Oblivion mods FAQ

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How to find, install, make, and get help Updated 11-16-2006 ~1:28 PM CST

Cs wiki version Link (Updated on 04-24-2009)

by dev_akm (with a lot of help from others)


Contents

Overview

This FAQ is primarily aimed at mod users rather than mod makers, but as such it addresses a lot of basic issues about how users will play a mod, and thus serves as a good introduction to mods in general.

This FAQ is intended to be a living document, so I frequently update parts of it and add new material. If you're trying to find information about Oblivion mods or mod-making, it's worth checking here to see if I've added something about it.

Many thanks to everyone who contributed feedback in the draft thread (which has now expired). The FAQ has also been posted to the CS Wiki , and a German translation has been done (by Katan, DWS, et al).

What are Mods?

(adapted from a Morrowind Mods topic by Tegger)


What are mods? Are they the same as plug-ins, patches, or expansions? What do they do? Will they mess up my game? What else do I need to know before using them or making them?

Mods are modifications of the original game.

The terms "mod" and "plug-in" are interchangeable (in other words: yes, they're the same). Patches and expansions are not the same, however. Patches are official files intended to correct errors in the original game, and expansions (Tribunal, Bloodmoon) add official content to the game.

Some mods add content (such as new weapons, NPCs, quests, clothing, faces, buildings, etc.), and others seek to balance issues in the original game, such as making items or NPCs either more or less powerful. Still others seek to improve upon what was already in the game in various other ways.

Mods for Oblivion are a lot less likely to cause game-breaking problems than with Morrowind, due to major improvements in the way the game engine handles mods. This doesn't mean mods can't cause problems. It does mean that Oblivion mods can almost always be removed safely if you decide you don't like them.

Before using mods, you'll need to decide what kind you want to play. No one can answer that for you, so don't bother asking very broad questions on the forums such as "Which mods should I download?" It's fine to ask for other members' opinions on specific mods you're thinking of downloading, though.

Note: Many veteran players recommend that you not use many (if any) mods if you haven't yet played the game through at least one time. You can always replay later with mods installed, and you'll be better able to recognize what the mods added to the game. On the other hand, if there are things you don't like about the original game, chances are that someone has already made or is working on a mod to change that aspect of the game.

While many players only run a few simple mods that change some basic elements of the game, many other players run 50, 100, or even 200+ mods at once, dramatically altering and expanding numerous aspects of the game, as well as adding thousands of new weapons, armor, spells, NPCs, creatures, companions, dungeons, and quests. Oblivion is capable of running roughly 250 mods at one time, depending on your system, so the possibilities are almost limitless.

If you're ready to go get some mods, see the section "Where can I find good mods?" (below).

And for those new to using mods, don't forget to also see "How do I install mods?".

If you think you're ready to try your hand at making a mod, the first thing you should do is see "How do I make a mod?"


Where can I find good mods?

The vast number and variety of mods available for Oblivion can be quite intimidating. Fortunately, there are a few really good lists of "recommended mods" that can help you get started. These lists tend to get outdated pretty quickly, so here's a list of lists:


The Oblivion Quest List (TOQL) -- a guide to good quest mods.

The Oblivion Texture Overhaul (TOTO) -- a web site focusing on texture replacers.

red.room.service mod listing (focusing on realism & immersion).

A's List of Recommended Mods by Aelius

Optimizing Oblivion v3.0: Into Modblivion (by Ashton Mills, aka Martigen, at Atomic MPC).

Buddah's List 'o' Links over 16,000 links to oblivion mods


However, these "recommended" lists are really just a starting place. The full scope of what's available is staggering. The ESF Mods forum keeps a pinned thread with an alphabetical list of Oblivion mod download sites, which can help you find lots more good stuff. Unfortunately, the sheer volume of sites is a bit overwhelming, so it may be wise to start out by looking at the largest of the download sites. Here's a few of them:


PlanetElderScrolls This site has fewer mods than TESSource, but all of the mods are checked by moderators before being released.

ElricM and TES File Front These sites are smaller than the first two, but they host some very big mods that exceed the size restrictions on the other download sites.

How do I install mods?

This depends largely on where the mod came from and how it was packaged.

The Bethesda official mods come packaged with an automatic installer that does everything for you. Once you've downloaded the .exe for an official mod, just double-click it to launch and follow the prompts. However, if you are using a 64-bit version of Windows, the official mod installer will not work.

Fan-made mods normally require a bit more involved process to install, unless they come packaged as an .omod file, in which case the installation process is very easy but requires an extra tool called Oblivion Mod Manager.

Regardless of whether a mod is already packaged as an .omod file, using Timeslip's Oblivion Mod Manager (OBMM) is perhaps the easiest way to install mods. It also lets you uninstall mods and all their related files very easily (something that's not always easy to do with mods installed manually). If you already have an omod, all you have to do is select it in OBMM and then click the Activate button. If the mod isn't available in omod format (most mods are not, unfortunately), then you'll need to create an omod for it yourself unless you want to install it manually (you can find instructions for manually installing mods in the next section of this FAQ).

Creating your own omods may seem intimidating at first, but it's really very simple after the first few times. In short, the process is: (1) download the mod to a temporary location and unpack it, (2) launch OBMM, (3) click Create, (4) select the directory where you've unpacked the mod, (5) type a name for the omod, and (6) click Create omod. Once you've created the omod, simply select it and click the Activate button. You can find more details on this below.

If you'd rather install mods manually, Apy has written a good beginner's guide to Oblivion mods (includes screenshots). For a more detailed explanation of this process, read the next section of this FAQ.


How to install plug-ins manually

(based on a Morrowind tutorial by lochnarus)


FOR BEGINNER MOD USERS

1. LOCATE YOUR OBLIVION DATA FOLDER

This will be located wherever you installed Oblivion, so it is usually:

C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Oblivion\Data\

Unless you installed Oblivion in a non-standard location, in which case the path will be:

<install path>\Oblivion\Data\

For example, a lot of people install Oblivion to:

C:\games\

Because it's a lot easier to find things there than under "Program Files\etc".

In this case, the path would be:

C:\games\Oblivion\Data\

If you're not sure where you installed it, one easy way to locate the folder is to go to your desktop, right-click on the Oblivion icon, select Properties, and select the Shortcut tab. The path to your main Oblivion directory is shown in the "Start in" box.

You will know you've found the correct location if you find several very large files that look like this:

Oblivion.esm
Oblivion - Textures - Compressed.bsa
Oblivion - Voices1.bsa
etc.

This is the final destination where you will put the mod files. Don't put anything there yet, though.

If you want to be able to easily revert to the unmodified version of Oblivion, you can make a backup of the entire Data folder at this point (assuming you have plenty of free drive space). Doing this will avoid the need to reinstall Oblivion if you ever have a major problem down the road. You may also want to consider installing the 1.1 patch before making the backup so you don't have to reinstall the patch either.

When you're ready to install a mod, you will need to download the mod archive to a temporary folder and extract it, so let's talk about that next.


File Compression

Virtually all Oblivion mods are "compressed" into one easy to download file that is commonly referred to as a "zip" file or "archive". This makes the file smaller and keeps everything in one file. There are numerous types of these programs:

7zip

PowerArchiver

WinRAR

Winace

WinZip

Zipgenius

IZArc


All of which can be found by doing a search on Google. Each one is different and some of them will not open all of the file formats from the rest of them. For example:

.7z - opens with 7zip, PowerArchiver, WinRAR, IZArc, but not WinZip .rar - opens with 7zip, PowerArchiver, WinRAR, IZArc, but not WinZip .ace - opens with Winace, 7zip, PowerArchiver, WinRAR, IZArc, but not WinZip

...and so on.

7zip is favored by many mod makers because it can produce dramatically smaller files than the other formats. It's also free, open-source, and supports all of the other common formats, so if you want to cover all your bases with one download, get 7zip. This is a personal bias on my part. Many people will argue in favor of one of the other tools.


Unzipping to temporary directory(folder)

Double click on your downloaded mod file. The program should open it, displaying the files inside. Depending on which mod you are unzipping, it should have an .esp file (looks like a swiss army knife), a "Meshes" folder, a "Textures" folder, and lastly a README file. Sometimes mods will have all their files placed into mock directory folders, like so:

Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Oblivion\Data\

this is for automatically unzipping the files in to your \Oblivion\Data\ folder, which I NEVER do. You're bound to come across a mod that will not unzip correctly and you'll have loose files cluttering up your folders. (This is a MANUAL installation guide, after all.)

Select ALL the files by highlighting them. Then select the program's "extract" feature and a new window should come up asking WHERE to unzip it to. You will now need to pick a folder to be a temporary folder. It's probably a good idea to create a temporary "mods" folder in an easy-to-find location such as "My Documents"...

Some archive programs will also let you use a right-click method of extraction, with simplifies the process. In this case, download the mod to your temporary directory, then right-click it to see what options you have. You should see a menu choice for the archive program, and under that a submenu (or "context" menu) that says something like "Extract Here" or "Extract to ...". I find this method significantly easier to use once you get used to it.

In either case, you'll need to extract (i.e., "unzip") the files to the temporary folder. Then open that folder and you will see either exactly the items you need, or you may have to dig down a bit further.

If the mod-maker structured things correctly, it is most common to find some combination of items like this:

"mod file".esp (usually whatever the mod was named)
Meshes
Textures
"mod file README".txt (or any text filetype)
ArchiveInvalidation.txt


However, you might have to keep digging down a bit to find this stuff, so if you don't see a structure like that, then open any other folders you find until you get to the "Data" folder with those items in it.

With some mods, you might POSSIBLY have these folders:

Video
Music
Sound
LSData
Menus
Shaders

Select all of these items -- except ArchiveInvalidation.txt, which we'll deal with in a minute -- and copy/paste or drag them into your Oblivion "Data" folder (described in Step 1 above).

If you already have some of these folders, Windows will prompt you with a warning about files with the same name. Click "Yes to All".

That's it! The mod is installed. Just a few more details and you're ready to go.


The Archive Invalidation File

Oblivion prefers to find all of its media assets (artwork, spoken dialog, music, etc.) within a few large .bsa files rather than in individual folders (such as Meshes, Textures, Sound, etc.). The original game and official plugins use these .bsa files (it stands for Bethesda Softworks Archive). These .bsa files are organized internally just like your "Data" folder is.

However, as we've already seen, fan-made mods rarely use .bsa files. Instead, they place individual meshes, textures, etc. into folders within your "Data" directory. This isn't a problem for new items added by a mod, but it can be a problem for some "replacer" mods that alter original game items. For example, some of the most popular types of mods are "armor texture replacers" and "landscape texture replacer" mods that improve the look of the game by replacing the original "stock" textures.

Normally, this isn't a problem since Oblivion is designed to automatically load any meshes, textures, etc. that it finds in your Data folder, as long as the time-stamp (Modification Date) on each of these files is more recent than the time-stamp on the original .bsa files. Since the .bsa files are older, items in them get replaced by any newer items with the same name that exist in your Data folders.

In some cases, however, this doesn't work correctly. It appears to be caused by a bug in Oblivion. Hopefully, Bethesda will correct this bug in a future patch to the game, but in the meantime you may have to use one of several workarounds if you want to install any "replacer" mods.

The best solution at the moment is to use one of Timeslip's excellent utility programs: Oblivion Mod Manager (OBMM version 0.7.10 or later) or BSA Patcher. What OBMM and BSA Patcher do is to sidestep the ArchiveInvalidation problem by making Oblivion think it never had a copy of the textures you are replacing.

In other words, these utilities edit your BSA archives so that Oblivion cannot find the original version of files you have replaced, thus forcing it to load the replacements instead of the originals.

Oblivion Mod Manager

Download Oblivion Mod Manager.


OBMM will keep track of which files have been renamed in your BSAs and provides a Remove BSA edits function to rollback any changes it has made to your BSA just in case you don't like the results. You should probably make a backup of your BSA files if you have the space (or a DVD-burner) just in case, but so far nobody has reported any corruption issues.

OBMM requires .NET 2.0 to work, so if you can't run .NET 2.0 then you'll need to use BSA Patcher instead.

Assuming you have OBMM 0.7.10 or later installed already, and have already installed some mods, the steps you need to take are as follows:

1. Start OBMM.

2. Click Utilities.

3. Select Archive invalidation.

4. Click Directly Edit BSAs.

5. Check Textures.

6. Check Generate archiveinvalidation entries on hash collision.

7. Check autoupdate on exit and/or click Update Now.

8. Close the Archive invalidation popup (click the red X in the upper-left corner).

9. Quit OBMM or click Launch Oblivion.

Here's a screenshot of the exact options to use in OBMM 0.7.11: Recommended OBMM settings for ArchiveInvalidation.

You can try different settings if you want, but these are known to work. You do need to make sure to check the box for Generate archiveinvalidation entries on hash collision, since that setting is critical. Using the above settings in OBMM will take care of everything for you.

If you didn't check the box for autoupdate on exit, then you'll need to click Update Now after each new mod you install.

Here's a screenshot of the exact options to use in OBMM 0.7.11: Recommended OBMM settings for ArchiveInvalidation.


BSA Patcher

Download BSA Patcher.

BSA Patcher is a standalone program that will run with .NET 1.1 or with mono for those who don't have .NET 2.0. Like OBMM, it will rename textures in your BSA files if you also have the same texture in your Data folders. It does not offer all of the configuration options found in OBMM, but it will get the job done. The latest version (as of this writing) uses the same BSA alteration code from OBMM 0.7.10 and is vastly easier to use than previous versions.

You should probably still make a backup of your BSA files before using it just in case, but nobody has reported any corruption problems so far.

Put BSAPatch.exe into your Oblivion\Data folder and double-click it once to rename textures in your BSA. Run it again to restore them to their original names.

You can find more information, guidelines and updates on BSA Patcher and OBMM in the ESF thread: ArchiveInvalidation Revisited.

Other Solutions

If you don't use OBMM or BSA Patcher for some reason, then the only way to convince Oblivion to load problem textures from the individual folders rather than from the .bsa files is to specifically force it to do this by creating a special file called (you guessed it) "ArchiveInvalidation.txt".

The ArchiveInvalidation.txt lists the relative path (from the "Data" folder) of texture files you want to replace the default artwork shipped with the game.

As a result of the extensive testing reported in the ArchiveInvalidation Explained threads, we now have very clear information about how ArchiveInvalidation works and how it fails to work. Suffice to say that it can get extremely complicated.

My current best practice, based on the above-mentioned research, is that ArchiveInvalidation.txt should only list just the DDS textures from the original game that are being replaced by individual files in your Data folders. In other words, this means it should only contain entries for texture replacement mods. No meshes, sounds, or voices should be listed.

Be aware, however, that many earlier approaches recommended listing ALL your moded meshes/textures/etc. in ArchiveInvalidation.txt, regardless of whether they replace anything from the original game.

If you do use any texture replacement mods, there is a high probability you will need an ArchiveInvalidation.txt file listing these replacements (if you don't use the OBMM's "Directly Edit BSAs" feature). Without it, chances are that many of Bethesda's default textures will continue to be loaded. Also, if you have bad entries in your ArchiveInvalidation.txt file, or even in some cases if your ArchiveInvalidation.txt file is perfectly correct, you may see items in the game appearing purple or even invisible.

Given all these warnings, if you still want to try using an ArchiveInvalidation.txt file, there are several fan-created tools that will generate these file listings for you automatically.

ElChE's Oblivion Automatic Content Validator 1.0.2 (also called Automatic Content Validator) will create an ArchiveInvalidation.txt file for you automatically, and it also does some other very useful things like making sure all of your meshes have valid texture paths. Be sure to get 1.0.2 or later because it adds the option to only generate listings for replacer files. You may need to manually remove any meshes from the list it generates.

Oblivion Mod Manager, which we mentioned earlier, also has an excellent set of options for automatically creating the ArchiveInvalidation.txt. This process executes automatically every time you quit from OBMM or use OBMM to launch Oblivion. Make sure to get version 0.7.8 or later.

If you prefer to create ArchiveInvalidation.txt by hand, this will work fine, but you can probably guess that it will quickly become a huge problem to maintain all the file listings if you try new replacers very often.

If you do create it by hand, here's what you need to do.

Create a text file named "ArchiveInvalidation.txt" in your main Oblivion folder. This is not the "Data" folder, but is one level up from that, in the same folder with OblivionLauncher.exe and Oblivion.exe. The reason for placing it here is primarily to avoid accidentally overwriting it when you install a new mod.

(You can put the ArchiveInvalidation.txt into your "Data" folder if you want. It will work there as well, but be wary of accidentally overwriting it during mod installation.)

For the sake of creating an example, let's say you have two replacer mods, one that replaces the texture for Daedric cuirasses and one that replaces the texture for glass shields. Your ArchiveInvalidation.txt would look something like this:

textures/armor/Daedric/cuirass.dds
textures/armor/glass/shield.dds


Note that textures whose names end with "_g.dds" and "_n.dds" don't need to be listed. Other DDS files that don't need to be listed include those in the Menu directory and those in "icon" directories.

If your replacer mod came packaged with an ArchiveInvalidation.txt file, you can copy and paste the contents of the lines of that file into yours. If you do this, be careful not to accidentally paste over any lines that you've previously added for other replacer mods.

Many people claim to use a "universal" or "global" ArchiveInvalidation.txt. However, extensive testing by numerous people has determined that this approach does not work at all. It is the same as running with no ArchiveInvalidation.txt file. If someone offers advice saying you should use a file like this:


meshes/ \s
textures/ \s
sounds/ \s


Don't believe it. It's a great urban legend, but it doesn't work.

5. Playing The Mod

The only thing left to do now is to activate the mod.

Open the Oblivion Launcher and click the "Data Files" button.

This will show you an alphabetical listing of all the .esm and .esp files you have installed.

The Oblivion.esm file must always be checked. The others shown in this list (usually .esp files) will represent whatever mods you have installed. (Note that some mods, like texture replacers, don't need an .esp, in which case you can skip this step.)

Check the new mod so that it is "X'ed" and start the game. If you did everything correctly, you should have no problems with your newly-installed mod.

You're done...


Can I get these mods on my Xbox-360?

The Official mods from Bethesda are available for the Xbox-360 via Xbox Live Marketplace.

Fan-made mods are NOT available for the Xbox-360.


How do I solve a problem with a mod?

Common mod issues

(parts of this are adapted from the article Optimizing Oblivion v3.0: Into Modblivion by Martigen)

Q. I installed the patch, how do I get my texture mods back?

The most common issues people have had with Oblivion mods are:

1. The patch

2. Load order and mod conflicts

3. Load order, mod names, and lost items

4. ArchiveInvalidation problems

5. Performance tuning

6. Tracking down problems with specific mods

1. The Patch

The new 1.1 patch (both the beta patch and the final patch) from Bethesda impacts the display of texture packs and the operation of mods.

Before installing the patch, make sure you have the original, unmodified versions of Oblivion.exe, Oblivion.esm and 'Oblivion - Textures - Compressed.bsa'. If you've been using Oblivion Mod Manager or BSA Patcher to alter your BSA files (as suggested in this guide), make sure you Remove BSA edits before applying the patch.

The patch updates the compressed textures .bsa file, causing it to have a newer date than your texture replacement mods, and giving the textures in the .bsa file priority. The best solution for this is:

  • Make sure you are using a good Archive Invalidation method (see the section on ArchiveInvalidation above for details). Using the BSA alteration techniques found in OBMM or BSA Patcher are the only sure-fire solutions.
  • Re-set the date on 'Oblivion - Textures - Compressed.bsa' back to its original date (24th Jan 2006). A handy tool for changing file dates is, funnily enough, FileDate Changer.download(credit goes to Koroush Ghazi of Tweakguides for this link)

If you follow both of these steps, your texture replacement mods should continue working just fine.

Oblivion.esm, the master data file, will have a new and recent date after the patch, causing it to appear near the end of your mod load order. Because this is an ESM file (Elder Scrolls Master), it will load before any ESP files (Elder Scrolls Plugin) and shouldn't cause any problems. However, if you have any other ESM files, you may need to reset the load order for Oblivion.esm. You can easily do this with Oblivion Mod Manager (OBMM):

  • Download OBMM if you aren't already using it. download
  • In OBMM, set the view to 'Load order', click on 'Oblivion.esm', then click on 'Move up' until it's back at the very top.

(You can also accomplish the same thing using FileDate Changer, but it's not as easy).

2. Load order and mod conflicts

It's inevitable that the more mods you use, the greater the chances some of them will clash. While mods that address different areas of the game are, for the most part, clearly compatible it's not so simple for mods of similar intentions, due to the way the game handles its data structures.

For example, if you want to use "Oscuro's Oblivion Overhaul" but prefer a different rate of skill leveling as provided by the "Level Rates Modified" mod - how does Oblivion handle the conflict?

Quite simply actually - the last mod loaded takes precedence. So if you did want to use the skill rates that "Level Rates Modified" provides, simply ensure it's loaded after Oscuro's. And how do you do this? Glad you asked.

SETTING THE LOAD ORDER Oblivion loads mods by order of date. Ensuring a mod is 'newer' than another causes it be loaded last, and thus take priority.

The problem with this is that the mod selector under 'Data files' in the Oblivion launcher lists mods alphabetically - good to find and choose the mods you want to use, but doesn't tell you the order they are loaded in.

The best way to see the load order - and more importantly, re-order them - is with the excellent Oblivion Mod Manager tool (see above). You'll need .NET installed, but it's well worth it. From here you can simply click the 'Load order' view and then 'Move up' or 'Move down' on mods to re-order them.

CHECKING CONFLICTS Using OBMM, you can test to see which mods have conflicts. In OBMM, Simply click

Utilities -> Conflict Report

and look at the list. Don't worry about 'green' or 'yellow' warnings. Mods crossing data entities here are compatible unless they edit the exact same object (such as a location on a map), which is rare. The conflicts to look for are those in red - these are the ones where only one mod or the other can have its changes go through, and again the mod loaded last will stick.

If it looks a little overwhelming, follow this guide: as the leveled list mods like Osucro's or Sagerbliv's are the most important with regards to balance, load these mods last with the exception of specific changes you want to make to them - as with the example, using a mod like Level Rates Modified to set skill rates or the TF_time mod to make days last longer. This way you get the best of both worlds.

Lots of players make the mistake of getting overly worried about red conflicts, so this is worth restating. Stop worrying so much!

When you have conflicts, even red ones, it just means that two mods are changing the same thing and the last one will get precedence over any earlier ones. OBMM lists mods in the order they load, and you can easily change the load order using the move up or move down buttons (behind the scenes, OBMM is changing the dates on the files to alter the load order).

It is fairly rare to find conflicts that actually break anything. The conflict report is mostly useful for tracking down problems where a mod is not working the way it's supposed to work because a later mod changes the same thing. In this case you just have to decide which behavior you prefer and then move that mod down (later) in the load order so it gets precedence by loading last. If you really want to use conflicting changes from more than one mod at the same time, check to see if anyone has released a compatibility patch to make the mods work together, and if not you may be able to merge the two mods together using ScripterRon's TES4 Plugin Utility

For more details on this topic, see Understanding Mod Conflict Reports by Martigen and motub.

3. Load order,mod names and lost items

any people have experienced problems with losing stuff they had previously acquired after installing a new mod or updating an existing mod. This happens because Oblivion save-games keep track of items based in part on the load order and based in part on the mod filename.

If you've been playing with some mods for a while and then add a new mod or update an existing one, this may change the load order (a new mod may have an older date than mods already in the list, or an updated mod may have a newer date than the previous version. Frequently, mod .esp filenames include a version number, which helps you and the author to keep track of which version is old and which version is new, but it also means that the filename will change when you replace an existing mod with an updated .esp file.

Changing the load order or the filename may cause Oblivion to lose track of which mod an item came from, or even worse, which mod added a storage container that you've stored a bunch of stuff in. If this happens, the items in question may disappear from your inventory or from a storage container.

Since the "Data Files" selector you get when running the default OblivionLauncher.exe lists mods alphabetically, you have no way of knowing what the load order is without using an external tool or using Windows Explorer to sort your "Data" folder by date.

This is yet another powerful argument for using a tool like Oblivion Mod Manager. It lists mods in load order and it automatically adds new mods to the end of the load list so they don't mess with your existing load order. OBMM also makes it easy to move mods up and down in list so you can make sure that an update to an existing mod gets moved into the same position previously occupied by the old version. It also lets you keep a version number for the mod without having to include it in the .esp filename.

The load order problem with Oblivion losing track of things gets much worse if the name of a mod has changed after an update. Mod-makers should avoid the practice of naming mods with a version number, because users installing a mod update that has an even slightly different .esp filename is a surefire way to make their save-game lose track of any related data (such as loot they won or items they stored in cells or containers added by the mod). Most of the time, keeping the same .esp filename on all versions of a mod will prevent lost data even if the load order of the .esp file changes.

4.ArchiveInvalidation Problems

If your ArchiveInvalidation.txt file does not contain the proper entries, or is in the wrong location, etc., you may notice that some or all of the textures you installed with a mod will not work properly. This usually shows up as items becoming invisible or appearing purple when playing the game. See the section "How do I install mods?" in this FAQ for more information.

If you're still having problems with invisible, purple, or black items, please see ArchiveInvalidation Explained.


5.Performance Tuning

Oblivion is a very resource-intensive game and many different factors can cause it to run slowly even on a very powerful computer. If you're having FPS (frames-per-second) or other performance problems, or just want to get the most you can out of the game, the best bet is to read Koroush Ghazi's Oblivion Tweak Guide. It's by far the most comprehensive guide to Oblivion performance tuning I've found.

6. Tracking down problem with specific mods

(adapted from a post by Kivan)

Q. Help! I just installed a bunch of mods and now everything is in Spanish! How do I figure out which mod is causing this problem so I can disable it?

If you're having problems with an item, building, NPC or any other object in the game, you can easily find out which mod (if any) has added or changed the object by using the Beta Comment file. Note that if more than one mod has changed the object, only the changes made by the last mod to load will actually affect the object, so it will be the one this technique will find.

To use the Beta Comment file, you will first need to enable it (if you haven't already). Start by editing your Oblivion.ini file:

My Documents\My Games\Oblivion\Oblivion.ini

Double-clicking this file will usually open the file in Notepad.

Look for the line:

SBetaCommentFileName=

If there isn't a filename after that already (which there won't be unless you already added it), you'll need to add a filename after it with a .txt extension, ie MyBetaComments.txt, so the line looks like this:

SBetaCommentFileName=MyBetaComments.txt

(Or whatever name you chose to use.)

Save your changes and close Notepad.

Once you've got the Beta Comment file enabled, follow these steps:

1) Start Oblivion and find the mystery object.

2) Open the console with the ` or ~ key, or whatever key is specific to your locale.

3) Click on the object so that you see its name and reference ID (eight hexadecimal characters, ie "001C8F02") at the top of the screen.

4) Typing in the console, add the comment with bc (for beta comment) followed by a space, followed by the comment in quotes (and try not to use punctuation as most of the symbols aren't allowed), such as:

bc "This object should not be here"

5) Press Enter and you should see Beta Comment added.

6) Quit Oblivion (you can use qqq to quit right from the command console.)

7) Go into the main Oblivion folder, the one where the game program and Data folder lives.

8) There will be a file there with the name you chose above (i.e., MyBetaComments.txt in the example.) Open the file in Notepad.

Here's an example of what you will see in the file. It shows the date and time the comment was added, the filename of the source of the object, the last modification date and time of the file, the name of the logged-in user, the cell name or cell coordinates if it's outdoors, the X/Y/Z coordinates of the object, and the comment you added:

8/15/2006 (10:12) Oblivion.esm 5/19/2006 (14:42) MyName SomeOutdoorCell (8,3) 38235 14531 1508 "This looks fine"
8/15/2006 (10:13) PrankMod.esp 8/12/2006 (15:30) MyName SomeIndoorCell -1914 682 -80 "This object should not be here"

Anything with the source Oblivion.esm is from the original game and hasn't been altered. Anything that has been altered by a mod will list the name of the problem mod, in this case the fictional "PrankMod.esp".

That's it! Now that you've found the problem mod, all you have to do is disable it by unchecking the .esp file in your Data Files selector (and/or you can delete the .esp file itself if you're really mad by now).

Asking for Help If you just can't seem to figure out the problem yourself, you can always post a request for help in your favorite mod forum. If you do this, however, be prepared to provide a complete list of the mods you're using and the order in which they are loaded. To do this, you can use OBMM to export your load order, or use the standard Windows CMD prompt (Start->Run->CMD), and the following command sequence:

cd \Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Oblivion\Data
dir *.es* /od/b > C:\Mod_List.txt

This will create a new text file (C:\Mod_List.txt) containing a list of all your mods sorted by date. You can then open this file and copy/paste it into your help request.

How do I make a mod?

The most important place to look for information about making mods, including many tutorials and how-to articles, is The Elder Scrolls (Official) Construction Set Wiki

However, some people have found the tutorials on the CS Wiki confusing, so dtom's modding Tutorial is probably a better starting place. You should also be familiar with Modding Etiquette.

The best place to find help with the Construction Set is the official CS Forum on the ESF boards.

If you're looking for technical details about the Oblivion file formats, fan-made tools, etc., you should definitely try the Oblivion Modding and Tech Support section of the UESP Wiki.

If you're looking for information on how to create 3D meshes for use in Oblivion, the NifTools Wiki is the place to look. (In particular, download the latest release of NifSkope and find help on the Help Forums.)

If you need to merge several plugins into a single mod, you'll need TES4 Plugin Utility.

Yes, it looks like custom animations are now possible in Oblivion. See animation tutorial, custom animations, and mocap demo.

The Oblivion Script Extender (OBSE) has created dramatic new possibilities for modding in Oblivion, including expanded hotkeys, universal ingredient sorters, polymorph (controlling a creature), etc.

Wz has released a GenerateFar utility, based on the NifTools NifLib, to automatically create low-poly Visible When Distant *_far.nif files. This will make it much easier for modders to make sure their houses/castles/etc. are visible from a distance.

The Oblivion Script Dumper takes an ESM or ESP file and extracts/dumps all of the scripts in it to a directory. It then creates an Index of functions, commands, spell effects and global variables with hyperlinks to the script files. The index and the scripts also have hyperlinks for the commands and functions back to the CS Set Wiki site. This becomes even more useful when working with Oblivion Script Syntax for EditPlus (includes syntax highlighting for OBSE functions).

Wrye Bash lets you import/export faces from player characters to NPCs and vice versa. It also lets you copy an ESP to an ESM and vice versa, as well as import/export object names from/to a mod (so you can easily make large-scale changes using a tab-delimited spreadsheet file).

Both BSA Commander and Oblivion Mod Manager allow you to browse/unpack/create BSA files.


The TES4Files utility will automatically gather up all the resources (textures, meshes, etc.) used by your mod and package them up for distribution. It can also create a BSA file for your mod.

Several low-level record editors are now available for Oblivion: TESsnip and ObEdit.

Mods you create should be packaged in a common format (see the list of archive formats) along with a readme file describing what it does and how to install/uninstall it. The Modding Etiquette page provides some good tips on how to package and distribute your mod. If you want to make it really easy for users to install your mod, you should consider distributing it as an OMOD. To get started creating OMODs, you should read the OBMM Manual, as well as Motub's Advanced Omod Creation Guide and LHammonds' introduction to OBMM scripting.


Where can I find more information?(Further Reading)

A lot of similar ground is covered in the article Optimizing Oblivion v3.0: Into Modblivion

The most comprehensive guide to performance tuning is Koroush Ghazi's Oblivion Tweak Guide

Who contributed to this FAQ? (FAQ Credits)

Assembled and adapted for Oblivion by dev_akm using material from:

-lochnarus

-Martigen

-Tegger

-Kivan

Additional material, testing, and moral support provided by

-Auctionmule

-DoomedMarauder

-Wonder Dog

-Malifrax

-Jarol

-Scanti

-Zanderat

-adeliedreams

-Acleacius

-pintocat

-Baphomet

-MadBat

-kalikut

- and many others on the ESF forums and CanadianIce forums. Thank you all!

A lot of the material in this FAQ is based (at least loosely) on the Morrowind Mods FAQ, assembled by the ESF moderators with input from many others.

Special thanks to Archeopterix for first agreeing to submit this to the ESF administrators to try and get it pinned (and for answering many PMs from me on the subject), and to Blith Erring Idio for getting it pinned! Also, Grizz deserves a huge thank-you for pinning the FAQ on the CanadianIce forums.

I did manage to get permission from all the folks whose work I have mangled here, so a very special thank-you is in order for all of them. This FAQ wouldn't exist without all that great source material to draw from!


What revisions have been made to the FAQ?

Version History: 0.1 - Initial draft

0.2 - Added section about Xbox-360

0.3 - Updated section on ArchiveInvalidation and added shortcut method for finding where you installed Oblivion.

0.4 - More changes to ArchiveInvalidation sections; Made layout prettier; Updated File Compression section;

0.5 - Minor changes to introduction and added new Problems section on "Load Order and Lost Items".

0.6 - Added IZArc to list of archivers.

0.7 - Added Endarire's Oblivion Mod List

0.8 - Rewrote a large portion of the ArchiveInvalidation section.

0.9 - Updated ArchiveInvalidation section to recommend that you only include listings for DDS textures.

1.0 - Updated credits.

1.1 - Added filetype exceptions to ArchiveInvalidation section.

1.2 - Got permission from Tegger via kalikut.

1.3 - Updated ArchiveInvalidation info.

1.4 - Massive rewrite of ArchiveInvalidation section based on current test results from ArchiveInvalidation Explained.

1.5 - Fixed the download link for BSAPatch

1.6 - Minor updates to ArchiveInvalidation info

1.7 - Edited info about the official mod installer for 64-bit version of Windows

1.8 - Revised OBMM/BSAPatch info in ArchiveInvalidation section

1.9 - Yet another set of minor revisions, this time just about BSA Patcher

2.0 - Updated info on Post-Patch fixes.

2.1 - Added info about mod name problems and link to dtom's modding tutorial.

2.2 - Fixed broken link and added links to A's List of Recommended Mods and Buddah's List o' Links

2.3 - added info about tutorials by Apy and motub

2.4 - added link to Oblivion Mod Wiki

2.5 - added basic omod install/create info and descriptions/links to the largest mod-download sites

2.6 - added link to addiktive's [ReAdMe] If you're NEW to oblivion mods...

2.7 - added link to elderscrolls.filefront.com

2.8 - Updated links to A's List of Recommended Mods

2.9 - Added more detail on mod conflicts and backup procedures; updated link to ACV

3.0 - Rewrote the section "Where can I find good mods?"

3.1 - Corrected some spelling errors.

3.2 - Added new section on Tracking Down Problems with Specific Mods (adapted from a post by Kivan)

3.3 - Added section on Performance Tuning

3.4 - Improved TOC

3.5 - General cleanup

3.6 - Updated link for A's List of Recommended Mods

3.7 - Updated link for A's List of Recommended Mods again

3.8 - updated link to dtom's Modding Tutorial and added new link to Modding Etiquette (both on the CS Wiki)

3.9 - Added a new introduction, a new paragraph on how to package your mod, and also added a description and link to LHammonds' OBMM site

4.0 - Restructured the "Where can I find good mods?" section to simply list all the good lists of recommended mods, including some new ones

4.1 - Added info and links on Understanding Mod Conflict Reports, new custom animation tutorials, and Oblivion Script Extender.

4.2 - Added link to The Oblivion Texture Overhaul (TOTO) site.

4.3 - Added link to Oblivion Real Estate site.

4.4 - Added a bunch of new utility descriptions to the How do I make a mod? section.

4.5 - Major update, including new mod utilities, tips on getting help, tutorial links, quest mods list, and more.

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