The single best tip ever for modders

So right now, I am working on a mod for Skyrim, for my own personal use mainly. I spend a lot of time in Skyrim as a dragon, and sometimes I get lonely. Or, more precisely, I get bored and want to destroy Markarth again, but find that my rather cumbersome dragon can’t get into all those little crevices the same way that AI dragons can. But of course, just summoning Odahviing isn’t enough. Summoning Durvehviir, as awesome as he is, doesn’t last long enough, and his summon minion spells honestly just get in the way. On top of that, there’s only so many mods that add summonable dragons. If you want to rule over an army of dragons, you need to work on it yourself.

This means working with the Creation Kit.

The Creation Kit is the official modding tool of Skyrim. It is both a blessing and a curse. You can do so much with it, but it will make you its bitch and in general piss you off. Some things, like creating terrain, are actually very easy. Navigation meshes are hit and miss. Random things happen and you never know why. Just loading Creation Kit means a ton of errors popping up all over the place. It’s insane. Oh and it can randomly crash and freeze. A lot. The Creation Kit will also crash if you try and load Dawnguard, Hearthfire and Dragonborn assets and have incorrect code in your Skyrim.ini settings. But my idea stems from existing stuff, can’t be too hard, right?

You get used to the meh interface...
You get used to the meh interface…

In theory, this sounds pretty simple. Just copy the code from Odahviing and go from there. Except no matter what I do, it doesn’t work. My shout just calls Odahviing, not any of the other dragons I create. Not sure why. Oh well, there’s always the alternative when it comes to dragon buddies, and that’s summoning, like Durnehviir.

Thing is, Creation Kit tutorials on creating summon spells are not very good. Turns out, on top of the normal stuff you do to make a summon spell, you need to give your dragon some AI packages so he doesn’t take off and start spinning wildly in circles for no reason. I added a few, and now the dragons are all a bit too clingy, but they do take off and attack if they see enemies. And I made it so I can summon them via shouts, meaning I can use them in dragon form. The annoying problem I found though is that there is almost zero documentation on creating new shouts. You can create the actual shout, but adding voices is haaaard. I haven’t really worked it out yet.

Creating landscapes is fun though.
Creating landscapes is fun though.

But it’s incredibly easy to change something you didn’t mean to. There’s always undo and things like that, but you don’t always know what you’ve done, and worse, what it will do to your game. Luckily TES5Edit, a community-made tool, can help in situations like this, since the modding community fixes everything, but it does mean a lot of messing around. Even if a change doesn’t fuck up the rest of Skyrim, it can fuck up your mod, and sometimes you find yourself having to start again.

This is where that amazing tip comes in.

MAKE BACKUPS. FOR THE LOVE OF THE NINE DIVINES, MAKE BACKUPS. LOTS OF THEM. IT IS GOOD FOR YOU. DO IT. DO IT NOW.

Really that applies for everything. Really you should know that anyway. But it’s always worth remembering.

This is actually playable!
This is actually playable!

As for my mod right now? It’s on the Steam workshop. It’s also available on the Skyrim Nexus. It currently has four dragon summons, each one doing different amounts of damage, and different attacks, and the next version will include a proper area to learn the shouts (rather than just reading books) and a nice little player home. Maybe more dragons as well. Requires Dawnguard and Dragonborn because I can’t work out friendly fire.

Assuming I can get it to work.

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