First, a warning. NifSkope is a powerful tool that assumes you know what you are doing and are prepared to take the consequences. There are no 'undo' functions or 'are you sure' warnings. Nor will it warn you if you quit without saving. If you want to do something silly, it will let you. You break it, you buy it. On a more general note, NifSkope becomes the default application for viewing NIFs on installation. If you don't want this, you will have to reset the default application in windows explorer. You can just run the FF3R Nifviewer, which has the noxious habit of making itself the default application for NIFs without so much as a by your leave.
The Viewing panes The preview pane
A preview similar to the character tool we all know and love. The quality of the preview is excellent, only slightly inferior to Irrational's character tool. Clicking on mesh piece in the preview will open the corresponding node in the Block View.
Left mouse button: Holding down the left button allows you to rotate the displayed object around the viewpoint of the camera.
Middle mouse button: Holding down the middle button allows you to pan the camera up, down, left, or right. Note that many scroll-wheels can function as a middle button if pressed down.
Scroll wheel: Zoom in or out
The Block View This pane shows a tree view of all the nodes in the NIF and the relationships between them. Be aware that the same Node can be presented more than once in the view if it is referenced from multiple other nodes Clicking on a visible NiTrishape will highlight it in the preview pane. Right clicking on a node will bring up a context sensitive menu of actions to take. These actions are covered in other tutorials. Double clicking on a nodes value ('name' if you like) will allow you to change it. Unlike the usual advice with hex editing, you do not need to keep the length of a renamed node the same. If a value has a graphic to the left of it, clicking on that graphic will bring up a box allowing you to change or edit the most common values associated with that value. e.g., for a texture, you can browse to a .tga file.
The Block Details View This view is not visible by default. It displays full and terrifying details of the selected node and allows you to change almost ANY of them. This is a great way to destroy a mesh.
The Keyframes View Displays full details of a loaded keyframe. At the time of writing you cannot load an FF/FF3R and it's Keyframes at the same time. It allows for editing any details of the keyframe.
The Menus The File Menu Nothing too unusual here. Be aware that Load and Save use the last directories used by the save/load menu options. This may not be the same directory you loaded the NIF from if you loaded by double clicking from explorer! It is quite easy to overwrite the wrong NIF if you aren't careful.
New window opens another separate NifSkope window. Very useful for comparisons and copying nodes or trees from one mesh into another.
Reload XML is an option mostly for NifSkope developers, allowing a changed xml file to be loaded without quitting the tool.
Reload XML + NIF is more useful. If you are editing textures whilst in NifScope, this option will reload the mesh and all the textures.
Block View: Allows you to toggle the display of the block view. Block Details: Allows you to toggle the display of the selected block details. Keyframes: Allows you to toggle the display of the Keyframes view. Block List Options: Allows you to see the Block view as a tree or a simple list.
This menu contains two categories of options allowing control of the preview pane . The first selects the type of view, the second consists of toggles controlling which components are rendered.
Top [F5] - A top down view. Positive X axis is toward the right. Positive Y-axis is toward the top. Positive Z-axis is toward the camera.
Front [F6] - A 'from behind' view if the object faces the positive Y-axis. Positive X axis is toward the right. Positive Y-axis is away from the camera. Positive Z-axis is toward the top.
Side [F7] - A 'left side' view if the object faces the positive Y-axis. Positive X axis is away from the camera. Positive Y-axis is toward the left. Positive Z-axis is toward the top.
Walk [F8] - This is a special camera for 'walking' around the object. It starts located in the centre of whatever is being rendered facing the positive Y-axis. The camera controls are altered:
Flip[F10}: Reverse the view by 180 degrees.
Perspective [F9] - This toggle is a modifier for the other cameras.
Several of the remaining options only have value for games other than Freedom Force. The most useful for our purposes are: Show Hidden: Brilliant for a mesh with many hidden parts. Hide non-textured Texture: This is the same option that is on the spells menu.
This menu contains several special functions. The most useful for us are:- Texture: Allows you to set the texture directories used. Note that you can have multiple directories and can remove directories to use.