After 2 days and no sleep (Axel has been up since the early hours of Thursday morning), we’re back to fully operational. With a heavy heart I also have to report that we couldn’t get our clustering setup to work properly. While the past 2 days of limited service haven’t been for nothing as we’ve learnt that we can’t do it without professional help it does mean that we’re still running on the old setup which is disheartening to say the least.
Things should be back up and operational again (as though nothing has changed), and while I’m sorry for the downtime and inconvenience caused I’m sure you can understand our wish to try and attempt doing this on our own rather than forking out the thousands of pounds that will now be necessary to get this looked into by a professional database consultant on our behalf.
We tried and we failed so now we have to move on and hope that we can rely on some certified engineers to do the work for us.
Thanks, as always, for your patience during this time.
It seems like an age ago that I was here writing about our plans for stability through server clustering. It was a long time ago, a much longer time than I was anticipating or hoping, but we’re as ready as we’ll ever be to roll it out.
As a part of the original announcement I did say that we’d probably have some substantial downtime as we moved the site databases over to our new architecture. That downtime (perhaps one of a few planned downtimes) will be tomorrow. All day tomorrow in fact.
All is not lost, however. It’s not going to be a total downtime of all the sites, but rather this downtime will simply be for the forums. You might now be saying “ooooh that’s fine, I don’t use the forums”. You probably do use the forums, you just don’t know it, as the forums are used for file commenting, new user registrations and uploading new mods to the site. So during this downtime not only will you not be able to use the forums themselves, but you won’t be able to post new comments/topics, add new mods to any Nexus site or create a new account. You will still be able to browse the Nexus sites for mods and download as normal.
We’re expecting this downtime to start around about 10am GMT tomorrow and last all day, and then we’ll likely be spending most of Friday fixing problems that might arise and tweaking everything for performance. So it could be a rocky few days coming up, but the long term benefits should outweigh the short-term inconveniences.
Once the forums are working on the cluster we’ll be moving the larger Nexus sites over. Our smaller sites are already using the cluster (anything with less files than Dragon Age/Fallout 3). These sites might require some downtime but we’ll inform you before any work is scheduled to start.
We came across a bug today that meant when users downloaded files through NMM the download was not being counted as a “Unique download” but it did add to the “Total downloads” counter. For those who don’t know, unique downloads are counted once per user, per file, per page. So if you download the same file 10 times it adds 10 to the total downloads counter but only 1 to the unique downloads counter. It’s a more accurate way of seeing the true number of unique individuals who have downloaded your files.
We’ve been able to run a script to recount all the unique download counters and I think some of you will be pleasantly surprised how high your unique download counters have jumped (I’ve seen some that have doubled, or even tripled, in count).
This bug only affected files with NMM enabled and those who downloaded the files through NMM.
CDProjektRed committed to releasing a powerful toolkit for The Witcher 2 some time ago and it’s been in a closed beta for many months now, but today the lid is off and the kit is out there for everyone to use.
It’s really exciting for a great game like The Witcher 2 and it’s modding community to be strongly supported by the developers, and it’s a great breath of fresh air for a triple A game developer to care so much about it, and it bodes really well for The Witcher 3. That’s why I care about supporting CDProjekt as much as possible in whatever way I can and getting the word out there to any of you who might be interested; The Witcher 2 modding just got a whole lot better.
There are already a lot of mods available on our Witcher Nexus site for you to download and use. This release of the Redkit will open the modding doors to much wider modding possibilities including epic quest lines, new locations and everything in between so keep your eyes peeled as many mod authors in the closed beta have been working on some great projects for many months now. I’m sure we’ll be hearing from them in due course.
In the coming months as we work towards our goal of supporting mods for all games we will be splitting any sites that have more than 1 game supported (for example Witcher Nexus, which supports TW1 and TW2) into separate sites for each game. This should help increase ease of use for people looking for specific mods for specific games.
We’ve also been working behind the scenes to make NMM compatible with the new Witcher 2 mods that will have been created by the Redkit. While we’re confident we’ve got it right we’re going to wait a day or two until we can test a few of the new creations uploaded to the site before we give it the all clear and release that functionality to you. If you’re a mod author wondering how you should package up your files to work in NMM I’m told all you need to do is place your files in the root of the archive you create, e.g. don’t create a folder for your mod, like placing all your files in a folder called “My first mod”. Just put it all in the root directory.
To download the Redkit and find all the information you need on how to get started with it head on over to the Redkit site CDProjekt have setup.
In the meantime you can take a look at the trailer CDProjekt released for the Redkit, with perhaps the most high-octane music I’ve ever heard used to show case mod tools!
As you’re probably aware from the advertisements we’ve dotted around the sites and in NMM we offer a Premium Membership service to users who would like to support the sites and get a little something back in return. I regularly get asked if we have a donation button on the sites. I regularly respond that we don’t take donations at the moment because we consider Premium Membership to be the perfect donation as it allows you to get something back for your financial support; so if you do want to donate to the sites then Premium Membership is the way to go. Premium Memberships are really important to us, as noted in that blog post I keep linking, because we rely more on you guys to keep us going than we do on the ads on the site. I think that’s how it should be and that’s how I like it. It means you guys are more important to us than advertisers.
In recent weeks we’ve added 2 more Premium-only file servers (servers only Premium Members can download from) to bring the total to 4 and last month we changed Supporter membership so that Supporters no longer see adverts on the sites. If you become a Premium Member you are automatically moved into the Supporter group for life when your Premium time expires. Supporter membership costs £1 (around $1.60) and 1 month of Premium Membership costs £2.49 (around $3.99).
We’ve always only offered Pay Pal as a payment method for Premium Membership which has become a point of contention for some people who would like to support these sites but don’t like Pay Pal, don’t want to use Pay Pal or can’t use Pay Pal for whatever reason. I promised that if that ever changed and we offered more payment methods I would let you guys know in the site news so here I am to let you know that we’ve (finally!) got some more payment processors for Premium Membership.
We’ve now added 2Checkout, a popular and well known payment processor to our list of payment processors which you can now use in place of Pay Pal for 1 month, 3 month, 6 month and 12 month memberships. Unfortunately 2Checkout weren’t big fans of the idea of a “Lifetime” membership for some reason so unfortunately we can’t offer 2Checkout as a payment method for that package. To pay via 2Checkout all you need to do is pick a package from the Premium Store and select “2Checkout” from the payment drop-down box. You’ll be redirected to 2Checkout for payment and then your membership should be applied within 10 minutes of payment being received.
Similarly we’re also trialing a different payment processor called Fortumo who provide the ability to pay for 1 month of Premium Membership via SMS/text message from your mobile phone. We’re currently trialing this in a number of European countries including the UK, France and Germany as well as Australia. In total we can currently support 21 countries via this payment method. First of all let me apologise if your country isn’t currently accepted (including those of you in the US and Canada). Every country has different rules, regulations and max amounts that can be paid via phone and the countries we’re trialing are the ones that were easiest to conform with in our system or who actually allow you to pay enough to cover the cost of the membership. We’ve setup a special package in the Premium Store to pay via SMS which you can find here. If this is something that you would like to use but can’t because it’s not currently accepted in your country please let me know as it will help me in deciding whether I want to expand on this payment processor or not.
I’ll finish by simply thanking, once again, those people who have helped to keep these sites running by becoming Premium Members. I really do mean it when I say these sites most definitely wouldn’t still be here without your support.
I thought I’d share with you some preliminary, non-final mock-ups that we’ve been working on with some professional web/graphic/software/UI designers over the past few weeks for the Nexus Mod Manager in the hopes of not only preparing you for the shock of the change but also to get some feedback.
As I’ve said all the way through the life-span of NMM how NMM looks is most definitely not final. Before I will stick that coveted 1.0 version number on to the software that indicates it’s out of beta it will most definitely be going through a face-lift, and it’s going to be a face-lift that completely changes the look of the software from a “my first .NET coding project” look to a “yeah, this might be going somewhere” look.
At the moment NMM isn’t the prettiest of software but it does pay homage to the grassroots of the software and that cliched “made by modders, for modders” look to it that suggests functionality and simplicity was more important to the author than snazzy superfluous graphics. However, going hand in hand with our current focus on shifting the Nexus from supporting a handful of games to supporting all games I’d like to work closer with some developers to integrate their games better into NMM right from the get-go. Fact is, it’s actually very easy for us to add support for most games in to NMM but (a) we don’t have Nexus sites for the game and (b) if you show a developer NMM, on first sight, it doesn’t give off the best impression. We’re in the process of sorting out (a) already, and now we’re in the process of sorting out (b) as well. Ergo what we really want to do is give NMM a face-lift that makes me happy, makes you happy and makes game developers happy to endorse it while, hopefully, improving the experience for everyone.
It’s my hope that you’ll look at these mock-ups and think “Wow, it’s changed, but actually, a lot of the stuff is in the same place, it just looks different”. I want you to be able to open it up and not spend minutes trying to find features you used to be able to find easily out of habit. In all honesty the current NMM design is horrible in this regard for new-comers and has heavy “mystery meat” UI elements that mean you don’t have a clue what a button does until you press it and find out. Of course, you’re used to where everything is in NMM now, and hopefully with this new UI you won’t be doing too much (or any searching) to find the functions you use in the current UI.
I’m sharing these mock-ups with you to not only show you what we’ve come up with so far but also to get your opinion. Unfortunately opinions on massive changes like this can sometimes be extremely dividing and it can be very tough for me to sift through the honest, proper critiques, criticisms and feedback that I really want to pay attention to and the “haters gonna hate, being bitter about change for the sake of being bitter” category of person who’s just going to dote on hate just because they’re that kind of person. So if or when you provide feedback on the mock-ups please try to take that into consideration, for my sake. Are you providing valuable, useful feedback that I can use or are you just a hater with nothing worthwhile to say? Show enough hate and I will just hide your comment as it’ll be unhelpful to the process and clutter up the feedback I actually want to be looking at. You can dislike it, but you’ve got to give good reasons why. How would you change it? What would you do when “don’t change a thing” isn’t an option?
We also want to try and maintain as much roll-back functionality as possible with NMM. We provide users with a large number of our previous versions that you can roll-back to at any time if you don’t like what we’ve done. We don’t stop you from doing that like most others out there, but if you stick to older versions and avoid getting used to new versions then you are going to miss out on new functionality, bug fixes and the like. That’s completely your choice.
So without further ado here are the mock-ups. Remember these are preliminary, unfinished, and things like wording (and spelling mistakes) are most definitely not final.
Loading splash screen
Game detection screen
Installed mods screen
Back in January when I blogged about money and running these sites a lot of people expressed an interest in what I’d written and surprise at how I ran things and how I think. This in turn surprised me; I didn’t think many people would be very interested, it’s only me. Similarly a few online publications got in contact to set up interviews with me on the topic, something I’m more than happy to oblige with. While I only ended up doing one interview as the interest seemed to die down the results have been summarized, quite heavily, in to an article on the Edge magazine website.
I’m an extremely opinionated person and very happy to be extremely open and candid both online and offline with how I express myself. I’m always really happy to be myself and tell people exactly what I think irrespective of whether I’m right or wrong or broaching difficult and controversial subjects, because I hate insincerity. As far as I’m concerned you should say what you mean and mean what you say, while trying to remain respectful. It doesn’t always work out like that, but hey, I try. I don’t want the image of me to be some corporate bigwig who only says things that I think will appease others and broaden my appeal to the masses, I want to be myself and if people don’t like that then so what!? We were never going to get along anyway. I’m not here to be everyone’s best friend, I’m here because I want to run a good modding community that really helps and supports modding. Sometimes the two don’t go hand-in-hand, and it wasn’t a particularly hard lesson for me to learn.
In the few interviews I’ve done they always start out formal; question, answer, question, answer and then just end up with us talking for a good hour or so about anything and everything under the sun to do with games. Mainly because I just cannot stick to one subject and have to go off on tangents as issues get raised (my teachers in school diagnosed me with “verbal diarrhea”). This interview was no exception, and I enjoyed it just for the great chat. And I’m always open to do more.
A couple of years ago I ran a little fun night with the Amnesia: The Dark Descent demo on Mumble. Around 30 of us got in to the voice comms and played through the demo together while having a good chat and laugh together. It had a nice sense of community to it and I know the people who took part enjoyed it. It also gave members a chance to chat to me openly and ask me questions which I answered back freely. I’d like to start up something similar, but honestly, time just isn’t on my side these days. It’s not the turning up that’s the problem, it’s the organising it. I’ll try my best to get something like this done soon, and if you have any ideas on what we can do, fire away.
We’ve updated the sites today with what will probably be the last new feature we add to the sites for a little while as we focus fully on expanding the Nexus sites to support all PC games which I mentioned in my recent blog piece.
Today’s update has added a new link titled “Download history” to file comments which is displayed next to the post date information for mod authors on their own file page comment areas. When the author of the file clicks this link they’ll be able to see your download history for that file (and only that file), which will display the file version you downloaded and when you downloaded it.
You might be asking why, and what’s the point? There’s a few good reasons why it would be handy for a mod author to see your download history for their file.
One of the assets of Nexus functionality over Steam Workshop is the fact users have complete version control over the files they download. If a mod author releases an update that has a major bug in it then users can roll-back to a previous version or skip updating to the latest version until the mod author fixes the bug. This is in direct contrast to Steam Workshop where mod updates are applied automatically, without warning or a user choice, when a mod author uploads a new version.
However, with complete version control for users also comes a typical issue: users reporting bugs on old versions (say v1.2) that were fixed in newer versions (say v1.4). Because the user is still using the old version the bug still exists for them. When reporting the bug the user (more often than not) might not report what version of the mod they’re using, so the mod author has to waste time getting to the bottom of whether the bug is still in their current version or whether the user is using an old version that has since been patched. This is something we’ve attempted to help fix with this feature.
When a mod author can see your download history for their file they can quickly skip that “What version are you using?” step of communication and quickly provide you with feedback based on your download history. It’s hopefully going to save mod authors some time when trying to help you with your problems.
Another good reason is in helping to prevent mod trolling. If someone is trolling a file page comment section about how the file doesn’t work or how it doesn’t do what it says the mod author can quickly check their download history for the file and see whether the user has actually even bothered to download the file at all. And my personal favourite, “I’ve been using this mod for over 3 weeks and it’s broken all my saves”, *checks the download history and finds they only downloaded the file 10 minutes ago*, yeah...
To alleviate a few privacy fears let me just tell you that this feature does NOT give mod authors access to your complete download history for every file you’ve ever downloaded. Only the author of the file in question can see your download history, and only for THAT file. If I’ve released mod A and you post in the comment section for mod A I would not be able to see that you’ve downloaded mods B, C, D and E as well. When I broached this subject in the private mod author forums a relatively valid argument was raised that people don’t want their download histories to be public knowledge. However, having said that, if you’ve downloaded a nude mod, for example, and you didn’t want it to be public knowledge that you’d downloaded the file, you wouldn’t be posting in the comments section of the nude mod. By posting in the comments section of a nude mod you’ve already expressed your interest in said mod, and a mod author being shown your download history for that file isn’t going to make that interest any more or less obvious for the public.
This update is now live on all the Nexus sites. I hope that the mod authors can put it to good use.
Following on from last weeks update to the way file search and category results are displayed we’ve patched in a few fixes and added a few more features based on user feedback. Perhaps most important, and worthy of being outside of the bulleted list below is the fact we’ve coded in some rudimentary browser back button functionality to the AJAX on the site.
The problem is thus; most browsers’ page history and back log are dictated by page reloads. Each time you visit or reload a new page it’s recorded in the browser history, and if you press the back button on your mouse/keyboard/browser you’ll go back to the last page you visited. Because we present a lot of the content on the site to you through AJAX, which is seamless and doesn’t require a page load, the browser’s history doesn’t record your button presses or remember what you were looking at before, and will instead take you back to the last page you visited. So if you search for “Weapons” in the file search, navigate to page 10, click on a mod you like the look of and then try to go back in your browser it’ll take you back to the default file search page, and not page 10 of your search for weapons. Of course, the simple fix for this is to just embrace tabbed browsing and simply open mods you’re interested in via a new tab (ctrl+click, middle-click or right-click a link and select “open in new tab”). It’s not a new concept, it’s been around for a very many years, but it seems quite a few people haven’t quite caught up with modern browsing methods yet and have complained about this to me.
As such we’ve coded in some simple browser history fixes to the sites so that your browser will remember every link you click, AJAX or not, and take you back through every click and not just page reloads. Now if you browse pages 2, 3, 4 and 5 in a category and then click the back button your browser will take you back through those pages, rather than back to the start. Similarly if you’re on a file page and click the images tab, comments tab and files tab clicking the back button will take you back through the tabs you just clicked on.
On top of that change we’ve also made quite a few fixes and updates. Here’s the current list of changes.
- [Feature] Mod authors can now write out an explanation for why they’ve hidden their mod page from view which can be seen by users trying to access their file page, rather than the default “This file page has been hidden by the author” message
- [Feature] Changed the way you can add change logs for your file by providing the option of using one large text area for easy copy and pasting of content from a pre-written change log or readme file
- [Feature] Added the ability to sort by name to the list of sort by filters
- [Feature] Files marked “adult-only” will now feature on category/search result pages in the “Feature files” section if the user has adult-only content turned on. You won’t see adult-only files in the featured images if it’s turned off or you’re not logged in
- [Feature] Banned members are now informed of why they were banned when trying to login and provided with a link to our rules and unban request form, rather than just being told they’re banned with no explanation
- [Fix] Removed the links to “Advanced search” as the advanced search options are now incorporated in to the new search page as standard
- [Fix] Changed the way hot files/featured images works so that cropping your image doesn’t also crop the thumbnail for that image. This fix is not retrospective, so if you have an image thumbnail that has been cropped you’ll have to delete it and re-upload it
- [Fix] Trimmed all file page names that started with a space which was making the alphabetical sorting look odd. You can no longer add a space to the start of your file name
- [Fix] Fixed the search button so it once again automatically selects the textfield rather than requiring you to do another mouse click
- [Fix] Fixed an issue with the pagination not working on searches done with more than 1 word
- [Fix] Tracked files tab on the front page is now working again
- [Fix] Fixed an issue with the site news archive pagination not working past the first page
- [Fix] Fixed an issue when clicking the “Download (Manual)” button on file pages highlighting the “Articles” tab rather than the “Files” tab if the author has written articles for the file
Today we’ve rolled out an update to the category and search results page on all the Nexus sites and I’m quite excited about it. I think it’s really good, ergo if you don’t like it I’m going to be upset. So like it. Or else.
The general premise for this update was to have a single page from which you could find all the content people have added to the site quickly, easily, and seamlessly without the need for excessive page reloads or jumping between category selections, search pages, tag searches and so on. Now it’s all centralised in to one page with the ability to customise what you see and how you see things extremely quickly.
Lets start from the top of the new page and work our way down; beginning with featured files. Featured files are why, as a mod author, even if you don’t think your file has any chance of becoming a “hot file” (or it’s past the time cut off for your file to be eligible) you should still create a hot file image for your files. Every 10 minutes every category will get a new “Featured file”. It looks a lot like the hot files on the front page of the Nexus sites but the difference is every file is eligible to be a featured file. Our server-side script will iterate through all the files in your file category to ensure that every file has absolutely equal exposure; your file cannot be a featured file again until all the other files in its category have also been featured. And only files that have a featured image created for them are eligible to be selected, so if you haven’t setup a featured image for your files yet you need to do so by going to your images and creating a “hot file” image. This isn’t the same as a “background” image, so if you don’t like the background image system or don’t want to use it then the two are separate; you can have one without the other.
There are infact two “featured file” lists; one for the category your file is in and one for the “all categories” selection which shows when the user is browsing all the files on the site. So that means your file gets the chance to be featured two times per rotation of the file database.
As a user if you’re not a massive fan of the featured file system or if you don’t use it and would rather gain some more height space for your mod browsing then you can click the green “Hide features” tab button which will hide the features section for you. If you’re logged in then the site will remember your preference so if you leave the page and come back later the featured file section will still be hidden. If you’d like to see the featured file again all you need to do is click the “Show features” button and back it comes. And once again, the site remembers your choice.
We also understand that you might like to see some of the files that were recently featured on the site that you missed and that’s what the “Recent features” button is for. Click it and you’ll be taken to a page that shows you the past 20 files that were featured in this category, so just over 3 hours of featured file backlog you can catch up on per category.
Moving on you’ll notice we’ve split content between “Files”, “File news” and “File images”. The files tab contains information specific to files. Your bread and butter file search results.
The file news tab will display news articles that authors have written for their files. We added the articles system to files about 10 months or so ago and it’s been used well by mod authors. Not only does it allow you to keep your users updated with your progress, thoughts and opinions and gain valuable feedback but it’s also a great way to increase exposure for your files. We’ll no doubt revisit the system in the not too distant future so you can subscribe to your favourite mod authors and be kept up-to-date with what they’re writing about. So I’d recommend making use of this system wherever possible.
The file images tab is an additional feature we’ve added to the sites that allows you to browse mod image galleries without having to go to the mod page itself. Click a mod in the file images tab and you’ll be presented with a pop-out box with a slide-show gallery script so you can scroll through all the images that have been uploaded for the file. If you’re one of those mod users who likes to look at mods before you read about them and download them then this feature is for you.
Whether you’re on the file tab, file news tab or the file images tab the results you see are all affected by the filters you choose to the right of the results. If you’re currently looking at files in the Armour category, if you switch to the file news or file images tabs you’ll only see news or images for files in that category.
When browsing your file results you’ll notice that we’ve gone back to providing you with two ways of showing you results; block view and flat view. Nexus veterans will remember that before we updated our site design we originally had these two separate views but changed to flat view so that we could focus our time more easily on supporting one format. Now we’ve got two dedicated web programmers for the sites we can go back to supporting both methods, and the method you choose is totally up to you. You can quickly change the view mode by clicking the green “View” tab. Just like the “hide features” button the site will remember your viewing preference if you’re logged in. We’ve also upped the number of results per page from 10 to 30 to better fill the space made available through these changes.
And lastly we come to the new search, sorting and filtering options that allow you to drill-down into the database to find exactly what you’re looking for. Situated to the right of the file results are all the options you’ll need to find what you want, including the ability to search by file name, words in the description, author/upload name and sort your results by all the previously available parameters plus one more; the random parameter. Much asked for over the years the “Random” sort by filter will show you a random selection of mods using the other variables you’ve selected. So you can search for random armour mods that have images uploaded and aren’t tagged as skimpy or anime. Easily. Click the button again and you’ll get another random set of mods.
We’ve included quick attribute filters for files that have images uploaded, files that are considered NMM compatible (because the author hasn’t turned off the NMM compatibility switch for his files) and adult files, and because everything is done seamlessly through AJAX rather than new page calls you can quickly turn these features off and on without a page reload. The filters you select will be saved as you move between categories and even into search results so you don’t have to constantly click the same filters each time you run a search.
Finally, we’ve also added the three main saved preferences in to your member area preferences section so you can edit them at any time; these preferences are whether you want to see featured files, your default view between flat or block mode and the default sort by order for any file searches or categories you view (e.g. most endorsed first, or most recent first).
As per my recent blog post this new page will form the backbone of a centralised Nexus and our attempts to make finding mods as easy as possible. We’ll add an extra parameter to the filters on this page for the game you want to be browsing making it be extremely easy to look through, for example, the latest New Vegas mods and then quickly jump to see the latest Fallout 3 mods without having to go through a load of different mouse clicks to get there.
We’ve tried our hardest to optimise the code as well as we can to get the best server performance out of it but we’re not going to know how it’ll affect performance for sure until we actually put this live on the sites and see what effect it has. The worry is, because everything is done without page reloads it makes it very easy for you to press a lot of things quickly and send lots of requests to the server. We don’t know how the servers will hold-up until we actually apply the code so we’ll be monitoring how the servers cope throughout the weekend and if things get bad and we think it’s because of this new code we’ll revert back and wait until we’ve transitioned over to the new database cluster. Once again, I’m told that’s any day now. Either way you’ll have some time to try it out and let us know what you think.
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