The Elder Scrolls

Response to post DLC sized mods not being that good + let’s discuss this more.

CAUTION: Wall of Text, TL;DR at the bottom.

Made this a comment reply then figured it'd work better as Post. Original post I'm responding to is here: https://www.reddit.com/r/skyrimmods/comments/mspqwf/ive_begun_to_think_that_most_dlc_scaled_mods/

I'd like to hear people's thoughts about this and be part of discussion about it.

Collection of thoughts:

I judge some thing's quality by how well it achieves its goals and whether its goals are worth achieving.

And, when I'm being thoughtful, I recommend things to people based on whether the set goals, and how well they're achieved, are important and appealing to the specific person I'm recommending the thing to.

My favourite games that inspire my Skyrim modding are Mount and Blade/Warband for combat and sandboxiness, the Witcher 3 for its sidequests and background world-building (not its main story or even its main characters). But I only really realized that after years of modding Skyrim (and in the case of the Witcher sidequests/worldbuilding, it's only been inspiration since 2016).

One of my favourite things about Skyrim (and FNV, Oblivion, Morrowind) is no matter what quest I'm doing, for the vast majority of the game (with few exceptions I'm aware of), if I want to, I can choose to go anywhere I want to. And I love that, and I value it, even if most of the time I take it for granted. Like if I'm in a deep dungeon in the Pale hold, if I wanted to, say it's getting too hard or I need more potions, I can pop back up to the entrance and head over to Markarth and grab a drink at the Silver Blood Inn and listen to bards play music. And then, after a few hours, I can go back into the dungeon. Or I can go pick crops near Riften and never go back to that dungeon. I have that freedom of movement.

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Other people love Factorio or Stardew Valley, others Sekiro and Dark Souls, others love some beautiful and exciting Anime games whose names I don't know, others love the Witcher's characters and main story, others Dishonoured and Steampunk games…

…And most people don't know why we like what we like, and find it hard to accurately describe why we like what we like to other people, at least some of the time. Me included, at least some of the time. If you're not on of these people, and you do know and describe accurately why you like what you like, that's great. But most people, me included, aren't usually like this.

And most people want Skyrim to do a bunch of things the vanilla game doesn't (which is why most of us are here). It's like each of us has a list titled: "What I want Skyrim to have in it and be like" – But A) many of us don't actually know what our list includes, it's subconscious or it's only visible after we look back at what mods we ended up adding and which we removed and which others we kept. And B) most of us have different lists. And C) many of us assume that the rest of us have mostly similar lists even though we actually don't.

What we have here is many people assuming we like the same things (we're all Skyrim modders after all, in the same community etc.) when we actually don't.

So when someone finds a mod that makes their Skyrim more like the games that inspire their Skyrim modding, they get excited, and recommend them to other people because they loved it, often without explaining exactly precisely why they like it – even though many of those other people have wildly dissimilar games inspiring their skyrim modding.

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Example:

So Forgotten City adds intrigue and engaging characters and difficult puzzles and branching paths (valuable goals), and does these things brilliantly well – and these are things Skyrim doesn't do well or just doesn't have. But Forgotten City also prevents the kind of freedom of movement and exploration that matters to me a lot in Skyrim, so I bounced off it hard despite how valuable its goals are and how well it achieved them.

But many people recommended it to me because they valued its goals and they don't have the same attachment to freedom of movement – and when asking for quest mods, I didn't know enough what I liked so I didn't know to say "hey, does this mod prevent me from moving about the entire game world?" because I was so used to Skyrim's freedom of movement I had taken it for granted and because I didn't have that level of insight into my own likes/dislikes of skyrim.

I think the very-doable but slow solution is for people to do + encourage the following: when someone asks for something or recommends something, say what it is we like about it/Skyrim, what we want more of, what we dislike and what design costs/downsides we don't want. I'm not thinking that'll happen overnight, and maybe it won't happen at all, I dunno.

Many of us are already doing this well, this isn't a callout post.

So for those of us doing it well, let's keep doing it, let's encourage others to do the same, and let's make our community's modding recommendations as good as our mods/mod lists.

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And there's probably other things that would help with this dynamic, help make it better, these are just my initial thoughts about it I guess. Curious to hear what other people have to say.

Too Long, Didn't Read / TLDR:

  • people often don't know why we like what we like, me included. People want different things from skyrim modding and sometimes assume people's preferences are more similar than they really are. If we get better at learning what specific traits we want from certain kinds of mods, and communicating that, and finding it out from other people, we can make better recommendations. Many of us already do this, let's do more of it.

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