This week we’re talking with Elder Scrolls/Fallout 3 modder, Philipp Termeer (known in the forums as Phitt). Phitt is a resident of Wiesbaden, Germany where he works as an engineer. Phitt has been playing our games since Morrowind, and began modding with Oblivion.
Phitt is currently working on a very impressive Oblivion, Sheogorad, using thousands of meshes made from scratch. Pretty impressive homage to Morrowind!
How’d you get your avatar name?
Philipp Termeer.That’s why my nickname and forum name is ‘Phitt’. My friends and family called me like that since childhood and I only found out a few years ago that it’s an english slang word meaning ‘hot’, ‘good looking’. I never knew why people called me Phitt, now I do. It can’t be a coincidence.
How did you first get involved in the Bethesda game modding community?
I played Morrowind on the Xbox (wanted to play Daggerfall as well, but my computer wasn’t good enough back then), and when I heard about Oblivion, I was very excited since I loved Morrowind despite all its flaws. I even bought a new computer mainly to be able to play Oblivion. After it came out I joined the forums and at first I only looked at other peoples mods. But I always loved to create my own content for games, so I downloaded the Construction Set and started doing my own mods. What a joy to see my first modification in the game world, even though it was simply a farmhouse I placed somewhere near Anvil. As time went by I started to make models and here I am.
You mentioned to me that your main mod project for Oblivion is Sheogorad. Can you talk about that project, and where it currently stands?
Sheogorad is a recreation of that region from Morrowind for Oblivion. It started when I remade some Morrowind meshes for the fun of it. After a week, I had a good amount of meshes done and I decided to make a Vvardenfell mod. “Can’t be that hard!” I thought. More then a year later, I realize that I underestimated the amount of work involved a bit.
Our goal is to bring back the Morrowind feeling to Oblivion, only with better graphics and a lot of new content. Not only will the storyline and quests be different from Morrowind, there is a huge amount of completely new meshes and locations as well. The main quest will be an archeological adventure in the spirit of the Indiana Jones films (the first three, that is :)). The player will learn about a secret facility inside one of the Dwemer ruins located in Sheogorad, and he/she will find out the hard way what they hid inside.
The mod has come a long way already, we have more then one thousand meshes done from scratch so far. The landscaping and dungeon design is coming along nicely as well, but we still need to do a lot of work like implementing the questline and doing even more meshes and dungeons. I hope that we can get a full version out this year.
Any other Elder Scrolls mods you’re particularly proud of?
I like my latest mod called ‘Mad Mage’s Tower‘ a lot, but it didn’t get much attention. Hope this interview changes that. It’s a player home for wizards, full of strange magical effects. Check it out! I also like the ‘Natural History Museum‘, unfortunately I never found the time to complete my update for Shivering Isles.
Are you currently working on any other Elder Scrolls mods?
I have a lot of unfinished mods on my HD, but currently I don’t work on any of them.
You did a Natural History Museum mod for Oblivion. Given that we’ve got the National Mall in Fallout 3, do you have any plans for more museums?
No, currently not. Maybe there will be something like an artifact collector in Sheogorad, similar to the guy in Rivet City who collects all the Abraham Lincoln relics.
Speaking of Fallout 3, are you making good use of the GECK yet?
Yes, I’ve already released three mods. They are all small fun mods though, I don’t have the time to concentrate on a ‘serious’ Fallout mod right now.
The setting of Fallout 3 is a big change of pace, how well would you say you’re acclimating?
I’m very open-minded and don’t have a specific setting I prefer in computer games. I’ve never played the predecessors to Fallout 3, but I like the setting and gameplay. So I would say I’m acclimating very well. I’ve already played through the whole game once, now I’m waiting for more mods and official content for another playthrough.
Are you planning to balance your time between games you mod, or is Fallout 3 your priority now?
Oblivion is still my priority. I’ve spent one and a half years on my Sheogorad project and put in more then 1000 hours so far. As much as I like modding for Fallout, I can’t stop now. It would mean a huge amount of lifetime wasted for nothing. I’m a bit sad about that since I’d love to do some nice mods for Fallout, but that’s the way life goes.
As a modder, what do you think your greatest strength is? Weakness?
I’m not really good at anything, but I’m not really bad at anything either. I like modeling best (and that is what I do most of the time), but I can write scripts and do CS work as well.
When working on a project, how often do you seek advice/guidance from the community while working?
It happens all the time. Without the CS forum I’d have given up already. I’m not asking questions every day, but when I ask I’m really stuck and I’d be completely lost without the help of the combined knowledge of the community. I really think the community knows more about the game then Bethesda by now.
Apart from that, Sheogorad is a team effort and I would really like to thank people like Seigfried, The Architect, Kzinistzerg, Rowan, Raven777, Dave91, Insanity Sorrow and Lady Nerevar for being part of the project.
From what you’ve seen so far, what mods stand out?
The ususal suspects, Midas Magic, The Lost Spires as well as Bartholm and a few others – I like mods that add new quests or gameplay and stay true to the general feel of the game without breaking immersion. If you don’t notice it’s a mod then it’s a good mod.
What other games are you playing these days?
I like quality online shooters a lot, it’s always fun and never gets old to play with other people from around the world. My favourite game in that regard is Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. I play almost every day (nickname ‘Monsterboy’). The gameplay is really exciting and offers so many options to the player. It’s not just a boring deathmatch like so many other games of that category where players that spend 8 hours a day in front of their computer outmatch everyone else. Glad you guys teamed up with Splash Damage, can’t wait to see what you come up with. I also like Joint Operations and Unreal Tournament (although UT3 was a letdown for me, they removed my favourite gamemode). Occasionally I play single player games as well, but only Bethesda games have a replay value similar to a multiplayer game (nowadays at least).
What are your favorite games of all-time?
Dungeon Master because it has a great, scary atmosphere and because it was the first RPG you could play in first person that is worth mentioning. It’s still a great game after all these years. And one of my unfinished mods as well.
Heroes of Might & Magic 3 because it has the best gameplay for a turn-based strategy game, especially when playing with friends. It’s the best part of the series so far and will probably always be in my opinion. Since there is a map editor included it never gets old, there are thousands of user-made maps. There is also a popular mod for it that makes it even better.
Morrowind (yawn…I know…doesn’t everyone interviewed by you say that?) because it was the first real open world RPG in first person that had interesting characters and locations. Not just monster bashing like other games of that kind.
I could go on and on, I’ve played far too many games in my life. The Last Ninja, Doom, Dark Forces, Master of Orion 2, Project Zero 2 and lots of others I can’t remember right now.
Have you thought about a career in game development?
When I was younger I guess. But I was always horrible at programming and only recently learned how to make models. Plus here in Germany we only have two or three game developers worth mentioning, would probably be hard to get a decent job there.