Beta Test Note: This page has not been updated for series 9 changes.
I get lots of questions. Oftentimes I get the same ones. Although I am more than happy to answer questions, please read the following common Q&A's before you ask me, as your question may have already been answered.
If you don't find your answer below, please post your question in the SDR Bethsoft Forum. Thanks!
The Night-Eye White Screen Effect
The NightEyeSwitcherShader.dll will sometimes cause a whited out effect when the Night Eye Shader effect is active. There doesn't appear to be a consistent fix yet. However, you may want to try one or more of the following (in order):
- Check to make sure these shaderfolders/files are installed in the following directory:
In each folder you should see 65 sdr_*_*.pso files. If there is a different number, then you may have the wrong set of shaders installed. Delete the two folders and reinstall SDR.
- If you see "dev.nighteye" and "hdr.dev.nighteye" folders in the Shaders directory, delete them. They are not needed for game-play.
- It's possible the shader variables didn't initialize properly. Trying going into console mode with the ` key and type in "startquest sdrQreboot" to reboot and reinitialize the mod.
- If the above doesn't work, and you are using HDR, you may want to try switching to Bloom or none.
- In your Oblivion.ini file, use the following setting: bUseHardDriveCache=0. In my case, mine is set to 1, and I don't have the issue, but this worked for another user.
- If you recently upgraded from a version prior to 8.2xx, you might have needed to do a "clean save" with SDR completely uninstalled first.
- Backup/rename/delete your Oblivion.ini file altogether and let the game create a new default one.
If none of the above work, I'm not sure what to tell you. The only possible thing left is that there is an incompatibility with the graphics card you are using. It could be a setting or perhaps the drivers need to be updated. If you find that was the issue and you are able to solve it, please let me know so that I can post the information here.
The feature comes from the following mod: Night-Eye Shader Switcher. You can try further inquiries on that web-page.
If all else fails, you will have to disable the NightEye/Blindness features with the following settings:
The Light Level Bug
There is an OBSE function called reference.GetActorLightAmount which normally returns a float from 0.00 (complete darkness) to 100.00 (fully lit). This is a very important part of the detection process, since if the target is in complete darkness, then the observer cannot see them, which is about 1/3 of the detection formula.
However, there is a strange bug which seems to only affect Horses, Trolls, and Land Dreaughs. Regardless of the actual lighting conditions, GetActorLightAmount always returns 0.00 for them. To date no one has figured out why. The best guess is that it has something to do with the Skeleton.nif and how it interacts with the meshes, but there is no concrete proof that's the reason.
SDR has a built in work around. It's not great, and it's flawed, but it's better than nothing. For horses, if the horse is being ridden, it will use the light hitting the rider. If a horse is not being ridden, as well as for trolls and land dreaughs, it will take the light hitting the player, and then randomly assign a +/- value of up to 20 points variation. The variation decreases as they get closer to the player. That's the best I can do for now.
In general, the more mods you have installed, the greater the performance hit. And if more than one mod is altering the same thing, or if mods are altering things that are connected to each other, that can also potentially increase the performance hit. There are three main culprits when it comes to performance: graphics, number of objects in a given area, and number of actors in a given area. Of those three, only the third one has an impact in combination with SDR.
How Oblivion works when it comes to detection
Having more actors in a given area not only impacts the graphics processing, but also each actor's AI has to be processed as well, including detection calls, behavior packages, and how they interact with other objects/actors in the area. Processing load increases exponentially with the increase of population density since every actor interacts with every other actor within the same radius of space, especially in combination with mods that make the behavior of those people more complex. If you are curious about the original Oblivion Detection formula, as well as details on performance issues, it has been covered fairly extensively here: Oblivion CS Wiki - Category: Detection.
SDR's performance hit
SDR's detection formula is much more complex than Oblivion's default. Prior to series 8, SDR's performance issues used to be significant when the detection formula was entirely scripted. With the series 8 changes that moved the detection formula into the SDR OBSE .dll plugin, you can expect a performance improvement of anywhere from 40-60%, possibly more, compared to prior versions.
Nonetheless, there are .ini options that help reduce if not eliminate the remaining performance hit, with just a small trade off in content. Check out the "detection formula" options in the Player's Handbook for more details.
For some users, uninstalling SDR, making a clean save and then reinstalling SDR has made a difference. (Although if you have purchased any of the SDR custom spells, you will have to reacquire them. See the Installation instructions for more info.)
If you are still having performance issues after that, there could be a number of non-SDR causes or are only issues when used with certain mods in combination with SDR. The best way to find out is to disable SDR and/or other mods and see what the performance is like. The following are a list of the major issues that can cause performance problems:
- Mods that add significant content in a small area. (Better Cities Waterfront District, for example)
- Mods that add high resolution unoptimized graphics (Most texture pack mods)
- Mods that increase population density (Crowded Cities for example)
- Too many mods installed
- Anti-Virus Program not in "Game Mode"
- Hardware is more towards the low end
- Oblivion Game is installed in the Program Files directory (that's been known to cause lots of problems)
Other ways to boost performance
With or without SDR, you may experience performance issues. There are a number of tactics/mods that will improve overall performance of Oblivion in general. This page is a great starting point: TEScosi - Optimizing and Stabilizing Oblivion
Q & A - Vetoed Suggestions
SDR is a very complex mod. It covers a lot of things, but not everything, and certainly not everything I or other players would like to have. There are some really good (and some bad) suggestions that come up every so often, that I have either been unable or chosen not to implement. Sometimes I get the same questions, and for the sake of not having to dig my old responses and repeat them, following are some of the common requests/suggestions that I have decided not to implement.
How about penalties for specific sounds?
I've already looked into trying to capture and evaluate specific sounds and volumes, including weapon strikes, spell casting, sounds made walking on various surfaces, wing flaps, etc. and it's very, very difficult. Actually, it's pretty much impossible to come up with a reasonable way of doing it without overtaxing the system and causing a lot more work and flaws. So everyone gets a pass on this. The player gets the advantage.
I'm striking a rock with my sword. I hear a sound, but there is no sound penalty...
I'd love to add that, but I was unable to capture when that event happens, plus, see "Specific Sounds" above. Also, I highly recommend downloading the following: Duke Patricks - Near Miss Magic And Arrows Alert The Target, it helps fill in the gap nicely.
How about light and sound for spell casting?
Light is already taken care of automatically. If you cast a spell and it sheds light, it will increase the amount of light on the caster and anything else within its area of effect. As for sound, see "Specific Sounds" above. The follow up to that is why not just add a generic sound penalty for casting a spell? Not every spell has a sound effect, and there are mods that can remove all sounds from spell casting, or at least spells with scripted effects, and not every spell is meant to be interactive with the game. Also, if I open up that flood gate, it will lead to requests for different penalties for different magic school types. And then I'll have to add more settings. And then what about custom spells with multiple schools? Or magic staves? Then folks will want the sounds of weapons that clang (See above) and all audio hell breaks loose. So in this one instance, the player will have the advantage if they hear an opponent cast a spell.
Shouldn't feather/burden make you quieter/noisier?
Those spells already do so by adjusting your encumbrance. However, you can use the new Muffle spells to reduce how much noise you make.
Expanded explanation: The original description of the feather effect in the Oblivion user manual is: "Temporarily reduces the target's encumbrance. The magnitude is the units of weight removed from encumbrance." For burden it's: "Temporarily increases the weight carried by the target. The magnitude is the amount of weight being added." From my perspective, these spells automatically offset or add to the amount of sound you make by tweaking your overall encumbrance, which affects how heavy your footsteps will be on the terrain.
Have you considered doing magical sneak attack damage multipliers?
Considered it, tried it, but in practice it doesn't follow the rest of the logic of SDR, so I threw it out. From my perspective, sneak attacks do more damage because:
- You are using a precision weapon.
- The target is unaware of the attack until after it has struck.
- The target is not moving or defending themselves, allowing you to target a weak spot that would cause the extra damage.
But if you look at a magical attack, it's a completely different combat form:
- Magical attacks are imprecise, and the effects usually cover either an area or are distributed across the body: fire balls, drain health, shocking touch, etc.
- Magic attacks tend to give off a lot of light and sound, which doesn't make them "stealth worthy".
- A magical attacker can remain undetected after casting a fireball if far enough away, but that doesn't prevent the defender from seeing the attack coming, unlike shooting an arrow. So if the attacker can see the attack, even if they fail to dodge it, it doesn't make sense that they should take more damage just because they can't see the source of the attack.
- The magnitude of the damage is determined by the amount of energy put into the spell at the time it is released, not the detected/undetected state of the caster.
- There is already a system in place to amplify magical attack damage: weakness spells.
Even if there was a special Shadow Magic that had no light or sound effects, the nature of the magical energy being delivered in an imprecise form would negate the sneak attack bonus. A similar logic is applied to two-handed weapons, which also do not get multipliers for successful sneak attacks. If you want the best of both worlds, use enchanted weapons. However, if you really like the idea of magical Sneak attack bonuses, and want to give it a whirl, there is already a mod that does this: Supreme Magicka.
I miss the "Only allow night-eye while sneaking" option. Can I have it back?
This was my reasoning for removing the feature:
- From my perspective, night vision is an organic thing, and the idea that it only works when you are crouching doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
- There is an issue with certain combat mods that use sneaking for ducking techniques which get really weird when the visuals keep blinking back and forth during combat.
- I have a general "if it applies to one, it should apply to all" rule, which meant that natural night-eye would be invalidated for nearly everyone else since very few NPCs sneak, giving a huge advantage to the player.
- Performance is a big issue. Every line of code makes a difference. I decided that the feature wasn't worth the performance hit when I was simplifying the code. It was either that or lose the toggle and I felt more people would be upset about losing the toggle.
- Removing the lines of code does not prevent a player from only using it while sneaking. It shifts the burden on to the player to remember to toggle it off when they aren't sneaking, although I imagine there are probably some hot key mods that might set up some key combos to do that for them.
If I sneak up behind someone when I am holding a torch but I am not in their line of sight, do they notice the change in light?
They used to, but not anymore as of series 8. As much as I want to include that feature, I decided that the amount of programming involved and the performance hit that it caused wasn't worth the extremely rare moments and very subtle impact to the detection calculations when these circumstances kicked in. Just role-play it - don't sneak up on someone when carrying a torch.
More Q & A
Following are some more common questions and answers.
How did you decide/figure out what numbers to use for the various race/creature traits?
Lots and lots and lots and lots of research. Wiki articles, scientific studies, web-sites that specialize in particular species, looking at the actual .nif models for the fantastical creatures using protractor overlay tools, reading up on myths and legends, relying on my own roleplaying experience, extrapolating from the other data to make up for the gaps, flat out guessing, etc.
Are you going to build something like this for Skyrim?
No. Not ever.
Do you have future plans for this mod in Oblivion?
No. Only bug fixes, performance improvements, and mod compatibility patches.
Is (insert mod name here) compatible with SDR?
See the Mod Compatibility section for the most up-to-date information.
I use Wrye Bash. Can I incorporate it into the Bashed Patch?
Parts of it, yes. See the Installation Instructions.
What should the load order be?
See the Installation Instructions.
You have .ini settings for 3rd party mods that I do not have installed. Do I need to do anything?
No. SDR will only apply settings for 3rd party mods if the mod is detected in the active load order.
Who/what uses detection and how often?
Every NPC creature that is "high processing" will make rounds of detection calls every second against everyone else that is within detection range of that NPC/creature. By defaut this happens every .3 seconds in regular Oblivion. SDR changes that to every .5 seconds.
Sneaking actually seems easier with SDR than standard Oblivion. What gives?
The main idea of SDR is to make the experience more realistic, so if you know what you are doing and taking advantage of the shadows, then yes it may seem easier. Your experience may also depend on what other mods you have installed. SDR is more sophisticated and therefore more sensitive to indirect changes. For example, mods that make areas darker such as Cava Obscura will make sneaking easier. On the other hand, mods like T.I.E. will make sneaking harder, since many NPCs have significantly higher sneak/stealth scores than in their default Oblivion incarnations. Take a look at the Mod Compatibility section for recommended settings. You can also tweak SDR's settigns to make it more challenging.
Does SDR interact with the AV Uncapper plug-in?
As of series 8, SDR interacts with AV Uncapper if detected. Complete details are in the Player's Handbook and can be found in sections covering effective sneak skill, chameleon, blindness, and sneak skill up options.
Do I still need the Add Actor Values OBSE plug-in?
As of series 8, the SDR OBSE plug-in uses it's own method for storing and retrieving actor values and no longer relies on the Add Actor Values plug-in. However, before you uninstall it, make sure no other mods require it!
Distance and Units of Measure
In working on SDR, I had to learn a lot about the game mechanics. One of the trickiest part was understanding "units" within the game, how they convert to real world numbers, and deciding which distance values in units to use for various settings.
Units of measure in Oblivion
Oblivion uses 'units' to measure everything. To get an idea of how that scales, there are some pieces of information available. First, there is a game setting called fMagicUnitsPerFoot, which by default is 22. Second, a humanoid NPC with a scale of 1.0 is 128 units high. At 22 units/foot, that is approximately 5' 9.6". The average height of European males from the 10th through 18th centuries was approximately 5' 7". The average height of modern males worldwide generally ranges from 5'7 tp 6' 0, although it can be even shorter in certain areas that tend to be more isolated. So for the purposes of all decisions made in SDR regarding distance, I am sticking with 22 units / foot. To see the numbers for yourself, you can visit the Wikipedia page on human height.
What the human eye sees.
I've done a bit of research and have put together a very rough estimate of what your eyes would be seeing at different distances. This was done using a virtual reality program with a "35 mm" camera using a "58 mm" lense, which is supposed to be as close as you can get to a human's perspective of objects in relation to each other.
Following are the shots. The subject was placed at distances in feet (the smaller number) and Oblivion units (the larger number).
What I find interesting is how much detail you lose the further out you go. It almost seems exponential. So in the context of detection, yes it is possible that someone might see you at a distance, but there isn't enough detail to determine exactly who/what you are, and therefore detection is discounted beyond that range. In outdoor settings there tends to be more light and fewer obstacles, so it kind of makes sense that the maximum detection range is double that of interiors.
One of the other considerations is how far can sound travel, not just light. Since sound is 1/3 component of the detection system, I think it's important to consider what maximum range the sound would travel when determining interior and exterior distances. With interiors, there tends to be more objects/walls etc. in the way, so sound won't travel nearly as far as when in exterior settings. In addition, sound bounces around a lot and gets absorbed, so even though one hears a sound, the question is can it be heard clearly enough to identify what it is, and can you determine the direction it is coming from?
Unfortunately, the images that I created do not correspond well with what is actually displayed in Oblivion. Characters/creatures at those distances appear to be smaller, implying a different focal length was used when determining perspective. Considering the nature of the game, that's not too surprising. So the jury is still out on what the exact best settings are.
Ultimately after all of that, I decided to keep the default interior max detection distance at 1500 units. I don't recommend increasing it beyond that as you will run into performance issues. I also don't recommend making it shorter than that because there seems to be other features / AI behavior coded to that 1500 unit distance, which can make things funky if you change it. But of course, it's your game too, so adjust to taste if you feel like risking it.
As for the other distances used in SDR's other settings, they were all carefully thought out and tested. But again, feel free to experiment.