Interview with Corylea, by Petra Silie

Question: How did you get into modding with the D'jinni editor?

Answer:  I read the forum posts of the people who were making mods for the contest, and although they were frequently frustrated with D'jinni, it seemed as if they were also having a lot of fun, and I wanted to play, too.  (Not for the contest, which was already well underway by that time; I just wanted to make something.)  I thought, "How hard can it be?"  Famous last words! rolls eyes

Question: Yes, I remember many people complaining about D'jinni, saying that it's too complicated and some things don't work. Did you have the same difficulties?

Answer:  Yes and no.  Arkray, who made the very first new adventure for The Witcher; the people who worked on the contest; the RedFlame Interactive team; and a few members of the Ifrit team were all pioneers in using D'jinni.  When D'jinni was released, it had essentially NO documentation, and some of the simplest things were complete mysteries.  Both Arkray and the 
RedFlame Interactive team were extremely generous in sharing what they'd figured out with the modders who came after them.  Arkray was especially generous, considering how much flak she took for her mod, and theRedFlame Interactive people were extremely generous in making several detailed tutorials.  The contest participants were wonderful in that they helped one another as least as much as they competed with one another, and if one of them figured something out, they shared it with everybody.  Bonssaaay, of the Ifrit team, has done a lot of work on the D'jinni wiki, to document all of this.

So by the time I started modding, the basics had been figured out.  There was still plenty to figure out, and I figured out a few of those things myself, but there was considerably more D'jinni knowledge available to newcomers just a few months after the contest started than there had been before.  The D'jinni Wiki has a bit of a bad reputation, and it's true that some parts of it are inaccurate (or were when I started using it, in October, 2008), but it beats the hell out of no documentation at all, which was what the first modders had to work with.

As for the D'jinni Adventure Editor itself, it's true that there are some things that don't work.  For example, one can't add objects to a scene in the cutscene editor.  You're supposed to be able to do so, there's a menu for that, but that part is just broken.  If you want any objects in a cutscene, you need to have them in the area before you open it in the cutscene editor.  That's fine for furniture and relatively stable things, but if you want an object in your cutscene that you don't want the player to see in the game, you have to hide it inside a building or below the level of the ground, then bring it up for the cutscene.  This is actually the easiest type of D'jinni problem to work with, because it's always broken, so modders just know to plan ahead when making cutscenes.  The difficult times are when D'jinni is flaky -- that is, when something in D'jinni sometimes works and sometimes doesn't.

An example of this is the quest editor, which is mostly very nice but occasionally becomes flaky.  The very first quest I ever made didn't work, and I went over it and over it and OVER it, trying to figure out what I'd done wrong.  I couldn't find anything, so I eventually copied that quest word-for-word into a new file, and the "new" quest worked.  I had this happen again, on another quest, so out of the nine quests I've made, twice the file has just not worked even though everything was right.  

To use D'jinni, it helps to be very, very stubborn and not give up when things go wrong, yet it also helps to be rather flexible, to be able to find a new way of doing something if a way that should work just doesn't, for no apparent reason.  Is there such a thing as being flexibly stubborn?  If so, that's what you should be to work with D'jinni! :D  I asked Arkray once what had enabled her to make What a Man Needs at a time when absolutely nothing was known about D'jinni, and she said, "I'm very, very stubborn."  I thought at the time that she was joking, but now that I've been modding for awhile, I can tell you that she was speaking the complete truth! :-)

On the other hand, I have a lot of praise for D'jinni, too.  It is a very powerful and flexible tool; almost anything you can think of doing, you can get done using D'jinni.  The quest editor is a very powerful and flexible tool; it has so many options that I think we've only scratched the surface of what kinds of quests it's possible to make using it.  And the conversations editor is also a great tool with a lot of possibilities; it's my imagination and creativity that limit how good my game will be, not D'jinni.  

And remember, these things are being said by someone who is NOT a professional programmer -- if you add the possibilities of Neverwinter Nights scripts and LUA scripts to Djinni's capabilities, you can make ... well, you can make something as wonderful as The Witcher :D, not that I claim to be able to do any such thing!

Question: Do you have experience with other modding editors as well? If yes, which one and did you make an adventure with this editor?

Answer: I haven't made any new adventures for RPG's, even though I've played a lot of them, but I've made some things for The Sims 2.  Most of those were just simple recolors, but I also made a new career, which involves the kind of getting one's hands dirty with the innards of the game that D'jinni requires.  (One of my creator pages for The Sims 2 is here.)  More than 13,000 people have downloaded my Sims 2 mods, and I love knowing that there are thousands of people who are enjoying their games just a little bit more because of something I made.  Once you get a taste of that, it's hard to stop. :D

Question: There are only a few female modders, the majority are young males.

Answer:  While this is certainly true for The Witcher, I started modding with The Sims 2, and there are a LOT of female modders for that game, so modding never seemed like a "boys only" thing to me.  And female modders for The Sims 2 aren't just making stereotypically "feminine" mods, like new clothes -- some of our best modders for working with the deepest innards of the game are women.  So instead of thinking of myself as unusual, I think it's strange that there aren't more women modding this game, especially since I know that The Witcher has a substantial female fan base.

So tell your women readers that THEY can mod The Witcher if they want to.  I've been a psychology professor and a therapist, both of which are pretty far from the programming trade, so people needn't think that they have to be serious programmers to mod The Witcher.  I find that the Neverwinter Nights scripting language (which is what The Witcher uses) is quite simple and straightforward -- if you can think logically, you can learn to use it!  And most of modding The Witcher is not about writing scripts; it's about creating quests, writing conversations, and decorating areas.  The tools for doing those things do require a little getting used to, and they do -- again -- require logical thinking, but that's not a very high bar to jump.

Question:  What do your friends think about your hobby?

Answer:  Nearly all of my friends love games, but most of them are so very busy that they have very little time to play any, much less mod any.  So most of my friends think it's great that I'm doing this, even though they haven't played The Witcher and don't have time to mod.  Several have promised me that they'll play The Witcher "someday," and I think when my mod comes out, that will increase the pressure on my friends to play the game ... I hope CDPR sells several more copies that way. :D

The majority of my friends work with computers in some way, as programmers or sys admins or even as researchers into basic Computer Science.  I also have one friend who's a professional writer -- she's published sixteen science fiction novels and also teaches Creative Writing at the university level -- another friend who writes poetry for a hobby, and several who write fan fiction and/or erotica.  Both computer skills and writing skills are well represented in my friendship network, so I occasionally have wistful thoughts about what a great modding team my friends would make if I could put all of them together!  But short of abducting them at gunpoint and forcing them to play The Witcher, I don't think that'll happen; I'll just have to muddle along with the skills I have. :D

Question:  How much time do you spend with modding? Is there enough time left for your job and family?

Answer:  I had to close my therapy practice several years ago, due to illness, so I'm unemployed at present.  My health is still iffy, so there are days when I can work on my new adventure and days when I can't.  On days when I can work on it, I've spent as little as two hours or as many as sixteen hours working on it in a given day; there are days when my husband has to remind me to eat!

My husband and I have no children, and he has a very demanding job as a professor, so I don't have many responsibilities right now, and I have a lot of time to fill while my husband is working.  Working on my mod can fill as much time as my health allows; when I'm having a good week, healthwise, I put in as many hours on my mod as most people put in at their jobs.  Although it's not paid work, working on the mod is my work at the moment -- it's the thing I do that adds meaning to my life and the thing I do that I hope will benefit other people at least as much as it does me.

Luckily, my husband is wonderfully interested in and supportive of my mod without knowing anything about how I'm actually doing what I'm doing.  He enjoys hearing me babble excitedly about my latest idea or my latest D'jinni work-around.  He's so busy that he's only ever played The Witcher up until the autopsy, but at least that's enough to know who Geralt is and a little bit about what Sapkowski's world is like and some basic things like that.

Question: Do you have like-minded friends with whom you can discuss the matter or even share a successful modding phase?

Answer:  Sadly, I don't have any friends who are modding The Witcher or any other game, and that's probably my biggest complaint.  Modding absorbs so much of my time and attention that I wish there were someone to talk about it with.  The Polish boys are very sweet, and we sometimes exchange a word or two, but the language barrier can get in the way.  I'm also very aware of being twice their age, female, and American, so I'm a bit afraid of annoying them. :-)  (I really wish that Hexenmeister Raven and Nimue hadn't departed for Dragon Age: Origins; I really like both of them.)  

Question:  Maybe you can join the IFRIT Creative Group? They are very ambitious and create many extras for an adventure like trailers, artworks and concept arts. They co-operate with professional musicians who compose the soundtrack. They did for 'Merry Witchmas' and want to continue the co-operation with them. IFRIT also has engaged translators who translate the adventure into other languages.

Answer:  I haven't been asked to join IFRIT, and I would never be so presumptuous as to put myself forward as a candidate for membership.  And even if they decided to ask me to join them someday, I wouldn't expect them to do so now.  They don't really have any idea of what I can and can't do; they'll have a better idea once the first chapter of my adventure is finished.  If I were them, I'd wait to play it and evaluate me then. :D

Besides, I really do want to finish the adventure I'm working on now: "Medical Problems."  The first chapter of it is getting close to finished; I have maybe a month's worth of work left on that.  But the second chapter isn't even started yet, and it will take me many months to produce "Medical Problems: Chapter Two."

It's also true that I worked with a Witcher modding group once in the past and had a very negative experience with them, an experience that ended in my feeling betrayed and taken advantage of.  I think working on my own for a few months, to get the taste of that experience out of my mouth, is the right thing for me at the moment.  (Never, never, never join a group where the leader of the group is in lust with the most volatile member of the group; it causes all sorts of problems!)