Dark Souls

Starfield Creation Kit is now available

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It's finally happened! The Creation Kit for Starfield dropped as part of Bethesda's announcements during the Xbox Showcase last night, along with the first round of "Creations" available for purchase and a preview of the upcoming Shattered Space DLC. In this post, I'll give a little primer on the Creation Kit and provide a few essential tips based on the latest changes to the game. 

What is the Creation Kit?

If you're new to Bethesda modding, the Creation Kit is the official software development kit (SDK) which allows community authors to create and share mods. There are equivalent Creation Kits for Skyrim, Skyrim Special Edition and Fallout 4. It is the evolution of the Construction Set used in Oblivion and Morrowind or the Garden of Eden Creation Kit (G.E.C.K.) used in Fallout 3 and New Vegas. 

The tool is a stripped-down version of the editor that Bethesda's developers use to create the game and DLCs. It allows modders to create and edit almost all existing game objects including quests, items, locations and more. It's an incredibly powerful tool!

Right now, there is no public documentation for Starfield, but if you want to understand some basic concepts of how the editor works, you can check out the official Skyrim and Fallout 4 wiki here

Download the Creation Kit for Starfield on Steam

We're super excited to see the mods you create using the official tools.


What's new in Starfield's CK?

You can expect a more comprehensive list of new features on the CK wiki but here are a few highlights:

  • Unique vs Instanced Content - Content is now organised into unique and instanced content depending on how it is intended to be used. Unique content is for static locations (e.g. a specific interior on a single planet), whereas instanced content is generated at runtime and can be re-used around the galaxy (e.g. the Starborn Temples are re-used on various planets). 
  • Planet Content Manager (PCM) - A new system similar to (but not replacing) Story Manager in previous games. This controls the procedural content in planets and space cells.
  • Galaxy View - A new data management tool for managing different stellar bodies, including stars, planets, moons, asteroid belts, star stations, and generic orbitals.
  • Worldspace overlays - Instead of creating the terrain for an entire planet, you will create mini-worldspaces which are then stitched into the procedural terrain on the surface of one or more planets.
  • Particle Editor - Create particle-based effects using emitters in the Creation Engine. 
  • Easier Navmesh - Creating navmesh is now as easy as dropping down a marker in your interior (manual navmeshing is still possible). 
  • Render Window Layers - Managing large interiors or exteriors is easier than ever with assignable layers to show/hide different content.
  • PackIns (PI) - These replace Static Collections and allow a group of objects to act as a single object in the Render Window. 
  • And many great improvements to usability and stability compared to Fallout 4 and Skyrim's CKs! 

As a bonus, Bethesda has also included integrations for commonly used tools including VSCode for Papyrus scripting and 3DSMax for 3D assets. 

How does the Creation Kit affect the modding community?

The Creation Kit gives mod authors the tools they need to create more complicated mods and is far more user-friendly than the current process of using SF1Edit to manipulate game data in a more manual way. On that topic, SF1Edit will need to be updated to support the most recent changes - the developers of the tool are very much aware of this so please wait patiently by tracking their mod page rather than badgering them in the comments. 

The latest update for the Starfield game (version enables mod loading by default. This means that Plugins.txt Enabler and Starfield Script Extender (or an ASI loader) are no longer required to play with mods. Simply install the mods with your favourite mod manager (or manually drop them into the Data folder) and start the game. 

We're working on an update to Vortex to bring our support for Starfield up to date with the latest version of the game. 

New plugin types

The latest version of Starfield includes a major shift in how plugins are shared which has some important implications for how load ordering works in the game. The Creation Kit provides options to export your completed plugin in three different formats:

  • Full Master - This is what all mods containing ESMs have been using up to now. A full master takes up one of the 253 slots in the plugin load order (excluding the base game and DLCs). 
  • Medium Master - This is a new plugin type for Starfield. Medium masters are ESM plugins combined into the 254th (FD) load order slot and can consist of ~65,535 new records each. You can load 256 medium masters at once. These are suitable for mods that add new locations, planets, etc.
  • Small Master - This is the same as the "Light" masters in Skyrim and Fallout 4, these plugins are combined into the 255th (FE) load order slot. These ESM files can hold 4,095 new records and you can load 4,096 small masters at once. These are suitable for mods that add new items, ships, weapons, or small interiors. 

All this added up means you can have ~4,605 (253 + 256 + 4096) plugins in your load order which should be more than enough for even the most ambitious mod list! This isn't even factoring in asset replacers that don't use plugins either. 

Unfortunately, it's not all good news. With these new features come a new set of problems. We covered some of the issues with plugin load order in November and the addition of a medium master only amplifies some of the issues discussed in that post. 

If you are sharing a mod, you should think ahead and pick a master type that suits the long-term goal of the mod. This is because changing the master type in an update will break any patches or other mods which use your plugin as a master. 

We've asked Bethesda if there will be any "guard rails" to protect users from using plugins in their load order which may result in broken game data. They have provided this statement on the issue.

Changing the flag on an existing creation [plugin] isn't supported.

If a mod gets too big for the file type it’s flagged as, and the author wants to change it, they may want to save it as a distinct version. This will make it more clear to users that they can’t swap out without potential disruption. Same as an ESL being replaced by an ESP, or an ESP replaced by an ESM [in Skyrim SE or Fallout 4].

To help users find the content they are looking for, we've also added tags for Full, Medium and Small master files to Starfield. Mod authors are also now prompted to select these tags as part of the upload process. 

ESP files vs ESM files

It's long been a hot-button issue in the community around the appropriate use of ESP and ESM files within Bethesda's RPGs. You'll find that a very high number of mods from Morrowind to Fallout 4 use ".esp" plugin files and it's only more recently the use of master ".esm" files has been adopted more widely. 

The Creation Kit enforces a clear distinction between the two for Starfield. All mods being shared with the community should be using ESM format plugins. ESPs are intended to be "work in progress" files for use with Creation Kit. While this has been technically true for previous titles, there are some additional drawbacks in using ESPs with Starfield in that it currently causes bugs in normal gameplay to load ESPs. 

If you're wondering how to export files from the Creation Kit to upload on Nexus Mods, here's a handy guide on the Starfield forums

That about covers it for the new Starfield CK. Which mods are you most excited to see? Will you be returning to Starfield for the Shattered Space DLC? 


  1. Pickysaurus
    • Community Manager
    • 678 kudos
    If you see new mods uploaded using ESP files, you should politely direct the mod author to this post and ask them to save out their plugin as an ESM file to avoid issues. 
  2. Supermacy
    • premium
    • 129 kudos
    Start cooking MFs god bless
  3. Rawr40k
    • premium
    • 5 kudos
    If everything needs to be saved as an esm wouldn't this mean in the long term we'll have a very low mod list?
    1. sp0ckrates
      • supporter
      • 156 kudos
      The new CK creates an ESP and ESM for each mod, with an optional archive. 
    2. Keinichn
      • premium
      • 4 kudos
      Rawr40k, I'd suggest re-reading the post. Specifically this part:

      All this added up means you can have ~4,605 (253 + 256 + 4096) plugins in your load order which
      should be more than enough for even the most ambitious mod list! This
      isn't even factoring in asset replacers that don't use plugins either.

      The number of mods available is actually more than Skyrim thanks to the new ESM types.
    3. sp0ckrates
      • supporter
      • 156 kudos
      Nice! 😎
    4. madpaddy
      • premium
      • 94 kudos
      The problem seems to be atm people don't know which to use and are making full ESM mods for pretty much everything, meaning yes you will hit the 253 limit, it would be good if the CK gave you a warning that the current content in your mod would be better saved as Full, Med, Light etc...
    5. Rawr40k
      • premium
      • 5 kudos
      Keinichn I did, but right now if everything is an esm wouldn't we hit it quickly? I'm already at 41 esm files.
    6. FeliceHasAHat
      • supporter
      • 8 kudos
      it would be good if the CK gave you a warning that the current content in your mod would be better saved as Full, Med, Light etc...
      Yeah I agree, the CK should really point out that the currently-loaded mod could be saved in a more streamlined format.
  4. awegaweg
    • member
    • 1 kudos
    Is it that hard, to add extra bits for the mod loading index??
  5. DeLaPoutana
    • supporter
    • 5 kudos
    you can tell there is no active modding community for this game when there's not even a cbbe mod for this game 9 months in
    1. bitsu92
      • member
      • 5 kudos
      7k mods were uploaded for Starfield, in the next year it will take over Cyberpunk and Baldur's Gate 3 and in a few years will take over New Vegas

      Currently the Starfield modding community is as active as the New Vegas one
    2. chaserskyrim
      • member
      • 1 kudos
      i can't believe people thought we'd be seeing huge overhauls mods this early since the kits release 
    3. SarcasticDragon99
      • premium
      • 48 kudos
      Right, that’s why it re-surpassed BG3’s weekly mod count from almost nothing in under 3 days, right? No mod community?
    4. ronyalan
      • member
      • 8 kudos

      bro starfield has more than tripled the number of daily mods since the launch of CKpassing new vegas and baldur gate 3

      Relax, people are still playing around and figuring out how to use CK. soon we will have great mods
  6. Echo389
    • premium
    • 0 kudos
    would be cool to see quest mods of any kind, would give us an actual reason to play the game
  7. gabrielrock19
    • member
    • 8 kudos
    Modders will once again save the game from a company that DOESN'T EVEN CARE ANYMORE ABOUT THEIR GAMES.

    1. chaserskyrim
      • member
      • 1 kudos
      nice meme brother
    2. YshtoIa
      • member
      • 5 kudos
      except starfield is so foundationally dookie that the small amount of modders that will waste their time with it, won't save it.
    3. chaserskyrim
      • member
      • 1 kudos
      @yshtola nice memes
  8. RazgrizSkyAce
    • member
    • 0 kudos
    Make it like Freelancer from 2003!

    Seamless space travel, several factions with reputation. Then, cool descriptive inforcards for each and every planet, moon, weapon and ship!
  9. pipponello
    • supporter
    • 0 kudos
    I have a request for the modding community: please a gore/dismemberment mod!Something that blows off limbs, heads, head parts, guts and allows you to cut people in two.
    I quit this game shortly after Neon City due to the boring combat.
    1. raditicat
      • supporter
      • 0 kudos
      That's what we need, combined with a lightsaber.  :D
    2. SwiftTrooper
      • member
      • 0 kudos
      Here here!
  10. chaserskyrim
    • member
    • 1 kudos
    wait, what do you mean the script extender isn't needed anymore? is it a specific part of the extender or the whole thing?
    1. xenofixus
      • premium
      • 6 kudos
      There may still be mods that require SFSE but SFSE is no longer strictly required to load mods via Plugins.txt Enabler. In circumstances where you aren't using a mod that requires SFSE this means that SFSE is in fact no longer required to load mods.
    2. AaronOfMpls
      • premium
      • 47 kudos
      It's still needed for mods that rely on it.  It's just not needed to make the game load .esm's/esp's etc in the first place.

      EDIT: xenofixus beat me to it!
  11. sp0ckrates
    • supporter
    • 156 kudos
    Hi. I'm trying to upload one of my Starfield mods here on Nexus to Xbox, but the new Creation Kit blows an error when making the archive: "File(s) failed to validate. textures/actors/human/faces/eyes/iris_red_color.dds: Invalid Platform".  I'm able to use the creation kit to create the archive with the same file for PC without an error. 
    1. sp0ckrates
      • supporter
      • 156 kudos
      Does anyone know whether Xbox requires a specific kind of DDS texture file? I’m thinking maybe the new CK isn’t converting the files I’m trying to pack with it.
    2. sp0ckrates
      • supporter
      • 156 kudos
      For anyone having the same issue, here's what worked:

      • Save the DDS file as a PNG
      • Go to https://convertio.co/formats/dds/
      • Use the online conversion tool to convert the PNG to a DDS
      • Copy the downloaded DDS file to the correct location in the game's Data folder
      • Open the CK
      • Use the option to create an archive
      • Browse to the file and select it
      • You're good to go!
    3. AinsyMods
      • premium
      • 30 kudos
      I have the same issue, followed your fix steps but it still didnt work :(, what folder directory did you put the files in?