Source: Flickr/Clinton Steeds.

Oil and gas master limited partnerships pay enormous distributions to their investors. Atlas Resource Partners (NYSE: ARP), for example, pays a gigantic 11.6% distribution to its investors. Meanwhile, Memorial Production Partners' (NASDAQ: MEMP) units currently yield 9.8% while Legacy Reserves' (NASDAQ:LGCY) current payout is 8.6%. What has been interesting to watch this year is the overhaul these companies have undergone in an effort to maintain and grow these already-enormous payouts.

For example, Atlas Resource Partners recently spent $420 million to buy some very low-decline oil properties in Colorado. While that sum represents a pretty big deal for Atlas Resource Partners, however, what was an even bigger deal was a much smaller natural gas acquisition that added substantial reserves. Meanwhile, Memorial Production Partners also spent a lot of money as it made three deals, including one where it forked over $935 million to pick up some oil properties in Wyoming. Finally, Legacy Reserves went in the other direction after it announced a game-changing strategic alliance where it acquired natural gas reserves.

Each deal represented a slight shift in direction for these high-yielding energy companies. To help investors gain a better understanding of what these shifts mean, I've created the following slideshow. The presentation shows what these companies were like before the deals, as well as how each has changed since the deal. By comparing the before and after snapshots, we can see which companies improved and which might still have work to do.