We at Curse are proud to announce that our Skyrim modding community based on SkyrimForge.com is growing strong!
We have over 60 mods available for download on our Skyrim mod portal and many more being planned for development once the creation kit is released. We've already given out $5,170 to the creative and hard working authors participating in our Skyrim $15k Modding Challenge! That means there's still almost $7,000 just waiting to be claimed by authors who are up to the task, plus the chance of winning the $3,000 grand prize.
If you're interested in participating, head over to SkyrimForge.com and start uploading. Any mod that is uploaded before January 31st, whether it qualifies as one of the first 35 mods uploaded for that category or not, is eligible to win the grand prize!
Also, keep an eye on SkyrimForge.com for more information on Skyrim Curse client integration! The feature is about to head into closed beta testing and there will be more news soon.
Below we have two interviews from two different perspectives of the mod author community!
Nickoli002 has already submitted numerous retextures such as his Glass Weapon Set Recolor, and the removal of the Ebony armor smoke effect. Kenneywings has become known for Lockpick Pro, a mod that allows you to pick locks with ease, and his Bethesda intro skip.
Both are talented modders who have provided some insight into modding without a toolkit!
Has it been difficult for you to mod without the toolkit?Nickoli002: Only to a certain extent. I have had to put some of my mods on hold since I cannot access the relevant files and have instead decided to do simple retextures/reskins of models in game. This is because it is very easy to access and identify the relevant files based on the item names and it requires relatively little knowledge to recolor/skin them for release.KenneyWings: Difficult - no. It's a lot of work get everything working since you're basically 'hacking' into the games resource files so you're bound to miss files or classes to work with. I just had the right tools to work with (I'm a Flash game developer/designer) and that helped the process get along without any hitches.Nickolo002, can you explain how you've been creating such high-quality textures? For example, your glass weapon recolors not only have tons of detail, but also fit in the world perfectly.nickoli002: They are simply of the same quality of the originals, the creators did a great job with this game, and it shows in the model quality. Compared to them, I am merely coloring them with crayons! But I do extensive checking in game to make sure all of the model colors fit together, that there is no odd discoloration or errors. I also switch genders (via the “sexchange” command in console) in game to make sure that they work and fit on both male and female characters.Can you explain how you are finding the individual texture files, and applying your new textures?nickoli002: Well the first step is to identify what model you want. Once that is done I use FOMM (Fallout Mod Manager) to browse the .bsa files located in the Skryim folder. Weapon and Armor models (as well as all textures) are located in the Skyrim – Textures.bsa. So once I identify which .bsa I want to extract files from, I open in it FOMM and browse to find the item I want. This is done by either searching by name or simply browsing the categories on the left.Once I find the relevant texture file I export it to a folder of my choosing. From there I open the .dds files in Photoshop with nvidia's DDS plugin. From there it is easy to modify the .dds file as with any image file. For the most part I am simply masking off each layer of detail that I want in Photoshop then overlaying custom color schemes, applying brightness/contrast, and change hues, etc. as desired.Once I achieve something I find decent I save the file as new .dds file, as well as creating new mipmaps in the process. Then I create the required folder structure within the Skyrim install directory and drop my new model there. Once the game is loaded, my new file is loaded instead of the one within the game and voila, you see the new color/model/etc. Then it is just back and forth between Photoshop and Skyrim to check model consistency, color, errors, etc.And Kenneywings, can you explain how you've been interlacing your mods so seamlessly with the UI? Design-wise, your "Display time on loading screen mod" is integrated so well by design.KenneyWings: Well as I said, I'm a designer myself and over the course of years I've designed numerous of game interfaces so it wasn't a problem for me to take the Skyrim UI style and add onto it.Can you explain how you are finding things like the algorithms for your mod "Lockpick Pro"?KenneyWings: While browsing the files I found that the data for the mod was in the game. I re-added in into the game and made sure it fit well with the rest of the UI.For returning modders, do you believe Archive Invalidation is going to be needed as with past Bethesda games?nickoli002: We will have to see if it is an issue as with past games. I don't know if they have fixed it or not, but since they never did with Oblivion (to my knowledge) I expect it will be needed.Do you have any advice for modders who can't wait for the toolkit, and want to start modding now?nickoli002: Sure. The biggest piece of advice I can come up with is to just get started on something. It's relatively easy, fun, and there are many tutorials on how to do it. If you need help there are many great places to start and it's never to late to learn. Obviously without the toolkit there are limitations but learning how to do modding, recoloring, and creating your own things is a fun trip, and very satisfying.KenneyWings: Unless you've had previous knowledge of Flash you might not want to start with modding the UI. Start with textures, sounds or data/strings. Those are all packed neatly in the game files and can be exchanged and altered without problems.Are you planning on going back and revising any of your mods once the toolkit is released?nickoli002: Oh yes, most if not all of them. I plan to make all of them separate entities and not just reskins (though I will leave the reskin versions of course). This is because some of the items have bad stats but look amazing, and I want people to wear items they like and not sacrifice game playability.KenneyWings: Depends on what the toolkit includes, I don't think it will include data or source files to change the UI but if it does I will go back and revise the mods. Data from Bethesda is always better than data I decompiled.My next project is a complete overhaul of the UI, completely made from scratch and not using any Skyrim files. The UI is going to closely resemble the default UI of Skyrim but it'll be tailored to the PC (not gamepads). You can see a preview here.