It’s been a couple of months since my last post. Since then, Mass Effect Legendary Edition launched, and I just released ME3Tweaks Mod Manager 7.0 BETA, which supports Legendary Edition games.
As a quick summary, here’s what you need to know:
- Mod Manager is in Beta and is not yet fully stable or localized
- Legendary Explorer is still in development, and will be released soon
- Multiple new mod formats have come about of Mod Manager 7 which will change how modding games is done
- LE1 DLC mod support is being worked on
Mod Manager 7.0 Beta
Mod Manager 7.0 is the first release that supports Legendary Edition, and took about 5-6 weeks of pretty much full-time work to get up and running. It’s not fully stable yet and is having some bugs worked out but most of the features are stable and working. This includes things like creating starter kit mods, installing mods, etc. It should become stable pretty soon.
Coalesced mods for LE2/LE3 should be done through DLC mods, not basegame coalesced edits. DLC mounts before the title screen shows up.
Legendary Explorer is still in development, and is nearly done. There have been some recent unforeseen issues come up that we are having to work out with distribution and a few remaining things. This has been a full team effort as we have had to update a nearly decade old codebase to add 3 brand new games. We expect this to start being available for use soon – we have done some testing with veteran modders in read-only mode, and a few mods were developed and released by toolset developers as ways to stress test the toolset (and we found and fixed a ton of issues developing them).
New Mod Formats
As part of ME3Tweaks Mod Manager 7.0, I have developed several new mod formats that will ease issues in the long term scene that have plagued the Original Trilogy scene.
Merge Mods are a new mod file format named m3m. These files are parsed and installed by Mod Manager and apply a specific set of changes to high traffic files like SFXGame.pcc and Startup. In the OT, some mods shipped these files (like ME2Controller), which means other mods that wanted to modify those same files had to make patches built on top of those files.
This made it exponentially worse for every new mod. Users could not choose which to install – it was one or the other for most mods. Merge mods, for the most part, fix this issue by only changing select parts of the file, and is a key part of the new scene. Many quality of life changes can only be done in these basegame files that cannot be shipped in DLC mods.
As such, it is important that changes to these files be distributed through the merge format, which will extend in scope over time. Shipping full file replacements for files breaks a lot of other mods and has caused long term harm to the OT scene, I have seen many mods simply be abandoned due to having to compete with well established mods. Over time I plan to expand what merge mods can do, but for launch I have limited it’s scope.
You can update properties, scripts, and merge assets into existing entries – asset merge is like doing drag/drop in ME3Explorer and replacing existing data (with relink).
Plot Manager Sync
Plot Manager Sync is like a special version of the merge goal, targeting ME1/ME2/LE1/LE2’s plot manager file. The Plot Manager file controls a huge swath of story related progression tracking and is used all the time in the game. Due to how Unreal loads things into memory, loading the basegame one first means values in it could not be overridden. This format changed in ME3 so this does not apply to ME3/LE3.
Plot Manager Sync will find specifically named files in DLC mods and apply their changes to the basegame plot manager sync. This will allow multiple mods to modify this file without overwriting the other. This feature will require updates to mods to work, but there are only 3 known mods that touch this file, and only 2 of them are available for download, with both devs updating their mod soon.
As of writing this post, this doesn’t work for LE1, as we don’t have proper DLC loading yet.
Squadmate Outfit Merge
Note: This does not work yet and will be enabled in a future update as of writing.
In ME2/ME3/LE2/LE3, what outfits a squadmate can wear are determined by what’s listed in the BioP_Global.pcc file. As such, this has the same issue of competing for files if you want to add new outfits that don’t replace existing ones.
Squadmate outfit merge allows Mod Manager to automatically build a BioP_Global.pcc file, along with related data (conditionals, etc) to allow you to add new outfits for squadmates, and have them all work nicely together. By adding a specifically named file in your DLC mod, it tells Mod Manager which files are part of an outfit. All information is then built into a new merge DLC mod that M3 makes, and your outfit works.
This should allow wardrobe mods for squadmates to co-exist.
LE1 DLC Mods are being worked on
Unfortunately, the DLC loader that ME1 had doesn’t exist in LE1. It seems it was crippled by the PS3 port, which is what LE1 is based on. We currently have package overrides working, but DLC mount doesn’t work yet (Bio2DA overrides, TLK, etc). We have a plan to get it to work but it’s going to take some time to implement and test.
It’s going to be more difficult to support ini merges however, for things like bioengine.ini, etc, as the ini merge code also appears to have been stripped out. This will significantly complicate some mods, but a few mods have worked around this, such as Better Camera, which is a merge mod (so it’s widely compatible) and doesn’t touch Coalesced, which does not have a merge feature (text file merging is VERY complicated and error prone, and is often not able to be automated without manual intervention – which users won’t understand).
Glad to have some of these tools out for use, I have seen some interesting and fun mods already being made. One thing we have noticed is some very toxic users of some mods who seem to think they are entitled to the work that we do.
We have spent literally 5 straight weeks working on this, for users to use, FOR FREE. Being toxic or abusive helps nobody. People make mods on their own time, out of their own passion, and many of the recently released ones are designed to be widely compatible. They don’t owe you anything – how much work did you put into these mods you’re installing?
It is very demoralizing to have such toxic mod users who think of nothing but themselves. People who make mods are humans too. If you have nothing constructive to say, please don’t bother.
That’s all for this update. Until next time,