Tes3Mod:General Editor Tips

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The editor can be immensely intimidating and complex to the first time user, even if they have some experience with modding other games. The following are some general tips for using the editor, for beginners and experts alike.

Starting Out
Some areas of the editor are much easier to learn than others. Start out learning a few of the 'easier' parts first and slowly expand to the difficult areas rather than trying to do everything at once (which will probably end up getting you discouraged). Start with general item editing and interior/exterior creation, the easier parts, and wait to get into dialogue and scripting (definitely the most difficult areas) until you are more familiar with everything.
Choosing Item IDs
When creating or renaming items you'll need to choose a unique ID for it.
  • Most IDs are limited to 32 bytes (cell names can have 64 bytes I believe).
  • IDs are not case sensitive so dh_test_weapon_01 is the same as DH_test_WEAPON_01.
  • Don't use spaces unless absolutely required (like in cell names and dialogue topics). When you begin scripting you'll find it easier to use IDs without spaces.
  • Don't start your ID with the _ (underscore) character. You'll again run into fewer problems when you start scripting. Some people like to start all custom objects with the underscore so they'll appear at the beginning of the item lists.
  • Start all your IDs in the mod with several characters to uniquely identify yourself and the mod. For instance, in my furniture mod all my IDs begin with dh_furn_ while in my house mod it's dh_home_ (DH being my initials). This greatly helps in separating your custom items from everything else as well as helping to prevent possible ID conflicts between multiple plugins.
  • Just to note that depending on the record type, you can have the same ID shared between them. For instance you can have a dialogue topic with the same ID as a weapon (or other item). This doesn't seem to affect the game in any way.
Most of these aren't hard-and-fast rules, but I've found them helpful in avoiding potential problems.
Textures/Icons/Sounds
When editing items, you may need/want to change the resource file (texture, model, sound, etc...) associated with the object. By default, these resources are all stored in the Morrowind.Bsa (and other BSA) files but cannot be directly accessed. In order to easily browse/select these resources you'll need to copy them all from the 2nd Construction Set CD that comes with the original game and the GOTY editions. Simply copy all the files into the game's Data Files sub-directory.
Render View Shortcut Keys
There are many shortcut keys you can use in the review view window.
  • SPACEBAR - Hold the SpaceBar down while moving the mouse to pan the view (or hold down the mouse-wheel).
  • V - Hold down V to zoom the camera while moving the mouse in the view (or spin the mouse-wheel).
  • Arrow Keys - Move the view a half-cell distance at a time.
  • SHIFT - Hold the Shift key while moving the mouse to rotate around the view. If an object is currently selected the view will rotate about that object.
  • C - Center the currently selected object in the view.
  • T - Center the currently selected object in the view from a top-down perspective.
  • D - Deselect all objects (or left-click in any empty space).
  • CTRL - Hold down the Ctrl key and left-click objects to select/deselect multiple objects.
  • X/Y/Z - Hold the X/Y/Z key to move/rotate objects along the world X/Y/Z-axis. Note that Y is for rotating around the world Z-axis and Z for the world Y-axis (don't ask).
  • F - Make the currently selected objects fall to the next object beneath them.
  • DEL - Delete the selected objects from the world.
  • CTRL+C - Copy the currently selected objects.
  • CTRL+X - Cut the currently selected objects.
  • CTRL+V - Paste copied/cut objects. Objects are placed in front of the camera.
  • CTRL+SHIFT+V - Paste copied/cut objects in place. The objects are placed at the exact same coordinates from when they were copied.
  • CTRL+D - Duplicate the currently selected objects. The duplicates are placed right on top of the selected ones.
  • CTRL+Y - Redo actions
  • CTRL+Z - Undo actions (not all actions can be undone).
  • CTRL+F - Find the first instance of a particular item in the world. The cell window will change to display the object.
  • F2/F3 - Find the next/previous instance of the last item found using CTRL+F. Use these to iterate through all instances of a particular object in the world.
  • M - Hide/Show marker objects (including door, invisible light, north and travel markers).
  • L - Hide/Show the radius of all lights.
  • A - Toggle the use of bright light to help illuminate the scene.
  • F4 - Toggle the display of the collision mesh.
  • W - Toggle the display of wireframe.
  • H - Open the landscape edit window.
Inventory Icon Images
Icon images (seen in the player's inventory window) are a simply 32x32 image of the item, usually in the TGA or DDS formats. An alpha channel is not required but if missing the icon's background will not be transparent (most noticeable when moving/dragging the item). While there are many image programs which support alpha channels the following is a general walkthrough for creating a valid alpha channel for an image using Paint Shop Pro (it will be similar for most image editors).
  • Create your 32x32, 16 million color icon image. I usually get a screen capture of the item from the editor or 3DSMax and crop/resize. The background should be black for the best results.
  • Choose the magic wand tool (for selecting parts of the image with the same color). Select all the background areas in the image that you wish to be transparent. The magic wand settings can be adjusted as needed to provide good results (such as feather).
  • Invert the selection.
  • Save the selection to an alpha channel (make sure you only have one alpha channel in your icon image).
NIF Files
NIF probably stands for NetImmerse File and is only used by the proprietrary NetImmerse 3D Game Engine (as far as I know anyways). In order to make new NIF files you'll need a copy of 3DSMax (v4.0 or higher) as well as a NIF Exporter plugin (available freely from morrowind.com). Unfortunately there is no complete/official plugin/utility for loading existing NIF files (an unofficial plugin does exist but is currently unstable).
Dialogue
Creating and editing dialogue is one of the more difficult aspects of the editor to learn, yet it is required to do any sort of quests. Dialogue consists of a large list of topics which the player can choose to discuss, with each topic having a list of infos/responses. Each time the player chooses a topic the game starts at the first (top) response in the list, checking if the conditions for the response are met. The game continues down the list of responses for that topic until it finds the first valid response. This is important to know in order to successfully create dialogue.