Additional update re: modding Skyrim on the Steam Deck

As of yesterday I figured out a couple more things with my mod setup, so here’s a few more notes about that. This is a followup to these previous posts:

More behind the fold.

Setting steamtinkerlaunch as a Compatibility Tool

This was the big important piece I was missing, to get access to the steamtinkerlaunch main menu, and to make Skyrim pick up on my Vortex configuration when I launch it off my Deck’s Desktop, or in Steam off the Desktop, or in Gaming mode.

I had to go into the Properties for Skyrim in Steam, find the Compatibility settings, and make sure they were pointing specifically at steamtinkerlaunch.

For the benefit of any other Deck users reading this, if you don’t see steamtinkerlaunch as an available option in Steam’s compatibility settings, you need to go to your command line and run this command:

steamtinkerlaunch compat add

So once I actually set that correctly, this had a few critical results:

  1. I didn’t have to launch Skyrim out of Vortex, I could launch it either off my desktop or within Steam (either in Desktop mode or Gaming mode)
  2. Steamtinkerlaunch put a wrapper around launching Skyrim itself that basically piped it through Vortex, which in turn meant picking up on whatever mod profile I had active–and most critically, this meant hooking into the SKSE

So now what happens when I launch Skyrim is basically this:

Steamtinkerlaunch > Vortex > SKSE > Skyrim itself

Once Skyrim Together Reborn drops an update to account for the new Skyrim release, I think I’ll just have to do the same with their launcher that I did with Skyrim’s own, i.e., stick it into my “VORTEX” collection in Steam, and also make sure it has Steamtinkerlaunch set as a compatibility tool.

Updating my SKSE

The Skyrim Script Extender did drop an update on, so I was able to pull that down and get it installed. Which meant in turn that I could try out SkyUI, which I now have active in my main modding profile.

Updating other mods

At least a couple other mods I’m interested in trying are slowly catching up to the SKSE update, so hopefully the modding situation in general will settle down soon. In particular, I’m waiting on Skyrim Together Reborn. Their Discord server says they’re hoping to drop version 1.3.2 tomorrow.

Having Vortex available on my task manager

Steamtinkerlaunch didn’t give me a Vortex icon for my task manager or desktop, which I found slightly annoying. I wanted to be able to launch Vortex directly and work on mod configuration without having to launch Skyrim first.

Fortunately, I was able to solve this, with these steps:

  1. Right-click on my Application launcher (left-most icon on the task manager)
  2. Select Edit Applications, which brought up the KDE Menu Editor
  3. Tapped the New Item button
  4. For “Name”, I entered “Launch Vortex”
  5. For “Description”, I entered “Launch the Vortex app via steamtinkerlaunch”
  6. For “Command”, I entered “/home/deck/stl/prefix/steamtinkerlaunch vortex start”
  7. I assigned a game controller icon in the icon selector to the right of the Name and Description fields
  8. I saved this shortcut under my Games section of the launcher
  9. And I also assigned it to the task manager so I could easily get at it

So now, when I want to launch Vortex and rearrange my mods, I can just click on that.

Boy howdy having a keyboard was handy

General word of advice re: doing this kind of setup work on the Deck: it was pretty much vital for me to have a Bluetooth keyboard connected to the thing, because trying to do serious configuration on a device with a screen that small was just not feasible.

So if you’re also a Deck user and you want to set up your device for modding, I cannot urge you strongly enough to get a Bluetooth keyboard for it.

So far I’m happy with the one I’m using, which is this thing, an iClever BK08 foldable keyboard. However, I do not recommend this keyboard for users with large hands. So if that’s you you should use whatever keyboard you like.

If at all possible you should also try to hook your Deck up with an external monitor or your television, if you have an HDMI cable available. This will make it a lot easier for you to see what you’re doing when you’re configuring the thing.

Next steps

I have a couple minor problems I need to solve, which are:

  1. Something’s broken in the way steamtinkerlaunch set up Vortex’s associations to handle file downloads off of; right now I have to do manual downloads. I haven’t figured out yet how to fix this. But at least manually downloading a mod, and then installing it from the file in Vortex, is working.
  2. The Vortex I currently have set up is actually my second attempt at installing Vortex in steamtinkerlaunch, and right now the window it opens has the title “Vortex <2>”. Which is vaguely annoying and I’d like to fix that. But I haven’t figured out how to do that yet. This is purely a visual cosmetic issue though. 😀

Other than these two things, though, right now Skyrim is modding nicely on the device.

For additional challenges, I’m going to have to explore if I can also mod Morrowind. Or Open Morrowind. Not sure which one yet, as I need to read up as to which way will get me a better modded Morrowind experience!

As Angela Highland, Angela is the writer of the Rebels of Adalonia epic fantasy series with Carina Press. As Angela Korra'ti, she writes the Free Court of Seattle urban fantasy series. She's also an amateur musician and devoted fan of Newfoundland and Quebecois traditional music.