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Bradl3y

Extracting DLC into mods for MO

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So I've just signed up today and this will be my very first post on these forums so I can only hope this imgur link works before posting this.

 

Alright before we get started a few notes .... I am no expert and I'm looking for help (or rather clarification) on a few topics.

 

I have read (SOME) of z929669 post labled Ramifications of extracting bsa archives. That post is not only old but it has almost 300 posts spanning over a year. So I will admit that I have not read all of it (yet) and I am aware that the information that I am looking for MIGHT be in that sticky.

 

With that said

 

ONE:Why is my HRT (HighResTextures) not overwriting my NEW CLEAN .ESM files after I 'fix them' with TES5EDIT?

 

TWO: What is the benefit / penalty for extracting the DLC bsa files and forming MODS out of them to ensure that all files are being overwritten and overwriting correctly.

 

https://imgur.com/gallery/hbXUI

 

In the above link you'll see a few photos demonstrating the results of the TES5EDIT cleaning process from my perspective.

 

The first photo shows my left pane mod list and load order. You can see by glancing at the flags that each mod is overwriting and or being overwritten by other mods.

This illustration shows how the vanilla game looks before launching skyrim through skse through the mod organizer before cleaning the mods.

 

The second photo shows what happens if you follow the STEP wiki instructions when it comes to cleaning your DLC with TES5EDIT.

 

You will notice the old ESM files have been moved to the TES5EDIT Backup folder (not shown in the picture) but they have been replaced by new CLEAN versions. As far as I know this is how we're all instructed to clean this DLC with TES5EDIT

 

However ... if you notice there are no flags indicating that files are being overwritten or that they're overwriting each other. This got me thinking about full bsa extraction.

 

As I understand it (and this does not include everyone because all systems and setups and different) I should place my 'old' ESM files back into the skyrim/data directory. Somebody somewhere seems to think this keeps your skyrim/data directory clean and pristine.

 

In the third and fourth photographs you'll see what happens when I place my old dirty ESM files back into my skyrim/data directory and refresh mod organizer. Take note I have also refreshed mod organizer and I have opened two conflict tabs. One is the DRAGONBORN CLEAN mod folder that I created specifically for my Dragonborn.esm (the clean one)

 

Under this conflicts tab you can clearly see that this ESM is ONLY overwriting the OLD DIRTY Dragonborn.esm

it is not being overwritten by the HRT (HighResTexturePacks)

 

The fourth picture shows that my OLD DIRTY Dragonborn.esm is being overwritten by the HRT (HighResTexturePacks)

 

So why is my NEW CLEAN ESM not being overwritten by the HRT?

 

So I messed around a bit and in the rest of the photos you should be able to see for yourself what I've done.

 

I'll explain

 

I created 7 folders in my Mod Organizer/Mods folder UPDATE CLEAN - DAWNGUARD CLEAN - HEARTHFIRES - CLEAN - DRAGONBORN CLEAN - and HRT packs 01 / 02 / 03

 

I have extracted the bsa archives into these folders. I have also placed THE CLEAN ESM FILES into these folders. I have also moved the HRT esp's to these folders.

 

I then removed the DLC bsa & OLD DIRTY ESM FILES to the TES5EDIT BACKUPS folder (you know .. just in case)

And that is still on my hard drive. Even though if this does not work I'll just nuke everything and start over from scratch.

 

The two final photos show my left pane window in the correct order. TAKE NOTE:everything is overwriting and being overwritten correctly (the difference being the DLC is now being used in MOD form) there are no bsa files or esm or esp files in my skyrim/data directory to overwrite (or break) my mod organizer setup.

 

You should take a look at the LOOT results in the final photograph. You'll see that all of my mods are clean and that they're working properly.

 

I have tested this (for about an hour) running through the default vanilla setup. I made it to Whiterun and everything seems to be working as far as I can tell.

 

When I run skse through mod organizer I can notice a SLIGHT increase in the time it takes for skyrims' main menu to load. As far as I can tell after tampering with this, the only drawback.

 

Somebody out there knows a whole hell of alot more about this stuff than I do and I'm hoping you'll check this out and tell me if it is worth it or perhaps if there is something wrong with this setup that is going to come back and bite me 150 hours into my play through.

Edited by Bradl3y

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Let's answer one point first as it has bearing on a lot of your other questions.

 

The Hi-Resolution Texture Pack plugins (*.esp) are only placeholders to load the associated BSAs. They contain no records that overwrite the actual game plugins, (Dawnguard.esm, Hearthfires.esm, etc.) That is why the small 'broom' icon is shown in the MO UI with the tooltip indicating they can safely be de-activated if you have MO manage your BSA management. This is also why you can safely disable (uncheck) those plugins in the right-hand pane, thus saving three slots.

 

So, with that established, you have no need to worry about not seeing conflict resolution information or overwritten files in MO with those plugins.

 

Now regarding your cleaning of the DLC. It is best practice to put back the 'dirty' plugins into the Data folder, Steam will only complain about them being missing and restore them anyway if you "verify your game cache" via the Steam client.

That's why you create those new 'cleaned' mods and place the cleaned versions inside and then order them so the cleaned mods are directly placed after their 'dirty' versions in MO's left-hand pane, as you have in example 1.

 

Now there is a misconception here that also needs to explained. You say:

 

 

The fourth picture shows that my OLD DIRTY Dragonborn.esm is being overwritten by the HRT (HighResTexturePacks)

This is not correct. The left-hand pane shows "mods" which are comprised of plugins (Dragonborn.esm) and assets (textures, sounds, menus, scripts, etc.) What is shown as over-written is not the cleaned plugin but some assets such as textures.

 

If you are following the STEP guided install then you should explicitly follow those instructions about BSA extraction with the purpose of optimising those textures. If this is just your own modding then there is very little need to extract BSAs.

 

I'm not sure if you have ever used other mod management tools but it needs to be established that MO does things VERY differently and the process is both more complex but equally more fulfilling. If you remember that a mod is made of BOTH plugins and assets and MO manages these two distinct things separately you should be good to go.

 

Please feel free to read through the wiki and watch the tutorial videos and ask any questions here.

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Thank you for the quick reply.

 

That part about the fourth picture is what bugs me. I'll give you a better example.

 

Let's say that I've installed Skyrim HD 2K textures - Landscapes. Follow that with another mod that changes Landscapes.

The flags will light up red/green indicating these changes and conflicts. Opening the conflicts tab for either mod should show us which mods are over-writing each other. In fact, each file one by one will be listed under these conflict tabs. At least the ones being changed or the ones doing the changing will be listed under the conflicts tab.

 

This is illustrated clearly in the first photo before cleaning the DLC. the fourth picture shows that the CLEAN stuff is no longer being over-written by the HRT packs. To me (and I will admit my ignorance here) this means after we clean the DLC and activate their ESM files in the left / right pane and sort them accordingly. The HRT packs will no longer overwrite them like they were meant to. This happens with or without the HRT esp plugins enabled / disabled.

 

I'll do some more research I guess. Maybe I'll come across a more extensive installation process that takes this into account.

Edited by Bradl3y

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I'm not 100% sure if I understand you right, but from looking at your 4th picture the High Resolution packs are still overwriting the Vanilla + DLC textures after you added the cleaned plugins. At this point I assume you have extracted the HRT packs and the plugins are no longer necessary as they only served to load the BSA (hence the broom icon). It's important to note that the left side of MO sorts assets (i.e. textures, meshes and the like) while in the right pane you can change the order of plugins. Changing the load order in the right pane won't affect how any assets are loaded (the extracted and optimized packs on the right side count as assets). Plugins only affect changes in game such as adding armors, or changing npcs. Something as simple as changing a texture doesn't require an .esp and will in all likelihood not be affected by one.

 

If you look under the data tab in the right pane you can tell which loose files (e.g. files unpacked from BSA-archives) are used when you launch the game, and from which mod they originate. Basically who "wins" the conflict.

Edited by MonoAccipiter

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The "cleaning" you do to your DLC plugins has no bearing whatsoever on the assets provided by those mods.

If you look at the 'Data' tab and examine the listing you will see the DLC's plugins with the 'Mod' that provides them listed in RED and when you mouseover that, the tooltip will say something like:

Also in:
Unmanaged: Dragonborn.esm

This indicates the 'dirty' esm(s) provided by Bethesda, and residing in the Data folder, are being overwritten by your 'clean' ones in the mods you created.

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You're not seeing conflicts because all the mod only contains the ESM file after you clean it. There is no BSA archive because the BSA stays in the Data folder and is therefore "unmanaged" while the ESM file is "managed". Since the managed portion of the DLC only contains the ESM file, there is nothing to conflict with so you are not seeing any of the asset conflicts for that "managed" portion. If you look in your Archive tab, you'll notice the corresponding BSAs are still being loaded just fine. You have to understand the difference between managed and unmanaged and how they are handled to know that the BSAs are being overwritten just as they should be.

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Thank you all for the insight. This clears up everything quite nicely as far as I'm concerned.

 

I am in the process of nuking my setup and starting over from scratch. Tomorrow I'll get started on a fresh installation.

 

This thread should be marked as solved I think.

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