• 16 April 2014

    Introducing the new Video Share section

    posted by Dark0ne Site News
    Today we have launched our new Video Share functionality across the Nexus sites. The concept of the Video Share section is much like the Image Share section; it's an area where you can showcase the videos that you have made that relate to the games we support in some way. Interviews with modders, reviews of mods you like, story-driven machinima and so on and so forth. It's something we've had on our to-do list for two and a half years now so I'm pleased to finally get this out the door.

    First and perhaps most importantly, the Video Share section will only work with YouTube videos. We made a conscious decision to forego hosting videos ourselves for a variety of reasons:

    • Most prolific video creators are already using YouTube and a lot are entwined with their commission scheme so it seemed pointless to force them to upload their videos again, here, when a ready made and proven service is already available.
    • YouTube have a great and powerful API we can easily hook in to.
    • It's unlikely a lot of people already using YouTube would want to upload their videos here anyway as it may result in a loss of subscribers. By linking in with YouTube's API our relationship with YouTube is symbiotic, advantageous to YouTuber's and non-detrimental to prolific YouTuber's.
    • Hosting videos, that are often large files that require resource intensive encoding, is a costly investment (it can easily run in to the hundreds of thousands of dollars). It seemed more prudent to continue to direct funds towards the ongoing stability of these sites rather than on a new feature.
    • Coding a video player seemed pointless, and a waste of what would likely have been months of programmer time, when YouTube works fine.
    • More liability falls on YouTube than us if someone uploads something they shouldn't.

    While I understand some of you will not be fans of YouTube it is the most convenient service for us to hook in to. We do not have any plans to support other video services at this time.

    As a result the Video Share system becomes an indexing service for videos users upload to YouTube. You might ask, "What's the point, I might as well just go to YouTube". Well, not really. If you go to YouTube and type in "Skyrim mods" you'll get a crap-ton of results with very little filtering options past that. The idea of the Nexus Video Share is to provide a better indexing service than what YouTube can offer, specialised to what users of this site are going to be more interested in and allows authors to showcase their videos, and especially the mods showcased within those videos, more easily to users who are interested in such content.

    We've added a new feature to our video share system that I'd like to have implemented into the Image Share section at some point soon. When adding videos to our database you can specify which Nexus mods are being showcased in the video. Something I see time and time again in YouTube comments are users asking the video author what mods they're using. The idea of this system is to allow authors to quickly and easily add these mods to their video pages, providing exposure for those mods while similarly relieving the burden of continually answering the same questions for the author.

    If you're looking to add your videos to our Video Share database then we've made it easy for you. We've plugged an importer in to YouTube's API that will connect to your account (via YouTube's API servers, and not ours, for obvious security reasons!), find all your videos and provide you with an easy to use interface to choose the videos you'd like to add to our Video Share. If you're a weekly mod reviewer and you've been releasing a video every week for the past 3 years then you'll probably find it a lot quicker to use our importer than you would manually adding each new video in to our database. Alternatively you can easily add your videos to our database manually using our video adding wizard.

    The Video Share guidelines will follow the same rules as the Image Share guidelines which most importantly includes a no nudity/sex rule. I don't currently have any plans to offer a Supporter Video Share that has more liberal rules. We'll just see how it goes.

    A Video Share section has always seemed like a logical extension of our Image Share section. I've no idea how much it will be used but considering the two and a half year wait to get around to doing this work I'm just pleased we could finally release it.
  • 14 March 2014

    Starbound and State of Decay support in the latest NMM update

    posted by Dark0ne Game News
    We've released version 0.49.0 of NMM today which includes support for both Starbound and State of Decay. Both are compliments of modders within the community, KrazyTheFox for Starbound and MrxknownJG for State of Decay. Their help in getting support for these games in to NMM has enabled our dedicated NMM programmers to carry on with other projects in NMM (profiling, mainly) so they have my thanks.

    Here's the full change log:
    • New Feature: Added support for State of Decay.
    • New Feature: Added support for Starbound.
    • New Feature: Improved the “The Elder Scrolls Online” game detection.
    • Bugfix: Fixes the installation of ESO addons on the EU version of the game.
    • Bugfix: Some instances of visual category duplication while in category view.
    • Bugfix: Clicking on add new category while in plain view was adding the category to the mod list.

    In other news the last beta weekend before the game launches has just begun for The Elder Scrolls Online. If you're stuck for things to do this weekend there's no harm in giving it a go if you haven't already.
  • 28 February 2014

    Elder Scrolls Online Nexus with NMM support plus NMM update that includes mod search

    posted by Dark0ne Site News
    The latest Elder Scrolls Online beta weekend kicks off today from 12pm EST (well, in fact, it's working already for me, which probably means it's live right now!), and what better way to see it in than with the official launch of our Elder Scrolls Online Nexus site, complete with Nexus Mod Manager support for the game.

    Though ESO is an MMORPG that doesn't support the typical type of open modding we've seen in previous Elder Scrolls games (for obvious reasons, it's an MMO), it does have a very open addon platform for the UI, and many mods have already been released while the game is in beta. I've been contacting the mod authors I can get a hold of on the official forums for their permission to upload their files to our ESO Nexus site before launch and all of them have responded very positively to the question, which is always nice to see. As such our site is already populated with multiple different mods to kick-start the ESO beta weekend. On a side note, if you've released addons for ESO and you haven't heard from me, it's not because I don't like you, it's just because I couldn't find you on the beta forums to contact you, and it would be rude to contact you on ESOUI or other sites, outside of the official forums, about the subject.

    On top of the site launch we've also released an update to our Nexus Mod Manager today that comes complete with direct mod support for ESO. ESO modding is pretty darned simple, all you need to do is extract the files in to a specific folder on your PC, but using NMM to manage your files will obviously enable the perks of using a mod manager such as easy installation, activation, deactivation and uninstallation of your mods (without having to mess around in your file system each time) and notifications when mods you're using are out of date. Even better, our open source NMM will work with mods from other greats sites, like ESOUI, so even if you don't want to or can't get some mods from the Nexus, you can still use NMM to manage your ESO mods from other sites. I think that's a pretty important feature of any mod manager.

    I'll be taking part in the beta weekend, though I won't be able to get on this evening as it digs in to my usual Friday night festivities and I can't bring myself to cancel on friends for an MMO beta. I am playing as my usual game name, "iPokeZombiesWithSpoons". If you'd like to add me and meet up in game, in a completely platonic way, then by all means send me an invite.

    In other NMM news, and perhaps exciting news if you're easily excitable, we've implemented a search box in to NMM at long last. It should be pretty self-explanatory as to what it does; typing in the search box will show you mods that contain the text you've written. And a quick-tip: pressing CTRL+F will focus the search box for you when in the mod tab.

    Update 0.48.0 also brings with it a few bug fixes as well as some better tracing for us to help diagnose user login and mod updating issues. As always, you can download the update from our NMM download page, which, incidentally, shows we hit the 3 million unique downloads mark over the past few days. Whew, that's quite a lot.
  • 27 February 2014

    Downtime today - it wasn't us!

    posted by Dark0ne Site News
    Just a quick heads up to let you know that we are aware that the sites were down for two hours today between the hours of 10am and 12pm GMT. For once, it wasn't us!

    This problem rose above our server provider and above the data centre in which our servers are hosted to a huge internet hub in the UK at Telehouse London. Telehouse London is the main hub of the UK, so if something goes wrong there, it trickles down to everything that connects to it.

    As you're reading this now things should, fingers crossed, be back to normal again. If this occurs in the future, and I'm actually online and aware of the problem at the time, I will always try to update the Nexus Twitter account account with the details. I'd use Facebook, but now that Facebook wants to charge me to actually reach everyone who has liked us there, it doesn't work as an announcement platform.
  • 12 February 2014

    Integrated support and separation for other language and "translation mods"

    posted by Dark0ne Game News
    Files that are written in languages other than English and "translation" mods (authors who have translated an English mod in to another language) have always caused a bit of a pickle for users on the Nexus due to the fact they're mixed in with all the other mods in one big soup. If you're an English-only speaker it can be a bit of a pain having to navigate past numerous mods written in different languages, or indeed multiple different translations for the same mod. Similarly if you're looking for a translation of a popular mod in your language that, too, can be difficult and inefficient. Some popular mods can have many different translations. If you search for Immersive Armors, for example, which has 12 translation mods made for it, it can actually be a bit hard to find the main mod in between all the translations (you typically need to look for the file with the highest number of downloads).

    We've always been a bit apprehensive about files uploaded in languages other than English. They're harder to moderate and they can, as mentioned above, cause a lot of bloat in the file database. Today's update is supposed to help in this regard. We've released a foundation update to the sites that is supposed to help better separate the multi-language content here on the Nexus and allow you, the user, to choose which content you see and which content you don't see, hopefully making browsing the file databases that little bit easier.

    So, where to start?

    On the file uploading side of things, authors will notice that we've added a few more fields to Step 2 (or the first step if you aren't picking a game for your mod first). These new fields are right at the top so they shouldn't be hard to miss. You now specify whether your file is a "Normal file/mod" or whether it is a "Translation of a file/mod that already exists". Pretty straight forward. If it's not a translation, it's a normal file. Next, you specify the language of your mod. There's a drop-down that covers the main ones, and if the language your file is for isn't listed you simply select the "Other" option and state it in the file name.

    For normal files that's all there is to it. However, if your file is a translation there's an extra field to fill in. Specifically, what file your file is a translation of. We've stipulated a new rule with this addition, which is quite important, that we are now only allowing translations of mods actually on the Nexus. This goes hand-in-hand with the new functionality of this update. We need to be able to link the translation to a file on our database. Begin entering the name of the file and you should be presented with a list of mods that fit what you've entered. Click the correct file from the list and that's it.

    On the file authoring side that's the only change; 2 or 3 new fields to fill in.

    The changes to file pages depends on what sort of file it is. If your file is a normal file (and not a translation) then there is no change at all unless someone has created a translation for your mod. If there is a translation for your file then a new small button will show in the "Actions" tab (below your file stats) labelled "Translations". Clicking this button will show a pop-up with the translations available for your mod, the language of the translation and who made the translation. If your file has no translations then this new button will not show on your page.

    If your file is a translation then there's two changes to a normal file page. Next to where the "Download (NMM)" or "Download (Manual)" button would normally show is a new button labelled "Original file". This links back to the file which your translation is based on. Similarly, if someone attempts to endorse your translation then an additional step is added to the endorsement process. This extra step asks the user if they would like to endorse both your translation and the original file, or just your translation and not the original file. As a mod author this might sound a bit odd to you (or, hopefully, it doesn't), "But Dark0ne, how can someone like a translation but not like the original file enough to endorse it?". Well, simply put, someone might not like your file enough to endorse it. They might still use your file and they might want to thank the person who bothered to do a decent translation of your file. It's not beyond the realms of possibility and it's important that users are given the choice so it doesn't demean the endorsement system.

    Those are the only changes on the file pages. Next, we've also made changes to the file searching by adding an extra "Language" option to the list of variables you can sort through on the right-hand side.

    First of all it's important to note that translations will no longer show by default in the search results. If you're looking for translations you should tick the "Only show translations" box, which does exactly what it says it does. Next up, you can now specifically choose to only see results for file results in your specific language. If you select "English" you'll only see files marked as English. If you select "Portuguese" you'll only see files marked as Portuguese, and so on. This is stipulated by the drop-down menu in Step 2 when first adding a file or in "Edit Attributes" if you've already uploaded a file before this update. If you do not update this information then your mod will not show when a language is picked by the user. Which brings me on to the next point...

    This change is opt-in rather than opt-out. Or better put, it was not/is not possible to create a script which will automatically convert all translation files already in the database in to the proper format. Similarly, we can't create a script which will automatically update the current files in the database with the correct language tag. I'll be changing files as and when I have the time and as and when I see them, but we're relying on the actual authors of their files to update them accordingly. And just a quick tip, if you don't update your file's language then you won't show in the results for that language, e.g. right now I notice a few people have already changed their language to English before I've posted this article. Their files will show when a user has selected "English", your file, if you haven't changed it, won't. So you'll be missing out on exposure, if that bothers you.

    As I mentioned earlier this is a foundation update, which means it's an early release which will probably be updated or changed based on the feedback you provide on the functionality. If you think it can be changed to work better then let me know and we'll have a think about it. The design document for this update was posted in the mod author forums for scrutiny with no complaints so I'm hoping this change will be welcomed.
  • 10 February 2014

    NMM 0.47.2 bugfix update released

    posted by Dark0ne Site News
    Update - 11th Feb
    We have added another hot fix, up to 0.47.3, which has patched in a few more fixes.

    We have just released a bug fix 0.47.2 update to NMM that fixes a few bugs that were introduced with 0.47.0. Here's the changelog:

    • New Feature: Better feedback on login issues.
    • Bugfix: Add mod from file asking the user to login.
    • Bugfix: Download speed messing up after a resume.
    • Bugfix: Download from URL button disabled while offline.
    • Bugfix: Cancelling a paused download after a program restart didn’t remove partial files.

    A few users have reported getting the "Cannot connect to login servers" error even after updating to 0.47.1. We've added a bit more detail to the error so if you tell us what error you're getting now we'll be able to know a bit more about the issue. For most people the issue is your firewall blocking NMM from connecting to the login server.

    Each time the NMM executable changes or gets updated your firewall picks up (or should pick up) this change and change its settings/prompt you about it accordingly. I know this happens with ZoneAlarm, for instance. You need to update your firewall accordingly so NMM can use the internet else, obviously, NMM cannot login and use any online services.
  • 05 February 2014

    NMM 0.47.0 "forced" update to fix the download issues

    posted by Dark0ne Site News
    Over the past few weeks the NMM crew have been working tirelessly on a new version of NMM. The main focus of this version is to dramatically improve, if not altogether eradicate the incomplete download issues that have plagued NMM for the past month or more and to also reduce the rather substantial requirements and strains that NMM is placing on our server-side infrastructure.

    On 0.46.0 I was getting a 25% completion ratio on downloads. That is to say, if I started 10 downloads, 2-3 would complete as expected, 7-8 would fail. Obviously that's not good at all. We know that, you know that. With 0.47.0 the proof is in the pudding, while writing this update I started 50 downloads in NMM, by the end of writing all 50 had finished with a 100% completion ratio. Much better.

    So what have we changed?

    On the back-end, non-NMM side of things we're fixing the bugs that were/are causing the "file does not exist with this ID" error, which were also causing the issues with NMM. However, on top of that, NMM has been recoded to now try the same server 3 times, and if all 3 attempts fail then NMM will then try to download from another server entirely. Rinse, repeat until a server that actually works for you is found. This has probably helped to rectify 95% of all the original download issues that existed.

    We've changed the way in which NMM picks the servers it uses based on your NMM option settings. Lots of people don't seem to know that if you go in to NMM's options you can pick your closest location. This doesn't 100% guarantee NMM will always use the server's near to you, but it will always try them first before moving on to servers that will actually work for you or won't be overloaded. For Premium Members, you can now pick the specific Premium server you would prefer to download from. Once again, NMM will always check that server first, but if that server is down, overloaded (shouldn't be for Premium) or struggling then NMM will automatically find a different server instead.

    As mentioned in my previous news article on the subject, we've also changed the amount of concurrent downloads you can have running at any one time. With the rise of sites that provide easy compatible lists that allow you to download mods more quickly (because you trust the source and don't read all the file descriptions) we've seen lots of users trying to download 50, 100, even 200 files at the same time in NMM. This obviously isn't good for the servers so we've coded in a queuing system that will only allow you to download a certain amount of files at a time. For non-Premium users that number is 5, for Premium users that number is 10. Now, if you try and download 50 files at once then all 50 files will be added to NMM's download list, but only 5 will download at once. Once a download is finished, another is automatically started from the queue until all the downloads are done. This should help to alleviate a lot of pressure on our file servers and ensure that everyone is using the service fairly. This also pre-empts a planned future functionality to allow users to share their mod playlists and collections with others.

    In the same vein we've changed the way NMM starts and connects to the internet. Before this new update all versions of NMM attempted to login to our servers before NMM would fully load. However, this seems inefficient considering there are many times when you want to use NMM; to modify your load order, to change your installed mods, and so on, where you don't need to be connected to the site. On-top of that, each time you started NMM it was requesting various bits of information from our servers that you didn't necessarily need. For example, the "Latest version" information. To save our servers a crap-ton of stress we've now made NMM start offline for everyone. NMM will no longer automatically connect at the start and check for the latest version information. Instead, if you want to check for the latest versions of files you should start NMM and click the green arrow icon to the left of the "mods" tab, labelled "check for new mod versions" when you hover over it. This not only benefits us, from a server perspective, but also benefits you, as NMM should now start faster for you (as it doesn't have to wait to connect) enabling you to get on and do what you want to do faster.

    We've added a little buddy in the bottom left hand corner of NMM to let you know if NMM is offline or online. If NMM is in "offline" mode then our little buddy is red. Clicking him when he's red will either automatically put you online (if your login details are saved) or prompt you for your Nexus username and password. If the little buddy is green then NMM is in online mode, and clicking him will log you out. If NMM is in offline mode and you try and do something that requires NMM to be in online mode, like checking for new mod versions or downloading a file, then NMM will, once again, either automatically log you in without prompting if you've saved your login details, or ask you for your login details if you haven't saved your details.

    While I understand that lots of people like to check for the latest versions of their mods we believe this update, while inconveniencing you with one-additional click if you want to check for new versions, will be worth that inconvenience.

    Because this update fixes a major issue with NMM that is being reported a lot daily, and because we hope it is going to free up a substantial amount of server resources, 0.47.0 is going to be a "forced" update. That is, any versions before 0.47.0 will not be able to go online. We've updated our process now so that if you are using an incompatible version of NMM it should now tell you as much, and tell you that you need to update NMM in order for it to be able to login again.

    Once again, the update process for NMM is very simple. Indeed, it seems to freak people out when they don't update from "within" NMM. Actually, all NMM does is download the latest update from the site for you. You still have to click through the install process. To "manually" update NMM simply go to our NMM download page and download it. Once you run the installer you've hit the exact same step you'd have hit if you'd clicked "yes" to updating from within NMM. All you need to do is ensure that the paths in the installer to where you have NMM and your mods installed are correct. That's it. All your mods will still be where, and how, you left them.
  • 31 January 2014

    Required files notification and comment download history update

    posted by Dark0ne Site News
    We've added a relatively small update to the sites today that revolves around the "Required files" system in the file database. When an author adds their file to the site via our file wizard one of the steps involves adding any files that the author's file needs in order to work. This information is then displayed in the rather small, out-of-the-way button labeled "Required" on the file page. Typically authors also put any file requirements in their descriptions but, as I'm sure any file author would be willing to confirm, some users seem incapable of actually reading descriptions, installation instructions or indeed anything pertinent to do with the file before they add the file to their game. Guess what some of these users then do when they can't get the file to work or it breaks their game? That's right, they head off to the file's comments to give the author a piece of their mind or ask for help when all the information they need is right there, on the file page! It's annoying.

    We've made two changes to help better inform downloaders about the file's requirements, and also to inform the mod author as to whether you've actually downloaded those requirements when you comment on their file page.

    As an author, if you've specified requirements for your file you will then be able to tick a checkbox when uploading your files that will turn on a notification window for anyone who downloads that file. The notification window will inform the user that your file requires other files in order to work, it'll list those files, and then require the downloader to click a button in order to get to the fileserver list or download your file via NMM.

    Please note that we've made this an opt-out feature, rather than opt-in. That means if you've specified required files on your files then this notification window will be turned on as default on all your uploads for that file. If you want to turn off this notification window you need to edit your uploaded files and untick the checkbox.

    Back when we updated our commenting system a short while back we added the functionality for mod authors to see what, if any, files the users who were commenting had downloaded from your file page. We've expanded this functionality now to include the user's download history of the required files too. You'll now be able to see if a user has downloaded the required files you list, as well as your files, which should help you to more quickly troubleshoot whether the user has actually downloaded the files necessary in order for your file to work.

    Fingers crossed we should have another update today in regards to an update to NMM to fix the downloading issues. We've been testing it the past few days but there's still a couple of niggling bugs that need to be squashed before it's safe to release. Good news is, I go from a 25%-50% chance of a download working to 100%. Shock.
  • 08 January 2014

    Downloading and file serving changes

    posted by Dark0ne Site News
    Happily and thankfully a week after I wrote my 2,600 word End of Year review/essay we managed to stabilize our new server setup and run through some quick but efficient code updates that have enabled us to run the sites almost down-time free over the past week. No database desyncs, no maintenance windows, just a few times where we've taken the pages down for a few minutes to perform code updates. Paint me f'ing happy on that. And vindicated in my own eyes. No doubt we've still got work to do, but the important thing is that things are way better now.

    In the same article I also mentioned that during January we would be decommissioning all 21 of our file servers (2 static content servers, 15 file servers, 4 Premium file servers) and replacing them with new servers. The old file servers were coming to the end of their life-line and running out of hard-drive space fast so we needed to upgrade and update the whole line up. We're now replacing those 21 file servers with 26 new file servers (4 static content servers, 20 file servers, 2 Premium file servers with probably more Premium servers to come). As you can imagine that's quite a job; we've got to set up each server with our custom server modules and configurations as well as transfer the 4TB or so of current files there are on to every single one of those servers (so we've got to transfer about 100TB of data over the next month). It's time consuming to be sure. We're currently setting up the first new servers which requires these new servers sync from the old ones, this is causing some issues with the network which is causing some downloads to fail (more than usual) or not start at all. Once we've got these first new servers setup we can sync the files between all the new servers, from the new servers themselves, thus reducing the load on the old setup in the mean-time.

    I know there's been some issues with downloading reliably through NMM recently, especially when downloads don't start at all. In those instances it's important (for your own sake, not mine) that you know how to do the simplest of things: how to add mods to NMM without using the "download with manager" button. It's so simple I might as well just write it here:

    • Instead of clicking "Download with manager" click "download manually" on the file you want to download.
    • A window will pop up with a list of file servers to download from. Pick a file server. Typically the fastest server will be the one with the least users, not the one that's closest to you.
    • Your download should start within 1-30 seconds. Let the download finish.
    • When your download has finished, open NMM.
    • Open the folder where your file downloaded to.
    • Drag the file in to the "mods" window in NMM.
    • OR: in the "mods" window, click the button that looks like a jigsaw piece with a plus (+) symbol next to it and navigate to your file on your HDD.
    • NMM will add your mod just as if you'd used the "download with manager" button.

    That's it. If you download from the Nexus and don't change the filename then NMM will recognise the file and the file will work exactly as if you had downloaded it through NMM itself. There seems to be some myth that if you download manually then NMM won't show you any new mod versions. That's wrong/a lie. NMM cannot show you mod versions for mods not downloaded via the Nexus (so if you download a mod from the Workshop and add it to NMM then NMM won't show you any new mod updates/versions for that file), hopefully for very obvious reasons, but it will show you updates for any Nexus mods whether you downloaded the file directly through NMM or manually via the site.

    At times like these you will find it easier and quicker to download your files manually and then add them to NMM rather than using the "download with manager" button and have it failing on you a lot.

    While we're working on the file servers we're directing a bit of attention to how NMM handles downloads, and especially downloads that fail. Right now NMM will try and find a working server that fits your download location preferences as well as possible. However if that server fails then it doesn't automatically try another server, it just fails. We're trying to add more fail safes in to the program so you're left with no failed connections.

    Similarly we're having to implement a download queuing system based on feedback I've personally been getting from a few...interesting individuals. With the ever increasing interest in projects like Skyrim GEMS and S.T.E.P. there's a lot of users who are downloading large quantities of mods all at once. I'm getting support tickets from users wondering why they're struggling to download 200 mods all at the same time in NMM. Hopefully I don't need to tell you why downloading 200 files at the same time isn't good for the servers (or respectful to the other users of the site). Now this is partially our fault as we haven't hard-coded any limits in to NMM in this regard. NMM will let you download as many files as you want. They probably won't all work, but it'll let you do it. We've got hard-coded limits on our servers (which I believe are 16 connections for normal users and 64 for Premium, with an increase for Premium as they can use 4 threads, 4 multiplied by 16 is 64). With currently 15 file servers that's a theoretical maximum of 240 concurrent downloads, but that works on the assumption that NMM will pick servers that you aren't already maxing out, which it won't. But I digress, trying to download 200 mods all at once is really stupid and us not having hard-coded limits in the program is equally stupid. As such we are going to be introducing a download queuing system. Normal members will be able to download 5 files concurrently, Premium members will be able to download 10 files concurrently. You can add as many files as you want to your download list but only 5 (or 10) will download at any one time. Once a download finishes a new download in the queue will start automatically. Such functionality is commonplace on many sites and will enable us to provide a more stable and fair service to all users.

    We hope to get this new NMM version out to coincide with the completion of our transition over to the new file servers. It's likely this version will be another "forced" update, in that you'll need to update to this version in order to be able to use NMM online, because it's updating and fixing things that are the cause of issues on the network. I'll have a word with the programmers to see if we can update the error you receive when trying to login to an unsupported version of NMM rather than the generic error that is currently used.

    In the meantime I hope you're enjoying a much smoother site experience, even if the downloads are currently a little iffy. The important thing is: we're getting there. Like I said we would.
  • 06 January 2014

    Nexus Mod Manager plans, answers and if you're a coder, we want your help

    posted by Dark0ne Site News
    The aim of this article is to answer a few regularly brought up questions and concerns in regards to the Nexus Mod Manager, talk about the plan for NMM this year as well as talk about how you yourselves can help us.

    I think one of the biggest questions that gets thrown around about the Nexus Mod Manager is why, after more than 2 years, it is still in open beta. Some people seem to find this rather insulting and claim we're using it as a cop out for not following a strict stable/beta release structure. I can tell you right now, without any sense of shame, that's pretty much exactly why NMM is still in open beta.

    We don't hide this either, it's not as though we claim NMM is some super stable, magical, bug free piece of software that's going to be the solution to all your modding issues. It's really not and we don't claim it is. When we say that, "We cannot stress enough that we are still in the beta stage of NMM. NMM is in a very good state and will be usable by nearly everyone, but Beta stages are typically used for testing and bug fixing, and some of you will find bugs." on the NMM download page and put "open beta" on our pages and within the program itself, that isn't just some blurb we put up to fill column inches, we actually mean it. Even the versions of NMM that are considered "stable" aren't very stable, and to put a "stable" moniker on any current version of NMM would be misleading for new users. No. When you download NMM, when you use NMM, you do so being fully and properly informed that NMM is still open beta and is still susceptible to all the foibles that comes with that. If you don't like that, if you're not comfortable with that, then absolutely nothing is keeping you using NMM over any other mod manager out there (or, manually installing the mods yourselves!). This is how we've chosen to do this as it's making our jobs a lot easier at this time. Once we get a 1.0 version of NMM out we will then most definitely change our structure to ensure we follow a more Linux oriented style of NMM releases (e.g. stable release/bleeding edge seperate releases). Until then don't act like NMM is anything more than in open beta, because it isn't, and if you have the idea that it is then you didn't get it from us.

    The reason why we're not just slapping a 1.0 version on NMM and moving into a more stable release structure is because NMM is not complete. I wouldn't say it's "no where near complete" but I'd say there's still a long way to go. And I think perhaps "complete" is the wrong word to use, I instead mean "complete to the point of being happy to put a 1.0 moniker on the program" because NMM, in all it's cliche glory, will never be complete, as we'll always be adding to it and upgrading it even after our 1.0 feature list is implemented.

    When I first contacted kaburke, a developer of the Oblivion Mod Manager (OBMM) and Fallout Mod Manager (FOMM), about coding NMM we wrote out a rather informal design document that contained a number of features that NMM would need to contain before it would be considered 1.0. Over the years there's been a bit of feature creep here and there, but to this day several of these features are yet to be finished. So you're probably asking, what features are these?

    • Stability. Naturally I'm not going to release a piece of software that is still struggling to get online half the time.
    • Bugs. As bug free as is feasible considering the myriad of hardware and software combinations out there.
    • Documentation. Proper, decent, detailed documentation on how to use NMM.
    • Modern UI interface. We commissioned work on a new design for NMM towards the beginning of last year and I showed you some of the work that had been done at the time. A 1.0 version of NMM will not look the same as it does now.
    • Mod profiling. More on this below.
    • Mod packaging. A piece of accompanying software for mod authors that will help them package their files into a single, open, proprietary file (e.g. a .nex file) that will ensure their mod is NMM compatible and also help with setting up custom/scripted installers for use within NMM while also remaining open so anyone with a zip program can open/use/extract the files manually if they so wish.

    Some of these features are major additions to NMM that require extensive testing, the sort of extensive testing that can only be achieved if the majority, rather than a small test pool of users, are helping us to test the program. So we rely on you to help us.

    It's now been over 2 years since we released NMM and things are going very slowly. It's not hard to see and, once again, I don't hide that fact. So what's taking so long? It's simply the sheer scope of the project at hand. Take mod profiling for example. We started work on mod profiling back in the middle of March 2013. That's 9 months ago, and it's still not done.

    Which leads to the next regularly asked question; why is it taking so long when programs like Mod Organizer have had it for yonks now and it was seemingly coded in a shorter time? Simply put and specific to mod profiling, we're having to do it in a completely different way because the scope of NMM, which has to support modding for multiple different game engines and not just GameBryo, is much larger. As such we've had to use different methods that aren't just specific to one engine. The result will be a mod profiling system that will not only work for all games but will also continue to work if game developers make some changes to the way modding in their games is handled. And herein lies the issue. Mod Managers developed for specific games or specific engines are always going to be at an advantage in some regards to NMM which is trying to create a platform from which any and all games can potentially be modded. That doesn't mean that NMM can't have powerful features unique to individual games it supports, but while NMM has a framework from which we work from, engine specific mod managers are more free to go off in any direct and do anything without being confined by an encompassing framework which often requires more time to develop for. The framework is what allows us to support all games in one piece of software but it also presents additional barriers that need to be overcome compared to a piece of software developed specifically for a single game engine.

    It's why when certain high-and-mighty users of other mod managers feel the need to come take a dump on the progress of NMM I dismiss the criticism for the ignorance it exudes. Thankfully, and much to the credit of Mod Organizer in particular, I know the author is actually a rather stand-up individual who's done everything in his coding power to ensure that the NMM services he uses aren't placing an undue burden on our servers. He hasn't caused a hassle at all (even when services have been changed or taken down) and has responded to any questions asked in great manner. So when such individuals come and act like self-righteous asses on the topic of NMM I'm able to form a clear dividing line between these minority users of MO and Mod Organizer itself, and its author, which are both great.

    Lest people forget, the services used to allow users to check for new mod versions or download straight from the site in to NMM or MO or any other program are currently open and free for anyone to use. We've kept these services open because we didn't want to be those types of developers who make everything open source apart from the one thing other programs might need in order to be on a level footing. And to clarify, NMM is open source, our web services are not (they're completely different entities). Nothing is stopping us from closing the web services to anything other than NMM in the future, and the main reason we haven't is because (a) no one has given us a reason to close them and (b) the people who are using them are using them well and in a morally sound way. In the future we'd like to create an API to be able to better control who can use the services, and extend the services on offer. I know that the S.T.E.P. crew, for example, have been wanting a way to allow more than 1 mod to be downloaded from a single link to make the process simpler, and that's something we want to look into, but considering the time it's taking us to develop things right now I don't think it's going to be happening any time soon.

    Which brings me on to my next topic. Help. While we've been going through the recent site issues a lot of people have been asking "How can I help?". On the website end there really isn't much anyone can do except not mash F5 twenty times a second if something goes wrong, and perhaps become a Premium Member. But with NMM things are completely different. You can actually help, and you can pay with time, not money (and maybe even earn some money).

    When we released NMM we made it completely open source. That means anyone can go to our SourceForge page for the NMM project, download all the source code and see exactly what NMM is doing and how it's doing it. I wanted to do this for a number of reasons:

    • It sets us apart from other modding networks who have mod managers but haven't made them open source to ensure they maintain some form of "competitive edge" in a niche area of the gaming industry that I don't think should be competitive at all.
    • It enables us to be completely transparent about what NMM is doing on your PC. If you're worried it's doing anything bad, malicious or nefarious, intentionally or otherwise, then you can either look for this yourself or someone else can find it and let others know. It enables us to remain above-board with you.
    • My stance on mod publishing is well known among mod authors. I think all mod authors should release their mods with an open and free license to allow users to fix bugs and add or change features based on personal preference, and that these fixes and changes should be allowed to be shared on the premise that the original mod is still required. That's my feelings on the matter. I couldn't in good conscious release a mod manager that didn't follow that philosophy. NMM is open source which means you can add to it, change it and publish it anywhere and I can't do anything about it.
    • It means anyone and everyone can help with the development of NMM.

    Unfortunately that last point has never really happened. While a few people have expressed an interest in helping with NMM it never turns into anything. This community has a lot of talent within it across a broad range of skillsets. There are plenty of programmers out there and I would like to harness that potential to help us with NMM.

    When you write on the forums that you can't believe NMM doesn't have feature X yet, or that bug Y has not been fixed, you need to realise that you yourself can add feature X, and fix bug Y, and in not doing so you've, at least in my eyes, accepted that we will (or won't) add feature X and fix bug Y in our own time. If you don't like that then crack open your favourite coding program and do it yourself and help out millions of other users in the process.

    We recently did a trial run with a developer from the X:Rebirth community who coded the integration of X:Rebirth in to NMM which was recently added. It went brilliantly. So much so I'm now talking with another developer from the Starbound community to get NMM integrated with Starbound modding. I think this is an untapped resource in the community that could be put to good use if done right and with the proper incentive.

    I was planning to hire an additional .NET programmer this year to help the 2 we currently have already working on NMM. However what I'd like to do is run a little experiment within the community over the new few months to see if that money could be better spent working with multiple individuals on a project by project basis. Anything from some simple bug fixes to adding functionality we just never got around to, like properly integrating NMM with BOSS. The plan is to talk with would-be developers, discuss what needs to be done (and honestly, you can come to me with ideas for what you think NMM should do and I'll listen), provide rough estimates on how long such functionality would take to code and then provide a respectable financial incentive that both parties agree upon based on how long we think the work will take to complete. I'm not planning to pay a coders hourly wage because the site coffers simply can't afford it (and it would defeat the point of doing this!). Instead, this would be the perfect opportunity for individuals looking for a hobby coding project to earn some money on the side while also getting a rather nice addition to your CV or resumé. If you were looking for a coding job in the web or gaming industry then having Nexus Mods on your CV would definitely help in that regard, and I can, of course, provide references if necessary. Perfect if you've just graduated and you're looking for some names to add to that resumé.

    If this idea interests you and you're looking for a hobby coding project right now then get in contact with me by PM or using the site contact form and we'll have a chat. Neither of us are under any obligation and everything will remain informal, such is my way.

    With all that said, I will simply end by saying that I believe that the worst of the site issues are now behind us. If you've been using the sites over the past week hopefully you've noticed now that things are a lot more stable. However things within NMM still remain quite unstable, and we're looking in to sorting that out as a matter of urgency at this time.