DarkRider

CS Basics: Lesson #4

220 posts in this topic

 

 

CS Basics Lesson #4: Refining the Build

 

CS.jpg

 

 

 

Welcome Back, Student!

 

You have come a long way as a modder in a very short time, already you have a good feel for some of the most important modding skills you will ever require! In this lesson we will look at refining our work so far in preparation for a release, tidying up pathing, testing lighting, and cleaning the final product. Modding for you is a bit different from modding for others. When you mod for yourself, it's forgivable if things are a little shoddy in spots, after all who will ever know? When you release a mod you want to make sure it is clean and that it's something others will be interested in playing.

 

Certainly not everyone will enjoy every mod, mod playing is all about preferences and customization, but if you are going to release something you should give some thought to what you're offering potential players. For example, loading a vanilla chest with uber weapons and cheat items then dropping it in the center of the Imperial City is technically modding, but what does it offer? Very little since many players try to balance their games and don't value uber weapons and cheat items spoil the quest experience. Always put in the time and care to develop an idea properly and you will enjoy releasing your work to share with others!

 

Let's finish up, eh?

 

Part I: Interior Lighting

 

As we learned in earlier lessons, the lighting scheme is a blend of ambient lighting, set when you create a new interior cell, and light objects like candles, fires, and bulbs. One of the trickiest aspects of lighting is finding the right balance of these light elements. The game renders light quite a bit differently from the CS and so it's hard to judge in the CS how your scheme looks. So, you want to test and tweak your light schemes to avoid the two ends of the light spectrum; too bright and too dark.

 

In this image you can see the lighting scheme is too bright! In game too many light objects can cause fps lags, it can wash out the colors of your decor, and is not very comfortable to spend any time in.

 

51.jpg

 

In this image, the other extreme is true. Too few light objects create a dark cold setting that is not very homey either. It also makes it difficult for players to display their treasures, since it can't be seen in the dark without a torch!

 

52.jpg

 

This image demonstrates a scheme that is balanced. There are light objects illuminating the primary areas of the house, warmly, but not brightly. There are some shadows to give balance and realism, and it's an overall warm welcome light scheme.

 

53.jpg

 

Finding the right scheme can only be done by going in game and looking at it, take some screenshots, then tweak the light objects in the CS to adjust it. Orange lights tend to be warmer than yellow lights, which should be used with discretion since they can cause more of a green hue in some places.

 

:smarty:Smarty Says: Testing and tweaking is an important part of preparing your mods for release. It allows you to put forward the best work you can! While testing your light schemes you will also want to test the fps rate in your house! Does your camera lag or stutter inside the house? You may need to cut back on the clutter! Some clutter objects like ivy can be particularly hard on fps so go sparingly.

 

Part II: Exterior Pathing

 

Let's return to the exterior of our house to tidy up the exterior pathing!

 

In our interior we used red nodes to make paths inside, but when you flick on the pathgrid switch outside you'll see there are 3 different colors of pathing nodes.

 

54.jpg

 

 

Quote
  • Red Nodes: Red nodes are general nodes, they are the most common nodes you will use as a modder. They are used inside and out to create paths. Red nodes have a middle level priority, NPCs will choose a Red path over an Orange path, but will choose a Blue path over a Red.
     
  • Orange Nodes: Orange nodes are auto gen nodes, meaning the CS generated these nodes automatically. They are only found in exteriors and they are sometimes placed strangely floating above the ground, sometimes with paths going through rocks and such. Orange nodes have the lowest priority.
     
  • Blue Nodes: Blue nodes are priority nodes. These are used to tell NPCs the preferred path they should take. They are mostly used on roads. To make a blue node, hold alt while placing your node. You should use blue nodes sparingly, only for priority paths, and only in exteriors as they don't hold the same preferred value inside. You also do not want to delete blue nodes you find in the exterior, better to move them.

 

 

If you take a look under our house, you'll see some stray orange nodes under our house. Because they are everywhere in the exterior, anytime you edit the exterior you will need to adjust pathing. This could mean raising or lowering nodes to accommodate your landscaping, or removing them altogether to get them out of place they don't belong - like under you house!

 

With pathing toggled off, click on your house and rotate your camera underneath then toggle the pathing back on to spot the little blighters! One at a time, click on each node and tap your delete key to cut it. You want to delete node sparingly, only delete what you have to in order to clean up and make room for your pathing.

 

49.jpg

 

Once the nodes under the house are gone, you need to place some nodes on the platform to show NPCs and creatures, like horses, where they can stand on the platform. You may need to delete a few orange nodes around your footpath too, so you can make a proper pathgrid.

 

50.jpg

 

Be sure to link your new path nodes to any neighboring orange nodes as well! When you are done with your exterior pathing, save!

 

Part III: Cleaning with Gecko

 

Now that we've tidied up our mod in the CS, it's time to clean up any little mistakes we might have made in the modding process. The longer you work on a project the better the chances are that you've made some accidental blunders. Fortunately, there are tools available to modders now that make cleaning a dirty mod a snap!

 

What You Need:

 

 

 

 

 

Quote

Installing Gecko

----------------------------------

 

After extracting the contents of the archive to your chosen place, navigate the TES4: gecko folders and find the TES4Gecko.jar file. This is the application and it needs the latest version of Java to run, so if you don't have that download and install before running the app.

 

Run TES4 Gecko!

 

:smarty:Smarty Says: Make sure you close the CS and your mod before loading it in TES4 Gecko! Also, save a backup copy of your mod to your desktop, in case there's a mistake in the cleaning process!

 

When the program starts, a window will open, this is the main menu for TES4 Gecko. This tool can do a great number of things, but for this tutorial we want to choose Display/Copy.

 

55.jpg

 

Another window will open allowing you to choose the plug-in to display, so select your tutorial mod. When your mod has loaded, you'll have a new window with two main panels. On the left is your mod in all its glory and on the right is the Gecko Clipboard. The clipboard is a handy way to copy elements from a mod to save in a new .esp, but we won't need the clipboard for cleaning.

 

56.jpg

 

Click the + signs next to all the categories in your mod list pane to expand the trees. What we are looking for are yellow indicators telling us that we have changed something vanilla in the game. Naturally, some change will be intentional, but others, are accidents.

 

:smarty:Smarty Says: Anything you changed in a .esp on accident - like a neighboring cell you didn't mean to change - needs to be cleaned out. If you leave it, it's considered a dirty mod. Dirty mods can be a major source of game crashes and conflicts.

 

Under the Cells branch, go ahead and toggle the next series of + signs to open that tree to where you can see the cell names.

 

57.jpg

 

You can see we have quite a bit of yellow in this example. If you look at the first instance, it's a cell called 'Aleswell'. Our modded house is not the Aleswell house, or anywhere in it. This dirty reference was made when I was passing through. It's not necessary for our settlement, and if I keep it and my mod loads before a mod that alters Aleswell on purpose there will be a conflict. So we need to get rid of that reference.

Click on the highest branch relating to Aleswell (not the cells branch or you'll effect all the cells!)

 

58.jpg

 

With the high branch highlighted, click 'toggle ignore' to tell Gecko to ignore this ref in the future we don't want it! So you can see in the next image, the word (Ignore) has appeared next to Aleswell.

 

59.jpg

 

The next two interior cell block down the list are the cell blocks we WANT in the mod so leave them be and look at the next two interior blocks. Like with Aleswell, these are dirty edits so we want to ignore them too, one at a time, click the interior cell block and toggle ignore.

 

60.jpg

 

All the dirty cell refs are ignored, so let's go on down the list!

 

Under containers you can see the custom chest we made is not highlighted, but UH OH! BarrelFoodHigh is! That means we accidentally made changes to the container BarrelFoodHigh and forgot to give it a new ID. That's a dirty edit, so we need to highlight the barrel and toggle ignore.

 

Now we get to the tricky part of mod cleaning. If you made any changes in the exterior of Tamriel then the worldspace Tamriel will always be yellow when you load the plug-in in Gecko. You need to open the branches of the world space branches until you can see all the cells we change plus their children.

 

61.jpg

 

You can clearly see the cells we have touched are highlighted in yellow. When moving your camera around in the exterior it's easy to accidentally load neighboring cells and create dirty records. That is the very reason why it's SO important to name the cells you changed on purpose so you can see clearly, which ones you want to keep and which ones have to go.

One by one, toggle ignore on any exterior cells you didn't mean to change. You also want to toggle ignore on their children, a cell's children appear AFTER the cell in the list, but the children don't say (Ignore) when you toggle them.

 

When you have toggled ignore on all the dirty refs in the mod, click 'save plugin' to save your changes. You will be able to see that all the dirty refs have vanished. That means our work is done, so click Done!

 

62.jpg

 

As Gecko closes, you have finished your hard work at last! You have created a complete house mod of release quality! You fashioned and filled an interior, linked it to a landscaped exterior, and cleaned up after yourself with brilliant results! Well done!

Now that the class is over all that remains is for you to complete your final exam and earn your CS Basics medal!

 

When you're ready, head to CS Basics: Final Exam

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

Credit Challenge: The Aquatic Garden

 

oblivion_002.jpg

 

 

Value: 10pts

 

Part of making a great home whether as a stand alone mod, or as part of a larger mod is the little homey touches inside and out; special features are always appreciated! By now you have learned how to landscape, add statics, scale objects, and make fences, so for this Credit Challenge you need to add an aquatic garden to your tutorial house.

 

C3.jpg

 

Create an aquatic garden in the exterior cell by starting with a sturdy fence and gate. You can added the garden in the water completely or half in the water, half on the shoreline as long as it's within our same exterior cell.

 

Clutter your aquatic garden using Statics and Flora

 

To build your aquatic garden you will need to use these pieces:

 

 

Quote
  • BravilFenceDoor02 x1
     
  • FenceMid01 x12
     
  • FenceEnd02 x1
     
  • Lilypad01 x10
     
  • LilypadFlower01 X x6
     
  • CypressKneeCluster02 x3
     

 

 

:smarty:  Smarty Says: Remember to use careful, one-click moves when landscaping the swamp bed to accommodate your garden and fence.

 

When finished your aquatic garden should look a bit like this:

 

C5.jpg

 

Post an in game image of your aquatic garden to get credit for your work! Don't be afraid to get creative!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Beautiful job Stoney! Full Marks! I'll be posting the last class and the Final shortly! :thumbsup:

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks DR,I`m looking forward to the next lesson,not sure about the exam though. :cookie: Also thanks for these lessons,they are well planned and thought out with just the right amount of guidance.Following them has given me confidence to try things in the CS ,I may even get round to having the confidence to actually release something one day. :thumbsup:

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Glad to hear it Stoney, I'm happy I could help! :cookie:

You've done very well in the class, there is a release option for the final worth an additional medal, you should consider taking on that challenge you have all the skills you need. :thumbsup:

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looks great Nott! Your landscaping in the garden has a bit of a jagged shoreline, remember that water will make a shoreline soft, so you may was to soften your hard edges. :salute:

Good Luck on your final! :yes:

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, lets see if I`ve got it...

Ext,PGs

Aquatic Garden

Int. Lighting

There`s more Int. lighting shots in the previous thread if you want to see more.Everything went great in the Gecko cleaning,the only cells that came up yellow were mine and some where I adjusted some pg nodes that were floating or sunk so I toggled ignore on those.Unless I mesunderstood and was supposed to toggle all the yelow entries,I think I`m ok with this.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well done don! You are ready to head to the final! :unsure:

In Gecko, yellow just means changed not necessarily something bad. The question you should ask when editing with Gecko and you see something yellow is "Did I change this on purpose?" if the answer is yes, then leave it, if the answer is no toggle ignore and delete it. XD

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well done don! You are ready to head to the final! :unsure:

In Gecko, yellow just means changed not necessarily something bad. The question you should ask when editing with Gecko and you see something yellow is "Did I change this on purpose?" if the answer is yes, then leave it, if the answer is no toggle ignore and delete it. XD

Thank you Rider. I don`t always know exactly where I may be making adjustments and so if I understand you I just keep the ones I`m sure of and have given a name or I.D.?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, you want to keep the things you named. Though in regards to exterior cells Tamriel worldspace will also appear changed and you do want to keep that even though it's not something you named. XD

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, you want to keep the things you named. Though in regards to exterior cells Tamriel worldspace will also appear changed and you do want to keep that even though it's not something you named. :blink:

That one I kinda figured, thank you Rider, I`ve gotten into the habit of creating "shopping lists by adding aa to the front of things I might want to use so they`ll be at the top, and now, so they`ll not cause any problems later on.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Finally done! :shrug:

outside pathgrids

water garden

updated indoor lights

retextured outside, getting rid of the grass

took me a while to get things right in gecko, I changed several cells when putting that barn in. Going back and forth from in game to cs because I had several oddities, like blank spaces behind the barn.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's beautiful Sugar, well done! Time for your final, I hope you will take the release option. :shrug:

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DarkRider - I've posted lesson #4 pictures in Arion's Gallery for you to look over. This should cover everything EXCEPT cleaning the file with Gimp (???).

Notes:

Final revision of the Garden!!! ***

Revised lighting in the Interior

Revised lighting in the Basement

Cleaned and revised pathgrids**

** Pathgrid under the garden was taken before I started the garden over again because the fencing was way out of proportion to my character's height. I shrank the fence portions and added 1 to each of the 4 sides to give me more room for the plants, etc. The pathgrid of the house changed from lesson 3 because I broke some links and had to redo everything for the interior of the house.

*** Pictures 6 & 7 I added more lilly pads around the garden and adjusted the height of a couple of the purple and blue flowers and the kelp.

Need to do the tutorial on the cleaner and may take a day or two to complete the rest of the homework.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looking great so far Arion! :wave:

I do have a note for you. Mana Blooms do not appear in Cyrodiil and according to ES lore they are only found in Cameron's Paradise. It's fine to keep them in your homework since it's not releasing, but for the future you'll want to be careful about adding Mana Blooms to Cyrodiil, you'll get some complainers that way. :cookie:

When you DO use Mana Blooms they should come down further and not standing on the end of their stalk. :lmao:

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looking great so far Arion! :wave:

I do have a note for you. Mana Blooms do not appear in Cyrodiil and according to ES lore they are only found in Cameron's Paradise. It's fine to keep them in your homework since it's not releasing, but for the future you'll want to be careful about adding Mana Blooms to Cyrodiil, you'll get some complainers that way. :cookie:

When you DO use Mana Blooms they should come down further and not standing on the end of their stalk. :lmao:

Appreciate the advise about the Mana Blooms. I never actually thought about where they were located. Kind of thought it was SI. My biggest focus on the garden was to have a variety of colors and heights as well as a resemblance of a path the player could walk through to enjoy the flowers.Will it still count towards the Credit Challenge if I just lower the mana blooms or should I remove them?

For the final I intend to have a more traditional garden since It'll be on dry land and in a temperate climate.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes it will still count toward the credit challenge, but you should lower them yes. :cookie:

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted my Gecko Report for the testing file. I've gotten it down to just the original cell but no matter how hard I try to repair the rift from the going back to the original files, after editing one side, saving and rerunning the report I keep getting the same cells. Have been doing this to where I either rename the wilderness files to show that I intentional am making these changes or leave them as wilderness.

Process has been go into gecko, ignore a few parts, look in the editor to see what has changed. If nothing go back to gecko and ignore a few more. Have repeated this scenario until when it is only the original cell and the repairs trying to smooth out lake bottom on back side and right side.

How should I preceed?

Picture posted in My Gallery as Testing Mode's Gecko Report...

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, you DID edit those cells when landscaping the lake bed so when you ignore them in Gecko they just revert to their original state and cause the gaps since the part of the lake bed still in your cell is lower than the original state.

When you smooth the gaps, you will edit those two cells again so they will appear in Gecko again. Since you landscaped out too far to begin with and crossed the border line you will have to keep the edits. Ideally you should have kept your landscaping closer to the house, but you just can't go back now without starting over so you will have to accept the two additional cells as part of your mod. Not a big deal since this mod is not for release.

The reason you delete some random things and see no changes is because those records are not changes you made they are just records caused by passing through most likely. But as you stumble around the CS looking for changes and smoothing the landscape you'll continue to make edits that will appear in Gecko. You are chasing your own tail.

Overall the point of cleaning your mod is just to trim it down to what is needed and to remove any accidental changes and excess stuff to make it tidy. In this case you CAN'T remove the changes, not a big deal soetimes just works out that way, so this is what you need to do.

Start with a fresh copy of your backup, since you already had the cells renamed there that you changed. Go through in Gecko and delete all the EXTRA cells and their children leaving only your named cells and you should be done.

Does that make sense?

[EDIT] Also, when you refer to images could you please post the link in your post so I can find it without having to hunt for it? :D

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The point of cleaning your mod is just to trim it down to what is needed and to remove any accidental changes and excess stuff to make it tidy. In this case you CAN'T remove the changes, so this is what you need to do.

Start with a fresh copy of your backup, since you already had the cells renamed there that you changed. Go through in Gecko and delete all the cells and their children leaving only your named cells and you should be done.

Does that make sense?

[EDIT] Also, when you refer to images could you please post the link in your post so I can find it without having to hunt for it? :D

I have the orignal named, the one to the left of the original cell and the one directly below it and the original cell. The one with the largest gap wasn't even named. I'm going to keep looking and see if I can pull (3, -26) out of the equation because (36, -26) has the largest rift.

And yes I will post the link so you don't have to hunt for the pic. Sorry.

[EDIT] I was looking it over again and the wasn't a rift in the corner. My animation was hanging over the corner. When I moved it somewhere else in my original cell it disappeared it took out the 4th cell. I need to double check that I actually renamed to correct cells to start with. If I'm not mistaken I messed up, not sure. Have spent a lot of time between Gecko and the CS working on the test and don't rememebr what the original is now.

0

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