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4. How-To: Merging Mod or Patch Files (1 comment)

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  1. missjennabee
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    There are a couple of things you're going to need before we get started. So here are your links...

    - TES5Edit
    - Merge Plugins Standalone
    - Creation Kit
    - WryeBash

    You will also need some kind of BSA Unpacker, (I use this one which works for both LE and SSE, but) you can use whichever one you wish. Make sure you unpack ETaC's .bsa file BEFORE attempting to merge the files. Otherwise - doom and gloom, people. Doom. And. Gloom. Even if you are using this tutorial for something OTHER than ETaC, if that mod has a .bsa, you want to unpack it before doing anything with it.

    In fact, go do that right now. Before anything else, while we're thinking about it.

    You'll need the Creation Kit for merging only if you end up having to regenerate the NAVI information (which with ETaC's files you definitely will, although with other mods - perhaps not, depending on whatall is in them), and even if that happens, you aren't going to have to really DO anything with it besides hit the "Save" button, so don't panic lol.

    Wyre, you really only need for the patches. It's the only program I know of that allows you to "esmify" and easily re-date the files, if there is another program out there that does this, you're welcome to use that instead if you want, but why would you wan to - Wrye is awesome.

    This is the process that I, myself, follow for merging up the town files to give you guys the Complete.esp. (If you are using the v14.3 ETaC -- The only ETaC file that CANNOT BE MERGED is Dragon Bridge South. The way it's designed it has to stay separate from the main module. So, again... DO NOT ATTEMPT TO MERGE DRAGON BRIDGE SOUTH INTO YOUR COMPLETE.ESP FILE. Barring that, you can merge up pretty much anything you want.)


    Before we get started... If you are doing this for SSE and not for LE, you'll need to do a quick thing first. If you -ARE- doing this for LE, ignore everything here in italics and just jump to "Step #1" below.

    ---> SSE USERS: For reasons I don't fully understand because so far it hasn't become SO inconvenient as that I've really bothered to look into it, SSE Merge plugins does not like your master files to be in order. Really at all. So before doing anything, including opening the program, we need to fix that.

    You'll need to get yourself to your AppData folder, so file explorer, and then... C:\Users\Jenna\AppData\Local\Skyrim Special Edition (obviously yours will not be in a folder called "Jenna", unless you are ALSO a Jenna, in which case we clearly have no choice but to fight to the death because There Can Be Only One. *Eh-hem* yours will be in whatever your windows user name is so, your "C Drive", then the "Users" folder, then your "[User Name]" folder, and then "AppData" (which is a hidden folder btw, so make sure you've set it to allow you to see hidden folders) and then "Local" and then "Skyrim Special Edition." Find the "plugins.txt" file, open that, and add this to the top of it...


    (If you are doing this for patches, you'll also want to add the .esp files in the proper order so that your masters don't end up all wonky. Once you've got everything on there you need, in the order you need it, save. And if you ever intend to do this whole merging thing again, I suggest you also save a copy of it to your desktop or something for sanity so that you can just drag and drop it in there every time you have to run the Merge Plugins Standalone lol. ANYWAY. Back to it...

    STEP #1: Run your Merge Plugins program, (for the purposes of this tutorial I'm using Darkwater and Riverwood, but you can use whatever towns or mods or whatever you have/want.) The first thing you'll see is "Plugin Selection", start by right-clicking in the window and select "un-check all" (there's no reason to have it load ALL your mods, you only need it load the mods you're merging.) Once unchecked, click to tick the files you want to merge. Because the Merge Plugins Standalone (henceforth MPS) is awesome, it'll show you in RED the master files the mods you want to merge require - Click to tick those also. Once you have everything you need selected, hit "OK" to continue.

    STEP #2: Now you'll get the merge plugins window. Wait for the background loader to finish (it'll be shown as a little hourglass icon on the bottom right bar.) Once everything has loaded, highlight the mods you want to merge and then right-click and select "Add to merge" and then "New Merge," at which point the "Edit Merge" window will come up. Name your merge (whatever you want really), and your merged file. If doing this for ETaC, I recommended naming your file “ETaC Complete.esp” for reasons you’ll see in a moment. Make sure you set method to “Overrides” and Renumbering to “Conflicting”... Do NOT tell it to renumber ALL formIDs. (ETaC's files are actually designed to be merged, so renumbering the formIDs is both unnecessary and will break things. (Patches and really all other things that will be looking for references based on formIDs won't be able to find said things if the IDs have changed.) So. Yeah. Conflicting only. Always. lol.

    STEP #3: Now click the "Merges" tab below the top bar. Then click to highlight your merge, and then... First, click the magnifying glass icon at the top (checks for errors) and then when that’s done, click the hammer icon (which builds the merge.)

    STEP #4: The "Building Merges" window will now appear, wait for it to do it's thing, at which point you're going to get an error about navmesh (shown in the photo on the STEP # link) -- This error is normal, and we’ll deal with it momentarily. Provided it’s the only one you get, you’re all set with the merge bit. Hooray!

    STEP #5: Next! If you installed your MPS program to your Skyrim folder, you don't need to do this bit so skip to the next step. If you installed it elsewhere... Navigate to your "Merge Plugins Standalone" folder (this will be... wherever you installed it.) In there are a bunch of folders, one of which will be called "merges", open said "merges" folder and you'll see a folder called "ETaC" (or whatever you told it to name your merge back on the "Edit Merge" stage.) Open that folder and you'll see all your merge crap...

    Sooo... If you're doing this for ETaC files and you named your plugin "ETaC Complete.esp" you actually only need to copy the "ETaC - Complete.esp" file and the "Seq" folder (All the other stuff is already in ETaC's Resources.bsa so you don't need it.)

    If you're -NOT- doing this for ETaC, or if for some crazy reason you decided to name your file something else, copy everything except the "merge" folder.

    Take these files, whichever files you need, and drop them in your Skyrim / Data folder.

    STEP #6: And now! We're on to xEdit stuff. So. Start that program, and like we did with the MPS, when you get to the file selection menu, right-click and "select none" and then click to tick only your new merged file. Then it'll load said file, and it's master files, and when that's all done, click the + next to it's name to expand the contents. Find the "Navigation Mesh Info Map" category and right-click it. Select "remove" from the drop-down. It will probably give you a pop-up confirm that you want to do this - You do. So hit "yes" or "ok" or whatever (I can't remember exactly lol) at which point it will remove your NAVI data.

    Then just save (ctrl+s) and exit the program.

    Now we must regenerate your NAVI data, and to do that...

    STEP #7: Creation Kit time. Start the CK and then click the little folder icon at the top. This will bring up the "Data" window. In the "Data" window, select your plugin and click the "Set as Active File" button, and then the "OK" button.

    Once your file has loaded, either hit the save icon on the top bar (it looks like a little floppy disk) (if you don't know what a floppy disk is and you have no earthly idea what I'm on about... it's that strange flat square thing next to the folder icon you clicked to bring up the Data window.) So hit that -OR- just do a quick ctrl+s (which, if you're under 30, also saves you having to google "What is a floppy disk?")

    Whichever is your preference, do that... aaaaaaand you're done. Yey!

    This next bit is out of date and was written for TES5Edit, not for the Merge Plugins Standalone. I’m working on getting this updated, with proper / updated pictures and whatall and hope to have the new tutorial posted shortly. Please bear with me, and thank you for your patience!

    A couple of things before we start. First – There are a couple of patches that if you’re using OTHER patches, you’re not going to want to merge. (Lol. Of course. Just to make things as complicated as humanly possible.) SO…

    #1: If you are using No Snow Under the Roof –AND- Better Dynamic Snow, Do NOT merge the Better Dynamic Snow Patch.
    #2: If you are using ELFX –AND- Moonpath to Elsweyr, Do NOT merge the Moonpath to Elsweyr Patch.

    This only applies in the cases where you have BOTH patches. If you didn’t have NoSnow, the BDS patch would be fine to merge, and if you didn’t have ELFX, the Moonpath patch would be safe to merge and vica versa. Just not together-like.

    ...Which is not really to say that they CAN’T be merged, just that they are much more complicated to do, and thusly, I'm not liable/providing support for them should you choose to do so on your own. Even if you were using ALL of the other patches, keeping these separate you'd still be cutting down your mod list from like 30 ETaC files to 5 ETaC files - Which is still pretty decent.

    Second - If you haven’t already done your town merge, you should do that now. Like BEFORE attempting the patch merges, since you're going to need to assign the Complete file as a master for this patches file.

    If you are going to be merging any patches that contain navmesh edits, or any patches that you think would for some reason have to be opened in the CK after for whatever reason, you’ll want to start at Step #1 below. If you are VERY VERY VERY sure you won’t have to do that. You can skip all the esm-ifying stuff and proceed directly to Step #2.

    STEP #1
    (For the purposes of this tutorial, I'll be showing you how to merge the Dawnstar and Ivarstead Lanterns of Skyrim Patches and the ELFX Patches. The process would be the same for any patches you want to merge.)

    Open WryeBash and locate the master.esps for the patches. Here it will be... "EnhancedLightsandFX.esp"; "ELFX - Exteriors.esp"; and, "ETaC - Complete.esp" (You don't need to do anything with Lanters of Skyrim, since it's already an .esm.) Right-click each of the files individually and select "Esmify Self" (this will tell all of the other programs we'll be using to treat this .esp file as a master file.) If done correctly, all of these files should now appear in blue on your mod list.

    STEP #2
    After you've "esmified" them, re-sort all your files so that they are still in the same load order than they would have been pre-esmified. The masters still need to be organized the same way that they were previously in order for all of the patches to merge properly. So with my LoS, ELFX, ETaC example, I'd be confirming that the files are as follows:

    } Lanters of Skyrim - All in One.esm
    } EnhancedLightsandFX.esp
    } ELFX - Exteriors.esp
    } ETaC - Complete.esp

    When TES5Edit merges the patch files, it will assign it's masters based on the order you've currently got them in. So better to get them squared away now than to create extra work for yourself later on.

    STEP #3
    (If for some reason you are NOT using a Complete.esp; aka you didn't want to merge the Modular town files, you can skip this step.) Still in Wrye, we're now going to change the patch file masters to the Complete.esp vs. the Modular files. Select each of the patch files, and in the right-hand window under the heading "Masters:", find the "ETaC - Dawnstar" or "ETaC - Ivarstead" listing, right-click and select "Change to..."

    This will bring up another window, wherein you'll select the "ETaC Complete.esp" instead. Once this is done, click the "Save" button under the "Marsters" heading to commit the changes. Do this for all of the patch files. When done, you can close WryeBash.

    STEP #4
    Open TES5Edit and tick all of the patch files you want to merge. Once they're loaded, right-click each of the files and select "Check for Errors." Provided nothing shows up, we are good to go with merging the patches. (If something DOES come up, do not continue with the merge. You'll first need to address these errors. If you know how, then by all means go for it lol. If you do not, post the error along with the files you're trying to merge below, and I'll see about getting them fixed for you.)

    Provided you have no errors - This part will be the same as the town merge. So the first thing you want to do is highlight-select ALL of the patch files you want to be merging. (Only the patch files. Not any of the master files.) Once highlighted, right-click and select "Apply Script"; find "Merge Script" in the drop-down, and click "OK."

    STEP #5
    This time, unlike with the town files, we're going to want to change any conflicting formIDs. So hit the gear icon in the lower-right, then make sure to check “Renumber CONFLICTING formIDs”, once that’s all set hit "Save.” Then "OK" on "Create New File", then name your file whatever you like (e.g. ETaC - Complete Patches), hit "OK" the final time and then let TES5Edit get it's merge on.

    When it's done, we're going to close TES5Edit, saving only the new patch file (un-tick the others.)

    STEP #6
    Once you've exited the program, you're going to re-open it, this time ticking only the new "ETaC - Complete Patches.esp"; don't open any of the old pre-merged patches. Once loaded, (just as we did in Step #3) right-click the newly created "ETaC - Complete Patches.esp" file and select "Check for Errors."

    Take a look over on the right-hand window (under the messages tab) at the very bottom, TES5Edit will show you any errors that it's found in its sweep of the new file. Provided nothing comes up, the merge has been successful and the file is safe to use.

    STEP #7
    If you merged files that contained navmesh, and are now getting errors relating to the NAVI (Navigation Mesh Info Map), that’s ok. We can fix it. DO NOT UN-ESM-IFY YOUR FILES YET. Just head directly down to the “NAVI Errors” section. Once the errors are fixed, THEN you can un-esm-ify.

    If you esm-ified your master files in Step #1, please see Step #5 below. If you didn’t esm-ify anything, you’re all set. Go forth and prosper.

    STEP #8
    The last thing you need to do is to return your master.esps to their actual "esp" form, vs. the "esm" form we've currently got them in. To do this, open Wrye again, right-click each of the patch masters and select "Espify Self". Do this for all of the files that you had "esmified."

    They should now return to their normal "esp" non-blue-like-state.

    If you’ve merged town or patch files containing navmesh edits, and are getting “Navigation Mesh Info Map” (henceforth NAVI) errors in TES5Edit after merging – Don’t panic. It’s easy to fix. SO!

    STEP #1
    Open the angry plugin in TES5Edit. Click to expand its contents, right-click on “Navigation Mesh Info Map” and hit “Remove.” Once done, exit TES5Edit, remember to save the plugin.

    If you are doing this for the town files, you can skip to Step #3 below. If you are doing this for patch files, you’re going to Step #2.

    STEP #2
    The next thing we have to do is re-date the files. The CK… does not really care about your physical load order. It ignores it entirely and instead uses the file dates to determine the order the files will be loaded in. This is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT where navmesh is concerned. If the files are loaded out of order it will break ALL THE NAVMESH. It’s bad. Very. Very. Bad. SO!

    Open Wrye. In here, we’re going to change the dates of the files that we’ll need to open. (For the patches, you’ll have to re-date the masters for those patches.) The dates have to be descending, so the file you’ll want loaded last will have the most recent date.

    Let’s leave the top-most loading file-as, but click to highlight it, then in left-hand window, copy its date. (We’ll use this date to make changing the others a little quicker.) With this date in hand, click the file you’ll want loaded next, go to its date, delete it, paste the one you copied before, then change the last digit. (So if it was 2/24/2016 12:35:40 PM, you’d be changing it to 2/24/2016 12:35:41 PM.) Then hit “Save.”

    Do this for ALL of the master files that will be loaded. Just keep going down the list until all the dates are sequential and reflecting the proper load order.

    Mod File A 2/24/2016 12:35:40 PM
    Mod File B 2/24/2016 12:35:41 PM
    Mod File C 2/24/2016 12:35:42 PM
    Mod File D 2/24/2016 12:35:43 PM

    So on and so forth. When that’s done – It’s CK time. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE UNPACKED THE .BSA FILE.

    STEP #3
    Then... Open the CK. Once it's open, click "file" on the menu bar up to, and select "data", when the data menu loads, set your patch file as active and click "OK" to open the file. (Please ignore that I’m not using the patch file for this lol. Process is the same.)

    Note: If you have the CK set to show you errors it encounters, you're going to get some. (Should you get any errors other than the ones listed below, and want to post them here, the CK also includes this information in a .txt file called "EditorWarnings" which you can find in your Skyrim folder for your copy+paste convenience.) Here are the ones that are normal, expected, totally fine:

    ASSERT FILE: C:_SkyrimCodeTESVBSShaderShadersBSLightingShaderProperty
    Nothing to do with this mod. Ignore.

    MASTERFILE: NavmeshInfo 00028e37 has no parent space, ignoring.
    Indigenous to Skyrim.esm. Nothing to do with this mod. Ignore.

    MASTERFILE: Automatic door 'AutoLoadDoor01' (00015E1D) [324 units]
    in cell 'YngolBarrowExterior' has its teleport marker too close to the linked door.
    You're going to get several errors about various doors, these are also indigenous
    to Skyrim.esm, have nothing to do with this mod, ignore, etc.

    #5: MASTERFILE: Failed to find door portal array index for tri 6 in NavMesh (000170BC).
    Indigenous to Skyrim.esm. Nothing to do with this mod. Ignore.

    If you are getting other errors, are concerned about them, and don't know what they might mean, feel free to post below and I'll let you know whether or not you should start to freak out about it or anything.


    Once open the only thing you're going to have to do is save the file (either by press the little floppy disc looking icon at the top, or by hitting "Crtl + S".) This will prompt the CK to regenerate your NAVI info. While it's saving, you should see along the very bottom of the window: "Computing Bounds For Navmeshes ...%" followed by a percentage of progress. When it's done, you can close the CK.

    STEP #4
    Just to confirm everything has gone as expected, and before you attempt to run the plugin in-game, I suggest reloading your new plugin (with all its regenerated NAVI) in TES5Edit to do one last check that everything is order. So. Once you've opened your file, right-click it in the left-hand window and select "Check for Errors."

    Take a look over on the right-hand window (under the messages tab) at the very bottom, TES5Edit will show you any errors that it's found in its sweep of the new file. Provided nothing comes up, the merge has been successful and the file is safe to use.

    Don't forget to un-ESM-ify your master files.