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A quick and basic Elder Scrolls: Oblivion “install and optimise” guide

A quick and basic Elder Scrolls: Oblivion “install and optimise”:

Updated November 2014 — all links repaired.


In-game widescreen screenshot, the excellent Morrowind-inspired Lost Spires mod quest.

There’s very little wrestling with compatibility issues here, or with fiendishly complex installs that require cleaning/combining mods — but my tutorial still manages to get you to a point where most of the main/core issues in a plain vanilla retail Oblivion have been dealt with. I’m also paying special attention to enhancing the eye-candy in the outdoors environment in strict keeping with Bethesda’s original vision.

You’re going to need about 15Gb of space on your hard-drive. Install in this order…

THE GAME:

1. Install Oblivion, then the 1.2.0416 patch (or the Shivering Isles retail expansion disc, which has the same effect — but I’m assuming you don’t want to wrestle with Shivering Isles compatibility problems here), and then the Unofficial Oblivion Patch with the QTP3 UOP350 Compatibility Patch.

2. Install the other “official downloadable content” mods, if you own them.

INSTALL THE UTILITIES:

3. Install OBSE (the Oblivion script extender) 0018 or higher. Several of the following mods require it. From now on you use a desktop shortcut to obse_loader.exe to launch Oblivion. Test that it works in loading the game, and that Oblivion then exits without crashing.

4. Install the Oblivion Mod Manager, and then tell Windows to always open OMOD files with it. This will save you time and effort in installing the remaining mods.

INSTALL THE ADDITIONAL LANDSCAPES:

5. Install the Unique Landscapes OMOD. All the Unique Landscapes (at least, those released up to Christmas 2013), in one handy installer! And any compatibility patches you may plan on needing (see the patch for the next item, for instance).

6. Install the wonderful Lost Spires (a great “first quest” if you’re coming to the game after finishing Morrowind) + the Lost Spires / Unique Landscapes: Dark Forest compatibility patch.

INSTALL THE FAMOUS GAME RE-BALANCER:

7. Install OOO 1.3.5 complete setup (major re-balancing and other desirable changes)

INSTALL THE TEXTURES:

8. Install Qarl’s Texture Pack 3 – Redimized (1.3Gb) and then the patch (mmm, highly optimized hi-res textures!). For this, you should have already installed the QTP3 UOP350 Compatibility Patch in Step 1 (see above).

9. Then install Landscape LOD Textures by Xerus (better distant land textures, improving on Qarl’s LODs)

10. Then install Detailed Terrain (intelligent seam-blending between textures) and the Detailed Terrain : Unique Landscapes pack.

FIX THE LIGHTS, WEATHER AND WATER REFLECTIONS:

11. Enhanced Weather and its hi-res texture pack. If you have Streamline, this conflicts with the Streamline in-game ‘optimiser’ mod, since Streamline will try to remove weather effects “on the fly” in order to maintain framerate.

12. Natural Environments (but not its optional weather mod, since we’re already using the excellent Enhanced Weather mod) + Water Reflection Blur 0.3 (reliably and elegantly blurs the crude blocky/pixelated reflections seen on far-distance water, and it works well with the Natural Water mod that’s part of Natural Environments).

13. The 50% darker nights mod found in Enhanced Weather (above) + Illumination Within – Revived (glowing windows on a script) + Real Night Sky v2.0. Illumination Within requires two simple Oblivion .ini edits using Notepad. Find fLightLOD in your Oblivion_default.ini and change to…

fLightLOD2=10000.0000
fLightLOD1=8000.0000

… to get the full effect of glowing windows at night.

FIX THE NPCs:

NPCs were originally, in my opinion, one of the worst aspects of Oblivion. Poor walk-paths, jerky animations, their repeating street-chatter, and just the way they looked unconvincing during player-conversations. The accents were also wildly variable — Nord women who sounded like they were from Texas, for instance. Thankfully mods and tweaks can now cure a lot of the main problems.

14. While you’re in the .ini file (see above), you may want to fix the zoom during NPC conversations. This can be done quite simply, and I find it makes the NPCs more convincing. Just edit fDlgFocus=2.1000 to either 5.000 or 6.000, to pull the camera back during conversations. You can then use mods such as Talk With Your Hands to unlock hidden NPC conversational animations.

The huge ‘Tamriel NPCs Revamped’ mod seems at first glance like an alternative large NPC face-makover mod. But it makes really radical wholesale changes to some races, and apparently has problems working with the major OOO mod — so I don’t recommend it.

FIX THE USER INTERFACE:

15. Install Dark UI

16. Then install Immersive Interface.

FIX THE GRASS:

17. No glow grass

18. LowPolyGrass OMOD (fast frame-rates with reduced-polygon grass)

FIX SOME VERY BASIC ANNOYANCES:

19. Get a Bag of holding

20. Renners Guard Overhaul

21. Less NPC Conversations (but still get all the information you need)

22. Zumbs Lockpicking mod (lockpicking like it was in Morrowind, no mini-game).


If you haven’t already done so, you will now want to open the Mod Manager and change the load-order of your mods. It’s easy to move the mods up and down on OBMM. If a mod doesn’t seem to be having an effect, it probably needs to go lower (lower mods load later, and thus take precedence over earlier ones) . Major mods such as OOO probably need to load later than others.

You will also need to use OBMM’s “Utilities” button to reach its Archive Invalidation page, and set this to…

… this is a requirement of Qarl’s Texture Pack 3 – Redimized. Don’t forget to press “Update now” and let OBMM do its stuff. Then exit.

The game is a few years old now and it should all run smoothly for you at 1920 x 1200px, on a proper desktop PC with a modern branded (NVidia etc) dedicated graphics card. But if not… then try lowering the usual in-game graphics settings.

If you have a “bright purple soil” problem, simply change the Video settings in-game, via pressing ‘Esc’ to bring up the Options. Flick the Texture Quality setting up from whatever lower quality the game wants to set it at, up to High. This should instantly cure the problem, on returning to the game.



Praise Fargoth! So there are guars in vanilla Oblivion! But why do they look worse than they did in Morrowind? And will they be in Skyrim?

* You may also be interested in my very detailed full beginner’s guide to reinstalling Morrowind with mods and my new guide to installing Skyrim on older PCs.


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17 comments on “A quick and basic Elder Scrolls: Oblivion “install and optimise” guide

  1. Why no comments? This is a great guide!

  2. Cheers for this and the Morrowind guide – these games ain’t gathering dust in the shelves any more! 🙂

  3. I’m a newbie to these games and I agree with the other comments, ” well done, a fine job for both games, extremely helpful. I have played Oblivion GOTY (got it for $19.00 used at EB Games 2 years ago) an awesome game. I recently an picked up Morrowind a month ago, the retail price was $5.00 at bargain store that sells odds and ends. Wow whole new experience with the mods still allot of tweaking and learning on my part. There’s a lot of gaming in these games compared to other games, which is what I like, a good bang for your buck. In fact it makes the playing of the games more fun, who knows maybe I’ll contribute to making a mod or two as well. Further more a very big thank you to you and all those who worked on both games from Bethesda to the fans and those who run the sites for fans!! PS This is my first time ever commenting on any web site about any game, I’m very picky about who I give thank you’s to!!!

  4. Nice guide , any chance of seeing your load order for the mods in the guide.

  5. Dave, as I say at the top of the guide, it’s a basic one for the average player – in which there’s deliberately no real need to get into wrestling with things like cleaning the mods and juggling load-order. However, I do give the basic advice at the foot of the tutorial…

    “If a mod doesn’t seem to be having an effect, it probably needs to go lower (lower mods load later, and thus take precedence over earlier ones) . Major mods such as OOO probably need to load later than others.”

  6. These guides look really useful. Thanks! I played Oblivion forever, but somehow missed Morrowind completely.

    Do you know if these guides and mods will work with the Steam version of Morrowind?

  7. Hi Ian. There’s a discussion of the Steam/Morrowind problem here: http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=898372

    Morrowind is so cheap, you’re better off just buying a used copy on Amazon, so you can use all mods with it. There’s no online lock-in / one-time-only serial number, as there is with many modern games.

  8. Hey Borrowind, awesome guide; Working on setting this up now. BTW can you recommend any good weapon packs that don’t collide with the mods stated in your guide?

    Obliged,

    – Dan

  9. Hi Dan; not sure if you’re referring to my Morrowind or my Oblivion modding guide. But it sounds like you mean adding wholly new weapons, rather than simple hi-res mesh/texture replacers. No, sorry … I have no experience with mods like that with either game.

  10. Good job… both of your posts are outstanding, and very helpful!

    Thanks a lot.

    Will.

  11. Thank you for your excellent guide on modding Morrowind. The one here looks very nice too, I’ll be using it when I have finished Morrowind (that might take a while, lol). I am glad I was able to seperate my Steam version of Morrowind from Steam, by using a ‘fixed .exe’ I found on the Steam forums. I hope I’ll be able to do the same with Oblivion.

    Anyway, I’m happy to thank you very much for all your efforts, and everyone who made all those brilliant mods to make a great game even greater 🙂

  12. […] This is my step-by-step “quickstart” Skyrim install and basic mod guide, for 32-bit Windows 7 gamers on older desktop PCs. It follows on from my previous similar guides for Morrowind and Oblivion. […]

  13. Thank you for the guide. I’m brand spanking new to modding so this is very helpful. I’m currently on step 8 and I will say that the word “quick” in the title must be a relative term. Of course, it doesn’t help that I have no idea what I’m doing and have to google how to do pretty much every step. But I’m learning and can’t wait to play the enhanced game.

  14. Thank you for taking the time and effort to write up and maintain this guide, and the Morrowind one! I stumbled onto Morrowind long ago, when it came out. And it was not till last year that I got to play Oblivion for the first time. Now I have been gifted with the GOTY version of Morrowind and am able to re-live my first experiences again. 😀

    Do you perchance have any experience with the Nexus Mod Loader system, and how it interacts with the GOTY editions of the game Morrowind & its two expansions? And if you do not mind… Same question also with Oblivion?

  15. […] 3. Install unofficial Oblivion Patch (you already have this if you installed via my quick-start) […]

  16. Someone just needs to make one amassed file of all of the things needed to install this mod. You know, like a normal mod. Instead of downloading like 20 things and messing around with the game’s base files.

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