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Can I find out what mod causes my game to crash?


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#1
Caine777

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Recently I've been getting some weird bugs. Around Riverwood (mostly) parts of the terrain or water can suddenly disappear. Worse still is that I get unpredictable CTD's every now and then. Sometimes I can play for an hour, sometimes for two minutes.

Since it doesn't constantly crash, I have no idea what mod or update caused the game to crash, since my usual approach is to install one mod -> start game -> run around for a few minutes -> quit game -> install the next mod and so on.

Disabling the mods one by one to find out which one is making my game crash is also out of the question, since I have a lot of mods (though only "serious" ones by dedicated modders, no nudity mods slapped together in five minutes) and it sometimes takes quite some time for the game to crash. It would literally take days to find the misbehaving mod this way.

Has anyone got any ideas?

#2
Mayfly53

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Okay, I understand your pain, I've been there myself. It really has taken me days sometimes to sort things out. Some of the things I say will probably sound really obvious, but I'm going to include them just in case. You never know.

The first thing everyone seems to recommend is to verify your steam cache. This is on the off-chance that an integral game file has gotten corrupted.
Secondly, with many mods it is wise to defragment your hard drive (unless it's solid state in which case, don't!), because large bsa archives may have become fragmented, and even many loose files may have become scattered around your hard disk, increasing load times, and possibly even making your CPU unable to find and retrieve them in time for the game load.

If you can remember what the last couple of mods you installed before these crashes began occurring, it might be possible to narrow it down to one of them.
Get BOSS or Wrye Bash to reorganise your load order, and scrutinise the result to see if there are simply incompatibilities which cause crashes.

Go to C:\Users\[USER]\AppData\Local\Skyrim and open plugins.txt. Search for duplicate entries, particularly of Skyrim.esm. This used to happen on occasion, and can cause issues in-game. You'll need to enable The "view hidden files and folders" option on your machine. I don't know where plugins.txt is located on a mac.

What are your specs? Terrain and water tiles disappearing are often a sign that you've run out of VRAM. This is especially true if you have many high resolution textures installed. I myself found I can't run the game properly with W.A.T.E.R. installed, at any resolution. You can use Optimizer Textures (link) or SMCO (link) to optimize your textures. SMCO can also optimize meshes and bsa archives, but can also cause problems such as missing meshes, so be wary. Optimizer Textures is slower, but much simpler to use and has never caused problems.
Speaking of specs, try lowering the game settings, you may be attempting to run Skyrim at a higher setup than your machine can handle.

Start a new game after doing all this, as save files contain a list of all mods installed at their creation and running the game with a different mod list often can cause problems.

If none of this works, try the following procedure I devised, which minimizes the time needed to test all mods individually. First of all though, back up your data folder. I believe that you can preserve your original load order since the latest release of NMM allows for multiple load orders. I haven't tried using it though, but if it works, all the better.

  • Say you have 100 mods total. (This is for simplicity, the real number of your mods is completely arbitrary).
  • They are arranged in a certain order in NMM, which helps. Install the first half of them, ie 50 for the example.
  • Start the game and see if you encounter problems. If you do, then the culprit is one of these 50 mods. If you don't, then the culprit is one of the other 50 mods you didn't install.
  • Uninstall the mods again.
  • You now have 50 suspect mods, in a nice list.
  • Install the first half of these 50, ie the first 25.
  • Once again, start the game and see if you encounter problems. If you do, the culprit is one of these 25. If not, it's one of the other 25.
  • Repeat this process, cutting down on mods by a factor of two, until you are left with two mods. You can now easily test to see which one is the culprit.

Using this procedure, you cut out possible mods 50% at a time. While it may seem cumbersome, mathematically it will save you time.

Of course, this procedure relies on you being happy that all your mods are compatible with each other, which is why you must organise using BOSS/ Wry Bash first and testing.

I do hope some of this will help. This is a link to a site which contains solutions to some crashes/ freezes/ steam errors/ audio problems/ fps/ other general bugs which commonly occur in Skyrim also.

Good luck, and I hope this helps you out. If not, the only other thing I can really suggest without knowing more is that you look for a pattern in the crashes.
Ask yourself:
  • Do the crashes occur in a particular area only?
  • Do the crashes occur after a particular amount of time?
  • Do the crashes occur in time with a particular event? Ie, do the crashes occur when it begins to rain/ snow, or when a particular npc/ kind of npc starts talking/ interacting with the environment?
  • Do the crashes occur only when around a particular thing? Such as a forge, group of trees, river/ other water body, or anything else?
  • Are the crashes sudden and with no explained error, more like a quit-to-desktop than like a crash?
  • Is an error message given, such as BEX or AppHangB1?
  • Do the crashes happen only when a new cell loads, such as when running down the road from Riverwood to Whiterun?
  • Do the crashes happen when a cell loads (such as in the line above) if I am looking at the ground?

Heh, you can tell I spend a lot of time doing this, probably more than I spend actually playing the game itself! Anyway, good luck, and please let me know how you get on. If any of this helps, let me know what part it was which helped.

If none of this helps, you need to give more information. Post your specs, Skyrim.ini, SkyrimPrefs.ini and load order (as attachments or spoilers if you can, to cut down on the size of the post) and maybe more efficient/ accurate help can be given. Because of the magnitude of different setups, and of mods, it is difficult to given an all-encompassing answer without tailoring it with specificity.

Edited by Mayfly53, 01 July 2012 - 10:18 PM.


#3
Caine777

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Thank you for a very thorough post!

My hard drive is not fragmented; I have it set to automaticall defrag every Wednesday night. I have no problem with loading times at all, not even with the texture mods that I'm using.

My specs are as follows:

AMD Phenom II X4 940BE @ 3GHz
HD6950 IceQ 2GB
4GB RAM
Windows 7 Ultimate

I have 2GB of VRAM, and Skyrim never uses even close to that, so that's not the problem. I was running both W.A.T.E.R. and 2k Textures long before the crashes appeared. I'll try uninstalling W.A.T.E.R. though, you never know. Maybe one of the updates to some of my other mods interfered with it? I'll do that and see what happens.

Again, thank you very much for your post. If I can't get this sorted I might just unistall all my mods and start over with nothing but Skyrim Redone and then just add one mod after another and see what happens, because SkyRe is essential for me.

#4
Mayfly53

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Okay good luck with it :) I've been editing my post above since I didn't realise you had replied, so take a look. Do you use the Windows defragmentation tool? It has a reputation of being very bad compared to third-party defrag tools such as Auslogics Defrag Tool or Smart Defrag. And get CCleaner to help with your registry and general system cleanup. This, of course, presumes you don't already have a service in place, such as TuneUp Utilities, which I use.

You have a good setup, so there shouldn't be any problems at that end. Then again, I can run Skyrim on Ultra with 2k Textures, but I can't run it with the low resolution of W.A.T.E.R., so it's difficult to say.

Oh, and if you must uninstall, remember that some mods have very specific uninstallation instructions which you need to follow, else it corrupts the game.

A final tip I have picked up, is to back up your scripts folder with a frequency bordering on paranoia, as too often it gets messed up. Or, maybe it's just me. At any rate, if you get to a point where your Data folder is back to vanilla, delete the scripts folder, restore it via steam's verify option, and start backing it up!

Edited by Mayfly53, 01 July 2012 - 10:35 PM.


#5
Caine777

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Now that you mention it, I think most of the crashes, maybe all of them, have been around Riverwood, in the area from Riverwood to Helgen. I'm not sure though. I'll load up the game, go somewhere else and run around for a while and see if the game crashes. I guess it could be a combination of Riverwood Redux and something else, maybe? I'll try removing that mod see what happens. There was a really weird thing going on the other day where the game would crash as soon as I entered the area around the Guardian Stones near Riverwood. When I tried playing the game the next day, without making any changes, that area worked just fine again.

Crashes don't occur only after a certain time. Sometimes I've played for two minutes, sometimes for an hour

There is no error message at all, the game just closes. It doesn't freeze and the screen doesn't even go black, it just shuts down instantaneously.

#6
Sonreac

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IOBIT's Smart Defrag is the only tool I ever used to defrag. Then there's Game Booster. :) Worked very well on my laptop.

Also, for some suggested tools, I would suggest Wrye and Boss.

They are a life saver when it comes to mod sorting and ordering. Plus, if the mod is in the boss database, you'll know if it's incompatible with your activated mods. Or it will suggest that it is incompatible with such and such a mod underneath.

Like:

Spoiler


As you can tell, I have a few problems there as I'm not quite done downloading all the files I need to run those modular set ups.

As for your crashing, I find two sites help me out quite a bit:

http://s1.zetaboards...?x=0#post631601


and

http://www.atmaxplor...slow-framerate/

Edited by Sonreac, 02 July 2012 - 04:07 AM.


#7
Mayfly53

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Oh, one last thing I forgot to mention last night. One that might be very helpful in diagnosis:

Enable Papyrus logs by adding the following to Skyrim.ini:
[Papyrus]
bEnableLogging=1
bEnableTrace=1
bLoadDebugInformation=1

Next time you crash, go to C:\Users\[USER]\My Documents\My Games\Skyrim\Logs and open Papyrus.0.log. Down near the bottom of the log, there should be lines with the events

"VM is freezing...
VM is frozen
Reverting Game..."

or something similar. Just above those lines will be the name of the script executed which caused the problem.

#8
Caine777

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I think that something I did fixed my problem. I don't know what though. I had a bunch of .esp's lying around that weren't being used, so I deleted them to make sure they wouldn't cause any problems, I reinstalled SkyRe from the new single file installer and ran BOSS to check for conflicts (there were none). Then I started the game, and Riverwood looked just like it should (I forgot to mention that most of the time a few of the houses would simply disappear, like the Riverwood Trader. The door would still be there, so I could enter the store, but the house was simply gone) and I haven't had a crash since.

#9
Caine777

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I guess I spoke to soon. Another crash today, outside Whiterun. Started the game again, played for five minutes and got another crash. I'm just going to reinstall it tomorrow, only add a few mods and then keep a list of my installed mods so I know if I get crashes again which mod is causing them.

#10
DemongelRex

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Remember to clean mods that add things to towns and cities, these are notorious for causing crashes. Also your hard drive may not be able to load the hi res textures quick enough (say you have a 1tb with 5200rpm) and thus crashes or lags.  Riverwood redux also messes up navmeshes if I remember correctly.  BTW, make sure you use TES5Edit to check for conflicts.  It is your best friend.  And Papyrus logging causes stress on your system and MOST of the time ctd are not the result of bad scripts of script errors (unless you use MGE's mods) but usually because of a hard conflict.  Worst comes to worst, edit the mods that enhance certain areas with the creation kit and remove some excess item or static objects.






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