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Towns and Cities - JK's Interview


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Today we are talking to jkrojmal, a long-time member of the site and avid modder. If you have ever wanted your towns and cities in Skyrim and Skyrim SE to be more than they are in the base game, then you might have run into one or several of jkrojmal's mods. His series known as JK's Skyrim is one of the most popular city overhaul compilations to date and will definitely add a lot of uniqueness and flavour to the various holds. 



BigBizkit: You are most famous for your various city overhaul mods, but could you tell us a bit about yourself first to start this off?


jkrojmal: Sure, my real name is Javier, I’m a 42-year-old male from Uruguay, a small country in South America that you may not have heard about, unless you’re a soccer fan. I’ve been playing video games since my early teens and started modding soon after the Oblivion construction set came out. I’ve made a few small overhauls for Oblivion and one for Fallout 3’s Megaton but only for personal use.


How would you, personally, describe the kind of mods you make?


I would describe my city and town overhaul mods as improvements over the vanilla designs, keeping them lore friendly; I’m just trying to make them more immersive and interesting to explore.


Darkend, on the other hand, is a completely new world space inspired by the Demon’s/Dark Souls games. 



Do you have a favourite among the many different city overhauls for Skyrim that you have created?


Whiterun is definitely my favorite from the bunch, maybe because it reminds me of Edoras, the capital city of Rohan from Lord of the Rings. I’m a big fan of the movies!



Could you talk a bit about your approach to overhauling cities? What is it that you pay attention to when refurbishing cities? Is there anything in particular that you try to aim for?


I was really disappointed with the cities in Skyrim. They didn’t really feel lived-in, there were a lot of empty and unused spaces, houses didn’t have any personality, shops didn’t look like shops from the outside except for the sign etc. You get the idea.


So I was pretty much looking to “fix” those things while keeping it lore friendly. I also experimented with expanding them in size at one point, but the performance was so awful that I discarded the idea right away. 



Which one of the major places in Skyrim did you have the hardest time with and, conversely, which city was fairly easy to redesign?


Markarth, I think. I wasn’t a big fan of the Dwemer architecture back then, so that one was the most troublesome to figure out at the time. The easiest one by far was Whiterun, followed by Riverwood.



Where does your inspiration for your city overhauls come from?


It comes from a little common sense, I guess? Let me explain. When I was exploring the cities and towns of Skyrim, I found myself constantly wondering about small nuisances, like Whiterun for example, being the trading capital of Skyrim, didn’t have any East Empire Company presence, like a warehouse, or why Arcadia didn’t have a garden for her alchemy shop, or The Bannered Mare some small livestock in the back etc.



Your other major mod is Darkend - a Dark Souls inspired mod taking place on a new island off the North Coast of Skyrim. Can you tell us a bit about that and how you drew inspiration from Dark Souls/Demon Souls?


Being a big fan of the Souls series, it was just a no-brainer to make something akin to that in the Skyrim world. The feeling of freedom that I have creating something from scratch, and learning in the process is great, and also being able to work with other great modders who help me with various aspects of the mod, like Teabag86, FrankFamily, Joseph Russell, Nazenn and Simdrew1993, from extensive testing to the creation (from scratch) of custom weapons and accessories, scripting, quest-making, writing and voice acting. So, big kudos to all!


And in case some of you were wondering, yes you read that right, quests and voice acting; I’m hard at work with the help of Joseph Russell (you may know him from his excellent follower mod: Lucien) on a huge update that will include a bigger Island, a main quest, and a custom, Dark Souls-inspired, voiced NPC and potential follower among a few other surprises. So stay tuned.



What is it about the Dark Souls games that fascinates you? Have you ever played any of them with mods?


Definitely the world design and the atmosphere, they are top notch in my opinion. No mods, no. The Dark Souls series is one of those rare cases where I don’t feel the need to change anything about the games. They are just great as they are, except for a few things about Dark Souls 2, but those are just a matter of taste.   



What other hobbies outside of gaming and modding do you have?


I like to work out whenever I can if I’m not glued to my chair gaming or modding. I used to draw comic books back in the day, too - I still have a DeviantArt page if anyone is interested in checking it out. I haven’t updated that in ages, though.



What is your advice for people who want to get into modding and world design in particular?


I’m really not the best person to give advice; I basically throw stuff in the render window until it looks cool LOL. Seriously, I'm the worst with technical stuff, I just picture something in my head and try to reproduce it as well as I can in the CK, but, from my experience with modding, my advice would be to start small, especially with world design. Keep in mind that you'll never be able to please everyone, don’t let that discourage you. Aesthetics are subjective - like art: for some people, it will be amazing and for others not so much, but always have fun doing it.



Anything else you would like to say to the Nexus Mods community?


Thanks for all the support over the years, all the comments and constructive criticism. Nexus has some of the nicest communities in my opinion and I’ve met some incredible people along the way.


Thank you very much, Javier, for taking the time to talk to us!


Thank you for having me! It’s been my pleasure.

A big thank you to jkrojmal for answering our questions. As always, 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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Thanks for all that you have done for Skyrim! I love the overhauls, but I haven't tried Darkend yet... but I will on my next playthrough. I saw your art on DeviantArt and was blown away! Great stuff!
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