Monday, August 13, 2012

...As Chinese Algebra?

As I've mentioned before, since the /V/-/VG/ split at the chan of less than five but more than three, I've taken to reading the TES generals threads.

...Probably too much, but I've got that kind of time on my hands lately.

The other day, I saw someone bitching about how it was very hard -- effectively impossible -- to make a "demon" follower in Skyrim who didn't look like a whore.

Really? Sorry, I have to dissent and disagree:

Oh, don't get me wrong: I'm not going to say it's no effort. Any decent companion takes a lot of effort. Designing, refining, testing -- and that's if you don't go the personal equipment route. Once you start creating equipment just for them, you get to get into mesh and texture editing, and the effort multiplies.

But "hard"? No, not really.

I had a mess of tips typed out; but I'm sure it'll just draw some criticism or trolling, so fuck it. I'm sure you can figure it out on your own if you're interested.


  1. I've often found trying to help other modders in the forums to be a bit too garrulous for my liking. I haven't had as much trouble as one might expect with the criticism and trolling you mention, but my modding knowledge is not encyclopedic so usually what I get in response to my helpful tips is something like: "Okay, thank you for showing me how to do that. Now, can you teach me quantum physics?" at which point I of course am forced to bow out.

  2. Yeah, sometimes being helpful can backfire, rather spectacularly O.o I love Maeva's armour, by the way. I must help make her easy to find in the dark, especially if you don't have custom eyes with glow maps for her yet.

    1. I'm not normally a fan of Daedric armor in Skyim. It's way too "edgy" and such.

      That said, I was looking at it the other day, and I noticed the shoulder-spikes matched her horns; the talons on the gauntlets are very demon-y, and the red glowy bits match her hair. It just fit Maeva so well I had to craft her a set.

      As for her eyes: they're highly reflective, but my last attempt at full-on glowing (using a leaked set of Dawnguard eyes as a base) didn't go well. I ended up just using those non-glowy ones until I got the issues worked out.

  3. Okay, now that I once again have access to unlimited bandwith at home (and not tethering to my "Crackberry"), I was finally able to take a look at the posted images of your lovely ladies in there proper glory. Now I can see the reflection in Maeva's eyes >.< To me, the glow on the armour is overriding her eyes in the second and third images. The eyes for the Skyrim avatars seem to be a wee bit smaller than those from Oblivion and the Fallouts (though I could be wrong), so that might be contributing to my missing the reflection on my initial look as well.

    1. "To me, the glow on the armour is overriding her eyes in the second and third images."

      Skyrim has a monumentally annoying visual feature that causes your view's brightness to auto-adjust to ambient lighting similarly to how the human eye does in real life.

      You know, that annoying as shit "feature" that makes it impossible for you to see anything out around a light source? The one most of us wish we didn't have? They felt the need to include that instead of something silly like fixing the horrendous memory leaks.

      In other lighting conditions (where my view isn't overridden by a torch or other light source) the eyes show up quite nicely. Indoor lighting is very hit or miss in the game, though.

      Also, in the second and third pictures Maeva is actually looking down a bit; which makes it where the camera wasn't looking straight into her eyes.

      "The eyes for the Skyrim avatars seem to be a wee bit smaller than those from Oblivion and the Fallouts"

      I'm guessing you don't do your own textures.

      The simplest reason that they differ from game to game is that the games don't use interchangeable eye textures. Oblivion has a diagonal sort of texture that has both eyes on it; the Fallouts use a single, perfect square that only has one eye but is mapped to both identically; and Skyrim has a single eye, but it's oddly shaped, and includes not only the eye, but eye lashes and some transparencies that the Gods themselves probably don't know what do.

      Since I make my eye textures by pasting my source iris/pupil onto the base game texture (to ensure it ends up "painted" onto the eye meshes correctly) the iris/pupil ends up being different sizes -- to ideally just cover the original with a couple pixels overlap.

      The Fallouts were the best, since the perfect square eye texture could be scaled up and still look good (I increased the resolution on it twofold, I think); and then my source iris could be pasted in at it's original, glorious resolution.

      Skyrim's irises are much smaller, and the textures heavily compressed and generally crappy looking. They don't scale up well at all without redrawing the lashes; and the pupil itself is smaller in relation to the rest of the eye. There's a fine balance to be struck -- too small an iris, and the original shows out around it like a halo, which looks terrible; too large and it begins to look cartoony and unrealistic.

      Sad fact is, I threw those eye textures together in about ten minutes the day the SuCK was released. Skyrim ran so badly at that time, that I quit working on it at all. Since the game's been patched and runs half-assedly decent, I've been spending my Skyrim modding time working out the details of other stuff -- custom races, bodies, upgradeable/constructable armor and weapons, magic effects, NPC perks; things like that. Getting rid of neck, wrist, and ankle seams alone took quite awhile.

      Lazy as it makes me sound, I just haven't sat down and ironed out the details on the eyes -- even the orange color is a simple color shift meant to mimic the Fallout gold-glowing-through-red effect. I still need to work out a glowing mesh, and create a glowmap from scratch; then figure out how to get it to compress without breaking the texture (you don't want to know how the first attempt turned out). It's slightly more than a five minute job when working with a game engine you're not intimately familiar with.

      It also doesn't help matters that depending on how close you stand to them, Skyrim NPCs are bad about going cross-eyed looking at you -- which makes it hard to figure out if the stupid textures are aligned correctly on the mesh.

      I've said it before: I'm a slacker.

  4. Auto-adjusting to ambient lighting huh? Hmm, I think I will put that wee bit of information in the "Reasons not to Buy" column.

    As far as texture work goes, you are correct in that I don't do my own. It is something that I am going to have to start working on though, should I ever get back to working on my projects... >.<

    1. New Vegas has the same light-adjusting thing; it's just not as severe.

      I don't think most of us want to have to do our own textures. I didn't have to in Oblivion -- as Nequam did a bang-up job that served my needs very well.

      Fallout 3 was different, though. No one did any cool eyes for it; so I had to up and do it my damned self if I wanted proper cat-pupil eyes. The glowing thing was a big of an afterthought; but it seems to have worked out.

      I miss the old eyes, though. The new ones look like unadulterated shit -- the lashes are very low res and look like something from a PS2 game. Sadly, I do not draw well with a mouse (and don't want to get into textures heavily enough to warrant purchasing a tablet) so all I can do is wait until I see a good set of high(er) res textures to work from. Having to wait for a stepladder to stand on other peoples' shoulders is so annoying...

      Also: this has nothing to do with anything, really; but Calvin Harris' Bounce is a great track.