This week I’m pleased to share a Q&A I gave with modder Ashton Mills, better known to some as Martigen. He recently released the utterly massive Martigen’s Monster Mod 3.0, which we’ve already discussed here at Bethblog. Being an active modder, Mills has already released version 3.1 of the mod.
Before jumping into the interview, remember you can always shoot us an e-mail if you have a mod project that you think the world should know more about.
What makes the newest iteration of your Monster Mod stand out from your earlier mods?
MMM 3.1 includes a new Wounding and Wounding Effects system. The former allows NPCs and creatures to get weaker the more wounded they become, while the latter displays this visually through blood textures, bleeding, and staggering effects that appear the more wounded an enemy becomes. It’s a lot of fun to play with as it adds a new dynamic to combat.
What do you like most about Oblivion?
Its modability. I think it’s fair to say that if Oblivion wasn’t as easily moddable as it is that the game wouldn’t be on the hard drives of many players today. Modding equals longevity, for both players and the franchise.
Your mod includes more than 150 new creatures and NPCs. Do you have any personal favorites?
Yes, the creatures that I worked hard to design in unique ways like Haunted Heads which raise from the floor as the player approaches, the Sentient Gas which are passive dungeon dwellers that scatter like a school of fish as the player approaches, the Dwmer Gem Scavenger which ignores the player and all denizens but carries a bountiful loot if you can take one on, and the Ghostly Apparition which does no damage but screams an unearthly howl as it charges the player and then disappears before they know what’s hit them. It’s additions like this that keeps encounters fresh and rewarding.
What part of the mod are you most proud of?
That’s a hard question. Much of the unique scripted AI is a good achievement, as is the faction system. Keeping it CPU friendly is a rewarding achievement as well.
How many guys helped out with the mod (list them if you’d like)?
Oh, loads The README has a Credits section listing everyone who contributed models and textures or other components.
How long did this mod take to complete?
It’s been a year so far, and I still have a to-do list of unique features I’d like to do!
What was the biggest challenge completing MMM 3.0?
Working around bizarre bugs or limitations in the engine. Remarkably, the seemingly impossible can become possible through some fudging or clever use of functions in ways they probably weren’t designed for. Clearly, there are many functions never implemented by Bethesda because it didn’t need them, but would have been incredibly useful to modders.
How did you get started modding?
Like many modders, I wanted to fix what I saw as flaws in the game. However, it’s also rewarding to make something you can be proud of that others appreciate. Without positive feedback from users, many modding projects probably wouldn’t last long.
What’s next for you?
Unfortunately, I’m probably leaving Oblivion behind. It’s been fun, but the volume of work to build and maintain a mod like MMM (and the other mods I’ve made) is more than I can give. Like most creations, they start with passion but frequently need much more than this to continue. Although I didn’t start it to make money, by now a monetary impetus would keep it going but ultimately this is one of those sticky issues in modding communities. I don’t have an answer for it really just know how I feel about it now.
Do you hope to one day be a game developer somewhere?
I did once, many years ago. I wrote game spec docs for some friends when younger, programmed some basic tools to build the world for a game, but in the end, real life took its course and I’ve worked as journalist for the last 13 years. Ironically, in this time I’ve worked with many game developers, and sometimes submitted into the feedback loop, but ultimately I’m not sure I’d actually enjoy doing games full time. The reason games are fun is that they are an escape from work and life, I think if I were immersed in them day to day they’d lose their charm.
What would your dream project be?
Getting paid to do what I want? Oh, it’d be great to see Fallout 3 on Linux, too