Modder's Interview: Necrolesian

Modder's Interview: Necrolesian

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

The first mod I ever created was Dwemer Observing Station, back in 2005.

I uploaded it to Planet Elder Scrolls at the time (it's still available on Morrowind Mod History), and then forgot about it. It's the only dungeon mod I've ever made.

I think it sucks, naturally. The actual dungeon design is okay (waterlogged Dwemer ruin hidden in a grotto, like in Mudan Grotto in vanilla), but the enemies are based on advanced fights from Endrek's Gladiator, and they're pretty ridiculous. I think the final boss has something like 60,000 health? It's possible to totally bypass that fight anyway and still get the main reward, an absurdly overpowered sword. I dunno, I thought it was cool at the time.

After that I basically didn't make any mods (except one tiny one for my own use) until 2019 when I started uploading mods to Nexus.

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

A lot of my mods were inspired by an unfulfilled desire on my part. I want something specific in the game, or to fix a specific issue, and I can't find an existing mod that does that to my liking, so I make it myself. For example, I wanted to play Galsiah's Character Development, but it was a huge, buggy mwscript mod, and didn't work with MCP's attribute/skill uncapper patches. So I created CCCP, which is just GCD implemented using MWSE-lua.

I used to play with BTB's modlist (which unfortunately is now only available via Wayback Machine, but is definitely worth a read), and some of my mods are inspired by it. I wanted BTB's version of Better Music System, but I didn't want all that complicated mwscript (and I wanted to fix the couple bugs it has), so I dove into MUSE and created my set of custom MUSE config files which basically implement the functionality of BTB's version of BMS.

And in general, a lot of my mods are inspired by other people's work. I see someone else's mod and really like it, except for three or four or five things that aren't to my liking, or think it can be implemented better, or it gives me an idea to do something similar. For example, I came across mort's One of a Kind and thought it was a great idea, but there were a few things about it I wasn't satisfied with, so I created There Can Be Only One, which does pretty much the exact same thing, slightly differently.

There's actually not a lot of creativity in most of my mods. Many of them are just tweaks, fixes, or different implementations of someone else's idea.

Regarding the process, I try to work on one thing at a time. That works better for me than jumping back and forth between multiple projects. Honestly, right now I'm just hoping to get through my todo list.

Have modders inspired you?

Probably the modder who's inspired me the most is BTB. His major game balance overhaul, BTB's Game Improvements, is pretty much the gold standard for me and is more responsible than anything else for my Morrowind game balance philosophy.

When I first started working on updating and tweaking BTBGI, it wasn't my intention to basically take over custody of the mod, and it still isn't - I'm hoping BTB has the time to come back to Morrowind at some point and continue working on it. My objective was to update BTBGI for a modern install while maintaining BTB's high standards and uncompromising perspective on game balance, and hopefully provide a starting point for him if and when he's able to get back to modding Morrowind (although I believe he might just start over from scratch instead).

There are a number of other mods that I'm very impressed by, some of which I don't even use. Aside from huge new lands like Tamriel Rebuilt, the most impressive that comes to mind is Merlord's Ashfall.

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

Technically it's MWSE Hide the Skooma, which is my favorite Morrowind mod ever. It's based on my previous favorite mod ever, ManaUser's Hide the Skooma (part of his Minimods collection). The problem that the mod solves is just so annoying to me that I can't stand playing without it.

Otherwise, I would say Creeping Blight, which implements a new weather mechanic (increasing probability of blight over time outside Red Mountain) that I think is really cool.

Is there a mod you are especially proud of?

I'm more proud of the mods that involved some actual creativity on my part. Creeping Blight is a good example; it was a genuinely creative idea and I think it's well done. I'm also somewhat proud of Save the Date and Early Transport to Mournhold, which required me to write new dialogue - the new dialogue in Save the Date is pretty much as big of a deal to me as the actual summoning days mechanic.

There's also Fortify MAX, which solves a problem that had been really bugging me for a long time (MCP implements the ability for Fortify Health to affect max as well as current health, but there was previously no way to do the same for Fortify Magicka/Fatigue).

There are other major mods I've made (CCCP, Ownership Overhaul, Rational Names, my edits of BTB's Game Improvements and True Lights and Darkness), but those mods mostly didn't involve a lot of real creativity on my part. CCCP is just a port of another mod, and Ownership Overhaul was just a lot of tedious work in the CS. I think my BTBGI edit is a pretty good game balance overhaul, but BTB deserves all the credit for that. Rational Names did require a lot of problem-solving and troubleshooting - I'm pretty attached to it.

Are you working on a mod these days?

I'm not working on any new mods right now. I have a couple of ideas on my maybe-do-at-some-point-if-I-ever-get-around-to-it list. One is to implement an alignment system (lawful neutral, etc.), and one is to create a new lighting overhaul where light in interiors only comes from "real" light sources (torches, candles, and so on - this would require going through each cell in the CS to place/move/delete light sources as needed). I'm not sure if I'll ever get around to these though.

There are a few updates left on my to-do list, and I also plan on updating my modlist.

Danae here, please PLEASE, pretty please, an alignment system would be <3

Be honest, how much do you play Morrowind, not counting playtesting?

It's been a few months since I've actually just played the game, not working on mods. Maybe I'll be able to start a new playthrough once I'm done with my todo list (though that will technically count as extended playtesting of my game balance modlist).

How did you discover Morrowind and what makes it special for you?

I first played Morrowind not too long after it was released (within a year or two at least). I still have my original retail (pre-GOTY) CDs.
When I think of an "open world" game, I'll always think of Morrowind. It was the first game I played that gave me the ability to go where I want, do what I want, interact with the world how I choose, from exploring a creepy cave to becoming the savior of a people. I love the exploration aspect of Morrowind, the beautiful (and terrifying) environments, the fascinating cultures, getting lost in the world of the game.

What are the mods you simply cannot play without?

So, a miniature modlist for essentials. Beyond the obvious (MCP, MGE XE, Patch for Purists):

  • Morrowind Optimization Patch: Improves performance by fixing meshes.

  • Project Atlas: More mesh-related performance improvement.

  • Graphic Herbalism: Makes harvesting ingredients a lot more convenient.

  • Better Dialogue Font: Makes the font not so blurry.

  • Expeditious Exit: Prevents hanging/crashing on quitting the game.

  • MWSE Hide the Skooma: Solves a problem that to me is supremely annoying.

  • Assetless No Glow: Removes that godawful enchantment glow.

  • No Shield Sparkle: Removes the sparkles accompanying the various shield effects. Otherwise, these effects are basically unusable in first-person for me, because the sparkles are so distracting.

  • A state-based health mod: Either CCCP or MWSE State-Based Health. I really dislike the vanilla mechanic where you'll permanently gimp yourself if you don't focus on endurance early.

  • A leveling mod: Either CCCP or Fixed Level Multipliers. CCCP is a radical overhaul of the leveling system. Fixed Level Multipliers just allows you to make the attribute multiplier gained on levelup not depend on how many skill gains for that attribute you've received (I recommend the x3 version). Either way, this removes or fixes the tedious vanilla leveling mechanic that encourages minmaxing by carefully planning all your levels, and allows you to just play the game how you want without worrying about it.

  • Right Click Menu Exit: Makes exiting various menus much more convenient.

  • Quick Char: You can only hear the esteemed Mr. Ergalla say "Ahh yes, we've been expecting you" so many times without going crazy.

  • Cinia: Adds the missing Medium Armor master trainer to the game (which PFP unfortunately does not).

  • Clock Block: Adds a clock so you can see what in-game time it is.

  • Fortify MAX: Solves another vexing problem and makes Fortify Magicka/Fatigue actually useful for their intended purpose (while closing off broken exploits).

  • A timescale mod: Either Dynamic Timescale or Pass the Time. Dynamic Timescale is a lot more complex; Pass the Time is the simpler, more vanilla-friendly one. If I'm using Pass the Time, I like to set the timescale to 6, so the days don't pass too quickly.

  • True Lights and Darkness: Vanilla Morrowind lighting sucks. TLAD makes the game's lighting a lot more realistic and immersive (within the limits of the game, which when it comes to lighting are pretty restrictive). I also recommend Let There Be Darkness.

  • Renaming mod(s): Either Rational Names or Consistent Keys. Rational Names fixes some very annoying (to me) issues with inventory sorting. Consistent Keys does the same but only for keys. There's also Potion Renamer, Soulgem Renamer and Propylon Index Renamer if you're not using Rational Names.

Are there any underrated mods that you really enjoy?

One of my own mods that's not very popular but I really like is Grandfather Frost. It restores the Santa-like character Bethesda originally intended to put into the game before they replaced him with Uncle Sweetshare. I just really like the Santa reference.

I also like Atmospheric Sound Effects, a very well done sound mod. Most people use AURA nowadays, but I've experienced a couple of problems with AURA (performance-related, and related to sound volume) that I don't with ASE. And I think ASE's individually placed sounds are very appropriate and immersive. (Use the version without tavern music, because the tavern music sucks.)

HardTrade is another good one. Harder Barter is more popular, but in my opinion, HardTrade is a lot more effective at reforming the economy, and especially at preventing you from exploiting merchants by selling for more than you buy for, as you can in vanilla.

Map and Compass is amazing. I love replacing the vanilla world/local maps with the beautiful Wagner maps and getting lost exploring, using the maps as one would in real life. I prefer the weathered map replacement.

Do you play other games?

Yes, mostly older games. I almost never play modern games, actually. Some of my favorite games other than Morrowind include:

Deus Ex: An almost flawless first-person shooter with RPG elements. Both the levels and the gameplay mechanics are very well designed, allowing for many different playstyles to be effective. This game has great replay value, which is good because the story is also excellent. I'm still learning new things about Deus Ex when I play through it.

F.E.A.R.: Not as much use for stealth tactics as Deus Ex, but I love the horror elements (horror is one of my favorite genres). Enemy AI is excellent - on higher difficulties enemies are smart and merciless. I also really like the slo-mo mechanic.

Star Control 2: A hilarious and very fun space exploration game. Combat is very deep, the aliens are almost all interesting, and I like the mechanic of slowly building up my ship and fleet as I explore the galaxy and gather resources.

Command and Conquer: A supremely deep game that rewards a well thought-out strategy. It's very satisfying to bypass the enemy's defenses and take over their base with engineers, or ambush their harvester and know that now they'll struggle to gather resources.

Final Fantasy VI: I like most Final Fantasy games, but this is probably my favorite JRPG. I love FF6's story, and Kefka is such a memorable, lovable/hateable villain. Honestly, I replay this game (and somewhat more modern games like FFX) more for the story than the actual gameplay. I also really enjoy BTB's Brave New World hack of FF6 - it's almost like a whole new game.

Myst: I love this game's environmental storytelling and clever puzzles. A beautiful, peaceful game where the whole point is thinking and solving puzzles.

Super Mario Brothers 2: SMB3 is technically a "better" game, but SMB2 has always been my favorite. I like how different each of the playable characters feels, and how they give different options for solving each stage.

Do you mod other games?

I've played mods for other games, but I've never created mods for any game other than Morrowind, not even Oblivion.

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

One of the main reasons I like Morrowind is exploring an alien world. One of the main reasons I like modding Morrowind is contributing, if only a little, to building and improving that world.

That's all folks! Huge thanks to Necrolesian for taking the time to answer my questions and even to add the links and descriptions, making my job very easy!
You can find all his 67 (!!!) mods on the Nexus.

Please look forward to next week's interview with PikachunoTM

About me

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.