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STEP Extended v3 - Seeking Beta Testers


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The STEP Extended v3.0.0 Guide is now in a (mostly) complete state. I say mostly because it's complete, but still needs some testing done. This testing would normally be completed by our staff, however, we no longer have the staff surrounding the management of Guide release we once did. Due to this, we'd like open v3 of the Extended Guide up to a few beta testers. If you're interested, please continue reading.



What will testers do?

Beta testers will simply play the game with the Extended mod set installed and set up as the Guide dictates. During gameplay testers will keep an eye out for any issues they find. These issues, or bugs, may be caused by individual mods or by the STEP installation. Partly tracking down the cause of bugs will be the job of the testers so modding knowledge is required. Testers will then give full feedback about the bugs found so we can address them and have them fixed before release.


First things first, beta testers must meet the following requirements, no exceptions:

  1. Beta tester systems must meet the recommend requirements for running the Extended Guide (listed here)
  2. Testers must have intermediate level of modding knowledge and skill and be willing to help track down issues
  3. Testers must install the Extended Guide exactly as it is laid out; no deviations, no extra mods
  4. Testers must start a new game for testing
  5. Testers must be willing to put in a few hours into playing the game each week

Why the requirements?
Users must meet the requirements to ensure they have stable systems and can provide useful feedback for us to utilize to fix issues when they are found. Lets break these down a bit so everyone is fully aware of our process in this:

  • User systems meeting the requirements will allow some standardization and eliminate issues caused by users attempting to play the game on sub-par hardware.
  • Intermediate knowledge and skills are required to track down issues. Testers should be comfortable jumping into xEdit to track down plugin related issues, as well as, be able to track down other potential issues. At the very least, testers should be able to describe the issue they've encountered and have a general idea of what is causing the issue.
    • For example, "the weapon sounds are playing twice" is not an acceptable level of feedback. This is feedback a beginner level modder would give.
    • "The weapons are playing twice due to the mod order and plugin combination of ModX and ModZ" is far better. The issue has been, at least partially, tracked down.
    • "The weapons are playing twice due to the mod order and plugin combination of ModX and ModZ on record 01234567" is best. This issue has been fully tracked down.
    • The more details we're given, the faster we can sort out issues.
  • The next two requirements should be obvious. They are listed to ensure users aren't muddying the waters with extra mods not found in the Guide and to ensure our systems are all the same as far as installation and initialization, which makes testing and tracking down bugs easier and streamlined.
  • Finally, testing requires playing. Running randomly around the game is good too and many issues can be found in this manner, but we're also interested in the actual playability of the game. STEP isn't for users wanting to take pretty screenshots and stare at the scenery. It's built for gameplay and gameplay is what testers need to be involved in.


Want to be considered for testing?
So you think you want to be a beta tester after fully reading and understanding the requirements asked of you? Good! We'd be glad to have you on board. To be considered, please post below with the following:

  1. Your system statistics
  2. Level of knowledge/skill with the following: xEdit, CK, MO, and general modding knowledge.
  3. Using your own words, please state your understanding of what the standard BSA/Plugin relationship is and why it matters.
  4. Using your own words, please state what the STEP Mandates are, your understanding of them, and why they exist.
  5. Why do you want to be a beta tester?

Answering these things will help us narrow down testers to users who understand STEP and the modding process. This also cuts out annoyances of having to constantly restate why we're doing/using X instead of Y. We want testers who actually understand STEP.


Keep in mind we will only be accepting a limited number of testers, therefore, not everyone who posts will be getting a spot. Users who do get an invitation will be contacted via PM with further instruction, will be given access to a private forum for feedback, and will be added to the "Contributors" user group, which will open up access to a few more forums and let everyone know you've helped shape STEP in one way or another. The testers will also have the first opportunity for future beta testing, when we're in need of this.



  • Use this topic to apply with the information above in your post.
  • We will not be replying to all users here, though we will answer questions.
  • Users will be contacted via PM, if they are being invited into the beta testing.
  • What users see and gain knowledge of during the beta testing is confidential.
    • ​You will be asked to keep all knowledge to yourself until release time or until we official announce the information
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1a. Desktop  i7 3930k, 32 Gb sys ram, AMD RX480 w/8 Gb vid ram, Win 10 pro 64 bit, 2 SSD’s, 2 27†2560 x 1440 monitors.


1b. Desktop i3 4170, 32 Gb sys ram, AMD 7970 w/3 Gb vid ram, Win 10 pro 64 bit, 1 SSD, 30†2560 x 1600 and 2560 x 1440 monitors.


2a. xEdit – Above average, I have used most all of the functions available in xEdit and feel comfortable creating CR patches, forwarding records and modifying record values as needed.


2b. CK – Below average, I spent a good bit of time with CK for Skyrim to make a dungeon mod for myself (it wasn’t great) and to “fix†little things like bad nav mesh triangles with limited success. I used CK for SSE to convert mods for personal use.


2c. MO – Competent but less than expert, MO2- average to below average, mostly used WB after having problems using an early MO2 release and SSE. I reviewed Tannin’s source code and understand the issues he was having with USVFS as well as path/filename normalization. I haven’t had a chance to look at the source code for the latest iterations of MO2 but if they are still using the same user space to kernel space framework to hook their VFS they will continue to have issues. It also seems like they are having a hard time with UAC issues at present. The path/filename normalization problems are an issue for nearly all noncommercial, non OS native file managers and mod managers and its likely to get worse. As of Win 10 1607 MS added a registry entry that, when enable, removes any path to file length restrictions.


2d. GMK – Using mods ability is very good, creating mods ability is rudimentary.


3. BSA/plugins – BSA’s are game asset containers for data files such as scripts, meshes or textures. “Pluginsâ€, ESP’s, ESM’s or ESL’s contain database entries of game instructions as forms w/records, a good way to think about them would be as templates for how a particular mod and assets will interact with the game. Install order is not is not as critical to an ESP,M as it is to its associated BSA. This because ESP,M install order determines the install order of their appropriately named BSA’s which determines which assets are used in game, however the ESP,M order, called load order, can be modified at game startup with a load order list. Load order modifications will not change the install order of BSA assets only the order of forms used as instructions in game (there a few exceptions for records that are merged at runtime).


The last game assets installed for a particular data file will win and are installed in the following order, first correctly named BSA’s install with their ESP,M, followed by other BSA’s in the order Windows presents them (usually alphanumeric), followed by loose data files. Later loaded ESP,M forms will override earlier loaded forms if they have any records in common (except as noted earlier). ESL’s are a special case for SSE and CCC, it appears they always load all in one slot, just ahead of save game, which always loads last, it not certain when their game assets install but it appears to be very late in the install process.


4. My general understanding of the STEP team’s mandate is to improve upon the game’s mechanics and aesthetics without deviating from the game developer’s vision or the Elder Scrolls canon and lore.


5. I want to give back to STEP and I seem to have a good bit of time on my hands at present.



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1) System Specs:

Alienware 15 R3 Laptop
256 GB SSD
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
Windows 10 Home 64bit
Intel Core i7-7700HQ (Quad-Core, 6MB Cache)

2) xEdit - I've used xEdit to clean mods, locate and resolve record conflicts between mods, and to run scripts such as DynDOLOD and RealShelter when required.

CK - I have only used the Creation Kit a little bit, mostly to create dummy plugins for my Backwards Dialogue mod to load the BSAs.

MO - I've used Mod Organizer to build, tweak and rebuild my mod order more times than I can count, usually consisting of STEP Extended plus a few dozen additional mods (weather, game-play improvements, ENBs). As that would imply, I've had a lot of experience running external programs through it. I have only used MO2 briefly when trying to modify Skyrim SE, but I missed my old mods too much and went back to MO and LE.

General Modding Knowledge: I've probably spent more time re-configuring and optimizing my mod order than playing the actual game over the last few years. I've had to find ways to make mods that aren't expressly compatible work together in the most harmonious fashion possible. I created one mod, Backwards Dialogue, which I created because I played the game too many times and got tired of hearing the same quotes. Unfortunately, the only way I could see to accomplish this was to extract, reverse, and repackage every single audio clip in the game (as I have minimal scripting knowledge). And since nobody else seemed interested in doing it, I just went in and did it, folder by folder.

3) BSA/Plugin Relationship: Plugins (ESPs or ESMs) contain any modifications to the "records" in the game (values such as locations, damage values, dialogue text, etc) that an individual mod will want to make, though mods can often contain more than one plugin. They do not, however, contain any modified assets (textures, meshes, sounds, etc). Modified assets are either included with the mod as loose files or in BSA archives.

If the modified assets are included as loose files, then the traditional method of installation would be basically dumping them in the Skyrim\Data folder, which would overwrite the assets for the game as well as any conflicting ones put there by previously installed mods. This makes uninstallation or mod order changes difficult, so many people use mod managers like Mod Organizer to keep loose files of different mods separate. MO builds a virtual directory structure each time Skyrim is run so that the real Data folder doesn't have to be modified.

Alternately, the modified assets can be packaged into BSA files, usually with the same name as the plugin (different extension obviously). When a plugin is loaded, any BSA file with the same name is also loaded. In the event of conflicts between BSA files, or between BSAs and loose files, I believe the priority is this:

<Loaded First>
- Any BSAs specified in the sResourceArchiveList lines in Skyrim.ini
- BSAs with same name as plugins, in the same order as the plugins overwrite each other
- Loose files in the Data folder
<Loaded Last (wins conflicts)>

Understanding the way that BSAs and plugins work matters because when you have a large number of mods active (as in STEP), it's vital that you know which files are "winning" when there are multiple mods that change the same record or asset. And because it's such a pain, a mod manager is practically a necessity.

4) The STEP mandates, as I understand them are basically the following:

For STEP Core:
- Do not make significant changes to the Vanilla aesthetic
- Improve aspects of Skyrim that are broken or inconsistent
- Focus on mods that play well with others, and resolve unavoidable conflicts through the STEP patches
- Make no significant modifications to the game-play
- Basically improve every aspect of Skyrim without significantly changing the tone of the experience
- Provide a stable baseline for modders to build on

For STEP Extended:
- Meant to be installed in top of STEP Core
- Goes farther in its changes, adding new assets and changing the game-play in noticeable ways
- Still doesn't try to significantly alter the vanilla aesthetic (no music overhauls, nude mods, etc).
- Remains lore-friendly

There are also additional STEP Packs, which take either Core or Extended as a base but provide additional groups of mods to overhaul aspects of the game more radically (i.e. weather overhauls, hardcore survival, additional worlds). But the goal is to aid modders in avoiding conflicts and choosing mods that work well together for whatever they want to do.

5) Why do I want to be a beta tester? I've been an enthusiastic user of STEP for several years, and it was my gateway into high-level Skyrim modding. I've heard about the shortage of manpower on the team, so I'd like to help out in any way I can. I can definitely provide several hours a week as a beta tester, and if it goes well, perhaps I could get more involved in other aspects of STEP. Plus, I get a thrill out of constantly modifying my mod order, so the chance to install the newest work-in-progress STEP build an potentially help influence its direction is an exciting prospect.

Thank you for considering me!



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[spoiler=Beta Tester Application]


1. Your system statistics
Windows 7 64-bit
Intel Core i5 i3330
AMD Radeon RX 460 4 GB
1920x1080 Monitor

2. Level of knowledge/skill
I use xEdit a lot - to view plugins, edit records, and create patches. I've also started to use Mator zEdit.

I've used the CK to create a simple follower mod. I don't like the CK, and prefer to use xEdit.

I've used MO1 a lot, usually have about 10 profiles that I maintain, and am comfortable using MO. I recently moved to MO2.

General modding knowledge
I am comfortable installing mods, installing patches and viewing and editing patches in xEdit.
I have created my own follower mod, and created patches for mods I use.
I use and am familiar with Mator Merge Plugins and Mator Smash.
I've had a look at scripts in the mods I use, but have not written any of my own scripts yet.

3. BSA/Plugin relationship
Plugins (.esp files) contain gamesetting records that are usually based on and/or override Skyrim.esm and the DLC .esm.

A .bsa file is a custom archive format (like a .zip file) which contains files such as sounds, textures, meshes, and scripts.

A mod typically contains plugin(s), .bsa file(s) and/or loose files. Usually to load a .bsa, a plugin (or dummy plugin) is needed. MO1 has the option "Have MO Manage archives" which bypasses the need for a dummy plugin. MO2 works a bit differently and does not have this option.

4. STEP Mandates
STEP aims to provide an enhanced modded Skyrim, an enhanced vanilla experience.

STEP Core adds bug fixes, HD asset replacements, and other improvements that are strictly consistent with vanilla Skyrim, follow Skyrim lore, are unlikely to conflict with other mods, and have a low impact on performance. STEP Core can be used as a base for other mod collections or "Packs".

STEP Extended builds on STEP Core and adds gameplay mechanics and other mods to yield a more immersive experience to overhaul the vanilla game.

5. Why do you want to be a beta tester?
I would like to be a beta tester to help with STEP development, and to further develop my modding skills.


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No. MO2 is used.


hmm. That surprises me. I figured since Tannin had created Vortex for the Nexus and stopped working on MO that Vortex would end up being the standard since he built MO and MO2 as I understood it was only kind of being supported by others picking up where he left off. Now I'm confused. I've been working with Vortex and there was even an update recently. I'll have to check into where MO2 is I suppose and yet again reinstall everything and switch my mod tool. grr.


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hmm. That surprises me. I figured since Tannin had created Vortex for the Nexus and stopped working on MO that Vortex would end up being the standard since he built MO and MO2 as I understood it was only kind of being supported by others picking up where he left off. Now I'm confused. I've been working with Vortex and there was even an update recently. I'll have to check into where MO2 is I suppose and yet again reinstall everything and switch my mod tool. grr.

MO2's development has come a very long way and it's in a fully usable state. I have installation instructions for the Beta Testers; when I start sending out PMs.

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MO2's development has come a very long way and it's in a fully usable state. I have installation instructions for the Beta Testers; when I start sending out PMs.


I see. There hasn't been much good information out there that I've been able to find regarding which to use. I've always followed STEP and that's what I've been waiting for to do a new install.

Thanks. :)


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    Your system statistics



            - Windows 10 Home 64bit

            - Version 10.0.17134 Build 17134


            - AMD FX-8350 Eight-Core Processor, 4014 Mhz, 4 Core(s), 8 Logical Processor(s)


            - 8.00 GB


            - NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4gb GDDR5

        Monitor Resolution:

            - 4k x 2k, 3840x2160(Native). Current setting 1080p 1920x1080.


    Level of knowledge/skill with the following: xEdit, CK, MO, and general modding knowledge.

        xEdit: Several years experiance and still learning new tricks it has up it's sleeves. I've used it mainly for cleaning plug-ins, conflict resolution & creating patches.


        CK: I have mainly used it for converting Skyrim LE files to SSE, and also recently rebuilt Unique Region Names from scratch. I have also done some navmeshing to resolve issues when merging plugins.


        MO2: I've been using MO2 on and off since v2.0.8.1b and had used MO1 prior to that for Skyrim LE and I am well versed in all it's current features, setup and how it handles the data folder.

            I switched to it fully when development restarted back in Nov\Dec and provided testing feedback. I am also currently using the Dev build as provided on discord.

        General modding Knowledge:

        - Other tools I have used:

            - Nifscope: Mainly for manually converting meshes using built in batch commands when Nif Optimizer would not fix a mesh.

            - WryeBash: Not as experienced, I mainly use it for esmifying/espifying, switching plug-in masters, creating dummy plug-ins, bash patches.

            - dyndolod: Some basic understanding, as I have mainly followed guides for generating.

            - Smash/merge: Same as above.

            - LOOT: I've used it extensively and I have also submitted masterlist updates for SSE, I have also provided testing feedback for Group Version currently in Dev.

    Using your own words, please state your understanding of what the standard BSA/Plugin relationship is and why it matters.

        A BSA can only be loaded(without Skyrim.ini edit) by using a plugin. This plugin can be empty but it must have the same name(Can include addtional plug-in with - Textures), minus the file extension(.esm,.esl,.esp).

        BSAs load in the same order as their plugins load order. Load order of the BSA will determine which files will be used in cases of conflict.


    Using your own words, please state what the STEP Mandates are, your understanding of them, and why they exist.

        To provide a clear guide for enhancing and improving SKyrim that remains true to the vanilla game style and lore, without impacting on performance and stability.

        They exist as a clear guideline so as not to stray too far from the original Game experience. 

    Why do you want to be a beta tester?

        Because I've used S.T.E.P as one of my learning resources for modding and would like to contribute and give something back.

        I also have enough free time to make a commitment to it.

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[spoiler=Beta Tester Application]1. System statistics
Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Intel Core i7 4790K 4.0GHz Quad-Core 8MB Cache
MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GB
24" 1920x1080 monitor
2. Level of knowledge
- I already followed guides like STEPSRLE and Skyrim YASHed.
- MO 1.3 is my preferred mod manager for Skyrim and Oblivion. I tried MO2 for Fallout 4 but not so much. I use WB only for bashed patches. Never touched NMM because I love the virtual directories of MO, but I heard the new Vortex is using the same technique now.
- xEdit is great to make my own esp files to correct bugs and improve compatibility between the mods I use.
- Never used CK to make mods, just as requirements for SRLE and YASHed.
- Already used DDSopt to reduce textures weight.
- LOOT of course to organize esp files.
- Merge Plugins is a nice tool to save on the esp count.
- ENB Organizer, great tool to switch between ENB profiles.
3. BSA files are libraries containing game assets such as scripts, meshes and textures. ESP/ESM files contain records that modify the game database (items, NPCs, locations, etc). Alas, the way Bethesda designed them is prone to conflicts between mods. Depending on the load order, they can overwrite each over and it's a lot of work to detect and correct the issues. I already spent many hours in xEdit to improve compatibility in my mod installs.
4. For me, the STEP mandate is to improve Skyrim mechanics and visuals while keeping a vanilla feeling. STEP provides a consolidated, peer reviewed, compatible and bug-free (as possible) mod install. And it don't go crazy with mods deviating from the game's tone. And that's what I like with this project.
5. I want to be a beta tester because I follow the STEP project since several years now and I want to contribute to it. I changed my Skyrim mod install several time, if this time can help the project I will be glad to do it.


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Windows 10 64-bit
Intel Core i5 6600k (~20% overclocked)
Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB (~10% overclocked)
I'm using/editing mods since Morrowind, so im quite familiar with CK and Mods in general. Mod-Organizer is my Weapon of choice, used WryeBash before that a lot. I use xEdit for simple things since Oblivion, back in the days mostly for translations and conflict resolution – nowadays for everything that is helpful while finding the perfect modlist ;)
Well I think most of the obvious things were named by my predecessor so i keep things simple ;)
Bethesda-Softworks-Archives are loaded by a plugin with the same name, that means they are loaded in the same load order then the plugin.
Since im using Mod-Organizer i let it extract all my archives cause its easier that way, at least most of the time.
STEP:Core and STEP:Extended are more or less just upgrading the Vanilla-Skyrim, Lore-Friendly and without adding new Stuff into the game. For everything else we have the usermade STEP:Packs (like the ones from Dread) that try to edit different aspects of the game and changing the original experience.
I want to be a beta tester because im testing and playing most of the things anyway, im using the STEP based guide from Tech and tried to get it as near to STEP as I could for now. Only using some Gamplay-Mods from EnaiSiaion, Skyrim Skill Uncapper, SSE Bug Fixes and Dual Sheath Redux (with some new animations) in addition. Would love to test the new STEP:Extended since im going to play it anyway.


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