Mod Interview: Dev_Akm

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This week we’re talking with Dev_Akm, whose modding days started with PnP projects like Dungeons and Dragons and GURPS more than 20 years ago. Now a systems developer and analyst in Austin, he spends a fair amount of his free time modding Morrowind and Oblivion (though he also is a fan of hiking, camping and listening to punk rock). Of course, that free time is in jeopardy. In addition to raising one daughter, he’s got another on the way.

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Two Years Ago…Oblivion went Gold

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Yesterday was the two year anniversary of Oblivion’s “Gone Gold” announcement. Personally, those two years feel more like a decade to me. The team is insanely busy right now, but a few developers did e-mail me some thoughts on the anniversary. I’ve worked on Oblivion longer than most people here, and I continue to be amazed at how successful it was and is and how many people still play it today.

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What we’re playing: Game Over Edition?

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So this week we’re back to talking about games, and I’m starting to wonder if guys at the office actually spend more time watching stuff, listening to music, and reading books — you’ll see the response level is about half of what I got last week. Could be that everyone’s busy, or maybe they’re just playing the same things they were last time?? I’m guessing it’s the latter, and that when I turn on my 360 or PS3 over the weekend, I’ll see guys from the office playing plenty of stuff

At any rate, here’s what some of the office is playing. We’ll kick it off with Jeff Gardiner, since he whined that he never gets to be “on the front page.” Congrats Jeff…you made it!

Jeff Gardiner, Producer: Sins of a Solar Empire

Chris Esko, System Programmer: TF2, Mass Effect, Descent the board game.

Pete Hines: Just finished Professor Layton. Playing Brain Age, Tiger Woods 08, Picross, Zelda

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And the answer is: Morrowind!

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Lots of folks got it. It was an easy one. Thanks to everyone who posted a guess for Name That Sound!

The answer is The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. The sample is from Morrowind’s gorgeous soundtrack by Jeremy Soule. It is my personal favorite track from the game – mx_explore_7 – and I, too, have the soundtrack for Morrowind (and Oblivion) on my Iphone.

I promise to make the next one tougher.

Here is the entire track for your listening enjoyment:

Guinness reveals Elder Scrolls records

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Not too long ago, I found out that Guinness – those guys that determine the world’s tallest person, longest fingernails, and the most t-shirts ever worn at one time, were coming out with a new book that shares videogame records. While it’s not the first time Guinness has recorded videogame records, it’s their first book devoted completely to games. To help create the book, Guinness worked with Twin Galaxies, who have been recording pinball and videogame records for years.

The book, Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition, just recently went on sale (I got my copy in the mail two days ago), and it even features two pages on the Elder Scrolls series. I won’t spoil the whole book (soon to be a staple in my bathroom library), but here’s a few tidbits I thought I’d share:

  • Daggerfall has the largest land-based game area at 63,125 square miles.
  • Daggerfall is also listed as having the most NPCs (non-player characters) in any RPG with 750,000.
  • The fastest play-through of Morrowind was done by Vladimir “Knu” Semenov at 7 minutes, 30 seconds. Kudos to Freddo for pointing this out a month ago.

Who knows, maybe there’s a record out there waiting for you to break it. My new goal is to beat Brian Sulpher’s record for highest margin of victory over an AI opponent in a basketball videogame. In Tecmo Super NBA Basketball for SNES, he beat the computer by 331 points. If the Pistons could score 186 points in a real-life NBA game, maybe I can pull off my own magic with their virtual counterpart.

Featured Mods at the Oblivion Files

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Visiting the Oblivion Files, I noticed they’ve updated the “featured mods” on their main page.

In the “featured armour” department, AlexScorpion’s Adamantium Battlesuit is pretty sweet. After reading about it, it took me several mintues to figure out what famous character used armor like this. I asked my friend at Bungie if it had anything to do with Halo…no dice. Then looking at the armor pics, I started thinking maybe it was the body suit Raiden used in Metal Gear Solid 2. Wrong again. Finally, I came across a Wikipedia link that revealed Wolverine’s skeletal makeup and claws were adamantium. I knew I knew it from somewhere. :)

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Oblivion theme performed live

Thought I’d share a cool video that was pointed out to me. As you can see (and hear), it’s a live performance of Oblivion’s theme music. The footage comes from a fan that attended Play! A Video Game Symphony in Stockholm last summer.

For those that are unfamiliar with Play! — it’s a touring symphony (with choir) that performs music from popular games like Super Mario Bros., Castlevania, and Halo. In addition to Oblivion, the program also includes music from Morrowind. Play! is conducted and directed by Grammy-award winner Arnie Roth. In his career, Roth has conducted the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted concerts dedicated to music from the Final Fantasy series, and even worked with 80s yacht rocker Peter Cetera. Talk about eclectic!

Two years ago, Play! was in the DC area and I regretted missing it. Here’s hoping that there’s another tour on the horizon.