Anatriax

A Naughty and Immersive Skyrim

13 posts in this topic

12-30-2016
New Year: New Guide: New Skyrim

With the release of SSE, I'll be slowly working on a guide that is similar in fashion to this one. I'll start a thread on mod suggestions later.

First: This guide needs an overhaul. Gonna take some time, because I'm working 50+ hrs a week, so bear with me... but it's coming. 

 

Welcome to the newest version of this guide. 
Formerly known as "Anatriax's Guide to an Immersive Skyrim", this guide has evolved. It is no longer only my project, but a project of the community. I am taking, and always have taken, suggestions and advice from the community. 

While this guide has changed immensely from it's previous versions, it still has the same overall goal. 
Making the game feel more realistic, and look beautiful. 

In ways this guide has been simplified. Less mods to achieve the same overall goal. In other ways, it is more complex... as there are many compatibility patches that are needed, and many steps to follow.

Lets begin :)

For now, what you need for this guide is:
-- 2.5ghz dual core CPU
-- 2gb VRAM
-- 4gb System RAM
-- ~30gb of free storage space (HDD or preferably SSD)


GO TO PHASE

Guide Development Thread:
If you're a seasoned modder, come provide some input. We'll test it, decide if we like it, and possibly include it in the guide.

Guide Support Thread:
If you have questions about the install process of the guide, or something doesn't work as we've directed? Bring it here. We will help you fix the problem, so long as you have not deviated from the guide.



Next post in the thread -- Phase One.

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PHASE 1:

A clean install of Skyrim, and some random OS tweaks to help performance

Lets start by totally uninstalling your current installation of Skyrim. I personally suggest using a tool like CCleaner or Revo Uninstaller to do this, instead of simply going into Steam and clicking "Delete Local Content". The reason for this, is because there will be registry items left over if you just delete the content. CCleaner and/or Revo will make sure that these registry items have been properly removed.

Open %\users\<user name>\My Documents\My Games\Skyrim and delete everything in this folder except the "Saves" folder (if you'd like to keep previous saves. I HIGHLY suggest using this guide for a totally new save).  

The next step in Phase One is to run a temporary file cleaner. CCleaner is also good for this, or if you have it Cleanup! 4.5.2 is also VERY good at this (plus it makes a dandy flushing sound, reminding you that you're getting rid of all of the shit!). Restart your PC. Not a simple logout, that Cleanup! will want you to do. Restart. 

Ok. Now to reinstall Skyrim. It is VERY important that you do not install Skyrim to Program Files or Program Files (x86) directories, if that is where steam is installed. If you have one HDD or your OS is on a SSD with plenty of room, make a new Steam directory during your Skyrim install located in %\Games (or whatever you want to name your games folder).

This is done for a couple of reasons. One big one is write permissions. Some modding tools don't like UAC, and unless you know how to turn it off completely it will be an issue. Secondly, when a file name exceeds 254 characters there are also issues in moving, writing, and copying. Putting your game in %\Games will reduce the number of characters in the file name/location. 

Now that Skyrim is installed, open up your installation directory and launch Skyrim Launcher.exe. I often keep a shortcut on my desktop to Skyrim root directory folder "Skyrim" for quick and easy access to files that I may need or want to edit (like ENB configuration files). Let the launcher autodetect and set the .ini files in %\My Games\Skyrim. 

Now we're going to get some tools to help with modding, and with performance. 

 

First we will get Mod Organizer. This guide will be giving you step by step instructions on how to arrange your mods in Mod Organizer, how to add .exe's, and how to make sure everything is working properly. https://sourceforge.net/projects/modorganizer/files/

The current SUPPORTED version (as for use of this guide) is 1.3.8 
I install mine straight into my Skyrim install directory (ie: %\Games\steamapps\common\Skyrim). Once installed, open the Mod Organizer folder, and make a shortcut for Mod Organizer.exe on your desktop. You're going to click it. A LOT!


If you are unfamiliar with Mod Organizer as a whole, watch the following video:

The next tool is some what obvious, as many mods require it. You will want to get SKSE. 
http://skse.silverlock.org/
Make sure to get the 7zArchive. We will not be using the installer for this guide.

 

To properly install SKSE with Mod Organizer follow these steps:

 


1) Extract the 7zArcive.
2) Open the arcive and navigate to the root folder (It should be the first one, but if not it is the one that has the "Data" folder inside)
3) Right click and make "Data" either a .zip or .7z Archive. Name this Archive "SKSE" or "Skyrim Script Extender"
4) Keep this window open. Hold the windows key (located between CTRL and ALT) press "E". Navigate to your root Skyrim directory
    ( %\Games\steamapps\common\Skyrim).
[attachment=186014:Skyrim Location.jpg]
5) Copy the contents, minus the .7z archive, into your Skyrim folder.
6) Open Mod Organizer, click the Disk in the top left corner (Install mod from Archive). 
7) Navigate to the previously extracted 7zArchive, open it, and select the "SKSE" archive that we've made. 
8) In the following window right click "SKSE" and "Set data directory". You should have a green notification in the bottom left of this window that says       "Looks good!" Click "OK"
9) In the left pane of Mod Organizer Drag this above the Unmanaged content. This is where we'll keep all of our SKSE plugins and modding tools.


 
Mod Organizer should automatically detect SKSE Loader. If not:

 


1) Click the gears on the top bar of Mod Organizer. 
2) In "Title" label it as "SKSE"
3) Click "..." next to binary and navigate to where we installed SKSE, and select skse_loader.exe
4) Add and Close

 

Now we need LOOT:https://loot.github.io/
Get the latest version of LOOT. Extract to %\Games where Skyrim is installed. Not to the actual Skyrim or further in, just in the games folders next to "steamapps"

 


1) Click the gears on the top bar of Mod Organizer. 
2) In "Title" label it as "LOOT"
3) Click "..." next to binary and navigate to where we installed LOOT, and select LOOT.exe.
4) In "Arguements" put this without quotations "--game=Skyrim"
5) Add and close

 

Since this is partially a speed and stability guide as well, next we're going to make sure that there aren't unwanted services running in the background while you're playing Skyrim. While I am personally quite tech savvy, many of us are not.

Notepad++:
https://notepad-plus-plus.org/

This is a nifty little .txt editor. It will make editing your .ini files MUCH easier.

 


1) Click the download button
2) Install once download is complete
3) Navigate to %/documents/My Games/Skyrim
4) Right click on Skyrim.ini
5) Hover over "Open With" and select "Choose Default Program"
6) Select Notepad++. If it does not appear here:
6a) Click "Browse" in the bottom right corner
6b) Navigate to where Notepad++ was installed (Normally: C:/Program Files (x86) )

 

First, many of us own Multi-core CPU's. I personally run an AMD FX-8120. This is (stock) a 3.1ghz, 8mb L3 Cache, 8 core, 8 thread CPU. When I checked default settings, 3 of my cores were parked... meaning they're not being used!!!

http://coderbag.com/Programming-C/CPU-core-parking-manager

Links to help you decide if you should or should not unpark your cores:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/id-1914971/disabling-core-parking-100-safe.html
http://www.overclock.net/t/1240512/cpu-core-parking-good-or-bad

Download and follow the steps illustrated on this page to make sure that all of your cores are unparked and being utilized. 


Here is a tool that will make sure everything is closed while you are playing.
http://smartclose.en.softonic.com/
It's a safe tool. I've been using it for gaming for years. It functions similarly to Razer GameBooster, with one HUGE difference. It doesn't stay open, and even if you don't close it, there won't be 30mb+ of RAM eaten up because it's running. That can make a big difference! Especially on lower end systems. SmartClose is pretty straight forward. Just click the top button (Create a system snapshot and close all programs), then click next. On this following page we will add two programs to the exception list to be closed. Mod Organizer and Steam. Just click add, then click the drop down button and find Mod Organizer.exe then OK. Repeat for Steam. On the following pages click "Next", "Next", "Start". It will run for 30 seconds to a minute. Click Finish, then close SmartClose with the red X at the bottom of the window.

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PHASE 2:

SKSE Plugins, Bug Fixes, and .ini tweaks

Ok. Here we go with part two! 

First, we're going to make sure Mod Organizer can handle NMM links. This makes things a lot more simple.

1) In MO across the top bar, click the Wrench and Screwdriver.
2) Click the Nexus tab, click "Automatically Log in" and enter your information.
3) Click the "Associate with ... " Button below.
4) Click OK.

Next we're going to do a few other things to set up MO. 

1) Click the ID picture at the top (Configure Profiles, when you hover over it).
2) Check "Automatic Archive Invalidation" for the default profle. 
--You can rename it to whatever you like. Mine is simply "Anatriax"--

Some additonal tools that we need:

TES5Edit:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/25859/?
This tool has so many uses it's ridiculous. This is a must have.
--Install and Activate

Spoiler

1) Click the disk in the top left corner of Mod Organizer. A window should pop up, asking for you to select a file.
2) Navigate to where you download your mods (For me: %/steamapps/common/skyirm/mod organizer/downloads)
3) Select TES5Edit, and open.
4) In the window that pops up, you will see a folder that says "Edit Scripts". 
5) Click okay, and ignore missing data when it asks.
6) In the left pane of MO, right click TES5Edit, and "Ignore Missing Data"
7) Check the box to activate TES5Edit
8) In the RIGHT pane of MO, navigate to the Data tab, and find TES5Edit.exe.
9) Right click, and Add as Executable. 

Wyre Bash:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/1840/?
Same with TES5Edit. This tool has a number of uses that could potentially make your brain explode.
Some steps for this will be provided at the end of the guide, during the wrap up phase.

Spoiler

1) Download the executable version of WB (should be 306)
2) Install using executable. Default settings are fine, just make sure the boxes for Skryim are checked.
3) In the executables drop down (top right corner), select Edit.
4) On the button "..." next to Binary, click this.
5) Navigate to: %/steamapps/common/skyrim/mopy and select Wrye Bash, then click ok.
6) Change the title bar to Wyre Bash. 
7) Click Add, then close.

PapyrusUtil:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/58705/?
Adds script functionality needed by several mods.
--Install and Activate

Vanilla Skyrim, SSBT LOD Billboards, and Vurt's SFO 2.3 Billboards:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/62698/?
These are needed for the next mod to do what it does best. Leave these deactivated until Phase 9. These are needed for DynDOLOD to make LOD's for vanilla objects, and plants from the mentioned billboards packages.
--Install DO NOT Activate

DynDOLOD:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/59721/?
All hail Sheeson. Steps for running this will be provided at the end of the guide, during the wrap up phase.

For some clarity, the reason for THIS mod, and not TES5LODGen, is because this IS TES5LODGen. The difference between the two? Sheeson. Sheeson took the original LODGen code created by Zilav and reworked it with his magic to once again fix Skyrim. With this mod, you only need the 3 billboards mods mentioned above, and the mods mentioned in our textures section to create beautiful and unique LODs (unique to this mod setup, that is)

 

1) Repeat steps 1-3 from TES5Edit, only for DynDOLOD, instead.
2) In the window that pops up from step 4 above, you will see several folders. Start by expanding the data folder.
3) Next, expand the Options Folder, and the Patches Folder.
4) In the options folder, expand Highhrothgarwindowsglow, highlight all of the contents, then drag them up ON TO the data folder above, dropping them INTO that data folder.
5) Expand Lanterns of Skyrim under Patches, and do the same.
6) Expand the TES5Edit folder, and drag the Edit Scripts folder onto the data folder, as above.
7) Right click Data (where we've been dropping files) and select Set as Data Directory. 
8) Click okay until it installs. DO NOT ACTIVATE YET
--DynDOLOD will be handled in the final phase of this guide--

If you are having trouble with the preceding step please check this post out and see if it works for you. Your results may vary. There were some changes since Anatriax created this tutorial and the following might help in your setup of DynDOLOD. Good luck.

(Edit RitualClarity)

Now on to some required SKSE plugins
-- Some of these SKSE plugins are said that they aren't needed any longer. I find removing them, even though they are supposed to be contained elsewhere, creates instabilities and performance problems. Old habits die hard, often because they work ;) -- 

First, and probably the most important is the SKSE.ini file. 
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/51038/?
Download with manager, double click in right pane when it's done, and right click "Data" then set as data directory. Click OK. 
You want this for 2 major reasons. 
1) It activates what used to be known as Sheeson's Memory Patch. It is now built into SKSE. 
2) It contains the SKSE HD makeup tweak found many places.
--Some reports say that SKSE's memory patch isn't working properly. I'll walk you through finding out if it is later in this guide.--
--The default memory patch settings are normally sufficient. We'll cover more later on how to find out if it is, or not.--

Next: SafetyLoad:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/46465/?
Many stability guides will tell you that with SKSE.ini installed that this is not needed. This is false. It will still function the way it is supposed to, and help reduce game freezing during loading screens, and get rid of the infinite loading screen glitch. 

Minou's HDT Physics:
http://www.nekomods.com/hdt-physics/minous-hdt-physics
YES, I am aware that there are other locations to download HDT-PE. This is full on HDT-PE, with custom tweaks to the .xml file for realism, AND a custom memory patch (yes, it helps). 
--Install through MO as a normal mod, ignoring missing data where asked--

Now: HDT High Heels System:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/36213/?
This is required by A LOT of armor mods. Go ahead and get it now  Leave the mod name as the default. It might get an update in the future. 

Now: Show Racemenu Precache Killer:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/33526/?
This will make your Racemenu load MUCH faster, and help your game not freeze loading into it. 

Last: Memory Blocks Log:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/50471/?
Leave this mod unchecked for now. We'll come back in a bit and work with this tool to set the values in skse.ini properly.

USLEEP (Unofficial Skyrim Legendary Edition Patch):
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/71214/?
This replaces the Unofficial Skyrim Patch, and it's counterparts. 
--Some mods may report that they're missing USKP as a master. If this is a problem you encounter:


Next, we're going to take care of handling / editing our .ini files. 

We now use an outside program for this, called spINI:

http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/69787/?

 


1) Download the executable, and click to install once completed.
2) You will be asked to locate your Skyrim install. Do so.
3) Once completed, launch spINI. 
4) Click the Setup Tab.
5) Under INI Path, navigate to %/steamapps/common/skyrim/mod organizer/profiles.
5a) Any profiles you have in MO, will automatically get these settings applied to it.
6) Click on the Basic tab, then click Default. Let it run for a moment. Save and exit, then reopen.
6a) Check the boxes for: ENB Mode, spINI Presets, and Enable File Selection.
7) Select the High Preset (if you can run this guide and it's textures, you can likely handle this on high).
8) Click the General Tab. Uncheck Intro Video. Make sure Post-Load Update Time says 2000.
9) Click the Foliage Tab. Make Grass Density 70, and Diversity 7. 
10) Go back to the Basic Tab, and click Save & Close.

One last little performance mod, and we'll be off to phase 3.


Skyrim Project Optimization:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/32505/?
A few fixes to interior lighting and shadows that will help performance indoors.
Make sure to download the full version. Install ONLY the "Data" portion when the BAIN installer pops up.

NARC - No Animals Report Crimes:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/68125/?
Just a fix, so that chickens can't report you to the guards for assaulting them.

Fuz Ro D'oh:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/14884/?
Fixes silent dialogue, for unvoiced quest mods.

Another Sorting Mod - 2016:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/72428/?
Because finding your items can be a bitch.

Guard Dialogue Overhaul:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/23390/?
Fixes some errors in guard dialogue.

Edited by ritualclarity
Update
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PHASE 3
ENB, Lighting, and Weather

For this part of the guide, we'll be downloading ENB, the preset for ENB, the mods the preset is dependent on, and configuring enblocal.ini. 

First, ENB base:
http://enbdev.com/mod_tesskyrim_v0305.htm
As of the writing of this guide the current version is v0.305.

Spoiler

1) Click v0.305 and navigate to the bottom of the page. Click the down arrow to download. 
2) Open your downloads folder, and extract the ENBSeries archive.
3) Hit Windows Key + E to open a new window, and navigate this window to %\steamapps\common\Skyrim
4) From the ENB folder, open the Wrapper version and copy it's contents into your Skyrim directory
4a) Note: Some people may have issues with the wrapper version and have to use an injector. 

Configuring enblocal.ini:
MOST users won't have to change a lot of the settings here. This is ENBoost, and changing these settings can greatly enhance, or reduce, your performance. Instead of numbered steps, I'm just going to point out key features of interest that I've found have the greatest impact. Other guides are available for configuring this further. 

Spoiler

ReservedMemorySizeMb=512
     256 is default here (if I remember properly) I suggest a minimum of 512, personally I use 768.
VideoMemorySizeMb= xxxx (Value calculated in spoiler)

Spoiler

Method 1: (VRAM + System RAM - 2048)
Method 2: Right click desktop, select screen resolution, look for Advanced Settings, enter the "Total Available Graphics Memory" value.
Results may vary for each method. Some people may perform better under Method 1, while others perform better under Method 2. Test both, to see which gives you the best results.



MaxAnisotropy=4
     Not as much as a performance impact as 16, and I really can't see much of a visual difference. 
[Antialiasing]
     I have all of these set to false. I don't mind a few choppy lines here and there if it increases my performance. 

The next step is configuring your video driver to handle certain things.
NVidia:

1) Right click your desktop
2) Select NVIDIA Control Panel
3) In the left pane find "Manage 3D Settings" (It should be the middle selection under the top header of 3D Settings)
4) In the drop down, locate TESV.exe. If it's not there, click Add, and locate your Skyrim directory, then TESV.exe
5) Set the following values:
--Anisotropic filtering = OFF
--Antialiasing - Gamma Correction = OFF
--Texture filtering = High Quality
--Triple Buffering = ON
--Vertical Sync = ON or Adaptive (Half Refresh Rate)
6) Click Apply.
7) Close Control Panel


ATI/AMD:
Update to come, pending instructions for the same settings from a use that has an ATI/AMD card.


Now a couple of mods that are somewhat essential to the atmosphere of the world of Tamriel.

Purity:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/65242/?
For this I use Realism, but you can choose either Classic OR Realism. Both choices are superb, and superior to most other weather/water mods out there.

Realistic Lighting Overhaul:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/30450/?
On the first page that pops up, via the installer... select RLO - Custom Selection, then click next.
Use the following settings on the following page.
RLO Settings.jpg

Real Clouds:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/39450/?
Just 'cause sometimes I feel like laying in a field and looking up at the sky.

Supreme Storms:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/27022/?
Because even with Purity, storms just aren't satisfactory.
DO NOT get the version for COT. 

True Storms - Thunder and Rain Redone:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/63478/?
--PERFORMANCE OPTION AVAILABLE - FOR WEAKER MACHINES GET LITE VERSION--
Make sure to go into ENBSeries and set [Rain] Enable=false
Use the following settings in the FOMod:
True Storms Settings.jpg

Minty's Lightning Mod
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/15506/?
Gorgeous forked lightning during storms. Feel free to set the optional for hazardous lightning. There's nothing like running through a field during a storm and getting zapped!!!

Supreme and Volumetric Fog:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/24460/?
Because vanilla fog is just ... not foggy enough.
DO NOT get the version for COT.

Morning Fogs:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/24810/?
Yus I like a foggy morning while I start my day with some Skooma.
 

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PHASE 4
UI Elements and Extra Content

 

This section of the guide is going to focus mostly on replacing / changing the ui, and adding in some questing content.

SkyUI:

http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/3863/?
SkyUI's MCM is required by many mods in order to configure them properly for installation. It also adds in a PC friendly UI, unlike the UI from the default game, which is ... barf-worthy.

Alternate Start - Live Another Life:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/9557/?
While this is not an actual UI mod, I'm placing it here. It belongs in this section, because it really doesn't fit into any other category. 

A Quality World Map:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/4929/?
Because the default map just looks blah, plus you can add in all roads visible, and remove the fog from the world map.
--Also make sure to grab the Solstheim Map.
QWM Settings.jpg

UI Extensions:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/57046/?
Adds some functionalities that the next mod requires.

Add Items Menu:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/64905/?
Allows you to dig through plugins, and add any item contained within the plugin.

Quick Loot:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/73096/?
Adds the quick loot system from Fallout 4, making looting and gameplay more fluid.
--Grab only the main file, NOT the Dialogue Style Interface.

Falskaar:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/37994/?
This is a wonderfully voiced quest chain that adds a totally new continent. NOT quite as big as a Bethesda DLC, but pretty close, and very complete, even with side quests and whatnot. 
--You only need the main file here, though you CAN download the optionals for your pleasure OUTSIDE of the game world.

Wyrmstooth:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/25704/?
The Falskaar map patch fixed what we were going to get here.
Optionals not needed.

Legacy of the Dragonborn:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/52248/?
Scroll down to old versions, get "Legacy v15.2 core 1k texture"
Scroll back up, get the main file "v15.3.4 Update Pack"
--When you install, a FOMod installer will pop up. Use these settings on the SECOND page:
LotDb Settings.jpg
--Click next until the last page, NOT clicking any options, then click install.

Some improvements/bug fixes for the above questing mods:

Better Falskaar and Wyrmstooth Map With Roads:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/51339/?
--Optonals not needed, grab only the main file.

Falskaar Wildlife Add-on:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/50246/?

Island Fast Travel:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/38465/?
Make sure your installer looks like the above, before installing. 
NOTE: Make sure the main window says "READY TO INSTALL"
Island Fast Travel settings.jpg

Falskaar - Hearthfires Patch:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/61509/?

Falskaar - Pure Waters / Purity patch:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/38522/?
DO NOT GET RND COMPATIBLE VERSION

I do understand that this phase has been short and sweet. These mods are pretty straight forward to install. Especially at this point, where we've installed multiple mods. 

Go take a breather, or if you have a shoddy internet connection feel free to start downloading items from the next phase while you go for a nice long walk :)

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PHASE 5
Texture Replacers

 

STEP Optimized Vanilla Textures - Performance Version:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/11/?
--Scroll all the way to the bottom. If you're on Windows 7 and have more than 4gb of VRAM available, feel free to get the standard version instead.
--Place this file directly under USLEEP in the left pane of MO. The ONLY things above USLEEP should be "Unmanaged".
--Remember downloading "Vanilla Billboards" in phase 2? Install, activate, and move it after this mod in the left pane of MO, as this image depicts:
LP order for STEP and billboards.jpg

Tamriel Reloaded HD:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/61995/?
On the file page, get "Tamriel Reloade HD Main File 0.9b FULL For NMM"
Also get the 1k optional textures for 0.9b

Ruins Clutter Improved:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/14227/?
In the FOMod you will have two options. Select Install Everything.

Vivid Landscapes:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/49344/?
Scroll down. We are downloading "xVivid Landscapes - All in One - BSA Archive 1024"

aMidianBorn Content:
There is A LOT of content here we will be downloading. I am going to provide the links in order.
You are on your own as to finding the 1k textures for each mod. DO NOT GET OPTIONALS, ONLY 1K MAIN FILES. In a few instances, 1k textures may not be available. If you have 4gb VRAM, you can get the 2k textures. If not, skip that mod, as loading 2k textures on less than 4gb VRAM can cause severe performance issues.
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/49040/?
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/59091/?
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/39190/?
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/50013/?
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/49710/?

Skyrim Flora Overhaul:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/141/?
Download Skyrim Flora Overhaul v2.5
Move VURT SFO 2.3 LOD Billboards directly after this mod, and activate.

Skysight-Simply Bigger Trees:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/56877/?
Download Simply Bigger Trees (All Tree Types) v1.5
Move SSBT LOD Billboards after this mod, and activate.

Immersive Fallen Trees Mod:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/55699/?
Under optionals, download ImmersiveFallen TreesNavmeshVersion 1.7.

Cinematic Fire Effects 2 HD:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/2692/?
Only get the main file. We will be replacing embers and coals with the next mod.

Realistic Smoke and Embers:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/836/?
Grab the 2k originals file, as this is the smallest available.

Dust Effects:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/44201/?
No optionals needed. Just grab v1.0

Better City Entrances:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/48855/?
Reworks the major cities entrances to look a little better.
Get the JK's Compatible Version under Optional. NOT the All in One.

JK's Skyrim:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/61035/?
Get the all in one package. This is just to add clutter to the game that makes it not look so bare in a lot of places. Helps a lot with atmosphere.

Laterns of Skyrim:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/18916/?
Because it's nice to be able to see where you're going at night!
--Make sure to get the MCM version. 
--Optionals not needed.

Easier Lockpicking - Without Cheating:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/53071/?
Just a simple retexture of the lock interface that makes finding your spot after breaking a pick easier.


This will conclude Phase 5. The next phase is going to be focused on improving the appearance of characters and NPC's in the game, and their animations. 

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PHASE 6
Character Creation and Animations

 

First of all, I'd like to say that for years I used CBBE. I tried 7base, UNP, UNPB... all kinds of bodies. Until recently, I always went back to CBBE. 

Enter Kendo 2, and UNP JIGGLE - The new official body mod of this guide. Enjoy his work. He's put many hours into making the perfect body. 

Lets begin?

RaceMenu:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/29624/?
Complete overhaul of the character creation screens, with MANY more options than are available with Vanilla. 
Grab only the main file. 

Realistic Ragdolls and Force:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/601/?
I use the Realistic version. You can use whatever you like. 

fores New Idles in Skyrim (FNIS from this point forward):
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/11811/?
You need FNIS Behavior v6.2 and FNIS Creature Pack 6.1.

Spoiler

We need to add FNIS to the executable list in Mod Organizer. Do the following:
1) in the right pane of MO, select the Data tab
2) Scroll down until you find a folder labeled TOOLS
3) Open this folder, and the GenerateFNIS_for_Users folder, that's inside of it.
4) Right click GenerateFNISforUsers.exe, and select Add as Executable. 
5) Name this FNIS, click okay.

XP32 New Animation Package:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/29622/?
Select the following options for each header:
01-Skeleton: Not installed
02-Feminine Run: Vanilla
03-Momo Dash: Effect with Ambient FX
04-Victoria's High Heel Walk: Vanilla
05-Momo Acrobatic Jump: Full Motion
06-Feminine Bow Running Forward: Vanilla
07-One handed Weapon: Vanilla
08-New Animation for Magic Casting: Vanilla
09-Get Up Animation: New Animation
PCEA: Vanilla

The TBBP Animation of Dragonfly with Butt Bounce:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/34713/?
YES, I am aware that there have been errors reported with this mod, and that it's buggy. That is because this mod includes a custom skeleton. This skeleton will be overwritten by XPMSE. The idle animations will be overwitten by Pretty Female Idles. This mod is ONLY installed for: 360 camera control and walk/run animations. Every other aspect of this mod will be overwritten by another mod.

Pretty Female Idles:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/11954?
Grab the main file: Pretty Female Idles 1.93 Epic. 
Choose which ever idle suits you best. This is entirely up to the user. 

Halo's Pinup Poser:
http://mod.dysintropi.me/mods/skyrim/
You will see a blue bar going across the screen. In the middle of this bar, you will see "Halo's Poser S 1.3". Click to download to the directory where Mod Organizer places it's downloads (Default: %/steamapps/common/skyrim/mod organizer/downloads).

Screen Shot Assist:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/33521/?
Simple to use controls to activate Free Cam, no UI, and freeze frame. Fantastic for screenshot archers. 
Only get the main file here. 

VioLens - A Killmove Mod:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/56980/?
Adds new animations for killmoves, as well as customization and profiles through MCM.

XP32's Maximum Skeleton Extended:

0SEX:
Removed until v1.08 is released and stable.


This takes care of the base: The skeleton and the animations the skeleton will use. Next, we will do something light. Male bodies.

SOS - Schlongs of Skyrim:
http://www.loverslab.com/files/file/498-sos-schlongs-of-skyrim/
Get the full version for 3.0. If 3.0 is unavailable, get the most current version.
During install watch carefully for the Skeletons section and UNCHECK the box. We have xp32's skeleton already.
ANYTHING ELSE in the installer is purely up to the user.

Better Males:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/2488/?
Here, we are looking to get Geonox Faces. You can get with or without beards. Your choice.
NO other files needed.

Now on to female bodies:

Kendo 2's UNP JIGGLE:
http://nsfwmods.com/files/file/9-unp-jiggle-by-kendo-2/
I want to state again: I was a CBBE user for 3 solid years until Kendo sent me a copy of this body. This body not only LOOKS better than CBBE in every way, but believe it or not... you get better performance using this body. 
Why: Because Kendo takes painstaking care to make sure that his bodies are the BEST.
These are only the meshes. Textures below.

Fair Skin Complexion:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/51602/?
Download: Fair Skin Complexion for UNP v7.9.1 NMM Installer Package Optimized. 
DO NOT GET THE UNOPTIMIZED VERSION OR FOR CBBE!
All options are entirely up to the player. I set mine as follows:
Fair Skin Settings.jpg

 

UNP Armor Replacer Package:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/34102
Get all 3 main files: textures, armor, and clothes. 
All options during install are entirely up to the user. 

Immersive Armors:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/19733/?
Adds several lore-friendly armors to the game, as well as to the loot tables (enemies can wear and drop them).
Make sure to activate UNP support:
Immersive Armors settings.jpg

Immersive Weapons:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/27644/?
Adds several lore-friendly weapons to the game, as well as to the loot tables.

KS Hairdos - HDT Physics:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/70363/?
LOVE these hairs. Nothing else even compares, at this point.

Helmet Toggle:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/22765/?
Configurable helmet toggling system. Amazing little mod.

This concludes Phase 6. Tomorrow, I'll come back and add in phase 7: Gameplay overhauls

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PHASE 7
Gameplay and Sound Overhauls

This is is actually one of the more important parts for me. Honestly, I can go without pretty graphics and ladies, ad long as these gameplay elements are in effect. 

Dual Sheath Redux:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/34155/?
Shows both weapons when you have them sheathed, not just one.
On the first page, click the MOD PACKS box. The installer will take care of the rest. Just click next a few times, and install. 


1) In the right pane of MO, click the Data tab
2) Scroll down and find the folder Skyproc_Patchers
3) Open this folder and the Dual Sheath Redux folder within
4) Right click on Dual Sheath Redux Patch.jar, and add as executable

Apocalypse - Magic of Skyrim:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/16225/?
An AWESOME magic overhaul. Adds several spells, enchantments, and magic items to the game and it's loot tables.
MAKE SURE TO GRAB THE PERMA COMPATIBILITY PATCH

Perkus Maximus:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/59849/?
A must have overhaul to perks, combat, and how items work in the game. 
Grab only the main file.
Select ALL options in the installer.


1) In the right pane of MO, click the Data tab
2) Scroll down and find the folder Skyproc_Patchers
3) Open this folder and the T3nd0_PatchusMaximus folder within
4) Right click on PatchusMaximus.jar, and add as executable

Weapon and Armor Fixes Remade:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/34093/?
Important for PerMa, Immersive Weapons, Immersive Armors, and the patches to make them all work together.
The installer will automatically detect what mods you have installed. Just click next a few times to install.

PerMa Defluffing Perks:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/59854/?
T3nd0 is a little vague in his perk descriptions. This helps fix that.

Apocalypse - PerMa - PerMa Defluffing Perks Compatibility Patch:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/63855/?
As the name of the mod says.

Character Creation Overhaul:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/21587/?
Brings back the Oblivion style character creation, with classes and birthsigns.

PerMa Compatibility and PaMa Patches:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/59257/?
Grab the main file, as well as the Immersive Armors 8 update.
PerMa Patches 1.jpg

SCROLL DOWN
PerMa Patches 2.jpg

SCROLL DOWN
PerMa Patches 3.jpg

Campfire:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/64798/?
Needed for Frostfall.

Frostfall:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/11163/?
This mod will add to the game a set of stats that track your exposure. With increased exposure, you suffer... risking hypothermia and possibly death. 
Grab the main file, as well as the SkyUI 5.1 Addon.
Be sure to MERGE not REPLACE when asked.

iNeed:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/51473/?
Replacement for Realistic Needs and Diseases (Very unstable mod, requiring TONS of compatibility patches). This game adds requirements to eat, drink water, and sleep... as well as making diseases more deadly. 
MAKE SURE TO CHECK THE DANGEROUS DISEASES PATCH

Wet and Cold:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/27563/?
An awesome little mod that compliments Frostfall well. 
Check the following options:
Wet and Cold Settings.jpg

Winter is Coming - Cloaks:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/13486/?
With all of these added cold effects, you HAVE to stay warm!
Do NOT check the Cloaks of Skyrim patch.

That's it for the actual gameplay overhauls. Now we just have two packages for sound, and we're on to wrapping things up to play!

Fantasy Soundtrack Project:
http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/46518/?
REALLY pretty music :)
Get the main file, as well as the optional combat music plugin.

 

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PHASE 8
Wrapping Things Up to Play

This is the most important phase of all. This is the one that brings everything together, and makes it all work.

Before beginning, open and run LOOT to get your plugins sorted. 

Next, we are going to clean our master files:

Follow Gopher's instructions to the letter.

Next, in the drop down for executables, select and run Wrye Bash
--it may take a few minutes to load
1) once loaded, locate "Bashed Patch, 0.esp" and highlight it.
2) Right click on Bashed Patch, and select rebuild patch.
3) Make sure the "Merge Patches" box is UNCHECKED
4) Click Build Patch at the bottom.
5) Let it run. Might take a few minutes.
6) Once completed, click OK and close Wrye Bash.
7) Right click the Overwrite mod in MO, and create a mod named "Bashed Patch"
8) Click and activate.

Dual Sheath Redux:
As above, open and run Dual Sheath Redux
--It will automatically patch when closed
--When completed, follow steps 7 and 8 above, naming the mod "DSR Patch"

Patchus Maximus:
As Dual Sheath Redux, it will automatically patch when closed. Name the mod "Patchus Maximus".
-- Some users may experience freezing of Patchus Maximus while it's running. IF you do, follow the below steps.
 

Spoiler

1) In the top right corner, drop down the Executables selection, and pick EDIT
2) In the top box of the pop up, select PatchusMaximus
3) Click in the arguments box. Locate the beginning of the argument. (Denoted by -jar)
4) Add BEFORE this: -Xmx1024m (Make sure there is a SINGLE SPACE between the "m" and "-jar")
THIS IS CASE SENSITIVE AND MUST BE EXACT
5) Locate the END of the argument (Denoted by .jar")
6) Add this AFTER: "-NOSTREAM" (Quotations included)
7) Click Modify and close.

If PatchusMaximus still freezes, check to make sure that this is typed in correctly. 
Mine is included as an EXAMPLE. Do not copy and paste my argument, it will not work for you.


-Xmx1024m -jar "F:\SteamLibrary\steamapps\common\Skyrim\Skyrim Guide - MO\Mod Organizer\mods\Perkus Maximus - Maximum Perk Overhaul\SkyProc Patchers\T3nd0_PatchusMaximus\PatchusMaximus.jar" "-NOSTREAM"


DynDOLOD:
1) In the right pane of MO, find "DynDOLOD.esp" and slide it to the bottom of the load order.
2) In the top right of MO, click the dropdown and select "TES5Edit", then click run.
3)  In the window that pops up, make sure ALL plugins are checked then click OK. Watch for any errors.
--this can take a few to load be patient--
4) Watch for "Background Loader: finished"
5) Right click "Skyrim.esm" and select "Apply Script" from the drop down menu.
6) In the window that pops up, there is a dropdown box along the top. Find "DynDOLOD Worlds" and click ok.
7) In the next window that pops up, just click OK when it's no longer greyed out.
8) The next window that pops up is important. Pay careful attention to 8a and 8b.
8a) In the top box (Select Worlds), highlight any single location. Right click, and choose select all.
8b) DO NOT CHANGE THE OUTPUT PATH
8c) Click MEDIUM and walk away for awhile.

Spoiler

During this process you may get a window that asks you if you'd like to continue or cancel. 

When this window pops up, wait appx 15 minutes, then click yes to continue.

I HAVE SEEN THIS PROCESS TAKE AS LONG AS 4 HOURS.
DO NOT BE ALARMED AT TIMES THAT ARE EXCESSIVE.
DO NOT BE ALARMED BY DOS BOXES POPPING UP.

9) Once completed you will have files in your overwrite mod.
9a) Right click the overwrite mod, and create a mod named "DynDOLOD Generated". Activate this mod.
10) Right click your newly created mod, and select "open in explorer"
11) Inside you will see an "Edit Scripts" folder. RIGHT CLICK this, and select "open in new window".
12) In this new window, you will see a folder labeled "Output". Open it, and copy the contents back to the original window.
(ie: next to the Edit Scripts folder, or the root of the mod if you will.)
13) Close both windows. Close Mod Organizer. OPEN Mod Organizer.

For FNIS, I'll leave you a video by Gopher with his instructions:
It's very important here that you select the boxes for the options you chose in the New Animation Pack. 
ie: All 3 New Animation Pack patches.
You may return ONE warning: This is because of Halo's Poser, and is not gamebreaking.


 

After you have ran FNIS you're ready to run LOOT then play!

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For now, this guide is completed.

A few disclaimers:
1) this guide does not guarantee a crash free game. Crashes will be REDUCED over your standard modded install, but not removed completely.
2) this guide does not guarantee amazing PERFORMANCE. There will be a balance between beauty and performance. If your performance isn't where you want it, make a post on the support thread for this guide, and we can discuss options to help increase performance.
3) add more mods at your own risk. 
Adding more armors and clothes is okay, just make sure to re-run Patchus Maximus every time you add some.
4) This guide is subject to change at a moment's notice. 

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Unofficial Optional Mods

Use at your own risk

Results may vary.

 

While Anatrax is out she allowed me to make a few changes. I can't change perfection of her tutorial :P however there are a few mods that might help add a bit of fix or features not mentioned in the tutorial and suggested by various members here.

The following are mentioned by members / and or myself. Your results will vary. I suggest you run the tutorial first for awhile clean in a profile to test it out to be sure all is functional before adding any thing from the following.

http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/28170/?

The above is a simple fix for the message box for those that use a keyboard. I have been using it for the longest time. I find it is quite reliable. It was also suggested by @begalund

http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/27371/?

The above is basically the same as the Better Message box mod. It fixes a few minor issues with the dialogue access using a keyboard and mouse. Also suggested by @begalund and used by yours truly for a very long time.

The two suggestions above should only really be added if you have any difficuty accessing the Message Box or the Dialogue with the mouse. Meaning it select others options that you aren't wanting. If you are satisfied with the game as it is ... don't add it. Your available ESP/ESM total is small, too small for a mod that isn't performing for you. ;)

http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/10012/?

This one was suggested by Vortec and used by me most of my personal load orders (but not with the current tutorial setup) He suggest it for a "must have for the Legacy of the Dragonboarn Mod.

 

Again your results may vary so create a new profile and test it to see if it is stable for your personal setup of mods and rig. Different setups and even different equipment will net different results. The only one that can say if it works good enough for you... well is YOU :P

 

Edit: @Anatriax states that these above should be installed in this tutorial. :)

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Why should I delete the post when all of these mods should be included in the guide?

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UPDATE: Beginning guide update. Users with Experience using 0SEX please inbox me with feedback/suggested mods. 

Thanks, guys :)

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