So I think I have this worked out, I would love some feedback here as to weather this works for anyone else or not.
I have followed every guide I could find, but they all seemed broken for me, other than getting old versions of the nif plugin and PyFFI to work with 2.4b (which is unacceptable really) Note that I am still on Widows 7 because, reasons. perhaps this is why no installation guides worked for me.
Note that I just started using Blender a few weeks ago (I'm just primarily an audio guy) and I've forgotten everything I knew about Python a decade ago - except that HATE it. So consider this method beginner / noob friendly.
I'm tempted to go on a rant here, and say that the nif_tools dev team really needs to update their documentation as far as installing and using their plugins for us plebes who don't know their way around a python shell. They can't really seem to figure out a way to handle the user getting pyffi installed into Blender's Python- or no, I really think they just aren't confident enough to even bother putting together an installer, or some sort of proper and updated installation guide - or maybe even just too lazy. Anyways, that was a terrible attempt at a non rant.... From what I can tell, things are working pretty well, so well done devs. Your documentation is garbage however. So...
How to install nif plugins for 2.83 without touching a command line or python shell:
STEP 1a: Get the blender_nif plugin.
go to http://www.niftools.org . There you will see links for the blender_nif_plugin, and also pyffi. Click on the link to the blender_nif_plugin, which takes you to their github page - https://github.com/niftools/blender_nif_plugin
Click on the Clone or Download button, download the ZIP. Do not try and install this from within Blender like you would another plugin, It's not setup for that as the folder hierarchy is wrong. It does nothing. Might be a dumb oversight, but I'll give the benefit of doubt here since it's just a dev build honestly. Just extract the zip anywhere else temporarily. We really only want one folder out of that archive anyways, the rest is just github developer things you don't need.
STEP 1b: put the right folder in the right folder
In the extracted archive files, look for a folder named "io_scene_nif"
Just copy this folder (or you can drag and drop it) - but where to paste/drag it to? There are two locations where Blender plugins can reside, for the sake of my sanity in writing this guide, and to have a nice portable installation of Blender, we are just going to put this folder in the right place within the Blender installation folder itself.
I don't know where your demented mind installed blender, but if you installed it anywhere other than the default location, you are probably clever enough to adjust the paths here. The default location (at least for me) is C:\Program Files\Blender Foundation\Blender 2.83
here you will see the Blender.exe with some other stuff, and another folder named "2.83" - let's go there, and we see 3 folders "datafiles", "python", and "scripts". Open "scripts" and we will see the "addons" folder.
We need to paste (or drop) the "io_scene_nif" folder into the "addons" folder. The full path is something like:
C:\Program Files\Blender Foundation\Blender 2.83\2.83\scripts\addons
ok, on to step 2, or if you are curious, open up blender, go to prefrences > addons, search "nif" and try to enable the plugin. You will see that you get an error. That's cause we don't have PyFFI installed.
STEP 2a: get PyFFI
back to http://www.niftools.org. SO here we get into the absolute stupidity of the situation. You would think you'd just from here follow that PyFFI link, download a thing, install a thing and be done, but no...
the version of pyffi on their github page dosen't match what the blender_nif plugin uses! If you dig around, you'll see that they've dropped the PyFFI version from dev4 to dev3. Besides getting pyffi installed is a pain in the but anyways - so let's just cut out the BS, I don't even want to discuss the ways I got here to figure this out.
STEP 2b: "install" PyFFI
If we were clever enough, we could open up a command line, do some python thing such that it only effects Blenders python thing and install a thing to it by using pip, which is just a package installer. anyways, sounds neat, but I can't get it to work, (and you probably can't either) so all it's really trying to do is download a file, and put it into a folder, it's not like it's doing some registry bs or anything, it's not some magic - it's just a f***ing script! so were just going to use our operating system (windows) to do that instead, we aren't going to be fancy about it, just unwrap the round peg that we got delivered to us in square box, and put it the round hole, then make our sweet mods without having to revert to old versions of blender.
click on the link to PyFFI-2.2.4.dev3.tar.gz
Winrar or 7zip should be able to extract the . tar file. We just want to extract this, and grab the "pyffi" folder out of it.
copy/paste or drag and drop the pyffi folder into the right path -
so what's the right path here? SO if you were to successfully use pythons Blender, and pip to install Pyffi, it would probably just go here -
C:\Program Files\Blender Foundation\Blender 2.83\2.83\python\lib\site-packages
it might also work just in ~python\lib
So yeah just put the PyFFI package folder in Blenders python library.
You can now enable the plugin without an error
You can now go through the absolute shitshow of figuring out the right settings for whatever game your modding assets for....
( If I can get some number of people to confirm that this method actually works I think I will do a video tutorial and post it on youTube, but I dunno, my windows enviroment is so borked that I either found the easiest method currently possible or I've done some thing terribly dumb - just let me know, thanks!)
Edited by theearm, 04 June 2020 - 10:33 PM.