Reddit can be a dangerous or inspiring place. Sometimes you turn up real treasures if you have the right timing. This was the case of us seeing Reddit user, Adras’s Morrowind mod. The project took has taken him seven years and he’s still working on it. Turns out Adras is James Hartley of Traverse City, Michigan and in his day-to-day he works as a Network Technician. We spoke with Adras about the work he did on his mod, Ravenhold Castle, and the work he’s still doing to complete it.
What’s it been like working on Ravenhold Castle?
More than anything, it has been a great learning experience. When I first started out making mods, I didn’t know the first thing about how video games were made or the amount of work that goes into them. It has really given me a great perspective and respect of the people who do it for a living. Modding is a fun and rewarding experience, but it is also a lot of work.
The years of working on Ravenhold Castle has really helped expand my creative thinking skills. While working on the mod, I combined items and room pieces from the existing game to make new interior designs and other structures never before seen in Morrowind. Rather than making new objects that needed to be imported, I opted to be creative with the design and keep the mod entirely dependency-free; meaning that when installing the mod, there will only be one file, rather than many. That helps keep the mod simplistic, yet detailed.
Over the years you’ve put a lot of effort into preserving mod projects for Morrowind, can you talk about that?
Morrowind was the first open-world RPG game I played extensively. Most of my gaming experience before Morrowind was First Person Shooters and console games. The world of Vvardenfell is just so incredibly immersive that, even after 10 years, I can still walk around and see beauty in things that I didn’t notice before. That’s not to say that Oblivion or Skyrim aren’t beautiful – they certainly are – but Morrowind has something special about it. I can walk around Vvardenfell looking at all these strange creatures walking past me and huge mushroom trees off in the distance, and I feel like I am right at home.
Ravenhold Castle wasn’t the first mod I’ve created, but it is the first one that I really put a lot of time and effort into. I have been working on it for over 7 years, and it has become more part of my life than just a simple side project. I’ve put countless hours into it, I’ve had input from friends and family on it, and it has developed and changed over the years as I have. I’ve spent a lot time playing Morrowind over the past 10+ years, so much that it will always have a special place inside me. Through this mod, I’ve had a chance to give something of my own back to the world of Tamriel.
Ravenhold Castle isn’t ready for release yet due to time constraints with work, though I am hoping to be able to get enough work done to release it soon. Originally I was planning on having a entire quest line, but at this point it would only be a housing/town mod.
The interview continues after the break
What inspired you to create Ravenhold Castle as opposed to something else?
It’s been such a long time since I started that it’s hard to remember exactly what first sparked the idea. I’ve always had a fascination with castles and medieval themes, which I think was the main inspiration. I also played with Legos a lot while I was growing up, and this just sort of became my grown-up Lego set.
Building is just something that comes naturally to me. I’ll start on a project, work on it for a while, then sit back and think “What can I do to make this bigger and better?” When I first started Ravenhold Castle, it was a small castle on a tiny island with a small farm. As of right now, the main island alone is slightly larger than Vivec. Early on, I had a lot of areas that I didn’t really know what to do with. I would leave them alone for a while, then come back later and try different things to see what felt right. The harbor district started as a small fishing dock, and the swamp that consumes 1/3 of the island started as one small puddle.
Why do you think Morrowind’s modding community continues to thrive more than a decade after the game’s original release?
Morrowind is an incredibly immersive game which offers a degree of freedom that isn’t seen in most other games, even now. Not only does it offer that degree of freedom, but it also has a much higher difficulty curve than the newer Elder Scrolls games. One of the biggest complaints of Oblivion and Skyrim I hear is how the leveling and character stat system has been simplified to make it more appealing to a wider audience. Skyrim is a mixture of action and RPG, where Morrowind is almost entirely RPG. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but for gamers who prefer a more pure RPG experience, Morrowind is the one that offers it. Lots of nostalgia also helps.
The ability to easily modify all of Bethesda’s games since Morrowind is what puts them ahead of the curve in the game industry. Bethesda has fantastic writing and level development teams, but a group of very talented people can never come up with something that a community of millions of fans could. This is what will keep the Elder Scrolls alive for years to come.
What Elder Scrolls-related projects are you working on these days?
I don’t have a whole lot of time to work on multiple projects any more, but I do still work on Ravenhold Castle in my spare time. I haven’t had much of a chance to sit down and learn all the new features of the current Construction Set, but I have been able to delve into it a little bit. At one point I had hoped to remake Ravenhold Castle in Oblivion or Skyrim, but after exploring the Construction Set, I felt I wasn’t able to keep the same feel and design that I already had going in Morrowind.
Are you looking into playing The Elder Scrolls Online?
Absolutely! I’ve been hoping for a long time, as many others have, that multiplayer Elder Scrolls would become a reality. Now that it is, I’m very excited for it. The world of Tamriel has brought people together for years, but only outside of the game. With it now being featured in an MMO, everyone that has enjoyed exploring the Elder Scrolls universe will now be able to do it directly with their friends, and they can share that experience first-hand. I think that it will bring a new dynamic to the game series that hasn’t existed before.
What mods and modders currently have your attention?
I haven’t had a ton of time to spend following mod projects, but I have been following Tamriel Rebuilt and Skywind for a while. From what I’ve seen of Skywind, it will be keeping the same environment that Morrowind fans have loved for so long, while having Skyrim’s much improved combat and magic system. Tamriel Rebuilt will give us the opportunity to finally explore the rest of the Morrowind province, which many people have been wanting to do for so long. I’m very excited for both.
A big THANK YOU to Adras for taking the time to give us an interview!
Be sure to check back for more information on when Ravenhold Castle becomes available to download as well as more mods!