Modder's Interview: Tewlwolow

Modder's Interview: Tewlwolow

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

I started fiddling with modifications for Morrowind not long after I got my first copy of the game. That CS icon was just too tempting not to click, so I went on and did a little thing that added a ‘Ring of Vampirism’ to a crate in Balmora Fighters’ Guild. I haven’t yet discovered vampirism in-game, so just I wanted to see what would happen if I made a ring with vampirism constant effect. I think it just didn’t work at all in the end. I even remember uploading it somewhere, but I can’t find it now, so let’s just allow it to die in peace.

The first real thing was probably Better Music System Redone, which is more of an asset addon to an already existing mod, but it’s the first time I put some actual thought (and heart!) into a mod.

How do you approach modding?

First of all – frustration! The best modding fuel ever! That’s probably what motivates most modders out there. Just fix/add/modify/nuke things that bug us.

Otherwise, I’d say real life, really. I’ve always been a fan of all those small immersive addons that breathe some air into the game. There’s nothing worse than witnessing a game mechanic that makes you think ‘yep that’s a game’. Gross! Granted, Morrowind is old enough to have loads of those. Can’t really fix the AI, for one (at least not for now, I guess). But environment? Got you covered.

I mostly approach modding like I approach a lot of creative stuff, that is – like a preschooler toying with LEGO blocks. Start like a madman, just do a bunch of random stuff, then slowly settle down and try to bring some order into the chaos. So yeah. The initial phase is just a bit of experiment and a lot of hit-and-miss. Then, usually, I got a clearer picture of what needs to be done, so it gets more structured and all. I hope so, at least.

What’s your favourite thing about modding?

Just seeing the world you’ve felt part of for so many years change according to your will. True magic, really! Just listening to my soundtrack or looking at a model I’ve made is a great reward. That’s what home is, right? A place you can tailor to your own liking. Well, Morrowind has always been home to a lot of us. Now we’re just decorating it a little bit.

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

Hard to say, really. I think the best part of my mod is that thing in Watch the Skies that makes weather actually progress and change while you’re inside. Makes all the sense in the world.

Is there a mod you are especially proud of?

I’m (moderately) proud of all of them, methinks. I’d probably say AURA for now, just because it’s the first coherent piece of code I’ve ever made (apart from some hello-worlds in Python). The first step is the hardest to take.

Are you working on a mod these days?

All the time. Got to take a little break, as you do, but hopefully, I’ll be getting back to active modding very soon. Apart from some long-deserved updates (mostly for AURA, since I finally have a possibility to address most of the issues present in the current version, and Travel Tooltips, which is getting an update with AI-generated artwork).

I’m working on a mod that adds wearable items (mostly done!), which in turn branches off to an enchanting overhaul, currently in early development. The Wearables project is pretty straightforward; it's a neat little mod that will enable you to see some of the objects from the game basically attached to the player's mesh. I have two avenues to pursue here, not sure which one to include (maybe both of them?) - one is a simpler one, you just shift+activate in the player inventory and it appears, do it again to remove. Of course, I'll handle dropping/selling stuff as well. The other is centered around favourites (hotkeys), so if you have any items in your hotkey menu, these will show up on the player as well. Not all items fit, of course, but I have basics laid out for scrolls, books, apparati, some misc stuff (like bottles, Dwemer appliances etc.), and books. The logic is mostly done, I will need to figure out concrete implementation and publish it someday. Fun little thing.

The other thing is an instrument mod, dubbed, perhaps a tad too loftily, Resdayn Sonorant Apparati. That involves deeply lore-inspired and culture-compliant instruments you can actually play in-game (including custom models, animations and sounds, of course), skills you can develop, knowledge you can discover through TR-integrated questlines etc. It’s a huge thing, but it’s slowly moving forward. I’m super excited here – it’s probably the most creative and comprehensive mod I’ve ever made. Loads of possibilities to express my weirdish ideas. If you’re on MMC Discord, you can search for some early screenshots or vids there.

I should also mention that both of the above are being developed in tandem with the invaluable insicht.

Otherwise, I just got involved in a project aiming at recreating Battlespire as a total conversion for Morrowind. Another work-in-progress is a bunch of religious structures I modelled a while back, which just might find their way into a proper mod. Morrowind needs more religious ruins, you can’t prove me wrong. The Battlespire project is not my brainchild and I haven't yet got round to actually commit to it, but the premise is to recreate the whole Battlespire game on Morrowind engine, in the form of a total conversion. Despite its obvious jankiness, the Battlespire game was unique in fleshing out the Daedric realms, as well as the backstory of the Imperial battlemages. What we aim at is a recreation of the original experience in a much better form, we want to add a bunch of QOL features that will make exploring this weird, high-tech steampunk-ish horror realm a memorable thing. The project is still in the planning base, the guys are still figuring out the correct lore in relation to later TES installments, gathering resources, assets, and tools. G7 has been very helpful on the tool front (as he does), while Anumaril is close to creating a first palette cell. All in all, what you're gonna get is a huge TC that will elaborate on the one and only pre-Oblivion lore, representing the game according to the design laid out in Morrowind. Expect loads of weird stuff to explore.

Incidentally, I've been also working on a project dubbed Vapourmist, that programmatically adds a) morning mist a la Mistify to most areas in-game (Lua-based, so compatible with every mod from day one, including TR and PT), and b) some nice clouds moving across the landscape. I still have some optimisation to do and I'm not 100% happy with the assets I've gracefully pilfered from MelchiorDahrk, but it's mostly cosmetic stuff. Once done, it will bring some much-needed modern(ish) ambiance to the Morrowind world.

So there. Yes, the sheer number of those does translate literally into me not finishing anything on time, thanks for noticing.

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

I’ve been struck by the Modder’s Blight quite a while ago, so you can easily guess… it’s always the same story – I promise to myself to just play and enjoy the game, but I end up treating the gameplay as a playtesting chore. I pray to Mephala every day so that she can deliver me from this curse. We shall see.

How did you discover Morrowind?

Got a bunch of friends in primary school who enjoyed video games, including RPGs, so I just heard about it from somebody. My first copy came from a ‘gaming’ magazine bought in a kiosk next to the school, bundled with some unofficial mods and other weird stuff. Got hooked ever since. I was abusing it too – I remember my parents telling me they were going to uninstall it, because I spent too much time in Vvardenfell. Guess they were right, I’m a hopeless case now, serjo.

What makes Morrowind special for you?

It’s a combination of several factors, I believe.

Obviously, the weirdness is the driving force. Just how unique the world is. I was never a huge fan of D&D type RPGs, they just felt so plain and repetitive. But this? I remember exactly the moment I felt ‘whoa, I’m never going to stop playing this silly thing!’. I was travelling from Balmora to Vivec through Ascadian Isles, and was already moved by those big mushrooms. But I was awestruck when I saw one of them move! At least that’s what I thought at the time. It was a netch bull, of course. But come on! A flying jelly! Just glorious. How can it not be special?

Also, some time ago I’ve read the most accurate description of Morrowind – ‘an alien, medieval Indonesia’. If you ever have the opportunity to read some of the Indonesian fables and myths, please do. It’s Morrowindish through and through. There are volcanoes, even! And werewolves.

What are the mods you simply cannot play without?

Hard to say something unique here, really:

Glow in the Dahrk, Expeditious Exit, Service Requirements, Harder Factions, Requirements, New Game Confirmation, Signposts Retextured, Weather Adjuster, Weapon Sheathing

Are there any underrated mods that you really enjoy?

Sure. Not including any descriptions here, go and check out those gems yourself!

No Thank You, Frozen in Time, Units and Vagueness, Open Helmets, The Queen's English, Days of Fire, Ultimate Main Quest Overhaul + Volumetric Music, Concept Art Sixth House, Infected Wounds, REEEE, Healers, Shining Interface, Reclaim Gnisis

Do you play other games?

Sure! I love Total War series (Shogun 2, Attila, Three Kingdoms, Rome, and Medieval 2). Do check those huge and amazing mods for M2: Third Age, Stainless Steel, Broken Crescent, and of course Elder Scrolls Total War.
Loads of city builders as well, the Sierra classics (Emperor!) or Dawn of Man. I’ve been abusing Anno 1800 to the extremes recently as well.

Huge fan of Mass Effect.

Do you mod other games?

There is indeed a slightly shameful episode of me making an Oblivion mod in the past.

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

That’s Cornish for ‘dusk’ or ‘twilight’. Why Cornish? Well, apart from acid music and rugged cliffs, I don’t really know. Never been there. Hy a scullyas lyf adhagrow.

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

I’m just extremely proud of the way we approach modding in our community. This whole concept of cathedral modding, with not only modmakers participating, but also users, testers, video and interview specialists is just exhilarating to be part of. Hope it never dies. Cheers!