Modder's Interview: Jackimoff Wackimoff

Modder's Interview: Jackimoff Wackimoff

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

I've been playing around with the CS for a while, but my first attempt at an actual mod was a terrible, half-finished house mod I made about 5 years ago. I was actually following your tutorial at the time, but I only got as far as episode two before I dropped it to do something else. I think I still have the file somewhere.

How do you approach modding?

I tend to get inspired all at once, I get an idea for a big setpiece and go in reverse to make that thing happen. I try to maintain a rule that whatever I'm making has one unique thing about it. As long as there's just one thing I haven't seen before then I feel happy to be the one who made it.

What’s your favourite thing about modding?

The community for sure. People are very helpful and collaborative work has been a blast for me. To me, modding is special because it's done out of pure passion. Just people who love the game so much that we want to make more of it for others to play for free. There are not a lot of things like that.

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

I can't claim to have made it, and it might be a bit of an obvious answer, but my favourite mod I've worked on is Tamriel Rebuilt. The sheer scale of what's being attempted is mind-boggling, as is the fact it's still chugging along. We've got a lot of interiors and exteriors ready for the next release and I'm really excited for that. Our workflow has been smoother and faster than ever recently, so an update should be sooner rather than later.

To what do you attribute the success of Tamriel Rebuilt?

For TR specifically, I believe it's twofold: the fairly rigid quality control and showcases, and being totally open dev. You'd think having a barrier to entry would reduce the number of applicants, but the reality is the opposite. A lot of very very talented devs who've gone on to other things learned how to do it through our showcases. TR is as much a learning tool as it is a mod and so, having this position as a common starting place for modders, we're never short of fresh devs. And open development means that departments are in constant unavoidable communication with each other, which massively increases the consistency of the output. Plus, it gives that implicit sense that anything you make can be traced back to you as a dev by any member of the public, it's all out there to be seen. It is a really good way to discourage people from trying to put in anything iffy or trying to take total control, which has been the downfall of many a mod.

Is there a mod you are especially proud of?

It has to be The Hand. It was my first properly solo mod and it wound up coming second in the modjam. I'm incredibly proud of that. There was some seriously stiff competition too, I really enjoyed playing through the other entries. The Hand was a perfect example of my workflow, There's a very cool thing in it that I basically worked backwards to get in. I'm really happy with how it turned out

New model by MwGek for the upcoming update of The Hand.

Are you working on a mod these days?

I'm still plugging away at TR. But an extension to The Hand was requested so much I decided to actually make it, it's been on the backburner ever since. It's taken a while because there's one very specific thing I want in it that I'm struggling to make work, but once it does I hope it will be a standout moment.

How much do you play Morrowind, not counting playtesting?

It's a running joke that the more involved you get in TR, the less you actually play, and it's kind of true for me. But I do love to give new exciting quests mods a run-through, and I definitely have a play-through whenever one of the province mods  (Province Cyrodiil and Skyrim Home of the Nords) gets a release.

Have other games inspired you when modding Morrowind?

My biggest inspirations are probably the games made by Remedy, in particular Alan Wake and Control. I like to explore the concept of entities that are unfathomable in nature yet bound by understandable rules. You don't know why it works or how it works but it's verifiable and repeatable so it can be used, studied or even communicated with. It's like the best SCPs, they're not random and they're not unstoppable. You just have to work out the rules. I'll be exploring that to a much bigger extent in my next mod.

How did you discover Morrowind?

Through mods. I used to be enormously into the modding scene for oblivion back when that just came out, it blew my mind how people did all this crazy stuff for free. I hopped from game to game for a while, anything with a modding scene I'd be diving into and playing through everything. Morrowind was the only one that really captured my imagination, something about the world just makes you want to immerse yourself in it and add to it. So it was the game that finally got me to actually try making a mod. 6 years later and I'm still here.

Tower of Contemplation in the Monastery of St Felms

What makes Morrowind special for you?

It's the world, I'm sure it's been said to death but the world is so beautifully made. It's got this melancholy to it that really sucks you into the vibe and the density of the lore and the world-building is so brilliantly intriguing. My favourite thing about the game is that nobody really explains anything to you unless you ask. There's a ridiculous amount of depth to the motives and culture that surrounds what you do, but you as a player need to seek out the information. To an incurious player, the main quest is nothing more than you being a jobber who's doing what they're told, working towards killing a spooky bad guy in a volcano. Without seeking the information, Dagoth Ur calling you Nerevar has nowhere near the weight that a person who sought out the books and asked the questions would understand it has.
In this way, the game doesn't reward a curious character with exposition, it rewards a curious player directly with a deeper understanding of the plot. There's not a lot of games like it.

What are the mods you simply cannot play without?

There are a few obvious ones like Mort's pickpocket mod or cdcooley's skip tutorial. But more recently I've added Caps Click to Drop by JoesephMcKean to that list. Does exactly what it says on the tin. It only came out this year but it's such an elegant little mod that I never knew I needed but now I really miss it when it's not there.

Are there any underrated mods that you really enjoy?

DetailDevil's Of Musk and Mer was a really solid little entry to the Modathon. I've kept it installed because it's so self-contained and fits in very nicely. Fun short quest with a nice shop added.

Do you play other games?

Yeah, a bunch. I've fallen down a Crusader Kings 3 hole lately, but I usually play basically anything with a modding scene. Been big into custom thief campaigns recently, which led me to follow the development of Gloomwood. I love a good imsim. Shout out to that game.

Do you mod other games?

Tried my hand at New Vegas once but I couldn't hack it. I think I'm too used to the Morrowind CS now, the CK was juuust different enough that it boggled me.

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

Sure, TR is always looking for new devs. Hop on the discord and we'll be happy to take you through the process. It's very newbie friendly to get into, and we're always willing to help people through it. Learning the CS is surprisingly easy, but even without needing to learn that playtesters and bug spotters are also always welcome. Or if you just wanna hang out and see what we're up to. We're open development, so anyone who joins can see pretty much everything as we work on it.
Our next release, Andaram (Name subject to change), is coming soon!