This week’s modder interview is a blast from the past, as we’re talking to one of our Morrowind modding alumni, Emma. Hailing from Sweden, Emma is married with three kids, and considers herself a “countryside-girl” who enjoys nature.
How did you get started modding Morrowind?
I guess my story is one of the weirder. It was actually my son who wanted to mod. But in 2002, he was only 10-years-old and didn’t know much English. So, his dad and I realized that one of us had to learn the Construction Set to be able to teach him. We debated a lot over who was to do this. Finally we solved it by tossing a coin. I lost.
So, I learnt the Construction Set. But it was only later, in August 2002, when I was Nerevarine and head of all the houses and guilds, that I started to feel very lonely in Morrowind. So, I decided to make myself a companion. His name was Indiana James, and he spent most his time wandering into trees and shouting “Hey wait for me!” Later on, I made a female clone of him. My son gave her the name Laura Craft, and encouraged me to upload both companions on a mod site. I said: “OK, I’ll do this, BUT I’ll only do it ONCE. This is my first and last release!”
Suffice to say, I didn’t keep my word there. Shortly after, I received a PM from someone who said my mod “wasn’t too bad,” but that he had a script that he thought would improve it. His name was Grumpy, and that was the start of a friendship that lasted until June 15, 2005, when he sadly passed away from cancer.
Grumpy and The Other Felix, who worked on helping me improve almost every aspect (especially on Laura’s scripts), are the cornerstones in my Morrowind world, and I am in full of admiration for their knowledge, and ever so grateful for the time and effort they put into working together with me.
Where does the game rank in your favorite games of all-time?
It doesn’t rank among my favorite games at all. You see, in my eyes Morrowind has its own category. I have played and enjoyed many games. But I lived and loved and modded Morrowind for six years. It has given me a new hobby, lots of new knowledge, many new friends, some of them very close friends. What other game would ever come even close to that?
As for other favorite games, I’d include Oblivion, Daggerfall and Ultima Underworld I + II. I also thoroughly enjoy Sid Meier’s Pirates. Guild Wars is fun too, as it gives an opportunity to play together with friends, and lately I have also discovered Neverwinter Nights II with its many modder-made persistent worlds.
You’ve been inactive with the modding community for a few years now. Can you talk about your decision to leave?
It wasn’t really a ‘decision’, it was life circumstances. Especially during the year of his illness, Grumpy and I developed a very close friendship. When he passed away, it was like losing my older brother. And in the modding community I felt like I had lost my second part. Laurel without Hardy, Bacall without Bogart, Robin without Batman…or maybe Constance without Nerevarine…
After that, I still continued to mod — there were WIP-mods that Grumpy and I could never finish which I ‘inherited’ and completed, and I made an upgraded version of White Wolf of Lokken.
But, then my mother got ill, and after a year of constant driving her back and forth to hospitals, she passed away. The next few months I spent trying to support and encourage my father. Then my 8-year-old daughter got seriously ill. After more than a year, she has still not regained her full health, but we are hoping and praying that we are now finally on the right track and that she will eventually make a full recovery. Only time will tell, I guess, but as long as things look like they do right now, I cannot devote much time to modding.
Have you ever had the desire to start modding Oblivion?
Oh yes, of course I have! In fact, when the game was released it was my full intention to do so. I remember the first time I was standing on a hill outside Bruma, watching the beautiful sunset over the Imperial City, and I thought, “Wow, I really, really want to have my own house right here”. But, the kind of mods that I have enjoyed to make seem to be much harder to do for Oblivion. My mods have always been very dialogue-intense, with much effort put into NPC development. In Oblivion, the dialogue is spoken. I live in Sweden, and people here talk Swedish. As it was, the voice acting for Children of Morrowind meant tons of work, and massive file sizes. The thought of arranging voice acting for a mod like White Wolf of Lokken is simply a bit discouraging. And I can’t really see myself being happy with a finished mod that is lacking something as important as voices in a fully voiced game.
How often do you talk with folks from the community now?
Daily or almost daily. A bunch of us belong to the same in the same Guild Wars guild. I was actually the guildleader until a month or so ago, when TommyKhajiit (Glory Road, Black Mill) accepted to take over.
Any advice you’d recommend for newcomers to the modding scene?
Start small! Don’t start out with a TC or a massive quest mod! Make a few small standalone houses or companions or weapons first, so that you’ll get acquainted with the Construction Set before you start out on any massive projects. That way, you will learn without having to be so afraid that something will go seriously wrong. And you will get feedback on your work as soon as you have released it. This means that you’ll know what to improve before you start out on the TC/massive quest mod that you originally wanted to do.
A second advice would be: Use the many tutorials! And don’t hesitate to ask questions in the CS-sections of Bethesda’s forum, people are in general very helpful.
Of your Morrowind projects, which ones are you most proud of?
I’m proud of them all! But, if I must pick one, I think it would have to be Children of Morrowind. Why? Because I feel it became not as much “my” project but instead evolved into a successful community project which I am very proud of being a part in. I may have put in the most CS-time with this mod, but it would have been completely impossible to complete it if it hadn’t been for the many, many people who contributed with models, scripts, voice-acting, animations, items, ideas, testing. Not to mention all the many add-ons that have been made for it afterwards. During the WIP-year, there was hardly a day without someone contacting me in order to offer to contribute in one way or another. It was absolutely fantastic to see the community work together in this way to accomplish something.
I’m also very proud of the quest-mod “The White Wolf of Lokken Mountain” (with TeuTonic, who created the beautiful Lokken landmass). One important reason for this is that the mod has inspired so many people to write their own fanfic-stories about Lokken. Some of them, you can find here.
Are there any projects that you still wish you had the time to complete?
Children of Morrowind 2. Which alas has been a WIP for a very long time. The thing is that as long as my daughter isn’t doing well, it feels impossible to continue on that particular mod. You see, she is one of the Morrowind kids — the little nord female toddler. When I open the mod, I can hear her voice there, I can see her skip on one leg in the game. One day, when she gets well again, I hope to continue on this project. I know that there are people who want to see this mod released, and I’m so grateful that those who have contacted me and asked about CoM have been understanding and not put any pressure on me.
In addition to answering the Bethblog questions, here’s seven fun facts from Emma’s experiences within the community.
1) By now I believe quite a few people know that when I created the face Sigrid, the mother of Laurenna and Wulfren in Lokken. I used my own face, but added a few extra lines to make her older. But from start, I kept this a secret. The modder Kathryn was one of the playtesters. One day she contacted me and said that she and Tommy would like to use Sigrid’s face in their WIP-mod Glory Road. That face, she said, would be perfect for a “beautiful, but slightly worn middle-aged alcoholic nymphomaniac”…
When I had stopped laughing, I actually said yes to her request, but then I modified the face so that the eyes and the mouth looked a bit different…
2) People have often asked me if I have used my own personality for any of the companions I have made. I probably have used a lot of myself in all of them! I’m not a shop-o-holic like Laura Craft, and not a moonsugar addict like Witchgirl Morgana. But if I only could, I would love to throw fire-balls or summoning storm atronachs now and then. And anyone who has played Guild Wars with me can confirm that I have to shout “Hey, wait for me!!” twice as often as Laura Craft.
3) Did you know that I have actually been interviewed in the Russian equivalent of PC Gamer? It was several years ago, and the subject was ‘female modders’, which at that point was very rare. (I think Canadian Ice was also asked to participate, but if I remember it correctly she said no.)
4) The first time I spoke to Princess Stomper, it was because she had made her first modding attempt and added a pool to Lokken. The swimming pool looked good, she said, but as a side effect, she now had whales jumping out of the Lokken mountains!
5) I’m the voice-actor of the high elf teenage girl in Children of Morrowind! This was out of pure desperation as I didn’t have enough voices, and I pitched it as high as possible to make it sound young enough. Two of my children also contributed: my daughter is the nord female toddler, and my son is voices both the khajiits and the female argonian. My daughter didn’t know a word of English when she did this, so I had to say the sentences and make her repeat them.
6) If I could make my own wish for the next TES game, it would be more Altmer! I always wanted to learn more about this noble, arrogant, highly magic-inspired people. I have always wanted to make a mod based on them.
7) If I was to start a new game of Morrowind and only could pick one mod, I would choose wolf companion Spot. Morrowind simply wouldn’t be Morrowind without him.