Modders United

This is repeated from my post in a fun BGS thread that Elys started late last year, called Modders United:

What is the first unreleased (personal use) mod you ever made, for what game, and what was its purpose?

I definitely think my start came from the old PNP (pen & paper) days making up adventures for white box D&D, AD&D, Traveler, Gamma World, Space Opera, Wizards, Melee, Champions, GURPS and probably some others. In addition to crafting new stories and dungeons, I wrote a lot of new rule systems to expand and improve those games for myself and my friends. Eventually, I worked on several different complete RPG rule systems, none of which ever got completely finished.

I also attempted to write several text-based CRPGs, but I didn't really devote enough time to it. Way too much work starting from scratch with limited tools (BASIC on the Sinclair ZX80).

More than 20 years later, I got hooked on Morrowind. I first doodled with the CS just out of curiosity, but gradually started figuring out how to resolve bugs and incompatibilities between various mods I wanted to play together (all those terrible overlaps in Balmora!), making some houses for myself, etc. Later, I started a large project to make a new island with a town, NPCs, a large castle and some quests using a ton of great resources released to the community. I also put a lot of work into a Fighter-Thief gear mod. I never finished any of these because Oblivion came out ...

What is the first mod you ever released, for what game and what was its purpose?

I got involved early in helping out with a lot of big projects for Oblivion, such as Oscuro's Overhaul and Qarl's Textures, as well as writing guides and FAQs, etc. Aside from those huge projects, my only actual releases were small tweaks and patches here and there, like Skingrad Roof Textures for QTP2.

What is the game on which you loved or still love creating mod because of its "moddability"?

Morrowind and Oblivion. Despite many flaws and frustrations, modding these games is a lot of fun. The extent of what's already been done and what's possible for the future is truly amazing.

What is your first motivation for creating a mod?
[X] For my personal use
[X] For others to enjoy
[X] Just for fun of it
[X] Other reason: specify...

All of the above. I love playing mods other people have made as well as making them myself. I'm fascinated by almost every aspect of modding, from the gritty code details all the way up to community dynamics.

What is the kind of mod you create?

I'm not sure I can easily answer that. Most of my released work is very heavily dominated by compatibility patches so far, but I also very much enjoy working on textures and I'm getting to be fairly good with Blender lately. Eventually, I hope to make some complete quests, but who knows when that will actually happen.

Do your modding skills come from your education or occupation, or comes from a hobby ?

Almost entirely from this strange hobby. However, my background as a programmer helps a lot. I've also done a lot of professional work with Photoshop, which helps too.

Are you involved in the Gaming Industry ?

Not exactly. In the past I have done a few things on the periphery. When I was a teenager (many ages ago), I self-published a simple strategy board game based on the characters and map of Scarborough Ren Fest. I also volunteered for a while with Steve Jackson Games as a playtester and got to know a bunch of great folks there. Years later I started a small indy comic book company with some friends, which led to some work (with a lot of old SJG folks) in the mid-90s writing and publishing a comic book that was packaged with Cybermage by Origin Systems shortly before they got acquired by EA.


Follow-up discussions and funny connections

Elys: I never expected someone who would talk about modding a game in the whole meaning of the "game" word, and not just about videogames. But nonetheless it's interesting and also modding.

dev_akm: I know. It's a strange thing, this industry and this hobby. A lot of the pen-and-paper folks ended up in video games. Warren Spector was one of the guys I met at Steve Jackson Games when we were playtesting his first game, called Toon. He's now head of video games for Disney. Crazy, eh?

Fillythebish: Is that the same Steve Jackson that worked with Ian Livingstone on Fighting Fantasy game books? In my youth I loved Fighting Fantasy game books, it was my first step into RPG games.

dev_akm: No, it's not the same person. Those are indeed some truly classic adventures, though. I was a bit old for them, but my wife loved them as a kid (she's younger than me) and my daughter loves them, too. I loved the Morrowind mods by Patrograd based on several of the books (see Annastia). The Steve Jackson you're thinking of lives in UK and co-founded Games Workshop with Ian Livingstone. The Steve Jackson I know lives here in Austin, TX, but he has also been a huge influence on the games industry, creating many classic RPG and strategy games, such as The Fantasy Trip, GURPS, Car Wars, Illuminati, etc. An amazing guy.

Interesting factoid: Fallout was originally based on GURPS rules until Steve saw how gory it was and pulled out of the deal. However, a lot of GURPS definitely survived in the game unofficially, and some of this influence is still present in Fallout 3 (the Perks, for example).

Another really strange connection to SJG is that I knew Loyd Blankenship from college, where we had been on the same fencing team. Loyd later went to work for SJG and wrote GURPS Cyberpunk, the game that the U.S. Secret Service mistakenly believed was a "handbook for computer crime", prompting a raid that almost detroyed SJG and eventually led to the formation of the Electronic Frontiers Foundation. See Steve Jackson Games, Inc. v. United States Secret Service.

Ah, life is strange sometimes, no?


Anonymous said…
Awesome work in the community. I appreciate your addiction every time I fire up Morrowind or Oblivion.

Worg said…
Hey, I likewise just wanted to take this moment to let you know how much I love OOO. It takes a wonderful but very broken game and fixes the bad parts of it, making it completely amazing. LOVE IT.

I keep coming back to Oblivion, spending maybe 100 hours each time. OOO is most of the reason why.

Maybe I will try getting FCOM working this time.

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