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godescalcus

Scripted mods and their impact on savegames

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Hi guys,

I'm looking for some well founded advise. I purposefully didn't mention a mod name in the title because I want to allow the scope of any eventual discussion to be able to be more broad about mods that risk damaging long play savegames.

There's talks about iNeed being a savegame destroyer - a mod that I've used for many years and that I'm currently not using, so there's no bias there for me - just honestly want to know beyond hearsay. The "best" argument I've found was fashioned more or less like this: "All of isoku have issues to some degree and it all comes dont to his scripts being consistently not well written. Wet and cold causes Crashes. Wonder of weathers causes CTD in certain situations and iNeed causes corruption in certain situations. When i see that pattern my best recommendation is to not use any isoku mod as of right now."

I can confirm from my experience that dropping Wet and Cold improved stability on my heavily modded game. Never really used Wonders of Weather.

Now I don't want to question all of Isoku's mods like that - or endorse the argument I quoted. While I can see common sense in following a pattern when your knowledge isn't enough to pursue the technical side of the matter, I'd like to know if there's any real evidence in support of those mods being stable or unstable in the long run. My point is if there is any grounds to saying that those scripts are not well written, that statement should be founded on why they are not well written.

If a more general discussion on script usage and its impact on long term SSE savegames ensues, all the better, hoping for some fruitful insight that may actually help me pick my mods better.

Thanks!

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When using mods for Skyrim (LE or SE) and Fallout 4, the important thing to remember is that you should NEVER uninstall a mod for any reason on an existing save. That should only be done when starting a new save. SMKViper, the guy who designed the Papyrus scripting system, had this to say on the subject:

smkvipermoduninstalls.png

People who make a regular habit of uninstalling mods are the ones who then go around claiming that certain mods break the game or corrupt your saves when they involve scripts. CTDs are also common under these conditions. So you should take with a grain of salt any advice that there are safe ways to uninstall mods on these games.

Isoku is a very talented and knowledgeable mod author. So long as you do not do anything stupid with his mods, they will behave just fine. Wet & Cold gets a bad rap for being unstable, laggy, etc. but this is not the fault of his scripting. It's generally the fault of people who are using mods with too many NPCs added to the game and with graphic or body mods that are too high a resolution for the engine to handle. So on heavily over-modded games the additional effects that Wet & Cold may appear to be to blame for the problem, but that's not the case.

Generally speaking, Papyrus is dependent on the frame rate of your game to do its work. If you're able to maintain a solid 60fps, then the scripting VM gets enough attention to do its job without issue. It's only when you start bogging things down with intensely fps-draining content like hi-res texture packs or ENB that things begin to go south. Dropping below 30fps is when things start to get ugly and you'll begin experiencing stack errors in the Papyrus log. These are obviously bad, but they are NOT something that modders are likely to be able to cause even under these conditions. Slow processing, yes, but stack dumps? Unlikely. SMKViper had a write-up on this that I can't find right now which went into the gory details of it all. Of course, most folks in places like reddit dismissed what he had to say because they think Bethesda are morons.

Consider for a moment that the game itself has in excess of 13000 scripts of varying types, many of which will be running at any given moment. If scripting could actually slow the game down we'd have run into that before any mods even existed.

There is also another write-up on script performance tips on the CK wiki as well: https://www.creationkit.com/fallout4/index.php?title=Performance_(Papyrus)

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Yep, I have had my fair share of *corrupt* gamesaves in both SLE and SSE, but for SLE I often use Hadoram's Save Game Script Cleaner tool and I dunno how many times it saved my game from being unplayable.

Unfortunately, Hadoram's excellent tool hasn't been converted for SSE yet.

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Save cleaners should not really be considered safe at all. Even Hadoram's isn't entirely reliable. If your saves are getting to where they're unplayable, you need to address the root cause of that because you'll just end up with the same problems again later.

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I've have first-hand objective evidence that stack dumps are tied to low framerate issues. Having the same build on two different machines, one being my desktop PC with a relatively beefy modern GPU and the other being my laptop, with an older one, I often moved my savegames from one to the other on trips and the like. The laptop performed rather poorly, generally around 40fps with dips to the low 20's or even less. That's the only time I saw stack dumps in my savegames in SSE.

I've also experienced game freezing during combat, usually when dragons were involved, that was fixed by removing Wet and Cold, but I can follow your argument that it doesn't warrant for that mod the title of "rogue". When you use it in combination with scripted combat mods, scripted weathers, scripted events, scripted needs, plus the base game, all competing for milliseconds of processing time, I can see any of them could be the straw that broke the camel's back. But it does make me think that patching form conflicts can give you a false sense of solidity for a build that may have a lot of issues that can't be so easily visualised as a chart of forms in xEdit.

I was told once that NPCs with their AI "hung" because of bad navmesh causing an impossible pathfinding loop (different of NPCs trying to navigate with a "valid" path that happens to have obstacles not accounted for in the navmesh) could damage your savegame in the long run. Truth, or myth?

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Dragon attacks involve a high poly model doing intense combat calculations in addition to the scripts they're running, the NPCs in the area acting like dufuses, and the actions of the player trying to react. All of which can significantly lower frame rates during the battle. Throw Serana in and having her toss around lighting spells with expensive effects and stack dumps during dragon fights are not a surprise at all. Something has to give under those conditions. Keep in mind that dragon flight is calculated independently of everything on the ground following the navmesh.

NPCs who get hung up by bad navmesh when wandering around will simply teleport past it after enough time is spent being unable to move. This will not damage your save in any way, even if you don't witness the teleport yourself.

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Seen the teleport happen, too. So you're perhaps busting one other myth of mine, this one of a personal nature but that I have been using to talk people out of using every possible city and town expansion mod available, along with ICAIO: those incompatibilities are not simple overlapping meshes or confused NPC AI, they're malignant and will break your save. I based my own assertion on experience, where after deciding not to use JK's and Dawn of Skyrim in my heavy build, I noticed increased stability (less crashing for one) - but then, probably what you said before would apply and it would come not from specific conflicts with ICAIO (I used every patch available and took as much care as possible with selecting which mod won the navmesh, even regenerated door links and all that) but from a heavy build overall causing the engine to choke in places where framerate drops. JK's cities definitely took a toll with the hardware I was using at the time I gave up on it. But, in the end, for different reasons than "broken AI killing your save", the main idea remains valid, one must limit a mod build to what the engine can take, and framerate can be a good indication of whether it's over that limit for each person's hardware? If that's the main guiding point, then choices definitely have to be made between Isoku's "immersion" mods, high poly bodies, high poly armoury, mods that add more actors, more clutter in cities and towns, needs mods, bigger trees, more grass, etc, etc, etc... Enb's newer effects, especially complex fire and particle lights, can really slow things down at times, depending entirely on what's on screen being post-processed.

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Yep. Overloading on city enhancements will definitely do it. Which becomes compounded by adding in hi-res weapon and armor mods, as well as all those hi-res body mods people like. Throw in an NPC spawning mod or two and you're now asking for trouble, even on SSE.

ENB is the largest offender though given that it's well known to chew up about half of your graphical performance all by itself unless you go in and tweak the hell out of it to lighten the load.

As far as ICAO, that mod is a buggy mess, period. You can very easily have it do something dumb and get NPCs permanently stuck indoors, not to mention it's well known to drag NPCs off target for quests, which then break. And you're already aware of the navmesh issues. If one were to insist on keeping it, ICAO should go up near the top of the load order in order to prevent it from clashing with dozens or hundreds of other legitimate navmesh edits down the list.

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One more question: opening the console can interfere with scripts running, and that's bad - truth or myth? Just opening for a couple of seconds and dismissing, entering no commands at all. I frequently use it to pause the game immediately after I enter a new worldspace, move from interior to exterior and vice-versa. It can take a few seconds for the screen to fade from black and during that time the game is running, you can be attacked, spotted while sneaking etc. But I've read recently that calling the console has an effect on scripts running... It certainly pauses the game, also pauses grass generation and such but also does allow for at least some scripts to run as I've seen some do while having them in verbose debugging mode. Is it a bad practice to use it thus, as a way to pause the game while the cell finishes loading?

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Opening the console freezes the VM, and you can verify this for yourself by alt-tabbing to another window and looking at the Papyrus log. It'll look like this:

[01/10/2020 - 10:06:57PM] VM is freezing...


[01/10/2020 - 10:06:57PM] VM is frozen

When the console is closed out, you'll see this message:

[01/10/2020 - 10:06:58PM] VM is thawing...

No scripts of any sort will process while the console window is active. The entire game will be in a suspended state.

That said, interrupting things in the way you're doing when transitioning between load screens is probably not a good idea because the act of performing the autosave during the transition has also frozen and thawed the VM during the process, and it IS possible to trip things up in the VM if you interrupt it too often in a short time frame. Especially if you've got scripts running that are on timers that aren't associated with the time of day in-game. Upon returning from the console window the game will check all of those and will fire them all off at the same time if enough seconds have passed since the last event poll.

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