As you have probably realized by now, the fact that I started playing Oblivion means I will talk about it for a little while. I apologize if you happen to be a reader who hates that game with a passion. It is just a phase, and it will pass. I also promise to inject other topics in between my Oblivion themed rants.
That said, I wanted to talk about mods. A while ago I sat down and compiled a list of the best Morrowind mods out there. I wanted to do something like that for Oblivion. The only problem is that I don’t know the game that well yet. So here are couple of the mods that I have found worthwhile.
- Unofficial Oblivion Patch – fixes over a thousand bugs left in the game after the last official patch. It fixes broken quests, weird side effects, graphical glitches and all sort of other issues. I didn’t actually encounter any of the problems it fixes, but I don’t want to. Note that this mod did not fix the foliage flicker bug I mentioned yesterday. That one has probably something to do with my video card.
- Oblivion Mod Manager – A mod manager. I initially did not think I’m going to need one, but some Oblivion mods are distributed as .omod files which require this tool. Once I installed I found it quite useful. It makes managing the tricky mods easier, and it even has a utility which detects potential conflicts between the installed mods. It is good idea to get this if you are planning to install any mods other than the Unofficial Patch.
- DarNified UI – A UI redesign. I mentioned that I hated the console driven Oblivion UI. This mod tries to fix it introducing quite a few changes. It improves the hood repositioning some of it’s elements. It makes the inventory panels bigger and the fonts smaller so that you can actually see more than 4 items at the same time. It makes the map and journal windows much larger allowing you to see more. The UI is still deeply nested and broken up into components but it is roughly 60% less annoying. I recommend it. Alternatively you can try the more conservative BTmod which was used as a base for DarNified UI.
I complained about the self contained Oblivion cities last week and it turns out that there is a mod that fixes that. It is aptly named Open Cities and it does exactly what the name suggests. It removes the loading screens at the city gates, and makes them work like regular doors. It does it without any major impact on the FPS or slowdowns. It just works, which makes me wonder why the hell Bethsheda did not do this in the first place.
Unfortunately it has a pretty serious flaw – it conflicts with the Unofficial Patch mod. I don’t know why, and how but it does. The mod worked flawlessly for about half an hour, and after that it reverted back to normal. All the cities started to have double sets of gates, and once you entered them you could not leave. I was forced to disable the mod, and re-load from an earlier save. If it wasn’t for the Oblivion Mod Manager I wouldn’t know what has caused this issue. But apparently some of the fixes and scripting in the Unofficial Patch overrides the stuff in Open Cities.
In the end I opted to keep the Unofficial Patch rather than the City mod fearing broken quests, and game breaking bugs. I might experiment with it some more, at some later time. If you are not using the Unofficial Patch, I highly recommend it.
I also know that Oblivion has a fucked up leveling system. I haven’t been playing the game too long to notice it yet but I’m sure I will need a leveling mod soon. I hear that the Oscuro’s Oblivion Overhaul is one of the better ones out there, although I haven’t tried it. Any recommendations?
I also wanted to mention a weird bug I discovered that was not fixed by any of the patches. It happens mostly in or around the Imperial Isle City but I’m not sure it is tied to that location, or if it just happens there because that’s where I tend to hang out there a lot. It never happened to me anywhere else. It works like this: I’m walking around the city minding my own business and the game suddenly freezes up for few seconds. It goes to a black screen, it appears as if it was crashing back to Windows Desktop. But it doesn’t actually crash – it just shows me the desktop (at a very low resolution) for a split second then flickers back to black and resumes the game normally. Once it’s over, I can continue playing as normal. The only difference is that I can sometimes see my Windows taskbar icons flickering in and out in the upper right corner of the screen. Everything else is fine. When I exit the game my Windows resolution is reset to it’s lowest setting at 800×600 and stays like that until I change it. If I manage to play for few hours without this happening, and then quit the game my resolution is fine.
This doesn’t seem to be tied to how long I play. Sometimes it happened 5 minutes into the game. Other times I would play for hours, then visit Imperial City and have this crash. Sometimes it doesn’t happen at all. I noticed that avoiding wandering through the streets of the Imperial City and looking around to much helps me to avoid the bug. If I keep my trips short, use fast travel, and look at the road while I’m walking it doesn’t happen as often.
Anyone seen this before, or did I discover some unique combination of hardware and settings that crashes the game in a brand new way?
Note: It turns out that Open Cities is actually fully compatible with UOP (see the comments). The author of the mod confirms that it was tested against it. Something else must have triggered that bug.