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Back in the middle of 2015, FileFront.com quietly shut the doors to its various gaming hub sites (which were much like Nexus sites for game mods back in their hayday in the early to mid 2000s). Over the past few years File Front was extremely out-dated, slow or outright broken in many areas, lacking some TLC that it needed despite still having an active contingent of core users who still frequented their forums.
While File Front hadn’t really been updated properly in years with most games supported being released before 2010, it contained tens of thousands of files for lots of great (but now) old school games. While File Front had closed, GameFront.com, their parent site continued to operate. The Game Front site contained all the files previously located on their File Front properties, plus many many more. Unfortunately, the Game Front site was in even worse shape than the File Front sites were, making it an extremely poor archive of the File Front sites and absolutely horrible to navigate. Game Front file pages lacked any file images, poorly parsed file descriptions and no details about the author of the file.
Finally, Game Front announced they would be shutting their doors at the end of April, thus condemning hundreds of thousands of files to the void of the internet and all but removing any traces of tens of thousands of very old mods for some classic games from the internet forever. As a result of this announcement many people, sites and communities have been scrambling to save as many files as possible from the soon to be defunct Game Front community. Indeed, the best example I’ve found is at Gamefront.online, which seems to be an exact copy of the Game Front site before it went down, complete with downloadable files.
When we first heard about Game Front shutting its doors we knew that the files would be in safe hands inbetween an Archive.org team who were working on a full archive of Game Front, and members of the original Game Front community who were working on archiving the forums. However, the File Front sites, including their files, file images and category structure, were not going to see the light of day again in any reasonably usable format.
As a result, we’ve been working to save as many files from the File Front sites as possible and finding the best method to port them into our Nexus system. As File Front sites were largely like Nexus sites are now in terms of structure, we felt that focusing on the File Front files side of things would be in everyone’s best interest. The focus wasn’t just on not losing the files, but on saving the category structure, screenshots, file descriptions and author information that is actually what made the original File Front sites usable and easier to navigate for the games they supported.
With help over IRC from some of the archive team working on the Archive.org backup of Game Front and the help of certain original staffers from File Front and Game Front respectively we think we’ve managed to do that.
We’re currently working on importing our finished archive work from Game Front into our Nexus infrastructure, and some of the games and files are already available on the Nexus network for you to browse right now including the archived files for the original Star Wars: Battlefront, Supreme Commander and Unreal Tournament 3, among other games.
We don’t expect these sites to be popular or demanding on our servers, but I couldn’t sit and idly watch tens of thousands of mods for games I grew up with be lost to the internet forever. Games like Soldier of Fortune, Battlefield 1942, Unreal Tournament 2004, Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War that are long since past their prime, but are games I grew up playing and downloading mods from File Front for back in the day. I am extremely pleased to be able to archive these mods on the Nexus to keep them safe for the foreseeable the future.
Our archiving work continues, and will likely continue throughout the weekend and into next week at the current pace. If you have any problems or issues you’d like to report with the archive work please email us at email@example.com or use the usual reporting methods on the site if you’re a Nexus member.
While I wouldn’t normally divulge such information publically in a news post due to the “unsexy” nature of talking about advertising, and because most of it happens behind the scenes anyway, I thought I would be remiss if I didn’t update people on this topic.
A little under two months ago we announced and released our new ad reporting functionality. The idea was to provide a very easy method to report bad ads that might come up on the site. Most importantly, for us, it was a way of gauging just how bad a problem bad ads were on our provider. Bad ads being defined as ads with auto playing sound, redirects, pop-ups or, worst of all, malware or viruses. I had an inkling, but I had no official figures to back it up.
Over 8,500 reports later on 115 specific ad placements (in under 2 months)...I have a very, very good idea. I was abso-bloody-lutely livid when the extent of the problem was revealed and sent regular emails expressing my disgust to my provider. Here’s just a snippet:QUOTEWe're a part of the problem! We're the reason more and more people are turning to adblockers to secure themselves against this crap. And I think what annoys me most is it's taken me having to waste my coder's time creating an ad reporting system...to even know there was a problem in the first place! It's diabolically bad, and I'm ashamed I'm serving these ads to my users and ashamed I've let it go on for so long.
While I won’t go into the internal politics that happened behind the scenes that involved me exerting pressure to try and improve the situation, I’m writing this news post today to let people know that as of this Saturday, we will be moving to a new provider. It is my hope that moving to this new provider should provide higher quality, more targeted advertising that is far more reliable and safe for users of the Nexus.
We’ll rework our reporting system to work with the new provider’s system and I will continue to monitor the situation closely. If it doesn’t work out, we will move again (and again, and again, if necessary) until we find a provider we can truly rely on. Even if it means taking a hit on our ad revenue to ensure the security is correct.
I wanted you to know that this stuff is important to me and I take it extremely seriously. We work hard to secure our site as much as we possibly can, and it frustrates us that our work is undermined by external attack vectors outside of our direct control that we rely on in order to survive.
So, from this Saturday, it is my utmost hope that the advertising situation improves considerably. I will update you accordingly, especially in regards to the new “tiered membership” incentivised system I mentioned in the earlier news post linked at the beginning of this article.
Once we’ve gauged the reliability of the new ad provider we’ll be in a position to launch that system and provide some benefits to those of our users who help to support the Nexus by turning their ad blockers off (or not using adblockers at all) on the Nexus.
As you are all probably aware we have had an issue for many, many months now with our file uploader not being able to process large file uploads (typically files above 300MB in size). During this time we’ve been working with mod authors to manually upload large files to our database for them. Obviously this isn't ideal for either you or for us, so we've also been working diligently behind the scenes to get a new uploader coded for the sites. We've finished work on this new uploader and it’s now live and available to be used on the sites.
This new uploader brings with it a number of new benefits over the old system, on top of providing support for large file uploads again (we've tested with files up to 3GB in size, so far):
- All users will now be shown a progress meter, showing how much of the file has currently been uploaded
- Uploads can now be paused and resumed
- If you close the page by mistake or you are disconnected for whatever reason, you can now reopen the page and begin the upload exactly where you left it (24 hour time limit on uploads, however!)
- Your file will not have a working download link until the file has actually propagated across our Content Delivery Network. It can take up to an hour for this to happen. This will stop people complaining about your file being corrupt or only partially downloading before it breaks when they try to download your file too soon after you’ve uploaded it
You no longer need to email or direct message me with your files. Just upload them onto the site as you normally would via your file page admin areas.
Just a quick heads up that we're currently testing out the implementation of SSL security across the Nexus site (not the forums, yet).
The switch has been flicked and you should be seeing a nice padlock in your URL bar while browsing the site. Some pages aren't showing a green padlock yet due to links to the non-SSL side of the forums.
While initial testing has been positive, we'd appreciate it if you could let us know if you notice any errors, issues or anomalies browsing the site today as we cannot extensively test every single last nook and cranny of these sites as effectively as a few hundred thousand of you folks today!
Thanks for your time.
We’re currently in the process of adding new features into Nexus Mod Manager, Robin covered it briefly in a previous news post, so I’ll try and expand a little more.
What we are aiming for with NMM is a piece of software that will make the installation, management and visibility of mods incredibly easy and open. You see a mod you like on our site, you click ‘Download with NMM’ and have it seamlessly downloaded, unpacked and placed in the right location with minimal fuss. Don’t like the file, then click to uninstall and NMM will go through and ensure that all remnants of that file are removed and your game functions exactly as it did previously. We’ve not really scratched the surface of advanced modding techniques yet, but we’ll get there once we’ve sussed out the simple stuff!
The thing is, with a bare-bones team behind the scenes here at the Nexus, testing and bug finding is a very long and tedious process, and we often miss things that an extended team might pick up on. So we are looking to find some current users of the NMM to join Robin, myself and the team in testing the future builds and helping us develop a concise and user-friendly bit of software.
You will be added to a closed focus group that will be dedicated to the NMM platform and be able to try out new test builds before we publish the new version to the masses. It’ll be your job to try and break the test builds and inform us of the problem so we can fix it.
If you fancy joining in then either drop me a PM through the site or an email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you an invite through a piece of software called‘Slack’ We have once again had such a huge response that this group is now full... Thank you so much to everyone that has volunteered!
Here we will have a number of channels where you can discuss bugs you find for a particular build, ideas you have for improving the software or even just to chat about the weather. Within the group you will have direct access to Robin, Tom, Dave and Myself along with the NMM developers and with all of us working together we’ll move the NMM platform onwards and upwards.
Our current tests involve the new ‘Profile backup and sharing’ functionality. Here a user can save their mod profile and have it backed up on the Nexus Mods site. This profile can either be kept as a personal backup, available only to yourself, or it can be shared with other users, allowing them to download any mods they’re missing from your profile and have it setup exactly how you have it (including scripted installer options, installation order and load order). The result being they can play their game with the exact same mods and options as yourself.
In addition, we'd like to invite those of you interested in directly helping us with the development of NMM to the new repo we've opened on Github. Though NMM has always been open-source, we're hoping that the well-known Github interface and functionality will inspire even more collaboration. We're always on the lookout for new and better ways of doing things as well as expanding NMM's feature-set. So, if you're familiar with modding and software development, your contributions will undoubtedly go a long way in helping us offer a better modding experience for everyone.
Thanks to everyone for their assistance
Update: This issue should now be resolved.
We're aware of some issues with our download mechanism today which certain users are experiencing on certain files. The problem stems from our current work trying to get the sites switched over to a fully SSL secured system -- a complex and costly procedure we've been working on for some time now to better secure our sites and your user data.
Because the way this is affecting the CDN, this issue is likely to get worse before it gets better as the CDN cache begins to empty out. We obviously hope to get it fixed as soon as possible, but it could take some time. Hopefully hours, rather than days!
Today, we’re excited to announce that Skywind, the project that is re-imagining The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind in the Skyrim Creation Engine, is coming to the Nexus!
In the past, Nexus discussion on the project has been moderated due to Bethesda’s stance that exchanging assets between their titles is not a situation they can condone or legally support. So for the past three years, the Skywind developers have been working tirelessly to rectify this by creating brand-new models, textures, heightmaps and audio. Literally hundreds of volunteers and more than an estimated hundred-thousand hours have gone into meeting this requirement.
The results are stunning, to say the least. Due to the incredible amount of work that's gone into recreating Morrowind from scratch, we are now able to happily support this project along with Bethesda. If you’re just now hearing about it or if you need a refresher, then please check out their latest developer video, “The Making of Skywind IV”. It’s a fantastic look at 4 years of hard work and a testament to the dedication of the team.
Much like modders have made all Elder Scrolls games the long-lasting successes that they are, the Skywind developers are hoping that the modding heroes here at the Nexus will join their ranks to become part of the team building Skywind as well. There are many varied openings for contributors, representing a wide range of skill-sets that I’m sure many of you who are reading this can fulfill.
Though there is no release date for Skywind yet, with your support we can help them achieve this ambitious endeavor. Every contribution is a step towards this goal, so if you think you might have some time and skills to offer, please visit them at the TES Renewal Project website and fill in the volunteer form to get started!
As it nears release, Skywind will be treated as its own title here at the Nexus. We’ll be opening forums and file repositories specific to Skywind with the intention that past and future great Skyrim mods can be built or patched to work within the updated framework that Skywind will offer. More info on that later. For now, be sure to check out their site and we’ll be sure to keep you updated on any progress.
So get out there, contribute, and make us proud. Have a good one!
To help us sort out our ad serving we’ve added a new “report this ad” feature underneath any ad placements on the site. This functionality will quickly let us know about the ad placement you’re reporting which we can then pass on to our ad supplier to help them quickly get to the root of the problem.
A bad ad that we would appreciate you reporting if you see it would be considered as:
- Any ads with auto-playing sound.
- Any ads that look like those crazy epilepsy inducing ads of the early 2000s with flashing colours.
- Any pop-ups. We do not use pop-up ads.
- Any ads that “break” the page layout as they’re larger than the space they’re supposed to fill.
- Any ads that automatically redirect the user away from the page. That’s a massive no-no.
- Obviously, any malicious ads (e.g. ones that your anti-virus program says are unsafe).
The ad spaces we use: a 728x90 pixel banner below the top navigation and above the site content, a 300x250 box ad either on right navs or next to the file stats on file pages, a 728x90 at the bottom of the page and a 300x250 at the bottom of the page. If you see anything else, it’s wrong, and we want to know about it!
Personally, I’ve been less than impressed with our ad provider of late. I’ve had many reports of issues that have been too numerous to ignore. I have been applying considerable pressure for them to sort out the issue but, without proper reporting, it’s hard to gauge just how endemic the issue is. It’s our hope that this new functionality will show us the extent of the problem so I can make a more informed decision about what to do next, whether it’s applying the right level of pressure backed up with statistics this new functionality will provide us, or looking for a new supplier altogether.
I understand that talking about ads is utterly undesirable. They are an unfortunately necessary scourge of the internet because there’s just no other way of paying for the servers and staff that keep resource intensive sites like this afloat. This year, Nexus Mods is projected to need £550,000 to keep running ($780,000). A figure that’s more than doubled in just under two years as we’ve continued to grow. We just can’t do it without ads on the site.
With this in mind, we have recently finished work on a slightly improved experience for users of this site who do not use Adblock. We are yet to release this functionality as I want to get a grasp of the current ad situation before I implement a system that incentivises turning off adblockers.
Because any talk of ads brings with it recommendations from certain users in the comments that everyone turn on their adblockers (something I find slightly rude, I won’t lie), I feel it necessary to talk about an upcoming feature we’ll be adding to the sites.
I understand and I get Adblock, and I understand and get why people use it. Whether it’s privacy, security, or just removing an annoyance. But unfortunately I have to sit on the other side of the argument simply because, if everyone used Adblock, then this site wouldn’t be able to afford paying the $780,000 bill this year. Indeed, the only reason why Adblock has “worked” up to this point is because there’s still enough users out there not using it to subsidise the people who are. As it stands, roughly 45% of Nexus users, who aren’t Premium or Supporters, use Adblock. That’s quite a high number. If that number gets much higher, we’re going to have serious issues. The same applies to many, many more of your favourite sites online.
There’s been a recent increase in sites not allowing users who use Adblockers on the site being spearheaded largely by the already dying newspaper industry’s websites online. A high-profile example is Forbes.com. I think we’re going to see more of this sort of stuff in the coming years. It’s a big deal on the internet right now as Adblock user numbers increase. However, I do not plan nor want to go that route at all. Instead, I want to thank those users who do not use an Adblocker by giving them a slightly better experience on the sites, without penalising Adblock users at all. Just to confirm, this new system will not change anything, at all for users who keep their adblockers on. For adblockers, the site will remain exactly the same as it is now and you won’t be locked out of anything you’re not already locked out of now (e.g. Supporter Image Share). Guaranteed.
The idea is to have a tiered system of membership with adblock users, non-adblock users, Supporters and Premium Members offering different levels of advantages. What you have right now, as a normal non-Supporter, non-Premium user of the site will be the adblock user level. So if you’re perfectly content right now, nothing is changing for you. Users who do not use adblockers will get a 50% download speed boost on the sites. Rising from 1MB/second to 1.5MB/second. A thank you from us, to you, for not using an adblocker. Supporter perks will remain the same, except for also gaining the 50% download speed boost, and Premium will remain unchanged as they already have uncapped download speeds among other perks.
The idea is not to punish people who use Adblockers. The idea is to incentivise turning off Adblockers and to thank those users who don’t use them on Nexus Mods. It’s an attempt at a positive reaction to Adblockers rather than the largely negative ones we’re seeing elsewhere online. With the raucous amount of abuse thrown out about advertising online, it’s only right that we thank users who willingly browse the sites with the ads turned on for helping to support the upkeep of the sites.
I’d like to remind users that Supporter membership on the site, which costs just £1.29 (roughly $2) and applies to your account forever (e.g. it’s not £1.29 a month, it’s just a one-off £1.29 to permanently be upgraded) removes all ads on the site for you. Similarly, if you become a Premium Member even for a single month (£2.99, roughly $4.25) you will never see ads on the site ever again, even after your Premium Membership expires. The idea being to make it as cheap as possible to remove the ads on the site, and to negate the often seen criticism elsewhere on the web that “there’s no cheap way to remove ads, so I use an adblocker”. I’m sorry, you can’t use that excuse here.
We’ll likely wait a month or two to release this new Adblocker incentive while we analyse the reports we get on our current ad setup with the new ad reporting system this news post was originally all about. I want to ensure the ads we’re serving are as tight and right as possible before suggesting to otherwise skeptical Adblock users that they help us out by turning them off.
It came to our attention last week, in a random forum post unrelated to the topic, that the unique file download stats have been broken for quite some time now. I honestly had no idea this was the case.
The unique download stat you see on file pages is supposed to tell you how many individual members have downloaded a file. Irrespective of how many times that user comes back to download that file (or multiple versions of a file on the same page) the unique download counter should only go up once per user who downloads from a file page. As an example, imagine a new user goes to the SkyUI file page for the first time. There are currently 14 files available for download for SkyUI. The first time the user downloads SkyUI the unique download counter will go up by 1. The second time the user downloads that file, or any other file on that page, the unique download counter should not increase by 1 again.
On top of that, each individual file uploaded to the file page (in SkyUI’s case, 14) has its own unique download counter as well. These are file specific. So if I download SkyUI 1.0 a total of 5 times, and SkyUI 2.0 a total of 5 times, then the unique download counter for SkyUI 1.0 will go up by only 1, the unique download counter for SkyUI 2.0 will go up by 1, and the unique download counter for the SkyUI file page as a whole will go up only by 1. In contrast, the total download counter for SkyUI 1.0 will go up by 5, the total download counter for SkyUI 2.0 will go up by 5, and the total download counter for the SkyUI file page as a whole will go up by 10.
As a result, you end up with two markedly different figures; unique downloads tells you how many individual members have downloaded the mod. Total downloads tells you how many times the file has been downloaded overall, unique or not. The disparity can go some way to showing you how many users like the mod enough to update it through multiple versions, among other things, though you take that with a pinch of salt, of course.
Users who download the file without being logged in (any files under 2MB can be downloaded without an account) do not count towards the unique download counter at any time, but will count towards the total downloads. This is because we cannot accurately track unique download statistics for non-logged in users due to the prevalence of dynamic IP addresses. As such, unique downloads are only based on registered members downloading files.
That is how it was supposed to work. That is how I actually thought it did work. However, that’s not how it was working up until today.
To explain how it was wrongly counting the figure before I’ll go back to the SkyUI example. Before, if I download SkyUI 1.0 a total of 5 times, and SkyUI 2.0 a total of 5 times, then the unique download counter for SkyUI 1.0 will go up by only 1, the unique download counter for SkyUI 2.0 will go up by 1, and the unique download counter for the SkyUI file page as a whole will go up by 2. As a result, if I were to download all 14 files on the SkyUI page then the unique download counter for the SkyUI file page as a whole would have gone up by 14.
This meant that up until now, the unique download counters for file pages were incorrect and not accurate. The unique download counters for the individual downloadable files themselves (e.g. SkyUI’s 14 individual files available from the “files” tab on the file page) were correct, just the overall total unique downloads for the file pages were wrong.
Over the past four days we’ve been running a script in the background to go through all 1.4 billion downloads we’ve logged to date in our file database and recalculate the correct unique download counters. We’ve also patched out the error in our calculations to ensure the correct counting method is used. The figures you now see on the site are the correct, fixed figures. Initial comparisons show a 30%-50% change downwards for most file page’s unique download counters.
I understand that it can be disheartening to log on to your file pages today to find your unique download counts revised down, a lot. I’m sorry about that. However, I’m sure everyone would rather the correct, accurate figures were shown rather than sticking with the incorrect figures.
Well we've entered 2016 with a productivity bang, all hands are on deck and there is plenty going on behind the scenes here at the Nexus so I thought I'd give you all an insight into what's happening...
Firstly a quick recap - we began the redesign process in the second half of 2015 by first trying to work out what our users like and dislike about the site. We were overwhelmed with the response to our survey which provided us with a wealth of information, our community is definitely one of the best in the world and it was great to see how truly passionate you all are in regards to our site.
A lot of people commented as to how they cannot browse the site on anything other than their PC, others were more interested in trying to find mods quickly and easily, others just wanted the site to be made 'fresher' and 'inline with modern web standards'. We took the time and read through each and every response that we received, that in itself took several weeks.
We decided to aim towards specific goals that were brought up over and over again, the first is for us to create a cracking mobile / tablet / responsive experience so that the site can be enjoyed by any user on any device, but without this experience lessening the experience from our core crowd of users who still visit the Nexus via their desktops. Secondly, we want the site to be easy to navigate around with search deeply integrated with the main functions, and thirdly, we want it to look nice and be a pleasure to use. The list goes on and on, but you get the general gist.
We knew that we weren't going to be able to do this all ourselves and that we were going to need some help from a professional, so we advertised for a UX/UI designer and got a great response from a number of people. Each person brought something to the table but after a lot of deliberation we contracted Phill into the position. He immediately took it upon himself to read through the research we had already conducted (survey results, hot-spots, device statistics) and started producing diagrams and wireframes for us to check out based on his conclusions from the research.
Things were moving along swiftly, but we wanted input from the community and setup a focus group of 15 Nexus users to help. This group has been nothing but brilliant, right from the word go we have had a constant and thorough source of input from them. What has been great is that they come from such a diverse demographic that they represent a great cross section of the Nexus community, giving us an all around feel for what we are doing and whether it would or wouldn't work. I tip my hat to them for the time and effort they have expended on assisting us, it's not over yet though guys ;)
The focus group talks on behalf of the Nexus users. While we would love to include everyone in every stage of the design process, I hope you can appreciate that having 10 million people all chiming in on any sort of process is just completely untenable. I understand that some people are concerned that they’re not being more involved in the process, however, we believe we’ve done well by you these past 14 years and ask that you trust that we’ve got everyone’s best intentions in mind once again!
With the focus group onboard we went full steam ahead on the wireframes. These proved invaluable to begin placement of features on the site and begin to visualise the site routes that people would take to do things.
An example of one of the wireframes we used is below, please note that these are old wireframes and may not reflect the final layout / look of the site.
After the wireframe stage we worked on design mocks, which included things like fonts, icons, more placement tests and colour schemes. Again, please note that these are old designs and may not reflect the final layout / look of the site.
Our aim now is to get the site to a stage where we can open it up to run alongside the current site, at first simply as a shell to allow you to experience it and see if it breaks when you try and do things. But should this be successful it will then be attached to the live database and you will be able to use it alongside the existing site. Between us we’ll iron out any bugs that are discovered and hopefully come out the end with a product that is better, and that we are all proud of.
For those interested, I’ve created a small timeline of events since the beginning of the redesign process.
Any questions, please feel free to get in contact.
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