Modder's Interview: Urm

Modder's Interview: Urm

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

The first game I made proper mods for was probably Minecraft, around 2012 (I was 16 at the time). I’ve played around with Fallout 3’s GECK before that, but it didn’t go anywhere. My Minecraft mods were pretty similar to the mods I make today - they were gameplay mods. For example, I’ve made bookshelves into actually usable book storage. One of my more successful Minecraft server plugins added more weather mechanics: you had to warm yourself up with a campfire in cold weather, hide from the rain under a ceiling, etc.

What’s your favourite thing about modding?

The quick turnaround. A mod needs to do very little to meaningfully change the experience. There is a reason so many game genres came from mods, rather than standalone games. That phenomenon is mostly an RTS thing, however. Probably because it’s easier to come up with a good multiplayer concept than it is with a single-player one, and RTS games almost always include a map editor. I wonder if we’ll ever see Morrowind's modding spawn a new game concept.

Are you working on a mod these days?

I have a decently long list of OpenMW Lua mods to make. I expect to work on them more actively after 0.48 gets feature frozen. Currently, I’m polishing up my take on Cinematic Camera. I already have a few functional camera modes, but I’m not happy with the smooth movement yet.

What are the mods you simply cannot play without?

Well, if I look at the recent years, and ignore that it’s not a mod - tes3mp. I’ve played a lot on the Ragefire server, which is not active anymore, sadly. It was a PvE-focused server, with new and much more difficult dungeons, a massive character trait system complementing the base Morrowind progression, buyable houses, and some new loot to find. A mage duel I’ve had on that server is still by far the most popular video I’ve made.

Outside of tes3mp, I’ve always played almost entirely vanilla. That’s largely due to me being more interested in gameplay mods than I am in content mods, and Morrowind’s gameplay mods were really lacking until MWSE Lua, and now OpenMW Lua. There have also been some amazing dungeon and landscape replacements made in the last couple of years, I’m excited about playing all of those sooner or later.

Danae here, Urm's mod Attend Me, is one of the few mods that made me say "Darn, I wish this was an MWSE mod :D

Is there a mod you are especially proud of?

It’s not technically a mod, and I’m not that proud of it, but Double Trouble - a tes3mp script hat duplicates all generic creatures. As you can imagine, playing Morrowind with multiple players becomes a bit too easy without a difficulty mod of some kind. Speaking of which, I feel there is a severe lack of well-designed difficulty mods for Morrowind. I’m sure many in the community can relate to knowing the mechanics too well, and not being able to have a “proper” Morrowind gameplay experience anymore, at least in terms of combat. It might be somewhat rare, but I actually enjoy Morrowind combat, with its fast movement (in late game), powerful stagger, and slowly moving spells, but the vanilla content does a poor job of enabling one to enjoy it at that stage.

What are your hopes/predictions for OpenMW?

Well, some things I can predict pretty accurately - those which I intend to work on myself. My personal goal for 0.49 is to improve controller support and input bindings, in particular, to make the system flexible enough for Lua mods to add new inputs. Eventually, I also want to support all of the Steam Deck controls natively, but for technical reasons that will take longer.

As for the hopes, the main one is for OpenMW to become less fragmented. Currently, many interesting features happen in forks, with intermittent updates and support, as the main OpenMW team doesn’t really participate in them. Those are tes3mp, VR and Android support. The input changes I mentioned will hopefully help with the latter two.
Otherwise, as NullCascade said in his interview, it does seem almost certain that eventually, OpenMW will become the way to play Morrowind. I think he said 5-10 years, I sure hope it’s closer to 5 :). There is definitely lots we can do to make OpenMW more approachable, even though it already is in some ways compared to the MGE stack.

What is the state of OpenMW-Lua and what can we expect?

OpenMW Lua is currently feature frozen for 0.48, you can find the documentation here. This is what you’ll get in the release, and we are bug-fixing it currently. Obviously, it’s still rather limited (you can’t even create new objects, or add items to inventories), but you can already achieve a lot. This release is primarily a foundation of OpenMW Lua, and we weren’t focused on adding as many features as we could.

Those already familiar with MWSE Lua might find the actor controls feature particularly interesting, as I don’t think MWSE offers anything similar. Combined with the camera and post-processing packages, it can enable elaborate cutscenes. Some other advantages come from OpenMW itself, and not the Lua API directly. For example, the Travel AI package is much more useful with OpenMW’s pathfinding, than it is in vanilla Morrowind - as you might see in Danae’s Imperial Stables mod, assuming she uploads my bugfix for it ;)

Danae will surely do this soon i.e before 2090 as is the custom.

Do you still play/mod Minecraft?

I play Minecraft once in a while, pretty much only with my younger sister. I feel like I’ve played too much of it back in the day to enjoy it, although I might do it again if more updates land.

Consequently, I haven’t modded it in almost a decade. Minecraft modding is still a mess, Mojang is really dropping the ball on it, both before and after Microsoft acquisition, although it did get slightly better.

I am more interested in other similar games: Vintage Story - which is a more survival and challenge-focused take on the genre, and MineTest - an open source game engine, with a Lua API (sounds familiar, eh?) for creating Minecraft-like games.

Do you play other games?

Lately, I’ve been playing a lot of Kenshi. Its only connections to Morrowind are Japanese weapons and extreme character progression, but it’s commonly seen as a “similar” game. There is even a Morroshi conversion mod in progress, replacing the world of Kenshi with Vvardenfell. I think it would be interesting to approach it from the other side too and try to make Morrowind more like Kenshi: adding more control over followers, and making faction reputation more meaningful.

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

The name itself has a pretty mundane origin - it’s just a few letters of my surname. However, there is an interesting story behind it - after using it for over a decade, I found out that Urm is a character from a comic book by French artist Druillet. Normally I’m not into comic books, but Druillet has a very unique style. It features a lot of architecture and immense scale. I can’t point out any direct similarities to Morrowind, but I get a vaguely similar feeling from it.