Skyrim Installation - To make an immersive harder game for not so great computers which actually still looks good
When I first fire up skyrim after a fresh install the game does an autodetect gives me ultra high settings. If I was to play that auto-detected game I would only have 12fps on average. Well, that wasn't good enough. I like to play at around 40fps to make combat smooth. With all of the following listed below I play at variable 30 fps outside, typically going from 33 to 40 fps and around 50's when in dungeons.
So this is what I know so far from a users point of view. I'm no coder, but hopefully these notes of mine will have some use.
Patches and dlc's
Animation and follower
Config and .ini
i5-2320 quad core 3.00Ghz cpu
AMD HD6670 2gb Gddr3 dedicated graphics card
Vanilla was too easy, so I selected mods to make the game harder and more immersive. With this set-up you get more perk points, but you'll need them, as you'll be underpowered to the level lists as most of your skills start at zero (see gameplay mod section). Trainers will actually be required and I strongly suggest the warrior stone to get melee combat skills off the ground. Speech perks are also useful in this game. Especially if you set the barter mechanics to be against you. Load perkpointless smithing at the end, and keep an eye on it, the game likes to revert to original smithing perk at times. Just come out and reposition the .esp. Learnt smithing skills are retained so don't panic.
For those who are scared of Wrye bash, just skip doing that and install the mods. However I do recommend taking a bit of time, even if to do a single bash patch, which in itself isn't hard if you're willing to spend 15 minutes looking at "Wrye bash pictorial guide" at Nexus.
One strong alternative to this configuration is to remove the following two(three) mods:
Choose your own adventure (with this mod I pick Orc at the start, without I tend to go Breton or high elf)
This can make the game easier if you feel it's too hard.
I personally play on expert as this set-up is tougher without going Requiem, which I'm looking forward to trying after I'm done with this set-up, or Bethesda releases the next TES and I've given the modders a year to get their mods out there. Tip: If you can wait, you're best off waiting until a legendary or GOTY edition is released as not only do you get all or most DLC's, thereby saving you money, but the modders have been able to do their thing.
One further point, I know this is a minimalist mesh and texture overhaul, but it looks good due to other things being done. I have played with SMIM, 2k textures, distance overhaul, amidorian caves and dungeons, ruins clutter improved, flora overhaul, HD trees, realistic water two, vivid landscapes all-in-one....
....but now I just stick with a very minimalist approach, and let me say, when you bump up particles to max in the config, then you'll see that vanilla fire effects work very well at this hardware spec level.
In other words, it's all very nice having great meshes and textures, but if you've got no fps or can only see a few meters ahead, well, that's where this takes a different path for those without computing powerhouses, and I'm personally very pleased with this alternative path.
If your computer is really bad (low spec) I strongly recommend installing only the following:
and going straight to the .ini section to see how you can free up FPS. Do save the two original .ini files to an out of the way folder/location, so you have them if you need them.
From the config and .ini section
Grid = 7 (note, if you have problems due to this higher adjustment, put it back to 5 and consider deleting all your save games that were saved with that new setting)
Thanks to Bethesda for making the game (albeit a very easy game)
Thanks to all modders for making my Skyrim hard and seem like a real place
N.B. Although forced to download Hi-res textures, I never use them. It's minimal difference for high performance hit in my opinion. So, Hi-Res textures off.
All mods, expect SKSE and BOSS can be found in Nexus.
Recommended Nexus subscription if only for 1 month as this cuts the process down considerably, unless you have a slow internet connection, in which case don't subscribe. For me this whole process takes about 2 hours starting with a clean skyrim install from steam.
Recommended: a good usage of CCleaner, and don't forget to look at your start-up files
Start game after steam download to create .ini files
BOSS, clean and wrye after each section
Using NMM switch view so not in categories, which is just a pain for doing this
Don't forget to show hidden files so you can see your .ini files in Mydocuments
I personally do a complete clean of NMM, Wrye bash and Skyrim when I do full modding, deleting all paths and content and do a clean skyrim install.
N.B. When bashing, remove whole skyrim folder to desktop and bash. Do not install or uninstall mods via NMM while skyrim outside steam home or NMM will throw a wobbly and create .esp problems. When done bashing replace Skyrim folder and BOSS it.
.ini and saves in Mydocuments
Skyrim is computer > windows (c:) > Program files (x86) > steam > steam apps > common > skyrim
TE5edit - for cleaning...check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fw3g_N1jcZQ
Wrye bash (Remove skyrim folder to desktop and install Wrye bash to desktop > skyrim) - Don't forget to replace skyrim folder as otherwise you will get problems. The skyrim folder is only out of steam common folder to be bashed, once bashed replace skyrim folder in steam common folder.
Whenever you need to bash skyrim = desktop. When bashing done skyrim = steam common folder.
Unofficial DLC's and patches
Skyfalls and skymills
Skyrim shadow striping fix
Skyrim misc patches
Height adjusted races + x2 giants
Consistent older people
Graphics - Does not require BOSS, Bashing or clean
Sexy Whiterun (with dirt roads), Winterhold, Solitude and Windhelm (Riften deliberately left out)
Weather - If you bossed and bashed in Patches and DLC's you won't need to do so here
Climates of Tamerial
Note: Supreme storms not installed. It always creates problems for me with a missing master file...pity
Darkest nights level 4, Hazardous dungeons, 40% snow whiteness, fog due to max particles in .ini, regular warmth.
Lighting (Bashing and cleaning still not required if done in patches)
Mike Fox's darker nights
Enhanced Lights and FX
Gameplay - You will want to bash this one as High level enemies uses a levelled list (Also clean unless modder states not to, in this instance I cleaned guild rewards
Lanterns of skyrim
People have torches
Wet and Cold + holidays
Guard dialogue overhaul
Better dialogue controls
Immersive - weapons, armour, patrols, creatures, HUD
Better skill and quest books
Unread books glow
High level enemies
Trade and barter
Quality world map + falskaar and wyrmstooth
Imps more complex needs (Takes a bit of getting used to, but has dynamic time that syncs with sleep, unlike other food immersion mods, set all times to minimum of 6 to avoid breaking quests)
Choose your own adventure
Perk potions (Start around 80,000 gold, so now you may want speech perks)
Perk pointless smithing + dawnguard option
(You'll get more perks with these three, but you'll need them as the game is harder due to constantly being behind in comparison to the games levelled lists, that is until you find all smithing books and bought a few perk potions)
No starting spells
Apocalypse (Midas magic, forgotten magic redone, etc can be chosen instead)
Run for your lives
When vampires attack
Random vampire attacks disabled - Just to be certain
Realistic room rental - basic (If enhanced then you have to go back to enhanced lights and FX and change menu)
Realistic humanoid movement speed
Increased bounty and guild rewards with reduced fedex rewards
Improved sneak detection
Skyrealism - detection
Animation and follower - After this I did a bash rebuild just in case I missed something.
No more blocky faces
Fine face textures for men
Better female faces
Remodeled armor for CCBE and bodyslide (Optional if you want to perv)
Better followers armour packs (Wrye thinks this is an oblivion TES4 file, but the modder really did a great job in changing the appearances of so many NPC's that it's a must have for me)
Improved NPC clothing
Josh's skyrim behaviour
FNIS behaviour with spells and creatures
HDT High heels
Female running and walking animation
Natural breast animation
Alternatively for a less sexed version just don't install:
CBBE, bodyslide 2, CBBEv3m and natural breast animation
After modding run game and copy .ini files into a new folder before doing following
I always run the game at this point to let MCM load up and see that it's working. I then quit out long before they reach Helgen.
At this point I'm on 25 fps having gone into game options and done some tweaks. Time to raise the FPS with Skyconfig.
Adjusting ini with options and skyconfig
.ini files give the game parameters and are found outside the game. In theory playing with .ini files should not result in any permanent changes because you're not actually affecting core game play code. So by practice and play you should start to see the difference.
Textures high (adjust to lower for FPS if need be)
Other checks depending on FPS and you may need to drop resolution, but not by much, will still look good. I play at 1366x768. 1920x1080 can be taxing, but do try it and other settings to see what works best.
uExterior Cell buffer = 64
Field of View 75 (Best go into console and type - FOV 75)
To access console press ` it's left of the number 1 on your keyboard (unless you have a different keyboard, mines UK standard)
Radial blur off
AS max and threaded
I'm threading because I have a quad core and by doing so I'm telling the others cores to do something, just in case they prefer to sit there idle, which if they did would put the strain on only one or two processors and hit my performance
V sync and rendered float point off (on if good fps)
Particles max(10000) and threaded
Grid = 7 (note, if you have problems due to this higher adjustment, put it back to 5 and delete all your save games and start a new game.)
Threaded meshed, morpher and LODS
Unload cells on fast travel
Background lip and face gen on
Tree draw and load distance 22,000
Grass draw 3000
Light fade, specular, sun update and threshold set to max (Sun update to max makes shadows update slower so they are static more, try it at minimum and you'll see they sway a lot, but in a nauseating fashion, so max this to stop it. Shadows like that are for a future game engine)
Water: everything off
Best places to check FPS are:
-Swamp by Solitude as has lot of vegetation and water
-Falkreath for lots of trees
-Whiterun for tree and rendering distance (Make sure if paying with sexy Whiterun the Meadary roofs do not turn from yellow to blue - very annoying and immersion breaking)
Dungeons always have better FPS due to being enclosed spaces
If FPS well above 40 in all these areas start by increasing shadows, then water, then decals, and AA last. AA gives massive performance hits.
Shadows -> water as shadows are everywhere, water isn't (streams don't count)
At this point I'm now playing mostly around 40fps outdoors and 45-60fps in dungeons and when outside. The game looks good, I recommend runnning from Riverwood to Whiterun and seeing the x2 giant fight. If you're playing with ugrid 7 you will see a lot more detail further out, and it generally looks better in my opinion, with a whole lot of game content that makes the game way more of a fun simulation.
Have fun and I hope this has been of use to anyone. They're actually my notes, so I'm not offended if no one finds them useful, as I already have.