The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Mod Thread

SKSE is pretty smart about what it needs to do, I generally just launch directly from it (rather than from NMM, BOSS, or Steam).

I just got a new Alienware laptop, since my old Asus started having display issues. It's a pretty big upgrade, with a Core i7 2.4, GTX 770M, and 16GB of RAM. First thing I thought to do? Mod the living hell out of Skyrim of course! I'm going full-blown STEP, skipping only the mods I absolutely don't care about or that I think are just adding needless extra resources. As of last night I am up through stage 2L, leaving only the gameplay mods left to do. Here are some earlier results (using the Cinematic ENB settings, which I then modified to remove the black bars). Lydia is in her skivvies because I haven't re-installed the mods which contain the armor she was wearing:

IMAGE(http://cloud-4.steampowered.com/ugc/576746655574080107/FD6E05F13CE7006DC81E8255D3497AD22C115901/)

IMAGE(http://cloud-2.steampowered.com/ugc/577872798907766216/A5A93F88310D8E38EBA1B7404EB280EC9BA865DB/)

IMAGE(http://cloud-2.steampowered.com/ugc/577872798907777431/7918A0D17D4C5B426754ECC53405D91DB6745268/)

IMAGE(http://cloud-2.steampowered.com/ugc/577872798943866924/C1D8B2C44E0D0F6411BB93A1ACEC135E4C836206/)

Tonight I'm going to finish STEP, and then go on to my personal mods (Climates of Tamriel, Deadly Dragons, SkyRe), and then clean my save so I can pick up where I left off.

ENB is pretty awesome for screenshots, but it's such a huge hit to framerate that I doubt I'll play with it on. I normally get 50-60 FPS, but turning on ENB axes it down to 25 in most scenes. It also introduces a slight mouse lag which I cannot stand, and it drastically increases load times (I'm not sure why it does this, but it does).

EDIT: And done, at last. 179 mods and one cleaned save file later, I'm now back where I was before but with a massive graphical upgrade.

IMAGE(http://cloud-4.steampowered.com/ugc/578998903413315682/08F8662CF0CD079092F8BD2EDE784E7298E06C1D/)

Rorikstead at night:
IMAGE(http://cloud.steampowered.com/ugc/578998903413316599/910CA702D52A4025B145583720E3EA73D1BA6D52/)

New dragon models and textures (also my death):
IMAGE(http://cloud-2.steampowered.com/ugc/578998903413318992/842FC57CD99E3678F8F2ACCE14BC37D0F520FF4C/)

Lookin' gooooooood. I'm still 7-8 months away from new hardware, so I think I may hold off on any Skyrim until then, so I can pretty much do the same as you just have, and roll a new character at the same time.

Having said that, I never did get beyond the very start of the Dragonborn DLC....

Me either. After having such a pretty landscape to look at, the desolation in Dragonborn just lost me after a while. I should really go back and finish it up.

Hmm, those night time screens looked a lot brighter in the game, and in the Steam screenshot viewer. I wonder if my gamma is too high...

I'm looking forward to Dragonborn. It'll be a nice trip down memory lane to visit good ol' Solstheim again, even if it's covered in ash.

ahrezmendi wrote:

I'm looking forward to Dragonborn. It'll be a nice trip down memory lane to visit good ol' Solstheim again, even if it's covered in ash.

If you're a fan of Morrowind than Dragonborn is quite a treat. The Silt Strider calls gave me tingles. I think it's neat the Bloodmoon was a taste of Skyrim in Morrowind, and Dragonborn is a taste of Morrowind in Skyrim, and both on Solstheim.

From the main Skyrim thread...

MojoBox wrote:

The various ENB mods always make For extremely pretty pictures, but I've given up trying to actually play the game with them. The performance usually suffers a lot, the game tends to get much buggier, and the balance is never quite right. For all the beautiful vistas you often wind up with pitch black caves that even a torch can't help.

Gorgeous pictures though.

I haven't seen any ENB make the game buggier, it is a wrapped DLL so it's not modifying any game code. If it's causing you issues, that's probably a result of using the wrong ENB version with the wrong graphics driver version.

The trick with ENBs is getting in and customizing them yourself, which can be simple or extremely complex. Some effects have a huge hit on performance, notably DoF and SSAO, which unfortunately are also the two that have the most noticeable effect. SSAO will always hit your framerate by approximately 50%, but the upside is it's a consistent hit for any level of scene complexity. DoF can be tweaked to be more or less visible, and the hit to your performance will vary accordingly. You can adjust all of these (and much more) by editing the enbseries.ini file.

My point is that if all you want is some adjustment to things like the sky tone, some ambient lighting, a few environmental effects, or maybe your bloom filter you can just turn those effects on and generally not see much of a performance hit. Doing this necessitates making your own enbseries.ini file though, so buyer beware.

I've modified the one I use (starting from SkyRealism - Cinematic) to remove the black bars, tweak the SSAO slightly, and I'll probably adjust the DoF too (it makes things a bit too blurry for my taste when they're very close). With all effects on it knocks my framerate down to about 25 fps, but it's a consistent 25 fps.

ahrezmendi wrote:

Lydia is in her skivvies because I haven't re-installed the mods which contain the armor she was wearing:

Riiiiiight.

Quintin_Stone wrote:
ahrezmendi wrote:

Lydia is in her skivvies because I haven't re-installed the mods which contain the armor she was wearing:

Riiiiiight.

Damn, you caught me. I have a thing for women in goat skin underwear and steel gauntlets.

Who doesn't?

Your hands are so cold.

I'll update later, as I don't remember all my mods off-hand, but for those who are curious here's the list of mods I'm now running:

- STEP. This is the bulk of it, ~130 mods. I run every core mod usually at the highest available quality option except for things that aren't terribly visible (snowflakes, puddles on the ground) in which case I opted for the 2048 option.
- ENB SkyRealism, which came recommended by STEP. I run the Cinematic option which I then further modified to remove the top/bottom black bars.
- Immersive Animations. I think STEP recommends this one, but if not it's a companion to XPMS skeletons. You'll pretty much have to pick your weapon style/choice ahead of time, you won't be able to have animations that work for every weapon type/combination and the changes XPMS makes. I opted for daggers on the hip, since I'm going for dual-wield daggers. This makes the 3rd person draw animation wonky when a dagger is in the RH and a 1h weapon is in the LH, but it only affects 3rd person.
- Climates of Tamriel.
- Deadly Dragons. I installed the optional Deadly Monsters pack too.
- Skyrim Redone.

There are a few other tiny mods that I'm definitely forgetting, but that's the meat 'n potatoes of it.

I can grab more sample vistas if anybody cares, here are just a couple I got last night:

IMAGE(http://cloud.steampowered.com/ugc/577873252869769823/C3D43DB7E4B187C7A5617FF82485D1B69DE30A56/)
IMAGE(http://cloud-2.steampowered.com/ugc/577873252869774265/7EA57541C7502E9FA96D241F0A7A40040F1562F2/)

I'm a big fan of Phinix's ENB. I tried a bunch of ENBs and had the same issue with frame rates. Phinix doesn't have much impact at all. (Of course the 2 4GB GTX 680s and 4.2ghz pc might help)

Definitely make sure you're up to date on the ENBseries version (.213 just released.) They've had some HUGE improvements

http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/24235/?

171 mods running and it's almost completely rock solid.

Ah, he doesn't turn on DoF and a bunch of other effects by default. That would help if you're having framerate issues.

yeah DOF was neat for 5 minutes and is good for screenshots but I want to play my game without squinting unconsciously at the screen.

Also- Check out the main font replacement if you haven't. Little tweak that makes a big difference. I'm using the Magic Cards Font.

http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/95/?

And Skyrim Immersive Creatures is great as well. Fleshes out the world a lot!

http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/24913//?

I'm using the MTG font too, it just doesn't show up much because I'm running Immersive HUD.

If you like depth of field effects but find the ENB implementation to either be too resource intensive or too intense (or both) I'd recommend checking out Dynavision: http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/12525/?

It's pretty subtle by default (though it's fully customizable with an MCM menu) and has very little performance impact. Personally I love DoF effects when done right, but the ENB version was just too much, and especially made riding a horse really unpleasant.

Edit: In response to ahrezmendi: I didn't mean to imply that ENB made Skyrim buggy, rather that ENB itself is very buggy. Mix and matching ENB versions with driver versions is way more effort than I'm willing to put in to it, especially when most of what ENB does can be achieved with less costly methods. SSAO, for example, can be forced (on nvidia cards at least) with very little performance impact, I prefer the above linked Dynavision's method of DoF to ENBs, and I'm content with the lighting and climate overhaul mods for cleaning up the games, er, lighting effects.

I've messed with ENB a lot before on previous games and I spent a solid weekend trying to find something that worked well with Skyrim, but in the end I found it was just not pleasant to actually play the game with.

That looks cool. I checked the STEP community, and it doesn't appear to have any conflicts, so definitely a good alternative to ENB DoF.

When I was into modding Skyrim I found dynamic DoF options to be incredibly annoying as it is like continuously looking through an auto-focus camera. I tweaked a static depth of field to simply blur detail over large distances rather than try to add a 'focus' effect to the center of the screen which is what most default effects attempted to do.
Here are some screenshots with my tweaked effect applied (it's fairly subtle but effective).

IMAGE(http://cloud-2.steampowered.com/ugc/559837695510567851/D4B2394329C0C1FDC08597A8ACFB38FA1074F751/)

IMAGE(http://cloud-3.steampowered.com/ugc/540695473705052941/6D9AC6B9D0E585E37502269F20FCA01C735D2516/)

What ENB preset did you start with, imbig? The dynamic DoF I have right now is OK, but I think I would prefer a static one in the long run, and I'd rather just tweak a preset than have to dive in and do my own HLSL coding.

While I'd like to say I have the knowledge to start from scratch, the truth is far from that.
If I remember correctly I started with the static DoF file found in the optional files for Project ENB for static DOF and tweaked the effect ranges.

Do you remember what exact setting you changed for that ENB blurred distance effect? I really like that

Ah, I found the various DoF options in enbeffectprepass.fx. You can toggle on/off focus detection, switch between the different DoF methods, and adjust all the various ranges there. I'll try the different focus methods when I'm done with work.

JC wrote:

Do you remember what exact setting you changed for that ENB blurred distance effect? I really like that

Phew... that was months and a complete system reformat ago, I'll have to download the files again and take a look.

no worries. I found the line that does it. I was just hoping you knew the #s you had set it at so that I didn't have to monkey with it.

omnipherous wrote:

Lookin' gooooooood. I'm still 7-8 months away from new hardware, so I think I may hold off on any Skyrim until then, so I can pretty much do the same as you just have, and roll a new character at the same time.

Having said that, I never did get beyond the very start of the Dragonborn DLC....

Depending on what your PC specs are, Skyrim can be made to look very nice on PC with just a few mods. I'm running it at full tilt with ENB modding on a 2yr old i5-2500 with a GTX 570 and it's as smooth as silk. I'd completed the main storyline on the 360 version, but there's no way I could go back to it now after modding the PC version.

davet010 wrote:

Depending on what your PC specs are, Skyrim can be made to look very nice on PC with just a few mods. I'm running it at full tilt with ENB modding on a 2yr old i5-2500 with a GTX 570 and it's as smooth as silk. I'd completed the main storyline on the 360 version, but there's no way I could go back to it now after modding the PC version.

I've put 300 hours into the 360 version and 70 into the PC version, there's no going back for me, definitely the ultimate way to play Skyrim. I still prefer the 360 controller (and my 40" plasma) but that's why Gob gave us Steam Big Picture

360 controller is a must, but once I'd worked out how to install SKSE and get the mod manager up and running, the world was my lobster. Definitely couldn't go back to the old UI after loading SkyUI.

I'm just gonna stick with my SkyRealism ENB. It has options for static, dynamic, and other DoF modes. I prefer his take on shading, Project ENB made everything too bright for my taste (it also hit my framerate more than SkyRealism). I'd love to be able to push this above a consistent 30 fps, though certainly the 25 average I get is fine but more is always better.

davet010 wrote:

Depending on what your PC specs are, Skyrim can be made to look very nice on PC with just a few mods.

The single most significant change I made (at zero FPS cost) was to enable tree self-shadowing per the NVidia tweak guide. And really, all the changes in that guide are nice. Beyond that, an HD texture pack and some mods to replace water and snow textures and Skyrim looks pretty damn good. I really like the ENB packs, but going that route always seemed to leave caves and dungeons impossibly dark, so I'm not using one right now.

davet010 wrote:

Depending on what your PC specs are, Skyrim can be made to look very nice on PC with just a few mods. I'm running it at full tilt with ENB modding on a 2yr old i5-2500 with a GTX 570 and it's as smooth as silk. I'd completed the main storyline on the 360 version, but there's no way I could go back to it now after modding the PC version.

Oh, I've sunk hundreds of hours into Skyrim on PC already, both unmodded and modded - it's just that my main system currently is a laptop, with a Quadro 1000M graphics card in it. While this has proven to be quite a workhorse and handles most things well, once I start cranking up some things, it does struggle a bit, but then, it's not a gaming card.

Come Jan/Feb I'm eyeing up one of those MSI GT beasties...