Modder’s Interview: Seelof

Modder’s Interview: Seelof

How long have you been modding and what was your first complete mod (published or not)?

I think I have been modding since 2016 or 2017, but have kept all mods that I made before 2019 to myself. Those were mostly dungeon and house mods that I deemed adequate for my own purposes, but not for the Nexus. I remember one crazy dungeon where I used all sorts of modder’s resources to equip the hostile NPCs. It ended up looking more like a crossover between Lord of the Rings and Warcraft than Morrowind, but ah well, fond memories.

My first published mod is „A Walk in the Park – Mournhold Temple Courtyard Overhaul“. That one was born out of the desire to finally create a mod that might be worthy of a release and thus contribute to the May Modathon Month 2019, and I had always thought that the green lawn areas surrounding the Temple building in Mournhold were so unappealing and boring. So I got to work and managed to release it just in time to be part of the competition. It’s still up and running and I guess has acquired a reasonable amount of endorsements, even though no one talks about it except Denina (thanks, Denina ;) ).

Mournhold Temple Courtyard

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

With all my released mods, I first identified an area of the game that I considered lackluster in one way or another and then tried to improve upon it. Although generally speaking, I just do whatever feels like fun to me. When I started working on my most recent mod, New Ilunibi, I had just published my Library of Vivec Overhaul and was so burnt out from writing and implementing the quests that I just wanted to slap some things together in the CS and see what would come from it. Suddenly Ilunibi popped into my head and I figured yeah, why not make it an Ilunibi overhaul. It might as well have been an entirely new, additional dungeon, but I decided that Ilunibi needed some love.

I guess just by taking a cursory glance over my mods you will quickly find that I have a thing for dungeons, particularly for freestyle caves. Those are a lot of fun and there are so many things you can do that would be simply impossible with the regular cave set pieces that Morrowind provides. I usually don’t plan anything of what ends up in my mods. I just start building stuff and try to imagine what might be a cool vista or a cool place to visit.

What’s your favourite thing about modding?

I think it relaxes me, at least as long as a potential release is still in the far future. I like to put on some nice music or a fun podcast in the background and just let my imagination run wild. On the other hand, when I feel that the mod might soon be done, I start obsessing over it and things can get a little stressful at times. It’s still fun, though.

Berandas Overhaul

All in all, I guess it’s just a nice and easy-going creative outlet. For instance, I also like writing stories (in German: 1 - 2 - 3), but those usually require a lot of planning and attention to detail, and things tend to get tedious fairly quickly. Modding also requires attention to detail (duh), but it’s just so much more of a living in the moment type thing, I guess. In contrast, writing feels a lot more like work to me.

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

Well, I tend to feel the most affection towards whatever mod I completed last, so right now that would be New Ilunibi. Looking at things with a little more distance though, I’d have to say it’s ReadMe – Library of Vivec Overhaul. It’s just so massive, way more massive than I had intended when I first started working on it. It was supposed to be no more than a simple yet nice-looking overhaul of Vivec’s library. But after showing off some screenshots on the MMC discord server, out of the blue, RubberMan approached me and offered me this unique book model that he had made. Needless to say, I eagerly accepted, but then quickly decided that the book looked way too spectacular to just be another book on a shelf. Things spiraled somewhat out of control from there and before I knew it I had added two massive dungeons, two new quests, and a player home to the mod. I almost didn’t make it in time for the May Modathon Month 2021, but I just so managed. And all the effort did pay off nicely in that the mod received probably the most gushing showcase DEG has ever done :D

Are you working on a mod these days?

Two, actually. One is an overhaul of the Gnisis Eggmine, making use of OAAB’s Kwama cave pieces. This will also include a remake of the Dwemer ruin underneath it. The other mod I’m currently working on is a Quest&Dungeon mod somewhat inspired by the Diablo series, Diablo I in particular. It adds a ruined priory just north of Caldera and the player will have to go through the chapel and the crypt and deep below the earth to root out an old Evil and eventually restore the priory.

WIP: Caldera Priory

I’d like to complete at least one of those mods in time for the Modathon competition, but real life has been a bit unpredictable lately, so fingers crossed.

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

Outside of play testing, I haven’t played Morrowind for about one and a half years now. Before that I did I think six playthroughs à 130-200 hours in five or six years. So quite a bit, actually. I’ve been itching to start another playthrough for a while now, but at this point, my laptop is so old and crappy that I can’t really play Morrowind the way I would want to. So I’m putting it off until I get a new computer, whenever that will be. It’s not really a priority right now.

How did you discover Morrowind?

Funny story, actually. It was back in 2001 or 2002 before the game was released that I read an article about it in a German gaming magazine. I had never heard of the Elder Scrolls series before, but just reading that article I was utterly amazed and decided right then that I would buy the game as soon as it was out. So when the time came I made my mum drive me to the store and I got the game. It was only on the way back that I really looked at the box and realized that everything was in English. Apparently, the German localization hadn’t been released yet. Now, I must’ve been in 8th grade back then and my English wasn’t exactly what it is today. So I started second-guessing the purchase, but my mum told me, hey, maybe this is a great opportunity to improve your English, and so I decided to give it a least a try. So when we got home I installed the game, started it, somehow managed to get through the character creation process, entered Seyda Neen, and was completely lost. I had no idea what the game wanted me to do, where I was, or where I was supposed to go (I guess the irony is that Morrowind doesn’t really want you to do anything anyway lol). I didn’t understand anything. So I just started running around, along the coast and somehow made it to what I now know to be the Ascadian Isles region. That’s where I came across some weird creature (a guar lol). It attacked me and I tried to hit it with my dagger, but my attacks kept missing, and then it killed me. That’s when I decided that maybe this wasn’t such a good idea, after all. I uninstalled the game, returned it to the store the next day, got Warcraft 3 instead, which was available in German and turned out to be an amazing game, and then eventually got the German version of Morrowind once it was out a couple of months later. I played it all throughout the 2000s, then lost interest for a few years and rediscovered it in late 2014 I think, which is when I finally got the English version for good. My English skills had improved significantly by then, and I never looked back. Full circle, I guess.

What makes Morrowind special for you?

Well, for one, there is the freedom Morrowind grants you. I like the idea that you can just do whatever the hell you want to do. I also like that there is little to no handholding. While I did enjoy both Oblivion and Skyrim, one of the things I always disliked about them is the quest marker. There is no such thing in Morrowind. Morrowind gives you directions, sometimes very precise ones, sometimes not so much, and sometimes even just misleading and wrong ones. Admittedly, that can lead to some frustrating running around in circles, but it also forces you to really engage with your surroundings. Of the three provinces presented in the three Elder Scrolls games, I know Vvardenfell the best by far.

But what makes Morrowind truly special to me is the modding community and what they come up with every day. Even though I tend to do all the same things all over again in every playthrough, by using mods each playthrough becomes distinct because there is always something new to discover, be it entirely new dungeons and quests, familiar places that have received a facelift, or new game mechanics introduced via MWSE magic, or whatever it may be. Morrowind just never gets old.

What are the mods you simply cannot play without?

First thing that comes to mind is Quick Loot by mort. Granted, I used it only on my last playthrough, but I don’t think I can ever go back to playing without it. It’s just too comfortable. In terms of content mods, I cannot play without Sotha Sil Expanded. I just love how it turns the Clockwork City into an entirely new experience. And I think it might even have influenced me in my own modding, given that I usually strive to come up with spectecular vistas and interesting places to visit, something SSE has a lot of.

Are there any underrated mods that you really enjoy?

I love Olaf’s stuff. His cloak mod is of course really popular, but his other stuff not so much. My favorite is his Daedric Bastard Sword. I’ve been yearning to wield that weapon ever since Morrowind came out and I saw that Dunmer holding a sword like that on the game box. I was very distraught to find that the sword doesn’t actually exist in-game (the model is instead used as a short sword wtf). Olaf’s steel armor is also really cool. I liked both mods so much that I included the sword in ReadMe, and the steel armor in New Ilunibi where I scattered it throughout the large cavern at the start of the dungeon to make for a nice scavenger hunt.

Oh, and I also greatly enjoyed King of Worms by Tel Shadow and Caeris, though I’m not sure it qualifies as underrated. Thought I’d mention it just in case, cause it’s really good.

Caeris picked up what he and TelShadow did and expanded on it. the result is God of Worms. Same quest as King of Worms, and then 4 more :)

Do you play other games?

I do. Or at least I did. The only other game that I still play on a somewhat regular basis is Diablo II. Just like Morrowind, I’ve been playing it on and off pretty much since its release. Beyond that, I like to revisit the classics from time to time. Maybe whip out the old Starcraft campaign. Or turn on my N64 and play the greatest videogame of all time, Ocarina of Time (sorry, Morrowind).

Do you mod other games?

Nope. I tried to create some Stronghold maps a couple of years ago, but it didn’t stick. I think way way way way back I even tried my hand at some Warcraft 3 and Age of Empires 2 maps. But nowadays there’s only Morrowind. It’s the only game I have ever seriously modded.

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

No story. I just needed an account to download Skyrim mods from the Nexus, and s and e and e and l and o and f were literally the first letters that popped into my head. No idea why I didn’t just pick the name I had been using in my Warcraft 3 and Starcraft 2 days. I think SC2 was even still a thing for me back then.

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

Can’t think of anything. Except thanks for doing this interview with me and for doing all that you do for the Morrowind Modding Community.