image ©Maxim Nikolaev
Interview with Evil Eye 2024-02-09 - jvoisin

Who are you and are you really an eye? What’s your villain origin story? Why do you have so many names? Are you really the Batman?

I’m Evil Eye, or Assumeru when that name isn’t available. My contract says I’m a devops engineer, but I’m really a detached eyeball with psionic powers who types by blinking. Using a computer is bit of a hassle, but overall I’d rate being me 8/10; would recommend. I am not Batman, although that is something Bruce Wayne would say. As for my dank and secret past, it all began when I was but a mere pupil…

Okay, jokes aside, I first saw Morrowind over at a friend’s in 2005 or 2006 – summer, I think. I got a small tour: a look at character creation, a bit of the world, and a cliff racer. It was a case of love at first sight for me and I ended up ordering the game from eBay when I got home. Fast forward a bit and I’m messing around with mods and the Construction Set. At this point in time I didn’t know anything about 3D modeling other than how to use NifSkope and I’d look at the models added by whatever mods I’d download and try to use them in different ways. One such mod, I think it was Abu’s Retreat, added some sort of wooden wall decoration that looked vaguely like an eye. I tried to set it up as a creature. Obviously that failed as it had no animations whatsoever, nevermind creature animations, but the name stuck and I used it when I registered my account on the (now defunct) Bethesda Game Studios Forums. As for the other name, Assumeru was a character I played. A glass armor wearing, Trueflame wielding dunmer who I first completed the main quest with, as well as Tribunal’s main quest, a good number of faction quests, and some of Tamriel Rebuilt‘s Telvanni content. I ended up joining TR shortly after, in 2009.

When did you join the project and why?

OpenMW first crossed my screen in the form of a thread on the aforementioned Bethesda forums. I thought it was interesting in much the same way I thought the MCPMGE, TR, and S:HotN threads were interesting so I watched it for updates. The project wasn’t really a game at that stage, more of a tech demo, but it was progressing rapidly. You can still see the videos from 2012 on the YouTube channel.

For the next few years I’d download the latest version once in a while, play it, and report whatever bugs I ran into. In 2014 I reported #1138, by 2016 it still hadn’t been fixed so I decided to take matters into my own hands and, with copious help from scrawl, fixed the issue. Then I fixed a handful of other minor issues until I got back into TR development in 2019 (after doing next to nothing for the project in the intervening ten years.) I was working on a quest (that finally got released in last year’s Andaram release) and I’d written some scripts that didn’t work in OpenMW due to #2311. I wasn’t about to roll over and accept that and, well, you could say things got out of hand.

So to actually answer the question, I joined the project because OpenMW was doing things that annoyed me. And my only C++ knowledge being a Tic-Tac-Toe program I wrote when I was 13 or so wasn’t going to stop me from changing that.

So you’re ones of those completely reasonable people who learned C++ to work on OpenMW?

I wasn’t going to defend my sanity! I did have a little C and PHP5 experience, the latter being an embarrassingly thin wrapper around its C and C++ roots sometimes.

Has OpenMW lived up to what you expected when you first discovered the project so far?

I’d say it’s done better than I expected. Of course when you consider that the Bethesda forums and a good number of interesting projects that posted there have gone the way of the dodo since then, my expectations might not have been that high to begin with.

You’re the resident bug-fixer in chief of the project, what’s so exciting about fixing all those obscure edge-cases?

I don’t know about exciting, but it’s gratifying to see the reduction in people complaining about OpenMW compatibility. In the non-MWSE sense that is. It (mostly) just works now.

Speaking of MWSE, what’s your opinion on it in the context of OpenMW?

In that context I suppose its functionality is something to strive for in OpenMW, but it’s not something I give much thought to. It’s too broad a subject, really.

What have you been working on recently?

I started the 0.49 development cycle with a good amount of partial dehardcoding. As we get closer to branching, I’m trying to get in more minor issues that are easy enough to resolve. Thanks to Capo and Abdu I’m also playing some ancient mods of dubious quality in an attempt to find more bugs.

What was the most exciting thing for you to work on? Oh, and since you’re fixing so many bugs, what’s your favourite one?

I had fun figuring out how Cortex’s transformation scripts and GCD’s levelling scripts worked for #3905 and #2036, respectively. Bug fixing has led to me playing lots of mods I otherwise never would have. Some of them very impressive, a lot of them pretty bad, but all interesting enough for someone to have reported a bug.

My favourite fixed bug is #4414, at least for today. How we could have ever lived without NPCs redressing themselves is beyond me.

Any cool things you plan to implement that you haven’t already started working on?

Technically I’ve already laid some groundwork by starting that partial dehardcoding mentioned earlier, but I want to dehardcode magic. Having rewritten a large part of the magic code not that long ago, it’s a daunting prospect, but I want those new summon icons we have in Tamriel Data to show up in OpenMW already! Other than that I’m not a big planner; I just do whatever I feel like doing.

If you could change one thing about OpenMW, what would it be?

Just one? Guess I’ll have to close my open merge requests.

Any cool things you’re working on that aren’t OpenMW-related?

The province mods are pretty cool… and always looking for more hands. So if you don’t feel like you can contribute to OpenMW, try there. How’s that for a segue? I promise it’s not a pyramid scheme! Not since the Necrom pyramid got removed anyway…

Anything else you’d like to add?

A very general shout-out to anyone involved in any of the things mentioned above. A much less general observation that mwscript is deeply cursed. And last but not least, please keep the bug reports coming, folks!

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