Tuesday, July 24, 2012

One last round of in-game Skyrim screen shots

A final collection of screen captures, just to demonstrate how much the game play experience has evolved for me. Compare these images to the previous group of Skyrim shots that I posted a week ago and you'll see some immediate and striking differences. Enough so that these collections feel like they come from two separate games--one with a stylized high fantasy atmosphere, and the other with a grittier, more realistic low fantasy feel.

Most of the obvious visual improvements are due to the addition of a climate and lighting mod. One that not only creates distinctive regional climates and new weather systems, but also different types of air. The mod pulls this off by generating dynamic humidity levels and the appearance of fuzzier, moist air on warm days, and its absence on crisp, cold, clear days with sharp levels of image contrast.

Click to enlarge

Later that same evening.

Interior shots

High contrast night shots. Also, an images to show off some improved texture mods and compression algorithms for sharper facial features, particularly around the lips.

The Dragonborn, armored up and ready for epic war

Northern lights in Skyrim

Showcasing the high resolution texture pacts for armors and other inanimate objects. While these were not included in the original game because of the limitations of consul gaming platforms, Bethesda has made them available for free download by PC gamers.

Featured mods:

This is definitely the last set of Skyrim photos that I am posting, though I will put up some Mass Effect character shots later on. Why the last? Because I'm uninstalling the game. Skyrim is an addictive sandbox world--a big open realm to explore and play in, and also to make up stories within. Aside from the sheer time drain, the latter is particularly problematic since imagining stories is what I do professionally, and having a game play outlet for my storytelling drive definitely saps that particular wellspring of creative energy.

Also, it's becoming a time suck not just playing the game, but experimenting with the different combinations of mods: downloading and adding them to create those new aesthetics and gameplay experiences. Just getting twenty or thirty mods to work together without glitching the game can be a fun challenge in and of itself.

This doesn't mean that I'm giving up on games entirely! As I've written about previously, games are now a big part of the genre experience for the readership these days. I don't think it's possible for science fiction or fantasy writers to stay abreast of the field without indulging in games. You're simply no longer a part of the dialog between the fans and the art if you're abstaining entirely.

So I'm going back to a strategy that worked well for me during my university years. I'll pick a major title in science fiction and one in fantasy to play from late December through February -- the dark and wet time of the year here in the Pacific Northwest, then leave off the rest of the year.

If you are a fan of artsy Skyrim game shots, I can warmly recommend the work of Dead End Thrills.com, a professional game photographer who has dedicated gaming boxes for producing, among other things, staggeringly fantastic Skyrim shots.

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