CK Basics: Introduction to Skyrim's Creation Kit
Welcome to Creation Kit Basics!
It's time to begin your expedition into the wonderful world of modding for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim! Congratulations! If you are a fan of the Elder Scrolls series you will find no greater satisfaction than creating your own content and experiencing it first hand in your game just the way you envisioned it!
By now you will certainly have lots of magnificent ideas about all the things you’d like to create, fix, or change and with some careful study of the tutorials available in the Creation Kit Wiki and here on TESA you will soon achieve those goals. However, it's recommended that you jot them down and set them aside for now. The first thing you want to do is spend some time studying the material, asking questions, and learning how to mod the game, rather than stumbling through your mod ideas one tutorial at a time. If you start with your ideas first the margin for error is typically greater, your experience can prove frustrating, fruitless, and you may find yourself having to fix or even redo things later when you learn new skills. So for now, clear your minds and let’s dive into learning some CK Basics!
Smarty Says: Hi! I’m Smarty, I know everything there is to know about modding for the Elder Scrolls and I will follow you along your course of study in all the classes on TESA. I pop up in some of the strangest places but always have useful tips and reminders for you, so keep your eyes open for me!
What You Need:
- STEAM GAMING PLATFORM
- TES CREATION KIT v1.6.89 or higher (See Part I for Install Instructions)
CK: A shorthand term for Creation Kit
TES: Not to be confused with CS, TES stands for The Elder Scrolls
.esp: A common file extension for mod files or Elder Scrolls Plug-ins
.esm: Another common file extension for Elder Scrolls Master files
SKSE: Skyrim Script Extender, an extension for vanilla Skyrim code scripting abilities.
Roombound (aka Room Marker): A room marker is a box used to unify many objects into a single unit of objects that belongs to that room.
Portal: A Portal is a visual gateway used to connect room markers together, like a doorway between two rooms. They should be placed between rooms at any location where the player should be able to see from one room to another.
Occlusion: The occlusion system tracks which objects render in the player view and which objects don’t; a form that is occluded is not rendered
Multibound: Similar to a room marker, multibounds are primarily used in exteriors to group objects together for rendering as a unit as opposed to rendering many objects individually.
Collision: An invisible field form that cannot be passed through by players
Current: The force of drift in water; what draws the player downstream
Part I: Installing the Creation Kit
Step 1: Launch Steam and log into your user account.
Step 2: Click on Games>Game Library
Step 3: On the drop-down menu labeled “ALL GAMES” select “TOOLS”
Step 4: Under the title column look for "Creation Kit"
Step 5: Right-click on the title and choose "Install Game"
Part II: Anatomy of the Construction Set
Now that you have the CK installed it’s time to load up the Skyrim master file (Skyrim.esm) and get familiar with the primary tool of the Skyrim modding craft. Regardless of what you’d like to do in the modding world, sooner or later you will need the CK to make it happen, so let’s get started!
Click the CK icon on your desktop to start the program. When the CK opens you will have a total of 4 windows, 3 smaller ones nestled inside the main window. On the main window click File>Data
A new window will open. On it, check the box beside the Skyrim.esm, and ONLY this box. Then click Ok.
Smarty Says: What about the Update.esm? You should never check the box next to the Update.esm master file as it will make your mod dependent on that file. When Bethsoft overwrites the Update.esm, is can create problems for mods that depend on it. The only time you should load the Update.esm as well is if you are knowingly modding something the Update.esm added or changed.
The CK will then load the Skyrim.esm. This may take several minutes depending on your rig's available resources, so be patient. NEVER EVER EVER click on anything on the CK while it’s loading anything…ever. Just like its predecessors the CK doesn’t like to be bothered while it’s thinking and clicking on it impatiently can make it freeze, crash, or both, so just give it the time it needs.
Smarty Says: Is your low to mid range rig taking forever to load the CK? Is everything really slow? Make sure you give your PC all the available resources you can spare to devote to the CK. Close other programs running in the background like web browsers, messengers, and media players to help improve performance.
Once the Skyrim.esm is loaded, you’ll see the little windows have now become filled with interesting bits of data. Go ahead and make the main window full screen by clicking the full screen icon in the corner. Once that’s done, you can reposition the nested windows to suit your preferred layout for your workspace.
This is one possible configuration, you can move them around until you find the configuration that best suits you:
Okay so now what are all these windows for?
This window is called the Object Window
The object window contains all objects that can be used in creating mods, including static objects, clothing, armor, architecture, creatures, NPCs, furniture, quests, and loads more. Most things in this window can be added to the game by simply dragging and dropping them into the Render window.
This window is called the Cell View Window
The cell view window contains a list of all the cells in game, including interior and exterior cells. It also contains cells for all the various worldspaces available in the game. A cell is a canvas to build game content on. In the exterior world cells are placed side by side in a grid fashion. In the interior, a cell is a nebulous 3D space to build home/dungeon/castle interiors. An interior cell also has a grid but it's not visible to users.
This window is called the Render Window
The render window allows you to visually navigate the Skyrim game world. By dragging objects into the render window you can add things to the game world and make mods. The render window loads cells selected in the cell window.
This window is the Main Window
The main window not only surrounds the other three windows, it also contains a number of valuable shortcuts and tools. Examine the image above carefully for the coordinating numbers for the explanations below on what these tools are.
Quick Tools: These are shortcuts to commonly used tools and keys
01. Load Master/Plugin Files: A shortcut for Data>File
02. Save Plugin: Saves the active file being worked on (ctrl+s is the keyboard shortcut for save)
03. Preferences: Opens a dialog for editing camera controls, rotation speed, etc.
04. Undo: Undoes the last action (ctrl+z is the keyboard shortcut for undo)
05. Redo: Redoes the last undone action (ctrl+y is the keyboard shortcut for redo)
06. Snap to Grid: When activated snaps objects to the invisible cell grid
07. Snap to Angle: When activated snaps objects to a specific angle
08. World (Heightmap) Editing: Allows you to select a worldspace/heightmap to view/Edit
09. Landscape Editing: Turns on the landscaping tool (keyboard shortcut H to open)
10. Run Havoc Simulation: When turned on, it will simulate the game’s havoc so will cause fires to burn and objects to fall in the Render window.
11. Animate Lights and Effects: Animates in real time light and effect objects in the render window
12. Toggle Lights: Toggles the worklight on/off in the Render Window (keyboard shortcut A)
13. Toggle Sky: Renders the sky in the exterior and in interiors where the lighting is set to behave like an exterior, can give you a better idea of how the scene will look in game, but can lag your rig so it’s best left off most of the time. Useful as a brighter worklight in exteriors.
14. Toggle Grass: When on, renders 3D grass on the ground in the render window. When turned off, landscape will display texture only, but in game the grass will render. Turning it off is just to conserve resources.
15. Filtered Dialogue: Opens the filtered dialogue feature that allows you to see what dialogue each character speaks. It can be useful for tracking down dialogue your NPCs are saying and the quest IDs for them. Not used for creating dialogue.
16. NavMesh Mode: Switches the CK into NavMesh mode, which allows creation of navigational pathing. (see Lesson #2 for more on this)
Optimizing and Occlusion: Tools used for optimizing resources in game
17. Create Trigger: Allows for selection of a trigger to be added to the render window
18. Create a Multibound Cube: Allows for drawing a cube shaped multibound zone
19. Create a Multibound Sphere: Allows for drawing a Sphere shaped multibound zone
20. Create an Occlusion Plane: Allows for drawing a flat plane (flat wall) of occlusion; things behind it won’t render
21. Create an Occlusion Cube: Allows for drawing a cube shaped occlusion zone
22. Join/Break Occlusion Planes: Allows combination or separation of two occlusion planes
23. Create a Roombound: Allows for drawing a roombound form around sections of interior spaces to form room groupings
24. Enter Portal Mode: Allows for working with portals
25. Create a Portal: Creates a portal in the render window
26. Link Portal to Room: Links the selected portal to the selected rooms
27. Detach Portal from Room: Removes a previously linked portal
28. Join Rooms: Allows combination of two roombounds
Sounds: Tools used to add dynamic sound forms
29. Create a Sound Emitter: Helps the user create a sound emitter object in the render window
30. Create an Acoustic Space: Creates a unique sound environment for special music or sound effects to be played without interference from default music/FX
Collision and Currents: Tools that manage collision fields and water currents
31. Create a Collision Plane: Allows for drawing a flat plane (flat wall) of collision; forms will not be able to pass through it in game.
32. Create a Collision Cube: Allows for drawing a cube shaped collision zone
33. Create a Collision Sphere: Allows for drawing a sphere shaped collision zone
34. Create a Current Plane: Allows for drawing a flat plane (flat wall) of current; forms will be swept along this plane for natural water effects
35. Create a Current Cube: Allows for drawing a cube shaped current zone
36. Create a Current Sphere: Allows for drawing a sphere shaped current zone
This concludes the basic introduction to the Skyrim Creation Kit. You should now have the CK installed, have a workspace configuration that works best for you, and should have a good basic knowledge of where the most common tools can be found. Well done!
If you have questions on what we’ve covered so far, post them here in the General Questions thread.
If you’re ready to move on, then head to CK Basics Lesson #1: Rendering Skyrim
Make sure you read the next post below "About the CK Basics Class" so you know what's expected of you!