I do a LOT more merging than suggested in the FLNV Guide, and have discovered that I need a lot more reminders and discipline that just editing the Info tab of the merge. I also find that when I merge mods, they sometimes need cleaning before I can merge them, and I'm loathe to alter the distributed originals. Also, as my build evolves, I sometimes find myself changing my merge sets between playthroughs. So, for what it's worth, here's the merging discipline I've evolved over time, including use of the new Merge Plugins 1.8 script:
1. For each merged mod, I create a new 'xxx ESPs' mod that contains all the esps that I'm going to merge, where 'xxx' is a three or four letter acronym unlikel to appear in any mod name. For example, my merge of the New Vegas Uncut mods is 'NVUM', so my new mod folder is called 'NVUM ESPs'. I generally create this folder using a file manager, outside of MO.
2. For each mod that I'm going to add to the merge, I rename the mod in MO to start with my new acronym and a dash. i.e 'xxx - old mod name'. For example, 'New Vegas Uncut 1 - Rotface to Riches' becomes 'NVUM - New Vegas Uncut 1 - Rotface to Riches'. This is best done in MO. The upshot of this is that I can use MO's name filtering to easily find all mods in a merge. Also, all those mods are grouped together in a file manager.
3. For each source mod in the merge, *copy* the esps to be merged into the new 'xxx ESPs' mod, then move them into the 'optional' folder in the source mod. So, at the end of this step, my 'NVUM ESPs' mod would contain rotfacetoriches.esp, kochandbohr.esp, etc. By the end, you now have a situation where the original mod folders no longer contain the active esps to be merged, but the <xxx ESPs> mod does. This step needs to be done in a file manager, outside of MO.
4. If the mod to be merged contains a sound/voice folder, also copy the sound/ folder into the <xxx ESPs> folder. The new 1.8 merge script will correctly copy and rename the voice files during the merge. If you are still using the 1.75 merge script, see the addendum at the end of this post, for the other steps you will need to do to get voice files working.
5. Create a new profile in MO named 'Merge xxx', e.g. 'Merge NVUM'. You will be using this profile to do the actual merge.
5a. Switch to your new profile.
5b. In the left hand window, select all active mods, and use the context menu to 'Disable all visible mods'.
5c. Activate your new <xxx ESPs> mod. In the right hand Plugins pane, the only active mods should be the ones to be merged.
5d. It is very likely that the plugins pane will have little red icons saying that your esps to be merged are missing masters. Go back into the left pane, and re-enable the master mods they need.
5e. You should now have a very minimal set of active plugins in the right pane - the mods to be merged and thier masters. Rearrange their load order to your liking; generally, I do it by hand to keep them alphabetical, rather than invoking LOOT. In any case, keep all the mods to me merged together in the load order.
6. Bring up FNVEdit.
6a. Select all the mods to be merged and 'Check for Errors'.
6b. If there are any errors, fix them - and if you don't know how to fix them, then you shouldn't merge that mod.
6c. Filter for cleaning.
6d. Clean the mods to be merged - remove ITMs and fix UDRs.
6e. If you changed any mods, then exit FNVEdit and save them, the start over at step 6 again. Note that your changes will affect the ESPs in your <xxx ESPs> folder, and not the originals. Note that when you start over, you MUST 'check for errors' again; re-cleaning is not needed, but is safe, as it shouldn't change anything.
6f. You should now have a set of cleaned mods with no errors.
6g. Select the mods to be merged, and run the Merge Plugins script. Having used the 1.8 version for a few days now, I <highly> recommend it as a major improvement over 1.75, if only for the fact that it copies voice files correctly to the output, and plays well with MO
. However, it also has other fixes that should reduce the likelihood of errors. Look at the mod documentation and comments for setup advice - it has a fairly major interface change from 1.75. I'm using 'renumber form IDs only when neccessary', 'do a second pass always', and 'use batch file to copy assets' options.
6h. When it asks for the name of the new esp file, I like using the full version of my acronym (e.g. 'New Vegas Uncut - Merged') rather that the acronym itself. However, it totally doesn't matter what you name to output esp.
6h. Once the merge script completes - including copying assets - close FNVedit.
6i. When it asks to save changed files, do a 'Deselect all', then select *ONLY* the newly created merged output esp.
7. Your newly merged esp - and assets like sound and text files - should now be in your Overwrite folder. (and since the 1.8 merge script checks to make sure your overwrite folder is empty before it does the merge, the Overwrite folder should contain ONLY the files constituting your merge).
7a. Create a new mod from your Overwrites folder, and name it 'xxx Merged yyyy-mm-dd', where xxx is your acronym, and yyy-mmm-dd is of course the date of the merge. E.g. 'NVUM Merged 2015-02-19'.
8. You now have three types of mods involved in your merge:
assets to your merged mod, in mods with the prefix 'xxx -'.
esps of your merged mod, in a mod with the prefix 'xxx ESPs'
the actual merge itself, with renamed sound files, in a mod with the prefix 'xxx Merged'.
9. You are now done using the 'Merge XXX' profile in MO
. Leave it intact, in case you want to change files and re-merge later. But switch back to your main MO
10. In your main MO
profile, activate the newly-created 'xxx Merged' mod, and move it to where you want it in your install order. You should now have all the 'xxx -' mods, and your new 'xxx Merged' mod activated. The 'xxx ESPs' mod should NOT be activated in your main MO
profile; it is only activated in the build profile.
12. If you're using Wyre Flash to create a bashed patch (which I highly recommend), the bring up Wyre Flash, add any bash tags neccessary to your new merged mod, create the bashed patch, check in in FNVEdit, then rise and repeat until all looks good.
13. Ta-da! Your new merge is now done! You should never, ever touch its contents.
Now, the whole reason I've gone through all these shenanigans is for when you want to REBUILD that merge, perhaps after adding or removing esps. The discipline for altering the contents of the merge is much like the above, bu with the following caveats:
a. When you alter the contents of your 'xxx ESPs' folder, make sure you update your readme file to document the changes, and WHY. Remember, this file will be copied into the merged output mod.
b. Always switch to the 'Build xxx' profile to do a build. All the esps for that merge will still be together and enabled in that profile, and it will be easily to slot things into the load order, without having to re-do it from scratch.
c. Because each merge is in it's own timestamped mod, you can keep old merges around for older build profiles. For example, I may have a 'Working Build 02-01' profile that has has older merges activated, while my 'Working Build 02-18' profile has later ones.
d. if you *really* want to get anal about the contents of older merges, then you can also copy the 'xxx ESPs' mods to their own timestamped versions before you change them. I don't bother, but YMMV
d. If, at some later point, you decide that mod xyz should be in a different merge, you can just add the new merge acronym to the front of its mod name, and repeat the process with a new merge, while still keeping compaibility with older merges.
For example, I originally followed the FLNV merge order to the letter, and created merged like 'NVUM' to hold the half-dozen New Vegas Uncut mods. However, as my build grew and grew, I started hitting my mod limit - and wanted to combine those mods into a larger merge, that also contained things from Machienzo and Yuki, named 'GMM' (for Gameplay Mods Merged'). So, my New Vegas Uncut mods now have names of the form 'GMM - NVUM - New Vegas Uncut ....', which tells me they are in BOTH the NVUM and GMM merges. And I can still filter mods for 'GMM' or 'NVUM' names to find only those mods constituting that merge.
Addendum: Note on merging voice files using the 1.75 script -
The Merge Plugins Script V1.75 does NOT merge voice file correctly, even though it (sometimes) appears to create the correct folders. When using 1.75 to merge mods with voice files, add the following steps to the merge process:
4a. Once you have all your esps and Sound/ folders together in your <xxx ESPs> mod, create a new mod named 'XXX Voices'.
4b. Copy the sound folder from 'XXX ESPs' to 'XXX Voices'. (Copy, not move - you still want to keep the originals together for when you move to the 1.8 script).
4c. In the 'XXX Voices' mod, go into the 'Sound/voices' folder. You should see a bunch of folder with names of esps, such as 'awilderwasteland.esp' or 'SaveCass.esp'.
4d. Create a new folder with the name that you're going to use for your final merged esp, such as 'New Vegas Uncut - Merged.esp'. It *must* have the '.esp' as part of its name, even though it's a folder.
4e. Move the contents of all the other 'xyx.esp' folders into your new 'my merged name.esp' folder. This needs to be done outside of MO
, using a file nameger. I personally use Q-Dir, which has four panes to make copying and such easy; it can be obtained from https://www.software...?Freeware/Q-Dir
, or Softpedia
4f. In your main profile, activate your new 'XXX Voices' mod, e.g. 'NVUM Voices'. It will now attach the voices from the source esps to the new merged esp.
I hope all this helps some other people avoid many of the numerous learning experiences that I've had over the past month or so, as I've tried to go way beyond FLNV, and shoehorn over 300 mods into the 130-odd mods that I'm allowed in my load order. The trick is incremental development - create a working build with a limited set of merges, and then try adding new mods to those merges for the *next* build. Thus, my need for all the persnickety discipline that I've outlined above. Good luck!
Edited by GalenZ, 20 February 2015 - 06:17 AM.