Barbadas Island (oblivion mod)…

Barbadas Island (oblivion mod) after the break…

Barbadas Island (oblivion mod)…
Whenever I review mods for the video game “Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion,” they tend to be small mods under 2 megabytes (megs) in size. Why only 2 megs in size or less? Well, that’s because a website called “Tesnexus.com” has decided that, unless you have an account, those are the only mods you can download.

So, whenever I review a mod of 2 megs or less, I try to err on the side of “At least it didn’t cause my computer to spontaneously combust in a showering array of sparks & fireworks.” Knowing that a full-fledged add-on like “The Shivering Isles” is many, many megs worth of additional goodness, a mod of 2 megs or less must compete on a smaller scale.

Occasionally, though, I am able to snag a mod that is larger then 2 megs. These mods, in my mind, have no excuses for amateur slopiness of any kind. None. Zero. Nada. It’s sort of like expecting a 15-year old not to take a crap in their pants when they experience a funny feeling in their bladder after eating a meal. By now, they should know full well how to operate a toilet.

“Barbada Island” comes in at 5+ megs so, right from the start, I’m expecting more then just a house mod in the middle of the wilderness. It’s written by “Awia & Rebel” although it’s mentioned in the description that there is also a “Black Bottle Bay team” (Black Bottle Bay being a city in the mod) so who knows how many cooks are stirring the proverbial pot.

When I downloaded the mod, it was at “3.0 Beta.” Uh oh.

I hate the word “beta.” “Beta,” in Oblivion mod speak, is, “Someday, eventually, if I feel like it, this might be completed but, most likely, I’ll be buying a new computer in about 3 years &, by then, a new Elder Scrolls computer game will come out & I will pay attention to that modding scene instead of this one. So, in other words, don’t expect competency.” Are all modders like that? No. Just a majority of them.

Also, let’s take a moment to discuss version numbering. You can not have both “3.0” & “Beta in the same sentence. No. Until you release a product that is somewhat close to how you envisioned it, the version number is less then “1.0.” At 1.0, you have released a completed product. Done. Fini. Out the door. Pop the champagne corks & have your release party.

Finally, let’s all remind ourselves of the beauty that is “OMOD.” An “OMOD,” in Oblivion-speak, is a beautiful file that you place into a directory. You enter the Oblivion Mod Manager (OMM), activate the file, & then merrily play that mod without a care in the world. When you’re done with the mod, you de-activate the file from OMM & you are… DONE! So easy, so simple, so clean.

If you like making mods with custom textures, sounds, maps, etc. so forth… Do your players a favor & build an OMOD! Build it now! No, I don’t want to spend five hours adding directories to my Oblivion game just so I can play your mod. No, I don’t want to spend 5 hours ripping out files from my Oblivion game once I realize that your mod is a steaming pile of feces. This is why I am very hesitant to review large Oblivion mods – Because spending my time adding & ripping things out of my Oblivion directory is in the opposite direction of that place called “fun.”

So, now that we’ve got that addressed, on with the review.

“Barbada Island” is a mod where you travel from the mainland to a small, crescent-shaped island that is dominated by “pirates.” Never mind that this place of pirates also has an Imperial town hall (apparently, the guards help out when the motto “Every man for himself” is taken a little too literally).

Attempting to arrive at the island for the first time evokes a quest that involves becoming a member of a ship’s crew & then fending off a pirate attack. After fending off the attack, I was eventually awarded with the “Pants of the Pirate” which was a hefty magical item, even for the mid-level character that I was.

When you get to the island itself, you’ll notice 2 things: Lag & a sense of incompleteness. On the surface, Black Bottle Bay is an open-world equivalent of Bravil in architecture. Of course, it could be written that the island itself is the “city” & that Black Bottle Bay is merely inside of that “city.” However, it was nice to see that the designers didn’t attempt an “Anvil” approach & let the entire city be out in the open. Unfortunately, a lot of detail packed into a large enough space means only one thing – Lag. The lag was noticeable enough so that I never felt comfortable in the heart of the city walking around.

Do you remember when the authors labeled this as a beta”? Well, the “beta” part comes into play when you attempt to interact with all of the people on the island. In short, all of the NPCs at Black Bottle Bay don’t do a whole heck of a lot. Sure, you can trade all sorts of goods with them but there are no significant dialog options. So, outside of the introductory quest, you are left with a pretty island of services but not a whole lot of interactivity.

Also, this mod, like so many others, decides to take liberties when attempting to match the inside & the outside of a house. There are several instances of where a house on the inside doesn’t match it’s outside but none is more apparent then with the Imperial Town Hall. The mod authors may want to reconsider making the interiors more realistic to how the exteriors are made or vice versa.

Without a degree of interactivity or quests, the island renders itself as a pretty exploration exercise. Here, the “beta” tag makes itself known as well. I noticed several incidents of objects (rocks, trees, other objects) floating above the ground. Other details that takes someone out of the immersiveness were the doors inside the old fort, as well as the outright “teleportation” to an odd set of mini-islands that ends in a small but (at the time?) unoccupied camp. This isn’t to be confused with “Lucky’s Island,” which is simply an island to the north of Barbada island with three adventurers.

If there were keys to be acquired for the “key-only” doors on the island, I never encountered them. Therefore, I had to cheat my way into two sections: One were the sewers & the other was a necromancer’s apartment in the city.

The sewers, thematically, need to be revised. It really defies imagination when you have an above-ground city that looks like a ghetto & then have stone-walled sewers underneath that. The sewers, quite bluntly, are better built the city. About the only way you could explain this discrepancy is if these sewers were somehow connected to the old fort remains that are behind the city. Perhaps, if they wanted to revise the sewers in that direction, they could even have old fort remains inside the city, giving an appearance that the city has been built up AROUND the remains. However, perhaps an easier direction would be to convert the sewers into an underground cave system instead. Seeing a cave would make more sense.

The necromancer’s apartment appears to be a quest in the making. When you enter the nearly pitch black apartment, two zombies attack you with a third waiting for you in another room. The apartment has clearly been ruined with scattered items everywhere. However, other then a dead necromancer in one of the rooms, there’s no indication of the story behind this incident.

Despite some of my observations, I feel that this could become a very worthwhile mod when it is finally completed. I saw a lot of nice accomplishments with this mod: It had it’s own map & the first quest had serviceable voice acting with it. There was an “open door” shack at one of the sewer entrances & I thought that this was a really nice touch. In the computer game, “Gothic 3,” all of the structures are “open” & that really adds to the immersiveness of that game. To see that type of immersiveness, to a limited degree, in Oblivion reminded me of one of the key advantages that Gothic 3 has over Oblivion.

I will not keep this mod on my hard drive; It is still being developed & really doesn’t deserve it’s “3.0” title. However, that doesn’t mean that I won’t be interested in updates. As soon as the NPCs have their voices & quests, as soon as the island is cleaned up of it’s floating objects & what can only be presumably place-holder objects (such as the doors in the old fort), I am sure it will be a nice mod. It is not, though, a nice mod today & that’s why I’m deleting it from my hard drive.

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