Lately, I’ve been playing a lot of Skyrim. While Medic is still at the Throat of the World contemplating his life and what he should do next (Warning, spoilers – the beginning is here), I’ve been messing around with my second most OP character – Lokmahro, the literal Dragonborn. I say second most overpowered, simply because Medic was really powerful. I didn’t tell you this when I wrote Medic in Skyrim, but I had to redo the Alduin battle because my Syringe Gun killed him in 5 seconds. I wouldn’t mind, I hadn’t even leveled up Archery that much and had very little damage in general.
Anyway, Lokmahro is my next character. I created him in between my Medic plays. He looks like a standard Argonian, but with white skin. At night though, Lokmahro (Lok – Mah – Ro, Sky – Fall – Balance) changes into a dragon and flies around killing shit. The downside was that he could only change during night time, and of course being a dragon meant he couldn’t do the main story line until the sun came up. Once Lokmahro had defeated Alduin though, he gained the ability to change at will. So of course I spent more and more time playing as a dragon and less as his ‘argonian’ form. Which is a lot of fun until you realise you can’t go home. All the houses were too small, and I wanted a house large enough to walk into as a dragon, without having to change back.
With Skyrim, normally there’s a mod for everything. I did look long and hard for suitable mods, particularly ones that created floating islands I could fly up to. There were a couple, but they were still built for humans and used teleporters or something to get up there. Also they all appeared to be located above Whiterun, and I like Whiterun, I don’t like giant lumps of rock dangerously floating above the little town. So in the end, I decided to make one myself.
Mod making, almost all of it, comes from the Creation Kit. It’s a free tool used to create everything, from bug fixes to tweaks to custom houses, to marriageable followers to long quests to gigantic worldspaces like Moonpath to Elsweyr, Wyrmstooth and Falskaar. Quick diversion, you should check out all of those mods, they are amazing. No really, you should.
So I decided to have a crack at it. The Creation Kit does have its own wiki, which has a tutorial. There are video tutorials as well and all sorts of stuff. I started off following a basic house tutorial and that worked fine, but a dragon would never live in a human-built farm house. According to UESP.net, dragons may have lived in their own towns in Akavir before they all got kicked out. You read through the wiki and it does make the dragons seem like wimps. There are two places I could build my home – either on top of a mountain or in a cave – I am planning on doing both, but I started by creating my own cave. Having seen the goats of Skyrim, they would probably steal my stuff.
Thing is, the Creation Kit constantly pops up with errors. Just loading your plugin sets off a billion warnings, and every tutorial says “just say yes and ignore them”, which is worrying. So far, it has actually been rather simple. Everything just kinda locks together. As you build your world, you realise that all of Skyrim’s dungeons look similar because they all use ‘kits’, which contain interlocking pieces used to build the walls of each cave, castle and ruin. Really, building the world isn’t THAT hard, I’ve found the biggest issue is moving the camera in the Render window, a slight twitch will send your view all over the place, particularly when looking in the ‘Tamriel’ (i.e. Skyrim) world space.
No, it all falls apart when you need to join things together. The coding bit, which I am doing my best to avoid, is scary. You can build as many dungeons as you want and fill them with clutter, but when you start adding people and adding code, things get weird.
It does fell very different to what we use to mess with TF2 and other Source games though. It’s somewhat cleaner, despite always spewing errors at you. But it’s also very dangerous. I nearly accidentally deleted a mountain earlier. But I now have my basic cave, which I am slowly filling with, well, stuff.
My recommendation? Stick to the tutorials.