Modder's Interview: Denina
How long have you been modding and what was your first complete mod?
I've been modding since about 2005 or 2006, something like that. My first completed mod was rearranging the Balmora Fighters Guild barracks room to be a private room for the player. Since it's a public building, that really doesn't make sense, but that was where I started. However, I was just learning how to use the CS at the time. We all have to start somewhere.
Have other modders inspired you?
Yes! I was originally inspired by those who made house mods back when like Korana, Princess Stomper, Calislahn, Shezrie and others. None of them were exactly to my taste. Some of them were so cluttered that there was no room for me to store my own stuff and I wanted houses I could decorate in game with the stuff I looted. That started me making houses that were furnished but uncluttered. I found out then a lot of people like houses already cluttered. To this day though, I still don't like the houses I plan to use in game to be cluttered. I think half the fun of using houses in Morrowind is decorating them myself. That keeps getting easier.
Others' mods inspire me, too. Someone will make a mod and I will like it but I'll think of something about it that could've been handled better. For example, Abu Manor by Phoebe directly inspired me to make Miscellaneous Items to Static Items, a modders' resource. A lot of the miscellaneous items she used would've been better as statics, like the vases and pots used to hold flowers. If you picked them up by accident, positioning them exactly the way they were before would've been almost impossible. We have mods now like Perfect Placement that fix this issue, but back when I made that resource, there was no easy solution.
How do you approach modding? (What inspires you? Do you have a specific workflow?)
The game itself inspires me. I started out making small tweaks to fix 'little' things that irked me about the game, like the fact that ash ghouls didn't drop ghoul hearts. That really annoyed me. One of the first mods I released was a fix to make all ash ghouls drop their heart. I don't believe that mod is on the internet anymore since the subsequent patch mods fixed that. Most of the mods I've released are small tweaks to make the game slightly more perfect in some way. I approach it from the perfectionist point of view, keeping in the spirit of what I think the developers intended (as much as possible) and keeping it very vanilla-friendly. I like to think I've succeeded, for the most part. Usually, if it's not vanilla-friendly, I don't want to play it, so I definitely don't want to mod it. That's not to say I won't play mods that aren't vanilla friendly, but they are few and far between. I'm extremely picky about what mods I add to my game. They must be of very good quality. This used to be rare, but now with all the exceptional modders we have in the community, there are more high quality mods than not. People on MMC Discord talk about "shitposting" in the chat channels but there used to be a lot of mod "shitposting," too. Sadly, I still see some of that on the Nexus even today.
Making house mods also inspires me. I've been trying to make my dream house ever since I found out I could mod one in. I've made countless houses, most of them were never released, but as I played them, I found they weren't ideal for whatever reasons and I would go back and make different houses. I feel like I've tried just about everything to make my ideal house and it's just not coming together. They either end up too big, too small or just too "something".
My workflow depends on the type of mod I'm making. When I make house mods, I get a picture in my head of what the interior should look like, then I decide where I want to put it in the world and then I choose an exterior building and then in the interior, I place the entrance and build the house from there, laying out each room and decorating it as I go.
For other mods, my workflow depends on what the mod does. I'll get the idea and then get a picture in my head of what I want it to look like. For my Supply Chain mod, I knew I wanted a room that looked a bit like a warehouse with the NPC quest giver there. That workflow was pretty easy. I did the room first, then the NPC, then the dialogue.
What’s your favourite thing about modding?
I love having the freedom of knowing I can put absolutely anything I want in the game as long as there are available resources or that I can learn how to create what I want. My favorite thing still remains to be building interiors. I just love creating a new space and putting in small details that most people won't notice but I think enhance the overall picture. I did a lot of that with the Ebonheart Imperial Chapel Re-Do infirmary. That was fun!
What’s your favourite mod that you’ve made so far?
Soul Gems for Sale. I still use that in every install to this day. I actually still use almost all the mods that I put up on the Nexus. I like some better than others and there's only one I've made but never used and that was Earn Your Keep. It was inspired by Oblivion and around the same time, I think I remember someone requesting a mod that gets rid of all the free loot. I was never interested in using it myself, but I knew it was something I could make, so I did. I found out later that people really liked it so I put it on the Nexus for what we hope will be permanence. The rest of the mods I use in most, if not all, installs and play-throughs.
Is there a mod you are especially proud of?
There are actually 3 mods I'm proud of but each for different reasons.
- Supply Chain. I'm stupidly proud of this mod. It's my first attempt at making a mod that was strictly a quest mod. Even though it's rather simple, it represents a breakthrough for me. I'm no longer as intimidated by scripting and dialogue after making this mod. It was actually fun to make.
- Pillow Mage Manor. Stuporstar and I made this mod for Modathon 2019. I didn't actually play the mod for quite some time after that because I took a break from Morrowind soon after. When I did play again, I added it to my game and when I went in there again, I found myself a bit awestruck. I just stood there for a bit, turning 'round and 'round simply looking at all the store decor. Even though it was a collaboration, I always thought of it as Stuporstar's mod because it had assets she had created and compiled. I had to literally remind myself that I was the one who set up the store area. I didn't remember the store looking that good when I made it but at that point, I was just really surprised and happy at how well it turned out.
Ever since then, anytime I go in that store, I just have to stop and look around because I love it so much. I still use those resources in the mods I make, both released and personal. I used them to what I think was good effect in my Redoran Archmaster's Office, which is another mod I'm proud of, but not quite as much as I'm proud of this one.
- The next mod I'm stupidly proud of is Diseased Creatures. This mod was directly inspired by Half11's Diseases Restored. It was a brilliant idea and I kicked myself for not thinking of it first. I eagerly played DR but Half11 made it so all the creatures in the game were diseased right from level 1 and I wanted a mix of healthy and diseased creatures by level. This mod is the one I took the longest to make and release. Since I was modifying some of the existing creatures and making new creatures, there was a huge margin for error and I wanted my mod to meld as seamlessly as possible into the vanilla game. When I play tested it the first time, there was only 1 thing I needed to fix. I did another play test starting from level 1 and I could find no flaw in the execution of my mod. I ended up play testing it for months, periodically starting new games and leveling up as fast as possible to ensure the creatures spawned when they should and that they were the right varieties. It worked flawlessly for me and I finally released the mod after 4 months of testing. To me, it has that feel that it could've been part of the original game as the changes were so inobtrusive except for the fact that I spent more time diseased. I'm very proud of how this turned out and I'm eternally grateful for Half11 for making Diseases Restored because it gave me the opportunity to make a mod that I didn't even know I wanted until I played his.
Since then, Half11 has replaced his Diseases Restored mod with Synthesis Series - Creatures and Diseases, which is yet another take on the theme. So, players who are interested in this kind of mod should probably try his newest and mine in turns to see which suits their play-style best.
Are you working on a mod these days?
Yes. As of this writing, I'm putting the finishing touches on a new house mod called River Rock Falls, which I posted some screenshots for in Morrowind Modding Community showcase channel. The mod will be released in the near future. It's done, but I'm considering adding a quest to acquire the property but I'm considering ideas for it. This is a mod I collaborated on with The Wanderer. He made the exterior in an interior cell and it turned out absolutely beautiful. I'm hoping I've finally made my Morrowind dream home out of it but I won't know for certain until I actually play it for a while, but it's certainly closer than anything else I've ever come up with. The Wanderer has my undying gratitude for making the "outside" area for me as I don't think I could've come up with that on my own. I'm not a fan of building exteriors if it requires more than putting plants and a light post in front of the house.
I also have been working with The Wanderer on his mod, L'Space, to make it a little bit better. Hopefully, that mod will be done and released soon-ish. I'm proud of the work I did on it and I also help with testing on it as things come up. It's a super-fun quest mod to play. I've never seen anything like it done for Morrowind. It's brilliant.
No other mods are planned for now as I intend to actually play the game once Morrowind Crafting 3.0 beta is released. Now, once Morrowind Crafting beta is released, I will probably start laying the ground work for a mod idea I have on the backburner that is directly inspired by Morrowind Crafting. The plan for that mod is still in its infancy so I don't want to say more about it right now.
How much do you play Morrowind, not counting play testing?
Play Morrowind without testing? Is that even possible anymore? Every game ends up being a play test. There are so many excellent modders in the community now that I trust them to not break my game. So, if I like what I see in the Morrowind Modding Showcases videos and in the screenshots or in what's posted about them in MMC Discord, I will blindly add mods by those tried-and-true modders without testing them first. For example, I have a bunch of OAAB mods in my game, but I haven't actually played all of them yet, but I'm familiar enough with the quality of the modders' work that I know the mods will be playable. Of the OAAB mods I have played, the Ashen Divide is probably one of the most perfectly designed and executed mods I've seen. I simply could not find any flaws in it and I was looking for them.
With newer modders or modders I'm not as familiar with, I still test them first before adding. Eventually, I will have vetted all the mods in my lineup and will play a game that won't require playtesting at all, but that's probably not going to happen anytime soon. Really though, I play to play and testing mods while doing it is part of the fun. I like being able to go to the modder and say, "Hey, I found this issue," and usually share a screenie of it. I feel like I'm helping them make their mod that little tiny bit better and that's very satisfying. I love the game and I want it to be as perfect as we, as a community, can make it, but it requires lots of testing to accomplish. I really don't mind though. It's fun to play whether I end up putting the mods to the test or not. If I notice something off, I'm compelled to report/fix it.
How did you discover Morrowind?
Well, I didn't discover it so much as I was introduced to it. When my then boyfriend, now husband, and I moved in together, it was going to take a week to get high speed internet hooked up. At the time we were playing EverQuest which requires an internet connection. So, without internet, I didn't have anything to play. My husband had other games he could play that didn't require internet and he had Morrowind. He thought I might enjoy it so I installed it and gave it a whirl. The rest, as they say, is history. It is now my all-time favorite game.
What makes Morrowind special for you?
When I played it the first time I was truly enthralled by the story and the lore. I thought it was simply amazing, despite its recognized flaws. I played it for a long time before I needed a break. At that point, I asked my husband what other games were like Morrowind. When he told me there were absolutely no games like it whatsoever, I realized I'd been handed a true gem. Then, I found out about modding and decided I wanted to learn how. That is also when I discovered the Morrowind Summit which became Planet Elder Scrolls and discovered there was an active modding community. I've been playing and modding on and off ever since.
What are the mods you simply cannot play without?
There are so many 'essential' mods in my mod list, it would make this way too long to read so I'll just list a few of the main ones:
- Lady D's Reduced Commentary - I don't know if this is available for download anywhere on the internet anymore, but I had originally downloaded it on Planet Elder Scrolls. Anyway, it narrows the radius of when NPCs will talk at you when you walk by. You have to be much closer to them now. This is included in every single install, no matter what.
- The various FMI and LDM mods and other dialogue-fixing mods that fix those small details that can disturb immersion. These make the game a little closer to perfect. Just do a search at Nexus for FMI and LDM and they'll pop right up. I don't know how popular or not these are, but these are also permanent fixtures in my installs.
- Uber Crystal Egg Hunt mod by Bryss Phoenix (with display cases I made for it) - This is in every single install as well. This mod is definitely underrated so I hope all who read this will fix that situation. The original mod is available for download at Morrowind Modding History but Bryss gave me permission to do what I wanted so I put everything in one download and added the display cases and put it on the Nexus. You can still reach Bryss Phoenix on Great House Fliggerty if you send her a private message. Tell her how much you love the mod. She doesn't have time to mod or play anymore, but she still likes knowing her mod is enjoyed.
- Morrowind Crafting - For those of you who are reading who have not read me gushing about this in the Morrowind Modding Discord, I. LOVE. THIS. MOD. MC 2.1 was brilliant for mwscript back in the day. Toccatta made things work that no one thought was possible. It's just still one of the most impressive mods ever made until MWSE/Lua came along. Once they release the beta version of 3.0, I will test that, too, and play it for as long as Morrowind can still be played on computers.
Are there any underrated mods that you really enjoy?
I already mentioned Uber Crystal Egg Hunt.
Mournhold - A Walk in the Park is another. I've grown to love seelof's mods but this one is a particular favorite. It just makes Mournhold look cozier and less stark.
Wolverine Hall Overhaul by mort. I can't believe how low the endorsements to downloads ratio this mod has. This is one of the best overhauls I've seen for Wolverine Hall and I'm really surprised it's not more popular. I thought it was brilliant and I don't want to play without it. Stupidly underrated IMO.
There are probably other mods, but this is enough for now.
Do you play other games?
I played EverQuest on and off since about 2004 until earlier this year and at this point, I'm completely burned out on it. I just don't want to play any MMOs right now and no idea if/when I will ever want to again. Maybe some day.
I play a few casual games. I adore hidden objects games. I'm currently playing June's Journey from Wooga Games on my tablet from the app store. I also have some older hidden objects games on my desktop computer that I play in cycles. I find them very relaxing and my brain works on other stuff while I play them. I also like match-3 games. It's hard to find a good one from the app store that doesn't contain a billion ads that are disruptive and intrusive, but I found one that's decent. I also like solitaire card games but I'm currently taking a break from those. The above and Morrowind is all I make time for...for now. I also have Stardew Valley on my Steam account and I occasionally dust that off and play it a little, but Morrowind is better.
Do you mod other games?
Nope. Morrowind is the only game I mod. Most of the other games I play can't be modded or if they can, I wouldn't know where to begin.
I'd love it if you can talk a bit about writing fanfic for MW, by the way.
I haven't shared any Morrowind fanfics in a long time, but back when PES forum was popular, AlienSlof and I used to write together. We wrote something like 7 stories in 6 months or something like that. I love the world of Morrowind and of course, there are a lot of gaps in the overall Morrowind story. Most of those gaps are not necessary for gameplay, which is why they weren't included in the game, but I like the richness those details add to the world so I add them through my writing. I often include gameplay stuff in the stories since I base my stories off quests and other details and build on what Bethesda started.
Back then, I wrote a few stories independently from AlienSlof and those are still available on Fort Elder Scrolls forum.
Sadly, AlienSlof's website seems to be gone now and that was where our old stories were hosted. I only have the last story of the series that she and I wrote together saved on my hard drive. I may have them on the hard drives of old computers, but they aren't in working order so I can't access them right now.
I still write Morrowind fanfic sometimes. I'll get a scene pop up in my head and will write it out. None of them have evolved into a cohesive story that others would enjoy. I still have some ideas simmering in my head and I'll eventually write them someday. If/when I do get back to writing and posting Morrowind fanfic, I'll probably post them on AO3.
And by the way, what's the story behind your user name?
"Denina" was actually my very first EverQuest character. She was a half-elf ranger. I adored that character. I played her for many years. I roleplayed her, I wrote stories about her. She still exists on the server but I haven't logged in on her for a long time. When I found the Morrowind forums back in 2004 or 2005 or whenever it was, I needed a username and the only thing I could think of was using Denina, so I did. The current avatar I use on Discord and on other forums is one Toccatta made me way back when we were moderators on PES forum. I treasure that avatar and will probably use it forever.
Anything else you’d like to share that we haven’t talked about?
I can't think of anything right now, but if anyone has any questions, I’m on Discord as Shayna#7369 but I use Denina in the Morrowind Discord channels.
Thank you, Danae.
Thank you, Denina~
You can find all of Denina's mods right here on the Nexus. Denina was also my guest for a livestream where we talked a lot about Morrowind, modding and her mods, you can still watch it on YouTube. Denina's Morrowind fanfiction can also be found on AO3.
Next week, we'll read all about Endoran. Until then, happy Morrowinding!
I am an avid Morrowinder and modder.. You can find my mods on the Morrowind Nexus, my modding articles on my blog, let’s plays, tutorials and reviews on my YouTube and livestream on Twitch.