As many of you may remember, last year around this time we conducted a poll on whether or not it was the right time to consider unifying the unofficial patches into a single package. At the time, about 25% of those who responded to the poll were still in a position where they did not have all 3 DLCs for the game. So we decided against merging everything at that time.
Fast forward to today, it's become quite clear that that 25% is far less than it was, and more and more people have been asking when we're going to be doing this. This post is your answer. :)
Shortly after the release of USKP 2.1.3, we will begin the process of unification to merge the vanilla USKP plus all of the DLC patches into one all encompassing mod, which will be known as "Unofficial Skyrim Legendary Edition Patch", or USLEEP for short. A mouthful, but a catchy acronym.
We have decided that the best course of action will be to rename the esp to match the mod's updated name. It will remain an ESP file flagged as an ESM as that makes the process of working on it less of a hassle for us and as has been proven, the game, CK, and existing mod management tools are completely fine with it. We have also verified that switching the ESP name will not cause any scripts modified by the project, or added new to the project, to throw Papyrus errors. The only side effect will be that the retroactive update scripts will all run again. That shouldn't cause any problems though and we'll make sure any scripts manipulating formlists are safeguarded against generating duplicate references in them.
The hi-res DLC patch will remain a separate entity as many people do not use it for one reason or another and it's not considered part of the "Legendary Edition" of the game either.
We estimate the time needed to do the work of merging everything together and then putting it through testing will take a few months. So we are not anticipating another release for the project between now and November while this work is done. Time commitments to other things are the main reason for this, so we figure giving ourselves enough time for that is prudent. Plus this also gives enough warning ahead of time that we're going forward with this.
As many existing issues as we could resolve for the 2.1.3 release cycle have now been cleared from the tracker and any issues remaining that are not feasible to fix have been closed appropriately. Any new issues submitted after this point will need to wait until the unification process is complete before we will even begin to consider touching them. Please, DO report them, just don't expect action for awhile. If it should become necessary (God forbid) for a hotfix to be released before the unification is done, then that will be the ONLY issue that will be addressed and will be handled only in whatever patch it may affect.
After the unification process is done, the existing separated patches will no longer receive updates. The files will remain up in their existing entries but will be frozen and the comment threads closed where possible. All future support will be handled on a single file entry for the unified project on each site it is hosted on.
Mods which rely on using the USKP/UDGP/UHFP/UDBP are strongly urged to make plans to switch over to the new master file when it's ready. Other mods which import fixes from the unofficial patches are also strongly urged to make sure they are up to date before November. It would also be best if any translated versions of the patches out there get synced up with 2.1.3 so that as many people as possible will have access to them while the unification is underway.
We will have a testing release at some point before the unified patch is ready to go live. The usual cautions against using beta copies on saves you intend to keep will apply. That step is going to last no less than a full month so that there's time enough to shake out any bugs that result from the process.
Some of you may also be wondering what this means for my own projects that make use of the unofficial patches as masters. These will all be converted as needed to run using the unified patch file. Post-unification, I will not release mods that rely on the individual patch files. So things like Bring Out Your Dead, Cutting Room Floor, Ars Metallica, and other stuff, will all get taken care of on whatever schedule fits best as the process moves along. In the case of Cutting Room Floor, this will also open the door to adding cut DLC content that's been getting logged to the tracker. So it'll be worth it :P Once I make these transitions, any old copies relying on the old patch files will be frozen.