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Whitestar127

Inaccuracies in STEP 2 and 3 in the guide?

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Hi, I'm back after some years trying out the new guide (Skyrim Special Edition 1.0.0). I'm following it very closely and came across a part that I found a bit confusing. I bring up two main issues in this post that I would kindly like some help with:

1. Confusing guide steps

2. Missing backup of Update.esm

 

These are the problematic/confusing guide steps. Please note that it's not necessarily the steps themselves that are confusing (except the last sentence in STEP 3 point 3), but rather the purpose/thought behind.

------------------------------
STEP 2
  Profile Setup
    "10. Now click the MO List Options button and select [Create empty mod]."
    "11. Name it xEdit Output."

  Tool Setup table (Arguments)
    (Applies to both TES5Edit.exe and TES5EditQuickAutoClean.exe)
      "Tick the Create files in mod instead of overwrite box and select the xEdit Output mod from the drop-down."


STEP 3
  Cleaning Vanilla Master Files
    Standard Cleaning Procedures
      "3. Once xEdit is finished, click [X] at upper right to close. A backup of the original plugin will automatically be saved into (e.g., ../xEdit Output/SSEEdit Backups) inside of Overwrite at the bottom of the MO mod list (left) pane."

------------------------------

First of all, isn't the point of creating the "xEdit Output" mod to make the backups appear there instead of in Overwrite (apologies if I misunderstand this)? That's why the last sentence in STEP 3 point 3 was a little confusing. If we remove the parenthesis it says "A backup of the original plugin will automatically be saved into inside of Overwrite at the bottom of the MO mod list (left) pane." Could you re-formulate that whole sentence including the parenthesis to make it clearer you think? Because I don't understand what the "xEdit Output" is for or where the backups end up.

 

Now for the missing esm: After I had cleaned the first file (Update.esm) with TES5EditQuickAutoClean.exe and closed the tool I couldn't find a backup file in any of the folders (neither xEdit Output nor Overwrite). I proceeded to clean the other files (Dawnguard.esm, Hearthfire.esm, Dragonborn.esm). After doing so those three appeared in....probably the Overwrite mod folder. Sorry, I can't remember precisely but I think it was the Overwrite folder. It most likely was, because otherwise I wouldn't be here wondering what the purpose of the xEdit Output folder is. But anyway, as I said the Update.esm was nowhere to be found. Which means I had no backup of the original file.

So here's what I did then: I went into Steam and did a "verify integrity" check. The Update.esm was then retrieved, I made a backup of it and then cleaned it again. When doing so I got an error (I really need to write down these error messages) saying that some registry edits had disappeared and that I had to run the Skyrim launcher again. I did so and then I went back and did the whole BethINI thing again just in case some ini-files had been overwritten.

So is that sufficient? Can I continue from STEP 4 or do I need to go back (further up) in the guide and redo some steps?

 

Jeeez, Whitestar, that sure was a lot of text that you made me read

Ok, here is a short summary:

1. I found the parts about "xEdit Output" a bit confusing, including the arguments given in the tool setup table. Why exactly do we create that mod (folder), especially when it says further down that the plugin backups can be found inside Overwrite (and I believe that's where I found them).

2. The Update.esm wasn't backed up.

3. Having done the "verify integrity" thing and then re-done the BethINI steps, am I good to continue, or should I rewind further and redo more steps (please say no :biggrin:)?

 

Thanks, and apologies if I have misunderstood something. MO2 isn't exactly the most intuitive tool I have ever used. :)

Also apologies if anything (or all) in my post is unclear. It's always a bit hard to clearly and precisely describe issues when the problems are a bit vague.

 

 

EDIT: Just a thought: It's only after the manual cleaning of Dawnguard.esm using TES5Edit.exe (not TES5EditQuickAutoClean.exe) that I tick Backup Plugins. In TES5EditQuickAutoClean.exe I was told to just exit the tool. Could it be that the Backup option is not enabled in TES5EditQuickAutoClean.exe, and that that's the reason Update.esm wasn't backed up? And when I tick that option in TES5Edit.exe it also somehow gets activated in TES5EditQuickAutoClean.exe, resulting in backups taken of Hearthfire and Dragonborn? This is just pure speculaition and I don't really know what I'm talking about.

 

Edited by Whitestar127

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I agree that this is all very confusing, and I honestly don't exactly know the reasoning for "xEdit Output" empty mod. Maybe to hold the original vanilla plugins to make them easy to find? Possibly to prevent anything going to Overwrite so that people don't have issues with conflicts winding up in there and overriding everything conflicting.

Most of us have cleaned the vanilla masters only once (when these files are [rarely] changed by Bethesda), so validating this process doesn't happen often.

The note about the overwrite folder is just an example, but it probably should be changed to avoid confusion.

I will need to set up a test profile to validate and revise this set of instructions, unless @TechAngel85 can explain his reasoning here (I think he uses this workflow, and I only followed it once ... probably hacked my way through it without much issue and figured others would do the same).

The "xEdit Output" mod also must be enabled in MO to run xEdit, so I have both used it and NOT used it in the past. I don't like having it enabled otherwise.

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Thanks for the quick answer. :)

Now that I got back to my computer I see that I reported something wrong. The backup files did end up in the xEdit Output folder. So I remembered that wrong, sorry. But that creates another error a bit further down in the steps:

Original Masters

  1. In MO, scroll to the end of the mod list (left) pane, and hold Ctrl + double click on Overwrite to open in Explorer.
  2. Inside the "SSEEdit Backups" folder, rename the files to "MasterName.esm" (i.e. "Update.esm").

As I said, the files ended up in xEdit Output\SSEEdit Backups, not in the Overwrite folder. So that needs to be changed also.

And as previously said, the Update.esm was not backed up.

 

Pending further investigation I think I would change the last sentence under STEP 3: "Standard Cleaning Procedures" point 3:

"A backup of the original plugin will automatically be saved into (e.g., ../xEdit Output/SSEEdit Backups) inside of Overwrite at the bottom of the MO mod list (left) pane."

to...

A backup of the original plugin will automatically be saved in /xEdit Output/SSEEdit Backups in the mod list (left) pane.

 

And then change this under "Original Masters" point 1:

"In MO, scroll to the end of the mod list (left) pane, and hold Ctrl + double click on Overwrite to open in Explorer."

to...

"In MO, scroll to the end of the mod list (left) pane, and hold Ctrl + double click on xEdit Output to open in Explorer."

 

The thing about Update.esm not getting backed up, I don't know what could be causing that.

 

I'll continue with the guide and report other issues here. Might be good to have my less experienced eyes go through it. :)

Edited by Whitestar127
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I seem to recall someone else mentioned Update.esm did not get backed up on the first run, but they ran it again and it created the backup copy this time. I don't know what to make of this since I haven't cleaned the masters in a while. I have all the cleaned masters stored in an archive so I've just been installing that archive as a mod and skipping the cleaning instructions.

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The least time I used auto-clean version, no backup was created. I even tried the old cleaning method using xEdit, but it wouldn't let me continue, due to pointer to using auto clean method.

Autoclean seems to just create the fixed version. The original may be saved elsewhere ... possibly the game dir as it did in the old days ... but I don't recall.

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For me, Update.esm is definitely backed up and put in the xEdit output folder as Update.esm.XXXXXXXXX(time/date of backup). From what I understood, we put the Cleaned masters in a separate mod, and then take the backed up Update/DG/HF/DB.esm, rename it back to original, so that when you verify integrity, Steam won't overwrite the cleaned masters.

To be honest, it's probably easiest to just take the cleaned esm files out into Cleaned Vanilla Masters and then just verify integrity to redownload original files, but for some people that isn't an option.

Edited by notcyf

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9 hours ago, notcyf said:

To be honest, it's probably easiest to just take the cleaned esm files out into Cleaned Vanilla Masters and then just verify integrity to redownload original files, but for some people that isn't an option.

This is much easier to do, but people complain about the bandwidth of redownloading, which makes no sense to me considering they're also downloading gigabytes of mods on the side...redownloading the vanilla masters is a "drop in the bucket", comparatively.

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Hey folks!

I found it odd as well to have an xEdit output folder. I understand it is to capture the xEdit cache per the changelog, but why not use startup arguments in MO? Much easier, IMO.

 

To automatically redirect cache, add this argument to xEdit in "Modify Executables" in MO (the slash at the end is needed, btw):

-C:"(Drive Letter):\Modding\Tools\xEdit\Cache\"

 

Same thing, but for xEdit backups:

-B:"(Drive Letter):\Modding\Tools\xEdit\Backups\"

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@Nebulous112 Yeah, I like the idea of pointing all the cache and logging stuff to the program directories.

3 hours ago, TechAngel85 said:

This doesn't say much other than this stuff was changed. The cleaning instructions are a bit confusing, and it's difficult to get right, since you need to restore the original game files to step through the process (and none of us really do that more than once or maybe twice in years).

Also, I'm not sure where these two links are supposed to be pointing, since they point to a heading that no longer exists on the same page. I'm guessing either to the MO guide or the system setup guide:

____________

Post Guide Changes

  • A general review and further cleanup of the Guide has been completed (formatting, grammar, clarification of directions, etc.)
  • Reintroduced the support of the xEdit Output mod listing to capture xEdit Cache files (changes affect MO Profile Setup and xEdit setup instructions).

____________

The original question is more like "why direct xEdit output to a mod rather than overwrite?" I assumed it was to avoid issues caused by conflicting junk in overwrite that people forget to remove and then post bugs about here. Redirecting to a mod at the top of the load order is less hazardous.

Either way, you must have a good reason to recommend directing the output to this mod, which is why you reintroduced this piece. I rewrote some of it when I came back to modding and tackled SSE for the first time (before that, it had been all SLE for me). I found this piece confusing and overly complex, so I made some changes. Since it's been changed back now, I am not surprised if people that actually need to do it find it confusing (not that it wasn't in all of its historic states).

I will step through it all again in the upcoming guide update.

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5 hours ago, Nebulous112 said:

Hey folks!

I found it odd as well to have an xEdit output folder. I understand it is to capture the xEdit cache per the changelog, but why not use startup arguments in MO? Much easier, IMO.

 

To automatically redirect cache, add this argument to xEdit in "Modify Executables" in MO (the slash at the end is needed, btw):

-C:"(Drive Letter):\Modding\Tools\xEdit\Cache\"

 

Same thing, but for xEdit backups:

-B:"(Drive Letter):\Modding\Tools\xEdit\Backups\"

That's possible to do to. The mod folder method just keeps the caches separated by game/profile. I do a lot of authoring too so I don't like there being a ton of clutter. Also, if you need to clean out the cache of a single game, you'd need to separated out. I went with a mod just to keep things tidy using MO. Keep in mind that we'll be using a single installation of xEdit for all games (via launch arguments) so just having it all tossed into a single cache folder would place all Guide plugin caches together (not desirable imo).

4 hours ago, z929669 said:

This doesn't say much other than this stuff was changed. The cleaning instructions are a bit confusing, and it's difficult to get right, since you need to restore the original game files to step through the process (and none of us really do that more than once or maybe twice in years).

Also, I'm not sure where these two links are supposed to be pointing, since they point to a heading that no longer exists on the same page. I'm guessing either to the MO guide or the system setup guide:

____________

Post Guide Changes

  • A general review and further cleanup of the Guide has been completed (formatting, grammar, clarification of directions, etc.)
  • Reintroduced the support of the xEdit Output mod listing to capture xEdit Cache files (changes affect MO Profile Setup and xEdit setup instructions).

____________

The original question is more like "why direct xEdit output to a mod rather than overwrite?" I assumed it was to avoid issues caused by conflicting junk in overwrite that people forget to remove and then post bugs about here. Redirecting to a mod at the top of the load order is less hazardous.

Either way, you must have a good reason to recommend directing the output to this mod, which is why you reintroduced this piece. I rewrote some of it when I came back to modding and tackled SSE for the first time (before that, it had been all SLE for me). I found this piece confusing and overly complex, so I made some changes. Since it's been changed back now, I am not surprised if people that actually need to do it find it confusing (not that it wasn't in all of its historic states).

I will step through it all again in the upcoming guide update.

True, but I did give the reason, which is what was being asked. It's to catch the cache files (for normal users, I use it for more for mod dev). This drastically speeds up load times. It only takes a couple seconds to load on my end with a full load order. Without the mod, the cache is placed in Overwrite, which shouldn't house any files. It's a temporary folder and should be empty before playing. You're also on the right track with your thought of users posting issues. Basically, it boils down to creating and pushing "best practices". Stopping the bad habits that cause issues...one being utilizing Overwrite as a place to store things. It's not for that and anything stored within it will overwrite the entire mod list ....aka "bad practice" (there's a reason MO warns you there are files within Overwrite).

When I created the new workflow I prioritized three things:

  1. Improve the flow so that's more "start to finish"; little need of leaving the Guide page
  2. Remove points of user error, thus reducing user support (like removing LOOT rules and just handling the conflicts via Patches)
  3. Reduce maintenance overhead

So, yes, if you're using Overwrite to store files, you shouldn't be. This falls under #2. As for the reason for the mod over the program's folder, see above reply to Neb.

 

Btw, nice to see you around again, Nebulous112!

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Good points. That makes sense -- I hadn't considered the fact that STEP uses a single installation for tools. Keeping that in mind, it now seems like a good practice to me.

I personally use portable everything and have completely separate folders with MO and all tools for my various setups, with a shared download folder per game. So I hadn't really thought about that perspective.

 

And thanks, Tech! It's nice to be back here. :) After being away from the scene for so long, I've recently been hanging out off and on at Lexy's Discord. You folks should swing by! Lots of old STEP community members, mod authors, and other knowledgeable people on that server.

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Thanks for the clarification @TechAngel85 (I missed that changelog, sorry). Also apologies if my post title sounds a bit harsh. It really is an accurate guide overall! :)

 

Anywhoo, I did the whole guide from top to finish, started up the game and was greeted with...success:biggrin:

Everything looks and runs perfectly, and the view distance...oh the view distance! No more terrain pop-in, shadow pop-in or trees suddenly changing appearance. And the grass goes on for miles! I've always wanted to run those LOD creation tools (like DynDOLOD) but never got around to it. Really happy with the results. This is what Skyrim should have looked like from day 1!

 

The guide is really impressive I have to say. It has all the necessary instructions, is very very precise and has just the right amount of explanations as well, IMO.

So huge thanks to everyone that spent time and effort to create and maintain it! It's really appreciated!

 

It took some time to go through the whole thing, so I think I'll make a backup of everything the way it is now, before I start modifying things. Can I just make a backup of the whole \Appdata\Local\ModOrganizer\Skyrim Special Edition\ folder? I seem to recall there were 2 or 3 dll files that also were installed. (Away from computer right now so can't check). Can't remember which mod they came from. Think at least one of them began with "t" (t*.dll). What else would I need?

 

I also have some questions regarding modification of the installation (i.e. change, add or remove mods) after following the guide. Should I post them in this Guide section of the forum?

Edited by Whitestar127

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Thanks for the feedback.

If you have suggestions relating to particular mods, you can post on the mod topics themselves under Skyrin SE Mods topic (you can find links to the topics from the wiki mod pages).

If you have general feedback pertaining to the guide itself, you can post here or on a new topic under this guide forum.

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