Mod Feature Highlight - Day 2

Posted by wishfire Dec 06, 2011 at 21:37 UTC

In this second day of mod feature highlights for Skyrim, we’ll be featuring a wonderful compilation package of mods from a hard-working author who truly loves what she does.  Just like yesterday, we also managed to snag a rather informative interview to gain further insight into just what work goes into these sorts of mods.

If you missed yesterday’s feature highlight and interview, you can catch up here!

Cooking Recipe Bundle


Skyrimforge author Wolferoo decided that while the new food recipes and cooking skill in Skyrim were a wonderful additions, they just weren't refined enough.  In fact, the idea for the mod came to her as she was forced to use console commands to obtain items like Baked Potatoes, which were oddly enough in the game, but had no cooking recipe.

Enter the gigantic, often-updated mod by the name of Cooking Recipe Bundle – a compilation of all the cooking mods Wolferoo had released at that point – adding over 60 new recipes, almost 50 entirely new items, and a super refined cooking experience.  Skills and short-term food buffs were added, allowing for even more food options.  Taking this customization even further is the existence of four separate files, so users can get exactly what they want.

Below, Wolferoo shares her thoughts and goals with the project from creation to execution.

What considerations did you have to try to keep the new recipes and the edits balanced to the original ones from the game?

Wolferoo:  My goal was for resulting items to have similar quality to existing items, and scaled to the ease of acquisition. I can best explain this through examples...

-Baked potatoes was the first recipe I added.  Cooking the base potato into the baked potato gave an increase in quality from 1 HP to 5 HP for the work of carrying the potato to a cook pot.  The quality increase was small but so was the effort required.

-Cheesy bread results in a greater difference between ingredient quality and product quality, but takes a little more effort on behalf of the player.  He must find two different ingredients, and possibly use recipes to cut the cheese into wedges before using them.  Also when compared to other items of similar purpose, it is not overpowered.  Its strength is equal to a standard quality restore health potion from an alchemy shop, or something an intermediate level alchemy character could produce.

-Draugr Porridge and a few others provide long term but fairly weak buffs, and require collecting several ingredients from various sources.  I felt the difficulty in acquiring ingredients countered the long duration, and it would be too overpowered to have a strong buff with a long duration under any circumstance.  As far as what enhancements to group together, I took inspiration from WoW on this one.  The foods in this set are loosely based on classes, with the melee skills accompanied by stamina regeneration and the caster skills accompanied by majicka regeneration.

-Poached Warbler Egg and a dozen others were designed as an alchemy alternative.  The ingredients are based on the ingredients' effects for potions.  However the quantity required is greater than the two needed for creating a potion because there is no skill needed to create these items which have a greater quality than what a novice alchemist could create.  Some characters may not want to learn alchemy, but want something more satisfying than buying buff potions from an NPC.

What methods did you use to add all these recipes?  Was it difficult?

Wolferoo: I made the recipes using TESsnip. I got started by taking about two hours to go through a tutorial by Samutz on using TESsnip and trying out my own ideas for items to combine. Once I understood the pattern, which variables meant inputs outputs and quantities, making the mod was easy. I explored more of the data inside TESsnip and looked at what other modders were creating to get ideas for things I could make myself using the same patterns. Learning where spell IDs and variables were stored really opened up the possibilities because then I could put any buff on any item I created with whatever duration and strength I chose.

I have a background in programming, so understanding byte fields and how variables interact was simple for me.  But a lack of prior experience doesn't need to scare off anyone interested in doing mods. If you have the patience to walk through the steps, learning about one field at a time, you can figure out how to change things too. And once the CK comes out, these modifications will have a much easier interface.

I'd estimate the time spent on the pack at about 8 hours, but it's hard to say because I expanded it in several stages.  The learning curve is steep at first but once you've created a new item and a new recipe, most of the pain is over. 

If you're interested in making recipe mods, or changing the attributes of items, open up a mod in TESsnip and poke around. Read what others have done both in the .esp or in their words on forum posts.  And don't be afraid to ask questions.  I'll gladly answer any PMs about where to find certain data I've manipulated and I'm sure there are other modders out there willing to help too.

Can you tell us about any mods you have planned for the future?

Wolferoo:  My latest addition to the recipe package was the ability to refine sugar from honey, and then use the sugar as an ingredient.  I plan to add flour in my next update, and then many recipes involving flour, sugar, and eggs.  I would like to also add milk, perhaps sold by a farmer NPC, but I may wait until the Creation Kit for this addition. Depends on how ambitious I get, and how long until the CK is out.

Be sure to keep an eye out for updates from this author, as well as our next and final mod feature highlight and interview for this week tomorrow!

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Mod Feature Highlight - Day 3

Posted by wishfire Dec 07, 2011 at 23:47 UTC

For the last day of our three day mod feature, we take a look at a texture mod that seeks to make Skyrim an even more beautiful place by improving one of the most important aspects of the game – the people of Skyrim themselves.  Just like the previous days, we were lucky enough to get an interview with this author to understand the process behind its creation.

Be sure to look at both Day 1 and Day 2 of our feature as well to get caught up if you haven’t already!

Detailed Bodies

Be sure to click the above image for a higher resolution one, as it’s difficult to see just how much of a difference it makes in the thumbnail!

Xenius01 – normally known as just ‘Xenius’ – is no stranger to the modding community, having created quite a number of well-respected character and race mods for Oblivion.  Skyrim is no exception for this author, as he has already pushed out texture replacements for just about all features of the various races of Tamriel.  Even more impressive is that they are all meant to work together, making truly seamless and complete textures become a reality.

Detailed Bodies takes all non-beast races (although he’s got a mod for that, too!) and their vanilla textures, and then goes and doubles them.  Specular maps got a rework too, making these textures look as high-res as they actually are.  This means that bodies are smoother, more detailed, and all the blockiness (and most of the artifacts) have been removed.

Below are Xenius01’s thoughts on the creation process and the ideas behind his work.

How much work goes into making the vanilla textures higher res?

Xenius01: For me it didn’t take that much time, since modding and creating textures is nothing new to me. For Oblivion I’ve made a lot of custom races which mostly involved creating unique skin textures. Due to that I already had the skills and resources to improve Skyrim’s textures.

It’s hard to say exactly how much time it took as I didn’t count it, I’d say a few hours and that’s without testing and creating updates to improve on it, so all in all it would be a lot more than that.

Also I made this after I created the Detailed Faces mod, so I mostly knew how it would look in the game and how the lighting would affect the textures, which saved time as well. The reason for creating the Detailed Bodies was to make the bodies fit better to the Detailed Faces. The original body textures were already quite high resolution compared to the face textures, so that was not the most important reason for doing this.

In your opinion, what’s the most difficult aspect of Skyrim to retexture?

Xenius01: I mostly focus on character design and custom races. For me the most difficult aspect to improve would be the game world: architecture, landscape, plants, dungeons, and stuff like that. Most modders focus on one specific area (so others may find character design the most difficult), and for me that’s character design, although I’ve done a few other things before like weapons and clothing (textures only).

Can you tell us about any mods you have planned for the future?

Xenius01: I still have to update some of my mods here on SkyrimForge, also I created a compilation consisting of all of my character enhancements, this package will be available soon. It is meant for those who use all of my stuff and to make things easier by only having to download and update one file instead of a bunch of small ones.

Once the Creation Kit is available I also plan to start creating custom races for Skyrim, just like I did for Oblivion.

That does it for this week’s mod feature extravaganza! 

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Maintenance (completed)

Posted by Kaelten Dec 08, 2011 at 02:53 UTC

Hi guys!

On Thursday December the 8th at 12:30PM CST we'll be taking the site off line for a maintenance window. During this time the website and is related services will be offline. We expect the downtime to last for less than two hours.

Thank you for your patience during this inconvenience.

UPDATE 1:30 PM CST: The maintenance has been completed.

Mod interview with KrimsonLust

Posted by Xenius01 Dec 28, 2011 at 16:40 UTC

Today we will be featuring two mods created by KrimsonLust: Female Warpaints and Male Warpaints.

The character creation system of Skyrim brought us a lot of new features that were not present in its predecessor Oblivion, allowing us to customize our characters even more. One of those features is the ability to choose from a selection of warpaint patterns.

When the Creation Kit for Skyrim is available this will likely be one of the aspects that will be expanded upon by many mod authors, similar to what happened with eyes and hairstyles for Oblivion.

We still have to wait until the Creation Kit gets released in January, but KrimsonLust already went ahead and created two mods that replace 20 existing warpaint patterns, 10 for each gender. The designs vary in style, which makes them suitable for different characters and races. You will still be able to use the race-specific warpaint, as these mods only replace the generic warpaint that is available to all races (except the beast races).

Find out more about the creation process of these mods below.


What was the inspiration for the creation of your mods?
My inspiration for creating the warpaints was at first because I wanted my character to have more of a tribal look. After posting my first few I started getting requests for different warpaints so I continued doing it for other people.

How much time have you spent on the development?
Each warpaint only takes me about 20 minutes. A pack of ten warpaints can take up to 4 hours. It can be a bit time consuming because most of the time if I change a file in the texture folder it doesn't register in the game until I restart it. I haven't found a better way to view the warpaints as I create them... yet :)

Did you come across any problems while working on these mods?
The warpaints are fairly straight forward and easily done since you are only working with a black and white picture. The only problem I have really encountered is where the image stretches on certain faces, but that isn't anything I can really fix.

What tools did you use in the process of making your mods?
To edit the .dds files I use Photoshop CS5 and my trusty Wacom Graphire tablet.

Currently your war paint mods are replacements, will you change them into add-ons when the Creation Kit is available?
Yes, I will change the warpaints to be add-ons so people will have the option to keep the original warpaints if they desire.

Are you planning to add more content to your current mods?
No, the warpaint packs that are out will stay the same for now, but I will be making additional packs for males and females to download, as well as taking more requests.

Do you have any advice for others who would like to start modding?
Start with something you're interested in, or something you have skill in. It was easy for me to edit texture files because I have skill with Photoshop. Don't get frustrated if something doesn't work right away. Take a break and come back to it and it will probably be something simple that you overlooked... either that or search the forums :)

Could you tell us about any other mods you have planned for the future?
I'm currently learning how to mesh with 3d studio max because I've been wanting to design my own armor and amulets, so stay tuned :)

Thanks to KrimsonLust for creating these mods and for participating in the interview.

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Mod interview with Shawkab

Posted by Xenius01 Jan 06, 2012 at 10:02 UTC

Today we will take a look at Hillside Home Quest, a mod created by Shawkab.


While we are still waiting for the Creation Kit to get released various mods have been created that were thought to be impossible at this moment, like new quests and player homes. Shawkab’s Hillside Home Quest is one of those creations.

This mod will not only add a new player home to the game, but also a quest that needs to be completed in order to obtain it. So that means you will have to do a little more than paying a sum of gold to get access to your new home! It all starts in Breezehome, the player home situated in Whiterun. Before installing this mod, make sure you have the house fully decorated, or else the quest will not start. The quest itself will be more challenging than most quests in the game; due to the lack of any map markers you will have to do some exploration to complete it.




Find out more about the creation process of this mod below.

What was your inspiration for creating this mod?
The location was my main inspiration, I found it way before I knew anything about modding and wanted to have a house there.

How much time have you spent developing it?
Way too much... Everything needs to be placed individually, I found a few tricks to make it a little simpler for me but I think we're looking at around 40+ hours for this one so far, most of that was spent after I released the beta because of bugs, etc.

Did you come across any problems while working on your mod?
A lot, The problem right now is I can't create a NAV Mesh (Navigation Mesh,) which allows spouses/companions to move and live in your house, this is something I wanted to keep intact but I slowly realized how impossible it would be to keep in.
Since I released this mod I have had to recreate the entire thing from scratch, placing every piece of celery and every wall individually so that it could be in its own Cell (zone.) I also had issues with bookshelves, weapon racks, and mannequins which were activating oddly during a load... they're now working 100% for my 0.2 update.

Has it been difficult for you to mod without the Creation Kit?
I guess with my complaining so far it would seem so :)
It's hard, but I find it is the best way to learn. Things may be hard now but when they become easy, it will just seem that much easier for those who learned it the hard way after the construction kit is released.

What tools did you use in the development process of your mod?
TESSnip, FNVEdit, and a small amount of GECK to create a new Cell.

Are you planning to make any changes to your mod when the Creation Kit is available?
I still think I can make most of the changes before the CK, but after the CK I plan to add a Navigation Mesh which allows players to have their followers and spouses come in the house with them. I want to eventually code a house pet, or a personal maid, etc.

Could you tell us about any other mods you have planned for the future?
I like doing things that no one else does, pushing what is possible at the moment so I am always learning something. I have a few ideas for some quests, and more houses. When I learn something new I try to make something out of all I have learned.
Right now I'm working on a quest for thieves. It will include a underground passage under a major city, and inside the passage there will be ten chests. To receive the contents of those chests you will need to find the 10 keys that open the chests; these ten keys are hidden throughout the city. The keys can be somewhere as simple as a barrel, but as difficult as a Jarl's bedroom in a locked strongbox, or maybe even in the Jarl's pocket. You might even find notes leading you to some of the harder keys.

Do you have any advice for others who would like to start modding?
If you really love Skyrim, finish it first, then start modding. Modding can tend to taint your perspective of the game.
With that said, just jump in, it’s fun as hell and there are tons of tutorials and resources online right now, specially for texturing and modeling.

Thanks to Shawkab for creating this mod and for participating in the interview.

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