Modder's Interview: Juidius_Xentao77

Modder's Interview: Juidius_Xentao77

How long have you been modding?

I actually did not start playing Morrowind until 2019, I was on the OpenMW engine because I just wanted to play enhanced vanilla at first and it was easy to set up. My first mod was this behemoth of an underground lair, I think I used the cave that is used for the heart chamber and made a tunnel under the lighthouse in Seyda Neen to access it. inside the cave, I made a Dwemer vault, a mushroom house, and I started to work on a Telvanni style tower/stronghold thing.

Very first mod!

The whole thing was a bit of a mess if you ask me not but it was my actual first mod. I had planned to make it a base for a new faction called the "Warden of Azura". I realized quickly that I had bitten off a bit more than I could chew all at once.

How do you approach modding?

“You know, you tell God’s story, and Kurt tells the farmer’s story or the soldier’s story. But I want to know the dog’s story.”-Ken Rolston  

I would say I'm very inspired by mods like OAAB and Ashfall. These mods are more focused on looking at the world from the eyes of your average person. With Ashfall you have to consider what you are going to eat, how are you going to deal with this harsh climate and where are you going to sleep? OAAB does this in a very different way by creating the everyday things you would need in order to function in the world. OAAB reeds come to mind, just a simple mod that places golden reeds along the coastline but now you have an environmental explanation as to where and how this bamboo is collected for its various applications. My approach to modding is to breathe more life into the game by thinking small and realistically while staying true to the natural elements of vanilla that make this environment so compelling. For now, my skillset is mostly limited to cluttering environments, I find it relaxing to look at an environment or interior and imagine how someone would live in that space. When I set out to make an interior I want it to be functional and comfortable, I use triangulating a lot to maintain balance when decorating and I try to follow the basic principles of feng shui, a philosophy and a way of understanding our place in the natural world. If you have downloaded any of my mods you will notice a lot of plant life and I usually try to make it the focal point of the room.

Anna Sera - boat house

What’s your favourite thing about modding?

I love how modding has kept the spirit of this game alive for over 20 years now. When I walk around in my game I see all the hands over all that time that have molded this experience and it is awe-inspiring to say the least. Especially when you see mods like Tamriel Rebuilt which has been passed down over two decades in order to fulfill this vision of a completed Morrowind. Or even individual modders like Tel Shadow or Melchior Dhark who have singlehandedly expanded the game world by adding new islands/dungeons, whatever it might be. I would be hard-pressed to explore and experience everything people have made for this game and that in itself makes the game world feel like this ancient epic place.

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

My mod the Anna Sera, I want to go back one day and add quests and things to it, perhaps update it with OAAB assets and make it so you can move the houseboat from port to port around Vvardenfell.

Anna Sera

Are you working on a mod these days?

Sort of, I am still slowly working on A.S.H interiors, just tackling the low-hanging fruit by converting tribunal temples into 6th house lairs. A few months back the construction set crashed on me and unfortunately, I lost a lot of progress because the only backup I had was right after completing the Ald-Rhun temple, this is why I took a brief hiatus from the MMC and Morrowind in general. Coming back to it I have a better vision of how I want these temples to look, for the Redoran and Velothi settlements the temples will look more like places of worship where you might see living quarters and a more homely environment, I definitely want to have unique 6th house style music for these places. For the Tribunal Temples in Hlaalu settlements like Suran and Balmora it will look more like a corprus meat processing plant

Can you tell us more about A.S.H?  

The goal of Ashfall Survival Hardcore is to create a mod similar to the mod DUST for fallout New Vegas but for Morrowind. Instead of radiation and deathclaws you have the blight, ash monsters, and corprus beasts. We have made some progress, Merlord has created the basic script that will be used to convert all NPCs into ash monsters/ corprus beasts and XxeroFox has made some beautiful textures, and I've stipped all the leaves from vanilla trees. Basically, the player will have to try and survive long enough to escape the island. This mod will rely heavily on Ashfall and will hopefully create a game world where it is much more challenging to survive and find your basic needs and even a decent safe place to sleep. I wanted to make the Tribunal Temples hotspots for the players to try and reach in order to gain some nice equipment or what have you. ASH is going to make the towns the most dangerous parts of the game, we are most likely going to utterly destroy Imperial settlements but the closer you get to red mountain the more civilized looking the 6th house will be, by their own standards of course. It's still in early development so don't hold me to any of this.  

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

A lot recently. The way I play Morrowind is incredibly slow and casual, even more so with mods like Ashfall as so much of my time is spent just preparing meals, brewing tea, and looking at sunsets.
The mods I make are always really simple and do not require playtesting (other than looking for clipping and floaters) I do my best to spot bugs in other peoples mods when I can, however ;)

How did you discover Morrowind?

I will never forget how I was introduced to The Elder Scrolls. My dad bought me TES4 for my 11th birthday and said in a classic dad joke fashion "Now don't go falling into oblivion!' and oh, how I did. I tried to go back to Morrowind then on the old Xbox but as a kid could not even conceptualize that level of freedom in a video game. I finally got a proper gaming PC back in 2019 and it was one of the first things I installed and I have to say it's a lot easier to play as an adult with things like MGE XE and fancy post-processing shaders than it was on the Xbox. I think as a kid I made it to Balmora but this was with using cheat codes mind you!

What makes Morrowind special for you?

The freedom. Also the sense of progression, I love how small the early game makes you feel, it's really easy to play over and over again because it actually feels rewarding to get to a certain level with a character. At the same time, the game is challenging enough that it kind of makes you form a niche for yourself at the start. Most of my characters will be masters in one combat form that they trained up from level one and then branch out from there. It stands on its own completely compared to the other elder scrolls titles. For TES4 and 5, it's much easier to just do everything from the very beginning and that ruins the sense of progression. Also, the community has cultivated an experience you will not find with any other game.

What are the mods you simply cannot play without?

Are there any underrated mods that you really enjoy?

MWSE fast by Stipes, now remember how I said I like a good sense of progression? This is a great mod that will make you feel like even more of a worm at the early levels, struggling to run up hills in slow motion. It pairs well with ashfall, when your tiredness gets to a certain level you will be locked at a slower running speed. Also, the mod AURA adds a panting sound to the player character at low fatigue, it really makes you more aware of how tired your character is and will slow you down a LOT in the early game. However, it does give a buff to speed at full fatigue so when you finally hit that sweet spot with constant fatigue regen or get yourself to a point where you have an incredible amount of fatigue it does feel rewarding to have that constant buff to speed. Best of all it works both ways, if you are proficient in hand-to-hand combat or have some other way of draining your enemies' fatigue you can slow your enemies down, very useful if you wanted to make a pacifist non-mage character that would rather run from conflict.

Do you play other games?

Oh yeah, Minecraft, Stardew Valley, Age of Empires 2, I'll play a little new vegas from time to time, and if I'm in the mood for it there is nothing like running people over in GTA. I also like Halo, Reach and the original trilogy games are my favorites.

Do you mod other games?

No, I can't say I do. I've gotten in the GECK before and made a few edits to things in fallout but that's about it.

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

Juidius is entirely made up, Xentao is an amalgam of the words Zen and Taoism I just replaced the z with a x and removed the -ism. Taoism is defined as both a philosophy and a religion. In Chinese, the term ‘Tao’ means ‘the way’ or ‘the path’ of life. Similarly, Zen Buddhism emphasizes on ‘a way of life’ that is based on personal and spiritual development and the ability to understand the true nature of life. Both are similar but have some distinct differences. I originally created it because I wanted my character to have a more Akaviri sounding last name, my headcanon for Juidius is that he is part 'Akavirian' like the character Duadeen from TES Adventures Redguard. He was brought up in a small fishing village on a remote island not far off the coast of Akavir which was occupied by several pirate factions that used it as a hub to smuggle stolen imperial goods. Eventually, the imperial navy caught up to the operation and Juidius was found guilty by association and thrown into the Imperial Prison.

Anything else you’d like to share that we haven’t talked about?

One last thing, this community means the world to me. You and Dark Elf Guy are AWESOME and I am humbled to even have this interview. I have like 3 mods out on nexus. I just really appreciate the inclusion.