ALL FILES
  • 13 October 2016 14:36:53

    Big changes for the Nexus Mod Manager and the introduction of Tannin42, our new head of NMM development

    posted by Dark0ne Site News


    We’re all very aware that it’s been a long time since we provided an update on what’s happening in the grand scheme of the Nexus Mod Manager. Too long. As such, it’s time to reveal a few exciting things and our plans moving forward. Oh, and sorry, it’s one of those “long ones” again.

    The Nexus Mod Manager -- the software we’ve been working on these past six years that helps make modding the more popular games on Nexus Mods easier for users. For me, NMM is a bitter-sweet tool with the Nexus name attached to it; it’s been downloaded over 20 million times by over 6.6 million individuals and it helps over a million people every month mod their games more easily, but for some reason, despite thousands of hours of work, it just hasn’t lived up to my expectations.

    Why? Oh, lots of reasons, but it does involve a history lesson…

    The largest reason by far is that it’s derived from software which is now over 10 years old. All the way back in March of 2006, just 11 days after Oblivion was released, mod author Timeslip launched the Oblivion Mod Manager on what was then TESSource (and what would later become TESNexus, then Nexus Mods). OBMM was a simple yet effective multi-purpose tool for modding Oblivion.



    True to form, Timeslip also released a mod manager for Fallout 3 called the Fallout Mod Manager (FOMM) when the game was released in 2008. At some point around 2009-2010, Timeslip no longer continued work on the two mod managers and this work was taken over by Nexus user “kaburke”, who continued where Timeslip left off. Kaburke was made an active developer on FOMM and also released support for Fallout New Vegas.

    Upon Skyrim’s announcement in December of 2010, I set to work looking for a developer who could create a mod manager for the Nexus. The premise was simple; create a simple mod manager for the Bethesda games that we were currently supporting that allowed users to easily add mods directly from the Nexus site into their game. Back in those days, we only hosted mods for Bethesda games and Dragon Age, so the focus was really just on the Bethesda games.

    With Timeslip now retired from working on the mod managers, Kaburke was an obvious choice to fill this role. He had the experience from working on OBMM and FOMM and a deep understanding of modding Bethesda’s games. As such, he was commissioned to work on the Nexus Mod Manager. It borrowed heavily from OBMM and FOMM, both released under open source GPL licenses, with Kaburke making some changes and additions to accommodate things he’d learnt from working on those previous mod managers.



    So you see, the very foundations of NMM were built around code for a game that is now over 10 years old.

    Once Kaburke’s work was done 11 months later in November of 2011, he provided some bug support but he was not able to become a full-time developer for the software. Ultimately, it was clear I would need a full time developer to be brought on to continue to provide support and expand NMM further. Naturally, this meant getting in a developer to work on an entire codebase that was not his own to begin with.

    Since then, we’ve been working hard to bolster the functionality and scope of the software despite being constantly stymied by code that is long past its prime by developers who have long since moved on from the community and their work on the mod managers. As you likely well know, it’s been slow going, and not without its hiccups.



    Over these past 6 years the scope of NMM has changed dramatically. No longer is it just a simple mod manager for Bethesda games; we also want it to work with many other games and do more advanced things than it was ever originally intended to do. Things that are taking us an inordinate amount of time as we find ourselves constantly fighting the (now) archaic code that NMM is built upon.

    It’s been clear for quite some time that something would need to give, and I knew exactly what needed to be done. We needed to bring someone on board who could rebuild the Nexus Mod Manager from the ground up with a fresh and open mind and the ability to manage the NMM dev team. However, finding a new developer requires time, preparation, and of course...money.

    I’ve said a few times now that when it comes to hiring staff, I take that responsibility very seriously. I don’t just look at the cash flow of the sites and hope that I can afford things month-to-month on a shoestring budget. I deliberately save up enough money to pay for the wages of any new staff member for an entire year. These are people who rely on me to pay the bills and feed their families, and I’m not going to let them down. That’s why this has taken so long. Developers are not cheap, and nor should they be, they do skilled work.

    In terms of who was right for the job, the perfect candidate for this job has been on our doorstep the entire time. I know it, and a lot of you know it too.

    Back in April of this year I got in contact with Tannin42. Ring a bell? It should. Since Skyrim’s release in 2011 he’s been working in his spare time on Skyrim Mod Organizer. Unless you’re new to modding or don’t spend much time in the community, it’s very likely you’ve heard of it, and potentially even use it. It’s currently been downloaded by over 800,000 members of Skyrim Nexus and is seen as the go-to tool for advanced modding of Skyrim by most.

    For years, NMM and MO have existed side-by-side as mod managers for Skyrim. NMM, a simple and easy to understand tool that caters to the majority of needs for the majority of users. MO, an advanced tool that caters to advanced users and users who wanted more control over modding (and understanding the modding) of their games. Both have co-existed relatively peacefully because it’s clear that there’s a demand for both a simple manager and a complex manager for modding games.

    Tannin was a logical choice to fill the development role as simply put; he’s the real deal. He’s got a proven track record. I don’t need to see a CV (though I did see a CV) because Mod Organizer is his CV. If Mod Organizer is what Tannin can do in his spare time while also doing a full time programming job, what could he do if he worked full-time on a mod manager with two skilled and experienced NMM programmers working with him as a team?

    So it’s with great pleasure that I can finally announce that Tannin is our new Head NMM Developer. He began his new life at the Nexus at the beginning of August this year.

    Together with fellow NMM programmers Fabio and Luca, Tannin is spearheading the creation of a completely new Nexus Mod Manager. The aim? To learn from over 6 years of experience developing NMM and MO respectively to create from the ground up a single mod manager that will be as simple to use and understand as NMM, and as advanced and feature-filled as MO, that will enable you to mod all your favourite games. Remaining completely open source, it will be developed with extensibility in mind, with the idea of plugins for the manager being a very real possibility.

    I imagine you’ve got a lot of questions.

    First of all, What’s going to happen to the current Nexus Mod Manager?

    There’s no easy way of putting this; the current Nexus Mod Manager is now end-of-line. Essentially, we’re going to stop all further major development on the current version of NMM to focus on the new software. We will be releasing bug fixes as and when necessary to keep support for the current games (including Skyrim SE), but the current version available on the site, version 0.63, is going to be the last version with any major functionality additions. The software will obviously still work and the web services will stay up, as per normal.

    I want to personally thank (and apologise to) the NMM testing team who volunteered their time in recent months to help us test various features in 0.6x of NMM, your help was invaluable. We ultimately decided that we needed a fresh start to properly deliver on profile sharing, among other things. We’ll definitely be needing your help and hopefully making use of your services (if you’re willing) with the new version of NMM we’re working on.


    What is going to happen to Mod Organizer?

    Tannin has written a statement that I’ve no doubt he’ll be using elsewhere as well. But here it is for you to read now:

    QUOTE
    Dear MO users,

    As you may have already read on the Nexus news, I've recently joined their ranks.
    If you haven't read it yet: Yeah that happened.

    Over the coming weeks and months we will keep the community informed on what we're planning
    and working on for the future of NMM but right now many of you may be more concerned with
    what this means for MO.

    First I want to assure you that the primary reason of Robin hiring me was to take advantage
    of my experience with MO and to integrate it into the Nexus offering, not to kill off MO. And the primary reason for me to take the job was that it will allow me to invest serious time into creating a better modding experience when previously it was becoming increasingly difficult for me to find time and motivation to work on MO in my spare time alongside a demanding job.

    Obviously I won't be working on MO any more which unfortunately means that, unless someone else picks up where I left, MO v2 won't appear in a stable version. I know that will appear as a loss now and I apologize to everyone who was looking forward to a new release.

    I do hope however that you trust me, and everyone else at Nexus Mods, to understand what you
    liked about MO.

    I'm confident that with what we're planning you won't be missing MO for long.

    How long have you been working on this? How long is it going to take?

    Tannin officially started working for us at the beginning of August. We’re determined to get it right this time, so we’ve been spending a lot of time getting everything written down into proper documentation. Actual programming work has now begun on the project and while I cannot give you any specific timeframes as to how long it’ll take before we get things out, you can rest assured it’s being worked on.


    Will it have this? Will it have that? Why aren’t you giving us more details?

    We cannot go into too many specifics right now as to what the new manager will and won’t include, because we’re still actively getting to grips with what is and isn’t possible and what the best method for doing things is going to be. Naturally we don’t want to promise something that we can’t fully deliver on.

    We will provide more details during the course of the development of the software, but right now, this is just an announcement news post.


    FFS, you’re going to make NMM more complicated/FFS, you’re going to dumb down MO.

    What we’re aiming for with the new manager is the very best of both managers, in one manager. We don’t want to dumb down the advanced nature of MO, and at the same time we don’t want to swamp the more casual users of NMM who really just want a very simple modding tool.

    The real key to all of this is going to be in how we handle the UI and UX of the software, and we hope to hire on Phill, the UI/UX and designer we hired for our new site design to help us in this regard. We want something that is going to enable advanced modders to get into the really deep stuff easily, without presenting the casual modders with overbearing and complicated windows right from the get-go.

    Most of all, we want one piece of software that lets casual modders transition into more advanced modders gradually and at their own pace, without having to switch mod managers and reinstall all their mods.


    Will you be putting in place better testing methods to prevent a repeat of certain mistakes made in the development of NMM?

    Yes, we fully intend to learn from those mistakes.


    I told you to do this years ago.

    You probably did. But you didn’t send me a cheque for the wages.


    Anything else?

    That’s all for now, folks. We have a lot of work ahead of us.

    I completely understand you’re going to have a lot of questions. Please, keep it civil and respectful. We’ll answer what questions we can, but right now we’ve given you pretty much all the information we can share.

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