The Elder Scrolls (TES) Construction Set is editing software for the video games The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion; the Morrowind version was shipped with the game while the Oblivion version is available for download. It gives full and complete control of the game's content to anyone willing to spend some time figuring it out. In fact, it is the very tool that Bethesda Softworks, the developers of Morrowind and Oblivion, used to create the game worlds. Though Bethesda now utilizes a newer version to create official plugins for Oblivion, the two Morrowind and Oblivion versions are not backwards compatible. The Construction Set allows fans to edit the game world directly and save their own alterations as .esp (Elder Scrolls plugin) files, the proprietary filetype for Morrowind plugins. In order to allow more complex interactions between mods, and intereliance of different mods, many mods are converted to .esm (Elder Scrolls Master) files. Third part tools are needed for this type of process. (See below)
Fans exchange these plugins (or 'mods') freely online and, through them, they can change anything about the game from creating new character abilities to adding huge mansions into the side of a cliff overlooking a city or creating an entirely new plotline. The overall file sizes of plugins can be as small as a few kilobytes because they may just edit basic game settings, such as the amount of gravity, though they can also be much larger (100 megabytes or more).
Most larger plugins also provide additional files that were not included with the game, such as textures and 3D models (or 'meshes') which provide brand new artwork within the game. Often these must be manually moved to the proper place within the game folder structure to become useful. However, some plugins are packaged in wikipedia:archives which can easily be uncompressed directly to the correct game folders with no need for manual placement.
The Set DisplayEdit
There are three main sections displayed upon loading of the TESCS, the Object Window, the Render Window, and the Cell View Window.
The Object Window is a large archive of every 3D model in the game, from items to walls and ambient lights. Each model is assigned an ID, which will not show in-game. Through use of Static, or solid meshes, the modder can build rooms, houses, and other impermeable constructions. Other tabs include "Actors", containing all the NPCs in the game and "container", which displays a list of placeable containers that generate context-related content.
Other sections can also be opened through use of the tabs at the top of the main window. These include the scripting window and the dialogue window. Morrowind contains its own proprietary scripting language, which has a high level of functionality and can be used to manipulate most of the objects in the game world. The language is well documented and is noted for its occasionally unusual syntax. The dialogue window is used to edit and extend the spoken responses given by characters in the game world. Dialogue in Morrowind is based on a series of conditions that must be fulfilled by that character before they will speak the given lines. The dialogue window is also used to deal with service refusal and journal entries. Morrowind quests are created by combining use of these two windows.
The Render Window is defaulted to show a 3D model of the world and everything in it, however it can also be used to display model animations and other similar things. In-game lighting, pathnode visibility and havok physics simulation can all be toggled in order to make the display in the render window more realistic or easier to use.
Cell View WindowEdit
The Cell View Window is split into two parts- World Cell Selection, and Local Cell Item List. The World Cell Selection, located on the left part of the Cell View Window, archives every single 'cell' used in the game. There are two kinds of cells, an interior cell and an exterior cell. Doors link cells. An example is a house in Balmora. The exterior of the house and the surrounding houses, people, items, and terrain are all part of one cell out of the many which form together to create the outside parts of the game world. A door on the exterior of the house brings up a loading screen, which transitions the user into the house's interior cell. In the TESCS, an interior cell would look like a black emptiness.
The large Morrowind modding community has created a large number of tools for extending the functionality of Morrowind modding. These tools often add extra functions not present in the Construction Set. MWEdit is the most complete of these tools, offering large amounts of dialogue and script editing functionality, as well as easy reference cleaning and automated script checking. Enchanted Editor is another popular tool, allowing the viewing of information that is hidden to the user of the Construction Set. Worth mentioning as well is Wrye Mash, a tool that allows mod-users to manage many mods and remove unwanted mods with ease. Other third-party tools include TESAME, (The Elder Scrolls Advanced Mod Editor), which allows removal of unwanted data from .esp files TESDTK (The Elder Scrolls Dependency Tool Kit), which allows the removal/addition of dependencies on master files and TESFaith, which allows the moving of exterior landscape data from one cell to another.
Of note as well are the third party programs used to add extra script functions and graphical effects to Morrowind. These involve running third-party programs at the same time as Morrowind, in order to allow enhanced functionality and different visual effects.
- Planet Elder Scrolls offers news, articles and free downloads of plugins for TESIII: Morrowind and TESIV:Oblivion.
- The Elder Scrolls Construction Set Wiki - Official Documentation
- Tamriel Rebuilt - Home of one of the most daring of mods - striving to recreate the world of Tamriel. Most of the development tools which extend TES CS can be found there.
- Morrowind Oblivion - Home to a large number of mods for both Morrowind and Oblivion. Also hosts many tools and utilities for both games. A good set of Morrowind and Oblivion tutorials and, of course, the home of The Five Keys of Azura Morrowind mod.
- TES Nexus - Large site dedicated to hosting mods for Morrowind and Oblivion [former tessource].