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What does the DarkFox say?


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Today’s guest is DarkFox127, known for his YouTube series on the Creation Kit and as the man behind Caranthir Tower Reborn and Riverside Shack - Buildable Player Home.


Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. For those in the community who don’t know you, could you tell us a little about yourself?


My name’s Richard aka Darkfox127 and I’ve been creating mods for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim since its release back in 2011. Shortly after spending some time in the Creation Kit and grasping the basics, I took to creating tutorial videos on YouTube which got me a reputation in the modding community. Many people now describe me as the “go to guy” for learning how to use the Creation Kit, although I’m far from an expert.


In addition to my tutorial videos, I’ve released a variety of mods (mostly player homes) which have been successful over the years including Caranthir Tower, Mörskom Estate, Riverside Shack and more. I’m also a strong believer in sharing resources whenever possible and working with others to make great content. I continue working on projects to this day and regularly stream the development process on both Twitch and YouTube.



How did you first get into modding games?


Believe it or not, my first taste of content creation for video games was many years ago back in the days of Timesplitters 2. It was in a way modding, at least for the limitations of games consoles. I would create new multiplayer maps to play with friends or against bots. I even utilized the mission creation tools using triggered events and wrote my own little stories. I was in fact a console gamer for the better part of 20 years before coming across to the PC just prior to the release of Skyrim.


Other games I began to experiment with included the Far Cry series which had an amazing in-game map editor, again on the console. I would spend hours making multiplayer maps and uploading them online in the hopes that others would join me in playing them. I did on occasion build a large lobby of people to face off against each other which was great fun.


It would be accurate to say that I’ve always had an itch for creating things, even if it was on an old console with limited functionality. This eventually led to me purchasing my first PC which barely had enough power to load the web browser until I eventually saved up the money and bought a gaming rig, along with a copy of Skyrim.


I had barely left Riverwood when I discovered that there were professional-level developer tools available for the game which would allow me to take my creativity to a whole new level and scratch that itch once again. The downside is that due to spending thousands of hours in the Creation Kit, I have still to this day not finished the base game.



Your two most popular mods are Caranthir Tower Reborn and Morskom Estate. The latter of which is a collaboration with Elianora. What was it like working on a project alongside one of the best house mod makers for Skyrim?


I honestly very rarely work alongside other mod authors, despite having done a couple of projects in the past with one or two. When I started chatting with Elianoraworld space and checked out her mods, I realised that we each had the perfect ingredients to create something which was truly unique, if not a little too crazy.



At first, I thought that it might be a little chaotic sending files back and forth, but it ended up being fairly straightforward. We spoke almost every day and dropped ideas back and forth constantly. Eli’s ability to create amazing interiors and my knack for scripting and general implementation worked well.


She’s a super friendly person with some great talent and we both helped support each other throughout the development of the mod and we just gelled well. It was a pleasure to work on something which became so popular with a large number of people.



Which parts of the mod did you each create?


After we both sat down and talked about having a winter home with all these cool immersive features, Elianora ran off and created the base structure out of nowhere. When she sent it back to me, my mind went insane and we both started springing more ideas up to the surface. From that point on, Elianora would go on to clutter the house and I worked on adding all the scripting madness into the mod. We passed the mod back and forth over time and eventually, we had a finished house mod.


It contained all the cluttering goodness of an Elianora home and all the insane features typical of my own house mods. I took on the additional roles of publishing the mod and writing the full walkthrough guide. We both took the time to test out the mod on our own systems and Elianora used her PC for doing the screenshots, given that she always picked out the best ENBs and her game always looks amazing. Although in the end the mod ideally required a mid-range to high-end PC to prevent all the crashes as we hit the limits of the Creation Kit’s capabilities to the point we can’t even mod it anymore, it turned out to be a successful mod regardless and I think I we are both proud of Mörskom Estate.



Caranthir Tower Reborn is a huge player home and quest mod. Can you describe your process for designing and building this mod?


I’ve been asked this on stream before and it’s actually a tough one. Although I consider myself a very organised person, I never really have much of a plan when it comes to developing a mod. I get an idea, I dump some items in the render window and I see what comes of it. That’s oddly enough the way most of my projects start. Some may not be aware of this, but Caranthir Tower was originally going to be called Asires’s Tower. It started out as a square room filled with junk and a teleport which led to a random world space covered in ice. None of the story really existed and there was no logic to anything I was building. Since the very beginning though, I had this vision of a tower high up in the mountains. When I eventually made the decision to pick the project back up, I renamed it Caranthir Tower after a quick name generator search on Google. I know, not what people would expect but that’s how the name came about. I then started messing around with the largest tileset I could find because large obviously translates into epic.



After many months, I had created a cool wizards tower high up in the mountains and people loved it. It was my first hit in the modding community which I’m extremely proud of, but then came the long road of taking what I had built and slowly turning it into something bigger, better and more ambitious. I decided to take the mod and recreate it from scratch. It eventually came to be known as Caranthir Tower Reborn and this time around it was bigger, better thought out and I pretty much just came up with ideas as I went. Eventually though, I finally stopped adding new features and released the mod.


With all that said, my development process for my mods has improved dramatically over the years. Although I still start with some basic ideas and roll with whatever I have, I take the time to plan out more. Each one of my projects now has a Trello board filled with ideas, not only from myself but from friends and other members of the community. I make sure that everything in the mod has its place and makes sense within the lore. When it comes down to which section to work on and when I find it is best to bounce around different aspects of development to keep things fresh. Sitting there and scripting thousands of lines of Papyrus really can get a little dull after a while, as can Navmeshing entire sections of a mod. So jumping around different tasks really helps to keep things interesting and prevents burnout.



How long did it take to complete?


A wizard’s work is never complete. Just kidding, although there is some truth to that regarding Caranthir Tower right now. The mod must have taken me the better part of three years on and off. There would be spells where I would be working on other projects or taking a break from modding. To this day, I still have ideas and plans for Caranthir Tower and I’ll continue to work on some of my larger projects for as long as they are fun to mod.



Are there any features you’re especially proud of?

I think the biggest feature and the most tricky to have managed a workaround for was the rising of the tower itself. It turns out that the Creation Engine doesn’t like moving objects via scripting if there are too large. It took me four hours to figure out why my tower wouldn’t move and I eventually came up with a workaround by setting the scale down and changing it midway through the translation of the mesh. I wasn’t going to let the Creation Kit beat me on this one.



Another feature which required a bit of workaround was the portal system for the tower. Getting the player to activate a teleport and select from a number of locations was easy but how would an NPC know how to navigate a message box? The answer is that they can’t. My solution was to place just out of reach doors behind the walls of the tower which NPCs can use to access every section of the structure. If you load up CTR in the CK, you can see the crazy link of portals throughout the cells that the NPCs will use the get around. Fun fact, they all go through the Lobby to get to their destination.



You devote a lot of time to creating video tutorials for Creation Kit on your YouTube channel. What inspired you to share your knowledge this way?


As mentioned briefly earlier, I’m a strong believer in sharing knowledge and resources within the community. I started out with the Creation Kit watching the official Bethesda tutorials and eventually seeing some videos from other YouTubers like BestInSlot. When I continued to tear apart everything in the Creation Kit to see how things worked and began experimenting myself, I felt that as good as some of the tutorials out there were, I could fill in some of the blanks and offer further advice from my own experiences. I grabbed my old Xbox Original headset which was falling apart and found some free software to start recording my desktop.



I started low down the YouTube food chain, but at least I wasn’t using notepad to explain how to do things. Before I knew it, I had a following of people all watching my tutorials and I just kept sharing what I would learn. I think I’ve always enjoyed helping others out and explaining how to do things in as simple a way possible, so YouTube and the Creation Kit let me scratch another itch.



What are your opinions on the Creation Kit?


As much as I may have joked and slandered elements of the Creation Kit before, at the end of the day, it’s an amazing tool which gives us access to the amazing worlds that Bethesda create and allows us to create our own stories within the game. Sure the tool has its downfalls and limitations, especially when you take a look at some of the more modern tools available for video game development, but this allows you to tap directly into Bethesda games which is something few developers give you so much control over.


If you’re willing to take the time to learn how to use the Creation Kit, it opens up an entirely new realm of possibilities to explore and working with the CK has given me some transferable skills I’ve been able to take with me in a professional working environment.



How do you see the current state of modding?


With the release of Skyrim Special Edition and the VR experience, modding for Skyrim has bounced back a little. Now that people are able to convert the majority of mods from legacy across to SE, they can take full advantage of the slightly more up to date graphics and the 64-bit engine. There are still a good amount of people out there modding the game and downloading the new content which continues to be released by modders on a daily basis. Skyrim modding has certainly had stronger days but even the older Elder Scrolls titles are still seeing amazing mod releases and people are still playing those games. They’ve held on for many years and so will Skyrim.



I feel that Fallout 4 modding has kicked off in a big way too, although I myself was never drawn into the latest title of the series (not counting Fallout 76). Fallout 4 has seen a lot of modders move on from Skyrim which is to be expected but the modding community will always remain strong for The Elder Scrolls franchise. I also don’t believe that the introduction of the Creation Club will have any impact on modding of Bethesda games as they know the importance of mods and they highly value their community. I think for as long as they have the capability, Bethesda will always make room for people to make their own additions to the game through the use of the Creation Kit.



You’ve dabbled in modding Fallout games with Combustible Oil Lamps. Are you planning to create more content for the Fallout series?

Creating the Combustible Oil Lamps mod was a short and fun project, however, the game never really pulled me in the same way that previous Fallout games did back during my console years. I may one day give Fallout 4 another shot (pun intended) and see where the experience takes me. I don’t have any immediate plans to mod the game, but it’s not off the table.



What do you think of Fallout 76 and would you be interested in modding it?


Fallout 76 looks to be a very different experience from what fans of the series have come to expect. I’ve never been very big on MMOs as I’ve never got the time to grind my way through those types of game, as a result, they don’t tend to hold my interest. It’s unlikely that I would grab a copy of Fallout 76, especially given the recent controversy surrounding it.



Do you still play the games you make mods for?

Does diving into the game through the console and testing count? As mentioned previously, I never actually completed Skyrim. I did get through the main story and The College of Winterhold, along with the Dawnguard DLC but I still have not played the Dragonborn DLC. To my defence though, simsim899 and I have been building the ultimate mod list and intend to play through the entire game, eventually.


I tend to start a new game, create the ultimate face, head to Riverwood, see a cool location and dive back into the Creation Kit with a new idea. It’s very difficult for me to play the game without my creativity drawing me back out and into the Creation Kit. If I had a bucket list, completing Skyrim would certainly be on there.



Which mod authors do you take inspiration from?


As I’m sure many have, I’ve always admired the work of Chesko. His understanding of not only the technical aspect of modding but how to best implement features so that they feel like part of the base game is incredible. More recently, the main focus of my projects is to aim for the same standards of implementation and try to introduce features into the game in a very clean way.


Additionally, I would have to shout out Elianora once more as I always find myself looking over screenshots of her mods to figure out how I should lay out some of my clutter in my own mods. Her creativity and ability to clutter interiors is the reason I reached out to her to create Mörskom Estate.I’m sure there are a few other mod authors too which have inspired me in the past and my community Discord always has some amazing posts from the community of their mod creations which always fuels the fire to create.



How can fans of your work best support your modding efforts?

When I started modding I never thought that I would get a following of any kind and it was never a target to do so. However, the more people that started to watch my content and leave me kind comments, the better my creations became. It takes time and resources to create new content, share the development process and provide adequate documentation for my mods and videos, so it’s always appreciated when people are able to help support my work through sites like Patreon.


Of course, I wouldn’t still be sat here if it wasn’t for people just tuning into my live streams, giving me friendly moral support and chatting away on my community Discord server. A little coin always greases the wheels, but just joining in with the community and continuing to share content is the best way to support me and other mod authors.



Is there anything else you’d like to say to the Nexus Mods Community?


I would like to give my thanks to all those who download my mods, give me valuable feedback and even report bugs. It’s a nice feeling knowing that people enjoy your creations and it makes it all the more worth creating mods for Skyrim.


Additionally, I would like to commend the Nexus staff for maintaining such an awesome site for modders across the globe and continuing to push the site and the community to new levels.



What are your plans for the future?


For the past 6 months, I’ve been working on a new mod called A Cat’s Life which aims to bring cats into the land of Skyrim. It’s been a great project and it’s already approaching completion. The mod will include features such as cat feeding, a needs system, cat beds, collars and much more.



Caranthir Tower may also have something in the pipeline but depending on how ACL does after release and how I feel in a few months time, it may or may not happen. I do want to continue to mod Skyrim and I’m looking forward to the day when the next Elder Scrolls game rolls out the door. Maybe this time I can actually play the entire game before the Creation Kit releases and pulls me away from playing.


A big thank you to DarkFox127 for answering our questions. If there's an author or mod project you'd like to know more about, send your suggestions to BigBizkit or Pickysaurus

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  • 3 weeks later...
Eyy it's Darkfox! Well deserving of one of these, looking forward into getting back into watching his streams, always lots of fun!
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