For awhile now we have been toying with the notion and discussing things with leads on the various Beyond Skyrim teams about making Odyssey “compatible” with Beyond Skyrim; that is making certain Odyssey acts which takes place in that Beyond Skyrim location into a patch FOR Beyond Skyrim, effectively utilizing that worldspace for Odyssey’s story telling and at the same time, providing lots of interesting content for Beyond Skyrim. After much consideration I have decided against this prospect for a number of reasons which I will go over in no particular order of priority.
– The Beyond Skyrim project consists of several independent teams working at different paces and priorities. Since Odyssey is a serial series, requiring specific places at specific times, this would make us beholden to the development schedule of an outside team resulting in the Odyssey team potentially sitting around doing nothing while we wait, Working ahead on other acts is plausible during this wait, but it doesn’t make sense to wait for something we have no control over.
– Developing some acts as patches for Beyond Skyrim and some as stand alone complicates things from the users end and also makes for a pretty heavy draw on a player’s system by requiring Beyond Skyrim plugins in addition to the already heavu Legacy and Odyssey plugins. Having to load Legacy, Odsyssey acts and several plugins of Beyond Skyrim all in one load order may not be plausible. More importantly as it stands because of technical limitations of the Creation Kit, we will have to make developer stripped down copies of Legacy and Odyssey plugins as we develop future acts because the CK can’t load the heavy number of records that are present in these large projects. Having to strip down a Beyond Skyrim copy for this purpose would further complicate the process.
– Making an act as a patch would require extensive coordination with an outside team to ensure that what we develop works with their plans and that the story, mechanics and settings all fit well together and do not conflict with one another. This amount of planning and coordination would be mindbogglingly difficult, and much more effort than simply making the entire worldspace we intend to use, ourselves. Maintaining 100% creative and implementation control on a project of this magnitude I think is critical to its success.
The other question that arises is “Will Odyssey be compatible with Beyond Skyrim?” The short of it is yes, but it will break immersion. Mechanically Beyond Skyrim and Odyssey will have their own worldspaces, the means by which you get to them will be different and thus there will be no mechanical conflicts to have to address and no patches will be needed. The immersion however will be broken if you use both BS and Odyssey because both will be creating different instances of the same places in many cases and this is not something that CAN be patched later to simply “put” Odyssey in the Beyond Skyrim spaces or what-have-you.
Odyssey and Beyond Skyrim will effectively be two completely independent imaginings of new places; Beyond Skyrim focusing on open world exploration and Odyssey focusing on smaller areas of that world with a deeper story-centric experience. In the end because of immersion issues and system limitations, it may be best to cater a specific character play-through for Odyssey and a different one for Beyond Skyrim. I know that we will still be asked “is this going to support Beyond Skyrim?” and all I can say is, “yes I support Beyond Skyrim, it’s a great project, but Odyssey is its own thing”.