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DinkumThinkum
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Dirty saves: Causes and Cures
      #1909624 - 10/30/03 01:49 AM

If you're new to modding and haven't read this before, please read it now: 'prevention is the best medicine...'.

If you have seen this before, there's nothing new: I just wanted a more descriptive subject so I could find this without having to look at half the 'plz hlp me', 'I have a question?', etc. posts in my Favorites list...

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Modders frequently show up here asking about problems with mods they're working on. One very common type of complaint is unexplained changes in their mod as they're working on it: doors disappearing, two or more copies of NPCs, changes that show up in the Construction Set but not when they test the mod in the game, etc.

The following is my standard reply to many of those posts:

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Most likely, what you have is a dirty save game. To fix it, go back to a saved game made before you first installed the mod, and do all your testing from there.

Note: the mod should be fine; the problem is the dirty save.


Rule #1: Before you load your mod to test it, make a separate saved game without the mod installed. Then use that saved game to do all your testing.

Rule #2: Don't save your game while testing a mod. Only save the game once the mod is finished and you're sure you aren't going to make any more changes.

Rule #3: Once a mod is part of your saved games, don't edit it.

Note:

If you're going to be doing much modding, it's probably safest to create a special saved game that you use just for testing mods. Load that saved game when you want to test a mod, and remember not to save it with any test mods enabled.

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About 'dirty saves':

A dirty save is what you get when you edit (or update) a mod after it's already included in your saved game. The saved game contains data that doesn't match the data in the new version of the .esp file, so the save is now 'dirty'. You can wind up with duplicated items, disappearing items, containers that lose their contents, and various other problems.


Editing a mod after it's included in your saved game is probably THE biggest cause of major foulups for inexperienced modders, and it's probably the single most common cause of problems that people post about here.

Search the two Construction Set forums for a lot more about dirty saves.

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Note:

When you're editing an area that's already part of the game, it's safest to only add NEW objects, rather than editing anything that's already in the game. Editing NPCs, containers, etc. that are already in the game is a good way to cause problems with saved games, to cause conflicts with other mods, and to possibly break something that's important to the game.

If you do want to edit an existing NPC or another object that's part of the original game, do your testing with a character that has never been anywhere near the area you're modifying: not in the same cell or in any adjacent cells (if you're modifying something in an exterior cell).

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There's a fairly extensive discussion about avoiding dirty saves, and other tips on 'clean' modding, in this thread:

http://www.elderscrolls.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=&Board=tesconstsethelp&Number=1845185&fpart=1&PHPSESSID=

And if you're going to be doing much modding, I'd recommend reading the Construction Set forum regularly: there are a lot of very common problems (such as dirty saves) that frequently trip up inexperienced modders, and reading the CS forum may help you avoid some hassles.


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How to avoid the most common problem encountered by new modders: Dirty Saves: Causes and Cures

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DinkumThinkum
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: DinkumThinkum]
      #1910326 - 10/30/03 05:51 AM

Again, nothing new: just adding some more 'dirty save' info that I've typed in from scratch too many times...

If I ever do come up with anything new on dirty saves that the regulars here may not already know about, I'll post it separately from this thread.

I'm just using this thread as a 'Dirty Save UnFAQ' thread, to keep all this in one place.

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Common question:

I made a mod to give new clothes to an NPC, or new items for sale to a merchant NPC. The new items show up in the Construction Set, but they don't show up in the game.

What's going on?

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If you've already interacted with that NPC, or possibly just been in the same cell, their inventory is stored in your saved game and won't be changed by the mod.


The data in an .esm or .esp file just sets the initial condition of the NPC (and everything else in the game) when you start a new game. Once you've interacted with the NPC (or most other objects) in the game, the data is stored in your saved game for future use.

When you load up your game: first it reads in the data from the .esm files, then from the .esp files, and then it updates that based on what's in your saved game. So if you've interacted with the NPC already, the NPC's data from your save will be used instead of the data in the .esm and .esp files.


What you can do is change the clothing on NPCs your character hasn't seen in the game yet, or create new NPCs to wear the clothes. Or you could start a new character after you've dressed up the NPCs to suit you.

And if you're trying to give a merchant new items to sell:

You can put them in a container (in the same cell) that the merchant owns. Use a new container (with a new ID) you've added to the game yourself.

You can leave them out in the open, in the same cell, and set their ownership to the merchant.

Note:

When changing ownership (or other reference data) for an object, close the properties sheet by clicking the 'close' button (the small 'X' in the upper-right corner). NEVER click on the 'Save' button for any object that you didn't give a unique ID to, unless you know exactly what you're doing. (Clicking the 'Save' button will change every copy of that object in the game, not just the one reference you're working with.)

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Not all data about an NPC or other object is stored in your save game files. For example, the head and hair data isn't saved. That's why the various mods that change NPC heads/hair can change the look of NPCs even after you've dealt with them.

NPC inventory, the contents of containers, and a lot of other data is saved in your save game when you interact with that object, so changing it in a mod won't have any affect once you've dealt with that object.

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I don't have any kind of complete list of what data actually gets saved in save files, just some speculation.

As a rule of thumb, I would guess that data that can only be changed by loading a mod, but not during the normal course of playing the game, probably won't be saved. For example, NPC head and hair normally can only be changed by using a mod; there's no way to change them while in the game. So there wouldn't be much point in saving that information in the save game files.

On the other hand, the inventory affects what an NPC can sell and what you get as loot when they're dead, and that can change during the normal course of playing the game. So inventory data certainly has to be saved. And scripts can move almost any object in the game world around, add new items to the game world or remove existing objects, etc. So a lot of data about what objects are in the game world also has to be saved.

As I said, this is just speculation on my part.

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How to avoid the most common problem encountered by new modders: Dirty Saves: Causes and Cures

Edited by DinkumThinkum (10/30/03 07:44 AM)

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Srikandi
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: DinkumThinkum]
      #1912071 - 10/30/03 05:37 PM

Pin! Pin! Pin!

Although if this does get pinned, it should have a different title... generally, the people who have the dirty save problem don't know that's what they have.

D, how about retitling it to "Help! Things are disappearing and/or doubling!" or something like that?

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CaveRat
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: Srikandi]
      #1912309 - 10/30/03 08:27 PM

Excellent info!

Dinkum, you might wanna paste the links to all those usefull threads you made into your sig, and then just tell people to check your sig.

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Argent
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: DinkumThinkum]
      #1912771 - 10/31/03 12:32 AM

That's some top-notch info you've compiled there DT.
I second two of Sri's motions; one that this should be pinned, and two that the title needs to be changed.

CaveRat has posted a link to this thread from a post that is only 4 posts above this one (at time of writing).


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Malhavoc
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: DinkumThinkum]
      #1913854 - 10/31/03 07:01 AM

great post. i just edited a loaded mod (i know, i know) for a cell i visited previously (seyda neen docks v.5.0) and reduced a merchants gold from 7500 to 750. i figured it wouldn't change my game and was surprised to see him with 750 gold.

any idea as to why this happened?
i'm guessing he's a duplicate and the original is walking around with 7500. it shouldn't work correct?

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Klinn
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: Malhavoc]
      #1914761 - 10/31/03 11:16 AM

Why did it work? Did the character you were testing with ever actually interact with that particular NPC? If not, info like that would not yet be in your save game. If your character has already bartered with the NPC, well, I dunno - you got lucky?

...Klinn


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Malhavoc
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: Klinn]
      #1915015 - 10/31/03 12:59 PM

Got lucky I guess. I traded with him previously and he still has the junk I sold him.

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DinkumThinkum
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: Malhavoc]
      #1915031 - 10/31/03 01:07 PM

Quote:


Got lucky I guess. I traded with him previously and he still has the junk I sold him.





As Klinn said, you got lucky!

A fairly common complaint here is "I gave a merchant a whole lot more gold in the Construction Set, but it's not showing up in the game! What's wrong?".

Which happens (usually) when you use a mod to change the barter amount after you've already dealt with the merchant.

How you missed out on this I have no idea.

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How to avoid the most common problem encountered by new modders: Dirty Saves: Causes and Cures

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Rolach
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: DinkumThinkum]
      #1915041 - 10/31/03 01:12 PM

About time you got this in it's own post, pin this sucka!

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Malhavoc
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: DinkumThinkum]
      #1915809 - 10/31/03 10:48 PM

Quote:

Quote:


Got lucky I guess. I traded with him previously and he still has the junk I sold him.





As Klinn said, you got lucky!

A fairly common complaint here is "I gave a merchant a whole lot more gold in the Construction Set, but it's not showing up in the game! What's wrong?".

Which happens (usually) when you use a mod to change the barter amount after you've already dealt with the merchant.

How you missed out on this I have no idea.




Nor do I. I hunted around last night and couldn't find any duplicates of him which was my only explanation. It shouldn't matter if reduced his gold rather than increased it correct?

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Malhavoc
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: DinkumThinkum]
      #1915820 - 10/31/03 10:56 PM

Another related problem I'm having is that Seyda Neen Docks v5 alters the land in Seyda Neen. Basically, it raises some land for some new buildings. I have my own mod My Modifications which runs last (except for list merger and a GMST fixer). SoI went in and reduced the merchant's gold (via My Modifications as the active file with Seyda Neen Docks v. 5 also loaded). Now the new buildings are sitting in the water. My guess is because My Modifications has the original land settings and is over-writing SN Docks because by modifiying the merchant i changed the cell. Would this make sense?

and if so, how do i get a mod like My Modifications to run last and make select entries to various cells (little tweaks like merchant gold reduction) without over-writing any landscape changes from other mods?

My apologies since this is off topic.

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proweler
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: Malhavoc]
      #1917596 - 11/01/03 10:15 AM

When moddefieng NPC's in the game do this instead.

1. Select the NPC you want to change, ravir in this case and give it a new ID, like "1Pr_Ravir"
2. Make your changes and add this script to the new NPC
3. Place the NPC at the same place as the original NPC

Note that this only works for uniqe opjects, not for containers, gaurds, dreamers or soldiers.

Begin ReplaceRavir

short DoOnce

if (DoOnce = 0)
...Ravir -> Disabel
...set DoOnce to 1
endif

End ReplaceRavir

Anybody else that tried to change ravir the normal way will be kept out and anybody that does it this way will see 2 ravirs


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Edited by proweler (11/01/03 10:20 AM)

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DinkumThinkum
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: DinkumThinkum]
      #1947572 - 11/10/03 04:47 PM

Quote:


If you have seen this before, there's nothing new: I just wanted a more descriptive subject so I could find this without having to look at half the 'plz hlp me', 'I have a question?', etc. posts in my Favorites list...





Nothing new: just another post on dirty saves I want to save someplace where I can find it easily.

NOTE: If anybody has a good explanation of how to use the 'Details' list in the Construction Set to clean a dirty save, feel free to tack it on to this thread. All I know is that you change the extension from '.ess' to '.esp' so you can view it in the Construction Set, but I've never actually gotten around to looking at a save game in the editor.

Most of this thread is aimed at modders: how to avoid dirty saves while testing mods you're working on. This post is aimed more at mod users.

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Responding to "Melted_Snake", posting in the Mods forum (thread was "Help! *Falls into hole*")
Quote:


Well I just installed Sigrad tower and I had veylalia(sp?) turned on and I turned it off because it was in the same place as silgrad. But the places I visited on veylalia are still there and silgrad is cut off at those places. Can I use the advance editor to fix this some how? I'm like earaseing those places?





As what's-a-name said, you have a dirty save problem.

Even though you've uninstalled the veylalia(sp?) plug-in, a lot of information about that plug-in is still included in your saved game. That's why it's still showing up in the game. I have some suggestions, but I am far better at avoiding dirty saves in the first place than I am at cleaning up the mess after it's already happened.

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Uninstalling a mod once it's part of your saved games is risky. Sometimes it won't cause any problems, other times it may be impossible to continue playing without the mod installed.

The safest and most reliable way to deal with this is to go back to the backup save game you made just before you first installed the veylalia(sp?) plugin, and start over from there with the new plugin installed instead.

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If you don't want to start over from your backup save game, you can try to clean an existing save game. Back it up first, and don't save over it.

1. Load up a saved game made with just the veylalia(sp?) mod installed (i.e., from before you installed the Sigrad tower plugin). Enable the veylalia(sp?) mod, but NOT the Sigrad Tower one.

2. If you have any items that weren't part of the mod stored in a container or cell that was added or changed by the mod, get it out of there.

3. Dump everything out of your inventory that was part of the veylalia(sp?) mod. If you're not sure which (if any) items came from that mod, then just drop everything you have. Dump it somewhere that's not part of the mod, wasn't affected by the mod, and isn't adjacent to a cell affectected by the mod. (Some of that may be overkill, but better safe than sorry.)

4. Put your character in a small interior cell that's not part of the mod, etc. (see #3 above for the .etc part).

5. Now save the game (with your character in that interior cell) and exit the game.

6. Now start the game, and leave BOTH plugins disabled. You'll probably see a ton of error messages (because the game is trying to find all the objects, etc. that were part of the veylalia(sp?) mod. Click past them.

7. If the game manages to load without crashing, spend a lot of time playing it (with both plugins disabled) to see if it's working right.

8. Once you're satisfied the game survived, go ahead and install the Silgrad tower plugin and continue playing.

NO guarantees that the above will work, that it wil make your game playable, or that it will eliminate all problems caused by uninstalling a plugin.

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There's a second method for cleaning a saved game using the Construction Set, but I've never tried it and don't know the details.

Edit: Corrected the following based on Argent's post and expanded it a little:

What other people have posted is that you can change the extension of the saved game from '.ess' to '.esp'. Then open the editor, go to the Data Files screen (from the File menu), and use the 'Details' list and the Delete key to ignore all references to the plugin you want to get rid of. DO NOT try to actually load the save file into the editor; just clean it from the Details list. Then hit the Cancel button to exit without loading the save file.

See Argent's post a couple posts further down for a few more details on this.

I've never used this procedure, so I can't offer any more than the above. (My strategy is prevention: avoiding dirty saves is easier and more reliable than trying to clean up the mess aftewards.)


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Another edit:
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Dave Humphrey just posted the following in another thread; I've pasted it in here to make it easily findable if some one needs to fix textures after removing a mod.

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Dave Humphrey
Curate

Reged: 06/18/00
Posts: 540
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Re: Help a mod appreciator... [Re: Iudmin]
#1948028 - 11/10/03 09:35 AM Edit Reply Quote

When you install the original game, all the landscape textures (and other data files) are in the big Morrowind.Bsa file. When a mod like Green Morrowind changes the textures they place the new textures into the game's Data Files\Textures path. The game notices the new files and loads them from there instead of the BSA file.

In order to revert back to the original texture you can do one of several things. First, you can delete the textures you don't want from the textures path. Of course, you should be careful to just delete the appropriate textures otherwise you might break other mods.

The second, and possibly better, method, is to copy all the original textures from your second CD (labelled Construction Set I believe). The old textures will overwrite any replaced textures and things will get back to normal. Of course this will overwrite any replaced textures (but not new ones) so if you just want to revert your landscape textures but not anything else you'll have to copy the files back selectively.

If you're hard up and lost the 2nd CD, you can also extract all the textures files from the Morrowind.Bsa file.

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MWEdit - Alternate plugin editor NIFTexture
Script Functions

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How to avoid the most common problem encountered by new modders: Dirty Saves: Causes and Cures

Edited by DinkumThinkum (11/10/03 11:45 PM)

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CaveRat
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: Klinn]
      #1947744 - 11/10/03 07:35 PM

Quote:

If not, info like that would not yet be in your save game. If your character has already bartered with the NPC, well, I dunno - you got lucky?




Lucky?

No way.

Merchant's maximum budget ( the value you set in CS ) does not get saved in the savegame. (checked in the hex editor). Game apparently only saves the current budget ( at the point of saving. )

If you changed the value in CS, and don't see the change in the game, it is probably because of how game handles budget 'restoration' (within 24 hours). Sell some items to him, sleep for 24 hours, and eventually his budget will be as you specified in CS. (at least it always works for me)





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DinkumThinkum
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: CaveRat]
      #1947782 - 11/10/03 08:17 PM

Quote:


Merchant's maximum budget ( the value you set in CS ) does not get saved in the savegame. (checked in the hex editor). Game apparently only saves the current budget ( at the point of saving. )

If you changed the value in CS, and don't see the change in the game, it is probably because of how game handles budget 'restoration' (within 24 hours). Sell some items to him, sleep for 24 hours, and eventually his budget will be as you specified in CS. (at least it always works for me)





Makes sense to me, although I haven't tested it yet.

As often as this has come up (raising merchants' maximum barter gold is always popular), I'm surprised nobody ever pointed this out before. The general 'assumption' (yes, I know...) has always been that it was just one more saved game problem.

I stand corrected!

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How to avoid the most common problem encountered by new modders: Dirty Saves: Causes and Cures

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Argent
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: DinkumThinkum]
      #1947879 - 11/10/03 09:16 PM

Quote:

change the extension of the saved game from '.ess' to '.esp'. Then load it into the editor and use the 'Details' list to remove all references



Should replace load with view; I've never been able to load a save file into the editor. It gets to 99% and then crashes with an error.
The file contents can be viewed from the Data Files|Details list like you say, but this doesn't require the file to be loaded. Assuming you know what you're looking for, it's possible to toggle some records as ignored (like NPC_ or SCPT records) but you can't remove cell references, and often it's these that fatally corrupt save games.

If you are after more control over editing a save file, like deleting cell references or copying your custom made spells/enchanted weapons to a plugin file, then I higly recommend The Morrowind Enchanted Editor.

To quote Farren 'It's like TESAME on steroids'. I reckon it's had a healthy dose of growth hormones too!

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DinkumThinkum
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: Argent]
      #1947970 - 11/10/03 10:48 PM

Quote:

Quote:

change the extension of the saved game from '.ess' to '.esp'. Then load it into the editor and use the 'Details' list to remove all references



Should replace load with view; I've never been able to load a save file into the editor. It gets to 99% and then crashes with an error.
The file contents can be viewed from the Data Files|Details list like you say, but this doesn't require the file to be loaded.





Caught me again! As many times as I've explained how to use the Details list to clean mods...

Glad all you sharp eyed and sharp witted folks are around to keep me straight!

Edit: I went back and fixed the post. Should be more accurate now.

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How to avoid the most common problem encountered by new modders: Dirty Saves: Causes and Cures

Edited by DinkumThinkum (11/10/03 11:05 PM)

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Farren
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: Argent]
      #1949218 - 11/11/03 07:18 AM

Hell I see Argent got here first. Thanks for the punt. Theres a thread here where I illustrate how to turn a 5MB save into a 1MB one:

3td or 4th post on this page

...which cranks your FPS up by about 10. It also kills doubling errors.

It works by simply taking a flamethrower to some of the "tracks" left by the persistent object model employed in Morrowind saves. This does have qirky side effects like ressurecting slain NPCs, but it preserves faction, rank, info, attitudes and all the other stuff your quests depend on.

/shameless plug

--------------------
Enchanted Editor 0.91c beta download (Last update 9-11-2003 18:11 GMT + 2):
Complete Setup (6MB)


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Farren
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: Argent]
      #1949234 - 11/11/03 07:24 AM

Hell I see Argent got here first. Thanks for the plug Theres a thread here where I illustrate how to turn a 5MB save into a 1MB one:

3rd or 4th post on this page

...which cranks your FPS up by about 10. It also kills doubling errors.

It works by basically carpet-bombing the most space-consuming "tracks" left by the persistent object model employed in Morrowind saves. This does have qirky side effects like ressurecting slain NPCs, but it preserves faction, rank, info, attitudes, your journal and all the other stuff your quests depend on.

/shameless plug

--------------------
Enchanted Editor 0.91c beta download (Last update 9-11-2003 18:11 GMT + 2):
Complete Setup (6MB)


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DinkumThinkum
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: Farren]
      #1949301 - 11/11/03 07:44 AM

Quote:

Hell I see Argent got here first. Thanks for the punt. Theres a thread here where I illustrate how to turn a 5MB save into a 1MB one:

3td or 4th post on this page





That link doesn't work too well for me; had to fiddle with an almost blank page to get to the thread. Let's see if this link works better:

http://www.elderscrolls.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=&Number=1930327&page=&view=&sb=5&o=&vc=1

Yep, this one works better (for me, anyway!).

Oh yeah: thanks for the info!

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How to avoid the most common problem encountered by new modders: Dirty Saves: Causes and Cures

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Klinn
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: CaveRat]
      #1952022 - 11/12/03 03:14 AM

Thanks for the clarification on a merchant's gold, CaveRat.

Can you imagine what it would be like if all of Morrowind's little quirks were fully documented for us modders? The Editor's help file would be 1 GB!

...Klinn


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communet
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: DinkumThinkum]
      #2060143 - 12/16/03 06:24 PM

ahh! ya all are over thinking the gave-merchant-more-money-but-doesn't-have-it-in-game.

it's simple. wait 24 hours of game time. everything fixes itself;

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Malhavoc
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: communet]
      #2105164 - 01/01/04 01:49 AM

Quote:

ahh! ya all are over thinking the gave-merchant-more-money-but-doesn't-have-it-in-game.

it's simple. wait 24 hours of game time. everything fixes itself;




*bump* that's great. i was holding off on taking money from other mod merchants because of dirty save issues but now i'm going to use the CS to rob them blind!

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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: DinkumThinkum]
      #2164513 - 01/21/04 09:47 PM

Quote:

NOTE: If anybody has a good explanation of how to use the 'Details' list in the Construction Set to clean a dirty save, feel free to tack it on to this thread.



Just thought I'd add a quick explanation here about how you can use TESAME to clean your dirty save.

Backup your save game before you attempt this so you can restore it if you are not happy with the result.

Load up your game in Morrowind and take your Player Character somewhere well away from the problem area then save your game using a new unique name e.g "dirty save".

Now, you need to load up TESAME then select the menu option 'MODS' and 'OPEN'.

Then browse to your save game location

e.g. C:\Program Files\Games\Morrowind\Saves

and select 'All Files (*.*)' in the 'Files of type' box at the bottom.

Highlight the unique name that you gave to the save game you want to clean and click 'OPEN'.

Note: The save game name will look slightly different when you browse for it in TESAME but you should be able to distinguish it from the other save games by the unique name you gave it, only part of which will be evident e.g. "dirty sa0000.ess".

It may take a short time to load up your save game. Once it is loaded, click on the 'Type' column title at the top and that will sort all the items by their types.

Look down the list for items of type 'Cell' (color coded in pink) and find the reference for the cell region that contains the problem mod and right click on that item.

Then press the delete key.

What this does is remove the reference from within your save game to your character ever having been in that cell and interacting with or owning anything in that cell.

(I'm not sure whether editing the cell changes NPC's though, so you may want to check and do the same for any NPC's that you have problems with.)

So any personal items belonging to your character that were still in that cell will be deleted from your save game as will all previous interactions with any mods in that cell.

Now select the menu option 'MODS' and 'SAVE AS'. If you have the capability, then you should now right click on the original dirty save game ("dirty save.ess") in the 'SAVE AS' dialog box and delete it (you did make a back up somewhere else didn't you?). This is because Morrowind will not be able to distinguish between the original and the TESAME'd save game and it will save you any headaches over which is which when you go to open it in Morrowind.

Again select 'All Files (*.*)' in the 'Files of type' box at the bottom and give your cleaned save game a unique name e.g. "cleaned save.ess".

Now click 'SAVE'.

If you haven't already deleted the original dirty save game file, you should now open your save games folder and delete it directly.

Start up Morrowind and go to the 'Data Files' option. Uncheck any mods that were showing up the dirty problems in your save game.

Now load up Morrowind and load your new cleaned save.

Note: The clean save will probably have the same name as the dirty save had when displayed in the Morrowind Load Save Game Menu because it doesn't look at the actual file name you gave it.

Save your newly cleaned game with a new name.

If you want to, you can now go back and recheck the mods that you intend to continue using. But don't resave with those mods added if you want to continue altering them.

--------------------
Dean of The Theoretical Whirling School Of Vivec

The Whirling School | Academy for Dwemer Studies | TES Lore FAQ

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DinkumThinkum
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: DinkumThinkum]
      #2647244 - 06/02/04 04:52 AM

Probably the most common cause of dirty saves is modders using the same save games both for playing Morrowind and for testing their mods as they're making changes. Even if you're careful, it's easy to slip up and wind up wrecking the game you're playing by inadvertently including a work-in-progress mod in the saved game you're actually playing with.

One way to make it a lot easier to keep mod development and game play separated is to install Morrowind into more than one directory.

Before I took a break from Morrowind, I spent a couple of months with three copies of Morrowind set up on my computer: one for playing the game, one for play testing mods I was working on, and one for experimenting in without interfering with my playing or testing.

I did this with WinXP, but (as far as I can tell) it shouldn't matter which version of Windows you're using.

The original discussion of multiple Morrowind installs was in this thread, http://www.elderscrolls.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=&Number=1777974&page=&view=&sb=5&o=&vc=1 (in the Hardware and Software Issues forum).

Thanks to suggestions from various people, it turned out to be extremely simple to set up.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Basic set up of multiple copies of Morrowind on one computer:

1. Use Windows Explorer to copy and paste (or drag and drop) your existing Morrowind installation (the 'Morrowind' directory and all its subdirectories and files) into a new directory.

2. Create a shortcut to the copy of 'Morrowind Launcher.exe' in the new directory. Also create a shorcut to the new copy of 'TES Construction Set.exe'. (I just copied the original shortcuts for Morrowind and the editor, then renamed them and edited them to point to the new directory.)

Repeat for as many more copies of Morrowind as you want.

And you're set!

Notes:

1. Each copy of Morrowind (and the Construction Set) will use the Morrowind.ini file and plugins that are in its own directories, so each copy can have separate .ini file settings and installed mods.

2. Most (all?) of the settings from Morrowind's in-game Options menu are stored in the Windows Registry, so all the installations will share the same settings. That wasn't any problem at all for me, since I normally set those options once and leave them alone.

3. Also, most of the Construction Set window positions and sizes are saved in the Windows registry, so these will be saved by all the copies of the Construction Set. This also didn't cause me any problems.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Some suggestions:

1. Make sure you label shorcuts and directories clearly so it's easy to keep track of which Morrowind installation is for playing the game and which is for testing mods.

How I set it up:

My main Morrowind and Construction Set (for the game I actually play) had their shortcuts right on my desktop (and in the Start menu, which I rarely use). The two test installations had their shortcuts in a folder on the desktop named 'Morrowind Testing'. That made it easy for me to keep them all straight.

2. I did a complete uninstall and clean reinstall of Morrowind, to get rid of all the leftover bits and pieces of old mods I was no longer using.

After I had installed the expansions and the latest patch, I added my custom settings to the Morrowind.ini file (enabled screen shots, tweaked buffer settings, etc.)

Then I dragged and dropped a copy of the clean, customized installation into a second directory to use as my test installation of Morrowind, and set up shortcuts for starting the copy of the game and the copy of the editor.

3. I also made a .zip archive of the clean install, including the customized .ini file, as a backup. That came in handy several times, when my testing installation got too cluttered up with odds and ends of mods, different versions of the same mod, etc. I just deleted the whole testing copy of Morrowind, then unzipped a fresh copy from the .zip archive.

4. To run multiple copies of the editor at the same time, add the following line to the General section of the Morrowind.ini file:

AllowMultipleEditors=1

I found that very handy, since it makes it very easy to compare two different versions of the same mod or to compare a mod to the original game, without having to constantly load and reload the mods in the editor.

--------------------
How to avoid the most common problem encountered by new modders: Dirty Saves: Causes and Cures

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DinkumThinkum
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: DinkumThinkum]
      #2817042 - 07/17/04 12:13 PM

Shadowsong posted a fairly detailed explanation of how dirty saved games cause doubling bugs, in an article about "Fighting doubling bugs" on his web site.

There's also an Acrobat Reader (.pdf file) version on the Thanos Tower web site, here.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Besides doubling problems, dirty saves also cause disappearing objects and (rarely) containers that lose their contents when you save and reload the game.

My guess is that the container problem is actually a doubling issue: each time you reload the game, the mod puts an empty double on top of the container that you put your items in. So when you activate the container, you get the empty double instead of the one your items are in.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Note:

I'm trying to keep this thread a place for tutorial information, tips, etc. related to Dirty Saves.

Contributions from others are very welcome , but if you have questions or need help with a Dirty Save problem or other issues, please post in a new thread where your question is less likely to be overlooked.

--------------------
How to avoid the most common problem encountered by new modders: Dirty Saves: Causes and Cures

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DinkumThinkum
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: DinkumThinkum]
      #2836682 - 07/22/04 09:36 PM

Cleaning Dirty Saves:

(Just want to collect the following in one place where it's easier to find.)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

First, the basic in-game method for cleaning a saved game:

This is most likely to succeed for a mod that's primarily self-contained. By that, I mean one that mostly just adds new material to the game, rather than one that makes a lot of changes to existing content that's already in the game.

Mods that make a lot of changes throughout the game can be difficult to clean. More advanced techniques, using utility programs, are further down.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

What you need to do is to clean your saved game of references to the mod. Make a backup save game before you start this, just in case.

1. Get all your belongings out of the mod's area: out of any containers, cells, etc. that are part of the mod. Move your belongings and your character to a small interior cell with very little in it. A small house or shack without much in it is a good choice. PIck an interior cell that has nothing to do with that mod.

2. To avoid messing up your character's encumbrance: if the mod adds any items to the game (clothes, weapons, armor, etc.) make sure your character doesn't have any of the added items in their inventory. If you're not sure, drop everything you own on the ground.

3. Save the game and exit.

4. Restart the game, and disable the mod on the Data Files menu before you load the save game.

5. Now load your save game, without that mod enabled. You'll probably see error messages; click past them.

6. Once you're back in the game without the mod loaded, save the game again.

7. The new save should be a clean save. Spend some time playing the game, without the mod, to make sure everything seems to be working right.

8. Once you decide that save game is OK, use it as your clean save game: your starting point for continuing the game.

I would suggest getting rid of (or at least relocatiing) the older save games made with the mod loaded.

If you're trying to clean a dirty saved game caused by editing (or updating) a mod after it was included in your save game: you definitely want to get rid of any saves made with a different version of the mod than the one you're using now. Those saves are dirty, and have a good chance of causing problems if used with the current version of the mod.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Further up in this thread, Nigedo posted an explanation of how to use TESAME to clean a saved game: his post is here.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Argent posted the following in another thread about dirty saves; I'm pasting it in here for easier access.

This is about using Farren's Enchanted Editor to clean a save:

Argent said:

Quote:


The following is an extract from one of Farren's posts that is also included in the readme file I bundled with the editor on Euro-MW:


--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Reduce a 5mb Save Game File to 1MB (major FPS increase and kills most "doubling"")
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

This technique has some quirks like resurrecting all dead characters but does not break quests or change characters attitudes to you etc. The vast majority of space taken in in your save is NPCC (characters you've stolen from, killed etc) and CELL (Cells you've altered) records, so...

1. Load the save game

2. Turn OFF safe editing (Edit/Editing Options/Safe Editing or just click the symbol like a roadsign on the toolbar till it warns you and the symbol turns bright yellow and red)

3. Click the check box next to the "Cells" node to mark all cells.

4. Click the "Cells" node (not the checkbox) to expand it and show all cells and scroll down till you see the cell or cells where you keep all your loot (your home, if you have one). Uncheck this cell in the check box or you lose your loot.

5. Click the check box next to "NPCs Altered/Killed by Player" (NPCC) node to mark all altered NPCs.

6. CRITICAL: Click the "NPCs Altered/Killed by Player" (NPCC) Node to expand the node and show all NPCC record. Scroll down to the "PlayerSaveGame" record and UNCHECK it. You don't want to delete this specific record or your save game will be ruined.

7. Press Delete. All CELL and NPCC entries apart from your home and the PlayerSaveGame will be deleted.

8. Save your game. I got a 5MB game (LOTS of mods and Neverine) down to 1MB like this. Everyone I knew still thought I was the bees knees and I could walk around Balmora without feeling like a crippled snail on downers afterwards (much better FPS).







--------------------
How to avoid the most common problem encountered by new modders: Dirty Saves: Causes and Cures

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Soar182
Curate

Reged: 05/30/03
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: DinkumThinkum]
      #2837005 - 07/22/04 11:42 PM

Hello. I do not know if you have this listed any where.
But I noticed a weird thing last night while testing.

You can get a dirty saved game / Doubling effect from.
Using an older mod then the mods you are currently useing.
IE
Your saved game has 3 mods made May 24th 2004.
Now you decide to add a mod made June 10th 2003
If you use the new plug in with that date.
Your original 3 mods will all double thus the dirty saved game.

So to avoid the problem. You should load the old mod in the CS.
Save it, clean the GMST's if you get them. Now add too your saved game.

This may all ready be posted. But I did not read every post on this topic.


--------------------
Screen shots



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Sergna
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: Soar182]
      #2837352 - 07/23/04 01:30 AM

It looks like i'm the only one who mods with the same exact mod in that savegame and dosen't give a crap.

Even if you DO get a Dirty Save, it wears off after a while, just LEAVE the area alone and it will back to normal.

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DinkumThinkum
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: Sergna]
      #2837463 - 07/23/04 02:02 AM

Quote:


It looks like i'm the only one who mods with the same exact mod in that savegame and dosen't give a crap.

Even if you DO get a Dirty Save, it wears off after a while, just LEAVE the area alone and it will back to normal.





I think you're also the only one who thinks that dirty saves aren't a problem. Plenty of people have found out differently the hard way (which is why this thread exists).

I think I'll go by my own experience and that of all the other hundreds of people who've dealt with, debated, complained about, etc. this issue over the last couple of years.

You may have been extremely lucky so far, but that doesn't mean it's not a real problem.

--------------------
How to avoid the most common problem encountered by new modders: Dirty Saves: Causes and Cures

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Klinn
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: Sergna]
      #2837489 - 07/23/04 02:11 AM

Sergna wrote: "Even if you DO get a Dirty Save, it wears off after a while, just LEAVE the area alone and it will back to normal."

That is only true for an extremely limited number of item types, e.g. there are some things that reset after 72 hours.

For example, try mucking around with a non-respawning container (the most common kind), having already opened it with your test character and saved. Opening it puts the container's inventory at that point into the save game. Modding it again, and you won't see the changes since you've got a 'dirty save'. Try bartering with an NPC, then modifying the NPC again. Etc, etc.

Doesn't matter how long you wait, it won't "wear off".

If you save while modding and haven't run into a 'dirty save' problem, that's just because you haven't yet touched any of the usual things that cause it.

...Klinn


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Argent
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: Soar182]
      #2837742 - 07/23/04 03:29 AM

Quote:

You can get a dirty saved game / Doubling effect from.
Using an older mod then the mods you are currently useing.




This is an important point you raise- the key point here seems to be a result of shuffling the load-order of plugin files (the reason behind this is explained in the post DT linked to earlier).

One thing I am curious to know is, and haven't yet tested, is whether the game loads the files in order of date stamp or .ini listing.

--------------------
Immersive Architect: Make Morrowind your world builder.
Morrowind Tech

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Klinn
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: Argent]
      #2838556 - 07/23/04 07:40 AM

To the best of my knowledge, it loads ESMs in order of file date, and ESPs in order of file date.

A while back my Morrowind.ESM got 'touched' so it had a more recent file date than Tribunal.ESM or Bloodmoon.ESM. It appeared in the data file lists below the expansions, and caused a huge bunch of problems. (e.g. the infamous 's' prefix problem, but without any ESPs loaded!) The order specified in the INI file didn't change, just the file date.

...Klinn


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DinkumThinkum
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: Soar182]
      #2840982 - 07/23/04 09:21 PM

Quote:


Hello. I do not know if you have this listed any where.





I think you just found a new weirdness for us to puzzle over....

Quote:


You can get a dirty saved game / Doubling effect from.
Using an older mod then the mods you are currently useing.
IE
Your saved game has 3 mods made May 24th 2004.
Now you decide to add a mod made June 10th 2003
If you use the new plug in with that date.
Your original 3 mods will all double thus the dirty saved game.





***

Edit: If anybody else tries the following (or something similar) and can't duplicate my results, I'll be happy to hear it. I'd much rather find out that this was just a mistake on my part, instead of discovering that that it's possible for an older .esp to override a newer one and a saved game...

Got to take a break; I'll take another look at all this later.

***

I just did a brief experiment with this. I didn't get any doubling.

Instead, I apparently have data in an older mod overriding both a newer mod and a save game.

Ouch!

My testing was fairly quick, but I did go back and check in the Construction Set to make sure I didn't have the changes in my 'Older' and 'Newer' .esp files backwards. I also rechecked the Data Files menu to make sure 'Older' was listed above 'Newer'. And I checked the Data Files list in the game to make sure I had the correct mods loaded when I made my test saves.

My preliminary guess on this is that it's a combination of a dirty mod conflict and a dirty save problem. Both my test mods were changing the same reference that was in the original game, which is always a potential source of trouble.


Briefly:

1. I saved the game (clean, no mods at all) in Arrille's Tradehouse before loading either test mod.

2. I created two mods to move the chest on the counter in Arrille's Tradehouse to a new position: 'Older' mod put it in front of the counter, 'Newer' put it in back.

3. I loaded my clean save (in the Tradehouse) with just 'Newer' mod enabled. Chest was behind the counter, where it should have been.

4. Saved the game in the Tradehouse (with 'Newer' loaded). Then exited the game.

5. Reloaded the game with both mods enabled ('Older' and 'Newer').

6. This time the chest was in front of the counter, even though that position was set in the 'Older' mod.

I'll double check, retest again later, but from the above it looks like 'Older' was overriding both the 'Newer' plugin and the saved game.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

It's always possible, of course, that when I recheck I'll discover I've got my head shoved where it doesn't belong.

Right now it looks (to me) like yet another reason why clean modding is so important.

I'll try to investigate this more later on. Right now I want to think about this some more.

--------------------
How to avoid the most common problem encountered by new modders: Dirty Saves: Causes and Cures

Edited by DinkumThinkum (07/23/04 09:58 PM)

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DinkumThinkum
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: DinkumThinkum]
      #2848717 - 07/26/04 12:26 AM

Some more tips on avoiding dirty saves:

The basic cause of dirty saves is changing a mod after it's already included in your saved game.

When you're developing mods, the easiest way to avoid dirty save problems is to always test your mod using a clean saved game: a save game made before you first added the mod to the game.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

One approach:

Do all your mod testing with a brand-new character straight off the ship, created with no mods of any type installed. Run through the character creation process (with no mods installed), and save the new character as soon as you walk out into Seyda Neen.

Name the save something you'll recognize (<Test character at start> or whatever suits you). It's a good idea to make a backup of the save game (.ess) file in case you overwrite or delete the save by accident.

Now, any time you want to test a mod, load your test character using that saved game.

Remember NOT to save the game with the mod you're testing loaded (or at least don't overwrite your test save) since that will leave you with a dirty save. (That's why I recommend making a backup copy of the save; avoids having to redo character creation if you mess up the test save.)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Since this will be just a first level character, you'll probably want to buff them up and give them some better equipment, etc. before charging off to test your mods.

I use a global script to boost my test character's skills and attributes, and to give her some decent equipment. I have the script in my 'DT_SuperCharTest.esp' file, which I enable along with the mod I'm testing.

Once I'm in the game, I just open up the console and run the script to give my character a nice boost so she's ready for almost anything.

Here's part of the script I use; I left out some lines that give the character unique items I have in my test mod. You can use this as is, or as a starting point for your own script that adds your personal choices of equipment, etc.:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Begin DT_SuperChar

;A script to boost stats and enhance the equipment of test characters,
; for easier testing of mods.

;Script can be run from the in-game console,
; by using 'StartScript, DT_SuperChar'

player -> SetStrength, 100
player -> SetIntelligence, 100
player -> SetWillpower, 100
player -> SetAgility, 100
player -> SetSpeed, 100
player -> SetEndurance, 100
player -> SetLuck, 100
player -> SetPersonality, 100

player -> SetHealth, 1000
player -> SetFatigue, 1000
player -> SetMagicka, 1000

player -> SetLongBlade, 100
player -> SetLightArmor, 100
player -> SetArmorer, 100
player -> SetHeavyArmor, 100
player -> SetMediumArmor, 100
player -> SetAxe, 100
player -> SetSpear, 100
player -> SetShortBlade, 100
player -> SetBluntWeapon, 100
player -> SetUnarmored, 100
player -> SetHandToHand, 100
player -> SetMarksman, 100
player -> SetAthletics, 100
player -> SetAcrobatics, 100
player -> SetSpeechcraft, 100
player -> SetMercantile, 100
player -> SetIllusion, 100
player -> SetDestruction, 100
player -> SetSneak, 100
player -> SetConjuration, 100
player -> SetMysticism, 100
player -> SetAlteration, 100
player -> SetEnchant, 100
player -> SetAlchemy, 100
player -> SetSecurity, 100
player -> SetRestoration, 100
player -> SetBlock, 100

player -> AddItem, "glass_helm", 1
player -> AddItem, "glass_cuirass", 1
player -> AddItem, "glass_pauldron_left", 1
player -> AddItem, "glass_pauldron_right", 1
player -> AddItem, "glass_bracer_left", 1
player -> AddItem, "glass_bracer_right", 1
player -> AddItem, "glass_greaves", 1
player -> AddItem, "glass_boots", 1

player -> AddItem, "daedric dai-katana", 1
player -> AddItem, "daedric long bow", 1
player -> AddItem, "daedric arrow", 100

player -> AddItem, "amulet of mark", 1
player -> AddItem, "amulet of recall", 1
player -> AddItem, "amulet of divine intervention", 1
player -> AddItem, "amulet of almsivi intervention", 1

player -> AddItem, "Gold_001", 10000

player -> AddItem, "skeleton_key", 20
player -> AddItem, "probe_secretmaster", 20

player -> AddItem, "repair_secretmaster_01", 20

;Use the above 'AddItem' lines as examples for giving your test
; character other equipment you might find handy.

StopScript, DT_SuperChar

End DT_SuperChar

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

In the script I use, I also add several unique items I created in the Construction Set. I ommitted those lines from the above version.

The unique items I created for my test mod have enchantments like Constant Effect Restore Health, Restore Fatigue, Levitation, Water Breathing and Swift Swim, etc., and Cast When Used Cure Poison, Cure Disease, Restore Strength, Open, etc. All of which come in handy for my test character.

You could create your own unique items, or just give your test character items that already exist in the Construction Set.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

For large, complex mods, starting each in-game test from scratch with a clean save every time you make changes to the mod often isn't practical. But I would recommend at least doing your final test runs, after the mod is completed, from a clean save to make sure you don't have any dirty save problems that can compromise your testing.

We had a discussion about the problems involved in testing large mods without dirty save problems in a forum thread last year, and I may try to summarize that discussion for a later post in this thread. But that will have to wait until I find a round tuit.

--------------------
How to avoid the most common problem encountered by new modders: Dirty Saves: Causes and Cures

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DinkumThinkum
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Re: Dirty saves: Causes and Cures [Re: Soar182]
      #2848727 - 07/26/04 12:29 AM

Quote:


Hello. I do not know if you have this listed any where.
But I noticed a weird thing last night while testing.





Just a note that I started a new thread for investigating this, to avoid confusing this thread.

The continuation is here.

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How to avoid the most common problem encountered by new modders: Dirty Saves: Causes and Cures

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