User:Daric Gaersmith/Modding on the XBox

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01:09, 27 May 2014 (GMT): I'm back playing Skyrim once again. I am not in ESO, so please don't ask.


Transparent.gif introduction  
Transparent.gif This journal-like page is also a guide for other would-be XBox modders. I don't own any Elder Scrolls titles for the PC, only for the XBox, which is my primary gaming platform. PC gamers have the advantage of having the official Creation Kit, which is not available to console gamers, precluding both XBox and Playstation owners from using mods for Elder Scrolls games. But it is still possible, unofficially. As someone who doesn't agree that platform choice should impinge on the full enjoyment of a game, including mods, I am starting to discover ways to mod my Elder Scrolls games for the XBox.

Also, my non-conformist nature means that my PC is running Linux as the operating system, so this just adds to the mix, further complicating the process of eeking out the most enjoyment I can get from modding the Elder Scrolls games on my XBox.

User-Daric Gaersmith-skyrim xbox cover-art.png

Shall We Begin?

To mod, or not to mod, that is the question. Even the developers of Skyrim think it is unfair that console gamers don't have access to mods.[1]


“We'd like to see it happen, because it works, it's how we made the game. I think it's something really cool about what we do, but 90 per cent of our audience is on the consoles, so 90 per cent of our audience can't even see this thing. So if we can solve that we'd like to."[2]

— Todd Howard (Bethesda Game Studios)

The official line from Microsoft is that modding Skyrim on the XBox is "a big no no".[3] And I'm not holding my breath for Bethesda to convince Microsoft to change their stance on this, either. We're still holding our collective breaths for Microsoft to allow Bethesda's G.E.C.K. for FallOut 3 to be usable on the XBox.[4] There are so many arguments for and against modding on the XBox. For example, some say that modding of a single-player-only game, such as Skyrim, should be allowed as it doesn't give anyone an unfair advantage, as it does in multiplayer games.[5] Then again, modding a single-player-only game does potentially give the player an advantage when it comes to collecting Achievements. Other arguments are that user-generated content is inherently insecure, and could cause damage to the console; that when you bought your console and switched it on for the first time, you accepted the manufacturer's ToS, EULA, T's & C's, or whatever, that expressly forbid modifying the hardware or software.

Personally, I believe there is way too much misunderstanding surrounding this, as a Skyrim "mod" is essentially just "user-created content", which is made possible by the officially sanctioned Creation Kit. This has nothing to do with "modding" your XBox, which is generally understood to mean (allegedly) illegal hardware modification of your console. Also, while we're on the subject of terminology, let me be clear that when I say "console", I do not mean the issuing of console commands, unless explicitly specified.

I'm only starting out in modding Skyrim for the XBox. I have no previous experience with the Creation Kit, or even of using existing mods. The first thing to note is the difference between a mod user and a mod maker. Having never before even used a mod for an Elder Scrolls game, other than the official plugins/add-ons/DLC such as Wizard's Tower or Hearthfire, I will begin as a mod user, and advance later to become a mod maker, creating my own mods for the XBox versions of Elder Scrolls games.

Caveats

Before we even get started, there is one thing I have found so far in my search for pre-existent knowledge about ES modding for the XBox. This is essential information for anyone intending to follow what I am doing here.

Stop hand.png Modifying your XBox, either with software or hardware, can get your console banned from connecting to XBox Live, or worse.
As I have pointed out above in the statement by Todd Howard, this stance by Microsoft seems to be contrary to Bethesda's intentions. That said, I only ever play offline RPG games on my XBox, such as Bethesda's Elder Scrolls series and Fallout series. I have an XBox Live account that I used when I first received my XBox, but I have not renewed my subscription after that, and don't ever intend to. If I want to play online games, I will either use my Nintendo Wii (which doesn't cost anything extra to play games online), or play at a cyber gaming arena, using their online gaming guest accounts. If I get my own XBox banned from connecting to XBox Live, so be it. I take no responsibility for any else's XBox being banned from XBox Live. If you are silly enough to do what I do, you deserve all you get! You have been warned.

Objectives and Milestones

Backup

There is plenty of discussion on the Internet about the far-reaching effects of bans by Microsoft. Some even say that if you modify your own save game data and then connect to XBox Live, not only will your hardware ID be banned from ever connecting to XBox Live again,[6] but your data (including your profile[7]) might be corrupted by Microsoft's servers. It is wise therefore at this point, before doing anything else, to back up your data from your XBox. All of it. Here are some useful links about backing up your XBox.

Build Your Modding Toolbox

I have a very specific set of requirements when it comes to this project. Sure, I want to be able to modify my Elder Scrolls games that I play on my XBox, but I also want to be able to do it using tools that run on my Linux-based PC. While there are plenty of guides on the Internet for how to mod ES games on the XBox using the PC, most of them refer to tools that need to run under Windows. I still have a couple of licenses for Microsoft operating systems floating around somewhere, but I haven't touched them for ages, not even as a Virtual Machine. The tools I intend to use for this project should run natively under Linux, or, at worst, under WINE. I refuse to be forced to install a Microsoft operating system on any of my home computers, either as dual-boot or virtualized.


Links to Useful Resources

The following are some links I have come across while researching pre-existent knowledge about ES modding for the XBox. I make no representation about the accuracy of any information contained on the pages that I link to.

References

  1. ^ Dumitrescu, J.,"Todd Howards Wants to Bring Skyrim Mods to the Xbox 360 and PS3", Softpedia.com, Jun 13 2012, 09:14 AM, last accessed Mar 10 2013
  2. ^ Westbrook, L.,"Bethesda Wants Skyrim Mods on Consoles", EscapistMagazine.com, Apr 19 2011, 05:09 PM, last accessed Mar 10 2013
  3. ^ "Obsessive Power","Will I get banned for modding Skyrim?", Xbox.com, Aug 16 2012, 09:37 AM, last accessed Mar 10 2013
  4. ^ Jones, P.,"Mod Integration?", Xbox.com, Apr 15 2012, 06:14 PM, last accessed Mar 10 2013
  5. ^ "MetaXGross","Modding your Skyrim character", GameSpot.com, Jan 15 2012, 01:25 PM, last accessed Mar 10 2013
  6. ^ "malfunkshun","Software Modded X-box", Spacebattles.com, Sep 22 2006, 09:51 AM, last accessed Mar 10 2013
  7. ^ "alwaysonjohn","More on LIVE Bans, HDD Crippling, Possible Ban Causes", XboxScene.com, Nov 7 2009, 09:02 PM, last accessed Mar 10 2013