Modder's Interview: Cyprinus

Modder's Interview: Cyprinus

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

I started all the way back in 2002. What was the first mod I finished, I couldn't tell you even if my life depended on it. The first one I remember added a treehouse - using N'dib's meshes - which was a total mess of a release. Not from a technical point of view - though it probably had many, many issues - the way I packed the files. At first, I missed a bunch of the resources I used, which I added later on - in a separate subfolder inside the archive. Certainly not my proudest moment... Guess the good thing is that it was made for the Polish version of the game, so not that many people got to see it.

How do you approach modding? (What inspires you? Do you have a specific workflow?)

In short, badly. Less short, very, very badly. As it is, I basically load up the CS on a whim, whenever an idea catches my attention, and go from there. Usually, I don't go too far, with most of the things ending up at a stage where I have an .esp file with a bunch of resources I thought would be useful for whatever I was thinking about making. Sometimes I'll make an interior or two and very, very rarely I'll continue work beyond that - although at that point I find it easy to fall into the trap of feature creep... Younger me had the bright idea of working on a town expansion, which not only grew during development (before getting abandoned outright), but at various points, I wanted to add at least 4 joinable factions of various kinds... No surprise it never really got anywhere. Rethan Redivivus is basically what it was supposed to be - a mod to make the interior of the Hlaalu stronghold better, which featurecrept to the exterior and thankfully stopped there. Of course, while working on that, I was already thinking about including expansions to both our egg mine and Vassir-Didanat, as well as an expanded settlement for Rethan itself. Thankfully I got better.

How some people can make plans and writeups for their mods before starting any CS work is a mystery to me - I probably couldn't make myself do it even if I tried... Though it probably would help in releasing more than one mod per year or two. I guess it can be a 2090 goal...

Rethan Redivivus, vault

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

Not applicable - I'm not really a fan of anything I make. Largely due to there always being things I'd want to change/do differently but lacking the skills/assets to do so. Publishing in my case doesn't really mean I feel the mod is complete - more that it is good enough to let it into the wild.

Cyp needs help here, I personally really like and use Shallit Hideout and Deepscorn.

Have modders inspired you?

The closest to having another modder inspire me would probably be seeing a nice resource and wanting to do my own thing with it. Or getting inspired by some bit of concept art, writing etc. But that is kinda it. Not that there aren't many great modders who both worked on Morrowind in its early days or do it today - or started early and continue till today - but I was drawn into dabbling with the CS quite early, even before I had a proper internet connection - and thus before I had access to the modding scene.

Recently, I think it is fair to say that OAAB has inspired many modders. Between OAAB and TR_Data, we got many remake of places and cities

Going on a tangent, if you showed someone modding - or playing - the game in the 2000s what is possible today and what mods exist, their minds would be blown. Watching modding progress through all those years was quite a journey... At first, everything was declared impossible, then we got horse riding, sailable ships and dragon flying (even if implemented in a hacky way)... True new skills were considered something we'd never get to have - cue Skills Module (which admittedly is severely underused compared to how many people talked about wanting such a thing). And that is largely talking from the viewpoint of mod users - creators of early mods would kill to have access to some of the tools Greatness7 made... We certainly came a long way, which makes you wonder, what will be the next "hardcoded/impossible" thing to happen....

Animations and AI, the final frontier, I keep saying it :D
Also, huge hat off to MadMax who scripted the horse, dragons and boats. He also pioneered fishing scripts in Fishing Academy.

Are you working on a mod these days?

Nope. Of course, due to how chaotically I approach modding in general, that doesn't mean much - there is always a chance I'll open up the CS for whatever reason.

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

Not much. Did a playthrough earlier this year, the previous one was early 2017, the one before that... early 2010s. Though the last one may not even count, I think I mostly played it to test some Rise of House Telvanni changes for Bhl...Amusingly enough, Morrowind is the one game I always have on whatever pc/laptop I'm using. I think the total time it wasn't present in my system(s) from 2002 to today would be far less than a year.

I don't know about you, guys, for me, Morrowind is how I test a new computer, with the Balmora fps test. Who needs benchmarking tools, right?

How did you discover Morrowind?

Thanks to an ad in a gaming magazine. The local publisher made one to advertize a few RPGs that came out recently and it caught my attention. I know two of them were Morrowind and Neverwinter Nights, can't remember what else was there (Gothic II maybe?)... In my defense, it was 2002...

What makes Morrowind special for you?

Honestly, I'm not even sure. Probably the fact it was the first RPG - if not game period - I've played that gave me such freedom, both in regards to gameplay and modding. The setting certainly didn't hurt either - being far more memorable than what most other games offered.

What are the mods you simply cannot play without?

Not sure how applicable the question is to me, seeing how "often" I play the game. Still, whenever I go Telvanni - which was the vast majority of my games - I can't imagine doing it without Rise of House Telvanni, Uvirith's Legacy and Building up Uvirith's Legacy.

And while I only played with it once so far, Pimp my Shrine has the potential to be one such mod - while the theme of the house is kinda limited, the sheer freedom in setting it up is really, really great.

Are there any underrated mods that you really enjoy?

I love Kieve's White Senches and Void Gear. I really liked the backstory he made for them, sadly the mod that would tie it all together - From the Void - never went anywhere. Not in Morrowind, not in Skyrim. C'est la vie...

Do you play other games?

Certainly. Though admittedly I spend less time on them than when I was younger - something that I don't feel is too uncommon. Terraria was a huge timesink - Steam notes nearly 650 hours. It may not be a lot by the standards of some, but out of the games I have there, only Skyrim comes close, and even that has over 100 hours of playtime less. Other than that, Subnautica is great and I really wish the underwater found there inspired some Morrowind mods. Below Zero is fine, but I'd certainly rate it as being worse than the original. Diablo II was a ridiculous timesink back in the day - and even with all the crap Blizzard has pulled recently, I'm kinda interested in Resurrected. Sadly, the way things went, it really feels Blizzard is a small indie company just pretending to be a big player. Server issues are a norm when they release anything, but seems they were even worse than usual this time. I mean, who could predict people would create and end games in quick succession? Nobody ever did that in the history of Diablo II...

Recently I decided to replay Psychonauts and finally finished it - previously the Meat Circus stopped my progress. Before that, I played some Pillars of Eternity II - originally I dropped the game rather quickly, now I got a good deal in, but I'm not sure if I'll actually finish it. I just don't feel the whole thing is as interesting as it could/should be...

Do you mod other games?

No, not really. The closest I got was dabbling a bit in making maps for Heroes of Might and Magic II and III, but never got anything to a state of "playable", much less "release worthy"...

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

Which one? :P Istred/Istreddify is something I made up without any particular reason. Cyprinus is a reference to an old name I used in a few places which in turn was referencing my surname.