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Mousetick

Suggested "Best Practice" for Mod Configuration Files

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"Best Practice" is perhaps too pretentious, in any case, the goal is to make managing and maintaining mod configuration files more convenient, and resilient. The approach described here is probably old news to some.

  1. Create an empty mod in Mod Organizer. Let's call it 'Custom Configuration'.
  2. If a mod doesn't come with a default configuration file, but generates one dynamically at runtime the first time it's used: put this configuration file in its associated mod, then follow #3.
  3. If a mod comes with a default configuration file that you need to edit to change some settings: don't edit that configuration file directly, leave it as is, instead make a copy of it in the 'Custom Configuration' mod and edit that copy.
  4. Move the 'Custom Configuration' mod to the bottom of the mod list in the left pane of Mod Organizer, and keep it there at all times so it is always last and overrides everything.

Pluses:

  • Puts all modified configuration files in a single easy-to-find and to-access place for future reference and tweaking.
  • Can tell at a glance if a mod configuration has been altered or was left at its defaults.
  • If one doesn't remember which changes were made, a comparison can be made with the original default configuration which remains accessible.
  • Can quickly revert to defaults for a specific mod for testing/troubleshooting by hiding the modified configuration file in 'Custom Configuration' mod.
  • Configuration changes are not lost when updating or reinstalling a mod and choosing 'Merge' or 'Replace' options in Mod Organizer.

Minuses:

  • Need to keep the 'Custom Configuration' mod at the bottom of the mod list.

Example to illustrate:

image.thumb.png.6516410d0829800b975b2155714ec1cd.pngimage.thumb.png.aba6a9cb95ebd558a1960ebbedd5a4d7.png

 

In the context of a guide such as STEP, this approach could be leveraged to make installation easier and to ensure the configurations are correct:

  • Package all STEP-required or STEP-recommended mod configuration changes into one 'STEP Configuration' mod.
  • Skip/remove all instructions asking users to manually verify and/or edit specific mod configuration files.
  • Instead ask users to download and install the 'STEP Configuration' mod, same as the STEP  patches.

Potential issues:

  • Such a 'STEP Configuration' mod would typically be installed last along with the STEP patches. In case a user wished to test their modded game mid-way through following the guide, they would need to install the 'STEP Configuration' mod earlier.
  • 'STEP Configuration' mod would need to be maintained as needed to keep up with relevant mod updates, same as STEP patches.
Edited by Mousetick

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I alluded to a similar possibility, but it has it's drawbacks in that many people wont want some of that imposed upon them.

Similarly, I myself tend to create a mod named after the mod in question, prefixed with "(Custom INI)", so mod updates don't overwrite my changes. Rarely do I need to add a new or remove an old setting from my custom INI. This is prioritized just ahead of the parent mod:

image.png

Your idea is a good one though, and it's essentially planned for a future Collection install. But with that, it can be done at mod or mod-list levels as well.

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13 minutes ago, z929669 said:

I alluded to a similar possibility, but it has it's drawbacks in that many people wont want some of that imposed upon them.

And who would these people be? I bet the large majority of users have no clue what the configuration changes mean and the guide doesn't explain anything anyway. It just instructs users to blindly go through the motions - verify this, edit that. And it's not like it would prevent more knowledgeable users from modifying the STEP configuration presets if they wanted to.

In some cases, specific settings are required for the guide to function as expected. There is not much of a choice.

16 minutes ago, z929669 said:

Similarly, I myself tend to create a mod named after the mod in question, prefixed with "(Custom INI)", so mod updates don't overwrite my changes.

That works too, same principle. But I'm lazy and forgetful :) I prefer having everything in one place, saves me from having to search the modlist to find the relevant mod.

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As I said, I had essentially the same idea about adding config settings via Step Patches. I'm not against it, but I think others should chime in.

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It's fine, it's just a suggestion that can be useful to mod users in general. No hard feelings whether you want to adopt it or not - I have no stakes in this and I don't care either way. I'm glad you had the same idea though, that makes it more relevant and pertinent :)

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