Lordbound Interview: From A “Portfolio Piece” To A Massive Skyrim Mod

It started as an “Orcs against Wizards” conflict with few small map locations.

Story Highlights

  • Lordbound is an upcoming massive DLC-sized mod for Skyrim.
  • The project has been in development for around a decade and is finally nearing its release.
  • We spoke with Kiria, one of the lead developers of Lordbound, to learn more about this mod.

It takes a lot for a game to be considered “timeless” in the day and age we live in today, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim perfectly fits the bill in this regard. While the game itself has superb replayability, the abundance of mods is what ensures there is always something new for players to try out. It has kept the Skyrim community thriving to this day, but the one mod that the community is most looking forward to right now is Lordbound.

Skyrim: Lordbound has been in development for almost a decade, and rightfully so. It adds an entirely new area filled with around 60 hours worth of content, making it a free massive unofficial DLC. Considering how the project is more ambitious than most games out there, we spoke with Kiria, one of the team leads, to learn more about Lordbound and the challenges the team went through over the course of a decade. 

Screenshot Credit: Lordbound Dev Team.

Could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your work on Lordbound?

Kiria: My name is Kiria, and I’m sometimes known in the Skyrim community as CatPancake. I’m one of two current team leads for the mod. I originally joined the team about four years ago as a Tech Artist and somewhat of a Modding Generalist. Now, I keep the project organized and running, handle task assignments, recruitment, 3D modeling, and Creation Kit work. So… still a generalist, just now with more responsibility.

It is very rare to see mods of such scale. It is comparable and unarguably even bigger than most DLCs. What compelled you and the team to start work on this project?

Kiria: It started as a need and a series of fortunate mistakes. The original team leads, Neshkor and Arcky, were game design students at the time, hoping to create an impressive portfolio piece to help them find a job.

They started the project as an “Orcs against Wizards” conflict, with what they planned to be a relatively small map with very few locations.

As the industry changed and their familiarity with the Creation Kit increased, they found themselves inspired to create higher-quality environments and quests, especially compared to those in the original Skyrim. As the years went by, the project grew in scope and ambition, as many volunteers came on to leave their mark on our little piece of Tamriel.

Screenshot Credit: Lordbound Dev Team.

The team has been working on this for almost a decade. Games and the modding community have changed drastically in that period. Could you tell us how the scope of Lordbound changed or evolved over time?

Kiria: While the mod was constantly scoped down to increase the chances of completion, the original leads bit off more than they could chew. Instead of a portfolio piece, the mod became a learning project for aspiring game developers.

At least 25 people would join the team, gain experience and connections, and enter the game industry – though you could argue the final number is closer to 40. While getting team members employed was always the goal, it also created the issue of a reliable output. As the best team members found employment, it was expected they would leave the team to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

In an ironic twist, the hobbyists proved more reliable long-term than the aspiring professionals, who left to have successful game development careers of their own, working on franchises such as Halo, Horizon, and even the recently released Helldivers 2.

Aside from the big area that will be added with the mod and serve as the center for most of the content, did you make any changes to NPCs, lore, or environment elsewhere in the Skyrim world?

Kiria: In order to maintain compatibility with other mods and the vanilla game, Lordbound’s changes outside of the Druadach Valley world space are minimal. The only changes we’ve made to Skyrim herself are the NPCs that will give you the introductory quest to begin the mod and the entrances to the Valley.

The actual events in Druadach are partially affected by the events in Skyrim, with characters remarking on the choices you’ve made during your playthrough. Lore accuracy was important, which is why we maintained a long internal timeline to see how a place like Druadach would be shaped and affected by all the events in Tamriel’s history. We hope that Lordbound will provide something special for both casual and hardcore Elder Scrolls fans alike.

Screenshot Credit: Lordbound Dev Team.

Will there be any prerequisite quests or actions players need to perform to reach the new area?

Kiria: The player will be able to access the mod simply by walking to our new entrances and will be notified of these locations during a typical Skyrim playthrough. It will be very hard to miss. Let’s just say it doesn’t hurt to be friends with the Orcish Strongholds.

Will the mod have any impact on the game’s performance?

Kiria: No, quest mods don’t really affect game performance, and certainly not in the vanilla locations. We have aimed to take advantage of improved PC specs and performance that have become normalized since the game’s original release, so our own areas might be slightly more performance-heavy than the base game – but still fairly minimal, especially in 2024.

How big is the Lordbound Dev Team?

Kiria: At peak, there have been as many as 35 active team members. Currently, we’re a somewhat smaller but more focused team.

Screenshot Credit: Lordbound Dev Team.

What are some major challenges you encountered during development?

Kiria: With overall limited documentation and few peers working on mods of this scale, there have been quite a few. One of the earliest was in 2015, shortly after the mod was started, and that was getting quest merges to work alongside the Creation Kit’s version control system; we ended up having a team member write a custom script to run for this.

Working remotely also has its own challenges when it comes to setting up our pipelines so that team members can download the mod and perform updates without too much hassle, and some really janky setups that we had to create to deal with the legacy (Oldrim) Creation Kit limitations.

The release of Skyrim Special Edition / Anniversary Edition was also a unique challenge. After initially planning to close out development on the original Skyrim release, we eventually realized that the mod would be much better served by the significant performance upgrades that came with SSE. But converting a mod of this size was fairly time-consuming, with a ton of small things that needed to be corrected. A quick example is the water flow information added by SSE: because some small rivers and streams actually gained water currents, a dungeon where an NPC is supposed to follow you became impossible to complete because the NPC kept getting trapped by a tiny stream of flowing water.

There had been a few concerns that the mod was going through development hell. Is that true?

Kiria: Depends on your definition or what you consider as “development hell.” Since the beginning – for better or worse – we’ve taken the stance of “it’s done when it’s done, and we aren’t going to cut things for an artificial deadline.” Obviously, that’s allowed for what most reasonable people would consider to be a very long development time. There have been slowdowns and breaks for sure, but the mod has mostly been in active development since its initial announcements.

Screenshot Credit: Lordbound Dev Team.

Several months ago, it was mentioned in a Subreddit that the team is looking at a 2024 release window. Is that still the case? Or do you think it might get delayed to 2025?

Kiria: Yep, we’re targeting an end-2024 release date. We’ve made the official announcement on our Discord server recently. While nothing is ever guaranteed, we’re working very hard to achieve a 2024 release date and have planned our velocity the best we can in order to achieve it.

Will the mod be available to console players? And can we find it in the Creation Club when it releases?

Kiria: For consoles, it’s not likely. The only limitation that would keep it off of Xbox consoles is the file size, which is likely to exceed or be very near their limit of 5 GB. If there’s a way we can manage it, we’ll do our best to figure it out, but we would need to do more research to see if that’s a limitation we can work with, given the scope of the mod.

For Playstation, probably never. Sony doesn’t allow external assets in their mods, so no new scripts, custom-voiced NPCs, new meshes and textures, etc. Without these, the mod couldn’t be half of what it is.

We aren’t looking into anything like the Creation Club at the moment since we have no interest in ever charging for Lordbound; it will always be free to players.

Screenshot Credit: Lordbound Dev Team.

As an expert in this area, do you think the next game in the series will outperform Skyrim in terms of mod potential? Could you also explain why you believe it may or may not do so?

Kiria: I think with each new game, we’ve gotten more and more mod potential, either from memory limits being removed, novel systems to work with, or just more asset variety and fresh eyes on the game and modding sphere. I hope the trend will continue going forward. However, the modding community can take quite a while to mature and create some of the amazing tools we’re used to having in Skyrim, so I expect it could be a while. But that’s pure speculation.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers? Something we haven't touched upon yet.

Kiria: We’ve spent a long, long time and collectively hundreds of hours building this mod, and we really hope players will enjoy it!

Lordbound is always recruiting team members. In particular, quest writers and scripters, interior cell designers, and visual artists. Join our Discord for our current recruitment needs or to follow along with updates.

YouTube video

Lordbound is one of the most ambitious mods and has been in the works for quite a long time. The Skyrim community has noted it as an unofficial DLC due to the sheer amount of content it adds. And as Kiria said above, the dev team is always looking for more talent to join this project. You can apply for it on Lordbound’s official Discord. We thank Kiria for answering our questions.

Did you find this article helpful?

Thanks! Do share your feedback with us. ⚡

How can we make this post better? Your help would be appreciated. ✍

Get up-to-speed gaming updates delivered right to your inbox.

We don’t spam! Read more in our privacy policy.

Mudassir is a seasoned journalist with a passion for uncovering the stories behind our favorite virtual worlds. Armed with a trusty notepad and a keen curiosity, he dives headfirst into the gaming industry's most exciting personalities. His knack for insightful questions and his ability to connect with developers and gamers alike makes his interviews a must-read. While on the lookout for the next person to interview, Mudassir keeps himself busy by writing news surrounding the gaming universe. Experience: 4+ Years || Senior Journalist || Education: Bachelor's in Psychology.

Related Articles