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Automatic Variants (by Leviathan1753)


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I searched the forum and haven't found any mention of this anywhere. I apologize if it has already been discussed.


When I first found Bellyache's Animal & Creature pack, my excitement was tempered as I realized it was a replacer and not a randomizer. Over on the Bethesda forums, Leviathan1753 has been testing a mod that adds just that functionality:


beth forums: Automatic Variants  Nexus: Automatic Variants


The most current incarnation of the thread has links to the newest version (1.2.4) as well as some packages that it can use, including a version of the animal pack. The author considers this mod to be in alpha phase with good reason. It works but there are some serious bugs. I've tested it quite a bit; my impressions follow.






- The mod should dragged/dropped by hand. It comes with empty, nonstandard folders required for it to work. I couldn't get Wrye to unpack the archive properly even with "Has Extra Directories" checked.


- Content is installed via AV packages which are processed by a Java application to create an .esp file. The packages contain both textures as well as specification files. They are not BAIN friendly and require this mod to work in any case. They can be generated from any existing texture set by any computer-literate person with enough patience. That said, they are a pain to make and the average user will definitely want pre-made AV packages.






-The mod currently only supports actor textures. The author explains that this should be the hardest part and that functionality will be expanded to weapons, armor, etc. once the kinks are worked out.


- I've tested it with the pre-made Bellyache's AV package. I manually added polar bear variants, as only one is included in the current version. It does exactly what it's supposed to do. I thought chauruses weren't working but it turns out the textures are just very similar and they can't really be evaluated separately. Using player.placeatme made it clear they work.


- I also tested giant, drauger, falmer, and troll variant packages created by StarX of the Bethesda forums. All of these work great except trolls. Browsing an older version of the thread reveals a discussion between Leviathan and Star about the fact that troll skins are coded in an odd manner (the exact reasoning is a bit opaque to me, a non-programmer). Leviathan intends to fix this in a future update.






- The aforementioned troll incompatibility is a known issue.


- The mod seems to cause some actor animations to freeze such that they "skate" rather than walking. Their bodies don't animate at all, even when they are killed. I've personally observed this with chickens and chaurus. I've read that it can affect drauger as well. I observed it upon fast travel and when spawning actors from the console. I can't reliably reproduce it but forum posters have suggested it can be avoided with an entirely new game. The author seems to think it is an unsolvable problem due to the nature of the game code.




Overall Assessment


I think this is a fantastic mod that I'm actually kind of surprised hasn't been around for a while. Unfortunately, I consider the animation bug to be a deal breaker as it breaks immersion, which is sort of the whole point. I hope the author is wrong in his pessimism about a fix (though I certainly have no technical expertise to argue otherwise). I would certainly use a bug-free version.


TL/DR: Great mod, serious bug. Not suggested for immediate inclusion; watch for now.

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"Bugs - The aforementioned troll incompatibility is a known issue."


I might add that line to my forum profile. :lol:


But seriously - that's an excellent mod report. I like the idea of the mod too. Let's hope the animation bug can be sorted out.

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"Bugs - The aforementioned troll incompatibility is a known issue."

I might add that line to my forum profile. :lol:

But seriously - that's an excellent mod report. I like the idea of the mod too. Let's hope the animation bug can be sorted out.


Heheh, I didn't think of if that way. It's a good general statement, though!




@frihyland I did try to say that testers reported it could be avoided with a new game but I guess I didn't write it clearly. Sorry.




I figured people here would be interested in this. I'm glad my report was well received. I'd really like to see this mod succeed. Lack of enemy variation has always been rather annoying in games.


I know Bethesda had to prioritize core game elements (ex: the general uselessness of vanilla horses was intentional), so animal pelt variation was probably never on the drawing board at all.


That said, I think a good design choice would have been to give them a single equip slot for pelts. That way they could have easily be re-skinned the same way as humanoids without making additional races. Oh, well. This mod is a very good band-aid.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just an update on this one as I consider it a great WIP.


Firstly Leviathan is still actively working on this mod, hoorah! ;)


Second, some mod authors (StarX for one) are not releasing their packages for use with AV on Nexus until AV reaches at least a stable beta release... if you want to try these AV packages for testing you may need to go and register with TESAlliance (TESA) but it's an interesting site anyway :D

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  • 4 weeks later...

This is rapidly becoming one of my favourite mods. I love the fact that when I pass a crowd of animals they are all different rather than cookie-cutter copies of each other.


The mod takes a little bit of initial setup as you need to gather the textures and ensure the directory structure is correct before processing them. However, the guide is clear, concise and very helpful. The mod page also includes links to several compatible texture packs, all of which appear to be lore friendly. Having said that, if you have a texture for a pink mammoth then that can be used as well :D


The author states that this is still in alpha status, but it already feels like a polished item that does exactly what it says on the tin. At some point in the future it is also going to include the functionality to mix models as well as textures.


I haven't fully investigated interaction with other mods, but the only ones I can see it causing an issue with are other texture mods. Having said that, the Bellyaches animal mod has already been converted to AV format and so is fully functional.


In summary, I would fully recommend this for inclusion in STEP with the caveat that some interaction testing be done first.

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