Modder's Interview: Ruffin Vangarr

Modder's Interview: Ruffin Vangarr

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

I first played Morrowind in 2012 I believe, I checked it out after playing Skyrim, I would have started playing with the CK some time after that though I do not know exactly when. I did a lot of basic level tinkering in the CK before I actually published anything. I was trying to add content to the Arktwend total conversion and I kept trying to make a comprehensive creature and armor mod for personal use from all the various resources on the nexus and other sites, but I kept losing interest and coming back to it later starting over from nothing because my standards of quality had changed and just did that again and again. At the time I didn't even know about the enchanted editor so I was doing it completely from scratch every time. Looking back I don't know what I was thinking, it was such a tremendous waste of time.

The first mod I ever published was a  meme sound replacer for Skyrim, but the first proper mod I didn't release until 2019, that was ceremonial adamantium armor in its first incarnation.

Ceremonial Adamantium Armor (version 2)

How do you approach modding?

Usually, I see a cool concept and Idea for armor or occasionally something else and decide to make it in 3d most of the time I think I do a pretty good job. Occasionally I try to create something purely from my head but that usually gets me mixed results.

I have a large folder full of armor concept arts which I use for inspiration or reference if I find myself stuck with something, or the original concept is insufficient in certain places.

I usually power through and almost finish it besides the last touches (including the icons/ground models/ CK implementation.) and then i lose interest and leave it for several months before I come back and finish it. I don't know why, that's pretty much happened every single time.

Concept art and glass texture by Ateiggaer

What’s your favourite thing about modding?

Being able to make your own custom armors and weapons and wear them in the game, seeing something cool somewhere else and putting it into the game, and also seeing other people and their characters wearing your creations.

Me having fun mixing and matching sets, looking super cool.

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

Probably Dunmer Ebony or ceremonial adamantium, for me. Dunmer ebony was the first armor I made that was properly original, the ones I made before that were pretty much-glorified kit-bashes, but that ebony was custom crafted pretty much from scratch.

The Black Warrior (Dunmer Ebony)

(Although ceremonial adamantium was made first  I have since updated it to use new and improved original models)

Is there a mod you are especially proud of?

Altmer glass and Dunmer ebony are the most impressive from a technical standpoint but they were designed by someone else (the very talented Atteigar), so I'm quite proud of the things I designed entirely myself; most notably Vaermina and Skull of corruption from the Vaermina quest mod, I believe I did a unique and appeal take on both of them.

Nifskope view of Vaermina and the Skull of Corruption

My Redoran Exile armor is mostly original besides the helmet which I replicated from a piece of concept art, but I'm also proud of the lore for it, none of my other armors really have a backstory beyond specific material made by specific people but the exile has a whole backstory for it. the notes attached to it were originally meant to be paper talismans based on Japanese religious practices but I figured if you could just cover yourself in a bunch of paper talismans to get protective buffs then everyone would do it, so I made them something personal instead, and more unique I think.

Are you working on a mod these days?

A bunch of them yeah, I have at least 6 different armor sets at various stages of completion sitting on my hard drive, not to mention countless miscellaneous items that I'm not yet sure what to do with.

First of these WIPs recently released: Complete Duke's Guard Silver

How much do you play Morrowind, not counting playtesting?

Not very much actually. I spend way more time modding than playing but that's how it is for all modders apparently.

How did you discover Morrowind?

I remember my friend gushing about it a long time ago, but it was actually through Skyrim that I gained any real interest in it, I said to myself 'if it's at even half as good as Skyrim it'll be worth trying out, little did I know I'd end up liking it more.

What makes Morrowind special for you?

It's unique, it's unlike anything else, it gives you incredible freedom and it has tones of cool mods that keep it fresh and exciting.

What are the mods you simply cannot play without?

I'll usually change up my mods based on the kind of play-through I'm doing but I can't play without Muse and Run Faster, those are my two must-haves, behind the obligatory patches, and what have you. Music is such an important part of game design and Morrowind's music design is as bare-bones as it gets, unfortunately. Having dungeon music play in dungeons just adds so much to the atmosphere. I like using songs from divine divinity, the MW rebirth soundtrack, and the old harry potter games (also composed by soul). As for Run Faster; Morrowind's default speed is absolutely disgusting, your character walks like he's moving through a vat of toffee. it's completely unacceptable, I recommend Run Faster or some such equivalent for first-time players as well.

Are there any underrated mods that you really enjoy?

It's been a while since I played it and it's quite old but I quite liked Magical Missions and I think there used to be a were crocodile mod which I thought was pretty cool. But I mostly only use popular mods. I guess there's also the total conversion Arktwend which I used to love but after recently replaying it, I see it's far from the masterpiece I once thought it was.

Do you play other games?

I do, I'm a big fan of the dark souls series (particularly the controversial 2nd one) and many games that take inspiration from it. Other standout series for me are Subnautica, Danganronpa, Bravely Default, Darkwood, Zero Escape and the original Thief games.

Do you mod other games?

Sort of, I made a bunch of personal replacer mods for Enderal (the total conversion for Skyrim) that swapped out vanilla assets with modded ones to make it feel more distinct from Skyrim. but due to permissions I never made it public beyond a single small armor replacer. I've thought about doing some stuff for Nehrim (the TC for oblivion) and I even had an Idea for a huge overhaul of Arktwend (I don't know if that counts as another game) but I'm honestly not sure it's worth the effort.

Arktwend , Nehrim , Enderal  are total conversion for Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim respectively, all made by the same team : SureAI. They did a lesson known secon TC for Morrowind: Myar Aranath (also on their website)

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

It's the name of my first Morrowind character, the Dunmer you see as my avatar, I just kind of spun it out of the air and it stuck ever since.

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

I'm known for three different things in the Morrowind community but most people only know about one of them. armors, memes, and my dark elf voice impression in which I did a bunch of rap songs. My best video was by far the Jojo one though.

I'm also very passionate about my writing, it's probably the one thing I think I'm the most invested in. I hoped the Vaermina mod would showcase my skills but it didn't turn out how I envisioned. I'm hoping to eventually get a team together and redux that mod into what it was meant to be.

I have three novels currently in the works but due to my aforementioned chaotic workflow, only one of them is past the full first draft.

Keep an eye on Ruffin's stuff: his Discord, Twitter and YouTube