All roads lead to Rome

The beauty of modding is that there is no single way or right way to do something. There are clear wrong ways to do things, but those are almost always just due to lack of knowledge resulting in enough papyrus errors to choke a bear. What I am talking about though is the process of getting to an end result (specifically scripting), and what method you use to get there.

I’ve spoken about the methods of learning before; learn the tools and decide what to build with it VS taking an idea and figuring out how to make it happen. Ultimately in the beginning your goal is just to make it work which often means a lot of trial and error, a lot of hair pulling and some help in the end if you can find it. When you get it working it’s a massive victory and you tip toe around the script intending to never touch it again because it’s like a house of cards if you do and you may never make it work again if you screw it up. Lord knows it’s happened to me enough times in the past.

As I have moved on from small victories or eventually turning defeats into wins after obtaining a little more skill, I inevitably discover how to build a better mouse trap. The display system of the museum started as a log propped up by a stick attached to a piece of cheese by way of a string, and now it’s a veritable Rube Goldberg machine with every nuance available. I’ve reinvented the wheel as it were probably 4 times in the history of Legacy and made numerous tweaks and fixes and anticipate I will likely eventually find some new way to make it work even better. That’s a good thing if you can stomach the energy output. It is certainly not easy to carve your own personal statue of David and then be willing to smash it to pieces to make a stone mosaic walkway; it takes a great deal of humility in fact to scrap your previous incarnation of something for the sake of progress and improvement, especially if the existing system does ultimately work. I approach it from a level of confidence; once I have a solid set of functions in mind that give me a new idea for a way to effectively and beneficially overhaul something that otherwise works fine how it is, it’s like a good challenge that in the end I know will in turn grow more skills as it presents unseen challenges.

I tend to revisit infrastructure changes by way of necessity rather than for the sake of messing with it. I mean after all if it’s not broke don’t fix it right? With modding however, there is always a way to make something run a little more smoothly than it currently is. Even if you have the best possible code, it’s likely SKSE will create some useful infrastructure or function in a future release that will get your brain going and solve a problem that you had to work around previously. Or perhaps you have some old code that just needs a refresh with better flow to speed it up or make it more modular for other purposes elsewhere.

It actually becomes more and more important to revisit old scripts from time to time as your mod grows. A mod like Legacy which is a true DLC sized mod needs to be continually tended so that all cogs work in perfect unison with one another. Skyrim is a fickle creature and even if it seems like individual functions are working fine, you can easily see grime build up over time which will pollute a saved game eventually. Tweaking some code here and there, streamlining and simplifying where you can and now and then entertaining the prospect of a full overhaul of some system in your mod or another should be not only accepted as reality, but welcomed as a chance to push your skills forward and make your mod that much better.

I’m certainly no Arthmoor, I have a few gray areas in my knowledge of code, and some completely black areas as well, but I have pushed my skills to a point where I’m competent enough to know what is happening and several ways I could fix it. When you get to that point of being able to choose from an array of tools rather than just a knife or fork, it’s really a great feeling. So if you are an amateur modder or beginning script writer, don’t loose heart. Ask questions, read a lot, and keep trying. If it keeps stumping you, walk away for an hour or two and soon you’ll find the answers present themselves more and more easily.


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