It is a testament to Skyrim’s design that despite being released in 2011, the game still boasts a large, dedicated player base, and name recognition even among those who don’t partake in the medium. While this is certainly a credit to the original game, perhaps the most significant contributor to the title’s longevity can be attributed to its capacity for individualized customization through addons called mods. Mods empower creators to fix bugs, extend features and even contribute brand new content to be shared and installed by the Skyrim community. Infused equipment is a culmination of my efforts to contribute to this tradition of improving the game by integrating new systems that remedy two of the game’s shortcomings.
The two problems I identified were a limited combat system, and an abundance of items with uniquely interesting but overlooked properties due to players having the option to craft powerful yet relatively mundane equipment. My solution to the two issues was to take the unique item properties and incorporate them into the combat system in a way that maintained balance and expanded moment-to-moment player choice. Additionally, I designed the mod to be customizable by users, extendable by other mod authors and compatible with existing and future mods. Such features, along with Infused Equipment’s general flexibility, are owed to the mod’s thorough employment of scripts written in Skyrim’s programming language papyrus.
My method was to translate the item properties into equipable abilities either to be used at will, or to provide a passive situational benefit. This gives a player access to the game’s more interesting abilities without the inconvenience of managing and lugging around an inventory of occasionally useful trinkets. Players learn the abilities by acquiring the items they are sourced from. They can then choose to “infuse” a piece of equipment with that ability, treating the item as though the ability is intrinsic to it without altering the item. This permits the player to use equipment they were planning to use otherwise and ensures compatibility between mods. To expand player options, abilities were tied to specific, conditional actions that could be performed intentionally by the player. An example of this would be an ability that only activates if the player attacks with their shield while running, making the outcome distinct from attacking when not running or without a shield. Integrating these abilities with the game’s existing move-set gives the player more combat choices without raising the complexity of player input or introducing compatibility issues with other mods.
To counter the perks of these new abilities I also introduced balancing mechanics. These primarily involved a store of expendable charges that would be used whenever a costly ability was activated. Abilities that are intended to be used once per combat encounter are recharged by travelling a certain distance and are unaffected by the player’s stats. A second method of recharging allows the player to sacrifice their magic effectiveness in exchange for charges that scale with stats that can be fine-tuned. Additionally, one ability promotes defensive playstyles by recharging every time the player successfully blocks with a shield. These constraints work in tandem to provide tradeoffs for activating an ability and affects how a player will incorporate the abilities into their general combat style.
Of course, given the community’s penchant for crafting individualized experiences, it was necessary to provide options for customization within the mod itself. These range from allowing the player to change restrictions on obtaining and using abilities, to changing how an ability performs under certain conditions. The greatest and most flexible feature of Infused Equipment is that it is structured to act as a framework for mod creators to build upon this plugin and create their own abilities and recharge mechanics. This is achieved by having the addons register themselves and their abilities to the main plugin when they’re loaded into the game. The plugin then treats the additions like any other ability by displaying them in responsive menus that allow the player to activate and customized the new abilities.
If you’re interested in joining with the 450+ unique users of the mod you can obtain it here at NexusMods. Alternatively, the source files can be accessed from my GitHub.