There are some fans that play a video game, enjoy it, and talk about it with their friends. Then, there are fans that recreate entire games on new engines putting in hundreds of hours of work to relive the experience in high definition. This is a whole new level of dedication, resulting in the ambitious project known as “Skywind.”
Anyone who hasn’t lived under a rock for the past 4 years is probably aware of the 2011 hit video game “Skyrim,” the fifth installment in The Elder Scrolls (TES) series. Fans of TES are well aware that the series hasn’t always been as popular or as well polished as Skyrim, however. Older games in the series had far less manpower, less attention from the gaming world, and the games definitely show their age at this point.
“Morrowind,” the third TES game is the first I played in the series, and my favorite so far. Released in 2002, Morrowind explores a much darker area than its sequels, and gives players far less help in finding their way along in the game. Where Oblivion and Skyrim have very detailed and organized quest journals showing players where they left off and indicating what they should do next, Morrowind gave a brief journal of story points as players completed them and mostly let them put the pieces together. The quick travel system in Oblivion and Skyrim is absent from Morrowind, forcing players to make their own way across the map or at least pay for transport to the nearest hub city.
I recently stumbled across a group of fans attempting to recreate the world of Morrowind on the Skyrim engine, from the world and cities, to all the people and monsters who inhabit the island of Vvardenfell. Left at that, this may seem trivial or at best an ambitious side project. However, upon reading further into the work required and how many people have gotten involved, the magnitude of the project is absurd. Every inch of terrain, every building in every city, every cave and dungeon, every weapon, every piece of armor, every NPC roaming the streets and countryside, basically EVERY portion of Morrowind has been or is in the process of being recreated on a new engine. Models of creatures and people, the AI dictating what they do, the voices and sounds that they make all have to be covered.
Such a massive undertaking is only marginally impressive if done as a career. The staff of Bethesda Softworks do this sort of thing on a daily basis and get paid for it. The fans who are working on Skywind, however, do this simply as a hobby in their spare time. Music composers who should arguably be working alongside Jeremy Soule, designers and developers who could hold their own against the best of Bethesda’s employees, and voice actors rocking top of the line equipment are contributing to the project simply because they want to help out. To call this level of dedication “impressive” is an understatement.
I sincerely hope that these fans include this work on their respective resumes and get jobs doing this sort of work as a career. Such passion and skill shouldn’t be forced into free time or weekends, this should be what they do for a living. They’re definitely good enough at it. If Bethesda were to sponsor this and provide some sort of funding to reward those working it, I feel confident they would be happy with the final product.
Still in its infancy, Skywind is only available in alpha at the moment and only to those who are actually working on it. However, I eagerly await the day it is released in beta form, and when it has been as officially completed as a mod can be. The Elder Scrolls Renewal Project already has a working recreation of Morrowind on the Oblivion engine, as well as aspirations to recreate Oblivion on the Skyrim engine, albeit neither of these seem as ambitious as Skywind.
Those who have played any TES games, or anyone interested in PC gaming, I highly recommend you investigate the work of this amazingly talented group of people. If you have any sort of connections to video game development companies, please take note of the abilities of these people. They do this for a hobby, and progress so far is simply astounding. Imagine what they can do given a paycheck in addition to a goal.
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