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Guide: Multiple Parallel Installations of Vintage Story


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I've written about this multiple times before, in reply to people asking, but I think it's time to give this its own dedicated thread with a cleaned-up how-to guide.


The default installation of Vintage Story is fine for most people. It is also convenient in the way that it keeps all of its user data in the user profile, so that a computer that is used by multiple people (in a family for example) will allow every player to have their own savegames, mods, and configs without interfering with anyone else's.

However, sometimes an enthusiast might want to have more than one version of the game in parallel. Perhaps they want to keep an old world around but still play newer versions too. Perhaps they want to test the latest prerelease without risking their saved worlds. Perhaps they want to have a singleplayer instance and a multiplayer instance with different modsets, without having to toggle them all manually everytime they launch the client.

And when this enthusiast then installs two versions of the game into separate folders, they will discover that it doesn't work right. The two game instances can be launched separatedly, but they aren't properly separated. The same savegames and the same mods show up for both.

The reason for this is - you may have guessed it - that the user data is kept in the user profile, as mentioned before. This includes config files, logfiles, saved games, map data, installed mods, and more. Even when there are multiple parallel installations of the game on the disk, launching each one still accesses the same default location for the user data, and therefore loads the same user data.

In order to fully separate two or more parallel instances of the game, each one must be told to use its own unique user data folder. Where these are to be located is fully up to you; they can be placed into the game's install directory if you are the only one who uses this computer, or kept inside the user profile if not, or anywhere else really. The name doesn't matter either. You could even place the data folder on an external storage medium, so long as you ensure that it is mounted when you launch the game.

I'm going to describe this process for Windows users, as that covers 95% of the game's userbase, and Linux users tend to be more tech-savvy anyway and won't need as much help. (And also because I don't have Linux.)


Step-by-step guide, to be done separately for each installed version of the game:

  • Create the directory where you want your data folder to be located in the future, and copy its full, absolute path. Paste the path into a text file or something similar for later reference. You don't need to recreate the folder structure inside the data folder, the game will do that on its own.
  • Go to your VS install directory and create a shortcut to vintagestory.exe. The easiest way to do this in Windows is the select the file, so that it is marked blue. Then, using the right mouse button, click and drag the file to an empty space inside the folder (or some other folder, or even the desktop, wherever you want it). Upon releasing the mouse button, a context menu pops up. Select "create shortcut".
  • Rightclick the shortcut, and select "Properties". A small window pops up, with a few editable fields. The topmost one is called "Target". Inside this field, do not delete anything that's already there. Instead, go to the very end, press spacebar once, and then write --dataPath your:\path\here. That's a double dash at the front. You input the absolute path to your desired future data folder that you set aside during the first step.
  • If the absolute path to your custom data folder contains spaces, then that path must be encased in double quotes, so that Windows understands it. Do not encase the argument switch (the --dataPath part), just the path itself.
  • Some people have reported issues with loading mods from this custom data folder, while for others (like me) it is working without problems. I have no real explanation for why this happens. But in case you suffer from this, or you just want to preempt the possibility of it happening, you can append an additional switch: --addModPath your:\path\here\mods. Again, if that path contains spaces, the path (but not the argument switch) needs to be enclosed in double quotes.
  • Press OK to close the properties window. Doubleclick the shortcut in order to launch the game. Pay attention to your desired future data folder; the game should auto-populate it with certain required files and subfolders. If this did not work, you made a mistake with the shortcut somewhere.
  • If this worked correctly, you can now close the game again and move your savegames and other user data over from the default data folder (%appdata%\vintagestorydata) to the new one.



Putting the data folder into the install directory, the path to which includes spaces:
"d:\games\vintage story\1.17\vintagestory.exe" --dataPath "d:\games\vintage story\1.17\data" --addModPath "d:\games\vintage story\1.17\data\mods"
Note how each of the three paths (but not the two argument switches) are encased in double quotes, because all three contain a space.

Keeping the data folder in the user profile, without spaces in the path:
d:\games\vintagestory\1.17\vintagestory.exe --dataPath %appdata%\vintagestory_1_17
Note how there are no double quotes here. It won't break if you add them anyway, but they're not required, as there are no spaces in any of the paths.
This example omits the --addModPath switch, but it could be added just the same as in the first example.

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