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BSA vs loose files question



Let me preface this by saying I have read the entire "Ramifications" thread. It didn't really help my understanding, but I am notoriously dense.


Anyway, I have always let the "manage archives" box unchecked, but I was curious about how things would be different if I checked it. My understanding is that with it checked, assets load according to their left pane priority. Unchecked, they follow the vanilla loading rules, i.e. loose files always win. I played with a bsa mod (UNP Simply Clothes) and another that has some replacement textures as loose files. With the Manage Archives box checked, I was able to change which textures appeared in game by switching their positions in the left pane. But I got the same results with the box unchecked, which is not what I was expecting. As a control, I set up a quick test with Wrye Bash (outside MO). Changing the install order did not affect anything, the loose files always won. So my question is:


Do I actually understand how both vanilla asset loading and MO are supposed to work? Should loose files win over bsa's when archives are unmanaged, regardless of left pane priority? Or is the left pane order always important and my test was invalid?


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The "manage archives" checkbox allows Mod Organizer to use the assets in BSA archive files without having the associated ESP in the load order. The most common case is to use the High-Resolution Texture Pack assets without having the HRDLC plugins in the load order, so it effectively saves three slots.


EDIT: The way this actually works is a bit different than described in the Mod Organizer guide. Mod Organizer uses the priority order in the left pane to determine which assets are visible to the game. If a loose texture has a higher priority (wins the conflict), the loose texture is visible in the virtual file system so it is used by the game. If a texture in a BSA has a higher priority (wins the conflict), the losing loose texture is not visible in the virtual file system so the game never sees the loose texture. In both instances, the bottom line is simply that loose files always win with a bit of virtual magic of "not making visible" any loose files that lose the conflict.

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Ah, so the answer to my first question is "no." I did not understand how it works and it is in fact working as designed. With archives unmanaged, I just cannot do the "uncheck the .esp" trick, and I have to watch my left pane order anyway.


That sounds awful familiar, now that I read Greg's post again. I have a sinking feeling I actually did read that in the "Ramifications" thread and simply forgot it. In addition to being dense, I have a bad case of C.R.S. Anyway, thank you very much.

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