Todays Sunday Discussion is with the 'Queen of Chickens' - Jokerine
. With (currently) 245 mods on the site, Jokerine really shows that modding can be both addictive and highly enjoyable. Her interview really made me smile because of her passion, her love of memes and getting into modding due to a 'dare'. Happy Sunday discussion everyone.Firstly I would like to thank you for the time you are giving up to speak to me; it’s most appreciated.
You’re most welcome! Thank you for having me. I’m honored!If you don’t mind, could you just let us know a little bit about you?
There isn’t much to say. I’m just a housewife living abroad who spends way too long modding games instead of cooking dinner, haha! I’ve started to keep plenty of ramen noodles on store for those evenings when I can’t chase these darn bugs in the game, and I lose track of time.
I also like to bake cakes, enjoy driving my digital truck on Euro Truck Simulator 2 and walks on the beach, love chickens and look forward to an afternoon of knitting, podcasts, and a hot roasted grain beverage. I have to ask, you have chickens all over your profile, you sign off with chickens, what is the deal with you and chickens!?
I just find them super quirky and fun! Every chicken seems to have a personality of its own and can get up to really amusing antics. I follow many chicken-themed websites, own a brand-new copy of “Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens,” and a cool “Just Us Chickens” calendar that I got for free from Amazon. Blame them for encouraging my obsession!
Seriously, however, my dream is to have a few someday in a big, fancy coop. My husband deals with my enthusiasm well enough; he knows that if we got free eggs I could bake him lots of cakes, and I’d spend less time slaving away at the computer :PBefore we get into the modding side of things, would you mind telling us all a little bit about your gaming history?
There truly isn’t much to say. My gaming history is pretty lackluster because I’ve never really had the money to get myself a monster gaming rig, so I’ve never really cared about PLAYING ALL THE GAMES and all that. I tend to be really picky and stick with the things I like and run well on my old laptop.
Checking my Steam purchase history, the very first games I got on Steam back in 2009 were both Half-Life: Blue Shift and Opposing Force. A friend then hooked me up with some leftover The Orange Box games and a copy of Team Fortress 2 (back when you actually had to pay for it). The Half-Life series is what got me into games, although, again, I don’t consider myself much of a “gamer.” I don’t play that many things, I don’t follow the latest tech or stuff like that. I wasn’t even going to get Skyrim, but a friend gifted me a copy as a wedding present.
My gaming weakness is Pokemon, though. It marked my childhood and helped me during some really rough times when family stuff got difficult. I’d hide away in the corner of my room with my GameBoy and run around chasing the little critters.
Tragically, my mother threw out almost all of my Pokemon memorabilia in a fit of drunken rage one day, including my console, all the games I had and my seven sets of trading cards. I only managed to save a copy of The Official Pokémon Handbook (yes, I am that much of a nerd) and a handful of figurines because I had stored them away. When I left my country to live where I currently am, I couldn’t bring the book, but I did bring a couple of my figurines including my favorite, Porygon, who’s wearing a sombrero. I keep him on my desk. And I bought myself a used copy of the Deluxe Collector's' Edition of the Official Pokemon Handbook so I could get the poster and hang it on my wall.
The loss of all those much-loved Pokemon-themed thingamabobs, many of which I had bought with my own money, is the only reason I own an old Nintendo DS Lite (which was the first thing I bought with my first salary - poor thing has taken a beating after all these years). I made it my goal to own legitimate copies of all the Pokemon games, and managed to get them all up to White.
Sadly money's too tight to buy the latest games nowadays, even though I do own a Nintendo 2DS with access to the eShop. I hawkishly check for sales now and then...If you had to try and choose a favourite game, or at least the one you have the fondest memories of, what would it be and why?
That has to be Mass Effect 2, hands down. I legitimately must’ve sunk 3K hours on it or so, no joke. I’ve played so, so much of it that I remember once finishing the game and immediately going to the main menu to start again. I love the space setting, the conversations, and the chance to make choices. The characters are great, with very human problems and conflicts that I find relatable, especially Jack. She’s definitely my favorite character. I enjoy the combat, too - you can use powers instead of weapons and it’s a cool way to spice things up.
I own physical copies of the three games in the series, including a pre-order of the Collector’s edition of Mass Effect 3, which I may or may not deeply regret now. I just stick with the second. Funnily enough, I never really got into modding it because the process is a bit complicated, what without the official tools and all. I’d mostly just make retextures for it if I could be bothered.
As I said before, I’m not much of a gamer, so when I happened to spot a boxed copy of Mass Effect 2 during a window-shopping trip, I grabbed it because I thought the setting looked cool (and it was 50% off!). I never looked back. Best impulse purchase ever!!!What first attracted you to begin modding? Did you have any previous experience?
I started with the silly task of wanting to turn everything in Half-Life 2 pink after some friends dared me to it. It was a good chance to learn retexturing, even though the tools were rather clunky and, being a noob, it took me forever to get things right. I wanted to change so much stuff!
I didn’t know what I was doing back then, so I just extracted the textures and played around with them until I figured it out. I made great progress on this texture pack, but eventually lost the files during an HDD crash and couldn’t bring myself to start again. I only have a handful of textures left and some screenshots. I set up a mod page for it here back when I was actively working on it, but looking at it now makes me sad, hah. Perhaps I’ll pick it up again someday. To further your modding skills you must have to learn a lot new things, what would you say is the best resource to do this?
In my opinion, the best way to start is to open up an existing mod in the GECK to see how it was done. That’s how I started, wanting to tweak someone’s house mod in Skyrim. That way you can mess around and break things without a worry because you can just redownload the mod and replace your broken mess with it. So just open up that esp and go nuts!
When it comes to videos or tutorials, I guess it depends on the person. Some folks prefer video; others prefer written guides.
Whatever you do, do a search before you ask other modders for help. Chances are someone else already tried to do what you’re doing and figured it out long ago. Try to be proactive!Do you have anyone that you can turn to if you ever get stuck with a particular aspect of mod creation?
I usually ask on the Nexus forums, but only after I’ve really exhausted all options and my rudimentary knowledge has truly proven to not be up to snuff. I’d like to think I’ve become pretty good at hacking things together and getting away with it, haha! In the particular case of me needing animated meshes I tend to ask my friend Pixelhate
for help. He’s very patient and can make some amazing things. As always, Pix for Prez! <3As a Mod Author do you check out other Mod Authors to either compare, or learn from?
Not very often, no. I don’t care much about becoming “the best” so I don’t compare my work against other people’s. Sometimes, if a mod does something interesting, I’ll try my hand at reproducing it, and if I can’t figure it out, I’ll take a look at the mod to see how it’s done. But, beyond that, I like to work on things my way, at my pace, even if it takes forever.Are there any other Mod Authors that you look up to or who inspire you?
As I said before, my friend Pixelhate is awesome and can really do magic with meshes! Stroti also makes some beautiful resources for Oblivion that I’ve converted to New Vegas. Then there’s Elianora, who does beautiful interior work; Mindboggles, the creature master; Dragbody, who can whip out some incredible armors; Xazomn, the texture Pro, and both Seddon4494 and Ladez, who are always helping people out with scripting.Do you or have you ever worked within a team of modders? If so, how do you divide the work and how do you communicate with one another?
I tried to participate in "Molag Bal's Inferno" for Skyrim some time ago, but sadly I just didn’t have enough time. Off the top of my head, I teamed up with DDProductions83 to work on Stratos for Skyrim and with GOLDENTRIANGLES to work on Craftable Placeable Sierra Madre Vending Machines for New Vegas, and in both cases, we worked on things separately and then assembled them together.
I usually tend to prefer to work on my own, though, so I can take the time I always need. I’m slow and rather sickly, so I tend to drop off projects often to pick them up later. I wouldn’t be a very reliable teammate, haha! You have a prolific amount of mods to your name, where do you get the inspiration to create them?
I like to think almost everything in a moddable game can be changed, so I think to myself, “Can I do this? Can I get away with that?” and then fire up the editor to test. If I succeed, then I usually come up with a way to use this in a mod because people’s tastes are so varied that I’m sure someone somewhere would be interested in whatever I’m doing at any given time.
Often all it takes is for me to think of something that I like or find funny. Then I stick it in a mod, just for the heck of it. One thing I didn't get to admit in one of my releases (a cafe for TTW) was that the only reason I made the whole mod (seriously) was to use the sentence "[PLAYERNAME] withdraws coolly" in a conversation. That’s a meme from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. Yes, I am a shameless memester, ladies and gentlemen. I don't know if I should be ashamed or not...
I really enjoy customizing games to suit my tastes, especially by sneaking in references to things I like. For instance, a personal mod I have for New Vegas that is just a bunch of custom food is about 60 MB, and another with collectible clutter is 75 MB. Both of these are highly optimized with low-res textures and use plenty of Texture Sets to avoid including tons of copies of the same mesh, so the fact they somehow went over 10 MB still surprises me. I’m still adding to them now and then.Do you ever plan anything out on paper before committing time and effort into the creation?
Only dialogue, so I can write out the lines to send to voice actors and figure out the required scripting. Beyond that, I usually get the idea for a mod from somewhere random and mull it over for a while until I got something workable, then launch the editor and go to town. I pretty much just improvise, adding more things as I come up with them and dropping some if I can’t figure out a way to squeeze them in. Then I lose track of how long I’ve spent on the mod and wonder where all these months went...Which of your mods are you most proud of?
Haha, hard to decide. Hm… This may be an odd choice for people who like my quest mods, but I’d have to go with Buddy Chicken
for New Vegas.
It’s based on a cool vintage toy of a chicken that I found on an online store while browsing the web for chicken pictures (don’t judge) and fell in love! But my dearly beloved flat-out refused to waste like a month’s worth of groceries on the thing, so I just bookmarked it and checked on it now and then. Eventually, I figured I could ask my friend Xazomn if she could somehow turn the pictures of the toy into textures. I have no idea what sorcery she used, but she managed to make it work. So I put together a misc item to carry around with me in my game and posted a screenshot of it on the imageshare.
My friend Bethjunkie suggested I try to turn it into a companion, and with mindboggles’ help making animations and a custom skeleton for it (instead of rigging it to the sentry bot skeleton like I originally did) Buddy Chicken became a reality. This particular mod shows how much the community can influence mods and bring something awesome together!Do you keep track of recently released mods? Do you ever look at them and think they would be a good fit towards your mods?
I check on the Nexus a few times a day, so new mods are hard to miss! I tend to make most of my own mods for my game, though, so I rarely ever install new things unless they’re something I can’t make myself from scratch. I just build on a monster esp where I implement random tweaks and the like, as I’m sure many other people do. Gotta cut down on that load order.Are you able to complete everything yourself or do you ever have to pass things off to other people?
I wish I were able to do it all, but alas, not the case. I shamefully tend to pass off animated mesh issues to my buddy Pixelhate, although with his tutorials and help I’ve managed to fix up some things on my own. I’m also at a loss when it comes to creating full outfits, although again I’ve been dabbling in accessory creation lately. It’s just a hassle with all the different body mods out there. If you want to make sure your apparel mods work as intended, you either make patches or give your characters a custom race and include all of the assets to make them independent from body mods. So I tend to fish out other people’s apparel to suit my purposes (that sounds wrong!) and go with that. And, of course, there is no chance I can do voice acting myself because I have the world’s worst accent, haha!
Besides that, fortunately, I find myself skilled enough to make new clutter, furniture and basic textures alongside general GECK work such as dialogue and scripting, so I’m not too hopeless and can scrape by. But I’m not an all-encompassing modding machine by any means.How do you take criticism from users? Do you find it useful or frustrating?
Criticism is fine if it’s respectful. As I said before, I’m not a modding machine, and I make mistakes all the time. So if someone wants to help find bugs or make suggestions that’s alright by me.
However, certain things I simply won’t accept, such as complaints about lore or about the style/scope/direction of a mod. I make what I want, and the beauty of modding is that you can edit stuff to suit your own tastes, so if there’s something I added somewhere you disapprove of it’s easier for you to remove it yourself instead of leaving a message moaning about it and making unreasonable demands.
To give you an idea, I only have three people blocked from my files on the Nexus (and only one is global, the others are file-specific) because they were staggeringly rude so I won’t share them here. Considering the amount of mods I have, I think that’s a pretty low number. Most people around these parts are not doofuses, fortunately.Do you worry about mod compatibility when you develop?
Not really. 98% of the mods I make start with me wanting them in my own game, so as long as they don’t conflict with anything I have I’m a happy camper. If I wanted to worry about compatibility, I wouldn’t get anything done! New Vegas has been out for a long time, so it makes sense that real estate is at a premium, so to speak.
Fortunately I’ve been lucky enough not to have many compatibility issues with my mods. Two good ways to avoid problems, in my opinion, are to replicate default in-game functions in your own mod if you can (in case other mod messes with the default systems), and to build in places that are out of the way. Another house mod in Goodsprings or Riverwood is bound to have many more conflicts than one near Lake Mead or The Sea of Ghosts.If you could offer any advice to our users who want to get into modding what would it be?
As I said before, just grab the editor for your mod of choice, open up a mod that you like and look around to see how it’s done. Don’t be afraid to experiment! Keep plenty of backups, and always do a search in your search engine of choice before asking questions, for everyone’s sanity! And, last but not least, be realistic about your expectations. If you want to mod to become an internet star, it may not pan out. There are some modding celebrities out there, yeah, but for most of us, it’s just a hobby. Don’t let arguments, drama and stress sour you out. Just do whatever makes you happy.Thanks again for chatting to us Jokerine, it is most appreciated.