Why Oblivion Sucks

 Part 9 - Modding

Morrowind's modding system had numerous flaws in it.  While this wasn't unexpected, considering that Morrowind was Bethesda's first attempt at producing a game that was completely editable by the user, most of the flaws that existed in Morrowind also exist with Oblivion's modding system.  And then, if that wasn't bad enough, some features are missing.

1.Oblivion's TESC (The Elder Scrolls Construction Set) is unstable.  It is not uncommon for the construction set to crash, hang, or lock up.  It crashes so much that it reminds me of the old DOS editors for games like Doom.  

2.There is no NIF exporter.  Which means it's very difficult to edit or add in new models.  Bethesda claims this is due to the Havok Physics License Agreement.  Simple solution? Remove the physics system.  Or use a company that doesn't have such a restrictive license agreement.  As stated earlier, the physics system is useless, it wastes resources and has no tangible value as far as gameplay is concerned.  

3.The modding system is still dangerous when it comes to saved games.  Morrowind's modding system was flawed on a very fundamental level.  Oblivion's is still flawed because no improvements have been made to the system.  It is extremely easy for a mod to screw up an entire saved game or conflict with another mod.  To add to the problem, a conflicting or buggy mod may not start displaying problems until hours of playtime later.  It wouldn't be so bad if all mods were removable but a lot aren't , just like in Morrowind.   Meaning that if a mod starts displaying bugs down the line and can't be removed, you must either revert to an older saved game hours earlier or start over.  

 The problem is that there is no seperation between data that a mod (plug-in) adds to the game world and the data that is in the master files.  Hell, there isn't even any separation between the master files themselves.  A saved game file is basically a snapshot of the game world at the time of the games saving.  In essence, it's like a master file except that it only contains state information about areas your character has visited.

The solution to the above problem would be to make use of a relational database.  A database in the saved game file itself that keeps track of every script, every entity, every modification that each mod makes as well as instructions on how to revert modified items to their original unmodded states.  

4.The use of hexadecimal values for entities and cells makes debugging extremely different.  In Morrowind, if you wanted to transport your character to Balmora, the command is COC Balmora.  In Oblivion, you must memorize or look up hexadecimal codes that have no meaning or relevance to the value at hand and only serve as index numbers.  The solution to this problem is also very easy.  It's called a reverse hash-table. Using a reverse hash-table would have allowed Morrowind style location and item codes with little performance penalty in the grand scheme of things.

5.Premium Mods are not accessible in the construction set.  This is another half-assed attempt by Bethesda to restrict your rights to legally purchased software.  This means that, short of using a hex editor, one cannot release mods that extend or expand upon the ideas or areas added in premium modules because Bethesda is under the misguided notion that their copy protection actually stops pirating.