Saturday, 28 March 2015

I'm still here!

I've been a bit quiet the last week. I'm still a little ill, so I'm not making any review or gameplay videos for the moment.

In terms of my modding, I'm currently working on scripting alone at the moment, so I don't have a great deal to show for it at the moment. Papyrus scripting for Skyrim is a blessing and a curse: it is very similar to C++, which is the language I have used the longest and hence am the most familiar with. On the other hand, however, that level of complexity does mean it will take a bit of time to get my scripts into a working state.

Rest assured, I'm still here and I'm still working away!

In the mean time, you can check out my various social media likes here:

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Kjorik's Rest: a player home mod for Skyrim

So with the completion of the basic tutorials for the Bethesda Creation Kit, comes the proper start for my first mod Skyrim. It will be a Nordic-style player home called Kjorik's Rest, where I will hopefully be consolidating my favourite aspects from several other player homes, into one!

Yesterdays work made the the exterior and the entry hall for Kjorik's Rest. Here's some of the screenshots from the mod so far:
Kjorik's Rest view from the side, with the Western Watchtower visible behind it in the distance. To the right is some of the buildings that surrounds Whiterun.

The exterior of Kjorik's Rest, showing the gravel path leading up to the entrance.

The door into Kjorik's Rest. The grass visible through the floor is an artefact left over from terrain painting, and will be removed!

The entry hall of the Kjorik's Rests interior.

Looking through the grate at what will be a short hall of stories before a puzzle door that will act as the main entry (proper) into the home.

The claw for the puzzle door. In time, this pedestal will be activate-able so the puzzle door will lock. Then you can just leave the claw on the pedestal as shown, or take it with you as a key!

Gotta have Easter eggs somewhere..... This hidden pullbar opens up a secret passage to the dev area, where I will be testing scripts and setups.

The false wall pulls back to reveal the entry to the dev zone!

And finally, a veiw from inside the dev zone, currently empty! It's basically just a copy-paste of the entry hall, minus most of the doors!

Well, that's my progress so far. I'll hopefully get back to it during the midweek once my work is done!

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Finished the tutorial!

So my very first baby steps into TES modding have finished with the (hasty) conclusion of my version of the Lokir's Tomb. Lighting and AI dynamics are still a bit fuckled, but I don't plan on using combat AI in my upcoming mods, and the lighting issues are due to the unfortunate and unforeseen location of the main corridor (Skyrim can only render 8 shadow-inducing lights at once, regardless of if those lights are obscured to the viewer by wall or not).

So here's the final round of pictures from my finished dungeon. Here's the tomb's exterior:
I didn't want to be too invading into my game, so I used a simple Nordic Guard hut as my entrance, slanting the door to make it fit into the entryway. The entrance is located just opposite Riverwood (the tutorial says that the coordinates that it gives - which I used - should take you opposite Whiterun, but that's not where I ended up!).

Given there was only 2 lights in my previous instalment of the mod, I beefed  out the lighting of the cave, corridor and rooms with torches and fire pots:

Finally, I added some eerie atmosphere to the final boss room and it's entryway:

So that's it! My first, very small, not particularly well-functioning dungeon. Am I going to release it? Hell no! It adds nothing to the game at all, however it has served it's purpose in introducing me to the creation kit.

Now it's time to move on to my first proper mod, a Nordic-style player home! I would say updates to come soon, but at the time of writing, the Creation Kit wont open, so that is pending fixing. Hopefully soon!

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Cities: Skylines - First Impressions

So yesterday evening, I sat down to start what seems to latest version of video game crack: Cities: Skylines. Then, at 4am, I suddenly realised that I forgot to go to bed, and then instead of actually going to bed, I decided my new metropolis needed bus routes up the wazoo! So it's good. It's forget your dinner and neglect your children good!

Looking at some of the other Steam reviews, the comparison to both SimCity and the Cities series. Many centuries ago, I remember thoroughly enjoying SimCity, so last year I went ahead and bought the latest SimCity, which was an utter disappointment: I ended up giving up on the game after just a couple of hours. However, I'm a great fan of citybuilders (Anno 2070 taught me that much), and I did really enjoy the Cities XL series.

Cities:Skylines, plays very much like a simplified version of Cities XL 2012 (which is the last one I played), which has it's pros and it's cons. What I like is that they've simplified the city zoning structure so you don't need to micromanage between low, middle and upper class housing, instead relying on low and high density zones and a levelling, which works pretty well. One of the main things I really enjoyed about Cities XL was the ability to trade with AI towns and other towns that you have built, allowing maps to become connected, which allows you to make towns tailored to a certain need, so you can export it to other towns. Trade is present in Cities: Skylines, but it is entirely automated and you cannot trade between maps, which is a little disappointing. If you enjoy city building with a high degree of micromanagement, I'd probably recommend the Cities XL series over this, but the simplification does make Cities: Skylines easier to play. I'll cover everything when I do a full review (I am currently ill and cannot speak).

Overall, Cities: Skylines has made positive inroads with the concept, providing a great fun and easy to use piece of software. Any game that makes me forget to eat, drink and sleep is definitely a worthy investment. At almost half the price of most current titles, I can see a lot of bang for your buck! Hopefully, I'll be back next week to do a proper review!

Friday, 13 March 2015

Bringing a dungeon to life...

... literally! Continuing my tutorials of the Bethesda Creation Kit, its time to make the dungeon come alive with baddies and effects. My first attempts at putting AI enemies into the dungeon have not gone well, with my Draugr gleefully standing on top of his coffin, before slowly stepping off at the moment the coffin dramatically bursts of. Then there's the other, patrolling AI, that seems content just drawing and sheathing his weapon as opposed to actually moving about.... At least the navmesh is working well enough that you can successfully stab them for their hubris!

With the inclusion of AI into the dungeon, I needed to add some more rooms. I basically copy pasted the first room, and extended the hallway to facilitate the rooms, also adding in a downwards staircase.
At the bottom, the hall narrows into the final boss room (I have subsequently added a gate).

Finally, there was the application of of lighting and light templates. I've not added many lights yet, but you can definitely see the altered feel of the dungeon. The two pictures below show the entrance to the barrow and a skylight in the main corridor.

So that's my content creation from the past few days in a nutshell. I have a few more tutorials to play about with in level design, before I move on to scripting tutorials. Then I'll be starting my own mods proper!!!

Thursday, 12 March 2015

I'm a modder! (VERY beginner, though)

So yes, as per my post yesterday, I've now taken up modding - in lieu of my Hibblejayvlog series. The series might come back in the future if I get the time, but for now I have no plans.

I'm currently planning on working on 3 mods for Skyrim - the logical choice, since that's where I've been spending the majority of my free time lately! At the moment, I'm nowhere near starting any of them, I'm just working my way through the Creation Kit tutorials. So to start with, I've made an extremely small Nordic barrow. Here's what I've done so far:
 This is the cave, looking toward the barrow entrance.

 The main entrance to the barrow, showing off the fire.

 Inside the main corridor, looking back at the main entrance, showing off some rubble and furniture scenery

 The remainder of the main corridor

 The door into the main chamber.

 Some Nordic urns with randomised loot.

 I made an alchemy station in a nook of the main chamber. Showing off some neatly placed ingredient satchels and some levelled potions above that (the potions vary with player level).

 Experimenting with the Havok-settle function in the creation kit, I made a basket filled with leather.

 The altar inside the main chamber, showing object (coins) and levelled item (the bow at the top of the image) placement.

 The loot containers inside the main chamber. This was an exercise in altering the loot inside the containers, and playing around with locks (the strongbox is locked).
My bowl of potions. This was to allow a slightly destructive environment: the bowl is non-static so can fall off the altar, dropping the potions across the floor.

More content to follow, once I've made it, of course!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

I'm a magnet!

It seems I've become an ambulance magnet of late, in the last few days. Today alone, I passed no less than 5 with blue lights & sirens, 8 in total, 3 battenburg police cars and another 4 marked police cars. Add that to the past few days of many more ambulance, police and fire tenders, and I've probably seen more emergency vehicles than I have done warm meals in the past week!

No more Hibblejayvlog...

For the moment I will be discontinuing my vlog, and scaling back on reviews. I'm not getting nearly as many views as my other content, so I'd rather focus my (rather limited) time on other pursuits, such as mod making and programming. If they views start picking up, and I get some time, I may consider starting them up on a regular basis again.

For now, watch out for other content!

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Sofia Follower Mod for Skyrim: Hibblejaybob Reviews


Welcome to my review for the Sofia Follower Mod for Skyrim. I'm a little late on this particular bandwagon, but after seeing this mod reviewed elsewhere, I gave it a bash. I was extremely impressed by the mod, so I thought I'd share my opinion.

Voice Acting:
The first thing that jumps out at me is the voice acting. The quality of which is amazing; the actress really has nailed the Nord accent. In the default Skyrim, there are some speeches in which the pause between different lines is brutally obvious, and makes the whole thing seem alien. The mod author has done really well to make the transitions between lines, so smooth it seems completely natural. Overall, I think the quality of the voice acting is a league and a half above the majority of the voice acting in vanilla Skyrim.

There is lots and lots of dialogue written for the character, so much so that, despite playing 2 characters to level 45 & starting a 3rd new character, I'm still hearing new dialogue. The mod description boasts witty & humorous dialogue, and that is what you get and more! Conversations are topical, or making witty remarks about your current location. It screams out to me that is what M'aiq the Liar should have been like.

The writing is done really well, and the dialogue is kept very consistent to Sofia's character, while still being varied enough to keep her seeming natural and likeable. The only thing I will say is that does play the "I'm a cute/sexy girl" card a little too much for my liking, but I struggle to criticise it too much, because it does fit her character really well, as a boastful, confident Nord.

As a companion, Sofia is well balanced. Generally more powerful than you, but not game breakingly so. I've seen some mods in the past that at level 4, your companion can 1 hit kill a dragon - and I play on the Master difficulty setting! That really does ruin the experience for me. However, Sofia is not overpowered, and you'll find her a competent assistant in combat. I don't know if it's just me, but I get a CTD if I try and give her arrows. Bows are fine, but no arrows it does mean she cannot use archery at all. She is, by trade, a spellsword, using magic and one handed weapons together: with the destruction magic making up the total of her ranged abilities. Fair enough if she does not use archery, but I do have to mark the mod down for causing CTD's.

Elsewhere, she's a pretty vocal follower, which is nice as it makes it her seem like more of an involved companion than just a box for all of your spare stuff who stops to stab things every now and again. I tend to play exclusively stealth characters and Sofia continues the trend of Bethesda companions by generally screwing things up. However, the Summon Sofia spell that comes with the mod means you can easily get her to wait somewhere while you stealth properly, then summon her in when shit hits the fan. On balance, I don't mark the mod down for that because it's more to do with the game AI than it is to do with the mod, and they do make up for it with the summoning spell.

Let me try and convey how good this mod is. I have 500 hours on Skyrim, and another 500 on other Bethesda RPG's. In all of those games, I never have a companion. I don't think they add anything to the experience, in fact, since I generally play stealth based characters, I'd say they take away from the experience because the AI cannot stealth. That being said, I've now done 3 Skyrim characters with Sofia by my side, and if do any more, you can bet your backside, she'll be with me again. I do leave her behind while I clear out dungeons, but at all other times, the sheer personality of character makes it worth taking her on your adventures.

On the topic of her personality, lets talk about the humour of this mod. Some of the lines and jokes are so well written, they're not just "oh ha ha that was kind of funny", it's the proper laugh out loud material that firmly puts this mod in my top 3 funniest content in games, along with Portal & The Citadel DLC for Mass Effect 3. Even the bad jokes have a spin on them where she says "that was a bad joke even for me", which still made me laugh! John Jarvis, the writer of the mod and Christine Slagman, the voice of Sofia, have done a phenomenal job of brining the character to life and I feel more empathy towards Sofia than I do to any other character in the game, and indeed most other games that I've played.

So to summarise, the Sofia Follower Mod for Skyrim is an absolutely fantastic mod, that has, for the first time for me in a Bethesda game, made it worth having a follower. The content and quality of the dialogue is a cut above that offered in the base game, and in some of the few other follower mods I've tried out. My only significant criticism of the mod comes from the fact you can't feed her arrows, or your game will hark it ye olde crash to desktop style. Despite that, I feel that this mod is an absolute must have for a playthough of Skyrim. You can check out links to the mod in the description, and I've also put in a link to Christine's other work, which you can check out as well.

-5% - Game CTD's when giving Sofia arrows
-1% - A bit to much use of the sexual nature for my liking.
Total: 94% - Gold Standard!
This mod was awarded the Hibblejaybob  Gem Award for being the first mod to ever make me give a damn about a follower!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Modding Games: Hibblejayvlog

This week on Hibblejayvlog, I tackle modding and why we mod out our games. Modding is a very vast topic, and I just touch the tip of the iceberg here:

Transcription (may not be 100% accurate):
Welcome back to another week of Hibblejayvlog. Today I wanted to talk a little bit about modding in general. Although I've not really had the time to do nearly as much reviews as I'd have liked, one of the main things I wanted to show off with my channel and blog is mods, as well as full games. Mods are often programmed by an individual or small group and are usually released for free, for the enjoyment of the community. So in doing what I do, I wanted to give a little back to the authors of the mods that I use.

So why do we mod our games? Well, there are 3 general reasons. Firstly, there are tweaks, fixes and patches, which slightly alter the gaming experience to make it closer to what the developers originally intended it to be or to make the game more a more enjoyable experience. The unofficial Skyrim patches, are an example of the modding community coming together to fix various issues in the huge game that is Skyrim. A game so vast, it would take an age for the dev team to find, fix and distribute all the patches. I actually remember seeing on the Bethesda support page something along the lines of "if you're here to report a clipping issue, don't bother, we don't have time to fix it", which I thought was pretty funny.

Secondly, you can mod a game to expand upon the content that's already present. So things like new quests and new weapons & armours, etc. Those mods can vary wildly, from a few megabytes for a new weapon, up to several GB. The mod that springs to mind here is Kobayashi Maru mod for Star Trek Bridge Commander. Which weighs in at well over a GB for a game that's only a few hundred MB big, adding a whole heap of new stuff, pretty much quadrupling the original content of the game, while still letting you use most of it in the original game itself.

Finally, there are total conversion mods, which completely change away from the original game. Some of these eventually blossom into their own games, like Day-Z and Dota 2. These mods use the user interface and framework of the original game to effectively create a new game, which can range from something of a similar nature, to a completely different topic!

There are many examples of all of these different kinds of mods for literally thousands of different games out there. This is probably where I'd tell you put your search engine to work and try them out for yourself, but actually, I air on the side of caution when it comes to mods, and here's why. There are some mods out there, that while still being lore-friendly, can fundamentally alter the experience of the game. Don't get me wrong, this isn't always a bad thing, but it can detract or alter the original experience of the game as intended by the developers. Take my earlier example of Skyrim. Something like a texture pack isn't going to be detrimental to your experience, but modding the BFG 9000 into your game is going to seriously screw up the difficulty for you. I'm not saying don't do it, just be sure of what experience you want to get out of the game when you are considering putting mods on - particularly if it's you're first playthrough. In that case, I'd recommend getting a feel for the game, and getting to know what you like and what you would change. Then put on the mods you feel the game needs and try it out!

My general rule of modding is that mods are infinitely harder to get rid of than they are to install. In most of the games I run with mods, it's a case of install the mod by dragging and dropping, and uninstall the mod by deleting the entire game folder, reinstalling the game, then reinstalling all the mods you wished to keep. As someone who's never actually finished Skyrim because I've had to keep re-doing installs and restarting characters, take it from me not to just vomit every mod you come across into your game. If you're not sure about a mod, make a backup of your current install, so you can revert back if it doesn't work out. And for the love of everything that is holy, read the description! Just because all the mods you've installed for a game before have been drag and drop, doesn't strictly mean the one you are about to install is. There is also the matter of conflicts that you should be clued up on as well. Again, if you're not sure make a back up!

The other thing to keep in mind, is that mods are generally not made by large groups. Mods are not tested on a wide variety of platforms and if something does go wrong, you are likely to receive little to no support. This brings us back to the aforementioned point that mods are a lot harder to get rid of than they are to install.

Most of what I just said makes it sound like I don't recommend modding games, but that's not true. There are some truly fantastic mods out there, which impact tremendously on your enjoyment. I've even seen mods that rival or even surpass the quality of the original game! What I am saying is be wary. A good practice, albeit a tedious one, is to install mods one at a time, making backups beforehand and running the game after each install to make sure everything is working swimmingly. If it's your first time playing a game, I recommend only modding the game to what you need, but if you're returning to the game and wanting a different experience from before, then by all means knock yourself out.

Remember that mods aren't made by huge companies, and they are usually distributed for free, so share and endorse the mods you've enjoyed, it will really make a developers day!

So that's all for today. Modding is a colossal sea, that I've just taken a quick paddle in, so if you've got anything to say on the subject please post a comment below. I'd also be interested in hearing your stories of the great and the grim mods that you've experienced in your gaming careers. Remember you can find me on social media using the links below:


I'll see you next week! Bye!


Monday, 2 March 2015

If you see it: REPORT IT!

I've said this on before and I'll say it again: don't be the person to pass by a fire or an injured person, thinking "someone else will sort it". If you see it: REPORT IT!

I've made a little video for it, I'd greatly appreciate people liking & sharing the video to try and spread the word & keep our communities safe!