I finally found the reason why my Skyrim has been crashing for so long. You see, every time I’d play, I’d eventually have my game crash. The game would freeze then instantly crash to desktop, without a single warning or anything. Sure, it would seem to happen in random areas in Skyrim, always outdoors mind you, but pinpointing exactly where the crashes happen is an incredibly hard thing to do. It’s even harder to pinpoint what is causing the crashes.
Most of the time, you’re left clueless. There are a handful of mods though, like the Skyrim Script Extender (SKSE) plugin Crash Fixes, that try and tell you what exactly went wrong. Crash Fixes does actually try and fix a handful of crashes to do with memory and scripts and stuff like that, so it’s a worthwhile mod to get if you’re already using SKSE. The warnings can help with basic things like incorrect SKSE configuration settings, broken NPCs and corrupted meshes that will almost certainly cause your game to crash. When Crash Fixes DOES come up with something though, it’s not always something useful that can obviously be solved, because everyone’s game is modded differently.
But that’s assuming that Crash Fixes or Skyrim in general give you an error message. My crashes were always error-less. I’d get a crash file in my SKSE folder but that’s about it.
When it comes to actually fixing your crashes, there’s only really a handful of options.
If a crash is new and hasn’t happened before, especially if you’ve recently added a mod or two, the first step is to test again with the new mods disabled. Generally it’s some incompatibility between old mods and new mods, and you’ll have to find a patch or workaround or simply not use the new mod.
If that fails, things become more tedious. It’s generally a good idea to see if a crash is due to a problem on your save or current character or if it’s due to a mod. Starting a fresh new game is always a good idea. You don’t need to go far, you can use God Mode if you want, you just want to narrow down options. Although apparently it’s not a good idea to use TCL (noclip) because apparently that can skip various triggers and cause more bugs.
Whether you get crashes in old saves or new saves or not, you then need to work out what mod is causing the issue. How? By disabling mods that you think might be the cause. Which might mean going through a mod list of over 100 items.
There’s other things you can do in the meantime though. LOOT, a tool that organizes your mod load order for you, not only can fix some problems by putting your mods in the right order but it also picks up on some potential problems as well. And if you know how to use it, xEdit (more commonly known by the name of the game it’s for, e.g. TESVEdit for Skyrim and FO4Edit for Fallout 4) can also point you in the right direction.
Thing is, all of that is a LOT easier if you have Mod Organizer or Nexus Mod Manager or Wyre Bash or any other mod organizer. Installing things straight into your Skyrim’s Data folder is just asking for trouble since it makes it way harder to simply disable things.
Of course that’s all well and good if crashes are much more random and hard to pinpoint. By then, it could be anything, even if you do have everything correctly sorted by LOOT and you’ve been a good modder, being careful what you install, reading through mod pages for compatibility issues and not being a twat like me and not removing mods during a playthrough. You’re left with either dogged persistence in trying to find the cause of your crashes or just pushing through and saving regularly, hoping a crash doesn’t happen.
Sadly though, there are cases where not even search engines can save you. Because everyone’s Skyrim is different, and the more mods you have, the more things you can have go wrong, you won’t always can’t find an answer that’s specific to you. But you can piece together clues and maybe find a solution.
Worse case scenario, I guess one can just reinstall Skyrim and start from scratch, but that’s no fun.
For me though, I would say it’s my own fault that Skyrim crashed for so long. But there are so many things that can go wrong in Skyrim, it’s so hard to know otherwise. Heck, the base game does weird, buggy things that can force you to waste time, lose saves and start over! Many bugs weren’t even fixed in Skyrim Special Edition, requiring another Unofficial Patch. Heck, the reason I got into modding Skyrim was because I was constantly running into the Double Cursor bug all the time, ruining my gaming experience!
But at least Skyrim Legendary Edition doesn’t disable achievements, just because you installed a patch to fix all the broken stuff in the game.
Anyway, the problem for me, it turns out, was a series of performance mods from the Steam Workshop that I’d completely forgotten I had installed. I disabled them and I’ve had a pretty stable game ever since.