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garthand

Modding Guide [WIPz]

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Due to post length limitations and the difficulty of navigating such a long guide without a table of contents, see here for a hosted version of the guide.

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Very nice guide, thank you !

 

But I respectfully disagree with this very common statement : "Steam should be in C:\Steam. The reason for this is that Windows User Account Control (UAC) can cause some problems when Skyrim modding tools like Bash need to access game files."

 

IMO, it's as useless and placebo as the Papyrus tweaks we see repeated everywhere across Internet. I have 185 games on Steam, all of them in the default Program Files location, I have UAC set at its highest level and I never ever had a single issue with that configuration. I'm using Wrye Bash, SKSE, TES5Edit, Loot, etc, and all of them work flawlessly.

 

Of course I run these programs in administrator mode. But I don't even run Steam in administrator mode.

 

What I can say is : "Proof or it didn't happen !" I would love to see a video showing these "some problems" that UAC allegedly causes. ;)

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It's been a well known issue dating back to at least Oblivion when UAC first came on the scene. The CK/GECK/CS hates it. Wrye Bash had to be specially modified to work with it. TES5Edit won't always do what it's told while running inside a protected folder. BOSS/LOOT has issues with it in Oblivion because it needs to change timestamps. It's how UAC works.

 

There won't be any videos illustrating the doom & gloom. You are getting around it by running in admin mode - which inherently defeats everything UAC is about.

 

The entire problem is circumvented by simply storing the games outside of a UAC protected folder. Takes a few minutes to change if need be. The trade-off is a much more modding friendly setup.

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Proof = Go and read all the Wrye Bash topics on BGS Modding forum, or read back a couple of hundred pages of Wrye Bash comments on Nexus

I can assure you will find plenty.

If you give yourself admin access to all files likely to be manipulated with the usual array of tools, and admin access to those tools, you will not have any problems. However for most users who are not so technically inclined its easier to advise them from the outset just to install somewhere that windows is not going to try and control.

 

You cannot just assume everyone has the same level of understanding to be able to troubleshoot advanced system problems.

 

See also the old Oblivion Mods FAQ, which advises the same. Windows UAC has evolved over time, and it depends what OS you are on as to how user friendly it is ( Vista / 7 / 8 ), the latest being the more refined ( ahem, I cant believe I said that :), favouring Windows 7 ).

 

@ Garthand - ^^ Might be worth having a look over that link for a few ideas for this one too;

 

For instance familiarizing people with 7zip as an essential utility, could mention WinRAR too as an alternative, but the former is more fully featured without having to pay for all of its features, whereas WinRAR needs all of its features unlocked by paying for it.

I used to have a paid for WinRAR, but in recent years 7zip has the edge on compression ratios ( actually its a bit of a race occasionally, but 7zip is free and open source without any advertising / marketing seductions going on ). I ditched the paid for WinRAR after I had tried 7zip for a few months, and have used it ever since ( about 6 years now )

 

 

Edit : Here's a useful link for moving steam too - https://support.steampowered.com/kb_article.php?ref=7710-TDLC-0426

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I understand, good points. Of course the admin mode is what allows the modding tools to work correctly in a UAC protected folder. I thought that it was very common knowledge among the players, but you're right, probably not.

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But I respectfully disagree with this very common statement : "Steam should be in C:\Steam. The reason for this is that Windows User Account Control (UAC) can cause some problems when Skyrim modding tools like Bash need to access game files."

 

IMO, it's as useless and placebo as the Papyrus tweaks we see repeated everywhere across Internet. I have 185 games on Steam, all of them in the default Program Files location, I have UAC set at its highest level and I never ever had a single issue with that configuration. I'm using Wrye Bash, SKSE, TES5Edit, Loot, etc, and all of them work flawlessly.

I disagree because like you said about having UAC at the highest level, which I found out that the highest level is what makes UAC powerful and is only needed when having UAC enabled and to work properly a least what I found out.

 

However, having Steam outside of the UAC protected folder can prevent issues to occur, so I don't think it's necessary to have Steam in the Program Files(x86) folder and I've been using like this since 2009 when I bought Empire TW.

 

I did exact the opposite to have Steam outside of UAC system folder and have UAC completely disabled without any problems so far, which also allow me to run any program without admin rights and that works too a least for me.

 

Some people have reported that they cannot find their gamesaves in Wrye Mash nor can they find any installed mods e.g esm's, esp's either in the Data Files folder IIRC, so UAC can and will sometimes cause unwelcome issues for everybody.

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UAC might be a good protective measure for folks downloading and running hijacked executables. TBQH, in the epoch before UAC we were more reliant on OEM virus scanners which worked pretty well. The argument for the advent of UAC is to reduce the possibility of malware carte blanche foobah on system integrity.

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Thank you everyone for the suggestions and thoughtful responses. I've made some progress with refining the guide via testing, and did a quick overview of NMM. I'm in the process of writing out Bash more thoroughly, and I have yet to complete my explanation LOOT, Tes5Edit, and 7-Zip.

 

Changes

 

  • Removed recommendation to force Vsync and frame limiter via ENB; ENB vsync shows no quality difference, and ENB frame limiter results in serious performance issues in my testing; better to leave Skyrim's refresh rate=framerate cap. As to the Gsync issue, it appears that Gsync does not actually modify the monitor's refresh rate, but simply aims to use hardware to overcome stuttering caused by adaptive vsync.
  • Removed Ambient Occlusion recommendation per Zilav's recommendation.
  • Added 7-Zip section, (unfinished), thanks to alt3rn1ty.
  • Adjusted ini tweaks to reflect vsync and ENB frame limiter changes.
  • Removed some video card tweak categories from AMD, since they are defaults.

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Actually even with the UAC disabled, which I've done, you can still have problems with games installed in Program Files due to access restrictions. Even as an administrator, Windows still defaults all programs in Program Files to read only, which won't work for modded Oblivion or Skyrim.

 

So overall, many headaches can be avoided by simply installing your games to a directory outside of Program Files, as you've suggested.

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UAC might be a good protective measure for folks downloading and running hijacked executables. TBQH, in the epoch before UAC we were more reliant on OEM virus scanners which worked pretty well. The argument for the advent of UAC is to reduce the possibility of malware carte blanche foobah on system integrity.

True about UAC for files protection, but how about protection for *malware* in Windows registry via cookies when reading download sites e.g various ads sites in communities sites and I know that have happen a least once on Nexus a few years ago.

 

Can UAC protect Windows registry from infected ads cookies?

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True about UAC for files protection, but how about protection for *malware* in Windows registry via cookies when reading download sites e.g various ads sites in communities sites and I know that have happen a least once on Nexus a few years ago.

 

Can UAC protect Windows registry from infected ads cookies?

It should provide some measure of protection, although I believe it would be more effective against malware than spyware. That is, I understand that UAC can prevent a program from editing a protected file without admin rights, but I'm not sure about viewing. If it can view, it could pass this information along to another file which the user grants admin rights to, thus leaving them vulnerable.

 

Also, latest version updated. Working on getting it into a PDF form, but Google Docs has some conversion issues to PDF with the table of contents, so it will be a bit.

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One more try. What would fit is now posted in a spoiler tag, the rest is available either through a Google Drive published doc, or as a downloadable PDF linked in the first post. Lemme know if the background image is too light/dark.

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Can UAC protect Windows registry from infected ads cookies?

On 8.1 the owners of the IE cookie folder are Admin & System. It's going to be difficult for a program to get in there unless RPC is turned on.

Dunno about other browsers (I think the security setup is similar) -before UAC many just used the IE store anyway.

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Can UAC protect Windows registry from infected ads cookies?

On 8.1 the owners of the IE cookie folder are Admin & System. It's going to be difficult for a program to get in there unless RPC is turned on.

Dunno about other browsers (I think the security setup is similar) -before UAC many just used the IE store anyway.

I think I'll just recommend moving the Steam installation to %SystemDrive% rather than disable UAC, since this seems to be the approach used by several other distributors, (GOG in particular).

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Google killed the publish feature on me. The guide is pretty out of date now anyway, given all that has changed with the mod managers. I'll have to take some time and rewrite it.

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But I respectfully disagree with this very common statement : "Steam should be in C:\Steam. The reason for this is that Windows User Account Control (UAC) can cause some problems when Skyrim modding tools like Bash need to access game files."

It's been a well known issue dating back to at least Oblivion when UAC first came on the scene. The CK/GECK/CS hates it. Wrye Bash had to be specially modified to work with it. TES5Edit won't always do what it's told while running inside a protected folder. BOSS/LOOT has issues with it in Oblivion because it needs to change timestamps. It's how UAC works.

 

There won't be any videos illustrating the doom & gloom. You are getting around it by running in admin mode - which inherently defeats everything UAC is about.

 

The entire problem is circumvented by simply storing the games outside of a UAC protected folder. Takes a few minutes to change if need be. The trade-off is a much more modding friendly setup.

The UAC issue for both Oblivion and Skyrim isn't a problem anymore since June/July 2012 I think, when Valve changed their policy for Steam games.  Previously, any game you purchased through Steam required to be installed in the Steam folder, but after new EU rules about re-selling digital games Valve was forced to change that policy which cancel the only installation path of the Steam folder for any Steam games.

 

So now can anyone install any Steam games where people wants to have them installed and the first thing I did was to install Skyrim outside of the Steam folder in the same Bethesda Softworks folder there I have both Morrowind and Oblivion installed.

 

Of course this only applies for Steam versions of any TES games that's bought on Steam and the retail version of TES Anthology.

 

The original retail versions of Morrowind and Oblivion (GotY, 5th Anniversary Edition) aren't affected by this.

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Leo, none of that changes a thing with regard to the original issue that was reported. If Steam is installed to the default location (which is the usual case regardless of which continent you're on) then UAC will be a problem. Users have to make an active effort to put it somewhere other than the default location.

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That's correct about UAC, but I'm talking about is where Steam games are installed and not about having Steam in a folder protected by UAC.  AFAIK none of the tools shouldn't be affected by UAC nor should the gamesaves be.

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Except the tools very much are if you install the game in the default location. That's the point. Install the game to a different location and you solve the problems associated with UAC interference. Nobody ever brought save games into this either because they're not in UAC protected folders to start with.

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You're correct about that and that was a major problem for the tools before mid Summer 2012, if Steam were installed in C:\Program Files(x86).

 

I don't think anyone thought about the UAC problem for gamesaves much, but both of us know that gamesaves for Morrowind are stored in a subfolder where Morrowind is installed and later games doesn't have that problem.

 

Which will cause a serious issue with UAC, turn on UAC then no saves can be found if it's installed in the default path or move Morrowind outside of the UAC protected folder then gamesaves can be found regardless if UAC is active or not.

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What you seem to be missing is that it remains a problem now, it wasn't eliminated in Summer of 2012. I don't know where you get the idea that it was.

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Leo the default installation path for steam is still in program files - So it still remains a problem

 

Yes you dont have to install all your games in the same location as steam anymore, but those also by default do install under UAC control

 

The only thing that has changed is you can now have individual games outside of steams install path, whereas before you had to move the whole steam setup and every game with it

 

The default install paths are still a problem, a user has to choose to put steam somewhere else, or a user has to choose to put individual games somewhere else, or both - In both cases the default path ( which most people accept as being wise choices by the producers because users initially do not know any better ) is still going to need changing for users to have an easier time modding ..

 

.. hence the advice is still relevant.

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