I’m going to be honest with you. I have trouble finishing games. Sure, some games are compelling enough to drive me to finish and replay them over and over, but I’m guessing I have about a 10-20% completion rate for the all the games I’ve ever owned. This doesn’t mean that I don’t like these games, but for whatever reason I found myself moving on to other things before the game could come to an end. Confession time: I’ve never played the whole way through a Legend of Zelda game, and I can remember playing at least seven of them off the top of my head. I’ve gotten better about this in the last few years, but I still feel a twinge of guilt when I think of all the games I never finished.
One reason I like the Elder Scrolls series, especially Skyrim, is that how much you play, and what you chose to do while playing, is entirely up to you. Like any open sandbox-style game, Skyrim has its problems, but where problems exist, there are people ready and willing to fix it. One needs only to look at the modding community to see how far gamers are willing to go to improve upon the games they love. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been revisiting Skyrim, trying out user-created mods, and I’ve been really impressed by what people have come up with.
In my search for mods, I came across Skywind, a community-driven modding project that merges the world of Morrowind with the gameplay of Skyrim.
Morrowind was one of those games I never finished but returned to several times. Perhaps I was just too young during my first play-through to find the "openness" of the world engaging. Yet even though my returns to the game never really yielded much progress (as far as the main campaign went), I found the mythos and atmosphere of Vvardenfell to be incredibly compelling, largely because of how alien everything seemed. Seeing a Netch for the first time outside of the small town your character starts in still sticks with me. Similarly, exploring caves and ruins only to be confronted by enemies vastly superior to me in every way...well, let’s just say I learned my lesson well. The game was, and is, unforgiving. Exploration is simultaneously necessary and dangerous. The alien feel of Vvardenfell and general emptiness of the game makes for a very isolated experience, marked by intense moments of violence (and for me, at least, horrible death).
Despite the game’s shortcomings, the aesthetic of Morrowind’s world-building is a testament to Bethesda’s dedication to game integrity, and fans of the game realized this.
The Skywind project is an attempt to breathe new life into the aging sandbox RPG by recreating the Morrowind experience using Skyrim’s framework. Of course, the community is not only reconstructing Morrowind, but actively improving on the original game. The core group of modders (artists, sound engineers, voice actors, programmers, and writers) is going to great lengths to give Morrowind the time and attention they think it deserves. On one level, this means making the world more detailed, changing it from the open, sparse original to a more populated, interactive world. Additionally, they are taking the dialogue from the original game and making character interaction more thorough while also re-recording voices for NPCs. Creatures, weapons, and game mechanics are all getting an overhaul, so by the end of the process Skywind will make significant changes to the original game while retaining the uniqueness that the game brought to the Elder Scrolls series.
If you’d like to learn more about the Skywind project, check out their website tesrenewal.com.