Elder Scrolls Mod Interview: VagabondAngel

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This week’s mod interview is Christian Dean, known also as VagabondAngel within the BGS forums. A resident of Rural Derbyshire (in England), Christian is a father of three, enjoys snowboarding and mountain biking, and his inner geek loves studying ancient history.

How did you get started with modding? Was Morrowind the first game you modded?
Yeah, Morrowind was the first. I only ended up with a copy because a friend of mine didn’t have time to play his and gave it to me. Oh the joy at first stepping off that boat in Seyda Neen.

Anyway, I quickly discovered mods and the weird and wonderful things that could be done to the game with a little creative flare and a good imagination. Thanks to a few kind souls and subsequently good friends in the community (CanadianIce, SiriusSnape to name two of the nicest) I began turning everything purple… armour, weapons, clothing, Vivec… nothing was safe or sacred from the purple paint.

Over time, I started to do modeling work as well. I made a grey tube in my first try, but despite the appalling lack of grey tubes in Morrowind, I didn’t release it for fear of public rejection. I think I’ve improved since then.

I’ve never actually considered myself a “modder” per se, since most of my offerings are nothing more than weapon and armour resources but it’s nice to be part of the community.

What do you like most about this modding community?
That’s an easy one. I love the free sharing of ideas, skills, talents, and time. In my experience within online communities, particularly gaming ones, TES is fairly unique in this regard. With few exceptions, most of the folks who contribute do so without expectation or ego. That’s a rare thing in humankind in general, never mind on the internet, where anonymity can breed contempt. Bravo to everyone who continues to keep the community alive with this spirit.
It may serve no greater good, nor affect change in the world at large, but to its members and the many people that download and use mods, it is an online home of sorts and has served to provide cheer and entertainment to all of us for many years now. And hopefully will continue for many years to come.

Tell me about Vagabond’s Amoury for Morrowind. Why did it end up not getting released?
So you had to ask, didn’t you? Eek, it’s my biggest ever empty promise (so far). It is, or was, supposed to be my grand farewell to Morrowind. A lot of custom scripted and high poly junk in a new unique building in the Grazelands….

Well, the short answer is, Oblivion was released before I finished it. So I’m a traitor in some Morrowind circles.

Long answer: It keeps giving me a headache every time I go back to it and try and pick up where I left off. There’s too many random meshes with temporary names, missing textures I’ve misplaced, long scripts for sheathable swords, equippable bows and quivers with self spawning arrows, a multi-function mage’s staff that doubles as a magic torch…. I got carried away and that makes it hard to replicate the state of mind I was in when I started it.

I ask you though, who wants all those polys in their game? Just one weapon had more polygons in the mesh than the whole of the rest of Vvardenfell.

Would you consider going back and working on it now?
I suppose I would still like to say I’ll finish the Armoury one day but I’ve said that so many times its almost a cliche’. Who knows….? I’m a fickle creature and its quite possible I’ll suddenly do it on a whim.

Of mods you’ve released, which ones are you most proud of?
I think it would have to be Hissyo (shown above) — my sheathable katana from Morrowind. Not that special as a mesh, or even the textures on it, although it’s shiny, but it was one of the first fully functioning sheathable swords for Morrowind (I think Phijama did the first ever). Not only that, it gave you the choice of wearing it on your back or on your belt. I learned scripting just to make that sword, which wasn’t easy as I’m more visually orientated usually. Stayed up without sleep for 36 hours straight to get it all working and I’m not normally that dedicated. Yes, I was proud when that came out, I don’t mind admitting.

Do you have any projects currently in the works that you can spill the beans on?
Aside from Vagabond’s Armoury you mean? Yeah, I’m working on about four different little projects at the moment. Divine Templar Armoury (featuring more weapons and armour…shocking), Archery Additions (more bows and arrows. ie weapons) and Real Katanas part II. There’s also a secret one too. Its for Oscuro’s OO, that’s all I can say at this stage. All have WIP threads at the official mod forum, but I can’t show you any screenshots at the moment since my server is down and none of the links are working unfortunately. Great timing.

As you just mentioned, you’ve spent some time working with others on mod projects such as Oscuro’s Oblivion Overhaul. Do you prefer working with a team?
Actually I’m quite useless as part of a team since I am patently incapable of offering deadlines, or even at estimating a time of completion for something. If I’m not getting paid for something I can easily get bored and wander off. Life being as it is however, I usually wander in a circle and end up back where I was, so all things get done in the end (Vagabond’s Armoury).

That being said, I wouldn’t really say I was part of the OOO team. More of a sub-contractor who turns up for work occasionally (late) and dumps some new stuff on the floor then goes home again.

Do you prefer modding Morrowind or Oblivion?
That’s a barbed question — rock and a hard place. I would have to say Oblivion because of the specular effects and the fact that swords and bows don’t need long scripts to make them visible.

No, no, Morrowind because it was easier to do quests.

I dunno, I give up… which one?

Anything you wish you could do with the current CS for Oblivion that isn’t available?
Creating lip-sync for adding dialogue for new fully voiced quests I think. A sorely needed feature, and that’s coming from a little weapon and armour mod maker.

If you worked here at Bethesda, and were asked to pitch an original game idea, what would it be?
Hehe, do I get royalties if you use it? It would be in the RPG genre since that is my personal favorite. I always fancied being a reviver-of-all-things-lost. A descendant of an ancient people begins a quest to restore the glory of a long dead Empire, struggling against the evil powers that governs the land now. A medieval fantasy revolutionary… Simon Bolivar with a sword and fireball spells. I’m afraid it would be along the Elder Scrolls lines with magic and fantasy and lots of swords, bows and armour. Upon completion, you are crowned Emperor with all associated glory and power. It was an idea I had for a Morrowind quest mod, but I didn’t have the time or skills to see it into production.

If the Elder Scrolls games weren’t as accessible for modding, what would you be doing instead?
Probably cycling, reading, and talking too much. Certainly nothing helpful or productive in the grand scheme of things. Making my small contributions via models and textures and playing the sarcastic fool in the modding community has become a part of life for me in the last four years and to be honest its hard to imagine not having this as a creative release and not popping by the forum semi-regularly to make a smart remark or two.

Reader Comments

  1. Love his Real Katanas… They are so, well…real)
    Although i must admit that i was forced to retexture (and added some lenght) one myself, in order to get a Yamato sword.

    Great interview, and i am realy looking forward RK part 2 =)

  2. Here’s to a great modder, and modeler that greatly inspired me to learn to mod.
    Thanks for the interview. It’s nice to know I’m not the only Dad that mods games.