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Developer Emeritus
08 Jan 2007

Location: Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands

Before you post a file in you showcase, take a look at the things here. This thread serves as a way to prevent some common mistakes before uploading a plug-in. It's a lot easier to read this than fixing the same errors a dozen times over.

First and foremost: When modding for TR, we only use vanilla content (Morrowind, Bloodmoon, and Tribunal) for our work. Additionally, you may use anything from TR_Data, the newest version of which can be downloaded from our Downloads section (scroll down to "Modder Resources"). (Even if you have TR_Data already, please check if it's up to date!)
If your showcase is a quest or edits dialogue and has potential to be included in the mod, please base it on the .ESP version of TR_Mainland which is more up-to-date than TR_Mainland.ESM, and which can be found here.


For exteriors, see this comprehensive guide:

Exterior cells should have 200 references minimum, unless otherwise specified. Roads need to be perfectly detailed and shaped (people and beasts of burden walk there), and we're aiming way higher than ol' Bethesda standards of yore. See separate thread HERE: for details on how to showcase as an exterior modder. Most of the things below apply for exterior work as well, don't mix styles that doesn't mix, be careful with bleeding and caspering objects.
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The Interior Showcase Guildlines ( have been updated (11 Aug 2014). Please use that forum topic when developing an interior showcase.

The Elder Scrolls Advanced Mod Editor (TESAME):
A lot of plug-ins have a small effect on the original game. We call plug-ins that affect/change the original game "dirty". To clean it you can use a program called TESAME. You can find it here: Open TESAME, then select your mod. Delete everything from it except TES3, any object you made yourself (such as a note), and any cell you modified. The plug-in should then be clean. Don't forget to save it.

De_p Furniture:
Proper rotation of objects is vital for creating great interiors. That is why it is a requirement for all interior showcases to use de_p furniture. If you look closely, you'll notice that objects such as de_p bookshelves and tables are not flat, and therefore simply placing an object over a de_p surface and 'f'ing it down is not acceptable. Try double clicking the item and adjusting the X, Y, and Z rotation values accordingly, until it rests naturally on the uneven surface. Remember; practice makes perfect.

WARNING: We now have flat versions of de_p furniture in TR_Data; these start with TR_furn_de_p. Don't use them in your showcase! They're fine in actual interiors (particularly when you're putting potions or otherwise fragile stuff on them), but your showcase need to be proof that you can work with the rough models too.

Cookie Cutting:
Cookie Cutting means copying an existing interior (such as a Bethesda one or any interior from TR) or any part of it, and using it as your own. It is not acceptable.

Gridsnap is an essential part of constructing interiors from scratch. We want to see if you can use gridsnap well, and if you can make hard-to-gridsnap pieces work properly using it. It's the raster button in your Construction Set. All interiors use it those that have prefabricated shells. Ty to make a nice Velothi tomb or a cave. Try to make it small so we can fix all the errors in a timely fashion. Also make sure that your interior doesn't consist of 4 connected corner pieces only (2x2); that's too small for a showcase.

We call objects floating if they aren't resting completely on a surface. This is quite easy to deal with. Just press 'f' and most of the time an item will fall down to the surface. This doesn't work for some lights; you must lower those manually.

An object is bleeding if a part of it is within another solid object. For example, a chair can be stuck in a floor. To deal with most of these, raise them above the surface and press 'f'. Or just move it out of the other object.

Mixing styles:
In TES III: Morrowind there are two main styles; Dunmer style and Imperial style. These should not be mixed, as Bethesda Softworks did not mix them. To tell them apart, look at their name in the editor. Dunmer objects have 'de' in their name, like furn_de_p_chair. Imperial objects have 'com' in their name, like furn_com_r_table. Some Imperial objects can be used in Dunmer interiors, however, such as bottles and sacks.

Furniture is also divided between rich and poor. These shouldn't be mixed either. You can tell which is rich and which is poor by looking at the color of the wood. The richer the furniture, the darker the wood. You can also read it in the name. In the example above, p = poor, and r = rich. M also means middle class.

Most plug-ins in the showcase still have default light settings. This is seen as incorrect because default light settings like like a spotlight has been put on the interior cell in game. This can be fixed quite easily. Go to World, Interior Cells. Find your cell (if you have it loaded and have been editing it, it should be the first one to pop up) and then darken the 3 settings. The default lights are above 200, while most interiors should be beneath 150. Try to find another interior that is like your own and copy the light settings. Also, be sure to check the "Illegal To Sleep Here" box.

TR files will have a dependency upon TR_Data.esm. TR_Data.esm requires both Tribunal and Bloodmoon. If you have both expansions, please feel free to download and use TR_Data.esm. It greatly expands the amount of materials and objects available to use in the Construction Set.

Please do not have dependencies upon anything other than Morrowind, Tribunal, Bloodmoon, or TR_Data. Thanks!

The Northmarker is a static that is used by the game to correctly orient the minimap. Please make sure you include one in your cell, outside of the actual interior walls!

Fitting the Exterior
While magicka does exist in Tamriel, it's important to make sure that if your interior has an exterior shell, it fits! (NOTE: Interior tiles are bigger than exterior tiles; this discrepancy in size is considered OK.) If your exterior has a little square building, don't create a star-shaped interior for that building!

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TESAME and tes3cmd: Just like Interiors, you want to clean out anything you didn't change. Here are the most common ways a mod can be dirty.

You will ALWAYS have to add dialogue for a quest, even if it's just journal entries (those count as dialogue for the CS). To get to the dialogue window you have to go through an NPC, or click the red balloon icon next to the pencil icon at the top of the window. If you use a pre-existing NPC, this is likely to mark them as "changed" even if you didn't change anything. Also be aware that adding dialogue to an NPC does not constitute changing the NPC.

Dialogue: Like I said, you will ALWAYS add dialogue for a quest. If you add that dialogue to a pre-existing topic, such as greeting 5, it will mark the dialogue entries above and below the added ones as changed even if you haven't changed them. Clean them out.

Dialogue, the hard case: When you duplicate a dialogue line (by right-clicking on it in the dialogue window and selecting "Copy"), you get two dialogue lines saying the same thing. It is important to know that the upper of these lines is the new one you just created, while the lower one is the old line. So you should edit the upper line, and later clean out the lower line (unless you duplicated a line from your own mod, in which case it's all fine and you don't need to clean). If you do it the other way round, you end up overwriting someone else's dialogue! There will be a tutorial about cleaning mods with issues like this eventually, but as for now, a way to *find* such problems is using tes3cmd:

tes3cmd common "Data Files\Morrowind.esm" "Data Files\[your showcase mod].esp"
tes3cmd common "Data Files\Bloodmoon.esm" "Data Files\[your showcase mod].esp"
tes3cmd common "Data Files\Tribunal.esm" "Data Files\[your showcase mod].esp"
tes3cmd common "Data Files\TR_Data.esm" "Data Files\[your showcase mod].esp"

and checking for all "INFO:" entries in the output. ("DIAL:" and "LTEX:" entries are OK and don't count as dirty.) Then tes3cmd delete can be used to get rid of them, but remember to put your dialogue lines back into your mod.

Cells: The Construction Set likes to create dirty cell references (refs) - usually about three or four of them - which must be cleaned. Sometimes the only cell-change you make is adding one quest NPC along the road. In such a case it can be difficult to tell which cell you changed, because exterior cells often don't have a name listed in TESAME. What you need to do is double-click on the cell reference in TESAME. The program will display details as to what was changed in that cell. If you don't see something you put in there, it's a dirty cell and should be cleaned out.

Dialogue: Dialogue often has to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, especially for spelling & grammar, but here are a few things to watch out for:

- Quests should normally use greeting 5 to start, unless you have a good reason to do otherwise. The reason for this is to exclude people who are vampires, mass-murderers, afflicted by Corprus, or otherwise unlikely candidates to be asked for a favor. This rule can be broken in the following cases: The NPC is in immediate peril and doesn't care who saves them; the NPC is offering a quest that is *only* available to vampires, mass murderers, etc.; or 'forcegreetings'. In those cases you should use greeting 1. Explain your logic if you don't follow this guideline; there are times when it is appropriate to break it.

- If you give the player the option to refuse a quest, the quest giver should respect that. It's okay to allow the player to change their mind and ask about it again later, but the NPC should not *ask* for help if the player has already refused.

- Use specific dialogue topics whenever possible. Avoid topics like "problem", "little help", etc. because they are more likely to cause conflicts. For example: If you want help finding your friend, don't say "%PCName, I need some help." Say "%PCName, have you seen my friend Zaphod?"

- In some cases you may notice that one of your dialogue topics doesn't turn blue and add itself to the topic list. There are two major reasons for that:

1. You don't have a response for the current conditions. This is especially common right when you start the quest. If the greeting "%PCName, have you seen my friend Zaphod?" triggers journal entry 10, and your first dialogue response occurs if the journal is >= 10, you will not get a blue Zaphod because the journal updates AFTER the quest giver says the line, so it's still 0 by the time the engine checks the word Zaphod. A fix for this is to add a dialogue response to the "Zaphod" topic that does not require the journal to be >= 10. Even if the response will never appear ingame (because the player doesn't know the topic until the journal becomes 10 -- although don't count on that!), it makes sure that the topic becomes blue at the appropriate time.

2. You have used a topic that is similar to an existing topic. The response "%PCName, please don't tell my husband!" will not give you a blue husband because the engine will parse the topic 'my husband' which exists in the game as released by Bethesda, instead of the topic 'husband.' This is less common, but it happens.

By Haplo

Interiors: 25
Reviews: more then 250!
Quest Reviews: 3
NPC claims: 2

Currently looking for quest designers.

Last edited by theviking on Fri Jun 13, 2008 2:37 pm; edited 4 times in total
Post Thu Mar 01, 2007 6:56 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Developer Emeritus
17 Aug 2004

Location: DC, USA

...and to get to the dialogue window you have to go through an NPC.

There is a small icon on the menu bar (right hand side; next to the one for scripting and sounds) that opens the dialog editor without clicking on an NPC.

Twp pointers on interiors:
  • 1. Add a NorthMarker.
  • 2. Make sure the interior roughly fits the exterior.

Now onto a few pointers about quests:

  • 1. Know exactly what you want to happen, and don't be afraid to ask questions if you don't. There is a decent amount of scripting experience here and we can usually help.
  • 2. Don't Disable or Enable objects while the PC is watching unless you cover that up with a special effect.
  • 3. Consult Morrowind Scripting for Dummies 8 when you have questions about how to make something happen. It is organized by functions that apply to similar kinds of situations, and you should already know what problem you are trying to solve.
  • 4. Scripting is a lot like programing with a very bad language. There are bugs and caveats to the use of many functions that may not be clear from their descriptions. (CellChanged only being true when a PC *enters* an interior cell comes to mind). The toughest part of scripting is learning the caveats.

  • 1. In the editor you can export all of your new dialog into a text file and then edit it in a text editor. So long as you preserve the formatting of the exported file you can then import the corrected dialog and it will replace the old dialog. Doing both of these operations is under the file->Exmport or Import->Dialog menu in the editor.

  • 1. Play test your quest and check contingencies before submission.
  • 2. Provide some documentation as to what is supposed to occur. It makes it a lot easier for those of us reviewing your work to trouble shoot problems.


Last edited by Starcrunch on Mon Apr 23, 2007 7:20 pm; edited 2 times in total
Post Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:22 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Lady Nerevar
Developer Emeritus
08 Jun 2004

Location: New Orleans, LA



Basic Mesh:
The mesh has to be modeled efficiently in regards to polycount and has to look good. Pretty much that simple. Keep in mind the size of your model, a sword should not have as many polygons as a house. Make sure to bevel edges on larger models.

UV Maps:
Your model needs to have a UV map, regardless of whether you're making a final texture or not. The map needs to utilize as much space as possible and be laid out in such a fashion that it is easy to understand and use for texture artists. Larger objects, such as architecture, should use several textures and tile efficiently.

The model must have working collision or physics (for non-static objects). The collision should be tight enough to behave realistically in game while using as few polygons as possible.

This is very important: you must be able to get your mesh in game! Program specific files (.blend, .max, .mb, etc.) are next to useless for showcases, we need to be able to see that you can complete your model. I will only promote for .nif and, rarely, .obj files.

Make sure you export your model to the correct nif version!

It is best to focus on creating a model from our concept art for the showcase. Models that are related to the project are not only easier to grade but can also be used in game after your promotion. If you are not sure of what to model for your showcase please ask, the moderators will be more than happy to find you a suitable concept.

If you are modeling from a piece of concept art please stay as close to it as possible. We want to see that you can follow artistic direction. It is of course fine to make changes to the concept, just make sure to let us know that they are on purpose.


Realistic Textures
Textures need to look believable. The best way to achieve this is to use photos as bases for your textures. There are plenty of great photo texture sites out there.

Textures will of course be at least partially hand painted. Make sure that the colors are not too saturated and that the texture looks real. Remember to weather older textures and to add shadows and highlights. Make it look good!

In hoc signo vinces

"you sex craved blue colored red eyed squirrel messiah of a fictional video game world!"
Post Mon Mar 09, 2009 8:38 pm Send private message       Send e-mail       Reply with quote                   up  
Lead Developer
01 Mar 2012

Location: Elsewhere

Post has been updated regarding de_p furniture with interior showcases. Please take the time to read it.
Not another memory

...And so my bad karma gets worse
Post Tue May 14, 2013 11:45 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Lead Developer
21 Oct 2012

Updated with a link to the current internal TR_Mainland.esp.

(also, note that some info was added not long ago on "de_p furniture" regarding the flat TR_furn_de_p)
Post Sun Mar 02, 2014 7:20 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
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