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Skyrim Modding Diary - 31 January 2022



Welcome back, everyone. With the successful completion of Skyrim at War tailoring yesterday, I'm a lot closer to being ready to stat my next playthrough than I'd previously expected. Consequently, today is going to focus on a couple of later-breaking edits followed by the prep work to get into a playthrough-ready state.


We started the day with 1,256 mods installed, 1,311 plugins active, and a final index of EF.


A Late Breaking Addition


NPCs folding their arms in front of their chests seemingly constantly has been one visual quirk I've noticed a lot. While it has always been a very low priority issue, today I noticed that a new mod has been released to address the issue. Since Dynamic Animation Replacers projects are very easy to install, we'll grab this one and load it up.


This mod does not have a plugin, and its only asset conflict is a replacer for the vanilla folder arms animation. As with most DAR mods, this took less than a minute to install and check.


The only potential issue here is the DAR startup animation count check. As you recall if you followed this blog over the weekend, we installed and updated a number of Toys Framework mods. It's likely that my core animation load has increased as a result, and I was already running close to DAR's native limit. I should note that this native limit is an artificial constraint that was put in by the author prior to the widespread adoption of the animation crash fix, so this isn't a "real" blocker. It's just a pain in the neck because exceeding it requires some manual hacking of the DAR binaries.


So let's rebuild our animation register and then do a test launch to make sure everything is OK. For this we are going to use FNIS first to ensure we capture and register all creature animations, then run Nemesis to capture newer animations that aren't supported by FNIS. We'll put each output set in its own folder, and ensure the Nemesis folder wins any conflicts.




Speaking in products that predate the animation limit check, I always get a good chuckle when I see FNIS proclaiming that I have a 131% chance of crashing. Don't mind the errors, by the way, they are all benign.




No error messages from DAR, and dynamic animations are playing correctly, so it looks like we haven't quite breached the limit yet!



Nocturnal Cleanup


If you read yesterday's comment thread, you know that @VirginMarie warned me that some scripts in Shout Like a Virgin might revert my outfit changes over the course of gameplay. I made a rudimentary script props edit to address this, but I need to monitor this in-game to ensure we don't get into a situation where the whole outfit gets removed by script but only the body piece gets restored. If that's happening, then I need to edit and recompile the underlying script to change the property from expecting an ARMO record to expecting an LVLI record that contains all the relevant pieces. 




I also looped back and added the SLA Exhibitionist keyword to all the Nocturnal variants as well as to Nightly, so they don't play modesty animations when their gear is removed.




While we'll need to keep monitoring how everyone behaves in game, these two tweaks should address most of the potential problems.


Grass Cache: Trying Again


No Grass In Objects has a very useful feature that lets you precache all the grass in the game and rely on those external files rather than vanilla or mod-added grass data. However, in the past Skyrim At War caused this to crash. Given that the cells with the problems were the same ones in its NAVI record, I tried removing and regenerating that record to see if it made a difference. Now that we've reached out gameplay-ready configuration, it's time to try regenerating the grass cache. Before we do this we'll first regenerate all the LODs using xLODGen




That operation went off without a hitch, so now we'll proceed to grass caching. Incidentally, you may be wondering why I'm not using DYNDOLOD 3. I will be adopting this mod eventually, but in the short term I'm holding off - in large part because the mod is extremely finnicky and loaded with user-unfriendly stop conditions that just make it very frustrating to work with on a large load order. For now, custom LODs are sufficient to meet my needs 99% of the time.


Unfortunately, regenerating the NAVI wasn't enough on its own. Eventually we'll just need to quarantine the problematic records, but that's trickier than it sounds since initial investigation suggests the bad record is in the persistent worldspace cell and so I can't readily cross-reference its coordinates. For now, especially since the grass cache got every cell except Tamriel, I'll take what I got and rely on the in-game cacher to handle the rest. This might cause some very minor performance loss for a while, but it'll eventually go away as the cache gets filled in.


Clearing the Decks

I have a couple of minor issues sitting on my to-do list that we'll try to knock out before starting new game configuration. Since we've already generated our LOD and grass data, I'll be limiting myself to mods that don't touch the landscape or add new major exterior statics. In most cases, I'll only be partially implementing these mods rather than loading up their full mod stack and doing all the customization I plan for them.


Jazmine the Niece


This isn't a mod that I plan to do with much right away. Basically it's a bare bones follower mod, but I like the author's concept, even if it isn't annunciated in game. For now she'll just be a random NPC at the Solitude Docks, and maybe at some point in the future I'll do something more extensive with her.


I don't feel like it makes a lot of sense for her to spawn naked, so I'm going to bring in this mod to make her a custom outfit. The armor is mostly ready to go out of the box, but we do need to make one small change to it - the separate pants occupy slot 49, and would completely cover the SOS parts. Therefore, we need to suppress SOS when the pants are equipped by adding slot 52 to the ARMA record, but we also need to add SOS_Revealing to the top since when equipped on its own it doesn't provide any coverage for the lower body.





Incidentally, any time you start working with slot 49 pants and panties in SSE, don't forget to turn off Devious Devices' device hider feature. By default it will hide slot 49 when you have a slot 32 (body) item equipped.


Here you can see a test actor just wearing the top. As you can see, slot 52 is displaying an SOS part and not underwear, because the top has the SOS_Revealing keyword.




Now here's the same actor after adding Slot 52 to the ARMA:




Since the pants have higher priority in their ARMA (SOS ARMAs are generally set to priority 0), the parts for that slot are taken from the armor instead of the SOS part. 


Now let's see how this look on the actual NPC, who'll be using the full version of the outfit rather than the skimpy version. Incidentally, see her hands? That's one of the new alternatives to the folded-arms pose.




Also, we'll need to do something about this later. I believe that's the Midwood Isle boat that AS is conflicting, and that mod already has dock position patches. For now I've added it to the to-do list since I'm not messing with geometry today.




Redguard Royal Outfit: Not Leaving Well Enough Alone


With Jazmine successfully added, I probably could have stopped there, but as I was taking the screen shots I realized that I might have a potential use for the skimpy parts. I have a vague recollection of a Hydragorgon character with backstory as a Redguard former warrior who had fallen on hard times. 


Here we go - Maharba:




Since she doesn't have any conflicting items, we'll go ahead and equip the unused items on her via her outfit record:




Since we're using this for a Hydragorgon character, and it'll be the only place this costume appears in the world, let's go ahead and remove the panties along with the slot 52 lockout for this item.





Looks good!



New Khajiit - First Steps


Version 2.0 of Project JKJ released over the weekend. I have kind of big plans for this mod, including bashing it together with a few other Khajiit overhauls to broaden the distribution of the other breeds and also ensure that characters who currently have vanilla Khajiit faces (mostly mod-added) will get some representation from this mod. For today, however, we're just going to install this mod and patch it in: the goal is to watch for any problems during the upcoming adventure.


We'll download version 2.0.1 beta, which is the first official ESL release, and get it installed. We won't be downloading any of the optional add-ons or patches, since they don't currently support the ESL beta. If I was going to more fully integrate this mod I'd get the 2.0 stable version and work from there, but I don't see any sense in worrying about that right now. The goal here is just to make sure the new racial types play nice with my setup.


We will be hiding a few of the assets this mod comes with, because they are overriding my texture replacers. I also notice that this mod does not appear to be universally replacing HHBB facegen, which indicates that this mod replaces more characters than HHBB does (in other words, some of the facegen in this mod is only conflicting native Skyrim.esm files). This is actually good as it means when we go to do the full implementation, we'll have that many more faces and bodies to choose from. 




Since this is a beta build, we'll be extra thorough checking for errors. Fortunately, everything game back clean - a very good sign! Outside the NPC records, conflicts were light and readily patched; things like adding more hair colors to the relevant form ID lists.




That just leaves the NPC records. As I mentioned at the top of this section, we aren't going to do any fancy blending here. For now, we'll just straight-up replace any conflicting face and body data. I also found a lurking elven dagger that I replaced with a random imported dagger.




Here they are in-game (this is actually three mods in synergy -- JKJ, Alfiq, and Khajiit Kittens)







J'Zargo Goes on a Diet


I've been using Schlongs of Big Fat Daddies for a while now. In principle, this mod is a very innovative approach to NPC overhauls and it should have a high level of compatibility. Unfortunately, my experience has been that this mod breaks face overlays almost without fail, resulting in all its mods having purple splotches on their faces. We'll be disabling this mod for now until I can overcome the problem.



Naughtier Wenches


When I was setting up The Wench's Wardrobe earlier, I stumbled across Senturo's NSFW Wench Corset, which looks like it might be fun for some of the naughtier wenches out there. However, this mod relies on Tiwa44's Minidress Collection, which is only available as a replacer. As a rule of thumb I only install mods like this after I've converted them to standalone additions to my world, I don't have the time right now to do a full integration of Tiwa's mod (though I plan to eventually); however, we can go ahead and mine it for assets to use for Senturo's. Senturo will also serve as a bit of a dry run for my variable lewdness system that I want to roll out more broadly eventually.


So first things first we are going to go into Minidress Collection and open up its wench outfit project. You can see our starting point below:




If you remember the chart from a few days ago, this is going to be a Class 5 (exhibitionist) outfit. In addition to changing the output path, we'll be removing the geometry for the panties. Later, in xEdit, we'll need to give it the SOS_Revealing keyword as well. Finally, before we save, we'll change the body slot assignment to Slot 58 (DD Corsets) and remove the reference body.




Next we need to update the texture paths. Because Senturo's file is itself a straight replacer with no underlying plugin, we'll rename the folder it lives in to "wenchcorset" so that its unique. We'll also need to grab the normal map from the Minidress Collection and put it in the same folder.






The end result looks like this:




With that done, we now need to make a plugin with the armor and arma records for this item. We'll start by copying the normal wench records as new records to our file. 




Next we'll update the body slot assignment, change the item name, and apply the SOS keyword. We'll also hook up the new ARMA to the ARMO.




The last question is what to do for male body support. I considered just deleting the male body record entirely and having this be a female only costume, but just to avoid random naked people when it wasn't intended, I hooked up the devious devices corset mesh for the male side.




With that saved, the outfit is ready to use - now we have to distribute it in the world. I don't have enough wench clothes in my game to do the full lewdness spectrum yet; at a minimum I'd need to get Minidress Collection, Tropical Style Suits, and Earth Tone Blanket Scarves installed. Consequently, we'll just make this a dry run and only put in the Class 5 list, and only for females. We'll start by going through the existing wench outfits and see which ones need variants made. What we're looking for are outfits that point to Sublist_VAR_ClothesWenchClothes, the vanilla Wench Clothes themselves, and the Wench's Wardrobe matching set list. We'll copy all of them to a working file. We also need to create a new leveled list called Sublist_VAR_ClothesWenchClothesFemale5 that for now will only contain the corset. We also want to copy any leveled lists that are clearly being used as pseudo-outfits.




Next we'll trim out any records that are loot lists or that are for custom races such as Uncommon Races of Skyrim characters. Next we'll remove any lists that don't have any characters on them with ACHR records; that is to say, lists that apply only to generic, templated NPCs. That's out of scope for the moment. We'll also delete any lists that have overrides which remove the wench outfits; for example, some Sisterhood of Dibella lists have already been separately customized. Since we don't currently have a matching Male5 list, we also will skip lists that have both male and female actors on them. Finally, we'll remove for consideration outfits that don't seem appropriate; e.g., Rigmor's Handmade Dress - regardless of how she gets scored for modesty, this outfit doesn't make sense if it isn't an actual dress.


Next, we need to work through each record's ACHRs and score them using the formula below. We are currently looking only for characters who score a 5 or a 6




Let's consider this actor below. She's a Nord (+2). She's a summoned NPC without any faction characteristics or discernable residence. That gives her a final score of 2, which doesn't qualify for this item. Since she is the only actor for her outfit, we'll remove that outfit from consideration.




After screening through a large number of records, I found a reasonable number of Class 4 wenches, but when I stopped looking I still hadn't found any Class 5s. I need to think about how I'm going to address the relative lack of class 5/class 6 NPCs, possibly by adding some more modifiers into the matrix, but it's not something I want to be hasty about lest I mess up the balance at the lower tiers. Alternatively, the top-level lists may be something more like 20% one class higher, 20% one class lower, 60% indicated class.


For now however we'll just stick the corset in my "work in progress" section and leave it out of the game world for now.


And with that, my open work tabs are all resolved. That means the next thing for me to start on is MCM configuration for my next playthrough. 


We locked down this configuration with 1,259 mods installed and 1,314 plugins activated. The final index is still EF.


See you soon, when Kirstia's adventure continues!








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