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Making penises in games: it's hard

Schlongs of Skyrim
(Image credit: Original image uploaded by galgaroth on LoversLab)

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There are mods to make the characters in just about any game you play naked. The virtual humans of Stardew Valley, Fallout, Fallout Shelter, even, and Hearthstone are all subjected to the whims of diligent modders. Every time I set out to grab mods for a new playthrough of Skyrim or Fallout 4 (the two most-modded games on Nexus Mods), I'm overwhelmed by the number of gravity-defying breast enhancements available. And yet the number of dicks on display? Dismal.

I first noticed this sexy mod dick-screpancy four years ago

Where are all the penis mods? One simple answer is that PC gaming, ground zero for modding, still suffers under the misconception that men (specifically cisgender, heterosexual ones) are the majority, when studies have shown that women actually make up half the audience. Game development still fights to retain people of marginalized genders, an effect mirrored in the modding community which requires many of the same skills. The mods they create reflect the interests of the creators and assumptions about the people playing them—but as I learned, that's not the only reason they're so pitifully rare.

After talking with modders and developers, it turns out that tacking-on the ol' wedding tackle is just plain difficult.

An unfortunate dearth of dongs 

When I went digging for more dick mods and the reasons why they're so rare, I discovered that for a few modders, scarcity is exactly why they want to create these mods. "All over the place there are nude female body replacers and [almost] nothing like that for men, and that's exactly the gap that I intended to fill with this mod" writes modder Ratrace, in the description for Better Males for Skyrim Special Edition

As Ratrace says on the mod's page, the dongs of Better Males are quite rigid, and not in the sexy way. They don't animate. It's as if you'd taped a banana to your character's crotch and called it a day (though for variety you can choose upward banana or downward banana, whichever suits your fancy). "Animating genitals [...] is something that is way over my head," Ratrace says. "A topic for the pros among the modders." Better Males isn't the premier expression of modded penis glory, but for many modders even that level of detail is unattainable, both because of the skills required and how games are built in the first place.

I first noticed this sexy mod dick-screpancy four years ago (yes, I have been stewing on it that long), when there were even fewer options. Today, there are a few more choices, with examples from Skyrim, Fallout 4, Resident Evil 2, and even Soul Calibur 6. Still, I expected more progress since 2015. I didn't intend to spend my work days looking for penis mods specifically, but here I am again absolutely livid that there aren't more of them. 

Skyrim Special Edition mod - Better Males

(Image credit: Better Males uploaded by Ratrace | Image uploaded by Honkman)

Ratrace tells me about some other notable contributions to the naked modding community for Skyrim, the well-known Schlongs of Skyrim and Bodyslide. But when I investigate, I find Schlongs of Skyrim is no longer supported by its original creator, gone from Nexus and available only on the adult modding site Lover's Lab. By comparison, boob mods are easy to find on Nexus for tons of games. Bodyslide, a body preset generating tool, supports penises, but I really have to know what I'm looking for to find them. Searching "bodyslide" alone yields pages and pages of fantastical boobs but very few penis presets. As one of the most-modded PC games today, Skyrim's few hard-to-find dick mods don't bode well for games with smaller modding communities. 

The creator of the Nude Greece mod for Assassin's Creed Odyssey (which originated as only Nude Alexios) explained to me that penises are at a distinct disadvantage right out of the gate. Characters in 3D games very rarely have them, and building a dong from scratch is a difficult anatomical proposition. He blames what he feels is a lingering taboo across all forms of media on naked nads. "In games that means Ken doll models that are hard to work with," he says. 

Feminine models, by contrast, already have the proper silhouettes right out of the box. Their bodies may not be highly detailed in the places that nude modders care about, but they at least have all the necessary geometry to begin tinkering with. 

"No studio would release a title with entirely flat-chested females," Nude Greece's modder says. He's right. Unless by specific stylistic choice, realistic-looking 3D games will always have women character models with some kind of breast shape. "So while female models are easy to strip, males need some level of editing or they'll look completely fake. The tools need to be available for mesh modding to even get one started."

Assassin's Creed Odyssey mod - Nude Greece

(Image credit: Ubisoft | Modded by Nude Greece)

Only a few pioneering games have launched with their own packages packed-in

Aspiring modders may not have all the requisite skills for enlarging or physics-ifying breasts, but they can start by learning to retexture the ones already there. When it comes to dongs, the barrier to entry is much, much higher. As Nude Greece's modder says, that means a lot more work up front for penis modders. 

Ratrace describes just part of the technical work required to slap a sack and shaft on a character. The mesh, which I think of like the chocolate skin of a hollow chocolate bunny, has to hold together in all the proper places. When a character moves around, the mesh has to accommodate that movement without just snapping back and giving you a view into the hollow inside of, say, an arm. Or a penis. Ratrace says that "painting" the proper influence or "weight" that vertices of the model have is tough enough for commonly-used areas like the line between neck and body, let alone the unexplored territory of penis to body. 

Nude Greece's modder encountered issues with his original Nude Alexios mod, where all of the crotches just looked a bit flat. "The first version got a good response despite having a pretty flat-looking crotch," he said. "Hopefully my next release will have more detail in the places that need it." He's learning the skills and tools for modding as he goes, meaning that progress involves spending more time modding games than playing them. Nude Greece's modder and I get to spend a few minutes bonding over our shared hope for penis-filled games in the future. We settle on Dragon Age as a good penis prospect—Inquisition being his first attempt at penis modding, and a natural fit given the softcore sex scenes.

Since we've spoken, Nude Greece released an update for his Assassins Creed Odyssey mod that suggests his skills are improving: "Adds depth to the v2 penis so it looks less flattened." Important progress.

The professional penis scene 

Even though we know designing after-market dicks is a chore, the discrepancy is there at the source in professional game development, too. Only a few pioneering games have launched with their own packages packed-in. One that we got a particular amount of pleasure from was Conan Exiles' "endowment" slider.

Joel Bylos, creative director for Conan Exiles, explained to me by email how his game's disco sticks came to be. "I was more interested in nudity for the adherence to the setting," he says. "The Conan stories feature plenty of it and nobody in the stories bats an eyelid at it. I wanted to try and normalize it in the same way in the game, both for men and women." Bylos also points out the generally mature nature of Conan's universe. Given that the game would feature plenty of violence, it would already fall on the mature end of ratings scales before considering nudity.

This was heartening to hear, as multiple modders expressed frustration that so many games give violence a pass but turn their noses up at nudity. "In Skyrim people get decapitated, burnt to death, electrocuted, bludgeoned to death, torn to pieces by dragons etc.," Ratrace says. "But the sight of a naked body is a no-go."

Bylos says that Funcom's experience with digital dongs was far less hassle than what modders experience. "I don’t think the penises caused us too much drama," he says. "If I recall correctly we used the same physics system for simulating cloth that we used for our wedding tackle physics." That too is an imperfect simulation, of course—I've never seen a penis as unanimated as that of Ratrace's Better Males, but I haven't seen one flap like a flag like Conan Exlies' do, either. Even with professionals working on Conan's willies rather than vigilante riggers hacking together body parts in their spare time, not all Wilhelms are well-behaved.

"For a period of time, every todger in the game decided to stretch across the map," Bylos says. "This was due to a cloth physics bug, but it manifested as every character in the game having a wang that stretched from crotch to the far horizon. We had curious developers 'following the stretchy dick road,' in order to figure out where the wayward members had buried themselves. As it turns out, they went to coordinates 0,0,0 and nobody found any treasure at the end of the journey. Shame, really."

We had curious developers 'following the stretchy dick road,' in order to figure out where the wayward members had buried themselves

Joel Bylos

After everything I've heard about keeping peckers in line, I ask Bylos if the work of sorting out all the various boner bugs was worth it. "For the amount of work involved, it would have been worth multiple times the amount of time spent on it," he says.

So perhaps we'll see more games following Conan's lead? "Sadly, but understandably no," in Bylos's opinion. "There have been a few (SCUM, for example) but I think that most developers don’t want to deal with the uncertainty (whether it involves the process of modeling characters or dealing with ratings)." 

It is a shame that Skyrim and Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Dragon Age: Inquisition, all of which could benefit from some dongs to better serve their realism or sex scenes, haven't included them as Conan Exiles has. All three have ratings from the ESRB, PEGI, and Australia's rating system permit intense violence and nudity or sexual content. It seems that where bodies are concerned, breasts are deemed a necessity but penises are still a luxury.

Modding Skyrim

If you're looking for more reasons to return to the home of the Nords, check out our list of best Skyrim mods and best Skyrim Special Edition mods.

By and large, dong development will likely continue to fall on our noble friends in the modding community. As Ratrace says, there's a gap to fill with fully-featured dong mods. Although the audience and talent pools may both be smaller than those for big-busted characters, both are growing. The original Better Males for Skyrim has a download total of 7.8 million on Nexus Mods alone, while Ratrace's version for Skyrim Special Edition is on its way up at over half a million. I don't have the skills to model and mod willies myself (though like Nude Greece I suppose I could learn). But I have, inadvertently, become a devoted lobbyist.

"I get angry too at all the bias against dicks. But that's how change starts," Nude Greece says.  "More dicks for everyone!" Modding penises may be hard, but we wouldn't have them any other way.

Lauren loves long books and even longer RPGs. She got a game design degree and then, stupidly, refused to move to California. She plays indie games you haven't heard of and will never pass on a story about players breaking games or playing them wrong.