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Arthmoor

My View on Mod Packs

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Author Engagement

One of the biggest reasons many authors release their mods to the public is the engagement they get with their users. Communities can form around certain mods, the author and their users may generate a rapport with each other and come to build friendships outside of the mod itself. There are even examples of where the users and mod authors of certain things have gotten together for real world meet ups. None of which would be possible if people are never directed to where the authors choose to foster this kind of community engagement. The blind downloading of mods in a modpack makes that very unlikely, and in some cases it's not possible at all because the modpack doesn't tell anyone who made the stuff that's in in.

Mod Page Engagement

Mod are about more than just downloading files and running off to play. They always have been. Part of being able to properly set up a load order involves the need to view a mod's description page and its other documentation. There could be some quirky known issues that might come up. There may be some special instructions needed to make the mod work properly that have to be done after it's been installed. Mod pages may have special compatibility information about using them with other mods. There may be modular setups available to make the mod work in different ways depending on what the author provides and/or the users wanted. None of this information is delivered at all to a user installing all of their mods using a modpack. This will lead to problems they won't know how to solve and ultimately only causes more frustration.

Author Recognition

This flows from the first two issues. Modpacks promote the marginalization of mod authors by allowing people to skip over who made the content and thus who to give praise to, etc. When the authors of mods become faceless unknowns, the community is then more able to treat mods themselves as worthless commodities that should always be available for free and without restrictions. Some mod authors will lose out on extra money they bring in through Patreon or Paypal donations as well as modpacks will not display this information to their users. None of the prompts for this purpose are displayed. Not even the endorsement prompt is given, and even Nexus itself appears ready to devalue this for no apparent reason. Granted, not all authors care that much about endorsements (ie: I don't) but not even getting that possibility seems like an unnecessary slap in everyone's faces.

Support and Bug Reports

Let's face it. At some point someone is going to go looking for help. When a users has downloaded their stuff directly from the pages, they're more likely to know where to go when Mod X misbehaves or has a bug. With modpacks, this is no longer the case and they'll be much more likely to pick something at random and go to them based on the assumption that we all know what mods are in what packs. When users don't know who to contact it raises the chances significantly of them filing reports in the wrong places, or for the wrong reasons. Modpack makers will not be able to correctly deal with this without having to become virtual gurus, which is unlikely to be the case. So they'll have little incentive for taking on the burden of diagnosing issues and are likely to instead pass this burden along to us - the authors.

Compatibility, and Stability

Modpacks lay claim to the ability to put an end to compatibility and stability issues. This is unfortunately not true in any way though. Especially for any game older than Skyrim Special Edition. The idea that 200+ mods can just be grabbed and put into a package and expected to work together for any of these older games is wishful thinking. Those engines simply don't have the ability to handle the content load due to restrictions on how 32-bit programs work. People are going to assume that someone who puts 200 mods into the package is also guaranteeing that this issue won't take place but they can't, and chances are that instead of the modpack maker taking the blame it'll be passed on to mod authors in some way. Even with games like SSE or Fallout 4 it's not always possible to have a giant list of mods work right when put together depending on exactly what they're doing. There are also a huge number of dirty mods with bad edits and things like deleted navmeshes that require manual intervention. No automated install system can deal with this without encouraging the unwanted modification of an author's files.

There are also issues with games that don't have official modding tools at all, such as Mass Effect, or that have inadequate tools for the job like the Witcher series. In both of these cases it is often necessary for mods to make direct edits to base game files which then leads to the paradox of not being able to install multiple mods into the game. These are technical limitations with these game engines that cannot be overcome by the use of modpacks. So it simply becomes impossible to force the issue. A system built around the idea that this is impossible needs to be able to take this into consideration and either block modpacks entirely, or allow authors of mods for such games the ability to hard opt-out of it if they know their mod could never work in a package.

Legal issues will also get in the way of a properly functioning modpack. Let's take as an example, my own load order. Wrye Bash currently shows it to be approximately 150 mods. It covers a wide range of things, centered around my village mods and Open Cities. This load order is not especially difficult to assemble, but it is also not possible to distribute as-is due to the presence of several compatibility patches and at least one actual mod I've modified for personal use. Despite my having the appropriate level of skill to actually build this modpack and set it up for others to use, it would not be legal to actually do so since it would have to include those files I can't distribute.

So why not just leave those parts out of the modpack then, right? The problem with that is that it's now a package that's no longer possible to run cohesively because the necessary "glue" is missing. It would no longer be composed of a well crafted set of completely compatible and stable mods. Which is why this kind of thing simply isn't feasible. My load order is certainly not going to be some exception to the rule either. Many of us will have done the same sort of thing and some guides that have been converted into modpacks are already including files they're not legally allowed to distribute.

Demands for Modpack Compatibility

At some point, users may find your mod and want it in the modpack too. This is likely to lead to demands from others that your mod somehow be made to work with this modpack even if you have no interest in modpacks at all. Other user communities such as reddit and Steam are already seeing posts from users demanding that some mod author alter their work so that it'll fit into Ultimate Skyrim. Sometimes up to and including openly asking someone else to illegally modify their work to make it happen, even after the author has said no. This is a situation that should never take place in a properly run community. If a mod author doesn't want to be involved, leave them alone. If they don't want their work included in some way, that desire needs to be respected.

Homogeneous Community

Another thing modpacks promote is the consolidation of mods around a select group. For Bethesda games this would likely start from the top 100 list on Nexus and if we're lucky may extend outward to 1000 or so. At some point if modpacks continue to be pushed as "the way of the future" then that future will be one where there's 1000 or so mods in use and any others getting published are ignored regardless of their quality level. Diversity in modding will be reduced to nothing since everyone is now running one of the 5 modpacks that ends up dominating the landscape.

If you don't think this won't happen, have a look at what happened with Minecraft. Prior to about 2014 or so, the Minecraft community was large, vibrant, and thriving. Numerous authors had quality mods being released. Then the movement toward modpacks began and in very short order, mod authors who wanted nothing to do with them were driven out of the community. Now, when looking for discussion of mods for Minecraft, one runs into basically "Feed the Beast" or "Better Than Wolves" and indications are both of these are bitter rivals of each other.

Discourages Learning

Part of the process in modding is learning how the game works and what can and can't be done with it. For the last 15 years we've enjoyed a steady growth in the number of mod authors who started off as users, primarily because they were able to engage the process directly and learn from it and eventually become proficient with the CK. When modpacks are the rule of the day, this learning is discouraged in favor of a "click click click" mentality. Since it removes all of the interaction points previously mentioned, it results in far fewer people becoming mod authors due to the absence of engagement with the process and leads to the homogeneous community issue through basic attrition as the existing pool of mod authors leaves the scene voluntarily or are driven out.

A Solution?

All of the various things mentioned here will tend toward a community that doesn't respect the contributions of mod authors, their rights, or bringing in new people to write new material. So what's the solution to these problems? It's surprisingly simple and goes hand in hand with one of the central philosophies of modding: Choice. Provide a choice to mod authors on whether or not they want their work in mod packs. The easiest way to accomplish this is for Nexus Mods to alter their API in order to allow mod authors to check a box to opt-out of any such system. The next option, while more difficult to implement, would be to get makers of the various modpacking tools to write code to support a community opt-out standard that can be added to their mod descriptions. Something simple like a tag: [ModPacks: NO] or [ModPacks: YES]. If a mod is found to contain one of these tags the tool can act accordingly. The bottom line here though is that authors should be given the choice. Users are not the only people entitled to that.

If market forces should become such that choosing to opt-out has a negative effect on a particular author, they can always choose to change their stance. In this way, everyone should be happy since everyone gets to choose.

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This is a very carefully considered piece on the issues that mod-packs present. On the one hand, anything that makes an entry into modded TES games easier is a positive. On the other hand, all your points are valid.

One thing I think this brings out is that any attempt to address one or two of these problems might exacerbate the others. For example, if mod authors got together and built a mod pack (I'm imaging something like the Patch, Open Cities, Arth's villages, ETAC and Hana's meshes to start) then that would solve the stability issues and the author-interaction issues at the expense of the sort of homogenisation Arthmoor is worried about.

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Author Engagement

None of which would be possible if people are never directed to where the authors choose to foster this kind of community engagement.

- OK, so if users are properly advised to visit the mod's Nexus page, then all is good.  In itself, this isn't an argument against mod packs.  In fact, you may be forgetting a whole other side of your concern - that mod packs may increase traffic on your page (certainly number of downloads). So unless you have actual data to support your claim that mod packs have that effect on you, this is a moot point.
 

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Mod Page Engagement

None of this information is delivered at all to a user installing all of their mods using a modpack.

- Again, another claim not backed up by anything.  A mod pack author decides how to include a mod in a pack.  YOu're basically saying that a bad mod pack author may not do their due diligence to address those issues you mentioned.  OK, and?  There are no rules against bad mod authors, so why should there be rules against bad mod pack authors?  Another non-argument against mod packs in general. 

 

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Support and Bug Reports

Let's face it. At some point someone is going to go looking for help. When a users has downloaded their stuff directly from the pages, they're more likely to know where to go when Mod X misbehaves or has a bug. With modpacks, this is no longer the case and they'll be much more likely to pick something at random and go to them based on the assumption that we all know what mods are in what packs.

- I think you are having a hard time keeping your own arguments straight.  On the one hand you speculate that you'll get fewer visits on your page (which you haven't backed up), and on the other hand you are concerned about having to deal with issues you dont know anything about (also a speculation).  It seems way more likely that mod pack users will seek help from the mod pack community, which they DO every minute of every day, if you actually bother to visit those places.  So not a problem for you. 

 

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Compatibility, and Stability

Modpacks lay claim to the ability to put an end to compatibility and stability issues.

Give us one example of said claim.  Even if someone somewhere said that, they're crazy, and I dont see how that affects YOU, or mod packs in general.  Another non-argument against mod packs.

 

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Demands for Modpack Compatibility

At some point, users may find your mod and want it in the modpack too.

- Oh damn, so some users will make demands of you?  BUT WHAT SHALL WE DO ?!  :-)  I can't even give you a serious response to this.  Grow up. 

 

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Homogeneous Community

Diversity in modding will be reduced to nothing since everyone is now running one of the 5 modpacks that ends up dominating the landscape.

- Where are you getting this stuff, seriously?  5 modpacks?  Dude, just because mod packs exist doesnt' mean that demand for good mod packs will stop existing.  If users dont like a particular modpack, of course someone else will make another one.  :-)

 

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Discourages Learning

Part of the process in modding is learning how the game works and what can and can't be done with it. For the last 15 years we've enjoyed a steady growth in the number of mod authors who started off as users, primarily because they were able to engage the process directly and learn from it and eventually become proficient with the CK. When modpacks are the rule of the day, this learning is discouraged in favor of a "click click click" mentality. Since it removes all of the interaction points previously mentioned,

- A user who installs a mod through your page will not learn anything more about creating mods, then if they install a mod pack.  Now, if you're making an argument against using mod managers, then you need to say so, but mod packs affect nothing here.  Mod authors start modding by tweaking existing mods to fit their game.  A mod pack isn't stopping anyone from doing that.  Another non-argument.

 

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A Solution?

All of the various things mentioned here will tend toward a community that doesn't respect the contributions of mod authors, their rights, or bringing in new people to write new material.

- You still haven't explained anywhere which mod author RIGHTS have been violated. 

On the topic of opting out of mod packs - you've already opted in the moment you posted your mod on Nexus.  Neither Nexus nor YOU can tell a user what other mods they are allowed to use alongside your own mod.  If you don't like it, take your stuff out of Nexus.  In the end It's YOU who wants to violate the rights of users to use whatever mod packs they want.  This goes against the spirit of the community, and the user's choice.  Basically, you want the choice to prevent users' choice.   You want the ability to discriminate against groups of users.  Nobody will / should grant you that.

Cheers. 

 

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Putting aside the issue of permissions, what I think almost everyone is missing is the fact that, you just CANNOT download and install large numbers of mods, and expect the game to run - just not possible without hands on editing of records to ensure compatibility.  And this is the very thing that the people who want this the most are incapable of doing.  This is what I posted in the Steam SSE  Forums re this:

Modpacks (as being discussed here, and not the clearly illegal compilations of the same name) and .esl files, all other considerations aside, make it very easy for the unknowing and inexperienced to break their games before they even begin to play - as well as making it, for all intents and purposes, impossible to help due to the shear size of some of the builds being made.

Most people who clamor for Wabbajack and similar type progrsms are seeking a shortcut to modding the game - unfortunately, despite what some may say, THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS (except, often, to disaster).

And:

know almost next to nothing about Wabbajack.  From what I do know, it autodownloads a list of mods from a source (lets say Nexus).  Frankly, I see nothing wrong with that.  But, as Jack said, what happens after that?  Because that to me is the main question, and where I think a lot of people are getting their hopes up, and are being unrealistic.  Even if it does install the mods, what next?  When dealing with large builds, it is not just a matter of installing and sorting the mods.  Even if it can auto build a Bashed Patch, for example, in a large build, the Bashed Patch leaves things out that can only be corrected by manually editing the records.  As to merging, that is something that has to be done manually, as editing records for compatibility is necessary, and, again, that can only be done hands on.

Then, of course, there is the overall compatibility of all the mods.  While most people are satisfied using LOOT, the fact of the matter is, once a build gets sufficiently large, LOOT becomes useless, as records need to be individually edited, and it is impossiblle for LOOT to take these changes into account. In extremely large builds (and reading comments, that seems like what  lot of people are envisioning Wabbajack to be used for), in order to get them to work, there is just no getting around manual editing of records.  And, unfortunately, this is something that is beyond the capabilities of many of the very people who most want this.

Undoubtedly Wabbajack would be excellent for many less elaborate builds, but for the kinds of builds many people seem to want, it is just not feasible.

As an extreme example, you could autodownload my builds (my SSE build for example  (1535 total mods, 1103 plugins merged down to 233, No .ESL files), you can get them all installed.  You can even order the mods in the order I have them - and create all the same merges as well.  And if you did all that, and fired the game up,  the thing would probably immediatey CTD.  Because all the mods and their records need to be edited - without that editing, it just won't work.  And it is that very editing that Is beyond the reach of the vast majority of people - and certainly beyond the reach of those who would be most likely to use Wabbajack."

Too often, people don't know what modding the game actually involves, and are all too quick to criticize those who tell them that they just can't have it "their way

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Compatibility, and Stability

All Mod packs should be unit tested, and then tested with other packs. This consumes time and labour. And there should be test reports and stats and graphs- pages of them.

A mod author should be able to vote for inclusion or exclusion of other mods in the modpack that bundles his mod. That probably means that if his 5 star job gets stuffed in with a bunch of 2 star jobs, the ctds will be blamed on his mod just as much as the others. Will he enjoy providing Support for the Bug Reports?

Mod Packs will then want to be rated on test results as well. A extra burden on those Nexus staff and devotees who want to give it any credibility.

Demands for Modpack Compatibility

This is the worst thing- that a mod should be altered without permission so it functions in some mod pack.

Mod Authors have every right to determine how their work is distributed!

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47 minutes ago, lmstearn said:

A mod author should be able to vote for inclusion or exclusion of other mods in the modpack that bundles his mod.

I dont' understand what you're saying here.  So what can the mod pack author decide if not what mods to include :teehee:

 

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This is the worst thing- that a mod should be altered without permission so it functions in some mod pack.

Uhm yes, it's called a compatibility patch, but those are not generally made without permission, if original assets are used.  Nexus is full of them, and they are needed to make one mod work with another.  Maybe users should only install 1 mod and stop there. :teehee:

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On the subject of compatibility patches.  Patches work to make one mod compatible with another.  They work to make 3 or 4 mods compatible.  A patch may even work (though it is the least effective way of doing things) to make 5 to10 mods compatible.  But patches WILL NOT work to make a complete build totally compatible, and certainly not when the build is in excess of 150 or more mods.  Once you start getting into builds of that size, the only way to ensure compatibility between ALL the mods, is by directly editing the individual mod's records themselves. 

Now, some people may get away without doing that, and be perfectly happy with a build of that size where items are not showing up in the game (they probably won't even notice - especially if they have not looked in xEdit), and where things may not be occurring when they should, but that is not the ticket to a totally stable and CTD free game.  And once you get over the plugin limit, even in relatively small builds of 300 to 400 plugins (and these are exactly the size builds people will most want in a modpack), then the editing of individual records in individual mods, is an absolute necessity.  And this is not something that can be done via patches, and not something that can be done in modpacks. It is this type of direct editing of files (and I have directly edited literally thousands of records in each build) that allows me to make builds containing well over 1000 plugins totally stable and CTD free - and which is absolutely NOT possible using patches.  Anyone who claims otherwise, knows nothing about building large mod loadouts.

And this is precisely the thing that cannot be done in modpacks.  Anyone who says otherwise is completely wrong.

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13 hours ago, crest said:

I dont' understand what you're saying here.  So what can the mod pack author decide if not what mods to include :teehee:

 

Uhm yes, it's called a compatibility patch, but those are not generally made without permission, if original assets are used.  Nexus is full of them, and they are needed to make one mod work with another.  Maybe users should only install 1 mod and stop there. :teehee:

The "author" of a mod-pack is more properly a "compiler" or "editor". The word "author" is reserved for someone who originates the work - not someone who compiles or edits it. Well-constructed mod-packs may be very impressive in scope, they may even by technically impressive but they can't really be said to have been "authored".

Edited by Sigurð Stormhanð
typo

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16 hours ago, crest said:

 

- OK, so if users are properly advised to visit the mod's Nexus page, then all is good.  In itself, this isn't an argument against mod packs.  In fact, you may be forgetting a whole other side of your concern - that mod packs may increase traffic on your page (certainly number of downloads). So unless you have actual data to support your claim that mod packs have that effect on you, this is a moot point.
 

- Again, another claim not backed up by anything.  A mod pack author decides how to include a mod in a pack.  YOu're basically saying that a bad mod pack author may not do their due diligence to address those issues you mentioned.  OK, and?  There are no rules against bad mod authors, so why should there be rules against bad mod pack authors?  Another non-argument against mod packs in general. 

 

- I think you are having a hard time keeping your own arguments straight.  On the one hand you speculate that you'll get fewer visits on your page (which you haven't backed up), and on the other hand you are concerned about having to deal with issues you dont know anything about (also a speculation).  It seems way more likely that mod pack users will seek help from the mod pack community, which they DO every minute of every day, if you actually bother to visit those places.  So not a problem for you. 

 

Give us one example of said claim.  Even if someone somewhere said that, they're crazy, and I dont see how that affects YOU, or mod packs in general.  Another non-argument against mod packs.

 

- Oh damn, so some users will make demands of you?  BUT WHAT SHALL WE DO ?!  :-)  I can't even give you a serious response to this.  Grow up. 

 

- Where are you getting this stuff, seriously?  5 modpacks?  Dude, just because mod packs exist doesnt' mean that demand for good mod packs will stop existing.  If users dont like a particular modpack, of course someone else will make another one.  :-)

 

- A user who installs a mod through your page will not learn anything more about creating mods, then if they install a mod pack.  Now, if you're making an argument against using mod managers, then you need to say so, but mod packs affect nothing here.  Mod authors start modding by tweaking existing mods to fit their game.  A mod pack isn't stopping anyone from doing that.  Another non-argument.

 

- You still haven't explained anywhere which mod author RIGHTS have been violated. 

On the topic of opting out of mod packs - you've already opted in the moment you posted your mod on Nexus.  Neither Nexus nor YOU can tell a user what other mods they are allowed to use alongside your own mod.  If you don't like it, take your stuff out of Nexus.  In the end It's YOU who wants to violate the rights of users to use whatever mod packs they want.  This goes against the spirit of the community, and the user's choice.  Basically, you want the choice to prevent users' choice.   You want the ability to discriminate against groups of users.  Nobody will grant you that.

Cheers. 

 

 

Here we go again, how many times have we seen someone trying to find holes in someones posts just to try and win an argument to make what they want happen disregarding mod authors concerns. "I want my easy install mod pack waaah!, I dont care about the wall of text or peoples copyrights / artistic content / intellectual property / agreements and collaboration complications between mod authors contributing to any particular mods development, or the amount of extra support from original authors a mod pack always generates .. just let this happen". :P

 

I cant be arsed answering each of your points, anyone who has been a long term member of the various TES communities know the truth of what Arthmoor has said. Responses to your points have been proved many times during the years of modding all Bethesda games including Morrowind / Oblivion / Skyrim LE / Skyrim SE / Fallout. Nearly all the community arguments on the same subjects are now lost since the old official Bethesda Community Forums are dead, so proving some of it is not possible. Arthmoor during his very experienced and technical prowess during 15 years modding this series, and the many talented people who have contributed to the UnOfficial Patch Projects, have all seen instances on Bethesda forums and Nexus forums (and many more community forums which have been lost in time) to prove everything Arthmoor has said.

I personally have contributed a bit of graphical work and lots of beta testing / bug hunting to disprove claims that issues people experience with the UnOfficial Patches were a fault of the patches, more often than not the problems were due to other mods and incorrect installation not following procedures laid down by the mod authors, or just plain old bad mods with complicated hidden issues due to the mod author using incompatible tools to make their mods ..

.. I contributed because it is a community project to help everyone. I would not like to think a Mod Pack creator behind a pay wall was profiting from all of our years of hard work, or that all that work was being undermined with bad research / inexperience by the mod pack creator. My contributions were freely given to the UnOfficial Patch Project team to use, who I respect for their outstanding dedicated community support, not anyone else.

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I also see another point and that is hardware requirements for the pack for instance the creator of the pack has a RTX2080 ti  and puts lot of 4k and 8k textures in that pack ... Ok fine however if he doesn't mentioned his hardware a lot of people think ohhh beautiful pack and download it, but if the pc of the downloader ample meets the minimum skyrim se specs who is at fault and who can troubleshoot?

 

Don't forget this feature will in all likelihood not be used by experienced modders

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5 hours ago, SpeedFreak1972 said:

I also see another point and that is hardware requirements for the pack for instance the creator of the pack has a RTX2080 ti  and puts lot of 4k and 8k textures in that pack ... Ok fine however if he doesn't mentioned his hardware a lot of people think ohhh beautiful pack and download it, but if the pc of the downloader ample meets the minimum skyrim se specs who is at fault and who can troubleshoot?

- Let me try a small experiment with what you said above.  Let me copy paste the statement, almost exactly, with one small change....

" I also see another point and that is hardware requirements for the MOD for instance the creator of the MOD has a RTX2080 ti  and puts lot of 4k and 8k textures in that pack ... Ok fine however if he doesn't mentioned his hardware a lot of people think ohhh beautiful MOD and download it, but if the pc of the downloader ample meets the minimum skyrim se specs who is at fault and who can troubleshoot?  "

 

This is a riddle for you.  What did I change there, and how is your original statement different than the modified one?  :-)  How do you people come with so many non-arguments against mod packs ?!

After the first 10 complaints from users that the MOD or PACK are too graphics intensive, the MOD / PACK author will probably list the HW requirements, and some users will move on to another MOD or PACK.  Easy.

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8 hours ago, smr1957 said:

On the subject of compatibility patches.  Patches work to make one mod compatible with another.  They work to make 3 or 4 mods compatible.  A patch may even work (though it is the least effective way of doing things) to make 5 to10 mods compatible.  But patches WILL NOT work to make a complete build totally compatible, and certainly not when the build is in excess of 150 or more mods.  Once you start getting into builds of that size, the only way to ensure compatibility between ALL the mods, is by directly editing the individual mod's records themselves

-  So let me get this right.  Because YOU think it's not possible to have a well-working mod pack, what then?  Users should never install more than 10 mods? :-)  ANd just because you may not be able to do it, doesn't mean others shouldn't try.  Thank god for people with more will than you. 

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15 hours ago, smr1957 said:

Putting aside the issue of permissions, what I think almost everyone is missing is the fact that, you just CANNOT download and install large numbers of mods, and expect the game to run - just not possible without hands on editing of records to ensure compatibility.  And this is the very thing that the people who want this the most are incapable of doing.  This is what I posted in the Steam SSE  Forums re this:

Modpacks (as being discussed here, and not the clearly illegal compilations of the same name) and .esl files, all other considerations aside, make it very easy for the unknowing and inexperienced to break their games before they even begin to play - as well as making it, for all intents and purposes, impossible to help due to the shear size of some of the builds being made.

Most people who clamor for Wabbajack and similar type progrsms are seeking a shortcut to modding the game - unfortunately, despite what some may say, THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS (except, often, to disaster).

And:

know almost next to nothing about Wabbajack.  From what I do know, it autodownloads a list of mods from a source (lets say Nexus).  Frankly, I see nothing wrong with that.  But, as Jack said, what happens after that?  Because that to me is the main question, and where I think a lot of people are getting their hopes up, and are being unrealistic.  Even if it does install the mods, what next?  When dealing with large builds, it is not just a matter of installing and sorting the mods.  Even if it can auto build a Bashed Patch, for example, in a large build, the Bashed Patch leaves things out that can only be corrected by manually editing the records.  As to merging, that is something that has to be done manually, as editing records for compatibility is necessary, and, again, that can only be done hands on.

Then, of course, there is the overall compatibility of all the mods.  While most people are satisfied using LOOT, the fact of the matter is, once a build gets sufficiently large, LOOT becomes useless, as records need to be individually edited, and it is impossiblle for LOOT to take these changes into account. In extremely large builds (and reading comments, that seems like what  lot of people are envisioning Wabbajack to be used for), in order to get them to work, there is just no getting around manual editing of records.  And, unfortunately, this is something that is beyond the capabilities of many of the very people who most want this.

Undoubtedly Wabbajack would be excellent for many less elaborate builds, but for the kinds of builds many people seem to want, it is just not feasible.

As an extreme example, you could autodownload my builds (my SSE build for example  (1535 total mods, 1103 plugins merged down to 233, No .ESL files), you can get them all installed.  You can even order the mods in the order I have them - and create all the same merges as well.  And if you did all that, and fired the game up,  the thing would probably immediatey CTD.  Because all the mods and their records need to be edited - without that editing, it just won't work.  And it is that very editing that Is beyond the reach of the vast majority of people - and certainly beyond the reach of those who would be most likely to use Wabbajack."

Too often, people don't know what modding the game actually involves, and are all too quick to criticize those who tell them that they just can't have it "their way

Wabbajack is able to perform manual record edits through binary patching. A modlist creator may make compatibility changes to an ESP in xEdit for example, and when the installer is compiled Wabbajack will note the difference between the stock downloaded version and the changes they made. These changes are then stored in a binary diff file which is applied on the user's end when they use the auto installer. Most list creators also upload their own crafted Bashed Patches to negate the need for manual generation with bash (although with a disclaimer that if the user adds more mods, they must regenerate it). Currently, merging is manual but the merge records can be included.

Overall, it is actually viable to set up complex modlists with relative ease. The documentation for the Lexy installer is only a couple of pages long, compared to the guide itself which is...well gigantic. 

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7 hours ago, Sigurð Stormhanð said:

The "author" of a mod-pack is more properly a "compiler" or "editor". The work "author" is reserved for someone who originates the work - not someone who compiles or edits it. Well-constructed mod-packs may be very impressive in scope, they may even by technically impressive but they can't really be said to have been "authored".

Right, exactly.  Lets nitpick about what we call them because we dont' really have a good response on the substance. Back on the main point - maybe we should let the xEdit / CK / SKSE / SkyUI  authors vote on what thinigs you should include in your mod.  :-)

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9 hours ago, smr1957 said:

On the subject of compatibility patches.  Patches work to make one mod compatible with another.  They work to make 3 or 4 mods compatible.  A patch may even work (though it is the least effective way of doing things) to make 5 to10 mods compatible.  But patches WILL NOT work to make a complete build totally compatible, and certainly not when the build is in excess of 150 or more mods.  Once you start getting into builds of that size, the only way to ensure compatibility between ALL the mods, is by directly editing the individual mod's records themselves. 

Now, some people may get away without doing that, and be perfectly happy with a build of that size where items are not showing up in the game (they probably won't even notice - especially if they have not looked in xEdit), and where things may not be occurring when they should, but that is not the ticket to a totally stable and CTD free game.  And once you get over the plugin limit, even in relatively small builds of 300 to 400 plugins (and these are exactly the size builds people will most want in a modpack), then the editing of individual records in individual mods, is an absolute necessity.  And this is not something that can be done via patches, and not something that can be done in modpacks. It is this type of direct editing of files (and I have directly edited literally thousands of records in each build) that allows me to make builds containing well over 1000 plugins totally stable and CTD free - and which is absolutely NOT possible using patches.  Anyone who claims otherwise, knows nothing about building large mod loadouts.

And this is precisely the thing that cannot be done in modpacks.  Anyone who says otherwise is completely wrong.

Record edits can be automated and already are with larger mod lists using Wabbajack. These sorts of edits are a necessity for large installs, for sure, but Wabbajack can automate these same edits as needed through binary patching - xEdit included. Additionally, Wabbajack does not strictly have to retrieve mods - it can also download and install tools needed to perform things that it can't yet fully automate, such as merging.

EDIT: Sorry, just realised you're the same guy I've already replied to.

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I am not very active here, but I have been hiding in the corners and peaking around door jams for a couple months.  Now, I have something for the participants in this thread to consider.   

Three of the eight distinct respondents to this thread joined this site within the last 24 hours, ALL their posts are in this thread, and the majority of the posts in this thread are theirs.  Why is that, do you think?

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5 minutes ago, The Black Swan said:

I am not very active here, but I have been hiding in the corners and peaking around door jams for a couple months.  Now, I have something for the participants in this thread to consider.   

Three of the eight distinct respondents to this thread joined this site within the last 24 hours, ALL their posts are in this thread, and the majority of the posts in this thread are theirs.  Why is that, do you think?

I registered to voice my opinion because I hold an alternative view to some of the commenters here, particularly on what Wabbajack can achieve, and wanted to discuss it. Just because I am not an established member here it does not mean that my opinion is invalidated. I know you didn't say this, but you seem to be inviting that consensus.

I also think its healthy to have critical discussion around an issue with a range of opinions in discussion. (although I wouldn't agree with the manner in which crest seems to be pursuing it). 

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30 minutes ago, layton452 said:

This is incorrect. This can and already is done with larger mod lists using Wabbajack. Manual edits are a necessity, for sure, but Wabbajack can automate these same edits as needed through binary patching - edits with xEdit included. Additionally, Wabbajack does not strictly have to retrieve mods - it can also download and install tools needed to perform things that it can't yet fully automate, such as merging.

Automated systems, DO NOT work, regardless of what anyone may claim.  I've run enough of them to test, and they consistently omit information, or forward the wrong information.  With over 6000 hours in xEdit editing builds, and having to edit errors introduced by automated tools and programs, I am more aware than almost anyone as to what can and cannot be done.  Automated editing programs simply CANNOT make decisions which require decisions being based upon knowledge and experience.  Thinking that they can do so, is a common misconception of those with less experience in the handling of large builds. No disrespect intended, but very few people, if any, have the experience with large builds that I have - what can I say? I have no life - LOL!

And as to making internal edits to mods, and then offering those newly edited mods for download in a pack, it is my understanding that it is not allowed, as the mod is being altered and offered for download without permission of the original author to alter their work.

Edited by smr1957
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14 minutes ago, smr1957 said:

Automated systems, DO NOT work, regardless of what anyone may claim. .,.. I am more aware than almost anyone as to what can and cannot be done. 

If "you can't" was a good argument against progress, we'd still be in the stone age (which funny enough Arthmoor and his guys tried taking us all back to with their EXE business). 

Again, just because you don't have the will or know-how does not mean others dont or shouldn't try. How did you people ever create anything with this attitude? And who are you to tell the whole community what can't or shouldnt' be tried?

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17 minutes ago, smr1957 said:

Automated systems, DO NOT work, regardless of what anyone may claim.  I've run enough of them to test, and they consistently omit information, or forward the wrong information.  With over 6000 hours in xEdit editing builds, and having to edit errors introduced by automated tools and programs, I am more aware than almost anyone as to what can and cannot be done.  Automated editing programs simply CANNOT make decisions which require decisions being based upon knowledge and experience.  Thinking that they can do so, is a common misconception of those with less experience in the handling of large builds. No disrespect intended, but very few people, if any, have the experience with large builds that I have - what can I say? I have no life - LOL!

I can understand that, and I'm not trying to refute your knowledge or experience - but these aren't automated editing programs per se. Binary patching will apply the exact same edits that an individual user makes to an ESP for example, down to the last bit - since the comparison is made directly against the bits of the file downloaded and the bits of the edited file. There is no parsing or tracking that has to be done in order to figure out what has been changed - its just binary comparison. It's true I can't guarantee an 100% success rate what with network or processing errors, but thats outside the scope of the tool itself, and more on hardware and connectivity.

What I can agree on is that modlist users are much more prone to making mistakes on the parts of the setup that they have to manually perform, since they might not have as complete an understanding of the tools as a seasoned modder who had got there manually would. But with Wabbajack the steps they must perform manually tend to be few, and user errors can be tempered with good documentation and support on the part of modlist creators.

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Layton, no problem!  LOL! I edited my post.  From what you say, the edits will be made manually as I say they need to be, Wabbajack just records all those changes and incorporates them - it is not actually editing the records itself.

 

My contention is that a mod is bring changed and offered for download possibly without the consent of the mod author to allow those changes.

 

The question of the competency of the person doing the editing I'll leave to another discussion.  Though seeing the quality of many of the mods uploaded to Nexus, and the ability of many of the people in the Steam forums, I am not optimistic, to say the least.

 

And I apologize if I come of as elitist, I'm really not.  But there is a tremendous gulf between what is needed to ensure compatibility in large load orders, and the actual ability that the vast majority of people possess.

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20 minutes ago, smr1957 said:

And as to making internal edits to mods, and then offering those newly edited mods for download in a pack, it is my understanding that it is not allowed, as the mod is being altered and offered for download without permission of the original author to alter their work.

The mod downloaded is the original mod, the edits are then applied locally on the user's machine. Once uploaded to the Nexus, the default license is that users may freely do with the files as they wish on their own machines. The only stipulations on this being not allowed depend on the permissions set by the mod author themselves. In the sister thread to this in this forum, halgari and Arthmoor discuss an opt out feature for modification for authors which wish for their mods to be undisturbed.

 

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1 minute ago, smr1957 said:

Layton, no problem!  LOL! I edited my post.  From what you say, the edits will be made manually as I say they need to be, Wabbajack just records all those changes and incorporates them - it is not actually editing the records itself.

 

My contention is that a mod is bring changed and offered for download possibly without the consent of the mod author to allow those changes.

 

The question of the competency of the person doing the editing I'll leave to another discussion.  Though seeing the quality of many of the mods uploaded to Nexus, and the ability of many of the people in the Steam forums, I am not optimistic, to say the least.

 

And I apologize if I come of as elitist, I'm really not.  But there is a tremendous gulf between what is needed to ensure compatibility in large load orders, and the actual ability that the vast majority of people possess.

Nah I get that, and for sure there will be users that simply can't get the install they want even with the autoinstaller, because the tools don't make sense to them. And yep, no doubt with compatibility there is a lot of work left to achieve - Wabbajack isn't there yet by any means - but in my opinion its a welcome development in the right direction at least! :)

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