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I've done quite a bit of searching but there's not much information about this feature. Does anyone know exactly what it does?

As far as I can tell, Archive Invalidation creates a BSA that does something or other. I imagine this can be done at any time. Maybe.

 

But I'm not sure how to go about using "back-date" after I've installed a number of mods.

 

Do I:

 

  • Just enable it
  • Untick all mods, then enable it
  • Start over, and enable it

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The ability to "back-date" BSAs is part of MO's 'workarounds' in the Settings, and as such is only necessary if your system exhibits problems with the regular methods of BSA management, ie. enabling Archive Invalidation in the Profile manager and having MO manage your archives.

 

Since 1000's of users allow MO to provide AI and don't report issues you can safely assume the process is working as expected.

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ie. enabling Archive Invalidation in the Profile manager and having MO manage your archives.

Sorry, I should have mentioned I'm using Mod Organizer with Skyrim, and it's recomended to use back-date over AI. https://wiki.step-project.com/Mod_Organizer

 

I forgot to enable "back-date BSAs" when I initially installed MO.

 

I'm wondering whether this is something that absolutely needs to be enabled prior to installing mods, or if it can be toggled on and off whenver.  Like, how does it function?

Edited by Sydney

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I'll check with the rest of the STEP team about that recommendation as to its need, but you can safely assume since it has been used by everyone else, it makes no adverse changes to your game.

 

As to how it works, all it does is resets the datestamp on the BSA files to 1/1/2000.

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I had to do a bit of digging, but I found some relevant information in The new mod order in 1.2.5 thread from last year. The basic issue is that Skyrim (and other Bethesda games like Oblivion) won't use loose files if they are dated older than the BSA it should override. In other words, let's say the High Resolution Texture Pack BSAs are dated 1/1/2015 and you install a texture pack containing loose files in which the textures are all dated 1/1/2014. In this case, Skyrim won't use loose files in the texture pack.
 

Ok... I just verified that Back-dating BSAs is absolutely necessary! I was wondering why my Ebony Blade didn't have a scabbard! Updating the MO install page...

 

The bug that caused loose files to not load over BSA files in Oblivion. In Skyrim, you need to have the dates of the BSAs older than your loose files. And no, I do not have Automatic Archive Invalidation checked in Mod Organizer, and it definitely made a difference. Intricate Spider Webs has some cobwebs which were the first things I noticed. They are dated 12/3/2011 and my game BSAs were dated 2013 or something.

 
So, in short, click the Back-Date button to make sure your BSAs are older than any of your loose files.

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If this is the case, shouldn't this be mentioned at the end of the guide as a step that someone should do at the same time they are creating their bashed patch, DSR, FNIS?  It sounds pretty important.

 

EDIT: I don't see an automatic function for this either.  It seems like you click it once and it runs once.  So if you were to add in extra mods with loose files later on and place them after mods with bsas, couldn't you run into the issues again unless you click to run the back-date process again?

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I think they're looking for the "why" not the "how", in regards to STEP recommending it, and more of any explanation than "some mods might not work"

 

Greg probably answered that above, though. The hows are in several places. If it's not done, it's because users haven't read those source materials, like the MO wiki.

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One thing I find interesting is that Bethesda added sResourceArchiveListBeta with the official 1.6 patch without a word. I wonder if this new setting is capable of loading BSAs in a different manner.

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The point is that if it needs to be run after you install certain mods, then it's very easy to forget to run it again when it's in the MO pages and not at the part of the guide where it talks about the final steps to creating a mod setup.  The guide has you set up MO at the very beginning.  Not many people are going remember to back-date their BSAs again or go back to that part again after installing MO and get reminded.

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I'm pretty sure it makes no difference when you click the Back-date BSAs button. Is someone creating a new mod from 2000?

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Cross posted from the Development thread:

 

Although the text on the 'Workarounds' dialogue says this method "can be" used, it is implied by the text at the bottom of the dialogue that changes should be made only if problems arise. Since it is quite possible to play Skyrim without back-dating BSAs and not see the problems mentioned there, it needs to be clearly stated what the problem is that is being 'worked around'.

 

Since all of this is in the MO UI, clearly this is a MO development issue.

 

If, as you say, all Skyrim games should be using the 'back-date' method, then that function should be moved from the main MOprogramme to the Skyrim specific DLL and remove the option from the user's choice. If it must be on we don't provide an option to NOT use it.

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Well, to be honest, I'm still somewhat skeptical on the issue, and I would like to back-date some loose files and see if this is an issue at all, or if it was some fluke somehow. I've been meaning to do an in-depth study of AI across the games, but have yet to do so, as other things take greater precedence. It by no means can harm Skyrim users to back-date their BSAs, so I've just left it at that for the time being.

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If anyone wants to do this work and post your findings, please feel free! The Staff seem to be rather busy lately with a lot of work like this taking a back seat to other priorities.

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That's fine, I didn't mean to initiate an "all hands to battle stations" alert, just curious.

As stated elsewhere, I missed that recommendation in the wiki about enabling it, sorry about that, and have run Skyrim without back-dated BSAs with no issues that I have seen. Since everyone else I assume has them back-dated it is probably clear that it makes no problems with it enabled.

 

There has been a lot of work done to the MO code since those earlier issues were noted and more than likely the issue has now been obscured or removed by new code.

 

I'll put in an 'Enhancement' request in the Bug Genie about this and see if @tannin can shed some light on it.

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I loaded up a vanilla game with a CCBE body replacer installed.

 

I backdated the mesh and textures for the body to the year 1998. All the BSA are 1999.

 

This I think is when I click the button after reading the MO guide and seeing the recommendation.

I thought it was a one-time only recommendation to backdate the original BSA.

 

Result: It makes no difference.

 

The CBBE body is still used. MO is very aggressive about this. I unclicked the automatic Archive Invalidation. Removed the  SInvalidationFile= and it still used the loose files. 

 

Could this be BSA to BSA?

 

Forgot, I backdated all three timestamps. Created, modified and accessed.

Edited by echo451

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