A little more than a week ago, I was reading about Undernethe Prequel mod project in the works for Oblivion over at FileFront’s Oblivion Files site. The mod will open up a new underground quest featuring new NPCs, music, creatures, weapons and more.
The folks working on the project are currently seeking help from others, but in the meantime, I thought I’d check in to find out more about the project. I asked some questions for some of the guys working on the mod to find out more.
First, some introductions. Fire Legion is the project lead of the Undernethe mod, and works with all aspects of the mod, as well as promotion and team management. Mr.E is the loremaster, and leads the writing and quest departments. Sheogorath is the lead scripter and worldbuilder, and also works heavily in modelling and texturing.
For those unfamiliar with your mod, tell us what folks can expect with Undernethe?
Mr.E: The Undernethe is all about adding a grand scale to the land below Cyrodiil. We plan for there to be be caverns so large and intricate that you can’t help but get lost (and scared), civilizations with lore and quests so involved that you’d swear they were a part of The Elder Scrolls mythology, and items and creatures that will make dungeon delving as fun as possible.
Without including spoilers, what do you think will be the coolest addition with the mod?
Fire Legion: Basically, we think Elder Scrolls fans will enjoy any mod with plenty of content. So we’re putting as many factions, quests, items, weapons, creatures, and locations as we think we can, while still keeping them as unique as possible, to keep it distinguishable from Vanilla Oblivion. There’s also things like mining, custom-built houses, and new spell effects which should be great.
Mr.E: I’m hopeful that we can implement our idea of a sport called ‘Nebaume’. It’s kind of like the Arena of the Undernethe, but it’s non-lethal and plays a lot like sumo wrestling with magic and weapons. That should be a cool and unique addition, so long as we can get it to work!
Where, outside of The Elder Scrolls, did you get inspiration for the Undernethe mod?
Mr.E: Well, there’s the obvious ties to the Drow of D&D fame. And some of our work ties in to ideas from Chrono Trigger and Ultima Underworld, too. But we still want it to be an Elder Scrolls mod, above all.
How many guys are currently working on the mod?
Sheogorath: We have about a dozen modders right now, and quite a few more that have come and gone (and sometimes, come back again).
When do you expect the mod to be complete?
Fire Legion: We’re targeting a summer 2008 release, minus the bug fixes. Keep your fingers crossed…
Very cool, how about some more personal questions…What got you into the modding scene?
Fire Legion: I’ve seen modding tools for other games, but when I found out how easy the Elder Scrolls modding tools are to use, I just had to start creating.
Sheogorath: Instead of waiting for mods to come out, I wanted to make my own, according to what I want added. There’s some mysterious force which drives me to give back to the community, and it feels good to work on a mod that will contribute to the great feelings The Elder Scrolls has brought me.
What other mods have you worked on for Oblivion/The Elder Scrolls?
Fire Legion: The Undernethe is actually just one project under way by our team, White Hand Studios. There are others, like Ghothe and the Master Craft mod, as well as several other personal mods. Like a lot of modders, a lot of my personal mods don’t get released.
Do you have ambitions of working in game design one day?
Sheogorath: It’s my dream. I’m looking at going to a technical college once I’m done high school. I already try to create games – creating a game engine is tough work!
Fire Legion: Definitely, or at the least software development. I’ve scripted a few basic applications myself. I’d like to develop my basic skills into something more useful and specialized, specifically on the scripting side of things.
Do you have any other projects in mind?
Fire Legion: I’d really like to work on is a project to add Coldharbour (Molag Bal’s Daedric realm) to the game. I think that has the chance to be hugely atmospheric. But that will have to wait until I’m through with Undernethe.
Mr.E: More projects? This one’s big enough! But when we come up with ideas that don’t quite fit with the feel of the Undernethe, members of our modding team are free to work on them, and we’re quite happy to help. That’s a surefire advantage of having a cohesive team.
What advice do you have for modders that are just getting started?
Sheogorath: Read as many tutorials as possible, and give it your best shot. It’s not easy, but it is rewarding. Some people are born modders.
Mr.E: There’s a lot that can go wrong when you’re making a mod. But you don’t have to suffer through it alone. Teams will help a modder in need. And the greatest team of all is the horde of modders you’ll find at the Bethsoft forums. Don’t be afraid to ask if you’ve got a question. There’s very few that they won’t have an answer for. And just remember, all those hours of sweating and cursing are worth it once you’ve created something that the whole world can enjoy.