"...What is your name?” He replied, "My name is Legion, for we are many."
...Then I came upon a battle fierce and raw--a holy paladin and demon in a brawl. I had hid to watch what I could see. And the paladin did the victor seem to be. Behold though the wicked do not fight fair. The demon called upon reinforcements that seemed to appear out of thin-air. The valiant one fought bravely and honorably, but there were too many and he was beaten down to one knee. The demons bit and scratched and clawed, and tore his ligaments until I could see his insides fall. A shining man was lost that day; the fields he fought on shall remain his grave. --Excerpt taken from a poet's account of a battle he happened upon during his travels.
Optimizing Skyrim is an important step for any "modded" game. Skyrim's Papyrus script engine is a weak and feeble animal that Bethesda should be ashamed of for not having put it down long ago. Further, Skyrim was built for 32bit console gaming systems. So no matter how fast your computer may be, Skyrim will skoot along at the speed of electric wheelchair. The advice on this page will aid you in installing some nitro on that chair. ;)
So first and foremost (why repeat was has already been expertly said?), please visit FireFreak111's "Skyrim Stability Guide". He has done an excellent job in detailing the best known many processes for optimizing your game. Also, "Skyrim Project Stability" by Grandbulwark is a good read and good to learn from as well. While on the topic of guides, our Spartan contributor CrushBoss has created some guides which are very helpful too.
The guides above mention using ENBoost* and and a newly made memory patch (now built into the latest version of SKSE). The SoT team strongly urges its users to apply these mods/patches to your game as a countless number of players have reported substantial results. More than likely, if you decide to add these into your game, any issues that you may have will most likely be quelled.
Of course you may prefer not use the memory patch or ENBoost* in which case it is recommended to take an audit of your current mod list. SoT is a very heavy mod and other heavily scripted mods (such as Wet and Cold, Footsteps, Frostfall, Enhanced Blood Textures, Dragon Combat Overhaul etc. etc. etc.) may not play not so nice together. The other mods listed are absolutely amazing and even our community loves those mods and uses many of them. But every mod load and pc varies, and some users may have more stability issues using those along with SoT than others. That being said, SoT has been thoroughly streamlined and tested and had its own scripts optimized as greatly as possibly by our team member Slob (think super advanced QA) to ensure SoT is as solid and stable as possible--all SoT scripts Slobbed!
Also, recent extensive testing by Garfink has shown that it helps greatly to disable hi-res landscape textures, mesh replacers, and fancy pants parallax mapping mods. These put a strain on resources that dymanic spawning mods (such as SoT) need to produce their many encounters. If you must have your HD texure packs, it is suggested you run them through a texture optimizer. You'll hardly notice any difference in the graphic's details, but you will greatly increase the available amount of VRAM (and ram as well).
*NOTICE: The latest version of ENBboost requires a bit more editing and tweaking to get to work properly for your system than the older versions did. It is recommended that only users who are more familiar with computer use as well as modding attempt to use it. Further, if using a laptop, it could possibly hinder the game rather than help it (not proven, but not unproven either).
The Unofficial Skyrim Patch: First and foremost, to start from a solid foundation you'll want to patch Skyrim. The game patched up to the latest version with no other mods installed can still cause problems and has many bugs--a common issue with Elder Scrolls games since they are so massive. These patches are installed the same way as a regular "mod", but they repair multiple known problems.
The main patches that you have probably already heard of are the Unofficial Skyrim Patches (known as "UKSP"). The UKSP is a ton (thousands and thousands and thousands) of adjustments/fixes to the game. Most well known modders always suggest using them. The latest (as well as the unofficial DLC patches) may be found on the Nexus here.
Script Fixes by Steve40: As a supplement to the above patch(es) you may consider using the following script fix to help prevent papyrus log spam. If you don't know what that is, the summary is this: Papyrus is the script engine that Skyrim uses. It can get spammed with scripts which can lead to instability in game play such as freezing and crashing. The vanilla game (no mods installed) does have a few scripts that are known to cause some unhealthy log spam. This file is a replacement script that will fix those nasty critters:
For more information about this script fix (for advanced modders who'll understand the weird jargon) you may wish to visit here. In summary, the USKP applies a fix of their own which only works on vanilla game creatures, but not on mod-added creatures.
NOTE: To install, it is recommend to use a mod manager. Place the "script" folder inside your Skyrim's data folder and overwrite any files (BACKUP the originals first, or use a mod manager like we suggested).
The most major breakthrough in stabilizing Skyrim comes from the now famous "Memory Patch". A wonderful and genius utility that works around the limits that Bethesda has left us with (thanks Bethesda). This patch will undoubtedly aid greatly in stabilizing your game and virtually eliminate any CTDs, crashing, and or freezing.
Further more, the default Skyrim settings for active NPC AI is fairly low for people who use any type of mod that adds numerous NPCs (such as SoT). Therefore we suggest increasing the settings so that more NPCs are allowed to have active AI in a single cell. (What can happen at the default settings is that vanilla NPCs will have their AI turned off to reserve memory and therefore stand around like a bunch of shocked bystanders--which is dumb. Increasing the default settings is sort of like giving them a good slap across the face.
For users of WyreBash, you can edit the settings yourself by following the below instructions. For non users of WyreBash or for players who are not comfortable making advanced edits, the SoT team has created an esp file (a mod) that will apply the settings for you--you may attain it here. (Place it LAST in your load order--even after bashed patch.) No need to thank us, you are already welcome.
To apply the edits yourself, preform the following in WyreBash when making your bashed patch. Check the box [x] next to 'Tweak Settings' and then go into the window on the right of 'Tweak Settings' and right-click on 'AI: Max Active Actors' and 'Combat: Max Actors' and adjust the number from 20 all the way up to 100. The SoT team recommends changing AI: Max Active Actors to 100 and Combat: Max Actors to 80. There have been reports of issues for players who adjust the combat actors variable higher than the active actors. For that reason, our SoT team advises to always keep the "Active Actors" set HIGHER than the "Combat Actors".
NOTICE:This "patch" (named "More Brains" on the Nexus) is no longer needed as of version 10.5 of the mod. It comes included in SoT. However, for those users not playing with SoT, but still have some heavy spawn mods, this patch (SoT not needed) will help fight against the "enemies standing around" bug. Feel free to use it.
Mod Managers First, (advanced modders will already know this, but for those newer to the scene) use a mod manager to organize your mod list. Installing and managing a handful of mods manually isn't a big deal, but when you get around 50 mods or higher it can become a hassle (especially when upgrading). So, the Nexus offers a very basic and easy to use manager they named Nexus Mod Manager. For novice users, that is an easy tool. For mid to advanced computer users, we recommend the (superior) 3rd party Mod Organizer by tannin42. It allows virtualization of the mod list so your actual data folder stays clean. Further this allows for multiple profiles which makes testing mods a lot easier and creating certain mod builds per character.
Mod Organizers Now that you have a good mod manager to install and manage all those mods. You'll want a tool to help you properly place them in correct order (yes, sometimes mods need to be placed in the proper order or results as bad as crashing to your desktop or bizarre behavior could occur). For this, we recommend the latest tool known as Loot (which is the predecessor to the popular Boss). Loot will check what mods you have installed and organize them automatically for you in the best way possible.
The mod/dll script uGridsToLoad for SKSE by AltimorFP is a nice little app that helps to stabilize uGrids when entering new world cells. It does not change uGrid settings (which is something you should never do). Primarily, it fixes some minor vanilla bugs that can occur when entering new areas.On the actual mod's page though, it advertises itself as allowing you to safely adjust uGrids. Maybe that's true, maybe not. We don't care, you shouldn't do it. Just install the DLL file in the correct folder and forget it's there. No further adjustments needed.
For those players that have weaker computers, there is a third party application known as the Skyrim Configurator (by pfannkuchen_gesicht) that enables you to configure the installation files of Skyrim which may help you.
The SoT team suggests you lower ALL the graphics to minimum--A great working Skyrim beats a gorgeous crashing Skyrim (seriously). Also, if you have a cpu that has multiple cores, turn on all the multi-threading.
NOTICE from CrushBoss: This tool is very old and depending on how you use it, may cause more harm than good. (In particular avoid altering anything to do with "threaded" (settings), "background load" (settings), uGrids, and uExterior Cell Buffer. Never add or modify these settings! They have proven to cause instability, game bugs, and crashes.)
More experienced users may have loaded their games with multiple heavy mods and customized their settings to make everything run as smoothly together as possible, but the heavily scripted mods still cause that one annoying occasional hiccup.
A tweak that may help solve that annoying hiccup would be to lower your FPS setting. By lowering it down from 60 (or higher) to between 30 and 45 will allow the flimsy Skyrim engine more time to "catch up" with the script processes and possibly allow for a more stable game. There are different ways to achieve this, but probably the easiest would be for users of the highly recommended ENBboost mod. Within the ENBboost INI file you can enable the FPS limit command and set the FPS between 30 and 45 (pick a number, any number).
There are also many numerous (and somewhat controversial--which make them fun) INI tweaks that may or may not help stabilize a heavily modded game. For those with a spirit of adventure, we have put together our "INI Tweaks" page that contains the default settings (for those of you who screwed it up) as well as some others that the community have recommended.
First and foremost, there is no such thing as a clean save. For those unfamiliar with this term, a "clean save" is when one removes a mod from his game and saves his game without the mod loaded, quits Skyrim and then reloads Skyrim and loads his latest save game without the mod. That is referred to as a clean save and in previous Elder Scrolls games, it worked to uninstall a mod. However Skyrim is different in that it stores scripts permanently in your game. Removing a mod in the middle of a play-through can corrupt your game.
However, there are some new tools which can allow a user to "clean" a save game and erase unwanted scripts. Our optimization guru CrushBoss has created an easy to understand step-by-step guide on how to properly preform a clean save for Skyrim.
Also, there are two types of tests you can run to check the stability of your game. The tests seem to help some players while others don't reap any real benefit. They are what they are; do with them as you wish:
The first is a performance stress test. (A special thanks goes out to vurt of the famous Skyrim Flora Overhaul mod for posting this on his page).
The following quote is taken directly from vurt's mod page: "After getting into the modded game (you should do the stress test in the exterior cells), go into the console and enter: player.setav speedmult 1500 TCL
Then I "fly" around the landscape to see if the game eventually crashes. This fast flying puts a huge stress on both your hardware and the game engine itself since you're now loading cells (and graphics, scripts etc) at a much quicker rate than normal. Even so, the game should not crash using this method, even after 5 minutes of flying. Usually, with an unstable .ini edit or mod, it will crash within a minute (instead of maybe 30 minutes when playing without these console commands). The game can crash due to a single faulty mesh, so don't fool yourself thinking you have a stable game until you've encountered a huge portion of the game, this flying helps with that too. "
That test is great to see how well Skyrim handles your mod load. Our second test is the "28 Step Test" supplied by Oisaco1, one of our own SoT Spartans. His test requires only normal play, but the test itself requires loading exterior as well as interior cells, loading scripted scenarios and fighting against multiple loaded enemies. If you can past his test, more than likely your mod order is all clear to go. More info about it and the steps for the test can be found on our Nexus forums site.
The final test we can offer you is the script latency test. SoT comes with a debugging option (kindly supplied by mitchalek, author of Convenient Horses) that turns this test on. The test will show you how quickly your script processes are running as well as how much they are lagging (if any).
Results between 50 and 75 are optimal.
Results between 75 and 100 are safe.
Anything past 100 is not preferred.
There is a bit of information to take in on this page. For those who have read through the entire thing, you'll have read//learned about some stability guides which talk about cleaning your master files, merging multiple esp files into one to keep your mod list down, and using 3rd party tools to organize your list properly. CrushBoss in his kindness has sought out and found the following videos which will be a huge help in understanding how to preform the aforementioned tasks.
For any other questions regarding recommended mods and or tweaks, as stated in the Features page, SoT has a unique community that is more than willing to help. Feel free (and we encourage you) to post your query at our Nexus page so that we can help you. (Whether it is SoT related or not.)