Recently going through STEP and being brand new to modding, I have a few suggestions that might make STEP easier to follow:
My first recommendation is providing more than one version of STEP for different baselines. This could include a "Performance/low-end" version for those with less than great systems (i.e. stock PCs and laptops) that just meet or are slightly more than Skyrim minimum system requirements which would be geared toward providing the best performance. Next could be a "Default/Balanced/Baseline" version consisting of the current baseline and geared toward a balance of performance and quality. The last could be an "Extreme/high-end" version geared to those with high-end systems where performance is not an issue.
While it's easy to provide a STEP
guide for the Baseline and high-end systems, supporting low-end systems is another endeavor entirely. STEP
was originally started to provide the best visual enhancements the community has to offer and as such we've always encouraged users to make the decision to install particular mods on their own. Keep in mind that STEP
is a guide first and only offers our personal preferences (although we try to be as objective as we can). Starting with v2.3 we'll have a lot more empirical test results to evaluate mods with, but in the end the guide will contain everything we suggest for the best experience. Because modding can be very machine-specific and individual we merely list our suggestions and leave it up to the user to pick the mods they want to (and can) use. The Impact column can be a little more helpful (and it hopefully will be in the next version) as far as distinguishing mods that are resource-intensive, but at the end of the day, each user has their own limit as to how much they can add to the game and there's no way we can account for all possible configurations and situations, especially not if we're going to aim for specific framerates (as those can change drastically just based on what you're running in the background). To that end, I doubt we'll ever release separated guides, but we will always try to provide as much relevant information about a mod as we can so that users can make the best decisions for their system.
Obviously we want to offer optimizations that will benefit everyone, and as far as INI tweaks we can probably suggest different values based on performance, so we'll look at that. Most mods in STEP
that affect FPS are textures, and the reason they do so is because of their resolution and filesize. This process will be explained a lot better in v2.3, but basically you can simply run DDSopt with a resolution constraint to bring all the STEP
mods down to Vanilla resolution, and that will reduce a lot of the impact these mods have on the game (although every texture may not scale down so well and this is something that deserves a forum thread of its own). The ENB page does need some attention and it'll likely be revamped for v2.3 as we'll be introducing a "Post-Processing Pack" that will offer an array of options for all system and personality types.
I wish I could say "I'll look into those right away", but to be honest we're a lot more focused on building a framework for analyzing and testing mods going forward so unfortunately quite a bit is being left for when that's all done and we're back in mod-testing and guide-writing mode.
Of course the Launcher and video card settings would reflect each version as well. I realize this would be more work but in my opinion it would also streamline STEP for each option available instead of piling everything into one big guide and letting the users sort through and figure out the things they need and don't need which can get confusing for new modders like myself.
As I said above, we encourage users to make decisions for themselves and look at modding as a learning experience. Obviously this ideology doesn't work for everyone as some people just want a "plug-and-play" experience with modding. Unfortunately that's not how Skyrim mods work and attempting to reduce it to that will always fail. Of course we're looking at ways to make the experience less tedious and one of our admins is working on a program that can fetch mods from the Nexus for you (similar to NMM
), that's a long ways off and will still involve the user selecting with mods will be used. New users definitely don't fall into this category, and the process can seem complex when you're first introduced to it. To that end, we're looking for ways to make the installation process as easy as extracting the files to a folder and then using a mod manager such as Wrye Bash or Mod Organizer to handle overwrites. That way new users don't have to deal with installation order and all that while we can leave the door open for more experienced users to experiment on their own.
- In the "Impact" column it is note that the impact of many mods is "FPS" with no other information whether that is an increase or decrease in FPS.
- Golden God Shrines has multiple options that are not covered. Some break vanilla and possibly immersion.
- That's Ice mod has multiple options. It might be wise to include in the description the best options as to not break away from Vanilla or immersion.
- The "WATER" mod description is off. There is no "Get Wet" option. The only options are Reduced Splash, Extra Wet Rocks and Trough Water - Animated.
- Deadly Spells Impacts have several options that are not covered to maintain vanilla and immersion.
- Warmer Magic Lights have multiples options that are not covered.
As I said above, the Impact column needs some work; that was introduced with good intentions, but there was never enough data to do anything really helpful with it. As far as the rest: my apologies, it's pretty hard to keep several hundred mod descriptions up-to-date, and some authors may have changed their offerings between guide revisions. At least before every big STEP
release I go through the installation process and make sure everything's there, so most of them should be addressed sooner or later, but if not it's generally one of those "its up to the user to decide which they want" type of deals. I'll look at these to see if we need to fix anything for v2.2.0b (our next bug-fixing release), and in the mean time if you find any begs or errors in the guide, please post here
- In the Mod Testing section of the wiki it might be wise to include a program that can measure FPS, such as FRAPS. FPS is one of the best indicators of overall general performance. If there is already one there please forgive me for overlooking it.
- In the ENB section of the wiki, it needs to be noted that if shadow striping occurs that increasing the iBlurDeferredShadowMask value in the INI from 2 (what the STEP INI Tweaks changes it to) to a higher value will correct the issue. (this happened when I used Project ENB). This could also be included in the Troubleshooting Guides.
- The link to the Standalone SMAA on the ENB page is broken. The mod page no longer exists. I'm interested in SMAA because Project ENB doesn't have it. So an alternative that is supported by STEP would be most helpful.
The whole testing section is going to be re-written, that page is quite outdated, and we'll definitely be including a program that monitors FPS, VRAM usage, CPU usage, etc. As I said above, the ENB page was put together quickly and hasn't been updated in a while. I'll ask the ENB author who volunteered to write it if they can update it a bit, but besides that it's going to have to wait for v2.3 :(. Same goes for the SMAA link, I'm not too keen on all the ENB stuff so I don't know where to find an alternative.
MODS TO BE ADDED
Get Snowy - this has not caused me any issues and adds a realism to the game where snow sticks to the players and NPCs during snow storms. Who can run around in a snow storm and not have an ounce of snow on them?
Thanks for reading!
For mod suggestions (and reviews!) remember to use the search tool to find the thread or post about it in the Mod Suggestions forum. Get Snowy's thead can be found here
, and it looks like there haven't been any posts recently.