Oblivion INI Tweaks

Explanation of most important Oblivion ini tweaks. Complete ini coverage will be ready soon enough.


Why is Oblivion.ini editing necessary?

Oblivion INI configuration file (Oblivion.ini) is created when you launch Oblivion for the first time. When you see intro screen, the game detects your hardware and tries to determine what graphic settings are best for you. At this moment, initial game configuration file is created (about 13 Kb). As you probably know, autodetect usually needs to be corrected, so it's highly advisable to review all options before you start to play. Some of the most important settings are available from "Options" window of the intro screen. After you've set them to what you want, it's time to push Play and watch the intro!

In-game menu will feature some in-depth graphic settings for the game that are worth reviewing (they will be covered in another article).

For some users those settings are enough. Many important values cannot be changed other than by editing Oblivion.ini file, so if you are not afraid of simple text files and want more control over your game, it's a good idea to learn what's possible to change with it. Either you just want to know about a few most important settings, or you are ready to study all entries of this file - this article will help you.

There are two main reasons to edit Oblivion.ini:
1) Customize general options that cannot be changed otherwise - for example, enabling screenshots;
2) Customize options that influence performance - mainly buffering and graphics. INI editing actually gives an opportunity to boost game performance effectively and easily. So why not use it?


Oblivion.ini basics

Oblivion configuration files - Oblivion.ini, BlendSettings.ini and ConstructionSet.ini (latter will be present only if you have TES CS installed) are located in
\My Documents\My Games\Oblivion
For Windows XP, absolute path is usually
 C:\Documents and Settings\***Your User Name***\My Documents\My Games\Oblivion

First thing to keep in mind is that final version of Oblivion.ini file (18 Kb) is generated only after first game launch (not intro screen sighting, but actual game loading). Therefore, only after first launch you may try to edit Oblivion.ini. BlendSettings.ini is created after launch, too.

Second - back up .ini files you are editing! If you occasionally do something wrong, backup might become the only way to restore correct values.

For reference, I'd provide my own Oblivion.ini copies saved right after unpatched game launch with medium graphic settings and 1024x768 resolution:


and after first launch of a game with 1.1.511 patch (they are different, I'll point out differences in future updates of this page):


Those files don't contain any custom modifications. Use them only for reference, for your system configuration is most surely different from mine.


Enough general talks. Let's proceed to what you can actually improve with your Oblivion.ini.

Enable screenshots

Like in Morrowind, screenshots in Oblivion are disabled by default. To fix this, find this entry:


and change it to


Press PrintScreen to take screenshot anytime in the game. Screenshots are saved to your Oblivion game folder, which is C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Oblivion by default, in ScreenShot*Number*.bmp format. Number of next screenshot is determined by another ini value:


This may be used if you reinstalled the game and don't want your old screenshot to get overwritten. For example, if you made 250 screenshots earlier replace 0 with 251.


Performance tweaks

Default Oblivion settings of memory usage and buffering are designed with 512 Mb RAM in mind. Many modern systems have more than that, so why not use your system memory more efficiently?

These entries determine how much memory game uses for buffering interior and exterior areas.

uInterior Cell Buffer=3
uExterior Cell Buffer=36

If you have 1 Gb of memory, it's a good idea to double both values to reduce in-game shuttering.

uInterior Cell Buffer=6
uExterior Cell Buffer=72

If you have more memory, use same pattern to increase values (uInterior +3 per each 512 Mb, uExterior +36 each 512 Mb).


Same applies to this value:


It's about how much memory Oblivion uses for loading new levels. Increase it twice for 1 Gb of RAM:


Again, multiply it more if you are lucky to have more memory.


In addition to memory, you may edit settings about textures being pre-loaded each time your character enters certain areas. This increases loading times a bit, but will reduce amount of additional resource loading, thus increasing performance.

Find those entries:


and set them all to 1 if they are not already set to 1.


Does grass affect performance? Surely, but if you don't want to reduce area where grass is visible to near your feet, you may instead increase distance between patches of grass. Find this value:


80 is default value. You may increase it as much as 160 without making grass too rare (which is no good too). Somewhere between 100 and 140 is usually enough.


All of the settings listed here will be useful both for owners of hi-end systems and computers that can barely run Oblivion. If you have problems running Oblivion because of outdated video card, I'd advise using Oldblivion program that disables some of the most advanced Oblivion graphic features.


How to determine Oblivion performance?

Best way is to enable FPS (Frames Per Second) display in the game. It is done via console command; console is entered by pressing ~ (Tilde) key. This will pause the game if it's not already paused.

Flashing cursor means that console is active. Input


to turn FPS display on. More FPS is logically better. Around 20 should be fine for role-playing game, 25-30 is perfect. Less than 15 will cause notable lag, and less than 10 is hardly playable.


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