How long have you been modding and what was your first complete mod?
I’ve been modding since the Game of the Year edition was released back in 2003. Back then, it was nothing more than tinkering with stats, making cheat chests, and being far too intimidated by the Construction Set to do anything more than that. It wouldn’t be until 2016, when I happened to cross paths with that dreaded mess we all know as MGSO, that I actually started to view modding more seriously and as a means to enhance the player experience beyond just goofy goth wings and other modded shenanigans. MGSO showed me what was possible, albeit in a patchwork way, and just like a frayed, tattered cloak, I started mending its more egregious parts. Eventually, trying to untangle MGSO proved too difficult for me to do alone, so I started with a fresh install and created patches to get more familiar with the CS. The first mod I ever published was a compatibility patch between LGNPC Ald’ruhn and Epic Ald’ruhn. Looking back, it’s something I could now do in my sleep, but back then, I was so terrified of moving doors, trying to figure out how doors even worked, and so on, that it was a sheer miracle it got published at all. It’s interesting to think about how far one has come as a modder when you think about how frightful the most basic tweaks must’ve seemed in the eyes of a beginner.
How do you approach modding?
My approach is 50% selfishness and 50% inspiration. Many of the mods I’m interested in making or have made started as a selfish desire to fill the gap that was obviously missing in my play-through. For example, the recent OAAB Shipwrecks mod was born out of my desire to have my Argonians have something better to do while swimming beneath the waves, something to explore and loot. It’s a start, but it’s far from over—grottoes, the sea floor, and much more still need to be addressed before I’m satisfied with that aspect of the game. As far as my workflow goes, I try to keep it simple and use a notepad, which serves as the basis of the “readme” once everything’s packaged and ready to get published. I don’t like to plan my mods fully since inspiration will strike half the time, and I prefer to have the freedom to pounce on said moments of creativity, even if I have to backtrack and make it fit into the mod as a whole.
What’s your favourite thing about modding?
My favorite part has always been the ability to create new stories and experiences and share them with the community. Back when I started modding games, I remember tinkering with the campaign tools for Neverwinter Nights and trying my hardest to incorporate my AD&D characters into it. And although it failed terribly, it sparked an interest in creating thrilling adventures through this entertainment medium.
What’s your favourite mod that you’ve made so far?
Despite the time crush, the Demon of Knowledge is still my favorite mod. I enjoyed the teamwork involved in making it, even though half of us were on opposite ends of the world, participating in group chats at peculiar hours of the day and night. But what stands out the most about that mod is the quest itself; it was exactly what I imagined, and I was pleased with the end result. One of these days, I’d like to “reforge” Demon, adding more quests and a more scholarly approach since one of the mod’s strong points is its reliance on obscure TES lore.
Is there a mod you are especially proud of?
OAAB Shipwrecks, by far, is my proudest achievement. It was the first mod to hit the Nexus Hot Files, has an insane download rate, and overall, a generally good reception from those who’ve tried it. It was a labor of love, and I think that labor shows in every shipwreck. I enjoy using it in my own game as much as I enjoy sharing it with the community.
Are you working on a mod these days?
Now that shipwrecks are done, I'm "back to my hole" and have resumed work on Stone Halls of Solstheim. In the next update, players will see Frosselmane Barrow, Hrothmund's Barrow, Stormpfund Barrow, and the revamped tomb of the snow prince, Jolgeirr Barrow.
How much do you play Morrowind, not counting play testing?
I’ve lost count. I tend to start a new character, play for 20-30hrs, then I find something I want to fix and end up in this downward spiral of opening the CS, adding a new mod, testing it, and never finishing the game. One of these days I’ll finish the expansions, I swear!
How did you discover Morrowind?
I bribed my mother into buying it. I grew up poor, and back then, computer games weren’t exactly “a dime a dozen” as it is now with the advent of Steam and digital copies. As a kid, I always was drawn to RPGs since I viewed them as another form of narrative storytelling, akin to “choose your own adventure” formats. So Morrowind, with its promise of open-world gameplay, already intrigued me from the moment I read the synopsis. I remember seeing the Game of the Year box set on sale and getting my mother to buy it, even though she wasn’t keen on the magic and monsters presented in the artwork. However, she was keen on entertaining her child with three games for a bargain price! She soon regretted it, though, as Morrowind became the first game to give me a severe case of insomnia.
What makes Morrowind special for you?
Many people, especially those more familiar with the later titles, often claim that Morrowind's appeal is fueled by nostalgia or rose-tinted glasses, but I often disagree with that frame of mind. The siren's call of the game rest on the story, the freedom, the unique sights, and sounds; it was a "lightning in a bottle" game that so few titles can hope to replicate. I've played many games, new and old, but Morrowind has that right combination of freedom and immersion that I often wonder why I buy any new games. No matter how fancy the graphics are, how great the voice acting is, or how smooth the animation is, new games always lose to Morrowind. As it's often said in the modding community: "Morrowind is home." And that sentiment hasn't changed in the two decades we've traveled through its ashy landscape.
What are the mods you simply cannot play without?
Since Skyrim, I became more interested in playing the Elder Scrolls, more like a "fantasy life simulator" than another RPG title. Going back to Morrowind, I found myself looking for mods that could do the same, and although there were many attempts, Ashfall proved to be the king of fantasy life simulators in any TES title. It's a mod that I can't play without since eating and sleeping add a new dynamic to the game that I can't do without. A few others that I believe are must-haves include MGEXE, Morrowind Optimization Project, Project Atlas, Patch for Purists, and anything that carries the OAAB name brand (lol)
Are there any underrated mods that you really enjoy?
There are so many to consider, but right off the top of my head, Regulus5’s Figurine Hunt. It’s a simple mod that adds 100 figurines based on vanilla creatures and characters like Vivec and Dagoth Ur throughout the leveled list. It’s nothing special, but it’s an excellent, immersive, lore-friendly addition often forgotten about.
Do you play other games?
When I’m not lured in by Morrowind, I can often be seen playing JRPGs like Tales of Berseria, Tales of Arise, Trails of Cold Steel, and any Atelier title like Atelier Ryza and Atelier Sophie. I know that sounds like a very weebish answer, but in all honesty, Western titles don’t hold my attention anymore; the storytelling is the most essential aspect of a video game for me, so if that’s lacking, I lose interest rather quickly, no matter how good the graphics or the combat may be. I’ve also been enjoying replaying a lot of the titles that got me interested in video games in the first place, such as Breath of Fire 3, Grandia 1 & 2, Final Fantasy Tactics, Phantom Brave, and so on.
Do you mod other games?
I’ve dabbled in a few other games such as Mechwarrior 5, Battletech, Skyrim, and so on, but it’s nothing really of note or as involved as Morrowind.
And by the way, what's the story behind your user name?
The name is a throwback to the early days of the internet, when "pirates versus ninjas" was a topic of much heated debate on internet forums. It was such a craze for a time that I recall playing AdventureQuest (god, I feel old), and there was an event about it, which ended with two new classes being introduced to the game. And since I grew up reading Horatio Hornblower and other classics of maritime adventures, I sided with the pirates. Ever since I've adopted a pirate moniker of some kind or another.
Anything else you’d like to share that we haven’t talked about?
Yes, I'd like to share some insight for anyone new reading this interview—don't be afraid of the Construction Set. I missed out on being part of this community in the early years simply because I was too intimidated by it. And looking back, it pains me to know how unfounded those fears were! "All mod users become modders, given time." This is a catchphrase in the Morrowind discord, but there's plenty of truth to it. Many new users come into Morrowind thinking that one-click installs, or even curated mod lists, are sure-fire answers to never having to open the CS—wrong! Given time, any mod user interested in having a smooth, modded experience will find themselves begging for a fix that may or may never come or grudgingly opening the CS. Save yourself the headache and learn the basics of the CS. Don't be afraid of it; embrace it. In the end, you'll find it'll heighten your game time and make you a better troubleshooter capable of fixing and sharing those experiences with the community.