“Look at his face,” modder Kevin Brock, aka Trainwiz, says of Thomas the Tank Engine when I ask him why he thinks the wholesome engine has become such a pervasive running joke in modding communities.
“How could you not laugh at that? There is no soul behind those eyes, no hint of regret for the blood he shed,” he continues. “Honestly, if it were animated in any way it would take the humor out of the joke.”
Brock is currently in the process of bringing this joke to Starfield in his own unique way, by creating a mod that swaps the standard model of every single ship in the Settled Systems for Sir Topham Hat’s best move.
“I started it on Tuesday evening,” he says. “It took about four hours to make. First, Thomas’ original model consisted of parts that had different things (some transparent, some not), so I had to recreate the model as a single object, including converting his entire texture library into an atlas.”
Since those modifying Starfield currently do not have the tools necessary to create new materials for the models they edit, and must instead inherit them from existing objects in the game, Trainwiz “has had to start overwriting materials and textures in Starfield play around yourself and then create the models.” Find out how Starfield handles this [Level of Detail] System and how to scale it properly, so that [Thomas’] This model could swallow most spaceships.”
Lo and behold, as you can see below, it devoured spaceships.
Previously, he had to deal with some hassle from Mattel because Thomas the Tank Engine is a licensed company (although mods can generally rely on fair use law for protection unless their creators make money from them). ), Brock reports that nothing of the sort has been reported from her latest work. Still.
“All they did was make me double down out of spite. I’ve found that malice is a powerful creative fuel,” the modder says of the way these encounters have influenced his approach to creating character-inclusive mods, adding, “I don’t learn lessons when “It’s a huge, soulless company that says I should learn them.”
Trainwiz is a true veteran of Bethesda game modding, having cut his teeth on Morrowind back in 2006 and has since created mods for Skyrim, Fallout 4 and Fallout New Vegas. Along the way, he’s found ways to swap dragons for trains, outfit the Sole Survivor with killer locomotive power armor, and even given people the chance to ride a restored dwarven railway through Blackreach, proving, if nothing else, that pretty much anything is possible possible in the modding world.
However, the collaboration with Starfield during the modification of the game is “still in its infancy” and presents him with some new challenges to overcome.
“We don’t have any real editing tools outside of model modification, and even then there are a lot of workarounds required,” he reveals, explaining, “When I started modifying Skyrim, the Creation Kit was already available and tools and tutorials were already available.” Here it is the limit.
“The model format in particular is completely different and while I think this may be better in the long run, it is a big change,” the modder adds.
The community that faces the challenges of tackling this modding Wild West alongside Brock looks very different than the community he joined in Oblivion’s heyday.
“Things have changed (massively) since then, partly because Skyrim just got so many people discovering Bethesda games and modding them. Of course we had tools, but with Skyrim there was so much progress made at every level, not to mention the amount of new people joining the community.
“The most important thing is less what is now possible,” summarizes the modder, “but rather how easy these things are to do.”
Brock is currently working on an indie game called Underspace. The modder says that this open-world arcade dogfighter, inspired by classic space games, “absolutely wouldn’t exist without my modding background.”
As an example of this, he cites the “opportunity to leverage the fan base he had gained through creating mods” to “help promote and develop” the new game, which came after a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2019 was created, and also adds that modding helped him “in terms of the approach”.
“Underspace has a lot of Bethesda RPG in its DNA, and as it turns out when you try to construct something along those lines, a lot of the ways they approach systems internally, that is in terms of the code and how they work .” is pretty smart,” says Trainwiz. “That and knowing which work processes I was familiar with helped me a lot.”
“Eventually,” he reveals, “I worked professionally for Bethesda, working on dungeons included in Skyrim’s Anniversary Edition, and the money from that initially helped fund Underspace.”
Given that one of the Skyrim mods he worked on brought a dwarven starship to Tamriel, it seems very fitting that Trainwiz is now working on a full game about interstellar starships that wouldn’t have launched without a little steam propulsion There are a variety of small engines that could do this.
Just as you can never quite say what kinds of horrors the amusing face of Thomas the Tank Engine might portend, you can never quite know what the future will bring. However, chances are there will be a steady stream of interesting Starfield mods.