The Starfield Community Patch is a budding group effort hoping to address Starfield's inevitable bugs, and the mod authors behind it are already laying the groundwork for workshopping Bethesda's next open-world epic.
We spoke to members of the SCP to learn more about the group's plans – namely, how you prepare to mod a game that isn't even out and uses a new engine. At this stage, the group is focusing on preventing any roadblocks that could slow mod development once the game is actually out, but proof-of-concept tools are also in the works alongside organizational stuff.
"If you look at other large modding projects that exist out there today you'll find that quite a lot of them have suffered from growing pains at some point during development," the SCP tells GamesRadar+. "These problems often stem from questions around ownership, copyright, vision, etc. This is why we feel it's valuable to use the time prior to the game release to nail down these details so that anyone who chooses to contribute to the project is aware of how it all works, what is expected, and how their submission will be shared."
The group's goal is to establish a core team in charge of compiling the SCP's major releases, "but this team isn't fixed as modders may come and go as their interest in the project declines or they no longer have the spare time to contribute." The broader project, as its name implies, will be a community effort supported by Nexus Mods and built on a mix of what the lead modders dig up and what players report, including feedback sent through the SCP's Discord, wiki, and forum.
"Traditionally, Bethesda evolves the systems that make up its engine over time instead of swapping them out wholesale with each new game," the SCP points out. "While [Starfield's] Creation Engine 2 looks to be a significant upgrade there's no reason to think this trend won't continue - you can still find relics of the Gamebryo Engine used for Morrowind in the Skyrim game data. If you're eagle-eyed you can spot some snippets of the Software Development Kit the developers are using in the various Starfield trailers which strongly resembles the existing Creation Kit tool offered for Fallout 4 and Skyrim."
The SCP is also working with the teams behind mod libraries like Wabbajack and Mutagen in the hopes of "dramatically improving collaborative work on Creation Engine games." It's even reached out to Bethesda directly seeking "any details about the engine or the game" to help get their foot in the door, though it doesn't appear those requests have yielded results just yet – which is no surprise seeing as the May Starfield delay has pushed the game into early 2023.
It goes without saying that Starfield will launch with bugs; you can't make a game without them, and you definitely can't make a galaxy of over 1,000 planets without them. The sheer size of Starfield ensures that bugs will slip through production, either because they won't be caught until millions of players play the game, or because there simply won't be time to triage and fix everything before launch. This is where the SCP is hoping to assist players who may find their experience hampered or outright halted by technical issues.
"The thing to keep in mind is that a Community Patch like this doesn't necessarily exist because the game is bad," the group says "There are often small issues that don't really detract from the overall experience but would be considered bugs. Examples include things like objects slightly clipping into walls or a missing texture on the side of an object you almost never see. It's pretty understandable if the good people at Bethesda wouldn't have the time to address every single problem like this.
"We're confident that the release build of Starfield will be a strong, full-playable game at launch. Although there are almost always going to be a few rough edges that need smoothing out though … Our hope is that Starfield will be as revolutionary as Oblivion was back in the day. Bethesda has traditionally favored complex game systems over flashy graphics so we expect the game to be packed with complex game loops and immersive stories."
Elsewhere, Starfield fans are reverse-engineering star system maps using trailer snippets.