With Skyrim Special Edition finally hitting release, the future prospect of a reinvigorated modding scene for Skyrim is a pleasant one indeed. However, one of Skyrim's most notorious eyesores may prove to be a common sight for the foreseeable future, as the mod author of SkyUI says there will be no port for Skyrim Special Edition.
One major issue Skyrim faced very early on for PC players was the somewhat clunky and awkwardly big UI, with wasted space being the most common eyesore. Not long after release, SkyUI was the mod to have in order to make the Skyrim User Interface both more bearable and functional for PC players, featuring countless improvements that streamlined gameplay.
However, as Skyrim Special Edition released, the developer behind SkyUI made clear there is no interest in porting it to the new 64-bit version of Skyrim. This makes painfully clear that Bethesda hadn't even considered improving Skyrim's UI for the new release and we may be out of a direct solution for it.
Schlangster, the mod author behind SkyUI, has made clear that the SkyUI team is no longer active and has no further interest in putting in any more work. However, he does make clear that if someone else took up the mantle and took care of all the details, he'd be willing to list the update for them.
With the lack of SkyUI also comes another problem: the lack of a unified Mod Configuration Menu. The MCM portion of SkyUI provided a simple method for any mod creator to set up a menu where users could configure the mod they had just installed, providing an essential backbone. Without it, many mods will need to find an alternative to provide a settings menu for their users, possibly resulting in lots of clunky menus and less memory-efficient mods.
All in all, this setback may strike as a heavy blow for the Skyrim modding scene. Sadly, abuse is not unfamiliar to them. Five years is a long period for a modding scene to slowly decay, as expected. Add to that the infamous Paid Mods debacle that still sits uneasy with many, something SkyUI played a role in when they initially announced they intended to sell an upgraded and updated version while maintaining an evergreen free version. The entire event eventually led to a lot of grief and distrust for mod authors.
Finally, a more recent problem is the rampant mod piracy happening with Fallout 4 that no doubt Skyrim will have to deal with (again). Mods being downloaded from websites such as Nexusmods and being reuploaded to Bethesda.net with little to no intent to support or maintain it, or even make sure it functions properly. Not to mention that Fallout 4's own modding scene has certainly drawn away attention from Skyrim's.
With all these issues, it may seem prudent to doubt whether many big mod developers will find it worthwhile to tackle Skyrim Special Edition.
Calling SkyUI a staple and a requirement for the average Skyrim modder is nothing short of an understatement. But Bethesda seems hellbent to make as much money out of Skyrim with as little effort as possible. Truth is, had Bethesda even bothered to tackle the outdated UI, it would have been a harder case to make. Add to it that only a few years ago Bethesda and Valve were ready to throw modders under the bus with the Paid Mods debacle, I find myself asking for how much longer they can get away with things like these.