Modder's Interview: Lucevar

Modder's Interview: Lucevar
Tel Aruhn Chronicles by Team Lazy Lame Corprus Stalkers which includes Lucevar

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

Morrowind was my first experience of modding. I stumbled across mods while looking for the solution to the Urshilaku Burial Caverns quest (pro-tip - it helps if you loot your enemies before they despawn). Somehow I found myself on TheLys and a whole new world opened up. I think the first mods I downloaded were Balor's Primary Needs and Astarsis' Dunmer head packs.

Making mods - I probably made some tweaks before this, but the first mod I remember working on was a collaboration with Denunci, just after he released Tales of Seyda Neen. I PMed him on the Bethsoft forums (or maybe MSN) and we got talking. The original plan was to make Tales of Suran, but somehow I talked him into wild feature creep involving an ordinator companion, which was just a little bit too ambitious. Haven't heard from him in a very long time now, sadly we lost touch after that. Hopefully he's doing well!

Balmora Redecorated

How do you approach modding?

Inconsistently! I have bursts of very intense modding and then I do nothing for months or years at a time. It’s a character flaw of mine.

My modding is very character-based - I mostly make dialogue and interior overhaul mods, and the approach is the same for both: I try to get into their head. When I'm making an interior, I think "how would they use this space? What items do they need, are they tidy or messy, do they have any dark secrets I need to hint at?"

When I'm writing dialogue, I'm thinking "would they really say this? How might different archetypes of player characters react to that? What options will the player want to have in response? What information would this NPC realistically think to give - or be willing to give?"

I'm very interested in the mundane, day-to-day details of how life on Nirn would really be lived. To a fault, possibly - sometimes I need to remind myself that it's a game and that I can't get it to be totally true to life - just add the fun bits, Luce!

Also, it’s always more fun working with others - I find being able to bounce ideas around with someone else to be really motivating. Posting screenshots of WIPs in MMC is another big motivator. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to collaborate with a lot of great modders over the years - shout-out to Alice, Danae and RandomPal in particular, and also to Brother Juniper, to whom I have never spoken but whose mods have been a huge source of inspiration.

Brother Juniper's Ashlander Traders - Remastered by Lucevar
Silt Strider Courier by Lucevar and AliceL93

What’s your favourite thing about modding?

Modding itself? Definitely the early-mid stage of a mod, when the creativity is flowing and everything is coming together and every idea seems to spawn three new ideas that just make complete sense - it’s a wonderful feeling.

And then I get to share the things I make with an active, vibrant community of people who love this game just as much as I do, a community that regularly releases things that absolutely blow my mind. And with the Morrowind community in particular, we’ve really absorbed Wrye’s ideal of Cathedral modding - there’s so much willingness to collaborate and share, to fulfill requests, to build on the foundations other people have provided to make mods that would have been impossible only a year before.

But maybe the thing I love most is writing lists. This community keeps releasing mods that give me an excuse to update my lists. It’s great! I also love reading other people’s lists: I spent hours and hours happily browsing through the mod lists on mwmythicmods back in the day.

The Merchants of Sadrith Mora

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

Shal Overgrown was probably the most fun to make. I’d never made a dungeon before and I really went wild with the freeform cave building using Rytelier’s cave tileset. That was the year I was on a MMM team with Danae, Tizzo, and abot, and I think both Shal and Ebonheart Underworks turned out great. That team had a lot of creativity, but also a lot of restraint in terms of resisting scope creep and sticking to the plan, which is equally important if you want to actually get things done!

Shal Overgrown
Ebonheart Underworks

I like my guild overhauls (Balmora and Caldera) as well, I think I’ve turned them into very cosy places to hang out in. I just wish I could say there was only one Known Bug!

Caldera Mages Guild Expanded
Balmora Guilds Expanded

Is there a mod you are especially proud of?

Clear Your Name and LDM - Context Matters for sure. They’re my most polished mods and I’d be genuinely happy to recommend them to anyone playing in English (or Polish - GokuZboku has very kindly made a Polish translation of Clear Your Name!) regardless of the character type they want to play. Some of my mods deviate more from the vanilla aesthetic, which means they don’t fit every install, but these two I think could fit in most.

Clear Your Name
LDM is an ongoing mod series by Lucevar which aims to make the dialogue of the game more interesting, lore-friendly and immersive. This is a screenshot from LDM - Racist Service Refusal which makes Camonna Tong members refuse to provide services to Khajiit and Argonian characters

Are you working on a mod these days?

I always have a bunch of wips lying around, and a pile of ideas for potential wips as well. And some mods that chronically need to be updated (cough Guilds cough). Currently I’m working on a set of mods relating to slaves - an OAAB update to Brother Juniper’s Twin Lamps, an alternate start scenario where you escape from an egg mine, and another mod that adds appropriate NPC reactions if you’re wearing slave bracers - some will do their best to help you, some will be actively hostile, most just won’t want to get involved.

Even Seedier Eight Plates

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

Nowhere near as much as I want to! I have a full-blown case of the modder’s curse: every time I load up the game with the intent to play, I spot 20 things I want to tweak. So I tweak them, and of course break my save game, and the cycle starts again. Maybe once every two years I manage to get together an installation that I'm actually happy with and just play, but it hasn't happened in a while. Maybe after this Modathon - there have been some incredible mods released that I’m itching to give a go.

More Exclusive Factions

How did you discover Morrowind?

My mum bought my brother and I two PC games - Shogun: Total War and Morrowind. I messed around with them both a little, but I didn’t really get into Morrowind until we got an Xbox. I gave it a go, enjoyed it, somehow got the impression that water insta-killed you the same way it did in GTA (darn slaughterfish) which lasted for an embarrassingly long time, and probably would have forgotten about it after a little while if we hadn’t moved house when I was 10. It was a very unhappy move for me, and Morrowind was a lifeline. We had a giant furry beanbag which was the most comfortable thing in the world, and I spent an entire summer on it, playing Morrowind for 12-14 hours a day. And then I discovered mods and the rest is history.

Atmospheric Delights

What makes Morrowind special for you?

The alien atmosphere, the grandeur, the freedom, the sense of being a stranger in a land that feels alive (even if it could do with better animations), and most importantly, the community. We’re a very strange bunch, just like our game, and I love that.

Valley of the Wind Atmospheric Enhancements - Why should there be fences in that remote valley that even the Ashlanders avoid?

What are the mods you simply cannot play without?

Oh boy. There’s about 150 of them. Every time I try to make a “minimalist”, “no really I’m going to keep it small and simple this time” install, I end up around 150 mods in before I give up on the idea and just add the rest of my usual 400 mods. But after essential patches (shoutout to MCP, MGE XE/MWSE, MOP, and PfP) I think groundcover and lighting mods are very impactful. Mods like Glow in the Dahrk, Midnight Oil, Let There Be Darkness, Douse the Lights, Weather Adjuster, Watch the Skies, Heat Haze, Mistify etc. Character Sound Overhaul is another one that makes an absolutely huge difference - the way your footsteps change sound depending on the terrain you’re walking over is just *chefs kiss*.

Are there any underrated mods that you really enjoy?

R-Zero's Store Entrance Chimes - I really miss this one if it's not installed. It's a tiny mod but it adds a real feeling of solidity when you walk into an Imperial shop. Barabus’s Fireplaces adds a cosy touch to Imperial interiors. Better Questlist is also an absolute godsend - it lets you hide quests from the journal if you’re not actively pursuing them.

Do you play other games?

Occasionally I'll play another RPG or strategy game - Dragon Age, Civ 4, AoE2 etc, but if I'm not modding or playing Morrowind, I'm probably playing League of Legends. ADC main reporting for int duty *salute*.

If total conversions count as other games - I actually learned German specifically to play Arktwend.

Do you mod other games?

I’ve installed mods for plenty of other games - The Sims, Civ 4, Dragon Age Skyrim, etc, but I’ve never made any mods for them. I had a lot of fun making custom maps for Age of Empires back in the day, if that counts.

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

It’s pronounced Lu-sev-var, and it’s not meant to be a reference to Lucifer, although it does share a linguistic root. Long story short, I was making a new Runescape account and I wanted to be called Sergeant Shiny, no idea why now, but that name was taken. So was every other permutation I could think of. So I started looking at translations of shiny/glow/light in other languages, and I stumbled across Italian’s ‘lucere’, to shine. Then I just buttonmashed until I got something that sounded like it might be an acceptable fantasy name, and I’ve used it for more than a decade now.

But fun fact: my parent’s cat is called Lucifur Furryarsicus, so ol’ Lucifer gets his dues anyway.

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

I’d like to steal the question that Abot suggested in his recent interview:

What mods would you like other modders to make for you as a player?

The community has been releasing mods from my wishlist on a regular basis over the past few years, it’s quite remarkable :D But a few suggestions to anyone out there looking for an idea:

  • an expansion of the Sitting Mod/Ashfall features to allow players to sit anywhere, including bar stools etc.
  • An equivalent to Skoomaesthesia but for alcohol (blurred vision, weaving camera, stumbling/occasionally randomising movement controls, etc).
  • An overhaul of the Governor’s Mansion in Caldera to make it actually interesting/worth visiting.