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Content featured on: Main Page · Getting Started · AI · Animating · Building and Editing · Modeling · Quests · Scripting · Texturing · Other

Main Page Featured Content

A Beginner's Guide

Featured July 4, 2007 through Present

This is a series of Tutorial Lessons aimed at teaching how to mod TES IV: Oblivion aimed at beginners. It will build up into a Complete Modding Course. Don't worry; there are no exams, though there is some homework. It is not intended to aid the transfer of modders from Morrowind nor it is intended for experienced modders, though experienced users may find something of interest here.

The lesson structure will begin by looking at buildings and structure Mods. They will then move on to NPC's, scripting and Quest Writing. Finally they will explore texturing and re-meshing.

It will at times be very simplistic, but as the series develops they will delve deeper into the Construction Set's functions. The series allows you to work from a base knowledge of zero.

So if you've never modded before and feel inspired then join me.

Basic NPC Creation Tutorial

Featured March 10, 2006 through July 4, 2007

The NPC properties window

For this tutorial, let's create a special boss NPC for Creepy Cave tutorial dungeon. As such, load up the cell CreepyCave02 we created and delete "LL1BanditBossLvl100".

If you didn't complete the tutorial; don't worry, the dungeon from the tutorial just happens to have a boss chamber we're re-using.

It's often useful to use existing NPC's as templates when creating new ones. For this example, let's look in our Object Window under NPCs and select "BanditBossFemale1". Double click the entry to open her properties tab.

Important: Before doing anything, change her ID to something unique. This way we avoid accidentally saving our changes to the existing NPC. When you hit 'OK' after changing the ID, you'll be prompted to either rename the existing object or create a new one.

Featured Starter Content

Modding Terminology

This article explains the fundamentals of how mods work. It is somewhat lengthy, and somewhat technical, but it is absolutely critical that a modder understands these concepts! Failure to understand the distinctions and explanations in this article can very easily turn a mod into a buggy mess. It is therefore highly recommended that you read this article in its entirety, and continue reading it until you understand it.

Modding using the TESCS means creating and editing module files (i.e. esp and esm files). There are other ways to "mod" (create/edit resource -- mesh, texture, sound, speech -- files; edit ini and xml files, etc.), but here we'll just be talking about module file editing.

Module files are collections of records. Different types of records define different types of things...

Featured AI Content

Basic NPC Patrols Tutorial

Patrols can be a tremendous boon when trying to make an area feel more lifelike. This tutorial will share a technique for quickly creating a very basic two-point ("ping-pong") patrol and getting it in-game. The user should have a basic understanding of NPC, package, and pathgrid editing with the CS.

The very first thing we want to do is create an NPC to put these packages on. Open the NPC "BanditMeleeMale2" and give it the new ID "MyPatrolTemplate01". More on why we chose this ID later.

Open the AI panel on this new NPC. We can delete the standard bandit packages, but it's a good practice to leave a basic wander at the bottom of every NPC's package stack as a failsafe. Go ahead and remove BanditSleep4x4 and BanditGruntWanderExterior now.

Featured Animation Content

Basic Animation Tutorial

File:AnimGuide Fig 1 Branch Overview.gif
Fig. 1: Typical view on a simple animation's block tree.

This guide aims at enabling modders to create very simple animated objects by applying pre-assembled basic animation files. Furthermore these animation files may be customized to allow for a multitude of more complex animations.

This might especially be geared towards modders who don't have access to or knowledge about using 3D applications (such as 3D Studio Max) to create and export animations.

Basic knowledge about animations and about using NifSkope is required though.

Anatomy of Animations

An animation sequence that's embedded into a .nif file is composed of characteristic block structures (see Fig. 1).
The following is a list of brief descriptions about the most common elements.

Featured Building and Editing Content

Using Kits and Navigating the Render Window

TESIV dungeons are assembled using modular kits created by artists. A typical kit consists of a variety of walls, halls, and other structural elements that snap together seamlessly. For this dungeon, we're going to use Istvan Pely's Cave kit. We're now ready to begin using the Object Window. This window is the toolbox from which we'll pull all the monsters, architecture, objects, and just about anything else we need while building with the CS. To access the Cave kit, expand the Object Window list as shown in the image.

Notice the list of objects now filling the right field of the Object Window. This is the cave kit. There are two important things to point out about how these objects are named.

Featured Modeling Content

Creature Meshes 101

While I still played Oblivion, I always wished for more creatures, more simple animal life for Oblivion, because, you see, the bears and slaughterfish and eight other animals don't seem to be quite enough to fill a world this large.

So I started out to follow CuteUnits call for more sealife, and tried to educate myself on the creation of new creatures for Oblivion. About 60 hours later, and endless gnawing on the tools, and howling with frustration, and much gnashing of teeth, and pestering people on the forum, I managed to get my first model into the game.

While I learned as much in such a short time as I haven't for years, I would rather have had a simple "click here, then there"-style-guide to follow, to get me started. This guide is meant as such a guide, designed to help you getting started.

Be warned though on two accounts, first: Learning all this is not easy, there are seldomly quick successes to be had. You need to take your time, play with things. Second: When you continue to explore the guts of NIF and meshes and materials, there's much trouble on your way. You need to be persistent. No tutorial can teach you this.

I'm of course standing on the shoulders of giants. Few things you find in here are actually my own.

That said, let's delve right in.

Featured Quest Content

A beginner's guide, lesson 6 - Quest Dialogue

Well, we come to it at last. It is time for us to begin to create our own quest, to design our own NPC’s, and to write our own scripts. Of course it’s ridiculous to suggest that these tutorials alone will teach you everything you need to know. However, I hope by the time you finish the next few lessons you will be more comfortable with the key skills needed to create your own great works. The exemplar quest that I am using is not intended as an example of ‘Good Practice’. I have designed it. to illustrate techniques, not good quest writing. The actual details of this quest are fairly unimportant. What matters are the techniques we are using?

Featured Scripting Content

My Second Script

File:Scripttut2 testing2.JPG
The message box we wrote

While the My First Script tutorial is a good first taste of scripting for Oblivion, it does not appreciably demonstrate what the scripting language in Oblivion can do. It is a wonderful introduction for those who have never seen a programming or scripting language before, but a more in-depth tutorial would be helpful to further introduce modders to this amazing resource.

This tutorial has been largely adapted from GhanBuriGhan's excellent Morrowind Scripting for Dummies; all credit goes to GhanBuriGhan for his fantastic work on the original.

This tutorial is meant to be a more complete introduction to scripting for Oblivion than the My First Script tutorial, and assumes that the reader is already familiar with My First Script. If you do not understand the main points of that tutorial, you may find yourself in over your head here. If you're comfortable with My First Script, though, let's begin scripting!

Start Your Mod

The aim of this tutorial is to teach modders how to make their mods start the next time the player loads a save file with the mod activated. The method described is similar to the way that every official mod in integrated into the game, thus creating a more professional feel to your mod.

The majority of mods I have downloaded require the player to:

  • use console commands to get the items or spells
  • require the player to find an item only identified in the read me file

By the end of this tutorial you should be able to make a mod that:

  • Activates the next time you play with a new or existing character
  • Informs the player in the game where to go instead of relying on the read me files in the mod, thus creating a better role-play environment.

Featured Texturing Content

Creating Detailed Normal Maps

You need to create a Normal Map first and foremost because if you don't, your texture wouldn't reflect light and therefor appear black ingame. On the other hand, there is an even better reason why you want to do one too. Normal Maps are designed to make an object look much more detailed than it actually is. On basis of the lighting and the stored information of the file a congruous surface is simulated. That means, that you can stay in front of a completely flat stone wall that looks like it has an uneven and rocky surface, just due to the Normal Map.

Not all textures have a Normal Map, just that ones that are rendered ingame such as tables, books, clothes, etc. Icons, book images, menus and whatnot aren't rendered ingame and therefor don't need one. The Normal Map is named like the texture itself, with the exception that _n is attached to its file name.

You can have an endless amount of textures relating to one Normal Map. Example: You have a Normal Map and two textures. The Normal Map is called normal_n.dds and the two texture files normal_tex01.dds and normal_tex02.dds. The game will relate both textures to the correct Normal Map, because the letters behind the underscores will be ignored. That's why you should avoid naming your texture something like my_uber_sword_texture.dds.

And why is the Normal Map's detail important? Because it depends on the Normal Map how uneven and rocky your stone texture looks ingame. Less detail for the Normal Map means less detail for the texture itself.

Other Featured Content

Oblivion Mods FAQ

Featured on the Official Elder Scrolls Forums from August 4, 2006 through Present

This FAQ is primarily aimed at mod users rather than mod makers, but as such it addresses a lot of basic issues about how users will play a mod, and thus serves as a good introduction to mods in general.

This FAQ is intended to be a living document, so I frequently update parts of it and add new material. If you're trying to find information about Oblivion mods or mod-making, it's worth checking here to see if I've added something about it.

What are mods?

What are mods? Are they the same as plug-ins, patches, or expansions? What do they do? Will they mess up my game? What else do I need to know before using them or making them?

Mods are modifications of the original game.

The terms "mod" and "plug-in" are interchangeable (in other words: yes, they're the same). Patches and expansions are not the same, however. Patches are official files intended to correct errors in the original game, and expansions add official content to the game.

Some mods add content (such as new weapons, NPCs, quests, clothing, faces, buildings, etc.), and others seek to balance issues in the original game, such as making items or NPCs either more or less powerful. Still others seek to improve upon what was already in the game in various other ways.