I've been spending a lot of time within the Fallout 4 Creation Kit over the past couple of weeks and thought I'd do a series of tutorials going through getting your own music into the game, some of the more complex music features such as palette tracks, and then replacing or adding your own sound effects. I'll be going through the basics first - how to get a WAV file to play in the game as part of background music for a location.
Before We Start
Create an account on Bethesda.net and download the Creation Kit. Make sure you have Fallout 4 installed on your computer. If you have anything like my setup, you do your sound design and composition on a Mac, and switch to Bootcamp Windows for implementation and modding. Make sure you have your compositions prepared as WAV files either on your hard drive or a memory stick. I used 24 bit, 44.1kHz files, but I'm fairly certain any of the standard sample rates in either 16 or 24 bit will work! You need to store these WAV files in SteamApps>Common>Fallout 4>Data>Music. If you do not have a 'Music' folder then create it. The folder structure beyond the 'Music' folder does not seem to be important, so long as all of your music files are stored at a deeper file level than the 'Music' folder.
Loading Up The Creation Kit and Making a Plugin
Load up the Creation Kit and then go to File>Data. Double click on 'Fallout4.esm' and click OK.
As we cannot edit 'Fallout4.esm', as it is a master file, we need to create a plugin for our music edits to sit within. Once Creation Kit has finished loading the Fallout 4 esm, go to File>Save to name and create your plugin.
Once you've saved it, another quick look in File>Data should show you that your plugin has automatically been set as the 'Active File'. This means that any edits to the original master files are stored in your plugin. This is as far as we need to go with plugin management for the time being.
Object Window and Music Tracks
Upon loading up, you should be able to see the Object Window. In here you can view and edit almost every object or actor present in the game. Everything we need to worry about for now is contained within the 'Audio' sub-section. Every music file that can be played in Fallout 4 must be stored within a 'Music Track' object. Click on 'Music Track' within 'Audio'. Every piece of music within the game is stored in this list.
In order to get your track into the game, we need to create a 'Music Track' for it. Right-click anywhere in the list and select 'New'. You will see this menu;
Give your new track a name - I prefer to start any of the Music Track names in a new project with '00', so they appear above any of the original music tracks by default in lists... Quick navigation is not exactly the Creation Kit's strongest point! Under 'Track Type', select single track. (Palette Tracks and Silent Tracks will be explained in the next post!) Click on 'Choose File' and the Creation Kit will take you to 'Fallout 4>Data>Music' (where we stored your WAV files earlier). Select your chosen song!
A few other options that we are not going to use right now, but are worth explaining are looping, cue points, finales and conditions. Looping is self explanatory. You set a loop point in seconds and tell the game how many times to loop before allowing the game to play the file to its end. Cue points are used to tell the game when it is acceptable to begin to fade the track out. This is most often used in conjunction with a 'finale', most often used at the end of a battle music piece. By switching music file at the nearest cue point to the end of the fight, the game ensures a continuous musical flow and rhythm. Switching at the exact point the fighting ends would completely destroy the immersion of the player.
The 'conditions' tab allows you to define conditions that must be met in order for the music to be heard. For example, a condition could be that this particular music track will not play if the player is below Level 10 in the game, or it will not play unless a particular stage in the main quest has been reached. One practical use of the 'conditions' feature could be to 'hold' certain parts of the Soundtrack back from the player until they reach certain points or levels in the game, to stop the Soundtrack becoming boring and repetitive by the time they reach Level 50.
Now that we have our song within a 'Music Track', we have to tell the game in which areas we want this music track to be played. This brings me onto 'Music Types'. These basically act as playlists. Click on 'Music Types' in the sidebar and right-click in the list to create a new type, give it a name, and then right click in the box below and click 'new' to add your Music Track. This is where the '00' at the start of your track name comes in handy. Find your track in the list that appears and select it.
Your menu should now look something like this:
Some of the other options in this menu will be covered in the next post, where I explain how to create some more complex musical systems within the game. But I'll quickly run through the ones I have figured out so far!
'Priority' - The lower this number, the higher the track's priority. A type with a high priority will always play over a type with a lower priority. High priority is important for battle music, or 'dread' music, and not so important for exploration music.
'Fade Duration' - Self explanatory. When this music type is made to fade out by a new music type, this is how long it will take to fade.
'Abrupt Transition' - Seems to make the track come in without waiting for the previous piece to fade out.
'Plays One Selection' - In Music Types with more than one track within them, the game will only play one before stopping.
'Cycle Tracks' - Once every track has played, the music type will repeat itself instead of stopping.
'Maintain Track Order' - As music types play in random order by default, this option ensures they play in the order you place them in the Music Type menu.
'Ducks Current Track' - Rather than fading the current track out to make way for your track, this option simply lowers the volume of the current track, and plays yours over it. This is useful for 'discovery' music when finding a new location in the game. The 'Ducking (dB)' determines how much the current music is ducked.
'Doesn't Queue' - Not entirely sure on this one, but I could imagine that rather than waiting for the current music to finish or fade out, music types with this option ticked will only play if there is no other music present at the time it is triggered.
Feel free to add more than one track to your music type if you added more than one track in the earlier stage. Once you are happy with your Music Type, click on OK!
Assigning Your Music Type To A Cell
Now your Music Type is saved, find the Cell View window (View>Cell View), find a cell to test your music in. Some that you can use without upsetting anything in the original game are; WarehouseMusic, zUnusedSubwayTerminalShowcase, WarehouseBathrooms and WarehouseClutter etc. I used 'WarehouseMusic'.
Right-click on 'WarehouseMusic' in the Cell View list and you will see this menu;
Click on the 'Music Type' dropdown menu and select your Music Type. Hit enter to save your changes. Save your plugin by going to 'File>Save', close the Creation Kit and then open your game. Open up a save to test your plugin out, preferably one without previous mods with a character that has left Vault 111. Once it has loaded, hit the ' key to open the console and type 'coc WarehouseMusic', if you used WarehouseMusic, or 'coc yourchosencell'. This will teleport you to your chosen cell and allow you to hear your music in the game! Here's a video showing my example with some music a quickly put together the other night!
Thanks for reading and hope this has helped some people!
EDIT: Sometimes when using WarehouseMusic your track will not trigger because of the presence of a music trigger in the far side of the room. Your track is queued behind this 'dread' cue. Moving your character to opposite side of the room, therefore triggering the 'dread' cue, will allow your track to be played.