying the rest!

@Akrid said:

I think it comes down to the fact that mods put the weight on my shoulders to make the game I want. But I don't trust myself to know what I actually want out of the game. And it's not just me either - nobody really knows what they want. Because we're not game designers! How could we?

To craft something I would truly enjoy, it would take a long time of testing out each mod individually, making sure they play perfectly together, making sure they're balanced, and most of all, making sure this somehow enhances the game beyond what it was originally. At a certain point, I would become the designer picking from a selection of pre-packaged fixes. And that's generally not what I want out of my games. It's simply too much work, and every time I see the content that could be potentially not there, I feel the need to scrutinize it. All this just prevents me from actually getting into the game! It's impossible to be immersed in a game you yourself are designing, because there's too much thought going on in the background of what needs changes or tweaking. I'm fine with a flawed but stress-free experience.

I appreciate your input!

You make a good point with the immersion breaking, which I haven't really thought of earlier. It's never been a problem for me, however. I deeply appreciate not having Lydia get one-shotted by everything that comes for me, no matter what I have her armored with, at higher levels in Skyrim. She still falls to a knee and limps around, but hey, she gives me that one extra second I need for my arrow to hit a face. All thanks to a mod. I guess that if I held an opinion that already was negative to mods, and was aware that the non-death of my follower (or the texture changes, or weapons I have smithen, etc) was because of one , I may put a lot more focus on it, and thus experience it as immersive breaking.

Mods are -there- for individuals who -wants- to tweak and play around with their games, change the foundation or just make minor graphic tweaking. A game that wouldn't even be alive without its modding scene would be Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, which never really had its (sometimes gamebreaking) bugs fixed by the game maker, due to the company going bankrupt. The modders of the game, a bunch of passionate bastards that I love to death, took it upon themselves to basically patch and tweak the game to playability, something that is simply grand seeing it's a great, enjoyable game with great atmosphere. We may not be game designers, but I am personally fully capable of making an assertion of whether a mod will work with my current setup of mods or not, and if it doesn't, I will remove it. The long, arduous process you describe to get mods to work is exactly what any sensible modder goes through in order to actually reach a state where the game is elevated in accordance to the experience they seek.

TL DR: External factors that for some reason makes you dislike mods are affecting you in a way that make you dislike your experience with mods.

#24 Posted by Mirado (1053 posts) -

@Akrid said:

I think it comes down to the fact that mods put the weight on my shoulders to make the game I want. But I don't trust myself to know what I actually want out of the game. And it's not just me either - nobody really knows what they want. Because we're not game designers! How could we?

I don't toss away my criticisms or opinions on what a game lacks just because I may not have the knowledge or the skills of a game designer to implement what I want. I mean, by that token, game reviewers who aren't developers can't exist; if you don't know what you want out of a game or have the ability to spot what is lacking ("I wish the combat was more fluid, I wish the inventory management took less clicks, I wish the story was deeper, " etc), how can you level criticisms against it? How could you point out flaws in its design if your answer is "Well, I'm not a game designer so I guess that's just the way it has to be."

Looking at Skyrim, I wish the combat was deeper and more fluid. I don't know the specifics of how I'd want to implement that (Kingdoms of Amalur style? Something like Dead Island's limb damage mechanic?), but with that idea in mind, I could try out various mods which claim to help in that regard. Will they actually improve the game? Only way to find that out is to try them.

@Akrid said:

To craft something I would truly enjoy, it would take a long time of testing out each mod individually, making sure they play perfectly together, making sure they're balanced, and most of all, making sure this somehow enhances the game beyond what it was originally. At a certain point, I would become the designer picking from a selection of pre-packaged fixes. And that's generally not what I want out of my games. It's simply too much work, and every time I see the content that could be potentially not there, I feel the need to scrutinize it. All this just prevents me from actually getting into the game! It's impossible to be immersed in a game you yourself are designing, because there's too much thought going on in the background of what needs changes or tweaking. I'm fine with a flawed but stress-free experience.

By "balanced", I assume you mean that whatever is added cannot be construed as cheating. Skyrim has no real balance; sneak attacking for 30x damage levels even the toughest bosses with the right potions, enchanting my heavy armor to regenerate my health and resist magic damage has made me effectively immortal, I have a set of gear designed around cranking my unarmed strength up so high that I can punch out giants, and so on. I'm rolling in cash, have an almost endless potion supply, and generally am as close to a god as the game will let me go without becoming outright omnipotent. With that in mind, I'm not all that worried about maintaining the delicate and immersion preserving balance that Bethesda hath crafted. Sure, I won't be installing any one hit kill weapons, or invincibility granting boots or anything like that, but this idea of meticulously scrutinizing a mod to make sure it preserves what isn't there is a little laughable, honestly.

"Game enhancement" is more subjective, but I still don't think it boils down to much more then saying: "Yeah, this makes X better then it was before" or "no, I'm not feeling what this is doing to X". I think the problem you may be having is a bit of mod overload; you don't need to run out and download twelve of them and then start freaking out at all the changes. My general course of action is to play a game until I run into something that is ruining my enjoyment (say, bad inventory management). I then grab a mod for it and continue on my way until I hit the next thing (if there is one). I don't just dump a bunch of content in and then start analyzing the interactions between them.

And I disagree with your final point; I've found myself absolutely loving Minecraft even more now that I'm starting to drop in mods whenever I find something lacking ("Item transport sucks! I know: teleport pipe mod! And a helicopter! Oh, crafting all of this shit takes too long. Automated crafting table! I don't like how sheep take forever to produce wool. Sheep cloning sheers!"). Does it blow up sometimes? Sure. But that's half the fun! I love how my version of Minecraft is now very unique; I have, by "picking form a selection of pre-packaged fixes", built something I believe is better then the original.

Perhaps you should spend more time having fun with it and less time making sure you are having fun in the way the developers intended (whatever that means).

Also, thank you for your input. Good discussions are so rare these days.

(Bit of a secret: I have a computer science degree and program all the time. Perhaps this causes the stress you feel to turn into elation for me? I see none of this as a hassle at all.)

#25 Posted by Draugen (694 posts) -

@Akrid: I.... don't understand your grievance, but damn it, it is so eloquently put forth, that I almost find myself agreeing with you despite myself. I really like the Skyrim mods I'm using now, because I feel they add more than they stand out in a negative way. I just give them a look when I notice them, think "that's pretty neat," and then I go merrily on my way. And I love the new retina-scratching HD mod. Always nice with a reminder that you belong to the PC Master Race. :)

#26 Edited by pyromagnestir (4339 posts) -

@Akrid said:

But I don't trust myself to know what I actually want out of the game. And it's not just me either - nobody really knows what they want. Because we're not game designers! How could we?

That's crazy man of course it's possible for people to know what they want. Game designers aren't infallible. They aren't omniscient. They aren't magical. They are a bunch of dudes like you or me who in the end figure out how to make a game based on limitations of time, money, hardware, storage, etc. not how they would if they were free from all restrictions and could do what they would really want to. The end result is never the game the developers intended to make, it's what they could make. Sometimes those choices are things you disagree with, as you do on the Dragon bone weight issue, which doesn't bother me at all because 15 lbs seems totally reasonable for the size and sturdiness of a bone that would be in a dragon.

Sanctifying the final product is just a mental hurdle that you either have to get over, or not.

Let's say someone with the resources and the desire hired a bunch of professional voice actors to each voice an individual role in the game, replacing all the samey voiced characters with there own unique actor and released that as a mod, and it worked and it was quality stuff. The designers didn't do this not because they didn't want to but because it wasn't feasible so they cut corners. Would you say that would be against the designers intent? I personally would love that, as hearing the same voices over ruins a bit of the immersion for me. Many mods are just small scale versions of that theoretical example. Some gamer somewhere says this is bothering me, so I'm going to change it and then he makes it available to others who having trouble with the same issue. You don't have to either have no mods or all the mods. If you only want the one that fixes the thing that bothers you that's perfectly reasonable, and in no way does that violate this idea you seem to have of the integrity of the developers intent.

#27 Posted by Akrid (1356 posts) -

@Asrahn said:

TL DR: External factors that for some reason makes you dislike mods are affecting you in a way that make you dislike your experience with mods.

Yeah, pretty much! Mods are a wonderful thing, there's no denying it. What happened with Bloodlines is magical. I'm simply giving my perspective. Keep on enjoying your mods, I enjoyed discussing them with you.

And the Jagged Alliance thing, TTK = Time to kill. When they started shooting dudes in the QL, I was surprised to see that it took several shotgun blasts to take down enemies, or vice versa. My gut reaction is I would rather have something more like Frozen Synapse, in that the kills happen in fractions of a second. But, really, what do I know? I've seen 15 minutes of this game and I'm making these proclamations? Now, if I rolled with it and decided to mod the game, I may very well be making the game worse, implementing the wrong solution.

@Mirado said:

@Akrid said:

I think it comes down to the fact that mods put the weight on my shoulders to make the game I want. But I don't trust myself to know what I actually want out of the game. And it's not just me either - nobody really knows what they want. Because we're not game designers! How could we?

I don't toss away my criticisms or opinions on what a game lacks just because I may not have the knowledge or the skills of a game designer to implement what I want. I mean, by that token, game reviewers who aren't developers can't exist; if you don't know what you want out of a game or have the ability to spot what is lacking ("I wish the combat was more fluid, I wish the inventory management took less clicks, I wish the story was deeper, " etc), how can you level criticisms against it? How could you point out flaws in its design if your answer is "Well, I'm not a game designer so I guess that's just the way it has to be."

Criticisms are fine! You can certainly criticize even if you don't have the answer, I'm not saying that at all. Things like "I wish the combat is more fluid" is a very vague statement though, no matter how true it may be. There is no immediate solution there. The people who then go and try to fix that problem all have their own ideas about it, as you acknowledge.

@Mirado said:

By "balanced", I assume you mean that whatever is added cannot be construed as cheating. Skyrim has no real balance; sneak attacking for 30x damage levels even the toughest bosses with the right potions, enchanting my heavy armor to regenerate my health and resist magic damage has made me effectively immortal, I have a set of gear designed around cranking my unarmed strength up so high that I can punch out giants, and so on. I'm rolling in cash, have an almost endless potion supply, and generally am as close to a god as the game will let me go without becoming outright omnipotent. With that in mind, I'm not all that worried about maintaining the delicate and immersion preserving balance that Bethesda hath crafted. Sure, I won't be installing any one hit kill weapons, or invincibility granting boots or anything like that, but this idea of meticulously scrutinizing a mod to make sure it preserves what isn't there is a little laughable, honestly.

There is a balance in Skyrim, but you're right, it's a bit broader then other games.

"Game enhancement" is more subjective, but I still don't think it boils down to much more then saying: "Yeah, this makes X better then it was before" or "no, I'm not feeling what this is doing to X". I think the problem you may be having is a bit of mod overload; you don't need to run out and download twelve of them and then start freaking out at all the changes. My general course of action is to play a game until I run into something that is ruining my enjoyment (say, bad inventory management). I then grab a mod for it and continue on my way until I hit the next thing (if there is one). I don't just dump a bunch of content in and then start analyzing the interactions between them.

No, and I'm certainly not doing that. My own approach is similar to yours. I was going to clarify that that's sort of an extreme example. But some people do do that!

And I disagree with your final point; I've found myself absolutely loving Minecraft even more now that I'm starting to drop in mods whenever I find something lacking ("Item transport sucks! I know: teleport pipe mod! And a helicopter! Oh, crafting all of this shit takes too long. Automated crafting table! I don't like how sheep take forever to produce wool. Sheep cloning sheers!"). Does it blow up sometimes? Sure. But that's half the fun! I love how my version of Minecraft is now very unique; I have, by "picking form a selection of pre-packaged fixes", built something I believe is better then the original.

Perhaps you should spend more time having fun with it and less time making sure you are having fun in the way the developers intended (whatever that means).

Also, thank you for your input. Good discussions are so rare these days.

(Bit of a secret: I have a computer science degree and program all the time. Perhaps this causes the stress you feel to turn into elation for me? I see none of this as a hassle at all.)

It can be fun to go crazy with the mods and just make it into a really weird game, but then it begins to not resemble itself. As I said in my original post, I can totally get behind stupid stuff like the Macho Man mod, but at that point you aren't taking the game seriously and it's not the same experience.

As far as your secret is concerned, I'm kind of on the flip side in that I'm into the art aspect. So while I would love to do art for a mod, game design or programming is really not something that interests me too much currently. So essentially designing a game through mods doesn't really sound like a ton of fun to me.

I apologize if I seem to ignore any of your points - if I did it was not willfully. I've typed a lot in this thread and I'm running out of steam.

@Draugen said:

@Akrid: I.... don't understand your grievance, but damn it, it is so eloquently put forth, that I almost find myself agreeing with you despite myself. I really like the Skyrim mods I'm using now, because I feel they add more than they stand out in a negative way. I just give them a look when I notice them, think "that's pretty neat," and then I go merrily on my way. And I love the new retina-scratching HD mod. Always nice with a reminder that you belong to the PC Master Race. :)

Heh, thank you? I didn't mean to obfuscate you're opinion with my eloquence (Didn't know I had any!), but I'm slightly proud that I did.

@pyromagnestir said:

@Akrid said:

But I don't trust myself to know what I actually want out of the game. And it's not just me either - nobody really knows what they want. Because we're not game designers! How could we?

That's crazy man of course it's possible for people to know what they want. Game designers aren't infallible. They aren't omniscient. They aren't magical. They are a bunch of dudes like you or me who in the end figure out how to make a game based on limitations of time, money, hardware, storage, etc. not how they would if they were free from all restrictions and could do what they would really want to. The end result is never the game the developers intended to make, it's what they could make. Sometimes those choices are things you disagree with, as you do on the Dragon bone weight issue, which doesn't bother me at all because 15 lbs seems totally reasonable for the size and sturdiness of a bone that would be in a dragon.

They study this stuff. They put a lot more thought into this then you or I. They're not omniscient, no, but they are professionals. Game design is much harder then some seem to think it is.

There's nothing in Skyrim that I feel is lacking in the way you describe. I never noticed any design decisions that seemed to be made in the pursuit of cutting corners (Except the voice acting stuff), and the game is chock-ful of content. What it comes down to is shades of gray.

And realism, see, that's a polarizing topic in game design. You say sure, those bones would weigh that much. I say no, that is in detriment to the player, despite perhaps being realistic. There are so many of these downright philosophical choices in game design, and it's a minefield for an amateur. There is rarely a right answer, but game designers who make the right-est answers are the professionals!

Let's say someone with the resources and the desire hired a bunch of professional voice actors to each voice an individual role in the game, replacing all the samey voiced characters with there own unique actor and released that as a mod, and it worked and it was quality stuff. The designers didn't do this not because they didn't want to but because it wasn't feasible so they cut corners. Would you say that would be against the designers intent? I personally would love that, as hearing the same voices over ruins a bit of the immersion for me. Many mods are just small scale versions of that theoretical example. Some gamer somewhere says this is bothering me, so I'm going to change it and then he makes it available to others who having trouble with the same issue. You don't have to either have no mods or all the mods. If you only want the one that fixes the thing that bothers you that's perfectly reasonable, and in no way does that violate this idea you seem to have of the integrity of the developers intent.

Hey, even I'd probably pick up that mod! But it doesn't exist... It never will. It's a virtual impossibility that such a thing would happen. But yes, it's a lovely thought that mods could potentially make this possible. I stress again, mods are a great thing! They just might not be for me.

Yeah, I'm more open to mods that fill in content that the developers may have liked to put in themselves. Filling in content is a bit different because the modder is not trying to overwrite the decision that the developers made. But to use Asrahn's suggestion of a melee skill tree as an example:

I have little confidence in the users to devise something that is fair and balanced. But even if it is 100% up to par with what's in the game, hey, some of those skill trees in Skyrim are pretty broke. If the melee tree is equally as broke, it would only draw more scrutiny from me. It's a twisted line of reasoning for sure, but it bugs me just enough to add to all the other issues I have with the mod scene. All of this just distracts from playing the damn game for me, which is all I really wanna do.
#28 Posted by Nentisys (893 posts) -

@bvilleneuve said:

@Akrid said:

Total conversions can be really cool, but they have an equal chance of being some of the worst things you've ever played.

You can say the same thing about video games as a whole, or comics, or movies, or just media in general. 90-99% of everything is utter shit. The same is true for mods, but that doesn't mean modding itself is a bad thing.

Agreed 100%

#29 Posted by Mirado (1053 posts) -

@Akrid said:

It can be fun to go crazy with the mods and just make it into a really weird game, but then it begins to not resemble itself. As I said in my original post, I can totally get behind stupid stuff like the Macho Man mod, but at that point you aren't taking the game seriously and it's not the same experience.

I was just using that as an example to run contrary to your statement of "It's impossible to be immersed in a game you yourself are designing, because there's too much thought going on in the background of what needs changes or tweaking." I was bringing up all of those mods to show a personal example of thinking about what needed changes or tweaking, more or less designing my own solution by installing mods, and having a blast in the process. The actual content of the mods doesn't matter; for Skyrim, it could be a tweaked inventory system, better companion management (for equipment as well as giving orders), and refined NPC reactions (acknowledging my accomplishments or notoriety in a more realistic way, not treating each dragon like it's the first they've ever seen, etc). The point was that the mere idea of installing addons and their presence in the game doesn't have to break the immersion.

Hell, there are some games that I have never played unmodded, i.e. I'd install an older game with fan made mod packs even before my first time loading it up.

@Akrid said:

There's nothing in Skyrim that I feel is lacking in the way you describe. I never noticed any design decisions that seemed to be made in the pursuit of cutting corners (Except the voice acting stuff), and the game is chock-ful of content. What it comes down to is shades of gray.

How about the fact that you can travel with your companion for hundreds of hours, but you never really have any meaningful conversations with them? They rarely if ever emote (and when they do it's the same 5 lines over and over), the whole marriage process is a total joke and changes almost nothing (so they can be a shopkeeper, cook me a meal....and...that's it?), and they can't be killed by enemies? Who thought it was a good idea to make them immortal in combat with the AI, but if I somehow hit them with an AoE spell, they're toast? That's lovely. A lot of the systems in the game are actually pretty shallow and only hold up by virtue of volume.

@Akrid said:

Hey, even I'd probably pick up that mod! But it doesn't exist... It never will. It's a virtual impossibility that such a thing would happen. But yes, it's a lovely thought that mods could potentially make this possible. I stress again, mods are a great thing! They just might not be for me.

Yeah, I'm more open to mods that fill in content that the developers may have liked to put in themselves. Filling in content is a bit different because the modder is not trying to overwrite the decision that the developers made. But to use Asrahn's suggestion of a melee skill tree as an example:

I have little confidence in the users to devise something that is fair and balanced. But even if it is 100% up to par with what's in the game, hey, some of those skill trees in Skyrim are pretty broke. If the melee tree is equally as broke, it would only draw more scrutiny from me. It's a twisted line of reasoning for sure, but it bugs me just enough to add to all the other issues I have with the mod scene. All of this just distracts from playing the damn game for me, which is all I really wanna do.

There is no reason why fans cannot create something on par with the developers, especially in the realm of art and sound. Hell, they could make a far more balanced and professional package then even the devs themselves could, because they aren't working on a deadline or with budgetary constraints. Take a look at the Total Realism mod for Rome: Total War; not only was it much more balanced then the units in the base game, but the art assets were better and on top of it all, much much more historically accurate! The whole game was made richer because historians who were fans decried the inaccurate representation of the arms and armor and tactics of the time period, and sought to create something that was more in line with what the developers promised vs what they actually delivered. From re-balancing combat statistics to creating period accurate depictions of the banners and emblems of each faction, right down to totally restructuring the campaign (removing the fictional "three families" aspect of Rome that the developers interjected) to make the events therein coincide with their real world counterparts, it is overall a much better game for it.

Say what you will about your own willingness to entrust your gameplay experience to someone other then the company on the box, but do not suggest it is impossible for fans to outdo the game they are modding. It has happened before, and it will happen again.

#30 Edited by pyromagnestir (4339 posts) -

@Akrid: They study this stuff sure. They put a lot of thought into every decision they make, but in the end it isn't an exact science, as you say, it's just somebody making a judgement call. Disagreeing with a judgement call is not in any way wrong. Some other shot caller with the same credentials as a game designer and the same knowledge of game design faced with the exact same problem could very well have chosen to go a different route, as in the aforementioned decision between realism vs potential player hindrance regarding the dragon bones.

And to clarify my point with the theoretical voice acting for everybody mod, I was attempting to use exaggeration and an example of a problem that almost everyone can agree is a problem to make the point that finding something that you think of as a detriment and doing something to make it better for you isn't the sacrilege that you seem to make it out to be. That's what a lot of mods are, in the end. If you can don't have problems, then great. If you do but you can live with them, also fine. But if you decide to change something to make your experience better, nothing is wrong with that.

Edit: I just remember the email that was in the bombcast this week from the volition developer who fought adamantly to keep exploding rickshaw in the game only to be overruled, then a sneaky art guy changed it at the last minute before it shipped. Developers disagree on stuff man.

#31 Posted by President_Barackbar (3474 posts) -

 @Akrid said:

And the Jagged Alliance thing, TTK = Time to kill. When they started shooting dudes in the QL, I was surprised to see that it took several shotgun blasts to take down enemies, or vice versa. My gut reaction is I would rather have something more like Frozen Synapse, in that the kills happen in fractions of a second. But, really, what do I know? I've seen 15 minutes of this game and I'm making these proclamations? Now, if I rolled with it and decided to mod the game, I may very well be making the game worse, implementing the wrong solution.

Well, the wonderful thing about mods is it brings the old saying "the customer is always right" to a whole new level. Now you can ask yourself "Do I feel that dragon bones are too heavy?" or "Do I think that merchants having such little gold is more inconvenient, or do I care more about serving realism?" But it does seem like maybe modding Skyrim just isn't for you, and that's totally valid.
#32 Posted by bvilleneuve (266 posts) -

It comes down to what you're playing the game for. You may be playing Skyrim to have a very specific set of experiences in the world that vanilla Skyrim offers. If that's the case, I can see why modding the game would seem like sacrilege.

However, I play Skyrim to see the artistic scenery Bethesda has created and to enjoy the world at my own pace. With this being the case, I've made several modifications (including raising my carry weight and some stats) in order to make the experience more what I want. Struggling against the game does nothing for me but cause frustration and ruin my experience.

#33 Posted by Brendan (8124 posts) -

Mods, especially for a large game like Skyrim, are only really good when a significant portion of time has passed after it's released. I remember the GB boards being filled with mod threads a week after Skyrim came out, and y'know what? They were completely meaningless. Almost unnoticeably different water and rock textures, and minor skin changes were not worth the attention they were getting. Oblivion has a lot of great stuff added to it, and the large completed overhauls have only (mostly) finished 2 or three years after release. Elder Scrolls mods are for giving you something interesting for coming back to the game a while after you've already finished it.

#34 Posted by Arkanti (256 posts) -

@Brendan said:

Mods, especially for a large game like Skyrim, are only really good when a significant portion of time has passed after it's released. I remember the GB boards being filled with mod threads a week after Skyrim came out, and y'know what? They were completely meaningless. Almost unnoticeably different water and rock textures, and minor skin changes were not worth the attention they were getting. Oblivion has a lot of great stuff added to it, and the large completed overhauls have only (mostly) finished 2 or three years after release. Elder Scrolls mods are for giving you something interesting for coming back to the game a while after you've already finished it.

That was just because the Creation Kit wasn't out yet, so the only things that could be changed extensively were the visuals (except for the AWESOME SkyUI mod, which was crafted by wizards).

Something to note if you're currently subscribing to mods through the Steam Workshop, it breaks and ceases to download or check for updates if you surpass 50 mods in your subscription list. Apparently this is a bug and Valve and Bethesda are working on a fix, but it's still quite annoying.

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