Modder's Interview: Vidi_Aquam
How long have you been modding and what was your first complete mod?
I’ve been modding seriously for about a year, but I started learning Morrowind modding soon after I got the game back in 2013 (at that point, mostly just to fix mod conflicts.) My first real mod was made back then to implement Tribunal Armor by Vagabond Angel as the armor of a set of Ordinators guarding the Palace of Vivec, and I made a few house mods back then, including an imperial-style castle, though I’ve never published any of my mods until last year.
How do you approach modding? (What inspires you? Do you have a specific workflow?)
I don’t have a real method that I follow for a mod. It all depends on what project I’m working on. I consider myself a “jack of all trades” modder since I don’t have one particular skill set I excel in, but I know a little bit in all the fields (eg. interior and exterior work, texture editing, modeling, and animating.)
My inspiration mostly comes from what I see lacking in the game that I try to improve rather than what I want to add to it. For example, the Redoran Council Overhall started when I saw what an empty headquarters there was for one of the most powerful factions in the game and wanted to improve it. (I like to joke that if I make a location overhaul, I try to pick the most boring vanilla area, because then my work, no matter how it turns out, will still be better than vanilla.)
What’s your favourite thing about modding?
I love the satisfaction of creating something over days or weeks and then seeing it in-game when I’m done with it. With Morrowind modding in particular, it’s so easy to get started with your first mod and learn the tools while there’s so much you can do with the engine once you know what you’re doing.
What’s your favourite mod that you’ve made so far?
The Sitting Mod was my main debut into the modding community and my favorite mod I’ve made (even if it could use some polish now that I know the tools better.) I originally made it for tes3mp since it was awkward to be standing around chatting with other players when there were chairs right there that we couldn’t sit down on, but when I shared some screenshots, people asked when it would be available in singleplayer OpenMW and the original engine Morrowind, which really surprised me since I never thought people would want the ability to just sit in their Morrowind games.
For me, it was another instance of seeing something that was missing in the game and wanting to add it. The concept was in my head since mid-2019 along with a general idea of how to try to accomplish it, but since animation-based sitting for the player had never been attempted before to my knowledge at the time, I didn’t start experimenting with it until mid-2020 when I found that it could actually work.
Somewhat fittingly, I found that it’s probably one of the few mods that actually works better on the tes3mp engine than either of the singleplayer ones due to the difference in how they save player data, though of course, MWSE Lua can reimplement it much more smoothly for singleplayer, as in Ashfall’s sitting mechanics which use the animation set I compiled and edited for my mod.
Are you working on a mod these days?
Of course. I tend to jump between projects, and being at least familiar with most of the modding aspects means that one day I could be writing a Lua script, the next day working on a building in the CS, and the next day animating. While of course, this means that very few of these projects ever get done, I never get entirely tired of modding since if I get bored of one thing, I can always move on to another and still make some progress.
How much do you play Morrowind, not counting playtesting?
I probably play briefly a few times a week, mostly on my tes3mp server.
How did you discover Morrowind?
When I first got the game in 2013, I was still using an old early-2000s era computer running Windows XP. I had heard good things about Skyrim and got interested in The Elder Scrolls, but I didn’t want to get a game that probably wouldn’t run on the computer I had. So, I read up on the older games in the series and decided on Morrowind.
Is there a mod you are especially proud of?
The modpack for my tes3mp server is definitely the largest modding project I’ve ever done. It consists of about 220 mods from the community, most of which I edited to a greater or lesser extent to make them all compatible and bring them together into a cohesive experience for the players. For an example of this, I removed any modded clothing or armor shops from the mods and hand-placed the items in the world or on NPCs and/or added them to leveled lists to make finding new items a matter of exploring the world instead of looking up what mod they came from. It took about six months of work to select the mods, edit them, merge them, and create additions of my own, such as gameplay edits, to tie them all together. All in all, I was happy to finally be (mostly) done with it, but I’m definitely proud of the achievement in making it.
We took a tour of Ashes of Sharmat with Vidi_Aquam a while ago, just skimming the video will give you a good idea of the mods Vidi added to the server.
You run a tes3mp role-play server, why is it called Ashes of Sharmat?
When I started talking with a few people about the possibility of starting a tes3mp roleplay server, we had the idea to make our server unique by setting it in the years immediately following the defeat of Dagoth Ur, not the years before the coming of the Nerevarine. Hence, when it came time to choose a name for the server, I decided on Ashes of the Sharmat because the server's stories are set against the backdrop of how Morrowind recovers and changes after the war with Dagoth Ur.
What makes your server special?
It's special for me because it is a passion project I devoted over six months of work to. I'm lucky to have such a good community that has grown up around my work. A huge part of the enjoyment of Morrowind for me is entering the world and immersing myself in the stories, so I think that being able to tell stories with other people is a natural extension of the game that a lot of people find a special experience.
What would you say to someone who is considering trying tes3mp?
I’d say just jump in and try it. The experience of Morrowind in multiplayer is completely different than in singleplayer and definitely something to experience at least once if you’re at all interested. There’s a number of public servers, some of which use mods while others use only vanilla. Each one has its own gameplay niche, whether that’s an MMO style experience like Nerevarine Prophecies, a brutal permadeath experience like Void, or a roleplay experience like my own server. David Cernat, the developer of tes3mp, has created a really amazing multiplayer engine that deserves a larger community than it has at the moment.
Curious? Here's the discord. Wondering what a role-play server is like? I played a few hours here
What makes Morrowind special for you?
The community is one of the biggest things for me, though I think a few years ago, I would have answered the world and environment of the game itself. The community around Morrowind is the most helpful and friendly that I’ve seen for almost any game. Even though I came into the community as a completely new modder, I was treated like a familiar member of the community very quickly. It’s especially cool that all the names I used to see years ago on the mod pages of Morrowind Modding History while working on my mod list (like you Danae, Melchior Dahrk, and many others) are still around and just one message away.
Do you play and/or mod other games?
I’ve tried to mod both Medieval 2 Total War and Crusader Kings 2 in the past, but I’ve always come back to Morrowind because it’s a much easier set of tools to use.
And by the way, what's the story behind your user name?
Well, I’m a Latinist by study, so it makes sense that I chose a Latin name for my online persona. The first place I used it was for Minecraft which has so many players that names have to be fairly creative. I decided on the title of a fairly little-known piece of Gregorian chant since I could be fairly sure that it would be unique.
Another week another amazing modder! See you next week for an interview with AliceL93.
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.