VKAS - Vod K'nuckles Archival System
Isn’t it mighty frustrating when you come upon a mod on the Nexus, give it a try, then check on the mod’s page only to see that it’s hidden or has been deleted? How about when you’re reading a mod’s description and it mentions another mod that’s nowhere to be found?
Fads come and go, jokes live and die, acceptable materials ebb and flow. Such is the nature of life. Mods are no different and it’s best to download your favourite mods now, before they’re gone. If you have a spare minute and some extra storage space, I’d like to explain my extensive mod archival procedure.
Section I: Sourcing
Firstly and foremostly, you’ll need to find some mods for your game(s) of choosing. You may want to start off with some smaller utility mods as they tend to be of a lesser filesize and may have less complicated webpages.
Three things are needed to properly archive a mod according to my standards; the mod's files, a copy of the webpage (or full-page screenshot), and a unique folder to store those files in.
To archive webpages, I use a browser add-on that saves a full webpage as an .html file, this allows for some sense of what the original mod page looked like, along with the description, some pictures, etc. I’ll include one of these .html files and some screenshots along with this tutorial. For the bulk of my webpage saving, I use Save Page WE, an extension for Brave, Chrome, and Firefox. After downloading the webpage, I store it in a unique folder for that particular mod along with the files for said mod.
This extension works well enough for the Nexus family of sites. It usually has a hard time with some of the elements of a mod’s webpage, most notably the background graphics and the Requirements / Permissions tabs. The description and photos are usually preserved well-enough, but your mileage will vary.
Along with the extension, I of course download the mod files and create a unique folder for each mod I save. This will all be drawn out below in painful simplicity.
Section II: Archiving
1. Locate the mod which you would like to download
2. On the Description tab, click the Save Page WE icon in the upper right corner of the window
a. You may have to pin the extension first, icon is a small, blue Floppy Disk
3. Once the webpage is saved, select the Files tab and manually download the file(s) of your choosing
4. Once your files are done, highlight the full name of the mod
a. ex. “Death Sound Replacer - Stan Smith Scream”
5. In the URL bar, surround the Mod ID with brackets and paste the mod name beside it
a. ex. " Death Sound Replacer - Stan Smith Scream"
6. Copy this ID + Name string and make a new folder in your Downloads folder, using the copied text as the folder name, this is your new mod-id folder
a. ex. "C:\Users\user\Downloads\ Death Sound Replacer - Stan Smith Scream"
7. Move the downloaded webpage and mod files to the newly created mod-id folder
8. Move the mod-id folder to your database of game mods
a. I’ll explain my structure system below
9. You’re done! That’s one mod saved, now for the rest of them.
a. Mods can be added to NMM or MO2 manually, look around the UI for the correct button in your mod manager of choice. I don’t use Vortex, but I’m sure it works in a similar way.
The top folder should be your mods folder, then you’ll have folders for each of the games you want to backup mod files for (these folders can be named how you choose, but the structure should stay rigid). Inside those, I choose to sort my mods by category. These can be copied directly from the Nexus or you can create your own categories. Inside of the category folder (Audio, Gameplay, NPCs, etc.) you’ll house the mod-id folders that were created using the steps above. The lines below show the basic nesting structure. Remember, different naming styles can be used for the mods, game, and category folders.
mods folder > game folder > category folder > mod-id folder > mod.zip
ex. C:\ games \ game mods \ Fallout NV \ Audio \ [ID] Mod Title \ mod-archive.zip
Once a basic folder structure has been made and your first mod has been nestled in its mod-id and category folder, you’re now ready to continue expanding your archive and save those mods from the brink of obscurity. Feel free to experiment with different structures, folder styles, naming conventions, etc. This archive is for you after all.
Section III: Forgotten Mods
If you’re reading this document, you may have already downloaded some mods that have been (for whatever reason) deleted, hidden, banned, etc. Hope is not lost! I’ll give you some tips for finding information on your random Nexus mod archives.
• Most Nexus site archives follow a similar naming convention.
- ex. filename-v1.0-12345-1-0.zip
• It sounds obvious, but search through the archive for a readme or another piece if identifiable info. if possible.
• The filename usually (but not always) includes the name of the mod it came from. This can be a shortened or acronym variation of the original name.
• The filename usually contains a numerical Mod ID (12345 in the above example) but these numbers can range from single to five or six digit numbers.
- Mod IDs are sequential and a smaller numbers mean an older mod.
• The filename may have version information (v1.0 / 1_0 / 1-0 are all regularly used), this is helpful for identifying the version (obviously).
• Finally, the filename may allude to the archive being a supplementary file instead of the main mod file. Keep an eye on expected vs actual file sizes.
- ex. Patches, Hotfixes, and other small add-ons are common.
The first place to start on your quest is to identify to which game this mod file belongs. Start by searching the internet for the filename, you may get some results that show the game it was made for, if not the full name of the mod. You may be lucky enough to find a translation of the mod, a patch made by someone else, or any number of webpages referencing that mod / filename to aide in your search.
Once you know what game the file belongs to and what ID the mod used to have, you’ll want to reconstruct the old URL. This is simple and can be done by copying the URL for an active mod on the Nexus and replacing the Mod ID with the one from your archive. If you’re reading this section the mod page will probably be hidden or the mod will have been deleted. Don’t fret! We can find another way.
Archive.org’s Wayback Machine is your friend. It has helped me find dozens of since-deleted mod webpages and it can help you too.
Copy-paste that reconstructed URL into web.archive.org and navigate through their catalog of old webpages. If they have a copy of your desired mod page, then you’re in luck! Wait for the page to load, save it using the above means, and rest assured that your mod is now safe and not forgotten. If a date range, a page fails to load, or doesn't display the page you're expecting, try a different date or time.
If the Wayback Machine didn’t happen to capture your desired mod page when it was up, then you may have to explore some other avenues and hope that the information you’re looking for turns up. Some mod authors may be friendly and divulge some information if you send them a polite email or DM, however most are secretive about their hidden / deleted mods and you may not get much information from the author, assuming the author is still active in the modding community.
For these prior-Nexus mods, I name the mod-id folders using the same scheme as above, then relegate them to a custom category folder. Something like "Removed from Nexus" should work fine. You may even want to create a custom readme file for your own records. You definitely don't want to forget what that mod does if it isn't particularly clear.
Section IV: Conclusion
Author's Note 1:
Sometimes a mod is taken down for a good reason; copyright infringement, adult content, plagiarism, etc. I am certainly not against a mod author’s (or the host website’s) right to take down a mod. Furthermore, many mods get re-uploaded to alternative sites once they have been removed from the Nexus. I do not condone uploading mods for which you don’t have permission to do so. Use these tips at your own discretion and please respect the wishes of mod makers.
Author's Note 2:
This presentation was originally made as a PDF with an example folder structure for the "Modders Resources and Tutorials" section of the Skyrim SE Nexus. After a conversation with a moderator, the category was renamed and I was instructed to find another avenue for uploading this presentation, so I rewrote sections of it to better suit a plaintext format. If you'd like a copy of the PDF, please send me a message, and if you’ve made it this far, I appreciate you spending the time to read my words. Thank you.
This concludes Vod K’nuckles' guide to archiving mods. I hope it was somewhat useful and please leave a reply, send me a DM, or contact me through my blog linked in my profile if you want to make suggestions, ask a question, or just say Howdy. Good luck and happy modding!