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  • 23 July 2015

    A big "Hello" to the Community

    posted by BlindJudge Site News
    Hi all,

    If you’re reading this and you're wondering who I am then you might want to check out Robin's news post that briefly introduces me. But let me explain a little more about myself. Firstly, a big hello!

    Okay, so my name is Paul and I go under the forum name BlindJudge - which comes from one of my favourite looking wakeboard tricks and no, I can’t do it - yet!

    I’m a passionate gamer who enjoys pretty much any game going, my Steam collection is pretty vast (1100+ games at present) and contains everything from the latest blockbusters through to some lesser known but amazing gems of indie titles. Currently I’m playing games such as Battleblock Theatre, retreading my way through Skyrim (this time modded to the brim) and some of the old school games like the Homeworld remake.

    I've been brought in alongside Robin to work in a Content Director role. It's a wide and very varied role but will initially focus on improving how the staff work behind the scenes and working on a complete redesign of the Nexus Mods site. That might be a little worrying, for a new guy to come in and tell you he's heading up a redesign of the sites, but let me try and put your fears to rest.

    The Nexus site design is now a good 4-5 years old and it's starting to show its age. Not only that, but it's also splitting at the seams due to all the functionality that's been "tacked on" since the last site redesign was done. The current design wasn't developed with a lot of the new functionality that's been added since in mind, hence why some places can seem a bit cramped and it's often hard to find exactly what you want.

    As has always been the Nexus way, we want this process to be as transparent and open to the community as possible and we would love people to come forward every step of the way to offer their suggestions, thoughts and any input you deem could help us deliver to you the site that you deserve. We're not keeping this a secret and just springing it on you once it's ready. We're not working in private with a couple of "respected users". We want to get everyone's opinion every step of the way through to completion. This is your site and your community and you guys are best placed to tell us what you think is best for it - not us and not a few "carefully selected" individuals. We would like it to not only look nice but be exceptionally easy to navigate and easy to find exactly what you're looking for while highlighting not only the bigger mods but also the hidden gems people may have discovered. Importantly we'd also like to to be future proof for any new functionality we add to the sites in the future to avoid that "tacked on" look.

    We’ve already started collecting lots of behind the scenes data over the last month. Heatmaps have shown us where people are clicking and how many people scroll up and down the pages. Analytics are showing us where people are arriving from and which pages they are entering and how they're browsing between the various pages on the site. The next logical step for us is to get some really important information from you guys, the people who use the sites the most, on what you'd like to see from a new Nexus site design. To that end I've set up a quick survey, it only has 15 questions, which are mostly multiple choice and should (honestly!) only take 5 minutes to complete, unless you want to give us really detailed information (which we'd really like to read!).

    So if you don’t mind, please take our survey, the information you submit will be used to make the site better for you, after all! As an added incentive we’re going to pick 5 names at random from the completed surveys and each of those people will receive a $50 Steam Gift Card.

    I know, they are annoying and no one likes to fill in surveys - but the information that we can capture from you guys would be highly advantageous to all of us when it comes to a site wide redesign. We don’t want to just change things over and spring it on you in a “TA DA” kind of way, we would like it to be user driven and because of this, my posts will more than often be asking for help, input, or informing you where we are in the process - and it’s going to be a long process!

    So what is our timeline and when do we start?

    Well, as mentioned we’ve already started to collect important data behind the scenes and hope this will give us a good insight into what is currently working and not working on the site. There will be a few more bouts of research, such as the survey, so we predict this could last anywhere up to around 8 weeks. We’ll try and get wireframes drawn up and put out in the public eye to gauge reaction and see if anyone has anything they strongly agree or disagree with. Heck, if you feel that you can come up with any ideas or wireframes or even designs yourself then we would love to see them.

    Following the research and initial planning stages we’ll jump into the initial design stages which we will announce on the site. This is where we will be consulting the community and UI/UX experts to come up with design mockups for the site, using wireframes and feedback for the designs. These will once again be scrutinised and discussed, shown to the community and your comments will help further these. This should last around 8-10 weeks.

    We would love for the new site (the moment it reaches Beta) to be released alongside the current one like the Nexus did with the previous design. This means that people will be able to switch between the two designs, old and new, finding out what they like about the new site, but more importantly what they don’t. There will be a feedback form for you to report back anything straight to us. Every single one of these will be read by me and put into metrics to facilitate changes to the more disliked features or a bug tracker to get things fixed.

    It will be exciting times for us over the next few months as the site is developed and coded. It will be done in parallel with the existing site, so nothing will change on the existing NexusMods.com site and, as we said, we'll consult you guys, the users, throughout the entire process.

    Site launch day will be exciting, this will be the day when the site swaps over from what it is now to the new one. It will have been a long labour of love from not only the staff here, but also the community as a whole and something I am exceptionally excited to see happen.

    Once the new design is rolled out we are going to make sure that site updates and features are then released quickly, no getting stagnant as we want to evolve at the same pace as (or ahead of!) the gaming industry, quick to react to changes taking place in the gaming world. It will be a part of my job to move the site forward quickly ensuring that we stay ahead of the pack. Through listening to the wants and needs of the community I believe this is very possible.

    It’s nice to finally say hello and I’m looking forward to working with each and every one of you.

    Regards

    Paul
  • 23 July 2015

    Introducing our "Director of Content" at Nexus Mods

    posted by Dark0ne Site News
    Back in March we put up a job posting for a Community Manager position at Nexus Mods. I was looking for someone who was a part of the modding community who could be a friendly-face on the sites and would handle a lot of the PR and community side of things on the Nexus which has been lacking in recent years.

    Over 400 people applied for the position and over the course of a couple of months I whittled down the applicant list to a "short-list" of 30 people, and then further down to a shorter-list of 4. Before I contacted these remaining 4 individuals, however, I met up with a close gaming friend for lunch one day. His name is Paul.

    Paul and I met several years ago at StratLAN, a relatively small 100-150 person LAN event that takes place a few times a year at Stratford-upon-Avon racecourse that is run by Multiplay here in the UK (the same people who run the large Insomnia series of LAN, which I also go to, and who also did this year's Minecon, whose staff I know relatively well). Paul and friends were playing the Game of Thrones board game around a big table and, over the course of many hours and many drinks we all got to know one another. We now all meet up regularly, despite some long travel distances for some of us, to play board games and go to LANs together. When we're not LANning or board gaming we're often online playing games with one another. A good 15-20 of us are close friends now, of which Paul is a part, with a further 10-30 I've come to know and like a lot. Paul and I sit next to each other at the LAN events and he sometimes watches me as I do some Nexus work in between gaming sessions. He regularly offers advice on things he'd change on the Nexus site or asks questions about why I haven't done this or that. He tends to be quite astute!

    When we met up recently Paul and I got to talking about our individual situations and, long story short, I saw a place for Paul working at the Nexus. He has a passion and drive for this sort of work with prior experience working on sites and in graphic design with a keen eye for the challenges facing the site and the work necessary to get the Nexus back up to scratch. I say up to scratch because I definitely feel like the Nexus could be doing more than it is right now in almost all areas, and the reason we've dropped the ball a little is because of me. Paul's coming in to streamline our operation and work just below me (no innuendo) to not only help with the decision making process but to help micro-manage the implementation of new functionality both behind the scenes, working on streamlining our work process, and on the front end that users actually see. Basically, he's another me, who will have the time necessary to really do what's best for the sites and this community. It doesn't mean I'm going anywhere, it just means I'm now getting some help on the sites that I really needed. And quite importantly for me, Paul is someone I know, who I can go and visit and who I can trust implicitly (indeed, he's sat a couple of metres away from me right now working away at his desk, migrating our internal bug tracking system over to a much better and more efficient system).

    Paul will be making himself known and getting straight down to work in his own news post to follow. In the mean-time, I would still like to hire on a dedicated Community Manager. I held off on finalising any choice of Community Manager based on the applications received while Paul was brought on and acclimatised. we've both decided that a Community Manager is still very necessary and would be very worthwhile to the sites. I'll continue that work soon (tm).
  • 22 July 2015

    It's holiday/DDoS season

    posted by Dark0ne Game News
    Over the past 24 hours the Nexus sites have gone down 3 times, sometimes for as much as an hour. It's school holiday season which means it's also DDoS season, typically a time when an abnormally high amount of DDoS attacks happen (logical conclusion is...?). We're told by our hosts that we are not the target but unfortunately we're being taken down due to the attacks happening against our host's and main data centre's infrastructure. It's nice to know we're not the target, at least, but obviously it still sucks.

    If you're wondering why we don't just "do something" about it. We do. We pay a lot of money (right now about $3200 a month and growing) to help against DDoS attacks, but DDoS mitigation is a bit like that scene at the end of Batman Begins where Jim Gordon is talking to batman and he's talking about escalation. "We start carrying semi-automatics, they buy automatics. We start wearing kevlar, they buy armour piercing rounds. And you're wearing a mask...". You can buy a ridiculously expensive firewall that can scrub 20GB/s of malicious traffic on your upstream, then you'll just get attacked by a bigger botnet that attacks you with 50GB/s of malicious traffic. You buy a firewall that can handle 75GB/s, they attack you with 100GB/s. And so on and so forth. And each time it gets more and more expensive to combat against. And it can get really, really expensive after a certain point.

    We and our hosts continue to react to the DDoS attacks as and when they happen. If they happen while I'm at my computer then I'm updating the Nexus Twitter account to let people know about the down-time and that we're aware of it. So if you like to be kept in the loop while the sites are down then you can follow us on Twitter. We don't really use that account for anything else right now so you won't get spammed about crap you don't care about!

    While the techheads work to sort this out for all of us (and this DDoS is affecting thousands of sites, so we're not the only victims) please sit tight and be patient. At the end of the day, this is one person ruining it or all of us. Well, one person, and hundreds of thousands of computer illiterate people who haven't secured their PC's/routers/Internet of Things hardware against people using their hardware as botnets. So by all means, take this time to review your own system security!
  • 17 July 2015

    Morrowind ModTown 2015

    posted by Zaldiir Mod News

    A little over a decade ago, in the bygone era of 2004, a group of modders came together to do something that had never been done before and has rarely been done since. They came from all walks of life, each with a different set of skills, and together they built a monument to a modding community for a game they all loved. That mod was ModTown 2004, and the game was Morrowind.
     
    Today, over a decade later, we honor their legacy and seek to repeat history. Today, we're announcing ModTown 2015, a modding project for the community, by the community, celebrating the community! This is a project where everyone can participate, modders and non-modders alike, and create something amazing out of our combined efforts.
     
    For a ModTown isn't just a celebration of modding, it's a celebration of our community and all that we can accomplish. A ModTown is a monument to our triumphs, a record of our collective creativity,  an epic tale of what we can build when we all collaborate and work together, and it's a time capsule, so that future generations of modders will look back and see a community that was thriving, that even after 13 years was still growing and creating amazing things.
     
    Today, let us make history, let's come together, modders and non-modders alike, and let's build something truly beautiful to stand the test of time! Let's make ModTown 2015 a reality! And may this be only the first of many collaborative community projects in the future!
     
    For alone we can accomplish mighty tasks, but together we can build entire worlds!
     
    To get started, you can head over to the ModTown 2015 forums and start contributing right away!
     
    Planned Features:
    • A large community where modders and non-modders alike can have their avatars and a sizable island beautifully created by Melchior Dahrk (ericthered1090)
    • A fully fleshed-out main quest involving the primary power in ModTown, the Community Consortium faction. The player will go through
    • some 16~20 quests, interacting with the modders of ModTown and their often peculiar and eccentric ways that occasionally make trouble for their NPC neighbors.
    • Branching Choices - Our main quest involves the ultimate expansion of ModTown, and the decisions the player makes will define ModTown's landscape.
    • An in-game newspaper that tracks the progress of the player as they complete quests and help out modders in ModTown.
    • Numerous side quests and other activities for the player to partake in.
    • 10~15 new dungeons to delve and explore
    • A city built on the foundations of creativity and collaboration with tons of stuff to check out
    • Plus anything else we can come up with!

    Thanks for reading, and I hope you'll all take the time to contribute to ModTown, for this is a collaborative project in the truest sense of the term and anything and everything, from ideas to creative writing can be used! Think of what we can accomplish if we all work together, and this is only the beginning to hopefully many more community collaborative projects in the future!

    - darkelfguy
  • 23 June 2015

    Changes to forum structure

    posted by Dark0ne Site News
    As you might know we've been struggling with our forum server after the past few weeks and have been working towards getting them on the same Cloud setup that's worked so well for us with the main sites themselves.

    However, we'd struggled to understand why, all of a sudden, the load times on the forums went from fine to absolutely awful in little to no time at all. There wasn't any sort of traffic spike and the servers weren't being constantly DDoS'd so there was no real reason for it. We knew it wasn't our database because the forums are running on the same database cluster that the sites are using; so the sites would have been slow as well.

    We came to the conclusion that it must be related to how heavily we've integrated our forum software, Invision Board, with the sites themselves. All membership information, profiles, file comments and discussions and bug reports, image comments, video comments and Premium Membership information is handled and called through Invision Board and each time we add a new game to the site we were creating 17 new forum categories to support it, to the point where we had close to 3,000 forum categories on the forums. It seems Invision Board doesn't play nice with growth like that. At all. For the technically minded, Invision Board seems to store things like your read topics for every single forum inside variables before every single page load, so if there's 3,000 forums, that's a lot of server resources being used on each page load.

    We've been experimenting with a number of different tweaks and changes to the forum servers over the weekend. Because it was the final weekend of the Steam Summer sale we once again saw record numbers of users on the sites (36,000 new members this weekend alone and 7,500 page views a minute). We were very pleased to see the sites held excellently during this time with page load times well within normal ranges and the traffic helped us to not only benchmark potential issues with the sites in light of a Fallout 4 release that's not too far away but also to analyse what would help relieve the load on the forum servers.

    Today we've made some relatively large changes to the forum category structure. Most notably, almost all games on the network now only make use of a single forum for all discussion (with the exception of the big games like Skyrim, Fallout 3 and so on). We've done this not because we particularly want to but because the forum software itself cannot handle having 3,000 categories (and growing each time we add a new game to the network). All file, image, video and article comment topics now take up a single category each (as opposed to a category for each game on the network) and all the old topics and posts for files already uploaded have been moved to these single categories. While you can still access the "forum view" mode for file and image comments you will no longer be able to access the file and image comment forum category directly. Because all the files and image comment topics for all games on the network are now mingled together in a single forum category it seems pointless to open up the category for viewing; you'll never be able to find what you're looking for by browsing through that category anyway.

    Making this small change has not only reduced our forum category count from 3,000 to 1,200 categories (and we haven't finished doing spring cleaning yet which will likely drop that figure to below 1,000) but it's drastically (DRASTICALLY) reduced the load times on the forum server. Essentially, the forums are now back to being quick and, in fact, better than ever.

    We'll now manually add more forums (like forums for "mod requests") as and when they are needed. As it is, a lot of the games we support have no need for forums here and they're added automatically as a token gesture. They might be used, they might not. Point is, they're there, and we can always add more categories for popular games as and when they're necessary.

    We've still got some spring cleaning to do and we're still going to go ahead with moving over to the cloud setup for the forum server. The cloud setup has showed its worth to us many times already, but case-in-point, this weekend the NMM virtual machine that handles logins and retrieving metadata for the Nexus Mod Manager became overloaded due to the sheer number of requests being made of it. As soon as we found out about the issue we were able to double the RAM and CPU cores available to the virtual machine, on the fly, within 5 minutes. Problem gone.

    Aaaaaand, as I type this, I've just been informed of a DDoS taking place against our servers. It's being looked in to as we speak and I can't speak highly enough of our friends (well, actually my friends, two of whom I lived with in Reading after university and one of whom is a childhood friend from my early secondary school days) at Krystal.co.uk who handle a lot of our hosting requirements for the sites and are always there for the sites whether it's 3pm or 3am if we're having issues. If you're a Brit who needs hosting or has a crap hosting provider and is looking for reliable hosting with great service you really can't do better than these guys. And I wasn't paid for that little advertisement, they just deserve the exposure for the times they're there for the servers, fighting off the kiddies out there who want to ruin it for everyone else (they were also up at 3am on Friday morning helping us to bring back the forum server that decided it didn't want to wake up from a restart).
  • 19 June 2015

    Forum status

    posted by Dark0ne Site News
    We're aware the forums have been largely inaccessible and now down since 11pm (GMT) on the 18th of June. In an unwelcome throwback to the 2013-2014 Nexus years the RAID controller on the forum server has seemingly packed in. Perhaps the forum server wanted to give us one last gift before we (had planned) to transition to the new cloud-based system over the weekend?

    Thankfully all our database operations are stored on a 5-server database cluster unrelated to the forum server, so things like the member database, posts, topics, etc. are all fine, dandy and indeed all working from the NexusMods.com site as usual. The forums, including new registrations, are not however.

    We're continuing to look in to it, but it's coming up on 3AM now and this might take a while. Just a heads up. 
  • 07 June 2015

    Site slowness this weekend

    posted by Dark0ne Site News
    I just wanted to provide a quick update. While I haven't been able to reach a computer at all this weekend I'm aware that the servers have been slower than usual over the past few days.

    The root cause of this issue is a database cluster node that got knocked out Saturday afternoon, meaning we've been running on 4 nodes instead of the usual 5. On top of that we're currently seeing higher than usual traffic, about 22% more than a usual Sunday, so not only are we running at 20% less power capacity but we're also serving 22% more users. I'm not entirely sure what the traffic bump is attributed to but it could perhaps just be an influx in people replaying Fallout 3 and New Vegas in response to the announcement of Fallout 4 last week.

    We're overdue an update news post on the recent changes we've made to both the site and one of the largest updates to NMM we've ever done, due to my extremely limited time at the moment, but that will come as soon as possible.

    Lastly, we're still aware of the slowness on the forum side and we're still working on transitioning the forums over to a new server system that should resolve this issue.
  • 03 June 2015

    Fallout 4 announced with teaser trailer

    posted by Dark0ne Game News
    Fallout 4 has just been announced complete with a teaser trailer from Bethesda.



    Details are obviously scarce right now, but we won't need to wait for much longer as the E3 reveal for Fallout 4, complete with gameplay (one would assume) is coming in under 2 weeks time at E3 on June 14th.

    What I can say is, from watching the trailer, it looks like you'll roleplay a dog and be the trusty companion of a Vault Dweller...
  • 02 June 2015

    Fallout countdown timer appears on official site

    posted by Dark0ne Site News
    A countdown timer has appeared on the official Fallout site and backed up by a tweet on the official Bethesda Twitter account.

    Please don't be Fallout Online.

  • 30 May 2015

    Witcher 3 Mods 2: Debug Console & Free Cam

    posted by Gopher Mod News
    As a long time mod tester and also as a lover of great screenshots I was really happy to see a new mod that gave us Free Camera mode and a Debug/Developer console. I am looking forwards to seeing some of the great screenshots that can now be made.

    Debug Console Enabler