Balzu is a dark, Gothic fantasy total conversion for Oblivion. The emphasis in Balzu is on role-playing, mood, and atmosphere with a strong horror element. Customize your character's attributes and skills and choose from a variety of character traits, perks, and starting origins then struggle to keep your sanity and your humanity in a world where men turn into monsters and unspeakable horror lurks in every corner. Custom creatures, sanity system, role-playing persuasion system, and enhanced NPC AI where NPCs actually observe and remember your character's words and deeds complement a painstakingly detailed environment spanning multiple dimensions. Open-ended quests allowing you to choose whether you want to play as a hero or a villain with consequences for future quests and the potential to make powerful friends and enemies ensure that your experience in Durs, the world of Balzu will be unlike any other.

Announcement
I'd like to welcome stratman1 to the team. He's been working on designing the soundscape for Balzu: title theme, ambient regional music, battle music, etc. Stay tuned for some samples of his work. It's fantastic!

Team

stratman1: composer
TheMagician (aka Yithian): everything else

Recruiting

  • Character modeler for hair, clothing and race cosmetics and custom creatures
  • Concept artist for concepts, menu icons, maps, and environmental art (frescoes, mosaics, etc.)
  • Animator and rigger for custom creatures and NPC behavior (ambient activities)
  • FX artist for particle effects for custom magic effects (NifSkope experience)
  • Scripter, especially someone knowledgeable in the use of OBGE shaders (for sanity effects)

Features
Balzu makes extensive changes to Oblivion's default gameplay. Most of these changes are in the area of NPC AI and the persuasion mechanic which has consequences for combat, magic, companions, etc. All of the features below are currently WIP. Many of them have working prototypes in-game. Some of them are still in the design phase.
* Custom Character Gen. Balzu allows you to set your own attributes and skills when creating a character. In addition, you can select from a range of perks and flaws and choose from a variety of origins (determining starting location, gear, etc.). Balzu uses all-new races (only human at this point) and birthsigns, and adds a number of new classes (and changes some of the vanilla classes).

* 'Luminous' AI. Balzu uses custom AI enhancements which allow the actor to form an opinion of the player based on his or her observed actions. Actors will now notice what the player is wearing and the weapons they have equipped (quality, condition, amount), their current state of health, and the activities they are currently engaged in and make decisions based on this data. These decisions will influence what they say to the player, whether or not they will attack them, report them for a crime, pick their pocket, etc. Be careful: NPCs will remember what you wear, so if they see you commit a crime, they will give your description to the authorities!
* Persuasion Overhaul. Balzu completely replaces the vanilla persuasion mechanic with a custom scripted mechanic using the enhancements provided by the AI overhaul. Players now persuade other actors through the dialogue menu by selecting topics. There are eleven persuasion techniques (some are context sensitive). How adept a player is at any particular technique depends in part upon factors like Strength, Intelligence, etc., though all are based on the Speechcraft (or Mercantile) skill. In addition, each actor has a different 'personality': some techniques will work better on some actors. Some examples of new persuasion techniques include intimidation, taunting, seduction, gift giving, and begging.
* Disguises. Players may now disguise themselves as a member of a faction. Chance of success depends on a variety of factors, including the quality of the disguise, the intelligence of the actor being deceived, distance, light, and the player's Sneak skill. Suspicious actors may interrogate the player, requiring a knowledge of the faction on the player's part and a Speechcraft test. Disguising yourself as a member of a criminal faction will get you arrested by a guard, so be careful!
* Com
bat Decision. Enemy actors will no longer automatically attack the player. They will now evaluate the player's apparent threat before engaging in combat. Most animals will ignore the player unless provoked as long as the player keeps their distance. Bandits will not attack players if they appear to be stronger and better equipped unless they have superior numbers. Some undead will only attack players who trespass on protected zones or steal protected objects. Many enemies can be reasoned with, bribed, etc. Players may also request a truce, demand surrender, etc.
* Companions. Using Balzu's AI overhaul, it is possible to convince many types of actors to join the player on quests, hire retainers, acquire familiars, or develop romantic relationships with other actors. The actor's opinion of the player, and the types of activities they will engage in depend on a variety of factors including personality, skills, background, etc. Hire porters, mercenaries, alchemists, healers, enchanters and armorers. Meet a cute wench at a tavern? Ask her out on a date. You might be her type! (Sorry, relationships are restricted to spicy dialogue! :P)
* Extended Dialogue Trees. Players will now be able to query actors on a wide variety of topics, including their occupation, family, community, local landmarks, local services, religion, political views, etc. Players familiar with Morrowind will find themselves at home with these topics.

In addition to these features, you can expect a whole slew of spells and potions that tie directly to new AI features (like memory wipe spells and love potions!). For more information about how these mechanics work visit the mod's homepage.

Other Features
These features are in an earlier state of development, so I'm not going to say much about them except that I plan on implementing them eventually.
* Sanity System. The sanity system is on my 'must have' list but still exists at a theoretical stage at this point. All I'll say about it is that psychological disorders can be acquired through trauma (just like a disease), through a magical mishap (by casting a spell you're not able to handle), or by visiting one of the alternate dimensions. Your primary resistance to insanity is your Willpower, though they will be curable via spells, potions, etc. The effects of insanity will be emphasized through custom shaders (which I haven't really played around with yet).
* Dynamic Quests. I haven't really started working on the quests yet, but they will be implemented in a more web-like and less linear way. They may also interconnect, with your actions in one quest affecting the outcomes of other quests. Again, still pretty theoretical at this point.
* Custom Creatures and Tilesets. These are pretty labor-intensive, so don't expect to see these until a little later on. Suffice to say, I want 'em, so I'll make 'em.
* Custom Magic Effects. Again, something I want to do, but haven't gotten around to yet.

Requirements
Oblivion v1.2.0416
OBSE v0020
OBME v1.0
AddActorValues v1.beta4
OGE v2
Elys - Universal Silent Voice

Optional
Balzu will support the following music configurations:
Vanilla
Sound Commands
Enhanced Music & Control
Better Music System
Each platform builds on the one before it. For maximum music enhancement, use BMS.

Image RSS Feed Latest Screens
Persuasion techniques Persuasion mechanic, the response Persuasion attempt result
Blog RSS Feed Report abuse Latest News: Balzu has a composer!

2 comments by Yithian on Mar 12th, 2011

Stratman1 has recently joined my team and is working on designing the soundscape for Balzu: ambient environments based on regions, custom battle music based on factions, and the main title theme are currently in the works. Look forward to samples in the not-too-distant future. I'm hoping to make Balzu's custom music compatible with vanilla, Sound Commands, Enhanced Music & Control, and Better Music System platforms. Partial support for BMS has been implemented which supports custom music for each region.

I've also begun writing the code for Balzu's custom companions. Companions in Balzu are not like other companions: they are much more fully developed than vanilla companions, and much more independent than CM companions or companions acquired through Companion Share & Recruit. Although all of the robust commands/mechanics that you may be used to from other companion mods will be included in Balzu's companions, they will not be the 'magic bullet' that traditional companions tend to turn into: companions will have realistic abilities and limitations, will attempt to preserve themselves, and may refuse your suggestions if you have not earned their trust and respect. They might even get fed up with your behavior and leave. They will demand food and sleep, and, depending on the nature of your relationship, payment for their services. Although they are quite hardy, they may suffer serious injuries requiring medical attention and may even die of their wounds if not treated quickly. In short: they will no longer unbalance gameplay and instead will provide the interest and companionship that they are meant to.

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Spellbound
Spellbound Apr 25 2011, 5:13am says:

I see you're looking for a concept artist. I can make interface stuff for you (menues, health bars, icons, and even a map). Check my Deviant Art gallery if you want to gauge my skills. Spellbound7.deviantart.com

Spellbound7.deviantart.com <-- This is a map I made for a friend's DnD game. I also designed a custom UI for a StarCraft II mod but it was never used because the mod was abandoned, and I never uploaded it.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Yithian
Yithian Apr 25 2011, 10:53pm replied:

I'll send you a pm.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Antiscamp
Antiscamp Feb 8 2011, 6:31pm says:

I really like your ideas about modding and the creation of Balzu in general. Especially the way you design your world. I hand-design the entire world in my own mod as well, since the result is much more pleasing and overall a hundred times better than the mass produced random generated landscapes. I am looking forward to trying your mod out!

+1 vote     reply to comment
stratman1
stratman1 Feb 6 2011, 7:32pm says:

would you all happen to be in need of a composer?

+1 vote     reply to comment
Yithian
Yithian Feb 8 2011, 10:34am replied:

Well, it's just me atm, and I haven't really gotten to that phase of development yet. I'd like to down the road, of course, so if you've got some samples, I'd love to hear them. Just send me a pm.

I'm looking for a few different things: a title theme (some weird combination of moody/haunting/epic; haven't really thought about it yet), something that fits a dark and dreary wilderness, something loud and jarring and pulse-pounding for the combat, something eerie and haunting for dungeon-delving, something evil/menacing/disturbing for encountering creatures and situations that might drive you mad, and something 'medieval' and festive for taverns. They have to loop well and be generic enough to fit a variety of environments but original enough to give the mod a distinctive feel. Keep in mind that the mod is dark, Gothic, medieval horror, like Silent Hill or Resident Evil for Oblivion. Cutesy anime RPG themes aren't going to fit at all. :P

I'm also looking for ambient sound fx, creepy moans, wolf howls, crying babies, creaking doors, rats in the walls, that sort of thing. :)

Edit: There's no real time frame on this as the mod is still early in development. Feel free to take your time and play around with various sounds and styles until you find something that works.

+1 vote     reply to comment
WhiteWollf
WhiteWollf Feb 4 2011, 6:12pm says:

Good luck.. this does look rather good btw!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Yithian
Yithian Feb 5 2011, 11:20pm replied:

Thanks. I've put a lot of work into it.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Yithian
Yithian May 31 2010, 12:13am says:

Could go on for a long time, but I'll try to be brief:

Sanity: much of this relies on OBGE shaders. Too much horror/trauma could lead to psychoses like phobias, panic attacks, hallucinations, etc. Still theoretical at this point in development.

Magic: Most spells can only be acquired through faction membership: different teachers and paths will lead to different spells. Many of these spells rely on the enhanced AI component. The way spells work will still mostly depend on the mods you have installed.

Combat: Mobs no longer auto-attack when they see you. Bandits act like other NPCs and evaluate the threat that you pose vs the rewards to be gained. Animals, undead, humanoids, etc., all use different algorithms to decide whether or not to attack. It will also be possible to talk your way out of many combat situations using speechcraft. The way combat works will still mostly depend on the mods you have installed. The enhanced AI mostly changes how disposition/persuasion works but has a significant impact on the combat decision.

Other stuff: faction disguises, being arrested for wearing illegal faction uniforms, being fined for indecent exposure. These are all implemented but need more testing.

Companions: Just an elaboration of the enhanced AI: almost anyone can become a companion but will only provide services they are qualified to offer and only if you maintain good relations.

Crime: Witnesses will report crimes to the authorities in real time, so you can kill or persuade them not to report crimes to avoid bounty. If you have a bounty on your head, expect to meet bounty-hunters in the wilderness and rural areas.

Please bear in mind that these are planned features and will take a long time to develop, though I've completed dozens of scripts and written thousands of lines of code already. I have implementation details for all of these features but some of them are very early in development.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Spellbound
Spellbound May 31 2010, 7:29am replied:

Well I really like all of this - if you manage to get the realism right, the immersion will be very strong if you have all these coded in. I'll be watching your mod closely! Looks very promising :)

And good luck for everything!

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Balzu: A Dark Fantasy
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