Oblivion: Tracking Down Corrupt Spawn Points

In the interests of preserving this information for the inevitable day the BGS forum purges the thread, I present my old topic on tracking down corrupted spawn points.

So there you are, on your way to someplace cool. Minding your own business. Then, suddenly, the screen goes black and Windows throws an error. As your screams echo into the void, one thought crosses your mind. "I haven't changed anything here recently." So what happened? Why did the game just up and crash? Undaunted, you load back up and proceed to the same area again, only to be met with the same fate. Why does this keep happening?

The answer is probably simple enough. You've got a corrupted spawn point. If you'd like to find out what mod this came from, rather than ignore the error by hiding in the testing cell for a week, read on.

So I hear you ask, how does one go about tracking this down? It's not as hard as it may seem, but it does take a bit of patience and some reference material to make it easier. Here's a list of things you'll need to start your hunt:

A copy of http://oblivion.nexusmods.com/mods/images/23939-1-1240451419.jpg - this is a map with cell blocks listed.
A copy of TES4Edit, or Gecko.

You'll need to start by using the console and having it display debug information as you're walking. Open the console with the ~ key, then type in "sdt 0" and hit enter. Then type in "tdt" and you'll see a bunch of information on the screen. The stuff we're concerned with here is the PC Cell data. Slowly approach the spot where the game crashes, keeping an eye on what cell it reports you are in. A corrupt spawn will crash the game very shortly after the cell location updates, so be ready to write it down.

Once you have the proper cell handy, you'll need that big map. Look closely, you'll see small white numbers. These are cell coordinates. You can't use the cell the game crashed in, you have to keep in mind that data ahead of you is being loaded into memory. With a default ini file for the game, this is usually two full cells. So for example, if you're in cell 8,33 and you notice the game crashes upon entering cell 8,34 going north, then you'll actually want to look up cell 8,36 on the map file because that's the one that's two cells ahead of you. To be on the safe side, also keep cell 7,36 and 9,36 in mind because they're also being loaded into memory.

Now you need to open up TES4Edit. Allow it to load whatever your current load order is, the mods should all be checked. While you wait, look at the map, the cell you're after will be in one of the large colored green blocks. These are storage markers for the internal data of the file. Note that cell 8,36 is in Sub-block 1,4 of ExtCellGroup 0,1. When TES4Edit signals it's ready, open the branch for Oblivion.esm. Scroll down to the Worldspace block, and open that branch. Open the worldspace you want, in this case Tamriel. Notice the block sections under it. Find 0,1 and open it. Under that will be several sub-blocks. Open 1,4. On that list of cells will be cell 8,36 "BrumaTamrielExterior07". If you highlight that cell, the right pane of TES4Edit will list all the mods which are affecting that cell. Take note of which ones are listed. While you're in here, check cell 9,36 as well "FGC05BanditCampTEMP". You'll also want to find cell 7,36 - you should be able to figure out how to locate it using the big map file.

So in the example, lets say you notice that Unofficial Oblivion Patch, TIE, Crowded Roads, and Open Cities all touch cell 8,36. Since we're looking for corrupt spawn points, it doesn't make sense to suspect the UOP because it doesn't place any (though it may move some). It also makes no sense to suspect Open Cities, because it does not use spawn points. This leaves you with two possible suspects: TIE and Crowded Roads. You may find the same set of mods also touches 7,36 and 9,36.

In order to confirm suspicion, close out the programs. Deactivate one of the two mods and load the game. Walk toward the crash point. If it dies again, try deactivating the other. Keep doing this until the game stops crashing as you cross the cell boundary. Once you can make it through without crashing, you can exit out and reactivate your other mods, then load the save without the offending mod. Cross your cell boundary, then save again and reactivate it.

You should take care to note whether it is safe for your game to deactivate a mod with spawn points. Crowded Roads is, since you are unlikely to be holding important items from it. TIE should be safe to disabled for a short period, though your item stats will revert to vanilla during this time. You should only keep the crashing mod disabled long enough to be sure the game won't crash.

Don't bother the mod author with reporting a corrupt spawn, there's likely nothing they can do about it. It's a general annoyance of the game. Eventually one comes up. The above long drawn out procedure is also unlikely to be necessary unless your respawn timers are very long, or you're playing mods which prohibit the usual tactic of hiding in the testing cell for days on end getting it to reset. This will allow you to identify the suspect, and once you're familiar with navigating TES4Edit and reading console data, this will almost certainly be faster than interrupting your journey with a trip to the testing cell. The added benefit of this is that you won't have to remember how you got to where you were.

The above was inspired by my own first run-in with a corrupt spawn that was traced to Crowded Roads Revisited. A clean save of the mod removed the problem, allowing my poor character to continue his trek up the mountain to Bruma.
"It is pointless to resist, my son." -- Darth Vader
"Resistance is futile." -- The Borg
"Mother's coming for me in the dragon ships. I don't like these itchy clothes, but I have to wear them or it frightens the fish." -- Thurindil

Well. I guess that's that then.

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Posted on Jul 31, 2010 2:49 am by Samson in: | 8 comment(s) [Closed]
Hmm, sounds like something even I could handle, except that I'd have no reason to even suspect a corrupted spawn point in the first place unless I told you guys about my experience and you told me what it was at which point I'd, undoubtedly, ask and/or be told what to do about it... :redface:

Clear enough, and I'd been wondering, but the link to the map is corrupt. ;)

Not corrupt anymore. I guess Sandbox doesn't much care for having quotes around a URL.

Another great tip. You should also add this as a tutorial or at least a post on TESA. Speaking of which, someone over there has a CTD problem and this might be able to solve it.

It would have been nice to know about this when I was CTD'ing trying to go near Drunken Dragon Inn not long ago. Although I think I know what mod was causing it and it's since been removed. I never did go back to the area to check though...

Well the good thing is, you don't need to permanently remove the mod. Just long enough to unload its added spawn data.

You're SOL if it's a corrupt vanilla spawn, and that can happen.

I don't know if this would really qualify as tutorial material for TESA. Perhaps just a general post, but don't they also purge threads eventually? At least here I could occasionally link to it and not have the info be missing. Unless California sinks into the sea taking my servers with it.

Samson said:

Unless California sinks into the sea taking my servers with it.

My wife seems quite convinced this is going to happen any day now, that's one of the biggest reasons we moved to Texas instead of California (the other biggest was the price of housing, gas, energy, etc...)

On an only slightly related note, I heard the other day y'all had a building explode in downtown LA and then a wildfire jump an aqueduct neat Palmdale.. I certainly hope neither event impacted you personally though I do have some friends who live in Palmdale that I'm a bit concerned about since I haven't heard from them yet to know they're alright but I'd read that evacuations took place, so it may just be that they haven't reacquired internet yet. :sigh:

Hadn't heard about the building explosion. LA is 40 miles from me so it wouldn't impact me unless it was nuclear. Or spit toxic goo into the prevailing winds or something. From what I gather from a quick glace at the LA Times website, it was a gas explosion causes by the use of illegal piping.

The Crown Fire in Palmdale has been burning for a few days now. As fires go around here it's not terribly large, 14,000 acres so far, and they've got 60% containment on it as of this morning. Jumping the aqueduct isn't as spectacular as it sounds. That thing is only about 12 feet wide. Most of us don't pay much attention until the fires hit about 50,000 acres or so, then we keep an eye on where they're going.

They're having a bad time of fires up north though. Two in Kern County that burned down a bunch of houses last I checked. So we're probably going to be burned off the surface long before we sink into the sea :)

Yup, that's the one. Glad to hear that you're not close enough to be concerned by it too.

Be that as it may, even a very small fire that only encompasses a quarter acre sucks if your house happens to lie within that span. ;)

I'll share that perspective with Dragona, I'm sure it'll really help reassure her that living in California's completely safe... </sarcasm> :rolleyes:

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