QNMR 2.0 has been released. Use that version unless you're sure you want this one. This page is for the older 1.0 version.
This is a texture replacement mod that acts as an unofficial option pack for Qarl's Texture Pack 2 (QTP2). QTP2 is an amazing high-res texture replacer for Oblivion, but the textures are so large that it can cause some FPS loss and/or stuttering on 256Mb video cards. So, I have attempted to improve performance of QTP2 on mid-range video cards without sacrificing the quality of his great textures. I do this by replacing all of the high-res normal maps from QTP2 with dramatically smaller normal maps. None of the color maps are altered, so the change in appearance is minimal. The normal maps are reduced to one quarter of their original size, which can significantly help reduce stuttering on 256Mb video cards with almost no loss of quality that you can see in-game.
BTSR Normal Maps Reduced is an add-on for QNMR that adds reduced normal maps for mikal33 and blade9722's Better Tiling for Qarl 1.11, as well as my own Skingrad Roofs (hence the rather confusing acronym: BTSR).
Here's some screenshots of the reduced normal maps compared to Qarl's originals:
The difference is only really noticeable when you are very close up to some objects (you can see it if you look very closely at the shot of the large rock outside Chorral), but as soon as you get more than a few feet away there's no difference at all. This is because none of the mip-maps are altered at all. Even when you are very close, some objects seem virtually unchanged, at least to my eye.
Where there were previously 300Mb worth of normal maps in QTP2, they are reduced here to only 75Mb uncompressed (42Mb 7zip download). In my limited testing, this resulted in a significant reduction in stuttering and increased performance (around +3-5 FPS, maybe more in heavily bogged areas like Castle Domrose and Castle Dunkerlore) with almost no noticeable loss of in-game quality in the images.
This mod was created using Qarl's original normal maps and MrWiseman's excellent texture reduction script. MrWiseman's python script chews through texture subdirectories and invokes Nvidia's command-line DDS tools to strip off the top layer of each DDS file it finds, leaving the first mipmap as the new top layer. The script works really well, and made it extremely easy to create this mod.
This mod requires Qarl's Texture Pack 2.
This mod is packaged as an OMOD-ready archive, which means you can either install it manually or quickly create an OMOD for Oblivion Mod Manager directly from the included Qarl_Normals_Reduced directory (omod conversion data is included). See the included OMOD_or_Manual_Install.txt file for details.
As with Qarl's Texture Pack 2, you must read the included README and follow the instructions exactly or you'll almost certainly have problems. If you're not willing to use the BSA-alteration method of invalidation, then you probably shouldn't use this add-on.
Please note that you have to install this mod AFTER installing QTP2, so that the reduced normal maps will overwrite Qarl's originals.
Bethesda for an awesome game, Qarl for his incredible Texture Pack 2 (and for giving me permission to release this), and MrWiseman for his excellent texture reduction script. They deserve all the credit for this work. Also, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to mikal33 for all the hard work he did on making the Better Tiling for Qarl mod.
Q. Will the performance difference even be noticeable on a 512MB card?
I have not tested this (since my card is 256Mb), but I'm fairly certain any improvement you'd see with 512Mb would be less dramatic than the improvement I got. Still, several users have reported reduced stuttering on 512Mb cards after installing the reduced normal maps.
Q. Will this mod improve performance for 128MB cards?
Probably not. You'd probably need to also reduce the color maps, in which case Qarl's textures might not be much of an improvement over the vanilla Oblivion textures. Hard to say for sure. You could always give it a try. However, you'd probably have better luck using Wiseman's Reduced Textures. I would think that could give you a big improvement. You could also use his texture reduction script to make a reduced version of all of Qarl's textures rather than just the normal maps as I have done here.
Q. So is this complementary with Better Tiling Textures mod? And if so, what load order do you recommend for the best quality vs. performance?
Yes, this mod is definitely complimentary with Better Tiling Textures for Qarl mod. In fact, Better Tiling includes a few fixed normal maps, so I've released an update to Qarl Normal Maps Reduced called BTSR Normal Maps Reduced, which adds reduced normal maps for Better Tiling and Skingrad Roof Textures. See the TOTO site for recommended install order and links to all the related packages.
Qarl Normal Maps Reduced 1.0
BTSR Normal Maps Reduced
You can also get QNMR 2.0