Phaedra's Mod Diary 2006




Valdis enjoying a refreshing bevarage at the Prisoner's Campsite.

Tuesday 9/26/06 - I made my first mod last night.  The Oblivion Construction set works much the same as Morrowind's so far as controls, but is much better organized.   It is easier to find objects that you want to place.  Controls for placement are still as clunky as ever.  My first Oblivion mod is amazingly simple and not really worth uploading.   But maybe I am not the only one who wants a simple, safe place to sleep and store things at the start of the game.  It is posted on my Oblivion Mods page.  Wait a minute... Technically it's not my first foray into Oblivion modding, it is my first .esp file though.  I have been tinkering with other peoples mods to fit my own preferences, but these are just for private use.  Now that I have had a little taste of Oblivion modding, I will probably start coming up with some more ideas.  Better ideas.  Time to brainstorm.

Thursday, 9/28/06 - More tinkering last night, again for my own personal use.  I got my "playable" dremora to look different from his
npc bretheren (orange.)  I am so happy.  Thanks to Robert for the meshes, AlienSlof for the textures, and Kikaimegami for the Playable Dremora mod!

Tuesday, 10/10/06 - Today, I would like to say "Thank you" to Karoush Ghazi for the Oblivion Tweak Guide.  This guide walks you through ingame settings, ini file tweaks, and also provides some useful links for optimization.   Before, even on my "monster" system, Oblivion used to stutter and freeze.   Now I have no problems whatsoever!
In other news, I have also decided to try Oscuro's Oblivion Overhaul.   Most of my weekend was spent double checking all of my mods for conflicts, so I could decide what to run and what not to run.   Most of the mods I was running are compatible.  Thank you to Timeslip for Oblivion Mod Manager for making it a lot easier.  When loading OOO, it's best to start a new character.  Being rather attached to my new dremora character, I wanted to create my new character with the same face and attributes.  Thanks go to Wrye for WryeBash making it possible to port face data from old saves to a new save.
So no modding, just a lot of learning and using new tools.  I have been having more ideas, but I have been wanting to play more than anything lately!  Too many other people making such great mods making me want to play!

Monday, 10/16/06 - I am a little bit closer to recreating my Morrowind character, Phaedra.   I want her to be unique, to have her look different from the other dark elves in the game.  She is very special in that she started life as a high elf.  I want to create something of a cross between the two races as far as stats.  Of course she will look unique.  Maybe give her some tattoos and paint her nails, and definatley make some new eyes.   If possible, I would like to make her eyes glow.  I have already created the esp and started working on the textures.  It is very hard getting things to look right because of how textures stretch and distort.

Wednesday, 10/18/06 - Last night I did some more work on Phaedra's textures.   Since she is evil, it's no question she will join the Dark Brotherhood.  So I decided to create some DB themed tattoos.  I tried doing a black hand limned in red.   It looked really cool in Photoshop, but when applied to the mesh ingame it got distorted.  It is so frustrating!   This experience has me admiring all of the great texture artists out there.  I am really lousy at this texture business!   So the black hand has not worked out, but I did get the Sithis tattoo to work.  I am using Growlf's female bodies as a base.  The texture is mirrored on the mesh, so any tattoo that I add will be mirrored on both sides of the body.   I have had some great results recoloring some eyes. Originally I was thinking of making her eyes blue, but I have also made a beautiful green color.   I have been playing around with the reanimate eyes as well.   Which I must say look really cool for a necromancer/evil type character in a test that I did.

Tuesday, 10/24/06 - Tonight I decided to play around with the male dark elf textures.   I am using Robert's Smoother Male Body.  The great thing about Robert's is that there is no mirroring and there is minimal distortion of the texture.  I got both the Sithis tattoo and the Black Hand tattoo to work beautifully.  I may or may not change the locations, but it is nice to know that I can.  I also created a bunch of new eyes.  I really like how they came out.

Tuesday, 10/31/06 - Wow, this texturing thing has been quite a learning process.   Over the past week I have been trying to learn about normal maps.   These are the files named like this: ***_n.dds.  Normal maps controls the 3D look of the texture.  In addition, the normal maps have an alpha channel.  Alpha channels control the way that light reactes to the surface of the texture. The TES Wikipedia has been a valuable resource of information.
The hardest part for me has been the save settings with the Nvidia DDS plugin for Photoshop. My base texture files end up being much larger in size than compared to the original texture.   For example, using Robert's body texture, mine being about 3Mb and the original being less than 1Mb.  And then I have some trouble with the save setting for normal map as well, specifically the alpha channel.  The original alpha for Robert's are nice and smooth.  Mine look nice before saving, but when I reopen the file, the alpha is splotchy looking.  Yuck!  I do have some good ideas what the problem may be.  But once again I have been too busy playing...

Wednesday, 11/1/06 - Fun with glazzies!  More new eyes based off of Bethesda's original textures.   Mostly just experimenting tonight.   If people like them enough I will think about a release.   I made some Dremora eyes were for fun, based off of AlienSlof's dremora eye texture.

Monday, 11/6/06 - Worked on decyphering alpha channels and saving n-maps.  Success at last!  I tested the male and female tattoos with "default" skin tones (Yuck!  Who told Bethesda females had to be so pale?) in natural daylight.   Also retextured the dunmer to have red non-bloodshot eyes because many people seem to want them.

Wednesday, 11/22/06 - I learned about glow maps, now Valdis has glowing eyes. I'm so excited.  So much to learn about textures!  Also recently I downloaded NifSkope and learned how to change the glow property of a mesh.  Otherwise, I haven't really done much in the way of modding lately.

Thursday, 12/21/06 - I learned nothing at all lately!  Been playing a few games on my PS2.  I know, what a traitor to my lovely computer and Oblivion!  I have decided to release my eyes even though there are already so many great eye mods out there.   Maybe some people like the vanilla ones and as such would prefer more variety that will blend seamlessly with the originals.  I did fix the gold eye texture because it looked like crud.  All that needs to be done is creating an esp and readme, and packaging it up.   I also added my tattoos to a male high elf that I am currently playing.   Hooray!

Sunday, 12/24/06 - Alright, not only did I release my eyes, but I've already done an update.  Vanilla Eyes Addon Version 1.2 adds 23 brand new eyesVampire Eyes Replacer, and Clear Dunmer Eyes are pretty self explanitory.   I have also decided it's high time I got myself a Photobucket account so I can post pics of my characters.  Atleast it is on my to do list.   And take some screenshots when I get a chance to play!

Tuesday, 12/27/06 - Yuck!  I have been very sick since Christmas night.  No work, no play, no modding, no web surfing.  Any how... Someone has requested a Morrowind style vampire eyes for Oblivion.  I guess that means glowing?  Because Oblivion doesn't give you much choice as to your eye color.  Its either default "pink" or a replacer texture from a mod.   Well, glowing is easy as I already have that in my game for the Dremora.  I have already created the mesh and glow maps for all the default eyes and the eyes added by my own mod.  I would just need to create a glow map for the vampires.   Another thing that I have been pondering is normal maps.  Are they really needed for eyes?  I made them and tested them in my own game and they seemed too shiny for me.  So I moved them to a back up folder.   I didn't want to delete them just in case.  Last thing, I have been thinking about doing glowing Dunmer eyes ala Rhedds Heads for Morrowind.  If I do both Dunmer and vampires glowing, I think that I will make the Dunmer a little more subtle.