From Modder to Soldier or: How i Got Drafted and Learned to Stop Worrying.

Greetings!

After a long hiatus, i am finally back and i am about to shed some light on the death of the Wyoming project and my future plans.

Let’s rewind approximately a year and a half back; When i started working on an extremely ambitious mod called the Wyoming project or Fallout 4: Rise of the Great Khanate.

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Silly logo/promotional art.

The idea behind the project was simple, make a fallout mod set in a new area untouched by established lore so as to create something original yet faithful to fallout lore. The ultimate goal was to make good old but lame fallout 4 cool by infusing it with all that Fallout New Vegas mojo. During the first couple of months i was working all by myself, i came up with a rough outline of the setting, lore and factions. The Fallout 4 creation kit was not yet released, so i read Skyrim tutorials and practiced on Skyrim’s creation kit.

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Early Attempts of me messing around in Skyrim’s CK. Yes, that is Wyoming in Skyrim.

Seeking some confirmation of my ideas, i made a reddit post sharing these rough plans and the feedback was just beyond any of my expectations. Everyone loved the ideas, some were skeptical about the scale of my suggestions (and rightfully so), some people even offered to help. Filled with energy and determination from the positive reaction to my ideas, i overlooked all of the concerns raised about the feasibility of creating such a large project and set out to create the worldspace. In my mind even if i were to fail, i would have still managed to gather a shitload of experience and knowledge (and for that i was right).

For a beginner modder, creating an entire worldspace was a huge task by itself. Especially so in the early days of fallout 4 modding since most people were still tinkering with the changes of the ‘new’ engine and there was a huge lack in tutorials and guides on how to do most things. Yet, through sheer perseverance (or more accurately stubbornness), countless hours of trial and error and my limited experience of meddling around in Skyrim’s and Fallout New Vegas’s creation kits i somehow managed to make the worldspace using DEM  maps acquired from the USGS service. Congrats you have leveled up! (Photoshop+5, Creation kit+5, Nerdiness +10, Naivety +20)

I was over-joyous with the creation of the worldspace, i had laid the foundations for the project. I made some silly logos, a silly moddb page for the project and an even sillier youtube video with the hopes of attracting fellow minded naive but romantic modders in a journey of creation. Surprisingly, people started emailing me and soon i had a writer, a 3d artist and a concept artist join. My team of me had expanded, HOORAY!. I made a forum as a platform of asynchronous communication since we were scattered in different European countries and the USA. For the first few months i was extremely positive, i was working all day and night on the project. I read tutorials, i practiced with the CK, got into 3d model creation and texturing, tried to organize everything and expand the team whilst also working with my team on creating a storyline, concept art and some unique assets. It was my firm belief that if we had constant progress and showcased it continuously, we would attract more experienced talent which in turn would contribute to progress and so forth.

For a brief period of time that worked. Brief is the key word here. Progress on the writing department was abysmal at best. The problem wasn’t the quality of the material but the time it took to generate stuff. Eventually, with extremely slow progress on the lore and main questline, i had trouble keeping people busy. What task can you assign to someone when there is no clear direction of the project? Understandably, people started dropping out. A small core of people, equally if no more devoted to the project than me remained in the team. I shifted my focus from actually modding to better organizing everything and reaching out for help in reorganizing the writing department from scratch.

I made a call for writers and received a dozen applications, some actually very promising. Just when i thought that the tide was turning, life handed me some terrible news. Don’t worry this is no family tragedy, illness or other major misfortune.


It’s my beloved country, drafting me into the army. I live in a country that has mandatory military conscription for all males over the age of eighteen. Having fulfilled my university studies, my time as a civilian and free man was officially up and now i was called to serve for nine months as a soldier. SHIT! I am the type of person who’s not really big on the patriotic stuff, for me the word service equals the word slavery. So you can bet how excited i was to get drafted. Not only was i getting dragged into something that i perceived as hell for the next nine months but i also had to abandon something that i actually loved doing. My modding days had come to an abrupt end. I had to admit defeat and give up on the Wyoming project and that was very painful.

In any case, i didn’t really had a lot of options i could a) serve in the army and get it over with, b) don’t get drafted, move abroad and face fines and prison time if i were ever to return home, c) pretend to be mentally ill to be excluded from the draft. Option C is just out of the question, i am mentally healthy so pretending to be ill was extremely unethical. Plus, i am a psychologist so that wouldn’t play out so well on my bio (would you visit a mental health practitioner certified as mentally ill? No? i thought so as well!) Option B is also pretty much out of the question so that left me with good ol’ option A.

Congrats you’re in the army now maggot!

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Get’s screamed at for not properly wearing the beret.

The first month of the military service i had to go to a huge training camp for new recruits, me and approximately another 2000 people went to this particular camp which just so happened to be the biggest in the country, Yikes. For an introvert who prefers to stay home, watch movies, tv shows, play games, mod and religiously avoid social gatherings, going to a military camp with 2000 people and living in a room with another 19 men from various backgrounds who you just got to meet, is just not an ideal circumstance (which is a very polite way of expressing myself).

During the first month, all we got to do everyday was learn to salute, parade, have somebody scream at us for the most ridiculous reasons, break apart, clean and re-assemble our weapon, parade some more, get screamed at some more and stand guard during the night. Repeat again the next day (for x30 times).

The first month is a torture of adapting to this new reality but time eventually passes. Congrats now you’re not a new recruit anymore and you get to go to your unit where things are supposed to be more relaxed. Does your family know someone of importance (politician, religious figure, military personnel or other semi-important asshole)? No? AH the joys of meritocracy! it just so happens that if you know nobody your new unit is stationed in some shithole in the middle of nowhere, far far away from your home. Usually in the borders of the shittiest country bordering yours.

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Borders of the shittiest country bordering mine

That’s where you’ll be for the next 8 months, barely sleeping, eating gourmet shit, living in spaces of questionable hygiene standards with random assholes who also don’t want to be there. Your activities include, military exercises once every now and then, standing guard for endless hours every night or alternatively patrolling around the camp and each morning doing manual labor for maintaining the camp. Awesome!

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Not awesome.

If you manage to maintain your sanity and a positive outlook on things, then you’re most likely a complete psychopath and that is my firm belief as a mental health practitioner. The normal response to this reality is either giving up, or completely dying on the inside and carrying on. I did finish my military sentence, i mean service! But only because halfway through my luck improved, i got transferred to a better unit near my home because they were in need of psychologists (with these living circumstances who would have thought right?), so instead of doing various manual labor chores every morning, now i got to deal with crazy people on a daily basis, YAY! My daily life was now wake up, clean the camp, deal with crazy people until midday, get some sleep, stay awake during the night and guard the camp. Still shitty, but everything beats manual labor so i embraced my new reality with a minimum of complaints. Time passed, slowly, so incredibly slowly, like aeons slowly. But it passed and i finished my military service, so here i am now, once again a free man!

 

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Sure, i enjoy serving in the army!

So what comes now?

I honestly don’t know…

Returning to the Wyoming project is highly unlikely since i have moved on from that and it would be just painful returning to it. I do still want to do something much smaller that makes use of all the custom assets that were made for that but i am not sure yet. I will definitely make some smaller scale mods. Already i am working on some stuff but nothing concrete yet. I like the idea of using this blog as a means of documenting what i am working on and maybe writing some tutorials, so stay tuned if that’s your thing.

If you’ve bothered to read all of this, Congrats you deserve a treat.

 

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Here’s me pretending to be Rambo during advanced combat training in the remote shithole i mentioned earlier.

 

 

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