So the LOD generation caused me some real headache this morning. I’ve been fighting with it for several hours. A certain function in Bethesda’s Creation Kit didn’t work and it’s been working for years. Ever since I started doing landmass mods for Skyrim. I’ve solved it now, but it took a lot of energy. Right now, I’m sitting here on my beautiful island with working, proper LOD for all areas. The next preview version of Azura’s Watch is actually ready to go! This, although I didn’t finish many of the things I wanted in it. But that’s ALWAYS how it is anyways.
Now I just need Azura the Cat and my wife to wake up so I can use her computer to test that all the parts for the Alpha 02 upload are in place. Expect the download to be ready later today!
I usually try to update my LOD once a week. This, I do for several reasons although it’s a lot of work and takes several hours to do. The most important reason is that I get to see the whole picture. I know where it looks bad and can correct it. Another reason is that it always blows my mind and I’m so impressed with what I’ve done myself. Hehe.
Today, Heightmap, Object and Tree LOD went smoothly and not even once did I encounter any problems. Am I just lucky with my work? Frontier hasn’t had any major problems as yet; I see all those other modders complaining about this or that, but this mod has gone smoothly since the beginning.
Today I got rid of an old problem with my mod that’s been bugging me. It doesn’t sound serious, but I mistakenly added four empty cells outside my map back when I designed the town of Benton. The problem is that when things go outside the borders, LOD-generation stops working OK as well. That means that I’ve only been able to update my heightmap and not add any LOD objects or trees whatsoever. I’ve been living with the same distant mountains and houses since July.
Today I removed those four cells. Just removing four empty exterior cells isn’t as easy as you might first believe though. It’s a whole process. It took me some hours, but it was worth it. I’ve now updated my object LOD too.
A pretty good-looking LOD-mountain.
Generating LOD (the objects and landscape you see in the distance) is one of those areas of modding the Elder Scrolls games that can really drive you mad. Last night, I was generating object lods and distant trees with no great success at all. In the end, all of the Frontier’s lod had vanished and I stood there in a one-cell-at-a-time type of world.
It was really the weirdest thing, since I followed the procedures I’ve been following numerous times when updating my lods. Nothing worked last night, and I left it at that. This morning when I started up the mod to take screenshots of the phenomenon, it was all there again just as before I started messing with the new lod. My lod has just miraculously reappeared and is back in all its loddy glory!
I am going to redo Frontier’s lod from the very beginning and see if I can make it work properly using the procedure I’ve been following before. It’s always a pain though and takes time. You also need to use a lot of third-party tools for it, since Bethesda gave us nothing working in this department.
I’ve been working with LOD today, mostly. LOD is what you see in the distance. Like distant trees, rocks, mountains, buildings. Those sorts of things.
LOD always ends up looking really bad. Especially the settled areas start looking crap. Also, I’ve tried to generate distant trees, but they don’t show up in-game at all. No worries. I’m not the only modder having trouble with LOD, and I’ve been there before. It seems all Bethesda games are like this, and I know full-well that the end result, however maybe far in the future, will be more than pleasing.
To keep my modding morale up, I need to do beautiful things in-between crappy LOD. That’s why I’ve also dedicated some of my energy today to detailing the terrain of The Frontier. There are some random beautiful pictures from The Frontier down below.
The issue that caused me some anxiety for more than a week was easily solved. There was nothing wrong with the mod, but I knew that. The fact is, that when you generate LOD and Object LOD’s, it creates files in all sorts of folders on your harddrive and it even sends files outside the Skyrim folder. This makes it quite hard to get the right files copied into the right folders when you want to test things out.
My issue was solved in like five minutes tonight, by correctly moving the files into their correct folders. I had also mistakenly deleted files that were needed for the LOD, but those were easily reimported from Oscape. In short, this problem was solved easily and I can now finally move on with the mod and continue to show you impressive screenshots of new cities, landscape and all the things that are being built on the Frontier.
I needed my break, and I needed a bit of Saints Row.
This is how it's supposed to look. Yay! Now, with that issue out of the way, let's continue with the Frontier!
I decided that the mountains weren’t up to standards and that they looked cartoony, so I’ve updated my Heightmap and gotten it in-game once more. It took me some hours, but since I know what I’m doing now, it’s no challenge anymore. There are a few smaller LOD-problems with this version, but I can live with them. I think Bethesda themselves hid such problems behind veils of fog and other statics in their vanilla Skyrim space.
The next step with this is to create Regions. That’s how you tell the game what trees, bushes and rocks are present in a certain area of the worldspace, and you even control weather conditions and what music is played while in the region. I am not going to design the very south of the continent in this generated way though; I am going to create the south, where the settled colony is situated, entirely by hand. For that, I am also going to need other trees than vanilla can supply me with, but that’s a future problem.
So much to do, so little time!
Looking into the North Eastern Valley, which will be swamplands, inhabited by a Fairy Tale Kingdom.