The Tale of Lucien - JosephRussell

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In this Mod Author interview, we’re chatting with JosephRussell (formerly Treacleman), the author of Skyrim’s most popular male follower mod in 2018 - Lucien. As a special bonus, Joseph has created a video version of this interview for you to enjoy!



Thank you for joining us today, Joseph.

Thanks for having me, Picky, it’s an absolute pleasure.


For those in the community who don’t know you, tell us about yourself. 

My name is Joseph Russell – I’m a full-time engineering student and a part-time writer, but I’m probably best known as the creator and voice of Lucien, the custom-voiced follower mod for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I’m based in the UK, I drink an awful lot of tea, and I have a cat called Grey.


If you had to pick your absolute favourite game of all time, what would it be and why?

Oh, now without a doubt, that has to be Croc: Legend of the Gobbos. It’s a platformer from 1997 which is hated by an awful lot of players, mainly for its ridiculous control scheme, but I absolutely love it. It was the first game I ever played, it has a great sense of adventure and whimsy, it’s stuffed full of secrets and comes with what has to be one of the best video game manuals ever written. Seriously, it’s wonderful.



In terms of play-time, of course, I’ve spent more hours in Skyrim than any other game by a huge margin. Even vanilla, it’s got hundreds of hours of content in there, and with modding, it’s pretty much infinite. It’s a great game to get lost in, and now I’m making content for it as well as playing it, it really is a big part of my life these days. But nonetheless, Croc has my heart.


There might be some in our community who have yet to meet Lucien, what can you tell us about him?

Well, there’s a lot I could tell you about Lucien, but I think I know someone who could do a much better job, so I’ll just hand over to him.

Hello there! My name is Lucien Flavius. It’s an absolute pleasure to do this interview. As I so often seem to say, I’m a scientist, philosopher, amateur wizard, and something of a musician, though I suppose that’s more of a hobby. 

I’m here in Skyrim on an academic expedition, and I’m in need of someone a little tougher than me to show me around and make sure I don’t die. I’ll pay you handsomely for the job, and if you’re willing to train me, I’ll do my best to help you out in battle however I can. 

I’ll also sing to you, read to you, and comment on hundreds of different situations in Skyrim, including content from other mods. Ah, did I mention mods? Oops, there goes the fourth wall! Well, anyway, if you fancy giving me a go, hop onto the Nexus, Steam or Bethesda.net and download me! What’ve you got to lose? Right then, back to you, Joseph!


Is Lucien inspired by a previous Skyrim character you played as or does the inspiration come from elsewhere? 

There’s a lot of me in there. He’s very much how I think I might react to the situations Skyrim presents you with. He’s a bit of a wuss, he’s very academic, he’s more likely to run from a fight than confront it, he likes singing, he likes bad jokes… I tend to amp up those aspects of my personality for Lucien since I think it’s quite funny seeing how someone like that reacts in a world of tough, strong barbarians and assassins. 

The voice I use for him is basically mine but just a little bit posher. That’s really handy when it comes to voicing so many hundreds of lines for the mod. I know Gary Hesketh, who voices Inigo (a fantastic mod that everyone should download), goes through this complete vocal transformation to create his character and keeps it up for over seven thousand lines of dialogue. I’m not that talented, I’m afraid, so a posher, wussier version of Joseph Russell it is.


Before Lucien, your mods included typo fixes and patches for Bethesda’s Creation Club content, what inspired you to make the jump to your own fully-featured follower mod?

The typo fixes were originally made for my own personal use. As someone who does a lot of writing, spelling and grammar mistakes can really bother me, and pull me out of my immersion in-game. They’re such easy mistakes to make, and so many of Skyrim’s extremely talented modders don’t have English as a first language or don’t come from writing backgrounds, so it’s totally understandable why those mistakes sometimes slip through the net. But I thought, why let it bother me when I can go in and fix them?!

The Unofficial Creation Club Updates came much later, but stem from the same sense of perfectionism – I wanted the Creation Club DLC to fit seamlessly into the game, so set about tweaking the files to my tastes. Again, they were mainly for personal use, but I’m happy to hear some others have benefited from them.



For all those patches, though, as satisfying as the results can be, the work itself isn’t fun. There’s no creativity in there, it’s just dull, repetitive busywork, so I always hoped to move onto something more enjoyable one day. Working on the patches gave me the skills and familiarity with the Creation Kit and xEdit that I needed, so when I set about making a story-based mod, I already knew how to do a lot of what was required. 

I tried a couple of times with quest mods that never got off the ground, and collaborated with the awesome MihailMods on adding quests to a couple of his locations, but I found that quite hard technical work when what I really wanted to do was write. A follower mod really seemed like the answer to that – while there’s certainly still a lot of technical work in setting things up, the vast majority of it is writing hundreds and hundreds of lines of dialogue, and it really is a lot of fun!


How many hours would you say you've put into the development of the mod?

Ooh, that’s impossible to say, really. I started work on Lucien in September 2017, released in September 2018 and haven’t really stopped since. Thousands of hours, certainly. Lots.


As you are the voice actor for Lucien, do you have any tips for budding voice actors to get that perfect recording?

While I’ve done a bit of amateur dramatic stuff over the years, I’m not a professional, so don’t have much experience in voice acting outside of this role. However, the key thing I’ve found in voicing Lucien is that you really do have to remember to act. It sounds obvious, but it’s so easy to fall into a “reading voice” when it’s actually really important to focus on varying your pitch and tone, and sounding like you’re talking to another person rather than a microphone.

When we’re talking in person, so much of our emotion is communicated through our eyes, faces and body language, and in voice acting, all those visual components are taken away. All you’re left with is the voice, so it’s really important to pump up the emotion in all your lines to 150%. If it feels over-the-top when you’re saying it, chances are, when you listen to it back, it’ll sound just right.

Also, don’t be afraid to indulge in a little method acting every now and again. In Lucien’s training scenes, when you’re teaching him how to take a hit, that’s the sound of me punching myself in the stomach you can hear. The stamina training has me doing press-ups, and the fight scenes have me waving my fists around, ducking, dodging, and pretending to throw fireballs. It looks a bit silly, but hey, it works for me!


What hardware and software do you use when working on the mod?

I think this is really one of the most important things when you’re voicing a mod. The difference between good and poor-quality hardware is incredibly obvious to the listener, so it’s a really good idea to invest in some high-end kit. I use a Focusrite Scarlett Studio Solo Pack, which comes with a great quality microphone and amplifier. I also use a pop filter, sponge cover, and shock mount to minimise the impact sounds of consonants like “t” and “p”.

In terms of software, I do all my recording and compression in Cubase, which came with my microphone kit. It’s also great for various vocal effects, with which I had an awful lot of fun creating the voice of Dumzbthar. When the bulk of the work is done, I tend to do a bit of tweaking, mainly batch normalisation, in Audacity.

For modding, all of my creative work is, funnily enough, done in the Creation Kit. When it comes to the finetuning and bug-fixing phase of modding, however, that’s when I break out xEdit. Where the CK is a sledgehammer, xEdit is a scalpel, and it’s incredibly handy for tweaking individual records, conditions, wording etc. in a contained environment without impacting the rest of the mod. It’s also how I clean my mods before uploading, which is a vital step I couldn’t do without xEdit.



Lucien has interactions with numerous other mods, including other followers. How did you choose each mod to add support for? 

Well, to start with, Inigo was a no-brainer – Lucien draws so much inspiration from that mod, I simply had to have them interact in some way. After that, I just picked mods that I myself love, or that I thought would work particularly well with Lucien. For instance, Auri, from Song of the Green by Waribiki, has a wonderful dynamic with Lucien by way of the sheer contrast between their personalities. Writing those interactions was a delight, and I’d love to expand them further sometime.

Another example was Moonpath to Elsweyr, one of Skyrim’s first quest mods and one of the first mods I ever downloaded. It’s relatively small these days but adds an entirely new province to explore, which made it a perfect candidate for an interaction patch, with so many opportunities for lore-bites and sand-related jokes.

There are a few technical limitations that influence things – followers and locations I can interact with easily, but for quest, new-lands and weapons mods, I need a patch. This simply isn’t worth it for mods I can only add one or two lines for, so I prefer to choose mods with lots of potential for a large amount of dialogue to maximise that “value/download” ratio.


Are there any other significant mods you'd like to support in future?

Yes, lots! Legacy of the Dragonborn support has been planned since day one, but it’s such a massive mod that covering it properly would take several months of development, so I’ve been ticking off other high-priority things first. Beyond Skyrim – Bruma support is coming soon, and I plan to keep adding more and more interactions and expanding the existing ones for as long as I work on Lucien!


Do you have any favourite mods or mod authors?

Ooh, tricky question, I have so many! I’ve already mentioned Inigo, Auri, Legacy and Moonpath, which I love. All of Arthmoor's mods are must-haves, and EnaiSiaion’s stuff is all fab too. I’m a huge fan of anything which adds immersion to the game, so I never play without Frostfall and iNeed, both amazing pieces of work. I could go on for hours listing my entire load order. Ah, but a special shoutout goes to Nuukem’s SSE CreationKit Fixes mod, for making my life about a billion times easier. 


Is there anything else you want to say to the Nexus Mods Community?

Just that they’re wonderful. I’ve been bowled over by all the love and support the community’s given to Lucien over the past year, and I can’t wait to bring everyone the next update, and lots more for a long time to come! I’m certainly not going anywhere anytime soon.

Lucien can join your adventure in Skyrim, Skyrim Special Edition and Skyrim for the Switch.


A big thank you to JosephRussell 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.

45 comments

  1. RozaMascheri
    RozaMascheri
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    Omg, this guy stole Lucien voice!!! How dare you D: ! what did you do to my Imperial bebe ??? Are you the one from the Oblivion portal ? Now, seriously: AMAZING MOD <3 also Amazing voice, not manly like Kaidan, but damn yours is so fascinating and veeeery high quality, i adore his interaction and the build up system *-* !) . Me and Lucy are Meridia acolytes and we are spreading light and flames across the world :D ! ). PS : Croc 2 was one of my first game!
  2. nakmonye
    nakmonye
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    Gotta love lucien. His personality building just amazing.
  3. jpvilela32
    jpvilela32
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    Man this interview makes me want to play Skyrim again with Lucien... It's so funny that Joseph and Lucien speak the exact same way.
  4. RangerDulann
    RangerDulann
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    Hm.. my name is Lucien and this character looks nothing like me. :P
    I will still give this a try though.
    1. mackc557
      mackc557
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      I know, it's weird seeing my name talked about like this... I guess I really am a good friend. And so are you Lucien.
  5. louisianahhh
    louisianahhh
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    I can't help but to say this, but... Lucien is a joy to have around even if you're a female and NOT heterosexual, as well. It's like having a friend who's playing your Skyrim game right along side you. Thank you so much Joseph. Your kind giving nature is so wonderful and very appreciated. LL&P <3
  6. CKord
    CKord
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    Lucien Flaviuses... more of them, please.
  7. BlueGunk
    BlueGunk
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    I've totally enjoyed Lucien's company in my game! Thank you for creating him, and thanks for the interview!
  8. ConnorMitchell
    ConnorMitchell
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    The amount of time's Lucien has saved me from a pesky Spriggan or a Falmer oh boy those Falmer, I really enjoyed all the 'GREAT JOKES' and the unique gameplay, I loved this mod and I would recommend this to someone who enjoys a follower with a quest that is really immersive.
  9. dunc001
    dunc001
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    Great interview Joseph, loved the video, loving playing with Lucien. Another win for the UK mod collective ;)
  10. Ayserxx
    Ayserxx
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    A wonderful mod author that deserves all the recognition and praise!