Glow Maps…

Pro-Tip: It’s the .NIF, stupid… After the Break…

Glow Maps…

I’m no good at modding and, now that Bethesda has gone full-on “Steam,” I’m relegated to Fallout 3 and Oblivion until, one mythical day (which will likely not happen or will happen when I’m finally too old to care), they realize that their games are pirated anyway within days of their release and simply allow people to play their games their own way and not under the repressive thumb of DRM. But I digress…

When you want something to glow in Fallout 3 (and a lot of other current-gen Bethesda games such as Fallout: New Vegas & supposedly Skyrim as well), one of the most popular ways is to use a “glow map.” A “glow map” is simply a texture that ‘helps’ define where the glow is supposed to go, especially if there are other parts of the texture that aren’t supposed to glow. Think of it sort of like the layers of a sandwich: You see the top slice of bread, which is the actual texture in the game. If you want a certain section of that bread to glow, you place another layer below that top slice that tells the game which section of the top slice to glow. When you play the game you’ll see the top slice of bread AND see a section of that top slice glow. Simple, right?

Yes, simple… If you do what I didn’t do.

And what didn’t I do?

See, some models in these games (sometimes called “.NIFs,” as their filename extension is “.NIF”) are either static (aka “they don’t move,” as though they are welded in place) or they are non-static (they can move, as in you can pick them up and move them around). Some models have both static and non-static versions in the game for reasons best left undescribed.

When you apply a glow map, you are essentially applying a glow map to a specific model, or .NIF file.

When reviewing your work to see if it works, it is important to look at the correct .NIF file… As in, if you applied the glow map to the static version of a model, you should look at the static version and not assume that the non-static version of the model has it, too.

There are days where I feel really, really, really stupid…

And there’s your pro-tip modding advice for the day.


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