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Using TES Construction Set, page 3: Working with land
Ok, so you want to change the shape of the land. In this tutorial, we'll try making a tiny island somewhere just off the coast. Maybe you can even put a lighthouse or something on the island after you're done. It's up to you, but I'll show you the techniques I've figured out for landscaping and viewing the land.
I expect that you've worked through the other sections already because you'll need the skills you've learned so far in order to make landscaping work right.
Of any of the sections, I think this section is probably the most useful since I had to experiment for hours to figure out the techniques I use for viewing the land and getting around. Without good techniques for moving around the land mass and looking at things, you'll probably go crazy because the camera, rotation and other tools don't work quite the same way as they seem to work in the object mode. The help files in the construction set don't explain using the controls to view the land very well. So read on.
Open the Morrowind master file
The first step to get started landscaping is nothing fancy--just open the Morrowind master file (and a plugin file if you want to save the changes to a pre-existing plugin).
Put yourself in landscaping mode
Though it seems obvious, put yourself in landscaping mode by clicking the button as shown on the right.
Change the edit radius for "walking mode"
I recommend changing the edit radius for right now to between 15 and 30 instead of the default of 5. We will not actually be using the radius of 15 to move land but to walk across the landscape to find a place somewhere just off the coast where we can make an island.
The edit radius seems to have some effect on how close the camera zooms in for "walking mode." Walking mode is not an actual mode, but is just a technique I've made up for viewing the landscape as I'll explain in the next few steps. The larger the radius, the larger the "steps" we can take while moving across the landscape. If things zoom in too close, increase the edit radius; if they are too far, make the edit radius smaller.
It is very easy to get disoriented when you're rotating things, zooming in and out or looking down from miles and miles above the earth. It is also very easy to lose any sense of direction (north, south, east and west) after you've rotated the camera with the mouse a few times. "Walking mode" to the rescue.
After you've changed the radius to 15, just close the dialog window.
Move the clipping distance to about half way
You'll need to see farther when trying to modify the landscape than you would when you're trying to modify an interior or something that is closer and more detailed. I recommend setting the clipping distance about half way along the slider in the preferences window. This seems to me to be a good balance between speed and seeing far enough to know what is going on. Of course you can change this setting to your taste.
Make your rendering window as big as you can
Even though the pictures I'm putting on this web page are small, making your render window as big as you can will help a lot in your being able to see the detail you need.
These pictures are small because I wanted to save on download time for the Internet.
Open an inital cell somewhere that you think might be useful
I double-clicked on the cell -7, -3 in the cells window because I thought it might be useful. I wanted to look to the west and south (remember negative numbers for x are west and postive ones are east, negative numbers for y are south and positive ones are north).
When you open the cell you'll get an overhead view which makes it difficult to distinguish any height features--not very useful.
Put the red circle (your landscape modifying circle) somewhere in the middle of the window and press the c key. Remember, the c key centers on the selected object with a side view in the object mode? Well, the key does a similar thing here, but it centers on the landscaping circle in landscaping mode with a side view.
If you want to center on an overhead view instead, you can press the t key. I usually find the side view more useful.
When you center (with either the c or the t keys) the program seems to align the directions so that up is north, down is south, left is west and right is east. These keys are very useful if you've been twisting things around with the rotate camera buttons and you've lost all sense of direction (it is easy to do this).
Take a step south
Here's how to "walk" across the landscape.
Move the landscaping circle in the direction you would like to move. In this case I want to move south until I reach the ocean, so I've moved the landscaping circle to the bottom of the render window (remember down is south). See the top picture of these two.
Down=south, up=north, left=west, right=east
Now, press the c key on the keyboard. The c key moves the landscape so that the magic landscaping circle is in the center of the screen again. It has moved the place I had selected in the first picture back into the center of the second picture and "walked" me south a step.
You may also use the arrow keys on the keyboard to move the landscape by 1/4 cell increments, but I find the "walking" method more useful since it keeps the view at a certain orientation and distance from the ground so you don't get disoriented.
If you use other camera movement methods (rotating around, zooming in and out) these methods always rotate around or zoom towards the landscaping circle. A lot depends on where you place the circle in landscaping mode.
Continue walking around the landscape until you reach the ocean and find a good place to make a little island. There will be pauses every few "steps" you take since the computer will load different cells as it crosses cell boundaries.
Raising and lowering settings
Now that we've found a place that is underwater, we can raise up the land so that it makes an island that sticks out of the water.
The program allows the land only to be raised and lowered, you cannot twist and curl the land in any way. Still, raising and lowering provides most of what you need to make a great landscape.
Now you may want to resize the edit circle in the edit radius box (click the landscaping toolbar icon to get the dialog with the radius). A large radius moves large areas of land and a small radius moves small areas. The default is 5, which is fairly small.
You may also want to change the Land Sensitivity Multiplier in the preferences dialog box. The default is 1 which moves land very, very slowly. If you want to move land larger distances (without having to drag it many, many times) put a higher number in this box such as 5.
I recommend using a radius of at least 10 and a multiplier of at least 5 to raise an island from beneath the waves. For smaller landscaping you probably want to reduce the radius and the multiplier so you don't make such large landscaping moves.
Raise the land
To raise or lower land, just drag it upwards or downwards. Sometimes it is helpful to switch the view to the wireframe mode (by pressing w or using the view menu). T The advantage of wireframe mode is that you can see through parts of the land and see the contours without having to rotate the land as often.
You will probably want to switch views between a front view (press the c key) and the overhead view (the t key) so you can see things from different angles and so you can get to areas of land that you would like to raise and lower.
When moving land, and especially before switching in and out of wireframe view I recommend saving your file. I had many, many crashes on my computer when I switched in or out of wireframe view. It may be a configuration problem specific to my computer, but I also wouldn't be surprised if the construction set is buggy. It wouldn't be the first time that Bethesda released buggy software (remember Arena and Daggerfall?).
When working with the land, experiment with the options for "soften vertices" and "flatten vertices" to see how they effect things (landscape dialog box).
To give your land texture, open the landscaping properties window again and select a texture from the textures shown.
Paint the texture onto your land by painting with the right mouse button.
You may select other textures from the landscaping properties window and paint them on, but Bethesda's documentation suggest that you should have no more than 2 textures right next to each other since the blending of more than 2 textures doesn't look good.
Add some trees, bushes, rocks and other decoration to your landscape. Many of these items are located under the static object category.
Add vertex coloring
Open the landscape dialog box, check the Edit Colors box to enable painting with the shades of colors you specify. When the edit colors box is checked you may paint the colors you specify in the color boxes onto the landscape. The first color is applied with the left mouse button and the second color with the right mouse button.
It adds interest to color in areas under trees, against rocks and other places that need different shadings of color.
Test your file in Morrowind
Test out the file in Morrowind to see if the it works the way you would like it to and then make any modifications necessary.
To teleport to an outdoor cell with your character, bring up a command window by pressing ~ and then type coe x, y where x and y are the coordinates of the outdoor cell.
You may download the basic island I created in cell -10, -5 although it is not extremely exciting it will give you some idea of how to create outdoor cells.
Some assorted tips
Find an object
Sometimes you may want to search for an object by text. Use this option to do so and find dialog, objects, etc. Saves some time scrolling through the lists of objects.
Quickly go to an outdoor cell by coordinates
For instance if I wanted to go to cell -10, -5 I would type these coordinates into the dialog for Go To Cell.
About wilderness cells
The editor automatically creates Wilderness cells if you change the landscape somewhere outside the world defined in the Morrowind.esm file. It's a good idea to make large changes to the landscape somewhere away from the main parts of the game so that any plugins you create do not cause interferance with the main game for someone else installing them. It is also a good idea to document your plugins so that people using them know if the plugin will interfere with anything in the game or other plugins they have installed.
You probably also want to rename the Wilderness cells to another name that is more descriptive of the changes you made to the landscape.
Each cell is defined as being in a region. The region it is in controls the kinds of weather that can appear in the cell as well as the ambient sounds that will be heard in the cell. You may also change the color that each region shows on the world map here.
To get to the region dialog click World | Regions . . .. The region dialog allows you to define these pieces of information for a new region or to change the information for an existing region.
To include a cell in a region, read on.
Changing the region an outdoor cell is in
Click World | Exterior Cell to associate a specific cell as being part of a region. Here you may choose the weather type of a cell (which region's weather type it will use) and also a separate color on the world map that is different than the region's color (such as for cities).
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