It's been quite a while since my last blog post
, and there's a very good reason for that. I've been busy, very busy! It's not all been Nexus work, but most of it, and perhaps more than I'd like, has been Nexus work. I'm writing this latest blog to keep you all updated with what's going on right now, and some of our plans over this coming year.
Something obvious that you'll notice coming to a Nexus site near you over the coming days is a move to a central domain at nexusmods.com. Each Nexus site is going to move to a subdomain of nexusmods.com (so tesnexus.com will become tes.nexusmods.com, skyrimnexus.com will become skyrim.nexusmods.com and so on). There are lots of different reasons for doing this, some point to the here and now and some point to the future. But primarily I really want to centralise things more because as it stands right now each Nexus site is like its own island tentatively linked together by the forums. Apart from the domain change you're not going to see a change in the appearance or functionality of the site, and we're not planning to mash all the sites in to one or anything like that. What a mess that would make. Having said that your login will be global across the Nexus sites, so if you're logged in on one you'll be logged in on them all. A nice by-product of this move. The current Nexus domains will still work and automatically redirect you to the current subdomain address, so you don't need to worry about updating any links.
And now for more exciting things. Since the site redesign back in August I relinquished my role as the sole programmer and coder for the Nexus sites as I brought Axel on board, full-time, to work on completely "professionalising" (that's what I like to call it) the code for the Nexus sites. The premise was simple; if you want to build a network that will stand the test of time your foundation must be strong. And to continue the cliché I'll refer to the parable of not building your house on the sandy land: we've got lots of plans for improving and expanding the sites, but before you build your house you ensure your foundation is rock-solid. And that's what our current work is all about. It's a phrase that I've repeated many times over the years and it's why my focus has always been on consolidating and strengthen my sites, constantly revaluating, improving and tweaking them, rather than expanding them and spreading my resources and time thinly and biting off more than I can chew.
Naturally sites that are as complex as the Nexus sites take a long time to recode properly, and it's not just a matter of sorting out the code, but working with the huge database files and ensuring that all the data can be retained as we transition from old to new. Things have taken longer than I would have liked them to and I've had to learn to deal with delegation rather than doing everything myself. It sounds like that should be a good thing (because I'm doing less work and focusing on other areas) but when you're used to being in complete control of your work and deadlines, it's hard to push that on to someone else.
One real advantage I've had with Nexus sites compared to others has been the ability to adapt to circumstances and react quickly. Very quickly. There's a lot to be said for having a system as far away from bureaucratic problems as possible, so when I want to add a new feature to the sites I plan it out, perhaps discuss it with the mod authors or the users on the forums, code it and then commit to the sites for people to use and test. It's a very simple process that is not hindered by the bureaucracy others might have to deal with, like the designer having to write out a design document, who has to pass it through his project leader, who has to OK it with the higher ups, who then pass it to the coder who has to code the system, thoroughly test it, perhaps pass it on to a QA team and then commit the code. It's what I like to call the "no dilly-dallying approach" to site coding. It works because you guys are pretty cool about being used as the beta testers because, I think, you're pretty confident I'll fix the glaring bugs quickly.
I want to hold on to this sense of fast and quick site updating as we finalise our current work and look to improving the functionality of the sites again. This month I have hired on a second coder so we can get to the point where we're pushing through some super awesome new and improved functionality for the sites on a very regular basis.
The fact is we've got lots of really cool and exciting ideas and not enough time to get it all done, and it's starting to get on my nerves! We want to get this boring recode out of the way so we can start pushing out some of the functionality I've been promising, or dreaming of, for a long time now. To list a few of these proposed plans off the top of my head:
- We've got designs and ideas planned for improving the visibility of otherwise invisible files that get lost in the quagmire of the Nexus file databases and really highlighting some of the hidden gems that you might never have otherwise seen. Some of them quite fun and interactive.
- We're completely recoding our file uploading and management system to be fool-proof and much more powerful for mod authors, and this will link up great with the Nexus Mod Manager.
- We'll be completely re-doing the tracking system to make it super powerful and useful so you'll never miss a beat on the files and authors you really like. If you're friends with others on the Nexus then you might get some hints from the stuff they really like as well.
- We'll be adding an achievement system for all users for a bit of fun. So the more you use the site the more achievements you'll earn.
- We're going to create a complete playlist/mod collection showcasing system so users can share their mod lists with others, without trying to complicate the already bad situation of users not actually reading file descriptions/readmes.
- Our moderation system is going to be completely reworked and much less black (you're banned) and white (you're not banned). Moderators will get lots more tools to make their job much easier.
- Continued improvement of the Nexus Mod Manager.
That's just a taste of what we have planned, and we hope to get these features rolled out hard and fast, as soon as this recode is done. The beauty is that some ideas I would never have been able to implement because of my lacklustre coding skills are now a very real possibility, so I can cook up some truly awesome ideas for site functionality that I could have never contemplated before.
As we finalise the recode of the Nexus sites I'll be engaging with the community a lot more on what they would like to see from the sites. And I'm sure that this upcoming Steam Workshop integration with Skyrim will give us all some food for thought. I'm quietly confident that we can happily adapt to any changes or curve-balls that the integration might throw at us, as we have in the past, and I think that we're excellently positioned right now to not only do this, but push on with our plans for expanding and improving this community.