I spent a couple minutes to jot down some reasons why Skyrim was so flawed and why it could have been better, but I almost felt like I was wasting my time near the end and after a couple days of research on the issues that could make it a better game and the possible tools that could have been used to make the game, I found myself writing down about a hundred things wrong with it. For instance, that dog that you see up there. I'm quite sure that the position of the dog doesn't only have to do with navigation, but possibly even with failed implementation of physics. And with the fact that the physics of Destiny can be downloaded off the internet right now quite easily, it blows my mind to see that these kinds of problems ever occured in the first place, even if the team is working to fix them.
Skyrim was a great game, something I could easily spend hours playing, but definitely not something I feel like I can fully immerse myself in. The problems with this aren't just in the shoddy programming though, rather the fact that the game as a whole strays farther away from immersion than the previous games did. What I mean by this is that there are quite a few things from the previous games that I honestly feel would make the game a lot better than it is now that would just bring it from being Skyrim to being something entirely different. This reason, in all of it's sad, imageless and colorless truth, is the reason why I've decided to start putting together a small project to near duplicate the Skyrim Creation Kit with not only newer tech (including that which was present when Skyrim was released), but also with my own creative touch on the entire thing.
The Big 10 Top Features
For you see, I do not have a good computer for gaming. Actually, quite recently, my gaming laptop completely took a poop and now I'm stuck with a desktop computer which literally can not even begin to run Skyrim. So, this is why the things I've found have amazed me to the extent that it has.
Reason number 1: Water
Holy shit. Water. Okay, so you all know what the water of Skyrim looks like, you know that oily looking-flat water, and we all also know of the new realistic water that almost all games, including Battlefield 4 and other newer games, contain. So, you probably know where I'm going with this. Well, close. Except, in my opinion a little bit better.
Well, sadly, I think I'm going to have to say that making water that is EXACTLY like the new water physics and such is practically completely off the to-do list, because as far as open world games are concerned, it's almost WAY too power hungry. Remember, I'm working on an environment where I feel I should at least be getting 20 FPS when running the game.
Thankfully, this can be done when using something relatively close to this, something called Hydrax.
Skyx is an atmosphere system which not only looks beautiful (using volumetric [in other words, practically real] clouds) but running alongside Hydrax gives my computer, the one that CAN NOT RUN SKYRIM the ability to run it at 20 FPS. TWENTY. This is relatively the same speed that Obviously plays at on my computer. So, with that in mind, what we've done here is not only beat Skyrim's graphics with one quick punch, but also make it run on par with a game that came a couple generations before it.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not naive. I'm not saying that just because this alone runs super well on my computer, it will run just as well with all the small details that Skyrim includes. But at least we've made it this far, because creating the same scene withing Skyrim wouldn't run this well. I know, I've tried.
Reason Numero 3, The Texture Mapping (materials)
So, basically, Skyrim has next to no texture mapping. Although the textures of skyrim (or art, basically) is completely amazing, it's limited within itself, probably for performance purposes. Not that I'm okay with this.
First of all... Why? Materials are simply the best way to make up a world with color, because it makes the objects really have the look that the artists are going for. Instead, a lot of them must limit themselves to what normal diffuse maps (color only) are capable of because as far as I've seen, Skyrim has next to nothing else.
Now, if you're not well verse in computer graphics then you probably don't know a damn thing about what I'm saying right now, so let me enlighten you on the main maps that occur in game, defining them as I find on Google.
Diffuse Map - A diffuse map is what defines a surface's color
Normal Map - A way of using lighting for faking bumps and dents on a flat surface. This method allows for drastic improvement on the 3D appearance, without making a single change to the poly count (Poly count is a big thing that dictates processing speed by the way)
(Skyrim Barely Has)
Specular Map - Used to define a surfaces "shininess" or more-so, the amount of light that appears in specified areas of the surface. Strongly influences the appearance of light in the game world.
(Skyrim Does Not Have)
Ambient Occlusion Maps - Dictates how bright light should shine on a surface. Is relatively similar to Specular Maps in theory, but drastically changes the realism of a surface, much more than Specular Maps do.
(Skyrim Does Not Have)
Displacement Maps - When used with Parallax Occlusion, procedurally creates 3D definition in textures surfaces. In other words, making them look like they're actually 3D, rather than the flat ones we see on the surfaces of Skyrim.
(You guessed it, Skyrim DOES NOT HAVE)
The light in both of the examples stayed the same, in the same position throughout, but you notice how the second one gained a lot of dark value? This is because of shading it correctly using mapping. The ambient occlusion and normal mapping significantly improve the values of dark, but is this a good thing? Maybe not. But that's where this is even greater. Not only can this be controlled, so it can be brighter and maintain the very same quality, but the light is actually far away.
So what does this mean for the lighting on the original texture without mapping as far as lighting? Is it wrong? In my opinion, yes. It looks bad. And not on par with anything released on the same year as Skyrim. So, why didn't they use it? It must be performance, right?
Well... Probably not. Actually, you may be surprised to find that the transition of having these maps on and off affected my system the same exact way. There was no difference. It didn't slow down. Nothing. At all. So, basically, it's not that it slows down the system, they just didn't put it in there. Now, imagen the world of Skyrim with it's full beautiful realism and artistic appeal, and add these maps! What do you see? Do you know what I see? Perfection. And is it hard to reach? Well, seeing as I used one texture to generate all the maps that I used to make the examples above within less than a minute, I'm pretty sure it's not that hard. It's easy. And who doesn't like easy things that will make your game look a millions times better?
And so far... That's it. I'm going to stop the topic here and let you know more later. For now, I'm leaving you with this little bit of information on the plans for the development, because it's not only still in the process of being developed, but I'm still putting a lot of thought into how this can work the way I want it to. The idea is to take all of the complaints I made before and replace them, but not only that, add in new features that Skyrim has never seen before. I'm not going to focus on making this an actual game, but more of an open source project that anyone can just pick up start using to design a game that beats Skyrim. Not rivals. Beats. Because this engine will have all the systems withing Skyrim, down to the core, but better, optimized, more realistic, and more beautiful.
That's the goal of the Kiira Creation Kit. One Kit to rule them all.
Stay tuned for more updates on the project, because I listed graphics first because it's actually the smallest change of them all. Literally the smallest, although it's such a big change. That should give you some idea of what you can expect to see from the final product.