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Project Spotlight: iEquip


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#1
BigBizkit

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Today we are talking to dunc001, MrNeverLost and Fudgyduff, the team behind iEquip - a very clever equipment management overhaul for Skyrim and Skyrim Special Edition.
 
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BigBizkit: To start this off, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself and your modding journey thus far?

Dunc001: Hi, my name is Dunc (short for Duncan), I am 46 years old, Scottish, a husband, father, company director, and I have absolutely no formal programming training! Other than hacking Windows Mobile phone games back in the day to increase gold levels, Skyrim is the first and only game I have any experience modding. Until I made the switch from console I had no idea the PC modding scene even existed, and my mind was blown by the amount of content available. I ditched the XBox, switched to PC, and spent the next two years building ever more ridiculous load orders (I think I peaked at over 1600 mods at one point) and learning the ins and outs of the Creation Kit and xEdit.

Fudgyduff: Hi, my name's Ryan and I go by Fudgyduff on the Nexus. I got invested in the modding scene when I started working on the Special Edition port of QuickLoot. It's easily been the most challenging thing I've ever worked on as both a modder and a programmer. For some background, I went to college to learn how to program, primarily in C++, and SKSE plugin development has helped cement the theory I learned in my classes, as well as teach me a lot about the languages I never knew before.

MrNeverlost: Well, first off thanks for having me! My name is NeverLost, and I am a 22-year-old Norwegian university student. Few if any know me on the Nexus, as I have participated in exactly zero modding projects before. Probably for the best, as I am quite the clumsy guy :) (And Dunc can surely attest to that).

As for my modding journey, it probably started with Oblivion which I initially played on the PS3. I went a bit overboard with modding it initially, and it was not until the release of Skyrim that I tried my hand at making mods myself. 

I started with some simple xEdit patches, then moved on to the Creation Kit, and finally last year I tried my hand at papyrus scripting (Skyrim scripts). Later, I reached out to Kojak747 who at the time was asking for help with realizing LODs (Far distance objects) for the Dev Aveza airship mod. He mentioned a guy to me called Dunc who he said could need some help with iEquip - and the rest is history!

 
To those who are unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe the kind of mods you make?

Dunc001: I make what we would call “quality of life” mods, UI mods (obviously), and control mods.

Fudgyduff: I tend to make SKSE plugins.

MrNeverlost: I try to make mods that I need or want in my own game (In which my character is still level 2). I made Slick Sneaking because I wanted a way to play a sneaky character in my own game. I made branch animations for Vurt's bent pines mod because he asked me to, and I figured a massive tree without moving branches is scandalous. I made the missing amethyst claw for John's Dragon Claws because I needed the complete package. And finally, I contributed to iEquip because I had the chance to - and let's not forget it's a kickass mod!

[img width=500,height=254]https://staticdelivery.nexusmods.com/mods/110/images/93729/93729-1565793509-1486566526.jpeg[/img] [img width=500,height=254]https://staticdelivery.nexusmods.com/mods/110/images/93729/93729-1565794127-1045864852.jpeg[/img]

 Your recent mod that drew a lot of attention is iEquip - a mod that completely overhauls the way you manage your equipment in Skyrim and Skyrim Special Edition. How would you describe iEquip and what are its core features?

Dunc001: iEquip is intended as a way to move as much of the Inventory Menu equipment management as possible into the game HUD to cut down on the amount of stop/start/pause in gameplay. It allows you to cycle through left and right-hand items, shouts, powers, ammo, potions, consumables and poisons, and to apply poisons or recharge enchantments, all without leaving the game. It also has a wide range of advanced features designed to quickly equip something suitable for any given situation you might find yourself in, such as needing to quickly grab a ranged weapon or a shield/ward, or a light source, or a healing potion/spell, and so on.

 
Is there a particular feature of iEquip that you are most proud of?

Dunc001: The things I am most proud of, and which took the longest to realise, are elements which most users probably won't pay much attention to! Things like the Edit Mode selected item highlighting, the Queue Management Menus, the Preselect Mode animations and the custom colours in the Edit Mode colour picker took more time than most of the gameplay features! There is so much of it that I am really happy with, but I guess my favourite single feature would have to be the poisoning system. I hope it makes poisoning a more viable gameplay option because with mods like Complete Alchemy & Cooking Overhaul, Smithing Oils and Tactless Toxins there are some really fun poisons out there that don't get nearly enough love because of the clunky vanilla poisoning system.

MrNeverLost: Most people probably won't notice it, but because the iEquip MCM is so large (we even broke some scripting limits), we had to figure out a new way to split the backend into smaller, more manageable pieces. So we did just that, and it turned out to help tremendously with keeping the ever-growing amount of options under control. It helps me keep my sanity, which is probably the best thing I can ask for!

 
What was the inspiration for iEquip and what made you want to create it?

MrNeverlost: Dunc is probably better equipped to answer this than me, but personally I joined the project because I wanted to see a proper UI/Equipment mod released. One that can circumvent the problems that many other mods face dealing with Skyrim's many many quirks.

Dunc001: I have played a lot of mobile games with HUD inventory quick slots and action controls and I love that quick, unpaused access. SkyUI was the first mod I installed, and not long after I discovered Souls Quick Menu. Whilst I loved the idea of it, it just never worked perfectly for me and I wasn't that happy with the layout. I dabbled with a couple of bits of free software and managed to tweak it slightly, but realised that I was going to have to build my own mod if I wanted new functionality.  

I reached out to the Souls Quick Menu authors and they very kindly provided me with the original files, including the flash source, and I used that as the original inspiration (although it has all long since gone in the numerous rewrites). The other big source of motivation and energy to keep going with iEquip has come from my son who has provided constant encouragement, testing, and feature suggestions.

[img width=900,height=480]https://staticdelivery.nexusmods.com/mods/110/images/93729/93729-1565859165-480972382.jpeg[/img]

Another impressive mod of yours that works well together with iEquip is Gamepad Plus Plus. Can you give us an overview of what it does and talk a bit about the development process of both mods?

Dunc001: The original version of Gamepad++ was actually the first mod I published. It was designed to give gamepad players access to more hotkeys so they didn't have to rely on playing with both the gamepad and keyboard. It works by having the player set keyboard keys as mod hotkeys in all their other mod MCMs, then using SKSE's TapKey function to emulate those keyboard keypresses when actually pressing gamepad button combos. 

When I later started working on iEquip I had it planned from the outset to have all the iEquip controls available to gamepad players by utilising single/double/triple press, hold and combos. As this was obviously going to have an impact on Gamepad++, I realised that mod would also have to be completely rewritten to avoid conflicts, and that then allowed us to build in integration between the two mods so that the controls didn't overlap or risk triggering unwanted actions. 

The real genius behind the key handler code in both mods is MrNeverLost. The iEquip key handling code is so complex and he has done a brilliant job of making it all work seamlessly.  That made it very easy to simplify and transpose into the new version of Gamepad++ along with the new blocking code which each mod uses to avoid conflicting with each other.


What kind of mods do you like to use in your own game and which mods would you say work well together with your own?

Fudgyduff: I'm a big fan of third-person gameplay, so I like 360 animations, head-tracking, and player voice sets. Unfortunately, a consequence of making mods for the game is that I don't spend a lot of time actually playing it, so I couldn't tell you what goes well with my mods.

MrNeverLost: I like to use a lot of gameplay overhauls like Ordinator and Apocalypse that spice the game up a bit. For graphic mods, I use a mix of what I find on the nexus and edits/fixes that I make myself.

Dunc001: Well first off, iEquip is designed to work with pretty much everything and has built-in provision for many of the more popular mods out there which add content that iEquip may end up displaying and handling. We have also included a very easy to use patch framework which allows users to identify mod-added items and spells so they adopt specific icons and behaviour as required.  

As far as my game goes I am absolutely useless at combat so I am much more interested in exploration and discovery as a result, so my big vice is quest/dungeon/new lands mods.  I love cities, towns and villages overhauls as well: so mods like Kojak's new Enhanced Solitude are mana from heaven for me. And I love a good companion, so I am really looking forward to getting to know Lucien and see the interactions with Inigo and Auri on my next playthrough.

[img width=450,height=300]https://staticdelivery.nexusmods.com/mods/110/images/93729/93729-1565861524-1304717958.jpeg[/img] [img width=450,height=300]https://staticdelivery.nexusmods.com/mods/110/images/93729/93729-1565861522-856716496.jpeg[/img]

What sort of mod from other creators do you find the most awe-inspiring? Are there any mods out there you find to be particularly impressive?

Fudgyduff: Customizable UI Replacer is a mod that really blew me away when it came out. I'm a terrible artist so I'm jealous of people who can make nice looking UI mods.

MrNeverLost: Rather than the mods themselves, I find the creators inspiring. I've always looked up to the SKSE and SkyUI team for the amount of work they've put into their respective projects. Especially considering that their mods have pretty much become the backbone of every Skyrim mod list out there. It's really amazing that a mod can have such a big impact on a community.

Other creators I really like are Nukem, Aers, and Ryan. They've all brought so much to the "modding table", and I am very grateful that they've decided to spend their time making modding Skyrim so much better.

Finally, my friends Kojak, Elsopa, Dunc and Looland always bring a laugh to the table when It's needed.

Dunc001: It goes without saying that the SKSE and SkyUI teams deserve huge respect, but I am also constantly amazed by the work that people like Ryan, powerofthree, DavidJCobb, aers, Nukem and meh321 have and continue to produce. The level of knowledge and skill they have just blows my mind. I also find it incredible what some authors are able to achieve without the use of SKSE, in particular, mods like Spellsiphon which released recently.  

And finally the content creators: those who spend their lives in the Creation Kit imagineering new lands and locations for the rest of us to enjoy. The huge modding teams are incredible and some of the upcoming content looks absolutely amazing, but I have to take my hat off to razorkid - what he has managed to achieve largely on his own in Beyond Reach is simply staggering.


Are there any other games you like to mod? What are some other games you play regularly - if any?

Dunc001: I never have much time for playing, all my game time for the past two years has gone into building iEquip! I downloaded Kingdom Come Deliverance the day it came out and have yet to launch it, similarly about two years ago I installed Oblivion and Morrowind but I haven't opened them yet either! 

MrNeverLost: I really like the game Rimworld, and mod it infrequently. It's neat taking a break from Skyrim and looking at what the other modding communities out there are doing. Other than that, I just play whatever interesting RPG I can find.

Fudgyduff: I've tried modding other games, and you may come across some of my mods for them, but there's no other game on the market with the same community and modability that surrounds Bethesda games. When I try modding other games I always get frustrated that I can't do this or that, but when I mod Bethesda games using xSE, the only roadblocks I can't overcome are self-imposed ones. C++ is a very powerful language and I can leverage it to make mods that would be impossible in other games, or even in this game using native modding tools like Papyrus or the Creation Kit.

Recently I've been playing Tales of Berseria. I really like games with a good story and this one has amazing writing with really good voice acting.

 
Do you have other hobbies outside of modding and gaming?

Dunc001: Being outdoors - I'm a mountain man at heart and I find something magical about being out in nature, particularly landscapes with scale (probably one of the reasons I like Skyrim so much as it reminds me of Scotland!).  When I can I like to get out on the mountain bike, and my wife and daughter have horses which are a huge part of our life and take up most weekends competing all over the country. I'm also a light aircraft pilot and although I haven't flown for a couple of years now I'm hoping to get some hours in again soon.

Fudgyduff: Programming is my hobby, so I really enjoy making mods for this game since they present interesting challenges that I get to solve using my reverse engineering/programming experience. It's a really nice hobby to have because when you finish coding something, you can compile it and get immediate results telling you whether it works or not.

MrNeverLost: I wish! I used to go mountain trekking before, something I want to start doing again in the future. Maybe when The Elder Scrolls 6 comes out? But for now, I am pretty occupied with uni, work and modding though :).
 

[img width=980,height=281]https://staticdelivery.nexusmods.com/mods/110/images/93729/93729-1565794140-1258403250.jpeg[/img]

Last but not least: is there anything you would like to say to our community?

Fudgyduff: Don't be scared to try SKSE plugin development. If you've never done reverse engineering before, it can be very confusing to open up SKSE's solution and see 100's of class definitions with no comments on how to use them or what anything means, but I'm glad I tried it and didn't give up on learning how to do it. I've made some efforts to write some tutorials and wrappers for using SKSE's interfaces, and while I won't write your plugin for you, I'm willing to at least give some guidance on what to do - also, I like new challenges, so I might be interested in partnering up with other people to make cool new mods.

MrNeverLost: To all aspiring modders out there that struggle with motivation: take everything as a learning experience. Everybody gets discouraged from time to time, but there is no such thing as lost time. Sometimes I stop and wonder if I am wasting my time when modding, but I always feel better when I know I've learnt something new, or made something someone else will enjoy. Enjoy the small accomplishments, and don't focus too hard on the setbacks - that's the way to go in my opinion.

Dunc001: You're all awesome!  I have had so much help and support with iEquip and Gamepad++. I've asked endless questions and begged endless favours, and every single one of you I have reached out to has been so friendly and willing to help. iEquip really is a community mod, so many people have had input (directly or indirectly) and so much of it wouldn't have been possible or as polished as it is without that help.  Together great things can be achieved. So if you are just starting out on your modding journey and are wondering whether or not you can do it, yes you can. And we're all here to help you.


A big thank you to dunc001, Fudgyduff, and MrNeverLost for taking the time to respond to our questions. As always, if there are any mod authors or mod projects you'd like to hear about, don't hesitate to send a message to Pickysaurus and BigBizkit.

#2
Pickysaurus

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Nice job guys, iEquip will definitely be part of my next playthrough.

I'd like to personally thank MrNeverLost for their advice on my own MCM-menu woes while working on Legacy of the Dragonborn. Now I understand the state-based MCM setup things are a lot easier to manage! (I'm secretly hoping a SKSE-plugin developer like FudgyDuff might want to take a crack at the LOTD save-sharing system at some point!)

I look forward to seeing what you guys come up with in the future!

Edited by Pickysaurus, 16 August 2019 - 12:00 PM.


#3
dunc001

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Thanks for having us guys!

#4
scrivener07

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In response to post #72613223.


Spoiler

A topshelf modder, has horses, and an aircraft pilot! Your a very interesting person. Thanks for sharing your project. The quality is truly an inspiration.

#5
EnaiSiaion

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In response to post #72611593.


Spoiler

<3

#6
ff7legend

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My only gripe with mods like this is authors of .dll plugins not making their .dll files version-independent. Nexus user NasGorTelorCeplok has already done this with the fantastic Alternate Conversation Camera mod for SSE. If mods like iEquip, QuickLoot, .NET Script Framework, & the like would follow suit, it would make things so much easier for BOTH the mod author/the end user in the long run. No more having to update a .dll after each Bethesda update. The SKSE Team has provided detailed instructions on how to implement a memory scanner that makes any .dll version-independent over there on skse.silverlock.org... Please consider making iEquip & other mods like it version-independent at some point in the future. As it stands now, I'm still waiting for an update to meh321's .NET Script Framework since that mod is a GODSEND when it comes to fixing random CTDs in-game..

Edited by ff7legend, 16 August 2019 - 07:27 PM.


#7
MrNeverLost

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In response to post #72621628.


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There's an unofficial update for the .NET Framework on skyrimmods: https://www.reddit.com/r/skyrimmods/comments/cheybx/mod_net_script_framework_1573_1580_released/. As for making .dll plugins version independent, I've answered you before on that inquiry, and it's not as simple as you think. An example being "To your face", which was made version independent when it was ported to SSE. After some SSE updates the plugin started causing CTDs because the signature had changed/was triggering on wrong areas in the code. It's safe to say that making every .dll plugin out there version independent could become a rampant cause of save corruption.

#8
MrNeverLost

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In response to post #72611593. #72619733 is also a reply to the same post.


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Thanks for the compliments!

It was a pleasure being interviewed :)!

#9
kojak747

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I was around for the entirety of this mod's development and can attest to the huge amount of man hrs that went into iEquip. The fact it does so many things, and works so well is testament to all the authors who contributed professional and consistent work throughout. Great job guys, you thoroughly deserve every compliment.

#10
Grecia300

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While I hadnt downloaded the mod yet, I have been keeping my eye on it since it was covered in a mod review - by Gopher, I believe - and I offer my most sincere congratulations on the mods success. Very well earned, from what I'd been able to learn.

I have been testing mods for an upcoming playthrough, so I think this'll be a perfect time to get iEquip in my load order. :)

Edited by Grecia300, 17 August 2019 - 12:49 AM.





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