This week’s interview comes from Lon Hammonds (aka Conan_Lon). Deep in the heart of Texas, Lon and his family live in a custom home, and one day they plan to use their land as a pecan farm. In the meantime, Lon works as a certified database administrator and is a computer science wiz. He is also an admin at TES Nexus in his spare time.
On to the the questions…
When did you start playing Oblivion?
I started playing Oblivion sometime in May 2006. I did not purchase the game immediately since I was not sure my custom-build PC (Dec 2002) could handle it. I waited for a buddy with a similar PC to buy it to see if it ran well on his PC. My PC is now over 5 years old and still doing OK, but it sure would be nice to build another dream machine.
What got you into the modding scene?
I’d have to say the definitive answer is the existence of mods already released, the shear joy of finding and playing them, and the feeling of duty to give back to a community that gave so much to me. Luckily, I have a lovely wife that is very supportive when it comes to my hobbies.
What mods inspired you to start modding?
It was more of a natural curiosity to see what I could do in a type of game I really enjoy — sword/armor combat. By the time I released my first mod, I had already become very familiar with the file architecture/relationship due to installing mods, using OBMM and helping others. It was more or less a test to see if I could do it.
You released your first mod, Dragonbone Armor Set, back in Fall of 2006. Do you ever go back and make changes to it still?
No. I rarely look back on small projects I have finished because I have accomplished what I set out to do. Larger projects are a different scenario though since they tend to be incremental releases. I did mention with the Dragonbone set that if a dragon is released in the future I might make a quest for it, but that was before my plate was full.
Based on your experience modding now, what advice would you have given yourself back when you started?
Not much different than what I tell new modders now. Read the tutorials provided and if you figure something out that was not in a tutorial, write it down and publish it so others can learn from you which makes the mod community stronger and stronger. I do wish I had the guts to pick up Blender much earlier on when I had more time. It is not nearly as scary as I imagined. Here are some articles I wrote about this subject: Start of Oblivion Modding, Start Modeling for Oblivion, and Advice to New Modelers.
What three projects are you most proud of?
Lost Paladins of the Divines is easily the most fun I had while building a mod. Jerros and I had many late night chats about the design and tweaking of the mod.
Apophis: Armory of the Silver Dragon was my first themed set that started out as only a couple of armor sets and grew to cover just about each kind of player type. I have a fairly ambitious goal for version 2.0 and my storyline has a secret to be revealed that I do not think any other mod has done yet.
Vvardenfell Glass will feature most of the 3D work I have done so far and has a fun challenge to gain access to the weapons and armor.
What aspects of modding do you enjoy most? Least?
Most: Working with the talented community of modders is hands down the best aspect to modding. I’ve never experienced anything quite like this before.
Least: Supporting the mods that were released. The more mods released, the more crazy it gets trying to keep up with everything while trying to crank out new ones. I must say though that recent developments at TESNexus has eased the pain quite considerably and I can keep on top of 50-something files I’ve uploaded with very minimal effort (e.g. Sort by Comment in Descending Order.)
Of the mods out there for Oblivion, what 5 would you say are essential?
Defining “essential” as something I will not play Oblivion without, I’d say the following:
- The Unofficial Patches (yes, I’m rolling them all up into one: Oblivion, DLCs, SI)
- Bobos Summoned Chest: A magically believable way to collect all the dungeon loot.
- Almost Everything Visible When Distant: Completely changed the world to me.
- Enchanting and Spellmaking: Helpful to non-mage characters such as myself.
- Beautiful People: Large selection of choices for character customization.
You’re an admin over at TESNexus. Can you talk about that experience?
I enjoy helping people out where I can, which is almost always in the files section. This is most-likely why Robin (Dark0ne) approached me for the job. As an admin, I now have the capability to help out a little more. But I also have the responsibility to respond to complaints which isn’t usually very fun but almost always necessary to ensure the smooth operation of the site.
Can you talk briefly about some of your upcoming mod projects?
Although my modding time has slowed down, the projects I am working on are still in active development as noted in my project list. The projects that are on hold will become active as I complete current projects.
I do have a small but secret mod that will be released soon and only throttlekitty has an idea of what it will be. It will be a well-deserved gift for a friend. It will not be a blockbuster mod, but tailored for a small audience.
What would your dream mod be?
The completed version of Apophis: Armory of the Silver Dragon. The current BETA version is simply the replicas of weapons and armor that have been lost for ages. The storyline I have will require a new land, town, NPCs, dialogue, voice acting and a fire-breathing dragon. The “reveal” of the plot at the end will be a real kicker of an “ah ha!” moment kinda like the movie called Total Recall.
Do you have any dreams of working in game development?
Dreams? Yes, since high school. Reality? Probably not. I initially chose Computer Science when starting college to make my own games but quickly determined that I should probably save it as a hobby so it would never get old.
What would be a cool mod idea?
A mod idea that I saw with great potential was a community mod called TESNexus Inn. It was abandoned but I think the idea is great. Having a Nexus Inn beside a PES vendor shop with characters in the mod community having dialog that reflects their real-life counterparts would be a fun mod to create. Just imagine walking into the PES vendor shop and being greeted by two heavily armed guards named Vypress and Lord Devil…Jerros running around in his Wrath armor, me in my Silver Dragon armor, jcarl904 in Vvardenfell Glass…Walking into a Bethsoft Recruitment building for companions and running into Gstaff, Rohugh, princess_stomper, etc.