Old news for anyone who hangs around the Elder Scrolls forums, but it appears that those pesky CTDs (crash to desktop) and ILSs (Infinite Loading Screens) are a thing of the past for PC users. Console gamers are stuck with the 1.9 patch in all of its glory.
The short version is that a gamer named Sheson figured out that the cause of most of these problems can be traced back to the way that Skyrim allocates memory for the game to use. The initial allocation of 256MB was supposed to overflow to a second allocation of 256MB. It did that most of the time, but as soon as the first block was completely filled, crash-bang-boom. Sheson’s solution was to allocate additional memory to both stacks, but primarily to the first. *Poof!* Problems go away.
Players have tested this fix in a variety of ways, most notably by spawning hordes of memory-intensive NPCs, cranking up their uGridstoLoad and anything else that almost always guarantees a short gaming session. Almost everyone is reporting vastly improved stability, although cranking up uGrids still has its own set of persistent problems, mainly in the form of scripts that trigger when a cell is loaded. Higher uGrids means earlier loading so stuff that is supposed to happen when you get there, starts happening much earlier, but that’s a different issue.
This fix has been incorporated into the latest build of SKSE (SKyrim Script Extender). The alpha build of v.1.7 has been out for a couple of weeks (I installed it on Jan 29) and can be downloaded from skse.silverlock.org. This is still an alpha build, so there might be other issues lurking in the shadows, but the benefits of the memory patch far exceed the perils of added scripting capabilities.
To turn on the memory patch capabilities, users will need to create an skse.ini file as follows:
- install SKSE according to the installation instructions
- create SKSE.ini in Skyrim\Data\SKSE (New –> Text Document and rename it to SKSE.ini)
- add the following lines to the .ini and save it
- Run your game
The first line is supposed to clear out any orphaned scripts that might exist in your saved game, so is recommended rather than required. I don’t remove anything except texture mods in the middle of a game and have not suffered from those problems, but it’s not harming anything to have it.
The [Memory] section is required and the values are the minimum recommended. The 768MB is 512MB for the initial heap plus the 256 for the secondary heap. I have not played around with higher values, even though I have plenty of RAM to spare, so can only attest to the fact that those values have worked well for me. Your mileage may vary if you want to use other values.
Gopher put out a new Skyrim Mod Sanctuary showing the problem, the patch and the effects. It’s well worth watching.
I don’t recommend dumping any alpha onto an existing game (I’m a bit less leery of betas), which is what I did. But I have had zero problems since installing (60+ hours of gameplay). I had one CTD a few minutes after installing, but absolutely no crashes, freezes or any other oddities in the two weeks since. I usually like to point out that anecdotal evidence barely rises to the level of “persuasive”, much less “conclusive”, but this seems pretty solid from the sheer volume of anecdotal evidence on the same effect.