It’s been a couple of months since my last blog piece where I updated you all on what we had planned for this year, focusing a lot on stability and a new server clustering setup. We’re now quite close to rolling this out so I’ll talk a little bit more about that and then talk about what we’re working towards.
The past couple of weekends have been a bit tough on the servers partly because we’re continuing to tack on new functionality and partly because traffic is still at an all time high. Our solution to this problem which I discussed in detail in the last blog piece focused on completely changing our server architecture to form a database cluster; the idea that you can “link” multiple servers together to make a (for all intents and purposes) single massive database monster that can handle everything you throw at it. If you need to add more power you just add more servers to the cluster, so the potential is practically limitless. We’re almost ready to roll this out which will obviously require a bit of scheduled down-time which we’ll inform you of before taking the sites down for the maintenance. The hope is that everything goes smoothly and when it all comes back up everything is running like a boss. Do things like that ever happen in the real world? Not normally. But hey, here’s to hoping.
While we wait for the final touches to be finished on our database cluster we’ve optimised the sites a bit more today. We’re hoping you’ll not notice those regular weekend slowdowns we get as much as before. It’s our absolute hope that when the cluster is fully set up and rolled out it’s going to solve our site slowdown issues for good, so it’s a really important step for us as we look to improve on the Nexus further.
So what’s the plan for the rest of this year? I know I’ve mentioned this already countless times but when I first started the Nexus sites (and the Source sites before that) I had some important principle tenets that were my aim and focus for running the sites; to create as useful and trouble-free resource as possible for modders that would stand the test of time and not be bottle-necked by bureaucracy or any one person, like me. I think we’re almost at this point now.
If I were to pass away tomorrow (touch-wood and all that jazz) these sites would continue to run in the form of the 4 other programmers working here. Sure, there’d be a ruckus, but the legacy should continue as they have access to much of what goes on behind the scenes. Moving away from this morbid subject, why am I bringing it up? I think the final remaining bottleneck is that of the games we support. In order to support another game for modding a bottleneck forms while I have to go through the process of setting up a new Nexus site. Why don’t we support modding in its entirety for any and all games that people want to mod? Well there’s lots of good reasons and I’ve always wanted to focus on games I know and like because it’s been important to tailor solutions specific to games themselves, rather than diluting our services to try and accommodate a broader spectrum of games. However what I’m finding is that we’re in the start of a little renaissance period for modding that has gone hand-in-hand with the recent prevalence of indie game development that has meant more great games are being released more often, the Kickstarter revolution that has helped to fund this, the launch of Steam Workshop that has helped to spread the word about modding and increase it’s popularity among people who were originally averse to the idea of modding and the decline of the “Triple-A” gaming market, where modding had been abandoned and replaced by lacklustre DLC to eek out more money from gamers.
While we’ve been focusing on these Triple-A games that support modding (that come along once in a blue moon) there have been lots of indie, or “smaller” games passing us by that have provided modding support but have often lacked a decent place to host their content. We’re talking about games that would have a small modding community that maybe produces 50 - 200 mods. The problem isn’t that I don’t want to take the time to make Nexus sites for these games, the problem is that I’m struggling to keep up with the market.
I don’t want to support modding for specific games. I want to support modding. Period. While Steam Workshop has been great at demystifying modding as some obscure past-time and brought modding to the masses I personally think it’s taking modding in a troubling direction by essentially DRMifying mods. In order to download a mod from Steam Workshop, currently, you need to have bought the game on Steam or have access to a Steam key for the game and install the game via Steam, essentially negating the whole point of wanting a DRM-free copy of the game (by all means please correct me if this is no longer the case). This would be like changing the Nexus so that you could only download and install mods from the site if you used the Nexus Mod Manager. We certainly would never go down that route. And the annoying thing is that the solution is quite simple for Steam Workshop; they just need to offer a manual download button. Will they do it? I’ve no idea. And the problem with the modding community right now is that there’s not much choice out there in terms of general modding sites. We’ve got moddb.com, and what a great resource that has been and still is and, thinking about it, they’re the only major site out there that I know of that provides a modding solution to any and all games. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; modding should be all about choice. It’s your choice what you mod and it should be your choice where and how you choose to get and distribute your mods with others. Choice is exactly what is needed and I want to position the Nexus so that it becomes one of those choices, and I can’t do that if I have to cherry pick the games we will and won’t support.
So what’s the plan? First things first if you only care about modding one of the games we already support then for you things aren’t going to change past what we would have done before irrespective of supporting other games. Skyrim/Oblivion/Fallout/Witcher/etc. Nexus will still exist and look and act just as before. We’ve got design updates in the pipeline but these were always going to come along anyway, irrespective of this plan. So yes, if you don’t care about us supporting other games then for you, “phew”, nothing is going to change. So what will change? Essentially we’re going to be centralising our offering on to nexusmods.com, where we’ll support modding for any and all games. It’s actually quite a simple change; when you go to add a mod you’ll be able to choose the game your mod is for. If the game isn’t in our database, you can add it, and then add a mod for that file, so you’ll be able to add mods for games that we didn’t originally support.
This will create a new, generic Nexus site for the game you just added. It’ll look and feel like Skyrim/Oblivion/Fallout Nexus, but it just won’t have an updated template and will use the same standard colour set and generic background. From NexusMods.com you’ll be able to drill-down in to all the files we support across every Nexus site and every game. This will go hand-in-hand with our new category and search pages that we’ll be rolling out in the next fortnight that I think you guys are really going to like just because it puts so much more at your fingertips to really get to what you want quickly from a single page. But let me just reiterate; the experience you get from the Nexus sites we currently have won’t be changing, or moving. This is about providing support for more (or all) games, and adding to our catalogue, not changing our back catalogue.
This change will enable mod authors to add mods for any and all games that support modding. I regularly get asked by mod authors from various other games we don’t support (to name but a few of the more popular requests; Minecraft, GTA, STALKER, Sins of a Solar Empire, Crusader Kings 2, Torchlight 2, the list goes on..) whether they can upload their mods to the Nexus. They can’t, because we don’t support the game. The idea isn’t to swamp places and detract from communities, but to offer mod authors who like the Nexus format and like how we operate to share their work via the Nexus itself. Don’t like Steam Workshop? Use ModDB and the Nexus. Don’t like ModDB? Use the Nexus or Steam Workshop. Don’t like the Nexus? Use ModDB and Steam Workshop. Don’t like any of them or want to share with as many people as possible? Make your own site or use one of the many community sites already on offer. It’s all about choice, and you should all be able to have that choice and not be limited to one site alone. I’ve no idea if opening up the Nexus to all games is an option that’s going to be used by mod authors or not. It could take off massively or it could not be used at all and really, that’s not the point.I just want that choice to be there.
On top of this change we’re also going to open up the possibility on all sites to create your own file categories for your files. When you pick the category for your mod you can pick from a pre-set list. Your mod will go into this category to begin with, just like it does right now, but you can also suggest a category that isn’t currently listed for your file that fits it better. If we agree with the category then we’ll add it to the database and your file will be automatically moved into this category once it’s approved. You’ll also be presented a list of categories that others have suggested to pick from; so if we see that 50 files have been added for a suggested category then we know right away that yes, that category is probably worth approving.
The subject of supporting modding in general has been on my mind for a long time now and it’s been one of the major driving forces for wanting to get this database cluster setup and running smoothly. I can’t in good conscious begin supporting modding for a multitude of new games with the sites performing as sluggishly as they have; it’d be a kick in the teeth to the people who’ve supported us for a long time and I wouldn’t want you to feel as though I’m abandoning the roots of the Nexus to go tread in new territory. No, we get things working perfectly, confident that we can transition into this next step without screwing up everything we’ve worked on before.
And to placate the moderating fears and appease those mod authors who’ve been demanding this for a while now it’s likely with this change that we’ll provide mod authors with full comment moderation tools for their mods. I think at that point the gates are open and we’ll have to change our policy to ensure both the sanity of the moderation team and the sanity of the mod authors.
For me the Nexus up to now has been about supporting the communities I know and love. I’ll continue to do this, and I’ll continue to keep my eye out for games that I’d love to focus support towards. Opening up Nexus Mods to all games is going to be an “as-is” service. We’ll provide the tools and the services “as-is”, but will continue to offer that more focused and specialised service for those Nexus sites we’ve fully committed to supporting. And by analysing the new games that are being added to the database I’ll be able to see at a glance if there’s any games that we can make a full-fledged Nexus site for (i.e. a site with it’s own custom template, colour scheme and background, as it is right now with the current Nexus sites). So if (as an example) 100 Minecraft mods get added to the database then yes, it’d probably be worth spending the extra time on my end to give those folks a custom look to their Nexus site.
It’s our aim then to open up the Nexus fully with an API for web designers and a software hook for developers, all offered free of charge. Think of a service like Skyrim G.E.M.S.; they’d be able to plug in to our API and retrieve information about all the mods they have in their database straight from the Nexus without the need to program a scraper or manually enter data. On the software side we want to provide hooks and API data to game developers so that they can present and provide mods to gamers from within the games themselves; including being able to download the mod straight from our servers to their games. We’d happily allow that. We wouldn’t look to charge for this service at all (either to gamers or the game developers); we think modding should be open and free to everyone and I want to run these sites on good-will; it’ll cost us a lot of money to provide free downloads to everyone, but I think what goes around, comes around. If you offer a good service that people appreciate then donations (in the form of Premium Membership from users) and top-ups from game developers who appreciate that offering those millions of downloads last month probably cost us a lot of money so they might want to consider helping out with a donation will be more than enough. Running on good-will rather than private investment and money-grabbing has worked well for us so far, and there’s no reason it won’t going forward as well.
This change isn’t imminent. We’ve got a few things we want to get out of the way first before we look into this but you can consider this a statement of intent. This is what we’re working towards. This is what we want to do, and we’ll try our hardest to not only make it a reality, but a reality that works well and for the good of the gaming community.
If you are one of those who are thinking "Bah! The design in ESO is nothing like an Elder Scrolls game should have!", then you might want to reconsider... Just look at that Ogrim!
And in other (belated) news... have you checked your e-mail lately? The second batch of beta invitations for ESO was sent out yesterday and today (unless today is not yet today, and they still haven't sent them out..! please please please!)
Oh, and while we're at it, if you haven't checked out the latest "Ask Us Anything, you might want to read it - it has some interesting info.
I realize some of you may not know what an Ogrim really is, and why it is in ESO (Shame on you!), so here is one from Morrowind:
The next few videos from me will be devoted to making the Skyrim werewolf experience more intense and enjoyable.
Thumbnail image for this video is 'Twin Fangs' courtesy of 0o0Visigoth0o0.
Download links for reviewed mods:
Heart of the Beast - Werewolf Sound and Texture Overhaul
Tales of Lycanthropy - Werewolf Overhaul
Download link for previewed mods:
Gypsy Eyes Caravan
An extremely underused feature on the Nexus file pages is the “Discussions” tab, which allows authors and users (provided the author allows it) to create different threads for different parts of conversation to do with the file. When you have a large mod that gets hundreds of new messages a day it can often be difficult to keep up with what’s going on within your single comment topic. Bug reports, feedback, suggestions, troubleshooting and general chit-chat get all mixed up in a big soup of one large mega thread where anything and everything is spoken about and large amounts of cross-talking takes place. With discussions you can create separate threads for these issues and then, hopefully, people will use the thread most relevant to what they want to talk about on your file.
I hope the new reply mechanics are helping you to keep up with the amount of cross-talking going on, but discussions are also there for mod authors to make use of that help to segregate their chats into more concise areas. Unfortunately because using the single comment topic is so ingrained in what people do on the Nexus sites a very large proportion of people completely ignore the discussions area, or worse, don’t know about it.
I know lots of mod authors like having a single comment topic where everything is placed and nothing has changed for you folks. In fact if you don’t care about discussions you can stop reading now and get on with your merry business. But what we have done is provided some options when you make your file page for how you would like your comments to be setup. You can now choose to have a comment topic and no discussions area, a comment topic and a discussion area, just a discussions area and no comment topic, or no comments at all. How is this different you ask? Well before we didn’t let you have a discussion area without a comment topic as well; so you couldn’t force your users to use your discussion area and split your discussions up into more manageable chunks. The problem was then that everyone would just talk in the single comment topic and ignore the discussions. By turning off the single comment topic you can force people to use the discussions instead if you so wish.
You can still choose whether you want to let users make their own topics or you can choose to setup your own topics and not allow others to make one, so you can control the flow of what people talk about more easily. You can also lock, sticky and delete any of your threads, providing you with even more control. Why is this helpful? Well, you can setup your threads so you have a “Bug Reports”, “Troubleshooting” and “Feedback” section and then direct people to the correct thread for the topic being discussed.
If you want to remove your comment topic and make use of your discussion area on a mod you’ve already uploaded you’ll find a new setting in your file attributes page that lets you turn off your comment topic, essentially providing you with the same functionality.
While we were hoping we could give each mod its own private forum category on the Nexus forums after further investigation and research we worked out we couldn’t do this as past around 5,000 forum categories things kind of die, and with over 90,000 files hosted on the sites now it won’t be possible to achieve.
We’ll be taking a short break for easter now (happy easter) and then we’ll get back into the swing of things with a design update to the category and search result pages, NMM profiling and a move to our new database server cluster. Fingers crossed.
Today, Zenimax Online Studios sent out the first wave of Beta invitations, so check your e-mail, and pray that you are luckier than me!
Haven't gotten any e-mail? Do not be discouraged. This wave was a small one, and they have plenty more to send as the tests goes on.
Oh, and be sure to check your spam folders!
We’ve released a bug fix edition of NMM, taking us to version 0.44.4. Here’s the change log:
1. New Feature: The ReadMeManager now supports PDF files.
2. Bugfix: ReadMe Manager preventing .txt files from being installed in mod folders. (This fixes the installation of mods like Fores New Idles)
3. Bugfix: Rare crash while deleting a mod in CategoryView.
4. Bugfix: Omod script interpreter.
5. Bugfix: Users were able to set Mods and Install Info as the same folder.
6. Bugfix: NMM crashing with a corrupt ReadMeManager.xml file.
7. Bugfix: NMM using the wrong game path after a game rescan.
8. Bugfix: LoadOrder export using the wrong plugin list.
You can download the update through NMM or by downloading and installing manually through the NMM download page.
Unfortunately earlier today we found out that some of our file servers had been hacked, replacing manual (not NMM) downloads with a malicious installer that contained malware. This hack was targeted as the hacker deliberately named the file “Nexus_Downloader.exe” to try and snag as many people as possible. While I haven’t tried to run it myself it seems to be a scam malware that sends the user to a fake FBI page informing the user they must pay must in order to unlock their system. To make it worse only 4 of the 20 main anti-virus programs people use flagged this as a virus. It’s obviously a relatively new one that most haven’t caught up with, and this might have caught a few of you off guard.
As soon as we found out about the breach we had the servers down and patched up within minutes and we’ve been working today further hardening our servers and shutting down the method used by the hacker to gain access. All told, malicious downloads were only being served for an hour early this morning. If you don't know what I'm talking about then you missed it all.
There’s a few things to take away from this. First of all I’m sorry that this has happened to some of you. You clearly trust us to provide you with a safe and secure modding experience and we got caught with our pants on our heads. While this won’t help you now, can I give you some advice? Don’t trust anything, any site, or any person fully on the internet. Be suspicious of everything. If you’ve tried to download a fluffy sheep mod that says it’s 50mb in size for Skyrim and instead been given a file called “Nexus_Downloader.exe” that’s 100kb in size...be suspicious. We’d never do something like that, especially without letting you know first. These sorts of things can happen to any site out there (just look at the past hacking’s of Sony, Valve/Steam...even Bethesda got hacked) and having an anti-virus, firewall and malware protection won’t keep you 100% safe. Nothing will. But try and be perceptive and don’t let your guard down.
We can’t guarantee your safety 100% when browsing and downloading from the Nexus. No other site can offer you that guarantee either. What I can guarantee you is that we work hard to try and make the experience as safe and secure as possible, and we work even harder when we know we’ve been breached, often without sleep.
Never be afraid to report suspicious activity either by others or by the sites themselves on the forums or to the staff.
We’ve been knocking out tiny updates and tweaks to the site since we changed the design around a bit a week or so ago. These updates tend to be small enough to not warrant a news post, but when they build up enough I like to smash them all out in a news post in one big list. But before we do that let's get NMM out of the way.
We released NMM 0.44.3 last Friday that contains some more bug fixes and some minor feature changes. Here’s the list:
1. New Feature: NMM will now prevent ReadMe files from being extracted in the mod folder (thus only installing them in the ReadMe Manager), you can set this behaviour on/off in the Settings menu (Default on).
2. New Feature: The user can now select the game mode by double-clicking on it.
3. Bugfix: Mods failing to deactivate on upgrade.
4. Bugfix: Category view failing to update after mod rename.
5. Bugfix: Mod list not re-sorting after mod/category name change.
6. Bugfix: NMM mods startup scan searching in the readme folder (causing some duplicate entries in the mod list).
7. Bugfix: NMM crashing when another instance of the program is already running.
8. Bugfix: "Yes to All" not working as intended.
9. Bugfix: Some OMOD crashes (comment lines and "misplaced" curly brackets).
We’ll continue to drill out some bug fixes in coming updates, and the next major feature we’re working towards is mod profiles; the ability to have different modding profiles for your games so you can have different mods installed and running in your games for different saves/instances. We don’t want to introduce a DLL hack to do this, though, so we’re exploring other ways of doing this with NMM so we can get profiling in every game NMM supports. We then hope to further expand on that functionality so you can share these profile setups with others on the Nexus sites, like Steam Workshop Collections, but done slightly differently. That’s the plan, anyway.
As always you can get the latest version of NMM from the download page
And now the site updates:
1. The arrow next to your account information in the top right corner is now clickable so as to be less confusing.
2. Changed the search button so it highlights the textfield, bringing the search functionality back to a one-click process.
3. Added the ability for advanced search options in the filename field, including using quotes to group words, the “OR” operator and the “-” operator. Instructions on this functionality can be found on this wiki page.
4. If you have tracked a file the wording will change from “Track” to “Un-track”. If you have endorsed a file the wording will change from “Endorse” to “Unendorse”.
5. Fixed an issue with the vote, track and endorse buttons being a bit temperamental and sometimes not working.
6. If you have not voted for a file this month the vote button will be green. If you have voted for the file you are looking at the button will be orange. If you have voted for a mod, but not the mod you’re currently looking at, the vote button will be yellow.
7. Added a confirmation popup for voting to let you know you’ve already voted for a file this month, that you can only vote for one file in a month, and if you vote for the current file you’re looking at then your previous vote will be removed.
8. Adult-only files are now eligible for the hot files, provided the user has turned adult-only content viewing options on.
9. Added a “reply” link to every reply to a comment so that you don’t have to scroll up to the original comment in order to reply (replying to a reply is just treated as a reply to the original comment, however, and there’s no added nesting).
10. Replying to a comment will now bump the comment (and replies) to the top of the comments. If you don’t like this functionality you can turn it off in your preferences under “Replies to posts bump the original post”.
11. We have reduced the wait time between downloading a mod and endorsing a mod from 3 hours to 15 minutes.
12. The “Download with NMM” button no longer shows in the file header if a file has more than 1 main file. The user will have to go to the “files” tab and choose which file they want to download.
I often get asked which water mod I am using, and what other graphical mods/settings I use. In this video I attempt to answer those questions.
Thumbnail image for this video is 'A castle in the sky' courtesy of Freddynho.
Download links for reviewed mods:
We’ve released version 0.44.2 of NMM today that provides a number of bug fixes and updates to problems caused in the recent 0.44 builds. Here’s the fix and new feature list:
1. New Feature: New “Uninstall all active mods” button in the Tools menu.
2. New Feature: The readme scan is now optional and you can manually perform it by right-clicking on selected mods/categories and choosing the option from the context menu.
3. Bugfix: Category view: category and mod properties failing to properly update on the list.
4. Bugfix: Category view: NMM freezing when trying to delete a mod from the list.
5. Bugfix: WoT manager crashing when the game was using a malformed version number.
6. Bugfix: NMM crashing when checking for mod updates and the server was unreachable.
7. Bugfix: NMM reporting a mod as installed/uninstalled even though the user aborted the scripted install/uninstall or there was an error performing it.
8. Bugfix: NMM failing to properly load saved column sizes.
9. Bugfix: Readme Manager creating readme archive files into the wrong folder for newly downloaded mods.
10. Bugfix: Readme Manager setup adding random mod files in readme archives.
With version 0.44.0, in moving the mod view control system fully over to our new system a few debilitating bugs quickly rose to the surface once we released the update publicly. I’m sorry for that, however, having read some of the overly-entitled opinions left in the comments, I’d like to once again reiterate a few important points when it comes to NMM.
NMM is still very, very, very much in beta. We have never alluded to it being anything other than in beta, despite the fact it’s been in beta for going on 18 months now and has 1.7 million people using it, and there’s good reasons why it’s still in beta; we’ve got a lot more things we want to add in to NMM before I’m confident to say it’s ready for a full release. We’ve got a huge to-do list of features we want to implement and I’d never want to say NMM is “done” before giving it a completely new lick of paint and a UI overhaul to make it look less like a “my first .NET program” school project. So yes, you have that to be worried/look forward to.
What does being in beta mean to us? It means we’re going to continue to add new features, updates and bug fixes, test them on our end and then push them out into the public domain to be tested by you. We don’t have a QA department. We don’t have a huge team of programmers working on NMM and we don’t have a computer farm we can send our new builds to as test beds that test every function in every operating system/program variation going. We release updates out into the public domain so that you people become our testers, because we can’t afford them ourselves. You are our QA department. That’s the whole point of this beta and that’s why we still call NMM a beta, because we rely on you. Seeing some of the horrific responses and opinions of people who were affected by the bugs in version 0.44 I can’t help but feel some of you either don’t know what software being in open beta means, or you’ve been spoilt by the recent trends in MMO games where “beta” really means “demo”. No, when we say beta, we mean beta, and we release new builds out to be tested and get valuable feedback on.
If you’re someone who relies on NMM and doesn’t want to test new builds and you just want it to work, then it’s reeeeeeeeeeeally simple (so simple I don’t understand how it’s a problem at all): don’t update NMM until you’re confident (from reading feedback in comment threads/the forums) that the newest versions are stable to use. If you think NMM is perfect exactly how it is and you don’t want anything more from it at all; why are you bothering to update at all? You can still carry on using old versions of NMM all the way back to version 0.34 (and before then if you don’t download/check for new mod versions in NMM), and we only forced an update with version 0.34.0 because we changed our login and downloading system that prevented old versions from working. If you aren’t downloading NMM to help us beta test it and provide us with meaningful feedback then it’s completely your prerogative when and how you update it. What we’re not going to do is change our releasing methods to hold your hand for you, into a Linux style system of “bleeding edge”, “current”, “release” and “stable” during the beta. Once we bring NMM out of beta we’ll probably do this; and incentivise people to be testers for us, but not now, not while we’re in beta. So the onus is completely on you, the user, on when you update NMM. We need testers, and we value your feedback on bugs and features in the program. We don’t particularly value your feedback on how you think we should have “better QA”. You’re our QA. But if you’d like to pay me the £100k or so to hire on some QA testers then by all means, I’ll tell you where you can mail the cheque.
While I can’t assure you that all our releases will be completely bug free, I can assure you that when bugs are found we document and work on them in order of highest priority as quickly as possible.
Jump to page