Oblivion Modding Update

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Welcome to another update on the Oblivion modding scene. Here’s a few community happenings and projects that caught my eye in the past couple weeks.

DarkOne from TES Nexus has put up a Files of the Month section similar to what TESSource previously had. Currently, Apachii Goddess Store ranks as the site’s most popular mod. This mod, from Apachii, adds a shop with Goddess Merchants that sell weapons, armors, clothes and more. If you’re not looking to buy new items, you can also visit the shop for training purposes.

At the Oblivion Files, this week’s honoree for ES IV File of the Week is Moving Paintings by Kevin P. Cook. Still in beta, this mods adds animated textures to paintings. Hmm, is this Cyrodiil or Hogwarts? :)

Because everyone loves unicorns, I thought I’d share Turamarth’s Umarithial the Unicorn Mount (version 2), which I spotted over at Planet Elder Scrolls. This mod adds the ability to ride a self-healing, armored unicorn. Oh, and you can summon your trusty unicorn anywhere that horses can normally go.

Finally, we’d like to wish a belated happy birthday to The Elder Scrolls Fan Union (TESFU). Last month, the site celebrated their one-year anniversary. The site is a nice place to discuss lore, fan-fiction, and of course, mods. Take a look here to see some of their projects.

Reader Comments

  1. Morroblivio won the third place even tough it has been declared illegal by Bethsoft and even if it has been kicked out of the site??

  2. We have said for years…and I mean years…well before Oblivion came out…that you cannot, in any way, shape, or form take content from one game and introduce it into another as part of a fan mod, whether it’s someone else’s game or one of ours. We have never been even remotely vague on the issue.

  3. Wow, as the admin at TESFU, I am very grateful for you guys mentioning us! The site has been great for a long time, and I’m humbled for you guys to talk about us. We’re not only a modding site though! :P

  4. That’s nice. The Morroblivion utility does NOT in any way, shape, or form take content from one game and introduce it into another as part of a fan mod. Stating that it does only proves your ignorance on this subject.

    You (Bethesda, not you specifically) have been repeatedly vague in every single forum post on the subject. You have censored all discussion on the subject. You have refused to offer any direct explanation other than “the EULA says so.” Poor communication is poor business.

    Please continue abusing intellectual property laws, though. I think you should go after Windows next. It allows you to copy files from the Morrowind folder to the Oblivion folder. Clearly, that is a violation of your EULA, and you should direct your legal team to send a cease and desist letter to Microsoft.

  5. Happy to mention your site hendrix. As I posted, we recognize that you’re more than just a modding site (that’s why I mentioned lore and fan-fiction as well) :)

    Anyhow…congrats on 1 year!

  6. Cheers for the heads-up on the unicorn mod *downloads*

    Being able to ride around SI will be neat. I try not to fast-travel too much, and running is tedious. Riding is a happy medium ^_^

  7. It was created to convert Morrowind assets for use in Oblivion. Not allowed. I’m not sure how it is we haven’t been clear on this. You can see the post here that has been up in the Mod FAQ for years in the Morrowind Mod thread and is also refenced in the Oblivion Mod forum.

    http://www.bethsoft.com/bgsforums/index.php?showtopic=106063&st=0&p=1772979&#entry1772979

    In case the link doesn’t work, it simply says:

    Can I import a model (or texture or song, etc.) from another game into my Morrowind Mod?

    No. The position on these sorts of things is very clear. You can’t take assets from any other game, including ours, and put it into Morrowind.

  8. Again, Pete, you clearly do not have sufficient information.

    Morroblivion is a UTILITY. It does not put any content into Oblivion. The USER of the utility does that.

    Blaming Morroblivion is analogous to blaming Photoshop because it can convert textures from Morrowind to Oblivion, or blaming 3D modeling software for being able to convert Morrowind meshes to Oblivion meshes.

    You can continue to uselessly regurgitate copy/pasted references to a unenforceable policy that does not apply, but it means nothing. You do not get to go after a tool simply because you are unable to go after its users.

    Stating that Morroblivion is putting content into Oblivion is a blatantly false statement. Repeating it only makes you look silly. If you believe that this is a case of facilitation, then say that. You don’t need to make false assertions.

  9. Photoshop is used for lots of other things. Morroblivion is not. It was designed to allow users to do something that isn’t permitted. It was specifically promoted as such on every site that had it available.

    I realize you are upset and think it is unfair. I believe it is a very consistent application of a rule we have had, and will continue to have.

    I don’t care to go after individual users. If you have the Morroblivion utility and are using it, there’s really nothing I could do about it, nor would I want to. But people promoting its use and distributing it on a web site is different, and we don’t allow that.

    This is much like our approach to adult/mature mods that introduce nudity and how we simply monitor how those are distributed and linked, not what they do or how any individual chooses to create or use them.

    I hope you understand that. I’m guessing you don’t, but I’ve explained it as best I can.

  10. “Photoshop is used for lots of other things. Morroblivion is not. It was designed to allow users to do something that isn’t permitted. It was specifically promoted as such on every site that had it available.”

    Again, Morroblivion has other purposes, such as (user-made) mesh conversion. The fact that it CAN be used for something that USERS are not allowed to do means absolutely nothing.

    “I realize you are upset and think it is unfair. I believe it is a very consistent application of a rule we have had, and will continue to have.”

    No, it isn’t. The rule refers to mods, not utilities.

    “I don’t care to go after individual users. If you have the Morroblivion utility and are using it, there’s really nothing I could do about it, nor would I want to. But people promoting its use and distributing it on a web site is different, and we don’t allow that.”

    Again, you have no right to attempt to limit the distribution of a tool simply because there’s nothing you can do or are prepared to do about
    users using the tool. By the way, all your failed attempt has done is serve to draw even more attention to the utility which is still easily found on the internet.

    “This is much like our approach to adult/mature mods that introduce nudity and how we simply monitor how those are distributed and linked, not what they do or how any individual chooses to create or use them.”

    Umm, this is nothing like that approach. Last time I checked, you don’t patrol the internet asking mod websites to remove adult/mature (read: OH NO FANTASY NUDITY) mods to satisfy your policy. Then again, your legal team created a policy so silly in reference to adult content that it isn’t even enforced on the forums anymore simply because it is so absurd.

    “I hope you understand that. I’m guessing you don’t, but I’ve explained it as best I can.”

    Well, you have gotten your first piece of information correct so far. I don’t. But what should I expect from the person who said the following?

    “We will continue to support the mod community as best we can and let them do the great things they do, just as we did with Morrowind.”

  11. “Again, Morroblivion has other purposes, such as (user-made) mesh conversion.”

    As I stated within the forums, we don’t take issue with user-mods being converted.

  12. Seriously ‘Fire your lawyers’, just drop it.

    It cannot be stated any clearer….

    “you cannot, in any way, shape, or form take content from one game and introduce it into another as part of a fan mod, whether it’s someone else’s game or one of ours.”
    It has been stated in the rules for years. Logically a program that enables violation of this rule will not be allowed. Ultimately it is their perogative regardless of the legalities and we should respect that or they may consider releasing a TES CS too much trouble.IMO
    Usually I try and keep out of it all given my penchant for getting in trouble, but this is just getting on my last nerve. They don’t deserve this abuse.
    You are going too far.

    The moving pictures are great, thanks for the link.

  13. Photoshop is a program that enables violation of that rule. Notepad is a program that enables violation of that rule (if you include scripts, dialog, etc. as content). 3D modeling software is a program that enables violation of that rule. Windows is a program that enables violation of that rule.

  14. Morroblivion was created with the ‘specific intent’ of violation of this rule. It’s main purpose of it’s existance is to enable use of assets from Morrowind in Oblivion. Regardless of what the intent was in any case, it has certainly been advertised with this as it’s main purpose.

    Photoshop, Notepad etc were not created with that intent, their existance is not to enable moving of TES assets.

    I understand your point, I just don’t think we have a leg to stand on here and I think we need to let it go.

  15. Indeed. I just don’t like to let Pete’s typical blanket accusations, false information, irrelevant copy/pasted quotes, and overall ignorance go unchallenged.

    Then again, being in PR basically makes lying his job, so I can’t really fault him too much for trying to make a living.

  16. In all honesty both sides have good points.

    But, the primary use of the Morroblivion utility was to convert contents of Morrowind to be present and compatible with Oblivion, which is advertised as the primary use for it. I mean its in the title :P The first thing u see is that it can bring Morrowind into Oblivion, which is a direct violation to the rules. Sure you can use it for other means but its advertised use is the one that counts. Most mods are shown as modifying in game content or replacing that content with user made creations.

    Plus the guy said there is nothing they will do if u use it for yourself. You just cannot distribute it, so if your just mad that u can’t get it, either make one for yourself or look in underground resources.

  17. Again, the utility does nothing illegal, by Bethesda’s own definition. They state that adding the Morrowind assets to an Oblivion mod is the violation. It is up to users to add the converted content from Morroblivion to Oblivion, which is the only supposed violation. Converting the content alone is NOT a violation.

    Pete likes to pretend that this is some obvious decision based on the vague rule, which, by the way, is posted in a forum thread. It is so “obvious” that Morroblivion existed for weeks or months, even having a large thread on the official forums, without Bethesda’s lawyers incorrectly determining that is was a violation of the EULA.

    Just because Bethesda doesn’t want to waste their time going after individual EULA violators doesn’t mean they have the right to go after a tool for the actions of its users. Additionally, as any intelligent businessperson would realize, going after the tool is simply poor business and a complete waste of time. All the action did was attract MORE attention to a tool that is not going away, since you simply cannot “remove” anything from the internet, while simultaneously generating a new source of criticism for Bethesda’s business practices. Of course, a businessperson didn’t make this decision; an ignorant legal department did.

    Of course, their EULA is a legal joke anyway. For example, it states that anything you use for a mod becomes their property, which is simply false. Not that this is anything unique to Bethesda; EULAs are generally recognized by consumer advocacy groups as being unfair, unenforceable, and, in some cases, illegal. Corporations and businesses happen to control intellectual property law in the United States, at the moment, so we’re stuck that way for the time being.

  18. Fire my Lawyers, you should do your research better. Bethesda has this rule about materials from other games for one simple reason. They don’t want to get sued by the company who created the game from which the materials would be taken. Everyone first thought is, why does this apply to Morrowind? Sadly it aplies because not all materials of Morrowind belong to Bethesda. Some belong to third parties who licensed them to Bethesda for use in Morrowind only. That’s why they can’t in any way support a utility that transfers them to oblivion (Or at least that’s the only theory I have heard that actually makes sense from any perspective).
    Now, in a perfect world without disease and war, Bethesda would tell us which parts are licensed in order to make a list of non-convertable assets, so that everyone could be happy. But the world is far from perfect …

  19. Well, I am not a lawyer, but from what I’ve read, my logic tells me that technically you are probably right (although I have no idea what a courtroom’s decision would be). Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to refuse to talk about it, or forbid discussion about it in their forums, or politely ask from websites linked to their official website to stop hosting the utility (even in case they would refuse, my guess is that the worst thing that could happen would be that Nexus or PES would be removed from the list of officially supported, mod-hosting websites)

    Anyway, you are missing the point here. It is not about whether it’s legal or not. It’s about how Bethesda would look to their licensors if they appear to allow discussion of such a utility at their forums. Bethesda is not the bad guy here, they are just doing what the must do. Let them do their job, and you decide for yourself what is right and act accordingly. Take also into account that (I hope I am not offending anyone by saying this) the utility and the surrounding mods have no plans to stop development. They just might be harder to find.
    In other words, the situation could be better, but it is not going to get worse than it already is, and I myself, am (relatively) fine with the way things are now therefore I don’t feel like complaining :)

    The opinions expressed above are not necessarily the opinions of Bethesda Softworks and they assume no responsibility for such content. :D

  20. “Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to refuse to talk about it, or forbid discussion about it in their forums, or politely ask from websites linked to their official website to stop hosting the utility (even in case they would refuse, my guess is that the worst thing that could happen would be that Nexus or PES would be removed from the list of officially supported, mod-hosting websites)”

    Correct, and I wouldn’t really argue against those things.

    “Anyway, you are missing the point here. It is not about whether it’s legal or not.”

    Err, yes, it is.

    “It’s about how Bethesda would look to their licensors if they appear to allow discussion of such a utility at their forums. Bethesda is not the bad guy here, they are just doing what the must do. Let them do their job, and you decide for yourself what is right and act accordingly.”

    Again, yes, I really have no problem with them banning discussion from their own forums, even though it is utterly misguided, as there are plenty of other forums where it can be discussed openly.

    “Take also into account that (I hope I am not offending anyone by saying this) the utility and the surrounding mods have no plans to stop development. They just might be harder to find.”

    Yeah, this is the absurdity of it all, really. A quick and easy Google search provides links to Morroblivion downloads. All Bethesda’s silly policy is doing is bringing more attention to the utility, and not doing anything to actually limit its distribution or availability. I would think Pete, of all people, would realize the power of publicity, but apparently not. Perhaps he’s too busy preparing to craft some lies about Fallout 3.

  21. But, from my point of view, their primary objective was not to make it disappear from the face of the earth, or avoid to draw publicity to it. Just to avoid appearing to be assosiated with it, or support it in any away. I don’t think they even care about the rest anyway.
    In regards to their explanation, I personally don’t care, since I know it was for a valid cause (although it took some research). Maybe it was a bad course of action from a public relations perspective (or maybe it was the only course of action, you can’t be sure unless you are in their shoes), eitherway it makes little difference to me. Therefore, I care just about the same whether the utility actually happens to be legal or not.

  22. Indeed, but now Bethesda has created a situation where they are forced to be the “mod police,” instead of allowing the actual people affected to do the work.

    For example, if someone creates a mod using music ripped from another game, the correct course of action would be for the copyright holder, not Bethesda, to pursue whatever action they deem appropriate. Maybe they wouldn’t care. Maybe they would. Maybe they would be flattered. Maybe they would be upset. Maybe they would want the mod removed. Maybe they wouldn’t. There are infinite possibilities that Bethesda cannot foresee, and attempting to enforce a policy that is literally impossible to enforce (due to the nature of the internet) is simply a waste of time and resources.

  23. Well, they just want to have their backs covered. Because, if a licensor sees the utility and gets pissed, he is not going to look for some unknown modder in a foreigh country to sue. He is going to aim for the big fat corporation with lots of money and he is going to use as his excuse in court that the company promoted the ripping off of his work through their forums. It might sound like a surreal scenario but the US is the land of surreal lawsuits that quite oftenly win their case …
    Eitherway, they are only policing their own forums and assosiated websites for that matter.

    I wish Pete would pop up now and share with us his opinion on the dicussion. But that’s not going to happen any time soon, is it? ;)

  24. Ok again, The utility was created with the purpose to bring the game morrowind into oblivion by converting textures and meshes to be compatible with Oblivion. Fire Your Lawyers isn’t going to listen though, and he not going to accept being wrong so just ignore him, he tends to ignore the facts that take down his argument.

    with that said

    In the readme i directly quote this from it:
    (I COPIED AND PASTED THIS FROM IT)

    “Hello, the goal of this small program is to convert ESP and ESM files from Morrowind to Oblivion.
    This program uses my other program NIF converter that is included.
    The goal is to convert a maximum of original module objects. Of course the landmass as well as
    textures, but also statics, activators, sounds of environment, weather, NPC…
    This is only one beta version thus be careful, it was tested successfully on Morrowind.esm, Tribunal.esm
    and Bloodmoon.esm (GOTY version, but that should work with all versions) and with Oblivion 1.2.”

    IT DIRECTLY STATES IT TAKES FILES FROM MORROWIND WHICH IS A DIRECT VIOLATION!!!!!!

    Now watch, he will probably ignore this :)

  25. I am not going to debate the legality anymore. From what I ‘ve seen, Bethesda interprets the EULA like the bible, they keep the parts they like and ignore the parts they don’t like. Like the part that states that every customized game material (aka mod) belongs to Bethesda from the moment of it’s creation, or the part that states that reverse engineering is a violetion of the EULA, and therefore all major utilities ever made, like MGE, MWSE, OBSE, OBMM etc are all copyright violations. At the moment, whether this utility is illegal or not is a matter that has no immediate effect on me and therefore I don’t care.

  26. @Ice-Cream Part 1:

    Yes, that is basically what I am arguing against. I realize litigation in the US has become ridiculous. Bethesda going after a tool instead of its users is similar to those licensors going after Bethesda instead of the tool (or, correctly, its users). Both are improper.

    As for Pete, I think he got bored.

    @Terminsk8er:

    Sigh. I’ve covered this multiple times. Why do you keep repeating the same irrelevant argument? Bethesda themselves have stated that the CONVERSION OF MATERIALS is not a EULA violation. Morroblivion only performs a conversion, and therefore does not violate the EULA.

    Please return when you can form an argument based on logic and facts, instead of straw men.

    @Ice-Cream Part 2: You are correct. Bethesda can obviously choose to selectively enforce (or not) their poorly written EULA. They would almost certainly never attempt to take control of a user-mod, as they know it would result in both legal action and extremely poor publicity that makes this publicity look like nothing. Although, with the lawyers they have, who knows?

  27. good point, i haven’t seen where you covered that… but also please re-enforce your argument with quotes or sources, otherwise they aren’t designated as fact :)

    Also, consider that Bethesda are already working on this. Someone releases an early form of what they are planning someday to throw on the market. OH CRAP, take it off the web before all our plans are ruined!!!

    There are always going to be 2 sides to the matter. Even if this isn’t true, they are the creators of the games so they have a huge say about what they can do.

    Also realize that the mod isn’t “banned” or “dead” its just no longer available on official sites. The creators still have a site and forums (not giving away). So basically its better to stop arguing about it, that is unless you don’t have anything better to do :)

  28. “Also, consider that Bethesda are already working on this. Someone releases an early form of what they are planning someday to throw on the market. OH CRAP, take it off the web before all our plans are ruined!!!”

    That’s not a legal right they have.

    “There are always going to be 2 sides to the matter. Even if this isn’t true, they are the creators of the games so they have a huge say about what they can do.”

    Law has a bigger say.

    “Also realize that the mod isn’t “banned” or “dead” its just no longer available on official sites. The creators still have a site and forums (not giving away). So basically its better to stop arguing about it, that is unless you don’t have anything better to do :)

    Google gives it away quite easily. ;)

    And I’m just continuing this partially for fun, partially to keep this comment thread alive for others to see, and partially for the hope that Pete will be brave enough to return.

  29. What is a EULA? It protects the company from any legal matters that could arise in a lawsuit happy world. Anything that COULD land them legally liable has to be accounted for and covered. The reason they “pick and choose” Is that they have to set a precident. If they allow it Eula or not they could be liable for something unforseen. This way they can say…we tried to stop it. Other things they might let go unless it becomes an issue. Aside from this, who cares? Morrowind is a great game. Oblivion is a great game. You might want certain things from one game to another, but in the end…why? WE just do not like being told we cannot. Pete isnt even saying that for our own use we cannot, we just cannot distribute it. If we ever want to spend alot of time and probably millions of dollars on a gaming genre we can right a eula we like and hopeful doesnt attract a lawsuit. Until then just enjoy what they do for us, which if you look is alot more than other gaming companies do. (in terms of the modding experience)

  30. ok. I read all this. What i get out of it is that it’s ok to convert a ‘user mod’ from one game to another, but you can’t convert ‘content’ from one game to another.

    Someone (who knows something) should really define what is a ‘user mod’ and what is ‘content’, and then tell me why the output from morroblivion is any different than a ‘user mod’. If a modder re-created all of the Morrowind ‘content’ with 3d graphics programs and photoshop – but did it by making new meshes and textures – how is doing it manually any different than doing it with a program?

    Someone is blowing a lot of smoke here, and I don’t believe it’s anyone from the modding community.

  31. An open letter to all. Including Bethesda,

    This is simply a case of “CYA” big time. Bethesda HAS to do this. They weigh the possibility of a huge lawsuit, against the possible increased sales of Morrowind, and come up with “Don’t touch this MOD with a ten foot pole” decision. In short, it’s a no-win situation for Bethesda. UNLESS, they could somehow sort out all of the licensing issues, and release their own Morroblivion expansion pack. Then it would be a win-win for Bethesda. Probably a legal can of worms not worth the effort, though. Do I need to remind anyone how much lawyers cost? If Bethesda just came out and said “If we don’t do this, we’re (hosed)” I think there would be more understanding and less confusion in the ranks. But companies as a rule don’t like to release statements that say “We‘re (hosed)” anywhere in the text. Very sensitive they are to public image.

    While I rant…Hey Bethesda! More expansion packs would prolong the shelf life of an already amazing game. The Modders have done that for you in large part, so far. A stand alone game that utilizes other areas of the map like Elyswhere or Blackmarsh( whatever you like), that could Also be used as an expansion, could propel Oblivion (Tes) into the area occupied by Pirates and other Sid classics (We all know who Sid is, don’t we?… My point exactly.)

  32. Thank you gstaff for the mention of TESFU’s first birthday. I realize that I am late with this post but I just wanted to say that we at TESFU have had a rather bizarre “dragon break” type occurrence happen there. But we will soon be moving to a brand new site and we will keep the membership posted and advertise when the move happens. And we are coming along on TESFU Town Mod, so thanks again for the Beth Blog on that. :)

    “A stand alone game that utilizes other areas of the map like Elyswhere or Blackmarsh( whatever you like), that could Also be used as an expansion, could propel Oblivion (Tes) into the area occupied by Pirates and other Sid classics (We all know who Sid is, don’t we?… My point exactly” … an absolutely outstanding suggestion Erik!! Bethesda take heart, listen to your community like you did with Morrowind. We want to see more provinces like we did in Arena.

    I’m a little confused and I believe that by now there is a Morroblivion 2nd edition that may do this – “If a modder re-created all of the Morrowind ‘content’ with 3d graphics programs and photoshop – but did it by making new meshes and textures – how is doing it manually any different than doing it with a program?” quote from Steph.

    However it was my understanding that originally Morroblivion took the EXACT meshes/textures of Morrowind and suited them poly-wise for Oblivion.

    I know for a fact that I cannot for instance, go into Lineage II’s texture folder and copy it into my Morrowind Texture folder and use it directly. If I like a dress in L II, I need to look at it and find a similarly shaped dress in Morrowind and then do my own artwork in retexturing the MW dress to look similar to the Lineage one. That way it is not an exact copy and it has become my own creation. That is the difference between “game content” and “user mod.”

    There seem to be more than a few mod projects that add Morrowind-style content, landmass, etc. into Oblivion … but are doing it by modeling their own mesh items. That is the way to go. Lifting actual Morrowind content is a breach of contract to the Bethesda employees who worked on Morrowind and did not work on Oblivion. That is my understanding.

  33. I have a problem at Bethsoft forums, whether the Oblivion or Fallout one’s. I enter text, like I am doing now, but the software does not recognise I have typed anything! If I try to post a new thread for example, after I hit ‘send’ it will come up with an error saying ‘post needs text’ or something similar. I tried PM’ing a moderator and had the same problem!

    Anyone know who I email about this – because I cannot do anything within the Bethsoft forums!