Natural Environments is my personal attempt to enhance and improve environmental components of Elder's Scrolls IV. The 2.1 version of the mod includes dozens of features, such as seasonal weather patterns, improved visualization of most celestial features found in the game, more than 40 new weather types (the default number is 7), and additional ambient wildlife species, such as birds and insects. Natural Environments also takes care of several minor annoyances that were present in the original product, such as opaque water surfaces, muddy underwater vision, visibly pixelated cloud textures, unrealistic meteoric conditions, and random weather changes. Most of the changes are cosmetic and should not affect the game's performance noticeably.
Natural Weather: responsible for all meteorological modifications. Natural Water: provides various tweaks for in-game water types. Natural Habitat: adds and controls more than 20 different types of birds and insects. Natural Vegetation: alters scaling characteristics of trees and shrubs.
v2.1.2 - Provided a temporary solution for a major bug with constantly spawning rainbows. Expect this issue to be fully addressed in the next version. - Created two separate versions of Natural Vegetation. If you don't mind the clipping issues, you can get the original %200 version from the extras folder. - Fixed various weather-related issues.
v2.1 - Corrected presentation of the new weather types with HDR turned on ('the yellow tint issue') - Made nearly a hundred of minor adjustments, tweaks and fixes over the 2.0RC1 version. Oblivion Planes are no longer affected by Natural Water and Natural Weather. - Rewrote the weather controlling scripts from scratch. Expect multiple climate-related improvements and a possible performance boost. - Provided alternative versions of Natural Weather with darker nights. - Added new species of birds and insects. - Included several ambient sounds. - Created rainbows. - Added Natural Vegetation. - Customized snow-covered northern regions.
I would like to thank the following contributors: - Michael Frank, for his generous submission of additional audio effects. - Mike Langman, for allowing me to use some of his excellent bird artwork (http://www.mikelangman.co.uk) - Artur, for supplying me with base drawings of insects (http://www.arthursclipart.com) - "bloodystump", the author of SeasonalWeather, for providing me with an initial template for my seasonal weather controller (http://www.tessource.net/files/author.php?id=37213) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for their contributions to the public domain collections (http://www.fws.gov , http://www.archive.org) - Svetlana Tael and all other supporters of the project, for keeping me motivated.
Natural Vegetation It is a very simple, yet highly effective modification that completely changes the visual look of the game. It alters several characteristics of trees and shrubs, making them appear much taller and more foliose. The overall effect drastically changes the game environment and adds a great amount of immersion to the gaming process. Proceed with caution: extensive canopy coverage and dense foliage can make it very easy to veer off the path and get lost in the forest. Natural Vegetation is the most recent addition to the package that has not been tested properly at the time of release. It should be completely stable, but some minor glitches may occur. Key facts you need to know about Natural Vegetations: - This mod won't affect your fps numbers. If it will, the difference should be nearly unnoticeable. - There are two versions of the mod: regular and 200%. The latter (found in Extras) produces much taller trees, but it also creates and amplifies several clipping issues that many people don't like. - Natural Vegetation (and all other Natural Environments components as well) can be turned on and off whenever you feel like it. - If you have any objections to the visual effect it provides, just disable this part of the package. I really enjoy the new look, but everyone is entitled to his or her opinion.
Rainbows "One of the most spectacular light shows observed on Earth" now can also be observed on your monitors. Rainbow arcs can only be briefly seen immediately after showers, right when the sun comes out. Since it's the newest addition to the package, some minor visual glitches may occur. If you choose to provide me with a detailed explanation of the problem, I may take my time to fix the problem.
Seasonal weather patterns and Climate changes Each season affects probability factors of different weather types. Winters are characterized by periodic snowfalls and 'colder looking' environments. Summer days look more lively and saturated with vivid colors. Falls and springs are transitional periods characterized by more often occurrences of severe weather conditions, such as rains and thunderstorms. Snow-covered Bruma region is confined to the 'deep winter' weather conditions. In addition, there are some time changes for all in-game sunsets and sunrises that allow them to last longer and look more natural.
Birds and Insects More than twenty types of birds and insects now inhabit vast expanses of Cyrodiil's airspace. These winged creatures are subjects of numerous limitations, they can't be killed or interacted with in any way, and they serve no other purpose but to provide players with additional levels of immersion and realism. Although all aerial wildlife tends to hide from severe weather conditions, individual endurance levels may vary. New creatures are also sensitive to the seasonal climate changes. For example, all insect types hibernate and cannot be seen during winter months, and birds can be observed traveling in flocks during the migration seasons.
Additional weather types Here's the breakdown on the new types. The total number of possible weather variations went from 7 to 44. There are 31 completely distinctive weather types. Each of the original 7 classes has been completely remade and improved; in total, they contain 7 Clear, 6 Cloudy, 3 Fog, 4 Overcast, 4 Rain, 4 Snow, and 3 Thunderstorm unique weather types. There are 13 additional types that copy cloud formations of the new Clear and Cloudy types mentioned above, but apply paler lighting than their counterparts, which makes their use more suitable in colder regions or during winter months.
Multiple Visual Improvements and Fixes All sky, moon, and stars textures have been replaced with better looking versions. Color and luminescence properties of the sun have been dramatically altered. The nebula has a new high-resolution texture and the moons no longer have unrealistic black borders around them.
New Precipitation Effects There are several new subtypes for each precipitation class. Snow and Rain particle emitters now produce more realistic weather effects. Raindrop size varies with each rain subtype, but generally, all of them look thinner, smaller, and more transparent than the original.
Natural Water This part of the package adds transparency to default opaque water surfaces, changes underwater visibility settings, and considerably improves quality of water reflections.
HUD Elements and Extras There are new visual styles included for the health/mana/fatigue bars and for the compass. Those who want to try an alternative visual style for the in-game Breathmeter, may find it in Extras. There is also a file named Bright_Torches.esp (also in Extras) that makes torches emit twice the light. If you find the nights too dark, you may want to try to enable this mod.
Installation Instructions (please read thoroughly before emailing me for help):
Before the actual instructions, here's a little note on Natural Habitat: you can control the distance at which all birds and insects are visible by adjusting the "Object Fade" slider (In-game: Options -> Video).
The zip already follows all directory paths. 1) Extract the zip into the folder named Data that's located in your Oblivion game folder (default installation path C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Oblivion\Data). Press 'yes' to rewrite files from the previous versions. 2) Open OblivionLauncher. 3) click on 'Data Files'. 4) Enable all Natural_XXXXX_by_Max_Tael.esp files. You can only run one version of Natural Weather at the time (See the note below). If you experience any problems (such as purple texturing or inability to see new meshes/textures in the game) with running this or other mods, please try a method of validating new files by using the Oblivion Content Validator utility that comes with this mod (you may find it in Natural Environments Unsupported Extras). However, Natural Environments is developed this way that it doesn't need any lines in Archiveinvalidation.txt since it uses personal folders for its components.
Important: Natural Environments 2.1 now includes 4 different versions of Natural Weather (regular, HDR, regular with darker nights, and HDR with darker nights). You can only run one version at the time. If you're not sure if you have HDR enabled, check it through the OblivionLauncher's Options menu. Failure to select the right version will impair the visual qualities of the mod. Darker Night versions are located in Data\Natural Environments Unsupported Extras\
Upgrade from 1.0 or 1.1: Starting from v2.0 Natural Environments uses personal folders for most of its files. If you have an older version of the mod installed, you may want to remove the contents of your \..\Data\Textures\Sky folder before upgrading to this version. Natural Environments 2.0 will have no use any of those files.
In order to increase compatibility, I placed everything I could into NaturalEnvironments folders. However, some textures seem to be bound to their original locations, so I had to replace them there. Currently this list includes the moon textures, and the new HUD elements. Now, 99% of Natural Environments can be turned off by disabling the .esp files that come with the mod through OblivionLauncher. 1) To disable Natural Water, uncheck Natural_Water_by_Max_Tael.esp in OblivionLauncher 2) To disable Natural Habitat, uncheck Natural_Habitat_by_Max_Tael.esp in OblivionLauncher 3) To disable Natural Vegetation, uncheck Natural_Vegetation_by_Max_Tael.esp in OblivionLauncher 4) To disable Natural Weather, uncheck Natural_Weather_by_Max_Tael.esp (or its variation) in OblivionLauncher. Remove the custom moon textures from \Textures\Sky\ 5) To disable the HUD elements, remove all files from \Textures\menus\hud, \Textures\menus50\hud, and \Textures\menus80\hud 6) To completely delete Natural Environments from your computer, remove all folders named NaturalEnvironments from your Oblivion\Data directory and all its subdirectories, remove all "by_Max_Tael.esp" files, and delete all custom moon and HUD textures (steps 3 and 4).
Conflicts and troubleshooting:
Natural Water will conflict with any mod that modifies default water surfaces (such as Advanced Water or Better Water). Unique Landscapes uses custom water types, which makes it completely compatible. Natural Weather is quite complex; it will probably be incompatible with most other weather and climate changing mods. Seasonal Weather, More Sky Climates, and Darker Nights are completely incompatible with this product. Natural Weather has its own seasonal weather controller and additional 37 weather types that cannot be seen by these mods. Sunlit Interiors 1.31 indoor weather forcing methods are currently incompatible with Natural Weather, but it is possible to fix this problem in the future. Please disable the above-named products before activating Natural Weather. I had to sacrifice some things and unnecessarily complicate others to achieve this, but at this time I'm not aware of any mods that directly conflict with Natural Habitat. Natural Vegetation should be very flexible in this regard, but if you plan on trying other forestation/environmental mods, I would suggest you to test them both with and without Natural Vegetation to detect any possible visual anomalies and choose the optimal style that will suit your personal preferences best.
Please use only one version of Natural Weather at once. Don't use the HDR version unless you have HDR turned on. Don't use the regular version with HDR - it'll effect in excessively yellow tinting of sunny weather types.
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