Introduction

vortex-sfm is a Vortex extension that adds support for Source Filmmaker. This allows for managing (non-Workshop) mods and assets using the Vortex mod manager.

This simplifies installing SFM “mods” from external sources (SFMLab, other users, forums, DA etc) by automatically installing any mod from an archive file. It also means you can quickly and easily enable/disable or uninstall mods without affecting your other installed mods, all from Vortex’s convenient UI.

If you already use Vortex for games, this extension will not interfere with them and SFM will simply be available as a discovered game you can manage.

Getting Started

Getting started with SFM for Vortex is pretty easy: install the extension, relaunch Vortex then install mods from any archive file.

Vortex will still be responsible for the actual installation and management of mods so you’ll be able to manage your SFM mods just like any other Vortex-supported game.

Versions

Previous versions of SFM for Vortex were distributed as separate versions of the same extension to accomodate different install patterns. Since 0.1.0 the extension has been updated to use mod types (a feature in Vortex) to allow installing different mods to different locations with the same extension.

If you were previously using the Alternate variant of SFM for Vortex, install the latest version of the extension and change the default install mode in the Mods tab of your Vortex settings to ‘Isolated’. This reflects the same behaviour as the old Alternate version while allowing you to choose which mods install to which locations.

Installation

Installing SFM for Vortex is a simple process, but make sure to follow the instructions closely to prevent any issues with the extension later on.

Before we begin, make sure you have already installed both Vortex and SFM.

You can get the extension files from either Nexus Mods or GitHub..

Automated Installation

This is the easiest way to get started and you should only install manually if this doesn't work!
  1. Open up Vortex, and open the Extensions panel from the left sidebar.
  2. Click Find more to open the list of Extensions
  3. Find SFM Support and click Install
  4. Wait for the extension to install and restart Vortex when prompted.

Once Vortex has restarted, just click the Manage button on Source Filmmaker (SFM) in your Games screen and you’re ready to install some mods!

Install from Archive

If Vortex fails to install the extension for some reason, you can also download and install an archive of the extension files.

Downloading from Nexus Mods

To download the extension files, click the Manual Download on the Mod page on Nexus Mods to download the archive.

Downloading from GitHub

Download the latest files from the GitHub Releases page. You can also download the latest CI builds from Actions, but these are rebuilt on each commit and may not be as stable as those available on Nexus Mods.

Installing

Select Extensions from the sidebar to open the Extensions screen. Simply drag and drop the archive file into the drop zone at the bottom to install it. Finally click Enable on the extension to deploy the files, and restart Vortex.

Manual

Only attempt this if you absolutely have to. It becomes much harder to debug and much harder to upgrade.

If you don’t want to enable Advanced Mode for Vortex or want to install the extension yourself, you will have to install the extension files manually. Make sure you close Vortex before proceeding.

First, unpack the archive to somewhere convenient. You should have a directory named game-sourcefilmmaker with three files inside:

  • info.json
  • index.js
  • gameart.png

Now, copy the whole directory to your Vortex folder. You can easily open your Vortex folder by opening a new File Explorer window and entering the following in to the location bar: %APPDATA%/Vortex and then opening the plugins directory (create it if it doesn’t exist).

Once you’re done, you should have three files at the following locations:

C:\Users\<your-user-name-here>\AppData\Roaming\Vortex\plugins\game-sourcefilmmaker\info.json
C:\Users\<your-user-name-here>\AppData\Roaming\Vortex\plugins\game-sourcefilmmaker\index.js
C:\Users\<your-user-name-here>\AppData\Roaming\Vortex\plugins\game-sourcefilmmaker\gameart.png

Using SFM for Vortex

Once you have installed the extension, reopen Vortex and SFM should appear as a game you can manage in the “Discovered” tab of the Games screen in Vortex. Click Manage to add SFM to your games list and perform the initial setup.

You’re now ready to install SFM mods with Vortex!

Install Modes

Before you get to installing your favourite mod files, there’s one more thing you should know about: install modes.

Install modes were introduced in 0.1.0 and allow you to control how and where mods are installed and how they interact with SFM.

Merged mode

Merged mode is the default install mode for new mods and will install your mods merged into a single vortex folder in your SFM directory, so SFM will see them as one mod with a lot of assets. Vortex itself will still be able to managed mods independently, but SFM will not be aware of that (similar to Workshop mod content).

Isolated mode

Conversely, ‘Isolated’ mode will deploy every mod you install separately as its own mod in its own folder in your installation directory. SFM will then see each mod you install as a separate mod (named after the archive file) so you can browse your installed assets by the mod they came from.

Choosing your mode

SFM for Vortex will default to Merged mode for new installs, but this can be changed at any time. To change the default for new installs, open the Mods tab of your Vortex settings and change the Default SFM installation mode setting to your preferred. You can also individually change the mode of any installed mod by changing its mod type: double-click the mod in your Mods list and use the Mod Type dropdown in the panel on the right to change its mode.

Mods installed in 'Isolated' mode will need to be individually enabled in the SFM SDK, but Vortex can also attempt to do this automatically for you. See below.

Installing Mods

Now that Vortex is fully set up, download any mods you want to install. Mod files should be the original mod archive files (*.rar, *.zip, *.7z etc).

Open the Mods screen from the Vortex sidebar and drag-and-drop the archive files into Vortex to add them to your list. You will then need to install them and enable them as per the usual Vortex installation process.

Once you Enable a mod, its files will be installed into SFM’s install directly automatically.

Search Paths

As with any mod installed for SFM, whether manually or using SFM for Vortex, you will need to tell SFM about your new mod. You can do this manually or try the experimental auto-update.

Manual Method

You need to enable the search paths for Vortex mods just like you would any other mod you have installed. Open the SFM SDK, by clicking Launch in your Steam library and selecting “Launch SDK” when prompted. In the SDK window that appears, click “Edit Search Paths for Selected Mod” and ensuring that the entry for vortex is checked (this is your Merged mods) and any other mods you have installed with Vortex (Isolated mods will appear separately). Close the SDK and relaunch SFM.

Experimental Updater

SFM for Vortex includes an experimental feature that can automatically update your search paths for you. Once you enable the “Enable paths update on deploy” option in Settings ➡ Mods ➡ Automatic search paths configuration, Vortex will try and update the configured search paths whenever you deploy. This feature is still highly experimental, but should enable the merged vortex mod as well as any Vortex-managed mods you have installed in isolated mode, without affecting the rest of your configured search paths.

Automatic path updates are experimental and probably still have bugs I haven't spotted. Please report any issues you find [on GitHub](https://github.com/silveredgold/vortex-sfm/issues).

FAQ

Here are some of the Frequently Asked Questions about SFM for Vortex.

What happened to the different extension versions?

They’re not needed anymore! Thanks to the help of another Nexus/Vortex community member, I’ve been able to refactor things to no longer need multiple versions.

Why do I need Vortex for this?

Rather than reimplement all of Vortex’s functionality or introduce any number of new and exciting bugs that might break your SFM install, using Vortex lets us make the most of a reasonably reliable source of consistent and reversible mod installation tooling while tuning it to match the SFM way.

Why not just use Steam Workshop?

You should! If the mod you want is available on the Workshop, use it from there! Steam and SFM already include a lot of very reliable tooling around managing SFM mods and you should make the most of that if you can. SFM for Vortex is here for mods that aren’t available on the Workshop.

I’m a mod author, how do I make mods compatible with Vortex?

They probably already are! If you want to maximise support and avoid some issues, pack your mod archive in such a way that the materials/models/maps/sound/scripts directories are at the root of the archive, and that’s basically it.

Why can’t I download mods from the Nexus?

Nexus Mods doesn’t currently support SFM, so you will not be able to download mods from the Nexus website. If the day comes when Nexus starts supporting SFM (pretty unlikely, I know) most of the Nexus/Vortex integration features (including the one-click downloads) should just work out of the box.

Changelog

This is a brief summary only of major changes in each version.

  • 0.0.1
    • Initial release
  • 0.0.2
    • Fix bug in installation paths
  • 0.1.0
    • Complete rebuild of extension: removes alternate version
    • Adds support for install modes, using mod types to control deployment
    • USPU and Alternate extension deprecated