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Interview with Ravanna, Skywind developer

Русская версия | English Version
Author: InfOrion

Интервью взято в рамках рубрики «Дайджест фанатских проектов TES».

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Hello, Ravanna! My first question is about you. How did you get to TES-modding and how long are you in?

I was a fan of Oblivion and Skyrim, and when playing the Dragonborn DLC, I took an interest in finding out about Morrowind. I found a «lets play» of Morroblivion by Sorcerer Dave on youtube, and decided to find out if the same team were trying to convert Morrowind for Skyrim, and if they needed new models.

That was about 18 months ago. I had tried and failed to get into UK games industry before that, and decided to mod for the Skyrim engine to make me love game art again.

I want to ask about Morroblivion, by the way. What do you think about this modification? I’ve heard about some arguement with Bethesda that your team had back then, what it all was about?

I joined the website/team after Morroblivion was finished, the team that exists now contains none of the original Morroblivion members. Morroblivion was a port. It was essentially all the environment/weapon models from Morrowind, converted to the Oblivion engine. Whereas i think the mod required the player of Morroblivion to have original Morrowind.exe, ( in an attempt to make it fair to Bethesda) it still sadly broke the rules of general porting. No asset from one game may be ripped and put it another, even if the same company made both games.

The mod was removed from Nexus and Bethesda main site, but never shut down.

Okay, let’s talk about Skywind, particularly about different elements of the game. I need to start from one interesting question. Would we be able to kill everyone in the game or some NPC will be marked as essential?

Not really my area, Coding whether an NPC is essential or not is some scripting at the end. It is a difficult issue, hardcore fans hated the undying NPCs, but considering we are limited in staff, without essential NPC’s the consequences of killing quest givers or having those quest givers walk off a ledge into a kagouti is different to code around, so its safe to assume we will need many essential NPCs.

I’m sure there could be a mod called «kill everybody» :P

Sure :) The second important question about Skywind is about autoleveling. Back in Morrowind, you could go to every cave in the game from the very beginning and loot some good stuff. What about it in Skywind?

The guy who did most of our quest scripting did sort out levelling to an extent, but more is to be sorted later. The unique artifacts of loot will be the same as Morrowind, and found in the same place, but as in Morrowind, powerful enemies will protect them, if you manage to defeat them, you deserve the loot.

Otherwise, random loot found throughout the game will level in a similar way to Skyrim. (though hopefully high level weapons would be more rare)

This info will be more available later.

I’m glad to hear that artifacts will be placed on the same dungeons and caves as it was in Morrowind. Let’s talk about something that lies in your area. So…here’s the concept with some cool things on it. What about underwater content? It will be like in Skyrim (boring and empty) or like in Morrowind?

Ah, Lukkars concept :) A wealth of creativity and ideas that artist.

So far, artists have modelled new taller sea weed for sea weed forests, and some large mudcrab fossils. But we have mostly focused on the land areas so far, as the main landscaper wants to make that a priority. It is also worth noting that the Skyrim engine really seems to hate placing too much detail underneath the water layer, so we have to be careful how much we do. The waters of Vvardenfell are warmer and rich in life (except for sheogorad and places in BC marsh where its too ashy/salty)

We do have plans to expand dreugh, one artist designed a coral/shell city of dreugh. Its all just ideas for underwater atm.

We’re also working on whales for the northern sea, including whales jumping out of the water.

ancientNautshell

MUdcrabHouseWIP

Oh, such an intrigue! Is it possible to see Mainland Morrowind’s Distant Land from the Vvardenfell or we’ll see nothing but the Inner Sea?

Nahlo, one of our landscapers, began work on this, purely distant terrain.

The mainland will be placed further away to increase sense of scale, but it is out intention to include this to the main worldspace.

I do not know why, but we received so much questions about abolitionism and Twin Lamps organization quests. Have you heard something about it? People want to know if there’s any hope that you’ll expand their quest line.

New quests and dialog has been worked on by Langotriel, Smitehammer, and a few others. I have not heard about this side of quest/faction expansion. Personally, I would love to see this area expanded, as slavery in Morrowind is an ethical dilemma, and It would be great to allow the player more choice in their actions. Twin Lamps are getting more quests, but not till later.

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SWC_Arm3D_DragSMARTrav_DUNMERIRON

I’ve heard something about your plans to make cities closed. Why have you decided to make it this way and if there’s any hope that you’ll change your mind and make some «Open Cities» patch in future?

I’m certain Skywind will be moddable iteself, but the reason behind close cities was various, both for and against. The problem with open cities is size. Vvardenfell map is smaller than Skyrim i believe, and cities like aldruhn, Balmora, and especially Vivec need to be made much bigger to allow for a different feel many of the developers wanted to get across. Vivec is huge, but is limited by the world space. By making some cities closed, we can use a «Tardis» effect, with walls.

The effect on performance does help a little, considering size increases.

I think it’s a reasonable decision. I want to ask about justice system. It will be like in Morrowind (bounty is the same for whole Vvardenfell) or it’ll be more like in Skyrim (bounty only in the region where you committed crime)?

Digitalparanoid scripted this; he is no longer with us. I remember him showing us Bountry per Great House/factions, such as imperial towns, aldruhn towns, hlaalu towns. This is what most of the devs would like see, but as mentioned before, scripting is often cleaned up at the end to fine tune the gameplay.

I think that situation with reputation system (when you could directly affect somebody’s disposition by intimidation, taunting, etc.) is the same?

We did include some of those same elements in the dialog options alongside topics of interest per NPC, so it was a blend of Morrowind/Skyrim.

I wouldnt be surprised if the dialog writers rewrote these parts as actual insults or unique lines to achieve the same effect as the Morrowind disposition

The dialog of disposition is ingame, but currently only bribery works in quests. Smite wanted to add perks to talk your way out of arrests but the overhaul of perks hasnt been started yet.

The next question is about NPC’s. As we all remember, every (except for Ordinators and Guards) NPC in Morrowind was named and has its own background. I mean unique named bandits, cultists, and other. Are we in right to wait the same in Skywind or it will be more like in Skyrim (Bandit -> Thug -> Marauder etc.)?

Yes, all the names are the same as in original Morrowind, any new NPC’s for the sake of increasing population or new quests should also have new names.

Ah, talking about new quests. Do you know if there’s some info about approximate number of new quests? I don’t mean exact number, but maybe you count it in dozens or hundreds?

Maybe 10-15 more, some major, some minor. Most are related to learning new skills, making new armour, finding secret dwemer stashes/secrets.

parasite2fin

I wanna ask you again about your area. Will you perform the whole remodelling of daedric architecture or you still use Phitta’s models and will add some improvements/new models?

At 1st we just wanted to remake anything that wasnt already replaced by mods we had permission to use, but now, to be honest, the quality of work the artists can output exceeds the modded stuff we have, such as daedric architecture, so we do intend to replace EVERYTHING now. If time allows. Not only because we can, but we’ve put our own artistic vision into a lot of these models and textures, it would be nice to get everything visually consistent, something that is hard to do with indygames/mods.

I hope you’ll make it on right way. Back in Morrowind (or even in Oblivion) you couldn’t hit ghosts/daedra/ somebody else with normal weapon, there was a flag when creature becomes resistant to normal weapons. But this flag is lost in Skyrim so you can hit every creature in the game just with Iron Sword. Would you like to return this opportunity in Skywind?

Most devs would like to at least see something similar, not have the sword pass through the creature, but simply have their skin too thick to be hurt by lower level weapons. The only thing holding us back is the technical side, we need more tech wizards to add this via extended scripts if possible.

lol

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The Magic system is the same as in Morrowind, I guess? Same magical effects, same spells, same enchanting process. Or you will change some of this aspects? I mean is it okay with scripting on this matter? Because some fan mods that expand magical system work not so good as it intended.

Thermocrius has worked on new spells, and also needs help with extended scripts, he did attempt electricity frying everything in water within a certain radius. i think our current expectation is that we can’t override many Skyrim elements of magic, the type of spells you will gain will resemble Morrowinds originals, with more flair.

Some of those spells already exist in Skyrim mods on the Nexus.

And the most important question, I think. What do you personally think about landscape/exterior design in Skywind. I cannot finally realize the way you try to expand vanilla cities. On the first time I saw terms in Caldera I thought that something’s going wrong, but then I noticed remastered Balmora and I was shocked. Why did you decide to make it in this reddish canyon environment? Or it’s okay and I just don’t see some benefits of making cities expanded that way?

All of the regions of Vvardenfell were redesigned combining the original colour theme and biom of original Morrowind, mixed with a more realistic approach to geology. Current west gash is too red, and those assets are now being redone in parts, as we have just finalised all the models and textures for bitter coast. Sheogorad is an eerie grey blue haze of slate and mist, azuras coast is basalt, and we’re leaving interior areas to the end as we work inwards.

The main approach to Skywind was this:
Morrowind is still a great game, and there is also OpenMW in the works.

When we realised we had to remake all the major assets from scratch, we thought it would be pointless to keep everything identical to the original game. Some players of Morrowind may want to see a new take on the design in a new engine. Those who prefer the original, are best off playing the original or OpenMW. Original MW didnt have much design to work from.

In many areas, we went back the original concepts, and brought those to life, without the engine limitations back in early 2000. We know we won’t ever please everyone, especially fans of Morrowind, Bethesda themselves dealt with this on Oblivion and Skyrim.

You just have to do the best you can and make it beatiful and worth playing, thats our mantra.

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I’ve got this point. So have you ever think about making vampires/werewolves equal in rights with other races? Maybe new way of main quest walkthrough or some sort of this?

Werewolves are restricted to Solstheim, and we’ve paused work on that as its hard enough to finish just the main Vvardenfell island :P Vampires will work just like original, different clans, that side of quests were done.

Dunmer arent accepting of outlanders, let alone vampires and werewolves. Becoming one of these wont be popular with NPCs, but should not hinder the quests.

Which city is favourite to you personally? Let me guess — Vivec, right?

I cannot decide. Vanilla Vivec was impressive, but took ages to get around. But without new moon and temple models, and improved design, it will be the most impressive city no doubt.

baarduar

How much time do you spend every week on Skywind and how do you keep all of your enthusiasm on yourself?

I spend far too much time on Skywind each week :/

Recently id say almost full time, other times i do bits of paid work for freelance companies. I have to check and fix almost every model in the game, so its really time consuming, especially when having to organise all the other artists. Eloth, our main boss, helps with that, he’s legendary in keeping a level head and keeping everything running.

The enthusiasm is simple.

We’re creating an entire world, the same size as Skyrim, with a fraction of the staff, and no money to back us up. Many said it was impossible, and we wouldnt even get this far. We did, and we wont stop now, we know it can be finished, thanks to dedicated team.

Creating beatiful worlds, and terrifying creatures, thats my enthusiasm also.

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When Skywind is finished, are you going to work on Skyblivion?

Unlikely. When Skywind is finished, I will be too exhausted to join another indy team for a while, at least an unpaid one, I will be apply for bigger studios, and getting back to character art like I used to. I sadly won’t be joining the drive to finish the DLC addons for Skywind either, but i’m confident other artists will take the job

Thank you so much for your time and for your work and enthusiasm ;) It was so nice to speak with you about Skywind. Thank you again! :)

You’re welcome :)

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