Modder's Interview Qualia

Modder's Interview Qualia

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

I've been modding, on and off, since around 2012 when I got Skyrim on PC. My first complete—and I use that term loosely—mod was a Skyrim mod to buff the Blade of Woe into what I most creatively called Sithis' Razor—yes, I was in the Dark Brotherhood. It was basically Mehrunes' Razor with an OP health drain and better stats, and like most stuff I made in those days it was a one-and-done, whether I claimed to plan on going back to it or not.

How do you approach modding?

I'm not a very consistent person and so my modding workflow, such as it is, is mainly just a matter of if/when the inspiration to mod takes me. I typically spend hours at a time working on a mod if it does, I'll go until it's complete unless something (hunger, fatigue, etc) stops me really. Take my mod Vulpes Cosades for example, someone made a comment comparing Caius’ role in the Empire to Vulpes Inculta’s role in Caesar’s Legion from Fallout: New Vegas which tickled me, so I pulled together a little mash-up resembling his iconic dog-hat which inspired me to throw that whole mod together all in the same day.

Vulpes Cosades

What’s your favourite thing about modding?

What I like most about modding I suppose is that I can, you know? It's such a grand and intoxicating freedom once you learn how to do something—be that with an official toolset or through something more third-party like MWSE-lua. To be able to respond to that thought that there's something you'd like to see or to do in a game by actually creating it, from something as simple as a customized set of armor to seeing bodies decompose.

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

Mostly I make mods I think would be cool, so that’s somewhat of a hard question, but if pushed I might go with my first Morrowind mod, An Abandoned Shack Expansion, which overhauls the vanilla An Abandoned Shack outside Gnaar Mok. I’m not much of an interior designer, but that shack has always struck me, compelling me to spend many hours iterating over its appearance for that mod. I’ve released two radically different iterations, and an even more radically changed third one is in the works. It’s the mod I keep going back to, which must count for something, right?

An Abandoned Shack

Is there a mod you are especially proud of?

Probably Flip a Coin (go download and endorse, it’s the coin-flipping experience you never knew you needed!). It’s a simple idea, but I feel I got it across very elegantly by utilizing Morrowind’s own drag and drop inventory system. I’m pretty proud of that.

Are you working on a mod these days?

I have a race rebalance mod in the works I’m tentatively calling Races RESPECted. I started that one because the vanilla stats for Dunmer really disappointed me in comparison to their lore, and since I was doing them I decided to do all the other races as well. It’s been pretty fun, I’ve gained a much greater appreciation for the various races by pondering what kind of stats they should have and what gameplay niche they fall into.

Qualia's latest mod: Goldbrand Reforged - The Quest for Eltonbrand

Brave the dangers of Vvardenfell in this lore-friendly quest mod to reforge Goldbrand into the mysterious Eltonbrand. Speak to Sirilonwe in the Vivec Mages Guild while carrying Goldbrand to begin the quest. Part of the 2023 Winter Modjam.

How much do you play Morrowind, not counting playtesting?

My play habits are kind of like my modding approach—that is to say, scattered and mostly accomplished in bursts. When I’m in the mood to play Morrowind, I might spend hours a day playing it, and then I might not touch it for weeks or months while I play something else. I am usually playing something though.

How did you discover Morrowind?

I was introduced to it by its association with Skyrim, my first Elder Scrolls game. I tried playing it in 2013, but it didn’t take then. It took years for me to get into it, but I was always fascinated by the main quest and wanted to experience it for myself. I didn’t start playing it again until 2019 in my freshman year of college. By then I guess I was old enough to have some patience and appreciation for Morrowind’s slower pace.

What makes Morrowind special for you?

Maybe it’s a cliché answer, but the lore and the world are what’s so compelling to me. To me, there’s something so rich about Morrowind’s worldbuilding. One of my favorite in-game book series is Poison Song, and I think it’s both a reason and a great example of why Morrowind is so intoxicating to me. The juxtaposition of the quiet isle of Gorne teeming with nature and life, and the deeply mystical and foreboding Sixth House from an age almost forgotten—it’s so striking to me. It’s vibrant, it’s beautiful and fascinating, and even a little frightening. It’s hard to put it into words, but that image of Morrowind has always stuck with me.

Properly Fitted Female Pants

What are the mods you simply cannot play without?

That’s a tough question, there are a lot of mods I really love, but the one that immediately comes to my mind has to be Ashfall. As I’ve said, something I find really compelling about Morrowind is its world, and what better way to enjoy what is there than to live off that world? Ashfall really encourages you to slow down and appreciate your surroundings, examine your environment more closely for what you can use to cook and craft, and sit down at the end of a long day with a hot cup of tea and a book and just listen to the chirp of the insects and the lapping of the water against the shore. That’s Morrowind to me, and I think Ashfall heightens the experience like nothing else. And a great compliment to Ashfall’s crafting, and both a blessing and a curse to clutter freaks like me, is Perfect Placement. I’ve spent far too long using Perfect Placement to delicately arrange bookshelves and plates of scuttle with heather garnish, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. And I can’t forget AURA, because to me how Morrowind sounds is as important if not more than how it looks. As I said, the chirp of the insects, the lapping of the water, those and many other sounds are essential to my experience of Morrowind.

Are there any underrated mods that you really enjoy?

You know there’s this little-known mod called Ashf—but seriously, and I’m not totally sure this mod is underrated, but South Wall Den of Iniquity is a great little mod which if nothing else is old and probably not on a lot of newer players’ radars. There’s this great memory I have of stumbling into Balmora, beaten and weary, and renting a room to rest and heal at the South Wall, only to awaken to the rhythmic music and smokey air of the South Wall at night with this mod. It’s a little janky, and it has some of that early 2000s kitsch, but it's got outstanding charm and is well worth a playthrough or ten.

South Wall Den of Iniquity

Do you play other games?

For sure, I play all sorts of games. In terms of Elder Scrolls, I retain my fondness for where it all started for me with Skyrim, and I dabble with Daggerfall now and again. Fallout: New Vegas is another old flame of mine and one which I often return to. Anyone who knows me knows I absolutely love the Yakuza games, and their spin-off series Judgment. Red Dead Redemption II bears mentioning it as one of my all-time favorite games. As does the Science Adventure series of visual novels, a game series I have a bit of history with. More on that in the story behind my user name.

Do you mod other games?

A bit, but not so much as Morrowind, and mostly only for personal use. The sense of community that Morrowind modding has fostered is I think what’s mostly to credit for my releasing my Morrowind mods, there’s a sense of collaboration that makes me want to share what I make and participate.

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

It’s not terribly interesting honestly. I’ve never been good at user names, and back in around 2016 or ‘17 when I was beginning to participate actively in an online community for the first time with the Science Adventure community, I felt I needed a somewhat recognizable user name. It’s a little embarrassing to admit this maybe, but I modeled my name after Reading Steiner who is something of a celebrity in that community. He took his name from Steins;Gate protagonist Okabe Rintaro’s ability to perceive changes in the timeline. So I looked to Steins;Gate for my name as well, and I found it in the achievement ‘Discontinuous Qualia’ for observing a tiny change in the timeline. I still use the full name from time to time, like in my author field on Nexus, but most people just shorten it to Qualia so that’s what I usually go by these days.