Aug 8, 2016 at 3:32pm #105343
As promised, This thread will be dedicated to giving you the rundown of my experience with the new Titan X Pascal and Skyrim/Fallout. Expect it to go on for a while as there are a ton of variables to cover.
i7 4790K @4.7Ghz on water
240GB x2 Kingston HyperX Savage SSDs in Raid 0
16 gig of 2400mhz Gskill Trident DDR3 ram
Titan X Pascal overclocked +230/+500
Process Lasso software using Bitsum Highest Performance preset
I’ll start by saying that if you saw the other thread about the 1080, you’ll already know that the Titan Pascal can handle a metric ton of mods IN GEOMETRY MODE and return smooth, playable framerates at an enjoyable level – depending on your tolerance. But to be clear, this card running in the upper 30FPS range feels smoother by far than my old Crossfire 390s running in the 40s. No microstutter is a beautiful thing. The best part is you’ll rarely see under 40FPS even with a ton of mods on the TXP (Titan X Pascal) if you mod smart.
Now to begin with, I loaded a fresh and bone stock install of Skyrim. No ini tweaking, nothing. 100% stock install as Todd Howard intended. No updates beyond those baked into the Steam install. No Nexus patches. Just vanilla/stock Skyrim. With all sliders maxed in non VR at 1920×1080, FRAPS never moved off 60FPS no matter where I went or what I did. Glued. Not really surprising as my 390s would do the same thing. But thats the baseline.
For most testing, I’ll be using my normal three areas. Whiterun/Dragonreach, Whiterun to Riverwood and the forest outside Falkreath. I find they are the most demanding on the system with a ton of draw calls and it makes for a semi-repeatable benchmark. Leave Whiterun, go to Falkreath via Riverwood and you have three of the most CPU/GPU demanding areas of the vanilla game.
To get the basics out of the way, I’ll condense. Bone stock install. No ini tweaks. Geometry mode. Skyrim set in it’s launcher/config to “High” (not ‘ULTRA”) preset. VorpX set to the standard/recommended/Optimizer settings.
With that out of the way, Ill condense a bit more. I’ll refer to the Whiterun (top of Dragonreach stairs)/Riverwood/Falkreath run as WRF henceforth. Or FRW when reversing the run from Falkreath to Whiterun.
With the above settings in place, day or night, WRF or FRW, you get 43-45FPS. And it is smooth like butter.
If you increase the Ambient Occlusion to 16 from the setting of 8 that High provides, you get 43-45FPS. If you Supersample/increase internal resolution to 2.0, while at 16 AO, you get 43-45FPS. The only time you will see a different FPS is on a cell change or a load screen. The Titan, and the CPU, are just cruising with no effort.
OK so that’s the baseline. If you are crazy enough to go buy a Titan, that’s what you’ll see for FPS playing bone stock Skyrim with no mods and no performance tweaking.
Why not start with Ultra? A couple reasons. One, as Ralf pointed out, the 1080/Titan will handle geometry mode on High settings in different games if you don’t get crazy. And another, because ‘Ultra’ Shadows/draw distances will immediately destroy your framerate and make the game unplayable. (well fix the draw distance problem with a mod a bit later down the road).
So basing everything off of High and moving up as we go along makes more sense to me and it will give those unfamiliar with modding a look at what Skyrim/VorpX can do with a Titan powering it. Ultra Shadow/draw distances combined with the almost non existent multithreading of the vanilla game will ruin your day in VorpX. On a monitor, FRAPS never leaves 60FPS on fully maxed settings no matter what. But it doesn’t take a Titan to pull that trick off. An old R9-290 will do it all day long. But VR is a different animal and modding in it throws conventional wisdom out the window. You basically HAVE to mod your way around issues like this. And you can.
Before the weather and lighting mods, the first place most people go is higher rez texture packs. But while the Titan has VRAM to spare, Skyrim’s 32 bit DX9 code, combined with Windows 10’s 4 gig hard limit on it means that 4K textures are best left to the details that make the most difference…Bodies/Armor. And believe me, a supersampled 2K texture at x16 AO is VERY nice to look at even at the standard VorpX/Vive resolutions. In most cases, 4K textures are a waste. Personally, I would rather have 4K people and armor since those are what you see and interact with. The better those look, the easier it is to buy that a world full of talking dragons and plagues of knee-arrowed former adventures and less than photoreal textures is almost ‘real’. And thats what VR is all about in the first place.
For the next test, I’ll be installing the 2K ‘LITE” texture pack from the Nexus, followed by the known FPS killer. Skyrim Flora Overhaul. Conventional wisdom says these should show a very noticeable impact, especially considering that 2.0 upscaling is in effect. But lets see what happens to the framerate before we get into the Ini files to counter it with heavier voodoo.
Stay tuned.Aug 8, 2016 at 4:16pm #105345moarveerParticipant
Amazing article, please more of this, Vorpx is the ginger bastard child of VR for many (them idiots) so we don’t get reviews of the new cards performance in Vorpx. I can’t wait to hear more from your testing,hugr thanks for this.Aug 8, 2016 at 4:29pm #105346
I like to say that some guys spend a bloody fortune on golf clubs and that I have other hobbies ;) I’m a writer/journalist (well was-retired now) so part of it is staying in practice, but mostly it’s what you said. We all wonder about things like this but no one will touch it. Why I’ll never understand because VorpX works damn well. Skyrim and Fallout (the 2 games I mod/play) are mind warping in VR and the reason I bought in to VR to begin with.
In all likelihood, it’s because most of the game/tech media is like any other media. Profit driven… and getting in depth with VorpX in any particular game isn’t financially viable to the publishers. They figure that most people will never buy a rig that can run something like modded Skyrim and in that they are correct.
However, most people will never buy a Ferrari either but put a Ferrari in an web article and the hits flow like water. Which goes to show you why most ‘journalists’ and editor/publishers suck. They cant grasp the blatantly obvious… and are too lazy to actually follow up on it when they do.Aug 8, 2016 at 6:29pm #105349
OK folks, Part 2.
Before we get started, let me explain a couple things that are important to understand when modding skyrim, regardless of what CPU or graphics card you have. the Creation engine, running DX9, was old when Skyrim released and was a kludge of sorts based on the old Gamebryo. Without getting into detail, lets just generalize and say it has issues. Memory management being among them. And many of the problems encountered modding Skyrim, and that includes VR modding, stem from those.
Fortunately there are fixes/workarounds out there for many of them. Skyrim could not be modded without them to the degree it is. They all address one or more issues and some are the literal basis of many a mod besides. These are must installs even if you do not mod Skyrim because they deal with problems that need dealing with, mods or not. I’ll provide the links and you can read up on them from there because there is no point in me rewriting War and Peace…which is what a thorough explaination here would result in …and this ain’t that kinda’ article ;)
Skyrim Script Extender / SKSE / SKSE-Shishon’s Memory Patch
USLEEP – Unofficial Skyrim Legendary Patch
They are the American Express of Modding. Don’t leave home without’em. (Yes, I’m that old ;)
There is one more ‘essential’ that unfortunately we cannot use in VR. ENBoost. This is a memory manager and more that unfortunately VorpX cannot use…at least in theory. There is a version…the ‘Injector’ version, that supposedly work but success stories are unicorns. So for now, I’ll leave discussion on that out. Hopefully at some point, someone will sort it out because it is a great program and solves many, many issues.
OK. So with the memory patches and assorted fixes in place, we move to the meat of the issue. Skyrim 2K texture pack / Lite version.
From the Nexus page:
FULL – All the textures are at the maximum resolution. Average is around 4x the official HD DLC.
LITE – All the textures are at 50% of the FULL Version. Average is around 2x the official HD DLC.”
While twice the rez of the official texture pack, the lite version of this one is actually less heavy on resources than the official version, looks better and is pretty damn nice to look at. But surely something that much more detailed than the stock textures HAS to be a framerate killer right? RIGHT????
Well lest we forget, we installed better memory management above. And because of those few changes and fixes, Skyrim is now a very different animal than it used to be. Normal rules have been altered a bit. Remember that in bone stock trim, I was seeing solid 43-45FPS on the WRF/FRW runs. The only dips below that were on cell loads and changes which CANNOT be totally eliminated.
Whiterun/Riverwood/Falkreath (WRF run) and back:
No change in minimum framerates. In fact, thanks to those managers and fixes, the framerate counter was most often 44-45.5. It got FASTER. Not slower. Faster. Ever so slightly, but it’s there. Now consider this is still at 8xAA, 16x AO and 2.0 upscaling. This included day/evening, night and sun/rain.
And it ‘felt’ more responsive. It was smooth before. As I said. This is now a different animal altogether. The CPU and GPU are still just casually cruising along with no effort on their part.
OK now how does it look? Well, as you’d expect, it looks considerably better. It’s not yet at Witcher 3 levels because no lighting or weather mods are in yet, but there is no mistaking a significant visual boost. And at ZERO FPS cost and quite literally, for 20 min of modding, including downloading the files.
Next up will be the killer. Skyrim Flora Overhaul. I will be using the ‘regular version rather than the newest because the regular is hard enough on the system. In VR, the full/new version is too intensive to deal with, even for a Titan. However, the regular version is a sight to behold and transforms the game into something far more ‘realistic’ looking.
OK, thats it for now. Time for bed ;)Aug 8, 2016 at 9:13pm #105355
Great write up. Thanks!
BTW: You might be able to squeeze out a few extra FPS by changing the “Direct Mode GPU Snyc” option on the display page of the vorpX ingame menu from “Safest” to “Safer” or even “Fast”. If you don’t see this option, enable expert settings in the config app.
This is not recommended normally for demanding games since it can cause ill side effects if the GPU is maxed out, but in my own 1080 tests it worked fine in Skyrim with a ~10% performance gain where it is needed most (e.g. Whiterun). With your Titan X issues and glitches that can be introduced by that on slower cards should be even less likely. Not in every game, but definitely in Skyrim.Aug 9, 2016 at 7:07am #105370
No problem, glad to do it! Thank YOU for creating the tool that makes it possible.
Got a question. Throughout this so far, I run with the VprpX frameate counter on so I can see in realtime whats going on. Regardless of where the framerate is, the Direct rate shows 89.6 with no fluctuation. Could this be a bug between vorpX and the new Nvidia drivers?Aug 9, 2016 at 7:45am #105373
Part 3 – Skyrim Flora Overhaul.
OK, now that we have the basics in place and vastly upgraded textures, it’s time to start going for the real eye candy. Skyrim in it’s normal form is a pretty sparse place and to be fair, thats geographically accurate to a degree. But since we are in a place with the forementioned talking dragons and knee-arrowed former adventurers, a few extra trees isn’t gonna break the illusion of ‘reality’ for anyone outside those stalwart loremongers that haZ sadZ every time someone installs a CBBE mod.
Skyrim Flora Overhaul (SFO adds a LOT of new trees, plants, grass and variety thereof. It transforms vanilla Skyrim into a more fleshed out place. This is both good and bad. Good because it’s nice to look at. Bad because that performance comes at a relative cost. On lower end machines running on a normal monitor, SFO can make a game unplayable because it simply adds so much more ‘stuff’ for the computer to render. When you add things like lighting mods/ENBs, all that ‘stuff’ then casts shadows. Which have to be rendered as well. So adding SFO can quickly spiral out of control and have a devastating impact.
SFO comes in several flavors and can be found on the nexus page here, including the assorted add-ons and details…
For this install I’ll be using the ‘Regular’ version because it is not as brutal as the latest build and I have to consider what effect the upcoming lighting and weather mods will result in. No other mods you make to Skyrim in VR will have the level of impact that SFO and a lighting/weather mod will. An ENB WOULD, but they are currently not usable. The only other thing we can use that would be so damaging to framerates is the Static Mesh Improvement Mod (SMIM) which massively increases the polygon count of the meshes/models. It is a fantastic mod and I use it for regular modding, but at VR resolution, the increase in detail just is not worth the performance cost.
So… whats the result of adding SFO? To be honest, I was really surprised at the impact this mod, on it’s own, had to frame rates. Almost nothing as it turns out. It would seem, at least as far as the Titan is concerned, it’s not much of an issue until the forementioned lighting and weather mods come into play.
On the WRF run, framerates stayed at/in the same roughly 44-45FPS range with occasional dips to 42-43. In the vast majority of the run, the framerate sat in the mid 44s. So effectively I lost about 1FPS. With 2.0 upscaling, x8 AA and x16 AO still enabled. Now Skyrim is looking VERY good, gameplay is still smooth as silk and the CheeZburger Cat haZ his happy. As do I.
There are now more trees, bigger trees in more places, more and different ferns/plants/flowers and grasses and Skyrim is more lush overall and less desolate/barren. Think more like Upstate New York/Adirondack mountains or the Alaskan wilderness than arctic circle/Tundra.
The Titan is starting to do some work as reflected in Afterburner with GPU use now in the 60% range and seeing a blip/high spike to the 80s on one occasion. CPU rose a bit as well, but overall, there’s a ton of headroom yet to take advantage of.
And that, dear reader, will be the topic of the next entry. Now that we have seen our first ‘negative’ in performance, how do we mitigate it knowing full well that the weather and lighting mods are going to ALSO lower our framerates? We HAVE to stay within a playable rate. there is zero point in modding Skyrim to the point of screen archery if it’s going to mean we can’t enjoy playing it.
Thats where the heavy voodoo comes into play. INI file tweaking, for starters. There is a lot of performance tweaks to make and it never hurts to offer up the PCMR prayer to Lord Gaben of the Steam Empire. “May our framerates be high and our temperatures low!”Aug 9, 2016 at 9:07am #105376
Actually before getting to the INI stuff/while I’m in rant mode and thinking about this, I feel that man has ruled the world as a stumbling dem… Oh wait. Wrong rant…
Skyrim modding for VR… Oh yea!
I’m far from the first to say it but the truth is that modding Skyrim is all about compromises. That is doubly true for VR. I aluded to it earlier but the engine of skyrim simply cannot be forced to do a lot of things we’d like it to do. And perhaps the new Remaster on DX 11 will open a lot of them up, but it will still take raw power. It’s just that the raw power will be actually usable.
My Crossfired 390s left a lot of power on the table. together, they have the same TFLOPs as a 1080, but a 108 will leave them in the dust in any game or benchmark, so what gives?
Coding. In the case of Skyrim, thats the old engine code never being designed for the things we have managed to come up with since. Things like a Titan X or scripted weather mods or even efficient use of multi-core/Hyperthreaded processors.
Last summer I had a relative, an old code monkey from back in the punch card days out here in AZ from back east on vacation. I was showing him the crap we go through to make Skyrim do what it does and he was just dumbstruck that pwople have extended this software this far and that it works at all, much less works well when done right.
It’s kind of like VorpX itself in a way. We have something that can turn regular games into 100% playable VR games. Thats black magic stuff when you really think about it. Games like Skyrim or Fallout or Doom or any other game on the compatability list sere NEVER designed for what Ralf made them do. SO hats off to you sir ;)
As for Skyrim and the Creation engine, think of the INI tweaks in general like taking your car to a skilled mechanic. He can adjust a few things and suddenly your car drives, runs etc. a lot better than when you dropped it off. He didn’t bolt on a Turbo kit and a bottle of Nitrous Oxide. He simply tightened a few things, changed the plugs and rotated the tires, but the whole car just works and feels better.
Maybe, if you’re really lucky, he’ll find something that the factory botched pretty badly and with some duct tape and bailing wire, he can work a small wonder. And in our case, the Bethesda ‘factory’ badly botched the multi threading/multicore utilization and thanks to updated code and INI tweaks, we can improve on whats there significantly. It’s not a panacea, but it will help performance/framerates/loading/smoothness CONSIDERABLY. Which will soon matter a LOT.
A friend of mine I grew up with had a father who was an old racer from back in the 50s-70s that used to preach on the details when building his vehicles. None of them ever had the biggest engine etc., but the guy had a ton of trophies all over his house. His vehicles weren’t the prettiest things. But they won. Often.
It comes down to that whole building a house on sand idea. Do it and you’re gonna have a bad day. But build your foundation right/well, and you aren’t going to have those issues. And thats something to keep in mind as we move ahead in this insanity because its those little things that are going to enable us to make this game do things Todd Howard never intended. Thats not new. Skyrim modders have done it for years.
What they have NOT done is many of these things in VR, which as we know, is a more demanding environment. So lets see what happens when we try.Aug 9, 2016 at 11:12am #105380
>> the Direct rate shows 89.6 with no fluctuation. Could this be a bug
>> between vorpX and the new Nvidia drivers?
That’s how it’s supposed to be. On Vive the Direct Mode frame rate should always be the headset’s refresh rate (90). A higher rate wouldn’t help and a lower will cause issues (flicker) on Vive.
The important one is the game frame rate. If you want, you can experiment with disabling Fluid Sync, which will allow the game frame rate to go higher than 45, but at the same time raises the burden on your GPU and may cause a worse experience than having Fluid Sync enabled. In general it’s better to leave it enabled on Vive unless you can reach something close to 90/90,
No need to worry about the missing 0.4 BTW , that’s just the counter not being entirely precise.Aug 9, 2016 at 11:45am #105458
Hi Ralf, Thanks for the explanation.
I tried turning to safer and fast but I started getting stutter/kickbacks…sort of like reversing itself a couple frames then resuming the normal flow. The FPS counter was still at 44-45 at the time/when it was happening. GPU use was still in the low 70s and CPU was in the 60s. Could be Skyrim’s code is right at the edge now. On the other hand now that I think of it, it was in an area that is a cell load/switch and there was some normal texture pop in. I’ll be installing a dynamic loader mod soon so I’ll try it again after I do and see if there’s a correlation.
I’ll also try changing the prerendered frames in Nvidia control panel and see if that makes a difference. It definitely pushed the framerate up to a 45-45.5 while it was on safer/fast though.Aug 9, 2016 at 11:57am #105494
That sounds exactly what can often happen with the faster options. I don’t get that here with the 1080 and an unmodded Skyrim, so my guess is the many mods probably push it over the edge, so to speak. If “Safer” or “Fast” don’t work out, just leave it at “Safest”. The other options are always worth a try for games that aren’t too demanding, but in case of glitches like the ones you saw the default “Safest” is the way to go.Aug 9, 2016 at 12:11pm #105525
I went ahead and gave a shot at prerendering frames in the control panel. With 2 prerendered, it was still displaying that glitch although less of it and framerates dropped a couple. At 3 prerendered it almost eliminated it but took GPU use to the high 80s and dropped the framerate significantly. Well it was worth a shot to learn from if nothing else. So Safest is where it will sit.
The fortunate thing is there is only one or two impactful mods to go. But right now, if someone wanted to, they could stop right here and have a 100% playable Skyrim in the 43-45FPS range with no other tweaks, that looks an order of magnitude better than the stock game.Aug 10, 2016 at 10:35am #107843
Part 4: INI files
First, go to your C drive and in documents/my games/skyrim, you’ll find skyrim.ini and skyrimPrefs.ini (depending on your system, the .ini extention may or may not be shown. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Back them up now.
Once thats done, welcome yourself to either agony or extacy because you’ll either help your cause considerably or hose your game to the point you’ll be glad you made a backup to revert to.
When you open Skyrim and see the options tag, the screen that lets you set low/med/high/ultra detail etc. is editing these files. It’s a dumbed down front end for them. All direct editing of the files does is bypass that and give you the keys to the kingdom. And thats why you can really hose things. Using the panel, the worst you’ll do is make something ugly or slow. With direct editing, you can prevent the game from working at all.
Fortunately, Skyrim has been around long enough that many people already learned the hard way what NOT to do and what works in different situations. The answers can be found in the links below.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Tweak Guide
S.T.E.P. Guide:Skyrim Configuration Settings
Nexus Skyrim INI Tweaks
First, let me save you some time and just say, Do all the listed edits given on the Nexus ini page. The most important of them all is the Multithread/Havok edits. They will suddenly open up a lot of headroom for you as Skyrim is now able to use more core/threads. But don’t think you will suddenly be able to max everything. At best, you will get more smoothness, less pop in and a few FPS. Which your future mods will be eating into, consuming entirely and asking for seconds. This goes back to my earlier comments about building a foundation and attending to the details. What I’m doing here is simply giving a general view/direction to learn from and pointing you to it as again, explaining all these in detail isn’t the point of this post and would take tens of thousands of words to do. that info has already been posted at the links above so no point in repeating it.
Read the STEP and Nvidia guides once you have the basics down as you want to get further into customizing your game. For sane modders, the STEP guide is the Bible. It is the result of many people working to have the most stable and enjoyable Skyrim experience possible. The guide will not steer you wrong.
However, everyone is different. Some, like me, will put up with a lot to achieve certain goals with the game. For me it is max detail at max FPS. I’ll deal with lower framerates and even occasional instability because I don’t get VR/motion sick and I want to see how far the game can be pushed/how well it can look and play at the same time. But for many, thats the opposite of what they want. They simply want a stable game that looks better than Bethesda delivered and that stock settings can provide. As I said before, it’s all about tradeoffs and only you can decide which ones you are willing to make.
So far, the Titan X Pascal has performed like a champ and handled some real framekillers that few believed could be employed with VR/VorpX. But it has it’s limits. Even when overclocked as far as locked voltage and air cooling will allow. Yes, it is a monster. No there is nothing faster -atleast without SLI- but modded Skyrim has humbled every card to date and the Titan is no different. It just lets you pretend you’re Capt. Kirk and boldly go where no man has gone before. Including green chicks if you count Orcs…
We now come to the point of deciding which tradeoffs to make.
Right now, we have the game looking far better than the Bethesda version. We have a pretty consistent and smooth game that can be played and enjoyed all day long. And for many, thats the end of the road in a thusfar painless process. If you skip my ranting and simply install the mods thus far and make the basic ini changes from the Nexus page, you’ll spend less than an hour of your life and take massive advantage of what the new Titan can give you. And it just gave you a LOT you could have never done without it.
Or you can come to the Dark Side, Luke. Screw Kirk and his green women. There’s pain ahead. Untold misery. Crashing. Black screens. countless hours pissed away. Headaches. Frustration…
…God how I love it so.
Up next, Making changes.Aug 11, 2016 at 8:06am #109874
Part 5: Sacrifices must be made!
You’ve added higher rez textures. You beefed up the flora. You improved Skyrim’s outdated memory and core/thread management. The game looks fantastic and you are ready for MOAR!!! Now it’s time to add Framekiller #3. The lighting and weather mods.
There’s just one problem. You find that when you add a lighting/weather mod like Enhanced Lighting and FX, http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/27043/? your framerate heads into the toilet and you start crashing like a Boss. WHAT VILE SORCERY IS THIS!?!?!?! THIS MOD SUCKS!!!
No, it doesn’t and Unfortunately it’s the sorcery of simple math. You have hit the limits of the mighty Titan, at least as far as Skyrim’s ability to use it is concerned. With three of the most intensive GPU hogs (By their powers combined!) we can use, added to Skyrim’s kludged 32 bit code and the processing overhead VorpX places on the system, You done sailed into the perfect modding storm. Talos frowns on your Shennanigans and Clavicus Vile revels in your suffering.
Now what? Once you’ve seen the glory, there’s no going back. You’ll always know how good it looked and be miserable playing at lesser visuals knowing what could be. Actually, you’ve only seen ‘part’ of the glory.
(Puts on Matrix hat) Neo, what if I told you that I currently have 106 mods loaded up, Skyrim looks better than I have ever seen it, there’s no crashing involved and I’m still pulling 43-45FPS in all but the traditional trouble areas? This is the art of compromise and balance. Give some here to gain some there. Pay attention to the things that matter, etc.
Here’s what I discovered. Skyrim’s code, more than anything else is your real limiter. Not the GPU. Not the CPU. Although they certainly play a part. Yet when I was back to a slow, stuttering mess, the absolute worst I saw in Afterburner’s monitors was the Titan spiking once into the 80% use range and the CPU into the 70s. The Titan COULD handle a lot more mods. VorpX could process them just fine.But 32 bit DX9 Skyrim CANNOT.
First is the memory cap. With the HD textures, SFO and ELFX, I hit the 4 gig memory cap during heavy weather events and crashed. and even without the weather events going on, Skyrim simply was not processing the data it need to at the rate it needed to through/with VorpX.
Now is this a VorpX issue? No, because flipping over to Fallout 4 in Geometry mode with ALL the sliders maxed out and weather/lighting/flora mods and textures running, the Titan cruises at that 45FPS without a problem. The major difference is 32 bit DX9 vs 64 bit DX11 and far older and more inefficient coding.
Yea so what do we do now?
You mod smarter so that terrible and Mighty Talos, he who is both man and DIVINE! (hat tip to Heimsker) will haZ a happy.
Remember back to what I refered to earlier. What matters to you most? Do you need 2048 rez textures? or even 1024? Do you need a massive increase in the variety of flora to fill the spaces as you look across Tamriel or just better versions of whats already there? Are you satisfied with the stock weather or do you want more storm in your life? And what combo of the above will get Talos to his happy place?
You might notice that I left out lighting. Because IMO, that one isn’t negotiable. Skyrim’s stock lighting works, but it washes everything out. Nothing is ever truly dark in Skyrim, day or night, north or south, mountaintop or deepest dungeon. It’s at worst, eternal twilight. For me, that’s a ‘must fix’ at the cost of anything else because properly lit, even lower rez textures look a lot better.
Up next: DynDoLodAug 16, 2016 at 2:40pm #110312
OK, back to the madness.
If you have played any of the Bethesda games, you are familiar with ‘pop-in’. Textures and objects suddenly appearing in the distance. It is distracting as hell and really takes you out of the immersion. The only way we had for a long time to minimize it was max out draw distances but it really didn’t help much.
Then came the Ugrids to load ini tweaks that forced drawing to a larger area but was brutal on memory and cpu/GPU usage. Most computers simply crashed or ran unplayably.
Finially, a modder going by ‘Sheson’ created DybDOLOD, a near miracle. In a nutshell, it dynamically loads resources/objects/trees/landscape etc. at far greater distances and resolutions than the stock game, and you can tailor it for the detail level you want without totally slaughtering your framerates.
When standing on a very high cliff and looking down into Falkreath, the stock game gives at best, a very low rez image of the town and a few trees. Most of the detail of the landscape between is simply not there.
When doing the same with DyndOLOD, you see it all. Or damn near all. It substitutes 2d images at the greater distances, called billboards, that transition into the actual 3D objects when you are in range. This is far easier on resources than Ugrids tweaking and almost eliminates pop in entirely.
So aside from the obvious advantages, why is this beneficial to us in VR?
Well, we already learned that the combo of Skyrim Flora Overhaul, High rez textures and ELFX will kill even a Titan’s framerate in VorpX. The main advantage of SFO is that in addition to straight beauty, it fills empty spaces with things. There is so much foliage in many areas that you simply cannot see that far and the stock load distances aren’t as big a problem as they may otherwise be.
However with DynDOLOD, The barren areas in the distance are no longer barren. There are things there for you to see, even peripherally and that makes ALL the difference to how you perceive the world. It looks more natural, has massively reduced pop in and your framerates are not nearly hit as hard as SFO hits them even when you crank up it’s detail. But you don’t HAVE to max it out to see an enormous improvement. Low or Medium works spectacularly well.
And whats better, you can now use improved versions of the stock resolution textures and still result in a net gain to the overall visual quality of the game. Which means better framerates.
In playing with the Vivid Landscapes 512 BSA textures …
…and DunDOLOD on Medium settings…
…along with the ELFX lighting and weather mods, My framerates are bouncing on 45 the vast majority of the time and it is visually stunning to look at. You CAN see the loss of detail when you are looking for it. But in actually PLAYING the game instead of inspecting it, all you see is a vast improvement in visuals, responsiveness and framerate. In short, exactly the purpose of this exercise to begin with.
It should be pointed out that DynDOLOD is not the simple ‘point and click one button’ install many mods are. This one takes a bit of work. On the page linked above, there are several tutorial videos that do a great job of hand holding.
My first attempt was botched, but the second worked great. Once you do it a couple times and understand the process, it is actually pretty simple and within the ability of anyone remotely familiar with Windows. Don’t let it intimidate you. It is very, very worth the hour or so you’ll spend and Skyrim has never looked better.
Up next: Final thoughts.
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