Dragon Age: Origins

Starfield - An update on plugin mods

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Starfield is shaping up to be a huge game for modders with all the exciting possibilities a space-themed RPG can offer. It's only going to get bigger once Bethesda releases the Creation Kit - which they've confirmed will be coming in 2024. The talented reverse engineers in the community have been getting their teeth into Starfield modding. As a result of their efforts, a few concerning discoveries have come to light relating to how mods are loaded by the game.

This is quite a technical article, so you can find a TL:DR at the top of the last section. If you want to discuss this topic we do recommend reading the entire thing though! 

Since the release of the game, eager modders and tool makers have been poking and prodding Starfield to learn more about the Creation Engine 2. This is part of an effort to create some basic modding tools and understand any new modding concepts that might be important going forward. This is a work in progress and some information cannot be fully understood until we have access to the Creation Kit (or get confirmation from Bethesda).

Before we get into this, it's important to note that while the community members who unearthed this information are very talented, all we have for comparison at this point is the previous Bethesda titles (Fallout 4/Fallout 76/Skyrim). It's possible some of these changes were intended and just work in a way we're yet to understand. 


The Plugin Subrecord Problem

To fully understand this problem, you must first have a basic grasp of how Plugins and Loadorder work in Creation Engine games. This section is intended as a brief primer on the subject.

Mods can include plugin (ESM/ESP/ESL) files, which are effectively databases that contain the game content. Each plugin consists of a collection of records, and each record (or form) has a "Form ID" that identifies it and a type that tells the game what kind of information it contains. Plugins can also reference records stored in other plugins, for each external plugin referenced this adds that plugin as a "Master". A plugin and its masters must be loaded together for the plugin to be valid. Inside the plugin, individual records can also - if necessary - reference other records (both in the plugin itself and inside the masters) these are known as "Sub-records". 

Inside the plugin, records have an internal Form ID, which has a prefix that defines if the record is new data or is intended to override data provided by one of the masters. For example, in a plugin with Starfield.esm as its only master, records that overwrite data in Starfield.esm would be prefixed 00 and any record with an internal Form ID starting with 01 (or higher) is considered to be new data. 

When the game engine loads all the data from plugins to start the game it uses the plugin load order to understand the priority of each plugin. This then allows the game to create a new set of prefixes based on the aggregate data from all plugins. On top of this, when the game reads data from a specific record in the load order, it also must look at any sub-records it contains and map those records to their corresponding load order position to access the correct data. The image below shows a very basic example of how data from plugins is mapped into the load order. 



The problem lies in how for certain types of data the game does not properly map the Form ID of a record to its load order position. Instead, it uses the position as defined inside the plugin. In effect, this would mean that if a plugin at load order position 03 with no masters has reference to a Form ID at position 00 - which should be mapped by the game to load order slot 03 - could end up pointing to the data stored in Starfield's main plugin at position 00 which would not only be the wrong record but may not even be the expected data type and cause an error.

Even if a plugin had all the default Starfield plugins as masters as soon as another DLC is released or the mod is moved to another slot in the load order these references would no longer be directed to the correct data. 

This isn't the case for all sub-records, but it does appear to be the case for a fairly random smattering of them. As of writing this article, the xEdit team have reported that the following form types with this issue:

  • Material on Impact Data Set (IPDS) records
  • Start Scene -> Scene (LCEP) in Scene (SCEN) records
  • Keyword (KNAM) in Sound Keyword Mapping (KSSM) records
  • Adjacent Snap Nodes (NNAM) in Snap Template Node (STND) records
  • Surface Block Array in Surface Pattern (SFPT) records
  • Surface Patterns arrays in Surface Tree (SFTR) records

The community investigation continues to slowly narrow down more affected sub-records and the results will be shared with Bethesda to help them should they not already be aware of these issues ahead of the Creation Kit release. Somewhat confusingly, some of these sub-records that mapped properly in Fallout 4, Fallout 76 or Skyrim now have the issue so it cannot be assumed that this problem only impacts new features added for Starfield. 

This hasn't caused an issue for the base game as all official plugins that currently exist (including preorder bonuses) are in a static load order. However, this will become a problem even for Bethesda's own DLC plugins if they plan to release DLCs that don't depend on all previous official plugins that came before. This means that the upcoming "Shattered Space" DLC and a hypothetical second DLC (or any Creation Club content) would need to be loaded together in the order they were released or it may cause problems with the game.

I'm sure there are some of you out there yelling "Why can't we fix this with Starfield Script Extender?" at your monitor. In short, you probably could but it wouldn’t be a perfect fix. An SFSE plugin would have to intercept all places in the game where a sub-record is referenced without being mapped properly. While this isn't impossible, the key flaw is that Starfield Script Extender and its plugins work exclusively on the Steam PC version. Modding is something that is enjoyed by users across Steam, Xbox Game Pass (PC) and even Xbox consoles. Any fix for this problem should ideally be available to everyone as it's so fundamental to the modding experience. 


The Light Plugins Problem

To give a bit of background for this issue. Creation Engine games have a hard limitation of 256 slots which can be used to load plugins into the game at any one time (in practice this is slightly less due to slots being reserved by the game). As any seasoned modder will attest, 256 plugins is a fairly big number, but it's not a lot. 

In Skyrim Special Edition 1.5.3 and Fallout 4 Bethesda introduced a new modding concept known as "Light Plugins" - sometimes called ESLs. This allowed a single plugin slot in the load order (FE form ID prefix) to be shared between up to 4096 plugins, provided they only include a small number of new records. This change was celebrated as a fantastic addition - now your load order could be massive provided all small mods were flagged as light plugins. 

This feature has been carried forward to Starfield (along with a new feature known as Overlay plugins) but the logic used to load light plugins has been changed from how it worked in previous games and unfortunately, this seems to have made it considerably more fragile.

The game engine appears to be treating light and regular plugins as two separate, distinct load orders when looking at the masters of a plugin rather than a single flat list as it had worked in Skyrim/Fallout 4. This means that if your plugin has another plugin as a master which is marked as light, that plugin will be loaded into the "light" load order. Then, if a new version of the master plugin is released without the light flag, the plugin will now be loaded into the "regular" load order. As the plugin no longer exists in the load order it is expected to be in, the game will be unable to resolve any data from your plugin that references the master and the entire plugin will effectively be corrupted. 

The image below gives a very bare-bones example of this. In the top situation, the Mod.esm plugin was created while MasterMod.esm is marked as light, so all the references line up correctly. In the second example, the same Mod.esm is shown alongside a MasterMod.esm which has had the "light" flag removed. As Mod.esm hasn't been updated the game won't be able to properly resolve data from the master anymore and will cause errors. 



Elminster of xEdit gave a few recommendations on how this could be resolved ahead of the Creation Kit release: 

  • Restore the single load order - The safest option. This would involve changing the game engine to use a single load order list as it did in previous titles. Making this change would not break any of the current official DLC content and would solve this problem for mods/DLCs. This may also involve updates to the current Creation Kit or other internal tools used by Bethesda to account for the change. 
  • Update the plugin format to have split masters - If the split master approach is the way forward, then the plugins could be updated to have both a light and regular master list (to match what the game sees). This change would require some fundamental assumptions in existing modding tools to be updated. It would also add complexity to tools that check if all masters are present and correct for a given plugin. 
  • Enforce that all light plugins use ESL - Every light plugin could be made to use the file extension .esl and anything that wasn't light used .esm. This isn't a fix for the problem, but it does mean that if a light plugin ever lost its light flag it would have a different file name and therefore wouldn't be recognised as a master on any patches. This is the least likely fix and would require buy-in from the entire community (including all brand-new mod authors) to work out.

Ultimately it's up to Bethesda to decide if this is even a problem they feel needs to be fixed, but with the current implementation it will be very difficult for community-created modding tools to support the full range of data formats Starfield offers. 


What does all this mean?

TL:DR - Based on community research, it appears that Starfield has problems accessing sub-records from the load order in certain situations. The engine also now treats light plugins and regular plugins differently so this may cause problems with load ordering as we currently understand it.

No need to dust off the pitchforks yet, this isn't the mod-pocalypse! Problems like this may very well be the reason plugin modding is effectively disabled in the current release of Starfield. Bethesda may already have a roadmap of things that need to change before handing us the Creation Kit. We've reached out to Bethesda for comment on these issues but they have declined to comment on anything modding-related at this time. 

A working version of xEdit (known as SF1Edit for Starfield) will be coming to Nexus Mods in the not-too-distant future with warnings and restrictions to prevent users from doing things that would compromise the integrity of their load order. 

SF1Edit will only allow plugins to be saved out as regular (non-light) ESM plugins and will prevent any known sub-record that is not mapped correctly from being set to anything other than a reference to Starfield.esm. If Bethesda does continue to use the two load order approach then it would require a significant rewrite of xEdit that could take months or even years before it's ready for use. 

- ElminsterAU

It is strongly advised that users exercise caution when using any mods that include plugins made outside of SF1Edit as these could cause more harm than good in your game. Any plugins marked as "light" or "overlay" should be avoided until we have the Creation Kit and documentation from Bethesda. 

For now, we also advise users to shy away from loading plugins with the "sTestFile" method in the Starfield INI files. This approach was never intended to be used outside of internal testing for the game. It can do wild things like forcing new plugins to load between Starfield.esm and BlueprintShips-Starfield.esm which can lead to further load order issues. If you're keen to use plugins you can use Nukem's Plugins.txt Enabler which requires Starfield Script Extender on Steam and an ASI Loader on Xbox Game Pass (PC). Keep in mind that every time the game gets updated these plugins may break, which would switch off this feature again and could break your saved game. 

127 comments

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  1. DerekWade
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    Given that Nexus has decided to delete mods allowing those who PAID FOR THE GAME to remove obnoxious political correctness from it, I think I can unequivocally state that I will NEVER mod this  game-- because I will never BUY this game. 

    Bethesda has lost my business. Had I not already paid for a lifetime Nexus membership, so would Nexus.  
    1. cubonex26
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      our policy is thus: we are for inclusivity, we are for diversity. If we think someone is uploading a mod on our site with the intent to deliberately be against inclusivity and/or diversity then we will take action against it...

      ... If this policy upsets you, if we've broken some moral code of conduct as a business that you can't accept, then please, delete your account (bottom option) and move on, as we will.
      tldr: cope
    2. ArnoGrabner
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      If you dont like the game and dont buy the game - why do you have the "desire" to comment about it? Do you think the game company gives a f*#@ if YOU buy the game??? Get a life!!!
    3. Fushigirsu77
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      what are you even referring to here
    4. wslhya1
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      Who asked?
    5. nicholasr8
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      Sorry you were triggered by them acknowledging the full spectrum of humans.  How do you get through your day being so thin skinned princess?
    6. Jimmbalaya
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      OP has been on the website for at least five years and can only contribute cringe comments like this instead of attempting to publish mods or screenshots.
    7. TwistedSisler
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      Dare I even ask what obnoxious political correctness you're even referring to? Are you talking about the mere existence of a button option that you can press that's out of the way in the corner that lets you change your pronoun if you desire to do that? The thing that's super out of the way and not obnoxious at all and tastefully and carefully done and placed? That thing?

      There's a difference between making a big deal out of something that shouldn't be and shoving it in your face (I absolutely agree with the frustration about that), versus the option of something even existing.

      You aren't upset that it's in your way, you're upset that the option even exists which is completely unreasonable. This is the same unreasonable opinion people have when they get upset that radiant quests even exist in a video game as an optional thing to do if you want to; except this is worse because it is actually made to be inclusive to people who it applies to, and if it doesn't apply to you then it's literally just meaningless text in the corner of a confirmation window.
    8. H3llb0undPT
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      😭
      Clear case of: I'm a real manly man, and I can't stand or ackowledge there's a huge spectrum of people between male and female. 
      Cry some more. 😭

      If anything, there's not enough options in the character creation. 
  2. Neato
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    Great mod, makes building a ship with more flexibility. Thanks for great mode I use the others also, they are all great. By the way, is it possible to add attaching points to some pieces at the end edge, sorry not a mod-der  but I try to explain, is the end edge of some pieces that allows you to attach another piece to it to make for example wings on the ship and extend them towards the sides of the ship and then be able to attach, maybe a landing gear or maybe a weapon, at the moment i have to use the Hope brace to achieve this but this adds more weight and it just doesn't look as clean. I hope I'm making some sense. Basically it allows you to use some parts and extend them  to make the wings go sideways and be able to attach weapons or other parts to the end or tip of the wing structure. Thanks again.
  3. NuclearDreams
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    Fallout 4 has been out since 2015. Since then there have been over 40,000 mods created. You can be sure Bethesda has gone through most, if not all, of those mods and seen what modders have created (the habitat building menu in Starfield has only about 10% of the building options of Fallout 4).
    Having this knowledge base at hand and then creating Starfield without the following options is inexcusable.


    • ship storage compartments (lots of compartments, but no way to access them. all the player has is cargo hold, an occasional box and the captain's safe)
    • ship cargo habs ( they look nice, but are entirely non functional. there is a mod for this though, but there shouldn't have to be)
    • ship brig (non functional. again, there is a mod for this. making this functional should have been obvious to Bethesda)
    • switching ships causes the hand placed weapons from the armory and any other container (like the first aid boxes) to be tossed into the next ship's cargo hold
    • none of the water faucets or showers work (including ships, purchased homes and habitats)
    • most purchased homes have non functioning kitchens (you have to use console commands to disable the current kitchen and then replace it with a cooking station)
    • no perimeter walls for habitats
    • no categorized storage options (like tool chests, various cabinets, desks, refrigerators, etc) Fallout 4 has dozens of storage options
    • no space suit work station (I'm not talking about the non immersive workbence). on several planets, in some of the abandoned buildings there are space suit work stations. the suits are hanging and there are various tool benches in the area. why wasn't this included as an option for habitat building?
    • buildable kitchens
    • buildable bathrooms
    • buildable greenhouses where a player can actually plant and harvest something...like in Fallout 4 and Skyrim

    This is a small list...obviously there's much more
    1. TheInquisitor
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      To use an appropriately on-the-nose metaphor, it's pretty clear Bethesda was shooting for the stars but landed on the moon with this game. I'm still thoroughly enjoying it, but I am also not blind to the shortcomings it has.
    2. chuckdm
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      The funny part about this is that you can use a single console command ("player.placeatme 00024DC7 1") and you get the apartment build menu inside your ship, allowing you to place everything you've listed here inside your ship.  Except that if you modify your ship at all, it all disappears.  Still, other than the fact that things don't persist across ship edits, all of this is one command away.

      So you have to wonder how Bethesda didn't manage to do this themselves before release, i.e. simply put a decoration panel in all the habs with a disclaimer not to edit the ship or it'll disappear.

      As the other guy says, I still like the game, but it's pretty clear BGS got hyper-focused on a handful of features and neglected others, ignoring any data about what players actually spent their time doing in previous Bethesda games.
    3. TwistedSisler
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      As the other guy says, I still like the game, but it's pretty clear BGS got hyper-focused on a handful of features and neglected others, ignoring any data about what players actually spent their time doing in previous Bethesda games.
      I don't think it's so much that things weren't focused on or neglected per se, but I think this game is a victim of the downside to having too large of a team working on too large of a game, which is disconnected features that don't carry over between all game systems where they should. Different smaller dev groups work on different parts of the game and not everyone is completely aware of the ins and outs of all of the other game systems so some things feel disconnected and not persistent in all areas of the game as well as some features that are obvious to the end-player aren't so obvious in development when you're not looking at the entire game as a whole, just your small part.. This is a LOT easier to combat with smaller games/teams because the whole of the team is able to go over every part of the game with a fine toothed comb, but with a team/game the size of Starfield it's much more difficult to get a completely cohesive connection between game systems.

      Not saying it cannot be done; MMO's do this all the time to varying degrees of success, but MMO's also don't have as strict of release windows and production timelines as a published AAA game does. The release was already pushed back on this once. At some point as the management of a AAA development team you have to stop and just accept that this game is "good enough" and do your best to polish up what you do have in order to meet your required release deadline. Above all else, it is a business which is sad that that has to take precedence, but you have to understand that it always does and always will.`
    4. Zorkaz
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      You can be sure Bethesda has gone through most, if not all, of those mods and seen what modders have created

      You really think someone in the main team really does look up more than the top 20 mods? They have families and a live in general ;)
    5. NuclearDreams
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      The developers do play their own games. And mods for Fallout 4 like "Homemaker - Expanded Settlements" with 4.6 million downloads and over 126,000 endorsements confirm that categories of gameplay like "Crafting for Home and Settlement" should be given priority in Starfield. There are around 3,000 crafting and additional item mods for Fallout 4. Any smart developer would have used this database for inspiration when creating a new game that is in the same genre as their previous titles. Bethesda chose the lazy way of developing and releasing a supposed AAA title. Instead of introducing a game filled with accessable and immersive content, they would rather go back to 2015 and like at the beginning of Fallout 4, wait for the community and overpriced DLCs to fill in the rather large gaps they purposely left before releasing a supposed finished product.   
    6. outlaw11091
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      You really think someone in the main team really does look up more than the top 20 mods? They have families and a live in general ;)

      ...it only takes a few seconds to click "page 2" on the popular mods section...so, yes.
    7. Akopian
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      I always figured that they counted on modders to fill in the gaps.  If so, I have to say they kind of overdid the barebones outpost part.  Also, if you are going to depend on modders to fill in the gaps, you should have the creation kit ready.  Anyway, there were a lot of problems, and despite the difficulties, the modders are coming through again.  I really wonder how much they actually take modding into account.  The game certainly needed a bit of polish before release.  Seems quite unfinished in some areas.  Not releasing with the creation kit pushes against the idea that they were relying on the modding community to fill in the gaps, but on the other hand, how do you explain the unfinished aspects of the game?  Oh well.  5 years from now, an appropriately modded game will appear to be a masterpiece.  I look forward to that day when all the major problems have been worked out.
    8. TwistedSisler
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      I think that believing that BGS counts on modders to fill in gaps on their game is a lazy way of looking at something conveniently without looking at all of the factors and potential reasons for this. They aren't just robots, they are people with aspirations, dreams, and goals about their game as individual developers, but ideas get dropped, budgets change, production timelines are vert strict, things go wrong, pandemics happen, companies get bought by other companies that changes leadership and direction... there are so so SO many variables that contribute to this other than "The devs are lazy." No game dev on planet earth wants to half ass their work. I know it's convenient to think that, but it's almost never the case and certainly not the case with BGS. You can see just as much evidence in the other direction that they do have a huge passion for their games and they put a lot of care into them. If you've never been on a software or game development team, maybe it's more difficult to understand, but I would definitely advise to use some real critical thinking and putting yourself in the shoes of others before just commiting to the easy and convenient idea of "They just want to make a bare bones product and let other people do their work." Game development simply does not work like that.
    9. IrrelevantFish
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      No game dev on planet earth wants to half ass their work.
      On the contrary, every game dev on planet earth wants to half-ass their work, sometimes. No matter how passionate someone is about their work, there are always aspects of it they find unpleasant, and, being human, they will be tempted to rush through them. Add those external pressures you mentioned and corporate overlords whose passion is quarterly earnings, not product quality, and cut corners are inevitable.

      Having said that, I agree that the notion that Bethesda was banking on mods is silly (after all, Starfield is very much intended for consoles, where modding is basically not a thing), and I think corner-cutting isn't the root of the game's biggest problems. I strongly suspect that "Overdesigned" is a thinly veiled retelling of the game's development process, as the game's a muddled mess that can't decide what it wants to be. Making a cost-effective, family-friendly, luxury cargo-hauler for deep-space exploration and bounty-hunting might work out all right in the game, but IRL, such an approach is foolhardy in the extreme, no matter how big the development budget.
  4. streetyson
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    While you're at it, ask Bethesda to reduce the ridiculous amount of Starfield key-bindings for PC. FO4 was bad enough - i.e. arrow keys preset for workshop mode, whereas I've used them (and never WASD) for normal movement in just about every game since the 1980s, so I have to rebind them when wanting workshop movement (in fact I just rebind the forwards key and make do with using the mouse to spin around). But why the need for separate key sets for crying out loud? However, all that seems almost quaint compared to Starfield's 1,632 bindings - try changing one of them and it upsets 6 other bindings, and if you try rebinding them that upsets another 24... It's all so needlessly complex.
    1. Catwheezle
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      My problem is all the keys that AREN'T bindable. Like the unremappable E to get out of your chair. I hit that instead of W in space battles ALL THE TIME. And then there's a crazy-long anim of getting up out of your chair, then you curse, and sit back down in the chair, by which time, your ship is dead. But you can remap it from E, for when the ship is planetside. When you have no need to remap it because nothing critical will happen if you get up out of your seat.
  5. VearCon64
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    This ABSOLUTELY IS the modpocalypse. And you got your head up your ass if you think any different. f*#@ bugthesda zenimax and their microslop overlords to Hell for this.
    1. listenwater4
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      xD
    2. TwistedSisler
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      Yet here you are on a forum topic for yet another one of their games.. interesting how people will trash talk the company that makes the games they love so much that they are willing to spend time enhancing them. If you didn't love their games, you wouldn't even bother wasting your time to mod them, you would just move on and spend that time on a game you do enjoy. Either support them or don't, but don't sit on the pot unloading your bowels while complaining that the room stinks.
    3. ariahadgis
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      you sound like someone who's just going to download a crack anyway so you're probably not their target audience
    4. katamata25
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      bethesda has not made a good game since morrowind, modders improve them, now its clear this game cant be fixed.
    5. Dukoth
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      the reason it's not the mod-pocalypse yet is that this can still change, we don't have the creation kit yet and Bethesda can still fix this, hell they might have a new system for plugins in mind for all we know at this juncture, if they indeed are planning a marketplace for this game then they will HAVE to do something

      right now all we can do is wait and see
  6. cardmaster
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    Is this the reason my Starfield managed game is now wiped out and no longer addable to Vortex Mod Manager as it is unfindable in the unmanaged games part?
    1. cardmaster
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      No that would be a broken install of a Vortex extension plugin...
  7. LeeHelck
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    i have a question that i hope can be answered: suppose i take your advice and forgo using plugins that were made before the beta release of xEdit, but i have been using them all this time and decided to get rid of them. would my save become corrupted after doing a "clean" save? for past titles like FO4 and SSE we have Resaver (Fallrim Tools) to clean the save of orphaned scripts and remove unattatched instances, but there is no such tool for Starfield yet. should i just scrap the playthrough altogether if i want to go without those plugins? they don't add anything to the game, they merely change some existing parameters (reduced shipbuilding restrictions, vendors have more credits, etc.). after reading this article i'm not sure how to proceed. in any case, i do have other profiles in MO2 that don't use those plugins, and those characters are further along in the game and at higher levels so it wouldn't be that great of a loss. any insight into this is greatly appreciated, and thanks for this infomative article.
    1. LeeHelck
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      so it's been two days and no answer? thanks for nothing.
    2. IllusiveMan196
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      With Bethseda games always assume that more invasive the mod is, the more problems you get when removing them in the active playthrough. As for the mods themselves, you could, in theory, remake them using new xEdit if you know how.
    3. JUPACALYPSE
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      any insight into this is greatly appreciated, and thanks for this infomative article.

      Also you

      so it's been two days and no answer? thanks for nothing
    4. chuckdm
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      Generally speaking, in past titles and therefore probably but maybe not, you can remove an esp/esm mod that includes no scripting without any actual issues occurring.  In an effort to make troubleshooting easier, most modders will tell you "no you cannot do this, period" but it's not actually that simple.  There are other things besides scripts that can cause issues, but they're the main culprit.  You might have other minor issues - for example, if you have a piece of armor equipped from a mod that uses a vanilla enchantment, and uninstall the mod, the item will disappear but the enchantment may remain permanently attached to your character.  Still, scripts are the major offender, because removing one of those while it's running can break the game's entire scripting engine.  Accordingly, if the pre-xEdit mod you're using has no scripts, it's probably safe to remove.

      That said, I would recommend you copy it elsewhere and try it.  Load up your save and play it for a while, making sure you don't overwrite the save.  In other words, test it before you permanently delete the old mod.
    5. Akopian
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      Generally, when nobody answers, nobody had a good answer for you.  If I do not have a good answer, what is there to say?  Would it help to say I don't know?  It would suck if we had 100 responses of I don't know!  So you get nothing until wiser minds see the question.  And you did eventually get some answers, so that is good.  Right?
    6. Demonomania
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      i dOn't KnOw's [derp, derp] 

      ~ There; fuckin' happy that you have an answer from someone within the community now? 

      ...for f*#@ sakes. >_>
    7. TwistedSisler
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      It's a bad look, especially for someone who has been on the forums as long as you have to show unprofessionalism such as this. No answer does not mean you were ignored, it means no one had the answer and wasn't going to waste your time by saying so.
  8. frost3745
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    how would one code the radius of the Flashlight Gobo to be 180 or 360 degrees
  9. hymhym
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    Well... That's very Bethesda. - sigh -

    I've maintained for years, that Bethesda does not support modders, they tolerate modding because they can exploit it. It helps that it doesn't require a whole lot of work on their part, and they can reap a lot of positive PR from the phenomena.

    Despite all their claims, I don't think modding is a big deal to the beancounters at Beth, and now M-soft. I don't think they realize how valuable it is to their games, and how it keeps them alive for years and years after release. How the constant presence of the title in the public zeitgeist preps people to buy the inevitable remaster. Or remasters as the case tends to be...

    It's pretty clear that their focus is on releasing the safest and blandest triple-A titles for the widest possible audience, with little regard given to it being held together with glue, tape, and prayers to Godd Howard. Any issues relating to modding are problems they happily leave for the modders to sort out.

    If Bethesda really was interested in supporting the modding scene, they wouldn't routinely break everything and muck things up consistently. They would pay more attention to making modding as painless and accessible as possible. They'd offer a true and robust sandbox with actual depth and complexity, with systems and mechanics in place on which to build our own custom content and to truly do whatever we want within the game world. You know, like they keep telling us in their marketing material, instead of releasing half-baked worlds where everything is a facade exactly as deep as required by the game's narrative, and the only thing they bother to polish is the looter-shooter cycle since that has the largest customer base.

    It pains me to hear, that with every title they release, they seem to pay less and less attention to all the hurdles that people need to jump through to mod their games. I long for the day that some developer finally decides to challenge Bethesda at their "own game", and releases a title that was designed with modding in mind from the ground up.

    But in the meantime... I'm sure the modding community will figure out a way to work around all the hoops Bethesda throws at us. Not like there is much of a choice on the matter, Bethesda games are still pretty much the only games in town when it comes to modding.

    - EDIT - Except maybe Sims. But even so, you can turn a Beth game into a crappy Sims game, but you can't really turn a Sims game into a Beth game. And I doubt anyone wants Bethesda to start emulating Sims as far as game publishing and monetization goes...
    1. thefirebirdman
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      100% agree. The complete lack of transparency on updates and just exactly what they plan to deliver for modding is an extremely old and tiresome policy. In every public (PR) appearance its we love and support modding. And then when it actually means something its "No comment".
    2. HappySlapp
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      I for one am not too pleased with Starfield myself (I'd say it's a 7/10 at the best of times) but I don't think they would intentionally muddle the modding scene.
      Now, unintentionally, I totally agree with, but I highly doubt they would screw around with the main selling point of their games on purpose.
    3. Korodic
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      While I also wish for more transparency and better support, they didn’t officially offer mod support yet. Anything we do now is just modders being modders. Not sure it’s fair to brandish the pitch fork when they haven’t had a chance to show us what they’ll do for the community.
    4. GreenRecon
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      exactly right, they're doing a whole new creation kit for this, if they didn't care they'd have just gave us the old one and told us to figure out whatever issues ourselves.
    5. Sonja
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      Well stated; I wholly concur.
    6. drp23
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      If you dig into this game, aside from that mistake and possibly a few others, this game is clearly designed to be the most mod friendly of any bethesda title to date.  Off the top of my head, the console hotkeys functionality is clearly designed for that purpose, and if you look at the new behavior file system and compare that with unreal engines animation blueprints - designed for developers to be able to easily make complex behavior graphs - you'll notice they are extremely similar.  Not to say that there weren't any mistakes made or oversights by bethesda, but they very clearly had every intention to improve every aspect of this game over the last in terms of mod support.  

      btw, The creation kit for fallout 4 and skyrim both released about the same time they're planning to release this one (after the game released I mean).  So they aren't really doing anything different in that regard.
    7. botask
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      They care. If there weren´t modders, bethesda wouldn´t have anyone to steal from. Like when they stolen arcoolka´s real time settlers and make f4 from it.
    8. distanzero
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      this comment has got to be the stupidest thing ive read all week
    9. DeckardKain
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      Just because you are a beancounter does not mean you have to be stupid. Even an idiot can see the benefit of mods. 
      My feeling is that they have something planned for the CK. Maybe the (smarter) merge function we have been asking for. 
    10. Darkthronny
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      What a bunch of utter and complete nonsense 
    11. VikMorroHun
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      "They would pay more attention to making modding as painless and accessible as possible."
      Have you heard about Creation Club?  Because that is exactly why they made it.
    12. TwistedSisler
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      Bethesda has outright stated many many times that they don't "officially" support modding. They give us the tools and we figure it out.

      I think sometimes people confuse what support means from a technical sense with what it means as in "I personally support you doing this."

      Basically, you are free to mod the game, but they won't offer any technical support if you run into issues with the game because of it. That's technical support 101.
    13. Akopian
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      Well, I cannot completely agree with this account of Bethesda.  If you were around for modding Morrowind then you know that the very existence of a creation kit was a really big deal in Skyrim.  I think they are well aware of the modding community, and I think they depend on it too much.  That is the only way to explain the lack of completion with a lot of aspects of the game, like Outposts.  I think they very much depend on modders to fill in the gaps.  However, I think that they messed up by not getting the Creation Kit ready for release at the time of game release.  I will never know the inside story, but it seems like the company has reached a stage where they are so large that there are communication problems between various sub-teams of the game.  

      Five years from now, I am sure it will be an outstanding game if properly modded!
    14. cacophony1979
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      Given some of the NSFW mods I've seen for Skyrim I kinda understand why they would prefer a little plausible deniability, Lol.
  10. nodtrial
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    It is not just a Starfield trouble, Fallout 4 has same. I guess Skyrim and earlier games too. You just shouldn't change your plugins indexes during playthrough. Or use empty plugins at you start playthrough, to replace it with new plugins when you will need to add new mods.

    The xEdit and Creation Kit are just a façade that the user sees. Everything its does in game is provided by engine code. Launched once during the start of the game (or some event, for example the start of a quest), it creates addresses for itself. Some things are updated at runtime, some are not, it all depends on the functions in the game engine hardcoded, which ensure functionality for the façade.
    And if you changed the indexes during the process, in some cases it can be compared as if you sent a parcel, and the recipient at that moment moved without leaving a new address.

    Doesn't matter at all if you are using light plugins or not. You just need to take into account that the order of light plugins and the order of regular plugins are different, it is actually two orders existing in the same indexed space.

    Actually i don't think it is a trouble or bug - it is just a feature that needs to be taken into account when modifying the game.
    1. Shekhinaga
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      Stop peddling this nonsense. It literally takes five minutes to test to see that it is wrong (for Skyrim). 
    2. Akopian
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      It is not completely wrong, but the new changes with the treatment of light plugins and the random seeming difficulties are kind of new.  Still, his assessment about the engine code as what has to deal with the addresses and xEdit and Creation Kit are just tools trying to manipulate that data not wrong.  I kind of like his parcel example too.

      He may even be correct that it is a new feature, and when the Creation Kit is released that will become apparent.  If only Bethesda was a little more forthcoming.  Oh well.