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 or your personal beliefs and philosophies on what you should be allowed to get away with on the internet are so far withdrawn from mine that this was never going to work (which begs the question of why you agreed to join and interact on the site in the first place).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.
The OpenMW team is happy to announce OpenMW version 0.18.0 has been released. This version introduces a myriad of new features, including Level-Up, Key re-binding, Spell buying, eating ingredients, using Keys to open things, and much more. A full changelog shall be added at the end of the post. As since version 0.9.0, a release commentary video which covers the most important changes is available to watch.
New to OpenMW?
OpenMW is a modernized and more moddable open-source engine which aims to be able to implement the game we all love and all mods made by the community. Be sure to check out our FAQ video or official site for more information. If you have questions or want to help, feel free to post on our forums.
Version 0.18.0 log:
The launcher can crash on OS X versions < 10.8, this will be fixed in version 0.19.0
“Shaking screen effect” can occur on cell change
Implemented Level-Up dialog
Implemented Hide Marker, fixes big black blocks
Implemented Hotkey dialog
Implemented Keyboard and Mouse bindings, input system rewritten
Implemented Spell Buying Window
Added support for handling resources across multiple data directories
Implemented Object Movement/Creation script instructions
Initial AI framework implemented
Implemented eating Ingredients
Implemented Door markers on the local map
Implemented using Keys to open doors/containers
Implemented Loading screens
Implemented Inventory avatar image and race selection head preview (note that only default Dunmer male displays at the moment)
Fixed the size of Preferences menu buttons
Fixed Hand-to-hand always being 100
Fixes for NPC and character animation
Fix for sound coordinates
Fix for exception when drinking self-made potions
Fix for clothes showing up in 1st person
Fix for weird character on door tooltips
Fix for “onOfferButtonClicked” crash
Hotfix update (23:30 GMT, 15th Oct)
We've uploaded a hotfix to NMM tonight that fixes an issue with the Download Manager window going missing for some people. At first we thought it might be limited to a small number of users who had moved their download manager out of sight in previous builds of NMM but it became apparent that this was affecting a large number of people. As this bug was confusing some users who thought we'd removed the download manager completely and just left you with a small download bar at the bottom of NMM we thought releasing a hot fix would be prudent. In the future, if windows or tabs go missing in NMM at any point go to "Tools" then "Reset UI" and you'll go back to the default NMM view and everything will be back to normal.
Sorry for the inconvenience of having to download another build. We internally test every build of NMM we release across multiple different computer setups before we put it live on the site and this bug didn't show on any of our tests. Guess it's good that NMM is still considered as "in Beta"! :)
I’m pleased to announce that with the release of version 0.30.1 NMM will now work with our new download system that was described in one of my previous news posts.QUOTEWith the new download system your downloads are balanced across our entire file server network (currently 10 file servers). Non-premium members are capped at a download speed of 1MB/second (8mbit) across all their downloads. If you download 1 file, you'll be able to download at a maximum of 1MB/second. If you download 2 files, you'll download at 500kb/second for each file. 4 downloads would be 250kb/sec per file. And so on and so forth. Premium members are obviously uncapped and will be able to download as fast as their connections allow. We've also added another Premium-only download server in the US for their use.
We’ve made changes to how the Download Manager part of NMM works and also what it shows. Hopefully you’ll find the new columns available within the download manager far more intuitive than before as we’ve done away with the whole “step” system and made it more like a standard download manager. You can now more easily see how your downloads are progressing and how long they’ll take to download at current speeds.
Perhaps the only thing that needs explaining now is the “threads” column. Threads are how many separate download processes NMM is using for each of your downloads. When you download a file NMM splits the file in to smaller chunks to make things easier. It also means if your download fails for any reason NMM can resume from the previous chunk without you having to download all the way from the start of the file again. If you’re a Premium Member NMM can download multiple chunks at once, which works to speed up your file downloads and ensure you’re downloading as fast as your connection allows. If you can only download from a file server at 400kb/sec (because, for example, the file server is physically far away from your location) then downloading a single file with multiple threads will allow you to download at multiples of 400kb/sec, depending on how many threads NMM uses. 4 threads would be 1,600kb/second, for example. For normal members this is always limited to 1 thread. For Premium Members this is set to default at 4, but we’ll give you the choice to lower or raise that amount within NMM soon. And just to note: threads also apply to downloading manually through the site, so if you're a Premium Member who doesn't use NMM, compatible download managers should make use of multiple threads as well.
If you’re wondering why we show you the thread column if you’re a normal member it’s because I like the idea of you at least knowing what Premium Membership can give you. If you can’t afford it or you just don’t want to support the Nexus sites then that’s absolutely fine, but Premium Membership directly funds our work on NMM and the Nexus sites, so the more people I can tempt to become one the better! With that in mind, you’ll now find a new download bar at the bottom of NMM that will show different views depending on whether you’re a Premium Member or not. As previously mentioned, normal members are limited to downloading at a maximum of 1024kb/sec across the Nexus Sites. NMM will now show you how much of your total allowance you are currently using. If the progress bar is in the red, you know you’re using up most of your download speed allowance and Premium Membership might benefit you. If you’re a Premium Member, NMM will show you your total download speed and the percentage progress of your file downloads.
Premium Member or not we’ve worked very hard on not only improving the stability and reliability of downloading through the sites via both mediums (browser and NMM) but we’ve also enabled download manager and pause/resume capabilities for all members. On-top of that, NMM has built in error checking and retry capabilities now. If for whatever reason a file download isn’t working NMM will automatically attempt to retry your download over the course of a minute. If you get any errors now that require you to manually resume a download, or make you unable to download a file at all, it’s probably quite a serious one (like the server being down, or the file being missing for some reason) and will need to be reported.
This update to the site has taken about 10 times longer than we originally estimated it would (we thought it would take 2 weeks, it’s taken 25 weeks...) but we wanted to do it right, and at this point we’re quite happy with what we’ve done. We’ve tried to test it as extensively as possible but we can’t stress test it without putting it live for everyone to use. Our fingers are crossed that nothing major comes up because I know I’m tired of talking about downloads, as are Axel and DuskDweller, and we’re ready to move on to other features that have been waiting a long time due to the delays we’ve had with the downloads. If you do come across any problems please keep us posted in our tracker, but if you’re also noticing an improvement feel free to throw your praise at us in the comments, it’d be good to know we’ve got it right!
It is with great pleasure that I announce the launch of XCOM Nexus ready in time for the release of XCOM – Enemy Unknown this week (Tuesday in America, Friday in most other places).
If somehow you’re not aware, the X-COM series of games are considered massive cult classics with a whole wealth of depth that has never been replicated in the 15 years since the last proper game was released in the series. You play as the commander of a top secret agency tasked with protecting the world from an unknown extraterrestrial enemy who have an overwhelming technological superiority. Your job is to found bases, research and develop technology you find in the field and engage the enemy threat both in the air and on the ground, as you down UFOs and then go to the crash-site with a crack-squad of soldiers tasked with clearing the UFO area of enemies and recovering any salvageable technology.
Creating a Nexus site for XCOM – Enemy Unknown marks a shift in general policy for Nexus sites, not only because I’m launching the site before the release of the game but also because there’s been no announcement from Firaxis or 2K Games on the modding potential of the game and whether they’ll be supporting it with any modding tools. However, the original X-COM – Enemy Unknown and especially X-COM Apocalypse were some of, if not my favourite games of all time. Indeed, X-COM Apocalypse has been listed as my favourite game on my profile page since moving the Nexus forums over to Invision Board back in 2004 so to say I’m excited about this game would be an understatement.
I’d like to give the modding community as much support as possible, and early indication from the XCOM demo (available on Steam) seems to suggest that the game will at least be open to some forms of modification with or without a SDK. To that end I want to throw my support behind the people who are going to try their hardest to mod the game and help in establishing a modding community for it. Hopefully with enough support we can get the developers of the game, Firaxis, to help us out with a toolset. Typically Firaxis (known for the Civilization series of games) have been supportive of their modding communities in the past so there’s no reason to believe they won’t be this time around. If it becomes clear that the modding potential is very low and things don’t take off then it will be no harm, no foul, but it’s important to at least try and support the community as much as possible however I can.
The official XCOM forums are still confined to a single forum at the time of writing this news post and this is stifling a lot of the modding talk that is taking place there. 2K have promised to create some extra forums any day now, but whether they’ll include a place to talk about modding without getting swamped by posts about other miscellaneous topics is unknown. To that end I invite you to join us on our XCOM forums where things are at a just-launched quiet at the moment. I know lots of folks on the official forums have been talking about the types of mods they’d like to see and how far down the line it’s likely we’ll get to see them.
Once the game is globally launched and we’ve had some time to play it through and dissect the game’s setup I’m sure we’ll have a much better understanding of what will and will not be possible, as well as whether we can get it setup and supported in the Nexus Mod Manager. Until then, I’ll be bringing you as much news as possible as and when I get it, and we can still talk about the game in the XCOM section of our forums and share our screenshots from the game in the Image Share section .
Fingers crossed for an open, moddable game!
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