• 23 December 2011 19:45:12

    Interview with Xenius, November's 4th FotM winner (No more blocky faces)

    posted by Zaldiir Game News
    One of this month's File of the Month winner of your choice is Xenius, who ended up on 4th place with No More Blocky Faces at 296 votes. Hopefully you'll enjoy this interview with Xenius and the insight into the development of his mod and maybe even learn a bit about him. Read his responses to our interview questions below.


    What was your inspiration for creating this mod?
    The blocky faces just look awful. When Bethesda released the pictures of all face presets many people, including me, noticed this problem, especially on the noses and chins. These pictures were shown months before the release, they could have easily fixed it themselves. The problem was caused by compressed normal maps, on smooth areas artifacts (blocks) will appear when using too much compression. This could have been solved by simply saving the normal maps in an uncompressed format, resulting in a bigger file size.

    I assume they didn’t do this because they wanted to keep the pc and console versions of the game identical. Consoles have very limited memory so it is very likely they would not be able to handle uncompressed normal maps.

    What did you find most enjoyable about the creation process of this mod?
    The big improvement compared to the amount of work.

    What were some of the challenges you came across making this mod?
    At first I didn’t know this problem was caused by compression. So I got rid of all the artifacts and saved the normal maps using a compressed format like I always did before, then I noticed the blocks returned. I remembered reading something about compressed and uncompressed normal maps and started all over again – I had not saved any of my progress – and saved them without compression this time, this solved the problem.

    What are the tools you used in your development?
    I used Fallout Mod Manager to extract the original game files, Photoshop CS5 with Nvidia’s DDS plugin for editing the normal maps and 7zip to pack everything into archives for online distribution.

    Do you plan on any more new features in your mod? Specifically anything not listed on your mods page on the Nexus?
    I recently updated the mod, there were some less obvious artifacts which I got rid of. Unless I forgot something there won’t be much else to add aside from maybe some optional stuff.

    Do you have other mods you are working on or do you plan to create other mods? If so what might those be?

    Last week I uploaded XCE, which is a compilation of all my separate mods. This will be an ongoing project regarding character enhancement. Once the CK is available I also plan to create additions instead of only the replacements.

    In the future I will also start creating custom races, like I did for Oblivion. Although I don’t have any specific ideas for that yet.

    What are some of your other favorite games if Skyrim isn't the only game you play? Any other game genres besides the RPG style games that Bethesda publishes?
    Morrowind is my favourite game of all time, Skyrim will probably take the second place. RPG is my favourite genre, besides The Elder Scrolls I also enjoyed playing The Witcher and the Mass Effect games. I liked Fallout 3 and New Vegas as well because the gameplay is similar to The Elder Scrolls. For these two games I created a few mods too, but never really got into it.

    Not playing other genres a lot, with a few exceptions here and there. I did really like Amnesia: The Dark Descent, because horror is also one of my favourite movie genres, still haven’t taken the time to finish it though.

    Do you have any advice for aspiring mod authors?
    Don’t get too big ideas that you will never be able to accomplish, start with something small instead, something that you know you can do. Like me for example, before I started modding I already knew a few things about using Photoshop, that’s why I got into texturing 3 years ago.

    And finally, do you have anything you would like to say to our readers out there?
    I would like to thank everyone who enjoys my mods and has supported me the last few years, all of that motivates me to continue sharing my work.
    Also thumbs up to Dark0ne and the rest of the staff for keeping this place up and running.

    Thanks to Xenius for participating in the interview and for making No More Blocky Faces! Check back tomorrow for the next interview with the 3rd place winner, and do not forget to vote for December's File of the Month!

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