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SSE : FAQ : Floating NPCs

Do you find NPCs floating in some WZS?

Here’s what I’ve got to offer on the matter, reprinted from a NEXUS conversation:


Short-answer: It is not a “bug” with any mod, but a “limitation” of the Engine that is exacerbated by the obvious addition of potentially hundreds of NPCS.

The “best” solution so far is to reduce your ACTOR DRAW DISTANCE, which has the effect of reducing the amount of NPCs the game has to render.  This reduction seems to allow the game to keep better track of HAVOK information and reduce/remove “floaters”.

Here’s a long answer for you:

Well… as as far as I can tell, there’s a “threshold” at which NPCS/ANIMALS in SSE will start to float away. It is not mod-specific, so it’s hard to say.

What I’m gathering from experimentation is that this “threshold” is across ALL cells in the player’s UGRIDS – meaning not just a single cell, but all 25 of the currently loaded ones…

I haven’t found the “magic number” because I think it has something also to do with “whatever is going on in these 25 cells”.

For instance, in my case – using REDORAN PLAINS WZ as a test-bed (since it’s the most demanding) when I use WZ alone, I can set the SpawnCount to 2 and I have no floaters (maybe 1 or 2).

When I add in WZAA, that obviously adds more NPCS and “action: to some spots, I start to see FLOATERS aplenty.

The “spawn math” of WZ is:

LowSpawn = 1 per spawner : 6 max per Cell
MedSpawn = 2 per spawner : 12 max per Cell
HighSpawn = 3 per spawner : 18 max per Cell (which I don�t recommend, but GrandBulwark loves it)

My “quick math” tells me that WZ on LOW, can spawn up to 150 NPCs across the 25 cells that are potentially loaded…

Now, remember, this isn’t exact by any means… WZ is randomized in a big way so you never really know how many NPCs are spawned… and in very few cases will a WZ actually extend in a “perfect square radius around” the PLAYER… but… knowing that REDORAN’S RETREAT is smack, dab in the center of the REDORAN PLAINS WZ, I tested there…

So then… on LOW I am getting ~150 NPCs that are apparently behaving as planned – including the ANIMALS that are in the area in the first place.

When I go up to MED, do the same thing (fast travel to Redoran’s Retreat), I get up to 300 NPCs and maybe a floater or two.

When I go to HIGH, do the same thing, I get potentially 450 NPCs and, well, that’s obviously well past the threshold of even playable frame rate for me… so that’s not good.

This loosely indicates that the threshold is something like 200 NPCs/ANIMALS across 25 cells…

…and this is a wild-guess not taking into account the fact that the player may be moving from cell to cell, thereby demanding that the engine UNLOAD what is behind the player and LOAD what is in front of the player…

When I add WZAA, which in REDORAN PLAINS potentially adds Cannons, Landmines, Reinforcements, Fanatics, Civilians, etc, etc… that obviously pushes my game past this mystery “threshold” and I see floaters when my SPAWNCOUNT is set to MED…

… why? Well, could be the new NPCs, although I think it the “total amount of processing” the game needs to do per frame/per UGRIDS load.

This is why I’m considering a “threshold“… as I don’t know exactly what goes into the rendering of a frame for the GameEngine. I am going to assume that if I lower my resolution, that “threshold” may shift relative to my hardware… an assumption I will test as soon as I can… but it might not be the case. Might be that the gameEngine can simply only handle “so much at a time” in terms of AI/PATHFINDING and whatever else goes into calculating what NPCs/ANIMALS do.

My experience is that if you use WZ/WZAA and IP together, you are best served leaving WZ/WZAA on default of LOW and nobody will float away…

I assume (could be wrong) that this is one of those things that probably uses to cause CTDS, so in lieu of CTDS, I’ll take “floating” any day ;) It’s kind of hilarious until it becomes annoying quickly… and frustrating as hell ’cause I will admit, I had high-hopes for SSE’s ability to handle more than OldRim…

… in OldRim, on my same rig, I can easily have WZ on MED and WZAA installed on defaults and have no floaters/CTDs. It’s not as “smooth” for me on those settings (frame rate is lower by comparison to SSE), but nobody is floating away.

So, yeah, this floater thing bums me out.

Anyway, my conclusion is simply that the game can handle a large amount of NPCS/ANIMALS at a time, but that some of us want “MORE!” (me included, I admit). I mean, 150NPCS with all that WZAA adds is a pretty sizable amount of calculations to be doing per frame…

The “test” that some people do in spawning 100s of NPCs in one cell is a terrible indicator, really, of what the game can do because it fails to account for the player’s movement and generally fails to account for aggression/combat. Yet even in those videos… whoopsie… up they float… haha.

So it’s not “mod-specific”, just, I think, a cumulative effect that simply overpowers the gameEngine to the point that the gameEngine seems to “skip” doing PhysicsChecks. This isn’t exactly “new” to Skyrim… back in OldRim we had flying animals even in vanilla.

In OldRim, we were semi-able to stop the flying animals by removing things called COMPLEX SCENE MARKERS which, we believe, told the gameEngine to ignore certain “things” in areas of high-action… but in SSE, since those COMPLEX SCENE MARKERS aren’t in play, I have no immediate solution…

… which brings me to your question about whether or not Bethesda will fix it.

Honestly, I don’t think they will, as I don’t think they will consider this a “bug” so much as an obvious limitation. I know, none of us like limitations, but that’s the nature of life sometimes… compromise. I couldn’t say for sure that it is even something that can be fixed… we have to remember that SSE is still just an upgrade of an older game, as such in order to not have to redo the whole game, Bethesda may be saddled with “limitations” to the way they implemented gameSystems (like Papyrus) in the original version. You’ll notice that in FO4, Bethesda changed many Papyrus functions to improve the way it handles and how code is written… with SSE, obviously they couldn’t since that would mean rewriting 1000s of scripts… so I think it fair to conclude that other “issues” that could use improvement were probably “left” because improvement would be either untenable or impossible.

Thing is, what do I know? hahah… maybe they’ll surprise me one day and I’ll have a message in my INBOX saying : “Hey Dave… Bethesda here… go ahead and turn WZ up to 11!”