We opened a Pandora's box of sorts with our last update when we switched from Immersive College of Winterhold to Obscure's College of Winterhold. We made that switch because I received enough prodding from the community that I finally gave it a chance. When I actually started experimenting with OCW, I realized that a significant amount of content that exists in the guide is there for no reason other than that it was in Lexy's guide when I originally forked it. There are a lot of potentially good mods out there that I never gave a chance solely because they weren't a one-to-one upgrade of a mod already in the guide. That isn't fair to the mod authors out there, and it isn't fair to my users. I built the guide with the expressed goal of giving my users the best possible reference for my vision of Skyrim. That goal is entirely unattainable if I don't give new ideas a chance.
This realization resulted in a fair bit of discussion amongst the staff about what Skyrim should look like with a resolution that I was going to do a deep-dive of every aspect of Skyrim, picking one aspect of the game at a time, and decide what out there is an improvement, what is a detriment, and what we can use as inspiration for our own patches or mods. Given that one of the defining differences between my guide and Lexy's is the visual improvements we try to make, so it seemed fitting that the first thing we review be the individual holds that are such a constant in any Skyrim run. Unfortunately, changing almost anything about the holds causes the potential to seriously conflict with Immersive Citizens - AI Overhaul.
Anyone who has played vanilla Skyrim can attest that the vanilla AI is abysmal. I don't blame Bethesda for that one, nobody expected Skyrim to become as enduring as it has, and how average citizens react is understandably an afterthought to how the game itself plays. But... the reality is that in this ecosystem of heavily modded Skyrim, vanilla AI simply isn't good enough and some sort of AI overhaul is crucial. So how can we cope with both challenges? How can we make the holds what they should be without losing an actually intelligent AI? My solution, and the point of the poll I posted earlier, isn't something that will be quick or easy, but it does guarantee the best end result.
My proposal is to temporarily revert to vanilla AI just long enough for us to start reviewing the options for overhauling the holds, then creating our own AI solution tailored specifically to the hold configuration we choose. This gives us the flexibility to pick and choose whatever we want from the available mods, or even create our own custom solutions as necessary to provide the Skyrim we truly want to experience. It does mean that those of you who are more dedicated to immersion (myself included) will experience a Skyrim that we will consider sub-par for a little while, but unless I get hit by a truck before I finish, we'll end up with a much cleaner setup in the long run.
With all of that in mind, I encourage you all to think through what's most important to you and vote (or adjust your vote) as necessary. If enough people strongly oppose dropping ICAIO, I may be convinced to do the whole thing behind-the-scenes and not release it at all until it's done and over with. I'd rather do it piecemeal so that I'm not trying to manage two massive projects at the same time, and I know that even if I wanted to I can't make everyone happy all the time, but I do want to give the community a voice. It may be my guide, but I built it for my users... without you, there is no guide.