Modder's Interview: Anumaril
How long have you been modding and what was your first complete mod?
I've been modding properly for about five years, but learned my way around the CS over the course of many more, just playing around in the program and making minor edits. Wasn't really committed to working on Morrowind until I joined Project Tamriel and helped develop their lore for a time, introducing me to the wider modding community. From there I became interested in working on my own mods, eventually publishing Tooltips Complete as my first Nexus upload.
How do you approach modding?
Depends on the project I'm working on and what I'm in the mood to do, but generally I like to conceptualize the main features of a mod first, the atmosphere I'm going for if that applies, gather up what basic assets I know I'll need, and nab or create more as I go. I'm very much inspired by somewhat bleak worlds like Dark Souls, and some of my projects going forward lean heavily into that.
What’s your favourite thing about modding?
How multi-faceted the process is, it provides a creative outlet with so many different approaches that you just don't get bored with it. If I'm sick of coding or CS work, I can put together some assets, write some dialogue, draw some concept art, or even start a new project if I need a break from my others.
What’s your favourite mod that you’ve made so far?
Probably Ruined Redaynia or Strider Burial. They're hardly my most popular mods, but I'm much more interested in adding new content than I am gameplay features or visual/audio effects like my other mods focus on, especially if that content fits into the vanilla game and helps break up some of the monotony of Vvardenfell's environments.
Is there a mod you are especially proud of?
Would definitely have to say Character Sound Overhaul; with almost a year of off-and-on development, it was easily the longest time I've spent actively developing a mod (at least, one that's been released). Putting together the right set of sounds I could actually package with the mod took enough time on its own, but the code went through multiple revisions to keep up with improvements to MWSE. At one point practically the entire code was rewritten to take advantage of the new sound functions added by Nullcascade, without which the mod wouldn't be nearly as smooth as it ended up. Despite that, with some help from Greatness7 and a number of beta testers, I managed to release in time for the 2021 Modathon and earn both the 'Most Endorsed' and 'Most Downloaded' achievements for the event.
Are you working on a mod these days?
I've got a couple of projects in the works, but they're all somewhat long-term. One of these is Ashfront, a collection of vanilla-friendly mods focused on adding more character to various locations and regions of Vvardenfell. On top of touching up some older mods like 'Strider Burial' to be consistent with my vision, I've got an overhaul of the Maar Gan valley in the works, the cut Great Scathes region within Molag Amur, a Vivec City touch-up focused on its religious significance, and a total reimagining of Sheogorad that makes the region much more distinct. Otherwise, I've been making steady progress on a landmass mod centered around the lost isle of Olenveld, the site of an ancient Atmoran colony turned personal graveyard of Tiber Septim. There's another project I've been working on with a few others as well, but it's still in the planning stages so we don't have much to share yet. I'll just say we're big fans of Battlespire.
How much do you play Morrowind, not counting play testing?
I'll play through the game every couple of years or so, but almost never at the same time that I'm modding it. It's simply too easy to take yourself out of the experience if you're seeing everything in terms of objects and scripts, searching for something you'd like to improve rather than immersing yourself in the world.
How did you discover Morrowind?
An old friend of mine in early Middle School found a vanilla copy in a stack of games his grandfather had. He started playing it religiously and wouldn't stop talking about it, eventually borrowing it to introduce us. We all still remember that first time playing, gathered around the CRT as we took turns cluelessly wandering around trying to make sense of this huge alien world. Safe to say we were hooked after that and the rest of us promptly picked up a GOTY copy to one-up him.
What makes Morrowind special for you?
I'd have to say the atmosphere combined with a fair bit of nostalgia, there's simply no other game that isolates and immerses you the same way Morrowind does, and it's all done with a certain feeling of authenticity that you just don't get with the newer titles. It had a real vision behind it that no amount of rough edges can really spoil.
What are the mods you simply cannot play without?
Aside from the obvious ones like MGE XE and Weapon Sheathing, any of the MWSE mods dealing with the user-interface, they just blend so well into the game that it feels lacking without them there. HUD Weapon Charge, Clock Block, Continue, Randomized Chargen, etc. On top of that, I really enjoy mods that subtly improve the game's visuals while retaining that vanilla feel such as Enlightened Flames, Glowbugs, Nocturnal Moths, Better Waterfalls, or Distant Mournhold.
Are there any underrated mods that you really enjoy?
Being a bit of a purist when it comes to my mod selection, I really appreciate smaller environmental mods, especially if they're consistent with developer concepts. Bigger Temples, Mages Guild Aesthetics Overhaul, Minor Redoran Concept Art Inspired City Enhancement, Skar Face, Concept Art Hlaalu Balconies, Brevur of Balmora, and Tel Aruhn Shroom Gate to name a few. I've also got a soft spot for some much older mods like Mori Mountain Estate that I've used for many years.
Do you play other games?
Certainly, though I usually stick to replaying older games like Halo or some RPG and Survival Horror titles, on top of strategy games like Stellaris with friends. As far as new games go, I really don't bother with anything but FromSoft titles and games they've inspired like Blasphemous or Hollow Knight.
Do you mod other games?
Worked on a Morrowind mod for Minecraft years ago, but now I only work on the game itself, though I'd be interested in something like Stellaris or Halo now that modding tools are being released for all the older games.
And by the way, what's the story behind your user name?
When I first got involved with the wider modding community as a member of Project Tamriel, I was helping primarily to develop lore for the Ayleid and Falmer, so I decided I'd find something related to my username. Since I was playing ESO at the time, I went with the name of one of the few interesting characters it introduces to the lore, the Ayleid king Anumaril. I'm no longer with PT but the lore write-ups I did and continue to work on informed projects like Olenveld.