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Interior Location Creation Tutorial


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#1
djmystro

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I learned a lot of things creating AWOP that seriously sped up my production time creating huge interior locations so I thought I would bundle a load of tips together in a guide to help others getting started with some simple handy facts that will save you a lot of time if you wanna go creating dungeons.

Basic Interior location design guide:

Contents:
1: Position 0
2: Block Size
3: Handy Keys
4: Havoc Engine
5: Walkthrough
6: How I Started
7: Copied vs New
8: Bodging Gaps
9: Cave Gaps
10: Cave Navmesh
11: Interior Size/Object Count
12: Adding NPCs
13 : Object Spacing
14: Fast Navmesh
15: Fast travel to Object/NPC in Render Windiw
16: Interior Light and Fog settings.
17: Locating Objects

1: Position 0:
On creating a new interior make sure the first block is placed at 0 on all axis. This will make the auto-move functions much simpler and easy to understand (as well as mathematically predictable).

2: Block size:
Each block is by default 256x256 or in caves double or triple that size. There are however exceptions such as the Office and Factory building sets which have a default height of 288 which can cause blocks moved using the auto-align functions to shift out of place vertically requiring maunual reajustment later.

3: Handy keys:
F - Drop object onto nearest surface.
G - Move object up by a small amount
F5 - Refreshes the scene allowing for viewing of light effects and such.
Ctrl-F - Swap currently selected object(s) [Very useful for taking a clean Vault and making it dirty by just swapping out all references to one type of object such as a Vault wall in a scene to another similar replacement].
Ctrl-F (with Navmesh Active) - Checks local Nevmesh for errors and allows for deletion or move to warning triangle.
Ctrl-D - Duplicates object(s)
Z and RMB and move- Rotates selecteds object on it's Z Axis.
X and RMB and move - Rotates selected object on it's X Axis
RMB & move - Rotates selected object on Y Axis
A - Turn full lighting on and off.
Right Click (Navmesh on) - Drop Vertice
A (Navmesh on and exactly *3* vertices selected) - Fill in a Navmesh triangle.

4: Havoc Engine:
To use the Havoc engine (on by defualt in the FO3 GECK) to realistically drop items and reveal the contents of certain vanilla interors you need to do the following:
Open the 'GECKCustom' ini file (usually in My Documents/My Games/Fallout NV)
Find:
bUseMultibounds=1
and change the 1 to 0.
[Note that havoc dropped items will hover slightly above the surface they are intended to drop on. For detail objects I recommend using the F-key drop function. However certain objects such as skeletons can only be dropped properly using havoc.]

5: Walkthrough:
Using this info it is relatively quick and painless to create vast rooms.
Heres an example of an office block:
5.1: Choose entrance location, manually place block at 0 on all axis.

5.2: Decide on approximate size of location and how you intend for it to play out.

5.3: Find a wall and corner object (or anything else 'room' based that will be used at least once).

5.4: Drop them into appropriate positions (place at 0 height manually and use the auto-align features to rotate and slot them into place.

5.5: Use Ctrl-D to duplicate any objects needed more than once such as standard room walls and drag them into place.

5.6: Use Ctrl-F to select specific wall clusters and replace them with similar objects (e.g OffRmWall01 to OffRmWall02/03) which will vary up the apparance.

5.7: Drop in essential clutter objects such as desks, terminals etc... and use the previous functions to duplicate and replace with similar objects. Use G and F to reposition vertically. [Duplicating clusters of stuff can vastly speed up creation.]

5.8: Add detail clutter and loot then enemies.

5.9: Leave FX untill navmesh is complete.

5.10. Clutter from the bottom upwards. Navmesh from the top down.
Clutter from the lowest floor (including basements) and then add later floors so you can see into the room effectively from all angles whilst adding clutter. Resist the urge to navmesh at this stage until the building is complete. This is because dropping a vertice (or green square used to link navmesh trangles) on top of existing navmesh on a lower level is tricky. It requires you to drop it on the floor from an angle where lower levels of navmesh are not in the way/directly underneath.

5.11: Add FX after navmeshing. Navmesh Vertices get stuck on FX and even spamming the F key repeatedly will not get them to the floor sometimes.

6: How I Started:
I did not read any tutorials to get started modding (though once I got to dialogue and quest creation aspects those became very necassary).
For level design I began by duplicating rarely visited areas from the vanilla game (back then FO3). I them recluttered them myself. I pretty much learned the hard way though. Had I known of the existence of many of the above tips/keys/info I would have got a lot more done a lot faster but thats another story.
Basically I took what was there already, searched for the object in the GECK and just looked at all the similar objects. Sometimes just trying stuff out but mostly going in knowing what I wanted and if need be finding the blocks I needed to 'bodge' it together.
If I wanted a certain object I thought where I had seen it before and sought it out in it's vanilla location, checked out the name, found it in the list then dropped one into my location (though standard keyboard copy/paste commands work fine, just make sure you have the render window selected before attempting to copy).

7: Copied vs New
Eventually I found that copying vanilla areas was more trouble than it was worth. Most are at unpredicatable heights and horizonal positions and a few are even at random angles which makes adding new room blocks onto them very difficult without creating gaps.
Eventually it becomes easier to create a new room and just copy a load of clutter from a few vanilla areas in bulk and redistribute them rather than the other way around.

8: Bodging gaps:
I like to use certain kits together such as Hotel, Office, Utility, Cave and Vault, sometimes just in one interior (the Dead Money AWOP has lots of these locations). However they are not always designed to fit together leaving gaps often along ceiling joins. Look out for simple blocky objects which can be used to fill gaps such as:
Free Columns (e.g NVGSRmFreCol) [Eseentaly wall-join features]
Wood blocks (e.g CampLog01-04)
Concrete (e.g PowerStationBlock01)
Rubble (e.g OffRubblePile01/IndRubblePileSmall)
Door Frames (e.g OffDoorFrameSmOnly)

9: Cave Gaps:
Cave sets are not like other square room sets. They require much more attention as to which block can go where. They are not symettrical and floor and ceiling joins in particualy will be off unless you put the right blocks next to each other at the correct angle.
Here's how I do it:
1: Place intial block at 0 and make sure it is also not at an angle.
2: Do NOT rotate any blocks (apart from Hallway pieces and corner blocks which are more flexible).
3: Each cave piece is numbered 1-4. These represent North, South East and West and are consistent throughout.
4: Drop one in. If you drop a number 2 wall in and need it facing the other way swap it out for a number 4 rather than rotating it 180 degrees. Should be simple from there on out. This way you avoid the gaps.

10: Cave Navmesh:
Quick tip for navmeshing caves is to aim for the rocks when dropping vertices. This stops the majority of it going under ground from several vertices being dropped lower than the average ground height.

11: Interior Size/Object Count:
Making a location too big and adding too many objects will severely impact on performance. I have found the total object count (from a cigarette to a train cart) should not exceed 1500 or thereabouts (though I have many interiors that push this limit, in some cases maybe a bit too far).
To create a very big location is still do-able. For example the main sections of the Collpased Underpass from AWOP are structually built from about 40 very large blocks doubled in size though the rooms are probably big enough to contain every Vault in the vanilla game. This cuts down on object count and performace does not take a hit.
Which objects/FX/NPCs etc are more likley to trigger a performance hit I have yet to figure out.

12: Adding NPCs:
I try and limit NPCs of a certain type to about 20 in any given location with no more than 30 overall. Adding more than this caused many problems when FNV was initially released though I believe the patches have resolved most problems I experienced. Even so having too many NPCs seems to be bad for performace, especially if using vanilla spawns likely to be effected by mods such as IWS or VVV.
Also when building an interior try and think how the enemies will react to your entrance. If the enemies are spread out inside a building not far apart with someone near the entrance then they are all likely to spot the player upon entry and mob them even from the back of the building.
There are several ways around this such as adding Guard packages to the NPCs or clustering them in certain spots.
Personally for tight environments such as hotels and offices with numerous NPCs I like to block off several pathways to slow them down. I also try and crate gaps within the ranks to allow for breathing space for stealthier players to adavance further.
Think about how far in you want the NPC to get before they are attacked. I usually allow at least one empty room or corridoor on entry so the player can take stock of thier surroundings and if sneaky enough get inside undetected. Vanilla often does this too but not always.
[This does not matter so much with most Creatures who cannot open doors such as Geckos, Mole Rats & Manises].

13 : Object Spacing:
Try and leave a gap the size of a small door frame (approx 4 office/factory floor tiles if I remember correct) wherever you want NPCs or creatures to walk (or wherever you intend to Navmesh). You can get away with less in some circumstances (small bridges with no wallls either side) but trying to limit that space with clutter or walls will cause problems for 'wide' creatures such as Deathclaws, Super Muntants and Mantises.

14: Fast Navmesh:
Get used to holding down Ctrl and a when dropping vertices. Every third vertice dropped without releasing control will automatically create a navmesh triange. After this you can just drop a single verice and the last two highlighted vertices will automatically create a nre triange. Sounds complicated but in practice is very simple. This works better outdoors or navmeshing large areas as for cluttered rooms still require a degree of attention as to which vertice goes where which will eventually cuase problems using this approach.
To navmesh clustered environments such as rubble-strewn offices I used to drop a vertice at every corner and then link up all the triangles after. Now I use a combo of this and the holding Ctrl approach which tends to get the job done very fast.
Check out some vanilla navmesh too. It's not that detailed and does not venture into every nook and cranny. Take into account that even melee opponents have a wide radius of attack so you don't need to go right up to every wall. Also if you try and navmesh too small a gap then NPCs will just ignore it as being inaccessable.

15:
Fast travel to specific Obecjt/NPC in Render Windiw:
Right click on objec t in the Object Window & select 'Use info'.
This will list each appearance of said object. Then just double click on each in turn to be taken to it's exact location in the Render Window. This works well for books & guns (but not tin cans or anything too common).

16:
Interior Light and Fog settings:
In the interior locations there is an edit window which can be accessed from the Cell View window by right clicking. Im not sure about exterior locations (never edited lighting for them) but with any luck it's similar.
There's 3 colour boxes in the lighting window. Make sure to uncheck any ticked boxes relating to pre-defdined lighting settings else changing them will not save properly. One of the two on the left is ambient lighting, I'm not sure what the other one is so I generally make them very similar. The one on the right is Fog.
There are 4 boxes at the end for entering numerical values for the fog (from memory).
For Close - the point at which the fog starts forming around the player (128 is about right for dark areas, 512 is enough for a well lit and spacious office).
Fog Far - The distance at which the fog theoretically becomes a solid wall (anything below 1000 is very close, 2000 is about right for a medium lit tight location but in order to see for long distances a very high value needs to be set (around 4000-6000). To compenstae for this in big dark areas it is best just to set the colours to very dark tones but keep these values high so light spots in the distance are still visible.
Fog Density - Just a multiplier for the amount of fog. 1 is standard.
Fog Clipping - The cut-off point beyond which nothing is visible but the color of the fog (or maybe that unknown block on the left). This should always be a higher value than the "Fog Far" setting to prevent a sudden inpenetrable wall of fog cutting through objects at a certain distance (which can look very bad through scopes and such).
For reference purposes the height of a standard Office Block unit is 288, a utility hall is 256 and an epic cave is 512.

17:
Locating Objects:
Once you get used to building interiors the bulk of the time taken to build a level is spent locaing the correct objects in the object window.
Here's some stuff that's not so easy to spot and a few general tips:

MINES:
Active Mines (all variants) are found in the 'Projectiles'. folder. Make them friendly to a faction by adding ownership in the edit box after dropping them into the Render Window.
Inactive mines are found in the 'Weapons' folder.

TRAPS:
All other traps are found in the 'Activator' folder.
In FNV GECK look out for the TestTraps cell the editors included which has most of the traps already set out for easy copy/paste.
If you wanna swap a tripwire for a pressure pad or vice versa just use the Ctrl-F fuction to swap it out after pasting. They are all prefixed by 'traps',

FLOOR CLUTTER/RUBBISH:
[Static Folder]:
AssortedPapers01-06
StreetLitter01-02
Paper01
OfficePaper01
ShackPaperDebris01-05
Eyechart
DLC04Sodacup01-02 (FNV & Point Lookout)
DLC04PopcornBox (FNV & Point Lookout)
DLC04StreetLitter01-02 (FNV & Point Lookout)
RorsaschTest01-03 [FNV Only]
MS (or quest) Documents (e.g MS15ConstitutionStatic) [FO3 Only]

[Movable Static]:
DeskPadPlanner

OFFICE CLUTTER:
[Static Folder]:
Typewriter
TerminalDesk... (several variants)
HotelLamp
LampGeneric
HamRadio01-03 (several variants) [FNV Only]
ComputerPart01-06 [FNV Only]
Clock01
SafeCracked
StarburstClock01

[Movable Static Folder]:
Telephone
OfficeFan
Globe

[Activator]:
VintageRadio (several)


GORE:
[Static]:
Vault87Blood01-09
GorePile01-04
RaiderGutsDressing01-08 (FO3 Only)
RaiderCorpseDressing01-06
FXFlyswarm [FNV Only]
NVHeadPike01-06 (FNV Only)

[Movable Static]:
BrahminRibcage
BrahminSkull
GoryCorpsePartsTorsos
Skull
SkullBloody
Skeletons (Lots)
TIntestine
TGoreArmGore01
TGoreLegGore01

[Misc Items]:
BodyPart01-05
DeathclawHand

[Container]:
GoreBags

If you are creating any type of location (such as Vault, BOS/Enclave Bunker, Ruined (ore pre-war) homes, Caves or pretty much anything else) and you need some help finding unusual object(s) or just want some advice in that department feel free to message me.

#2
kibblesticks

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Kudos for this, thanks for putting the time in to help us out :thumbsup:

#3
Jeux

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Very well done. Most of those things I had to learn through experimentation, too.

Perhaps I should write up a worldspace tutorial? Such a tutorial would be quite long :blink:

#4
rickerhk

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This is great. Thanks!

#5
avianrave

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Another thing you might want to add is static collections. You can group entire rooms into a static collection, which you can change in game. This makes much easier if you want multiple versions of the same room.

#6
Jeux

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^ Not always a good idea in that respect. Making SCOLs that are very large, composed of many different objects, is just bad.

And from what people have told me, SCOLs only help if you're making them out of 2-3 of the same objects, or if all the objects share the same type.

For building purposes, yes. It's convenient. But too many of them, especially if they are large, can be even worse performance wise than if the statics were by themselves. (My take, feel free to correct)

#7
avianrave

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The beauty of them is that once they are in place, you can ungroup them. It allows you to make more complicated objects and place them with the intent of splitting them later. One thing that this is useful for is if you were to make an indoor garden. You could put the planter and the plants in the same static collection and make a few template planters.

If all the objects share the same textures, then it may be even better to keep them in a static collection (if you use the static collection more then once).

#8
Pelgar

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Thanks for taking the time and sharing your insight djmystro, you now have one more kudos.
Can you tell me if there is any way to copy the navmesh along with the structural, clutter and such of an interior. I'd like to copy my own interior from one esp to another because I need to move the current exterior entrance. I can copy and move all except the navmesh and maybe room markers, don't think I've tried that.

Perhaps I should write up a worldspace tutorial? Such a tutorial would be quite long


Please do Jeux! If you decide to write it I'll be glad to help out in any way I can. I'm sure you're aware that I'm a newb since you've answered some of my newb questions. I can take screen shots, organize notes into pretty well any format you want; html, Word, Windows help file... I wouldn't like it but I'd even do PDF if that's what you want.

I'm working on a list of Geck questions I plan to post in a Q & A thread soon. For right now I'd really like to know how a wastelandNV cell and a wastelandNVmini cell differ. When would you want to use one vs the other?

Edited by Pelgar, 03 April 2012 - 09:33 PM.


#9
weijiesen

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Quite useful! Thanks for this, as I'm doing loads of level editing lately

#10
djmystro

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Pelgar:
To copy an interior and it's Nevmesh it is easiest just to duplicate it in the Cell Window. This will copy the navmesh and keep everything in place.
Copying the bulk of an interior from one Cell to another I can't think of a way to take the navmesh with it. There may be one but I don't know it.
With a little practice Navmesh becomes a very easy mindless repetitive task (caves and very uneven landscapes being the exception). Don't be worried about starting again for the most part. Offices and similar can be done in a few minutes. A bit dull but OK if you have some music on or something.

Thanks for the support and extra info everyone, glad the guide is proving useful :)




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