Porting Skyrim mods to Skyrim Special Edition

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This mini guide will show you how to port your Skyrim mods to Skyrim Special Edition (SSE). I am assuming that you know how to make mods for Skyrim and use the Creation Kit.

This is a work in progress. I will write down here any new findings, as for the time being I've only ported some mods adding NPCs.

Required tools

  • Creation Kit: Creation Kit for Special Edition is available via the Bethesda.net Launcher (which is itself available from bethesda.net)

Porting Skyrim mods to SSE

Install the original Skyrim mod in the SSE folders

The easiest way of doing this is using Nexus Mod Manager.

  1. Launch Nexus Mod Manager for Skyrim Special Edition
  2. Click on the green arrow (Add Mod from File)
  3. Select the zip file containing your Skyrim mod
    1. If the Skyrim mod is packed in BSA format, first unpack the BSA, and then pack the esp file + the loose files into a zip file, as SSE cannot read the Skyrim BSA files
  4. Install the mod

The mod won't work in SSE right now, but you need to install it in the SSE folders for being able of editing it with the Creation Kit.

Open the mod in the SSE Creation Kit

  1. Launch the SSE Creation Kit
  2. Load the Skyrim esp file and set it as the Active file
  3. Change something, for example, the name of an item (don't change any ID), and change it back to the original name, so the CK things that your esp file has changed
  4. Save the esp file

This will save the esp file in a format that works fine with SSE. For NPCS, it also will create/update the facegen data (meshes and textures) of the NPCs added or modified by the mod. There is no need to use the CTRL+F4 keys to do that.

Now you can test the mod in game and see if it works as intended.

Pack the mod for SSE

To pack the mod for usage with Skyrim Special Edition:

  1. Use as a base the files of your mod for Skyrim
  2. Overwrite the Skyrim file with the new SSE file you just saved
  3. For mods adding NPCs or replacing vanilla ones: Overwrite the old facegen data for Skyrim with the new facegen data generated when saving the esp file for SSE

And this should be it :)

Bugs and how to Fix them

NPCs pink face (face texture not loading)

For XboxOne, the face texture detailmap does not seem to work properly (it works for PC, though). To fix this bug, paint all the details on the face texture and use the default blank detailmap for all NPCs.

Vanilla NPCs with black or pixelated face

Installing two mods that modify the face of the same vanilla NPC will result in the NPC having a completely black or pixelated face, in some cases the modified NPC may have red lines across his/her face. To fix this, when packing the mod:

  • Copy the facegen data the Creation kit has generated under \YourMod.esp\ folder (where "YourMod" is your mod), to the \Skyrim.esm\ folder, both for meshes and textures.
  • Add only the facegen data under the \Skyrim.esm\ folder. Don't add the facegen data under the \YourMod.esp\ folder, even though the Creation Kit has created those files.

Bald character (hair mesh not rendering in game)

Some meshes that worked in Skyrim don't work in SSE and become invisible when viewed in-game. To fix this, load the mesh in the last version of NifSkope and:

  1. convert all NiTriStrips to NiTriShape in nifskope (spells -> batch -> triangulate all)
  2. make all NiSkinPartitions without strips (spells -> batch -> make all skin partitions, change 18 to 60) (it is normal for the nif to turn black at this stage)
  3. add tangents to all meshes that don't have them (except for body/head meshes) with spells -> batch -> add tangents and update (in my case, the mesh turned black at this stage, but it worked fine in game)

If on the last step the whole screen turns black then this process didn't work and you will need to use outfit studio: Open the nif in the latest version of outfit studio, save as .obj file. Then you will have to export as an SSE nif. This means re-doing all weighting, collision, etc. so it may not be possible for all files, but for most armor, outfit studio's automatic weighting should work fine.

"Exploding" outfits

Some of the outfit meshes made for Skyrim "explode" (i.e. some vertices go to the infinite and the mesh looks as if it had exploded) when used in SSE. To fix that the easiest way is using Ousnius' SSE NIF Optimizer. This tool fixes most of the problems with Skyrim meshes.