Modder's Interview: CodeRing

Modder's Interview: CodeRing

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

I first started modding with Minecraft around maybe 2012. My first ever "mod" was a texture pack that turned all of the accents pink. As for Morrowind, I didn't start modding until around the release of Ashfall. My first Morrowind mod was a patch for Morrowind Jobs and Ashfall to use the same firewood.

How do you approach modding?

Role-playing is my favorite thing about Morrowind specifically, so I end up installing and dreaming up a LOT of role-playing mods. I actually recently adopted a new workflow, which involves crazy levels of documentation, because my old workflow had allowed a lot of issues to build up over time in my modlist. Before, I would basically install a mod, run merged objects/multipatch/distant land if needed, test it, then call it a day. Now I’m doing far more extensive work on the mod files themselves, cleaning them individually and resolving conflicts using tes3pcd as I go along.

What’s your favourite thing about modding?

Modding is amazing because it allows you to make the game your own. If you want crazy difficult (but deeper) combat, you can install 4NM, or you can make it more like Oblivion or Skyrim with NGC, you can experience player balancing with BTBI, even just for combat there are several options for tweaking the game to suit your tastes. And if there isn’t a mod to suit your taste, it sounds like it’s time to make your own :P

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

WAMA (What Are My Attributes?) by far, and luckily it’s also my most popular, so it appears the community agrees! It seemed so strange to me that no one had made the mod yet! Ever since my Xbox days, I’ve found it frustrating that the base attributes were not listed on the race menu. It’s an absolute must-have for me, and it's been really cool to see others say the same. I guess it’s my favorite because it’s the most useful mod I’ve made.

What Are My Attributes

Is there a mod you are especially proud of?

I am pretty proud of the Redoran Bard, as I think Nirie is a legitimately useful and interesting follower, AND I managed to make the mod in less than two days. It’s hard not to say WAMA (as it is by far my most “successful” mod), but I honestly didn’t think that I would finish the Redoran Bard in time, so I felt pretty accomplished when I managed it.

Redoran Bard showcase, live with Codering

Are you working on a mod these days?

At the moment, no. I just finished a small mod (Caius Gives You a Cover Story) to brush up on MWSE, and I have PLENTY of mod ideas, but I’m saving most of them for this year's Modathon. I want fancy banners on my Nexus page!!!! Until then, I work on my Wabbajack modlist, You Are Just an N’wah. (YAJAN)

May Modathon is a yearly modding event organised by DarkElfGuy. While not a competition, mods and modders get achievements that are quite fun to collect. And they do look good on a modpage :)

How much do you play Morrowind, not counting play testing?

This is a difficult question because I am almost always playtesting for YAJAN when I play Morrowind. Even when I do full playthroughs, and I tell myself I won’t do any development work, I always do. At this point modding/playtesting/patching is part of the game for me.

You have spent months making YAJAN, your Morrowind Wabbajack modlist, can you tell us more about it?

Careful what you wish for, Danae! Once you get me started, I might not stop ;) YAJAN started because quarantine was driving me nuts and I had just heard about Ashfall, and it sounded like a great opportunity to do what Ultimate Skyrim did for Skyrim, for Morrowind. I even considered calling it Ultimate Morrowind! At its core, YAJAN is meant to be a role-playing modlist, with dozens of mods just to add small opportunities to role-play. I really want to capture the feeling of getting dumped on an alien island, and absolutely being an n’wah. I think it’s rather difficult, but not too much so, and the survival mechanics added by Ashfall and the mods that synergize with it really drive the point home. I’ve recently started adding modded quests and locations (such as Tamriel Rebuilt), but I wanted to keep the story and lore mostly vanilla.

I’ve gotten a lot of fantastic feedback for YAJAN, even garnering a small community over in my Discord of people who really enjoy the list. It’s a really amazing feeling seeing people wholeheartedly enjoy your work, forming discussions around it, and even creating content, like character diaries.

For the future, I’m currently in the process of completely redoing YAJAN with a new and improved workflow, to fix a lot of issues caused by my lack of knowledge and discipline when I first started. That will be the 7.0 update, and 8.0 will be exclusively for Modathon mods (including my own, I have a LOT of Modathon plans).

The Nexus has recently unveiled their Collections, are considering giving it a go?

I was invited to the Collections beta, but I never really got a chance to take a look at creating a collection. I have concerns about the way collections work for large modlists such as YAJAN, but I have yet to try converting YAJAN to a collection. It’s already a lot of work to maintain it as a Wabbajack list, so I’m just not willing to take on that extra workload at the moment. Definitely something I want to look into, even if it isn’t necessarily for YAJAN.

I think ultimately, Collections will be used more to share small modlists, and I don't know if it even supports Morrowind in the same way Wabbajack does; a lot of the vanilla game files need to be patched and edited outside of a mod manager, and I don't know if Collections support that type of modification like Wabbajack does.

4 hours with RingComics, talking about Morrowind and YAJAN

You have a YouTube channel, what are your plans for it?

Well, first I want to create tutorial videos for my utility modlist for Morrowind, MMEFT, which is currently in development as the foundation of YAJAN’s next update. MMEFT stands for “Morrowind Modding Essentials, Fixes, and Tools" and is part of Wabbajacks suite of installable templates for modding. The idea of MMEFT is that it includes all of the tools we use for modding and mod making, and some essential mods everyone should use like Patch for Purists or Project Atlas. I want to provide an aggregate of modding knowledge that anyone can contribute to, to make modding more approachable to beginners. Right now a lot of information is scattered, hidden in old forum posts, Discord channels, and defunct websites such as Planet Elder Scrolls. I think MMEFT will also provide value to experienced modders, who can use the template as a basis for their mod lists.

I also want to start a let's play series about YAJAN to show off how it's played and showcase a lot of the fantastic mods that make it up. I know there are concerns about Wabbajack taking recognition away from mod authors and placing credit on mod list curators, so I want to make sure I give mod authors the credit they deserve. Ideally, I'd love to cover every mod in YAJAN individually.

Finally, I want to start conversations about pushing the boundaries of what we can do with modding, not only with MWSE but also other tools and OpenMW as well, which I feel has lately fallen behind MWSE in terms of features and what's possible. I'm very excited about OMW's Lua implementation, and I'd love to see more collaboration and cooperation within what is currently a community split between the engines.

How did you discover Morrowind?

I received it as a gift from my Dad when I was pretty young. I played it on the OG Xbox my grandma had in her basement. I was too young to really understand the game, but I remember being enamored with the world and graphics. I would constantly make new characters (purely cosmetic, stats be damned), hike up one of the mountains, rest and die via rat or Dark Brotherhood attack, then repeat. In my head, I was roleplaying that I was camping. I thought that was the entire game!

What makes Morrowind special for you?

For me, Morrowind’s world was the most special part about it. Its mechanics are meh, the story is meh+, and the dialogue is often absolute dog water. Hence why we install 400 mods on top. But most people don’t change the world itself [glares at Starwind players.] It truly is an alien place, unlike anything we have in real life, or anything we’ve seen in fiction. It’s a one of a kind world, and I think that’s why I love role-playing here so much.

What are the mods you simply cannot play without?

Oh, man, so many. Vanilla Morrowind isn’t an option for me. Here are some of my faves:

  • Ashfall is a given. I love survival mods, and Ashfall is in a league of its own even compared to mods made for Skyrim.
  • Friends and Foes actually makes Morrowind feel alive, sometimes I forget there aren’t usually mages teleporting in and out of towns, and pack guar merchants in Vanilla.
  • Beautiful Cities of Morrowind is the best city and landscape overhaul mod in my opinion, especially for its plethora of mod patches that allow a lot of variety in my load order.
  • Stealth Improved is a must when I play sneaky bois, I can’t imagine using vanilla sneak mechanics anymore.
  • Bardic Inspiration. Need I say more?
  • MTR’s roleplaying mods based on Merlord’s Character Backgrounds mod. They make creating a new character (one of my favorite parts of Morrowind) so much more fun.

I wish I could put my entire load order on here but alas.

Are there any underrated mods that you really enjoy?

It’s a stretch, but Dynamic Timescale does wonders for immersion. Running from Seyda Neen to Balmora has gone from maybe an hour or two trip to a full day trek, which really adds to the illusion that Vvardenfell really is this huge island. The mod has several thousand page views but only a few hundred downloads, and I think more people should give it a shot. It’s very intelligent in changing the timescale, and often I don’t even notice that the timescale changed.

Do you play other games?

I play a lot of other games. Skyrim and ESO (stop booing me), Halo, 7 Days to Die, State of Decay, and recently Ghost of Tsushima. I spend a LOT of time gaming.

Do you mod other games?

I also mod Skyrim, but I mostly make tools instead of actual gameplay mods. I used to mod Minecraft, mostly creating server plugins, but I never released any of them (they were custom made for my server).

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

When I was a kid, I really liked drawing my own comics. I made my own pretend comic publishing company, RingComics. I started using it as my username for the limited number of websites I had access to at that point in my life, and it kind of just stuck. Recently I changed my name to CodeRing, both as a pun and because people wouldn’t stop asking me where they can read my comics (I haven’t made a comic in decades at this point).

If you want to learn more about CodeRing, watch Danae's video, where she has them as a guest modder.