Complete Installation Guide for Oblivion/Part 2

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Now that you have Oblivion freshly installed and configured, it is time to add some mods. First, however, you need to decided how you are going to go about managing them. The possibilities are endless, but this guide simplifies those options down to three: manual installation, OMOD installation and BAIN installation. The choice that you need to make now is which method you want to use as your primary means of installation.

A Brief Recap

Briefly, to recap the strengths of the two biggest management tools, OBMM and Wrye Bash, the former's strengths are its scripted mod installation (a feature that BAIN is also acquiring) and its BSA editing tool, the latter's strengths are its prioritized mod installtion tool, BAIN, and its load order, save management, plugin alteration and, last but not least, the Bashed Patch, a special plugin by which multiple mods are allowed to modify the same record, eliminating numerous mod conflicts. The hardest part of manual mod management is the cleanup, the uninstallation process. There are tools to help with that, but none of them are as near to ideal as uninstallation is with OBMM and BAIN. The choice for mod installation are between OBMMs' mod installation components and BAIN and no tool at all.

Recommendation for Newer Mod Users

Newer users, unless you are willing to spend a few extra hours on the extra setup for BAIN (and even more hours learning about how to package mods if you decide to use mods that are not available BAIN-Ready) OBMM is the simpler of the two main mod installation tools to use. However, those who decide to pursue the BAIN route, the benefits of pursuing and understanding BAIN definitely pay off, and pay off relatively quickly as you use more mods. Once you start using overhauls and overlapping aesthetic enhancements, OBMM's insufficient conflict detection can be a bit of a handicap. The better you know your mods, the less which tool matters. In the event trying out BAIN does not work well, come back to this point, and head down the OBMM path.

Utility Configuration Recommendation for Newer Users

  • Use OBMM for all mod installation. If a mod is only available as an executable, that is the only case in which the user should make exceptions to this rule. All mods, including those installed through EXEs, can be packed in OMODs, but the work varies. Regardless, installing all mods with the same utility simplifies installation greatly.
  • Use BOSS to do the major load order sorting, but it does not recognize all plugins. See LO template Load Ordering for an which can be referenced for guidance to move BOSS "unknown" plugins.
  • Use Wrye Bash for fine tuning your load order, managing your saves, any other features it has (except its mod installer BAIN, whose job is taken care of with BOSS, for now, and BALO, which is not nearly as helpful as BOSS plus the occasional tweaks.)

Recommendation for Manual Installation users

Manual installation users, most ReadMes include detailed instructions for manual installation. Therefore, your method of installation does not require special packaging instructions; however, if ever you install a BAIN-Ready mod, you will find that the installation instructions for BAIN and manual users are almost identical, excepting the substitution of a few words. If you follow along the BAIN route, if you do not end up switching to BAIN entirely, you may at least take away some good organization tips.

BAIN vs. OBMM

BAIN

Wrye Bash's Installer, One of the two most advanced mod installation tools

advantages

  • Prioritized Installation - you can install all of your mods at once and have the right mods get the final override, very useful for mods with overlapping files (i.e., overhauls and cosmetic+body mods)
  • Intelligent conflict viewer - see file overlap between packages either installed or uninstalled
  • Takes mods packed in archives - download 7-zip, ZIP and RAR files straight to your Bash Installers folder, no need for special packaging like OBMM's OMOD format
  • Anneal - change the install configuration of a package and (un)install only the necessary files instead of having to reinstall the entire mod, unlike OBMM
  • easy uninstallation - right-click on a package and choose "uninstall"
  • BSA Redirection - automatically handles archive invalidation

disadvantages

  • no scripting - cannot edit the Oblivion.ini upon installation (but that can be handled through Wrye Bash's INI tweaks feature), the process of choosing which files you should install is not automated (but their are packaging guidelines modders use to help guide the process)
  • requires - at least two additional downloads to install properly

Manual

The User's First Installer

advantages

  • simple - no learning about BAIN and OBMM

disadvantages

  • hard to uninstall - unless you only install one mod, it is hard to figure out which files to remove (there is a utility, TES4Files, which can be used to help unistall, making that 2 nearly required utilities)
  • no automatic BSA redirection - have to get a tool like ArchiveInvalidation Invalidated! to take care of archive invalidation or manual manage entries in an archiveinvalidation.txt file
  • user really has to read ReadMes
  • no conflict detection, no scripting, nothing

Oblivion Mod Manager (OBMM)

The second most advanced Oblivion Mod managing utility, long preceding Wrye Bash...

advantages

  • scripted installation - user has to do less work if the mod author adds a script for the OMOD version of the mod, scripts can edit the Oblivion.ini
  • easy uninstallation - deactivate the OMOD
  • BSA Redirection - automatically handles archive Invalidation
  • has a BSA View/Edit/Repacking tool
  • BSA Reset Timestamps function - this is needed when a BSA's timestamp is more recent then data files that you want to override its contents, it sets the timestamp back to 01/01/2006, in utilities->archive invalidation
  • run a single EXE to install it

disadvantages

  • poor conflict detection - really annoying when you usee cosmetic, body and companion mods that contain different versions of the same files
  • sensitive to external changes - the worst is when you move plugins, it is sensitive to the plugins list at the time an OMOD was activated
  • memory issues - you have to restart the program after installing a large amount of data or it will freeze, lose track of everything that happened that session, and show a bunch of conflicts that do not really exist (because it had installed those files and does not know it)
  • does not naturally support prioritized installation - you can use OMOD groups or specific naming schemes to imitate this

BAIN+OBMM

all right, best of both worlds

  • use BAIN as basically main mod installer
  • use OBMM to install shaders, big mods that do not overlap with other mods (i.e., music packs that do not overwrite the original tracks), make INI edits, install menu video replacers (because it can edit the Oblivion.ini to use a different video for the different main videos, which avoids overwriting the original videos)
  • use OBMM for its BSA tools

BAIN as Primary Installer

never have "unknown" data file conflicts issues

  • use BAIN to install all mods excepting shader packages
  • use OBMM for BSA tools
  • take care of my Oblivion.ini myself, keep backups in and INI project folder in the Bash Installers folder until I convert everything to INI tweaks that can simply be installed through Wrye Bash

Download Mods

Again, don't worry about "beta" tags..."

Before you rush off to download random mods, take time to read about the different categories and compatibility considerations on Downloading Mods. Whenever you are adding mods, moderation is the most important rule. Add mods slowly. That tends to make figuring out conflict-producers much easier. If you know which mods you added before problem X appeared, you are probably half-way done solving your issue. Even if you cannot resolve the issue completely yourself, being able to provide those that offer help with the names of the involved mods does a world of good. Try bookmarking mods' pages instead of downloading them on impulse, especially if you are a newer mod user. The set of mods listed below is just a taste of how you can modify nearly every aspect of the game.

There is no need to extract any of the downloaded archives yet, and, if you are sticking to the mods listed below, there no reason to extract any archives unless the instructions in this guide specifically mention it. For OBMM users, the location of the downloads does not matter, but BAIN users should download the archives to the Bash Installers folder (a subfolder of Oblivion mods, which was created, at the same level as the Oblivion install folder, when BAIN was initialized. If you later switch to BAIN, the archives can be moved into the Bash Installers folder at any time. For now, you can download the mods you wish to try and continue reading (or do something else entirely) while the downloads complete.

When prompted about downloads, choose 'SAVE' not 'open'!! Unless you are installing mods manually, rarely should you have to extract a file before adding into an OMOD. BAIN users really have no reason to extract archives, unless they need to be repackage (which involves rearranging the files and adding them into a compressed archive.) OBMM users are going to make OMODs for almost all of their mods, and BAIN users will, likewise, make BAIN-friendly archives of all of their mod downloads.

Download the "Starter Kit"

...a starters kit of sorts to cover various types of mods and mod packages.

Feel free to choose other body mods, etc., but the rest of the guide will give explicit instructions using the following mods. (Alternatives of the presented types may be added in the future.)

Which version to download tips...

  • BAIN - try to get normal archive versions, not OMOD, not EXEs (OMOD-READY means the download is a normal archive but contains the files necessary for easy conversion to an OMOD, those are still better to download that the "not" options)
  • Manual - download manual versions, EXEs when necessary, and try to avoid OMOD (not OMOD-ready) downloads
  • OBMM - try to get OMOD or OMOD-ready versions of mods, not EXEs (Regular archives can still be packaged into an OMOD with ease if they are packaged properly, plus you can add your own scripts to handle the less simply packaged mods)

The "Starter" Downloads

Feel free to skip any or try the alternatives. There may not be an explicit repackaging or installation instructions for alternatives, but their positions in the installation and load order should be the same and the mod used in the starter kit.

  • (Utility) Streamline - memory purging and buffer management
  • (Library) Common Oblivion (COBL) - adds a lot of useful features and items, now supported or required by many mods
    • If you want to use COBL Races, download the Cosmetics Res 01 pack as well.
    • The COBL Races add-on is a stripped down version of Race Balancing Project. It is a cosmetic compilation pack.
  • (Extended Game Tweak) Enhanced Economy (EE) - Living Economy's spirit successor, regional pricing, different pricing schemes, reduce the value of magic items...
  • (Game Tweak, Aesthetic) Harvest Flora - plants disappears after you harvest them
  • (Smooth Leveling) nGCD - smooth leveling, no sleeping to level up, no modifiers, totally configurable
    • equally as good alternatives are Realistic Leveling (another smooth leveler) and Oblivion XP (brings to Oblivion classic RPG exp)
    • This mod is partly inspired by KCAS, so it is a nice, more current alternative for KCAS users.
  • (Skill Progression) Progress - offers total control over the rate at which your skills progress
    • The latest version, as of 03-30-2010, does not show an init message on screen or in the console. Do not worry about it.
    • not compatible with Oblivion XP or Wrye Leveling
  • (NPCs) Tamriel Travellers (TT) - trade with travelers to unload your loot while in the remotest areas of Tamriel
  • (Animation) Actors in Emotions - allows the user to set the facial expression of NPCs and the PC
  • (New Building) Bank of Cyrodiil - make money while sitting on your behind with interest
  • (New Items) Slof's Oblivion Robe Trader - adds many cool new textured robes and replaces many existing robes
  • (World Meshes and Textures Replacer) Qarl's Texture Pack III Redimized (QTP3R) - one of the greatest and biggest (multiple Gbs) mods around
    • do not forget the patch!
    • The Redimized version is intended for video cards with at least 512MB VRAM.
    • Users with 256MB VRAM can try one of the reduced versions or skip Qarl's Texture Pack all together.
    • Another alternative is CorePC's Vibrant textures, which uses Vanilla-resolution textures, making it a viable choice for lower-end systems (and those that simply like his changes.)
  • (Official Plugins) DLCs - i.e., DLCOrrery, DLCBattlehornCastle, Knights of the Nine (KoTN)
  • (Vanilla Fixes) Unofficial Oblivion Patch (UOP) - THE REQUIRED mod
  • (SI Fixes) Unofficial Shivering Isles Patch (USIP) - THE SECOND REQUIRED mod for SI users
  • (DLCs Fixes) Unofficial Official Mods Patches (UOMPs) - more patches to clean up official content
  • These are compatible with the SM plugin refurbish plugins.
  • (Short Big Quest) Gates to Aesgaard 1 (GTA1) - prepare to be scared
    • do not forget to grab both patches!
  • (Long Big Quest) The Lost Spires (LS) - a new guild, a new story and pretty spires
  • (NPCs, Creatures) Martigen's Monster Mod (MMM) - Don't forget the BSA or the Diverse WaterLife update - add tremendous creature diversity
  • (Weather) All Natural (AN) - the weather mod of weather mods, syncs interior and exterior weather, see outside weather from inside inside, and now real lights is included too
    • This mod includes the three most popular weather mods (Atmospheric Weather System, Enhanced Weather, Natural Weather)
    • AN supersedes Natural Interiors, and also has an updated version of Real Lights, which can be used standalone. (See the ReadMe for details.)
    • The original mods are not needed and should NOT be used with All Natural.
    • Settings for darker nights can be changed in the included INI, as well.
  • (Lighting) Let There Be Darkness (LtBD) - now you need a torch to get around
  • (User Interface) Elven Map Redux - world map reskin
  • (User Interface) Super Hotkeys - need more than 8 hotkeys?
  • (Texture Replacer) Real Night Sky - most realistic sky texture replacer around
  • (Animation Replacer) Seph's Hand-to-Hand Animation Replacer - replaces the default hand-to-hand animations with slightly cooler versions
  • (Effects Replacer) Initial Glow - remove the encased plastic effect from NPCs and the PC when they wear items with enchantments
  • (Effects Replacer) Visually Enchanted Customizer Fixed - fire swords burn, ice swords are surrounded in a frothy breath
  • (Face Texture Replacer) Improved Facial Textures (IFT) - better Vanilla face and age textures
  • (Racial Overhaul) Race Balancing Project (RBP) - more sensible balance for the races, including a few new familiar ones
  • (Body Replacer) Robert's Male Body v5 (*nudity warning*)
    • Warning!!! The linked page contains nudity
    • includes clothed and nude versions
    • includes stock mesh replacers
    • This site's BAIN-OMOD-Ready repackage has been uploaded to the Nexus page. (Thanks to AlienSlof for getting it uploaded there.)
    • an average v5 version has been uploaded and requires the main v5 mod
  • Robert's Female Body - arguably the most natural-looking female body
    • Some other notable female body replacers, Exnem and variants (HGEC and EVE HGEC) are more popular and have greater mod support (but they are not simpler to install). Feel free to install those instead, but until you are more comfortable with installing mods, try to stick to the core files (ignoring extra skin packs and all of that).
    • A list and description of some of the available body replacers of Oblivion can be found on Types_of_Mods/Body_Replacers.
    • Robert F - Rough Leather Shoes Fix - fixes a nasty bug that caused an artifact to stick out of NPCs wearing the shoes
    • downloading the full version of Robert's Fem PyFFI-ed (and fixed) is perfectly fine

Start

→ Start the Complete Installation Guide for Oblivion - Part 2 - BAIN

→ Start the Complete Installation Guide for Oblivion - Part 2 - OBMM

See Also

BAsh INstallers

Oblivion Mod Manager

Bethesda Softworks Archive

Better Oblivion Sorting Software

Bash Auto Load Ordering

Shivering Isles

Martigen's Monster Mod

All Natural

Race Balancing Project

Ren's Beauty Pack