In this last guide of the "Guided Series: Learn to Create Buildings", I want to discuss a few topics that will help you actually create an addon pack of buildings.
While I had you use the 2x2 size in my example documentation, you can actually use 1x1, 3x3, or Interior for your buildings as well. The three numbered sizes are fairly straigh-forward, you've got three alignment helpers to choose from that should make it very clear what your buildable area is.
Interior plots can be a little trickier, and they can actually be done without building models.
The interior helper, SS2_AlignmentHelper_Interior, has a wall as well as a floor. The idea is that the wall portion represents what you should assume is a wall so you can mount things from it, such as shelving, decorations, etc.
As you've probably seen in game, we rarely ever have an actual structure for Interior building plans, and so we actually don't use a real building model, but instead just a simple invisible marker. If you are using the full spreadsheet method to import your entire building plan, your Interior building plans can all just use the same sheet for their models which has a single XMarker on each row.
In fact, in the Addon Maker's Toolkit, there is a spreadsheet set up already you can reuse. You can find it in the "Spreadsheet Templates" folder: SS2_Interior_NoModels.csv
For most Interior Building Plans, you'll find that we tend to have an SCOL with all of our static furniture pieces, another with our non-randomized Static clutter objects, and then the typical Stage Items. This has the benefit of keeping the file size down, which is a huge boon for Xbox players if you choose to release there.
It's a good idea to get in the habit of sorting your spreadsheet alphabetically after you import the data from the Creation Kit.
As you start learning more about what can be done with building plans, you're going to learn about a lot of extra column information you can add to further customize things.
By sorting things alphabetically, you make it more likely that if you update your Stage Items in the future, you will be able to easily reuse most of the extra data you entered with minimal shuffling of what row it is in.
This will be clearer with an example.
Imagine you had 20 items, and you manually entered a bunch of extra data for each. Now later you decide to go tweak the positions of a few items.
When you export from the Creation Kit, the order may have changed, so when you import that data onto a new sheet, and then attempt to copy-paste all your manual data from the old sheet to your new one, if the order doesn't match the manual data will be paired with the wrong items!
There is a feature coming to SS2 that will allow player's to disable certain types of items from appearing on building plans to help with performance if their system is struggling with framerate.
In order for your building to support this, you'll need to tag a few items in your Stage Items with an extra column in your spreadsheet. (This is optional, but players on XBox or older PCs will thank you for it!)
Column L is known as the iType column. If any entries have a number in this, they will be controlled by the Performance Settings the player has control of. The highest impact things to tag are:
The other types available you can tag with are:
If you want to fully support this system, your goal should be to tag every item from the categories above that is non-structural. By non-structural I mean, that if the item was removed, it would not cause other items to float in mid-air. This way players gain fine-tune control of their SS2 experience without needing to risk breaking things with their own patches.
Some addon authors like to create their own copy of the SS2BuildingStage cell to organize their assets. If you'd like to do this, you can actually right-click that cell in the Cell View indow and choose Duplicate. Then you can click the name of your copy twice (basically a slow double-click) to rename it.
This is then your own little playground for building in.
Once you start making building plans you will invetibaly want to make changes in the future. Either changing your building model, moving Stage Items around, or swapping some out.
If you followed my advice to keep your building layers set up in a stage, it's incredibly easy, as you simply hide all other layers, make your building level's layer active, then fragment the SCOL record with the hotkey Alt+U. You'll now have all of your pieces exactly how they were when you originally designed the building!
You can then make changes, and recreate the SCOL like you did before. If you enter the same ID, it will even offer to overwrite your previous one.
After that, just follow the typical steps to create the nif file so you can overwrite the one your Static record is using.
If you followed the Navmesh steps, don't forget to copy the Navcut node into your new model. If your model changed significantly, you'll also likely need to tweak the navmesh using the same steps you did to create the navmesh.
This is very easy to do thanks to the Import Tool. After you've made your adjustments to the Stage Items on the layer for that level. Follow the typical steps to export your Stage Item data and create your new spreadsheet.
The Import Tool can actually be run directly on the Weapon record of the building plans or skins you want to update and it will update all of the Stage Items for you to match your new spreadsheet data!
In one of the very early guides, I showed you how to make a simple color swap building skin. We haven't really touched on Building Skins since, so I wanted to go over a few things about these.
Building Skins are basically alternate art for a building plan. You can swap out the models, and the Stage Items. As such, the method for generating them is practically the same, you can even use the Import Tool to generate and update Skins. Here are some useful things to know about Skins:
One of the most nerve-wracking parts of addon creation is when you start thinking about releasing it. It's a little scary to put your work out there for others to critique.
Watching the Sim Settlements Community grow, I can say you have nothing to fear! People are hungry for new content, and the entire idea around modding Sim Settlements 2 is to empower players to make their perfect version of it. To find the packs of content that fill the little niche desires they have. You will find an audience for your content!
There's no correct amount of content to release. If you want to release a single building plan, go for it! If it's a particularly small addon, consider learning about the ESL format, but don't feel bad about releasing these. Players get to decide which mods they install, you're not forcing anyone to use it.
Once you're committed to releasing an Addon Pack, check out the following tutorials which will help you with packaging up your mod and uploading it to Nexus and Bethesda.net!
Before you release, it's a good idea to share it directly with a few other people, either through some friends, the simsettlements.com forums, or even our Discord. It's very easy to forget certain files and not realize it on your own PC since you have all the loose files there for the game to load. So having someone else do a quick spot check on theirs will make sure you don't have any blatant problems.
To help you with designing a nice looking page for your Addon, we've created a branding guide section with all of our fonts, logos, etc available to help you make it look like official SS2 content!
Once your mod is out, you're inevitabaly going to want to update it. There are a few things to keep in mind once you're in this position: