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Install order vs. Load Order

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I've been working with mods for a little while now, and something is still confusing that I can't find an exact answer to. What exactly does install order overwrite, what does load order overwrite (and how it works), and if the two are related. If someone could give me a brief explanation that would be wonderful. Thanks!

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Install order: Order in which your Mods are installed. This has ramifications on what may 'win' if you have two mods that do the same or similar things. As an example you have three mods X, Y and Z. X is a complete overhaul of all bottles in the game. Better meshes higher res, etc. Y is a specialized mod that uses the meshes in X but adds extra texture details to the Booze bottles. Z just does new bottle labels, which are better quality than X or Y.

 

Ideally then You'd install X first, then Y, then Z. You'll get best results that way.

 

Load Order refers only to mod plugins. They do various things, but one things they do do is tell the game what to load and when. So to keep going with our example, suppose you have a mod that allows you to actually craft bottles. (Like you have a Meadery with it's own glassblower, say.) You would likely want any plugin from that Mod to load before the plugins from our three example mods above. So the game loads the whole overhaul, it's assets, scripts etc first then the game then gets the call to load X, Y and Z based on any plugins they provide.

 

Does that make sense?

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So does install order only determine the meshes and textures used, or other things as well?

Mods consist of two distinct things, or groups of things.

  1. Plugins: *.esp/*.esm files
  2. Assets: textures, meshes, scripts, sounds, menus, anything else that makes the mod

As @Nozzer66 explained above the Load Order is to do with the plugins (*.esp/esm) and the Install Order has a bearing on everything else.

 

Now since STEP uses ModOrganizer exclusively, the concept of 'Install Order' is a little bit more fluid as the final order these mods will be in, can be moved about with no loss of file, as would be the case in other mod managers.

 

Taking the example above. If you installed those three mods in this order: X, Z, Y, you're not in any trouble just yet because you can move them around to be in the correct order inside MO's left-hand pane.

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Mods consist of two distinct things, or groups of things.

  1. Plugins: *.esp/*.esm files
  2. Assets: textures, meshes, scripts, sounds, menus, anything else that makes the mod

Ah, thank you. That explains the difference, and the rest I knew. Can you link me to somewhere that describes what is in the plugin that are not assets? I guess this is getting too far off topic, so close it if you want. I just downloaded a ton of mods on top of step, and I want to make sure I'm not going to do anything egregiously wrong.

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You're unlikely to go egregiously wrong. As long as you keep an eye on the conflicts tab in MO and see what's conflicting with what. Move things around as needed.

 

Also, basically follow the STEP categories. If you've added a body replacer type mod for example, drop it in the same area of the left pane as other mods that do similar things.

 

Just keep your wits about you and double check and you'll be fine. :)

Edited by Nozzer66

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Thanks for the tip! I was originally placing all my extra mods after the step ones. However, I'm not sure exactly how to resolve conflicts and which ones to care about. For example, I have Ethereal Elven Overhaul and Immersive College of Winterhold. They both elven face textures, so I put EEO after ICW in the install order because I assumed that EEO would be better. Was that right, wrong, doesn't matter? In addition, Mod organizer 1.3.4 is showing conflicts with the red/green lines that don't show up in the conflicts information tab. Does that mean the esp's conflicts, or is it garbage?

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Personally I'd have EEO load before ICW. On the principle that EEO is an overall improvement and ICW is a more specialized improvement. 

 

I always try and have overhauls on a grand scale improve everything first and than more specialized ones come in over the top.

Edited by Nozzer66

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Regarding MO's UI and how conflicts are shown.

  1. The messages/colour coding/icon flags/etc. that MO shows are specific to the panes they are in. ie. if the conflict is shown in the left-hand pane then it has nothing to do with the plugins.
  2. 'Conflicts' are not necessarily a bad thing. MO will inform you of a conflict but it makes no judgement on whether one mod or the other should win, that's up to you.

Now about your adding in new mods and where they should go.

The best practice would be to have the STEP profile exactly as it is in the guide and then make a copy of it in MO's 'Profile Manager' and name it accordingly. Once that new profile is active add your new mods in and position them in relation to mods that do a similar thing.

e.g. You have a mod that changes textures for your swords in the existing list and you want to add another sword-texture replacer.

Best place for it to be is the position immediately below that existing mod so that it immediately wins the conflict and you can see both mods at a glance. This is also where MO's 'Categories' column comes into play. Ideally you would have all the mods that do similar things in the same category so you can more easily keep track of which mod is doing what.

 

Modding is all about making the game what YOU want. After you have a stable STEP install, feel free to tweak it how you want. Using MO's profiles means you can't irrevocably break anything, you just remove the modified profile and start afresh if the changes you made were too extensive to backstep through.

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Thanks for the tip! I was originally placing all my extra mods after the step ones. However, I'm not sure exactly how to resolve conflicts and which ones to care about. For example, I have Ethereal Elven Overhaul and Immersive College of Winterhold. They both elven face textures, so I put EEO after ICW in the install order because I assumed that EEO would be better. Was that right, wrong, doesn't matter? In addition, Mod organizer 1.3.4 is showing conflicts with the red/green lines that don't show up in the conflicts information tab. Does that mean the esp's conflicts, or is it garbage?

Kudos to Nozzer66 and GrantSP for their explanation :) This is probably TMI but here it goes :P

 

Install Order (Pane) is not like the LOAD Order (LOOT handles that).  You may move mods up and down the list (drag&drop/cntrl+↑↓).  When there are Conflicts, Identify the FILE that's overwriting (spot the flags) and choose whether to deal with them or not:  In the Install Pane, Double Click the Mod and that Pop-up is your Best Friend.  "Conflicts" Tab and "Files" Tab.  Conflict will show what is overwriting what.  Identify the file you want and HIDE the file (in the Files Tab) you don't want.  Not the right Mod?  Go to that mod and do the same.

 

For Example:  2 mods.  EEO and ICW.  EEO Install Order number is lets say #51.  ICW is #78.  ICW is Overwriting a lot of Textures you Do Not Want Overwritten.  Go to ICW's File Tab and Hide those Conflicting Files.  ::: drag&drop ICW to #50 and you will see the flag change.  bc #51.EEO now takes priority over #50.ICW and so on up the Install Order list.

 

 

OVERWRITE folder:

In the Install Pane (Left side) At the Bottom is a "folder" called "OVERWRITE".  In RED letters IF something is in it.  

These files will overwrite any other (same folder/file named) files in your Install Order.

 

When I want to patch I open these Apps in this order in MO: LOOT/FNIS/Wyre Bash Patch/SUM-Skyproccer.  The patches will go into the "OVERWRITE" folder.  So when I'm done with my patches I "Right-Click" the Overwrite folder and select "Create Mod".  I name it the Date of the patch.  Which contains all the patches from those programs.  Ideally you want to keep the Overwrite Folder Empty.  Something in there?  Right click it and name it something and move it ↑↓ the Install Order.  

 

https://wiki.step-project.com/Guide:Mod_Organizer

 

Off Topic:

About STEP 2.2.x Install Order into MO.  It is made this way so any Bethesda mod amateurs can stop by and follow it without any problems.  Ofc they could jumble all the mods up and the game will still load...but there will be many conflicts or missing textures in the game.  Just like what I attempted to explain above.  So really for bonus points after the Core STEP is installed and running, 7zip up the \profiles and \Mods folders and keep them for safe keeping :)

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  1. The messages/colour coding/icon flags/etc. that MO shows are specific to the panes they are in. ie. if the conflict is shown in the left-hand pane then it has nothing to do with the plugins.

The problem I'm seeing is that the red/green highlights are coming up, and then I go to the conflicts tab and it shows no conflicting files. I'm not sure why this is, but either I'm interpreting it wrong or something is messed up in MO.

 

 

 

Kudos to Nozzer66 and GrantSP for their explanation :) This is probably TMI but here it goes :P

 

Install Order (Pane) is not like the LOAD Order (LOOT handles that).  You may move mods up and down the list (drag&drop/cntrl+↑↓).  When there are Conflicts, Identify the FILE that's overwriting (spot the flags) and choose whether to deal with them or not:  In the Install Pane, Double Click the Mod and that Pop-up is your Best Friend.  "Conflicts" Tab and "Files" Tab.  Conflict will show what is overwriting what.  Identify the file you want and HIDE the file (in the Files Tab) you don't want.  Not the right Mod?  Go to that mod and do the same.

 

For Example:  2 mods.  EEO and ICW.  EEO Install Order number is lets say #51.  ICW is #78.  ICW is Overwriting a lot of Textures you Do Not Want Overwritten.  Go to ICW's File Tab and Hide those Conflicting Files.  ::: drag&drop ICW to #50 and you will see the flag change.  bc #51.EEO now takes priority over #50.ICW and so on up the Install Order list.

 

 

OVERWRITE folder:

In the Install Pane (Left side) At the Bottom is a "folder" called "OVERWRITE".  In RED letters IF something is in it.  

These files will overwrite any other (same folder/file named) files in your Install Order.

 

When I want to patch I open these Apps in this order in MO: LOOT/FNIS/Wyre Bash Patch/SUM-Skyproccer.  The patches will go into the "OVERWRITE" folder.  So when I'm done with my patches I "Right-Click" the Overwrite folder and select "Create Mod".  I name it the Date of the patch.  Which contains all the patches from those programs.  Ideally you want to keep the Overwrite Folder Empty.  Something in there?  Right click it and name it something and move it ↑↓ the Install Order.  

 

https://wiki.step-project.com/Guide:Mod_Organizer

 

Off Topic:

About STEP 2.2.x Install Order into MO.  It is made this way so any Bethesda mod amateurs can stop by and follow it without any problems.  Ofc they could jumble all the mods up and the game will still load...but there will be many conflicts or missing textures in the game.  Just like what I attempted to explain above.  So really for bonus points after the Core STEP is installed and running, 7zip up the \profiles and \Mods folders and keep them for safe keeping :)

 

I already knew most of that, but thank you for the clarification. One thing: How do I know which assets I want to use? All I see is the file name, and it's tedious to load up skyrim every time I want to check a texture.

 

I have more questions because I have to merge plugins, but I'll take that to the appropriate forum.

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Easy way to check textures without being in game is to download something like GIMP and the .dds plugin for GIMP. You can then look through .dds files (which are textures) at your leisure. From that you can determine which one you prefer, if you have two different options, etc. Use MO to hide the ones you don't want.

 

Of course, this way you only see them on a flat surface and not wrapped around a mesh, but if you like a texture on a flat surface, more than likely that you'll like it on the mesh as well.

Edited by Nozzer66

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