I said I'd be here today and here I am. Frankly I'm pretty amazed myself. What amazes me even further is that I (gasp, shock, horror) actually did some work.
Once I got the windows arranged nicely and familiarised myself with the major keyboard shortcuts and camera controls, the GECK was quite easy to work with. My one complaint, which may lay in my inexperience with the software is that it is difficult to position items vertically. I would prefer it if new meshes would appear on the same plane as the previously selected item, rather than X many units directly in front of the camera.
So with that done I jumped in with arranging a few rooms along a long corridor (the right hand side of the above image), glancing at Bethedsa's video tutorial when I got a little stuck. I don't like to always follow tutorial through to the letter, rather seeing what I can do along the same theme.
Actually, wait. Backup a little. I actually began with trying to recreate the stretch of cavern that approaches the giant cog doors of a vault. It was perhaps a little difficult to begin with, especially as I couldn't seem to get the meshes to line up right. I suppose I was using mixed sets.
The meshes are the best bit, from a quick-development point of view. The Oblivion/Fallout engine is based around segments of (about) 5 foot cube, each very carefully arranged to fit well with the rest of its set. That measure of 5ft is interesting, echoing the engine's pen-and-paper roleplaying roots. Surely that is how much of the world of Cyrodil was developed: through tabletop gameplay on the grid.
The only other engine I am familiar with as a design student is Unreal 3 and the editor that comes with Unreal Tournament 3. Like Fallout 3, much of that game's level architecture is built from static meshes but comparing the two I now realise how limited UT3's meshes were, designed for very specific uses. The mesh library in GECK feels huge and fairly adaptable. The transition pieces (such as a break in an office wall leading to caves) will be especially useful.
So far I have really just been experimenting, getting a feel for the system. In tomorrow's session I think I might adjust and re-arrange my vault, or even start again, and follow a pre-existing design of mine. This design is actually a Dungeons & Dragons subterranean temple, a favourite of my gaming group, but the layout should transition quite nicely to a vault or similar. Anyhow, we'll see. Same time tomorrow, children!
Bethesda GECK Tutorial #1 (YouTube)