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Skyrim Anniversary Edition and You


Arthmoor
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There is a great deal of bad information floating around in the community right now about what actually constitutes the Anniversary Edition. I won't link to Bethesda's FAQ about it, because that ultimately doesn't explain the distinction well enough. So this is an attempt to clear the air.

What constitutes Skyrim Special Edition Now?

This one is relatively simple. Skyrim Special Edition was updated to game version 1.6.318 (there was briefly a 1.6.317 but a hotfix came out a few hours after launch). This update included recompiling the .exe file with a newer version of Visual Studios, and this recompiling has resulted in a small boost in game performance due to the new optimizations that VS2019 offers. There are also now 4 additional DLCs which have become part of the package: Survival Mode, Saints & Seducers, Rare Curios, and Fishing. The first 3 are existing DLCs, the Fishing one is brand new with this update.

All of this has been provided to everyone on all platforms as a free content update, thus making version 1.6.318 the new "base game" that everyone gets.

As a bonus, there were also a number of other bugfixes made to some things.

What Constitutes Skyrim Anniversary Edition?

The Anniversary Edition upgrade of the game is a paid DLC package on each platform. Since I am obviously not familiar with how the XBox or Playstation storefronts work, I'll describe what is done in Steam.

On Steam, the Anniversary Edition Upgrade is a $20 paid DLC package that produces some sort of token which tells your game to unlock the other 70 DLCs which are part of this update. Nobody gets this unless they go out of their way to purchase and then download it. Nothing is forced.

So what is the Modpocalypse then?

There is no "Modpocalypse". In the run up to the release of the Anniversary Edition a number of nightmare scenarios were offered that in the end did not come to pass.

Rather than some kind of doom scenario where every mod stops working properly and we all have to fall off the grid to keep Steam from updating the game, it's turned out to be just like every other update to SSE that's ever been put out. There will be a short period of time where some inconvenience is present while stuff updates. Unfortunately, there are those out there who just want to see the world burn and they run with the first bit of information they see, never bothering to come back to see if it was true or not. This has led to a number of mod authors declaring they won't be making "AE versions" of their mods - without realizing there really isn't a distinction between AE and SE as far as their mod is concerned. There is only an update to SE.

SKSE64 has been updated already. Proper support for the plugin management system is in place, and 3rd party extension updates are now flowing again as they always do. It's been less than a full week since the game updated, so this should be considered a somewhat faster response than usual overall. This as at least partly because Bethesda gave the SKSE64 team pre-release access to the update, under an NDA.

What if I don't want to update?

Then don't?

But seriously, regardless of what measures are taken, Steam will eventually have its way and your game will update. Offline mode is not permanent, and the update on launch option will not allow you to ignore it indefinitely with any game, not just Skyrim.

If that bothers you too much, the sanest thing you can do is play something else until the dust settles on whatever is giving you pause. Since you aren't having to pay anything for the basic update, there's really no harm in letting it happen and coming back in a month or two. If you're like me, you have plenty of other games waiting to be played while you wait for things to get updated. As a mod author, I have some things that need it. As a player, I'm waiting on certain specific things before going forward with a new game. In the end though, it will be a new game grounded on the current officially released version on Steam.

It would be STRONGLY recommended to avoid hackish solutions like updating and then promptly installing executables from the previous update or running a program to downgrade your game. Solutions of this nature can come back to bite you in the ass. Things like this can lead to strange problems while playing with mismatched versions of files. Anything from poor performance, to CTDs, and possibly even save corruption. It's really not worth the risk. Plus if you should need technical support from Bethesda for some reason, they will not provide it if you've done this.

What about the CK?

There is currently no update to the CK, but it is largely unnecessary anyway. Unless you are specifically modding content from the Creation Club and need the source code to those scripts, you're fine. You can continue to use it without worry.

That said, it's a good idea to update when such an update is made available.

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One thing that really caught me as far as the update, is the mentioned increase in performance and reports of scripts being run faster.  So, while due to the sheer size of my build and all the possibilities for issues due to even a small number of the included mods not being compatible or being updated - the fact of a more efficient running of scripts is a MAJOR reason for me to update - despite everything else - because the main issue with my game is the time it takes for all the necessary scripts to run.  So, I would have to say that even those people who are putting off updating just due to the large size of their builds, they should still, eventually, update - just so the game runs that much better.  Sure, wait till the dust settles some, but once it has, pick a period when you have some extra time and just bite the bullet - in the long run, the improvements made due to the new compiler will be well worth the time spent reconstructing your build.

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Don't get to excited about potential script speed improvements. Someone on the xedit server has run some testing and came to the conclusion that scripts are not executing any faster now than they did before.

Besides, scripts aren't something that can really slow your game down anyway. That's a whole other urban myth. What generally happens there is that someone installs something that degrades their fps, which will in turn degrade game performance. Including the Papyrus VM. Papyrus is dependent on the game's frame rate for timely processing so if you do something that brings it into the mud, you cripple the whole game. Scripts simply can't do that on their own.

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31 minutes ago, Arthmoor said:

Don't get to excited about potential script speed improvements. Someone on the xedit server has run some testing and came to the conclusion that scripts are not executing any faster now than they did before.

Besides, scripts aren't something that can really slow your game down anyway. That's a whole other urban myth. What generally happens there is that someone installs something that degrades their fps, which will in turn degrade game performance. Including the Papyrus VM. Papyrus is dependent on the game's frame rate for timely processing so if you do something that brings it into the mud, you cripple the whole game. Scripts simply can't do that on their own.

In my situation I am not referring to the FPS of the game or performance in that regard (though that is what many think of when they hear of or speak about performance) what I am referring to is the game  and Papyrus actually being able to process and complete all necessary scripts during each individual frame - that is where it is having a potential impact on my game.  Of course, my situation is an extremely unique one and no one should be extrapolating from what I say concerning my build specifics to what they may have - there simply is no comparison.

 

I think it should also be said that what is important is not the actual FPS (provided it does not exceed 60), but, rather, how smoothly the game runs.

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Maybe its because I'm getting old, but the constant "The sky is falling" anytime a game with a sizeable modding community updates or releases new content, is getting tiresome. 

I understand that, yes it can cause problems for the a players current setup, but give it a few months tops and most mods are either updated (by the original author or by someone else with permission) or replaced with a mod that does more or less the same thing, just in a different way. This is true for all modding communities.

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Yep, that's even true in communities where game updates literally do break most of the mods - like No Man's Sky. And the people in that particular community love getting game updates for their 5 year old game.

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7 hours ago, Arthmoor said:

Yep, that's even true in communities where game updates literally do break most of the mods - like No Man's Sky. And the people in that particular community love getting game updates for their 5 year old game.

tho i can understand no man sky, they had to save that game with updates

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What I find on my own PC is that a good percentage of the time, when I see lag in a game, it is not even the game that is causing the issue.  I go and look and some other background process is using bandwidth or video processor time.  People are quick to blame mods, modders, operating systems, etc.  Usually not the mod or the modders.  Just do the math.  Millions of downloads of a mod = millions of users with no issues.  1 person has an issue = not likely the mod.

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1 hour ago, Viral Gamer said:

What I find on my own PC is that a good percentage of the time, when I see lag in a game, it is not even the game that is causing the issue.  I go and look and some other background process is using bandwidth or video processor time.  People are quick to blame mods, modders, operating systems, etc.  Usually not the mod or the modders.  Just do the math.  Millions of downloads of a mod = millions of users with no issues.  1 person has an issue = not likely the mod.

That is true for many persons who are not familiar with things or are newer to modding - and it should be the first thing that is checked in many cases, as background programs are those invisible things that most people never even take into account.  But when you have all unnecessary background processes off, and are running a sufficient number of mods (and usually an extremely large number), it is not any one individual mod - or even many - it is sum total of all of them that causes issues in this regard.  Just to illustrate, on my last build, there were minimal issues - but that was with 1535 total mods.  Now that I am running 2300+, I am pushing the envelope as to what is possible.  But, like I said in my earlier post, my situation is an extremely unique one and no one should be extrapolating from what I say concerning my build specifics to what they may have - there simply is no comparison.  Now, if a person with a normal build has an issue, then background programs need to be checked - and if that is not the problem, and it turns out to be an individual mod - and especially if there have been previous reports about issues with that mod - then dump the mod.  That's the Golden Rule of Modding, and it applies to all builds, whatever the size:

"No matter how good a mod may look or sound, no matter how much you may really want a mod, if the mod does not work as it should, causes issues in your game, or even seems to have the potential to cause issues, dump the mod. A game that does not work is no game at all." 

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First place I always check is the system tray.  You would be surprised what is lurking down there.  then ...

Tell Steam to close after launch.  Turn off all (or all but one) of the in-game overlays from Windows, your video drivers, Steam, and other sources.  Turn off the app that monitors the levels of ink in your printer.  Turn off the windows background cleanup processes.  Tell your security software to run their scans and cleanup when you're normally asleep.  Tell your backup tools to run after your security scan. 

Most folks don't think to turn these things off, but they can kill game performance. 

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There is one extra hassle pertaining to SKSE's update in accordance with this, specifically the Address Library made to centralize updating for all the SKSE extender DLL mods. Address Library needed to be rebuilt too, and the 1.6+ version will not work with older versions of AddressLib-reliant mods made for 1.5 as I understand it.

So basically... one update instance where all those mods will need to update their DLLs pre-AddressLib-style, and then (PRESUMABLY) it'll be back to normal, where we just need to wait for SKSE and AddressLib to update.

It's just been so long since we had an official executable update, and their compiler got updated too. That's why we had chicken littles running amok this time.

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What is the source for the alleged performance improvements? Has there been benchmarking done with any sort of statistical significance?

Likewise I would be interested to hear if there's verifiable evidence of downgrade patching having adverse effects on the game. And is Bethesda really giving technical support for games that have been modded to any degree?

I find it somewhat ironic that you complain about bad information floating around, and then make claims like these without anything to back them up.

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1 hour ago, Blackread said:

What is the source for the alleged performance improvements? Has there been benchmarking done with any sort of statistical significance?

Likewise I would be interested to hear if there's verifiable evidence of downgrade patching having adverse effects on the game. And is Bethesda really giving technical support for games that have been modded to any degree?

I find it somewhat ironic that you complain about bad information floating around, and then make claims like these without anything to back them up.

First, in is much as that was your first post, welcome to AFK Mods. 

As I read this thread, all of the references to performance are anecdotal, and are in fact labeled such, complete with caveats stating that the references are to one players configuration only.  So what "alleged performance improvements" are you referencing?

As for support, Bethesda tends to support only the current version of the game, and does not support moddded games.  There is even a line which pops up occasionally when the game starts which states that you play with mods "at your own risk".   I hope I have answered your question about support.

Given that nobody in this thread has mentioned "downgrade patching" or made any statements about it efficacy or viability, where is this coming from?  Are you referring to some other thread?  Are you asking a general question? 

Which "bad information" are you referring too?   Be specific and provide quotes.  Your allegations of "bad information" are mired in generalities and have no verifiable references. 

 

 

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First, in is much as that was your first post, welcome to AFK Mods. 

Thanks!

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So what "alleged performance improvements" are you referencing?

From the original post:

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This update included recompiling the .exe file with a newer version of Visual Studios, and this recompiling has resulted in a small boost in game performance due to the new optimizations that VS2019 offers.

I didn't see any caveats or labeling as anecdotal. In a later reply Arthmoor addresses script performance:

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Don't get to excited about potential script speed improvements. Someone on the xedit server has run some testing and came to the conclusion that scripts are not executing any faster now than they did before.

But it is not clear whether this is a debunking of the "small boost in game performance". Most likely not, since he also claims that "scripts aren't something that can really slow your game down anyway".

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I hope I have answered your question about support.

Yes you have. Though then it brings up the question of why this is seen as a downside to using an outdated version of the executable to mod the game, since you waive your right for support when modding anyway.

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Given that nobody in this thread has mentioned "downgrade patching" or made any statements about it efficacy or viability, where is this coming from? 

I was referring to this line in the OP:

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It would be STRONGLY recommended to avoid hackish solutions like updating and then promptly installing executables from the previous update or running a program to downgrade your game. Solutions of this nature can come back to bite you in the ass. Things like this can lead to strange problems while playing with mismatched versions of files. Anything from poor performance, to CTDs, and possibly even save corruption.

I suppose you were confused because Arthmoor didn't use the word patching in his post.

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Which "bad information" are you referring too?

This one is actually a phrase used by Arthmoor:

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There is a great deal of bad information floating around in the community right now about what actually constitutes the Anniversary Edition.

As to what he means with the bad information is probably better be explained by him, or inferred from the OP.

Edited by Blackread
Boldening a few words for better visibility
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There's a difference between a small boost in game performance and the now debunked claims of radical improvements in Papyrus performance. VS2019 is a more modern iteration of the Visual Studios development suite, and there are better optimizations involved at the compiler level that weren't available when VS2015 was king and used to compile SE for the first time in 2016. There won't be rigorous scientific validation of this because there's literally no dispute from anyone that it will offer some improvement. Whether or not you notice this yourself doesn't discount the facts involved.

I really don't think it should need to be explained that intentionally using an executeable from an old version with data files intended for use in a new version of ANY program is a bad idea. Regardless of the degree of bad involved. I don't even see why this should need to be spelled out, because it's a well known bad practice in general application use, not just gaming, and certainly not just with Skyrim specifically. You would get no support from any company who updates their product if you told them you did this, and there isn't a single modder on the planet who should be obligated to violate these best practices for the benefit of a tiny minority of holdouts who will quietly update in the next 2-3 weeks anyway.

As far as the bad information, one need only look to the drama filled posts on reddit to know exactly what's being referred to. That level of disinformation should be seen as malicious. Especially now that the supposed "Modpocalypse" never happened.

So I'm not entirely sure what your purpose here is, because nobody is under any obligation to provide you with rigorous scientific methodology to pass along common knowledge.

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If you claim your points as "common knowledge", I think I have as much of a right to do the same, since I have plenty of anecdotal evidence of the Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Downgrade Patcher not causing any issues whatsoever. In the modding circles I'm active in downgrading is considered the best practice for the time being, and no benefit is seen in updating to the latest version. That being said, I do agree that the best practice is to stay on 1.5.97 completely, and not mix and match files from different game versions. Although I do have plenty of reports of that approach being completely fine too.

Since I'm not a game developer, don't have much experience in C++ and much less in the Skyrim engine, I will take a waiting stance on the performance gains until the reverse engineers working on fixing it have come out with a more substantial opinion on the matter.

5 hours ago, Arthmoor said:

in the next 2-3 weeks months anyway

Fixed the timeframe to be a bit more realistic.

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There's no way to benchmark these things from such time intervals- the best one can do is to collate metrics from a vanilla game in ~2015 on various rigs and various OSes. And do the same thing now. What are the benchmarks? FPS, graphics throughput, game response. There's a guide at STEP where you can post results at their discussion page. This old thread at Tom's Hardware looks more like the thing we all want, with good analysis making for a good read. :)

Each iteration of the game engine is compiled, assembled, linked, and run in a different set of circumstances to before- it's better to say every iteration is optimal for its own epoch. Feel free to go off the grid and downgrade, if that's what you want- but doing that means no USSEP support, things can get tangled and broken very quickly if that happened, sorry. 

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The people who reverse engineer games are not the authorities on the subject of compiler optimizations you should be seeking, if you really truly think that you require a scientific basis for the conclusions being reached. You need to talk to game developers, application programmers, and the people who wrote the compiler itself. Only THEY would qualify as an expert opinion on the matter. The rest of us will remain content to accept that the reported optimizations smooth things out are valid.

It is not considered best practice to remain on an unsupported and outdated platform in any development circles I know of. There is one very prominent example just within our own community as modders that bears that out - Nexus. They've intentionally "not updated" their platform for years and gotten themselves into a huge mess with all of the hackery and code sorcery needed to avoid doing that. Much like what I'm seeing being thrown around as "good" advice to the general player base regarding updating their games. It has not been, is not now, and never will be considered good practice to intentionally avoid updating one's game any more than it is good advice to follow what Nexus does as a website developer.

And no, you aren't fixing the timeframe. 2-3 more weeks is the realistic figure, as evidenced by all of the things that have been updated that reddit claimed would take 6-18 months (or never) to be updated. Claiming there is a modpocalypse is exactly the kind of disinformation this post was intended to counter. Don't contribute to that by continuing to spread the misinformation being propagated by reddit.

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I must apologize to everyone here.  I dealt with @Blackread under the assumption that they were serious and wanted an intelligent discussion of existing challenges and issues.  It appears I was wrong and, instead, Blackread just wanted to start an asinine argument that nobody will win.  

I will leave it to the Admins and moderators to deal with Blackread further.  I am blocking them. 

 

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8 hours ago, lmstearn said:

Feel free to go off the grid and downgrade, if that's what you want- but doing that means no USSEP support, things can get tangled and broken very quickly if that happened, sorry. 

I mean, 1.5.97 has been perfectly functional for almost two years at this point. Why would Bethesda releasing an update suddenly make the old version crash and burn?

7 hours ago, Scythe Bearer said:

I must apologize to everyone here.  I dealt with @Blackread under the assumption that they were serious and wanted an intelligent discussion of existing challenges and issues.  It appears I was wrong and, instead, Blackread just wanted to start an asinine argument that nobody will win. 

You probably won't see this, but I genuinely did try to answer the questions you raised. I'm sorry if I offended you.

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2 hours ago, Blackread said:

I mean, 1.5.97 has been perfectly functional for almost two years at this point. Why would Bethesda releasing an update suddenly make the old version crash and burn?

Not their intention at all, what you hope for is a sophisticated versioning control system capable of versioning up, downgrading, rolling back game program files, save files, along with installed mods. For the money you pay, not happening. In any case, these days no S/W company ever encourages rolling back to previous versions when there are issues, they just release a bugfix version.

It ends up perhaps not the most ideal package deal for everyone, but like you, like me, like everyone else here, we all have to get used to it. :)

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