Just over a week ago I wrote a blog post regarding the current prevalence of Kickstarter funding for video games and how they’re helping to promote the fostering of modding communities. I wanted to get my thoughts out on the matter in preparation for the announcement of three separate sites we have lined up to release that are currently in development, rather than finished, which marks a shift in how we’ve done things. Up until now, we’ve only released a Nexus site for games that are finished and publicly available, but with the aforementioned rise in crowd funding I wanted to adapt to the changes in the industry and throw my backing and ability to raise awareness behind those games and developers/publishers who have come to me, excited to work with the Nexus community to make their games as modable as possible. Frankly, if people want to work with us, and utilize the many, many talents of this community then I’ll be excited to do whatever I can to ensure their work is a success.
It’s with great pleasure that I announce the launch of War for the Overworld Nexus. Straight from the developer’s mouths, “In War for the Overworld you have the power to create vast dungeons filled with hordes of evil minions who share a common goal: to crush the bones of the goodly heroes that dare to enter your unhallowed halls. You will command mighty armies, create vicious traps and cast dastardly spells to overcome the pitifully gallant armies that defend foolish principles such as "honour" and "righteousness" — it's going to be more fun than taking candy from a baby...
We've fused together the best components from the RTS and god game genres to create War for the Overworld; here you will find familiar elements from Dungeon Keeper, Overlord, StarCraft and Evil Genius. Your domain lies beneath the surface of this realm, and it is here that you will begin to build your sinful empire. The forces of good in this land will do everything in their power to stop you.”
Basically if you liked Dungeon Keeper, you’re going to like this.
War for the Overworld is currently 4 days in to its Kickstarter campaign where the developers are asking for £150,000 to help them realize the game’s full potential, and you can nab the game, due for a beta release in March, for a steal at £10 (around $16) and in-turn, help them out. In my blog post I expressed dismay at how Kickstarter was being exploited by “big names” in the industry looking to fund their ideas without them having put much work in to it at all. War for the Overworld is not one of those games. They’ve got a great introductory video, narrated by Richard Riding’s himself (from the original Dungeon Keeper games) that will show you exactly what the game is all about and you’ll see that it’s in a very well polished state already.
Because War for the Overworld isn’t due out for a little while yet we’ve created a stripped down version of the Nexus sites that simply contains the news, image share and forum aspects of a Nexus site. Obviously there’s no point having a file database if the game isn’t out yet, and we don’t want to confuse you with an empty database. We’ll be using this stripped-down version for all Nexus sites launched for unreleased games, and we hope to keep it updated with new images and news updates straight from the developers themselves, who will be given news writing privileges here to keep us all updated on their progress. Once the game is released, we’ll open up the file database and everything else.
This site launch is even more exciting, however, because many of the developers of the game are Nexus mod authors themselves, with names that you’re quite likely to recognize. With so much design influence coming from prominent modders of the Nexus community it’s extremely clear that not only do Subterranean Games, the developers, want to make the game modable, but they want to make it as modder-friendly as possible using their experience while modding Fallout 3, New Vegas, Skyrim and other games to ensure that their game, and their modding tool, “Dungeoneer”, is both accessible to newcomers and extremely deep for veterans.
It’s going to be extremely interesting to see Dungeoneer in action. While other developers will release tools for their game without truly understanding their modding community, as they aren’t modders themselves (obviously there’s a big difference between a mod author and a game developer), Dungeoneer is, in essence, a modding tool by modders-turned-game-developers, for modders.
Because of the amazing situation we find ourselves in, with prominent Nexus mod authors working on a full-fledged game, Subterranean Games have made a YouTube video to introduce some of the modders working on War for the Overworld and explain the Dungeoneer tool, and I’ve also conducted a rather long interview with them for your reading pleasure. Interviewing the developers is something I plan to do with each new site we launch in this manner, and I’m trying to ask pertinent questions related to modding within the game, and modding within the industry at large because frankly, if you want an interview with the developer about the game itself then you’ll be sure to find lots of that already, but how many publications ask questions specific to modding? Not many.
Lets begin by asking who you are, what modding experience you have (if any) and what area of expertise you bring to War for the Overworld.
- Alendor - My name is Patrick DiLillo, and I’m the lead animator for WFTO. I have been modding and animating since the Half-Life 1 days, most heavily working with Quake 3.
- AnOneTwo - Hi, I'm Andrey Bushkov (aka AnOneTwo), I’m 23 years old and I live in Moscow. 2 Years ago I made my first mod for Fallout 3 and it was actually my first Photoshop experience. The reason why I started modding is a guy Baelkin, who made a very cool mesh of Kerberos armor but never finished textures for it. Many folks liked my work so I decided to continue modding and learn 3D as well. After that I released some mods for Fallout New Vegas. Airforce T-57 power armor was my very first model that I made from scratch and then I worked on Murdelizer, Thor and Vault-Tec power armor. While modding, I met many good and talented artists like Weijiesen and CaBal120 and I’m really glad we’re still in touch and working together. All my mods didn't have "pro" quality but I've put a piece of my soul into each. So they got popular on Nexus and I was invited to join the "RiSE" team. Since then I didn't actually have time to mod. I’ve been working with the “Rise” team for more than a year and I’ve vastly improved my 3D skills and brought it to the "War for the Overworld" project.
- Crawlius - G'day! I go by Crawlius, and I've been involved with various kinds of modding for over a decade now. I started out in map making with games like Tiberian Sun and Unreal Tournament but, since about 2001, I've been burying myself in sound design and, more recently, music and voice acting. My last modding project was CRL9000 for Fallout: New Vegas, something I've promised to finish one day... Along with Dan Atkins, I make up half of the sound design department.
- Simburgur – Hey I am Josh Bishop, lead designer and PR manager for Subterranean Games and War for the Overworld.
- Vaernus – Howdy. My name is William Phelps and I am the lead programmer for War for the Overworld. You might remember me briefly as spearheading the nVamp project for Fallout: New Vegas but I am not nearly as well known as the modding greats in this interview. They are the real geniuses here.
- Weijiesen - An interview? How exciting! Many of you around this Nex'iverse know me as Weijiesen, creator of EVE (Energy Visuals Enhanced), and uh, EVE (Essential Visual Enhancement), and a handful of others. I'm Jack and I hail from Hong Kong. If you are familiar with my mods -or read the previous sentence- you can probably guess I'll be running the 'FX' portion of WFTO. From magic spells to bonfires, from weather to gore, and everything in between, your eyeballs will feel as though they just got a backrub from an orgasm. Chesko - Hi, I'm Chesko! I am the author of Wearable Lanterns, and Frostfall: Hypothermia, Camping, Survival for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I am coming on board as a developer for WFTO!
Is this your first attempt at game development or do you have prior experience? What has been the biggest change or culture shock moving from a modding environment to a game development environment?
- Alendor - I have prior experience in game development, beginning with work on the 360/PS3 game, Darkest of Days. I have been doing freelance and contract professional work ever since, as well as modding work primarily for Fallout 3. So, fortunately I was able to transition rather well to working on WFTO along with bringing experience and knowledge to the team.
- AnOneTwo - The biggest shock for me were time limits in game development. In modding, environment artists work to please themselves, doing what they love and when they have time. In game development (especially indie) you need to work fast and assets quality should always be at high standards.
- Crawlius - This is the first time I've been involved with full game development, and the biggest change has been integrating with such a large group of developers. This team is packed with talented and creative people, and working in this sort of environment is more motivating than I could've imagined. The stakes are higher, your responsibility is greater, and you get to see everyone's efforts congeal into an actual game.
- Weijiesen - I've not directly had a hand in game development, but after spending a year and a half with RiSE and the better half of 2012 with Subterranean Games it certainly *feels* like it! Gotta start somewhere. I think for many modders the biggest adjustment to make between "modding" to "game development" environments would be working as a team, due to the fact modders usually fly solo. During my time on Nexus I've delved into a lot of 'team' modding projects CNR, ADAM, AWOW, Gnome Wrangler, etc. <-- that last one isn't a mod acronym, so I'd have to say the hurdle for me was deadlines. Modders usually work on their own time, when they please, but in the game dev environment hitting the deadline is key!
- Chesko - This is my first attempt. I would say the biggest difference is working in a collaborative, pre-existing codebase. Thankfully, our tools have made this entire process relatively easy.
I know you're all really keen to make War for the Overworld as modder friendly as possible. Can you explain why modding is so important to you?
- Alendor - Modding I find to be vastly important to a game, especially when you don’t have the environment to spend millions on development and post release support. Modding both allows users to add content and extend the life of the title, along with allowing people to customize the game play to their liking. However, the most important advantage of modding is it helps grow and cultivate new generations of game developers, who in the future can help create new IPs and advance the industry as a whole.
- AnOneTwo - Modding is a key for gamers to make their favorite games better and bigger. Also it helps people to reveal their talents, and do real art, not only a game.
- Crawlius - Modding is a way for curious people to grapple with game design. It's a way to explore the art, code and sound that comprise these experiences, and infuse games with the fruits of your own creativity. Modding is the place where risks can be taken, and experiments run, without worrying about profit margins, ratings or approachability. It's often the first leap towards a career in the industry, or the basis of a new genre. Many of the games being made today wouldn't exist as they are without the things modders have done, and it's our responsibility to leave that avenue of experimentation open.
- Simburgur – The ability of games like Half-Life and Warcraft 3 to have modding capabilities have led to games such Counter Strike, Team Fortress Classic, and League of Legends. To us, modding is equivalent to game design and if the tools support it, and we work with the community, mod authors can do anything.
- Vaernus – Dungeoneer, the toolkit we are building, is not only something that will be available for mods, but also the same toolkit we are directly using for development of WFTO. As such, it needs to be powerful, but intuitive for anyone to just load it up and be able to mod. We feel that is a primary focus in making these tools as user friendly as possible. At the same time, modding keeps a game alive. It offers new ideas from brilliant minds around the world that may otherwise be overlooked by our team. We want to cultivate that, including work directly with the community to let creativity run wild.
- Weijiesen - Indeed WFTO will be modder-friendly to the point you could consider it a "by us, for us" kind of thing, in that the community can and will (and has) effected the game itself. For years I've read comments about how “so-and-so company ignores us after slapping shoddy tools in our hands'' but those days are over. If you think a feature should be implemented in our wonderfully versatile "Dungeoneer" toolkit, then by all means suggest it, and you'll likely find it built in soon enough! We are not just 'considering' the mod community, we are using Nexus to bridge the gap and create a direct link.
- Chesko - Several reasons. First, it gives games a much longer lifespan than they ordinarily would have by ensuring that the game has new content available as long as folks are still interested in the game, which keeps things fresh. Secondly, I think it's very important for our fans to have a way to creatively express themselves within our game. I think too many game companies attempt to lock down the entire player experience, and in doing so, they lose out on the wonderful set of talent present here on the Nexus and other modding communities. If our biggest fans want to make our game even better, why not give them all of the tools they need to generate great content? Everyone wins.
What are you hoping to do, or release, to make modding more open and friendly to the average person? Are you planning to release modding tools with the game? When can we expect to see them? What will they allow modders to do? How open will modding be? Are we just talking new maps or are we talking full-blown overhauls?
- Alendor - From an animation standpoint, this particular field of development is typically very under-supported, even for games that tout modding tools as a feature. In my experience there are rarely tools released to help in the creation and implementation of animations into a game. The most recent example is Fallout 3 and their GECK tools. Fallout 3, as many Nexus fans know, is a very mod friendly game, supporting a lot of tools. However, there were virtually no tools to support the creation and implementation of animations. When I was making the Fallout 3 Re-Animated mod, I had to pretty much reverse engineer and create the process to get new animations into the game from scratch. This process led me to using 2-3 different programs (including an exporter tool made for Civilization 3, which only worked on a 3 year old copy of 3D Max), writing .bat files, manually type in blending stats and info, and pretty much cobbling together the animations with a very non-user friendly process. With WFTO and our Dungeoneer toolset, we are going to include the same tools that we will be using to implement animations directly from the development side. Including easy access to export tools, easy straightforward linking of animations, and user friendly tools for blending control.
- AnOneTwo - Speaking of my area of work, 3d and 2d is pretty friendly to modders. FBX files can export and import almost any 3d app. And TGA format is generic for 2d apps too so there should be no roadblocks. And I suppose there should be modding will be very open.
- Vaernus – Dungeoneer is made to be as simple as possible. Rather than requiring different tools, or even requiring the community to build fan tools just to accomplish whatever creative goals everyone has, Dungeoneer handles everything. Whether adding/changing data (creatures, maps, traps, etc.), or assets (meshes, textures, animations, etc.), everything is typically a one button process. Find the source file and load it. That’s it, it’s ready to be used in the game. From there, anything is possible. From building new maps and adding creature packs to completely overhauling the meshes and textures and everything in between. In the future we also plan on allowing direct changes to core functionality to push the game in completely new directions. Want to turn WFTO into a dungeon-themed FPS or a puzzle-based adventure game? Go right ahead.
- Weijiesen - Having seen the 'Dungeoneer' toolkit and its previous versions in action, I can say with confidence to all you modders out there -and people who'd like to try their hand at it- that when you try our toolkit you'll feel as though you went from using a rotary phone to using an iPhone.
- Chesko - In terms of making it easy to use, I think this has everything to do with taking a hard look at the overall toolchain: how many steps does it take to get from an idea, to a finished mod? This is an area I care a lot about: the entire flow from start to finish, making sure that the whole process is smooth. Our set of modding tools is called Dungeoneer, and it's shaping up to be a great set of tools to give modders everything they need to build new maps, import new textures and meshes, create new creatures... the list goes on. We are trying to open the doors as wide as we can with Dungeoneer. With options for creating new factions, dialogue, and so on, it would be reasonable to say that entire new campaigns could be created with Dungeoneer. And with Dungeoneer's script editor... it will be exciting to see what people create with the tools we provide :)
Why did you want to work with the Nexus modding community as opposed to other modding distribution platforms, or making your own distribution platform?
- AnOneTwo - Nexus was my "home" for a while, has MANY registered members, and many talented people. So it would be very cool to have WFTO on Nexus.
- Vaernus – Nexus has established itself as the premier marketplace for the best mods across many high quality games. Having one central area makes it easier for the end user to find mods, and the platform is very intuitive. We would rather continue to support this process than to compete with another system or generate our own. To us, this just splits the mod community and confuses the gamers looking for an easy process to find great content for their game experience.
- Weijiesen - There are a lot of good reasons we chose the Nexus community, but for a handful of us on the team, Nexus is how we met up and got to know each other. Crawlius helped me with some sound FX over the years with my mods, and AnOneTwo and I collaborated on mods (Murdelizer, Thor) long before we were on board with WFTO. Nexus is more than just a collection of user-names!
- Chesko - I think a big reason is that the Nexus has attracted the most amazing and talented set of modders found anywhere, many of whom are happy to share their time and knowledge with others, which I am personally grateful for in my own modding work. Another major reason is that, for the player, the Nexus makes the entire experience very easy; the Nexus Mod Manager makes installing and using mods a quick and simple affair. We intend to fully support the Nexus Mod Manager for installing and managing mods for WFTO.
What do you think about DLC? Do you have any plans, or niggling ideas in your heads in regards to expansions or DLC?
- Simburgur - As long as we are able to fund ourselves from people backing on Kickstarter and buying the game, we will always be releasing content for free. Beyond that, we will never release DLC that splits the player base. There have been many complications in terms of expansions making mod creation a difficult prospect as the author needs to support multiple combinations of game installations. With one clear path that everyone has, we guarantee that mods will always work if the user has the latest patch.
Is there anything you'd like to say to the Nexus community?
- Alendor - I would like to thank the Nexus community for the support they gave all the members of this team when they were working on their mods for various games like Fallout 3 Oblivion etc. Without that support we as a team may never have gotten together and this project may not have been possible. Hopefully with your help we can make WFTO a great success and our development studio can go on making more titles and help bring modding more into the mainstream instead of just a niche hobby.
- AnOneTwo - I'd like to say that I'm sorry to Fallout community for "magnum rifle" never being released. It was impossible for me and few other modders to make animation work, so yeah folks... I'm sorry.
- Crawlius - Whether it's Wolfenstein 3D or Skyrim, keep trying to make games better. The industry is always in need of an injection of talent and good ideas.
- Vaernus – With our push into Kickstarter for funding the project, and Dungeoneer as our tool to produce it, we are giving the community full control over not only what we produce with War for the Overworld, but how we are producing it. We invite the Nexus community to work with us at these early stages of Dungeoneer to build it into a powerful toolkit. If something is missing, we will develop it. We also see this as a great way for the community to see their ideas ending up into the final game.
- Weijiesen - A few final notes I'd like to say to everyone. Never be afraid to follow tutorials. There are documents and videos out there that can help you go from n00b to pro! Never ignore your clock. Be aware of the time and that thing...uh.. real-life! Modding is a hobby not a priority. Lastly, don't be afraid to try working on a team, it may just lead to greater things!
- Chesko - Thank you for reading, thank you for supporting my personal modding efforts, and THANK YOU for your interest in War for the Overworld! Everyone at Subterranean Games is working hard to make sure that WFTO far exceeds your expectations. If you have questions about the game, we're an easy bunch to get in touch with; drop by our forums sometime!
So there you have it guys. Hopefully you can share in my excitement for how cool all of this sounds; not just because a Dungeon Keeper inspired game is in the works, and looking great, but also because it’s being made by a lot of home-brew talent from the Nexus sites themselves. Awesome.
Don’t forget to check out all the information on War for the Overworld’s Kickstarter page and if you like what you see, help them out and pledge your support with some of your hard-earned cash.
If you keep up with gaming news at all you’re more than likely to have seen quite a lot of buzz over the past year in regards to Kickstarter and other crowd-funded projects.
These sites are platforms for people from all walks of life that allow creative people to come to us, ordinary people, and treat us like mini-investors. They pitch their ideas, (hopefully) showcase some of their work and talk about their current and past experience, explain what they aim to do and ask for you to “pledge” money in order to see the pitched product become a reality. You might be asking what the point is, and why this is relevant to modding sites. I’ll try and explain.
Over the past few years we’ve seen a lot of the publishers involved in publishing triple A titles (EA, Ubisoft, Activision and so on) becoming extremely closed in regards to the PC platform. Because of the prominence of the console market over the PC market in terms of game sales, and perhaps the ease of PC game piracy over console game piracy, a lot of publishers have stopped paying attention to the PC market and concentrated either completely on the console market (Halo, Gears of War, Killzone, etc.) or developed for the console first and then done some pretty terrible and obvious ports over to the PC platform later. Publisher or developer supported modding was starting to become something of a rarity reserved for those “gems” within the gaming community like Bethesda and Valve. It’s not that it was dying so much as most developers and publishers were phasing the idea of providing for a modding community out completely (hello EA/Bioware).
From my point of view, I think the PC gaming community was starting to feel a little forgotten about and the general consensus for a while has been that we think publishers like EA are run by corporate bigwigs who have absolutely no understanding of what a modding community is and the value of fostering, nurturing and promoting your modding community to the world. The inherent issue being you can easily put on to an accountant’s spreadsheet the cost of providing for your modding community with tools, support and knowledge bases in terms of how many man-hours the endeavour has taken up, but you can’t put on to an accountant’s spreadsheet the actual monetary worth of your modding community in terms of sales obtained from your modding community, the ongoing press received from the work your modding community produces (I’m still seeing plenty of articles about Skyrim on PC news websites even now, and it’s always to do with mods) and the goodwill produced for both the developer and publisher who are actively supporting their modding community. I do wonder how many people have bought Skyrim for the PC either because Bethesda came out early and said they’d be releasing modding tools, or because they’ve seen what awesome things people have been doing to their game either here at the Nexus, on the Workshop or out in the media. I bet it’s a lot, but there’s no way we can find a realistic figure. And herein lies the issue; when companies are run by accountants and investors who need to produce higher profits year-on-year they’re more concerned with dinging out as many games as possible than they are about their community or quality of service. If you tell these investors and accountants you can make your games modder friendly and release modding tools for your game, but it’s going to cost you X thousand dollars to do and delay the release of the game by one or two months is it likely they’re going to want to do this?
So how does this relate to crowd-funded games through Kickstarter and other pledge platforms? By crowdfunding their game, Indie developers who use Kickstarter are able to cut out the middleman, the publisher. This means that they become far more answerable to you, the gamer, and a lot less answerable to “the man”. In an effort to win your support and get you to pledge they’re going to do everything they can to make YOU happy, rather than doing everything they can to make their big-wig investors and corporate publishers happy. They don’t need to be told by the accountants and investors that they can’t make their games modder friendly because it’ll take too much time or too much money. Instead, they’re aware that you, the gamer, wants the game to be moddable and it’s possible that in doing this, more people are likely to pledge to support the game. And that’s what they want; enough money to make the game they’ve dreamed about doing.
This ability to cut out the middleman bigwig investors and publishers is causing a mini-revolution within the PC gaming community. Originally if you were a developer looking to make a game you would have had to have gone to big investors or publishing houses where they dictate the terms of the deal and what can and cannot be done. For example; you may not know this but Obsidian received absolutely no royalties on Fallout: New Vegas, such was their deal with Bethesda. It was a straight cash transaction. So the fact New Vegas continues to sell well is irrelevant; Obsidian don’t see a piece of any money you pay for New Vegas now, only the original straight transaction Bethesda paid Obsidian. And that’s not uncommon at all, because when you’re a developer with no money but a great idea, the company investing the money not only controls what happens to that idea, but they also own the idea too, irrespective of the work you’ve put into it. That’s the business world, and that’s how it’s been for a very long time. But that doesn’t mean that can’t change.
Kickstarter et al aren’t just opening up the possibilities for modding, but also for the games themselves. When was the last time you saw a big space combat or space sim game get released? I can’t really think of one since Freelancer was released over 9 years ago in 2003. That’s ridiculous. Space sims are awesome. Why haven’t any more been made? The reason is the bigwig investors and publishers don’t think there’s a big enough market for them. Funny, then, that huge space sim project Star Citizen just finished their crowdfunding process where they raised $6.7million from players like you or me. Clearly these bigwigs don’t really have a clue about what gamers really want at all. I highly doubt most are gamers at all.
Now crowd-funded games aren’t without their pitfalls. Just like games that investors and publishers invest in, crowd-funded games are still susceptible to failing at any time. Perhaps the developers didn’t budget properly or thought they could make the game with $100,000 but they actually needed twice that. Perhaps something catastrophic happened at the workplace or they find out what they said they could do wasn’t possible at all. Like any investment there are risks, and if you’re going to use your own hard-earned money to invest in these projects you do need to remind yourself that it’s an investment, not a pre-order. There haven’t been any major failures yet, as far as I know, but when there is one (and there will be one!) I think there’s a potential for the house of cards to come falling down on the crowdfunding new dawn.
Similarly I’ve been less than impressed with some crowd funding projects that have been announced recently that have been extremely half assed. It makes a mockery of the process and takes for granted the fact that many people want this to work. If you go to some angel investors and pitch your idea to them they’re going to want to see that you’ve committed your own time and resources into working on the idea yourself. Perhaps with a prototype, or at least with some early work on the engine and the mechanics of the game. It annoys me, alot, that I’ve seen Kickstarter projects (some of which have big industry names behind them) who have come to pledgers with an idea and absolutely no work done. “Hi, I’ve got a great idea for a game and you’ll know me from this game, so please pledge to me so I can make it”. No no no no no no no. If you want my money you’ve got to show me you’re going to work for it. I don’t care if you made some of the best games of the 80s or 90s, if you want people to pledge you go to every effort to show people you’ve worked on this project, you’ve stayed up days without sleep and your Kickstarter page shows that you’re putting every effort into making this game work. After I donated to Star Citizen I practically got spammed by them; they’d email every day with project updates, even after they were fully funded, explaining what would be happening, what the money would be used for, showing off new concept art, in-game videos, interviews with the developers and everything in between. That’s classy. “I’m some guy you might have heard of from this popular series of games, here’s a picture I drew in 5 minutes, please pledge to me”. How about no. Don’t take the piss, and don’t get suckered into these projects unless you’re a huge fan boy.
With that little rant out of the way, I do want to quickly promote two great projects that are currently in the late stages of their crowdfunding that I think are worth your time. Both have had some great work done on them already, so you know they’re serious, and both developers have come out in support of modding for their games:
Maia is a game by an indie developer and can most easily be described as Dungeon Keeper mixed with Theme Hospital on an alien planet. Popular YouTuber TotalBiscuit has even covered it in one of his videos because he wanted to ensure it got funded, so if you’re interested in finding out more, and why to pledge, then take a look at his video. Maia has actually just reached its funding goal, but more money will mean a better game, and it will mean you’ll probably get the game for cheaper than if you wait for release.
Secondly, Sui Generis is an extremely ambitious project that it claims is “Grand Theft Auto meets Morrowind in an original open world RPG.” The developers have made their own engine from the ground up and they’re currently struggling with reaching their funding target with 5 days to go. The video for the project won me over, and the engine seems to be extremely deep.
Both the developers of these projects have come out in support of a modding community for the games, and I think it’s important, as a modding community, to support them back in whatever way I can. This blog piece is one of those ways.
We are going to be announcing support and rolling out Nexus sites for three video games that have either been funded already on Kickstarter or are about to be funded on Kickstarter. One of them you know is Project Eternity, being developed by Obsidian, which is awesome. While the games aren’t going to be out for months, or even years, I’d like to pledge my support not only financially (that’s personal finance, not Nexus finances by the way!), but by giving them the backing of this community and offering whatever services I can to ensure they make their games as modder friendly as possible. And what’s even cooler is that these guys want that. They want to make use of this community’s various talents, sometimes to help in making their games, and other times to provide consultation on how to make their games as modder friendly as possible. And that’s really, really cool. I’m actively seeking to work with, partner with or just plain help any developers, Kickstarter/crowd-funded or not, who are willing to come to this community and ask for our advice on how they can make their games more modder friendly. And that’s why I’m all in favour of the current crowdfunding phenomenon; because stuff like this would never happen when the bigwigs are in charge except in very rare occurrences. The crowd funding approach brings developers closer to the players, rather than alienating them by snuggling them up to the demands of the publishers. My thinking is the closer developers are to the needs and wants of the players then the more we’ll be listening to. And that’s good for us, the players.
As I'm completely blind to Steam at the moment while playing Planetside 2 I was unaware Steam were going through their Autumn sale. Now, as far as I can tell Steam have a sale on every day of every year (not that that's a particularly bad thing) and they remind me a lot of those stores that have "closing down sales" only to still be around a year later, so I become a bit blind to the sales on offer. Anyway; Nexus user SeraphTC kindly let me know of the sale was going on and, quite awesomely, you can pick up pretty much every game that we support in this current sale at great discounts. Here are the prices at time of writing:
X-Com: Enemy Unknown £20.09 (-33%)
Mount & Blade £4.99 (-50%)
Mount & Blade Collection (all the games) £14.99 (-50%)
Dark Souls £20.09 (-33%)
Fallen Enchantress £16.74 (-33%)
Legend of Grimrock £5.99 (-50%)
Dragon Age Origins: Ultimate Edition £9.99 (-50%)
The Witcher: Enhanced Edition £1.74 (-75%)
The Witcher 2: Enhanced Edition £7.99 (-60%)
Fallout Collection (1&2&Tactics) £5.43 (-66%)
Fallout 3: Game of the Year £8.99 (-40%)
Fallout New Vegas: Ultimate Edition £17.99 (-40%)
Skyrim £23.44 (-33%)
Dawnguard £9.37 (-33%)
Hearthfire £2.33 (-33%)
Oblivion: Game of the Year £8.99 (-40%)
GoTY Deluxe £11.99 (-40%)
Morrowind: Game of the Year £7.79 (-40%)
The Witcher 1 and 2 together for under a tenner? The entire Mount & Blade collection for £14.99? New Nexus entries Fallen Enchantress, Dark Souls, Legend of Grimrock and XCOM all discounted by 33% or more? If you haven't got the games yet and you were teetering on the edge then now's your chance. You have until the 27th of November, or next Tuesday, to get in on these deals.
We’ve almost finished the overhaul of our moderation system tools and functionality and with it brings some changes to our moderation ethos and practises. To further explain these changes to you I’ve written up this document that explains the new tools we’ll be able to utilise and how this is going to affect things. As usual, it’s a big one so if you’re interested go put the kettle on.
Our moderating ethos has always followed a concept of being strict but fair. It comes from my feeling that when you click that “I agree” button to our terms of service when you register your account, and once again if you post any comments or upload any files or images “I agree” means “I read the rules and understand that if I break them it’s more than likely I’ll be banned”. Ergo, in my humble opinion, if you get banned because you didn’t know that admitting you pirate all your games was a bannable offense (I’m sorry, but what idiot admits doing this publicly anyway?), or you didn’t know swearing at other members and calling them names would get you instantly banned then it’s no one’s fault except your own.
As far as I’m concerned we’ve got quite a few rules but they’re really not hard to follow at all. So if you break the rules you either didn’t read them (your fault), or you read them, you knew the rules and you still broke them (your fault), or you read them and didn't understand them (could be our fault for not being clear enough, but more likely your fault considering 4.7 million other members haven't struggled with it!) or your personal beliefs and philosophies on what you should be allowed to get away with on the internet are so far withdrawn from mine that this was never going to work (which begs the question of why you agreed to join and interact on the site in the first place). We implemented an unban appeal system a year or so back. Around 75% of these unban requests are members who’ve been banned who use the excuse “I didn’t know doing
would get me instantly banned, why wasn’t I warned first?”. It’s quite common for people to somehow blame us for their breaking of the rules. Don’t ask me how that works, I haven’t got the faintest idea. Very, very few contain an apology in them. It’s obviously our fault that they got banned, and not their fault at all!
Having said that, we’ve got quite a lot of rules, and some of them are more severe than others. Admitting to piracy? That’s always going to be an instantly bannable offense. We buy our games, we expect you to do the same, and the developers of the games we support wouldn’t support us back if we openly helped people who weren’t buying their games. Going off on an insult filled rant at mod authors? Instantly bannable as well. But what about the more minor offenses? Stuff like asking users for endorsements or donations in file descriptions? This is a rule that is regularly broken by mod authors, but it’s not exactly as severe as telling a mod author where they can shove all their work in a hate-filled rant. Up until now our moderating system has been very black or white and it’s been extremely hard to warn people when they’re breaking our rules. Our new system is all about changing that.
Most importantly I want to start by saying that this new system relies heavily on making our moderating actions as transparent as possible to the public. At the moment we have a sort of half-assed approach to giving evidence in the public strike and ban threads. It’s not uncommon to see “
banned, file troll” with a link to a reference post that only the staff can see. That’s not going to be good enough for me any more. We’re going to publish almost everything, and this is going to be done by us quoting the offending material within the ban notice for the public to see.
Banning a user for admitting to piracy? We’ll quote where he’s admitted to it within the ban notice (if he’s linking to a bad site we’ll obviously censor the link).
Banning or warning a user for trolling? We’ll quote the offending troll comment in the ban or warning notice. I don’t care if it contains swear words or personal attacks, lets get the facts out there.
Banning or warning someone for something they’ve done in the chat? We’ll quote the chat log within the public notice. I don’t care if it’s 10 pages long. If someone wants to read it all then let them!
Banning or warning someone for uploading work that doesn’t belong to them? We’ll quote pertinent parts of private conversations that lead to the admittance of wrongdoing, or quote from the file page description or file name to show and prove that this ban or warning was justified.
When you post on these sites you’re releasing publicly available information, so when we moderate based on your public posts and activities everything we do as moderators should also be as public as possible. Everything should have evidence publically available. The only exception to this new policy will be for Spam bots. I don’t mind seeing “
banned, spam bot” with no evidence. It would be unnecessary and counter-intuitive to quote a spambot for evidence.
Similarly we’re moving away from deleting comments entirely, thus removing the evidence, and moving towards “unapproving” or “hiding” offending comments. I want to keep a decent log of all offenses made and retain all evidence wherever possible. We’re currently setting up the file and image comments so that when we “delete” comments, really all we’re doing is hiding it on the forums and sites. As far you’re concerned the post is deleted but for us it remains as a source of evidence. Our evidence-keeping has been patchy at best in the past. We’ve got lots of evidence stored on some of the more high profile bans we’ve done (so that when they try to come back or lie about their “harsh treatment” here on other communities we can quote what they’ve done straight from their own original source comments and messages). We want to be able to do that for any and every offense, for our own piece of mind. It’s also great for self-moderation and those times when I’m personally called to review a moderator’s actions. With all the facts in front of me it makes it a lot easier to come to a decision without relying on other people’s testimonies.
Thus when we’re banning or warning people we can still provide reference links to the offending posts for staff eyes only, but the actual evidence will be in the public notice itself.
This matter of transparency is really important. Most people like evidence, people want evidence, and I think it will make our lives a lot easier in the long-run. So we’re going to evidence the hell out of you.
As a moderation team we’re not without our faults. We openly admit to getting things wrong. It doesn’t happen very often, but sometimes we, too, can be a little bit dumb. So our transparency and willingness to publicise other people’s faults will go hand-in-hand with our transparency and willingness to publicise our own faults. We’ve never shied away from admitting when we’ve been wrong and we’ll continue to ensure our public apologies are as open as the warning and ban threads themselves.
Notes, informal warnings, formal warnings and bans
We’ve now got a more indepth system for warning members and keeping track of their moderation history. Lets break it down:
- Notes are benign messages we can leave on the users moderation history for information purposes that all the other moderators can see as well. Examples where notes might be handy is if we’ve had a personal conversation with the member about permission to use someone else’s work. We can leave a note to say “Spoke to
on 11.11.11 and he provided proof that he has permission to upload ”. Or “Changed member name from to on 11.11.11”. Other moderators can then check a user’s note history first before they jump to any conclusions.
- Informal warnings are notifications we send to a member to warn them that they’re breaking the rules, or could potentially break the rules soon. We can use them to inform and warn members without it having the more serious and harsh repercussions of formal warnings or bans. Ideally informal warnings are best for warning members about what they’re doing when we know them to be otherwise good, helpful members, without it leaving a permanent bad and public mark on their moderation history. A good example of when we’ll use an informal warning is as a first warning for mod authors or image uploaders who ask for endorsements in their file descriptions. It’s a soft notification to let them know it’s against our rules and they should please stop. If they don’t stop, we’ll then issue a formal warning. If they still continue, we’ll issue a ban. Naturally if the offense is quite bad, even if it’s their first, we’ll be wanting to formally warn the member rather than informally warning them.
- Formal warnings are what our strikes are now. The difference is formal warnings can now be applied to people using the Nexus sites themselves as well and be backed up with easy to apply restrictions if necessary. When sending a formal warning a public, locked thread is automatically made on the forums which contains the information surrounding the warning. When issuing a formal warning we are provided with two text fields. One text field is for the public warning thread and it’s where we put all the evidence and pertinent information relating to the warning that we’d like the public to see. The other is just for communicating with the person we’re warning personally. No one will be able to see the information we put in this second text field except us, the moderation team, and the user themselves.
- Bans work much the same way as they did before. In addition we can choose to publish the user’s “moderation history stats”. This will enter the number of informal and formal warnings this member received before we banned them in to the public ban thread. This will help to inform people interested in the ban that this member received a number of warnings before they were eventually banned from the site altogether. The thinking being if we’ve given the member 5 informal warnings and 3 formal warnings already, and we’ve banned the user for something seemingly not worth banning for (e.g. the requesting endorsements example) people will see that, actually, this user has been given more than enough chances to be acquainted with our rules and should have known better.
Formal warnings can also be backed up with restrictions on the user’s account. Restrictions include blocking the user from adding or uploading any new files, preventing the use of the file tools altogether, preventing the downloading of files, forum and comment posting, image uploading, mod/image endorsing or preventing comments on a specific mod. These restrictions can either be “indefinite” or for a set number of days, after which the restrictions will be lifted from the account.
Informal warnings and formal warnings provide unavoidable notifications to users using the Nexus sites. These warnings are impossible to miss and completely lock-down the use of the Nexus sites until the user has confirmed they’ve seen the warning and agreed to our terms of service again. It doesn’t matter if we warn someone on Skyrim Nexus, if they try to use Fallout 3 Nexus they’ll still be locked out of the sites until they agree to the terms again. It does not, however, lock-down the forums. Warnings are applied almost instantly to an account and the user will see the warning without having to log out and log back in again. There can sometimes be a delay of about 30 seconds between warnings being applied and the warning block coming into effect on the user browsing the site due to our caching system.
A user’s complete moderation history can be seen by moderators, updated and changed via the “Moderation history” link on their profile. Similarly, users can see their own moderation history via their member area. Normal members cannot see each other’s moderation history, only their own.
On the topic of notes, moderators can also leave notes for specific files within the file database. Working exactly the same way as notes work for members, we can leave notes on files with any pertinent information. For example, we’ve had a situation recently where an author has been given permission to use assets from the game TERA in their mods. Leaving a note on the file(s) about this will ensure any moderators who weren’t aware of these permissions being granted are informed, thus preventing moderation overlap.
Moderator review mode
Moderator review mode is a lock-down placed on a file that prevents users from accessing the file while a moderator investigates a potential issue with the file in question. It also prevents the mod author from changing anything to do with the file. We added it to our moderation tools a couple of years ago because we found if we just set the file to hidden and contacted the mod author in question then there was a small percentage of mod authors who would “fix” the mod, remove any offending material and then feign innocence and ignorance of the matter (e.g. “Er, what are you talking about, my mod doesn’t use any music from Lord of the Rings!”). Honestly, this did happen, more often than you realise.
The problem with moderator review mode is it’s not very good at communicating to the mod author exactly what it is that’s wrong with the file (or image...yes, we can put images in the Image Share in to moderator review mode now too). We’ve updated the system to allow the moderator applying moderator review mode to leave a message to the mod author, via the file page itself, as to why the file has been locked down. We’re hoping this will reduce the amount of confusion there is when a file is initially locked down for investigation.
The wastebin is a new feature we coded to help us separate between mods that are in moderator review mode and seemingly awaiting further investigation from a moderator, and mods that have had a conclusive outcome to their investigation and have been removed. Up until now if we wanted to hold on to files as evidence we’ve kept the files in moderator review mode, even if we weren’t going to publically host the file. This has cluttered up the admin system as it’s hard to differentiate between files that are legitimately still under investigation and files that are literally being stored as evidence in case of future problems. The wastebin will now be our evidence archive, freeing up moderator review mode to just be used for those files that are still under investigation.
When we send a file or image to the wastebin it will be removed from the file or image database (as though it’s been deleted), and the pertinent information regarding the file or image (including the downloadable files, the file description and your reason for removing it) will be moved to our wastebin for archiving.
We’ve recently had a few cases of members creating dummy accounts that they’re using to endorse the files and images they’ve uploaded. It sounds stupid, I know, but people do actually do this. All moderators can now see all the IP addresses used to endorse files, the join date of the endorser and the system will quickly tell a moderator if there are multiple instances of the same IP address being used to endorse files and images.
Mod author comment moderation tools
All of the above features and etiquettes are live on the sites now. We’re now working on mod author comment moderation tools and hope to have some stuff live by the end of the week. This one’s quite a big topic, probably worthy of an entire news article all by itself, but I’ll try to be concise and explain our new stance on mod authors moderating their own comments.
Ever since this site first started people have asked if they can be given the tools to moderate their own file comments. Not to ban people outright, but to be able to clean, prune and remove posts from their comments, especially troll comments. When YouTube released their tools that let video uploaders moderate their own comments these calls increased a bit, and then when Steam Workshop came out these calls increased more. I’ve always put this topic in front of you people, and more recently, in front of our recognised mod authors to see what the majority feel about this topic. Up until now the majority have always voted to keep the moderation squarely in the hands of the moderators. We experimented with the “comment rep” system that let the public decide which posts they liked and which posts they thought should be hidden, however this system had mixed results and could be used for trolling as much as it could be used for good. Recently, with the prevalence of the Steam Workshop system, more mod authors have liked being able to moderate their own comments and I think this freedom has now changed opinions. The argument is sound, take the pressure off our moderators and leave moderating to the mod authors themselves. However, I don’t want to do this. At least, not entirely.
In my opinion, the YouTube/Steam Workshop method is the method you use if you’re not too bothered about the community or etiquette you’re fostering or don’t want to rely too heavily on finding good moderators who can handle the task. It’s the easy way out. Some mod authors will moderate their files well, they’ll not be “delete happy” at comments that perhaps aren’t super super encouraging and they’ll welcome useful constructive criticism. Other mod authors will not, and they’ll delete anything that isn’t a resounding big thumbs up to the mod author. And then there are some “mod authors” who steal your work, upload it to the another site and then delete any comment that people leave saying that the mod is stolen. Not good. Thankfully the report functionality at the Workshop has gotten a lot better from the early days, so good job Bethesda and/or Valve.
You see, mod authors are great. Without them none of us would be here. But just like the moderation team mod authors are neither perfect or infallible. Most are mature, understanding, tolerant individuals who understand that there are always some bad apples in a community and will work with us to root them out and remove them without getting their knickers in a twist. Some mod authors, however, have a very thin skin and a weak backbone, some see negativity and criticism where none is being offered, some are more than just a little paranoid, and some have their heads so far up their...necks...that their ego is running the show now. We regularly have to deal with these mod authors and honestly, some of the stuff that gets rudely demanded of us and the threats we receive (even threats of calling in lawyers to remove comments someone else has left on their mod) is frankly astonishing. I do not want to be empowering these people.
What we’re going to do is trial a new system that is a cross between our system of reporting comments and letting the moderators handle it, and the YouTube/Steam Workshop system of allowing mod authors to moderate all their file comments themselves. I want to reiterate the “trial” aspect of this. We’re going to implement it and see how it goes. If it needs tweaking or reworking, we’ll do it, but if we think it’s not working, mod authors don’t like it or it becomes more hassle and incites more drama than it’s worth, we’ll remove it.
All recognised mod authors (those authors who have 1,000 unique downloads and are able to access the mod author private forums) will now be able to hide posts that have been made in their own file comments. When an author hides a comment the content of the post will be fully hidden (with no option to see the original content) and the text will be changed to read “The author of this file has requested this comment be checked by our moderation team and it is currently awaiting moderator review”. It will then be sent to a moderation pool. Moderators will be able to login to this page and see all the posts that have been hidden by mod authors and are awaiting review. At this point the moderation team will assess whether the mod author was justified in removing the comment.
If the moderator agrees that the post breaks our rules then it will be fully hidden from the file comment topic, never to be seen in public again. If the moderator goes one step further and decides that the hidden post was bad enough to warrant an informal warning, a formal warning or a ban then the post will be updated on the authors comment topic to read “This user was given an informal warning/formal warning/ban for this post”. Mod authors will be able to choose whether they want that information to be public (they can leave it there for all to see) or whether it’s hidden from public view. I know some mod authors will like the idea of showing that people have been warned or banned for trolling their threads as it will act as a warning to others. I also know some mod authors won’t like that idea, so we’re going to leave that one completely up to you.
On the flip-side, if a moderator looks at the post and decides that it does not break our terms of service then the post will be unhidden on the file comment page and it will be locked from the mod author being able to hide it again. I see potential drama in this setup as I know that some mod authors are going to end up throwing their toys out of the pram when they hide comments because they think the comment has broken the rules and we unhide them because we think they haven’t. Obviously our policy on this matter is going to be very simple: we get the last say. If you’re not ok with that, don’t turn comments on for your files. That’s been our policy for the past 11 years so it’s not going to change.
We’ve put a lot of time and thought into this new system. For some the Nexus is too strict, for others, our zero-tolerance policy to trolls and general riff-raff has been one of the biggest draws to the site. Once again it falls into this category of not being able to please everyone and ultimately doing what I personally think is right for this network of sites.
We’ll continue to assess the functionality and practicality of our moderation techniques and make changes whenever necessary.
- Notes are benign messages we can leave on the users moderation history for information purposes that all the other moderators can see as well. Examples where notes might be handy is if we’ve had a personal conversation with the member about permission to use someone else’s work. We can leave a note to say “Spoke to
I am happy to announce the release of a new Nexus site in to our modding network. Fallen Enchantress Nexus is now open with a number of community made modifications already available.
For those of you who don’t know (and I shamefully didn’t know until quite recently!), Fallen Enchantress is developed by Stardock of Galactic Civilizations and Sins of a Solar Empire fame. It’s a turn-based fantasy strategy RPG. Imagine Civilization strategy meets Heroes of Might and Magic levelling and combat and you’ll have a good idea of what this game is like. Frankly, Civilization and Heroes of Might and Magic are two of my favourite games and it’s likely I’ve sunk more time in to them than any of the Elder Scrolls or Fallout games, so when a Nexus member emailed me at the start of the week wondering if a Nexus site might be possible for Fallen Enchantress I was quite disappointed I’d never heard of it before. Having now played it for coming on 10 hours over the past few days I can safely say I really enjoy it, so I jumped on the official forums and got in contact with Stardock honcho “Frogboy” about the possibility of creating a Nexus site for the game. The idea was received well, so now we’re here.
Stardock are one of those developers who have always supported their modding communities well. Fallen Enchantress is no different and it has multiple different tools packaged in to the game itself for you to use and share with others. On top of that they have an established and experienced community of modders for their games which makes Fallen Enchantress and the Nexus a perfect fit. If you’re like me and have never heard of Fallen Enchantress then you can find out more information from the official site. The game retails for $39.99 (£24.99), so it’s not a bank buster either, and it retails on multiple sites including Steam.
I want to thank all the mod authors who have already uploaded their mods to Fallen Enchantress Nexus and I’m hoping we can work together to make the modding scene for Fallen Enchantress as big as possible.
The OpenMW team is proud to announce the release of version 0.19.0! Release packages for Ubuntu are now available via our Launchpad PPA. Release packages for other platforms are available on our Download page. This version introduces Sleeping, Potions, DEATH!!, Spell Creation, Travel, and many other features.
Check out our release video by WeirdSexy.
- Launcher crashes on OS X < 10.8
- Extreme shaking can occur during exterior cell transitions for some users
- Implemented sleep/wait
- Further implementation for alchemy/potions
- Implemented death
- Implemented spell creation and spell creation window
- Implemented travel and travel dialogue
- Implemented first layer of global map
- Implemented trainer window
- Implemented skill increase from skill books
- Implemented ESM/ESP record saving
- Fix for Character shaking in 3rd person mode near the origin
- Implemented gamma correct rendering (does not work without shaders)
- Fix for fortify attribute effects on the last 3 attributes
- Fix for NCC flag handling, fixes some collision issues
- Sort birthsign menu alphabetically
- Various fixes/cleanup for the launcher
- Fix for sound listener position updating incorrectly
- Implemented dynamically generating splash image list
- Fix for markers interfering with raycasting
- Fix for crash after picking up items from an NPC
We’ve officially designated this week “fix the sites and make them work properly week” among the Nexus developers. We’ve not been happy with the status of either NMM or the Nexus recently, and we know you haven't been either, but thankfully you guys are pretty understanding, which means we've been able to get on with fixing it without worrying about a full-blown riot.
The first step in fixing the problem (past knowing there’s a problem) is finding out what the problem is. We think we can safely point our fingers at NMM for most of the performance issues at this point. Turns out we’ve made a pretty good home-brew tool to DDoS our own servers. Go us. Over the past year more and more people have been downloading and using NMM. We’re at over 1.2 million unique users at the moment, which means we’re getting about 100,000 new NMM users each month. To begin with this wasn’t a big issue, but now it kind of is, and we’ve been so busy trying to fix bugs and implement new functionality that the fact NMM is affecting the performance of the servers has kind of slipped by. Not our proudest moment. But this is exactly why NMM is still considered a Beta program. We know it’s not ready to be considered a “stable” release and until it is, it won’t get my seal of approval and we won’t bring it out of beta.
Having NMM in Beta, and you remembering that it’s a Beta program is still very important. I understand that lots of you now rely on NMM as your mod manager and if it doesn’t work then your gaming gets affected, so when we make changes we try to prevent disrupting things as much as possible. However, many of you are treating it like it’s a stable release and you’ll roll-back to older versions if it’s not working rather than actually helping us debug and troubleshoot the problems with the latest versions. That’s kind of counter to everything you’re meant to be doing as a beta tester. If no one reported bugs to us then NMM would never get any better (and no, “it’s broken, I’m rolling back until you fix it” doesn’t help!).
NMM version 0.33.1 is the beginning (and maybe even the end, if we've done a good enough job!) of our optimisations to get things back on track and with it come a couple of minor, but really important changes to the way NMM uses the web services:
The first is in the NMM version checker, the little screen that pops up for a split second when you first start NMM that checks if there’s a new NMM version available. In past versions NMM would check for new versions on every start-up of the program. We’ve changed that so it will only check, by default, every 3 days. You can change the amount of days between each check yourself within your NMM options from 1 to 7 days, or turn this off completely (as you could before). This will help to cut down on requests to our web services considerably.
The second is in the file version checker itself. As you know, NMM will query all the mods you have installed from the Nexus and let you know if the author has uploaded any new versions. Originally NMM would do this every time you started it. We’ve now changed this to only check once every three days, but we’ve added a button within NMM for you to ask NMM to check again whenever you want and once again you can change your preferences to change how often NMM will automatically check for new versions. We’ve done this because if you have 100 mods installed, and you open NMM 10 times a day to install mods or because you use NMM as your game launcher, you’re going to be making big calls to our web services 10 times a day when you might not always be using NMM to check for new file versions. That’s a lot of wasted calls to our web services when you split that across 1.2 million other people. It's important to note that the first time you use the update button NMM might become slow or unresponsive for a little while; don't worry, it hasn't crashed and it will come back. Subsequent uses of the button will not have the same problem and will normally update all your latest versions within a couple of seconds.
On the downloading front we’ve added some pretty cool (I think they're cool, anyway) options to ensure you’re downloading from the fastest servers at all times. You can find these options in the Settings section of NMM under the “Download options” tab. From here you can choose your nearest download location so that when you go to download a file via NMM, NMM will always try to use the servers in those locations first. This should really help to ensure that you’re getting the fastest download speeds possible at all times. If NMM can’t use those locations nearest to you for any reason it will just default to the least overloaded server. Similarly NMM will now tell you what file server location you’re downloading from. If you’re in the UK and the only file server available is in San Jose, you’ll understand why your download speed is going a bit slower. Please note that NMM doesn’t know where your nearest location is, so if you want to use this feature you’ll have to change the options yourself. Otherwise NMM defaults to using the least used file server at the time of downloading.
For Premium Members, in the same section you’ll find two new download options. The “Premium only” option will force NMM to always attempt to try and download from the Premium Only file servers, which should give you better speeds as there are far less people downloading from them. There are also options to change the number of connections/threads each download starts. Most people will want to keep this on 4 threads, but if you’re on a slow PC or if your ISP connection is a bit dodgy it might not like you making lots of connections at once, so this option is for you.
In other good news we’ve found the cause of the constant log-out issue, which is also the reason why some of you have been unable to upload large files recently (because the site logged you out half-way through uploading), and this has also been fixed. Thank the heavens, because that one was really annoying.
We’re turning off our old web services that past NMM versions have used (any before this latest one); not because we want to force you to use the latest versions but because as we release new versions and fix vulnerabilities or improve the performance of our servers we want to drop support for the older, inefficient versions as soon as possible to protect the integrity of the sites. That means if you want to stay using the older versions of NMM then NMM won’t be able to find new versions of your mods, and you also won’t be able to download through NMM either.
I'm pretty excited about this release of NMM because it's what I wanted the new download system to be like, and how I wanted it to work from the start. It works perfectly for me, and for us, in our internal testing, so my fingers are crossed tight that there aren't any major issues and that you guys are getting the same sort of performance I am out of it. However, should you run in to any problems (once again, touch wood you don't), as always please use the bug tracker for posting any bugs. And in other good news, we'll be putting online our two new file servers, one in Amsterdam and one in San Jose at some point a little later tonight.
This new version of NMM, along with our file servers, have had a number of efficiency tweaks applied to them and we’ll be monitoring the sites over the next 24 hours to see how much the changes have helped. If we think it needs more, we’ll do more, but we’re pretty confident that these pretty small changes are going to make a really big difference to everything and that we can get on with the new functionality we’ve been working on recently, which includes the ability to endorse files within NMM and the long awaited ability to make and sort your mods into categories. On the site side, we’re working on our much needed brand spanking new moderation suite for our staff to use, a new Nexus site and not one, not two, but three announcements of Nexus collaboration with three separate game developers, for games currently in development, along with a new type of Nexus site that will focus on pre-release information for these games.
It’s been almost a year (15th November 2011) since we announced the open beta of the Nexus Mod Manager. Since then the software has been installed on over 1.1 million PCs and counting. Back in March we hired on our first full-time programmer to keep NMM updated and improve on the program and now we’re looking for another programmer to join our team and help us push NMM in to a full release candidate.
Applicants need to be experienced in .NET and C#. It will be the duty of the .NET developer to continue improving and expanding the scope of the Nexus Mod Manager while working on fixing bugs and stability issues with the current code alongside DuskDweller, our current resident NMM programmer.
If you are an experienced .NET programmer with at least 3 years of experience and are looking for a job, please head over to the job page for more information. Be sure to send in a CV and previous examples of your work to the email address provided.
I’m enjoying a slow couple of days at the moment, catching up on watching Homeland (which I don’t think is that great, in case you care), playing through Borderlands 2 again and trying for the life of me to finish a campaign of Crusader Kings 2 while fighting the good fight for the Vanu in Planetside 2. All this is before I even think about playing through XCOM, and I’ve still got Torchlight 2 waiting in my Steam account, unplayed, with Faster Than Light installing on to my PC as we speak. Oh, and I still haven’t completed Skyrim. I don’t know about you but we’ve had an explosion of awesome games come out over the past 2 months and I’m really struggling to keep up with it all. It should definitely keep me going for the next 6 months. But while I wait for these games to install I thought I’d update you with a blog post about recent things happening at the Nexus. I assure you it’s not particularly exciting, but I know some of you take an interest in reading through my banal twittering and ramblings that go off on wild tangents, so this one’s for you folks.
So let’s start with where we are right now. Since this time last year I’ve hired on two more full-time staff to take the compliment of staff working on the Nexus to three (or four, if you want to count me, which I don’t) along with all the great volunteer staff we have here in the form of moderators. We’ve also doubled our server count from 8 to 16 where we now have 6 boxes dedicated to displaying the sites, 8 boxes dedicated to file serving for all members and 2 boxes dedicated to Premium Members (although we have 3 servers for Premium Members, the UK Premium file server is actually direct from the web servers rather than file servers, hence why the UK Premium Server is always up-to-date without ever being out of sync). In sensationalist terms we’re packing 48ghz of CPU power and 226GB of RAM, passing over 1.5 Gbit of bandwidth every second with a capacity for around 3.2 Gbit of traffic. We’ve also more than doubled our offering of Nexus sites by launching 7 new Nexus sites for Skyrim, Mount & Blade, Neverwinter Nights, World of Tanks, Legend of Grimrock, Dark Souls and XCOM while also splitting TESNexus in to Oblivion Nexus and Morrowind Nexus respectively. And lastly we’ve released our Nexus Mod Manager which is now compatible with 8 of the 15 games the Nexus sites support.
As you can see we’ve heavily reinvested back in to the sites with the money brought in from the ads you see on the site and Premium Memberships, which are integral to not only keeping the sites afloat but also ensuring we continue to develop the sites and network to expand our support of as many games as possible. Case-in-point we recently put a link to the premium sign-up page within NMM which has bolstered the amount of people supporting the site. I’m currently in the process of using those funds to purchase 2 new file servers for use by all members, and I’m close to saving up enough money to hire on another dedicated programmer for NMM. When it comes to hiring staff I always save up enough money to be able to pay their salary in full for a year. I don’t take any chances at all when it comes to the Nexus and its financial stability.
I know I’ve spoken about this before, but I brought on programmers to the staff because I wanted these sites to be coded properly, in proper OOP, using all the best practises that would ensure these sites were future proof. I knew when I hired these people on that my role as a programmer on the sites would become largely obsolete. I know nothing compared to these guys so I’m mostly limited to simple tweaks to the CSS and graphic changes, while I leave Axel, Tiz and Dusk to the hardcore feature programming. This has freed up a lot of the time I usually dedicate to work on the Nexus for other areas of the community, and this is why you are seeing us roll out more Nexus sites than before. While we might have only launched one new Nexus site a year, we’ve released 7 over the past year alone and I’m more than willing to expand that range.
Over the years I’ve visited various communities around the internet for games that we don’t currently support. Members in these communities will talk about modding and finding a location to host their mods, someone will bring up the Nexus, there’ll be a few of the stereotypical comments that people don’t want nude mods in their farm simulator and others will say “The Nexus only hosts mods for RPGs”, or “The Nexus only hosts mods for large games” or words along a similar vein. This isn’t true at all and I’d rather that stigma didn’t stick. How we’ve progressed and the games we’ve supported up to now have just been a natural progression along a simple path, rather than a wilful choice to only support Bethesda games, or RPGs in general. It was a conscious decision to never bite off more than I could chew and to focus on games that I was really interested in. And when I was sole programmer, server admin, accountant, community manager and developer of the Nexus I couldn’t bite off much. Now, with 3 dedicated staff who have taken on some of my previous responsibilities, I can start biting off more.
I see some networks out there, past and present, that try and support every game imaginable from the get-go. They either over-extend themselves, unable to dedicate the necessary resources for the good of the community, or they dilute their offering so much that it becomes useless. When I release a Nexus site for a game I want it to be focused, I want it to provide a real benefit for that game’s community and I want it to be wanted by that community. I don’t want to step on people’s toes and I don’t want to be launching Nexus sites “for the heck of it”, or just “because I can”. It’s one thing to provide a place to host files, it’s another thing to be actively supporting and developing a modding community. I want to be doing the latter.
No word of a lie, it takes me a maximum of 2 hours to make a new Nexus site. I setup the subdomain, upload the core files, import the database structure, edit 3 image files with the colour scheme and background skin I want (we use imagemaps that makes this process very simple), edit the CSS with 2 different colour codes and I’m done. It’s that simple. The longest process in that list is in finding a colour scheme that works that I haven’t already used. It’s bloody hard to do! When I coded the Nexus sites it was deliberately setup to be that quick and easy, and when Axel recoded the sites that was one of the main tenants I gave him for his work; make it easy and quick to setup a new Nexus site. So what takes so long? Why don’t we have 100 Nexus sites for every moddable game imaginable? Quite simply put; not every game needs a Nexus site, not every community wants a Nexus site, and not every community would fit in with our somewhat unique ethos and rule system.
What takes time isn’t setting up the Nexus site, it’s exploring the game community you’re interested in making a Nexus site for and working out their needs, wants and desires for their community, and working with them to ensure what you offer is tailored to their needs. First of all, are the game’s developers at all interested in making the game moddable? Do they like modding or do they want to stop modders from touching anything to do with their game? If modding has no support at all from the developer, with or without tools, then that’s a massive barrier to overcome. Have the developers released tools for the game? Do they plan to? Is the game moddable without tools? Is it feasible that at some point in the future tools might be made that could enable modding without the developer’s help? Could a Nexus site for the game help to show the developer that lots of their customers really want to mod the game?
Next, is the community keen on modding? Is it likely to take off to the point that there’s more than just a handful of mods or is it just a few members with pie-in-the-sky ideas of total conversions and overhaul mods that will never come? Would a Nexus site help to improve and bolster the community? Is there already a modding site set up for the game? Is it doing a good job or is it stifling the creativity of the community? An example of a game I have no interest in releasing a Nexus site for because I know the modding community is in good hands is Torchlight (1 and 2). They have the Runic Games Fansite, which not only hosts mods well enough but also has its own NMM style client for downloading and installing mods. I would never want to step on the toes of that site that has done so much for its modding community, even if people keep begging me to make a site for it (which they do!). I’d love to work with them, though. In retrospect when Bioware released their Social Site for Dragon Age: Origins I didn’t think I’d need to release a Nexus site for the game. Unfortunately the site was (and I’m not afraid to say this) pants. The forums had no search feature, the mod database had no, or very limited search functionality and unreleased mods and ideas were in the same database as released mods, making it an utter chore to find anything useful. It was as though the person(s) making the site had no idea about the needs or wants of a modding community. I wanted to give Bioware the benefit of the doubt and not step on their toes, but after a month with absolutely no changes or bug fixes made, and practically no contact from the dev team within the community, I released a Nexus site for Dragon Age: Origins and never looked back because the Social Site was seriously stifling the creativity and expansion of the Dragon Age community.
Moving on, would the community that already exists for the game fit in well with the Nexus community or would there be massive conflicts of interest and differing views and opinions? We’re relatively set in our ways here at the Nexus, we’ve got rules, regulations and etiquette that we’ve built up from community input over the past 11 years. What we don’t want to do is bring in another community, with very different views to our own, that could potentially upset the status quo and unbalance the community. We don’t want to be frigid and inflexible, and compromises can be made for different communities, but how we operate and run, our rules and our etiquette shouldn’t be influenced just in the name of getting a few more page views and Premium Members. How other people choose to run their sites or communities is completely up to them, but we’ll stick to how we’ve done things up to now until we think a change is really necessary. With that in mind, not every community wants a Nexus site, and some would aggressively oppose such an idea. I’m not blind or high enough on success to think that the Nexus is great for everyone, or that everyone likes the Nexus, or that the Nexus should work in every community. In some communities a Nexus site just wouldn’t fit, and I’m not going to go against what the majority want or need.
These are just some of the things I have to consider when I’m looking at new games and communities to create a new Nexus site for. Once I’ve got a good idea of how the community operates and whether I think a Nexus site would work for the game I’ll try to start a dialogue with some of the prominent mod authors within that community. I’ll talk to them about the Nexus, how I think it could help and ask them how they think things are going. What would they change within the community? What would they improve? How would they improve it? Would a Nexus site within the community work, and make sense for them? This gives me a great feel for the average modder within the community. If things still look good, I might start a dialogue with the game developers or I might hit up the official forums and create a public thread on the topic.
At the end of the day I do not run the Nexus sites with a businessman’s head. My aim isn’t to increase page views/premium membership/revenue year on year (if it was I’d be dinging out Nexus sites like there’s no tomorrow), it’s to run sites that actually benefit, support and compliment a community, with emphasis on the compliment aspect rather than trying to over-run a community and move everyone away from the sites and official forums that are already entrenched within that community. As the Nexus network gets bigger this idea of not wanting to swallow everything up whole is something I’m really trying to get in to people’s heads. I’m not in your community trying to convert you to a different religion and getting you to leave your community for mine, I’m in your community asking if a Nexus could work together with whatever other communities already exist to ensure modders are getting the best service possible, so that the modding community is free to do their very best. I don’t want the Nexus to become some huge corporate machine trying to overtake modding communities whether they like it or not, and whether it helps or not. I don’t want to be driven by a need to have 3m unique visitors a month by next year, and 4m unique visitors a month by the year after. Such goals only serve to ensure I think about the business first and the community second. I want to help, and I want to provide and build tools that make modding better for as many people as possible. The moment I think the Nexus has a detrimental effect on modding rather than a positive effect is the moment I shut down the sites.
And everything I’ve just explained in detail above is what takes time. A Nexus site might take 2 hours to make, but coming to that decision to make a Nexus site can take days, weeks, months or heck, even years. I’ve got a spreadsheet full of games and communities I’ve explored, notes taken from my observations of my time within the community and what problems and barriers there are to releasing a Nexus site for the game. Very few from the list have made it in to becoming a Nexus site. I hope from the depth of details I’ve provided you realise that releasing a new Nexus site isn’t just some knee-jerk reaction, but a really well thought out and explored idea that I really want to succeed.
I wanted to release this blog piece because recently, with the launch of multiple different Nexus sites in a short space of time, a few members have come to me concerned that we’re over extending. We’re not. In my opinion we’re very under-extended (if that’s possible), which is something I’ve consciously done because I was waiting until I, personally, had enough time to dedicate to get out there and work with other communities. It really does take a long time to do. For me, that time has come. And personally, I think it’s a very exciting time. Lastly, I wanted to make it known that we’re not genre specific, we’re not developer or publisher specific, we’re not AAA title specific, and we don’t want to be. Funnily enough we’re currently working on a Nexus site for a well known space sim series, and I’m looking forward to announcing that one in the not too distant future.
Read this far? Well done. Have a cookie.
We've released a new version of the Nexus Mod Manager today that provides official support for an offline mode as well as a few bug fixes. While the old NMM worked while offline it was never officially supported. Version 0.31.2, the latest version, provides support for an offline mode as a button at the login screen. If you don't want to login, or don't have a connection, you can use the "Offline" button to use NMM in offline mode. You won't be able to download files or view latest version information of your already installed mods, but most other features within NMM will continue to work.
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