Luftahraan itself is a large city that was once one of the richest trading ports on Tamriel, but those days are long gone – lost in the wake of a series of tyrannical and incompetent rulers. Its current ruler, Sovereign Karsten Otherin – a man who tries to rule fairly, but whom many of his subjects would call a tyrant – is locked in an ongoing struggle on two fronts. He fights publicly with a rebellion known as the Soltinn, or the Hungry, but also in the shadows with the Kaldr, a shadowy organisation that is supposed to be his own secret police.
The Soltinn fight for the rights of the many destitute citizens of Luftahraan – they are trying to overthrow the reign of the Sovereigns and install a democracy. The Kaldr fight for their own, more sinister motives, although what these are is unknown to all, even their own members. All three parties, though, have an interest in Arkngzul, the colossal Dwemer Tower that looms over the city, and what may be contained inside of it.
An extensive and compelling main quest line with an emphasis on player choice. The player can experience the same events from two different perspectives with only a couple of repeated quests.
A great many side and miscellaneous quests, with more becoming available as the main quest progresses.
Well over 100 fully voiced NPCs to fully populate the large city and neighbouring farmsteads.
A new joinable guild, the Marauders, with their own main questline and island base. The Marauders are primarily a group of Nordic raiders, with some Redguard corsairs mixed in.
A fully integrated arena, where the player can bet on fights and participate himself. The arena features in the main quest and will also be a frequent point of conversation amongst the populace.
Luharaan ruled the city as Sovereign for just under 10 years, before disappearing in unknown circumstances. Rule passed to a family of prominent noblemen in the city, and thus began the long, unbroken line of Sovereigns that have ruled Luftahraan to this day. The 54th Sovereign, Karsten Otherin, rules in Luftahraan as the dragons take to the skies across Skyrim, but it is a very different city now. The power of the Sovereign has been squandered by poor decisions in the past and a host of factions vie with each other, each planning to pick clean the carcass of Luftahraan when Karsten’s power fails.
The foremost of these factions is the Kaldr. Created by Sovereigns past as a means to secretly gather information on goings on in the city, the Kaldr were later militarised and used to put down insurrections. Finely crafted into a weapon of espionage and assassination by a series of tyrannical rulers, their power increased until one Sovereign adopted the head of the Kaldr and named him his heir. Despite only ruling for four years before handing power back to the previous Sovereign’s younger brother, from this point onward the power of the Kaldr overshadowed that of the Sovereign. Despite desperate and concerted attempts to tip the balance back in the favour of the ruling family, the Kaldr remain a powerful force in Luftahraan, and not one entirely beholden to their so-called Lords.
Against this backdrop of internal strife, the people of Luftahraan are beginning to raise their voices – crying out in anger over the repression and taxation enforced by Sovereign Karsten in an attempt to secure his rule against the machinations of the Kaldr. This rebellion is small and poorly organised but, with the right allies and the right funding, the voice of the people could indeed overshadow that of their leaders.
And, towering above all of this discord, sits an ancient relic of times past; an edifice of the Dwemer. Superficially, the tower is controlled and guarded by Karsten, but in reality these guards are watching over a door that they themselves cannot open. The tower is locked, but the possibilities of what could remain inside have further fuelled the fires of conflict already sparking across the city. Whatever it may be that the tower contains, surely whoever controls the tower would control the city? Rumours abound, and, as those rumours begin to spread across the border and into Skyrim, yet more eyes turn toward Luftahraan.
Oskutin handed over the reins to Wheeze in June 2012 and realising that this chaotic “free contribution” method of development was not going to result in a professional and cohesive product. To this end, he organised and formalised the development process, created a website and created a team that is now known as Archon Entertainment. This team is the team developing the project today.
Hello everyone! Today I have an update for you from DoubleFelix, our primary architecture modeler. He would like to talk to you about his experiences modelling for Luftahraan and, in particular, the processes behind his model of Sovereign Hall.
Hello, I’m Doublefelix, Archon Entertainment’s newest modeler, and I would like to welcome you to the first episode of my Modelling Corner series where I say a few words about and post images of my creations for Luftahraan.
This is the new version of Sovereign Hall, Luftahraan’s keep, which is my biggest contribution to the mod so far. The creation process took one and a half months from start to finish, yet that time was but a breeze since I was following my passion for modelling in video games. The keep is easily twice as big as it was before, something that began to raise concerns when it comes to optimisation. The triangle count is about 40K which is comparable to the entirety of Windhelm Palace’s exterior. In order to raise the polygon budget of the castle, special care has been taken to ensure that the neighbouring buildings are less graphically demanding. Similarly, the detail of the keep itself is concentrated only in places normally visible to players, with only basic geometry used for areas that they are unlikely to reach during normal gameplay. Als,o to ease the size of the mod and gain performace, there are no custom textures employed in the keep (save for the custom banners).
Now, enough on the technicalities - let’s dive into the design. The city of Luftahraan is an independent Kingdom set between two major powers, Skyrim and High Rock. In order for it to have remained independent all these years, the city’s major structures and fortifications have needed to be impressive enough to humble any potential besieger.
The castle is very old, dating back to the 1st Era of Tamriel, when it was established as a base of operations for Luharaan and his expedition as they sought to settle around the tower. No more than a fort then, the building was expanded and rebuilt multiple times during its extensive history. This justifies the use of various textures and designs since available materials and craftsmen changed as the years went by. As Luharaan was of Nordic descent, I went for a style closely resembling that of Windhelm Palace. Since Windhelm is one of the oldest human settlements in Skyrim it was a perfect reference to how something from the 1st Era would look.
Everything began from the simple concept sketch on the left. Sharp arches stack on top of each other, and form arrows pointing up, emphasizing the verticality of the structure. The soft and round ornaments are left as a minority to the hard edged elements to give the impression that relatively crude methods of construction were used. Finally, the whole structure is elevated on high foundations to emphasise the Sovereign’s superiorty over all of the denizens of Luftahraan.
In terms of formal architectural style, I have been inspired by the German Gothic period of architecture. Most of the upper sections are taken directly from the top of Windhelm Palace. I think that that element is very nicely designed but because of its unfortunate placement, it goes unnoticed by the majority of the players - I for one only noticed it when browsing Creation Kit’s assets library. It went through only minor changes, mostly for optimisation’s sake (deleting unnecessary detail). This borrowing of elements from existing structures serves two purposes. First it saves a lot of time on development, and second it ensures that the new model matches Skyrim’s existing art style.
An important part of my modelling pallet is an all-axis variety. What I mean is that a wall should not be simply flat and two-dimensional, even when it has a detailed texture - it should also go inward and outward. For example, whenever another texture or element is used in the Keep, it is either protruding or receding by at least a small amount. This technique emphasises the difference in styles, making the object that much more interesting and giving the model its distinct silhouette.
I have been a part of Luftahraan’s development for around two months as of the time of writing, and I find it to be the best decision I’ve made in a while. Working for a project like this with other people is highly motivating, which leads to more asset creation. It’s a great field to experiment with modelling techniques as well as to learn the necessary steps to ensure that the end result is playable. Eventually myself, along with fellow modellers Tepa and Yurtex, will recreate the majority of the city in order to make it more unique and a more spectacular place.
Next time, DoubleFelix will talk about some of the houses he has built in the city, and how he has adjusted some of the buildings and fortifications around the city to match the style of the keep.
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