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#1
missjennabee

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WELCOME! To my lovely little post on various things that can contribute to the perfect storm of stuff that might KILL your game. (Kill it dead.) (Splat.) aka "Most Commonly Addressed Issues for ETaC" aka "Stuff Jenna Says Entirely Too Often For Her Sanity." Feel free to jump to whatever you think is relevant to you:

#01 BACKGROUND TASKS
#02 LOAD ORDER
#03 CTDs / MEMORY / FOREVER LOAD
#04 CONFLICTS
#05 MODS & YOUR SAVED GAMES
#06 CLEAN INSTALL

Ok, so. I love you guys, I really do. BUT! Ever since I made the mistake of mentioning "load order" on yonder comments thread I have been inundated with people's mod lists... and I don't even mean people who are USING this mod - I'm getting emails from random strangers who think this mod TOTALLY SUCKS, but HEY! Maybe I can help them out a bit?! ...I can't! Really, I have no idea what I'm doing. I am NOT an expert on the subject. I might SEEM capable, but seriously. No. However! I KNOW people who are, and who do! Know stuff that is. SO! In light of the recent hostile take-over, I have decided to pool this information into one neat and tidy little spot, because I am just incredibly good to you like that.

Here we go...

 

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One un-mod related thing to try before setting off on this great endeavor is... Killing background processes.

What I would suggest, once you've opened your task manager, is to sort by user. Do NOT touch anything not being run by you (sometimes you are called "admin" or "default" if you are boring and unnamed). Meaning leave things being run under "System" alone. ALSO! Do NOT kill "Windows Explorer" (not to be confused with Internet Explorer) or .dll files. Particularly if you don't know what they do. Actually, don't disable ANYTHING that you don't know what it does. Some of these files your OS needs and cutting them will cause it to poop itself. Not good.

Now, anything running in the background can cause a crash. Especially a program that likes to call home. (i.e. an antivirus or instant messaging program, etc.) Start by disabling everything that accesses the internet when you play. (Except, obviously, Steam.)

Next, try to take out programs using an auto update feature (Printers, Java, iTunes, Adobe, etc.) Some of these will even try to connect when the internet is disabled, and keep trying every ten minutes or so.

Then look at the rest of the programs that run in the background, they are stealing time from the game and if they don't give control back quick enough - crash. HP has a bunch of these "media center", "DVD launcher", "On-Screen Display", "Messenger Service" - The HP Media Launcher is actually VERY taxing, and tends to get stuck in load sucking up your resources. So let's take those out too!

After you have cut down the crashes caused by external stuff, we can move onto...

 

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BOSS is good - Great even. Particularly for people who are not well versed in the intricacies of "load order". BUT! Sadly, sometimes human intervention is still necessary. If you've made the decision to run a thousand mods (like the rest of us) then YOU are the one responsible for policing it. AND YES! This is a giant pain in your ass. It's a giant pain my ass too. It's a giant pain in all asses everywhere... but it's important.

In sum, treat BOSS more as a guide - run it once to get all your mods into a loose order, and then go through and re-arrange.

What I personally do, along with some others, and have been successful with so far (fingers crossed) is use a kindergarten approach to load order and try and "group" my mods. Meaning that similar mods are all going together. Essentially you could break my load order down into sections and sub-sections. By way of example, here is a cross-section of my load order (names of some mods have been changed)...
 

ESM { Skyrim.esm
ESM { Update.esm
ESM { ClimatesOfTamriel.esm
ESM { ETaC RESOURCES.esm

FIXES { HighResTexturePackFix.esp
FIXES { MiscFixRandomCrap.esp
FIXES { Weapons and Armor fixes.esp

CHAR { New Eyes.esp
CHAR { New Hair Styles.esp

LOCATION { ETaC - Complete.esp
LOCATION { ETaC Whatever Patches.esp
LOCATION { Rayeks_End.esp

 

ADDS NPCS  { Intersting NPCs.esp
ADDS NPCS  { Immersive NPCs.esp

ADDS ITEMS { Weapons and Armor.esp
ADDS ITEMS { Immersive Armor Compilation.esp
ADDS ITEMS { More Saddles.esp
ADDS ITEMS { More Foods.esp
ADDS ITEMS { More Books.esp
ADDS ITEMS { Bags for Skyrim.esp

TEXTURES { Better Book Covers.esp
TEXTURES { Better Dynamic Snow.esp
TEXTURES { Enhanced Blood Main.esp
TEXTURES { StaticMeshImprovementMod.esp

ENVIRONMENT { SoS - The Wilds.esp
ENVIRONMENT { SoS - The Dungeons.esp
ENVIRONMENT { SoS - Civilization.esp
ENVIRONMENT { ClimatesOfTamriel-Dungeons&Interiors.esp
ENVIRONMENT { WATER - Get Wet.esp

GAMEPLAY { UFO Ultimate Follower Overhaul.esp
GAMEPLAY { Convient Horses.esp
GAMEPLAY { Realistic Needs and Diseases.esp

LASTLY { Bashed Patch.esp

 
Note: If using it, very few mods should ever be loaded after your Bashed Patch. There are SOME exceptions, but those mods will likely tell you that upfront.
 
Generally speaking, all of your "fix" type mods (like HD texture pack fixes, or Unofficial patches) you want at the very tippy-top. Most other mods tend to fix things as they see them (this mod included), so you want these overwritten where necessary. Your load order is essentially just to determine a hierarchy in conflicts. In the case of ETaC... well it adds a lot of "stuff" but it really doesn't make any script, quest, companion, environmental, etc. changes. So usually you'll want to load things making those sorts of changes AFTER, but things making other environment changes BEFORE. Since things going down the list are technically, sort of, overwriting the things above it.

 

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One thing I'd like to mention quick (and beforehand) is with regard to CTDs on start-up, which is sort of a separate thing from what I'm about to get into below, but felt worth noting. SO... If you are getting a CTD on start-up, like when the game tries to load vs. while you are actually playing the game, this (almost 100% of the time) means you are missing a master file, and has nothing at all to do with a mod, or a conflict, or any other such thing. Some mods REQUIRE certain files to run. Especially patches. Where mods have different file versions (with Dawnguard, w/o Dawnguard, w/Hearthfires, w/o Hearthfires, etc.) their patches often do too. If you aren't using the right game/mod/patch combo, and any one of those files is looking for another file it can't find you will crash on start-up.

SO. If you are getting THAT type of CTD, that is why.

If you have Wyre Bash, look for any mods on your list that are RED, confirm which files it needs/are missing, and download accordingly. If you are NOT using Wyre I suggest starting with everything you've downloaded since your last playthrough, go back and read their mod descriptions, or ask the mod's author what files it needs and make sure you've got everything he/she/they/it indicate are necessary.

Thank you. Back to it then...

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Skyrim includes something called the Large Address Aware patch (LAA or 4Gig patch) that allows it to use up to (roughly) 4GBs of system ram (Post-Edit: Or more like ~3.1) Currently there is no way to make it use more. I shall direct you now to a quote from bben46:
 

No matter how much ram you have, Skyrim is still a 32 bit program and can only use a maximum of 4GB of that ram. This is not something that you can fix. Running a 64 bit system just allows the Windows and other background stuff to load outside of the 4GB maximum used by the game. Even with a 64 bit Windows, if you have 4GB of ram or less, you will not be able to use all of it for the game. If you have a 32 bit system then the system itself is limited to 4GB max, and part of that will be used by windows and background programs. - Again, nothing you can fix. Even if you have a million dollar supercomputer with 256 Gigs of ram - Skyrim is still limited to 4 Gig ram max. And when those 4GBs are used up - you will crash.


When your RAM is used up, there is nowhere to put the new data. This is most often seen when you load a new area, go through a door, or autosave. As these actions temporarily take a lot more memory than you were using just before the crash. And yes, this memory ceiling can even be hit due to the textures you are using... (See "Textures" Section below.)

BUT worry not! "We" can help you! I give you siuan, in re; crashes from Helgen to Riverwood (Please Note --- This information is not limited to crashes in that specific area, and will help you if you are experiencing crashes in ANY area. Riverwood was just the area that was being discussed at the time):
 

The problem appears to have nothing to do with this mod, actually, and may have been finally figured out (because it is a problem for many) on the enbdev forums. Basically, as you go from Helgen to Riverwood, you are actually stepping on the borders of 3-4 cells in several places, which means that if Skyrim is not allocating memory properly (which it turns out not to be, in this instance), as you go from cell to cell so rapidly, you'll CTD. The reason you are seeing what you're seeing is that ETaC is fairly memory intensive (both VRAM and RAM), so naturally it might persist even when everything else is gone. To read more about it, you can look here. Luckily there is a fix, called Skyrim Startup Memory Editor, and I can say this has fixed all my CTD issues. This is a better solution than the bastardized SKSE loader from the enb dev thread, as it is more direct and, also, not against SKSE copyright. I can also recommend using Stable uGridsToLoad along with the SSME, as this will help with this issue also, regardless of whether or not you're using high ugrids.

ENBoost, SSME, and uGridsToLoad are the trifecta of having a game that runs smoothly.


HERE ARE YOUR LINKS:

#1: Skyrim Startup Memory Editor by Queue;
#2: CTD and Memory Patch ENBoost by Boris Vorontsov; and,
#3: uGridsToLoad by Altimor.
 

Follow-up: the SKSE team has already come out with an alpha. Since it's an alpha, there could be problems, but it has the advantage of coming from the SKSE team. You can get it here if you're feeling adventurous. This would be preferable above all else as the SKSE people really know what they're doing. --- It would appear that the ini settings still have to be added manually. They're in the "what's new" part of the website or the readme, of all places, but at the bottom where it says [Memory], I'm assuming this has to be added to your SKSE .ini if you want to increase it beyond the 512/256, which I have mine at 768/512 because apparently I'm a sadist to my computer. Don't do that right away though.

If you're not getting CTDs with the default (which I'm guessing doesn't require an .ini change, although it isn't super clear) then don't mess with it.


Moving on...


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As mentioned above, HD textures, ENBs, or even your default graphics settings can also soak up your memory, and quick-like. I, personally, don't recommend using any textures above 1k. Especially when you're using A LOT of them. If you have 2039482084 things now loading 2k high-res textures it's going to make Skyrim's game engine weep, and crash and set fire to your living room. AND! As a general rule, (not just in relation to his mod), try to be careful about how many textures and of what kind you install. (Meaning beyond just armor, items and a few landscapes here or there.) Try not to grab up an insane and unreasonable amount of high res LOD, grasses, rocks, mountains etc. and so on - aka things that would start to pile up in an exterior cell.

What I'm trying to say is... If you come to me and say you're game is crashing, and I ask what kind of textures you've got installed and it's a million different 4k texture packs... I'm going to hurt you. With my teeth. And refuse to help you. Because you're beyond saving. Nobody needs 4k textures. You'll never ever even be able to tell the difference in game you crazy crazy lunatic, you.

Also. Grass. If someone is experiencing a big FPS drop in exterior cells, one of the first things I always recommend is to drop the "Grass Loading Distance" from far to medium. See, grass isn't just "stuff" it's "moving stuff" and there is A LOT OF IT. All over Skyrim. This is especially problematic if you are using high-res grass textures. I shall now direct you again to a quote from siuan...
 

Grass can be a huge culprit for low FPS. There are some ways to avoid the FPS drop and still have good grass. [In some cases] if you uncheck the .esp for certain texture mods, it just becomes a texture replacer. [This is true of both SFO and Lush Grass and Tress] -- I just use the meshes. My grass mod of choice is Dat Grass, WHICH SHOULD NOT BE YOURS IF YOU HAVE LOW FPS!


ENBs also put added strain on processing, so my suggestion there is just to try and tweak the settings a bit, or Skyrim's default settings if you're not using one. (i.e. set load distances to medium vs. far; set ENB graphics to medium vs. high - in a lot of cases the difference in quality is barely noticeable while the difference in performance is huge.)


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Let's take a moment to talk about scipts. Beginning with mods that add scripts to NPCs and mods that add NPCs...

Now when you use a mod that affixes scripts to NPCs, (i.e. Footprints, Enhance Blood, Run For Your Lives, etc.) it affixes them to ALL NPCs, even new ones added by things like ETaC. So when you walk into a large town, like let's say Dawnstar, you get an influx of tons of scripts running on tons of NPCs and sometimes HELLO! You're magically planted back at the desktop. (Additionally, if you then add on something like Interesting NPCs, or the Immersive NPCs packs, (even MORE people, even more scripts, so on.)

Now I'm not saying you can't use all those mods together, you can, I'm just saying sometimes this makes things crashy.
 

a lot of scripts can pile up, and this can be bad, but not all scripted mods are bad, either. Footprints is constant and I don't believe it's a huge problem by itself, but that on top of everything else can be a mess. I know for a fact that Enhanced Blood Textures has caused problems.

However, a CTD after approximately the same amount of time can very well be a script spamming over and over, and, believe it or not, it can be a vanilla one, that is probably led astray by who knows what. (There is a notorious bard who is part of the DB questline who can cause CTDs if you don't "get rid" of him.)

AND DO NOT DO ANYTHING WITH PAPYRUS EXCEPT LOGGING BECAUSE YOUR COMPUTER WILL EXPLODE, YOUR HOUSE WILL BURN DOWN, AND THEN THE EARTH WILL COLLAPSE INTO A SINGULARITY, CAUSING A GIANT VORTEX THAT SUCKS IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE.

With script spamming - This is one case in which logging can help. If you end up with an enormous log file where one script goes over and over, that could be your culprit. (Which doesn't make it easy to solve, unfortunately.) You might also want to open your mod packages to see if there are scripts in there you don't know about, and bye-bye birdie, for sure.


It should also be noted that the SKSE.ini tweak (ClearInvalidRegistrations=1) is good, but it only clears up a certain kind of script. See Arthmoor's responses HERE.

In sum, just try and be selective about what you're installing and what it does. If you've got 10 different mods all adding NPCs to towns, and then 10 different mods all adding scripts to those NPCs, this could definitely become problematic for you.

 

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Conflicts can be tricky. Very big, very bad, conflicts will be pretty much immediately obvious. But there are a lot of other kinds of conflicts that can be sneakier, and far harder to pick up on right away.

The first thing I would suggest is to re-check your mod list for anything that jumps out at you. Make sure that you aren't running any mods together that are essentially doing the same thing.

The second type of conflict is a little harder to spot, and also resolve. These are the "unintended conflicts" (aka "dirty edits"). This type of conflict can exist between two mods that seemingly have nothing in common. They can result in anything as massively infuriating as CTDs, or as minor-ly annoying as objects appearing out of place. A *wee* bit of copy+paste-ing can go a long way towards all kinds of weirdness, particularly if the mod creator isn't careful. Now, I'm not trying to come down on other modders - I know It's tough to catch. It's easy to "bump" an object in the CK (making the CK mark this object as "changed") without realizing it. But copy+paste is dirty process that can wreak all kinds of havoc. If the CK thinks the object is "changed" it will cause the containing mod to overwrite with changes that were not necessarily meant to be made.

"Player House" mods are a particularly notorious source of this, mostly due to that they're a common endeavor for newbie modders - They're quick, they're easy, and they allow you to get a feel for the CK in a small controlled environment. Newbie modders, however, are rarely mindful of copy+paste conflicts, and tend to do A LOT of accidental bumping of random objects. It's not their fault really. It tends to be a lesson you have to learn the hard way because most of the time you don't even know that you've done it, and if you aren't aware that it could cause a problem, you wouldn't think to check for it.

(Dear People: This is NOT to say that ALL player house mods will have this problem. I myself have used several player house mods all of which were 100% fine. It's just something to keep in mind.)

You can't always tell what mods might be messing with what. I realize this is a nightmare for you, especially if you are not versed enough in the CK to know how to remedy said conflicts... and I'm not going to explain it here. Because, really, I do not want to be held responsible if you happen to break something.

So my suggestion, provided you know at least sort of what you are doing, is to clean your mods with TES5Edit before installing them. If you do not entirely know what you are doing, I recommend going to the mod's creator and asking THEM to clean their mods. Try to do so in a way that doesn't sound like a vicious accusation (ala "you suck, your mod sucks, you smell like tire that mated with wet dog and spread pestilence and evil wherever you go, I hope your whole family dies in a fire." -- So in a way not at all like that), and I'm sure they'll more than happy to oblige.

Otherwise, the alternative would be to try to eliminate problem mods ala going through your mod list in halfsies until you track the rogue file down.

 

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Loading a mod is not as simple as you might think. Mods often overwrite and make changes to all kinds of files. When you uninstall or "un-check" a mod from the active load, although the mod itself does not execute, the changes its made still do. Even a single, poorly written mod can be devastating to Skyrim's already unstable environment. The more and more mods you load, particularly mods that were not carefully scrutinized prior to release may be bringing you closer and closer to the brink. Orphan code or redundant code can really start to nudge your game into a crashing or become a more unstable environment. This can cause random crashes, game corruption or bloated save game files. Many mods break vanilla quests by overwriting various aspects of them, or by removing the ability for quest to be activated, triggered, or to be completed at certain stages.

My point is that there is a good chance all that there is a whole bunch of junk still lurking about in your save. Particularly if you've ever run a mod with any new or edited scripts. You can de-active the mod, you can delete the scripts, but if not properly executed, the scripts will keep on keeping on. Waiting to attack, when you least expect it. (There is a way to investigate this also, and I will again direct you to my friend "Google" as the process involves making changes to your .ini file - ALWAYS HAVE A BACKUP). Essentially, YOU might forget about the mod the second it's deleted, but your SAVE remembers.

A reliable mod of yesterday is not always reliable today. This is even true for this mod, I'm certainly not trying to set myself apart. It's been a long and bumpy road to get here, nonoodles can tell you I have broken many a persons' game, many a time. With all the game updates and availability more massive and immersive mods, getting everything to run smoothly has really become more of an art than a science.

If I could bestow anything upon you, it would be the importance of making a clean, mod-free save. Things (especially scripts) have a way of cementing into your save games. When you start un-installing mods, you leave little seeds of despair that grow up to be full blown pains in the backside.

A fresh load, with saves along the way, will be a far cleaner environment to set a good mod foundation on.

Lastly...

 

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Nobody wants to have to do this. I don't blame them. I wouldn't want to have to do this either. But sometimes, there's just really nothing left to do but THE DREADED CLEAN INSTALL. I'm not really going to explain to you HOW to do a clean install - my assumption is that you are already aware, or if not, are most definitely in possession of Google (hint: I can tell, because you are reading this).

All I can really tell you, if you've found yourself in this particular boat is, after your clean install: BACK UP YOUR .INI FILE. Seriously. Do that.

Once you've got your game cleanly reinstalled, try reintroducing your mods selectively. This should help narrow down any problems that you might have with what you're running.

 

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Ok. That's it for now.

Honestly, even if you have no desire to continuing using THIS mod in particular, I will still highly recommend checking some of this stuff out. If you're getting CTDs now, it's safe to assume you're just going to get them from something else later. Where Skyrim is conerened, it often takes a bit of finagling to get everything running properly especially when you start introducing large mods, such as this, or others like it, into the mix.

Should you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to post below (that's what it's here for!) OR! Come find me HERE.

Thanks muchly!



#2
Germ1

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Have a opinion on this? http://forums.nexusm...93#entry6259593

#3
Georgiegril

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The OP is a thing of beauty, Any way to make it a sticky?
The only area I notice it doesn't cover is ruling out hardware issues, like graphics or sound drivers. Maybe I missed that part.
Thank you to everyone who put this together, it is amazing and could solve so many problems. If people could see it, like if it were a sticky....:whistling:

#4
missjennabee

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@ Germ1: I will check it out :) What have you tried so far to fix it? To avoid redundancy.

@ Georgiegril: Thanks! I checked out the link you mentioned, and for me it appears to be working... I'll try re-uploading the URL to be safe.

I, personally, do not possess the ability to make this a sticky lol. I would if I could. It's my belief that things have to garner enough attention to warrant it, and the problem in this case is that I'm always directing people AWAY from the forums to the original post... which is maybe not the best way to go, but I'm far less good about remembering to check the forums than I am the article. I pretty much live over there lately.

#5
Reavon

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Thanks for this, I'm some what technical (I do IT for a living) but new to the mods scene. this gave me a better understanding of load order and how the game processes mods. Until this point I've been letting BOSS have total control over load order and ran into a lot of issues. I had to abandon 2 characters and over 300+ hours of play, but after thoroughly reading this I have a lot better grasp so again thank you for putting this together. :)

#6
Jebbalon

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Great info, if there are moderators that can make this sticky please do so! This info will help a lot of Skyrim players enjoy the game more.
-Jebbalon

#7
Staind716

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Wow, fantastic job! I have been writing a guide for ENB so I know how much work is involved in this. Much respect to you for this awesome piece of work and kudos coming your way now. I vote sticky for this also. Definitely deserves it! :thumbsup:

#8
flummox

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Stolen for sig. Excellent reference, thank you :)

#9
bben46

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:thumbsup: Pinned topic.

#10
missjennabee

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@ Reavon: Thanks, I'm so glad to hear you found it helpful :thumbsup:

@ Staind716: Lol, ENBs - you have the patience of a saint. I opened the manual once to try and tweak what was, at the time, one of my favoritest EBNs. It was 45 pages long. Needless to say this venture was very short lived. Turned out! I like the standard settings just fine. Go figure!

@ flummox: HA, well thanks - I believe this is the first time I have been signaturized. BUT! I am afraid you are giving me sole and undue credit. This was definitely a brain-trust.

"Load Order, CDT and other Troubleshooting courtesy of missjennabee, nonoodles, Brandy_123, Killerbuddy, dj2005, SonnyWiFiHr, Zekail, and st4n13y415c (special guest appearances by bben46): Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires"

... Too much? lol.

@ bben46: Thank you. It is, of course, entirely your fault that I caved and posted it to the forums in the first place :biggrin:




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