Thursday, July 30, 2009

End of Tribunal, Mournhold Expanded

Well, it turns out I couldn't stay away from Mournhold, because I wanted to try out Mournhold Expanded, a very large multi-mod, similar to Balmora Expansion in that it adds new shops, items, and locations, but it seems to add a lot more of these things than Balmora Expansion does. It does not extensively modify the existing Mournhold as BE does to Balmora, but contains its additions in several new cells accessed through doors added to the main Temple area.

But first, a bit about the Tribunal main quest

Unfortunately, any time I talked with the NPCs (there are hundreds of new NPCs added), they always wanted to complain about the horrible ash storms plaguing the city, which interfered with any special greetings they were supposed to have, which would have given me new mod-related topics to discuss with them. So, I figured I'd better follow through with the rest of the main quest just so I could get things back to normal, a necessity about which I complained in a previous post. My advice is, if you don't want to be more or less forced to finish things off in a hurry, don't turn on the weather control machine. After you do, there's not much you can do except plow through to the end.

That said, I have some nice things to say about the main quest, which I'll hide in a spoiler block. This is mostly about some unique and interesting architecture, but there are some spoilers in the form of information Almalexia gives you as you set off for the last quest. I'm not going to get into what you find at the end of this quest, or what happens:

Spoiler: Click to display/hide

Spoiler contains briefing info about final quest in Tribunal, and descriptions of architecture.

As good-looking as the corridors are, they're completely devoid of furniture (aside from the built-in benches), as well as containers. It's kind of a shame this nice architecture isn't utilised to its full potential, and is used only in one quest, much like the Imperial Library in Oblivion -- beautiful, but only visitable once, and only for a faction quest. I'll have to search and see if there are mods made using this Clockwork City tileset.

Back to Mournhold Expanded

So, with all obstructions out of the way, I went to go explore Mournhold Expanded. I spent several hours looking around the places, doing a couple of simple quests, buying some unique items and clothes, and picking up a new companion or two. The mod adds a water resort, a theme park with rides, fireworks, and entertainment, a horseback riding area, a shopping mall with restaurant, a huge waterfront area that I've barely begun to explore, and plenty of other stuff listed in the readme that I haven't had time to explore yet. One of the stores is a furniture store with custom furniture and decorations that you can buy and install in your own home(s). Several others contain collections of clothing from various artists, including Korana's Silk Wraps mod, which seems to be difficult to obtain on its own lately.

The NPCs are mostly good looking, but there's a strange mix of Better Bodies NPCs and the original vanilla models for some NPCs. This was apparently a necessity in order to include some of the new custom animation and poses, such as sitting and drinking, or playing in a band. It's just very strange to see these low-rez, blocky, mannequin-looking figures amongst the ones I've been used to. (Note image with dancers in foreground and musicians in background.)

Spooky Halloween-style ride at Almalexia Gardens

There's a lot to see here, and I'm just going to talk about one of the first places I saw and enjoyed. The amusement park is called Almalexia Gardens, and it includes many ride attractions in the same vein as the Pirates of the Carribbean ride. I believe the name was inspired by Busch Gardens theme park, since that park also has themed areas that recreate different countries, and that's what Almalexia Gardens does as well. There are different sections to correspond with the different provinces of Tamriel, such as Hammerfell, High Rock, Summurset Isle, etc. I haven't yet explored them all in detail, but they seem to have small regions meant to represent the climate and landscape of each area, with representative NPCs of those regions, exhibiting some of their culture, and something interesting and unique in each one. In the middle of the park is "A Year In Tamriel", which has a different attraction for various holidays of the year.

The first one I visited was the Halloween-style holiday, called "Tales and Tallows", which was full of carved Jack-o-lanterns, a mummy, spiderwebs, and other Halloweeny stuff, and (my favourite) a haunted mine cart ride. It has the theme park ride entrance look, with railings and gates made of dwemer architecture, and a queue of other people waiting to go on the ride, all of whom are more than happy to allow you to go on ahead before them. To the sides of the ride are a replica graveyard complete with ghosts, and a track with some other people in mine carts. Strong green lights predominate here, underscoring the fun-scary theme park atmosphere.

Pulling the level puts you immediately on the mine cart and rolling slowly along the track. I recommend being in 1st person view for this ride, not 3rd person, because if you're in 3rd person you can see yourself standing over the cart as it rolls along, ruining the illusion that you're sitting in it. Once the ride begins, you can't move, use magic, or change between 1st and 3rd person, until you reach the end and are released from the ride.

The mine cart takes you past about a dozen spooky set pieces, including pirate ships with skeleton crews, a haunted house with ghosts floating around, and others along the same theme, all bathed in green light. At the end of it, you can either go on it again in reverse, or go through the door at the end, which will transport you directly back to the Year In Tamriel lobby.

I'll be trying the other ones later.

More screenshots:

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