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How Terry Pratchett helped create a mod for TES IV: Oblivion

The story of the unusual union of the writer and modders.

Terry Pratchett is an English writer known primarily for the satirical fantasy cycle “Flat World”. However, few people know that he was a fan of video games – so much so that he even participated in the development of mods for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Eurogamer journalist spoke with the modders he helped.

After Emma switched from Morrowind to Oblivion as a modder under the nickname, for convenience she decided to create a companion for herself. They became Villa (Vilja) – the north alchemist. Initially, Emma created it only for herself, even voiced all the dialogues herself, but later she put it on the network . The mod players really liked it.

A couple of months after his release, Emma received a letter from Pratchett with the title “I praise Vilyu.” In it, he wrote how he “fell in love” with her companion’s behavior, especially how she reacted to small gifts — for example, strawberries.

He also praised the modders community, noting how impressed he was with the efforts that were put into fashion, and how enthusiastic he was with them.

Emma modder


One of the first versions of Villa

Of course, Emma did not immediately realize that it was a real Terry Pratchett – but she answered him anyway, which eventually resulted in a long correspondence. The writer offered her his ideas, based on his experience playing with Vilya.

He described how he explored the goblin dungeons with Villa, and how he wanted him to study goblins without killing them. A day later, I made him an “amulet of calm goblins,” which made them non-hostile and allowed him to quietly explore the caves without the need to kill anyone.

Emma

modder

As it turned out, the reason why Pratchett was so keen on goblins was the collection of materials for his book “The Case of Tobacco” in the Universe of the Flat World, released in 2011.

Emma continued to communicate with the writer and created more and more mods inspired by Pratchett’s ideas. But the greatest development was still the same Villa. For example, when the writer expressed a desire to “give Vilye a flower so that she could save [them] a character’s life,” Emma began working on the function “Give a Gift.”

Terry gave the name to most of the special items you can give her. He even put in a bunch of references to the Tobacco Case.

Emma modder

As a result, Pratchett even began to write dialogues for Villa, based on his research on Goblin dungeons Oblivion. For example, the authorship of most of the lines of a companion, associated with the Thieves Guild, belongs to him. With each update, Villa from the NPC turned into a real person – with his goals, ideas and character.

Terry is always very polite and modestly shared suggestions for Villa. […] I always felt inspired by his ideas, and I liked to embody them into reality.

Emma modder

Together with the writer and another modder under the nickname CD, they also developed a modification of Packdonkeys — with donkeys that could carry a load. Pratchett was delighted with the fact that his donkey under the name Chico constantly steal carrots and created problems with the imperial guard Villiers and the player.

One of the most important functions of fashion on Vilyu was that she knew how to find the path to something. He personally asked Pratchett to add this opportunity – even then he had problems caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Due to short-term memory impairments, it was difficult for him to navigate the game world.

Development of the function was given by Emma and CD is not easy, but in the end modders coped with the task. If Pratchett got lost, he could turn to Villiers by selecting the “I’m lost!” Function – and then she would take him out of the dungeon at any time.

Later we expanded the function: if you are too tired to choose [where to go next], you can ask Vilya to do it herself. She will decide randomly where to go. And the ability to lead the way in the end, too, has become very popular among the players. Finally, they had a companion with whom they could go hand in hand, and who knew where the player was going.

Emma modder

Villa could notice if the player did not go to Oblivion for a couple of days, and helped to get out of difficult situations. The companion modification generated a lot of interesting stories that inspired Pratchett when writing “The Cause of Tobacco”.

Villa

Later, Pratchett invited Emma to a party in honor of the start of sales of “The Cause of Tobacco” – it took place on the ship sailing through the Thames. That’s because the modder played a huge role in writing the book – thanks to the one and only amulet that allowed the writer to explore goblins. Then Emma realized what a strong influence her fashion had on the writer.

I think Terry has been thinking about Oblivion and Vilyu for a very long time

Emma modder

CD and Emma warmly recall the time when they worked with Pratchett. They did not help him because he was a world-class writer – on the contrary, at first Emma was not even sure that he really was. Simply Pratchett was very passionate about their work, and he wanted to help them make it even better.

Honestly, despite the fact that I knew about Terry’s illness, I never thought of him as a person who was sick. The functions added by Villiers were originally made for him, and they felt so natural. It would be unfair to say that I helped him – he helped and inspired me all this time, and it seems to me that both of us had a lot of fun coming up with new features and phrases for Villa.

Emma modder

For me, the important fact was not that we work with the author, known throughout the world. Rather, we work with a person who truly appreciated the character we created and that he made his life a little better.

CD modder

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