Thursday, December 13, 2012

My Players Rock

I absolutely love my players. I won't call them 'fans' because the root word comes from the latin for 'fanatic'. But I love them. After I come home from a hard day at work and there are comments like this in my inbox:

You created the greatest mod I've ever had the joy of playing. I don't know what to do with my life now that I've completed it.  - DarthJanine420

I just have to say this is a beautifully done mod, good voice acting, and even the conversations your NPC's had with Nazir and Babette. The murders that had to be commited and the ways to do them were just original, WAY better than Bethesda. But I can't complete this mod, because I just can't bring myself to... You know.... With the female NPC... I'm sorry, but I just can't. I have to stop with this mod as soon as I get to that part.
But I just want to say you are a GREAT modder. - Torok551

This is one mod I felt obliged to come back and comment on. I LOVE Averna's outlook on things. The whole mod was very well put together. - gogrick

I love this mod! Stabby is THE BEST! Very immersive. It was wonderful to have the same WTF? moment that the character would be experiencing the first time my health got low. I won't give away any spoilers so I'll just say the name of the place cracked me up. Averna is wonderful too- so dry. All of the writing and voice acting is superb. I'm not even done with the quests yet but I just had to drop by and give you major props. Thanks so much for this mod! - Nitro1a

Thanks so much guys for making all my hard work feel worth the effort. Ya'll are the best!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

New Review... in french

Someone made a video review of my mod... in french. I have no clue what he's saying it could be a terrible review but I choose to believe it's a fantastic glowing review worth sharing

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Rabbit Hole

So I made a video preview of one of the levels from my next mod, 'The Rabbit Hole'.
I play through the video with stabby, and it shows off all his powers so check it out!

Friday, November 16, 2012


From my next upcoming mod:
I love Dwarven Ruins. Their enemies are fun to fight as well.

I had fun experimenting with the Dynamic Lighting in Skyrim

Yes, those are vicious killer goats

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Kickstarter project cancelled

My kickstarter project for the sequel was cancelled. You can read the post for more details.

Honestly, a part of me knew the project would never succeed. But we live in a world where independent developers are getting funding every day to create games. Even super small niche games with very little mass appeal get lots of funding on kickstarter. Apparently a mod for an existing game is in a total different ball-park.

What surprised me the most was some of the hostility I read on the internet. Some people seemed genuinely offended that I was asking for money to create a mod. Many comments started out hurtful, with me being accused of generating a shitty mod and then 'having the gall' to ask for money to do what others do for free.

This I don't understand. What is so offensive about asking for money? People ask for money every day. Some provide soup for free (Volunteers at a soup kitchen) and some provide soup for a fee (Souper Salad anyone?) Should I be offended that a restaurant charges for soup, just because others give it away for free? Some seem to think that the profit motive is a sin, I honestly don't think a volunteer at a Soup Kitchen is any better or worse than a Waitress at a restaurant. Both are providing a valuable service. I guess some think the Volunteer is more admirable because she's not motivated by money, just compassion for other humans.

Was I motivated by money to make a Kickstarter? HELL NO. The kickstarter was an attempt to make a mod I could never do in my free time. If I did it to make money, I woulda started a project to launch a Business; Never once did I have the allusion that I could make a profit from developing mods. I just wanted to break even.

 It was an experiment; a failed experiment. But as the Mythbuster's say, 'Failure is ALWAYS an option' At this point, I just want to put the whole thing behind me, and focus on my next mod coming out.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I really, really hope this works. There is nothing I would like better than to work on the sequel full-time. Please check out this link and help me make The Dark Brotherhood Resurrection: Part 2

Sunday, October 28, 2012

OMG Switches!

They have these pressure-plate switches in Skyrim. Often there will be like a potion on a pedestal, you pick up the potion and OH MY GOD POISON SPIKES IN MY EYES!!!! If you try to put the potion back in vanilla Skyrim you get an exercise in frustration trying to precisely place the item back onto the switch, and hoping it doesn't fall back off.

Because a puzzle I designed was going to rely on such switches, I spent a lot of time developing custom scripts so the switches would be 'sticky' It makes them so much easier to use!

I know it's a silly little thing to get excited about, but it's minor victories in Human-Machine interfaces like this that make life worth living for me.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


I want to write about something very near and dear to me today: Perforce. It's a tool probably very few modder's know about, and boy should they ever! Perforce is the most used Source Control system in the Video Gaming industry. When I first started working on this mod, I was using Dropbox to sync my script files between my computer at home and my computer at work. As my mod became more complex, it became clear I needed something more powerful. I needed my own perforce server.

Here is a picture of my perforce client connected to my server
A lot of the files are named 'BetterDarkBrotherhood' or use the prefix 'BDB'. This was my code name for the mod during development. I eventually decided to name it something less arrogant.
On the left side of the image, you can see the branches I maintain. Each branch contains all the files I need to create the mod. I maintain three branches, one for Skyrim Nexus, one for the Steam Workshop, and the last is my Main branch. My main branch is where I develop and test all the new code. When I tested and verified that my changes fixed the final boss being unkillable, I integrated the changes to the branches, and then I create an Archive (The Skyrim engine packs all its assets in to archives with the extension '.bsa') the archive is what is eventually uploaded to Steam and Skyrim Nexus.

On the right side of the picture you will see a list of my most recent changelists. See, every time I update the mod, I then 'submit' the changes to the server. This change gets saved, so If i ever want to go back and play an older version of my mod, even if it was the version 4 months ago, I can!

The two branches are different in important ways. The skyrim branch has all the Audio I had to cut in order to make the mod meet the workshops 100MB limit. It also contains revisions of the audio before I cut their bitrate in half. Soon, i'll be going through and adding all the missing lip files as well.

By Sithis, look at the time! It's 4am in the morning and I'm still blogging!

Friday, October 26, 2012


Just finished uploading two major bug fixes to the mod. The first update on the Nexus was hudge, but that's because version 1.0 had more bugs than the workshop version! Because of a bad archive, users where crashing to desktop when using Averna's shouts, and none of the actors where moving their lips when talking!

  • Version 1.1 update fixed the Nexus bugs, but it also featured improvements to the quest Bring out your virgins (Some users were not getting credit for killing virgins)
  • Version 1.2 fixed a bug that was preventing Stabby from following some players, also prevented the mod from starting.
  • Version 1.3 fixed players not being able to kill the final boss.
So far I have only fixed the major bugs, ones that prevent players from finishing the game. There is a much bigger list of minor bugs I hope to fix this weekend:
- Mod adds a broken new 'Breton' race, causes an extra floating head in character creation screen
- The quest marker after Yuvon is killed points to the wrong place
- The Nexus version still does not have lip files for all Audio

Some might be wondering 'Why haven't you fixed the minor bugs yet?' the truth is, every single update I make has the possibility of introducing new bugs. Even Bethesda fell into this trap when their Xbox 360 patch caused dragons to start flying backwards!

So now that I have confirmed all the NPB's (non-playable bugs) have been fixed, I plan on turning my attention this weekend to the minor bugs.

Also, have I mentioned we now have a Wiki? It features a full walkthrough for the mod. It's not quite complete yet, I also plan on finishing it this weekend.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bugs, bugs, BUGS!

Ugh. Bug fixing. I'm writing this blog at work right now, I'm supposed to be fixing bugs for our build system but I really just want to fix bugs in my Mod!

Right now there are two main bugs people are experiancing:
1) Averna's shouts cause CTD
2) Some people can't start the quest
I have not experienced the averna crash yet, i'm gonna try it tonight, If anyone has this problem can you please email me

With detailed steps about what you where doing when the game crashed.

The Second one is very disturbing. Apparently a few people who have finished the DB questline cannot start the DBR questline. I'm asking anyone with this problem to please send me their save file.
By default your save games are stored in /My Documents/My Games/Skyrim/Saves
Please zip your save file and email them to me.

During the entire production of the mod I tested it with a save file that had completed the Dark Brotherhood quest. It wasn't until the last several months I started testing it with new save files, and found I had bugs to fix. If anyone was having problems starting my mod, i figured it would be people who started a new character, not those who had already finished the quest!

So, I have these two bugs to fix, and then I have to focus on my Nexus branch. I keep my mod in two branches, one for the Steam Workshop, and one for Skyrim Nexus. My mod has a few missing .lip files (these let the actors lipsync to the dialogue, so it looks like they are actually talking) I can't put these .lip files in the Workshop branch, because then i'll go over the upload limit. But nexus has plenty of room for me to add!

Tommorow i'll probably make a post about Perforce, and how AWESOME it is for Mod development, or any game development actually.
Until then, enjoy this excellent video review of my mod that was created by user SaioTV

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


There where two main voice actors for The Dark Brotherhood Resurrection: Part 1 . I myself did all the male voices, but my good friend and professional voice actress Meg McDonald (Lovingly refereed to as 'Meggers') did all the female voices, including the character Averna.

If the player buys a Torture room, Averna loves to hang out there

I struggled to give her good notes and direction with Averna, as her motives where always subtle and I didn't always take into consideration that Meg has never played an Elder Scrolls game. She did pretty good with the psychopathic, sadistic character, and her performance as a dying woman was fantastic. The part she had the most fun with, and the character I enjoy killing the most, is Susan Gold-Love

The only direction I gave her for this character was: “You are playing a drunk, rich teenager. The medieval version of a spoiled daddy's girl. I want this character to be as annoying as possible, I want the player to enjoy killing her

The performance she gave me was so stellar, I spent far too much time making sure the player could hear Susan's dialogue before even getting the quest to kill her.

Two Main Questlines

When I decided that the focus of my mod would be the introduction of two new characters to the Dark Brotherhood, I knew my mod was going to have two questlines. I could have had these two characters working together to achieve a single goal, but I knew their personalities would be very different. That would mean they would have very independent objectives. From the start Averna was designed to be the foil to Stabby's Gib. Stabby would be the silly one cracking jokes all the time, and Averna was the serious one who was busy doing creepy voodoo magicka.

These two characters had their questlines developed very differently. The philosophy behind Stabby's questline was 'addition'. Everything in his story is an addition to the existing world. He has two unique dungeons (not to mention his 'happy place') and every single character you kill in Stabby's questline is a person I have added to the existing world of Skyrim. (There is just one notable exception, more on that later)

Averna was developed with a philosophy of complementing existing assets. Almost all the virgins you kill in her quests are pre-existing characters. Her quests were an exercise in Skyrim's Radiant Story system. The first quest picks a random dungeon with hagravens that you haven't been to, sticks the Quest Objective in that dungeon and then tells the player to go get it! It was so much fun to test and debug these quests because they where different every time! Almost all of Averna's quests are driven by the Radiant Story System, I really experimented to see what clever scenarios I could concoct programatically, without having to generate any new art assets. I am after all, /* just */ a programmer.

I knew these two questlines would intertwine eventually, but it wasn't until about 4 months into production that I actually started playing both questlines at once and seeing how they interacted. That's when the headaches began. I never wanted to force the player to play the mod in a certain order or another. But I would have to set some guidelines in order to keep the system sound and my head in one piece. Fortunately the plots of both stories came to a single knot. There is only one spot where you must advance Stabby's questline before you can advance Averna's. It took a few weeks to untangle the threads into a single workable knot, but at the end of the project I was proud of how flexible I had made the game for the player.


When I first started work on The Dark Brotherhood Resurrection: Part 1, I tried from the very beginning to keep my expectations in check, and my scope narrow. My primary goal was to design a mod for Skyrim that I could complete in three months. I decided I would only be adding two new characters to the Dawnstar Sanctuary. I was going to let these characters have back-stories with relevant quests, but I wasn't going to let myself do more than 4 quests each.

Averna alway's means serious buisness, except when she doesn'tStabby looks so happy in this picture, it always makes me smile
[Averna and Stabby, the only two main characters I would be making for my mod, and they would only have a quest or two each]

I ended up adding several characters to the story (though only Stabby and Averna would be followers) By the end of the project, Stabby had 11 quests, and Averna had 8. It took me half a year to finish TDB Resurrection: Part1. Originally stabby was just going to give you 4 random guys to kill in interesting ways, but then I got the bright idea to tie these murders together in a larger arch. This ended up taking the mod in a whole new direction about two months in.

Honestly, what I am most proud of is the quests that I cut. About once a month I would evaluate my progress, where the mod was going, and what I was realistically going to be able to finish. A whole questline involving Stabby's search for a daedric weapon, and learning of his true parentage, was cut.
At one point after killing a wealthy victim and selling his things, stabby was going to invite you to drink at the bar, pick up some chicks, and bring them back to the sanctuary. I thought it would be interesting to script random conversations between the Dark Brotherhood 'groupies' and the actual members, but obviously the complexity and sheer number of interactions that would inevitably result was too much for me to finish in a few months.

Still, I am proud of sticking to my main objective: to produce a quality mod for Skyrim in less than a years time.