SKYRIM
How to Make a Successful Mod by Headbomb
Skyrim » Modders resources and tutorials
Added: 23/01/2012 - 04:01PM
Updated: 10/03/2012 - 09:23PM

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Last updated at 21:23, 10 Mar 2012 Uploaded at 16:01, 23 Jan 2012

* Tip: If you download this with the Nexus Mod Manager, it will notify you of updates.

How to Make a Successful Mod
(or, at least, one that sucks a lot less)


This is a small guide I wrote to help both new and old mod creators alike on the do's and don'ts of modding. One should be able to go through all of it in ~10-15 minutes on a casual read. It is written with mod creators in mind, but curious mod users might find it interesting as well.

To be clear, this is not a guide that teaches you how to create mods, but rather one that shows you what distinguishes a good mod from a great mod. It will mention good modding habits that will ensure that your mod will be usable long after you stop caring about it, give an overview of design principles to follow to minimize conflicts, and give advice about how to write good documentation to avoid being flooded with questions.

Newcomers will learn a lot, even though most of the stuff is just plain common sense. You should take your time and read things at a comfortable pace. You want to get a general overview, so don't spend too much time on stuff that doesn't immediately make sense to you, but don't skip sections. When you read everything once, sleep on it, and come back to the guide on the next day/week. Now that you've had some exposure to the general ideas and some time for them to sink in, you can now spend time figuring out the details of each section. It will be much less overwhelming than trying to figure out everything on your first read.

Modders with some experience should read the guide casually at first, just to see what each section is about. Once that's done they can come back to sections they thought were particularly useful and/or insightful and go over the details.

Experts will obviously not learn as much, but the guide should at least be a good a refresher on the basics, and can serve as a good list of things to verify before releasing a new mod. And who knows, maybe they'll come across something and go "Why didn't I ever think of that before!?"

If you find my guide useful, let me know. If you find have suggestions on how to improve the guide, mention it in the comments. And even if you don't find the guide useful, you can still give me your suggestions.

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The guide's TOC is as follows

* Preamble
* What is a successful mod?
* Do your research
* Follow the Unix philosophy
* Recognize that other mods exist
* Take your time, be systematic
* Test your mod
* If it does nothing, it probably shouldn't be there
* Don't change the .esp file names for no reason
* Compress your textures and meshes properly
* Understand how .esp and .bsa files work
* Keep up with patches (official or not)
* Pensez aux Fran├žais / Think of the French
* Make use of the Nexus Mod Manager
* WTFM - Write the "fine" manual
* Make your mod easy to find
* Nexus vs Steam vs Other Sites
* Don't be afraid to ask for help
* Useful stuff
* Credits and other stuff

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* Available in PDF and ODT formats.
* Localization section not yet written. Help would be appreciated.
* Feedback is welcome.

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Version 1.0.0 -- Original Release
Version 1.1.0 -- Typo/spelling/grammar fixes, clarification of certain ideas, expand guide (add sections 'Don't be afraid to ask for help', 'Credits and stuff', expand sections 'Preamble', 'Follow the Unix Philosophy', and 'WTFM -- Write the "fine" manual')
Version 1.2.0 -- Expand guide with advice on textures & meshes, as well as good testing & cleaning habits
Version 1.2.1 -- Language tweaks (typos, grammar, sentence flow, etc.)
Version 1.3.0 -- Add .esp file name section. Clarify some ambiguities and ideas.
Version 1.4.0 -- Correct 'Make use of the Nexus Mod Manager' section. Expand commentary on packaging. Expand 'Test your Mod' section. Add links to 'Useful stuff' section.
Version 1.5.0 -- Add 'Make your mod easy to find' and 'Keep up with the patches (official or not)' sections
Version 1.6.0 -- Add 'Take your time, be systematic' section and reorder the guide for a more logical progression.
Version 1.7.0 -- Add 'Nexus vs Steam vs Other Sites', add 'Understand how .esp and how .bsa files work'' sections