Mod Management

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Introduction

Preparing your setup for downloading and installing mods is one of the most important steps of modding Oblivion. If you do not take take any steps to form some kind of plan in your mind, a modded setup can quickly spawn a nightmare array of problems. Think of this as on of the preventive steps against making a mess of your Oblivion setup. First and foremost, you should choose a method by which you will install mods. Secondly, you should install utilities to help you manage mods and the rest of your Oblivion setup.

Installation Methods

Reservations about mixing manual installation and utility installation

Mod management utilities cannot intelligently distinguish between files installed by the utility and files installed manually. In OBMM's case, that can cause the program to give false errors. OBMM really has trouble when it comes to plugins added or removed "behind its back." It is harder to cleanup behind manual installation, and the presence of manually installed files that differ from those installed with the utility can result in the utility not cleaning up completely either. Again, that problem is more pertinent to OBMM.

OBMM and BAIN have archive invalidation automatically by default, but obviously that is not the case for manual installation. There are independent tools that can handle archive invalidation, so manual installation users do not have to worry, but things become a bit messier when you use multiple archive invalidation methodss for different files.

Reservations about mixing BOSS and BAIN Installation are the same as the first two points made above. One way to think about it is that BAIN's Installation method is much closer to automated manual installation than is OBMM's method of installing mods from OMODs. OBMM is much more sensitive to changes in the Data folder that it does not control. Certain methods of using these two brilliant tools together are pretty much worry free, however. You can mix their use in any way you wish, but the following will only prescribe some of the most secure options. The best way to get any of these tools and methods to work well together is to become comfortable with their use and how mods overlap each other.


What are your Mod Installation options

Manual and by Executable

It is highly likely that all user's will follow employ this method at some point, especially when large mods (i.e., quest mods) are more quickly installed from their packaged executables.

advantages

  • simple - no learning about a new application

disadvantages

  • hard to uninstall - Unless the user only installs one mod or the mods are packed in executables, it is hard to figure out which files to remove.
    • note: The utility TES4Files can be installed to help with the uninstallation process as long as the mod has plugins.
  • no automatic BSA redirection - A separate tool such as ArchiveInvalidation Invalidated! has to be installed to handle archive invalidation; else, the user has to manually implement archive invalidation via Archive Invalidation.txt in the Data folder.
  • no conflict detection - helps prevent installation errors and inter-mod conflicts visible
  • no scripting - helps prevent installation errors

Oblivion Mod Manager (OBMM)

OBMM was the first comprehensive mod management tool, and only recently since the maturation of Wrye Bash has it been displaced from being the best mod management utility in the eyes of a number of more experienced mod users.

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
    • note: This may not be the safest method for resetting BSA's timestamps due to the structure of some mods; therefore, a file-redating utility would be a safer tool supplement.
  • simple installation - run a single EXE to install it

disadvantages

  • poor conflict detection - beyond the OMOD activation status squares to the left of each OMOD, this tool's conflict detection is pretty much useless
  • 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 forgot about them)
  • does not naturally support prioritized installation - This means that mods that overlap and have conflicts needs to be installed carefully in singles or groups at a time
    • note: You can use OMOD groups or specific naming schemes to imitate this

BAIN

BAIN is 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
  • learning curve - the learning curve for Wrye Bash is probably the highest because of all of the features it has, but the learning curve is no so daunting with some direction

disadvantages

  • limited scripting - cannot edit the Oblivion.ini upon installation (but that can be handled through Wrye Bash's INI tweaks feature), does not afford editing mod's INI files, the process of choosing which files you should install is not automated (but there are packaging guidelines modders use to help guide the process)
  • multi-dependency installation - As of yet, there is still no release with a stable installer, but that is in progress.
  • Buggy Uninstallation - OBMM is not good at cleaning up after itself, but it does not fail at cleaning up entirely all the time, which still makes it much better than the forced recall of manual installation

BAIN and OBMM

When trying to get the best of both worlds, just remember to only activate BSA Redirection in one. BAIN's implementation is slightly superior in that it automatically re-adds the redirection BSA to the Oblivion.ini when Bash run's, in the event that the INI was regenerated or something. Also, that feature can be used without using BAIN to install mods.

BAIN as primary uses BAIN as basically main mod installer, and only uses OBMM to install shaders (the installation of which BAIN does not support), big mods that do not overlap with other mods (i.e., music packs that do not overwrite the original tracks), mods that make INI edits and perform BSA-related operations.

OBMM as primary uses OBMM as the main mod management utility, and it (or variations of it) is the most common setup amongst users of both OBMM and Wrye Bash. Most users either ignore or are unaware of BAIN and only use Wrye Bash for all of the other features it has, of which there are many.

Beyond Mod Installation

After choosing your installation tool and installing mods, there are still many other tasks to c.

Mod Management Suggestions for New Users

Use OBMM for all mod installation. If a mod is packaged in an executable, unless you have a particular configuration you would like to package into an OMOD, installing it through the executable is fine (because it can be easily uninstalled through the uninstall EXE file.) For the most part, installing all mods with the same utility simplifies installation and keeping track of which mods are installed. In most cases, BOSS will be able to sort most of the plugins in most users' load orders, but be aware that it does not recognize all plugins. See Load Order for an LO template which can used as a reference to help move plugins it does not recognize to appropriate positions. Lastly, use Wrye Bash for hand-tweaking your load order, managing your saves, the Bashed Patch, etc.

See Also

Oblivion Mod Manager

BAsh INstallers

Better Oblivion Sorting Software

Bethesda Softworks Archive