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Guidelines for Models and Textures

Asset Development includes the creation of models, with their accompanying textures and sometimes animations.  Our guidelines are listed below and assume a certain base level of knowledge.

General Guidelines

Before we get started on the particulars, there are a few things you should know:

  • Modder’s resources (that is, meshes and/or textures that someone else has created that you think might work well in TR) should be posted only in the modder resources thread.
  • Ideas & requests for new assets should be posted in the asset browser.
  • Copyright is important! Read this to know more about how copyright affects TR and you.

If you make or have models or textures you’d like to offer to TR, make a thread in the asset browser, and upload the pictures and files.

The Life Cycle of an Asset

Assets are generally developed first as concept art or an idea, and are then created as models with textures. So, as a modeler or texturer, you can either check through the active threads for inspiration, you can post whatever you feel like making, or you can search for requests. Requests and needs are posted in the Asset Browser. You can also see them by going to your Dashboard.

Assets in development are are open to anyone who wants to try their hand at them. Never delete someone else’s files; instead upload your own alongside them.

Completed assets are quality-checked, then added to TR_Data and then Tamriel_Data to await use in the Construction Set. Once completed, assets are still open to suggestions, comments, and improvements. If you notice a bug or issues with an existing asset, which has already been included in the game, post your bug report in TR’s Bugtracker.

Concept Art Specifically For Assets

Concepts for use in asset development should be functional or technical. This art should show the shape, size, color, and texture of an object. While more conceptual art is still useful, most of the art should be more technical; that is, it should accurately represent what the object should look like and preferably should include orthogonal views, such as the front, back, top, bottom, and left and right sides of an object. If the artist has a sense of how the model is made, the artist can also draw diagrams suggesting placement of faces, alpha, and seams.

This art should be posted directly in the relevant thread/asset if there is one, or in your own concept art thread otherwise.

Modeling Guidelines

To make models, you do not need to be able to make textures. You do, however, need to be able to make UV maps.

These guidelines are for use when you are making or reviewing a model. A model that fails these guidelines in a way that will:

  • Be embarassing to see in TR, even in a preview state
  • Cause us to have to edit the positioning of the model in the CS later
  • Fail to do its job as a model

...should not be allowed to be merged into Tamriel Data. If the model fails in a way that is mild and easy to fix later, it can be included, so long as it is flagged as needing to be fixed, with details on what exactly needs fixing. If you review a model, please specify what if anything needs to be fixed and if the model is ready for merging, flag it as such. For an asset as a whole to be ready for merging, all of its components (model, texture, sound, animations) must pass review.

Models must:

  • Have enough faces to look good, but not excessive faces. The exact number varies with the object you’re making, but compare it to similar objects in-game. Consider if a detail on the model can be faked with a texture instead of additional faces.
  • Be properly scaled sized/scaled. Test it in the construction set to be sure.
  • Have been cleaned of duplicate vertices, edges, and faces.
  • Be Morrowind-compatible .nif files.
  • Have UV maps that are efficient, have minimal stretching, and have the same texel size across the whole model.
  • Have collision if needed. If it does not have collision, the NCO-flag (non-collision-object flag) should be enabled.
  • "Sit” properly; i.e., that it equips or can be “f” into place properly in the CS.
  • Have alpha should only on faces that require it.
  • Have appropriate vertex shading, especially for static objects, to assist with the appearance of shadows. Pay attention to the local polycount and shade subtly.
  • Be named and have appropriate texture paths as stated below.
  • (When ready for merging) have an associated ESP file to be used to merge into Tamriel_Data, which incorporates it correctly using the Tamriel Data Naming System.

Texture Guidelines

Once a model is created, it will need to be skinned or textured. This is usually the final step of the development process and is separate from the modeling. You do not need to be able to do both. Before creating custom textures, check the Catalog to see if existing textures fill the need.

These guidelines are for use when you are making or reviewing a texture. A texture that fails these guidelines in a way that will:

  • Be embarassing to see in TR, even in a preview state
  • Cause us to have to edit the positioning of the model in the CS later
  • Fail to do its job as a texture

...should not be allowed to be merged into Tamriel Data. If the texture fails in a way that is mild and easy to fix later, it can be included, so long as it is flagged as needing to be fixed, with details on what exactly needs fixing. If you review a texture, please specify what if anything needs to be fixed and if the texture is ready for merging, flag it as such. For an asset as a whole to be ready for merging, all of its components (model, texture, sound, animations) must pass review.

Textures must:

  • Be sized equivalently to the vanilla Morrowind textures, times 4. That is, if Morrowind uses a texture that is 128x128, your new texture should be 512x512. Check the Catalog or BSA for appropriate texture sizes.
  • A DDS file. If the texture does not need alpha, it should be saved with dx1 compression, if it does use the alpha channel. It should use dx3 compression for on-off alpha, and dx5 compression for varying alpha. In any case, it should have mipmaps included.
  • Have the same texel size across the model.
  • Include (and use correctly) alpha, glow maps, decals, and detail maps (if required by the model). Bump/normal maps conform to the MCP rules (require an environment map), and parallax maps are not used.
  • Be crisp and detailed, and should not require bump or other maps to shade correctly.
  • Tile correctly if needed and not show seams.
  • Show/enhance the contours of the model they apply to.
  • Not be or contain stolen images. If you use images taken from the internet, please make sure they are royalty-free and that there are no copyright issues. Just because you found it does not automatically make it to okay to use it.
  • Be named appropriately as stated below.

Asset Naming and Folder Structure

If you are making a model or texture, please make sure to follow our current structure. Renaming assets is a pain in the butt, so make sure you name it properly from the beginning.

NOTE! This is for the naming of the assets themselves. Please ensure the CS IDs conform to the Tamriel Data CS ID Name System.

Models

All models are stored in the Morrowind/Data Files/meshes/tr/ folder. Every model, with very few exceptions, is stored in a subfolder, sorted as follows:

  • a – armor
  • b – bodies (body parts, heads, and hairs for playable races)
  • c – clothing
  • cr – creatures & their animations
  • d – doors
  • f – activators, static flora, furniture, and any associated animations
  • i – interior tileset pieces, misc interior statics
  • l – lights
  • m – misc (books, potions, plates, clutter etc)
  • n – ingredients
  • o – containers (alchemy flora, boxes, cabinets)
  • w – weapons
  • x – exterior tileset pieces, terrain statics, misc exterior statics

Models are named with tr_ as a prefix, then a short indicator of their type, and then their main name. The entire model path and name must be 32 characters or less: tr/a/tr_a_dreugh_boots_gnd.nif is 30 characters. Here are some examples of how models are named. Your model should conform to this as closely as is reasonable, but due to space considerations you may need to omit or compress some fields. Do not include a “maker’s mark” in there (such as using tr_KZ_blueflower if “Kaziem” made the blue flower).

  • Armors: tr_a_Type_Part_subpart_num – tr_a_dreugh_boots_a_01.nif
  • Body parts: tr_b_race_m/f_part_num – tr_b_nord_m_head_02.nif
  • Clothing: tr_c_part_grade_subpart_num – tr_c_shirt_exp_ind_01.nif
  • Creature: tr_cr_creaturename_part_num – tr_cr_muckleech_01.nif
  • Door: tr_in/ex_tileset_name_num – tr_ex_imp_gatebig_01.nif
  • Activator: tr_act_name_num – tr_act_ind_mark_mer_01.nif
  • Furniture: tr_furn_grade_name_num – tr_furn_ind_gong_stand_01.nif
  • Hangings: tr_banner/tapestry_name_num – tr_banner_tel_oren_01.nif
  • Flora: tr_f_region_name_num – tr_f_aj_root_04.nif
  • Interior Tileset Pieces: tr_in_tileset_name_num – tr_in_dwrv_floor_01.nif
  • Misc: tr_misc_name_num – tr_misc_bottle_02.nif
  • Ingredients: tr_ing_name_num – tr_ing_cookie_01.nif
  • Containers (not flora/furniture): tr_cont_name_num – tr_cont_rock_iron_01.nif
  • Weapons: tr_w_material_type_part_num – tr_w_glass_spear_01.nif
  • Exterior Tileset Pieces: tr_ex_tileset_name_num – tr_ex_imp_dock_03.nif

Textures

Textures are named similarly to Models, but because textures do not have the 32-character limit, their names and folder names are longer. All textures live in the Morrowind/Data Files/textures/tr folder. Many are additonally put in a subfolder, according to this list:

  • no subfolder – misc items, flasks, clutter, barrels, furniture, ingredients, keys, anything that does not fit in one of the other folders
  • a – armors
  • arc – architectural objects, like tilesets, statues, windows, road markers, and other “man-made” things
  • b – body parts, heads, hairs, for playable races
  • bk – books, scrolls, notes
  • c – cloth things, including banners, tapestries, and clothing
  • cr – creatures
  • env – environmental items, such as rocks, flora, dirt, ice, etc
  • lnd – ground textures only: textures used in landscape painting.
  • w – weapons

Textures should be named very similarly to the model they are being used for. If they are a more generic texture, they should have a more generic name.

Icons

Icons have their own folder structure and should always be saved as a dds file with transparency. Icons should be stored as follows:

  • a – armor
  • c – clothing
  • m – misc, clutter, books, etc
  • n – ingredients
  • w – weapons

Icons should always have the same name as either the model they apply to or the main texture used for the model they apply to.