Who and What is the Tool For?
Some Oblivion players aren’t content with just finishing the game, generating new characters or exploring terrain in various ways: they want to add their touch to the world, and they have the creativity to go that bit further. But what good is creativity without the tools to realise it? That’s where the Construction Set comes in.
This robust tool effectively allows players to become developers – to a limited extent – by adding interior/exterior elements to the existing world; these elements can be anything from a simple house to a multi-layered Dungeon complete with spooky effects and enemies. The Set is also used for creating quest-lines, adding NPCs and even importing custom-objects created by a 3D-modelling program (i.e. 3DMax).
If you feel you want to start “modding” continue reading for some basic tips on how to use the Oblivion construction set. The article won’t deal with complex things – such as modelling, scripting or quest-lines – but it should be enough to just learn how to use the program and move one step further.
Beginnings: Loading Master File, Windows and Cell View
In case you don’t have the latest version, download it here and install it with the setup program.
Launch the application and load the Master File: at the top go to “File”, then “Data” and double-click “Oblivion.esm.” Press OK. It usually takes some time to load, depending on RAM/processing power.
You now have all the objects and cells from the world, and you can start exploring the Render, Object and the Cell View windows.
The Object window includes everything that’s in the game, meaning actors, creatures, spell effects, static-objects and much more. You’ll use these things to build your world and add flavour to it, with terrain, plants, textures etc…
The Cell View window lets you look at all available locations in the game (or cells), whether interior locations (a house, a cave) or exterior ones (a city). It also lists “World Spaces.” Here you can copy an existing location/world space, to help you build from a blueprint, or create your own from scratch.
Lastly the Render window will show what your chosen cell or object looks like, and you can manipulate these in various ways.
Manipulating Objects in the Render Window
It all looks difficult but it really isn’t and moving objects is an important step forward to using the Oblivion Construction Set. There are two ways to move objects: by use of the mouse or by the edit window.
First we’ll load up a World Space. In Cell View select “Empty World” in the “World Space” drop-down. Right-click on “Empty Cell” listed at the bottom and select “View.” It now displays in the Render Window.
Next an object is due. In the Object Window collapse “WorldObjects” (click on it) then “Static” and click on “FarmHouse.” In the right-hand pane, drag “FarmHouse01” and drop it into the Render Window.
(contd. in page 2)
To move the object with the mouse, hold left-click and press Z, X or Y. Hold right-click and move the mouse to rotate the object. Z, X and Y are axes, meaning you can move the farm-house vertically (bringing it level with terrain) or in the other two directions. You can also just move by holding left-click but you still need to hold Z to move vertically. Experiment, try it out.
To move the object via Edit, double left-click on it. A window appears and it contains all the numerical values (3D data, position, rotation) to move the farm-house more precisely. Now you have basic editing capabilities in the construction set for Oblivion.
T or F are used to give you a top-view of the object, or drop it level with terrain (floor). You can rotate the camera by holding Shift and moving the mouse. You can also move freely by holding the space-bar.
Creating Your World Space
Select “World” at the top, and click on “World Spaces,” third down in the list. Right-click anywhere in the left pane and select “New.” Type a name for your world, in this case call it “Island” because that’s pretty much what it will look like.
Go into the Cell View window and select your World space via the drop-down. Right-click on “Wilderness” in the bottom-window and select “View.” You’ll see that it looks purple, because we have yet to add land (purple being water).
Navigate with the spacebar, as shown previously, moving downwards until you can see the land underneath the level of the water. We need to move this land on the surface to create the island. Go to “File” select “Preferences,” go to “Landscape Movement” and change the sensitivity multiplier to 5.
Now go to World and select “Landscape Editing.” Untick “Flatten Vertices” and set the edit radius to about 10. Hold left-click in the Render window and start moving the land to the surface. Once you see it emerge from the water, the purple bit, go to the landscape-editor window again and tick “Flatten Vertices.” Left-click on the bit of land and make it as large as you wish.
Lastly you can add texture from the landscape-editor window. In this case I chose “Terrain Wet Sand.” Paint your surface by holding right-click and spreading on the island. Add objects or clutter to it, I put a couple of tents. Save your work.
(contd. in page 3)
Building Your Travel Means
You now should have the basics on placing objects and editing terrain. Next we’ll build a boat to travel to your island, from Anvil. First choose the “Tamriel” world-space, click on “AnvilBay” and view it in render.
We’ll make a copy of the “Bloated Float” but not as intricate. In the object window navigate to “World Objects – Static” then click on “Ships.” To make the boat we’ll need the following parts: BloatedFloat01, BloatedFloatCabin01, BloatedFloatHouse01, BoatSideRivets02, MainMast02, BloatedTavernStairs01.
You’ll need to be patient when assembling all the pieces; refer to the “Manipulating Objects” section again if you need to, or look at the diagram here to see how they are assembled. Once you have assembled the main boat, double click on the “BloatedTavernStairs01” and enter “1.2500” in the “Scale” value. Place it near the door.
Next go to “WorldObjects – Activator – Door – Ships” and drag-drop “BoatDoor1” into the Render. Rotate the object by holding the right mouse-button if needed, or if it shows as odd. Now place the door so it exactly covers the Boat-house door. Go to the Cell View window, right-click on the boat-door object and choose edit. In the “Reference Editor ID” type “MyBoatDoor.”
Travel to Your World
After everything looks good, click the cursor into a blank space in the Render, hold left-click and select the whole boat with selection-rectangle. Go to Edit and select “Copy Render.”
Go back to your “Island” World Space. Paste the Render and place your boat near the water: make sure every object is selected or it will dislodge again!
Once everything is in place lets rename our cells. From your Island World-space, go to the Cell View and select the Wilderness cell where you’ve placed your objects (they will show in the right window-pane). Very slowly double click on it: it will highlight it. Rename it “IslandArrive.”
Go to the Tamriel world-space. Find the AnvilBay cell where you’ve placed the boat and rename it “AnvilIslandTransport.” Note that if your boat is not in a Wilderness cell, you do not need to rename the cell; instead of choosing "AnvilIslandTransport" below, in the teleport options, choose the named cell.
Last step is to edit both doors: right-click on the door in each world-cell and select Edit. In the Teleport tab, tick “Teleport” and select the respective cells from the drop-down; for “AnvilIslandTransport” door, teleport to “IslandArrive” and vice-versa.
Save your work and test your first mod! Of course this is just the beginning, but this tutorial should get you working with more complex aspects of the Oblivion construction set.