Getting started creating mods using GECK

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Contents

Overview

The following information is primarily taken from the Help starting out thread on the "Fallout New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum. The information is preserved here as an alternative to searching through back posts in that forum for commonly asked questions. Much of the information applies to "Fallout 3 (FO3)" as well, but the focus is on FNV.

This article provides a learning roadmap, a starting point and guide to progression; not a tutorial. Consider it a collection of suggestions and links to more detailed tutorials, articles, videos, and tools. Just from the "Table of Contents" you should get a reasonable idea of the learning curve ahead of you. Don't get discouraged. Tackle things one at a time. Just don't expect to learn everything quickly.

There is a lot of unique vocabulary related to creating mods in the following material, such as the distinction between "meshes", the 3D framework of objects (saved as Nif files); and "textures", the surface "skin" over the "mesh framework" (saved as DDS files). The Elder Scrolls Texture Guide (TESTG) site has a glossary and several pages devoted to explaining these to new mod creators and users. Rather than explaining them here, please reference that site when you need clarification. (This article does a lot of that: referral to other existing resources. Why reinvent the wheel?)

Programs and Tools

GECK Tools

  • Garden of Eden Construction Kit (GECK) (freeware.) The official "game editor" for Fallout 3 and New Vegas. NOTE that when loading files, the one plugin you designate with the "Start as Active" button becomes the one that gets edited and saved when you exit the editor. ALL of the files loaded into the GECK at the same time will automatically become "master files" to the "active file" when it is saved. In particular to this regard, see the NAM files entry.
  • GECK Extender NVSE Plugin. Project to extend GECK functionality and bug fixes. Compatible with all NVSE script extender plugins. (Do not use together with GECK Powerup (nor the Forked version), which it replaces.) Note the optional "Patcher" to make GECK 4GB aware and auto load NVSE is a separate file.
  • GECK 1.4 Powerup NVSE Plugin. (Replaced by GECK Extender. Do not use both together.) Comes in a "standalone" version for the "vanilla" GECK functions, and one for GECK with NVSE functions. It fixes and improves some issues while providing the missing messages when the GECK compiler finds an error or warning, and lets you save a script without compiling it. Considered "essential" by experienced mod creators.
  • There are now two wikis devoted to the GECK: the official one by Bethesda, which is not very well supported and a major pain to update (Five CAPCHAs per post!), and a Modding Community GECKWiki site with everything from the official one but actively updated by the modding community. While most links to the GECK wiki are to the official wiki, be sure to check out the Community one to see the latest info on your topic. Anything related to "Script Extenders" like NVSE or JIP LN NVSE functions will be more current on the Community GECKWiki site.


Image Tools

  • Category:Tools on Nexus Mods wiki has articles on various aspects of the primary tools you will be using. Check it out as well.
  • 3DS Max (1 month free trial, $185/month or $1470/year subscriptions, 3 yr student/educator license.) Commercial product by AutoDesk but the version that works with Nif files isn't free. Versions after 2013 don't seem to work with at least Fallout 4 (according to this thread) using the included official NIF exporter, though there is an unofficial "Figment" exporter plugin fork on GitHub which does seem to work.
  • Blender v2.49b (freeware.) This download includes ALL related files and compatible versions. This is the "complete" package for creating meshes for Bethesda games; including:
Python 2.6.5
Blender NIF Scripts 2.5.5
NifSkope 1.0.22
PyFFI 1.1.5
"Noob to Pro" PDF tutorial.
Check out the "Optional" files section for some additional functionality. Recommended for FO3/FNV.
  • Blender v2.49b Portable by Room207 is also a "complete" package that is preferred by some for it's convenience. Includes:
Python 2.6.6
Pyffi 2.1.11
NIFscripts 2.5.9
True Normals by Anthony D'Agostino
Geom Plugin 0.5
Mesh Ascii Plugin
UDK Scripts
Blender Tools 1.01 by Kormgar
Blender TRI file scripts and Tutorial by Kapaer and Deedes
  • DXTBmp Texture Tool (freeware.) Images can be passed to any Paint program for editing in 24 bit and then re-imported and saved in any of the 16/24/32 bit formats. Transparency (Alpha) channel of textures can be viewed and edited separately from the main image.
  • GIMP: GNU Image Manipulation Program (freeware.) A cross-platform image (texture) editor available for GNU/Linux, OS X, Windows and more operating systems. Provides extensions through integration with many programming languages including Scheme, Python, Perl, and more. The result is a high level of customization as demonstrated by the large number of scripts and plug-ins created by the community.
  • Hairs - Eyes - Races Auto - Patcher (Mod.) Extracts all the hair / eyes / races records from every plugin loaded in your load order - then, it rewrites the list of eyes and hairs for every race found. So, if you untick / unflag a hair mod from your load order, these records won't be loaded by the game itself and consequently won't be found by this mod because they don't exist.
  • LOD/VWD Overview TESTG site wiki.
  • Maya (1 month free trial, $185/month or $1470/year subscriptions, 3 yr student/educator license.) Animation, modeling, simulation, and rendering software by AutoDesk.
  • MindTex2 ($20) by Frozen Flame. MindTex is a normal map generation utility for game developers and 3d professionals. Built to rival the competition in quality without the steep price, whether you want to generate a normal, height, specular, gloss, self-illumination, occlusion, or reflection map, you can easily do it in seconds flat from a single source texture with MindTex.
  • Mod Kit - Resource for Modders by pixelhate. Some nif & textures used as references in various Modding situations, including the "invisible activator".
  • NIF tangents and binormals updater (freeware) by zilav. A command line tool to batch update tangents/binormals in Oblivion, Fallout 3, New Vegas, Skyrim, Skyrim Special Edition and Fallout 4 format NIF meshes. The one in NifSkope doesn't handle degenerate normals, such as if your NIF has a lot of texture tiling. It also gives all around better results especially for people who use Blender and cannot reset the normals and smooth them because it lacks the features to do so.
  • NifSkope (freeware.) A graphical program that allows you to open NIF files, view their contents, edit them, and write them back out again. You can use it to quickly make changes to specific properties of a NIF file such as changing the texture, adding translucency, and more. A 3D view of the contents of the NIF file allows you to preview your changes instantly. You can even create texture templates, and import & export OBJ files. (Note: This link is the latest release and may not be the best choice for FO3/FNV. A fully compatible version of this tool (v1.0.22) is already included in the Blender v2.49b package linked here.)
  • NifSkope v1.3.3 (revision36efdd) (freeware.) A later version than that bundled in the Blender v2.49b package (with EXE and features referred to in many tutorials that are missing in even newer (v2.0+) releases, such as "import/export .OBJ files"). Fully compatible with that Blender package, and more "shader flags" are identified. While both versions of NifSkope can be installed, only one can be used at a time. Recommended for FO3 and FNV (along with the NifTools XML Format version 0.7.0.0, which has the essential "differentiated color for Collision"). Recommended for FO3/FNV.
  • NifTools Wiki (freeware.) 3D package plugins for 3ds Max, Blender, and Maya modelling tools. Note: this link will have the latest release versions. The versions bundled in the Blender v2.49b package are all mutually compatible.
  • The NifTools XML Format (documentation.) Used to extend NifSkope to open files from new games, or better understand files from games which it can already open. Version 0.7.0.0 recommended for FO3/FNV.
  • Paint.NET (freeware.) Image and photo (texture) editing software for Windows, originally based upon the Paint program included as part of Windows, but with many enhanced features such as "layers", special effects, and unlimited history ("undo"). Require Microsoft's .NET Framework 4.6+.

Packaging Tools

  • BAIN Archive Tools - BAT by Surazal
  • BSArch (freeware) by zilav. A command line tool for packing and unpacking Bethesda archives. The most complete support setting the correct flags across the various games.
  • BSAOpt (freeware) Tool for extracting the contents of BSA files. Note this tool unpacks the entire BSA file. It does not easily allow for unpacking a single file.

(See the Skyrim thread BSAs and You for details about the pros and cons of "Bethesda Software Archives" (BSAs), but bear in mind such files in previous games, like Oblivion, FallOut3 and Fallout New Vegas, don't have "strict order" like in Skyrim. Games prior to Skyrim don't support overriding of assets in archives using other archives; only loose files can. If the same resource is contained in several BSA archives, those games won't use it from the last BSA on 100% of occasions. They may grab the resource from a random one of the BSAs containing the same file.)

WARNING! Do not unpack BSAs directly into your game "Data" folder; potentially overwriting any mod files. The tools don't ask you to confirm the overwriting, either. All the hair textures unpacked to "loose files" will go through the head models in that case; because that's what happens when hair is not packed in a BSA. "Best practice" is to unpack to a unique folder (they are large: 1-2GB) and manually drag the desired files to the appropriate "Data" folder as needed.

  • BSAExtractor (BSAE) (freeware) Tool for extracting just one or the entire contents of BSA files. See warning above about unpacking an entire BSA.
  • FNV BSA Decompressor Mod by zilav. Decompresses the Fallout New Vegas BSAs and repacks them into BSAs without zlib compression for performance. Also transcodes the ".OGG" sounds effects to ".WAV" format so they work. It also extracts any MP3 files to loose files because they will not play when in a BSA.
  • FOMM - Forked (freeware) Mod Manager with built-in BSA file extraction and repacking.
  • Note that FOMM has several tools bundled with it. The TESsnip tool in particular is obsolete and has been shown to cause "silent corruption" of save game files as a result. The use of xEdit/FNVEdit is recommended in it's place.
  • FOMM and FOMODS for Dummies article.
  • FOMOD Validator by Ganda

Scripting Tools

  • CIPSCIS Script Validator (freeware.) Allows you to quickly indent your script while simultaneously checking it for several basic errors, many of which are not picked up by the GECK's compiler. It works with Skyrim, Fallout 3, and Fallout New Vegas, but is not "script extender" aware. Includes it's own tutorials.
  • New Vegas Script Extender (NVSE) Site.

Sound and Voice Tools

Misc Other Tools

  • DarNified Forum Community site. Articles and questions on XML for the User Interface (UI) and Menus, primarily about the Oblivion version of DarNUI but there is a section for FO3.
  • Gamesettings profiler Mod. Adds intuitive, app-like, modding tool for debugging, testing, profiling, and dumping\printing to file any numeric GMST (gamesettings) records.
  • Tree LOD billboard creator for xLODGen by zilav
  • xEdit/FNVEdit (freeware.) A generic tool called xEdit which is renamed for working with specific games. The latest "stable" release is on the Nexus, generally under the game name version or as "TES5Edit".

Details

Basic advice is to start with the game Construction Set/Editor (this is usually a separate, free download, not included with the game installation). There is going to be a wiki page for it with tutorials to help get you started, but note that there are unspoken assumptions that you are familiar with concepts introduced on the "Construction Kit"/"game editor" wikis for earlier Bethesda games such as:

(TES5: Skyrim came after all of those (2011) and uses a different variation of the game and script engine.) So, don't neglect those older wikis as resources. Where there appears to be a conflict, assume the later wiki or the one specific to your game is correct.

In addition to the Construction Set/Editor, you'll probably want to get community created editor enhancement tools, like the GECK "Extender" or "PowerUp", "Oblivion Construction Set Extender", etc. These allow you to perform actions not included in the default editor, like edit ESM files without converting them to ESP first, and may also give you better debugging for scripts. These capabilities vary by the tool. On the negative side, such extensions may also annoy the heck out of you with error messages, many of which you don't need/understand and don't care about. But they are always worth looking into.

There are also conversion tools which are required to export the 3D models from your modeling tool into the "NIF" format that Bethesda games use. It is very important to note that the import and export tools only work with certain versions of modeling programs. For Blender, you need version 2.49, which is older than the current version of Blender. The Nexus Oblivion mod Blender linked here is a package that has Blender v2.49 plus all of the NIF tools and includes NifSkope, all of which are the correct versions to use together. You will save yourself a lot of trouble if you install everything from this one package. If you don't, you can run into version problems and things will never work right. Instructions on the correct way to install this combination of tools can be found the wiki article here. (Note where there seems to be a discrepancy in version numbers, stick with the version included in the package.)

"Script Extenders" (SEs) are plugins to the game editors that provide additional functionality features, and were created by the gaming community to overcome perceived shortcomings. Mods the use even one of those SE functions need to specify that the particular SE is now a requirement.

Item (armor, weapons, buildings, etc.) construction and customization requires learning 3D modelling, which is NOT a quick process. You are going to invest a lot of time and patience in learning your tool of choice. The three most common tools used are Blender, "3ds Max" (aka "Max"), and Maya. There is very little discussion about Maya in the forums related to Bethesda games because while it is considered the better choice for animation, "Max" is simpler to grasp and less daunting. Both "Max" and Maya are considered "industry standard" tools, and both will do the job. See these articles for more in depth comparisons if you are going to invest in learning either product:

The Nexus has the Software Programs - 3D Modelling - Blender forum, Software Programs - 3D Modelling - 3ds Max forum, Software Programs - 3D Modelling - Maya forum, and Software Programs - 3D Modelling - Miscellaneous / Other forum areas for discussion about those tools.

The "workflow" on Blender for Nif files is considered more complex than with the others because it often takes you into the Nifskope tool, but read about the Nif Exporter plugin for Max issues in that entry. It is necessary to use the correct version and tools that work with that version of any of these products.

Because it is "free" and the others are quite expensive for most people, Blender is usually at least their first choice. "Blender Noob to Pro" is a good resource for 3D modeling using Blender, and the compatible (not the latest) version is included in that package linked above under Programs and Tools. Consequently, there is a long history of tutorials on all aspects of modelling with Blender. It is well worth the time to refer often to the Blender - Read this first thread as you progress through the learning curve. It has an extensive list of tutorials from Oblivion thru Fallout 3 and more generalized topics which still apply to the basics of modelling in Blender.

For texturing your 3D models, you'll need something that can handle ".dds" files. GIMP and Paint.Net (which is not the Paint that comes with Windows) can both handle ".dds" files. Paint.Net comes with ".dds" support built-in these days. GIMP still needs a plugin. Which program you use is more a matter of personal preference than anything else. Some find GIMP a bit more difficult to use but it also can do some things that Paint.Net can't do. Paint.Net on the other hand is, in the opinion of many, more intuitive and easier to use. Although, now that Paint.Net has a proper normal map generator that actually works available as an add-on, GIMP use tends to be even less frequent now. A lot of it is personal preference, though. Some folks just like GIMP better. Both programs work fine. You can also use Photoshop, but that's not free.

Once you have the 3D model textured (UV mapped) and maybe have generated a normal map for it as well, then you need to export everything. First, read the Working with DDS/DXT Files article by Gary "Buckaroo" Neely to understand the choices in DXT codec to choose among. Blender and the NIF tools don't export a lot of things properly, so then you have to go into NifSkope (which comes with the NIF tools) and fix it. (The proper weight of "bones" in skeletons, along with "shader flags", is almost always wrong, for instance.) Be sure to check that the path given in the mesh to the texture file is in "relative" format. (See How to fix hard-coded texture paths in NIF files.) The default format of the mesh editor's paths may not be "relative".

Once that is done, then go into the game specific Construction Set/Editor and add your custom items to whatever mod you are working on.

Getting back to the GECK, there are a few things that are broken in it. It ships with a spell checker but doesn't include the dictionary, so that's just annoying. (But you can use the language resource files from Fallout 3 as the dictionary.) If you use the GECK "Extender" or "Powerup" you can uncheck the spell checker and disable all of that annoyance at least while you are editing your mod. Unfortunately it won't remember that setting and you'll have to uncheck it the next time you edit your mod as well.

Another thing that is broken is the "lip generator" for dialog. If you have Skyrim or Oblivion you can copy their lip generator from the "sound\processing" folder to GECK's. If you have all of your voice files in place and they work already, in the GECK all you need to do is bring up that dialog in the quest editor. Your WAV file should show up down near the bottom, where it says voice type: MP3, WAV, LIP, LTF, and "path". Click on that to select it, then click on the "from WAV" at the bottom. The "generate lip file" option should now become active and you can click on it. Note that the GECK will not update the information on the screen, so it will still have an N under LIP file even after you have generated it. Close that dialog option and re-open it and then you should see a Y under both the WAV and the LIP. If you record the voice files directly into the GECK (using the record button at the bottom of the dialog window) then when you press save it will automatically generate both the WAV and the LIP files.

Common Problems with GECK

Issue - Where to obtain the GECK

  • Cause: The Construction Kit is a separate download and not automatically installed by Steam. (It is with the GOG DRM-free version.)
  • Solution-1a: You can download the "GECK. - New Vegas Edition" through Steam. It's under the "Library | Tools" tab in the Steam launcher.
  • Solution-1b: Download from the following links:
  • Official GECK Wiki by Bethesda Softworks.
  • GECKWiki Community maintained (more up to date) version of GECK Wiki.
  • FNV 4GB Patcher by Roy Batty - LuthienAnarion. Sets LAA flag specifically to work with Steam versions of FNV and GECK.
  • Recommended: The community developed optional NVSE plugins supplement the GECK, and are considered essential due to the error fixes and additional diagnostic messages (especially for scripts that won't compile) it displays. They require you to launch GECK with NVSE in order to function.
  • Script compiler warnings will now be displayed. Scripts will no longer silently fail to compile.
  • Many other warnings were restored: in cell loader, in NavMesh checker, and so on, more than in 1000 places. [back for testing in 0.1.7.1 beta 1]
  • Adds a special Marker hack which makes RoomMarkers and PortalMarkers visible and transparent in the render window [since 0.1.3].
Unfortunately, cannot make them completely invisible as they should be, but it's better than having to move them all away just to see the cell.
  • You can now save scripts without compiling them (useful if you want to save your script and finish it later).
  • The spell checker can now be enabled and disabled at runtime.
  • Fixed the bug which caused the GECK to crash when user double-clicks on empty space in Form List Editor.
  • The "Edit" menu item in Form List editor will now work.
  • All MessageBox'es will now be in English, regardless of your system's language. This also means that "Cancel" will be replaced by "Yes to all" where intended by GECK developers. [since 0.1.2]
  • ESM are now active and editable directly.
  • ESP used as masters will remain in the masters list.
  • ONAM records in ESM will be preserved. No guarantee new required ONAM will be added. When in doubts, use FNVEdit to update the ONAM records.
  • Enables level 2 LOD generation for large worldspaces
  • Fixes bUseMultibounds = 0 crashes in cells with multibounds
  • Extends GDI handle limit: This cleans up opened windows better when closing them so you can edit for long periods without fear that you won't be able to save your plugin because the GECK can't open any new dialog windows.
  • Help links point to new community maintained wiki: GECKWiki.

Issue - GeckCustom INI file

The "GeckCustom.ini" may not get created in the "C:\Users\<YourAccountName>\Documents\My Games\FalloutNV" folder until you save your first modified file; not merely close GECK as some have reported. NOTE that as you have to run GECK as an "Administrator", the "C:\Users\..." folder with the INI file will be for the "Administrator" account. This can cause confusion as to where to look.

See also the wiki GECK: Tips and Tricks article.

TIP - GECKCustom INI may be missing

TIP - Disable Audio in GECK

TIP - Enable loading multiple master files at once

TIP - Enable more than one copy of the GECK
(or both the FO3 and FNV versions).

TIP - Enable MultiBounds
Thanks to pixelhate of the Nexus Fallout "Mod Talk" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP - Load ENB Series with GECK

TIP - Master files
Thanks to madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas Mod Troubleshooting" forum for the basis of the following:

Issue - GECKPrefs INI file

In the "Users" game folder, along with the three INI files generated for your game is the GECKPrefs.INI file. This file gets created when you first start using the GECK, and saves any customizations you make to it's interface (e.g. such as if you change any values for the "map editor" color masking).

The problem that can arise is when your changes don't work out as you intended and you wish to revert to the default values. There is no built-in mechanism to restore the defaults in that file, nor is there a file for the GECK to refer to similar to the "Fallout_default.INI" file. (There may be a "reset" button in the GECK window, but it only affects the current edit session: resetting to the values in effect when the window opened.)

Therefor: it is your responsibility to make a backup of either the initial or your stable customized version of GECKPrefs.INI so you have the default values to refer to. Otherwise, all you can do is delete (or rename) the file and let GECK rebuild it the next time it starts.

Issue - How to get GECK to load with NVSE

  • Cause: "New Vegas Script Extender" is an addon library of functions developed after GECK was "finished", so it doesn't know about the extensions. Without including NVSE, use of commands from that or the older FOSE (which is incorporated) extension will produce script errors of "unrecognized command" preventing compiling and saving them.
The GECK Extender NVSE Plugin with the Optional "Patcher" to make GECK 4GB aware and auto load NVSE is recommended. (Do not use together with GECK Powerup (nor the Forked version), which it replaces.)
While the GECK 1.4 PowerUp for Fallout New Vegas addon comes in both "standalone" and NVSE plugin versions, that does not mean that NVSE is automatically loaded as part of the GECK itself, so it doesn't otherwise recognize those extensions. The suggested method is to use the NVSE Plugin version of PowerUp when also loading NVSE. Then it will automatically be included when your shortcut points to the "nvse_loader.exe". (Replaced by GECK Extender. Do not use both together.)
Note you must launch GECK as an "Administrator" account: no matter if you are also loading "Extender", "NVSE", or the "GECK Power-Up StandAlone"; or only GECK.
  • Solution (for Powerup only):
  • Create a Windows shortcut to the GECK. Name it something to reflect this is for the GECK + (PU or/with NVSE) (e.g. "GECKPU+NVSE").
  • < Right-click > on the shortcut and select "Properties | Shortcut".
  • To load "NVSE" (with or without plugins such as PowerUp or GECK Extender), in the link shortcut "Target:" field put the complete path to the nvse_loader, and include the "target command line":
in double-quotes (because of the embedded spaces in the path.) The "-editor" must be placed outside of the double-quotes of the path so it will be recognized as a "parameter" of the executable.
  • If you use the "Power-Up Standalone" version 0.1.6 or later, in the "Target:" field put the complete path up to and including the target command line:
(This is a change from previous instructions for "Power-Up", as documented in the PU "ReadMe" file.)
  • Select the "Advanced" button on the same "Shortcut" tab, and enable (check) the box "Run as administrator" on the window displayed.
  • Click the "OK" button until the shortcut window closes.
Note that if you add this shortcut to "Steam", it will initially strip off the "-editor" parameter. Be sure to double-check the "Target" within "Steam" for the presence of this parameter.
  • Select the "Advanced" button on the same "Shortcut" tab, and enable (check) the box "Run as administrator" on the window displayed.
  • Click the "OK" button until the shortcut window closes.

Issue - GECK Power-Up or NVSE cannot find GECK

  • Cause: You must launch anything to do with GECK from an "Administrator" account.
  • Create a shortcut, and on the "Properties | Advanced" tab enable (check) the "Run as administrator" box. This will cause you to automatically be prompted to enter a valid Administrator account and password each time you try to run the command so you won't forget.
NOTE: The GECK Extender, which should be used instead of the "GECK Power-Up", includes an optional patch as a separate file to make GECK "4GB aware" and auto load NVSE.

Issue - GECK automatically loads unwanted DLC Masters

Issue - Where to start in creating mods

  • Cause: The GECK is only part of what you need to create mods, and it doesn't have a training manual.

Issue - Where are the Warnings and EditorWarnings text files

They are supposed to be in the game root folder (where the FalloutNV.exe is found).

  • Cause: It appears that Bethesda dropped these output files after FO3.
  • Solution: Instead, the "GECK Power Up" and "GECK Extender" plugins have now provided that functionality. Try setting NVSE to report them.
  • In Data\NVSE\nvse_config.ini, set:
  • In Data\NVSE\nvse_plugin_geckpu_ew.ini there is a "[WARNINGS SELECTION]" followed by a list of hex offsets. Each offset is set to a reporting level, as described at the top of that file. The default (=1) is to both display the warning in a "MessageBox" in the GECK and write it to file. When the nvse_config.ini LogLevel is set between "2" and "5", the warnings are written to the nvse_plugin_geckpu_ew.log file in the game root folder (where the FalloutNV.exe is found).

Issue - GECK crashes upon editing a weapon

"Every time I attempt to use the GECK to edit a weapon it crashes, even when only the main NV master file is selected." This also occurs when "Fallout Character Overhaul" (FCO) is installed.

  • Cause-1: GECK needs to have the LAA flag enabled in order to take advantage of more than 2GB of memory.
  • Solution 1-b: The GECK should also be patched to use up to 4GB of memory (i.e. FNV 4GB Patcher, the NTCore 4GB Patch or their more general CCF Explorer, or the like).
  • Cause-2: This has been traced to the presence of a specific file that is overwritten by "Fallout Character Overhaul" (FCO): eyebrowm.nif in: Data\meshes\characters\hair.
  • Solution-2: Remove the troublesome file when using GECK, and restore it when playing. If you put it into a batch (.cmd) file such as the following to launch GECK you won't forget.
@echo off
cls
::REM As GECK has to be run from an 'Administrator' account, you should launch it from a
::REM   shortcut (.lnk file) that has that "run as" setting in the 'Properties'.  This will
::REM   be run in a separate sub-process window.  Otherwise the 'start' command won't WAIT
::REM   until GECK is done before continuing with this script.
::REM Change the 'set runpgm=' line to point to your GECK shortcut.
set runpgm=C:\Users\Public\Rec\FalloutNV\GeckPU.lnk
::REM Change the 'set gamedir=' line to point to your game install folder.
set gamedir=E:\Games\SteamLibrary\steamapps\common\Fallout New Vegas
::REM Nothing else below this point should need to be changed.
set tgtdir=%gamedir%\Data\meshes\characters\hair
 
pushd "%gamedir%"
if exist "%tgtdir%\eyebrowm.nif"  ren "%tgtdir%\eyebrowm.nif" eyebrowm.nif.hld && @echo SCRIPT: Removed file [eyebrowm.nif]
 
@echo SCRIPT: Manually close the separate window GECK is launched in.  When you do, DO NOT
@echo SCRIPT:   select to 'Terminate batch job' (answer "N") or you won't restore files properly.
start "GECK" /D "%gamedir%" /WAIT cmd /k "%runpgm%"
if exist "%tgtdir%\eyebrowm.nif.hld"  ren "%tgtdir%\eyebrowm.nif.hld" eyebrowm.nif && @echo SCRIPT: Restored file [eyebrowm.nif]
 
:DONE
pause
popd
  • Cause-3: If the GECK seems to "hang" while loading your plugin, this may be due to failing to select other plugins your target plugin requires as "masters", but which are not ESM files and/or not automatically included by GECK.
  • Solution-3: You can use the xEdit/FNVEdit "File Header" to identify all the files that are masters to your plugin, and then be sure to select all of them when loading it into the GECK. Please see the wiki Missing Masters article for details.

Issue - GECK crashes upon loading an exterior cell

Sometimes, after initially creating an "interior" cell, upon trying to work on an "exterior" cell, the GECK crashes when the cell tries to load.

  • Cause: Unknown
  • Mitigation-1a: Make sure you have patched the GECK to be able to use 4GB of memory. The GECK Extender mod includes a separate file download that does this. Some have found it necessary to use the third-party tool 4GB Patch - NTCore instead.
  • Mitigation-1b: Anything in the meshes/textures folder will also load in the GECK. A modded mesh could be causing your CTD. You might find it advantagious to keep different "profiles" or copies of the game "Data" folder (depending upon your "mod manager") so your GECK work "Data" folder only contains the essential files for your mod.
  • Mitigation-1c: Try to avoid loading an exterior cell directly. Instead: load up an "interior" cell, then use a "door teleport" to cause the GECK to load the "exterior" cell (indirectly) for you. This seems to avoid the CTD.

Issue - GECK crashes upon starting

  • Cause-1: You don't have the correct permissions for running GECK.
  • Solution-1: GECK must be "run as administrator".
  1. Navigate to the program folder of the program you want to run (i.e. FalloutNV game root folder).
  2. Right-click the program icon (i.e. the "Geck.exe" file).
  3. Choose Properties.
  4. On the Compatibility tab, select the "Run This Program As An Administrator" option.
  5. Click OK.
  6. If you see a "User Account Control" prompt, accept it.
Now each time you run GECK you will be prompted to enter an "Administrator" account password. If you enter it wrong, GECK won't start.
  • Cause-2: There is not enough available memory in the default 2GB allocated for 32-bit programs. GECK needs to have the LAA flag enabled in order to take advantage of more than 2GB of memory.
  • Cause-3: GECK seems to be overly sensitive to the correct "system compatibility" mode when run on versions of Windows after Vista SP2.
  • Solution-3: Set the "Properties | Compatibility tab" to "Run this program in compatibility mode for: Windows Vista (Service Pack 2)" for both the GECK.EXE and the (PowerUp) GECKPU-NV-14.EXE files.
  • Cause-4: You installed an ENB or the pre-ENB "enhanced shader" mod containing a custom D3D9.DLL file placed in the game folder. The GECK tries to load all of the DLL files it finds when it starts, and it doesn't know what to do with that one: so it crashes.
  • Solution-4: Put the D3D9.DLL file somewhere outside of the Fallout game root folder whenever you want to run the GECK. Make sure to put it back before you start your game; otherwise it will not load. (A "batch file" to handle this that is run when you click on the link to start the GECK is the best way to avoid forgetting this. See Issue: GECK crashes upon editing a weapon for a similar example.)

Issue - GECK crashes upon switching to a different tool

Upon switching from a current operation (e.g. selected an interior cell in the Render Window) to another operation (e.g. "World | Object Palette Editing" or editing an "AI Package") the GECK crashes. The problem is not consistent: erratically occurring.
  • Cause: Unknown. Reported by Vista users as far back as 2008 with FO3 version of GECK.
  • Workaround: Disable the Windows "Tablet PC Optional Components" found under 'control Panel | Programs | "Programs and Features" | "Turn Windows features on or off'. Click the "OK" button and restart Windows. The exact location of that setting may differ in other versions of Windows. This may also be related to enabled "infrared" device settings when there are no such devices in use.

Issue - GECK does not automatically select FalloutNV or some DLC ESM file

Normally, when starting GECK and opening the "File" menu it has automatically "checked" (enabled) the DLC ESM files for loading, but not the "FalloutNV.ESM".

  • Cause: This is controlled by the presence of the "*.nam" files, which by default are present for all the DLC (but not for "FalloutNV.ESM"). If any are not found, that DLC is not automatically selected (enabled) either. These files cause the game to load those DLC even if they are not "active" in the "load order". (It is recommended you rename rather than delete them if you don't want a particular DLC to be loaded.)
  • Solution: The "nam" file contains nothing more than the common name (i.e. "Dead Money") of the respective DLC. When a plaintext "FalloutNV.nam" file (which does not exist by default) with "Fallout New Vegas" as content is created, "FalloutNV.ESM" will be automatically checked (enabled) in GECK's "File" menu just like the DLC.

Issue - GECK does not show Landscape

  • Cause: There is a barely mentioned "shortcut key" combination that toggles the display of Landscape in the "Render Window" when you have an "exterior worldspace" loaded. It does not appear in any menus so it is usually an accidental toggling.
  • Solution: <Shift+L> will toggle the display of the Landscape. (Thanks to VenonXNL for reporting the solution to this "mystery".)

Issue - GECK hates me in general or how to get started working with it

  • Cause: The GECK is frustratingly buggy. It is not intuitive to use. The GECK website makes assumptions that you understand concepts introduced in earlier game Construction Kits (CKs).

TIP - Fallout New Vegas Game Engine Bug List

Issue - GECK will not tell me what is wrong with my script

  • Cause: The GECK does not report problems with scripts, and won't allow a script with errors to be saved.
  • Solution-1: the GECK Extender Plugin re-enables 1220+ Warning, Error, and General messages, in addition to providing more verbose messages and fixing many bugs. (Do not use together with GECK Power-Up (nor the Forked version), which it replaces.)
  • Solution-2: the GECK 1.4 Powerup Plugin comes in a "standalone" version for the "vanilla" GECK functions, and one for GECK with NVSE functions. It fixes and improves some issues while providing the missing messages when the GECK compiler finds an error or warning, and lets you save a script without compiling it. Considered "essential" by mod creators. (Replaced by GECK Extender. Do not use both together.)
  • Solution-3: The CIPSCIS Script Validator allows you to quickly indent your script while simultaneously checking it for several errors, many of which are not picked up by the GECK's compiler. It works with Skyrim, Fallout 3, and Fallout New Vegas. Includes it's own tutorials.

Issue - GECK is missing text in some fields

GECK seems to be missing the text associated with certain columns of AI Package, Dialogue, Effects, and Perks (possibly others) information (Editor ID, Topics, etc.). Typically this is a "list box" type field on the form.

  • Cause: This occurs in the GECK for both "Fallout 3" and "New Vegas". The problem originally appeared following the installation of Microsoft Knowledge Base article 3000850 (a Win8.1 "rollup update"), was fixed by rolling back that update, but then the problem got "baked in" to Win10. The issue causes the column's right border to be shifted to the far left of the field so the column text is not visible. (See the GECK: Collapsed Text Field.
    GECK: Collapsed Text Field Figure
    Click the link/thumbnail to see the enlarged image. Use your browser "<back page>" control to return to this page.)
  • GECK Extender Solution: Intended for Windows 10 users (no reports on how effective it might be for older versions) the geckextender.ini file has the "[General]" option bListEditFix disabled by default. Set to "=1" to enable.
  • Solution (Partial): This "fix" seems to stick only so long as you do not open an AI Package. Switching between Perks, Effects, and Dialogue condition columns work perfectly if you don't open an AI Package's conditions; but then ALL condition columns become squished for any form you open. The next time you start a GECK session, all will be fine again; but once you open AI Package's conditions the bug remains for the session until you implement the "temporary" or "workaround" solutions in each form.
Set "compatibility mode" for the GECK to "Vista SP2" or "Windows 7 SP 1". (Either seems to work as well.) For example: Right-click on your GECK-NVSE shortcut or the GECK executable directly, chose the Properties | Compatibility tab, Change settings for all users, and select Windows 7, and hit OK. Load up the editor and things should look normal for the first time since upgrading to Windows 10. (See the GECK: Expanded Text Field.
GECK: Expanded Text Field Figure
Click the link/thumbnail to see the enlarged image. Use your browser "<back page>" control to return to this page.)
GECK: Expanding Collapsed Text Field Figure
  • Temporary Solution: Place the mouse cursor in the top left corner of the "blank" field that is missing text until it changes the cursor shape into a "split cross" (column resize) cursor. (See GECK: Expanding Collapsed Text Field. Click the link/thumbnail to see the enlarged image. Use your browser "<back page>" control to return to this page.) Left-click and hold while dragging to the right, and the missing text should be displayed. Continue dragging to the right until everything is shown or the mouse cursor is no longer the "split cross" shape. When you release the mouse button the display field should be corrected. However, this "fix" may not be persistent from one GECK session to another.
  • Workaround: there is a Windows "hotkey" for expanding all columns in the currently active window of Windows Explorer and some programs (including GECK).
  • First you have to select a field with the problem (i.e. the "Conditions" field in the GECK: Collapsed Text Field) in the displayed GECK window,
  • Then press "Ctrl" and the "+" key on the cursor/number-keypad. (The "+" key on the regular keyboard won't have this effect. See GECK: Expanding Collapsed Text Field. Click the link/thumbnail to see the enlarged image. Use your browser "<back page>" control to return to this page.)
Now all columns should be expanded fully by themselves. (See the GECK: Expanded Text Field. Click the link/thumbnail to see the enlarged image. Use your browser "<back page>" control to return to this page.)

Issue - GECK Render Window shows a large gray square in new world space

Created a new world space and set WastelandNV as parent, using land and map data from the parent. Everything seems to be working fine except for a huge gray square covering most of the render window when trying to view the new world space.

  • Cause: The gray square is the water table.
  • Solution: Go to your 0,-0 point, zoom past the gray till you can see your land, and then add a static. Close, save, and then open your world space in GECK again and your land surface should now be visible.

Issue - How do I configure the GECK to do something


GECK and the Active File

Ever since Windows version 3 on a 386, programs have standardized on "File | New" or "File | Open". But not the GECK. This is your first introduction in how un-intuitive the GECK is. It truly is a miserable toolset.

The "active file" is just the file that you are currently editing. Unfortunately, this gets confusing in the GECK.

The way you create a new plugin (ESP) file is you:

  • Open up the GECK,
  • Click "Data",
  • Select any "master files" you want for your new ESP file.

At this point you don't have an active file for editing. But if you are creating a new file, that's what you want to do (yes, it makes no sense). At a minimum you need to have Fallout.ESM selected as a master. The GECK will load the master files (which are usually but not always with an ESM extension), and then you can make your changes, and when you select SAVE, then the GECK will finally prompt you for the name of your new file (which will usually have an ESP extension). Now that you've created a new file, this is your "active file" for this session. Any more changes that you make will all be saved to the same file.

TIP GECK can isolate records in a particular plugin

Thanks to madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas Mod Talk" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Limit to Mod Size

Thanks to madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Save often

Still the GECK seems to crash if you breathe heavily on it. It really sucks to open your plugin one day and find an entire town you spent a month on, gone: not a brick left and no aliens with probes in sight.

Once you have a file saved, if you want to edit that file later, you just select the files you want to load and make that your "active file" and start the GECK. When you save, all changes will go into the "active file" that you selected. Let's say you want to add resources from another master file to your plugin, like say, from Honest Hearts. If you are creating a new file, you'd check Fallout.ESM and HonestHearts.ESM, but you wouldn't select any active file. Later, when you save, you will be prompted for a new plugin filename that will become your new active file.

Let's say you already created a plugin, but you didn't include Honest Hearts initially, and now you do want to include it. Open the GECK, select "Data", make your plugin the "active file", and also check the HonestHearts.ESM. Once the GECK is up and running, as soon as you save any changes, your plugin will now include HonestHearts.ESM as a "master file", which it will require to be loaded thereafter.

Once you've added a "master file" to your plugin, you can't easily delete it. Well, you can, all you need to do is right click and press "Delete" when you start up your plugin in the GECK, but if you aren't very careful about exactly how you do that, you will completely destroy your plugin and render it unusable. There are ways to remove "master file" requirements in your plugin, but since you are just beginning with the GECK, assume for now that any "master files" you add are needed there forever.

The GECK will let you load multiple ESP files, but where any ESM "master files" that become requirements for your plugin are loaded automatically, the same isn't true for ESP files your plugin becomes dependent upon. Don't add resources from a different esp to your plugin, because that doesn't work. You can only add things to your plugin that come from master files, or things that your plugin adds on its own. There are ways around this, but again, that gets pretty advanced.

GECK Form-ID Base-ID Ref-ID and Editor-ID

An Editor-ID (sometimes called a GECK ID) is a text identifier used to reference persistent objects. It functions similarly to a Form ID, although it is not limited to 8 characters and a hexadecimal character set. It exists for the human user of GECK. The game engine itself is only concerned with Form-IDs. There is a direct "one-to-one" correspondence between an EditorID and a Ref-ID, but for the human only. (Editor-IDs are primarily used to identify objects in the Object window [the left pane of the GECK].) The game engine needs and only recognizes the Form-ID in commands, but they can also be used in scripts along with Editor-IDs. See the GECK Reference page.

Whether you create your own new object or copy and rename an existing one, you want to give it an "Editor-ID" (the human consumption one) that will enable you to quickly locate yours in the Object window.Refrain from beginning the Editor-ID with numbers. While this will tend to sort the name high in the list of objects, GECK will confuse such names with Form-IDs, which it won't find. Most experienced mod creators use a short common prefix, such as their initials or those of the mod, as the way to group their objects. Whatever naming convention you use, it must be unique and not too closely matching that of other mods to avoid confusion.

A Form-ID is anything specific to an object: whether it be Base or Ref. It is a more general term for both.

"A BaseID (or Base ID) is a FormID assigned automatically to an object by the GECK when a new object is created in the Object window. The Form IDs listed in the Object window are Base IDs. A Base ID is only associated with an object template in the editor, never with an instanced object in-game" - GECK glossary.

"Base ID is the number assigned to a template for an object that is used to create many instances of that object. For example all bottle caps in the game have exactly the same Base ID. This ID is used in scripts or the console with commands that create new instances of an object, like additem or placeatme." - Form-ID on The Vault wiki. You could think of it as the "parent" of each "child reference". Any change made to a Base-ID affects every reference back to that Base-ID. Which is why you need to make a "copy" of a Base-ID and change it's Editor-ID (which forces a change to the Form-ID) when you need to make a variation of an object. Otherwise you are changing ALL instances of that object in the game. (Don't try to change a Form-ID directly yourself. Let the GECK handle it.)

Base forms (another way of referring collectively to "Base-IDs") are fine to use in scripts, by the way. They're just used in different situations by various functions. For example: The StopQuest function will always operate on the base form of the quest. The same with anything involving Form Lists. But you wouldn't want to use a base form when you only want to affect a specific instance ("reference") of an object. AGAIN: Actions on a base form affect ALL instances of that form.

"A Reference ID is a FormID assigned automatically to a Reference [instance] by the GECK when an object is placed in the Render Window [in the right pane of the GECK]. Reference IDs are required to uniquely identify each instance of an object in-game. The Form ID column of the Cell View window lists Reference IDs" - GECK Glossary.

"The Reference ID is the unique ID of an individual object (unlike the Base ID, which is an ID for an object template). For example, all the bottle caps created from same Base ID will have different Reference IDs. This ID is used to manipulate existing objects with commands like kill, move to, or prid, for example.

"Any item that is not created by pre-defined game scripts (either original or from mods) will have [a] Reference ID starting with FF to indicate that this item belongs to this particular save game. It is for dynamically generated items, like loot from containers, random encounters or trader's wares." - Form-ID on The Vault wiki

RefID's that mod creators input, are only of assistance in letting the humans know to what the reference applies. You can actually use the FormID hex code value shown to the side in parentheses of the ref-ID field.

Note it is the persistent flag on the Reference that is mandatory in order for a RefID to become included in the search list for scripts/targets/whatever. (See GECK: Creating New Persistent Reference.) Otherwise the list of refs to search through would be way too huge and cause engine lag.

TIP Reference Variables explained

Thanks to vforvic of the Nexus "Fallout 3 Mod Talk" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Global ref variables Player and PlayerREF

Thanks to DoctaSax of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

Custom items

On the other hand, loading in multiple ESP files can be a quick and easy way to copy resources from another plugin into your plugin. Just go into the GECK with the other plugin loaded (as well as yours as the "active file"), make a change to whatever resource you want (you can literally change something and then change it back to what it was, just so you make sure that entry gets flagged as changed), and save your plugin. The changed resource will now be saved to your plugin. You have to be careful with this, as it won't work if the entry you are trying to copy depends on other things in the plugin that you didn't copy. Generally, as someone new to the GECK, you should probably try to avoid doing this, but if you are trying to copy items from another plugin, this is the fastest and easiest way to do it.

The GECK only includes a file as a resource if it's a "master file". If you load an ESP, the GECK won't treat it as a "master file". The GECK will automatically add any "master files" that the other ESP loaded since those will all be loaded into your new editing session when you load both ESP files.

One word of warning. If you want to copy a piece of armor or some other resource from another plugin, load that ESP without making it active, then make a change to the item you want, then save it, and DON'T DO ANYTHING ELSE. Exit out of the GECK, load it with the resource only in your plugin and WITHOUT the other (original) esp loaded, and then use the modified resource in your plugin. If you try to use the resource while the original plugin is still loaded, that can get the GECK confused and it may end up scrambling your plugin as a result.

This copy from one ESP to another will end up including "master files" from the original ESP in your new plugin; so if you don't want them, DON'T just delete them from the GECK data screen when you select your plugin. If you accidentally left something in your plugin from one of those masters in your copied cell, deleting the master will screw up your plugin, so first ensure you have a saved copy and then clean up the "master files" list early. Instead of using GECK for this, load your plugin into xEdit and use the "Clean Masters" function by right-clicking on your plugin and selecting that option from the resulting "context menu". If all your references to those other masters have been removed, it will safely remove those masters. If not, you can use the xEdit script "List records referencing specific plugin.pas" on that plugin to list them in the log window so you can fix them.

Make sure that the item you want is in a loose file (both mesh and texture) and isn't packed into a BSA file. If it is, you'll need to unpack it to properly reference it in your plugin.

(See the Skyrim thread BSAs and You for details about the pros and cons of "Bethesda Software Archives" (BSAs), but bear in mind such files in previous games, like Oblivion, FallOut3 and Fallout New Vegas, don't have "strict order" like in Skyrim. Games prior to Skyrim don't support overriding of assets in archives using other archives; only loose files can. If the same resource is contained in several BSA archives, those games won't use it from the last BSA on 100% of occasions. They may grab the resource from a random one of the BSAs containing the same file.)

WARNING! Do not unpack BSAs directly into your game "Data" folder; potentially overwriting any mod files. The tools don't ask you to confirm the overwriting, either. All the hair textures unpacked to "loose files" will go through the head models in that case; because that's what happens when hair is not packed in a BSA. "Best practice" is to unpack to a unique folder (they are large: 1-2GB) and manually drag the desired files to the appropriate "Data" folder as needed.

Sometimes these extracted textures appear to be almost transparent. This is because their color (aka "diffuse") maps are transparent instead of opaque. You may need to adjust the opaqueness to make things visible.

Plan to start by making simple mods: like maybe adding a house somewhere. Then make simple re-textures of existing objects. If you get that far, then you are ready to start making your own "mesh" models.

If you are making armor or a weapon, the most commonly suggested advice is to start with an existing version that is similar to what you want. That way you'll have an existing model to base your 3D model on that is close to the right size so you can scale your new model appropriately. Depending on what is desired, for armor it is suggested to often start with just a body model instead. Once you've created your model, you will have to "parent it" to the appropriate armature (aka "skeleton") in order for it to work. If words like "parent" and "armature" in this context don't mean much to you, then you need to do more reading about 3D modeling (again, "Noob to Pro" is a good resource for Blender).

Things like buildings and clutter items are also created with Blender (or 3dsMax), but they don't have armatures. They do have collision though. You'll have to make a collision mesh in Blender when you create your model.

When creating custom meshes for things with different materials, just create individual collision meshes ("bhkcollisionobjects") for each material and let Blender and the NifTools figure it out. When creating something like a log cabin with a stone base, for example, create one collision mesh for the stone base and another collision mesh for the wooden parts. The stone part would have a string property of HAV_MAT_STONE and the wood part would have a collision of HAV_MAT_WOOD under the "hkPackedNitriStripsData".

Primitive collisions (box, sphere, capsule) can be created in NifSkope as well as convex shapes. The nature of your object will sometimes require you to create them in Blender, though.

It is interesting to know that a collider will relate to an object part when it encompasses it, not by the child/parent relation inside a Nif.

  • Getting NIF and DDS textures out of BSAs. (See BSA Extraction Warning above.)
  • Importing, editing and exporting into/from Blender (2.49 and latest)
  • Creating new texture files as DDS in Photoshop.
  • Adjusting new object in NifTools for correct projection.
  • Making various emission colors for signs, like green, red, yellow and non-glowing.
  • Importing new model mesh into GECK for use in game.

 

TIP Biped and Equipped Objects

Thanks to madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Flickering on added item Radius Setting

Sometimes when adding an item to another (such as a hat on a Mr Gutsy) it seems to flicker out of sight depending on the player's camera angle or distance. This is a classic symptom of a problem with the model's "Radius setting". The following is courtesy of Prensa in a specific reply to a question about this issue with general application.

 

TIP Floating objects

Thanks to Stonedturtle26 and baduk of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas Mod Talk" forum for the basis of the following:

 

TIP Head Parts Rotated

It's not known why head parts changed between FO3 and FNV, considering that so much else in the game engine is identical, but they did. If you port a head part (hat, glasses, facemask, etc) from FO3 to FNV or from FNV to FO3, or make a new open helmet/hat/head accessory that uses a existing mesh, whether it's a simply a clone or a retexture, it tends to equip sideways (rotated by 90 degrees).

Thanks to madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following fix using NifSkope:
Thanks to masternetra of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following fix using FNVEdit (xEdit):

 

TIP Item Substitution

Thanks to madmongo and Jokerine of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

 

TIP Mashing Meshes

Thanks to madmongo, M48A5, and 'RoyBatterianof the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas Mod Troubleshooters" forum for the basis of the following:

 

TIP Movable or Static custom objects in cell

Thanks to madmongo, davidlallen, and Tefnacht of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas Mod Talk" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Plugins can not override injected records

Thanks to luthienanarion of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas Mod Talk" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Repairability

Thanks to slippyguy for his informative description in the mod Alternative Repairing listing a number of potential problems he identified/resolved.

Custom Creatures

Thanks to madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas Mod Troubleshooting" forum for the basis of the following.

Let's assume you want to add an "albino radscorpion" to the game.

An "albino" version of the radscorpion would just be a re-texture. What you are going to want to do is export all of the meshes related to the radscorpion (everything in \meshes\creatures\radscorpion) into your own custom directory, and do similar for the textures. Let's assume you are using \meshes\creatures\albinoscorpion (you can of course change the names to match your real directory names). Edit your custom texture using GIMP or Paint.Net or Photoshop or any other texture editor that can handle DDS files and save it with a new name. Then go into NifSkope and edit radscorpion.nif so that it will use your new texture, and save the modified mesh Nif as something unique like albinoscorpion.nif.

Since this is just a re-texture, the easiest thing to do is copy the existing radscorpion creature in the GECK and modify it. So open up one of the radsorpions under the "creatures" section of the GECK like CrRadscorpion2Large and select the "ModelList" tab. Change the skeleton to the skeleton in your new directory. Now your custom Nif should show up along with the standard radscorpion Nifs. Uncheck radscorpion.nif (if it's still checked) and check your new albinoradscorpion.nif, and change the ID for the creature from CrRadscorpion2Large to something like AlbinoRadscorpion or whatever you want to call it, and hit "OK" to save it. You can edit the stats or traits or anything else in there that you like if you want too, of course.

Remember: in the GECK, save early and often.

If you want to make a custom model in Blender that uses the same skeleton as an existing creature, the procedure is basically the same, except that you have to know how to create meshes in Blender and parent them to skeletons. You'll end up with a custom Nif that will already have a custom texture that you applied to it in Blender when you created the model, and the idea is basically the same. Export the meshes and textures of the creature whose skeleton you are using, then edit that creature to use your new Nif (and your Nif will tell it to use the new textures), and save it with a new ID.

To create a completely new creature (one not based upon any existing creature already in the game), you will have to build the mesh and texture files from scratch, and also provide it with animations. If it is based upon an existing skeleton, then you can use that as the "armature". Otherwise you will need to create a specialized one from scratch along with weighting the bones appropriately or by adapting an existing one with a new editor-ID. As you might guess, this is a much more involved process than merely re-texturing an existing creature. Save it for after you have mastered the basics.

Spawning modded items

The following overview is taken from a thread reply in the "Fallout New Vegas" Nexus forum by Hexrowe:

In GECK, there's a category titled Leveled Item (under Items). It contains a whole bunch of lists that tell the game what items should be spawned in randomly filled loot containers, vendor inventories and enemies. These are usually called "leveled lists" because much of their contents are affected by player level (which is why you tend to find more powerful items in better condition the higher your level is). Adding your items to these lists causes them to appear randomly in the game like any other non-unique items, and is what is meant when mod descriptions mention "leveled list integration" or some such.

The sheer number of these lists can look daunting at first, but if you use filters with some fairly obvious keywords and look around a bit you should get the hang of it. Lists starting with "Cond" are used for randomly determining the condition of spawned items, and are usually referenced by other lists; lists starting with "Vendor" are used to randomly fill vendor inventories; lists starting with "Loot" are used to spawn random loot on enemies and in containers; and so on.

In order to add an item to a list, you can double-click on the list to open it in its own window and EITHER go back to the Object Window, find the item you want to add and physically drag-and-drop it into the list, OR right-click on an empty spot on the list (to create a new default list entry) or on an existing entry (to create a copy of that entry) and select "New" from the context menu. Then you have to edit the new entry into what you actually wanted to add. (Drag-and-drop is required for adding items into Form Lists, but Leveled Item Lists can also use the right-click menu. GECK is kind of a mess like that.)

ALTERNATELY, if you want to place an item in a specific location in the game as is often done with unique weapons, creatures, and such, there's a list of world spaces in the Cell View window; find the one you want to place the object in (note that there are several lists; Interiors seems to be displayed by default, but if you want to place the object in an open air location go to WastelandNV instead), double-click it to open it in the Render Window, then find the object in the Object Window and drag-and-drop it into the Render Window. The item will now appear in the list of objects on the right side of the Cell View Window, and double-clicking it there allows you to edit it's exact location and rotation, ownership, whether it can be picked up by wandering AI, and so on. You can also use a "X Marker" and define a radius from the marker at which a script will place an item or creature when certain conditions are met. See Tip: Random NPC Comments for an example of this technique.

Common practice is to put the items in an owner-less container, just to be safe. For this you'll have to create the container in the Object Window (they're found in the Container category, under World Objects) and add it into the world space by drag-and-dropping it into the Render Window just like any other item. The easiest way to create a new container is to double-click on an existing one that uses whichever world model you want (fridge, gun cabinet, briefcase, etc.), change its Editor-ID and name, and click OK; at this point GECK will ask whether you want to create a new form instead of renaming the old, so click "Yes" and you'll have your new container. Now just edit its contents and attributes (remember to remove any owners, unless you specifically want the player to have to steal the goods) and add it to the world space of your liking. Done!

TIP Respawning Plant bug fix

Thanks to masternetra of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas Mod Talk" forum for the basis of the following:

Worldspaces

If you want to create your own worldspace, then you must be a real glutton for punishment, because this gets you into the buggiest parts of the GECK. For example. you create a worldspace, then go and edit its heightmap, and when you save your heightmap and exit out of it, the GECK will crash. The only way to avoid this is to create your worldspace, save your mod, exit the GECK, reload your mod, and then edit the heightmap. This isn't explained anywhere in the GECK, but if you create a heightmap that is too low, the GECK will crash. One modder used to create heightmaps with a general offset of about 6000, but then found there's another bug that when you do that: trees don't generate LOD properly. So your heightmap really needs to be above something like 20-25,000 or so. If your landscape doesn't have trees (or objects that are defined as having tree LOD in the GECK) then you don't need to worry about it and 6000 offset works fine, BUT: the default LOD water height is 10500.

At some point you will try to navmesh your entire new worldspace. It's a really big worldspace with lots of cells, so it's a royal pain to navmesh each cell. Here you find out that the default settings for generating navmeshes will typically navmesh right across a fence, but will block on a piece of road. (Hey GECK, isn't it supposed to be the other way around? Arrgghh.) (As an aside, using heightmap generation mode works a LOT better). Oh, but wait, there's an automatic navmesh generator under the Regions section. Except that it is THE MOST BUGGY THING IN THE ENTIRE GECK. People have had it navmesh the entire area OUTSIDE of the area you want it to navmesh, completely leaving the area you wanted to navmesh untouched. Oh, and by the way, it completely rips out whatever navmeshing you had before in your mod, so hope you saved a backup somewhere because otherwise it's gone. Oh again, but don't worry. The auto navmesher doesn't always navmesh outside where you want it to. No, more often it just completely locks up with an infinite "Get Jean" popup error box that you can't get rid of because it just pops up again. Seriously, the error box just says "Get Jean". After some googling it was learned that "Jean" was the pathing coder and this was a debug message that was never removed from the GECK. The auto-navmesher also completely hangs up when it encounters an SCOL (static collection). The auto navmesher managed to navmesh a large (and very simple) landscape for a modder once. And only once. These days it's recommended you don't even bother to try and use it. Just navmesh cell by cell. It's quicker and less frustrating.

The list of bugs that you run into with worldspace generation goes on and on like this. Worldspace generation is MISERABLE. There's a reason you don't see many worldspace mods and many of the ones you do see use a flat worldspace with landscape objects like cliffs and rocks instead of a true heightmap to generate the landscape.

Many consider duplicating an existing worldspace and removing unwanted elements. This is fraught with it's own problems as well. Please see the Nexus forum thread Duplicating a world-space tutorial first, for an idea of the difficulties involved. Be aware that deleting objects from the world means you are removing references used by the game and possibly other mods. When you delete static objects like vehicles, the navmesh for that cell is typically done so that NPCs will avoid walking into the vehicle. If you don't fix the navmesh, you can walk right through where the vehicle used to be, but your companion NPC won't. It's a bit odd when you are walking down the road and your companion suddenly does a left turn and goes out of their way to avoid nothing, just because the navmesh says they can't walk there. Similarly, if you are being chased by a creature, it will also avoid the holes in the navmesh where the vehicles and other statics used to be.

New worldspace creation is pretty much the same from FO3 to FNV, so tutorials for FO3 are okay for you to use. There don't seem to be any good tutorials. Most have pieced together bits and pieces from various tutorials and just plugged through it until they figured it out by trial and error.

Some tutorials make it sound a lot easier than it is. If you are making a very small worldspace, it can be done fairly quickly. But if you are making a larger worldspace, it becomes a very slow and tedious thing.

Also, the worldspace parts of the GECK are among the buggiest and most difficult to use parts of the toolset. Save often, and make backup files often just in case the GECK totally trashes your mod and you need to revert to an earlier version.

Here are some tips on getting past the first initial problems, which will give you an idea of how frustrating this can be. However, if all you need is the basic game worldspace but empty of content, you might consider The Community Wasteland Project which is an ESM file that has safely removed all NPCs, Creatures and scripted triggers from the game and its DLCs instead as an alternative to "rolling your own".

Assuming you want to make your own landscape from scratch, the first step is just creating the world space. Click on "World | World Spaces" in the GECK, and when that form comes up, just click "New" on the left hand side to give your new region a name, and fill in the blanks. Exit out of that, and save your mod, because the next step will usually crash the GECK.

TIP Center_On_Cell COC Markers

Thanks to pixelhate of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

There's an auto navmesher, but that is buggy as all heck. Some have found that it works reasonably well on wilderness landscapes containing simple objects like trees and cactuses. It often completely fails when the cell contains SCOLs ("static collections") and doesn't work well at all if there are a lot of complex objects inside the cell. That means that you end up having to hand navmesh a lot of cells. If your new worldspace only has a few usable cells, this isn't a big deal, and you can navmesh all of them in a few hours easily. A worldspace has basically 64x64 cells, which is 4096 total cells. You can auto navmesh three or four cells per minute, and once you get experienced at navmeshing, you can probably finish a fairly complex cell in a few minutes. If you figure an average of one cell per minute (being a mix of hand navmeshed and auto navmeshed), that's 4096 minutes to navmesh the entire worldspace. That works out to a bit over 68 hours. If you navmesh for three hours per day (because you have a job or go to school or do something that takes up the rest of your day) then it will take you roughly 23 days to navmesh the entire worldspace.

The auto navmesher will often not navmesh across roads. If you set the auto navmesher to "Height Map Only" mode, it works a lot faster and a lot better, and will usually navmesh across roads just fine. However, it will usually navmesh through fences. So be prepared to hand navmesh any cell that contains a road or a fence.

Use the "b" key in your "render window" to show "cell boundaries". You'll want to arrange buildings and structures and other things so that you can easily do the navmeshing. You wouldn't want a building's door to be straddling a cell boundary, for example.

There's also an "auto generate navmesh" button under "regions". Don't use it. It is very very very very broken. Some have made it work under some circumstances but it is incredibly buggy.

LOD generation is similar. It's not too bad if you only have a few cells, but for a large worldspace it takes darn near forever.

This is why you need to decide ahead of time if you want to create a tiny worldspace that you can finish in a short amount of time, or if you want to create a major sized worldspace that will take you a huge chunk of time to complete.

There's a reason that you don't see too many mods with worldspaces on the nexus. It's difficult to figure out, and buggy as all heck. It also takes a huge amount of time, which is why the few worldspaces that you do see tend to be small and simple. It is not uncommon for a single mod creator to spend so long working on a mod with a new worldspace that the vast majority of that game community has moved on to another game.

One other thing. If you do try to make a huge worldspace, you can use the regions to add a lot of landscape items like cactuses and trees. This is a huge time saver, but be forwarned. If you have ever clicked on an object in debug mode, you'll notice that the object has an 8 character ID, something like 4100D236 (a completely made-up number). This is a hexidecimal number. The first two digits will be the number of your mod (41 in this case), aka its mod index. Fallout gets 00, and the different mods are assigned numbers as you add them into your mod list. On a system with the official DLC, "Dead Money" is 01, "Honest Hearts" is 02, "Old World Blues" is 03, etc. You can see the mod index in most mod managers. So if you add another mod and it ends up loading before this one, that 41 could get bumped up to 42, for example. Now here's the important part. That xx00D236 part means that you have a six digit hex "form" number for the ID. This corresponds to the file offset in your mod. The largest 6 digit hex number you can have is FFFFFF, which is 16,777,215. (The FF mod index is reserved for "save game" file changes to the environment, such as inventory and moved objects.) A worldspace will take 10 to 12 megs just for the heightmap and landscape, not including navmesh and texturing. If you go over the 16 meg limit and add an object, you brick your mod. The GECK will give you no errors at all when it saves your mod, but when you try to load it again, it will lock up the GECK. That means you can't use the GECK to fix it. Hope you have a backup of your mod from earlier somewhere, because that's the only way out of it.

This is important enough to put it another way: What this means to you is that you need to watch your file size. Once you get over 16 megs, you can't add any more objects or you will break your mod. If this happens, the game can't load your mod and the GECK can't load it either, so if you didn't save an earlier copy of your mod somewhere, it's forever broken. Fallout.esm is significantly larger than 16 megs, so Bethesda obviously has some way of packing the data in so that they don't get this problem. But the GECK that you and I get to use can't add objects to a mod that is more than 16 megs in size. You can paint landscapes and add navmeshes and such which can take your mod well beyond the 16 meg limit, but as soon as you add an object to a mod that is larger than 16 megs and save your mod, you just broke it. The GECK won't tell you that it is broken, either. You won't find out until you try to reload your mod in the GECK or if you try to use it in the game. Authors have had to split mods into multiple files to get around this.

(Repeat the mantra: save early, save often, keep backups.)

If you are making a small worldspace, then you probably don't have to worry about this at all. If you are making a large worldspace and are adding tons of landscape objects (cactuses, trees, etc) then you can run into this limit and it will break your mod. So if you are going to do a worldspace, do the landscape first, then add all of your objects, NPCs, creatures, etc. to it, and THEN do the navmeshing and texturing last as those don't care about the 16 meg boundary issue.

TIP Finding cell North in GECK

Thanks to madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

The next step is to create a "heightmap". A lot of people skip this and make small, completely flat world spaces, and use things like cliff objects to do the majority of their landscaping. That's okay for things like a small base surrounded by mountains or something like that, but if you are trying to create a town or something it looks amateurish.

Warning - If you basically default the heightmap settings, it will crash the GECK. Seriously, sometimes it seems like the GECK is a Vault-tec experiment designed to test modder frustrations. The reason for this is that the GECK doesn't like it if the landscape is too low. So the first thing some do is create a random landscape that doesn't have much randomness to it, so that what it ends up doing is creating a basically flat landscape. The settings successfully used under the random generator are a frequency of 100, an amplitude of 50, and a base offset of 6000 if there will be no "tree LODs" or 25,000 if there will be. (Though bear in mind the default LOD "water level" is 10500 if you are planning on any underground structures. It seems the "Default Water Height" and the "Default LOD Water Height" need to be the same. The "Default Land Height" is -2048.0 and that appears to be sensitive to changes, and is best left alone.) The base offset is extremely important since if you don't set it high enough, the GECK crashes.

TIP Generating Worldspace LOD

TIP Static Water goes into Interior cells only

Thanks to madmongo and SnakeSlippers of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas Mod Talk" forum for the basis of the following:

Some folks use things like "geological survey data" to generate their heightmaps. See the last couple of threads in the list of tutorials below or poke around on the net.

If all is well so far, save your heightmap and save your mod. If you didn't restart the GECK earlier, chances are that right here is where the GECK will crash. The second time through this it usually works.

Now re-open your heightmap, and use the editing tools to create your mountains, rivers, lakes, etc. You can play around with the default water settings in your worldspace to get the water to line up with where you want it on your landscape. If you used a base offset of 6000 when creating the heightmap, a water height of about 3500 tends to work fairly well. When you are editing the heightmap, make very small changes. If you make changes that are too drastic, you basically tear the landscape and the GECK can't figure out how to fix it and it ends up with a broken landscape that either crashes the GECK or crashes the game or both.

What you probably have at this point is a landscape that has mountains and plains and rivers and lakes and whatever. Save your heightmap and save your mod. If you were to go and look at it though, it will probably be very flat and unrealistic looking. You can add in some randomness to your heightmap to fix that. The settings that some tend to use are a frequency of 2000, an amplitude of 200, a base offset of zero, and this is very important, make sure you click "additive" and "subtractive". If you don't check the "additive" and "subtractive" boxes, it will create a new random heightmap instead of just adding a bit of randomness to your existing heightmap. Now you should have something that looks a lot more realistic. Again, save your mod. The GECK likes to crash for no good reason a lot when doing worldspace stuff.

Now you can go to your "cell view" form, and change "interiors" (where it says "world space") and select your new world space. It will put you right in the center of your new world space. And you'll run into yet another GECK bug. If there is nothing on the landscape, and the GECK hasn't ever focused on any kind of object, the GECK will usually display water instead of your landscape, so you end up looking at a big solid grayish-green blob on your render window instead of looking at your landscape. If this happens to you, select "interiors" in the "cell view", double click on some static object, let the render window display that cell, then go back to your new world space. Sometimes just moving around using the arrow keys will get the water blob to go away once you move far enough to change cells. Once you have objects in your new worldspace you won't have this problem any more, as long as you first go to an area that has objects when you select your new worldspace when you start up the GECK.

Now you can tweak and paint the landscape to your heart's desire, and add objects and do all of that fun stuff. Unfortunately, you have only two basic tools for editing landscape. You can use the "landscape editing" function in the "render window", which limits you to a maximum brush size of 15, or you can use the "heightmap editor". If you are trying to make something the size of a small pond, the "landscape editing" makes you feel like you are carving out Mount Rushmoor using a hand chisel, and using the "heightmap editor" makes you feel like you are trying to do brain surgery with a chainsaw. There's nothing in between. The "heightmap editor" is also a bit quirky. It tends to leave big black square splotches just outside of the view on your render window, and those don't go away when you close out the heightmap editing box. Even if you move away from that area using the arrow keys, the splotches stay there. You can only make them go away by selecting another area from the cell view and then going back to the area where you were.

Buggy buggy buggy. That's the GECK.

TIP Terrain Editor missing texture

Thanks to madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

Copying interior or exterior cells between plugins

Reusing cells from one plugin to another is a great time saver, but you have to bear some things in mind.

  • The Trick is to make your new ESP first, only dependent on the main master file. Save and close it.
Best way to make a new ESP file is to drop something in the "Render" window, then save and name the file. So loading a cell first is needed. Suggest "Wasteland cell / Good Springs" if you don't have any in particular in mind. You can of course delete that cell later from your ESP if it's not needed for your purposes.
  • Then open your preferred tool adding the other files from which you want to use assets, (with your new .ESP as the "active file" in GECK).

At the moment we don't know of any way to duplicate exterior world spaces in GECK. You can copy cell records between plugins in FNVEdit. In order to change the FormID of the duplicated Worldspace, you need to work from the bottom up: changing the FormIDs of the children cells before the parent.

You can use either FNVEdit or GECK to duplicate interior cells, but this is how to use the GECK. In the GECK, load up the ESP with the cell you want but don't make it "active", while loading the ESP that you want the cell to end up in (i.e. your new ESP) as the "active file". Then just right click on the desired cell in the "source" plugin and select "Duplicate Cell". It will give the duplicate a name of whatever the cell name is plus COPY (or something like that). If there are any objects in the source cell that are unique to the mod you are copying it from or come from one of its masters that you don't want to include, delete those out of the copied cell. Then save your "active file" ESP. Do not add items to the cell or do anything else other than duplicate it or the GECK can sometimes get confused and it will mess everything up. Just duplicate the cell, remove anything you don't want in your "active file" ESP, and save. That's it. Exit and reload, and maybe rename the cell so that it doesn't have the word COPY in it, and then edit it to your heart's desire.

The GECK only includes a file as a resource if it's a "master file". If you load an ESP, the GECK won't treat it as a master (unless you have configured the GECK PowerUp to allow ESPs to be "masters"). The GECK will automatically add any master files that the other ESP loaded since those will all be loaded into your new editing session when you load both ESP files.

This will end up including "master files" from the "original ESP" in your "new ESP", so if you don't want them: just delete them from the GECK data screen when you select your mod for loading. However, if you accidentally left in something dependent upon one of those masters in your copied cell, deleting the master will screw up your mod.

Here loading your new ESP with the copied cell(s) in FNVEdit first will enable you to safely see if there are any unexpected "master files" in the "File Header" record list of masters. It's "Clean Masters" command won't remove a "master file" as long as some record depends upon it, which is not true for the GECK.

  • Check for errors in FNVEdit by Right-clicking on your plugin, and selecting "check for errors" from the context menu that then appears.
If there are any remaining dependent records (evidenced by a master you expected to be dropped still being present in the plugin's "File Header" record) you can use the FNVEdit script "List records referencing specific plugin.pas" on that plugin to list them in the log window so you can remove them.
  • Once that is done, Right-click on your plugin and select "Clean Masters" from the context menu.
  • "Sort Masters", which will order them in the plugin according to your current "load order".
  • Check the plugin's "File Header" record for any remaining unexpected "master files".
If there are any, repeat the process. Otherwise, exit and save.

There are a lot of things that FNVEdit and the GECK can both do, they just do it differently. Which one you choose to use is a matter of personal preference, but sometimes one has capabilities the other lacks.

Additional Material

The following is not intended to be a complete list, but rather a starting point on articles and videos specific to FNV to assist new mod creators in getting started. Bear in mind that articles in older games may also be of assistance with basic concepts as long as you adjust to the peculiarities of the syntax in the GECK.

Rather than "reinventing the wheel", your life will be a lot simpler if you take advantage of resources made available for your use by the modding community. They also provide useful examples of correctly created elements which can supplement tutorials. These are generally listed on the Nexus in the Modders resources and tutorials category. Check back often. Please respect the various authors usage permissions, and give credit where due.

These articles are not necessarily intended as "tutorials", but do convey useful information to the mod creation process.

Game Time

Time in the game is tracked in "Global Variables" (type: GLOB). The use of "Global Variables" (e.g. GameHour) and GameTime functions such as GetGamesDaysPassed can get tricky. (Using this GetGamesDaysPassed function is preferable to using the GameDaysPassed global variable, which is highly unreliable.) It is necessary to carefully examine the descriptions and examples to understand how each works. They are not as "obvious" as one might think.

The game engine originally stored "time" values as type "float" (i.e. "single precision") values. But when returned in various functions they were often converted into type "short" (i.e. "integer") values. This caused problems, which made it necessary for "New Vegas Script Extender" (NVSE) to intercept and implement as "double precision" values and it's own functions to correct;y deal with returning the proper values. So you need to be aware of these differences when choosing how you deal with time.

(It's "Game Engine fixes" such as these that make NVSE essentially a requirement. As many of the plugins essential to a stable game (such as "New Vegas Anti-Crash", aka NVAC) require NVSE already, don't shy away from using it's functions instead of the vanilla ones. Virtually every mod user should already have it installed.)

- See the GECK entries on List of Global Variables and Special Variables.

NAM files

By default there are "< DLC >.nam" files for all the DLC ".ESM" files. These files cause the game to load those DLC even if they are not "active" in the "load order". If any ".nam" files for specific DLCs are not found, that DLC is not automatically activated (enabled). (It is recommended you rename rather than delete them if you don't want a particular DLC to automatically be loaded.)

Normally, when starting GECK and opening the "File" menu it has automatically "checked" (enabled) the DLC ESM files with "< DLC >.nam" files for loading, but not the "FalloutNV.ESM". There isn't a ".nam" file by default for "FalloutNV.ESM".

The "nam" file contains nothing more than the common name (e.g. "Dead Money") of the respective DLC. When a plaintext "FalloutNV.nam" file with "Fallout New Vegas" as content is created, "FalloutNV.ESM" will be automatically checked (enabled) in GECK's "File" menu just like the DLC.

3D Model and Texture resources

Note that often the models on these sites tend to have very high polygon counts, which the NIFTools either completely choke on or if they do handle it, end up just killing your game performance. Use with caution.


Plugin File Header and Record information by game

Thanks to Sharlikran on the "Afkmods" site Wrye Bash - All Games thread for the following:

"While these pages still provide the best public documentation of the Oblivion file formats, all mod makers should also be using Tes4View, which currently provides the most complete and correct understanding of the mod file format in a readily accessible manner." - UESP Wiki (on the Oblivion page for the TES4 Mod File Format). [These days, instead of the Oblivion tool TES4View, use the game-specific version of xEdit instead (e.g. TES4Edit, FNVEdit, etc.).]

"One of the things about those Wiki pages is the format of the 24 bytes doesn't change much. In my opinion you really only need to compare Oblivion, with one of the other games. About the only thing that changes is the Flags because they are record specific. The TES4 header is defined in the following Data which is a group of subrecords. A GRUP or Top Group also has 24 bytes and indicates the beginning of what will follow. Bethesda's internal tool sometimes introduces duplicate Top Groups which are combined in xEdit. Each record starts with 24 bytes, and then the subrecords follow. After the 24 bytes is the size of the data that will follow from what I understand. From what I know Oblivion is 20 bytes, and that's about the only difference. Zilav [of the xEdit team] only mentioned the other day when I asked that Oblivion doesn't have a Form Version because it was the first use of the new format."

Fallout Record Types

Sources:

  1. Tes5Mod talk:Mod File Format contains comparative counts of use by type between FO3 and FNV, omitted below.
  2. TES5Edit/fopdoc as of 2 Jun 2014 documents the FO3, FNV, and FO4 plugin file formats known to the xEdit team. Only those pertaining to FO3 and FNV are listed here.
FOPDOC has each record on a separate GitHub Flavored Markdown page with sub-record type information. This should be referenced for further details like flag values. (Markdown format is quite readable by the average user with an ordinary plaintext editor.)
  • ACHR = Placed Character/NPC Reference
  • ACRE = Placed Creature Reference
  • ACTI = Activator (usually something like a light switch, plant, etc.)
  • ADDN = Addon Node (Particle Effect)
  • ALCH = Ingestible Potion/Medicine (Alchemy)
  • ALOC = Media Location Controller (FNV only)
  • AMEF = Ammo Effects (FNV only)
  • AMMO = Ammunition
  • ANIO = Animated Object
  • ARMA = Armor Components (Addon)
  • ARMO = Armor
  • ASPC = Acoustic Space (sound effects)
  • AVIF = Actor Value information
  • BOOK = Books (usually one that's actually usable.)
  • BPTD = Body Part Data
  • CAMS = Cameras
  • CCRD = Cards (Caravan) (FNV only)
  • CDCK = Deck of Cards (Caravan) (FNV only)
  • CELL = Cell (Areas that make up the game world. Each interior is in its own cell.)
  • CHAL = Challenges (FNV only)
  • CHIP = Gambling Chips (FNV only)
  • CLAS = Class
  • CLMT = Climate
  • CMNY = Caravan Money (FNV only)
  • CONT = Container
  • CPTH = Camera Path
  • CREA = Creature
  • CSNO = Casino (FNV only)
  • CSTY = Combat Style
  • DEBR = Debris
  • DEHY = Dehydration level (FNV Hardcore mode only)
  • DIAL = Dialog topic
  • DOBJ = Default Object Manager
  • DOOR = Door (Teleports or removes barrier, often used to teleport the player into cells.)
  • ECZN = Encounter Zone
  • EFSH = Effect Shader
  • ENCH = Enchantment (such as Stimpak's healing ability.)
  • EXPL = Explosion
  • EYES = Eyes
  • FACT = Faction (All NPCs and creatures are assigned to one.)
  • FLST = Form ID List
  • FURN = Furniture
  • GLOB = Global
  • GMST = Game Setting
  • GRAS = Grass
  • GRUP = Group
  • HAIR = Hair
  • HDPT = Headpart (Eyes, hair, beards, etc.)
  • HUNG = Hunger level (FNV Hardcore mode only)
  • IDLE = Idle Animations
  • IDLM = Idle Marker
  • IMAD = Image Space Adapter
  • IMGS = Image Space
  • IMOD = Item Mods
  • INFO = Dialog Response
  • INGR = Ingredient
  • IPCT = Impacts
  • IPDS = Impact Data Set
  • KEYM = Key
  • LAND = Land
  • LGTM = Lighting Template
  • LIGH = Light
  • LSCR = Load Screen
  • LSCT = Load Screen Type (FNV only)
  • LTEX = Land Texture
  • LVLC = Leveled Creature
  • LVLI = Leveled Item
  • LVLN = Leveled NPC
  • MAPM = Mapmarker (These are what tell you where a town, etc. is on the map.)
  • MESG = Message
  • MGEF = Base Magic Effect
  • MICN = Menu Icon
  • MISC = Miscellaneous item (such as random junk.)
  • MSET = Media Set (FNV only)
  • MSTT = Moveable Static
  • MUSC = Music
  • NAVI = Navigation Mesh Info Map
  • NAVM = Navigation Mesh (NavMesh)
  • NOTE = Note (which can be activated to show a text string, or the FormID of a Dialog record.)
  • NPC_ = NPC (Non Playable Characters)
  • PACK = Package (See the FOPDOC for the types of sub-records controlling when it gets triggered.)
  • PERK = Skill Perks
  • PGRE = Placed Grenade
  • PMIS = Placed Missile (FNV only)
  • PROJ = Projectile
  • PWAT = Placeable Water
  • QUST = Quest
  • RACE = Race
  • RADS = Radiation Stage
  • RCCT = Recipe Category (Collection)
  • RCPE = Recipe
  • REFR = Placed Object Reference
  • REGN = Region
  • REPU = Reputation
  • RGDL = Ragdoll
  • SCOL = Static Collection
  • SCPT = Script
  • SLPD = Sleep Deprivation Stage (FNV Hardcore mode only)
  • SOUN = Sound
  • SPEL = Actor Effect (Spell)
  • STAT = Static
  • TACT = Talking Activator
  • TERM = Terminal
  • TES4 = TES4 record format header. (Remnant of TES4:Oblivion.)
  • TREE = Tree
  • TXST = Texture Set
  • VTYP = Voice Type
  • WATR = Water
  • WEAP = Weapon
  • WRLD = Worldspace
  • WTHR = Weather


Factions Stealing and Ownership

Factions

This is a topic which gets complex in a hurry in application. Consider the following a broad overview.

Factions are "groups of members" with a relationship to other factions which affect the default behavior between members of those factions, and between members of the same faction. The actor's membership in a faction is processed by the game AI in determining another actor's reaction to them. The key thing is the relationship between factions, rather than between individuals. Actors will never attack "Friends" or "Allies". (See also Custom NPCs.)

You should not generally attempt to change anything about a faction's relationship with another faction. Instead create a new faction, decide which actors or other factions you want to be members of your new faction, and then establish their relationships with other factions. If you haven't fully mapped out those inter-faction relationships, things get "surprising".

Reputation is about how members of various factions (including your own "Player" faction) feel about your character. While related, they are separate issues. Note you can have both positive and negative reputation (fame/infamy) with a given faction at the same time. The "fame label" attached to your character is the result of a matrix of that positive/negative range, given in the referenced wiki article. "Reputation" changes only apply to the Player; not to other Actors.

Once you have "committed a crime" against one member of a faction, the entire faction is hostile to you (and your PlayerFaction). All NPCs react based upon the Actor's membership in a faction and that faction's relationships with their faction, including your "companions" who become part of the PlayerFaction when they are "hired".

The dialogue topics are a hierarchy of responses. The first response which tests ALL conditions as "true" is the response given. (If you are never seeming to get to your desired response, this is the first thing to check.) A Faction's "Hostile" reaction is right up there at the top, so they never get past it to say anything else. If you want them to say something before attacking, then you need to alter the response so that it causes them to bark (say something or make a noise to the player or another NPC) before attacking. If you want them to bark only in the first instance, then you need to add a "DoOnce" conditional test to that response, and have a standard "attack response" after it in the hierarchy. Speaking always takes a bit of time, and "sounds" process independently of other script actions (meaning once started they run until done while the rest of the script is processed), so you just put the bark line before the attack in the script.

It is worth noting that the game designers created separate "factions" for dialogue (e.g. "vSecuritronDialogueFaction", "vOuterVegasDialogueFaction", etc.) that could be tested for in dialogue conditionals in addition to the typical factions (e.g. "vStreetSecuritronFaction") for relationships with other factions.

Various types of armor have faction associations. Wearing any faction disguise armor will turn reputation with that faction to "Neutral". For example, if "Liked" by the NCR but wearing NCR "face wrap armor" (a "disguise armor"), that armor will return reputation with the NCR to "Neutral". It will go back to "Liked" once the armor is removed. Only certain types and sets (in combination with the correct helmet) of armor function as "disguises" in this manner. (See the table in this apparel page of "The Vault" wiki which identifies which vanilla armor counts as a disguise.) "Disguises" provide a temporary membership in their respective faction. Such "indirect" methods of changing faction membership and/or reputation are preferred to directly altering it for the Player.

TIP Companions and Followers
Thanks to miguick of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Faction Disguise system

Stealing and Ownership

"Containers" and their contents have "ownership". This affects who can use items without it being regarded as "stealing". Cells have ownership as well.

  • First the ownership of the item is considered; if none is selected ...
  • Then the ownership of the container is considered; if none is selected ...
  • Then ownership of the Cell is considered.

If the ownership set on the cell is the only way any containers/items are being claimed, then you can just change that to none. But this will also effect any trespassing if it was something in use.

Opening "owned containers" and taking their contents or "owned" items found "lying around", and trespassing (to include opening specific doors with "owners"), have negative effects on the Courier's reputation with the owning NPC and the faction(s) in which they have membership.

You can set NPC container ownership to "Player" as long as it is not a container that another NPC will need to use. But you could use the faction ownership to let the player share the ability to use it, by making a new faction and adding the player to that faction. Anything with the faction ownership set will also count as stealing, unless the player is in the faction or has ally status with that faction.

Containers and "pickable plants" in exteriors can also have faction ownership set. The faction ownership is used so that all people in the faction will consider it a crime and react accordingly. Otherwise only the NPC set as owner would react.

Another way that will set ownership for a whole area is an encounter zone. It looks like the NV main file doesn't set any ownership with encounter zones anyway. But some of the DLC's and others mods may do that. Just mentioning as a place to check on ownership in the future.

Tutorials

Some tutorials are specific on making various kinds of Fallout NV mods with GECK. Others cover aspects of creating mods that are more applicable to mod creation in general. Always bear in mind that the game engine for Skyrim and Fallout 4 is different than that used for older Bethesda games like Morrowwind and Oblivion, and each game version of the engine is different in some way. However, each succeeding game built upon concepts implemented in earlier games, so they are still worth investigating. Your starting point should be the "Basic Tutorials" provided by Bethsoft as part of their "Construction Kits".

Bethsoft Basic Tutorials

Animation

[When linking to a Video, be sure to check the page sidebar for additional, related subject videos.]

TIP Animation Summary

Thanks to pluramon and RoyBatterian on the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas Mod Talk" forum for the basis of the following summary:

TIP Animation Exporting

Thanks to uhmattbravo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP KF edit rotates Actors 90 degrees to right

The following is taken from the "First Aid for frequent problems" section of the Avoiding Blender animation pitfalls Nexus Wiki article.

TIP Play an Animation

Thanks to DoctaSax of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas" forum for the basis of the following:

Armor and Clothes

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Note the KGTools web site containing the downloads is no longer accessible. Use the links on this site (adults 18+ only) instead.

TIP Bone Weighting

Thanks to madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "Discussions" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Exporting a mesh from Blender for import into GECK

Blender Mesh Editor

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TIP Blender Clear the display

Thanks to M48A5 of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas Mod Talk" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP New to Blender

Thanks to madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following.

TIP Blender version NIF export

Thanks to EPDGaffney and madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Blender Import other Model Formats

Thanks to madmongo and user826 of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

Collision

[When linking to a Video, be sure to check the page sidebar for additional, related subject videos.]

TIP Collision Impact Sounds

Thanks to pixelhate and miguick of the Nexus Fallout "Mod Talk" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Custom Object Collision

Thanks to madmongo and pixelhate of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

Conversions

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Tools behind a "gated" "Adult (18+) Only site" in their "modder resources" section.

TIP Converting meshes

Thanks to madmongo and MA48A5 of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas Mod Talk" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Copying between plugins

Creature Creation

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The process of creating a "creature" is essentially the same as creating a "NPC Companion", but without the "companion wheel".

TIP Locate Embedded Creature Weapon

Thanks to uhmattbravo of the Nexus FalloutNV 'New Vegas GECK and Modders' sub-forum for the following:

Custom NPCs

Other sections have relevant information to this subject. The following "Tips" in particular are applicable.

[When linking to a Video, be sure to check the page sidebar for additional, related subject videos.]

"All Companions are NPCs, but not all NPCs are Companions." Both are discussed in this section, but please note and bear in mind the distinction when used.

TIP Actor height in GECK

Thanks to madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP AI Packages and Distance

Thanks to EPDGaffney of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Avoid CTD previewing NPCs

TIP Changing only one race

Thanks to madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Companion Wheel

Thanks to madmongo of the Nexus FalloutNV 'New Vegas GECK and Modders' sub-forum for the following basic summary:

span id="Tip-CustomRaceFaces"></span>

TIP Custom Race and Faces

Thanks to madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Custom Race and Skin Textures

Thanks to madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Hostility between NPCs

TIP Interrupt combat for dialog

Thanks to clanky4 of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Making NPCs move aka AI Packages

Thanks to madmongo, EPDGaffney, and FiftyTifty of the Nexus FalloutNV 'New Vegas GECK and Modders' and kingbeast88 of the 'New Vegas Mod Troubleshooting' sub-forums for the following basic summary of how to get NPCs to move:

TIP Merchant Inventory

Thanks to EPDGaffney and madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Only Combat Teammates give XP to Player

Thanks to madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Perks for Companions

Thanks to madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for providing the following quotation:

TIP Switching Custom Facial Features

Thanks to rikkurikku of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Trick with making NPCs

TIP Using AI Packages

Dialogue and Lipsynch

Other sections have relevant information to this subject. The following "Tips" in particular are applicable.

  • See the Custom NPCs section regarding scripting "AI Packages".

[When linking to a Video, be sure to check the page sidebar for additional, related subject videos.]

TIP Adding Generic Dialog

Thanks to madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas Mod Talk" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Batch Lip file generation

Thanks to EPDGaffney of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Conversation or Quest system

Thanks to madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the following:

Tip Cutting Lip files to match dialog

Thanks to madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Get the current speaker reference

Thanks to FiftyTifty of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas Mod Talk" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP How to generate lip files

Thanks to madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP No sound driver available error message

Thanks to madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Obsidian Conversation Editor aka OCE

Thanks to EDPGaffney (the "I" in the following) of the Nexus "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the details of this tip:

Tip Random NPC Comments

TIP Say Once use

Thanks to Mktavish of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Standard Dialog

TIP Text display timing

FaceGen Heads Faces Hairs and Helmets

This information is compiled from a number of threads, guides, and articles by authors such as DrakeTheDragon, throttlekitty, Ghogiel, scanti, and Skree000. It is an overview at best.

Hair NIFs usually have two models inside of them, one called Hat and one called NoHat. Adjust your alternate hairstyle's Hat model so that it doesn't clip through any hat you want the Actor to wear.

The heads of characters and NPCs in Bethesda games are created using the builtin FaceGen tool, which is a licensed Singular Immersion FaceGen Modeler. According to the FaceGen site "Customizer" tool user manual the resulting information is stored in the following files.

Each model part consists of one or more of the following file types, with the same root name:

  1. TRI. This is the base mesh, which includes UVs and information about morph targets but not the FaceGen shape changes.
  2. BMP. This is the base texture.
  3. EGM. This is the statistical shape information, which is used to modify the base face shape. Without this file, the mesh will never change shape.
  4. EGT. This is the statistical texture information, which is used to modify the base texture image. Without this file, the texture image is fixed.
  5. FIM. This is the UV remapping transform, which is used to transform the detail texture in the FG file (taken from a photograph) into the UV layout of this mesh. Without this file, a mesh cannot have a detail texture applied.

EGM, EGT, and TRI extension files are in turn are used to construct "OBJ" (whole head mesh) files. This is because "faces", "hair", and "helmets" have to be able to "morph" or "conform" to the underlying "head" mesh. Different heads can be used with the same body to provide the customized faces of PlayerCharacters.

Note that everything related to the head must be placed in a BSA for it to be processed properly by the game engine. Otherwise the "loose files" do not get "conformed" to the head mesh properly. (Use the "BSArch" tool linked in the Packaging Tools section to create/update your BSA file.)

Fallout 3 EGM manipulation

The following is based upon a FO3 thread entry by Skree000.
Note that if your head "accessory" (hat, helmet, piercings, etc.) is not conforming to the head, you may need to "unequip" and "re-equip" the accessory whenever you edit your face so it will reconform.

Havok Physics

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TIP Havok a dead NPC

Thanks to madmongo and jokerine of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

Heightmaps

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Interior Creation

Often neglected topic because the GECK tutorials walk you through the process. Thanks to EPDGaffney and random411 of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for pointing out the need for this section.

[When linking to a Video, be sure to check the page sidebar for additional, related subject videos.]

Angle and Grid Snapping

"Angle snapping" & "grid snapping" buttons are covered under "Categories: Preferences" and in the "Bethsoft Tutorial Layout on the GECK Wiki site. You want to enable this and configure the spacing before you start doing anything else.

Basic Interior location design guide

Thanks to djmystro of the "Fallout New Vegas" Mod Talk" forum for the basis of this section. He is the "I" reference in the following. The original source is the thread "Interior Location Creation Tutorial" in that forum.

Static Collections

Others have suggested you might want to add static collections. You can group entire rooms into a static collection, which you can change in game. This makes much easier if you want multiple versions of the same room.

However, it is not always a good idea. Making SCOLs that are very large, composed of many different objects, is just bad practice. SCOLs only help if you're making them out of 2-3 of the same objects, or if all the objects share the same type.

For building purposes, yes: It's convenient. But too many SCOLs, especially if they are large, can produce even worse performance than if the statics were by themselves.

The beauty of SCOLs is that once they are in place, you can ungroup them. It allows you to make more complicated objects and place them with the intent of splitting them later. One thing that this is useful for is if you were to make an indoor garden. You could put the planter and the plants in the same static collection and make a few template planters.

If all the objects share the same textures, then it may be even better to keep them in a static collection (if you use the static collection more then once).

LOD Generation

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NOTE: The GECK LOD generation process uses "decimation" to create it's "low polygon meshes" for LOD/VWD. Please read the TESTG site sub-topic The problem with LOD/VWD files about why this is believed to be less effective than that used in later games such as Skyrim.

TIP xLODGen

Misc Topics

Subjects with only a short list of entries, not yet warranting their own section.

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ESM and ESP Files

Master Files (those with a ".ESM" extension - e.g. Fallout3.esm) and Plugin files ("TES files" or "mods" for short - files with a ".ESP" - e.g., Fallout3mod.esp) are the core data files of Bethesda games. A master file acts as a database of all of the data for the world, including object data, dialogue, game settings, object placements, AI settings, landscape, script commands, cells, etc. The GECK is the primary tool we use to create, view, and edit master files and plugins for the "Fallout 3" and "Fallout: New Vegas" series.

(However, not all game data files are Master and Plugin files. Textures, meshes, sounds, videos, etc. are all part of the full game. More about these files elsewhere.)

Master files and Plugins are largely identical in format, but have some important distinctions in practice. The main practical difference is that GECK will not (natively) create Master files. Nor will it allow Plugin files to modify other Plugin files. (The Extender and PowerUp addons overcome this limitation.) However, be aware that when you change an ESP to an ESM, you can only do this properly in xEdit/FNVEdit so that the ONAM record is generated; otherwise overrides to cells will not work. Additionally references by packages to markers and other scripted objects need to be persistent or they will not work in an ESM. See the GECK: Data Files entry for more.

It sometimes helps to think of using ".ESM" files to add new things, and ".ESP" files to change existing things or modify existing areas. Depending on how you create your "ESM", it might not modify existing things in-game. In other words, if there is an existing navmesh, an "ESP" will overwrite that navmesh, but an "ESM" might not. Similarly, if your "ESM" deletes an object (like a rock) it might work as an "ESP" but the rock might still be there as an "ESM".

It is possible for more than one Plugin file to depend upon the same Master file. They don't even have to be by the same author. Such Plugins are called dependencies. xEdit (aka FNVEdit) is the primary tool used to identify such "master/dependent" relationships. (See the wiki article Missing Masters.) It can also be used to edit the values of specific records, and to create "compatibility" and "merge" patch files. (See the wiki Merged Plugin Guidelines for Personal Use article.)

If you have a problem with navmeshes after converting an ESP to an ESM, the problem likely is the original navmesh was deleted and your edit needs to be changed to an override (using xEdit/FNVEdit), then refinalized in GECK. A navmesh in the ESP will also eventually stop working. It is a known bug in the Gamebryo Engine and was not fixed until later in Skyrim's life (Creator Engine).

TIP When can you use an ESM only mod
Thanks to madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

Factions and Reputation

GIMP Posters and Images

How to do something

How to change Game Settings aka GMSTs
Thanks to punchbattle of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas Mod Talk" forum for the basis of the following:
How to create a challenge
How to create a message
How to create a perk
How to create a Primative activators trigger volumes multibounds and occlusion planes

Tip Transparent Activators
Thanks to EPDGaffney and pixelhate of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:
How to make a working pipboy icon

Tip Pipboy Icons
Thanks to Leakingroof of the Nexus Fallout3 forum for the wiki article, and scrivener07 of the New Vegas Mod Talk forum for the basis of the following:
How to Move a Quest NPC
Thanks to madmongo and kingbeast88 of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas Mod Talk" forum for the basis of the following:

Import Custom Videos

Item Creation and placement

Make Readius Screenglares

Markers

TIP Portable xMarkers

PAINTdotNET Normal Maps

Recipes

UV Mapping

XML

XML is a "data definition" structure, based upon a "data schema" which was defined by Bethesda. They didn't publish their "schema", but some things have been learned about it. However, without a published scheme, you must either use only elements found in other XML files, or be willing to experiment.

Music and Sounds

Fallout New Vegas features a brand new music engine versus that of the one used within Fallout 3 and Oblivion, which has effectively rendered the music tab within the creation of cells useless. See the Wiki tutorial Fallout New Vegas Music for the description of how this now works.

[When linking to a Video, be sure to check the page sidebar for additional, related subject videos.]

File folders by type:
  • collision sounds made by objects hitting other objects or the ground are aspects of the "Havok Material Properties" (edited with NifSkope), and are addressed under the topic of "Collision" in TIP: Collision Impact Sounds. These sounds are hard-coded into the game engine, but the main game typically uses only 32 of the identified 96 possibilities.
  • music (Data\Music): location/event soundtrack. MP3 stereo files.
  • songs (Data\Sound\songs\radionv): radio playlists. Individual song title files begin with the "mus_" prefix, and a "_mono" suffix. Mono: WAV (Pipboy) or OGG (radios/speakers) files; or Stereo: MP3 (Pipboy) files. Besides the obvious problem of a gigantic difference in file size (WAV files are roughly 5 times those of MP3s), this engine will actually play a stereo WAV file on a radio station twice (first the left channel will play, and then the right channel). This problem does not occur with stereo MP3 song files. See the TIP: Format to call a song for more detail on file formats for "radio stations".
  • sounds (Data\Sound\fx): noise/ambience/special effects(fx). WAV mono files. There are a number of sub-folders in the BSA under this category. These are just a sampling of common interest under this category:
  • amb (background noises): OGG files.
  • fx (sound effects): WAV mono files.
  • mus (location music): OGG files. Sub-folders for types:
  • bttl\allcityintro
  • bttl\allcityoutro
  • bttl\allruralintro
  • bttl\allruraloutro
  • endgame
  • inc\night
  • inc\peaceful
  • inc\day
  • inc\creepy
  • mysteriousstranger
  • tenpenny
  • npc (by type of actor): WAV mono files.
  • voc (sound effect "voices"): WAV mono files. These can be "broadcast" from radios or speakers with the playsound function in the menumode for terminals. The sound file length controls the timing.
  • voices (Data\Sound\voice): dialog. OGG and LIP mono files. These are "spoken" by Actors as "talking head" dialog. The LIP file controls the timing.

Tip Adding a new sound noises or fx file

Thanks to EDPGaffney of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for contributing clarifications to the following:

TIP Format to call a song

Thanks to EDPGaffney of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Replacing Battle Music

Thanks to KadoDragon and DaemonGrin of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas Mod Talk" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP TCD and Gunfire Detection Events

Thanks to punchbattle of the "New Vegas Mod Talk" forum for the basis of the following.

TIP Weapon firing sounds

Thanks to Scott Clemmons of the GameAs "Fallout: New Vegas" forum for the basis of the following:

Navmeshing

(The process is essentially the same between the GECK and the Creation Kit. See also the Worldspace Creation section.)

[When linking to a Video, be sure to check the page sidebar for additional, related subject videos.]

TIP Bug extending NavMesh

Thanks to EPDGaffney of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Draw Navmesh Quickly

Thanks to kingbeast88 of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Navmesh Boundaries

Thanks to madmongo and EPDGaffney of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Navmeshing Exterior cells

Thanks to madmongo, EPDGaffney, and kingbeast88 of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Navmesh marker for Portal relocates

Thanks to chucksteel and madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

NifSkope Mesh Editor

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TIP Convert NIF header

Thanks to pixelhate of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas Mod Troubleshooting" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Merging parts from different source files

Thanks to madmongo and M48A5 of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas Mod Talk" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Model Lighting

Thanks to EPDGaffney and pixelhate of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Rotate Mesh

Summary from How To Rotate A Mesh In Nifskope

TIP Shiny lines in exported NIF normal map

Thanks to TzeHuen, pixelhate, and KiCHo666 of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

Scripting

Other sections have relevant information to this subject. The following "Tips" in particular are applicable.

  • See the Custom NPCs section regarding scripting "AI Packages".

Refer back to the section GECK Form-ID, Base-ID, Ref-ID, and Editor-ID as necessary until the different types of "IDs" become second nature. The distinctions are crucial to getting various script functions to work correctly. They will primarily work with either Editor-ID or Reference-ID values. They seldom work with both, but if so the syntax must be read carefully to determine which type of value is used for each parameter.

Even if you have another favorite text editor, strongly suggest using Notepad++ along with the GECK specific syntax highlighters listed in the Programs and Tools section. These will catch most syntax errors, saving you a lot of grief.

There are 3 kinds of scripts:

  • The default when creating one is an Object script. Which means this is a script that can be attached to anything in the object tree of GECK that has a "script" drop down field ... except for Quests and Base Effects.
  • Quests require you to select the script as a "Quest" type. They are called (triggered) by various "Quest" conditions.
  • Base Effects require you to select the script as an "Effect" type, available when you are on the window with the "Script" drop down list. Only those type of scripts will show up in the list.

Effect scripts attach on "Assoc Item" just below "Effect Archetype". But Object and Quest scripts are straight forward on where to attach the script: to "Objects" or "Quests" respectively.

Reference variables must be "defined" and assigned a value before they can be used in a command. This often occurs in one of the script types that are executed before the one you are looking at in the moment. But don't assume they are: verify if your script won't save.

So in short: creating a script & saving it (which "compiles" it; turning it into actual code instead of "human readable" instructions) is required for it to then exist. If a script fails to compile, then it won't be saved. Use CIPCIS to determine if it is a simple syntax error preventing your script from compiling. But bear in mind CIPCIS is not aware of "script extender" syntax, so such will produce as error as an unrecognized command. Otherwise the problem is most likely either using an inappropriate command choice or the wrong type of value for the function in question.

But merely existing in a saved/compiled form means nothing towards having that script tell the game engine what to do. You must attach it to something (based upon which one of the 3 types it is) to then have the script code interact with the other dynamic game code.

  • GECK Extender NVSE Plugin. Project to extend GECK functionality and bug fixes. Compatible with all NVSE script extender plugins. (Do not use together with GECK Powerup (nor the Forked version), which it replaces.)
  • GECK 1.4 Powerup Mod. Comes in a "standalone" version for the "vanilla" GECK functions, and one for GECK with NVSE functions. It fixes and improves some issues while providing the missing messages when the GECK compiler finds an error or warning, and lets you save a script without compiling it. Considered "essential" by experienced mod creators. (Replaced by GECK Extender. Do not use both together.)
  • CIPSCIS: Scripting for Beginners HTML Tutorial. Does not support "script extender" syntax.
  • Top 15 Best Practices for Writing Super Readable Code HTML.

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TIP Best Practice Do not begin EditorIDs with numbers

Thanks to madmongo and EPDGaffney of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Best Practice Encapsulation Parens Brackets and Braces

Thanks to DoctaSax of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas Mod Talk" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Best Practice Function parameter separation with commas

Thanks to DoctaSax of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Best Practice Type prefixes for Variables

Thanks to EPDGaffney of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

Tip Best Practice Avoiding Save Game Bloat

TIP Assigning and Testing variables

Thanks to Mktavish of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Adding Items to Actors aka Leveled Lists

Thanks to Ladez of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas Mod Talk" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Basic conditional test syntax

TIP Block Types Multiple vs Single Frame processing

TIP Compiling Scripts

TIP Corpses are not Actors or Objects

Thanks to EPDGaffney of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Debugging Compound Conditionals

TIP Debugging data to file

Thanks to DoctaSax of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for help with the following.

TIP Dismembering a corpse

Thanks to madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the following.

TIP Dispel Effect

Thanks to DoctaSax of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Do not overlook EventHandlers

Tip EventHandler for HotKey

Thanks to FiftyTifty of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas Mod Talk" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP GameDaysPassed Bug

Thanks to Asterra and DoctaSax of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP GECK parses the entire line before evaluating

Thanks to DoctaSax of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the following.

TIP Get Actor Health functions

 

TIP Level Lists and GetBaseObject versus GetBaseForm

Thanks to EPDGaffney, DoctaSax, and Mktavish of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Limit Radio Range to multiple Interior Cells

Thanks to EPDGaffney and user826 of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Mannequins aka static Actors

Thanks to b0bulat0r of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Master Dependency Checking

Thanks to miguick of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Mod Additions list

Thanks to DoctaSax of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas Mod Talk" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP NPC Weapon Choice

Thanks to EPDGaffney of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Pass a variable number into a script message

TIP Passing a Note to the player

Thanks to EPDGaffney of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Passing a Recipe to the player

Thanks to EPDGaffney of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Perk effect on target

Thanks to Mktavish of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Preload Scripts

Thanks to EPDGaffney of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Quest Advancement

Thanks to EPDGaffney of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum and RangerBoo of the Nexus Fallout "Mod Troubleshooting" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Quest Delay timer

TIP Quest Stopping within its own script

Thanks to EPDGaffney of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Referencing Objects

Thanks to uhmattbravo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Relocating objects to Player by script

Thanks to madmongo and Nexusmodsaccountno2 of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas Mod Talk" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Restricting OnActivate blocks

Thanks to uhmattbravo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Script Result vs Result Script

Thanks to Mktavish of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Special Characters in String Variables

Thanks to Radioactivelad of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Testing new to you functions

Thanks to Mktavish of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Timers

Thanks to xqdcss of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Script Size limit

Thanks to jazzisparis of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

Texturing

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TIP Custom Posters

Thanks to madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

TIP Customizing an existing texture

Thanks to pixelhate on the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas Mod Troubleshooting" forum for the basis of the following summary:

TIP Improving Texture Normal Maps

Thanks to pixelhate, EPDGaffney, and madmongo of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

Weapons

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TIP GECK CTD when editing weapons

TIP Weapon Effect Animations

Thanks to pixelhate of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the following:

TIP Weapon has unexpected zero percent VATS Chance

Thanks to yummy2 of the Nexus Fallout "New Vegas GECK and Modders" forum for the basis of the following:

Worldspace Creation

(Worldspace creation is basically the same between FO3 and FNV. See also the Navmeshing section.)

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TIP Creating a new world map

Packaging Mods for Installation

Once you have created (and tested) your mod, you still aren't done. You have to "package" the ESM & ESP files, and all related "assets" into a structure suitable for installation. And given that there are more than one "mod manager" in use by people, this requires some forethought. Once you have created your "mod package", you then have to "publish" it on the Internet, presumably to the "Nexus Mods" site which is the assumption here.

Note: If you package your mod into an "executable installer" (so it has a ".exe" extension), it cannot be installed with a "mod manager". They can only deal with packages in 7Zip, ZIP, or RAR archive formats. You would have to "run" the installer executable first so it unpacked the package into a folder, and then manually move the contents of that folder to the correct locations under "Data".

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Re Original images: You can use screenshots from the game, as long as you are the one who took them, or you use those posted by others with their explicit permission. When in doubt, see the "Terms of Service" and the image "file" page to check the permissions there.

Re Music: If you intend to include externally sourced "music", "voices", or "sounds", see the wiki article Illegal Music Pack Uploads and You. Unless it is your own original work, it's copyrighted by someone else. You have to check for permissions.

Re REQUIRED: That setting is for linking other mods/plugins that are essential for your mod to work correctly.

A video does not fall into that category, as it can only be describing how to install or use your mod. Your best bet if you feel it is essential people use it for your documentation is to provide that explanation and link it prominently in your description (as well as under the "Video" tab). (See the wiki Formatting and BBCode in Descriptions article.) However, bear in mind that:

  • Not everyone likes or can even watch some videos: e.g. medical conditions; a different native language (not easily translated from a video; while it is from a text file);
  • A video is no substitute for written instructions which should be included in a "ReadMe" file. That link not only explains that position but links to a "ReadMe Generator" program to help you create a "proper" file.
  • Most players do not want to read/view anything to get a mod installed. People (well, most of them) never seem to RTFM. They assume all they need to do is install, and at most then add it in their mod manager to their current game settings. They will then turn around and complain your mod is "broken" and demand you fix it NOW. This is a "fact of life" for mod creators. Plan for it, and reduce your installation complexity upfront as much as possible.

To that end, learn how to properly package your mod.

Packages can be divided into two categories: "standard" and "private":

  • A "standard" structured package follows the directory structure used by the game: that is vanilla game sub-folders under "Data" (such as "Meshes", "Textures", "Menus", etc.), with possibly additional "mod specific" sub-folders under those (e.g. "Meshes\armor\<ModName>"). Such can be handled by any of the available managers. Note the current generation of mod managers do not require you to include the "Data" folder itself. See the wiki article Modding Etiquette.
  • A "private" structured package introduces layers of non-vanilla sub-folders (e.g. "<Mod Name>\Data\<Mod version folder>\Meshes", etc.). Such have to be manually restructured to remove the offending "non-standard" folders before they can be properly installed using a "mod manager" (or even recognized if installed manually).

Obviously you want to create "standard" structured packages to avoid having to deal with the questions your users inevitably will have in getting your mod installed.

The most common mistake is that people misunderstand the part about creating an archive package that goes:

go back into the root of the folder so that the address bar once again shows '''C:\<MyMod>''' and then select all the files (.esp & .txt) and folders (meshes & textures) and right-click on them

You are NOT supposed to select the folder C:\<MyMod> in the example. You are supposed to select all the files (and any sub-folders) under that folder. If you select the folder itself, then the package gets created with that folder name as the top level in the archive, and every "mod manager" will treat it as a new folder under the "Data" folder. The files will not get placed in the correct locations; they will be buried one level down and never seen by the game engine.

Even when you build a "standard" package, the structure can be categorized into one of two forms: "simple" and "complex".

Simple structure

All modern "mod managers" can easily install packages with a "simple structure" that starts under (not including) the game "Data" folder (e.g. "Meshes\<category>\<mod name>\<other sub-folders as needed>"). They either add their files directly to the existing vanilla folders, or under their own sub-folder in order to keep them separate. It all depends upon the paths used when building the mesh and texture files. They might create their own, new folders starting at the "Data" level (e.g. "Data\NVSE"), but the package structure simply has the new folder in the package at the same level as the top level vanilla folders, like "Meshes", "Textures", and "NVSE". The "Data" folder is assumed by the manager. This is the reason some package structures, which require they be installed starting in the game root folder (e.g. "Fallout New Vegas\LOOT"), usually cannot be installed correctly with a "mod manager".

Complex structure

The simple structure does not have "conditional install components": meaning some files that are only installed under certain conditions such as the presence of a plugin from a different mod. Complex structure may also require certain "scripted" modifications to existing (usually vanilla) files. The different "mod managers" vary in their ability to handle such scripting (often called "install wizards" or simply "wizards"). If the scripting capabilities of a particular manager are required, it is the author's responsibility to make this adequately clear to the potential mod users. Often such structures use various sub-folders to group the files related to the specific condition together.

Understanding how the various "mod managers" can assist with installation will enable you to use a structure that takes advantage of the most available features of all of them.

Uploading to the Nexus

Mod Publishing Tutorial is written for Skyrim with plenty of illustrative images, but should be pretty universal with obvious changes for any specific game. It's on Nexus, but as the author suggests using the HTML version, that's what's linked first.

An older alternate, shorter version is the wiki How to upload mods article.

The wiki Formating and BBCode in Descriptions article can help you create a more distinctive description page. Remember: this page is where you "sell" your mod to potential players. Like any advertising campaign, "eye appeal" is important.

The next step

So, you wonder if you are ready to step out of the novice stage. You know you are at this stage after you realize the grand scheme you had in your head for your idea isn't going to happen, and scale back your initial ambition.

You should start looking to the forum boards and reading what others are coming up with for idea's on what to mod. Then just take that idea and since now you are more familiar with the GECK and information resources (like the GECK wiki), see if you can solve the problem with their idea. Just in a "lurking" fashion if you don't want to actually go public.

Many mod creators have found this to be a huge source of learning material, since they cannot come up with all the various idea's on what to mod on their own. Helping others is actually helping yourself, and there is nothing like trying to solve a particular problem to consolidate all the various bits of information into an understanding. You will almost always learn something new when investigating how to accomplish another's idea. (Anyone who has engaged in teaching others will tell you they learn more preparing to teach than they started already knowing.)

And just for learning purposes there are all the past posts, some of which have been solved. Many haven't, so there is no shortage of first time solutions to be worked out.


References

(Generally in order of appearance in the article.)

Refs Programs and Tools

Refs GECK Tools

Refs Image Tools

  • Maya (1 month free trial, $185/month or $1470/year subscriptions, 3 yr student/educator license.)
  • NIF tangents and binormals updater (freeware) by zilav.
  • NifSkope (freeware.) Note this is the latest release and may not be the best choice for FO3/FNV.

Refs Packaging Tools

Refs Scripting Tools

Refs Sound and Voice Tools

Refs Misc Other Tools

Refs Details

Refs Common Problems with GECK

  • New Vegas Templates (Hidden Category). This article section consists entirely of file "Template:GECK: Common Problems" content, which needs to be edited directly to update.

Refs GECK and the Active File

Refs GECK Form-ID, Base-ID, Ref-ID, and Editor-ID

Refs Custom items

Refs Custom Creatures

Refs Spawning modded items

Refs Worldspaces

Refs Additional Material

Refs 3D Model and Texture resources

Refs GeckCustom.INI

Refs Factions, Stealing and Ownership

Refs Bethsoft Basic Tutorials

Refs Animation

Refs Armor & Clothes

Note the KGTools web site containing the downloads is no longer accessible. Use the links on this site (adults 18+ only) instead.

Refs Blender (Mesh Editor)

Refs Collision

Refs Conversions

Tools behind a "gated" "Adult (18+) Only site" in their "modder resources" section.

Refs Creature Creation

Refs Custom NPCs

Refs Dialogue & Lip-synch

Refs FaceGen: Heads, Faces, Hairs, and Helmets

Refs Havok Physics

Refs Heightmaps

Refs LOD Generation

Refs Misc Topics

Refs ESM & ESP Files

Refs Factions & Reputation

Refs GIMP: Posters & Images

Refs How to ...

Refs Import Custom Videos

Refs Item Creation & placement

Refs Make Readius Screenglares

Refs Markers

Refs PAINT.NET: Normal Maps

Refs Recipes

Refs UV Mapping

Refs XML

Refs Music & Sounds

Refs Navmeshing

Refs NifSkope (Mesh Editor)

Refs Scripting

Refs Texturing

Refs Weapons

Refs Worldspace Creation

Refs Packaging Mods for Installation



Nexus wiki articles referred to by this article:


Nexus wiki articles that refer to this article: