Modder's interview: Taniquetil

Modder's interview: Taniquetil

How long have you been modding and what was your first complete mod?

I have been doing dev work for TR and PT since 2019. I have a few standalone mods, the main one being Diverse Khajiit, which brings some of the Tamriel_Data Khajiit variants into Vvardenfell. But the vast majority of my mod dev work has much for the province mods, so I consider the Karthwasten Mages Guild interior + questline in the Dragonstar release of SHOTN (Project Tamriel) to be the first real thing I finished.

Karthwasten mages guild

How do you approach modding?  

For interior work, I like to just kind of multitask with a TV show or a podcast. It also helps with my memory - I always associate specific things I've worked on with whatever I was watching or listening to at the time. Walking around Helnim, it's the Russian Revolution. Anvil's port quarter is season two of The Wire. And snowy Nivalis will always be connected to Station Eleven for me. It's very silly.
For quest development, though, I need to be super focused or I'll get nothing done. It's only music and several straight hours of staring at the CS. I'll gleefully rip off plotlines from all that media I watched making interiors though.  


What’s your favorite thing about modding?  

I like contributing to shared world-building projects that collaboratively iterate and expand a wider setting. It's a very gratifying experience to see your work appreciated by other devs as well as the public. I also just love the Morrowind setting, and I think there's basically unlimited narrative potential in it.  

College of Firewatch - Library tower

What’s your favorite mod that you’ve made so far?  

I don't really make many standalone mods, but my favorite quests I've worked on are the Mages Guild questlines for Firewatch, Andothren, and Karthwasten (in TR and PT). They were a blast to write and implement. The College of Firewatch in for TR's Embers of Empire release is probably my favorite interior, though the Narsis Mages Guild tower I'm currently working on may surpass that when I'm finished with it. I also had a really nice time working on Yul Marshee and the Visage of Mzund with the Provincial Privateers team of PTR devs for last year's Morrowind Modding Madness.

Yul Marshee and the Visage of Mzund... and your hot air baloon 

Is there a mod you are especially proud of?  

I'm really proud of the work I did on the city of Firewatch and the towns of Helnim and Nivalis for Tamriel Rebuilt. I put a lot of time and effort into them to prove that the overhaul project (which became the Embers of Empire release) was even viable, and I'm really grateful that the team was willing to give it a shot and help pull it off. The cities got essentially rebuilt from scratch in the end, and that formerly really sparse area of Old TR is now one of the project's most content-rich zones.  


Are you working on a mod these days?  

I'm a bit foolishly overcommitted across the province mod projects, but I'm gradually chipping away at my responsibilities. My current main project is preparing the city of Anvil for release with Abecean Shores, the first full release of Project Cyrodiil. Otherwise, I'm working on some important faction locations in Narsis for TR and some quest designs for TR, SHOTN, and the Padomaic Isles project. On top of all of that, I've also got a personal project to overhaul Vivec City called City of Swords.  


How much do you play Morrowind, not counting playtesting?  

I go for years without playing at all. My game is the CS, most of the time. Recently, though, I started a fun game where I'm a Chimeri-Quey journalist exploring the Andaram release of TR. I've had a really nice time streaming it on the TR server (even though I am embarrassingly bad at the game!)  

How did you discover Morrowind?  

I played the series backward, starting with Skyrim in 2014. Morrowind became my favorite when I first played it in 2016, but it took me a while to get into mods. I mostly remember being enthralled by Skar in Ald'Ruhn, and the fact that the cities felt like actual cities. Plus the silt striders, of course. I ended up really enjoying the CS, with the help of TR devs, and working on the Gridmap. It's been consistently interesting to be involved with the projects scene ever since!  

Ember Keep Greathall - Firewatch

What makes Morrowind special for you?  

No other game has the same kind of detail. I really appreciate that this is a world where nearly everything is hand-placed. It gives you the feeling that that there is thought put into every interior, every part of the wilderness, and every line of dialogue. The world feels real in a way other settings don't, which makes the things you build that much more fun since they fit into that greater design.  

What are the mods you simply cannot play without?  

I am a total MWSE fangirl. I cannot play without all the dozens of features those mods add. I play with way too many to list here. A couple in particular that I really love are OJ's invisibility mod, Merlord's fishing mod, and Mort's Quickloot. Oh, and of course the combination of Miscast + Multimark and Harder Recall, which is a great way to get yourself thrown to new parts of the map in an immersive way.

Diverse Khajiit - New and Improved - the dagi-raht khajiit by Rats

Are there any underrated mods that you really enjoy?

MwGek is a wonderful dev and we love having him in PTR. His Balmora Waterworks mod is the only Balmora mod I use because it's such a restrained and well-integrated expansion of that city. I also think that the Krokantor water shader is absolutely incomparable.  

Do you play other games?  

I am a huge fan of the second-best game in the Elder Scrolls series, Subnautica. In the sequel, there is a submarine that's also a train! Otherwise, I enjoy lighthearted stuff like Legend of Zelda, Stardew Valley, and playing eco-pacifist Stellaris utopias.  

Anvil - OpenMW dev shot

Do you mod other games?  

When I was a kid, I used to work on the Wars of Liberty mod for Age of Empires III. I still have a soft spot for it. I learned a lot about how games work by fiddling with maps flags and stats in AOEIII. That project is still going strong, which makes me really happy. Like going back to see an old friend and finding them thriving. More recently. I've made a couple of small Stellaris mods, which I should update more regularly.

And by the way, what's the story behind your username?  

Taniquetil is the highest peak in Tolkien's Arda, and I like that it's a plausibly Altmer name. I also go by Tiny Plesiosaur in some of the servers, which is just a reference to the adorable little plesiosaur in a fish tank from TESI: Arena.  

Anything else you’d like to share that we haven’t talked about?  

There's sometimes tension in Tamriel Rebuilt and its sister projects, and it can stress everybody out or make people snippy. I'm certainly guilty of it now and then. But I really think there's no better or more conscientious group of people working on mod projects of this scale for any game. It makes me very proud to look at how much we've accomplished together, and how far we've come since I joined. Teamwork really is the best work.

Tower model by MwGek