Discovering Modding = Mind Blown!
If you are already an experienced modder and need no help in getting started, scroll to the bottom of the article for a list of my favourite mods and their links. The pictures used in this article are from each respective mod, so be sure to look it up if you like it. Also, please feel free to leave a comment with your favourite mods (and their links, please) J
*This article is a beginners guide on how to download and install mods to your game, it is NOT about how to create your own mods. That stuff is far too complicated for me!*
For all the PC players out there, there is probably around a 90% chance that you use mods (modifications) to enhance your gameplay experience. After all what’s the point in having Skyrim for PC if you don’t use the resources provided for you? Playing on PC is all about graphics and data files, so why not add more data to make the game even better?
*Birds of Skyrim*
No matter what kind of thing or object or enhancement you want to add to your game (Hotter men/women? No problem! Maybe a new castle, new quests, new weapons, new enchantments, new enemies, new places to explore? Take your pick!), there is a 99% chance that someone has already had the same idea as you and created a mod for it. I don’t know how these people do it (for me computer programmers must be wizards, for real) but I’ll be forever grateful to all the mod creators out there for making Skyrim 100 times better than it already is!
However, and I’m slightly ashamed to admit this, I didn’t even discover modding until March 2011. Seriously. I’d heard of mods, and knew that they added tons of cool stuff to your game, but never really knew how to do it. It seemed waaaay too complicated and I was always scared of ‘breaking’ my data files and losing all my progress, or getting a virus or whatever. It makes me kind of annoyed at myself as I was addicted to Oblivion (TES4) for YEARS and I never knew how to mod it at the time. Imagine all the fun I could have had. Thankfully, some of my amazing fellow SkyrimForums buddies were extremely patient with me and helped me to figure out how to do it.
So, this article is a short guide on getting started on modding (for the novice modder, or perhaps someone who has played on PS3 or Xbox before and has just bought a PC copy of Skyrim and isn’t 100% sure with where to start) as well as a list of the best mods I have found so far (a list which is ever expanding, as new mods are being created, released and updated every day). I am probably the most technically inept person ever, so if I can learn how to use mods, I’m 100% sure that you can as well J
(I use the skyrim.nexusmods.com website, rather than the steam workshop. It’s really a matter of preference, as mod creators usually post their work on both websites. I find skyrimnexus to be much more simple and user friendly, but it’s really up to you.)
1. Go to skyrim.nexusmods.com
2. Create an account, with a username and password you can easily remember.
3. Click on ‘Mod Manager’ and Download.
4. Click the bright green button saying ‘Download Now’.
5. Follow the installation steps.
6. I’d also highly recommend watching the mod manager tutorial on this link. The guy explains how to use it and makes it sound so easy, which it is.
So, once you have the Mod Manger installed and opened, you are ready to begin downloading your first mods J Exciting stuff! I know all the buttons look scary and confusing right now, but trust me, you will get used to it within a few days. You will see the words ‘vanilla’ and ‘lore friendly’ a lot. Vanilla simpy means ‘original, unmodded skyrim’ and lore friendly means ‘in keeping with the history and theme of the game’ (for example, no flying green aliens with lasers etc).
So, go back to the skyrimnexus site. You can now search for and download ANY mod you like. Type a word into the ‘search’ box to look for something specific. Most first time modders usually click on ‘Files’ then ‘Top Files’ to see which are the most popular, widely used and recommended mods. The modding community is HUGE and has hundreds of thousands of files and users.
*The Earth High Res Tex, Trees for Solitude*
Click around the site, explore, get used to the layout etc. The only way you will learn about the site is by spending time on it. I can spend hours (seriously) searching through the categories, just looking for something cool or unusual to add to my game, and if I don’t like it I can always remove it afterwards. However, I would recommend only using mods which have at least 1 or 2 endorsements (good recommendations). I wouldn’t download one with 0 endorsements (unless it’s brand new) as there is a chance that the mod doesn’t work or causes bugs.
*Radiant and Unique Potions and Poisons HD, Coverwomen*
So, you’ve found a file that you REALLY want to add to your game. It looks safe enough, it has a few downloads and endorsements, you have read the comments people have left, and you have *FULLY *read the description. (Trust me on this. ALWAYS fully read the description as some mods may conflict with each other, cause bugs, or you may have to enter a console command to get the mod to work. It really is much better to take the time to read the whole thing and be safe, than sorry.)
All you have to do is..
1. Make sure you’re signed in.
2. Make sure Nexus Mod Manager is open.
3. Click the green box saying ‘Download With Manager’ *SOMETIMES DOWNLOAD WITH MANAGER IS NOT AVAILABLE. THIS MEANS YOU ARE EITHER NOT SIGNED IN, OR HAVE TO CLICK ON ‘DOWNLOADS’ INSTEAD AND CHOOSE THE OPTION WHICH YOU WANT. (In some extreme cases, download with manager is still not available and you must download manually with a program called WinRAR, but usually it won’t have to come to that.)*
4. A security message may pop up, click ‘allow’ or whatever it says.
5. If you go to the Mod Manager, and look at the bottom, there is a little box which says ‘1/1’. Click this to expand, and it will show you how far along the download is. Most are pretty much instant but others can take up to a few minutes depending on the size of the file you are downloading. I would recommend downloading only one mod at a time.
6. When it says 100% - Finished Adding Mod, you need to click from Plugins to Mods. Click on the name of the file you have just downloaded, and to the left hand side of the screen there will be a little BLUE jigsaw piece logo with a GREEN arrow. Click on this, and you will hear a kind of trumpet noise, and there you go! Mod Successfully Activated! The next time you play your game, the mod will be there. If you ever want to remove the file, do the same, but click the blue jigsaw piece with the RED arrow. This will deactivate the mod *BUT ALWAYS BE SURE TO READ THE MOD CREATORS ADVICE ON HOW TO REMOVE THE MOD SAFELY*
7. I know it’s tempting to go crazy and download like, 20 mods at one time, but please don’t, for the sake of both your mental and computers health. Firstly, make a save file with zero mods, so you can always go back to it IF you need to.* I CANNOT STRESS HOW IMPORTANT MAKING A CLEAN SAVE FILE IS! YOU NEED TO DO IT INCASE SOMETHING GOES WRONG.* You must download one mod at a time, go onto your game, check everything is still ok, then exit and download the other mod you want etc. Otherwise you may have a bug or a CTD (crash to desktop, the most frustrating problem ever) and won’t be sure which mod is the problem, and have to sit and deactivate 20, rather than just 1. Most mods work beautifully and there are usually no problems, but as I said before, it’s better to be safe than sorry! Trust me on this one!
8. If you ever decide to stop using a certain mod (for whatever reason) and wish to uninstall it, DO NOT just go straight to the mod manager and deactivate it! You MUST go to the skyrimnexus site, find the page for the mod you downloaded and read the mod creators advice on how to uninstall the mod. For example, UFO (ultimate follower overhaul) cannot simply be deactivated as it may cause problems with followers in the future. Instead you must go to Riverwood and talk to a dragonfly called Tina (yes, really) to uninstall the mod safely. It’s better to take a few minutes to read things through, rather than spend a lot more time on fixing your game if things go wrong! Also note that when new patches are released, you may have to update certain mods.
*Mystical Illumination Glowing Signs*
I sincerely hope that this article helped any first time modders out there (if there are still any by now; it’s probably only me who didn’t know until recently) and that your game experience is vastly improved J I know it’s not the most technical explanation, but hopefully this article is simple and easy to follow for the first time modders out there. Let me know if it helped you! Good luck, and happy modding!
Now, for the rest of you, here are my favourite and most highly recommended mods. Everyone has their own preferences and opinions and I would love it if people could leave comments naming their favourite mods (with a link, please) J This will be in alphabetical order rather than in order of preference. I will put *MUST HAVE* next to the mods I believe to be the best J I won’t bother writing a description for each (as that would take up a LOT more time!) but you can click on the links you are interested in, and read the full description for yourselves.
1. *MUST HAVE* A Quality World Map With Roads, All Roads (skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/4929)
2. Additional Item Enchantments
3. *MUST HAVE* Apachii Sky Hair
4. *MUST HAVE IF ARCHER* Auto Unequip Arrows
5. *MUST HAVE* Birds of Skyrim
6. Camping Lite
7. Colovian Traders
8. *MUST HAVE* Coverwomen Look 3
9. Crowded Solitude
10. *MUST HAVE! MY FAVOURITE!* Earth as The Moon
11. Enchanters Merchant
12. *MUST HAVE* Enchanting in Stores
13. *MUST HAVE* Eyes Skyrim
14. Fast Respawns and Rich Merchants
15. Flexible Perk Trees
16. *MUST HAVE* Glowing Ore Veins
(Glowing Ore Veins 300 at Skyrim Nexus - Skyrim mods and community)
17. Glowing Arrows
(Glowing Arrows at Skyrim Nexus - Skyrim mods and community)
18. *MUST HAVE* Goldleaf Pony Farm
19. *MUST HAVE* Green Water Fix
20. *MUST HAVE* Harvest Overhaul
21. Highland Milk Farms
22. *MUST HAVE* Horses Gone Wild
23. Hybrids HD Plants and Herbs
24. *MUST HAVE FOR THIEVES* Ken Mod Lockpick Pro
25. *MUST HAVE FOR KHAJIITS!* Khajiit Speak
26. *MUST HAVE* Lanterns of Skyrim
27. *MUST HAVE FOR ALCHEMISTS* Magical Alchemy Harvest-o-Tron
28. *MUST HAVE! AMAZING HOUSE OUTSIDE WHITERUN WITH FARM AND TRADER!* Mammoths Rest Farm
29. More Village Animals
30. *MUST HAVE! ALSO ONE OF MY FAVOURITES!* Mystical Illumination Glowing Signs
31. *MUST HAVE FOR PROUDSPIRE MANOR OWNERS! THE BEST!* Proudspire Manor Refurbished (skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/14630)
32. *MUST HAVE* Radiant and Unique Poisons and Potions HD
33. School of Youth and Knowledge (available for Whiterun, Solitude and Markarth)
34. *MUST HAVE* Skyrim HD 2K Textures
35. *MUST HAVE! FOR EVERYONE!* Slofs Horses (also has mods for dogs, wolves, sabrecats)
35. Solitude Public Bathouse
36. *MUST HAVE! DOWNLOAD THEN LISTEN VIA HEADPHONES!* Sounds of Skyrim (the Wilds, Civilisation and Dungeons) (skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/10886)
37. *MUST HAVE FOR MAGES* Spell Waterwalking
38. *MUST HAVE* Trees for Solitude
39. *MUST HAVE! INSTALL THIS THEN START A NEW GAME! MIND BLOWN!* Tytanis Ultimate Mod
40. *MUST HAVE IF USING FOLLOWERS* UFO Ultimate Follower Overhaul
41. Unique Booze Bottles HD
42. Unlimited Bookshelves
43. XCE Xenius Character Enhancement
44. The Complete Barenziah
45. Skyrim Redone
I hope you have enjoyed reading my *first* article, and that it was informative and useful for you! Please feel free to leave comments with your thoughts, and favourite mods, I would love to hear from people. Thanks guys, and happy modding!
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