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Creating Skyrim Mods with the Creation Kit
If you're a Skyrim fan, and a PC gamer, you probably already know about the Creation Kit.
The Creation Kit is the tool that Bethesda Game Studios used to create Skyrim. You can now download the Creation Kit for free through Steam if you have a PC version of the game.
Don't Have a Copy on PC?
So What Can I Do with the Creation Kit?
The Creation Kit allows you to do a lot of things. It won't let you create new models or textures, but if you have custom artwork that you'd like to put in the game, the Creation Kit will allow you to do that.
The Creation Kit also allows you to create custom worlds filled with your own characters and quests, or to change the world that comes with the game: you can add towns, dungeons, quests, or even just a shop that sells some custom armor and weapons that you've made. The possibilities are almost limitless, but there are still a lot of things you can't change.
You can't, for example, make an entirely new game using the Kit. You can tweak how the original game plays by changing the data associated with things like weapon damage and spell duration, customizing those kinds of things to your liking, but you can't add new skills or make other sweeping changes without a lot of heavy scripting. (And at this point, no one really knows how much we'll be able to do using their new scripting language, Papyrus.)
You can also upload your mods to Steam or download mods created by other users through Steam Workshop.
If you're still a little hazy on what this whole modding thing is, I wrote an article about it a while ago that should get you up to speed on the basics. You can read it here: Modding Video Games.
Where Can I Learn More About the Creation Kit?
Bethesda has created a wiki for the Creation Kit that explains how to go about creating many of the most common types of mods, including a tutorial on using their new and improved scripting language: Papyrus. This is a great resource, so if you're planning on doing any modding, go ahead and bookmark it right now.
Bethesda has also started releasing a series of YouTube videos which are a fantastic way to dive in and just start modding.
You can also follow updates to the Creation Kit, new video tutorials, etc., by reading the Bethesda Blog.
When all else fails, if you are having problems with the editor or creating a mod, you can get all kinds of helpful assistance on the official Creation Kit forum.
The Unofficial Elderscrolls Pages is also a tremendous source of useful information. While the Creation Kit will tell you how to use the editor, the UESP will help you find all of the data you need to understand the game itself. Remember: knowledge is power!
If you're looking for more mods, the Skyrim Nexus is a great place to check out. The Nexus has been providing mods, tutorials, and help forums for the Elder Scrolls community for years, so it's definitely a place you want to check out.
What Kinds of Bugs and Limitations Are There?
Because you know there are going to be a few. :)
I've only been able to use the editor for a few hours, but I've already noticed a lot of things that they've fixed that were buggy in their last editor, the G.E.C.K. (Garden of Eden Creation Kit).
Some of the annoying bugs still remain: you get lots of warning boxes whenever you start it up or load areas with lots of objects in them (they're harmless, just click 'Yes to All' to skip past them), and there is still a bug that makes edited or custom NPCs use the same pale face color regardless of their body color (apparently that's a know issue that they're working on), but for the most part it seems fairly stable...aside from crashing all the time. :/ Edit: I'm happy to report that the face color 'bug' has been fixed. You just have to export the face textures from the editor by selecting your NPC and pressing Ctrl + F4 and they should work properly.
Remember to save early and save often! And don't try anything without saving your mod first, even if you haven't made any changes yet!
The heightmap editor also doesn't appear to be working anymore. Apparently Bethesda doesn't use it to make their own games (they import heightmaps from Photoshop) so be prepared for a lot of research and some 3rd party tools to get a custom heightmap into the game (check out the forums I linked to earlier).
Alternately, you can do what I'm doing and just make your world by hand. The editor shows grass now when you add it (which is nice) and things like shadows and weather effects (at least, I noticed a breeze) so creating custom world spaces is a lot more fun. The landscape editor seems pretty smooth and the rendering window glitches less (aside from disappearing buildings when you use door markers to travel around inside the CK!) but this game seriously needs a lot more landscape textures! Texture artists: Skyrim mods need you!
The good news is that Bethesda seems a lot more interested in fixing bugs this time around than last time, so there is a chance (slim, don't get your hopes up) that many of these issues will be fixed in the near future.
All in all, I'm pretty excited about the new editor and I can't wait to get started on my mod. Which is why I'm going to stop talking and start creating!
My Creation Kit Tutorials
If you're keen to get started with the Creation Kit, you might want to try out these tutorials.
- How to Make Your Character Look Like Any Character in Skyrim
- How to Create a Custom Follower and Marriage Partner
- How to Create a Custom Hireling in Skyrim
These tutorials were created for absolute beginners, so while they look long, they are not hard to follow and contain a lot of very useful information about modding Skyrim. Of course, you'll also want to go through the official video tutorials created by Bethesda that I linked to earlier.
I'm not only a writer, I'm also a modder. You can find my mods on my website: truancyfactory.