This week’s modding interview features Barney Blankenship (known in the forums as MentalElf). Barney is a retired software engineer living out in Kauai. He’s also a big fan of Chihuahuas.
How did you first get involved in the Bethesda modding community?
I wanted to become a graphic artist, so I purchased a student license copy of 3DS Max. It occurred to me Morrowind was the best game at the time, having just earned Game of the Year award, so I began learning about modding and playing Morrowind. I soon found the Elder Scrolls forums and how indispensible the community is. I soon got involved with the Children of the Night III (CON3) Morrowind project, and learned about modding as part of a team.
While you’ve done plenty of mods for Morrowind, your focus now seems to be on Oblivion. Do you still dabble with Morrowind mods?
I rarely mod for Morrowind anymore, the extent of my Morrowind activity is answering emails about HorrorMod (which I co-authored with LightningFlik).
Do you think Oblivion modding is in its prime right now, or do you think it will continue to mature and improve over time?
I think it will continue to improve. I still have a large desire to mod for Oblivion, and have nurtured a large scale quest mod idea since Oblivion’s release, which has yet to be done.
If you had to pick the three mods you’re most proud of, what would they be?
1) The Search for Arcane Guard Armor quest mod (Morrowind): This mod not only has a seven layer quest scheme, there is a full suit of custom armor reward.
2) Daedric Recon quest mod (Oblivion): This player controlled cannon is part of series of a few quests revolving around stopping a reconnaissance force of Daedric “Eye Ships.”
3) War Summons (Oblivion): This mod has a summon chest spell, a summon “torch bearer” spell, and an assortment of spells for summoning all levels and numbers of friendly creatures to fight for you.
I also have to mention TES4Files, but it’s technically not a mod but a tool. It automatically packages Oblivion mods into archive form. It can also be used to automatically remove installed mods.
As a modder, what do you think your greatest strength is? Weakness?
Tool smithing and scripting are my greatest strengths, I do pretty well with the Construction Set as well. My weakness is texturing and modeling complex shapes, I generally get help or at least advice on those two.
How much would you say you work with other community members on your mods?
Only a modest amount. In Morrowind, I worked extensively with the CON3 group, however that project was never released. Oblivion mod Daedric Recon is in part a tribute, as the idea for a player controlled cannon was taken from CON3. I worked with LightningFlik via email during my Morrowind work on HorrorMod for about three months, it’s my most popular Morrowind mod.
What projects are you currently spending your time on?
I currently am working on Fallout 3 capability for TES4Files, and the Oblivion mod The Underdark as part of a large team. I’m adding spells that reflect psionic ability, as well as general CS work.
Have you played Fallout 3 or tried using The G.E.C.K.?
I played Fallout 3 quite a bit and have finished it (the main quest). I enjoy Fallout 3 immensely. I have not tried using the G.E.C.K. yet, but have started adapting TES4Files for Fallout 3 use.
What about other games, are you modding/playing anything else these days?
I play GuildWars, Age of Conan, Silent Hunter IV, and IL2 Sturmovik.
If you were able to add new functionality to the TES CS, what would it be?
For the TES CS to be able to access files directly from BSA archives so that when browsing for models, sounds, or textures, everything is there even though the BSA archives are not unpacked.