• written by I2edShift   13 January 2013 9:09:10   66452 views   74 likes

    Mods, Stability, and Save games

    -Mods, Stability, and Save Games-

    This might be a long one, but probably one of the most important articles you will ever read on the Nexus. It deserves a news flash by Dark0ne if it were up to me, but oh well. Anyways, there is a lot of misinformation among the less knowledgeable members of the modding community, and consequently there is a lot of people recklessly installing & uninstalling mods from there save game. This is general advice, with a few other tidbits thrown in. For those of you who are curious as to just where this information is coming from, thank the members of the TES5Edit team and the Unofficial Skyrim Patch. This is mostly a copy/paste directly from a thread over at Bethesda's official forums, with a few additions thrown in.

    First, let's establish this fact:
    "Bethesda's official stance is: If you remove a mod you must go back to a save made before the mod was ever installed.

    In other words - if you see the "relies on content not in game" error when loading a save, you need to either re-install the missing content or not use that save.

    It is up to the modder to make sure that their mods correctly handle the user updating them from older versions and also handle mod users installing them mid-game (hence why the wiki pages on save games exist, and the rather extensive error/warning reporting in Papyrus)."

    -SmKViper (Bethesda Programmer)

    Now that that's out of the way and in your head, it's highly recommended that you "clean" Update.esm and all the official DLC content that Bethesda releases with TES5Edit. An easy to follow instructional video can be found here. This will reduce crashing and generally improve the stability of your game itself a great deal when you start to incorporate mods into your own game.

    Now, once you save your game with a mod installed that mod is permanently tied to your save file. The scripts embeds themselves and some data is permanently changed. When you remove a mod with scripts, your Papyrus logs will complain about it with different levels of severity. Removing some mods will cause nothing more than a warning/notification when you load up your save game (in the Papyrus log), other scripted mods may spam the living hell out of your debug log, overwhelming the scripting engine, causing stack dumps and effectively ruining your save game. There's no way around this unfortunately, it's just how Skyrim modding works. It's not this mods fault or any others.

    The overall message is to be *very* selective in what you incorporate into your load order. Make save game back-ups, test mods out before you permanently tie them to your save, and make sure that what you're installing is of high quality.

    Deadly Dragons is one of these mods, if you uninstall it, you will orphan some scripts, but it's very minor and you should be able to play your game without any permanent adverse effects. I don't recommend you uninstall the mod either. It's modular, highly customizable, and you can freely switch between the standard & lore-friendly versions (both use the same scripts and nearly identical .esp's) if you decide you want to change things up. Deadly Dragons is also very mature, with a year of constant development. The mod is in a great place on the whole, and unless Bethesda releases some sort of DLC or official patch that ruins the mod, it's unlikely that the mod will ever need any major work again.

    General advice:

    There is no such thing as a "Clean Save".
    The old days of freely removing scripted mods from your game (like past Bethesda titles) are dead and gone. Skyrim doesn't work this way. Scripts imbed themselves into your save game and cannot be removed. If you uninstall or deactivate a mod from your game that contains scripts, your save game still has that data and your Papyrus logs will show that.

    Don't recklessly uninstall or deactivate mods or official DLC.
    This is already covered above, but just to hammer this home for the lazy who skimmed the article and aren't bothering to actually read it. So I'll say it again; Do not disable/uninstall a mod from a character that you're actually playing, even on a temporary basis. ESPECIALLY OFFICIAL DLC! Disabling a mod is the exact same as uninstalling it completely as far as the game is concerned. Uninstalling bigger mods (especially official DLC) will very likely ruin your save game on a permanent basis. Keep in mind that this only applies to mods that use a .esm/.esp plugin (and use scripts). Texture and mesh replacers are completely free to install and remove as much as you'd like. Though I don't recommend you install/uninstall dozens of mods that add armor/weapon/lighting mods as you please. You can (over time) also corrupt your save game in this way as well.

    Install the game outside of the Program files (x86) folder.
    On windows 7 and Vista Steam installs the game under c:Program Files (x86)Steam/SteamApps/Common/Skyrim by default. Having the game installed to this folder can cause issues with a lot of mods.

    Use a Merged Patch...
    If you use a lot of mods and want to make sure that everything is working properly and fully functional, download TES5Edit, look at Gopher's amazing Youtube Channel for some tutorials, get familiar with the program, and make a Merged Patch. It is in your best interest to ensure that everything is working as it should be.

    (UPDATE: 9/19/2013) - The "Merged Patch" functionality of TES5Edit is (unfortunately) no longer supported, due to the number of users experiencing problems with it. To quote Sharlikran...

    "The biggest problem was that users would have many plugins that had issues in them. Out of order sub-records, bad scripting, and unresolved references mostly. Once imported into the Merge Patch it compounded those issues so the Merge Patch just crashed Skyrim."

    While the original advice (Merged Patch + Bashed Patch for leveled lists) still stands, if you experience problems or crashing with a Merged Patch, it's due to the plugins (mods) you're using. Like I've said in other places of this article, be selective with what you install into your game (well constructed high-quality mods that are not bug-wridden or made with TES5Snip prior to the Creation Kit's release) and you should be just fine.

    Use a Bashed Patch
    It's best to let Wrye Bash handle the merging of the games leveled lists. There are basic tutorials on how to do this easy procedure.

    Create backups before adding/removing/updating mods.
    In case something goes wrong you can restore the backup, that way you don't have to reinstall everything or lose considerable progress.

    Only install a few mods at a time.
    Not all mods work together. If there are any bugs or your game crashes it's easier to find the mods that cause them. It's often a combination of mods that cause these issues and not a particular mod on it's own.

    Be careful when installing older mods.
    Mods made before the creation kit was released can cause stability issues if they have not been updated. It's generally advised to never use anything older than February 7, 2012. Mods made before the Creation Kit released were made with TES5Snip, which at the time saved plugins with out of order sub-records and truncated data. This only applies to mods that use a .esp/.esm plugin(s).

    Make sure you have a proper load order: Use BOSS
    If you use mods that have .esm or .esp files then it's important that your mods are loaded in the proper order. BOSS is a great starting place to organize your load order, but it is not a fix-all solution. You still need to be mindful of what mods your using and what mods need to take priority over others.

    Don't mess with uGrids settings. Ever. Period.
    Tampering with Skyrim's uGrids (real draw distance) settings has been advertised on a number of high-profile sites. This was early in Skyrim's life cycle and the long-term ramifications of it were not yet known. Increasing this value past the default (5) can lead to general game instability and eventual save-game corruption. Understand that you are basically playing Russian Roulette with your game here, as you are forcing the game to load 2-3 times more data than it is designed to. Even if you have a +$7,000 PC tower that can run a small city. The reality is that Skyrim's engine simply cannot handle the increase load and remain stable for long-term and reliable play. Even with the release of the new ENBoost from Boris Vorontsov this is still true today.

    I'm talking Intel i7 3960X 5.0Ghz, multiple Nvidia GTX Titan's, a SSD Raid-0 array, and all on liquid cooling. Yes, I'm talking about the most powerful hardware you can buy at this very second and overclocked to the very limit. It's not the hardware, it's simply engine limitations.

    Do *NOT* use the old .ini tweaks for Bethesda's High Resolution Texture Pack DLC.
    Just use the plugins. Seriously. This method of getting the HD DLC to work was fixed by Bethesda and outdated many many months ago. There's no reason for it anymore. If you use these .ini tweaks, your game will just over-write these files with the official DLC masters low-resolution textures, making them useless. If you're truly strapped for .esp slots then it's a minor miracle that your game still runs at all.


    Never overwrite a save game.
    The game doesn't overwrite a save game but instead deletes the old file and then replaces it with a new one. So "overwriting" a file is the same as creating a save on an unused save slot.

    Don't use auto saves or quick saves.
    The game handles auto saves and quick saves the same way it handles saves done through the menu. Therefore they are no different than regular saves. Point 1 also applies here.

    If you die restart the game before loading a save game.
    In general this shouldn't be an issue but there have been reports that some mods require a restart of the game.

    Restart the game before switching to another character.
    In some cases data gets carried over when you swap to another character. So the safest thing to do is to restart the game (quit to desktop) before doing so.

    Updating or uninstalling a mod might corrupt all subsequent savegames, leading to crashes, poor performance and excessive savegame size.
    Updating or uninstalling a mod which uses Skyrim's scripting system should cause no real issues if the mod author has coded it correctly. However, it is possible for a perfectly working mod to have accidental coding errors which might cause irretrievable savegame corruption if it is uninstalled or updated. Some mods, by their very nature, will be more likely to have these errors than others. As a general rule of thumb, updating mods without uninstalling them is safer, but still not guaranteed safe. Exercise caution, and always be prepared to revert to a save made before the mod was ever installed.

    Programs that optimize textures can cause crashes if used in conjunction with certain mods.
    Optimizing textures can degrade their visual quality and by doing so increase game performance but it's considered safe to do so.

    Programs that optimize meshes can cause crashes if used in conjunction with certain mods.
    I't's not recommended that you do this currently.

Comments (29)