“Ok world, I’m ready to save you now”: the player character’s place in the game world.

The game world moves on without you, or does it? It seems that most games like to give some form of illusion that events are happening around the player with or without their consent or involvement, but the reality is that very few games execute it well. The player comes home after a hard fought battle with the latest bad guy, get’s the rewards and praise and takes a well deserved break. They decide to brush up on their cooking skills and craft some new furniture for their home, or maybe have a sit by the fire and catch up on some in game lore books. The world will wait right?

Skyrim is one of those games which I categorize as “hero worship” (even though ironically everyone treats you like shit most the time, but hey that’s just Nords for you), so maybe “hero-centric” would be a better term. These games are the ones where the player has almost omnipotent control over the gas and brake pedals of the vehicle called that game they are in. They can decide when and how to press the plot forward and if they desire, NOTHING will happen until they will it. This is fine for linear storyline games like old school JRPGs or most of the original Final Fantasy games which rely on lots of forward progress to tell a rich linear story with great character development, but not so much for open world sandboxing games.

This concept gets particularly bad after games have aged a bit and people are on their two dozenth playthrough or more; they know the ins and outs of the game, so that control begins to feel even more meta and all powerful as familiarity of the game grows. When you first play a game, it feels like all events that occur are unexpected and could have potentially happened under many different circumstances, but as you play the game more and more times, you come to find that all of these events are specifically laid out to happen at certain times or places under certain conditions. Sure, that’s to be expected because quest programming has its limitations, especially in a game that is designed as linearly as Skyrim is. The horrible mechanical stability dumpster fire that is the civil war quest arc is evidence enough of that.

Something Odyssey seeks to achieve is giving a more in depth feeling that the world is changing around you based on your choices and that some tasks you may have to undertake may only have a small window to peruse them in. Timed quests seem to be a largely foreign concept in Skyrim and modding as well. Back in the days of Daggerfall and Arena, they had such quests, and they gave a real sense of urgency that the Skyrim “deliver these pelts” quest you’ve had in your journal for the last 2 months in real time, just fails to instill.

In addition we strive to take a little control out of the hands of the player in that some world events will occur with or without your involvement. Of course we are still limited by the confines of the programming and these events will have to be anchored to specific other quests and events that are triggered by the player, but if we are able to execute these elements right, we’ll have world events that happen and physically change the scope of the game; pirates raiding a local settlement and burning half of it to the ground if you don’t make it there to save them, ships that will pull into port and offer some unique goods for sale for a short time before sailing off, never to return that season. All events that the player can be informed of to know to find them, but also can easily overlook and observe later as a bystander.

Of course the challenge lies not in the creativity of our team but in the functionality of the tools available. Quest mechanics are designed in a very linear fashion to where stage 2 is triggered when 1 is done, stage 3 is triggered after 2 is done, etc, but in situations where stage 3 can happen before stage 1 is even started or stage two can lead to stage 3 or 1 depending on choice, things get logistically and mechanically complex. Take Shattered Legacy in Legacy of the Dragonborn for example. In v5 I rebuilt a large portion of the quest line and opened up the mechanics of the “guardian arc” of the quest so that you could follow the guided path by the NPC’s, pickpocket them for more information, kill them and strike out on your own, or even lead them on while working with your stolen info and then giving them the slip. Seems all smooth enough right? Nope…

Having a linear engine to do a non-linear, multi-event factored quest design is a nightmare. I had stages specifically for acquiring particular items, certain stages for death triggers of the NPC’s so many conditions that some of the actual quest stages (that show journal progress) had 16 variant condition options based on the criteria that was true based on your actions. When you have 2 elements, it’s pretty easy; if 1 happened, do A, if 2 happened do B and if neither happened do C and if BOTH happened, do D. But when you have 3 artifacts, 2 things to read, the living state of certain NPC to account for and various states of conversation thrown into the mix, you have a potential mess on your hands.

That was pretty much the result of the rework of Shattered Legacy initially; a mess. It wasn’t until several versions later that I was able to identify the “bad paths” to close any condition loopholes that caused hiccups in the progress. It took a lot of play testing and trial and error to get it sorted out and with the help of my awesome team of testers and helpers, we managed to iron it all out… for now at least. If I’ve learn only one thing in modding it’s that a new bug that has always been there but never reported will always appear one day. Then of course you have the “two steps forward, one step back” issue of patching but that’s a whole other story.

The struggles of support

Since the dawn of Legacy I have always striven to give the best possible support to users of the mod. The first couple years I personally responded to almost every single inquiry or concern myself. The high level of support I tried to provide was reflected in the fact that Legacy LE had the second highest topic post count of any subject on the entire Nexus (second only to Requiem). This support effort continued with a few additional folks hopping on board to help out in an effort to support the mod they loved so much, and most the time it has been greatly appreciated. At times however it has brought some tension and drama as well because with every different person comes a slightly different approach.

I come from a long background of customer service, technical support and retail management and though I too get irritated and fall short sometimes, I do understand the concepts behind good technical support and customer service. I do have a very strong philosophy of mutual respect between customer and support worker which the old school golden oldies mentality of customer service (The customer is always right) gets very much in the way of and is still pervasive today. The reality is that the customer is NOT always right, but we as customer support and/or technical support people have a responsibility to make an effort to give the benefit of the doubt that in most cases, the customer is trying to be forthcoming and honest about their needs. When it becomes clear however that deception or deliberate misrepresentation are present, that is when my stance distinctly parts ways with that old philosophy.

As Legacy grew into the absolutely MAMMOTH project that it is today both in scope and in following, we expanded out to Discord to provide a real time community and avenue for providing support. With this came a lot of benefits but also a lot of challenges. As someone who has managed several online forum based communities in the past, I understand the challenges of mitigating and managing different aspects of people’s personalities and incompatibilities as well as minimizing drama and let’s be honest, it’s not an easy job. I can’t personally be around all the time and the more I am, the more likely I am to explode on difficult situations and sour everything myself, so for the longevity of the community and my own personal sanity I had to differ to trusted moderators. People who I trusted to make good calls and try and manage things in my stead when I’m not around, and while no option is perfect and each person has their own limits and struggles with certain situations, it overall has provided a good level of support for quite some time.

Enter Odyssey… oh Odyssey, my white whale and my Sistine Chapel all wrapped up into one. The focus on Odyssey has been daunting. We have done several insanely intense development cycles with Odyssey and come back to a few development cycles with Legacy in between phases and then Covid hit and we all more or less scattered to the wind mentally. Most of us have taken a break from Odyssey for the most part while we struggle with daily life and get our heads back on straight but slowly and surely I am seeing that passion return not only in myself but in many members of the team as well, so Odyssey will once again fire up that hype train engine to start chugging down the tracks once more, and I’m very excited for it, but doing so presents more challenges for support.

A couple months back we scaled back a certain degree of our agenda of providing “official” support and instead went to “developer assisted community support” which meant a large clear guide providing all necessary resources for fixing most issues, and opening up the channel to allow all members of the community to help one another with developers assisting when able or chiming in when necessary. This has been overall pretty successful as far as keeping issues addressed while allowing the official team some space to work on other things but it has brought a lot of additional challenges, which is of course the animus for this post.

In our effort to curb constant repeats of the same questions and reduce the overall inquiries in the support channels on Discord, we re-worked all the documentation for Legacy (relating to technical aspects), into a central “Full Guide” which has links to the FAQ, compatibility guide and other resources and tools, and when things are covered in said resources, our support team and community members simply point them out and the person seeking answers can then refer to them for their solutions. The issue however is that not everyone reads the “required” reading, even those who are striving to provide support and as a result conflict can often ensue. Most drama in the support channels boils down to one of two causes; lack of reading on the user’s part, or lack of qualifying on the support person’s fault. And as I can do nothing about users not reading other than telling them to do so (just as my Nexus forum signature indicates with; “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him read the sticky post.”), I’ll have to focus on the qualifying element of support people.

Firstly, what is qualifying? Qualifying is a support/retail term which basically means to ask for more information. Asking open ended questions that require more detailed responses than simply yes or no is central to determining the causes, situations and needs of a customer or user. Asking for example “what steps did you take to install?” rather than “Did you follow the instructions when installing?” will get you a MUCH different picture. You will start to pick out individual elements in their accounting of their problem which will raise red flags. Even if the support person did this first step correctly however, the next step is where most people fall short; which is to reiterate the response and ask clarifying questions. A lot of support people will start to identify the possible red flags brought up by the user’s accounting and immediately start throwing out solutions, suggestions, etc, but often there is much more to know about the situation which can greatly affect the plausible solutions. When a users raises a flag in their statements, repeat back that element to be sure you understand it correctly, then ask clarifying questions about that element to get the full picture. From this point you are then pretty well equipped with a full picture of their circumstances and will have things narrowed down pretty well. From here you are well equipped for the next stage which is “overcoming objections” which is the stage where things can tend to go off the rails and become combative if you have not properly qualified their issue. Frustration starts to flair and either party can get defensive.

Overcoming objections is not what it sounds like. It’s not a case of “I’m right and you are wrong, and this is why”, it’s a more reasoned approach using their own accounting to support your suggestions. Overcoming objections is where you reason with the user/customer as to why they should buy into your recommendation, and this is where you either go back to asking more qualifying questions to get a further clearer picture or the user admits defeat and applies your solution. In Retail we would then go to the “ask for the sale” or “go to close” step, but in support, that stage is pretty much implicit when the user applies your fix and their issue is resolved.

I have come to notice that in our zeal to get people to read the documentation a lot of people on the support channels go right for the throat and immediately “try to close the sale” by sending them there. If it’s obvious they have not checked in cases where the issue is addressed in a sticky post or on the FAQ, then great, the express lane it is. I have seen however a lot of people who misinterpret game feature problems with technical support ones. Often times the “read the guide” response should really be “read the CURATOR’S guide in game” instead.

The last arrow in your quiver of support is deescalation. This is a HUGE problem. When you fail to get enough data and overcome objections, escalation is right on the horizon. As soon as that happens you have 1 chance to step in, collect your wits and return to the crux of the problem itself, otherwise it becomes a spiraling game of finger pointing on what person A or B said or did and what user A or B said or meant, etc. To this end DOG PILING is also a huge concern. Users on the Discord love to show off their knowledge of Legacy and its inner workings (often times incorrectly) and will chime in when things already have been addressed (this is bad), or they jump into the midst of escalation in an effort to support one side’s argument or another (this is also bad).

I want to reiterate that having members of the community help one another with support questions is great, and I appreciate it, but any who wish to do so, NEED to follow my guidelines presented above and keep things chill, focused on the problem, and differed to development team or moderators immediately if things start to escalate and it can’t be brought back on track. If an issue is already being addressed and someone is actively helping and progressing correctly, do not intervene unless you KNOW for a fact (not think, but KNOW) that something stated is factually incorrect. If things are escalating, do not add to the flames, bring it to the attention of dev team or moderators and we can deal with it.

Ultimately the goal of the support channel is to help people, and making things a stressful situation or being a drama llama is not conducive to this goal. Work together, ask questions, and interpret people’s intention as generously as possible. Sure there are the occasional self-entitled dicks, but that’s why the dev team and moderators all carry banhammers 😉 let us deal with it, and thanks for helping out.

Odyssey – position on ESO as canon

Firstly, wow, it’s been awhile! I haven’t had access to my wordpress for awhile because it just stopped letting me post through Firefox one day and I haven’t bothered to access through chrome until now. So HI AGAIN!

Now that that’s out of the way, on to the highly divisive topic at hand. Since its inception, ESO has been a point of contention among TES fans with some hard liner main series RPG fans swearing off ESO entirely and many MMO versed players choosing to embrace it wholeheartedly and all the while the question at the crux of the topic remains fueling the divide: “Is ESO Canon?”

If you scour the internetz you will find several citations and sources about how ESO is canon, but just as many references and elements suggesting that it’s not. The social media director on ESO has said it is, but Todd Howard has a distinct disdain for it and will no longer make statements concerning ESO at all and when asked will not affirm or deny one way or another as to it’s status as Canon. It has also been said that ESO should be considered an alternate universe and not part of the main timeline by primary writers of the TES series, AND Pete Hines had officially declared the books in the “infernal city” series as being canon while ESO has not had any such official statement from him that I’m aware of.

Ultimately I’m personally in the “not canon” camp, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t accepting and adopting a lot of elements from ESO as if it were canon. The simple reality is that the TES universe has NEVER been consistent and they have repeatedly retconed storyline information with the convenient “Dragon break” excuse; the world’s greatest Ex Machina ever. The idea that Cyrodiil was a jungle before Tiber Septim’s achievement of CHIM turned it into a vast open land was long ago established and ESO attempted to explain it away with some in game texts relating to a “mis-translation” is a great example which in my opinion was done only to facilitate siege warfare for their PVP battleground which would not function nearly as well in a vast dense jungle. That aside the mainline series has never held itself to solid consistent storytelling either, so one can hardly blame ESO for taking the same liberties as well.

In the end we have adopted a lot of Lore from secondary titles like Redguard, Shadowkey and Battlespire and also have done so with ESO content, but we reserve the right to also ignore any of it if it contradicts any mainline title canon or steps on the adopted lore we have laid down in an irreconcilable way. Legacy already adopted several ESO created dragon priests and their masks, a number of story concepts and character backgrounds as well as some in game books that help establish the lore for Odyssey to come. Much of the history we apply to the Direnni in Act 1 in fact comes from ESO in game books and concepts as well as a large element from ESO’s main storyline is adopted into Odyssey’s canon.

Ultimately Urag Gro-Shub of the Winterhold College said it best when he said; “Everything is true, even the falsehoods… ESPECIALLY the falsehoods”. In a world where time is malleable, so too are the concepts which one can call “canonical”.

Bottom line policy: If it contradicts established canon from the main TES titles, it is NOT going to be regarded as canon by Legacy/Odyssey. Anything else we will happily adopt if it aids the storytelling.

A bump in the road

So life as it seems has decided to take another turn to slowing my progress with Legacy V5 and ultimately with Odyssey as well. I sadly found out this week that I have developed diabetes, which in itself is not much of a surprise considering my genetic history of it (not to mention my ironic namesake affinity for ice cream). As a result this is going to mean a lot of mental adjustment on my part and a complete change of my eating habits as well as much of the way I’ve been living to date. It’s going to mean several doctor’s appointments and a lot of educating myself more over the short term until I get into a rhythm and can cope with all of this. As a result it sadly is going to slow my productivity a bit over the next month or so which means that Legacy V5 may see a little more delay than I had hoped. I’m still chipping away at it, but won’t quite have as much time set aside for it as I had expected. Just when you start making progress again it seems that life gives you a sharp kick in the ribs. At least I’ve come upon it now rather than ending up in a crisis state, so with an adjustment of diet and exercise and medications I should be able to slow and hopefully reverse the development of the condition a bit. Time will tell.

Legacy V5 Update

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Much has happened over the last 6 months which has caused some significant delays in progress on Legacy of the Dragonborn SE V5, but recently I’ve managed to work out the rust and start gaining some steam on getting things wrapped up and ready to present to you the, oh so patient fan. So I figured it was well past due for a current status and feature update.

The museum build is pretty much done. Aside from a few bits and pieces, all the major stones are in place and the building looks fantastic inside and out. But rather than explain in depth each and every thing in a wall of text I’ll throw down some bullet lists:

  • Shattered Legacy – Quest rebuild is just about done. About half of it has been re-written entirely with new, better lore, and stronger tie ins with the upcoming Odyssey sequel series.
  • Voice actors – Many characters such as Kyre, Avram and Eriana have been recast for a variety of reasons and Kyre in particular I will be very sad to see go, but we need a VA that can carry us into Odyssey and the original has moved on as many have. I’m on the fence with a few other possible recasts but these are the main ones that are certain and it all depends on time.
  • Audio remaster – Many lines of dialog were corrupted back in V14 and I’m working on overwriting them with the backups or re-extracting from the source files to build cleaner lines.
  • haunted museum quest – you now have an in game, immersive means to bypassing the quest which will cost you earning the Ghost Helm, but for those who don’t do well with horror, this is a better means than using MCM menu or console commands.
  • Heist quest – the flow of the quest and dialog has been adjusted to give more variety and more player control over choice with some variant options in the ending. Avram’s behaviors have been adjusted and he overall is a better tag along during the quest.
  • Unique item replacers – Thanks to the help of Rains and Fafnir (the fan turned dev team member, not the racoon) and a few other folks, we have rounded up or made new replacers for a handful of items that still were missing unique models
  • Excavation quests – I’ve built a new mechanic in to the Windcaller pass and Rkund excavations which allow the player to stick around and help to dig and progress the segments in a quicker fashion. This proved challenging since we don’t have access to Marassi’s voice actor, but I managed to polish things up. I’ve also fixed the final stretch of the Rkund magma silo so it’s a little easier, and even implemented a secret workaround to avoid it altogether for those who just can’t handle it.
  • Book turn in quest – Latoria’s book turn in quest will soon allow you to hand her crates full of books instead of just 20 at a time so she can work them into valuable items at a faster rate.
  • Guildhouse – The guildhouse has a new placement on the other side of the museum and has an entrance from the museum reception hall itself, giving much faster access. The auto load door around the patio loads to the airship dock just behind the safehouse balcony for not only a great view but also avoiding the terrible instanced cell bug moving forward.
  • Safehouse – Vastly expanded yet reworked for that cozy feel, the safehouse features everything like before and then some. A few features like a book reading chair and access to the book returns as well as space for both followers AND children along with an in home hot tub, the place is fit for a Jarl. Many more planting spots have been added (for purchase) on the balcony outside and even offers more sensible access through the museum staff area and from the upper ring of the main atrium as well. Secret passageways have been added that connect direct to the safehouse for faster loading. Sadly the hot springs outside and the hall of secrets as we know it had to go away, but the hall of secrets does still remain hidden somewhere within.
  • Improved sorting – The prep station fixes that Picky and I each implemented in late stage LE and in his handling of SE are being combined to create a multi-tier display sorting system that will process displaying items more accurately for large sorting and faster for those folks with only a handful of items.
  • Supported mods – Legacy V5 will no longer have any built in automatic support for other mods and instead will be shifting to creating patches to support them instead. This allows us greater ease up updating support patches, and in ESL form will allow us to condense load orders for people. Integrated support was a nice feature, but could be broken by users who didn’t follow the exact instructions and required script cleaning and console magic when updates occurred and there should be less of this in the future.
  • Smarter Mannequins – In our eternal quest to better the horrible mannequin mechanics of Vanilla Skyrim, we have taken some measures to removing Mannequin use for dedicated displays like Miraak’s robes, snow elf armor, hold guards and the like, while keeping as vast selection of our creepy friend in two large armory wings for player use. We continue to fight the good fight to working out a new universal armor display system, and are on the verge of several new breakthroughs, so we fight on!
  • New guards – The museum will be getting a larger entourage of guards over the coarse of filling the museum. They also will have their own snazzy custom armor as well.

My hope is to continue at a higher pace over the next three weeks and hopefully by the end of July we will be into solid playtesting and have Legacy V5 done before the end of August. We shall see. Much more to come.

A fertile mind- your own worst enemy

One of the greatest obstacles (for me at least) to finishing an extended project I have often found to be the random epiphany of more good ideas. I don’t think I’m alone in this dilemma but I think that each of us is alone in the dilemma of how to address this new interloper of an intellectual development so as to potentially nurture the concept while not abandoning those things you are currently committed to working on.

For me the last few months it has been the concept of a new addon mod series entitled “Explorer’s Society: Chapter (name)”. With the advent of all the amazing new lands mods like the Beyond Skyrim series and many others, it begs the question; ‘where are the explorers?’. Well that leaves me of course with the itch to answer that question by creating more immersive content that ties the Skyrim community’s largest custom guild faction into even more places within their purview.

Some time ago I benched the idea of an alternate incarnation of the guild in a mod where the guild would be pre-established with it’s own hierarchy the player could progress through just like the vanilla guilds, but it’s always been scratching at the back of my mind like the beating of the tell tale heart beneath the floorboards. Then it dawned on me that we already have a template to make something like this work. Some time ago Pickysaurus built several small patches that added dig sites and airship ports of call to a handful of custom worldspace mods and it occurred to me that the two ideas could be mashed together and re-sculpted into something even cooler than their original lumps of clay could achieve.

Thus was was born the idea of explorer guild chapters for new land mods. The mods would provide guild houses in places like Cyrodiil, hammerfell, Elsweyr and many other places as an addon for Legacy of the Dragonborn and BS: Cyrodiil, Grey Cowl of Nocturnal and BS: Elsweyr respectively and beyond. Each house would have it’s own chapter leader, a few members, amenities, player living space, displays for new land specific items as well as other generic space, some small quests and an excavation quest. The mod would allow you to decide if you wanted to establish the chapter as the guild master of the Explorer’s Society or to have it already pre-established upon your arrival, allowing you to either join it from the bottom rung or step into the fully built guild as the guild master if you had reached that point in Legacy already.

The other element of this of course is that I only have so much time. With the development of Legacy V5 getting closer to completion and Odyssey Act 1 in a holding pattern until that gets done, not to mention family’s new online store business that is booming and regular daily life stuff, I have less than no time to devote to another project. The compromise as I see it would be to carve out some time after V5 is live and Act 1 is nearly completed and build a “template kit” which includes 3D assets, scripts and an ESP with prefabs along with a guide that instructs 3rd party mod authors on how to best establish an Explorer’s Society chapter on their own, which I think in a lot of ways would be even more fitting than me and the team making them all ourselves. This way we could visit said chapters which run in a way much their own. Give folks the framework and basic functionality of chapter setup flexibility and allow them to go wild with creativity.

In the past my fickle mind would find itself putting current work on the back burner to go head long into an exciting new idea, but experience has taught me that as long as I give a little time to feed the thoughts a bit at a time rather than throwing it the whole hunk of meat at once, it will be sated and not become the rabid hungry beast that dominates all my focus, and I can still manage to turn my energy on the other tasks at hand, while it contently waits in the background, occasionally nipping at my leg for some attention.

The fate of Legacy LE

So it’s become clear there is some confusion on the state of Legacy LE edition and so I’ll lay it out clearly; Legacy LE will not be receiving any additional updates to its core package. This means that V19x will not be updated. However this does not negate the possibility that Legacy LE could see a back port of Legacy SE V4x or even a potential back port of Legacy SE V5 when it is released.

I am waiting to determine the likelihood of such a port of V5 before determining which way to go. I ported back our working copy of V5 some time again and tested on LE and it seemed to work fine in general, but we will have to see how the final product behaves. SE allows for 5X the amount of loaded content into a single cell and provides a lot more muscle to keep a large system afloat and with the combining of several load cells of the museum into single cells, it may be too taxing for the old LE system to handle when the museum is fully loaded out. Patch support will also have to be taken into account as all patches will have to be ported back and some have different form ID’s in their source masters when comparing LE to SE so it may be difficult.

If we do update LE in any way I want to do it in a “drop and go” fashion since I do not have the time or energy to invest in adapting dozens of patches to work with it again, nor do I have the time or energy to continue supporting two versions of Legacy, given the focus I need to put on Odyssey. We are having to redo all of the patches for the SE update, but like I mentioned above, many would not be compatible with their LE counterparts.

I do realize that all these changes in plans can be frustrating and unpredictable (nobody is more frustrated than I however), but that is the nature of the beast with a project this large. If I keep maintaining two versions along with work on Odyssey then nothing will get done right or in any reasonable time frame. This is why the choice to narrow Odyssey’s platform distribution came, and now why I have decided to do the same with Legacy. By focusing on one platform, quality and timeliness are doubled and I would much rather have a single platform of products that are great than have two or three platforms of products (xbox, LE, SE) that are just ok.

I know a lot of folks are holding onto the past because of mod selection, visual capabilities, nostalgia or just plain stubbornness. believe me, I know, I’ve been there with all of it at times, but ultimately as a developer I decided to make the shift to SE exclusively because it IS the more powerful system for developers and with the tools offered by Nukem for CK64, which makes the tool actually work properly and more efficiently than CKLE did, the time to shift became clear.

The journey for Legacy LE is not over yet, but I do see a conclusion for it on the horizon and it will result in a newer, cleaner version in the end, but it will be some time before we get there as we want to ensure that the best fit is chosen and that everything is ironed out as well as it can be because when it does drop, we are dropping it and moving on and will not provide any official support for it after release.

A difficult decision to make

I’ll cut right to the chase rather than building up to it; we have decided that Odyssey of the Dragonborn will now be developed in Skyrim Special Edition and will only be available for SSE rather than releasing Act 1 on both LE and SSE as previously announced.

The reasoning for this decision is complex and multi layered and comes with it a certain level of regret, so I’ll walk through it so people hopefully fully understand my choice.

Firstly I despise servicing multiple versions of the same mod. Not only does it take too much work, but even if I hand off updating one version to someone else, it will result in the versions being different products on some levels. This occurred when I handed Legacy SE off to Picky to maintain, and he made several cleanups and revamps which while maintaining the overall feeling and goal of Legacy, did fundamentally change how much of it worked and made it implausible to back port any of these updates to LE which I was not really servicing much since Odyssey’s core development began last year and the gap between Legacy LE and Legacy SE grew even wider.

Secondly, the capabilities of Skyrim LE are being quickly taxed to their limits with Odyssey’s development. This is a reality that we determined to be true when we announced earlier this year that Odyssey Act 1 would be the only episode that LE would receive, and that all future episodes would be SE exclusive. LE users would have to deal with this bitter reality one way or the other, so I decided that we may as well rip the band aid off entirely now rather than slowly pulling it off after Act 1. Act 1 would have been a nice final hurrah for Legacy LE, but it would also tease the player with continuation of content that they couldn’t enjoy when Act 2 and later were released only for SE.

Next, the Special Edition CK has an amazing 3rd party patch available by Nuukem which fixes most of its horrible issues which Bethesda refuses to address, providing more stability and faster interface, proper LIP syncing, render and editor window selection fixes, memory leak fixes, and much more, making it a stable and more reliable tool than the original CK was makes it more viable for large projects.

Supporting two new releases on two different platforms at the same time will tax us too much, requiring some frequent and minor to moderate patching over the course of the first few months of their release. It would be much more efficient to focus on one platform, and fix as we need to and still allow us time to focus on continuing to develop the next chapter.

And finally, V20 of Legacy of the Dragonborn LE will be the final official version of the mod on the LE system. At that point Legacy of the Dragonborn LE will be officially retired and no further updates will be done. It will remain on Nexus and we will still try as much as possible to help support it via the mod page, but all of our future efforts will be directed to the SE platform to continue supporting and expanding the upcoming Legacy SE V5 update and it’s connection to Odyssey of the Dragonborn.

There is some silver lining here for those holdout LE players however; Though the Odyssey storyline in any form will no longer be made available for LE like we first thought, we will be releasing “The Isles of Balfiera” to LE as a bare bone but completed worldspace kit complete with interiors and dungeons and creatures for people to explore and other mod authors to utilize as a stage to tell new stories and make new mods for Skyrim LE. Open permission will be given for people to utilize The Isles of Balfiera as a master to create mod content there as long as the mod requires it as a master and does not port their mod to SSE. The release of the Isles of Balfiera will occur shortly after V1 of Act 1 is released on Skyrim SE.

I know that this announcement will come with a great deal of upset for some, and believe me it was a hard choice to come to, but with my dwindling will to press onward in the last few months I felt it important to re-focus and tighten the scope of my efforts. For example, I pulled Thane weapons reborn from Xbox and gave permissions for someone to re-post it using a port of the latest TWR version on SE because I did not want to spread myself too thin. I officially pulled out of supporting Druid’s Den some time ago, and have no other plans for updating or assisting with any of the other mods I have made or worked with others on or took over support for, my side projects in the works have not been visited in months; TLDR, I am consolidating the troops so to speak for a major offensive into Odyssey and Legacy SSE and am clearing the board of as many other distractions as possible.

I have greatly enjoyed all the time I spent in Legacy of the Dragonborn LE. It has become my largest achievement in the creative world to date, but to create the next great chapter, I need to allow it to rest as it is and move on. Once V20 goes live in the coming months, I would be willing to allow the establishment of an LE specific B team to establish an unofficial patch page for them to continue to fine tune this beast of an expansion mod, but the core Legacy team is turning its focus purely to SE.

I thank everyone for all the great support and encouragement over the years and I hope those few people still holding out on LE will do as we have done and finally let go of LE and embrace the excitement we are building on SE and fondly remember where it all came from almost 5 years ago with a tiny little museum to store your vanilla artifacts, overseen by a guy named Auryen.

Odyssey – A year in review

So as we wind down on the 2018 calendar year, I suppose a short “state of the union” address is in order to apprise folks of where we are at. I had hoped that we might have been farther along before the end of the year but a combination of burnout, real life concerns, jobs, family, and shifting to an update of Legacy SE (in mine and Picky’s case) as befallen a good number of us in one way or another, so having things ready for an Alpha test by the end of the year is not a realistic hope.

That said, looking back over the project thus far we have made MASSIVE strides. We basically scrapped the entire original Balfiera worldspace and started over, rebuilt THAT and with the final iteration, have fully developed an entire worldspace the size of Solsthiem, and most of the livable interiors as well as a few dungeons, tons of assets yet to be utilized and much more in about 9 months time which for a volunteer team is simply astounding, hell for a AAA studio that’d be a pretty amazing feat honestly. We released V0.1.0, the first work in progress core back on March 2nd and since then have really accomplished a lot, that is something that we should all take stock of and be extremely proud. And the effort and accomplishment that all of you on the development team have put into this is really quite amazing, so thank you to all.

Thanks to all the fans who have been continuously and unwavering supportive and encouraging and those handful of YouTube partners like Zaric Zhakaron and SinitarGaming who made preview videos for us and of course the continued support of all the patron supporters who will be getting their names listed in the Dragonborn Gallery credits board in the new remodel of the museum in Legacy SE V5.

Given the current time of year and the reality that some folks are currently dealing with in their real lives, I expect the rest of this year will be a “light duty” approach. We will continue to have our weekly meetings and keep plugging along albeit at a leisurely pace. Spend the holiday season with friends and family, relax and take a breather for a few weeks and tinker with Odyssey rather than toil, we have more than earned it. Come the first of the year we can redouble our efforts and move forward to completing this vision of awesomeness which so many thousands of people are excitedly awaiting the release of, and that brings me a great deal of excitement and encouragement in itself. Until then, enjoy some images of what we have wrought together:

 

Dragonborn Gallery Reborn

Long has the Dragonborn gallery brought awe to those who beheld it, but never so much as it will come V20 of Legacy of the Dragonborn (V5 for SE). With this final definitive version which brings full compatibility with the upcoming Odyssey of the Dragonborn project, the gallery will be decked out in full amazing style with a brand new scratch built custom museum interior and exterior 100% overhaul!

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Hall of Heroes

This custom asset build will be more spacious, better laid out and much more organized. It will accommodate all existing displays while providing plenty of room for upcoming Odyssey rewards and displays. A full system overhaul will also be in place to allow 3rd party developers to much easier build patches to utilize the museum. Authors can contact the Legacy team to be assigned a claim area and they will easily be able to adapt their items and displays to work with Legacy’s sorting systems and display checklists without altering Legacy data.

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Hall of Heroes main hall  (night)

These new halls will provide much more spacious feels to the classic museum with familiar displays and fresh approaches to areas with much needed work while still preserving the overall feel we have all come to know and love.

Legacy’s gallery took form over several years of expansion and remodeling, rebuilding and demolition to get to the state it is currently in and as a result some displays have ended up in rather odd locations or stuffed wherever it would fit. This new design seeks to lay out display groups in sensible locations to give it the feel that it was deliberately planned, because this new incarnation certainly is. It also seeks to reduce load zones between galleries in the case of SSE and seeks to overhaul a few core systems to make sorting more efficient and supported mod integration more seamless and uniformed.

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Development of the assets has been done largely in a very modular way to allow for maximum versatility for as minimal modeling effort as possible while still trying to utilize “shell” style larger model builds to minimize cell instance load.

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Library

The nerve center of the museum and Auryen’s favorite place has taken form in an amazing rework AND alphabetized book displays!

This overhaul is well under way and Picky and I will be pulling out all the stops for making this update the most impressive and elaborate revision ever