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Malkior

New Installation Load Order

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Having recently purchased and built a new PC, I have been busy collecting and downloading every mod confirmed to work with TSLRCM and have arrived at a bit of a quandary. Even if my mods work with one larger mod, how will they interact with eachother?

 

Now, I am aware that larger mods say to "install their mod last to prevent any conflicts", but how does one proceed with multiple mods that say that very same thing?

 

Unfortunately, to my understanding, we only have an order of basic TSLRCM and M478EP installation while mod installs are simply listed by type rather than which one to install after which. TSLPatcher while useful in ensuring mods playing nice together can still cause problems if you install certain mods over others.

Thus, I have decided to ask you, the DS community if you might have some insight on how you made your many mods work together by compiling a sort of "master load order" of mod installation with as many mods (TSLRCM confirmed compatible) listed as possible to hopefully eliminate conflicts. My hope is that as more users confirm each mod's place in the list, we could hopefully have a concrete way to allow users to pick 100 random mods and guarantee them to work together without reading 100 readmes.

 

If this idea causes more problems than it fixes or if it's already been done at some capacity, I'm willing to concede, but my hope is that this can become a useful tool in the future for the average user.

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Paging @Snigaroo.... This is that user's specialty. Search "reddit snigaroo sith lords" and you will find some of what you seek, and the horse's mouth may be able to provide further assistance from there.

Mostly it is about maximizing .2da compatibility, but with some mods you may need some minor script alteration to make it work. Once upon a time, I made minor mods for this like the BoS/RHJawaShop patch I wrote.

Depending on what you learn, and what conflicts you might find, I might be able to help you with scripting conflicts.

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Here's a direct link to the aforementioned builds. If there are any specific mods you're wondering about, now would be a good time to bring it up, as Sniggles is currently in the process of updating them.

13 minutes ago, Malkior said:

Thus, I have decided to ask you, the DS community if you might have some insight on how you made your many mods work together by compiling a sort of "master load order" of mod installation with as many mods (TSLRCM confirmed compatible) listed as possible to hopefully eliminate conflicts. My hope is that as more users confirm each mod's place in the list, we could hopefully have a concrete way to allow users to pick 100 random mods and guarantee them to work together without reading 100 readmes.

That's a nice idea, but I don't think it's really possible to get a definitive list. For one thing, the number of mods for which the install order actually matters is probably very small. In most cases, you could pick a bunch of random mods and be fine, so long as you don't pick two mods that obviously do the same thing. When there are conflicts, the majority of the time it makes the mods mutually exclusive - either you use one or the other, you can't use both. So the order doesn't matter.

Things get more complicated with TSLPatcher mods, because they can be installed on top of each other, but it isn't always safe. Certainly if you have one mod that does a hard .mod, .2da, or .tlk edit and another mod that patches the same file, you need to install the TSLPatcher one last to ensure the changes don't get overwritten. But if you have multiple TSLPatcher mods editing the same file, sometimes it can cause an issue, but a lot of the time it doesn't.

For example, the KOTOR 1 Community Patch and my Korriban: Back in Black both make changes to various NPCs on Korriban. Some of these changes are the same, but a few are different. If you install mine last, you will get all my changes, and if you install the Community Patch's last you will get its changes in favor of mine when there are conflicts. But there's no problem either way. In this case it's a matter of preference.

So I figure the more mods you put on the list, the less helpful the list becomes. It would get full of mods for which there is no correct order, and would need a lot of footnotes for various exceptions. The best you can do is verify the order for a list of specific mods you want to use. If you want to get more in depth than that, you could look into some technical stuff so you'll be able to judge roughly when you should install a mod - like if you see it's making a hard install rather than patching, you know you have to install it before your TSLPatcher mods - but obviously the average user isn't going to want to do that.

Of course the other issue is that modders can't be expected to know how their mod is going to interact with every other mod in existence, especially relics from a bygone era. There are plenty of popular mods I've never tried or don't care for, so I couldn't be sure whether there would be any problem.

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Thanks for the ping @Qui-Gon Glenn.

You want the honest to goodness truth, the answer is just a lot of trial-and-error. Before I reached my first stable build release I had to play the games through, shifting order and switching mods out, 4-5 times before I could even complete one. That was back before I was more familiar with what I was doing, but the moral of the story, if you will, is still the same--depending on what you're trying to get to work together, it might just come down to a lot of tinkering.

That said, JC is absolutely correct that incompatibilities are pretty rare. The most common type you'll have are obvious straight file overwrites, which are disproportionately texture or model changes. In those cases it's as simple as installing what you want last. More rarely you have file overwrites that involve more important files, which you can sometimes get away with overwriting if you know that the file from one mod is just minor changes (a rebalance of values in spells.2da, let's say) while another makes additions. Obviously in that case you keep the one that makes the additions, if you're dead-set on both mods, and either manually re-implement the balance changes or just eat the loss. Properly major file overwrites, like two loose appearance.2da files, can still be made to work if you've got the know-how and patience to merge the data from both files. Otherwise it's a matter of deciding which mod you prefer.

TSLPatcher mods are more stable, but whether you'll encounter stability issues as a result of them is often less obvious, as they tend to do more (just by the nature of what mods benefit from using the TSLPatcher) and warnings the patcher spits out can sometimes be intentional, or benign even when unintentional. You don't always know which is which, and even if you go through everything with no errors thrown at all, you can still get a conflict at the end of the day. There's nothing you can do for that, though, except try to structure your install order logically and be smart about what mods you want to integrate. The more you add, and the more that anything you add edits, the more risk you inherently run.

Determining a provisional load order is where you're going to be doing most of your legwork, and it's the step that will most directly impact the stability of your final build. This is probably the one thing I might be able to give some useful advice on. For the builds, the install order favors installing loose-file mods first, then larger TSLPatcher mods descending down to those with the most minor changes. The order of importance thus goes from the most trivial loose-file mods to the most important loose-files, then shifts to the most important TSLPatcher/.exe content down to the most trivial. In addition, mods of similar styles (texture replacers, model edits, mechanics changes, etc.) and those with similar thematic foci (Dantooine, let's say) are also grouped somewhat closely together. I've found that this is helpful in determining where you're likely to have conflicts, because by starting with the smallest mods first you'll have less stuff to go through in your override when/if you have a direct file conflict so you can easily determine what mods you're going to be forced to select between, and by grouping themes you're more likely to run into those potential conflicts back-to-back. From the TSLPatcher side of things, installing the largest mods first lets you know right away whether or not your most important mods are throwing any errors in their install phase, and also allows for mods with more specific changes (which are generally smaller) to overwrite the changes made by your larger, broad-stroke mods.

Your final functional order might not be similar to that, but installing a test run in this way is the best way I've found to quickly diagnose problem areas or potential issues in what you intend to install, which will let you fine-tune what you're using and when you're installing it to get better results. Once you've cleaned up the obvious issues, though, there's nothing for it but to do a run and make sure everything works. Sometimes it won't--most times it doesn't, for me. A little over half the time I have to restart or modify a test partway through due to unforeseen issues that didn't crop up during the install phase. If you're bound and determined to use a bunch of mods, that's just how it goes.

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