Fallout 3: Creating Worldspaces the Easy Way.
To follow this tutorial you must at least have enough experience to make a basic functional house mod since you need to know how to link up a door and do other basic things in the editor first.
This tutorial will explain how to make Worldspaces for ESMs and ESP files but before we start, let me tell you what those words mean.
ESM = Elder Scrolls Master = other mods can edit these freely but these may not us a lot of stuff from the fallout3.esm.
ESP = Elder Scrolls Plugin = No mods can edit these at all but these can use anything from the fallout3.esm
This tutorial will tell you how to make an ESP worldspace and an ESP + ESM Worldspace that worlds around the limitations above. Pure ESM worldspaces require you to make your own models and stuff for almost everything and takes years to make. That is not part of this tutorial. This is the quick and dirty version.
Before we start, you must choose what type of worldspace you want to make because once you start decorating it, you cannot change your mod. If you want to make an ESP based worldspace, things are easier but no other mods can edit it or use it. If you want to make an esm worldspace, you cannot fully decorate it but you can mod it later even further with a separate esp to work around that problem. And other mods will be able to use it too.
So have a think about that and decide which you want to do. For first timers, you might want to choose the esp system and get a feel world creation first.
The Bug Fest that is World Space Creation!
Worldspace creation is the single biggest pain in the butt you will come across when done properly, not because it is hard but because of the bugs that have been introduced in to the Oblivion Editor and Fallout Editor over the years. Originally the Construction Set v1 was almost stable enough to be used to make a worldspace, once made the modder would switch to a newer version so they could decorate that worldspace. The newer versions where especially buggy when it came to worldspace creation and GECK is based on those newer versions so it too is incredibly buggy in this area.
To make a worldspace properly you need to generate a landscape, generate content for it, manually adjust that content, build any settlements and then generate a lod. All of these areas cause lots of crashes. A medium size world can produce a mod that is over 100meg in size before you have even started putting the fun stuff in and will more than likely take you months to do simple jobs due to the crashing in the editors and having to redo the work countless times.
So let us cheat and skip all that frustation and pain and make worldspaces that use only the features of GECK that only work dadly instead of incredibly badly.
Oh... You expected me to say "Work Well"...sorry, every aspect of world creation is bugged out. What I am going to show you is how to avoid 90% of the worst bugs by cheating and not making a worldspace the way they should be made. This is less frustration and still produces good results with in certain limitations.
The nature of the cheat.
We will be hand making the worldspace the hard way, which may take a few days. This by passes the first series of major bugs by avoiding the auto generation features completely. A process that can shorten decorating a worldspace to a single day, thanks bugs it actually makes it a month long job. So the hard way is actually the quickest way thanks to the bugs.
Then we will manually decorate the worldspace the hard way. This also by passes a series of major bugs that are caused by using the auto generation of objects on the terrain and shortens the job by as much as month, possibly more if your making a large worldspace. For smaller worldspaces, we are up to 3 days work (probably a week for you) so far using my system. If you where doing it properly, we would be looking at up to 2 months worth of work now for most people thanks to the bugs.
Then we will ignore the LOD part completely and simply skip it. Which neatly avoids all the bugs associated with that part. Those who saw the floating trees in Operation Anchorage will have seen Beth having LOD problems but that is not the bugs I am referring too. I am talking about editor crashes. I do not currently know of any third party tools to generate lods for Fallout 3 but if any appear in the future, you can always go back and generate them using those tools. It is a job you do last anyway.
LOD means "Level of detail" and when you look at things in the distance, you are actually looking at the LOD not the actual object because the LOD replaces the real object with a low detail one. This means by not making the LOD, there will be nothing to see in the distance.
That is the price of this cheat, the major restriction you have to accept and plan around.
But there will be no performance hit either so the cell your in can contain more detail too if the LOD is not being generated in game. So there are benefits here as well as disadvantages :)
Working around the restriction.
The design of your mod makes the lack of a LOD either no issue at all or a massive problem. If you go for panoramic views everywhere, then you will have a big problem with objects popping in to existence as if by magic and large white areas of nothingness where the LOD should be because we will not be making one, if you later find a tool to make one then the single biggest restriction in this tutorial just disappears :D
If you are making worldspaces like the Brotherhood of steels citadel worldspace with high walls, then you side step the LOD problem instantly by not letting the player see anything in the distance in the first place and that is the trick you must use to work around the LOD issue in this tutorial. EG limit the line of sight to short distances.
I cannot teach you it, but I can tell you some tricks to help you.
I recommend starting with a flat world since we will be hand making this terrain. Start by placing markers on it that you will see in game. Place these are at regular intervals in a straight line and then put a door at one end and link it to the wasteland worldspace so you can enter your worldspace (console commands also work, but I never use them so I do not know them). When you enter the worldspace, you will enter it at the start of the chain of markers. I used buildings for my markers because they are big and show up at a distance. You then stand next to the first marker in the game and count the number of markers you see before they start disappearing in the distance. The point where they disappear is the point where you start needing that missing LOD. So you never have a line of sight longer than that distance, keep everything short than that to avoid the problem of the missing lod.
This way you can see how big any open area in your worldspace is allowed to be BUT this does not restrict you to just making tiny worldspaces. It simply means you have block line of sight at the point where the LOD appears, either by putting something there to block it or by adding a corner and changing a streets direction.
How you do it is entirely up to you. A tunnel through rubble, twisting canyons, these are all ways to work around the problem. The key point is, you must block Line of Sight so the LOD does not show. You do not have to stick to small world spaces, that is not a restriction here. Only the line of sight is a restriction.
Planning your design.
Knowing the work arounds, you must now start planning your worldspace design. Good designs would include a Brotherhood of Steel type citadel, a winding canyon that changes direction constantly. Washington DC style worldspaces where ruins block line of sight and forests that restrict line of sight everywhere so the LOD is never needed in the first place. Any design that requires a short line of sight will work with this. Any idea that requires a long line of sight will not work well here.
So think about that before proceeding because worldspace design is a lot easier when you can picture what you want in your head. Once you start making it, you will find it is very similar making a world of art from scratch, the building process takes on a life of its own and you really start to get in to it. Especially if you put some music on whilst you work.
My personal favourite artist for those times when I get creative is Dio, I always do good work when Dio is playing. Thin Lizzy is band I also find helps me think and be creative. Find your own muse, it will help you a lot and make a long boring job in to a fun job.
Making the worldspace from scratch.
Time to make our worldspace.
Leave everything at defaults and just make these changes for now, you can mess around with the settings once you have a working worldspace and see how it works.
First load up geck and go to the World Menu and select World Spaces. A new window will appear. Right click in the World space list and select new and give your new worldspace a name. Now you must be careful what you edit on your worldspace window because if you want to move your worldspace to an esm, some settings here such as Image Space and others can cause your game to crash when you try enter your new world. If you are making an esp, this is not a problem.
If your working with an esp, this is not a problem but the choice you make right now will decide if you can add it to an esm or not later. An esm will allow other mods to modify your worldspace and allow the other mods NPCs to visit it but limits how you can decorate it. An ESP prevents other mods from modifying your worldspace but does not limit how you can decorate it. But you can set the imagespace in a separate esp if you go the esm route is its not really a restriction. It just means you have to mod your own mod.
In this tutorial, I'll be explaining the ESM + ESP combo trick to allow you to get the best of both worlds later.
For now, lets take a look at your world spaces options.
"Name" is the name that appears when you enter the worldspace, it also appears in your saved games.
Parent Worldspace allows you to set it so your worldspace uses another worldspaces terrain and settings. Since we are making ours from scratch, this must be set to None. Editing the wastelands worldspace in this way edits it for real and causes problems so lets simply take it on faith that its beyond the scope of this tutorial and leave it set to none. Unless you want to read 16 pages detailing all the possible problems here :)
Because we did not select a worldspace as a parent, some options are available to set where as others are not. An area of concern right away is the Water Level, by default GECK will make all worldspaces water worldspaces by drowning everything so we must change that.
LOD Water Height
Set the LOD Water Height to -10000 but leave the rest of sharable data alone unless your planning to release an ESP not an ESM. If you are planning to use an ESP you can select the water, imagespace and climate right now. Wasteland Climate is usually good enough for most. Water and Climate can be selected even if you are making an esm but Imagespace may not be.
Default Land Height.
Set this to -2048.0000 and Default Water Height to -10000.0000 so it matches the LOD water height.
TIP: This does mean water will not be a feature of our worldspace but you can play around with these settings to get the water right if you want water. The LOD Water Height and the Default Water Height are the parts you must tweak.
World Map Offset Data.
This is where we set up the world map and scale it. Cell X and Cell Y but when making an original terrain that does not have a parent or need its place on the parent terrain clearly marked, this section becomes pointless so you can ignore it.
Use Map Data.
This is the part where you define the size of your map and choose your map file that will display in the map window. The default map is the wasteland map and your worldspace will appear to show you at the center of it if you use it. The default world map is in the textures bsa and found in the Interface\Worldmap\Wasteland_1024_no_map.dds folder. So you need to make your self a world map and add it to fallout 3\data\textures\interface so you can select it here.
The file must be in DDS format DX1 should do but if not, play around until you get it right.
The Usable Dimensions indicate the playable area and I believe is a cell count, since our world will have a high wall around it due to the LOD issue, you can ignore that part.
The CelL Coordinates are more important and actually to make the map match the world your in. I found this to be a pain in the butt since you have to mess around with the NW Cell x NW Cell y and SE Cell X and SE Cell Y AND also adjust the size of your map until the roads on your map match the roads in the game. It really is a terrible system which may go a long way to explaining why beth appeared to have given up trying to use it them selves.
Take a look at their maps in Fallout 3, do that actually match the features your looking at or is it more of a rough estimate ?
Exactly...its a rough estimate, the roads do not match, only the river appears in the right place. So take a tip from them and choose a neutral map that looks like your area but has no real details. And just use that. Take a look at the DC area in the wasteland if you want to see how Beth avoided this issue. Or the Pitt DLC, both used pictures of buildings to make it look right without ever attempting to match the map up with actual in game details.
This leaves you to focus on setting the top left and bottom right corners of your map using the NW Cell x NW Cell y and SE Cell X and SE Cell Y system. Which just means finding the cell in those locations you want to be mark the edge of your map and entering it here. You usually do this last since you have not designed your worldspace yet and do not actually know where the edge should be yet.
Hand creating our Worldspace.
Completely ignoring the Height Map Editing option the the World menu because it is a bug fest...............just so you know, I have made worldspaces properly and found the results I got from the Height map editing window to be far from perfect anyway. So you are not missing anything here.
Find the Cell View Window and select the down arrow next to the word World Space that is currently saying "interiors" and find your worldspace in the list. Then click on Cell 0.0.
You will probably see black square (drop an NPC on the black square to make it disappear then delete the square, its caused by no objects being on the terrain) or something dark and merky if your too high above aground or underwater. So click on the object named Landscape to get to the land and then zoom in.
I have a 3 button mouse and the middle mouse button is what I use for that. Holding down shift and the middle mouse button fixes the point I am looking at so I can move the mouse around and rotate the view. The X, Y, Z keys will be used in their normal way to work move objects around when we are ready in the next section.
For now go to the world menu again and select Landscape editing and use the Edit Radius and Edit Falloff to edit the size of your brush, then when you have a brush the right size, hold down shift and start sculpting your terrain to the shape you want it. Do not paint it yet, just create it. Any mistakes can be wiped clean using the flatten option with the left mouse button pressed.
Remember the line of sight rule and the tip involving the markers, this is the point where that trick comes in hardy. You can use it now to find the max distance you are allowed to view before the missing LOD becomes a problem. Very tall objects that appear over the top of items you use to block Line of sight will pop in to view, so avoid top objects if possibe or build higher walls to block line of sight.
Once you know the cut off distance for the line of sight, just use it as a guide when creating your worldspace. The simplest way is to sink your worldspace below the default ground level so you automatically get a cliff effect around the edge of your world that does the job for you. Surrounding the area with buildings when you decorate it also works very well.
Using twisting canyons to link up multiple smaller open areas, you can create very large worldspaces, you just need to remember not to make the viewable distance too big or some views in your worldspace will not look so good when objects pop in to existance.
When you are done, place a door in your worldspace and a door in the wasteland near a popular landmark like megaton and link the two up. Then go in to the game and check out your world and make sure it is okay and nothing is popping in to existence. If it is, go back to the editor and adjust it until you have eliminated that effect. If you plan to block the view later with buildings or something then this is not really a problem.
Section for ESM Worldspace Makers.
ESM Worldspace Restrictions.
ESP worldspace makers can skip the ESM sections.
If you want to make your worldspace in to an esm so any mod can use it, you must now obey some additional restrictions when decorating your esm worldspace, so before we get to that part, lets lay down the rules.
ESMs have a few rules and some strict limitations as well as a few massive advantages. Certain objects in the Fallout3.esm WILL crash out the game if used in your worldspace.esm. So I'll be sticking to items I know are safe in this tutorial, so not to confuse you at this stage with the complexities of the whole ESM topic. Trust me, its a massive topic, War and Peace is light reading compared to it.
ESM World Spaces can be painted and can use Static Objects safely.
You can find the static objects under the Static list in the Object Window of GECK but avoid everything else when decorating your ESM world space at this point. I will explain the workaround later using a seperate esp to add the rest. This is the modding your mod workaround and it works fine.
Converting your ESP in to the ESM.
ESP worldspace makers can skip the ESM sections.
For those of you that want an esm worldspace rather than an ESP worldspace so other mods can use it, this is the section where we convert it to an esm. This is an additional step for ESM makers only.
The first thing you must have is Tes4Gecko by Dev Akm, you should be able to find it using Google. Dev Akm is an expert on esms for Oblivion and whilst Fallout 3 esms have changed a little and now allow you to do things that where not allowed in Oblivion. Much of Devs advice on ESMs is still valid for Fallout 3.
To make an ESM out of your worldspaces ESP file run the TES4Gecko.jar and select the Convert to Master and just browse to your ESP and select it. By default TES4Gecko opens in the oblivion folder so just find your Fallout 3 folder and your mod will be in there somewhere. The process of making the esm leaves the ESP file untouched. If you ever need to update your world, you will need to edit the ESP file and convert it to an esm again. This has the advantage of reducing the risk of corruption and if you are unlucky and do get a corrupt esm, just make a new one out of the ESP and you will be fine.
So keep that ESP safe people :)
Moving your worldspace ESP in to an existing esm.
If you already have an esm and want to move the worldspace to it, you can do so by converting your esm back to ESP using Tes4Geckos Convert to Plugin option.
To make an ESP out of your worldspaces ESM file run the TES4Gecko.jar and select the Convert to Plugin and just browse to your esm and select it. Tes4Gecko will make you an new ESP out of it.
Providing there is no custom models in the worldspace ESP, this will work fine, if custom models where added to your ESP, they will not be copied across to your esm this way. And so you may get errors.
Now you simply need to select the ESP made from your esm as the active mod in GECK and then select the worldspace ESP and load them both in to Geck at the same time. Then go to the world menu and select World space. Finally find your world space and duplicate it, then save your mod so the ESP you made from your old esm gets a copy of the worldspace saved in to it.
Now close geck and reopen it, select only the ESP you made from the esm and load that as the active mod, edit the worldspace name bt going back to the world menu and selecting World space and finding your worldspace in the list and clicking on it until it lets you edit the name. When you are happy save it and convert the ESP back in to an esm as described above.
Keeping the esp safe so you can edit it as needed and use it to make new esms when you need too.
ESM Makers Additional NOTES.
Now you have your Worldspace in your esm, you can mod it normally as if it was an official worldspace by Beth. The advantage of an esm is it allows this. So what follows for plugin users also applies to you. The difference is, you must make a new ESP for this next step and mod your own worldspace using that new esp.
So create a new ESP by loading geck with your ESM selected but not active and then simply add a door to link your worldspace to the rest of the gaming world and then save your mod under a new ESP name. We can now use that new ESP as a door to your worldspace AND save any changes to your worldspace in this new esp.
This completely by passes the usual esm restrictions because your not editing the esm, your working on an esp :)
From this point on ESM worldspace makers follow ESP worldspace makers instructions as if they where ESP worldspace makers.
ESP & ESM Worldspace Makers
Painting and decorating the Worldspace.
Esps have none of the limitations ESMs have where decorating is concerned so you can go mad and decorate your worldspace using anything you find in the editor as if it was any normal house mod now. Those decorating their own esm using a separate ESP can also do this. It is a method I use to by pass the usual esm restrictions.
I recommend playing your objects in the world THEN going to the World Menu and selecting Landscape Editing and painting it using the textures available there. This way you can see areas that need extra detail based on the objects on them and this will improve your paint jobs considerably.
To enable landscape painting turn off Flatten Vertices and Soften Vertices and select a texture. Whilst you in texture painting mode you may find your not able to paint the terrain. There are 2 reasons for this.
1) Your not above the cell your trying to paint.
2) You have painted that cell with at least 7 textures already and are not allowed to add any more.
If you hit the last problem, select the area you want to paint and then press "i", it wilol bring up a window with 4 Quads and list all the textures used in the surrounding cells. You can remove textures used from there by selecting them and deleting them if you need too.
The Advantage of going the ESM Route.
There is 1 key advantage ESM users gain at this point.
An NPC from one ESP mod can enter your new worldspace because it is in an esm not an esp. The esm worldspace might be a totally flat landscape and barren with nothing on it. But anything added to it by a separate ESP file can be interacted with by that NPC in the normal way. So if you place 1 chair on your barren worldspace and save it off as "mychairmod.esp" and enable it in game. You will have 1 chair appear on an otherwise barren world in game.
If you add a table to that barren world in a mod called mytable.esp and put food on it than enable that in game, you get a table and a chair in a barren world.
If you make another ESP called "my_npc.esp" and tell it to go to the barren worldspace and use a sandbox AI package. The NPC will enter the worldspace in side your esm, walk over to the chair from the mychair.esp mod and sit down on it and have a meal. This 1 esp is seen to use 2 others. Which according to the rules should not be possible but becomes possible because all 3 esps are in the same esm worldspace.
Because the esm trick allows your edit the world, items in it can come from multiple esps and still interact with each other to a degree as explained above.
So if you making a pure ESP worldspace, you have to put everything you want to use that eso but if your making an esm worldspace, you can add to it using several esp mods over time.
From this point on, you simply decorate your world normally and you do not need me to explain that, just consider it a massive house mod or something. The only consideration is the LOD issue mentioned above. You must not forget about that since it is a restriction of this quick and easy method of making world spaces.
ESM makers will start to see the possibilities here as they start linking up custom worldspaces in new and interesting ways. The idea of having Neverwinter nights style worldspaces all linked is actually possible without spending 2 years making 1 big worldspace and then never finishing it. This system allows you to start smaller and build up to something big over time, brick by brick. In way it remains true to the original Fallout 1 level designs.
Anyway, thats all for this tutorial, if you have any questions, post them on the forum as usual.