The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Creation Kit: Putting the Spire in Proudspire Manor

by kaminazo

So, what got me back into game design after a 7 year hiatus? I took an arrow to the knee.

If you’re not familiar with that gaming colloquialism, it’s from Bethesda’s epic RPG The Elder Scrolls IV: Skyrim. I’ve been playing it here in Japan since its release last November (though technically it wouldn’t work here in Japan for a whole month after the release date). I played the previous Elder Scrolls title, Oblivion on Playstation 3 and computer back in the States like it was a religion. But more importantly, it was my segway into the modding community.

For Oblivion, I never really dabbled with creating content, myself. But, I did follow the community of other players on the internet who posted their own custom modifications and innovations. There are huge communities devoted to solely that, and most of the content is free to download! Woohoo! Skyrim is no different, and new mods keep coming out daily.

If you can get past all of the creepy adult-themed mods, there are some breathtakingly awesome improvements people have made to the game. Here is a list of the top mods some enthusiasts recommend downloading. My personal favorites are Enchantable Nightingale Armor, Glowing Ore Veins, and a Better World map with Roads. The bulk of the ones available are graphical improvements, since this installment of the game was made-for-console. (Consoles can’t handle certain graphical enhancements like a computer can, so the game is dumbed down a bit out-of-the-box).

So then what have I been working on lately? Well…back when I first started writing this blog, I was dabbling in the Creation Kit. That’s Bethesda’s freeware editing program for Skyrim, available as DLC on Steam. (DLC is downloadable content, Steam is the online game server run by Valve that controls games like Skyrim…it works a lot like XBoxLive and the Playstation Network do on consoles). I did all the tutorials on the Skyrim wiki to get my chops up and here I am six months later.

After stumbling through a few projects, I finally settled on one: an overhaul of Proudspire Manor, my favorite player house. I liked this house because the location was good, the city was pretty, and it’s small and easy to access. But the interior and various other glitches and problems made it a pain to use. So I took it under my wing to fix all the problems and add lots of improvements.

Problem #1 The rent is too damned high!

Proudspire Manor is the most expensive player house in the game and what you get for your money is…well…disappointing. All the houses are empty shells full of cobwebs and clutter after initially purchasing them. So then, you can consult a home decorating guide and buy upgrades from the local patron. Grouped by rooms, you can pay to upgrade the space, adding useful items and decorations in place of the clutter and mess left behind. But when it’s all said and done, you pay more that any other house for less stuff and a weirdly arranged house. It’s just a bit unbalanced.

So rather than change the costs (I actually made it a little bit more expensive), I made it worth the cash to buy and upgrade this house.

Problem #2 So there’s plenty of places to store all my stuff right?

Wrong. There’s only two storage chests, both of which are on the third floor in the master bedroom. It’s super-annoying after prolonged use to walk up three flights of stairs to grab your stuff, then back down to enchant it. (The alchemy lab and enchanter are in the basement.) So now each area has its own storage, which also saves time from scrolling through endless lists of unsorted spoils.

Problem #3 Let’s go look at the cool stuff on my porch…wait, why can’t I get back in?

There is an error with the patio door. It is linked to the Solitude Fletcher’s key to open instead of the Solitude Player House key. So you can become stranded outside if you go through the wrong door. I just put in a new door that works with the right key.

Problem #4 What’s this empty useless cluttered room in the basement for?

In Skyrim you can have companions. Ones that travel and fight with you. Ones you can marry. Even ones to look after your house while you’re away (housecarl). It would be awkward to find your housecarl sleeping in your own bed when you return home from a long dungeon-crawl, so they are given a room. Unfortunately there’s a bit of a glitch where this waste of space in the basement never upgrades to more than a sleeping bag and a few dusty crates. So…I just deleted it. Well, more accurately, I expanded the area and made it into something else.

Problem #5 Proudspire Manor, cool so it has a tower? Nope.

Why is it called ProudSPIRE Manor? I mean…sure, the entire city is built on a giant rocky archway extending out into the sea. But the manor itself is just a two-story house with a ground-floor basement. Where’s my  $36,000 tower?! I want a massive wizardry Hogwartsy medieval spire of awesomeness towering over my Imperial Nordic crib. So…I made one, accessible from the third floor living room. Now it is a very proud spire manor.

Innovations & Improvements

There’s more stuff: more places to put weapons and armor, more containers to store your loot, more mannequins to display your armor. The unused housecarl quarters is now an expanded basement upgrade with a smithing and crafting area. I cleaned up a bunch of lingering cobwebs that stayed after upgrading. And a whole host of other things.

Check It Out!