Modding: Character Creation

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avarisc
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Joined: 24 Jun 2012, 03:36

Modding: Character Creation

Post by avarisc » 18 Jan 2014, 15:32

My first mod for OpenMW (which I've been planning since around the time that OpenMW was first announced) will be a better character creation system.

This thread demonstrates the engine is at a viable point for my project to begin (at least asset development):
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1931

My plans are as follows:
Add (and rename) sliders to:
Hair Style
Hair Color
Face Shape
Face Features (all shapes would use compatible UVs, features would select a texture for the face)
Eye Color
Warpaint (or Tattoo)
Skin Tone

The actual purpose of the mod is a body/head replacer, but adding additional customization options which were quite limited in vanilla. Hair colors were implemented by modders as seperate hairs - this is not ideal, however, as it slows asset creation and complicates consistency.

The meshes and textures would be based off of some of the great work of the Skyrim community.

First, I am aware that OpenMW (to my understanding) discourages modding at this point, understandably. I don't wish to detract from the focus on getting the core done.

I do have the programming experience to make these changes, but I do have a couple questions:

1.) Is OpenCS intended to allow features such as this eventually (a custom(ized) character creation window), or would that explicitly require a fork? I'm waiting for an answer to this to either begin or place it back on hold, depending. If you have other pertinent notes, please share.

2.) I have yet to figure out how to make mesh colorizable (to implement the hair and skin tone features). Is there a way to do this in OpenMW (or vanilla)? Or will this require separate textures? I feel like there would be a better approach than just a color multiplier renderside.

While technically sufficient, I'm not a "great" modeler. I'll likely be making the mod functional and some example meshes/textures, then contact more qualified mesh makers and texture artists to step in and help polish it up.

Eventually, a new body mod means clothes and armor will need to be updated. However, even with the present mods, I feel there's a lot lacking from Morrowind's characters, and I figure any effort to improve has to start somewhere.

I do hope this is the correct forum - if not, please move it wherever you deem appropriate.

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WeirdSexy
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Re: Modding: Character Creation

Post by WeirdSexy » 18 Jan 2014, 17:12

I'm not the person to answer your questions. But, IMO for this to be done properly, it would require a new body meshes, textures, skeletons, animations, clothing, and armor to replace all such entities in vanilla Morrowind, Tribunal, and Bloodmoon. A massive undertaking, but I would not assume the effort required would be out of line with that required of some other large TES community projects.

From a technical perspective, I have no idea when the appropriate time to start this project would be. For now, I think the best course of action (provided that Zini, or other high-ranking OpenMW officials, come along and say something like this would be feasible in the future) would be to write up a description/outline of this project and try to recruit a team of artists whom are willing to live with the fact that this mod wouldn't even be possible with OpenMW at the current moment.

Call it PROTOM? Playable Races Of Tamriel Overhaul: Morrowind

EDIT: This mod would pretty much be a dream come true for me, so I would totally be willing to make promotional videos and stuff for it if it started to take off. If that was desired, of course.

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avarisc
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Re: Modding: Character Creation

Post by avarisc » 19 Jan 2014, 11:03

@WeirdSexy, of course any support would be appreciated! Will obviously have to wait until this is farther along.

I tried my hand at debugging to accomplish this back in the day, but there were simply too many obstacles. I managed to add the sliders, but making them actually do anything desirable proved outside my abilities. And even if I had, the engine didn't support the features needed to accomplish my goals.

I am an indie game developer, working on a large project at the moment. This modding project is to be my "hobby". So I can't promise rapid completion, rather it will be a slow but continuous effort on my part.

I know from past projects I'm quite unlikely to attract artists without having something set at the table for them already. Looking through OpenMW's source, it seems GUI wise the work will be rather simple, so I'll start with that.

The first focus will be functionality - that includes new (and likely terrible, at first) models/textures to provide at least a demonstration that the system works.

Clothing is likely going to be outside the scope of this core project, but I think it's not unreasonable to expect that, like Better Bodies, the community will pick up the clothing side of things. (Or perhaps someone will contribute directly to this, we'll just have to see.)

So, for early stage, a couple technical elements need to be decided upon, and I'd value any feedback the community might have:

1.) Skeleton: This is a complicated point, at this moment I'm just curious to get any immediate ideas/thoughts people might have on it. Are there any major improvements to the skeleton that people would like to see "come standard" with such a mod?

2.) Mesh hiding: The vanilla game removes body parts when a clothing mesh is equipped there instead. I believe the Better Bodies mod gets around this by making the entire body mesh use a single body part. (Sorry for not quite being up to par on technical modelling terms, its a new area of interest for me and I have much to learn.) I'm wondering if someone more acquainted with OpenMW has an alternative (and perhaps less hackish) suggestion?

3.) Texture swapping: From my research since yesterday, it seems to me that NIF textures are hardcoded into the file, and I wasn't able to find any obvious way to swap textures in game. I'm wondering if this is possible with OpenMW? If not, it looks like the options to proceed are either to count on a new .nif for every texture (which defeats part of the goal of this mod) or adopting a different mesh format. I suppose its probably possible to modify the NIF handling code to add texture swapping, but that may be impractical.

Just a bit more research (or feedback) and I'll get a prototype up and running :)

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gus
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Re: Modding: Character Creation

Post by gus » 19 Jan 2014, 11:32

1.) Skeleton: This is a complicated point, at this moment I'm just curious to get any immediate ideas/thoughts people might have on it. Are there any major improvements to the skeleton that people would like to see "come standard" with such a mod?

2.) Mesh hiding: The vanilla game removes body parts when a clothing mesh is equipped there instead. I believe the Better Bodies mod gets around this by making the entire body mesh use a single body part. (Sorry for not quite being up to par on technical modelling terms, its a new area of interest for me and I have much to learn.) I'm wondering if someone more acquainted with OpenMW has an alternative (and perhaps less hackish) suggestion?
I think we could use smart body (viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1811&p=18860&hilit= ... ons#p18860) for animations, so maybe a good idea for you would be to have look at it ;) Also, if we do use smartBody in the future, point 2) is very valid.

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Zedd
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Re: Modding: Character Creation

Post by Zedd » 19 Jan 2014, 14:04

Sesom is already looking into that, you could try to contact him to see if you can help each-other out. It seems to me that you two would make a perfect team according to what you specialize in.

threat: viewtopic.php?f=28&p=21693#p21693
Behind you!

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avarisc
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Re: Modding: Character Creation

Post by avarisc » 09 Feb 2014, 15:05

Just stopping in for a quick non-update: Don't worry, I've not vanished into oblivion. Simply a combination of real-world elements at play. Was busy with work, etc.

Part of the delay is that I had to make preparations for switching my laptop to Linux- after stepping into it I realized that compiling OpenMW under Windows is more work than I care to spend in the OS I was already planning to let go of on this machine.

I reached out to sesom, indicated in the other thread. I've recieved no response as of yet, and I'm frankly not surprised. As I mentioned a few posts back, artists are aware of the "fallthrough" percentages on undertakings such as these, and will require the table be set with some kind of meat before they sign on.

Looked at the smartbody animation system. While it looks interesting, it seems to be specific to animation and having little to do with the quality of the characters themselves. I'm not against the idea, should an animator want to contribute at a later time, but for now I have set it aside as irrelevant to the task at hand. (That said, I could be sold instantly if an artist were to contribute physiqued hair. Just saying :) )
Update re: smartbody - I'm all for it, but I'm not sure if I'm capable of making animations for it. If/when I have some support in that regard, I'd definitely be willing.

So, not much else to report, but I appreciate the interest so far, it's good to know I'm not alone in wanting this. I should have a more significant update relatively soon. Once I am successfully compiling OpenMW, the code changes themselves, at least for the first phase of this, are relatively simple. The art assets will be the slow part, as its not really my area of expertise. Still, my intentions are to bring a screenshot or two with the next post :D

SquireNed
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Joined: 21 Dec 2013, 22:18

Re: Modding: Character Creation

Post by SquireNed » 09 Feb 2014, 17:18

I have some modelling experience if you need a little help, but not only do I kinda suck at it/not have .nif experience but my free time is very short. I could, however, help make some placeholders that could attract a real artist to the table.

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