The Odyssey Begins: Part 1

Some things that end, only mark the beginning of something new. Odyssey is certainly in this basket. This marks the start of an ongoing blogging effort to document the development of Odyssey of the Dragonborn Act 1: Isle of Balfiera.

Odyssey is a grand undertaking that began development almost two years ago as a joint effort between MyBad and myself to add more lore and new worldspaces into a singular effort. Looking back at the dates of the early files, it’s hard to believe that we’ve had Odyssey planned for almost as long as Legacy has been around. Development started back in V9 I believe it was and was mostly a series of messages and forum posts between myself, MyBad, RonnieMagnum and Deskins30 to discuss worldspace development, unique artifact modeling and story and lore development respectively.

We announced that Odyssey officially began development a few days ago, but in reality we are already in the thick of it. The worldspace for Balfiera has been built extensively with many custom models and has been heavy detailed in areas, a full oblivion worldspace has been built, fine tuned and navmeshed and is ready for population. Despite this though, it’s quite easy to feel overwhelmed by the scope of this project. Finding the right group of folks and keeping them connected and motivated is also a task because managing a large project like this, is much like cooking an elaborate meal. You have to ensure that various balls get rolling so when they reach the end of the lane, there are already pins set up for the ball to knock down. It involved getting parts of a project ready to go so others can do their jobs as well.

Sadly I have been the guilty one in slowing up the show. MyBad has a rather temperamental Italian version of the CK which seems to misbehave in the strangest ways (even more than the traditional CK), and that coupled with a PC that can’t seem to handle region gen or LOD generation without freezing up or crashing, it’s fallen to me, who really has more or less fumbled through those aspects up until now. LOD is a nightmare, and as wonderful as Mr Velicky’s video tutorial on LOD is, it’s far from a simple process, and undoubtedly is my largest challenge. I’ve gotten preliminary LOD generated for Balfiera at one point or another, but I pulled away from this part of the project for so long that I am going to have to relearn it from scratch I fear. The saying “If you don’t use it, you lose it” is very much true when it comes to modding skill sets.

At any rate. At this stage I have committed myself to seeding the worldspace BY HAND rather than doing region generation which has been temperamental at best. The system can only handle a handful of quads at a time to seed the area automatically with trees, rocks, logs, etc and they always come out the same angle, same rotation and in a weird evenly spaced patterns and never sunken into the ground as they should be, no matter what I do, so I ultimately found I’d be spending less time hand placing it all in a more chaotic and natural way than I would spend fixing the goofy CK’s generated region statics.

Building a worldspace is really an insane undertaking all of its own. When you walk into an exterior area and see all the trees, and rocks, and water features, pebble beds lining the rivers, moss on the rocks, cliff faces sunken into the topography the shrubs, mushrooms and fallen logs, it’s easy to say “yeah it looks great” and assume it’s easy to do. It’s so time consuming, it’s not even funny, and sooooo arduous of a task. I’ve been basically dropping chunks of cliff, rocks and then an assortment of trees then going back and adding more cluttered terrain bits like logs and stumps and such, but it’s indeed very hard because you want it to seem natural, so you have to think about elevation, how erosion would affect things over time. The tree size and age in relation to their location as well as the migration spread of differing species of plant life. If there have been floods or fires in the location at some point and what that has done to establish the forest base. If you don’t think about these things as you lay things down, it really comes out looking like you opened a box of model train terrain and dumped it randomly on the table. It’s all in the details.

For my own sanity though I think that I am going to seed the basics, then hand off to someone else to do some detailing, then they pass off to another person and so on while we develop other elements and combine them all later with a clean and fully detailed worldspace. Thanks to UglyKidCid’s work on merging V13 into a single ESP from the two previous files Legacy required, I know am fully savvy about hand merging records from multiple plugins into single files (I never use the xEdit merge script because it destroys voice file links and causes you to have to regenerate face geometry and tint for all custom NPCs).

Then there are region settings, weather and climate and music all to take into account, and all of this before an NPC or the player even sets foot on the island… Oy vey

Anyways, here you can see my painful journey unfold ahead which I will journal about every few days or so. I will also occasionally place pictures of content in development. So keep an eye out.

PS: If you are interested in participating in Odyssey development as a voice actor, dungeon designer, quest programmer, model designer, or musician, please contact me and check out the github page listed below for details. Just be aware the GitHub page does have massive spoilers.

Odyssey GitHub Page

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