This week’s mod interview is with Keter_Sephiroth, an Oblivion modder that specializes in animation mods. Sephiroth (obviously a fan of Final Fantasy) lives in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and spends a fair amount of his free time studing martial arts, philosophy, esotericism, psychology, and life ethics.
Keter_Sephiroth also has a keen interest in machinima and making game trailers. At the end of the interview, you can see a sample of his work, as he also responded to the interview via game video. Check it out!
Let’s clear the air. Given your nickname, are you a bigger Final Fantasy fan or Elder Scrolls fan?
Trying to corner me, eh? When people are asking me that sort of questions, I usually say: “I have favorites in every genre, and not just one game/series of games”. These two games may share “RPG” status, but they are completely different. In Elder Scrolls you play from a different perspective, you play from inside your character, as such your perception of the game world largely depends on your own mind and how well you can dive into this universe. And mostly you make the story from your thoughts, your impressions, from what you like and don’t like.
In Final Fantasy however you are the watcher. You watch how the story unfolds, how personalities of characters open up, and how their destinies go to their inevitable end. And thus your perception focuses on different aspects of the game.
So I’d say, I am an equal fan of both. Since these games provided me equal pleasure, but different experience.
Did you get a chance to check out Todd Howard in the May issue of Game Informer discussing Final Fantasy? What did you think?
Unfortunately, no. But I read a short quote from it on Bethblog. I’d say that the closest game to match the “As soon as the opening credits roll and Uematsu’s score comes on, you’re in control. Everything looks like a movie, but in real-time” was a game called Fahrenheit. For me, it was an interactive movie where the gameplay focused 90% on Quick Time Events. You do it wrong, you fail and the game might take another direction.
By the way, I really think that ES series needs QTE. And not just ES, personally I think this system, individually applied to a game, can become one of its crown jewels.
Your first mod, Seph’s New Animations, seems as though it was pretty well-received. How much modding experience did you have prior to releasing it?
Well not much. My first ever mod was made for Fallout 2, where I edited some parameters for the Wakizashi (a short Japanese sword that you could get from Yakuza in the wasteland), making it longer and stronger. I made it because I love Japanese swords. I also love gray hair, and vertical pupils. That’s why I edited some textures in both KOTOR games, Vampire: the Masquerade and Jade Empire.
And I really hope that in Fallout 3 there will be proper katanas, and not underpowered ones. It would actually make sense if they would be there, since many of these marvelous swords ware taken as trophies and presents after WW2. The most famous of them is probably Honjo Masamune â€“ an almost legendary blade. It was given to Sgt. Coldy Bimore (U.S. 7th Cavalry) and then “mysteriously” disappeared.
Your modding projects often focus on animations. Do you find this to be what you’re at?
It sure is *smiles* . But it was actually funny to find out after about 2 or 3 days after I released my first mod for Oblivion, that animating is considered to be the hardest aspect of modding. It is definitely not easy, but not impossible.
For me, I just like creating something that has life in it. And I work hard to make my handmade animations as close to this goal as possible. It is easy to do so if you have mo-caps, but for the most things that I want to create, I just don’t have the necessary files. And so, I create animations by hand, and I constantly, day after day, polish my skill.
What three projects are you most proud of?
Seph’s Dual Wield Beta: 80% are handmade animations, and the other 20% is from a program called Endorphin (that can produce mocap quality animations, if you know what you are doing).
Seph’s True Actobatics: Because I just love those flips.
And the movie “I know what you did on the last New Year”: I can’t believe that I made this movie in just a week.
Are you interesting in other aspects of modding?
Well I occasionally do a little retexturing and swapping models and editing stats for them. But nothing serious until recently. Modeling, however, is a process that I really need to study in order to be marketable. And thus, I currently learn how to use Zbrush. So right now, I’m pretty interested in this aspect. (my first 2.5d scene)
If given the chance to work alone on a project or with a group, which do you prefer? What do you see as the advantages/disadvantages of each?
It all boils down to who those people are, what degree of skill they have, their personalities, and of course, the project at hand. If it’s a small project, I can most definitely do it alone and would prefer not to get bugged. Useful advice, as well as constructive criticism are much appreciated though.
Working in a group is good, but requires a little more effort. In the end, it all depends on the situation. Unfortunately, things in life aren’t always simple.
What mods from other folks in the community have inspired you?
Well, once upon a time, I accidentally found a web page that featured several downloadable character poses. I really wanted to make something similar and started searching for tutorials. After a week of searching I found some for Blender, but I had 3D Max on my computer and I wanted to work only with it, to make worth all the money that was paid for it. Eventually I found this. It was the third time I opened Max, and just started working day after day, for a straight month, finding and learning how to use mo-caps, animate, export and such. The result was “Seph’s New Animations”
Another mod that inspired me was SkyCaptain’s Deadly Reflex, because combat is my specialty. At least I hope it is
What does the future hold for you and modding the Elder Scrolls games?
I have thought taking a temporary break from modding to build up my skill a little. And as I said I am in a process of learning how model. Especially the part concerning creating custom creatures, rigging and animating them, and finally implementing them in-game. Although my primary focus will be on human animation, I also want to make myself (and if I like them I will release them) some custom clothes, hair and weapons.
Also, expect some updates on the Dual Wield mod, because I currently make 1st person view animations for it. And I hope that TES 5 (and Fallout 3) will give more tools and freedom in animation modding. In TES4 it is just to… restricting. And if there won’t be any tools, well… where there is a will, there is way, right? And I have lot’s of this in my astral bag.
Would you ever want to work in game development?
Actually this is the goal, and the reason I am building up my skill. I mean, I love animating, the sheer process of it, and if I will get paid for what I like to do, then life would already have a taste of success in it, no? When I will feel confident about my knowledge, I will most definitely build up my portfolio and send the resume. And just so you know…Bethesda will be my first target! Beware the mighty Keter Sephiroth!