Monday, January 15, 2018

Anna Castiglioni Interview PT-2

A little over a year ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Anna Castiglioni; a bright mind with a voice to match. She has lent her voice to various Skyrim-related projects including her very own mod "Anna NPCs", and has narrated several audio books.

I had the privilege of being able to set a time and date to have another sit-down (via Facebook) with Anna for an update on her on-going projects, as well as to get her opinion on current developments in the modding community as well ask some questions that were not asked last time.

In today's post we'll be cover the following topics:

  • Creation Club
  • Skyrim Special Edition Creation Kit
  • Mods for consoles
  • The Elder Scrolls VI
  • Dragon Age...and more!

It is my pleasure to re-introduce Anna Castiglioni, voice talent & mod author for our sequel interview.

Photo from Interesting NPCs (Old Site)

AedanStarfang: alright first off thanks for agreeing to do a second q&a with me

Anna Castiglioni: My pleasure :)

AS: Not really a question, more of an observation; I've seen a youtube video of your recording lines in action do you usually record from home or at a studio?

AC: In home studio
I built up the walls with padding, the thick pyramid kind.

AS: Your voice acting is professional quality and it shows in your mods that you voice (like Anna NPCs), I don't think everyone realizes just how professional your VA modding is.

AC: Well thank you very much!  I try to always put out the best quality I can, both in voice acting, and mods.
I've taken a lot of training, workshops, and learned a lot in doing the audiobooks, always trying to get better at my profession, because it's something I really love doing (and happen to have some skill in!)

AS: I'm surprised BioWare hasn't contracted you out to run lines for the next Dragon Age game

AC: HAHA I wish!  From what I've found out though, is video games, like animation and cartoons, seems to be very competitive, and to get into anything BIG you need to have an agent who's in there.  I'm still trying though...

AS: I bet building up a nice repertoire with excellent VA-work for top-notch mods couldn't hurt, and you also do audio recordings (books on tape?) as well right?

AC: I would REALLY love to voice in DA dreams
Yes audiobooks, so far I have 25 across multiple genres. I just started number 26, a sci-fi novel about aliens and futuristic human society.  The Jakkattu Vector, by P.K. Tyler

AS: What is your favorite genre to read/record for if any?

AC: Fantasy, definitely.  I love getting to create voices and personality for creatures, like Dragons, fairies, nymphs.  I also really enjoy narrating mysteries.  The tone is often completely different, and the suspense is fun.
Third favorite might be romance.  I never was much of a romance reader for fun, but oddly, it's quite fun to narrate, lol.

AS: Back to mods, what was your very first mod you ever made?

AC: A small quest mod called Loves Labors Avenged.  That was also the first time I voiced a character I wrote, and recruited other VA's.  Learned a lot in that mod.

AS: Was that for Skyrim?

AC: Yes, I've only really modded for Skyrim.

AS: Was that your own creation, or someone else's mod?

AC: Mine... you asked what was my very first mod I ever made :) Actually that's not true, my VERY first one was a vanilla male Wood Elf companion, and a fetch quest to get his stolen flute. Classic tutorial.

AS: Seems like you know your way around the CK rather well, did it take you very long to become accustomed to it?

AC: Yes. I actually stayed up all night trying to figure things out, messing it up, trying to fix it, and sometimes I hit stride, and got excited and stayed up b/c I was so engrossed and suddenly it was 6am... I actually never pulled all-nighters before, not even in college!
There's still plenty I don't know though... but for what I want to do, I think I know enough, for now at least.

AS: Making followers is usually the go-to mod when it comes to Skyrim, lots of people want to know how to do it and too many give up because it's too confusing and you definitely seem like you have a handle on it. Anna NPCs as an example of a mod that flows so natural it could be part of the base game

AC: Thank you, a lot of that came from Shrike too, my modding partner. He figured out the Sandboxing thing from Serana, and did a lot of the fancy AI, like riding their own horses and wardrobe function.
(He's also a programmer IRL so I'm sure that helped! ha)

AS: Speaking of Anna, did you work with anyone else with the voicing besides Michael?

AC: Yes several others.  Jessica Osborne, Christian Gaughf, they are all listed in the Voice Acting section of the Credits article on the Nexus page, and on the Blog.
Michael certainly did the most though, 2 main companions and some side characters.

AS: Will Anna be receiving any new updates?

AC: Yes, I've got some plans to flesh out some of the characters, and the last quest I added, one based on a DAI quest "Wicked Eyes Wicked Hearts."

AS: Ooh that sounds intriguing, I remember that quest quite well actually

AC: I had already had a quest in mind involving a ball and milling with dignitaries, where Elyndra will show the Player around, and after playing that in DAI, I suddenly was inspired and had a jumping off point.  Now, with the appearance of OSA and other animation mods, I hope to add actual dancing and kissing, like in Skyrim Romance Mod.

AS: You've also recently released some new mods both for SSE and Original Skyrim

AC: Yes, Dunmeri Great House Robes, Dunmeri Banners, and 2 Inn mods, Anna's Four Shields Tavern, and Anna's Frostfruit Inn
I'm working on a couple other companion mods too, off an on for maybe a year now.

AS: Were there any influences from Bioware characters on your followers? (I'd love to see a Morrigan & Leliana type)

AC: HA, I have exactly that! Morrigan and Leliana, with Skyrim-lore stories and custom voicing.
I have a Fenris companion out already.  Working on a Brynjolf makeover.

AS: Would you say that Elyndra could be the Cassandra of Anna Npcs?

AC: Sure, she is pretty similar as it turns out. Completely coincidence too if you can believe that
Strong warrior with very strong political beliefs, loyalty, secretly a romantic...

AS: Have you been exposed to KOTOR and/or SWTOR?

AC: noooo, I have no idea what those are

AS: Man if I had the cash I'd send you copies of Knights of the Old Republic I & II (both Bioware games), a Kreia character would be AMAZING! And a snobby know-it-all Bastila type (to counter Anduniel) would be great

AC: oooh!! Knights of the Old Republic! I have seen that on the Bioware site, just didn't know the abbreviation.
Teryn's a snobby know-it-all ;)

AS: So, Creation Club what's your opinion on it?

AC: Haven't really kept up with that at all, but to put it simply, I think modders should be able to make money from mods they create, and people can still choose to use them or not. I believe that a platform (CC or other) that would allow selling mods, and checking they are high quality, could potentially drive UP the overall quality of mods.

I know people who are willing to pay for mods that are high quality. It's not a bad thing, and people who complain that "mods should be free"... well, I don't think they've taken into consideration how much time and effort the modders put into their work.  People either genuinely appreciate the work, or they complain about this or that aspect of it.

AS: Modders, like starving artists still need to put food on the table and Creation Club I think is the only legal method where select approved modders can financially benefit from mods

AC: I agree!

So far I've mostly heard ranting and raving about CC, and honestly, I'm kinda disgusted by it. Granted, I don't know the rules, but modders are generally really nice people who help each other out. Some believe it should all be "free knowledge" and some would like some compensation for their time. Nothing wrong with that.

I suppose it's not much different from someone selling leveled up characters or stats for another game, or hiring themselves out as a DM for hire.

AS: My opinion on the matter is I think if you're using someone else's software/game engine then you need permission from that entity before you can financially benefit from it. HOWEVER, I think more "fans" need to be a bit more generous with their wallets and donate to more modder's fundmes and patreon pages, they should be paid and rewarded for their hard work and time regardless if it's from said entity or by the public.

AC: Well said, well said :)

AS: My personal issue with Creation Club isn't the "paid mods" aspect perse, it's Bethesda's involvement and I'm sure you've heard it before.

AC: I wish I could get more Patreons :)
If it's anything like the Steam Valve issue, where they would take 60%

AS: Like you take several talented modders on their own and they can create a truly magical experience something you most likely will never get from Bethesda these days, because now all you will get is Hearthfires 2.0 and rehashes of the same DLC.

AC: I thought it should be the way around. Yes they created the game and the kit, but the MODDER did the work. THEY should make at least 50%

AS: I agree, the company should get their cut, however the author put in all of the time and effort.

AC: Haha, I still think Dawnguard was the best DLC, the first one.

AS: Well my problem is not the percentage (perse) that Bethseda is taking, but the fact that they are even involved with these modders in the first place.
Like I'm not concerned over paid mods, because let's be honest, an awesome modder like yourself or Enai Siaion - puts out a really wonderful mod people will pay for it

AC: Uh-huh, like they cared nothing about mods in the beginning.

AS: It's the idea that Bethesda is profiting from your hard work, and basically it's lazy DLC (not calling the modders lazy, calling Bethesda lazy for "outsourcing" and underpaying mod authors for work they could have done themselves)

AC: We can please direct those mod people to my Patreon, lol
Yes I totally agree. There have been so many mods that basically FIX problems that should have been fixed in base game: missing quest elements, missing lines, script bugs, you name it.

AS: What about when talented authors get recognized for their work and actually get hired professionally by a game company? Alexander J. Velicky got a job at Valve? I think for his work on Falskar.

AC: Yes he did!
I think though for game design the hiring's a bit different. That would be part of the core team behind a game. Voice acting is added last, and as a short contract, usually.
But yeah I get what you mean!

AS: I think it's probably safe to say that you (and Michael) are probably some of the more versatile V/O talents on the mod scene, I'm confident you all will get picked up onto a mainstream game.

AC: Thanks!

AS: There were a few small things left I wanted to put out there before we call it a day...

AC: Sure, ask away.

AS: how much difficulty (if any) did you experience using the SSE Creation Kit compared to the Original 32 bit Skyrim Creation Kit?

AC: Honestly, I don't like the SE CK. Technically it's really not any different, but it needs to "refresh" itself after every little thing I do, and each time generates a list of errors. Mostly only about 10% of the "errors" even have to do with my mod I'm currently working with, but errors in the basic game. Those weren't a problem in 32-bit CK, but the SE throws a fit about them. It's just too annoying. For that reason alone, I haven't worked much with it, only enough to port the mods I've already developed in "Oldrim."

AS: What's your opinion if any on the mass of recent Skyrim ports (Switch, PS4, etc)?

AC: On one hand I think it's great to be getting it to those other platforms. Don't know much about Switch, but I'm disappointed the PS4 doesn't support external assets, so I can't port any companion mod to PS4 so my friends who have it can play.

AS: then there's Skyrim VR too I wonder if all of this is just to delay us until VI comes out

AC: Skyrim VR, as in virtual reality? Did not know about that!

AS: Yea it's either out now or coming out (I lost interest after SSE lol)

AC: Haha understandable

AS: Speaking of Elder Scrolls VI, do you think you might bring Anna into TES 6 - wherever it may take place?

AC: I'd be open to it of course, would have to see once it comes out!

AS: If it takes place in Valenwood, well you'd pretty much have to.

AC: YES! I hoped it would be, but if I hope too much and it's not, I'd be upset, so I don't hope much. I'll just wait and see.

AS: Maybe port Anna into Fallout 4 as a perky elf-cosplayer lol

AC: Ha, not sure about that. I'd have to buy F4, and since I'm just not interested in that kind of world setting, I wouldn't buy it unless it's SUPER cheap. I don't even have time to play the games I already have, lol.

AS: Aww I'd really recommend trying Fallout at least New Vegas it is the best one (totally not biased lol) after I played it back in 2016 I'd wished I had played it sooner! Same for DRagon Age origins which I knew about back in 2009 but didn't play until 2014

AC: I did try FNV, didn't get very far, got bored...

AS: So do you have any up-coming projects that fans should know about?

AC: Finishing my Frostfruit Inn mod by giving the Bard some songs.
and my Morrigan-Leliana companions
and finishing Brynjolf Companion

AS: definitely looking forward to those Dragon Age companions

AC: Trying to get Morrigan to shapeshift in battle like in DA.

AS: That'll be interesting to see in Skyrim! Are there any other DA-related characters you would like to see in Skyrim, maybe include in a future mod?

AC: thought off-and-on about making an Alastair follower
but that would be well off, after seeing the reception of Morr-Leli
I'd like to see Dorian though!  Dorian and Fenris banter!

AS: You could always top off your Anna NPCs anthology with a Corypheus-like enemy

AC: ha, now there's an idea!

AS: Dorian would be AMAZING!

AC: just have to recruit a good mesh artist to make an outfit made of belts, lol!

AS: Maybe get permission to use the regal huntsman armor?

AC: hm, maybe
I do love that one...

AS: Anna, I wish I had more to ask but I think that pretty much covers it for tonight at least :)

AC: Okay cool, I gotta get to my audiobook recording too. Thanks very much for having me again, I appreciate the continued interest :)
If you want to know anything else just message me!

AS: Thank you for taking time out, I hope we can do another Q&A down the road, maybe after Beyond Skyrim: Cyrodiil drops?

AC: sure count on it!


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