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- Ashok Interview - December 1, 2022
Modding is one of the biggest parts of the PC gaming community these days, and no game around has embraced it like Skyrim. As you might imagine, the same exact thing happened to Skyrim VR, and since the mods have taken hold, it’s become one of the best VR games out there. That’s where I first encountered Ashok, one of the modding world’s newest and most talented creators.
He came up with a mod for one of the most popular Skyrim mods, a full conversion one called Enderal, and made it playable in VR in such a brilliant way that it felt like a native VR game when it very much was not. After seeing his first set of mods, I discovered that he was far beyond a Skyrim modder but also adept at modding games that have been ported to VR. Ashok took me into the realm of modders during our lengthy interview; check it out.
How He Made His Mark
As a modest modder myself, I know how difficult it is to make your mark in this community. The chances are that your idea was likely done before and by someone more talented, so it can be very difficult to
Adam: What made you want to mod in the first place? There are thousands of modders out there, so what made you think that you had something to offer that was unique?
Ashok: Really good question, I am somebody that never has had any serious game experience, and while I have done IT work, I’ve never worked with unreal engines or anything like that. For me, before VR became a thing, I had looked into jumping into modding, but it seemed like there was a huge learning curve.
I felt like there was nothing I could contribute that already hadn’t been done. VR put a huge reset on things and has made it easier for people to get into because we’re back at square one. There are so many modders out there, such as Preydog, who has ported all the Resident Evil games into VR, and now, so many games from the flat screen are coming to VR as well.
When I got my Oculus Quest, I decided to give modding a shot. I started slow, just creating mod lists, but then I looked into creating mods for the games themselves. I was really excited about playing Enderal VR, but I couldn’t find many mods that would work in VR, so I decided to create one myself.
The New Direction VR Will Take
Ashok is one of the most important members of the Flat Screen to VR movement, and he’s created some of the most important mods for those games to work properly. We discussed what games in that realm find themselves getting the most out of the modding scene.
Adam: What games do you find benefit the most from modding?
Ashok: I don’t have a video game development background, so I’m not sure what engines are the easiest to mod, but I know which are not easy to use, such as Source 2. There are so many great mods for these games, but despite the amazing mods for games like Half-Life: Alyx, it still feels like you’re playing Half-Life at the end of the day.
The modding is still so limited in that regard, but with the VR versions of the Resident Evil games, you get the ability to create something that feels brand new within a game that already exists.
I guess the most moddable game still remains Skyrim, as that modding suite is by far the most accessible of any game I can think of. Doom VFR, for example, is incredibly tough to mod, and so many VR games like it are not open source, so it’s very difficult to mod it.
Adam: Do you play the games you mod? If not, what makes you want to mod games that you don’t play?
Ashok: I tell myself I’m going to improve this game as much as I can so that one day when I actually play it, it will be the perfect experience. I know that people can get lost in the modding process, and people joke that in Skyrim VR, the best quest in the game is modding it. That game is a pain to mod in the first place because there are so many things that need to be fixed before anything can work.
People spend more time modding Skyrim than they do playing it. I have yet to play Resident Evil 2, 7, or 8 in VR, even though I’ve spent so much time modding those games. I’ve had people send me saves of the game for troubleshooting purposes, but I have yet to actually just sit down and play the game myself. The only game I’ve played that I’ve modded is the Half-Life 2 VR mod.
When the VR Horror Gets Too Real
Ashok is the reason I started exploring the Resident Evil VR world. I’m not sure if I should thank him for it though, because with his mods in action, Resident Evil 2, 3, 7 and 8 are silky smooth in VR and the result is one of the most terrifying experiences I’ve ever had in gaming.
Adam: I refuse to play Resident Evil 7 VR again, even with your mods.
Ashok: I totally hear you there. I think I played the first hour or so and nearly had a heart attack when I got attacked by a woman with a chainsaw, so that wasn’t too much fun. That’s part of it, though; VR, in particular has been a terrifying experience because so many VR games have horror elements.
Even Skyrim with its gigantic spiders and Fallout 4 VR with its zombies, and Half-Life: Alyx with its aliens, every triple-A game I’ve played has been a horror one. With Praydog’s Unreal engine injector, though, we will be able to play so many flat-screen games in VR in the near future.
The Concept of Free Labor in the Modding Community
Modders usually do their work for free, but on occasion, you’ll find some demanding payment for their work. Some find it selfish, but others totally understandable, so I was curious where Ashok weighed in on this issue.
Adam: I’ve seen a lot of modders have Paypal and Patreon on their accounts, and as far as I’m concerned, you’ve created mods that are essential to have for certain games to work, so why don’t you charge for your efforts because it’s clearly a lot of work.
Ashok: While some charge for their work, a lot of modders don’t and just generally want to share with the community. As far as my goal, it’s just a hobby. I’ve had people donate to me because fans have genuinely wanted to pay me for my work, which is flattering, so I accept it, but I don’t require it. Some people have done mods that are locked behind Patreon, but I prefer to be part of the community that I can interact with and help.
It’s confusing to me that there are certain famous modders, especially in Skyrim, who are famous for stirring up a lot of drama involving paywalls, and to me, I just don’t get what the point of modding is unless you actually want to give back to the community.
The Flat Screen to VR Ceiling Breaks
In the near future, most of the games of the past decade will start becoming available in VR. This will likely cause a VR popularity craze unlike any we’ve seen, and Ashok will be at the forefront of making these games fully playable.
Adam: In regards to flat screen to VR, what possibilities do you see there going forward? Is there an unlimited amount of games that can make that transition?
Ashok: As we’ve seen with Praydog’s work, there seems to be an unlimited amount of games that can make that leap. They might not have motion controls at first, but even to be playing these games in VR with a gamepad is pretty amazing. Some games won’t make sense, like 2D games, for example, but other than that, there won’t be any real limitations to what games can make the leap.
Look at Devil May Cry 5 in VR, it shouldn’t work, but it definitely does in the same way that Astrobot VR does for PSVR. This is why I’m so excited about getting my hands on the Unreal injector because so many of these games can be incredible experiences in VR.
Behind the Modders Veil
VR Modders are a special breed when it comes to the tools they require to make everything work right, so we delved in a bit on what kind of programs you need, and what issues might pop up during the process.
Adam: What programs do you need in order to mod? Why are they easier to use in some games than others?
Ashok: It depends on what kind of mod you’re trying to make, some require Unreal Engine or Unity to create, but others are far easier, like AI upscaling textures as I’ve done with the Resident Evil VR games. All you need to do that is just some basic Adobe Photoshop and AI drawing tools.
What I do is generally clean up animations in these games so that everything looks smoother. This makes a huge difference in VR and is pretty easily done with 3D Studio Max. I use the tools that the amazing VR community has made, and it makes everything so much easier.
Some forks in the road appear when these games get updated; for example, recent updates to Resident Evil VR games have broken the VR mods, but Capcom actually was cool about it and offered an option to roll back to previous updates, which immediately fixed any of the problems in VR.
Adam: If you could pick any game out there to make the conversion into VR, what would it be and why?
Ashok: It would be Dead Space. I feel like using the Plasma Cutter in VR would be amazing. It feels like the game was almost made for VR, the way they got rid of the traditional menu system and UI.
It’s all holograms and in-game, which is exactly how it should feel in VR. It’s one I’m looking forward to making the VR jump most of all. I’m not sure which engine it’s running on or the one the remake is coming out on, but I never thought that we’d see Unreal Engine 5 in VR, so anything seems possible.
Adam: What’s the biggest hurdle you face when modding?
Ashok: The biggest hurdle for me is understanding where to start. For me, not having done modding until just this year, it’s really just figuring out which tools you need for what you want to do. You need different skill sets for the specific mods you’re going to make. Someone making a custom campaign is going to need different skills than someone making an audio mod.
That was the biggest hurdle for me with Resident Evil, and luckily, the modding community helped me out big time here with what modding tools I would need, and I wouldn’t have been able to complete my mods without their help.
In a Sea of Competition, How Do You Stack Up?
Modders exist by the thousands in this day and age, so it’s pretty tough to make your mark. Ashok is one of the most humble I’ve met, but he still has a badge of honor he’s proud of.
Adam: What would you say your biggest achievement is as a modder?
Ashok: For me, it was probably the smooth locomotion mod. It was probably the most complicated project I’ve done. I don’t think I would’ve finished it without help from my girlfriend, who pushed me to complete it. I had deleted all my projects and just gave up until she pushed me to finish it. She made me promise I’d give it one more try, so I reinstalled 3D studio Max and tinkered some more, and I ended up figuring it out.
I was trying to adjust the walking, which is far more difficult than it sounds, but it’s so important in VR. Eventually, after making some tweaks, I was able to keep the game stable without crashing without issue. I had my “Aha!” moment when I actually implemented animation changes and saw them in action. It’s what led me to believe that I can actually do this successfully. Plenty of trial and error is involved.
Adam: So, do you see yourself becoming a content modder at any point? Adding things to games like new characters, quests, and even lands to explore?
Ashok: Sure, I mean, as more and more games make the jump over from flat to VR, I’d be open to seeing if I can contribute to them by learning more tools and seeing what I can do to improve games. I haven’t had any experience with 3D modeling in the past, but it’s something I’m very interested in trying out in the future.
Is Ashok VR Gaming’s Next Big Developer?
Having seen and experienced his work, I was curious if Ashok was looking to take his abilities into a career.
Adam: Is it a goal to work for a videogame company in the future, or is this just a hobby?
Ashok: I did start college in a computer science program, and I absolutely hated it. It was all about game design and how they work, and I switched my major and never looked back. I like messing with these games as a hobby, but I don’t think I see it in the cards for my future.
Question: What Games are Available in Flatscreen to VR?
Answer:: In the near future, almost any game with Unreal Engine 4 will be available in VR. Currently, you can enjoy Resident Evil 2, 3, 7, and 8 in VR, as well as the entire Doom series, Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and tons of others.
Question: What is the Best Mod by Ashok?
Answer: The best mod Ashok has produced is, without a doubt his Enderal VR pack. It is a collection of mods that makes playing Enderal one of the best experiences in VR.
Question: Where can you Find Flatscreen to VR Games?
Answer: Sidequest is one of the best places around to find flat-screen to VR games. For the most part, they’re completely free and usually pretty small storage-wise.
Ashok is one of the most talented modders out there, and he’s just getting started. He’s an essential part of the VR community right now and one of the MVPs of the flat-screen gaming to VR movement. My interview with him was an illuminating look into one of VR’s most important modders today. His innovations have allowed us to play games in VR that we never thought possible with the smoothness of a native VR game.
Hearing the ins and outs of what it takes to get these mods up and running was very informative and really made it shocking that the majority of these modders don’t require payment for their work. If you’re at all curious about checking out his work, you can check out his mods here. He’s one of the friendliest people you can meet, and his modding talent has made games like Resident Evil 2, 3, 7, and 8 feel like they were built to run in VR.