Daggerfall Workshop is the home of Interkarma’s tools for exploring Daggerfall. The Workshop has been through several incarnations over the years, from a personal hobby site to a full-blown hub of activity with thousands of unique visitors. Some of those became mainstays of the community, contributing their own visions and particular talents. Things have come full circle now, and Daggerfall Workshop is once again a personal hobby site.
My name is Gavin “Interkarma” Clayton. I’m an Australian with a passion for Daggerfall. In the past, I’ve developed tools such as Daggerfall Explorer and Daggerfall Jukebox. These days I run a small IT business providing network solutions to the local SMB market. I also do the occasional bit of professional development. Daggerfall is still a passion and an active hobby, even if I do put that hobby down for months at a time when Real Life calls for it.
Daggerfall has been a part of my life for some time now (almost 18 years, but who’s counting). This site has a story almost as long. If you are interested in this tale, a brief history of the Workshop follows.
I purchase Daggerfall for a whopping $99.90 AU (around $119 USD in late 1996). CRPG’s are in a slump, with groundbreaking titles like Fallout and Baldur’s Gate still a year or more away. Daggerfall looked like a great way to fill in the time. I had enjoyed Arena a few earlier, and expected something similar.
Daggerfall trumped Arena in every way. I was left breathless by the scope and atmosphere of this game. The large environments, labyrinthine dungeons, and open-ended gameplay were unmatched. For the first time it truly was possible to ignore the main quest and live in another world.
A few years on CRPGs are going strong again, but Daggerfall hasn’t left my hard drive. I start work on a program for my own amusement called Daggerfall Media. Using information about the Daggerfall file formats from Dave Humphrey as a starting point, I began picking apart the Daggerfall files and rendering them in a 3D engine I was working on at the time.
I create the first version of Interkarma’s Workshop on a Yahoo hosting account and sign up to the Elder Scrolls Forums. The name “Interkarma” is a portmanteau word from two CDs that are sitting on my desk at the time. “The Interzone Mantras” by the Tea Party, and the song “Karmacoma” on “Protection” by Massive Attack.
I launch the site with Daggerfall Explorer Beta 1, a rewrite of my exploratory Daggerfall Media. This could more or less view all textures and 3D objects, but texture mapping wasn’t working correctly as the UV (surface alignment) coordinates were still unknown in the 3D model format.
Interkarma’s Workshop is rehosted on the venerable, and now defunct, www.m0use.net. I was honoured to be on the same server as the UESP, Andel Crodo’s TES, Xanathar’s Imperial Library, and many other outstanding sites.
By this stage, I had found the UV coordinates in the 3D model format, but due to the odd way Daggerfall stores polygons, these were in an irregular format. Special techniques were required to rebuild the Daggerfall 3D models with triangles and align the textures correctly. After exchanging a few emails with Craig Peterson and Dave Humphrey, we managed to develop a process for correctly aligning textures on triangulated faces.
In September 2002, I release Daggerfall Explorer Beta 2. This version supported properly textured 3D models, outdoor blocks, and extended bitmap support.
Right on the heels of Daggerfall Explorer Beta 2, I demo an alpha of a program called Daggerfall Cartographer. This program can render all outdoor cities and other above-ground locations. At this time, dungeons are not yet supported.
In November 2002, I released Daggerfall Jukebox, a program to export and play the sound effects and music in Daggerfall. This program also had the capability to freely unpack the propriety compression algorithm on the Daggerfall CD. Dave Humphrey later uses this de-compression code in his excellent Daggerfall Installer.
I start moving all of my Daggerfall-related code to a C++ library called DFLib. Up until now, the code to work with Daggerfall’s file formats is spread across several test versions of Daggerfall Explorer and other experimental programs. Combining everything to DFLib allows me to use this code in a standard way that makes future projects easier to develop.
In February, I leave my job as a senior network engineer to start my own company. This marked the end of having large blocks of free time. From this point on, I had to find time to work on my hobbies around the business.
www.m0use.net started experiencing problems, and is down for extended periods of time. It eventually fails, leaving Interkarma’s Workshop without a host.
Thanks to the generosity of Theodor Lauppert, I was briefly hosted on www.svatopluk.com. Due to some bandwidth issues, the Workshop was closed down by the host.
I acquired the domain name www.dfworkshop.net and purchased my own hosting. Interkarma’s Workshop is reborn as Daggerfall Workshop.
By this stage, I’m still coming to terms with managing a new business in its infant years, and time to work on my Daggerfall projects is slowly grinding to a halt. I progressively have less free time as my business grows.
In mid 2004, I release Daggerfall Imaging. This program can view practically all Daggerfall image formats and export them to standard formats such as .jpg and animated .gif. It is met with mixed popularity due to the simple web-like GUI. This is to be the last tool I release for many years.
Now past the two-year mark, I feel my business is stable enough to spend some more time on my hobbies, chiefly Daggerfall.
I had continued work on the DFLib library, and started a new engine called Absinthe. This would evolve into my most ambitious project to date. Called The Daggerfall Project, the goal was to act as an emulator for playing Daggerfall from a standard install. This would hopefully sidestep any legal issues, because no content owned by Bethesda was to be distributed. You had to own the original Daggerfall CD, or The Daggerfall Project was useless to you.
By this stage, the Workshop has become a hub for Daggerfall fans, especially those with programming talent. The Workshop forums and image gallery are the de-facto home of several other projects such as DarkMouse’s DarkEngine remake, Dungeon Hack, and more. A broad range of gifted people post on the forums regularly and the Workshop enters a shining time of collaboration among members.
Meanwhile, I’m struggling to find time to work on The Daggerfall Project, manage the Workshop, and keep my business running. Arctus comes on board as forum administrator, but I’m unable to give him full access to the hosting back-end, as by this stage I’m using my hosting account for the business as well as my hobbies. I’m greatly appreciative to all of Arctus’ efforts in keeping the Workshop ticking during this time.
The house my girlfriend and I are living in is sold out from under us, thanks to the owner being in some financial strife. We try to buy the house, but the owner’s lawyers are very aggressive and demand more than the property is worth. We end up moving out in a hurry to a dodgy rental. This has a demoralising effect on us both.
The Workshop is beset by spam bots and attackers due to the software versions not being up to date. Poor Arctus is doing the best he can to keep the old girl afloat, but with all the various projects calling the Workshop home, this is becoming increasingly difficult. I am too busy with various real life issues to spend much time with the Workshop, or in the community.
The final straw comes in early 2007 when the Workshop falls over due to lack of back-end maintenance, and constant outside attacks on the out-of-date software. I spend a little time reviewing where I am in my life and what sacrifices need to be made. Sadly, I realise the Workshop was going to have to be one of those sacrifices. I pull the plug on the old Workshop and her community, and go on with life. My overly ambitious Daggerfall Project is permanently abandoned.
By the second half of 2008, things have started to settle down in life. We’ve moved into a better home, and the change of environment is uplifting. I pick up my old Daggerfall libraries and start to tinker.
I begin to consider reopening the Workshop in a smaller format, like it was in the beginning. As always, my friend Ferital offers his patience and encouragement to keep working in whatever capacity possible.
In April 2009, I reopen the Workshop as a home for my old exploring tools. Although The Daggerfall Project is abandoned, I plan to incorporate some of the cooler aspects of that project into new tools and stick with what I do best: exploring Daggerfall.
I create the DaggerfallConnect API and build all new exploring tools Daggerfall Imaging 2 and Daggerfall Modelling. I start work on an ambitious total conversion mod, but abandon this when real life once again takes over all of my spare time.
I return to the Workshop and start on another ambitious remake: Daggerfall Unity. At time of writing, Daggerfall Unity is still under active development.