Jump to content
Spectral Dragon

Level Design Complete (Assumes no Experience)

Recommended Posts

Hello Members! I apologize for spamming the first few pages with reserved posts but it's the only real way to implement a proper index on a forum. It is my hope that this becomes an asset rather than an annoyance.

Index:

  1. Introduction (You are here :) )

Introduction:

:excl: Some initial points: This tutorial is one of the only tutorials online that assumes you know absolutely nothing about modding, the creation kit, or level design. This tutorial assumes you wish to create epic content from the get-go without having to trudge through three months worth of finding tutorials online, and that you don't wish to take baby-steps to learning the creation kit, and this tutorial finally assumes that you wish to work on YOUR work, not a recreation of what I am going to be presenting here. Finally, this tutorial does not cover modding topics which cover 3D asset creation or editing outside the bounds of the creation kit.

:excl: This tutorial Assumes you are following along in the Creation kit, even if you are creating something different to what is shown. (Very Important!)

This tutorial was initially aimed at new recruits for Beyond Skyrim, however as this is a complete tutorial I figured it would be best placed here where everyone can benefit from it. For those of you who are Beyond Skyrim Members this entire tutorial is aimed at you, the level designer. For those of you who are reading this tutorial just to learn welcome! You will still find this tutorial very much to your benefit and I hope you make excellent use of the information.

As this tutorial is a complete tutorial, it is my hope that modders of all levels of experience will gain something from this, and that if I am missing a helpful hint or tip that you wish added to the tutorial you please let me know either via PM or in this thread. I am obviously going to miss some helpful tips so it would be useful to get some tips from other modders into this tutorial.

So, what is the Creation Kit?

The Creation Kit is a less powerful version of the tool Bethesda themselves used to create The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Bethesda was kind enough to provide us with this SDK (Software Development Kit,) so that we may legally make Mods for personal and free use. In laymens terms it is an interface for making content (or changing content,) for games. It's what this guide covers the use of.

Please note that it is illegal to make mods for profit under Bethesda's Terms of Service for use of the Creation Kit. (It is also illegal to port things between Games: Doesn't matter if it's a bethesda game or not. Yes, this includes Witcher Assets, as the Witcher Parent Company has since revoked this privilege (And yes it is your job as a modder to check this before you use these assets). Free to use Assets however are perfectly fine as explained later.) However, don't let this stuff scare you, you are perfectly fine so long as you use free to use assets, use only assets from the game you are currently modding, or have explicit permission to use another user's custom assets (Items listed as modders resources can be used with credit to the author.)

So, what is a mod?

In basic terms a mod is a fan made file or set of files that change the game in some way. This can be as simple as a Cabbage in a Basket (rip) to something like filling out the rest of a continent (Beyond Skyrim) to adding content the developers originally wanted to add but didn't have time (Cutting Room Floor for Skyrim, or another example from another game would be The Lost Content Mod for Knights of The Old Republic 2.)

Mods can be made in any number of ways, they are not always made with an SDK like the Creation Kit. The most common mods are simple texture replacers (which this article does not cover.) This article will cover modding content for the game, with a primary focus on large mods which add levels to explore.

(German Translation by Ysolda)

Hallo Projektteilnehmer!
Ich entschuldige mich für das Belegen der ersten paar Seiten mit diesen reservierten Beiträgen, aber es ist der einzige Weg, um ein vernüftiges Inhaltsverzeichnis auf solch einem Forum zu realisieren. Ich bin sicher der Nutzen ist größer als diese kleine Unannehmlichkeit.

Inhalt:

  1. Einführung (Diese Seite :) )
Edited by Spectral Dragon
  • reaction_title_1 12

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Creation Kit - Getting Set Up and Started.

Downloading from Steam:

The first step to this whole process is downloading this from Steam. I am not sure if you can download this without a copy of Skyrim or not, but regardless even if you can it will not work unless you have a legal copy of Skyrim installed on your PC.

:excl: Some Modders like to install two versions of Skyrim on their PC - a Playing Version and a Modding Version. The Modding Version is usually a clean Vanilla Install with all the DLC's. This guide will not cover installing two versions of the game at this time, however it should be easy enough for users thinking of modding the game. The reason this is useful is because you can see what your mod looks like with the vanilla game before you use visual overhauls or ENB's. It is also useful for keeping track of which files you are actually using. Most importantly, it is useful to prevent crashes caused by incompatibilities with other mods while testing your mod in game.

  1. Open the Steam Client
  2. Go into Online Mode if you aren't already in it.
  3. In the Libraries Tab open Tools
  4. Double Click on the "Creation Kit."
  5. Let that install

gallery_4900_312_180020.png

Changing your .INI files

Now, if you want to use DLC Content, you need an edited creationkit.ini file. Don't worry, I made it easy for you: 

  1. Download this file
  2. Place the file in your default Skyrim Root Directory (Steam/Steamapps/common/skyrim)
  3. Overwrite

So what does this allow you to do? By default the creation kit isn't set to use DLC content, what the above file does is tell the creation kit to go ahead and use it. Now, along with that fix I added something called the Floating Grass bug fix to that file specifically for the creation kit. Basically it fixes Floating grass when you edit Skyrim's Landmass.

The last thing you can do if you want is to allow the creation kit to open two instances of itself. By default, you cannot. In the above linked file, there is a version of the skyrimeditor.ini file that allows you to do this. I only recommend this for people who have mid-level computers or higher.

Edited by Spectral Dragon
  • reaction_title_1 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Initial Set up for Beyond Skyrim - Git and Required Files

Beyond Skyrim members who wish to work on Beyond Skyrim have a few extra steps:

Git

You will need to install Git to grab the necessary files for working on Beyond Skyrim. This is beyond the scope of this guide and I do not intend to reinvent the wheel, so use Eldarie's wonderful tutorial

I am going to add to and reiterate a few points to Eldarie's posts:

  1. You want to have Git set up to download and upload somewhere other then where your skyrim directory is.
  2. Once you have downloaded the files you need to treat them like a normal mod: Either zip them up and use your preferred installer or just copy them into your Skyrim Directory.
  3. Only Contact Eldarie to be added to the Git if you are on the High Rock Team. Otherwise contact the lead for the team you are in.
  4. If you are having trouble setting up Git, contact your team lead and they will be happy to help!

Required Files

Each Province will have it's own required files, however all provinces share these same files:

  1. BSAssets (You get this from the Git Repository)
  2. BSTamriel (You get this from )
  3. BSAssets LOD (As of this Writing the method for developing this is being decided.)

For your individual Province Files:

  1. Refer to any beginner guide threads
  2. Grab your province - specific files from the Git
  3. Some provinces have sub-projects such as Cyrodil's Bruma Release, they have special instructions for working on these projects.

It is important to not ignore the next section of this guide for Beyond Skyrim Level Designers!

Edited by Spectral Dragon
  • reaction_title_1 8

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Initial Set-Up for Any Project and Intro to the Creation Kit

 

Opening the Creation Kit and Starting a new Project

The only reason I am writing this section is because of some of the strange sorcery involved in simply opening the creation kit. It likes to throw errors at you a lot during certain steps of the process. This will happen regardless of what you do and if you did everything correctly the errors it throws at you are nothing to worry about.

This section will outline best practices for making a new mod file. It is suggested you do this for every single new file for compatibility with other mods and to flat out make sure your mod works. Before we open a new file Open either Boss or Loot, and reorder your mods. (The use of Boss and Loot is beyond the scope of this guide: A quick Google search will yield what these are and what they do.)

Now, open the creation kit and you will see it takes a minute to initialize, this is perfectly normal (less time the better your CPU is.) Once you are able to do something:

  1. Go to file
  2. Select "Data"
  3. The next screen wants to know what "Master Files" you want to use for your project. Beyond Skyrim Members will have documentation for each of their provinces in their own Forum Section and should look there for instructions on what to select. Otherwise, if you want to mod just vanilla Skyrim without using DLC assets, select "Skyrim" and "Update." If you want to use DLC content select the ones you want to use. If you are wanting to Modify another users mod select that mod and whatever mods that mod is dependent on (more on dependencies later in this post.)
  4. Select "Ok"
  5. Wait for this to load up. During this process you are going to run into the multitude of errors I warned you about earlier. Select "Yes to all" for all of them. If you have other mods at this stage some errors may require you to hit "Retry."
  6. Once loaded, Save your file, exit the Creation Kit (It cannot be open for the next several steps!).
  7. Download the file located here: TES5Edit
  8. Install the program above in a directory of your choice. If you are going to be modding a lot I suggest you make a shortcut to it.
  9. Open the above program, a list will pop up. right click on it, select "none"
  10. Select your mod, and nothing else. Hit ok.
  11. Wait for that to load. It will take a bit, be patient.
  12. Once loaded, right click on your file, and select "Apply Filter for Cleaning."
  13. Once that is done, right click on your file, and select "Remove Identical to Master Records."
  14. It will prompt you with a slightly scary "are you sure?" wait for the yes option to be selectable, then hit it.
  15. Right click your file again, select "Undelete and Disable References."
  16. Once that is done, close out TES5Edit. If it asks you to save your file, do so. Sometimes it will at this stage, sometimes it won't. It's somewhat random.
  17. Open the Creation Kit again. Wait for it to load, then select "File" then "Data."
  18. Select your file. At the bottom, hit "Make Active File" then "Ok."
  19. Hit Yes to all again like above. Once your file is loaded you can proceed to the next part of this tutorial.

The above seems complicated, but it really isn't. All your doing is opening the creation kit, making a new blank file, making sure your blank file is clean of "dirty" edits, and loading it back up again to work on content.

Dirty Edits

Dirty edits are edits in the file that should not be there, unfortunately the Creation Kit is a buggy system which makes unwanted changes to files even if the author touched nothing in the vanilla game. For this reason you need to repeat steps 9-16 every time you are about to finish modding for the day. The reason I suggest doing this every time is to have a clean test instance when you go to test your file in the game.

Dirty edits are a modders bane, and not only for the modder who has the edits, but for the individual who has to troubleshoot why certain mods aren't working or, worse yet, why the game simply will not start. A dirty edit can cause mods to not work properly together, can cause severe errors resulting in the crashing of the game, or can cause your own mod to function incorrectly. All of these must be avoided, so it is always best to clean your mod as much as possible.

Now, currently the program above is the only real solution for cleaning your mods, although there is supposedly a way to get the creation kit to do it however I could never get this method to work myself. There is also the issue of "false" dirty edits in your mod, and this occurs when you make new keywords in your mod. For this reason, clean your mod before you make any new keywords, then make the keywords one of the last things you do and open up your file in TES5Edit and manually clean your mods. There will be a section on cleaning your mods manually later in this tutorial.

Opening your File Again

Steps 17-19 above show you how to open your file again once you quit for the day. Remember to always make your mod the active file or you won't be able to save your work to your original file.

Dependencies

A Dependency is what the file needs to pull from for assets and information. This includes:

  1. Files that your mod pull assets from
  2. Files that your mod is editing

It is important to make sure your dependencies are in the correct order for compatibility, and this is especially true for Beyond Skyrim. Ordering your files using Boss or Loot before making a new file is essential as trying to rearrange these can be a chore. I may add a section for rearranging your dependencies at a later date in this guide.

Master Files and their Uses

If you have followed the instructions above you may notice that the extension for mod files is "*.esp." You may also have noticed that Skyrim and it's DLC content are "*.esm" extension files, and if you have modded your game you may notice that some games use this extension as well. In Laymens terms the difference between the two files is this: A esm has lower priority than a esp in terms of what it overwrites, and esp's will overwrite everything that they are below in the mod order. ESM files are more compatible and are used for mods that make sweeping changes to the game which have a high chance of compatibility Issues.

Manually Cleaning your Files with TES5Edit

Compatibility: What it is and Best Practice

Creation Kit Layout

Alternate Tutorials:

Now we will go over some Basics of the Creation Kit layout, so that when I say something like "....in the Object Window....." you know what I am talking about. First up are the three windows you see automatically on entering the creation kit. They work just like a window in the Windows operating system. Here is a screenshot of all three of them:

gallery_4900_312_129023.png

You may notice I have mine in a custom layout. This is so I can view additional details in each window, such as the full name of an object or view more of my scene in the Render Window. I will go over what these are and a bit of how they are used: 

  1. Object Window - This window is used to select objects to drag into the Render Window, as well as listing editable items that aren't actually used in the Render Window. Anytime you use the Creation Kit you are going to be working with this window. It has a search function up top so you can find objects if you know their FORMID (which is a term used by programers meaning "what the program I am using calls the item.") It also has a tree based sorting system which is first divided into type of object, then broken down into folder structure, and finally listed in alpha-numerical order for each item.
  2. Cell View Window - This window is a list of editable cells. A cell is a space in the game. There is a list of worldspaces to the top and left (a worldspace is a group of cells,) the biggest being Tamriel which covers all of the main exterior for Skyrim, and the second biggest being Interiors, which covers all your interior cells including dungeons. To the lift is the actual list of cells, and to the right is a list of items inside the cell you have selected.
  3. Render Window - As a Level Designer, you will need to get very familiar with this window, as this is where you will do the majority of your work. This is a "What You See Is What You Get" (WYSIWYG) interface window. Here you place objects, arrange them how you want, and set them up to work with each other to make your actual playable space, or where your character moves around in game.

Naming Conventions in the Object Window and Previewing Objects

:excl: I am debating on making this section a full Naming convention guide, listing all of the common conventions. If I decide to do this it should help explain the conventions in full. 

Now, you may notice that some of these pieces in the object window have weird looking names. There is actually a method to this madness, called a naming convention, which is used to tell the level designer what a piece is at a glance. It takes a bit to get used to, but in essence information is given based on 2-4 letters in the naming convention. A capital letter or set of capital letters signifies the start of the next set in the convention. Let me give you an example:

hrCat1Way

  • hr denotes it's part of the assets specific to High Rock. Other Provinces should not use it.
  • Cat means it's part of the Catacomb set.
  • 1Way tells me this is part of a hall, and this it goes straight.

Now a more complicated example: CaveGBalconyShaftBridge01MossTEMP

  • Cave this is part of the cave set
  • G this is part of the Green Cave set, specifically (we call this a subset most of the time.)
  • Balcony pretty straightforward here, this is a balcony meant to be set along a wall.
  • Shaft This tells me this piece is meant to go with the shaft pieces, so it's a balcony meant for the cave shafts.
  • Bridge This tells me this piece is meant to connect two opposing walls or in this case, bridge two sides of a shaft.
  • 01 the first piece like this in the set.
  • Moss This tells me that something called a Directional Material (More often called a Shader) was used on this piece, specifically the Moss one. More on Shaders later.
  • TEMP This tells me this piece was meant as a stand-in piece and that it potentially wasn't finished. If you see TEMP, TEST, or anything that may seem to suggest the piece was a placeholder or a test check it carefully before using it.

This gives you a basic idea of how the naming conventions work: it is there to help level designers know what kind of piece it is at a glance.

:excl:  At any time you can right click on an object in the Object Window, and select "Preview," this will open a new window called the preview window. By default you will see the object resting on a ground plane, to disable the ground plane un-check the "On" checkbox under the ground plane section.

Navigating The Render Window and A List of Common Render Window Commands

There are a few things about the render window which confuses people. First of, it's simulating a 3D Environment, so navigating it requires a few extra steps that most people are not used to:

  • Turning your view: hold down shift and move your mouse button.
  • Pan (move without turning): Hold down the middle mouse button and move your mouse. Alternatively hold down the spacebar and move your mouse.
  • Revert to top View of selected object: When you have a object or several objects selected, you can press the "T" Key to center the object in the middle of the screen and view it from the top.
  • Scroll in and out: use your middle mouse button wheel to do this.
  • Refresh The Render Window: This is done with the F5 Key.
  • View all the Render Window Hotkeys in the Creation Kit: this is done by Selecting "View" in the Creation Kit Drop Down Menu's up top, and selecting "Render Window Hotkeys."
  • Selecting Multiple Objects: hold the CTRL button. Alternatively hold down the left mouse button and drag over your selection, but make sure nothing you don't want selected is inside that box because it will select everything in that box, including things behind your current selection.

Here is a list of Common Hotkey Commands:

  • Drop an Item to the Floor: With the item Selected, hit the "F" key. Note that if the item is clipping with another item or is not above another item this will not work as intended.
  • Show/Hide Markers: hit the "M" key.
  • Hide the selected Object(s): use the "1" key, hitting it once will make the item transparent, hitting it again will hide the object completely.
  • Un-hide all hidden objects: Alt + 1 will un-hide everything that is hidden.
  • Again, these hotkeys can be found under "View," then "Render Window Hotkeys."

Render Window: Working with Gizmos

Yes, gizmos is a technical term in the creation kit! They are objects overlaid onto an object you are working on which allow you to transform or move them in some way. The three that the creation kit uses are these:

gallery_4900_312_105508.png

Here is how to use and bring up these tools:

  • Move/Translate Gizmo: To bring this up, select the object(s) you want to move and type "E". Each arrow can be then grabbed to limit the direction an object can move to only that axis (both back and forth) The blue arrow is the Z axis, the Red is the X axis, and the green is the Y axis.
  • Rotate Gizmo: This allows you to rotate an object in place. Each color corresponds to the axis you can rotate the object around. Just like for Move and Scale, Red is the X axis, Blue is the Z axis, and Green is the Y axis.
  • Scale Gizmo: This allows you to scale an object. If you are working with a mesh, you can only scale something uniformly, however when we work with roombounds and other markers that are not meshes you can scale one side of the marker. Just like with the Move and Scale Gizmo's Red is the X axis, Blue is the Z axis, and Green is the Y axis.

During this entire process, you can change your grid from global, which is set to the world, or local, which is based on the objects orientation. This is done by pressing G to switch between the two. You cannot use more than one gizmo at a time, and normal object manipulation (listed below,) while a gizmo is active doesn't work in most cases.

Manipulating Object in the Render Window Without Gizmos

You can move and manipulate objects without gizmos. This is my preferred way to manipulate static objects, however each designers taste in tools will differ. Here is how to do everything you could do with gizmos without the actual gizmos:

  • Move/Translate: simply click and hold your left mouse on an object and move it, which will allow you to move an object along the X and Y axis. To limit your movement to a specific axis hold down Z for the Z axis, X for the X axis, and C for the Y axis.
  • Rotate: using the right mouse button this time, hold it down on a selected object and drag the mouse. By default this will allow you to rotate an object along the Z axis. To pick a specific axis, hold down Z for the Z axis, X for the X axis, and C for the Y axis.
  • Scale: For meshes, this is my preferred method of scaling, hold down S and the left mouse button over a selected object and drag the mouse to scale. Uniform scaling only with this method.
Edited by Spectral Dragon
  • reaction_title_1 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dungeon Layout - Both Interior and Exterior Cells

 

Interior Cell Setup

Setting up an Interior Cell is easy, especially compared to setting up an Exterior one:

gallery_4900_312_106877.png

  1. Once the Creation Kit is open, go to the Cell View Window.
  2. Select a Cell, preferably one with very little in it. "aaaMarkers" is a nice one for this purpose.
  3. Right click the cell and select "Duplicate Cell." It will be named the same as the cell you duplicated except it will have "DUPLICATE" or "DUPLICATE01" at the end of the title.
  4. Select your duplicated cell, and hit the "F2" key. You can now rename your cell, Name it something appropriate. (Beyond Skyrim modders will need to follow the rules on naming conventions for their province.)
  5. Load your duplicated cell by double clicking on it.
  6. To the right in the Cell View Window is the list of objects in your cell as shown in "Creation Kit Layout," select the first item, scroll all the way down, hold down shift, select the last item, and release shift.
  7. Press the "Del" key. You may get error messages, this is normal. Usually you hit "Yes" for each one.
  8. Once that is done, select the cell above your cell, then select your cell again. The list of items in your cell should be refreshed. (There is a bug in the creation kit where the list won't refresh on some PC's until you select another cell.)
  9. If the list is not empty, repeat steps 6-8 until it is.
  10. Once the list is empty the cell is ready.

Worldspace Setup

:excl: This information is potentially old, it will be reviewed in the next few days and brought up to date with my current knowledge. Further, Pictures will be added as the my original article hosted on Nexus didn't have them.

In the creation kit, exteriors are divided into world spaces, the biggest being "Tamriel," (which is the outdoor expanse of Skyrim.) Unlike interior cells you cannot edit or make new world spaces from either the object window or the cell view window.

In the main creation kit window, you will see "File, Edit, World," and so on. Click on "World," and in the drop-down menu click on "World Spaces."

A large window will pop up showing all of the world spaces. From here you have two options for creating a new world space:

  • Option one: Right click anywhere on the list and hit "New"
  • Option Two: Right click on a world space and hit "Duplicate."

The difference between the two is minimal, if you click new a window will pop up, type in something you will remember and which is not the same identity as anything else in the creation kit. What you are typing is a way for the game and the creation kit to identify the world space. Note this is not the name of your worldspace in game, we will get to that later.

If you hit duplicate, you are going to want to select it and change the FormID into whatever you want it to be, again something that isn't already used by the creation kit.

:excl:  making your FormID and worldspace name similar will allow you to find it easier if you exit the creation kit and come back to your mod later.

You have a basic worldspace, and at this point it might be wise to click ok so that the creation kit will register that you have a new world space in the cell view and render window.

In the cell view window you can click on the drop-down menu and select your worldspace. Notice there is a single cell called "Wilderness." For those of you who are making a large worldspace (like myself.) it is worth noting that the cell coordinates for this cell is 0,0. Knowing which coordinates each cell is becomes useful as you go along. If you are making a small world this isn't as useful.

It is my suggestion to rename your original cell before doing anything else. Select it by clicking on it a single time, then press F2. If you have specific plans for this cell then name it something appropriate, but for now calling it "coccell" will do, as you can always rename it later. (Note that is might be a good idea to name this to something appropriate before linking it to any interior cells later on.)

Now you can double click the cell to load it into the render window. You will see either a bunch of water or a lot of land. If you clicked new it will be water, if you duplicated another world it could be either.

Read this before you do anything else: If you look around in the render window, and you happen to go to another cell, the creation kit will automatically create a new cell for you. Don't panic though, any unedited cells will be dropped at the end of your session in the creation kit.

So, we have a bunch of land and a bunch of water. One is on top of the other. We can now change this to suit our needs. Click on World => Worldspace again. Select your world. In this window you see a bunch of options. This Link will explain what those options do. I will go over over these briefly as well.

  • Name: This is the actual, in game name of your worldspace. If you want your doors that link to this worldspace to reflect where you are going, you need to fill this in.
  • Parent Worldspace: Select "None" if you want to optimize your worldspace the way you want it, or, if you know of a worldspace that looks and feels the way you are going to want this worldspace to look, select that one.

Under the "sharable data" box we have:

  • Use LOD data, use Land Data, Use....... all of these boxes are above their corresponding, manual input options. If you have anything other than "None" selected in "Parent Worldspace," you have the option to import that data into your own worldspace.
  • LOD Water Height: Why this option is here I don't know, but this is the height any long distance water is going to be viewed at.
  • LOD Water Type: This is what your water is going to look like at a distance.
  • Default Land Height: the height of your default land. This is how high it is before you edit it in the render window.
  • Default Water Height: Same as above only for water. No, there is no way to remove the water permanently that I know of.
  • Water: The type of water when viewed up close.
  • Climate: Controls what you see in the sky and the weather that occurs in your world space. Select one appropriate for it's location and climate. I would suggest either Skyrim or Default.
  • Map Stuff: I haven't played with this yet, but this basically allows you to upload your own map and gives the option for cloud formations over it.

The rest of these options are either self-explanatory or advanced options which I am not familiar with. For now, select your music, and if you only want the world space to be so large, click fixed dimensions. If your worldspace is small, click small world to help with loading.

Once you have the world the way you want it click ok. Note that sometimes the creation kit will not update itself in the render window. If this happens try selecting the render window and hit F5. If that still does not work, you must save your mod and reload it in the creation kit.

:excl: if you are creating an island it is best to have your water level above land, if you are creating a landmass with no water it is best to lower the water to the point where it will never affect what you do in the creation kit. What I like to do is lower the water by about 50 to 200 below the land so that I can make lakes. If you want to do lakes and rivers you might want to lower it a bit lower as you want your river to run into a lake rather than be engulfed by it.

In the cell view window lets load up the space you renamed earlier and get to editing landmass.

Interior Cell Layout and Placing the Shell

Alternate Tutorials:

  1. Creation Kit Wiki: Dungeon Layout note that there are two parts to this, I am linking to the first part.
  2. TESA: Creation Kit Basics 1

Getting Started

 

Once you have your cell ready, you can start placing objects in it. The best place to start is with the "shell" of the dungeon which is basically the walkable and viewable space. Many people get stuck on where to start in such dungeons, and I always suggest starting at the entrance to a dungeon. As well, some people like to plan out their dungeons on paper, while others (like myself,) will plan out a general idea of a place and make it up as they go along, and still others ad-hock the entire process. It really depends on the individual what is best for you: this is considered art, and there is no single way to approach it.

For a beginner, my suggestion is to plan out the generalized dungeon idea and work on the specifics as you go. This will allow you to make changes as you go and alter plans if you need to do so. A beginner may not necessarily know that you can't make a good looking spiral staircase with the available pieces, for example, or that you cannot have those 6 shadow lights in the same room (more on that topic later.)

So, to get our entrance started we need an appropriate entrance piece. Fortunately they are easy enough to find. Figure out what tile-set(s) you will be using, and in the object window you should be able to find any appropriate dungeon sets in World Objects => Statics => Dungeons (Beyond Skyrim Members may have to look in a different directory, as an example I will be using World Objects => Statics => BSHighRock => Catacombs.) Given what is covered in naming conventions in the above post, you can easily spot the static entrance objects: they will be marked Ent or Entrance. You could also use Exit pieces for this as well.

Once you find an appropriate piece you should preview it by right clicking it's name in the Object Window and hitting "Preview," as described in the "Naming Conventions in the Object Window," section of the post above. Then check to make sure you are in the correct cell by looking at the name of the cell the render window is loading. If it's a piece you like, go ahead and drag it into the Render Window. All objects can be place in the render window this way, with only a few exceptions such as lighting templates.

Since this cell was duplicated, we need to check to make sure our piece is close to the center of the cell. There are performance reasons for this which weren't fully explained by Bethesda, however it's best practice to do this anyway. Right click on the object, and select "Edit." This brings up the Reference Window, and you will notice many tabs inside this window, the one we want is all the way to the left and called "3D Data." Once you have this tab, check the left side under "position" to see if everything there is set to zero. If it is not, set it manually by left clicking and editing the numbers with the keyboard, then hitting ok when done.

The Grid

That done, I want to explain what "the grid" is. It's basically an invisible set of lines and coordinates. If you have ever done geometry in school, then this will start to quickly make sense, as it is set up the same way any grid was in most schools. You have 3 "Axis," which are directions. These are called Z for up and down, X for left and right, and Y for forward and Backward by default. If you change your view, these are going to change obviously.

The best way to explain the grid is honestly to show you (which is why it is in this section rather than in the "Navigating the Creation Kit" section.) Select another object with looks like fits in some way with the object you just placed, and drag that in. This time instead of manually entering the coordinates we are going to use the mouse to drag the object over to the other object. Before we do that, however, lets make sure our grid is actually on. Right click anywhere in the render window, and select "Render Window Properties," and click on the "Movement" tab.

gallery_4900_312_18868.png

Make sure the "Snap to Grid" and "Snap to Angle" check-boxes are selected. In the boxes next to each, put "128" for Snap to Grid and "45" respectively. Hit apply, then close, then try to move your newly placed object. You will notice it moves in increments now, instead of moving smoothly. This is what the grid does, it sets up increments for you to use so you can easily line up objects. Try to line up the two objects in the manner you want. If they match perfectly you are good to go, if they don't try rotating the second one until it does or, select another object from the same tile-set.

Now, I will explain in a bit more detail than most other tutorials how you can configure "The Grid" to meet your needs. When I told you to put "128" for snap to grid, basically what you did when you put that in was told the creation kit how big you want each piece of the grid to be. You can actually make this number anything you want, however I would limit your choices to 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, and 256. The reason for this is if you work with any other number, it likely won't play well with the pieces, and that is because they are designed with the default way the grid is set up (128 units) in mind. You may notice that I made each number double the previous one: this is by design, and ensures that we are staying on some form of the 128 unit grid.

You can do the same thing with rotation too: half of 45 is 22.5, and 22.5 works quite well in certain situations. I have not been in a situation where I had to use low numbers for rotation, however in theory it can be useful to play with this.

Duplicating Objects

 

Very often you will run into a situation where you need the same object used multiple times. It is faster and more convenient usually to simply duplicate the object you need. There are several ways to do this, but the fastest way is to select the object in the render window and use the shortcut keys for duplicating objects (CTRL + D), however for those of us who like to use the mouse for everything you can right click on the object you want to duplicate and select "duplicate." The end result is the same, the object will be directly stacked on top of the object you duplicated and you will have to move it off it's counterpart.

:excl: Take care not to leave a duplicated object on it's original: this will cause one of the big no-no's of level design which is flickering meshes. The creation kit will sometimes warn you when you try to save your file that a duplicate is directly on top of it's original, when this happens you can find it by moving your view around in the creation kit until you see a flickering mesh.

You can also duplicate multiple objects at once by holding down the CTRL button and selecting each mesh, or by holding down the left mouse button over a gray area and dragging it over the objects you want to select. Be careful when box-selecting however as you can easily select objects you don't want to select accidentally.

:excl: Be careful when duplicating: you can create an environment that repeats itself very easily this way and this is another of the big no-no's for level design! The next section will help fix this problem.

 

Find and Replace

 

Concealing Objects

 

Using the Correct Pieces

 

Working Off the Grid

 

Using Multiple Kits

 

Testing In-Game

 

What to Absolutely Avoid for an immersive Dungeon

Edited by Spectral Dragon
  • reaction_title_1 8

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Landscaping Drawing, Texturing and cell edits

Exterior Landmass Editing

:excl: This section comes from an old article I wrote and I have since gained a lot of knowledge in this area. I am putting this here as a placeholder since this knowledge is still valuable but in the next few days I will be editing this to be up to date.

The world is created, now we can get to the fun part of making it look the way we want.

Before we start doing that though, I highly suggest going into the Object window, selecting all, and typing in coc in the filter. Drag and drop the COC Marker that pops up into the render window. This will allow us to test the landmass in game later. (If while editing the landmass you cover the coc marker simply go into the cell view window, select it, hit T once, then hold Z and raise it up. You can raise it up above the floor and hit F to make it drop to the ground.)

Editing landmass is not the same as editing an interior: it's a whole different process which I will explain now.

In the creation kit window you will see a bunch of icons under "file, world," ect. The icon you are looking for shows a landscape, click on that and the landscape editor will show up. (Alternatively you can just select the render window and press the "H" key.) If you hover your mouse over the render window it should be surrounded by a red circle. If there is no red circle make sure "Show Edit Radius" is selected in the Landscape Edit window which popped up a second ago. You can edit the radius of this red circle by adding different numbers into the "edit radius" box and hitting the button next to it.

Now, with your red circle over a piece of land and ONLY show edit radius selected, left click (and hold while dragging) and pull your landmass either up or down. What you will notice is that a pyramid shape will form. If you let go of the mouse it will set the height of the shape. Clicking anywhere on that shape will add another pyramid to the shape.

:excl: To my knowledge, there is no other shape the editor will let you use while raising or lowering your landmass. You can, however, soften the edges later so don't worry about being stuck with blocky pyramids.

Raise or lower a bunch of pyramids and play around with it, you will notice that you can get complex shapes by making pyramids on pyramids.

You will notice that it is rather difficult to make a flat surface this way. I will now show you how to flatten out the top of your new landmass. Click on "Flatten Vertices," and select the height you want your pyramids to flatten out to. Left click and hold down the button, and move the mouse around in the render window. You will notice that your landmass flattens out but stays at that height, and in fact if you go beyond the pyramids into your unedited areas (without lifting your finger off the mouse,) it will raise those areas to those heights as well.

Sometimes, however, we do not want a totally flat mesa and blocky pyramids, Deselect flatten vertices and select soften vertices. This time, you may want to click on the mouse rather than hold it down. Do this on any hard edges you don't want and notice that it rounds them out.

Now, this is all good for a small worldspace that won't take long to build, but there is another tool for those who are in a hurry. Select drawing mode, then hold the mouse down over a landmass and move it around. The longer you hold the mouse in an area the more it will draw up the landmass. By typing in a higher number in the box it will do this faster. If you move your mouse around it will draw up as you go along. Often this is a lot better than simply working with boring blocky pyramids although the pyramids themselves are useful for fine detailing your landmass.

But, once your landmass is where you want it, and then softened up, you have the problem of it being rather bland and lacking in detail. The next section deals in adding texture and grasses, but before that you can go into the game, hit the tilde key (~) (at least thats the key on US keyboards anyway, not sure what it is in other countries). and type in coc coctest (Replace coctest with whatever you named your first cell.)

You will notice that any cells that you have not edited the landmass on will not be set right. Don't worry, the second you change that it will fix itself.

Edited by Spectral Dragon
  • reaction_title_1 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×