Wednesday, August 29, 2012

1.5 Changelog

1.5 Changelog

Here (finally) is the changelog for the 1.5 update for the Skyrim mod "Way of the Monk":

+ Improved appearance of the Pillars locations
+ Fixed the requirements for Irons Fists 3
+ Fixed issue for some NPCs where they would appear naked
+ Replaced Cultist Follower with a voiced follower
+ Added a quest to find all of the Pillars, with a reward for finding all of them. Start the quest by reading the book, "The Pillars".
+ Fist weapons are now affected by OneHanded Perks. The Claws, Talons, Punch Daggers, and Katar are affected by the sword perks; the Ulaks are affected by the War Axe perks; and the perferators and Burning Fists are affected by the Mace perks
+ Increased base damage of Steel Punch Daggers by 1
+ Created more Cultist NPCs
+ The new follower now levels with you up to level 60
+ Unarmored now does not level when you are a werewolf
+ Fixed issue where the OneHanded Unarmed Weapon was doing more damage and affected by more perks than it was supposed to.
+ The Deadly Blows perks no longer stack
+ Fixed menu issues with the Silent Movement and Padded Movement perks
+ Corrected information in the menu for the Wielder Pillar
+ Added visual effect to Whirlwind Attacks from the Wielder Pillar
+ Fixed the menu issues with acquiring the Vitality perks
+ Fixed the conditions for the Vitality perks

I apologize for the delay. I've been pretty busy and tired recently because of the new school semester. I will start work on version 1.6 soon.

Way of the Monk can be downloaded at the following locations:

Skyrim Nexus

Steam Workshop

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Need Voice Actors For Your Mod?

Are you creating a quest or follower mod? Do you need voice actors? This post gives a number of tips and links to help you find voice acting talent.

Doing it yourself:
First off, you may simply be able to do it yourself. Now, there's the possibility that your voice may have a different sound or be a different gender than your mod's characters. However, if you voice does fit a character, here are some tips to recording:
  1. Turn off all fans, air conditioners, and cell phones. Get rid of or turn off anything that could add background noise.
  2. Place your microphone at the very least an inch (I suggest 2-3 inches) from your mouth. That is to eliminate the small staticky sounds that may come from a dry mouth or from the mic rubbing against your skin.
  3. Keep a glass of water nearby to make sure that your mouth does not become dry. A dry mouth will make your produce a static-like sound in your recording.
  4. Sit up or stand up. Breathe with deeply, with your stomach expanding rather than your chest. This will provide a good airflow through your vocal chords, and provide your brain with the oxygen it needs.
  5. Sing for a while before recording. It doesn't matter if your singing voice is awful enough to kill cats, sing for a bit.  Doing so will loosen your vocal chords and get your lungs moving right for recording.
  6. Download Audacity. It is a free audio editing and recording program that is powerful enough to be used in professional settings. If you want to you can even learn how to add effects to your voices, but that won't be neccesary for simple voice acting.
  7. Along with the recordings for your lines, record a 5-6 seconds long file that is nothing but silence. Make sure that you do this with the same mic and in the same setting that you used for your line recording. This silence sample will be used later with Audacity to remove background static and noise from your audio files.
  8. Record your lines in the .WAV format. This can be done with Audacity. There are only two audio formats that the Creation Kit (for Skyrim) uses, and those are the .WAV and the .XWM formats. If you have the time, I would suggest converting your files to .XWM. They are not as large as .WAV files, but they will work fine. The decreased file space means that you will be more likely to pack your mod into the 100 mb limit of the Steam Workshop. Use this guide to convert the files. As far as I know, this is the only guide in existence that teaches you how to convert .WAV files to .XWM.

Recruiting others:
  1. The Voice Actors' Guild - The VA Guild is a part of the broader Engineering Guild, which is a modding community createed by the modder Giskard, who is well known for his Skyrim, Fallout 3, and Oblivion mods. I have used them before and they are a great group. Very friendly, quick, and professional. While you're there, you can also download some of the fantastic mods that they have produced.
  2. Post a thread in the Skyrim Nexus, Bethesda, or Steam forums asking for a voice actor. You are less likely to get someone with voice acting experience, but they are likely to be more eager to help.
  3. Take a look at the list of voice actors that helped with the Interesting NPCs mod for Skyrim. The mod author supplied links to their Nexus Pages, so you can contact them if you like their voice or are looking for any voice actor. With this specific group, I would suggest going into Skyrim and listening to their voices. That way you can choose the actor you want based upon their voice. Keep in mind, though, that they do not have to work with you if they do not want to. The likely get plenty of requests and do not have time to help everyone.
Once you have the lines:

Even once you have gone through the work to find voice actors, you will need to add them to the game. Below are a number of tutorials for adding voice files to characters in Skyrim.

  1. Deck16 - Adding a Voice Follower
  2. Creation Kit Wiki - Bethesda Tutorial Dialgoue
  3. Voice Acting: A Complete Guide
  4. Creation Kit Tutorial: Quest Dialogue [1/4]

Monday, August 13, 2012

Becoming A Master

...or at least a master file.

So, over the past version or two I have slowly been considering the possibility of changing my mod from an .esp to an .esm. Or, more understandably, from a plugin to a master file. The difference between plugin and master files are as follows.

Plugin File (.esp): The standard format for mods. They modify or add content within master files while they are loaded. Their changes are not permanent and will not actually modify the .esm file. Instead, Skyrim reads their information and makes the changes inside of the game. Every .esp has a list of master files that are required for it to run. Most of them only require the Skyrim.esm Master File. However, if one were to require Dawnguard, for instance, then it would require both Skyrim.esm and Dawnguard.esm. When you make a mod with the Creation Kit, they are the format that it saves your changes in. They can be uploaded to the Steam Workshop.

Master File (.esm): Skyrim.esm is the main master file. They are what hold all of the main files which the game uses. They have higher priority than any .esp files in the load order. You can make an .esp that modifies and .esm, but you cannot make an .esm that modifies an .esp. They are the star of the solar system and all of the little .esps orbit around them. They can only be created by using modder-made tools to convert a .esp to an .esm, and they cannot be uploaded to the Steam Workshop.

So, why the extended monologue about the difference between the two? Mainly because I am currently giving a significant amount of thought to changing my mod to an .esm. This has a number of pros and cons, but I think that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.


+ Modules. I would finally be able to make all of those optional modules that people have been asking for. Some people just want the overhaul without the weapons. Some want the skills to be in the vanilla perk trees. Others want quests. Some want small optionals like a Fists of Steel perk for Light armor. Others might want a Chi system. The list goes on. Making Way of the Monk a Master File mod would allow me to make those modules. You would download the master file with the whole shebang. Then, if you wanted certain aspects changed you could either download a module (.esp) for yourself, or even make your own to use.

+ Compatibility. Compatibility issues would be much easier to solve. Instead of having to change large parts of my system to work with another mod or have them do the same thing, I (or someone else) could just build an .esp that bridges the gap between the two mods and makes them compatible. It would be totally optional and the compatibility patches would be much easier to create.

+ Teamwork. If, at some point, someone else wanted to join me on the project and help me out, then a Master File would be a LOT easier to work with. Say, for instance, that someone wanted to help me build a questline for the mod. We could 1) work together on the SAME file at the SAME time using a program made by SureAI, allowing us to simultaneously build the questline together. Or 2) one of us could make an .esp plugin for the .esm that adds a questline that is totally optional. That way you could get the main mod without having to worry about all of the issues that come with quest mods.


+ No Steam Workshop. Unfortunately, the Steam Workshop does not allow modders to upload .esm Master Files. At all. And even if it did, it has a filesize limit of 100mb. While just the overhaul would not likely meet that size limit, the modules might. Especially if they included new meshes, textures, or sounds. The normal mod has already reached a size of 72 mb. Simply adding full dialog for two characters might raise the size past the 100mb limit on the Steam Workshop. If I turned Way of the Monk into a master file, then Steam users would not be able to download the latest versions from the Workshop. I would not delete the mod, so they would still be able to get whatever version existed before the change to .esm. However, to get any later versions they would *have* to use the Nexus.


So, what do y'all think?

Personally, I think that it is worth the risk. As the creator, I want to grow this mod as much as I can without being limited by the Workshop's capabilities. However, I do not want to alienate players unless I have to. Please feel free to give me your input on the choice.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Dawnguard is now available for PC!

As of today, August 2, the first Skyrim DLC Dawnguard is available for download to PC from Steam. It's been a fairly long wait, and is priced quite highly. It's appearance was also quite sudden, with no announcements from Bethesda. Regardless, it is now purchasable. Here's hoping that it is worth the wait.

Purchase link at Steam: