Books of Tamriel

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Infragris
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Books of Tamriel

Post by Infragris » Wed Jan 25, 2017 11:39 am

One of the biggest headaches following the data unification has been the books list: prior to the common data files, each province mod had copies of the same books in their own resource files. All of these books have been added to the new data files, creating a mess of copies and variations. This is a problem in terms of data bloat, confusion, and for modders who need to sift through this list each time they want to add a book to a cell.

Due to the fact that most book meshes have different shapes and sizes, we cannot simply replace all books with approved copies. Therefore, the simplest way of dealings with this problem is to replace their contents with new, province-appropriate texts, which can thus be retroactively inserted into the gameworld without having to edit each instance of a book. As a bonus, this would also expand and diversify each province's cultural profile.

In attachment is a list of the current books in data, along with replacement notes as well as possible bugs. Replacement has been weighted in favor of TR, as they already have a lot of new texts and have used them most extensively throughout the gameworld. Otherwise, replacement has been balanced with content in mind: culture-specific books, like the the Adabal-a or the Aldudagga, should remain as they are in their home province and be replaced where they would be foreign. Do note that this does not these books should never show up outside of their province: they can still be added through leveled lists and in future release areas. Not all copied books need to be replaced in this way: faction books for the Legion and Guilds must remain as they are.

Number of books to be replaced:
  • P:C: 85
  • SHOTN: 26 + 49 vanillabooks: 75
  • TR: 9
Explanation of some notes:
  • Edits needed (“anonymous”): a number of books have apparently been sourced from a third-party website which amends an author to each text, resulting in "by anonymous" showing up a lot in texts whose author is unknown or which (like most myths) have no single author. This is not part of the original texts and should be removed.
  • Vanilla book SHOTN: these books are copies of vanilla Morrowind books using the special SHOTN book meshes. This makes little sense and results in data bloat and confusion. In time, the contents of these books should be replaced by new Skyrim-specific texts; if the books are not used in the gameworld, I suggest removing them entirely.
  • Bad lore: this refers to contents of books which do not reflect reality in the gameworld, oftentimes books added from later games. This is a rough assessment: I have not checked each of these texts completely, and this note should not be taken as a condemnation of an entire book.
Of course, not all books need to be replaced immediately: some books could simply receive placeholder text and titles. Inspiration can also be found in the vanilla books, especially generic texts like the Guides to cities and regions, maps, histories etc. that explain the basics of the gameworld. Multi-book series (religious, historical overviews, law) are also very useful to replace multiple books. We should also consider adding a number of generic business ledgers, shipping logs, etc. which can be used as filler in interiors without having to produce a unique set of books for each location.
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worsas
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Re: Books of Tamriel

Post by worsas » Wed Jan 25, 2017 2:49 pm

Vanilla book SHOTN: these books are copies of vanilla Morrowind books using the special SHOTN book meshes. This makes little sense and results in data bloat and confusion. In time, the contents of these books should be replaced by new Skyrim-specific texts; if the books are not used in the gameworld, I suggest removing them entirely.
Writing up skyrim-specific books for replacement of all vanilla duplicates seems like too much work to me. Additionally many of the vanilla duplicates cover typical world-literature within Tamriel, nothing you would only encounter within Mw as a province. If you want to get rid of all book duplicates, I think you won't get around doing manual replacement. I'm not even sure, if those duplicates are really as bad as you suggest. Though In case of skill-teaching books, i agree that it's being quirky.

If a certain book doesn't make any sense in the context of our version of Tamriel or the province it is used in, I agree, that it would make sense to replace it completely. If Aldudagga - texts should only show up within Skyrim, I agree, that TR may want to remove their version (they could resort to using our version for the Velothi mountain nords).

I don't think myself that the mere length of the book list is a main problem in the data files. Interior modders have shown to have problems at deciding which books are appropriate for the context of the place they were working on, which is not a problem of duplicates but the sheer amount of different texts without any kind of guidance for usage. I was considering doing a different way of constructing the ids for the books, but the id letter limitation and the fact that we had to differentiate between versions of projects didn't really leave any space for additional information. An outside source of information could solve that problem (wiki?).

To me this whole undertaking sounds like possibly bogging us down too much for comparatively little gain. A quickly written-up guidance on usage of books for people of all three projects would probably do five times the service of a major rework like this. Some duplicates are somewhat quirky to see for us in the object list but matter the less for the people that might one day actually play our mod.

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Infragris
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Re: Books of Tamriel

Post by Infragris » Wed Jan 25, 2017 3:52 pm

worsas wrote:Additionally many of the vanilla duplicates cover typical world-literature within Tamriel, nothing you would only encounter within Mw as a province.
I'm not saying that these books shouldn't occur in other provinces: any province should be free to use any book in the list where appropriate, but we should rectify the double/triple versions that we currently have - especially when there are no real differences between the books. It is a meaningless complication that goes against the reasons why we had the data merge in the first place.

It's also less work than you might think: with the multi-volume texts included, we already have about 30 new books in the literature section right now, plus however many we can retrofit from lore and general planning documents. Most of those I've written in a couple of months, and I have basic WIP files and concepts for another 20, easily. On top of this are basic information books: guides to cities, region descriptions, maps, faction books, etc. which can easily add up to another 20 books. If we keep the books as placeholders for now they can later be filled up with appropriate texts, with the added bonus that new books don't just appear out of nowhere but are integrated seamlessly in already finished areas.

It's also not just the clutter of the books list that bother me (though it's definitely up there) but also the wasted real estate: each of these books is a window into the world, a way for us to give locations and people more depth and realism, not to mention vital orientation for the player to understand what is happening around them. By using the same three books everywhere, we're wasting this potential. The number of books has to increase anyway. Morrowind features some 300 books (excluding the notes and scrolls): discounting books that can be used across the provinces, you still have perhaps 200 books that give insight into Morrowind and Dunmer culture. Without the copies and doubles, SHOTN and PC have about 80 books each, many of whom are books from Daggerfall, etc. that do not provide any information about the province or its people.

I do agree that a guide to the literature is important for interior makers, which is one of the things I wanted to use the wiki for. That is also part of the reason why I made this overview. But I feel like it'll be a wasted effort if we don't address the basic structural issues of the books list first.

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Atrayonis
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Re: Books of Tamriel

Post by Atrayonis » Thu Jan 26, 2017 7:21 pm

Totally agree with the guide for books in the wiki - TR has made some really nice casual literature (Breton magic Poirot!) that only got used once, in the Firewatch library, and never anywhere else.
Since we're sorta cranking out books at the moment (including obscure lore things, and some romantic comedy), this is something I had been hoping for as well.

That said, I think ideally books should go the other way - embrace the large area that Tamriel encompasses and have one version per province.
But, this is not an ideal world and replacing existing versions with other texts of the same vein should be good enough. TR for one is cranking out books at the moment, and some of texts could go and replace existing PC/ShotN books too if necessary.

worsas
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Re: Books of Tamriel

Post by worsas » Fri Jan 27, 2017 2:36 am

After reading your figures I agree there is still untapped potential for province-specific books.

I still have my doubts about the necessity of removing all text duplicates. In some cases the separation of volumes turned out different between the projects, which could give a nice touch, if the player gets hold of both versions of the book series with diverging visuals and separation.

But then again, it would make sense to elimate the skiil-teaching book - duplicates, at least. Some other book texts that should teach skills but don't do so yet, should probably get identified and freed from duplicates + assigned skillteaching and adjusted price. Identifying those could happen in the course of the general book evaluation that you are doing?

Feel free to handle this, however you wish, though.

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Infragris
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Re: Books of Tamriel

Post by Infragris » Fri Jan 27, 2017 4:59 pm

Thanks. Skill books are indeed another problem. Last time I looked over the Stirk file I found over five skill books in the same unguarded cell, which is not ideal. I was wondering if you would feel up to making one final adjustment to the book ID's in data? It might be worthwhile to separate the skill books, spell books and maybe faction books with their own prefix. I completely understand if you don't feel like it's worth the trouble, of course.

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Re: Books of Tamriel

Post by worsas » Sat Jan 28, 2017 6:12 am

I would prefer to keep all books in a single listing category, to be honest. I have only put the faction books into their own group, because they were otherwise difficult to identify. You will usually always view the object properties of a book you are adding to see what kind of text it is. At least that's what I've been doing myself in past interiors, I made. Adding the skill information to the id only makes us less flexible and adds additional workload to the book overhaul. My mind also prefers to see the books listed lexigraphically rather than according to their function with regards to the game mechanics. We are creating more a world than a game. It would be ideal to have thematical categories, if anything?

Also, keep in mind that the skillbooks in that interior have been added when the project was still using PC_Data when skillbooks were listed clearly separate from regular books.

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Infragris
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Re: Books of Tamriel

Post by Infragris » Sat Jan 28, 2017 2:31 pm

Yeah, that makes sense. We can make themed categories in the wiki, the way TIL does it.

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