Exclusively translated by me for Tesrenewal, so don't trow rocks at me, I'm not great at translating :D
Q: Hello, Ravanna. First I want to ask a traditional question about you. How do you join to TES-modding and how long you make mods?
A: I was an Oblivion and Skyrim fan and while gaming in Dragonborn I'm interesting in Morrowind too. I found a «Let’s Play» on Morroblivion, uploaded by SorcererDave on Youtube, and attempted to known, does this developers attempts to port(convert) Morrowind to Skyrim engine and do they need new meshes. That was about 18 months ago. Before that I was tried and not succeed on joining in Britain game industry, and I decided to try to work over mod for Skyrim engine for regain back my passion for games as for an art.
Q: Yeah, want to ask about Morroblivion. What do you think about this modification. I heard about some claims from Bethesda, with which they was linked?
A: I'm joined the team, while work on Morroblivion was already done, and in our team now have nobody from old Morroblivion dev team. That modification was only a port. Almost all models and environments/weapons of game world was just simply converted to Oblivion's engine. While that mod requires player, to have original Morrowind.exe (attempting to please to Bethesda), he still violated the general requirements for porting. You must not take any mesh from one game and put them in another one, even if both of these games are made by the same company.
Thus, modification was deleted from Nexus and Bethesda official website, but their development wasn't stopped.
Q: Well, let's talk about Skywind and about different elements of that game. And first interesting question: It will be possible to us, to kill any NPC in game, or all quest characters will be immortal?
A: Not quite what I'm working on, the problem/task with immortal NPC eventually require at least some scripts. That is a complex question, hardcore gamers hate immortal NPC, but given, that we are limited in number of developers, consequences of killing quest characters, or when they getting straight to dinner to Kagouti, must controlled by some scripts. So we can assume, that we will need quite a bit of immortal NPCs.
Although, I'm sure we see pretty quickly a mod with name «Kill all».
Q: And how! :) Another important question on Skywind about auto-leveling. Do you remember, in TES:III we can go to any dungeon after start the game, and loot many good items. So what do you think to do with that in Skywind?
A: The developer, which wrote most of our quest scripts, already figured out with leveling in a certain extent, but not all done. Unique artifacts will be same as in Morrowind, and you can find them in same place they was in TES III. But, as in Morrowind, this items will protected by powerful enemies, and if you kill them, then loot rightfully become yours.
As for a random items you can find during the game process, so you can get them like in Skyrim (although we still want hi-level weapons to be more rare).
More information about that, will available soon.
Q: Glad to hear that unique items still stay on same places, as in Morrowind. Okay, let's talk directly about your work. Here you have a concept with many interesting ideas. How «underwater» world content will realized? Will be like in Skyrim (empty and boring) or like in Morrowind?
A: Aaa, Lukkar‘s concept :) That painter are full of creative and beautiful ideas.
Developers has modelled new tall algaes for marine thickets and few giant shells of mudcrabs so far. However, now we almost focused on landscape, as the main landscape developer want to make this direction priority. Also, we can note, that Skyrim's engine does not like, when underwater environment is too complex(detailed), so we must be careful with that we doing. Vvardenfell's waters is warmer and are more full of life (exclude Sheogorad and places in swamp of Bitter coast, where are too many ashes or too salty water).
Also we have some plans on extending Dreughs, one artist created whole dreugh city, maded from corals and shells. Bot for now this is only ideas for underwater world.
Also we are working on whales in north sea, in particular, scenes when that mammals jumping out of the water.
Q: Oh, it's intriguing! Btw, whether the mainland of Morrowind will be visible from Vvardenfell or we can see nothing except Inner sea?
A: Nahlo, one from landscape designers, started to work exclusively on distant land. The mainland will be quite far, to give to player the feeling of the scale, but we will not include that in main game world.
Q: I do not know why, but we get many questions on abolitionism and on quests in «Twin lamps» organisation. Have you any news on that? The peoples want to know, have any hope that you expand their quest line.
A: New quests and dialogs are in development process by Langotriel, Smitehammer and few other developers. I have not heard anything about expanding quest line of that faction. Personally, I would like that aspect of game to be expanded, as the slavery in Morrowind — ethical dilemma and that will be good to give to player more freedom in their actions.
P.S For «Twin lamp» quest line will be expanded, but soon.
Q: Well, good, thank you very much :) I once heard about your intentions to make closed cities. Why do you think so and is there any hope, that in future you change your mind and realise some patch with name «Open cities»?
A: I'm sure, that Skywind can be modified itself. The reasons, why we close cities was different — and have their "for" and "against".
The problem of open cities lies in their size. I think, Vvardenfell map is smaller, than Skyrim and cities like Aldh’run, Balmora and especially Vivec must be much bigger, to allow all developers to realize their ideas. Vivec is huge, but it is limited by the size of our game world. To make closed cities we will use walls and «TARDIS»-effect. The performance increases not too much, given the increasing size of cities.
Q: I think it is reasonable. Want to ask about justice system. They will be like in Morrowind (penalty for whole Vvardenfell) or like in Skyrim (penalty for only those possession, where crime was done)?
A: Digitalparanoid worked with this, but they leave out team. I remember, as they show us the system of penalty that works depending on possession of Great Houses/factions: in Imperial, Redoran cities and the settlements, obey The Great House Hlaalu, penalty sum was different. This is exactly, that most of developer want to see, but, as I say before, scripts often rewrites, to better fit into the overall gameplay.
Q: As I think, the situation with reputation and relationship still same (when player can directly affect attitude of any NPC, using bribe, intimidation, threatening etc.), right?
A: We include some of that elements to dialogs together with other topics to NPC, so we get some sort of mix Morrowind/Skyrim. I would not be surprised, if guys, who working on dialogs, overwrite these topics and give us ability to directly insult, threaten, bribe or use special unique lines in dialogue, go get the same effect, as in case with their position in Morrowind. Variants for improving the relationship of character to player will be in the dialog box, but currently only bribe function works in quests. Smite wanted to add the abilities, which help player to avoid arrest, but massive work on the abilities have not even started.
Q: Next question is about NPC. As we all remember, each non-quest character (except ordinators and guards) in Morrowind has his own name and history. I mean unique names of bandits, cultists and other NPC. Should we wait same thing in Skywind or all will stay as was in Skyrim (Bandit -> Theif -> Marauder etc.)?
A: Yes, all names transferred in conformity with vanilla game, and each new character for quest reasons and population of the cities also will have unique name.
Q: Ah, by the way, about quests! Do you have any information about approximate amount of new quests? I am not asking precise number, but maybe you estimate them in tens or in hundreds?
A: Yes, they will be a little more than 10-15, some of them will be massive, some simple. Most of them linked with learning new skills, finding secret Dwemer places/treasures, creating new armours.
Q: Well, let's talk about your immediate work. Did you plan to completely change meshes in Daedric architecture assets or you will use models by Phitt and adding some improved/missing meshes?
A: Firstly, we just want to remade all, that has not been redone in mods, we had used before. But now, honestly, the quality of work of our developers exceeds content from mods, we have before. So now we strive to change EVRYTHING. If time permits.
Not only because we can, but also because we already invested so much creative vision in meshes and textures, so that will be excellent, to make all mod in one style, which is almost impossible to reach while developing indie-games and modifications.
Q: I hope, that all you will done - will be right. In Morrowind (or even Oblivion) player cant do damage to ghosts/daedra/magic creatures using common weapon, there was special checkbox, using which, you could set creature as becomes immune to normal weapons. But in case of Skyrim, we cant's see that checkbox, whereupon you can damage any enemy in game simply using iron sword. Does we see this gameplay part in Skywind?
A: Most of our developers want to see something like that in game. When justifying this part of gameplay it's not necessary to regard that sword missing while attach this creature, we can think, that enemy have for example, too thick skin for damage using low-level weapon. The only thing that keeps us — is technical aspect of realizing that, we need more script-masters, to add some code in scripts in case of necessity.
Q: I believe, magical system stay as they was in Morrowind without changes? Same magical effects, same spells, and same enchantment. Or are you planning to change something? Currently I mean scripts, because the most of mods, that extends magical system, does not work as intended.
A: Thermocrius worked on new spells, and he need help on working with scripts, he attempts to make shock spell that burn all the enemies in water in specific radius. Our current expectations of the magic system are the follow: we can't override many of magic effects from Skyrim, however, the types of spells will be very similar to vanilla ones, but with a lot of attention to details.
Some of that spells already available as mods on Nexus.
Q: And most important question. What do you personally think about landscape design/exteriors in Skywind? I still can not fully understand how do you attempting to extends vanilla cities. First time I saw thermae in Caldera, I thought then that something went wrong, but then, when I saw remaded Balmora, I was really shocked. Why did you decide to make that city in that reddish-surrounding, as like in the canyon? Or you think that everything is fine, and just me do not see any benefit from this expansion of cities?
A: All areas of Vvardenfell have been redesigned using vanilla colour scheme, and areas of the original Morrowind combined with more realistic approach to geology. Currently West Gash is too reddish, and that meshes partially replaced now, because we finished the work on the models and textures of Bitter Coast. In Sheogorad reigns eerie blue-gray mist, Azura's Coast covered with basalt. We leave interiors at the end of development.
Basic approach to Skywind was following: Morrowind — amazing game, also we have OpenMW, which in development. When we realized, that we must remade all important meshes from scratch, we thought it would be pointless to constantly try to match the vanilla game. Many peoples, which playing Morrowind, would like a new approach to the design on a new engine. For those who prefer the original game, is better to continue play in original or, to wait the OpenMW. In vanilla MW not so many design, with which we can work closely. In many places we went back, to original concepts, and bring them to life, without engine restrictions, that was in early 2000-s. We know that we can not please everyone, especially to fans of Morrowind, the Bethesda itself feeling that, when creating Oblivion and Skyrim.
«You just have to do everything as good as you can, and create the beautiful game, it is worth the time, you spend creating them» – That was our original premise.
Q: Do you plan to add to Skywind random events? In Morrowind all around the player was a bit static, but in case of Skyrim all changed.
A: We asked for a small group of fans to help us with that, they offered their ideas (we still choosing best of them), and we realize that ideas right after we complete with quests. By the way, I think, we currently done about 85% quests from original game.
Q: Okay. Have you ever considered on equalize the rights of vampires and werewolves relatively to other races? Maybe some new way to play main quest line or something like that?
A: Werewolves inhabit Solstheim, we are currently suspended work on that island, because to finish Vvardenfell, still too much things to do. Vampirism will work as in original game, will be different clans, which, incidentally, already got their own quests. Dunmers hate foreigners, imagine, how they would react to vampires and werewolves! If you are one of those creatures, you hardly will achieve something from NPC, but this should not prevent completing the quests.
Q: Which city do you like most? Let me guess, Vivec?
A: I can not decide. Original Vivec was excellent, but you must have so many time, to get around it entirely. However, with new Moon mesh and Palace, combined with updated design, this city, without a doubt, will make a lasting impression on you.
Q: How many time you spend to Skywind project each week, and how do you manage to keep the enthusiasm for so long?
A: I spend too much time a weekly basis working with Skywind. Lately I've been doing it constantly, before that I was a freelancer and do some freelance work. I must check and fix almost each model in game, these operations takes a lot of time, especially, when you still need to organize other modelers/artists etc. Eloth, our supervisor, helps me with that, he support work pace as master, and he is very calm in his work.
And about the enthusiasm, everything is simple:
We are creating a whole world, comparable in size with Skyrim, by a small group of people, and we have not any sponsors and economic stimulus. Many have said that this is impossible and that we never'll get to that stage of development where we are now. And now we have reached that point and will not stop. I'm sure, that we will be able to complete the work on the project, thanks for our dedicated team.
Making beautiful worlds and horrible creatures — why not the way to maintain the enthusiasm?
Q: Do you plan to work on Skyblivion, when you realize Skywind?
A: It is unlikely. When work on Skywind will be done, I will so morally exhausted, to join to indie-team, that also will unpaid. I will attempt to go to large studios and return back to character modeling, than I had previously worked.
I hardly even join a developing DLC for Skywind, but I'm sure, other modelers with pleasure will bring everything to the end.
Q: So much thanks to time you spend for us, for your work and enthusiasm :) Glad to talk to you about Skywind.
A: Always please :)