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 The GUN Insider: Xilandro - The Architect of Change

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PostSubject: The GUN Insider: Xilandro - The Architect of Change   Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:53 pm

Hello GUNners!  Waving Smiley

Welcome to the January 2018 edition of The GUN Insider. Here we take the opportunity to learn more about some of the most accomplished modders within the gaming community.

This month we speak with Xilandro--one of the most innovative and provocative modders for Fallout: New Vegas.  Dancey  Xilandro also introduces us to his cynical alter-ego "Darklandro" in order to introduce a little comedy and brutal honesty   Twisted Evil


GUN: First, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me on behalf of the GUN community. Can you please tell us a little about the man behind the screename Xilandro? What is your real name, where do you live, what do you do for fun outside of gaming? That sort of thing.

Xilandro: Thanks for having me! To be honest there's not that much behind the "Xilandro" in real life. Name's Elias, I'm from Ukraine, and I'm not a very healthy person  Giggles , but my wife is always here to take good care of me. What I do other than gaming? Surprisingly, I don't really have other hobbies. Modding has become such a large part of my life - it takes all my free time. I don't even have enough time to actually play games as much as I would like to.

DARKLANDRO: I like to rant. About everything. Just give me a topic, and I'll rant about it. Best fun ever. Fav topics - F4, Star Trek Discovery, arrogant mod users  Twisted Evil

GUN: You’re back in the spotlight of NV modding with your recent releases, but before we talk about those let’s go back in time a bit. More than five years ago! You were one of the first to release an ENB preset with Blackout. Can you please share about your experience with ENBs? Was this your first experience with modding?

Xilandro: Hmm, my very first modding experience was back in the days when Morrowind wasn't so old. I've been obsessed with that game. Installed so many mods it broke. Spent countless hours resolving conflicts, but I had no idea what I was doing. Good times Vault boy Smile  Actual knowledge of how to work with Bethesda games came later with Fallout 3. That's where I learned xEdit and GECK--but just a little bit. In other words, the usual small stuff. I loved the game and modded the hell out of it. Then, New Vegas happened. That's when I started continuously poking it with a stick to see what's going to happen. Around that time I got a new PC and decided to try ENB. Started tweaking, sharing screenshots, found out people actually like it, and eventually release happened. My very first mod.

DARKLANDRO: I made top weapons in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. super-powerful and super-cheap, to KILL stuff. 10/10 will annihilate Freedom again.  Twisted Evil

GUN: What do you think of the evolution of ENB options and the wide variety available today? Do you still use Blackout or do you have another ENB you prefer?

Xilandro: I think overall ENB evolution across all Bethesda games is amazing! The more presets we have, the better! There always will be fellow mod-makers and advanced mod users who can bring something new to the ENB scene and I hope we'll see more in the future. But New Vegas ENB scene in particular... we don't have many new presets unfortunately. NV modding community is quite active, yet very small compared to newer games. Lack of people means lack of core ENB downloads, which leads to no significant updates from Boris (just recently he stated that modding NV is a waste of time). With no new functionality, there's no motivation to update your own preset, or start a new one. And people like to stick with presets they're used to as well. About Blackout, oh God Howard no, I don't use it. And probably never will, at least in its current state (Blackout Re:Imagine confirmed! jk). Maybe I just had too much of it. Sadly, I don't use ENB for years now due to my heavy focus on scripting. I need to see pure performance when testing and I need the game to load as fast as possible (ENB unfortunately slows the game down for some time at startup). So no ENB for me. It doesn't mean that I don't have favorite ones. Hitman's ENB, Unreleased SuBNeRoCL's ENB (can't wait when it's out), Dreary ENB, Onix, and Wanny's Realistic preset to name a few.

DARKLANDRO: Blackout? Short exposure to Blackout makes me cry. Long exposure makes me blind for a few days. I use it wisely for desired effect when needed.  Twisted Evil

GUN: You have released several mods whose aim is to update New Vegas to function more like Fallout 4. This is a loaded question so forgive me, but why not just play Fallout 4? Why go to the effort of updating an old game when we have something newer readily available?

Xilandro: Not an easy question indeed, but I think something new isn't always something better. However, there are small exceptions. For example, what is the most prominent and most recognizable thing we interact with in Fallout 4 that New Vegas doesn't have? Something you don't actually notice much until you lose it? Realtime looting system, aka quickloot. I loved it, and can't imagine playing without it. It's simple, but enhances gameplay in a way I haven't experienced before. So I made one. It's far from perfect, it often breaks with a loud noise, and people throw rotten tomatoes at me. But hey, at least I tried  Giggles  And after all, why do we make mods in the first place? Why do we put so much time and effort into games we love? Because why not. Because we can. Because it's fun.

DARKLANDRO: Darklandro: F4 is bad, but somebody sneaked in something good in it, and I couldn't let it rot there  Twisted Evil

GUN: You and Hitman worked together a great deal on a rather mysterious project known as B42. Many of your mods are pieces or teasers for this monumental project. What information can you give us about what lies behind the curtain? What features do you hope to implement in New Vegas?

Xilandro: Not really sure what to say about it. Like I'm looking at it through a thick fog, not able to tell its shape, what is it made of. From the very beginning it was a personal dream mod I always wanted to play with.

However, I can tell how it all started better than how it will end. I had this fun idea to make a mod that lets the player have multiple characters, aka "player switch" inspired by games like Dragon Age and GTAV. Even the name of the project, "B42", is about that particular feature. Playing as a sneaky little sniper, press the button - you're a heavy machine-gunner while the sniper covers your back. Press the button again *poof* You're with your favorite scoped rifle and Mr. Heavy Guns is somewhere down there delivering freedom 600 rounds per minute.

It's a fun idea but very challenging so I asked Jojash--a very talented modmaker--to join me and we almost made it! Almost  Laugh Out Loud  Before I ended up in the hospital around 3 years ago, the list of features was growing on a daily basis. New ideas, experimental scripts, features, etc. @Hitman47101, fueled by my insanity, started producing incredible animations while I was busy with coding. We constantly had something new to make. Obviously time and skill requirements to get it all done were too serious. What could possibly go wrong closed eyes smile Also showing it so early was a big mistake. I was so eager to share this dream of mine, to infect everyone with the vision of things that are possible in the game we all love so much, that I ignored the fact it will take a hell of a lot of time to deliver it all. I feel extremely guilty for making people wait for so long. And that wait is still not over. I'm still working on it. Alone. And slowly (to not mess up my health again) but surely.

There are some new features as well. Not a lot though--and I don't plan adding more--but it's also very likely that some of the features will be released separately again. Because why not.

DARKLANDRO: It's ugly feeeeeeature creeeeeeping!  Twisted Evil

GUN: How do you stay motivated on a mod of such a grand scope?

Xilandro: I just enjoy it. Modding, big or small, is very fun. I find it more enjoyable than playing games. Even when it's frustrating and hard. If I feel that I'm burning out on some feature, I leave it for a month so I can come back to it ready to work. It's a great benefit of modding over game development: you have freedom to choose what you do. On the other hand, there are times when I'm obsessed with an idea. Something just snaps in my head and I will work on it until it's done no matter the cost, or face plant the floor attempting to make it.

DARKLANDRO: Boredom is a stimuli!  Twisted Evil

GUN: You have said before that you are able to make interesting mods by simply being creative with scripting and thinking outside the box. Can you give us some examples of ways you have stretched the limits of New Vegas’ scripting abilities?

Xilandro: I wouldn't call it "stretching the limits of the scripting". I'm certainly not able to do something like that. It's more like ability to find workarounds by looking in completely different direction. I'm not a real programmer and I'm terrible at math (been learning lately a lot though). I can't think in algorithms. So what do I have instead? Trial and error, dumb experiments, "poking the GECK with a stick."

Examples: There is a great one--an old version of weapon inertia. Have you ever noticed that when you stand still with your weapon drawn, there's a weapon sway? Furthermore, the lower your guns skill and strength, the higher the sway? Also, there's this chem, "steady;" you take it and the sway is gone. These two pieces made me think of one simple thing--it's a dynamic animation that doesn't break anything; its "intensity" is based on code and not keyframes (pattern does). If the chem makes it go away and the chem is a perk, then I can get access to its values. If I can read the values, then I can overwrite them too. All I had left to do was find the correct animation from where sway originates, and change its pattern from "sway" to "left" or "right". Hours later I had controlled horizontal inertia. Vertical inertia was just messing with a certain gamesettings value Wink Sure, it’s all extremely obvious now that I've explained it. Is it "thinking outside the box" and "being creative?" I don't know. But we've looked at that ugly weapon sway for years and nobody thought about using it as an advantage, or tool.

DARKLANDRO: Once upon a time I made a mod that broke the spine bone on skeletons for all NPCs. When they don't move - they bend. Ultimate ruler mod - ALL shall bow to me.  Twisted Evil  Unreleased due to my ego. I can't let them bow to anybody else.  Evil or Very Mad

GUN: Feel free to tell me to simply be patient and stop being nosy, but… bow and arrows?! Duel wielding?! We’ve seen the videos and we are still drooling. What can we expect with these features?

Xilandro: You can expect whatever you would expect from good bow & arrow or dual wielding implementation in any other game. However, don't expect triple A animations quality. No sweet motion capture, sorry.

DARKLANDRO: It will break the game. Don't trust the other guy.  Twisted Evil

GUN: You’ve recently released Weapon Inertia and Diagonal Movement. These are great and I am already using them myself! It seems like these are the sorts of things that we learned to live without in New Vegas, but now we could never go back to not having them. Can you share a little about how these mods came about?

Xilandro: I already explained how inertia worked, so I'm going to tell you what I had in mind for diagonal movement. I thought to make the same with unused animgroups, and play them on the player. But animgroups are a very rare resource that should be used only as the final resort; we won't have more of them. But fortunately for us JIP LN NVSE plugin was updated with some incredible functionality that made it possible to manipulate nodes via scripting. Just minutes after the update I opened the GECK and quickly made diagonal movement by rotating player's pelvis bone. Simple and stupid. Filling all the fields on the nexus release page took me more time than the actual creation of the mod. Same about inertia. I got the old one, removed outdated workaround code, put new functions instead, and released it! Both mods done in one night. Sure, without old inertia code it wouldn't be that easy, but hey, reusing code isn't a bad thing.

DARKLANDRO: How - isn't important. Evil or Very Mad  Why - is. Why? FIRST!!11  Twisted Evil

GUN: You are very vocal in your thanking of JazzIsParis. For those who may not know, can you explain a little about what Jazz has done for the New Vegas modding community?

Xilandro: To understand why JazzIsParis is so important, and how big his impact is on the modding community, first I need to explain how scripting works in the nutshell.

When you can create a scripted mod; for example, a script that will grant 100 caps to the player as a bonus each time he levels up. To make it happen, we use so-called functions like example "additem." All scripters are familiar with this function. The script checks when the player has leveled up and then gives him or her some caps; like this: player.additem Caps001 100.

Now, what if there was no "additem" function? How would you give the player those caps? What if game developers never thought about making such function? That's where people like JazzIsParis or NVSE team come in to play. Skilled C++ programmers who study the game and create new functions for us, modmakers, to play with and get creative. And trust me on this, it's an extremely difficult process.

So, going back to the initial question why JazzIsParis is lord and savior of the New Vegas modding community? Because he constantly creates new, very advanced functions for modmakers. Functions that let us go wild with our ideas, make better and more sophisticated mods that we were unable to make before. As the most recent example, Jazz made functions to manipulate models\nodes\bones via scripts, and I was able to make two mods in one night that were impossible before thanks to those new functions. That's why I'm very vocal in my thanking of Jazz. He's the man behind all the magic, not me. That's why when people say "Xilandro made an impossible mod!" I always reply "nope." I didn't--Jazz did. I only took a small bit of his magic and shaped it in a certain form. Without JazzIsParis and his magic - there would be no "impossible mods." No "Xilandro." And I want people to understand it.

DARKLANDRO: I would give Jazz my ultimate ruler mod. He deserves everyone to bow to him.  Twisted Evil  NotWorthy

GUN: What’s next for you in 2018? Do you have any concrete plans for your next release?

Xilandro: I stepped away from personal mods for a bit to do my best on The Frontier (joined the team few months ago  Disco ), so it changed my plans to some degree. However, I have few mods in works that are very close to release. One is all about gameplay, and the other one is a modding tool that I hope will shake things up a bit in a good way. Keep your fingers crossed for a mid-February to late March release for both. Then back I go back to work on The Frontier and B42.

DARKLANDRO: I do. Expect it in 2020, just as always.  Twisted Evil

GUN: Tell me some about your experience with the modding community. Your mods are dynamic and sometimes create conflict with other mods so I’m sure you get more than your share of feedback. What’s it like on your end handling the commentary that comes your way?

Xilandro: It's a constant rollercoaster. Conflicts and bugs, huh? Sometimes I get good feedback (constructive criticism, proper bug reports, useful info, etc), but sometimes the feedback is completely useless or even rude. Some people would rather attack me personally than let me help them figure out what's wrong.

And there's the third type of feedback, that deserves only one reply: "RTFM" closed eyes smile.

Fortunately, for last couple of years, I mostly get a good feedback. And I hope it will stay like that  Laugh Out Loud . Nonetheless, handling it all is pretty much the same as handling it for any other type of mod. Be polite, be patient, keep the inner sarcasm monster in the cage, ask questions. If there's a bug or a conflict - you ask for more details, you try to replicate it, and then you work on the fix, if possible. The amount of details on bugs and conflicts is extremely important for the fix. Without enough info I can't replicate the problem. If I can't replicate it, I can't fix it.

That's what happened with the Quickloot mod (I've stopped supporting it quite some time ago). Too many bugs and conflicts that I wasn't able to replicate, not enough details. So I was blindly trying to fix something I couldn't break myself. Layers of such blind fixes only made it all worse, and eventually it broke to the point of no return, where only way of fixing it is starting it from scratch.



Until next time GUNners!  cheers

We hope you enjoyed this interview as much as the staff involved enjoyed it. Thank you to our core GUN Insider team @William Lionheart @DVAted @keatit71 GroupHug

Finally, many thanks to both Xilandro (and his brooding brother) for taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk with us and let us briefly inside his world.
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PostSubject: Re: The GUN Insider: Xilandro - The Architect of Change   Wed Jan 17, 2018 4:57 pm

Pretty sweet interview Drag, you're getting good at these Wink Great, interesting questions, great, interesting responses, 10/10 would read again
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PostSubject: Re: The GUN Insider: Xilandro - The Architect of Change   Wed Jan 17, 2018 5:16 pm

As a big fan of Xilandro's mods this was very enjoyable to read, good job Drag, very well done. I'm looking forward to the next one!

"I never thought I’d find wisdom in being a fool."
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PostSubject: Re: The GUN Insider: Xilandro - The Architect of Change   Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:22 pm

Good and interesting interview, nice work! Thanks for the Gun Insider Team for making those interview possible, I'm always happy to see a new interview is up on GUN. I guess Xilandro is one of the legends of the Fallout modding scene, it's cool to hear his side of things.

"poking the GECK with a stick." good quote, I'd say anyone who tried their hands at doing things with the GECK can relate to that somehow, you poke it with a stick, hoping for the best and that it will not crash on you (and delete everything you've just did because you forgot to save the changes)

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PostSubject: Re: The GUN Insider: Xilandro - The Architect of Change   Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:45 pm

Great interview. I liked the switching up with the darklandro, something new and made me laugh.
Great points of view on modders making tools for other modders. Great to read about the way peoples creations make way for new creations. Nice job Drag, and thanks for doing the interview Xilandro!
Looking forward to the next one as always.

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PostSubject: Re: The GUN Insider: Xilandro - The Architect of Change   Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:34 am

Xilandro rocks! Looking forwards to his new content.


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PostSubject: Re: The GUN Insider: Xilandro - The Architect of Change   Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:29 am

really nice interview...its nice to know more about this great modder...i hope he gets more healthy over the time
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PostSubject: Re: The GUN Insider: Xilandro - The Architect of Change   Mon Jan 22, 2018 7:06 pm

I've always been a very big fan of your mods @Xilandro! Thank you for your continued modding even in spite of your health, I wish you the best mate! And stay healthy!

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PostSubject: Re: The GUN Insider: Xilandro - The Architect of Change   Sat Jan 27, 2018 10:35 am

really like the gun interview series. it´s pretty cool and funny. keep up the good work =)
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PostSubject: Re: The GUN Insider: Xilandro - The Architect of Change   Sat Jan 27, 2018 2:20 pm

I honestly enjoyed reading this, a great variety of questions off Drag and Xilandro's answers were very insightful to a lot of stuff non modders don't see or even hear, thank you both Smile
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PostSubject: Re: The GUN Insider: Xilandro - The Architect of Change   Tue Jan 30, 2018 8:26 am

I took my time to reply to this, because I appreciate @Xilandro very much, as a person, as a modder and as a friend, and it's great to know this much more of him, in his own words. I love these interviews, y'all should make sure to check all the others. this is real modding history being made and recorded right here!

@dragbody did a most terrific job and the #darklandro bit made me laugh with tears hahah
unexpected and effective!

Thank you both! Much love!
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PostSubject: Re: The GUN Insider: Xilandro - The Architect of Change   Fri Feb 02, 2018 12:56 pm

Awesome interview, guys did a great job and was an interesting read. I loved the alter ego part, very comical. I learned a lot from this interview and plan on reading more. I didn't realize how much time and effort these guys actually put into this hobby, and i thought the part about JazzIsParis was great. I love your guy's mods, i hope you never stop!!!
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PostSubject: Re: The GUN Insider: Xilandro - The Architect of Change   Thu May 31, 2018 8:20 am

Late to the party, but great interview. Xilandro's one of the modders I have just discovered after several years away from FNV, and it is encouraging to see that he started out by poking the GECK with a stick just like I do. Thanks for interviewing him, Drag!
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