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Project Spotlight: Skyrim: Extended Cut

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We have had the extreme pleasure recently of talking to the team behind Skyrim: Extended Cut about the first release of their project. Skyrim: Extended Cut - Saints & Seducers is an overhaul and expansion of the Saints & Seducers official Creation and is intended to be a preview for the main Skyrim: Extended Cut project, which will do the same for the main storyline of Skyrim, a game which turned 11 today!



Before we get into the mod, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourselves and the team?

Tate: My name is Tate Taylor and I’ve been playing Elder Scrolls games since Oblivion, but my first foray into mod development wasn’t until early 2020. I am also the curator of the Keizaal modlist on Wabbajack. My very first mods were largely “integration mods”. For example, Pirate’s Life for Me distributed Dead Man’s Dread assets across the vanilla game to various nautically themed NPCs. I really wanted to make my game feel like one cohesive experience so these kinds of mods appealed to me; in some ways Skyrim: Extended Cut - Saints and Seducers is just the evolution of those same early goals. However, I’ve done a lot more since then and sort of become a more generalist modder. I’m probably most known for Gladys and Merlin the Corgis and C.O.I.N. Generally I work alone, but recently I’ve been doing more and more collaborations, often with VictorF (who co-authored C.O.I.N. with me) and Jelidity (who made my Merlin asset). My work with Extended Cut has largely been separate from the main development team. The group that is working on Extended Cut - Saints and Seducers comprises my two previous collaborators (VictorF and Jelidity) as well as Catir himself. I think our team works really well together. We are able to both work to our strengths and shore up each other's weaknesses, I think this is the right place for me to thrive. I have also learned a lot of skills while working on this project, Jelidity has been a great level design instructor and I have found a great love for creating new worlds and locations. I am very excited to keep developing those skills and working with this group forward. If I were a Shivering Isles creature, I think I’d be a Grummite.

Jelidity: Hi, I am Jelidity. My role in ECSS has mainly been overarching world design, some level design, and some modeling and texture work. My released mods tend to be on the smaller side, often earning me the coveted line “Oh, you made that?”. I am probably most recognised for Legacy of the Dragonborn’s Creation Club Patches and CoMAP (which I made with help from co-author Parapets). When I am not endlessly tweaking aspects of the game for myself, I also get involved with some larger modding projects in various capacities, including Lordbound, Odyssey of the Dragonborn, and Beyond Skyrim. If I were to be a creature related to the Shivering Isles, I would probably be a mudcrab with fancy magical wings (as featured on a TES Legends card).

Catir: I’m Catir, the project lead for Skyrim: Extended Cut. I’m responsible for the general organization and direction of EC and its side projects, so I was fortunate to have the chance to facilitate the efforts of the ECSS team and provide the resources necessary to get the best possible result. I also made some direct contributions to the ECSS project, most notably writing the story and dialogue as well as a bit of level, quest, and encounter design. Primarily, though, my role is as an advisor and publisher for this side project, and I’ve been continually impressed by the love letter to Oblivion and Shivering Isles the team has put together in the form of ECSS. I’ve been making mods for Skyrim since around 2014. If I was a Shivering Isles creature, I’d probably be a Gnarl.

Victor: Hi! I'm VictorF. I am an enigma. If I was a Shivering Isles creature, I would be a Shroom Beetle.


How did the ECSS project begin?

Jelidity: I mainly started on this project working on a few assets for Tate, Catir, and Victor individually, I thought it was funny they were all working on their own "Saints and Seducers" related mods and made them aware of it, only to find out they were all working on the same thing and had just stumbled into it myself. The rest, as they say, is history; or more specifically in this case, described by Victor and Tate.

Victor: Let me set the scene. It was the glory days of 2021. Things were different back then. Anniversary Edition had just dropped. Tate and I had made Creation integrations together, I think Tate and Jelidity had. We all liked parts of Saints and Seducers, and after we accidentally recruited Jelidity, we had a team that was up to overhauling that Creation. Anniversary Edition gave us the perfect opportunity since everyone could get the Creation for free. That project did not go well. We made the classic mistake of over-scoping the project to something incredible, but completely unachievable. We also barely had a Shivering Isles section in the mod, and it turns out that was completely necessary for the premise. When it fell through, we had to shut that project down and refuse to even consider it again for months. By the time we were willing to talk about it again, Tate had come up with a much more solid idea we could actually use, and approached Jelidity to see how she’d feel about making a world.

Tate: At the beginning of 2022 Jelidity and I had begun working together quite regularly. We’d just released two mods in our “Reduced Cut” series: The Cause and Ghosts of the Tribunal. We really liked the assets these Creations added but wanted to go about integrating them in a different manner. After we finished Ghosts we set our sights on Saints & Seducers. I think we went back and forth about concepts for a Saints and Seducers - Reduced Cut for about a month before I decided that it is impossible to properly reimplement this content without physically going to the Shivering Isles. A few days later I pitched to Jelidity the idea of making a new region of the Shivering Isles to use as an integration platform. She is a really talented level designer, so I knew she would be honest and tell me if this idea was too ambitious; I was happy to hear that she felt it was within our abilities. Initially, it was just going to be an exploration-only world space but in time a story started to form around it regardless. About a month or two into development we sat down with Catir and ended up agreeing to release it as an Extended Cut project in exchange for help with writing and voice acting, although Catir ended up doing a bit more than that. VictorF joined late into development and has injected the mod with a lot of cool ideas; he has a real eye for interesting mechanics and visuals. The mod really grew in scope from that original Reduced Cut concept and I am really glad about that, I think everyone on this team has really contributed to making something that would’ve been impossible alone. It has been a great experience.



What design goals drive your work on EC, and how will we see them in action in ECSS?

Victor: The reason I started contributing to the EC project is that I find it focuses on two things that matter a lot to me as a mod author. The first is working with Skyrim’s strengths. Skyrim is set in an epic world, and I don’t think it’s an accident that its quests shepherd you through exploring some of the coolest parts of that world. There’s a value to exploring, both in finding hidden secrets and just in seeing a beautiful scene that I know someone worked hard to put together. The second thing is the characters. What really attaches me to fiction is the characters within it, how they react to the world around them, and how they feel about each other. That’s been a focus of EC from the beginning. Within Extended Cut - Saints and Seducers, we’ve focused on those same things. Character writing has been a focus to the point that it prompted a rewrite of the entire script at one point, and I hope players enjoy the characters as much as we enjoyed writing them. As for exploring the world, I hope that we’ve made it beautiful enough to enjoy exploring for its own sake, and in terms of hidden secrets, I don’t think anyone on the team knows about every secret in this mod, and I look forward to people discovering things even I don’t know about.

Catir: As Victor mentioned, we focus a lot on accentuating Skyrim’s strengths (like exploration) and improving on its weaknesses (like character writing). I think the ECSS mod, while fairly small, does a good job at both. We also try to keep to a high-quality standard in everything we do–you wouldn’t believe some of the stuff we’ve nitpicked, from the exact color of the wood grain on a shop sign to the specific word choice used by a character in a line of dialogue. That’s the benefit of our focus on collaboration and creative input: everyone involved in development is able to play a part in the creative process and make the mod their own, with the rest of the team there to offer feedback and mutual quality control. It’s my hope that this philosophy will translate to a high standard of excellence in every aspect of our work–we want ECSS to feel polished and engaging for players, and that’s the standard we’ll hold all of our current and future projects to as well.



Why did you choose the Saints & Seducers Creation to overhaul for this prerelease?

Tate: The Creation Club contains a lot of content that has good potential for an overhaul, but I think Saints & Seducers was the one most in need of love. It contains the most content out of any of the Creations: four entire sets of weapons and armor, new creatures and enemies, and a whole new root cave tileset. However, this amount of new content without new voice acting or any type of friendly NPCs felt a little disjointed from the way vanilla generally handles things. Reworking the Creation to feel more natural alongside vanilla content was something I really wanted to get done. Additionally, I am just a really big fan of the Shivering Isles and I wanted to make all this new content shine. My love and familiarity with the setting made building a new world and quest around the Creation fun and easy. The fact that the Creation is available for free for everyone that owns Skyrim Special Edition is a great bonus because that means that anyone can play this rework whereas other Creations would’ve been limited to those who had purchased the Anniversary Edition.

Jelidity: Tate REALLY likes Oblivion.



If other modders want to help with the project, how can they do so?

Catir: We’re always flattered when people take an interest in our projects and want to help out. Extended Cut is always accepting new volunteers via our online application form at https://skyrimec.com/join. Please note that right now we’re only looking for Creation Kit developers–like level designers and quest editors–as well as 3D artists, but if we have vacancies come up in the future for writers or QA testers, we’ll announce that publicly.

Victor: More indirectly, mod authors can help by being open to collaborating with other authors. All of us on this team have different strengths, and I think the project would’ve been lesser without any one of us. The last year or two in Skyrim modding has seen a lot of small teams of two or three modders working together, and of course, larger teams like Beyond Skyrim have been around for quite a few years. The spirit of collaboration has been huge for getting this project off the ground, and seeing it spread further in the future can only help everyone, Extended Cut included.



Thank you for participating in this interview. Is there anything else you wish to say to the community?

Tate: Skyrim: Extended Cut - Saints and Seducers has been a testament to the cooperation and generosity of this community. We are thankful for the many, many mod authors that share their creations with others and it has been a real boon to this project. It would not have been possible to create something like this without everything from obscure resource packs from 2011 to brand-new resources from projects still in development.

Victor: I’d like to personally thank Kettlewitch, Mihail, Di0, JPSteel, Hallgarth, and Minerman. They’ve helped us directly with new assets, and it’s been great seeing such talented people willing to give this passion project a hand. Also napkin. The art was good.

Catir: In addition to our resource collaborators mentioned above, I’d like to thank our voice cast as well. They’ve done a wonderful job and their work adds a lot to the final result. We’re grateful for the community’s continued interest and support as well, both in ECSS and in EC itself. We’ll see you all in the Shivering Isles soon!

 

Thank you to the Skyrim: Extended Cut team for taking the time to speak to us. Be sure to check out the release of Skyrim: Extended Cut - Saints & Seducers when it drops later today. If you have any suggestions regarding who to interview next, send them all to Happybara.

31 comments

  1. TinyDragonG
    TinyDragonG
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    not me tearing up seeing the screenshots because that just means that eventually i'll finally be able to go back home to the isles :'))
  2. legitbackd00rninja69
    legitbackd00rninja69
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    playing favorites, nice
  3. MannyNames
    MannyNames
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    I just hope they'll accept help with porting/optimizing for xbox.  As it stands now, most console users won't have the space for it, which makes me really worried for the full Cut.
  4. mrjentipede
    mrjentipede
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    Interesting, never heard of them
    1. MannyNames
      MannyNames
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      Only one I knew was Tate, given that they've made quite a few of my LO staples.  Had no idea about this thing, though.
  5. graykin4
    graykin4
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    Epic!
  6. SEMPLEeer
    SEMPLEeer
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    WoW
  7. Yelen1999
    Yelen1999
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    HYPE!
  8. KelvinFelix11
    KelvinFelix11
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    Awesome!
  9. urbon
    urbon
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    I just want to play it right now but my game is so freaking buggy. God...
  10. Moksha8088
    Moksha8088
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    Did Kris Takahashi work on this extended cut of Saints and Seducers?
    1. Lyncer
      Lyncer
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      He works for bethesda now.