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Skyrim Modding Diary - 18 February 2022



Welcome back everyone, we survived to another Friday! Today we've got a few different projects on our plate. As I touched on at the very end of yesterday's diary, we'll be installing a selection of wildlife mods today. If time permits we'll also be taking a crack at Fresh Women of Darkness, though no promises on that one - it may end up sliding to the long weekend since integrating this one the way I want will actually take some time.


We're starting the day with 1,343 mods installed, 1,364 plugins active, and a final load order index of ED.


Let's Get Hairy

Schlongs of Skyrim has always had some issues with seamlessly blending its parts into character bodies. While there are a few texture packs out there for the most popular bodies, even then there's often a visible seam in the body texture, especially under complex lighting. This is because SOS includes not just the penis and scrotum, but a small area of skin in the pubic region. This is somewhat less of a problem for male bodies, since the default SOS body has a hole punched out to fit the SOS parts, but on female bodies it's much more noticeable. 


Setting Up


Either way, one easy solution is to add pubic hair to the model. A sufficiently bushy 3d public hair mesh will hide the seam all the way around and rarely look out of place. In the past I've used Outfit Studio to actually merge SOS pieces with the color matching pubic hair from this mod's assets, and that generally works, but it's a time consuming process that often requires a lot of testing. However, the male addon from that same mod uses a different approach where they basically convince Skyrim to spawn two different ARMAs on the same slot - one of the penis and one for the hair. I'm going to replicate this for the hairless (or texture-only-hair) SOS parts, specifically:



Here's an example of one of the Vector Plexus hair ARMAs; the ARMO for the SOS part references this record along with the penis ARMA. 




We need to make one change to this record; we need to add a female model path. For consistency with the male version, we'll use the "wild" hairstyle - just a simple copy and paste from the female version to the corresponding world model record on the male version. We'll do this all in an override record within my conflict resolution patch to future-proof it. We'll also copy over the relevant female skin texture to ensure no weird surprises happen.






With the ARMA refitted to be unisex, we'll now add it to all the additional SOS types we want to support. 





As I worked through this I did run into one additional step I need to take - the hair gets routed to Slot 49, which is how it can coexist with the Slot 52 penis. This is actually not ideal for some technical reasons as it may interfere with equipping panties or separate pants, so we'll need to watch this carefully. In the meanwhile, we need to clone the wild hair part for females and make an alternate version mapped to Slot 49.


We'll find it by searching my MO2 data folder for PHWild_1.nif and then navigating to that location. 






Is that a flashlight in your pants, or are you just happy to see me?


OK, we've got it working on the female body, now we want to confirm it's working on the male body and also on the custom Draenei we made.








Well, the humanoid male anthro part isn't working right, so that's concerning. Additional testing revealed that this is actually some kind of defect involving the pubic hair mesh for the Vector Plexus Muscular Schlong - this strobe effect is happening not just on the new characters, but also on male actors with the VPMS mesh. So we'll swap the male option over to the VP Regular Schlong, which should let us work around this problem.




This whole exercise does remind me that now that I've squashed my "infinite crash while compiling Sexlab interactions" issue, I need to go back and patch SLEN to allow more than 20 SOS parts. I have a number of bits and bobs that I'd like to incorporate into the world, after all. 


After making this change, the strobe effect is gone, which is good. However, as you can see more clearly in the second picture, the scrotum hair  from the mesh is still placed where it would go on the Vector Plexus model. I'll eventually need to revisit this and clean up the model, but since it only is noticeable on Orcs with very light skin tone (something that's rare in game currently) I can let this slide for now. 






One Final Step - Revisiting Futanari and Mutilating Devious Devices


I need to do a few final cleanup steps for the futanari pubic hair. While the wild hair mesh doesn't have anything wrong with it, I think we'll sub in the 'untamed' version since it rises towards the navel in a way more reminiscent of the male hair pattern in the game. Rather than redoing all our work, we'll just overwrite our temporary 'wild' files and redo the partition reassignment.





Finally, we need to test this with Slot 49 items to make sure they don't fight with these parts. We'll use the Redguard Noble outfit that we were playing with last month as a test since its already rigged for use with futanari characters. Unfortunately, it failed this test (SOS forces the pants out of Slot 49 - a situation that could be game breaking on items like chastity belts that don't always gracefully unequip in this situation). What we're going to need to do is go back and change all the slot 49 partitioning (for both male and female) to slot 57 (plug in vagina). Since urethral inserts are all but unheard of in Skyrim mods, this should be a much safer place to put futanari/male pubic hair. Of course, we may be back to this later to address plugs, but that's a lower priority problem than the sort of issues 49 would cause.


Fortunately, we only use two meshes, so the NifSkope work shouldn't be too heavy. xEdit will require more patching, but even that shouldn't be too bad.




As an aside, I'm really getting fed up with the Devious Devices "device hider" function, which I have to manually turn off every time I roll a new character for testing. By default this hides Slot 49 when certain other slots are equipped, which is not just an issue with testing slot 49 conflicts with separate pants, but it also messes with schlonging humanoid monsters that have a special skin which covers multiple body slots. For giggles, I patched it to knock out the script for this function, and this appears to have disabled the setting (at least on new games). 




Finally we have the two Draenei followers. They had a unique race that just refused to play nice with SOS, so in the end I changed them to be Nords like their sisters and regenerated their facegen. This had some added advantages, not the least of which is protecting against possible problems in the future, since the custom Draenei race had a custom skeleton and I don't know if it was made to XPMSSE standards or not (at a minimum, it was made for a much earlier version of that standard since as far as I can tell, the followers plugin wasn't touched since LE). 




Bonus Mod: Botox Skyrim


Botox Skyrim is one of those mods that went through a period of being indispensable but then faded from prominence as more advanced mods overshadowed it. It remains a go-to mod for builds on weaker systems that struggle with newer NPC overhauls. I've used it in the past on LE and liked it, but I never planned on using it with this build. However, I recently ran into some hair texture issues while continuing to test F.E.M.A.L.E. from yesterday, and I discovered that not only do I need the high resolution hair pack for Botox, I need the entire mod. I probably could still install it without the plugin, but one thing Botox does that other mods often neglect is improve the appearance of the generic NPCs. For that reason, we'll go ahead and install it at dead last priority (i.e., lower than even the High Poly NPC Project). This should result in its changes being targeted almost exclusively towards the generic templated NPCs like bandits, hunters, and so forth.


In this "minimal implementation" approach, we also won't be installing any of the extender modules for other content (Interesting NPCs, for example). We're just here to improve the NPCs who fell through the cracks with other mods, and get the assets for F.E.M.A.L.E. to use. Note that to accomplish this, we need to flag Botox as a master file so it can load before the High Poly Project.


Curiously, Botox doesn't actually directly edit the NPC records - it's just a BSA loader for asset deployment. Because of this, the mod is highly intrusive and needs special handling, I'll need to load this mod very high up in the asset stack; in fact, all the way up in the foundation section. This ensures the mod will lose all of its asset conflicts except for those with the vanilla game. If everything works right here, that'll actually make for exactly the light touch I was looking for. The only potential issue is that there's no xEdit-based way to quickly tell if an actor is touched by Botox or not. Fortunately, any mod that's editing facegen parameters should be coming with its own facegen files, and the priority on this mod is so low that it'll always lose those conflicts.






Adding Animal Content


No, not that kind of animal content! I'm talking about four mods in specific:



After the technically complex work we did earlier, I'm hoping these four will be a nice and easy process to install. These mods had no asset conflicts that required work; additionally, two were already ESL flagged. The remaining files have no facegen, voice, or SEQ assets and are both under the 2048 limit, so we can go ahead and convert them immediately. Cleaning revealed nothing wrong except for a couple of ITMs. While these mods did have some conflicts, they were limited and all patchable. The biggest pain in the neck was actually the Louder Nature mod, since it touched a large number of records (it shares these records with an audio overhaul mod in my load order). In general, I let Louder Nature win when it was touching vanilla sounds, but largely let other mods win when they were introducing their own unique sounds.




The critters all seem to be working right. Some of them clearly have low resolution textures, but I'll tolerate it for now and worse come to worst I'll seek out replacers (I'm sure such things exist). 


A Mystery in Riften


While getting ready to check something in the Riften area, I started encountering a reproducible CTD. This was not happening a couple of days ago when I was in Riften testing out new face textures from Courageous Women, so whatever's happening has cropped up since then. The crash log gives a laundry list of garbage entries. Buried in the crud is, among other things, a save-based script reference that doesn't appear in the latest save before this. While it's not definitive, I have my suspicions that whatever is going wrong might be tied to this script. Unfortunately, I don't have a good way to run it down since it has a saved game form ID (FF index). 




However, starting a new game and entering the city through a "real" door (coc to temple of mara and then exit from there) let me in. Hopefully something just went awry with that particular test build that resulted in a corrupted save game (never thought I'd find myself hoping my saved game was corrupted!). It would certainly be congruent with the large number of FF form IDs in the log. Still, I'll have to remain vigilant.




Footnote - Getting Closer to New Forsworn Outfits


I noticed today that a much more polished BBHUNP bodyslide preset for DX Morenn came out today. With a HIMBO version already extant, I now have the resources I need to complete a long-term project I've had with regard to the Forsworn. Specifically, I want to give them a chance to have the DX Morenn parts in addition to  their normal armor options. This will require changing some slot assignments in outfit studio as well as in xEdit, then generating new leveled list structures. I'll hold off on tackling that project for now, but it'll be something to keep an eye on for the future.


Pushing for 1350 - Let's Find Two More Mods!


It would be nice to get to 1,350 mods today, so let's pick a few at random off my to-do list. Let's grab...



Haafstead is located in a pretty remote area, so I'm not expecting any problems with it (other than maybe plugin size?). Once its set up, we'll get some relevant actors using the Breton outfits and also send a few to Northpoint (down the line we'll dip into that resource again to push some out to Beyond Reach).


Haafstead's asset conflicts are all LOD related, and appear benign. At worst we'll have some minor LOD weirdness until I regenerate my LODs. In fact, I should do that after I install this since we've added several mods that add or move structures. There are no conflicts with the Apparel mod.


At 58,300 records (!) Haafstead is not suitable for ESL flagging without extensive work. We'll leave it uncompressed for now. Breton Apparel on has 25 records and no form ID indexed content, so we'll compact and flag it.


Error checking revealed several actors with bad tint layers, and we also see that the mod has child actors. Fortunately, there is an RS Children patch, which we'll download and install. Unsurprisingly, the Haafstead main file also has a load of corrupted nav mesh edge links. A mod of this scope is sure to change a lot of navmesh, and this potential problem wasn't (as far as I understand) well understood until recently. On the other hand, none of these mods have any deletions and Haafstead had just a single ITM (an orphaned top level cell record). 


Haafstead's conflicts are mostly constrained to landscape changes (no big surprise there), but there are a few navmesh conflicts with Dawnguard and Rigmor of Bruma. The Rigmor changes are concerning because they include a door link and I believe they involve a ROB dungeon area. We'll need to tour the site and make sure this dungeon isn't sitting in the middle of downtown Haafstead or something silly like that (or just floating in midair or buried in a mountain as a result of landscape edits). 


Before we sink time into the outfits, we need to visit two areas to check that they are OK:


  • Tamriel -40, 25
  • Haafstad


Assuming we don't find insurmountable landscape issues with -40, 25, I'll be coming back tomorrow to fix the Rigmor navmesh issues. I'll also look at the Dawnguard ones, but I'll probably leave them alone unless they reveal something significant. Now let's see those two cells and how they look:




The inland part of this zone has some mild landscape issues that can be fixed in the CK fairly easily. The bigger question is the border post and how it'll impact the Rigmor quest set here. The Rigmor well is not blocked. 




After extensively touring the area, it looks like the issues (other than navmesh) are minimal. In fact, it may be that I just need to hook up the door link, which would be a great outcome. I'll want to also revisit with Haafstad not installed so I can make sure it's not wiping anything out. 


What about Haafstad itself? Well right off I see I'll need to regenerate the grass cache before exploring this content in a live environment - but that's no surprise. Overall the mod looks pretty good. I used the "light touch" version of the texture mod to preserve as much of the unique look as possible, and it seems like it's meeting its goals. 






SO. The good news is that Rigmor looks like it's safe, just needs minor adjustment of a few statics. Bad news is... why are nuclear strobe penises back?!?!?! Looks like I'm not done with SOS yet :/ I suspect the lesson here is that I can't just slap the Male 3D pubic hair mesh onto other schlongs and I'll need to do something a bit more involved.


Now let's check out that outfit mod. It isn't going to give us enough to do a full fledged cultural overhaul for Breton lands, but we get at least get a few NPCs geared up. To summarize what this mod provides, it has a mage outfit, a scholar outfit, and a priest of Julianos. Haafstad has a mage faction with a single member in it, so we'll give him the mage outfit. There are a number of other characters who use the mage outfit costume but they don't look like good prospects for this outfit. 


The court clerk in Northpoint will get the scholar outfit, and Louis Bienne, the outlawed priest of Julianos in NP, will get the cardinal outfit. 




Further digging revealed another Breton mage, this one in Northpoint, and she also got the mage outfit. As you can see below, the outfits are working right.





I'll regenerate the LOD before I shut down, but otherwise that's it for the day! We have some work cut out for us going into the weekend, but for now it looks like we're in a pretty good place. At the end of the day, we had 1,352 mods installed, 1,373 plugins active, and a final load order index of EE.








Edited by gregaaz


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