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Mod Use Troubleshooting

This guide was written for Oblivion; but so far, all of the principles here can be applied directly to Skyrim.  I have added Skyrim-only notes in blue.  Here are some tips to help you use this guide with Skyrim:
  • Replace "Oblivion" with "Skyrim".
  • Replace "OBSE" with "SKSE".
  • Skyrim does not require Archive Invalidation.
  • Use Steam to keep Skyrim up-to-date, there is no need to manually patch.
That's it!  Good luck with your mod troubles!








I. Mods Don't Show Up



A)  You are using Windows Vista or later, and your mods aren't showing up in-game.  Or, you can't find your mods in the ..Oblivion\Data folder.  Or, your plugins aren't listed in the Oblivion launcher when you click on "Data Files".

Possible Reason:
Windows Vista, 7, 8, and 10 prevent changes from being made to the Program Files and Program Files (x86) folders and all their subfolders.  For mods to work, you need to copy files into your Oblivion folder - so if it's installed anywhere inside either of those folders, you cannot use mods successfully.
Solution:
Reinstall Oblivion to a location outside the Program Files folders, such as c:\Oblivion or c:\Games\Oblivion.


B)  Oblivion is already installed outside of Program Files, and your mods still aren't showing up in-game.

Possible Reason:
Mods made with the latest Oblivion patch installed on the modder's computer will not take effect in users' games if the users do not also have the latest patch.
Solution:
Update Oblivion with the latest official patch.

Possible Reason:
If the mod contains a plugin file (a file with the extension .esp), you may have either not copied it into you ..Oblivion\Data folder, or you may not have activated the plugin by checking the box next to it in the launcher.
Solution:
Make sure you have activated the plugin.  See How To Install Mods.

Possible Reason:
The mod may require particular action on the part of the player character in order to take obvious effect, such as a console command, or speaking to a particular NPC.
Solution:
Thoroughly read the Readme file packaged with the mod to ensure you know how to start playing the mod.

Possible Reason:
If the mod is a texture replacer or directly replaces textures as part of its function, you may not have effectively handled Archive Invalidation.
Solution:
Download and install OBMM or Wrye Bash to handle your Archive Invalidation automatically for you.  You can do it manually without OBMM, but it's quite unpleasant, and I don't want to talk about it.

Possible Reason:
The mod may depend on another mod or expansion to function.
Solution:
Check the mod's Readme to learn of any dependencies.  Download & install any required mods or expansions.








A)  Your game crashes to desktop on launch after installing a mod.


Possible Reason:
This usually happens when one mod depends on another mod that is either not present or not loading before it in the load order.
Solution:
Thoroughly read the readme file that came with the mod to ensure you have all the required mods.  If you do, make sure the required mods are higher in your load order than the mod that requires them.

The most common examples of this are installing a "Cobl" version of something when you do not have Cobl, installing a "patch" for a mod you do not have the full version of, or simply failing to rebuild your Bashed Patch after removing a mod.  Use Wrye Bash to see if anything in your load order has a red box next to it, meaning it is missing its master.

Possible Reason:
Your Oblivion.ini is bad.  This may or may not be related to the mod you just installed.
Solution:
Rename the Oblivion.ini file located in your ..My Documents\My Games\Oblivion directory.  The game will generate a new one automatically next time you launch it.  You can restore the old one if you rule this out as a problem.

Possible Reason:
The game would crash anyway due to hardware or software issues not related to mods.
Solution:
Try launching the game with no mods at all.  If you still crash, you may need to do a full rip and reinstall of your video driver (especially if you updated it recently) or the game itself.  If you followed my guide to setting up Oblivion for mod use, you should already have a backup folder of a clean install, and can rename your current folder to something else and use the backup.


B)  Your game launches successfully, but crashes a few seconds or less after play begins.

Possible Reason:
This is usually caused by a faulty script, faulty AI package, faulty leveled list spawn, faulty or missing animations, or faulty mesh that is being loaded at the time the game launches.  You can prove this by opening the console with the tilde (~) key as soon as possible after the loading screen goes away, if you're quick; if the game doesn't crash while the console is open, but crashes as soon as you close it and resume play, you have your culprit.  Well, sort of.
Solution:
Whatever is causing it, if it's not a script, is probably location-specific.  Revert to an older save made from a different location.  If that still doesn't help, then it's probably a script.  You'll need to use process of elimination to determine exactly which mod is causing it, or if it is a mod conflict at all (see Process of Elimination, below).


C)  Your game crashes regularly with a discernable, reproduceable pattern that is object-, time-, or location-specific.

Possible Reason:
Just as above; this is usually caused by a faulty script, faulty AI package, faulty leveled list spawn, faulty or missing animations, or faulty mesh that is being loaded at the time the game launches.
Solution:
 You'll need to use process of elimination to determine exactly which mod is causing it, or if it is a mod conflict at all (see Process of Elimination, below).

Possible Reason:
Just as below, the mod requires OBSE, and you do not have it; or you have installed it incorrectly, or you have an old version.  Sometimes the OBSE dependency won't crash the game until you try to use an object with an OBSE script attached to it.
Solution:
Download and install the newest version of OBSE.

Possible Reason:
Also as below: the mod conflicts with another mod in a less specific way: Both mods are trying to change or run scripts on the same thing, one is overwriting the other, so one mod is not getting what it needs to continue running properly.
Solution:
Use process of elimination as outlined below to determine which mods are conflicting.  Report the conflict to the makers of each mod if it isn't already documented, and uninstall one mod or the other until the conflict is resolved.  In some rare cases, especially if the crash is location-specific and the conflicting mods both edit that location, cleaning both with TES4Edit can fix the crash.


D)  Your game crashes frequently or randomly during gameplay after installing a mod.

There are dozens of reasons this could be true.  I will focus on the most common.

Possible Reason:
The mod requires OBSE, and you do not have it, or you have installed it incorrectly, or you have an old version.  The game may crash with no seeming pattern.
Solution:
Download and install the newest version of OBSE.

Possible Reason:
The mod conflicts with another mod you already have in a very specific way: One mod removed something from the game world, and the other mod is trying to use the removed object somehow.  The game may crash every time your character approaches the general vicinity of this object.  It may also crash on game launch, or at game exit (the game will freeze and hang there, and take many minutes to exit or never exit).
Solution:
Use TES4Edit to clean all your mods, unless the Readme for a mod specifically says not to, or that it has already been done.

Possible Reason:

The mod contains a glitched 3d model/mesh or animations.  The game may crash every time an object using that mesh or animation comes into view, or every time the player attempts to use the object (such as in the case of furniture or armor).
Solution:
Report the glitched mesh to the modder and uninstall the mod until an update is posted.  See Bug Reporting, below.

Possible Reason:
The mod conflicts with another mod in a less specific way: Both mods are trying to change or run scripts on the same thing, one is overwriting the other, so one mod is not getting what it needs to continue running properly.  The game may crash with or without a pattern.
Solution:
Use process of elimination as outlined below to determine which mods are conflicting.  Report the conflict to the makers of each mod if it isn't already documented, and uninstall one mod or the other until the conflict is resolved.

Possible Reason:
You may have overextended your system's resources.  Overheating or running out of video memory will cause your game to crash.
Solution:
Upgrade your hardware, or uninstall some of your most resource-intensive mods.

Possible Reason:
Your saves are corrupt somehow, unrelated to the mod you just installed.
Solution:
Try launching the game and starting a new character to see if the problem persists.  If your game doesn't crash, you might then also want to try older saves of your current character.  This corruption can be caused by hardware or driver failure causing the game to crash, and it can also be caused by mods.  Use the Force, Luke.






A)  Objects are invisible, solid black, solid pink-purple, or are simply displaying as a giant yellow ! or WTF symbol.

Possible Reason:
This happens when the game or a mod is missing resource files (models/meshes and textures).
Solution:
Read the entire Readme to make sure you understand how to install the mod, then re-install the mod more carefully.  If the modder has provided an automatic installation, such as a BAIN or OMOD, use that instead of manual installation to ensure accuracy.  It is also possible that the modder didn't package the files correctly, or didn't include all the needed ones (it's an easy mistake to make); so if the automated installations don't work, contact the modder for more help.


B) Skyrim ONLY: Objects are solid pink-purple after installing high-resolution texture replacers, or even without any replacers or mods active.

Possible Reason:
Instead of crashing when the video memory cap is reached, like Oblivion would, Skyrim simple quits trying to render new textures.  The result is that textures appear to be missing, even if they aren't.
Solution:
Start uninstalling those high-rez/HQ/etc texture packs, if you have any, because you have exceeded your hardware's ability to use them.  If you don't have any, lower the texture quality in Skyrim's video settings, and check your video driver settings to see if you can lower mipmap quality.  You might also want to lay off the anisotropic filtering and anti-aliasing.  If you really must have all the pretty shinies, then it's time to upgrade your hardware.





Do not underestimate the importance of reading the Readme if you are experiencing gameplay anomalies. Some mods really do require understanding of their instructions to be used.


A)  You activate or equip an object that should do something, but nothing happens, or the wrong thing happens, and you've already tried everything in Section I of this guide.

Possible Reason:
The mod requires OBSE, and you do not have it, or you have installed it incorrectly, or you have an old version.  If you aren't sure, look for OBSE's log files in your root Oblivion folder... if you don't see them, then OBSE isn't running.
Solution:
Download and install the newest version of OBSE.  There is no wiggle room on this; if a mod says it requires a particular version, and you have an older version or don't have it at all, then you cannot logically expect the mod to work.

Possible Reason:
The object's script is not executing properly due to a bug in the script, or the object is set up improperly.
Solution:
Make sure this is actually the case by following the troubleshooting steps below.  If it is, report the bug to the author.  See Bug Reporting, below.







If nothing so far in this guide has solved your problem, here is a general checklist you can work through.

A)  Check your setup.
  • Verify your game is patched to 1.2.0.416.
  • Verify that your game is installed outside of the Program Files folder, if you are using Windows Vista or later.
  • Verify that you have activated the plugin in the launcher.

B)  Re-read the Readme.
  • Verify that you have correctly installed any mods that this mod depends on.
  • Verify that you have correctly installed the required version (or higher) of OBSE required by the mod, if it requires OBSE.
  • Verify that you are not using any mods known to conflict with the mod.
  • Verify that you are taking the correct steps in-game to use the mod.
  • Try the mod with the default settings, if it has a way for you to change settings, such as an .ini file or in-game menu.

C)  Make a Clean Save


1. Uninstall the mod.
2. Start the game, and make a new save.
3. Re-install the mod.
4. Try the mod again with the new save.

Believe it or not, this is pretty often the winning solution.


D)  Process of Elimination, a.k.a., "The Big Yuck"

This process is how we can define for sure where the problem lies.  It can be tedious if you have a lot of mods, but sometimes it is the only way to know what is causing a mod problem and how to fix it.


Step 1: Let the game generate a new Oblivion.ini by renaming the existing one found in your ..My Documents\My Games\Oblivion\ folder.
We try this first because it is the quickest step, and a bad .ini is one of the most common culprits of game crashing on launch.
If that didn't fix it, or your problem wasn't related to crashing on launch, move on to Step 2.

Step 2: Make a new character, use the console to "coc" yourself out of the tutorial dungeon, and try again.
Note: There are many saved games available online that were leveled without mods.  You may want to download and use one for testing, if that would be easier/faster than accessing the bug with a new character.
Alternately, try Steps 3, 4 & 5, and then come back to this one before proceeding to Step 6.
If the problem goes away, you know that the bug you are experiencing is related to your saved game.  Your only options are to use an earlier save, or start a new character.
If the problem persists even with a brand new character, move on to Step 3.

Step 3: De-activate all Oblivion plugins except for the one giving you trouble and any plugins that mod depends on.
If the problem goes away, you know that the bug you are experiencing is due to a conflict with another Oblivion plugin.  Skip to Step 12.
If the problem doesn't go away, move on to Step 4.

Step 4: Remove all OBSE plugins unless the mod in question depends on them.
This includes OBGE and OBME, and their related files.
If the problem goes away, you know that the bug you are experiencing is due to a conflict with an OBSE plugin.  Skip to Step 11.
If the problem doesn't go away, move on to Step 5.

Step 5
: Remove your xml-based Interface mods.
These mods (such as DarnifiedUI) are generally trouble-free, but they can conflict just like plugins, so we need to rule them out.
If the problem goes away, you know that the bug is due to a conflict with one of your interface mods.  Skip to Step 10.
If the problem persists, move on to Step 6.

Step 6
: De-activate the problem mod itself.
If the problem goes away, it is probably a bug in the mod itself, but there is one more thing you can check in Step 7 to be absolutely sure.
If the problem persists, move on to Step 7.

Step 7
: Remove any remaining files that are not part of the original game.  This includes, but is not limited to, mesh & texture replacers, music packs, sound replacers, shader packages, and the like.
I would only recommend doing this step if you are having a crashing problem, and you've tried everything else in this guide so far, and you are terrified of reinstalling Oblivion.  If you are still experiencing issues at this point, it is probably a better use of time to start reinstalling now rather than proceed with this step.
If the problem still persists, then it's time to re-install the game from scratch, because your problem lies within the unmodded game.  Perhaps there are damaged or missing files.
If the problem has gone away, then your problem lies in one of your replacer packs.  Move on to Step 8.

From this point on, we assume that you now have (for all intents and purposes) a working, unmodded game.

Step 8
: Activate only the problem mod itself, and any mods it explicitly depends on to function.
If the problem does come back, you know for sure that the bug is inherent to the mod.
If the problem doesn't come back, you know that the bug you are experiencing is not within the mod itself.  Move to Step 9.

Step 9: Reinstall your mesh/texture/music/sound/shader/etc replacer packs one at a time, or in small batches, if you removed them.  Test for the bug between each batch.
If the problem comes back, you know the bug is in the last replacer pack you installed (or within the last batch, which you'll need to retry one at a time).
If the problem doesn't come back, go to Step 10.

Step 10
: Reinstall your xml-based Interface mods one at a time.  Test for the bug between each.
If the problem comes back, the it is due to a mod conflict with the last Interface mod you re-installed.
If the problem doesn't come back, go to Step 11.

Step 11: Reinstall your OBSE plugins one at a time.  Test for the bug between each.
If the problem does come back, you know for sure that the bug is due to a conflict with the last OBSE plugin you added.
If the problem doesn't come back, you know for sure that the bug is not due to a conflict with an OBSE plugin, and you can go to Step 12.

Step 12
: Re-activate your Oblivion plugins one at a time, or in small batches.  Test for the bug between each batch.
If the problem comes back, you know for sure that the bug is due to a conflict with the last plugin you re-activated (or within the last batch, which you'll need to retry one at a time).
If the problem doesn't come back, then just shrug and go about your day.







Sometimes, there's nothing you can do on your end.  If you have reached the end of this guide and you're still having trouble, it's probably time to submit a bug report to the author of the mod.


A passionate modder wants their work to be the best it can be.  Thus, a good bug report is of very high value.  However, not all bug reports are good, even if they are reasonably polite.  Here's a great example of a bad bug report:

"You need to fix a glitch on here. When you drop something from the mod, it multiplies on and on and on... I mean every thing too, from the horse markers to the water troughs. Like the idea and when you fix the glitch i will down load it again. Its just really hard to play when you being chased by a mountain of hay bales."

He gives me no information about his other mods, or what he's tried to fix the problem, or anything - so even if this had been a legitimate bug, I still wouldn't have a clue how to help him.

I received a PM later from another user who was having the same problem, and it turned out that she didn't have OBSE, which was required by the mod.  Once she installed the correct version of OBSE, the problem disappeared.

You can learn a lot from this very small example.  Primarily, be respectful of the time and care the modder has already put into making, testing, and documenting the mod by re-checking the instructions and doing some troubleshooting on your own before making a report.  Unless the Readme states otherwise, you can bet that the mods work fine in the modder's game.  So, what is different between the modder's game and yours that causes the mod to break?  Your other mods, your hardware, and your game settings.  Modders need to know those things.  Are you just using it wrong?  We can only say yay or nay if you tell us how you're using it to begin with.  Modders need facts, and details, and lots of them, for a bug report to actually mean anything.  And if you're submitting bug reports that don't mean anything, then you are not being very respectful of the modder's time (or your own, for that matter).


So, how do you write a good bug report?  Easy.  If you have followed the troubleshooting steps in this guide, and you feel pretty certain that the mod actually has a bug, then please include the following in your bug report:
  • Verify that you have all the required versions of the required mods
  • OBSE version, if the mod requires OBSE
  • Details on the bug you are experiencing
  • Verify that the bug persists when all other mods are de-activated, with a new character, after a clean save, etc.
  • Other troubleshooting steps you've tried, and any relevant results (what worked, what didn't work that you thought should have)
  • If you can, walk the modder step-by-step through reproducing the bug in-game

If you've followed the troubleshooting steps in this guide, and you feel pretty certain that the mod conflicts with another mod, please include the following in your bug report:
  • Verify that both mods work fine for you by themselves, without other mods loaded
  • Verify that when the mods are loaded together, but without other mods loaded, that the bug persists
  • Verify that both mods are installed properly
  • Details on the bug you are experiencing
  • Tell what happens when you reverse or change the load order

And if you've followed the troubleshooting steps in this guide, and you've still got a bug or conflict, and you just can't pin it down, ask for help.  In your request, include:
  • Verify that you have all the required versions of the required mods
  • OBSE version, if the mod requires OBSE
  • Details on the bug you are experiencing
  • Verify that the bug persists when all other mods are de-activated
  • Other troubleshooting steps you've tried, and any relevant results (what worked, what didn't work that you thought should have)
  • If you can, walk the modder step-by-step through reproducing the bug in-game
  • Your complete load order, as printed by Wrye Bash
You may not always need to include all this information, depending on what kind of bug you have encountered; but it is better to be safe than sorry, and provide too much data than not enough.


*



Before you report a bug or conflict in one of my mods
, I will want you to have gone through everything in this troubleshooting guide that seems reasonably relevant to your issue, and I will want you to include all the information listed above. If you will not spend the time troubleshooting your end of things, then I will see no reason to spend time guessing blindly and fretting about it from all the way over here; that would just dampen my day, for no good reason. So help me help you! All the tools you need are here in this guide, or in the Readme document that came with the mod. Thank you for your understanding.


*


I hope you've found a solution to your mod troubles here.  If you have a contribution you'd like to add, feel free to send me a PM at the Bethsoft, TESNexus, or TES Alliance forums.
If you are still having trouble after reading this guide, please communicate with the mod author for further assistance!