Open Cities Classic

Yes. Surprise! It's another Oblivion topic. I bet nobody saw this coming, right? Well, did you? :)

I've never done any kind of serious tinkering with anything PC gaming related. I usually tend to play what's put in front of me and leave it at that. That is, except when it came to Morrowind and Oblivion. The number of community based add-ons has kept both games running strong well after their initial release, long after most other games are cast aside never to be touched again. Two years now for Oblivion, and believe it or not, 6 years for Morrowind! Yes, that's right, 6 years. An unheard of span of time for pretty much anything in the PC industry as a whole, let alone gaming. Most of us have swapped our rigs out at least twice since then. Morrowind is still going strong and still looks as good as ever.

One of the things I loved the most about Morrowind was the seamless feel of the world. You walked around, and everything was "just there". You only had to deal with irritating load screens when entering interior areas. The great outdoors was just that. That feeling was largely missing from Oblivion when it shipped as it quickly became apparent that something was different. Cities were isolated from the game world. Much like Bethesda had done with Mournhold in the Tribunal add-on for Morrowind. You couldn't stroll up to the gate, walk through, and enter into the city in one fluid motion. If you happened to be riding a horse, you had to dismount and then walk up to click on the city gate. At which point you were treated to a sometimes lengthy load screen as the game transitioned you inside. This configuration quickly became referred to among players as "closed cities".

Closed cities have some side affects due to how the engine has to deal with it. Internally, it's an entirely separated worldspace. You have Tamriel on the outside, which contains the wilderness, roads, farmhouses, priories, villages, and other smaller bits of stuff in addition to most dungeon and ruin entrances. Each of the 8 major outlying cities - Chorrol, Bruma, Cheydinhal, Leyawiin, Bravil, Skingrad, Kvatch, and Anvil are all enclosed and cut off from Tamriel. The Imperial City is a special case, composed of multiple worldspaces for each section. Sure, it may not look that way from the inside, but find a way to jump over that city wall and you'll be jolted back into reality pretty quickly as the landscape is mostly missing. Go far enough and the game will eventually realize what you've done and drag you back kicking and screaming. Or crash. Depends on its mood sometimes. This experience is especially jarring if you're in Anvil since the docks are outside the walls and are still very much considered part of the city. The load screen irritation is higher there. Worse still, this separation of worldspaces required some faked city decorations to be placed so that the distant views of them from the wilderness would look reasonable. In theory anwyay. It didn't quite work out that way in reality. Find a way over the walls and once more you'll be treated to a jolt back to reality in the form of fake buildings and unfinished landscaping.

It wasn't long before a mod team decided to do something about this. The goal was simple. Place the cities in the wilderness where they belong. Make it possible to seamlessly walk in from outside. Be able to ride your horse into the city and dismount in front of your favorite shop. Flee from attacking beats in the wilderness to seek help from the guards *INSIDE* the cities as well as the skeleton crews manning the gates outside. And yes, if you have the right mods to pull it off, be able to either fly in from above or climb over the walls. All without the annoying load screens. The project was called Open Cities, by Texian and Godhugh. Their first release of the project came quickly. Some 2 months after Oblivion's release. They opened Chorrol and freed it from its prison. Not long after that, Skingrad, Bruma, and Anvil had been done. After only 8 months from Oblivion's initial release, they had all of it done. Open Cities (OC) was not only shipped, but had already had several revisions to fix bugs that cropped up along the way. The only two not done were the Imperial City, and Kvatch, due to the complex nature of their layouts, the volume of quests that were involved, and the performance hit it would have caused on existing PCs of the time. Needless to say, I downloaded OC 1.1 very shortly after its initial release and I've been using it ever since. There also exists an alpha version of OC with drastic changes to Leyawiin to match more closely to the concept art Bethesda released for it, but that never really got off the ground.

It became apparent after awhile that there were still some problems with OC. Some quests were still broken. Minor anomalies in landscape tears, and some missing distance flags on city buildings. It wasn't anything critical and you could still use the console to get around the problems. But in the end I think the remaining problems hurt the mod more than the overall success of it helped. As a result, the mod lost popularity and the original authors got tied up with RL and left the scene. It sat neglected, needing to be cleaned and polished. Which is where I came along. It finally got to a point where I wanted to do something about it. So I began tinkering with the game's construction set. Fixing a misaligned wall here. Setting distant flags there. Cleaning out all of the "dirty edits" the CS likes to leave behind. I fixed up the broken quests, mainly because I happen to like the Dark Brotherhood quests the most and this mod broke them. While doing so, other scripting issues were plugged up. Upon closer examination, several of the landscape edits were found to be unnecessary which led to better compatibility with other mods. So once I was reasonably sure everything worked, and had taken Scales the Shadows through all of the known broken quests, I decided that it would be nice if the effort could be appreciated by more than just myself.

It took nearly another two weeks just to secure permission from the original authors. Godhugh was more than happy to see the effort made and has fully supported me in doing so. In the few days the update has been available, several hundred people on two different sites have downloaded it. Some of whom had forgotten the original existed and now had newer PCs to try it with. The response has been largely positive, though there are a few people who seemed resistant to the idea of the project's revival. I have no plans to break the mod back up into modular pieces because of the number of NPCs who have multi-city interactions. Trying to test for all the different combinations of which open cities someone has installed wouldn't be practical. Apparently that was the same reason Godhugh went with the all in one package. I also have no plans to revive efforts to rebuild Leyawiin according to the concept art. It's been tried a few times before and apparently everyone who tackles it eventually abandons their plans due to technical difficulties from the Oblivion engine.

OC was, is, and continues to be my absolute favorite mod for Oblivion and I've no intention of removing it. Even at the cost of other fine mods that do great things in the cities. But who knows, I may be able to provide compatibility plugins to work around these issues :)

OC can be downloaded from TES Nexus and Planet Elder Scrolls.
.........................
"It is pointless to resist, my son." -- Darth Vader
"Resistance is futile." -- The Borg
"Mother's coming for me in the dragon ships. I don't like these itchy clothes, but I have to wear them or it frightens the fish." -- Thurindil

Well. I guess that's that then.

       
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Posted on Apr 5, 2008 2:43 pm by Samson in: | 18 comment(s) [Closed]
Comments
While all I can say about most of that post is gratz on what sounds like a successful endeavor, but I do question where you said:

Samson said:

I've never done any kind of serious tinkering with anything PC gaming related.

Given what I know of your tinkering with FUSS and AFKmud, both of which I would consider "PC gaming related" in a very significant way, I'd have to say your statement doesn't ring true to me. :P

       
Heh. Well then perhaps I should clarify and say not for anything commercially produced, store bought, etc.

Oh, and remember where I said I have no plans to revive the Leyawiin revamp? I might have been too hasty there. We're talking a seriously improved city here. From what I saw in the CS and in-game testing, it appears almost complete. I'd need to do a complete run through of all the quests involved in the city but I think it would be doable to replace Leyawiin with what they produced. There appear to be some folks falling out of the sky for some reason, but I have a feeling that's a conflict with some other mod I have loaded.

       
Maybe it's just the sky falling for Chicken Little? ;)

Btw, I think Dragona had wanted to ask you some questions about Oblivion if you two can manage to catch one another online at the same time at some point.


And, I hope you won't mind a slight derailment of your post here while I wish you a very happy birthday! :)

       
Icarian flight ftw!

       
Yes, I'm reviving yet another topic only because it's related to my question and doesn't belong in the overly active ABR topic :)

I'm finally getting around to installing OCC, because, honestly, the load screens for entering cities really ARE annoying, and get worse with the more mods you have (Conner, take note). I noticed godhugh's OC Leyawiin Reborn on Nexus and it sounds like it would be a great addition but it's blocked. Reading above I'm sad to hear it's been abandoned.

So the question is, Samson; will you reconsider reviving the project? (Or have you heard of anyone working on it?) If the "drastic changes" were a problem maybe cut down on some of them? But of course, I don't know if that's possible. I guess what I'd really like to see is Leyawiin become the port city it should be. Kinda goes with my thought of Water's Edge being revamped/revived. I bet that whole bottom corner of the map could be awesome. Maybe throw in a few more quests, like Kvatch Rebuilt, to gradually revamp the waterfront or something ;)

       
Your powers of necromancy are astounding :)

A lot has happened with Open Cities since this thread was originally posted. This thread here was way back in version 1.1 land, and it's currently at 3.3.3 with 3.5 patiently awaiting release. The Leyawiin revamp is long since done and is for obvious reasons the most popular part of the mod. It's come a really long way since then.

       
Oh! :D
Good to hear!

Should I bother with 3.3 or wait for 3.5?
Any guesstimate of release?

(I guess I'm just a necromancer at heart ;) )

       
I was sort of hoping to get one more in the new Open Cities Reborn series ready but enough is piling up on the classic version that I really do need to get it out there and throw up a WiP release for the new layouts so that Leyawiin's revamp isn't made unavailable. We'll see, first though the DB mod needs to get finalized.

       
k, I'll go with 3.3.3 for now :)

       
Help! Help! Somebody stole my statue! :(

I've installed OCC 3.3.3 (full esp) and I've also installed Eternium's Chest of Arrows, and my statue at the north gate of Bruma is gone!

Has anyone heard of this before and know which mod is causing it?

I'm also having trouble with Eternium, if anyone's played it. I killed all the skeleton guards and the ghost skeleton of the guy (easy, they follow you outside and the Bruma guards kill them, lol). I got the book and key, read the book, but the key doesn't work, just says "this door needs a key" (unpickable message). Any ideas?

       
Well, I've done a little troubleshooting, and sorry to say it is OCC that causes the statue to disappear (has no one noticed this before?).

I removed Eternium, still no statue, so I put it back and reconfigured OCC for the individual cities minus Bruma, and it returned.

Might want to double check this with the new version. Yes, I'm proud of my statue and won't live without it :)

I also noticed the Eternium mod is different now without OCC in Bruma, the trap door is now locked and in a slightly different location. Haven't played through it yet, hopefully the key will work this time. Yes, I did use the patch too.

       
The statue thing is widely known. Even with the updated script in 3.3.3 the thing sometimes still fails to show up properly. I've tried all sorts of methods for getting it to copy over properly. What's there now is the most reliable I've got, and that had to be written by someone else.

You can try something though. I left the statue fixing scripts in place. Open the console with the ~ key, then try this command first:

startquest OCStatueFix

That should restore the statue in the OC worldspace. If it doesn't, then a more aggressive version exists:

startquest OCStatuePurge

This one will destroy all copies of the statue the game can find and generate entirely new ones.

If neither one of these fixes the problem, there's nothing I can do about it. The statue code is prone to error even in a stock game.

       
Hanaisse said:

I'm finally getting around to installing OCC, because, honestly, the load screens for entering cities really ARE annoying, and get worse with the more mods you have (Conner, take note).

Duely noted, I'll definitely be installing OCC once I get through my initial run of Oblivion before I go nuts with the other mods, not only because of your comment but also because it's one of the ones Samson and Dwip had recommended before. But I do appreciate your head's up about it too. And, after having read the above, I'll most likely be installing OCC 3.5 since I don't foresee reaching that point in the realistically near future anyway.

       
Cowardly Nexus User said:

The file didn't do what the description implied.


Right. So once more the endorsement system at TES Nexus leaves me to wonder WTF they were thinking when they added stupid reasons like that. The mod's description is pretty clear on what it does, and it actually does it. If chicken shit users won't say what the problem is I'm not going to bother pursuing a solution to it. Nor should I need to guess what my description implied.

       
You mean to say that your description didn't imply spam material type things like rapid penile growth and then *gasp* didn't deliver them either? What ever could you have been thinking releasing a product that way... *rolling his eyes*

       
No you shouldn't need to guess and people should speak up if they have a problem or don't understand. I didn't realize until just now when I went over there to look how diligently you're still supporting it, and how popular it still is. That's great, most authors would have abandoned it 600 comments ago, lol

And hey, 107 thumbs up and 5 thumbs down, that's pretty awesome! So don't worry about the noobs. :)

And I think I found a negative endorsement reason made especially for Dwip: :D

The file did not meet the user's high quality standards

       
Excellent. Now, if only I habitually rated mods...

       
*LOL* Would the rating mean anything if you went through and rated 90% of them with a thumbs down because they didn't meet your high quality standards? ;)

       
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