This week’s Elder Scrolls mod interview comes from two members of the Nehrim project — a total conversion mod using The Elder Scrolls CS. As a total conversion, its story takes place in a world unrelated to anything in the Elder Scrolls universe, so players can enjoy a new fan-made game from their Oblivion disc. It’s still up in the air as to when the project will be complete, but SureAI’s Arandor and Lord Dagon stopped by to give us an update …
Can you briefly introduce yourselves?
Arandor: I’m Arandor, in real life Benni, a 17-year-old student from eastern Germany who hopefully will finish school next year. And the other brave interviewee here has the jaunty nickname Lord Dagon, which in reality stands for Johannes. He’s also from Germany, but this time from the west side, 20-years-old and in some future an engineer.
We’re both members of a German mod team named SureAI, which has been into mod development for five years now.
What’s your role on this project?
Lord Dagon: You could say, I’m the handyman. I care about the technical aspects, such as merging the single plug-in data to a masterfile. I also coordinate the work of the team and also do story writing and world building.
Arandor: Well, that’s not to be said in a few words… when I came to the project, I especially was involved into world building. Later on, I switched onto quest design and dialogue writing, which is still my main occupation at the moment. Furthermore, I write a lot of emails to voice actors or try to make Nehrim a bit more popular on the internet and within game magazines.
How did you guys get started on Nehrim?
Lord Dagon: When Arktwend and Myar Aranath, our two Morrowind projects, were nearly finished, we asked ourselves why we actually had developed two rather half-baked projects instead of concentrating onto just one. Since Oblivion’s release wasn’t too far at this time, we decided to start a whole new project that would benefit on the one side from the new up-to-date 3D engine, and on the other side from the experiences we gained during the development of the Morrowind projects.
Our intention on Nehrim was to make it a better game than its two forerunners and at the same time creating something that rises above boring mainstream.
Arandor: I came to the team when Nehrim was already in development, that was about one and a half year ago. I have been making mods since I was 14, but that was the first time I actually developed them in a team of more than two people.
Can you briefly summarize the main plotline of the game?
Arandor: If we briefly could, it wouldn’t be a story worthy an RPG. I mean, could you summarize the Morrowind plot and still give consideration to its extent?
Nevertheless, a few words: Basically the plot of Nehrim is very different from most story lines in computer games. You won’t save the shining world from the ultimate evil, as you have done so often in RPGs. The player is one of the few people in Nehrim who is able to use magic. But that’s everything of what makes him “special”, i.e. he is not the “chosen one” from some ancient prophecy. Anyway, since he is a person of magic, a secret order of sorcerers wants to recruit him. This is where everything begins, and the player is thrown into our world of civil war and mistrust — as you see, everything isn’t going right in Nehrim…
Lord Dagon: I do think Nehrim’s plot is one of the most remarkable features of the project. It isn’t about the bad man who wants to rule the world; it’s a story about love and hate, loyalty and treason, and above that a story which also has a teaching aspect: Basically, that mankind’s nature to treat everything they are not familiar with in a hostile way will eventually their demise.
Since Nehrim doesn’t involve Tamriel, Cryodiil, or anything related to the Elder Scrolls, why do you think Elder Scrolls fans should look forward to your project?
Arandor: Because every Elder Scrolls fan treasures a good RPG. Short answer, big message
Lord Dagon: Maybe this is actually the excitement: To meet something new. At a certain point, you have seen just everything of Tamriel.In some degree you can even characterise Nehrim as an entire new game. It has Oblivion’s engine, but a new world and a new feeling.
Do you guys still play Oblivion or Morrowind?
Lord Dagon: Yes, I still go around Cyrodiil and Vvardenfell, but not as often as I’d like to. Especially in Morrowind there is still so much to explore, but often you simply have too little time because of your other RL activities.
Arandor: Sometimes I still do. With the Morrowind Graphic Extender it’s nearly a complete new feeling to play TES III. This game is also an inspiration for us, as it has this unexplainable magic within which we’d like to have in Nehrim too.
You guys had a chance to show your project last year at the 2007 Game Convention at Leipzig. How was that experience?
Arandor: In one word: instructive, at least for me. We had the chance to learn a lot of things there, i.e. what people most likely want to see, what they want to hear and how to explain them briefly what a mod actually is. Presumably we’ll be there this year too and can use our new experiences then.
Do you guys have a goal of when you’d like to wrap the project?
Arandor: When people ask us “When will it be released?” we unfortunately just can say “we don’t know”, and that’s the truth. The only thing we can affirm is that we do our best. But it certainly would be great if we’d manage to finish the beta version or even the final this year (the German one at least).
Lord Dagon: We don’t want to make the same mistake like many game developers: They are tied to a certain release date, hence don’t pay enough attention to every aspect of the game and finally it’s out, but buggy and unfinished. So we take all time we need. Although there’s still a lot to do on Nehrim, many things are already completed. That motivates us.
When it’s complete, would you consider Nehrim expansions? Or would you plan on creating a sequel or something all together new?
Arandor: I think if there is an Oblivion project after Nehrim, it will refer to Nehrim. An expansion would be imaginable. On the other side, we really hope that some modders will create mods for Nehrim like they did for Oblivion; that would be awesome.
Do you guys have any other projects in the pipeline? Any past projects you’d like to discuss?
Arandor: There is a Crysis mod in development by other members on the team, but this is still in the fledgling stages.
The past projects of our team are the two Morrowind Total Conversions. At the time of those projects, I hadn’t become a member of the team yet, but I can say that we all learned a lot from mistakes we did in our first mods.
Are you guys interested in pursuing careers in professional game development?
Arandor: We are for sure. My dream is becoming a game designer for action and RPG games. For that I would even leave Germany, as the game industry here is quite restricted by policy and our educational system.
Lord Dagon: Of course that would be cool. But there are only a few games companies in Germany, and most of that few are quite small.