The Elder Scrolls

Dr. Dovahkin: How I Learned to Stop Modding and Play the Game

Content of the article: "Dr. Dovahkin: How I Learned to Stop Modding and Play the Game"

So to start this post, I want to say that I love this community and have really enjoyed becoming a part of it. However, there is something that seems to be missing: a modding guide that doesn't have specific mods and a specific modlist in mind. I'm sure this is a a result of a few things (none of which are bad): 1) This game has been out for almost a decade and the modding scene, while still active, has gone through many changes. 2) There is such a variety (this is a good thing!) of mods, modding styles, tools to mod, and playstyles, not to mention even multiple iterations of the game: Oldrim, SSE, VR. 3) The "Guiders" of the community haven't stayed consistent, both because some people have moved onto other games/life/etc, and because new people are discovering the wonderful world of modding Skyrim every day (again, not a bad thing).

Before I get into my proposal and asking for suggestions, I want to explain (hopefully briefly, but I tend towards long-windedness) my history with Skyrim and modding (If you have no interest in my autobiography "Dr. Dovahkin: How I Learned to Stop Modding and Play the Game"Just kidding; I'll never stop modding-, skip to the TLDR below):

  1. Never played Skyrim before January 2020.
  2. Received Skyrim for Nintendo Switch for Christmas (because my husband knew how much I loved Zelda Breath of the Wild and the crossover items sold it).
  3. Started playing and was immediately hooked. I played through nearly the entire game (inlcuding DLC, Guide Questlines, etc) and realized that I was going to be "done" soon and wasn't willing to let go.
  4. So I started a second character, which I made it pretty far (more role-playing this time), but it wasn't quite what I wanted, so when Quarantine hit, I pulled out my crappy laptop and decided to see if it could handle a slightly modded Skyrim.
  5. I had never modded anything before (to be honest, my PC gaming experience was DOS games, DOSbox emulating, and floppy/CD games like Commander Keen and Jill of the Jungle), so I joined this subreddit and started Googling/Youtubing everything I could.
  6. It was overwhelming to say the least and guides everywhere contradicted each other, were wildly outdated, or just plain confusing for someone that had no experience. But when I get obsessed, pretty much nothing can stop me, so I downloaded Vortex and started adding Mods randomly from the Nexus.
  7. I started small and only added what my potato could handle and it went quite well. I fell in love with Elysium Estate and the LOTD museum. I played for a while and it was fun, but I kept wanting to add more mods that I would see recommended on here and Nexus. I knew that I would probably mess everything up by adding more, so I made a spreadsheet for a future playthrough.
  8. In April, I made the mistake (?) of checking what my average FPS was. 15. I was averaging 15 FPS with NO graphics mods and maybe a dozen mods, and this was on Oldrim. I decided that for my birthday, I was going to buy a nice laptop that I could play on at a higher FPS and with more mods. So I asked my brother to help me pick one out. Of course, he ended up talking me into building a custom desktop instead, which he helped me do over the phone from halfway across the country.
  9. So, now I had a brand new beautiful computer and what did I do? I downloaded Vortex and installed LE from Steam, and added a hundred mods and played for an hour and had a CTD. And another and another. (In hindsight, of course I did, I literally only used LOOT). I posted here (with my modwatch list) and got one response which was a suggestion to use SE instead of LE.
  10. So I wiped my computer and installed SE. And proceeded to download as many of the mods I had used before, just the SE version. And I added a few more, because of course I did. I couldn't even get the game to start. So I posted here and got one response which was a suggestion to use MO2 instead of Vortex.
  11. I was a little frustrated at this point, so I wiped my computer and started over, but decided to follow S.T.E.P. I made it almost to the end before realizing that not only did it not include LOTD (I know that not everyone likes it, but I refuse to play without at this point), it also seemed to be pretty outdated.
  12. So I looked up Lexy's list and I wiped my computer and started over with that, and I made it about halfway before I realized that while I was learning some stuff, I didn't really know why I was doing most of it. And, I figured, if I am not learning, why not see if there is an easier way?
  13. So I wiped my computer (I like a clean slate, if you couldn't tell) and I downloaded Wabbajack. At the time, there was no official Lexy's version, so I tried two different unofficial versions. Once was way too much for me (the graphics were all 4K and 8K and my computer, while decent, wasn't up to that) and the other was too "hardcore" for me. I wanted new stuff, not just more difficulty. I played it anyway for a bit, literally died a dozen times within starting because I kept spawning in a large bandit group, but running away eventually worked. I played to about level 20 and "enjoyed" it, but then I found out that the official unofficial (IDK) Lexy's list was back on Wabbajack.
  14. All together now: "So I wiped my computer". Great job! But, yes, I did and I installed this list I had been dreaming about. It was fun, still hard (and sometimes annoyingly so like the crazy dark and difficult Bleak Falls Barrow, and Hypothermia every time I swam in the Sea of Ghosts), but fun. I grew to love Inigo and Lucien and I made it to about level 50. The nudity was a bit much, and like I said, I wouldn't have added some things to my own game, and there were some things I wished had been in it but weren't (I really wanted to try Bruma, for instance).
  15. One more time: "So I wiped my computer". And this time, I have taken nearly two months to read and re-read and watch and re-watch every mod description, and outdated guide, and random Gopher/GamerPoets/MxR video. I have read more posts on this subreddit than any other. I have tried, and somewhat succeeded, to read through the Tome of xEdit. I was determined to make my "perfect" modlist and learn most imporantly, why I was doing what I was being told to do. There have been frustrating moments and apparently my new catchphrase is "I am almost ready to do my real testing", because my husband pointed out that I say this nearly every day…and have been for a week or two. And I am…almost ready to do my real testing.
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So, are you still reading? I did warn you that I am long-winded.

TLDR (not really, but it got your attention, didn't it?)

I want to create a new guide. Now, hear me out: One that doesn't jump into the heavy tech side of things and one that isn't formed around a specific modlist/style/etc. I want one that can grow and change organically with the growth of this community. I know that this subreddit is sort of this exact thing, but it is daunting for a newbie, so often, instead of researching, they just post "CTD?!! WHY?!!" with no modlist or "Steam Sale – What mods should I get?" with no information. The sidebar, while somewhat helpful, isn't always up to date, and honestly, after clicking on links that lead me to a half decade old post or to nothing at all, I was frustrated. Those in the community that have been here for awhile seem tired of us newbies, and I get it, especially when you say the same thing for the umpteenth time. And, yes, we should google/reddit search, but sometimes we want a faster answer, especially about something that people seem to think is "obvious".

I'm going to try and create something like this; I'm not sure exactly what form it will take yet, but I want it to be something that can grow/change with the community, is easy to navigate/understand, and is a broader explanation of why we do what we do when we mod and not a do these exact things because I told you so. Guides like Lexy's and all the mod authors and moderators of this subreddit are all amazing and I wouldn't be inspired to do this if it weren't for them. I want to give back now, and I feel like this could be my way of doing it.

Read:  Modlist advice/ performance

Here's where you guys come in: suggestions? Some thoughts I have so far: give a glossary of often used terms, a list of tools (where to get them, what they are used for, and a where to find more information such as tutorials), mod suggestions for all kinds of play styles, and links to YouTube videos/Reddit posts/etc for further information. I want to create, and curate, something that people will refer newbies to and they will be able to and want to use it. There will be section for those that don't want to learn, and just want to play, and that will revolve around Wabbajack. There will be a section for those that want to learn a little, but are wary of jargon and hesitant to believe that they can learn. There will be a section for those that ENJOYED reading the Tome of xEdit (I kid, but I actually did enjoy reading through parts, once I understood more of what it was saying). All those things that you feel are like "Duh" now; I want to explain those things in an easy to read (and hopefully not long-winded) list. Because they weren't always "Duh" to you or me. I want to explain the difference between ESP/ESL/ESPFE/ESM and what Bashed and Smashed Patches are. I don't know everything; far from it, so I am going to need help on this project.


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