How long have you been modding and what was your first mod?
I've messed around with the CS since at least 2008, although back then was mostly adding a few items in the game world, such as copies of unique or quest items, or adding more enemies, like werewolves in Balmora. I actually wasn't really familiar with the idea of mods until then, although my brother (who was the one who got me into Morrowind) had installed Morrowind with Dongle's Ranger Tent (IIRC), so I had actually always played with mods at that time. The most extensive changes I could make were linking interiors/exteriors and adding to the worldspace. The first time I really was excited about a mod wasn't until 2009 or 2010, where I made the first version of what my mod Tamrielic Lore does (although Tamrielic Lore is much more polished, though still a little buggy). That was long before I knew any tools besides the CS, and I knew nothing about problematic edits. The mod's name was originally PK's Museum of Artifacts, though I much prefer the name I went with. My first published mod was the Unofficial Morrowind Official Plugins Patched (UMOPP), although I'm definitely embarrassed by how I handled it prior to version 2.0 (I wasn't really aware of the issues with patching .esps with other .esps).
How do you approach modding? (What inspires you? Do you have a specific workflow?)
Modding is a very fickle beast to me. I either struggle with coming up with ideas, or I'm constantly filled with them. Personally, I've found that it's very similar to a lot of other creative processes: you can't force it -- or, more accurately, you can force it, but you're either going to a) be less likely to complete it, or b) you're not going to enjoy it, and will probably burn yourself out. Usually how I approach modding is I start by asking myself three questions:
- What am I trying to fix/change/add?
- Has what I'm trying to fix/change/add been done before?
- How can I fix/change/add what I want in the game?
Depending on how those three questions go, I may decide that someone has already done everything I wanted already! Even then, I still like to go ahead and do it anyway. Modding is supposed to be fun, and I do my best to keep it that way. Again, my approach is: don't force it. That's part of why Modathons and Madness are so difficult for me, although they are still very enjoyable, and I definitely recommend anyone interested or experienced in modding to try at least one of each!
I wrote an article a while ago about the various modding competitions, I agree with Pika, give it a go, it's good fun.
You mentioned nifskope, do you still use it or have you moved on to other tools?
Blender and paint.net are my tools of choice, though I always double-check with nifskope, as I’ve learned that Nifskope can be more accurate with rendering at times than Blender!
How different is Pika-the modder in 2008 from the modder in 2021?
Pika-2008 is definitely more of an early MW modder - nothing was off-limits, I didn’t really care about lore, I did things because I thought it was cool, although they only ever half worked, as I didn’t understand the tools I was using. 2021 Pika is exactly the same, although with more tools and a slightly better understanding of them than before! I’m always learning when it comes to modding, be it through trial and error, or by receiving help from someone in the community! Modding is an ever-evolving experience, and you’ll always be learning more about it!
What’s your favourite thing about modding?
My favorite thing about modding is the impact and community it fosters. Heck, I would never be a modder in the first place if the people here weren't so amazing! Remiros helped me put together my first fully custom model (a Dwemer puzzle box replacer), and I would have given up long ago if it weren't for him! DarkElfGuy's (and others, yourself included, Danae!) mod reviews and videos help show off various people's mods that may not receive the same spotlight otherwise! The overall willingness to be helpful and provide assistance is something that, while not exclusive to the Morrowind Modding Community, definitely plays a significantly larger role within it than any other game/modding community I've ever been a part of, and I am genuinely thankful for all the assistance from everyone who has helped me create my mods.
What’s your favourite mod that you’ve made so far?
It's not published anymore (for good reason), but when I was first messing around with models, I used NifSkope to make a bunch of throwing weapons. The sheer goofiness of backwards-flying axes makes me want to revisit sometime. It's my favorite mod I've ever published, and it was the first time I was really serious with CS interior design, and honestly is the reason why I've improved with interior design at all! As far as unpublished mods go, I've been really excited about the work that the AATL team has been putting in, and I'm hoping to be able to spend some serious time sometime soon to be able to have something highly presentable. It's the largest project I've ever started and is probably my longest worked project aside from UMOPP.
Is there a mod you are especially proud of?
I'd say my biggest struggle with modding is I tend to not publish the projects that I get really excited for, as I never feel like I can truly incorporate them properly when I first come up with their idea. Usually, those projects become incorporated into something else entirely, or that means that, unfortunately, they may never get released or discussed. I probably have, at any time, 50 mod ideas, and of those, maybe 1 will eventually become a mod, either due to my skillset at the time or by the time available to me. That being said, of the mods I've published, I'd definitely say that Tamrielic Lore is the mod I'm most proud of, as it's the properly done version of what I consider my first intentional mod, and I love being able to properly sell/display all my artifacts I've collected.
Are you working on a mod these days?
I've recently been unable to spend much time modding. That being said, there are a few projects that I always give some level of attention to: AATL (thanks to my awesome team members, Lorkhansheart and iris-in-the-dark), UMOPP, and a cave revamp mod that I keep reminding myself exists and I need to finish it.
Can you explain what AATL is all about?
AATL (An Addendum to Tamrielic Lore) is a large scale project intent on implementing and adding additional artifacts to Morrowind (and, potentially, mainland Morrowind and/or other provinces!). Currently, there are around 18 artifacts that have been created, with another 2 or 3 being edited/added. Lorkh has done an awesome job helping retexture artifacts I’ve made some time ago, which has allowed me to optimize and visually improve many of the items I had put together some time ago! Our Github has the most up to date approved versions of items (such as the Skull of Corruption, or Chillrend).
I strongly recommend you nag Pika about showing off some of his team's progress. I lurked in their super secret discord and I can't wait to see this mod finished!
Do you enjoy collaborations? Is it much different from modding alone?
I love collaborations! Although I’ve found that having modders in different timezones can make communication difficult, and admit that busy schedules do not help either! Collaborations often allow for unique iterations or additions to be made to mods, as the added perspectives can really change the mods tone, or perhaps polish it further! I’m definitely more of an ideas guy and editor, so having somebody else start the implementation makes my job way easier!
How much do you play Morrowind, not counting playtesting?
I've put in well over 3k hours into Morrowind, not counting modding-related gameplay. That being said, probably about 1k of that has been over the past five years or so, especially since 2016. I think my average character (not including test characters) gameplay time is much, much lower than that, with my longest-lived character probably ~300 hours, though the average would probably be around 2-3 hours if I'm being honest (I love the first 10 levels way too much, and sometimes I'll find I've screwed up a build, or I want to try a new mod, and oof -- there goes the last 6 hours of gameplay).
Love the early levels of the game where rats are a death threat? Love creating new characters? Play permadeath :D
How did you discover Morrowind?
I think my first encounter with MW was probably around 2005 or 2006, since one of those years we moved where our computer was located, and xp was still very popular. My brother brought home a cd with the MW files copied onto it, and two more with the Tribunal and Bloodmoon DLC copied on, plus a little extra surprise (Dongle's Ranger Tent). I think I fell in love with the game immediately, as I had been playing Pokemon Blue and Crystal since about three years prior, and had just gotten Emerald (another game where I've definitely spent over 1k hours on), so gaming was my favorite activity to do during the summer.
What makes Morrowind special for you?
I'd be lying if I said nostalgia has nothing to do with it. Though there's so, so much more to it than that. Morrowind is a fantastic piece of art (a very flawed piece of art, but that's what makes it so special)! Everything from the weird lore and alien landscape, to the frequently breakable mechanics, it's rare to see a location enrapture me in as much as Morrowind has. I remember so many unique encounters and colorful characters, like Tarhiel who succeeded in making his spell too powerful, to the tortured and insane Dagoth Ur, who truly believed he was helping the Incarnate. There's so much to it, that it's hard to even begin to sum up in a whole essay! All of that, tied in with the fantastic modding community, makes Morrowind a place where I can feel like I can immerse myself more than any other game truly can.
What are the mods you simply cannot play without?
Technically, none, since I've played a lot with pure vanilla (even without Dongle's Ranger Tent)! Jokes aside, Morrowind Code Patch is 100% a necessity for me, as it adds so many necessary tweaks to the controls. Hrnchamd is a godsend! Other mods I usually use are Dongle's Ranger Tent (for the nostalgia and convenient storage tent!), MWSE, Patch for Purists, UMOPP, and a few other small scale patches and tweaks (like my propylon script tweak). Weapon sheathing definitely ends up on my list more frequently than not as well!
The very latest MWSE now comes bundled with MGE XE, remember to run mwse-updater.exe often: all the latest mind-blowing mods use it!.
Are there any underrated mods that you really enjoy?
Loads! I don't know how "underrated" some of them are nowadays, but I love quest mods so much! Love in the Time of Daedra, and the unreleased HangHimHigher companion were awesome (although the latter was definitely unfinished, sadly)! Aleister (AKA MomentoMoritius)'s [random name generator] is so neat! A lot of other MWSE mods really help the early to mid-game experience! Petethegoat's stuff is also really amazing, and so is Corsair's Stone Halls of Solstheim!
Speaking of Pete and random, I am madly in love with his Randomised Chargen, give it a try. Randomly generated characters are surpsingly fun!
Do you play other games?
Yes! Lots of games, varying from Human Fall Flat to Horizon Zero Dawn!
Do you ever get modding ideas from playing other games?
Absolutely! AATL is entirely based around other TES Games and their artifacts! As far as non-tes related properties go, I often get a lot of different modding ideas from and for the different games I play, like my Bucklers mod stemming from Dark Souls! I’ve also really wanted to do an equipment and stealth mod based around current appearance, similar to Hitman, so hostile npcs can be “tricked” based on your stealth score and outfit (although whether or not I’ll be the person to make that is an entirely different story!)
Do you mod other games?
I've dabbled in modding Divinity Original Sin 2, and have worked on mods for Skyrim LE, Fallout NV, 4, and Oblivion, although I've only released a mod for Oblivion. That is, unless you count a joke texture replacer for Doom, although that was only on discord!
And by the way, what's the story behind your user name?
PikachunoTM harkens back to sometime in 2009 when I came up with the name for a Nintendo account! I tried changing my name once, but people liked PikachunoTM more, so I never changed it! I'm a huge Pokemon nerd, so I made a pun by mixing Pikachu and uno, kind of like "I'm the one and only!" Definitely cringe at the name now, but I doubt I'll ever change it for Morrowind Modding!
That's all for today! See you next week for an interview of Denina