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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Curse Skyrim Challenge ending soon!

Posted by Xenius01 Jan 17, 2012 at 17:55 UTC


We have an important announcement to make about the ongoing Skyrim $15,000 challenge!

The Skyrim 15k challenge is nearing its end. If you would like to participate you can still do so, just make sure you submit your mod before the deadline. So far over 160 mods have been uploaded to Skyrim Forge and the amount is still growing daily.

To look back on the contest we have listed all of the mod highlights that we have done so far below. We will keep doing these regularly, so don’t worry if your mod has not been featured yet, it might just be the next one!

Skyrim First Week Modding Highlights
Curse Skyrim Challenge Update and Modder Interviews!
First of three-day mod features, and exciting Curse Skyrim $15k giveaway update!
Mod Feature Highlight - Day 2
Mod Feature Highlight - Day 3
New Mod Video Features!
Happy Holidays from Curse - Skyrim Style!
New Video: Introducing Weightless Items and the Recipe Bundle!
Mod interview with KrimsonLust
Mod interview with Shawkab

The categories “UI/Maps” and “Dungeons/Quests” are still open! Mods uploaded under these categories will still be eligible for the prizes listed on the chart.



If your mod falls under one of the closed categories it does not mean that you are entirely out of luck! If the mod submitted would have been an eligible submission, it will be entered in our $3,000 grand prize giveaway so long as it’s submitted before our deadline, January 31st.

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Skyrim Creation Kit and 1.4 update details

Posted by Xenius01 Jan 19, 2012 at 23:07 UTC


Bethesda has announced an approximate release date for both the Creation Kit and the 1.4 update. The Creation Kit will be ready for a release near the end of the month. The update is currently being tested on all platforms and will most likely be available next week, it will contain various bug and quest fixes.

It’s been a few weeks since our last update on Skyrim’s status, so we wanted to share details on what we’re working on.

The Creation Kit and Steam Workshop are nearly ready. We’re currently working with members of Valve and our modding community to do some final testing, and we’re on track for a public release near the end of the month. We think Skyrim modding is one of the game’s best features, and we have the best modders of any game. It’s been a lot of exciting work for us, and we can’t wait to unleash it.

Skyrim’s 1.4 update is currently undergoing testing on all three platforms. The update will include fixes and optimizations for the most common issues people have been reporting (see below). We’re hoping to finalize this next week, and submit it to the console manufacturers for certification, as well as release on PC.

Our current update plan for the PC is to first release our updates as “beta” versions through Steam. This is something you’ll be able to opt into through Steam and back-out of if needed. This is an extra safety check for everyone going forward and should expedite and improve our updating process for our PC users. We’ll have more info soon on how this will work.

Echoing what we said back in December, we’ll continue to look into issues that are being reported and subsequent updates will follow. You have all supported Skyrim in a huge way, and we’ll be supporting all of you, and continue to make the game better.

Full article and changelog on Bethesda's official blog

Mod interview with SLuckyD

Posted by Xenius01 Jan 23, 2012 at 21:23 UTC


This time we are taking a look at Overlook Tower, a mod created by SLuckyD.


Overlook Tower


Similar to the last mod highlight we are looking at yet another player home. But this is not just any home! In fact, this mod will grant you access to a huge tower on top of a mountain.

If you enjoy hoarding as much loot as possible, this tower is for you. It offers plenty of storage space; each item category gets its own chest. Also there are crafting facilities available, such as an alchemy lab, a forge and more. This tower has everything you will need in one place. But that’s not everything: if you take the stairs to the top of the tower you will also get a great view of the landscape surrounding the tower.

Due to the lack of the Creation Kit making this mod was quite a challenging process for the creator. At the moment you will get free access to the tower, this might change in the future.


<span style="font-size: small;">Skyrim - Mod Highlight - Overlook Tower </span>

<span style="font-size: small;">Video by nickoli002</span>


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

What was your inspiration for creating this mod?

I wanted to release a simple player home, winding up to the summit of some mountain having a scenic view. I literally FLEW (tcl) around all of Skyrim, reconnoitering ALL the prime locations. It isn't my style to just alter a Vanilla home; so I assembled a 'new' one using the Winterhold College kitset. Basically it was something to keep me busy before beginning work on my BIG projects. Oftentimes I find that making mods and creating new content is hella more fun than playing the actual game! (no offense, Ma Beth.. <wink>)

How much time have you spent working on it?

The mod itself, a few hours... maybe 5 or 6, tops. It was figuring out HOW to do it all, without the 'new' CK software... that took a WHILE; but I did most of the R&D during the making of my earlier 'proof of concept' mods.

Did you come across any problems while making your mod?

The only thing that gave me trouble, and I STILL haven't gotten to work, is the ability to have companions enter the home with Player. The 'old' navMeshes apparently aren't compatible with Skyrim; this is the "pathing" which NPCs, monsters, and companions use to 'find their way.' Without working navMeshes, they 'don't know how' to enter or to move around obstacles, even if they WERE inside the Tower. I plan to fix this as soon as Ma Beth releases the newCK.

I'm also unable to add scripting to a mod, which is in a relatively new format - compiled in a way which neither I, nor anyone else seems to be able to create something meaningful with. This precludes any 'true' quests, dialog, or other aspects which I believe are incremental to the elevation of a plain mod to something GOOD.

Has it been difficult for you to mod without the Creation Kit?

In the beginning, it took some time to see what 'old' data is compatible with Skyrim; and to develop the procedures to get that data into a working, playable form. I wouldn't say it's been "difficult" though... it's been great practice and familiarization for when that new software finally IS released!

What tools did you use to make this mod possible?

  • Fallout 3's GECK v1.5 - to create and arrange the interiors, and make new/custom items
  • TESvSnip - editing the mod's raw data, and to copy/paste some Vanilla stuff which GECK can't do
  • FO3Edit - for placing/arranging objects in SkyNilla's worldSpace ('Vanilla Skyrim' is just the plain game, WITHOUT any modifications)
  • 3DSMax 2010x64 - to convert Skyrim's NIFs to Fallout 3's format, enabling me to literally SEE the objects I place and arrange in GECK (as opposed to the intolerable !red! exclamation-point-triangles)
  • NifSkope - to tweak and modify those NIFs converted by 3DSMax

What did you like most about the development process of your mod?

The 'thrill of the chase,' as in the R&D, trial & error, and ultimate discovery of the methods to get all this stuff working and cohesive. There have been PLENTY of "Eureka!" moments the past two months! (I had NO idea we'd be able to pull this much off!) Second to that would be the actual arranging and placement of everything, as well as seeing my 'vision' working in-game and, ideally, enjoyed by others.

Are you planning to expand your mod when the Creation Kit is available?

ABSOLUTELY! There's a list a mile long of things I intend to add, change, or fix... then another list FIVE miles long of user requests I have no intention of doing myself. I'm MORE than willing to sanction others to make 'addons' or alternate versions of these things; though it seems few are willing to give 'true' modding a go 'preCK.' I foresee that after the new software is released, many may forget about or lose interest in this mod... in favor of making their own; somewhere else, and the way THEY want it from the get-go (NO hard feelings y'all!).

Could you tell us about any other mods you currently have in progress or planned for the future?

I'm currently working on my 'Gokstad Sailable Ship & Portable Player Home' mod; which itself is a standalone prequel to my future masterpiece - 'Stone Unhenged.' The former's title says quite a bit, and I've posted some details in the download section for that mod (which has a very basic, but working BETA version available).

Stone Unhenged is a HUGE project I've developed, which could EASILY evolve into another whole TES installment. It takes Player to the Lost Continent of Yokuda (aboard the Gokstad), a NEW worldSpace as large as Skyrim itself! Quests, lore, voice-acting, cities & NPCs, and even a 1:1 scale model of the REAL Stonehenge monument - which Player will be able to REBUILD and harness its power! There's simply TOO much to go into here. Much of this I've already done in/for Oblivion (though never released it, in anticipation of Skyrim). I only hope that I'll continue to have enough free time, energy, and resources to complete these projects and release them for Skyrim!

Do you have any advice for others who would like to start modding?

DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Start small and basic; THEN expand and complicate! Before asking questions, go to the MANY websites already dedicated to modding and asset creation; specifically the ones relating to Oblivion and Fallout 3 (and the different programs needed to do it with). Eventually there'll be Skyrim sites for this as well, but too much is still unknown and the 'old' ways will still carry a LOT of weight! Search for tutorials on specific methods, read forums and wikis for overcoming problems or 'sticky' situations, and make sure you follow directions! Trial & error, practice, and even the help files of software are invaluable.

I learned ALL I know about modding this way, the information is already out there SOMEWHERE... you just have to know what you need to be looking for and where to find it! Failing ALL that, THEN ask questions - many people would appreciate not having to type a single answer for something a thousand times. I LOVE to help others, but I've spent more time commenting, responding, documenting, and posting information than I've spent on actually developing and making the mods I've released! Of course I mean no offense to those I've personally helped... this is just general advice to anyone who is 'new' to the community! (or the few who want others to do everything FOR them.. heheheh)

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

Video highlight: Dovahkiin Hideout

Posted by Xenius01 Jan 24, 2012 at 20:52 UTC

For today's mod highlight we are featuring Shawkab's latest creation: the Dovahkiin Hideout.

This mod adds an enormous basement to all of Skyrim's player homes. The hideout is shared by all homes, it basically connects them, making it an interesting alternative to the existing ways of travelling. It includes plenty of storage room, a library, crafting facilities and more.

Nickoli002 has created a video demonstrating the mod, check it out below to see the mod in action!


Skyrim - Mod Highlight - Dovahkiin Hideout


You can find our interview with Shawkab here.

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