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I'm going to preface this news post by telling you to read the entire article, to the bottom before you run off and start quoting things left right and centre out of context. With that said...
Yesterday, Steam's new Paid Workshop had its first casualty as Chesko pulled his mods off the site. He made a post on Reddit explaining his decision, and took a pop at the Nexus at the bottom by saying:QUOTEI am also considering removing my content from the Nexus. Why? The problem is that Robin et al, for perfectly good political reasons, have positioned themselves as essentially the champions of free mods and that they would never implement a for-pay system. However, The Nexus is a listed Service Provider on the curated Workshop, and they are profiting from Workshop sales. They are saying one thing, while simultaneously taking their cut. I'm not sure I'm comfortable supporting that any longer. I may just host my mods on my own site for anyone who is interested.
This obviously sparked some controversy, not least because it omitted some quite pertinent details. People scrambling to see if it's true, wildly speculative wails of betrayal echoing across the internet. Okay, I'm being melodramatic. Basically, people read it, some people justifiably wanted a reasoned explanation, some people went batshit crazy. The internet. I responded to Chesko's post on Reddit pretty quickly and answered people's questions and even humoured a crazy person for a bit. Things died down considerably once people had the facts. By that point it was getting late, around about 8pm in the evening, and I'd been at my desk all day with a few hours sleep the night before. I figured I'd do a bigger news post tomorrow if it was really necessary, else I'd let my response on Reddit do the talking.
However, when I got to bed I decided that no, I would do a news post about it no matter what. In my previous news I'd categorically said "and I'm also not going to bury my head in the sand and pretend like it isn't happening...I think everyone should know everything there is to know about [paid modding]", so it seemed right to explain the situation properly, here, not on Reddit.
Before I explain the concept of the Service Providers, let me finish off Chesko's story by saying that he has since announced the following in his Frostfall file page comments:QUOTEThank you everyone very much for your outpouring of support. It means so much more than you know.
I have taken every mod I have ever published off the Workshop, and it will stay that way. The Nexus files will remain; in the end, this is the community that has supported me every step of the way. Arissa is currently hidden until we decide what to do.
I have deleted many of my accounts and will be leaving the modding community for a time. I don't know how long.
Thank you again.
And at this time, as far as I'm aware, most, if not all of his mods are still available on the Nexus. Class.
Now, Steam Service Providers. In order to explain them, I'll give you my timeline of events, so they're in context. I will be quoting small, relevant snippets from a couple of emails. Please understand, it would be illegal to simply paste or printscreen an entire email and post it up here without permission.
Around about a month ago I was contacted by a representative at Valve. They explained that they were working on a new feature for Steam Workshop, in conjunction with relevant developers, to "allow mod authors to choose if they wish to charge money for their mod or give it away for free". I'd already cottoned on to that by putting two-and-two together when Valve announced Curated Workshops at the same time Bethesda announced they'd removed the 100mb file size limit on Skyrim Workshop. They went on to explain the reason for emailing me:QUOTEWe noticed that many of these games also have significant communities on the Nexus sites, which we think is great. We think the communities you support on Nexus offer a ton of value to mod-makers and customers, and we’d like to figure out how to help support the work you do. One way to do this is to add Nexus as a Steam Workshop Service Provider.
With Service Providers, Workshop authors can select from a pre-approved list of toolmakers and online communities to receive a percentage of Valve's revenue from sale of their items. We think this is really valuable because it gives a good path for rewarding and compensating tool-makers, supportive communities, and occasionally really helpful individuals for the value they provide in the process of creating awesome content. And, mod authors don't give up any of your revenue--this comes from Valve's split.
(In the interest of clarity, they said "one way to do this", and this was the only way mentioned. They haven't suggested anything else).
I was, of course, skeptical about it. I went and did my own research. I read and understood their revenue sharing agreement (which is comparatively small and easy to understand), I looked at how they've implemented the system for TF2, I verified that any money came from Valve's cut and not from the mod author's cut and I did some research in to what the cut was (5% of Valve's cut). Most importantly, I ensured that it was the mod author's complete and utter choice as to whether they wanted the Nexus to receive a cut of Valve's cut in all of this.
The system works by presenting the mod author with a list of "Service Providers" when they go to upload their file. They're informed that they can choose to support none, one or more of these Service Providers and that any cut is taken from Valve's cut, and not from their cut. The cut percentage is 5%. Ergo, if a mod author does not select any Service Providers then the cut remains 25% to the mod author, 40% to Bethesda, 35% to Valve. If the mod author picks one or more Service Providers then the cut changes to 25% to the mod author, 40% to Bethesda, 30% to Valve, 5% shared between one or more Service Providers.
So what we have here is Valve coming to me, in a positive and open exchange, with no strings attached, offering to share some of their split of the profit they receive from specific mod authors who have specifically stated when they upload their mods that they would like the Nexus to receive some of Valve's cut of the profit. Wrap your head around it. Mod authors using the paid workshop system say "I like the Nexus, I feel like the Nexus has helped me or the community at some point, I would like to support the Nexus, I'm going to donate some of Valve's cut to the Nexus". So the Nexus gets a trickle of funds, for free, for no extra work and for no promises of allegiance or support of Steam Workshop. I can still express and already have expressed my misgivings and criticisms of the way things have been implemented and how I think the system can be improved. The only string attached to all this is that I cannot share the revenue details publicly. I have signed away my right to that privilege, as I'm reminded on the revenue page where it says "Reminder: Sales data is provided for your personal use, and you've agreed to keep this data confidential (see: Workshop Legal Agreement).". A small price to pay for a few groans of "that's convenient!" from the conspiracy theorists among you. If you want to see what I agreed to then the Workshop Agreement is open for anyone to view. As I'm not actually contributing anything (and I have had this clarified for me by legal counsel), those terms pertaining to contributions do not apply to the Nexus. So, the off-the-rails person on Reddit who claimed I'd sold my soul to Valve and that they could now commandeer all of the Nexus and twist it to its evil will, making us charge for mods as well are mistaken. Because I'm not stupid. Thanks.
I don't know if it needs to be said, I mean, I've been doing this for 14 years, since 2001 when I was 14, these sites were the first sites I ever made and have formed the third company I ever started in 2007. They obviously mean a lot to me. I've mentioned many times in the past the amount of offers I get to cooperate or sell up and this tiny trickle of additional funds, in the grand scheme of things, is not going to make me flip out and change my views or make me align myself with Valve or Bethesda. If I do that, I do that because I think it's right, not because I'm getting paid a small amount by them. That's just silly. In the same vein, I'm not going to cut off my nose to spite my face.
But this is election season in the UK, so let me pledge to you right now, that any funds that this accumulates will go straight back into supporting these sites. That's the spirit in which they were given, both from Valve and the mod authors who select the Nexus as a service provider, and that's the spirit in which it will be accepted and used.
I already mentioned the forum server needs to be replaced, so that's the first place it's going to go. It's no where near enough to fund the replacement, but every little helps. If this some how explodes and becomes more than a tiny trickle then it will go towards hiring on a new programmer for NMM and the sites. Oh, and I also want to fund a complete redesign of the sites (with full mobile support, maybe even an app). That's really not cheap.
Most importantly, I pledge that any funds the Nexus receives from this will not be funds the Nexus relies on in order to survive. The Nexus has always been self-sustaining, relying on its users to help fund the site through adverts and Premium Membership. I would never jeopardize that by using Service Provider money to expand beyond the sustainable financial limits of these sites without that Service Provider money. What this means is, the Nexus can use the money, but it won't rely on that money in order to survive. As I mentioned in my Reddit response, the Nexus now needs to earn $500,000 a year in order to pay for the servers, the CDN, the bandwidth, the database cluster, the firewalls, the legal counsel, the accountants and the programmers. If we can bring in more money to pay for things that aren't needed but are surely wanted (like mobile support), that won't place a burden on the current financial requirements, without doing anything to further annoy users, like more ads, then hell yes! This is free money to support the Nexus, at the expense of Valve. It's almost poetic.
In total, 3 emails were exchanged on the actual topic of how it worked as a concept. During that time they mentioned they'd read my blog post already which they said "seemed totally appropriate and on-mark". The remaining 4 emails were used to give Valve the information they needed to set me up as a service provider.
I'll bullet a few more pertinent points for even more clarity:
- I was not under an NDA, I was simply told "we haven’t announced this information publicly yet, so we appreciate you keeping this under wraps for now.". If you believe I should have outed them right there and then and completely destroyed my relationship with Valve and Bethesda then I think you're being naive.
- They also asked me if I could suggest any other tools within the community that would deserve to be a Service Provider. They said they'd already be in contact with SKSE, NifTools and TES5Edit. I directed them to wrinklyninja and the BOSS/LOOT team. I do not know if they contacted them or what their response was.
- I did not get to see any of their implementation or how any of it would work before any of you did. All I did know was that free and open modding was not being shut down and, "It will be similar to the path that users have now for posting mods to the Steam Workshop, except that they will be able to pick whether their mod is posted free, for a price, or to enable a pay-what-you-want option."
- I did not know any more than any of you about when this would be announced and/or released. The only people who did are Valve, Bethesda, and the mod authors specifically picked by Valve and Bethesda.
After the email exchange had ended a couple of days later I heard nothing more from Valve (or Bethesda). And I still haven't to this day. So I'll consider any communication with them done and dusted.
I had no idea when this was going to be launched. In fact, I only found out when I was up in my room packing my bags for a holiday I'd booked in 4 months ago, way before Valve got in contact with me. I was busy putting some shirts in to my bag when I received a message on my phone from a friend saying "No more steam workshop for me!". That's when I knew it had been released, that's when I knew I had to cancel my holiday, let down my friends, and spend this weekend making my eyes bleed reading and writing a copious amount of text while watching SSH terminals spew out server statistics like I'm reading The Matrix for any signs of server downtime or overloading. Thursday evening was a mess, cancelling my flight, cancelling my taxi and hotel, informing my friends I could no longer go with them, writing up the news, monitoring the servers, watching the forums explode, and reading...so much reading, and very little sleep. If I have one regret in all of this, it's that in all the mess and stress I didn't manage the release of this information about the Service Providers from the start, and instead letting it come out via a third-party, who kind of threw me under the bus a little. Bearing in mind it's there for anyone to see on the Steam Workshop page. It's hardly top secret!
Some people have expressed dismay, that I'm being two-faced or hypocritical by on the one hand being critical of the way Steam have implemented some of their features while on the other taking some of their money. And to those people I'd ask, have you cut off your nose to spite your face? Have you deleted all your Steam games, deactivated your Steam account, uninstalled Steam and made that financial sacrifice before coming here telling me I should make a financial sacrifice? I imagine a very, very, very tiny percentage of you actually have, but an overwhelming majority of you won't have. I've already covered that in this post, that just because the Nexus is a Service Provider doesn't mean I'm under any obligation to say only nice things about Steam Workshop or that I'm in their pocket. As far as I'm concerned, that money is a gracious donation from those mod authors who pick us when they add their mods to Steam Workshop (and by the way, if you're one of those authors, thank you! I have no way of knowing which authors have done it else I would PM you to say the same). Once again, the money was offered as a gesture of thanks, from Valve, and it is being accepted, respected and used in the way in which it was given. Nothing more.
Indeed, people have taken it further than that, saying that I've positioned myself as the "white knight of the free modding community" and that I can't say I'm against paid for modding and then take the money. And you're right, I can't, and it would be bad if I had. But I haven't. I'm looking over my shoulder, wondering if there's some other Dark0ne in this house or someone here that's ghostwriting for me, because I sure as heck haven't come out against paid for modding. In fact, I've been extremely careful not to do exactly that. I know you want me to. But wanting me to come out against it isn't the same as me actually coming out against it. If people are heralding me, specifically, as their champion in the fight against paid modding then they've done that of their own accord, and I certainly haven't agreed to be that champion.
I've been skeptical of it, worried how it would affect things and I've been critical of the way in which certain elements of it have been implemented. I've also categorically said that as long as I'm in charge of these sites all mods on these sites will be free. That is not the same as saying that I am against paid for modding on other sites.
I had to go back through my blog post and subsequent news posts last night just to make sure. And it turns out, I do know what I said. Thank god. You can see these posts here, here and here. Let me quote some snippets for you.QUOTEWhat these figures show is that modding, or user generated content (UGC) as it seems to be called now, can make some serious bucks. So serious that I think most developers and publishers would be crazy not to be considering it.QUOTEIs there a link between Skyrim Workshop and the new Curated Workshops announced by Valve? As in, would Bethesda be interested in releasing a Curated Workshop for Skyrim and removing the file size limit is a precursor to that? It seems a little late now, but I think it could still work. And based on the earning figures Valve released I think Bethesda would be crazy not to consider it.QUOTEI don't want to be sceptical. I don't want to instantly fight this change without good reason to. I don't want to be one of those people because lets face it, change definitely isn't always bad. What I do want to do is sit down and try to rationalise things, probably in futility considering this is all based on conjecture right now, and point out some of the potential issues that money could bring, the issues that Valve or anyone else seriously contemplating this has to take in to account. We know change is coming, but the worrying thing for me isn't the change itself, it's that we won't know how this change will affect and has affected our communities until the change has happened, by which point we can't go back.QUOTELook at Nehrim or Falskaar, two epic, highly rated mods made by extensive groups of modders. I think a lot of us will have said at one point or another, either about those mods or about others, "I'd definitely pay for this". And my god, there are so many mods out there that are so good, so professional, so well done that yes, I'd pay for them in an instant! I mean, once you get SkyUI you don't ever want to think about going back to the way it was before again, right?QUOTEJust like how amateur football changed and "progressed" back in the late 1800s, we're now seeing the formation of the Premier League/NFL of modding, where the pros go to make their money, in Curated Steam Workshops. And that's really how I see it. Grass roots football has suffered from it, but it has also grown, the Premier League and NFL bring more people into the game that would otherwise never have bothered to play a game of football. In the same way, Curated Steam Workshops can, if done right, bring more people into modding that would otherwise not have given it a second look.QUOTEThe Nexus is for everyone from every background, colour, creed, and political, religious or sexual persuasion. We strive to make this a community where anyone and everyone can enjoy something here away from hate. And that includes mod authors who want to make money. So if you break that peace and attack mod authors here for what they've chosen to do, you'll be gone. By all means debate, but when your debating becomes abusive, it's no longer debating.QUOTETime will only tell how well Valve and Bethesda are going to handle these issues, and I'd say stolen assets being used in paid mods is one of, if not the biggest issue right now. Some of the rumours going around are not nice to hear, but we've got to let the dust settle and see what comes of all of this. It's too early to tell. I appreciate it's ironic to say that after I just had a little rant, but my god, it's already freaking happened, less than a day in, and I've smashed my head in to my desk on more than one occasion today in disbelief because of it. So not a great start from Valve and Bethesda, but yes, it's still to early to tell.QUOTEAnd so, if you're wondering where the Nexus sits in between all of this, then you'll find us sitting where we've always been sitting, right here, without fundamentally changing. We're still going to be about the free and open distribution of mods for everyone and I don't see that changing any time soon. Sure, I've had offers. Lots of offers. And I don't discount anything at all, but right now, for the foreseeable future, there are no plans to shake things up at all. I have absolutely no idea how these changes within the modding community are going to affect the community here at the Nexus, but I think that there's still going to be a market for a site that continues to offer a free and open sharing platform, away from money, where people who want to continue modding as a hobby, not a career, can shine.
Does this sound like a champion of modding being free everywhere? No, it does not. Do not use me as the poster-child for that campaign as I never said I was. What will I champion? I will champion and fight for modding being allowed to remain free and open on any platforms that want to remain free and open, like the Nexus, like ModDB, and all the individual modding communities out there for games. I will fight against the DRMification of modding. I will fight, as I always, always have, for an author's right to choose how and where a mod author distributes their work. And I will most definitely fight against anyone who chooses to persecute, attack or seek "revenge" against mod authors who have chosen to sell their mods. Because that is wrong. It's fucking wrong. And I do not swear in these posts lightly.
My position on paid modding remains exactly the same as it has been the past month. It's too early to tell pretty much anything. I will continue to sit back, read, analyse, consult and form my own opinions on the subject. I will not be forced into making knee jerk reactions, and I most definitely will not support the same individuals who are attacking mod authors. The people attacking mod authors are an absolute disgrace.
Irrespective of whether I end up agreeing with or supporting paid for modding or not, this one simple fact remains the same. The Nexus is free.
The finger pointing has begun. Pointing the finger at Valve, at Bethesda, at modders, at the Nexus, at YouTubers. Have you really not seen this coming, at all? Evolve launching with $100 worth of day zero DLC? Buying games knowing the developers have said they won't release SDK's any more because it's "too hard"? Paying money to beta test games in Early Access? Pre-ordering games based on hype despite the developers and publishers enacting review embargoes? Users spending $220 million plus on mods already for TF2, CSGO and DotA 2? Of course this was coming. Anyone who's done any of these things has been complicit in getting us to this stage! I'll put my hand up and admit I bought DayZ stand-alone. I'm sorry, alright, I didn't realise they were going to be this bad and take this long!
Some of you will be furious, asking "But Dark0ne, how can you sit around while Valve and Bethesda destroy the modding community?". I can sit here and remain calm, collected, and continue to analyse things because I'm aware of the full facts from my side. I'm not reading figures that someone is putting on Reddit, or the forums, or Steam without verifying them myself. The sheer amount of made up facts and figures, and the lying, is ridiculous. And what's even more ridiculous is the amount of silly people who'll read these lies, believe them and not do their own research. Jesus wept. It's been less than 48 hours, guys. As soon as Valve announced the paid workshops I took a count of the number of Skyrim files on Skyrim Nexus. We had 40,567 mods on the site. Right now that count sits at 40,492. We've lost 75 mods, of which, almost all of those "lost" mods have been hidden by mod authors who want to see how this all plays out, many of which contacted me to explain what they're doing. Indeed, there's been an amazing outpouring of amazing mod authors who make amazing mods here on the Nexus who have categorically stated that their mods will remain completely free. That's awesome!! The sky is not falling down!!! And frankly, I think you are insulting the mod authors who have decided to remain free by saying free modding is over. If you believe strongly in this, stick by them, show them your support, endorse their files if you like them, donate to them. That's what this community needs, not a swirling cesspit of vitriolic hatred.
And so, I will say, once again, it is too soon (Too soon, too soon, TOO SOON!) to come to any conclusions on any of this. And I will leave you with my main, primary fear in all of this, which I brought up in my original blog piece.QUOTEThe worry is with the introduction of Curated Workshops that free and open modding will be removed entirely, as in, it just won't be possible to do. You've seen the arguments before with developers like BioWare and DICE no longer supporting modding with their games, they say it's because it's too complicated for modders or because they don't have time to work on the tools, many users argue it's because they don't want mods to cut in to DLC sales. I don't know any more about it than you in that regard, but if you're running a curated modding marketplace and there's a site out there with lots of mods available for free (note: probably not the same mods, as that wouldn't make sense!) will you willingly let that continue or would you try to ensure all your mods were going through your curated marketplace? I guess it would entirely depend on the developer and publisher in question, but if you ask me, my main concern now is the DRMification and closing down of free and open modding, the concept that modding can only take place if it's done through one official platform to the detriment of all others. Because up until now that's definitely not what modding has been about at all.
That is what I will fight. That is what I will champion against.
Before I get in to the minor updates we've made to the site in light of the major news yesterday I will quickly address the matter of our forums being slow and/or down.
Obviously this news has been a huge deal, and probably exploded far more than Valve and Bethesda realised it would (and not particularly positively, lets face it!). Some of the spotlight has been shined on the Nexus as a result of that. Some people have expressed concern we'll go the same way (they obviously don't read the site news) or that it'll affect us negatively some how. Everything you see here is completely free, and it's definitely staying that way. About 40 mods have been hidden in the Skyrim Nexus section since this announcement, most of which are people afraid their mods are going to be stolen and uploaded to Steam for profit. Our forums have also been struggling to keep up with the increase in traffic that's come from the spotlight being placed on us and so they've either been crawling along at a snails pace or they've been taken down by us while we try and tweak things as much as possible.
The forums are the only element of the site infrastructure that we didn't update in our big 16 month, $250,000 infrastructure update we did over this and last year. We wanted to keep the forums running on a separate system to the sites so that if one went down, the other would still (hopefully) be up, and vice-versa. Hence why the Nexus sites themselves are working fine and the forums aren't. We're working to rectify that so if the forums go down, that's us working on it. We wanted a bit of a rest from infrastructure upgrades after the soul crushing experience we had last year, but we'll look in to sorting out the forums now.
Now, on to the changes we've made today.
The donation system on the Nexus has been brought up and talked about a lot over the past few months in our private mod author forums (mod authors with 1,000 or more unique downloads gain access). Way before this announcement by Valve and Bethesda it was agreed that the donation system needed to be made more prominent because a lot of users still weren't aware the system even existed on the sites.
We are going to look in to loosening up our donation rules slightly. One of my main issues, to this day, with mod pages is how awful some file page descriptions are. Some mod descriptions are buried underneath change logs, latest news, FAQs, information about the author's dog in the vets and so on and so forth. Sometimes it can be a real struggle just to find the freaking description of what the mod actually does. I have not, and do not ever want a mod description tab to contain information about (or begging for) endorsements, votes or donations. However, something I will explore is adding a donation box below the main content area of a file page. So if you reach the bottom of the file description, there'll be a new box underneath that where an author can talk about donations with a donation link. A good use of that area might be to list and thank the people who've already donated and to explain what the donation money, if there is any, will go towards. That way, there's a specific place for authors to talk about donations that, most importantly for me, doesn't detract from the importance of talking about what the mod actually does. As I said, that's just something we're looking in to right now and, if feedback is positive on this idea, we could have something out next week. But until then our rules have not changed on specifically asking for donations in your file descriptions. It's still a big no-no.
On to updates we've actually made today: we were busy working on an update to the image uploading system to be far more efficient based on mod author feedback, but we've sidelined that in the mean-time to focus on these quick updates before the weekend hits.
We've made a quick, preliminary update to the sites that allows mod authors to show a donation information box before a user downloads their file. The box looks and acts the same way as the "required files" box before downloads. If you've used the site enough you'll have come across mods that require other mods in order to work. Some mod authors have turned on the functionality that will inform users who go to download their files of these required files. Now, as a mod author, you can turn on a donation box which uses the same system. When a user clicks to download one of your files an information box will come up explaining the donation system with a direct button link users can click to donate. If the user does not want to donate all they need to do is click the "Continue with my download button" and the download will begin as per before.
This adds another click to a user's downloading process but we think, in light of these major, sweeping changes we're seeing in our modding community, it's a very small price to pay to get the word out there a bit more about donations.
Many mod authors have expressed that they don't want to make a living from their modding hobby, but a free cup of coffee or pint of beer every now and again goes a long way to making them happy and content with the tens, hundreds and even thousands of hours they put into modding. And happy mod authors are often better mod authors in my book. Most of all, it doesn't hurt anyone. Unless one extra click hurts you (if so, you might want to see a doctor about that).
This new functionality is opt-in for all mod authors right now. In order to opt-in, you need to fill in your donation preferences on the site and turn on the options in all the files that you want to turn donations on for. If you'd previously turned on donations for all your files then all your files will continue to have donations on by default, but the donation box is not on by default. Which leads us to the next quick update.
Donations are no longer global across all your file pages. Originally, you either turned donations on for all your files or none of your files. This led to a few issues because many mod authors collaborate with other authors, which resulted in a donation button showing for one mod author but not another. Which is not ideal. So now you can cherry pick the exact files you want to show a donation button for and what files you don't. The option to turn on the pre-download donation box is another option on top of that which, once again, you can specify on a per-file basis.
We still have a glaring issue of how, or even if, we can split donations between mod teams. The problem is that I really, really, do not want to touch any donation money. I don't want to act as a middle-man between a user and a mod author when it comes to donations, I'd just rather a user donated to a mod author directly. The inherent problem with that is, because there's no way of knowing what file a donation was for, there's no way of being able to differentiate between a donation for a file that an author made on their own and a donation for a file an author made with a team. It's something we're going to have to think about, because the only way I can think of getting around that particular issue is having some sort of Steam Wallet style system in place on the Nexus that records all the donations sent for all files and mod authors. And I absolutely loathe that idea.
Permission changes regarding paid mods
The modding community, especially with Bethesda games, is built on mods that use assets from other mods. Many mods are stand-alone and use completely unique or vanilla assets, but many also use assets from other mods. On top of that, many modders release their mods as "modders resources", essentially saying to people "take whatever you want from my mod and use it in yours". The introduction of paid for mods changes that. Some mod authors have already taken their mods down because they're afraid their assets or even their entire mods will be stolen and added to the new Steam Workshop without their permission. Many more have said they are now unsure if they'll ever release another modder's resource again.
We obviously do not want that to happen, and the fact it has happened already leaves a sour taste in my mouth. The taste of one side of what money is bringing to modding. We've even had our first mod taken down from the paywall section of Skyrim Workshop related to this issue, less than 24 hours in. And these were the mods vetted by Valve and Bethesda themselves! Gooooood start. Big sarcastic thumbs up.
While I'm talking about this fear of mods or assets being stolen, I feel I need to point out a massive, glaring issue with this new Workshop implementation, because right now people are focusing on "Oh my god, you mean I might need to pay for some mods?" while I think an even more horrific thing is "Oh my god, you mean I will have to pay to check and make sure if someone has stolen my work!?". Let me explain. The new implementation is set up so that there's a 7-day grace period after an author uploads a file with a pricetag. During these 7 days users can view the file page, look at the pictures and read the description, but they cannot download the file. The idea of this grace period is to get the community to police new uploads before they're added to make sure that nothing bad is added to the paid section of the site. Seems like a good idea. Except if a mod author is using stolen assets from other people's mods.
Unless the thief is pants on head stupid they're not going to talk about stealing assets from other mods or put up pictures that would suggest assets have been stolen. The only way the authors of the assets that have been stolen will know it's happened is if someone buys the mod and then tells the author. At which point the author is either going to have to engage in the new world of mod piracy (which began yesterday in earnest) or they're going to have to buy the mod for themselves. So you want to say, "But Dark0ne, the author can buy the mod, investigate, then ask for a refund, as there's a refund system!". Yes, there's a refund system. A refund system that refunds you in Steam Wallet money that you can never take out of Steam. So once you've bought that mod, that money will always be Valve's from that point on. Refund or not. That, I'm sorry to say, is batshit. Freaking. Crazy. Add to that the fact that the mod may have made substantial sums of money before it's spotted, some of which may have already been paid to the thief, or alternatively has been removed from the thief's account before they could get the payout and, guess where the money goes then? That's right. Valve's coffers.
So if you're wondering why some mod authors have pulled their mods already, if you think it's silly or a daft knee-jerk reaction, you might want to rethink your position. I'm most definitely not trying to encourage more mod authors to do that, but I won't begrudge them doing it, and I'm also not going to bury my head in the sand and pretend like it isn't happening just so some mod authors don't find out the ugly truth and stick around. I think everyone should know everything there is to know about this. What I'd rather people did was put some pressure on Valve to find a way around this awful idea of profiting off stolen mods. Even if it's a way of refunding money properly instead of it being Steam Wallet money, that'd be a good start. My other idea would be for Valve to offer to donate any money that came from proven stolen mods that have been taken down to charity. That would be an awesome gesture.
In light of this issue, and because I know a lot of mod authors have either come out on one side or the other on the issue, we've added a new permissions check box to file page settings (found under "Edit Attributes", towards the bottom). The setting reads "Users can not use my assets in any mods/files that are being sold, for money, on Steam Workshop or other platforms". You can either tick it or untick it, and that information will be displayed under the Permissions and Credits link as per usual.
It's important that's there to ensure that users can still provide a blanket "Yes, you can use my work in your mods" statement while also clarifying "except if you're going to charge for it", or "even if you charge for it", depending on where you stand. This box is ticked by default. You will need to untick it if you want to allow mod authors to profit off your work.
Time will only tell how well Valve and Bethesda are going to handle these issues, and I'd say stolen assets being used in paid mods is one of, if not the biggest issue right now. Some of the rumours going around are not nice to hear, but we've got to let the dust settle and see what comes of all of this. It's too early to tell. I appreciate it's ironic to say that after I just had a little rant, but my god, it's already freaking happened, less than a day in, and I've smashed my head in to my desk on more than one occasion today in disbelief because of it. So not a great start from Valve and Bethesda, but yes, it's still to early to tell.
Hey look, one of my predictions came true!
Valve and Bethesda announced today that they've updated the Skyrim Workshop to enable mod authors to upload mods to the site which can then be placed behind a paywall, requiring users to pay a set amount (or an author-set minimum, with the option to pay more if you so wish) before they can download the mod in question. I'm not sure there's been an official announcement about the revenue split, but as there's no new information at this time, I think it's safe to assume it's 25% to the mod author, 75% to Valve/Bethesda, of which I believe 5% can go to "Service Providers" out of Valve and/or Bethesda's cut. Once again, seems that information is missing from any FAQs or documents at this time. The old axiom goes, however, "it's better to have 25% of something, than 100% of nothing".
If you're interested in reading up about this then you can head over to the Workshop page which has more details. This won't be a long news post about my opinions on the topic as my fingers are still a little warm from the 3,000 odd words I wrote last month on this exact topic which predicted all this. My feelings haven't changed. It's too early for that.
On top of that Bethesda have also announced a free Skyrim weekend. Anyone who doesn't already have Skyrim will be able to play it, for free, this weekend (unlike some mods, ho ho ho. Sorry, too soon?). In light of that, and what it could mean for our servers here, I've decided to cancel a long-weekend holiday I've had booked for the past 4 months with 30 other people, a reunion type thing, in Spain. I can't be sunning up by the pool fixing/tweaking servers on an 11 inch laptop via SSH with slightly dodgy Spanish hotel internet (no offence, Spain!) while trying to keep you all informed as to what's happening. It might not happen in light of the extensive investment, both in time and money, we've put in to the servers over the past few years, but what with our past history and the fact there's even potential for it, it just wouldn't be right. Thanks for the heads up on that one Valve/Bethesda! Not.
What I will say, however, is that many mod authors have mods on the Nexus and on the Skyrim Workshop, some of whom already have paid mods on the Workshop. I've taken a quick look at the comments on those paid file pages and some of the things being said are horrific. While I'm sure no one is shocked by that, this is the internet after all, simply looking at it reminds me of one of the main reasons we do what we do here. We moderate. We try to fence off a little piece of the internet where your actions have consequences, and with that in mind, if we see anyone attacking or abusing mod authors here because they have paid mods up on the Workshop you'll be gone. Instantly. With no warning.
The Nexus is for everyone from every background, colour, creed, and political, religious or sexual persuasion. We strive to make this a community where anyone and everyone can enjoy something here away from hate. And that includes mod authors who want to make money. So if you break that peace and attack mod authors here for what they've chosen to do, you'll be gone. By all means debate, but when your debating becomes abusive, it's no longer debating.
Ever since Valve announced their curated Workshops update for Steam Workshop back at the end of January and Bethesda announced an update to their Skyrim Workshop to remove the 100MB file size limit I've been meaning to write one of my long-winded, often nonsensical blog pieces that goes off on extreme tangents rife with radical speculation. It's been quite a while since I've done one of these, so excuse me if I'm rusty.
I'm going to begin by clarifying that I still stand by the fact I think Steam Workshop has been great for modding, great for bringing modding to the forefront of showcasing the qualities of PC gaming and great for introducing otherwise sceptical people to the merits of modding your game. My one and only gripe remains the same; that because you need to own the game on Steam in order to use Steam Workshop it essentially DRMifies modding, limiting it to just Steam's platform. Saying you can only get mods from a platform if you've bought the game from their platform is a bit like saying you can only get mods from the Nexus if you've become a Premium Member and use NMM. It makes more sense if the game is a Steamworks game; the user has already had to buy the game through Steam, or at least verify it through Steam so limiting mods to Steam makes more sense. But doing the same to games that aren't Steam exclusive? No, I'm not a fan of that.
With that said, I raised an eyebrow when Valve announced that they were expanding the remit of Steam Workshop to allow what they call "Curated Workshops". Up until that point the only games where mod authors could upload their mods and, if accepted by the developers, sell their mods were Valve games; TF2, DotA 2 and CS:GO. As far as I know, the system works by allowing mod authors to upload their mods to the site. The mod is then placed into a queue of unaccepted mods that users can vote on to be accepted. If the file gets enough votes, and the developer agrees that the mod is good, then the mod is added to the game and the catalogue of others mods available to purchase. The mod may or may not be accepted, but if it is, the mod author will receive a 25% cut (Valve take 75%) of any revenue generated from the sale of the mod. Curated Workshops follow on from this concept coined with Valve's games, but opened up for other developers and publishers on Steam to make use of.
The first two games announced to be making use of these Curated Workshops were Dungeon Defenders: Eternity and Chivalry: Medieval Warfare with the promise of more to come. Valve were also happy to announce at the same time that mod authors for TF2, DotA 2 and CS:GO had been paid over $57 million between them thus far, an impressive number, and with a bit of maths voodoo on a napkin based on the 25/75 revenue share deal you can work out that roughly $228m has been spent on mods for these three games alone over the past few years, of which Valve took a $171m cut (note: these are not official figures and I'm just simply going off estimations based on the figures provided by Valve of a 25% revenue share and $57m paid out to modders).
What these figures show is that modding, or user generated content (UGC) as it seems to be called now, can make some serious bucks. So serious that I think most developers and publishers would be crazy not to be considering it. What UGC does is open up an entirely "new" previously untapped revenue stream for developers and publishers with crazy potential. UGC can not only make a ridiculous amount of money, as Valve's figures show, but also radically increase user engagement and user satisfaction in their game and community while expanding the longevity of those games way beyond their original scope. And all this comes from something the users put most of the work in to (sure, the developers still need to create the tools, but still). Of course, this is something we've all known for a long, long time, and I'm sure a lot of you are sat there wondering why it took so long for developers and publishers to work it out. But they have! And once again Valve are at the forefront of this spearhead in to UGC, pioneering and shaping the direction of modding like they did game sales platforms before this.
Now this is where the community gets divided. I'm sure a lot of you are sat there feeling slightly uncomfortable with the direction modding is being taken by Valve, while I'm sure others among you are chomping at the bit, desperate for this to come out for more games. I think it's safe to say that, no matter which side of the fence you sit on this issue, change is coming to modding.
My eyebrow raised a little higher at the start of this month, just a little over a month after Steam announced their Curated Steam Workshops, when Bethesda announced they were updating the Creation Kit for Skyrim and removing the 100MB file size limit on mods uploaded to the Skyrim Workshop. The timing, to me, seems curious considering they haven't touched Skyrim in years, and I'm looking for a motive. Are they simply doing it because they've found the time to do it? Considering they haven't announced the new game they've no doubt been working on for over 3 years now and will still be working away at that, I find it hard to believe they found the time out of the goodness of their hearts. But they might have! Which would be awesome. Is there a link between Skyrim Workshop and the new Curated Workshops announced by Valve? As in, would Bethesda be interested in releasing a Curated Workshop for Skyrim and removing the file size limit is a precursor to that? It seems a little late now, but I think it could still work. And based on the earning figures Valve released I think Bethesda would be crazy not to consider it. Or could this be Bethesda doing some preemptive testing ready for the announcement of their next game, which everyone is strongly speculating will be during their first ever E3 conference on June 14th? Announcing a game followed by Curated Steam Workshop support where you can sell mods straight from the get go? I honestly don't know, but I'd be remiss if I didn't say all those possibilities seem plausible to me.
I don't want to be sceptical. I don't want to instantly fight this change without good reason to. I don't want to be one of those people because lets face it, change definitely isn't always bad. What I do want to do is sit down and try to rationalise things, probably in futility considering this is all based on conjecture right now, and point out some of the potential issues that money could bring, the issues that Valve or anyone else seriously contemplating this has to take in to account. We know change is coming, but the worrying thing for me isn't the change itself, it's that we won't know how this change will affect and has affected our communities until the change has happened, by which point we can't go back.
Up until this point modding has been a hobby. As a modder, starting on your first mod, you know you're doing it because you have some spare time and you want to give it a go. You enjoy doing it. You want to do it more. You're not doing it for money, you're doing it for the fun of it. You join communities and share your thoughts and ideas with others, you contact and converse with other mod authors on forums to see how they've done things, ask them for permission to use their work in your work, you begin to become part of a like-minded community of people who are all enjoying the things you're doing or enjoy doing the same things you're doing. That's how I've seen modding for the past 20 years.
While the introduction of money doesn't change this entirely; you could still happily mod for the fun of it with the added bonus of actually earning money from it, I think we'd all be lying to ourselves if we said paying for mods, and earning money from mods, wouldn't change things. And I mean fundamentally change things at the core of the modding communities out there.
Even right now, in the world of open and free modding, things are competitive. Lots of mod authors like to fight for that hot file, for that file of the month vote, they want more views, more downloads, more endorsements. I wouldn't say it's an unhealthy obsession, not yet anyway, but it's always been there, that stark contrast between those mod authors who don't care about such "trivial" things, and those mod authors who really do, who really want their mods out there as much as possible. And sure, we have to sort out some squabbles every now and again, but such rivalries and competitions don't turn sour often because the thing being sought after is not some sort of finite resource with only so much to go around. A download, an endorsement; users can download and endorse more than one mod. They can do that for a lot of mods. Money, however, is finite. When you're competing to make your mod the top mod, the most bought mod, when you're trying to earn more money than your peers are you telling me that things don't change? You're now competing over a finite resource. Users only have so much money, after all. How does this change and affect other areas of the community?
How many mods on the Nexus use assets made by other mod authors? How many are made better by this? Such assets are used with the express permission of the creators of those assets. If a mod author came to you and asked if he could use some of your work in their mod that they were planning to sell for $5, would you feel more or less inclined to give him that permission? Would you, perhaps rightly, ask for a cut of the proceeds, a revenue share of your own? If you're one of those great authors who releases your mods freely for others to make use of in their mods, or a modder's resource developer, are you going to think about revisiting all your permissions in light of money entering the modding community? Are you still thinking about being so generous with your work?
How many mods have been developed by a team of mod authors? Lots of people working together to develop something amazing. Look at Nehrim or Falskaar, two epic, highly rated mods made by extensive groups of modders. I think a lot of us will have said at one point or another, either about those mods or about others, "I'd definitely pay for this". And my god, there are so many mods out there that are so good, so professional, so well done that yes, I'd pay for them in an instant! I mean, once you get SkyUI you don't ever want to think about going back to the way it was before again, right? But how are you going to sort out who gets what from selling such mods? We get lots of drama now, without any money changing hands, over permissions and credits, I don't even want to think how horrible it would be to try and sort out such issues when money is involved. That's a lawsuit waiting to happen.
Curated Workshops have worked great for TF2, DotA 2 and CS:GO not just because they're extremely popular games, but also because the type of mods sold are "simple" in the grand scheme of things. Skins and hats. Things that typically only one person works on, which means the issues mentioned above aren't as relevant. Will it work as great for RPGs like Skyrim and Fallout? Well, it could, but there's a hell of a lot of hurdles to overcome. A hell of a lot of complications. And I hope Valve (and Bethesda, if they do pursue this) know what they're getting themselves in to.
I try hard not to say that many mod authors "deserve" money for their work. Modding is tough. Modding is a skill, a talent, and one that is getting more difficult as the technology in games becomes more complicated. And many modders are paying money out of their own pocket so they can buy and use more sophisticated and powerful software just so they can make better mods. Some of the mods people make are astonishing, some can even be better than what the original game developers could do. But modding is, and has been up to now, a hobby. Something done for the fun of it, and mod authors have entered in to this tradition knowing full well that they won't make money from it. So I think the word "deserve" isn't right, as being paid for mods shouldn't be and isn't expected.
And so, up to now, I've likened modding to Sunday League football. I don't know if you have the same traditions over the pond or with your national sports in other countries, but here in the UK Sunday League football is when a group of friends get together, form a football team, and play against other teams in the region in amateur leagues, sharing their love (and hate) of the game. Some take it more seriously than others. They do this for the fun of it, not because they think they'll become the new Messi or Ronaldo (or Brady, for our American fans), but because they're big fans of the sport and they want to play and be a part of it. They do this at their own expense, buying their own kit, their own boots, paying a fee to play in the league and sorting out travelling expenses to and from games. They don't get that money back. And modding, to me, is very similar, you mod and improve your games because you love what the game developers, your Messis, Ronaldos and Bradys, have already done and we want to be a part of it. You pay money to buy software that can make you mod better like you buy new and expensive boots to help you kick footballs better. And you do it knowing full well you won't get paid for it.
Just like how amateur football changed and "progressed" back in the late 1800s, we're now seeing the formation of the Premier League/NFL of modding, where the pros go to make their money, in Curated Steam Workshops. And that's really how I see it. Grass roots football has suffered from it, but it has also grown, the Premier League and NFL bring more people into the game that would otherwise never have bothered to play a game of football. In the same way, Curated Steam Workshops can, if done right, bring more people into modding that would otherwise not have given it a second look.
The worry is with the introduction of Curated Workshops that free and open modding will be removed entirely, as in, it just won't be possible to do. You've seen the arguments before with developers like BioWare and DICE no longer supporting modding with their games, they say it's because it's too complicated for modders or because they don't have time to work on the tools, many users argue it's because they don't want mods to cut in to DLC sales. I don't know any more about it than you in that regard, but if you're running a curated modding marketplace and there's a site out there with lots of mods available for free (note: probably not the same mods, as that wouldn't make sense!) will you willingly let that continue or would you try to ensure all your mods were going through your curated marketplace? I guess it would entirely depend on the developer and publisher in question, but if you ask me, my main concern now is the DRMification and closing down of free and open modding, the concept that modding can only take place if it's done through one official platform to the detriment of all others. Because up until now that's definitely not what modding has been about at all.
And so, if you're wondering where the Nexus sits in between all of this, then you'll find us sitting where we've always been sitting, right here, without fundamentally changing. We're still going to be about the free and open distribution of mods for everyone and I don't see that changing any time soon. Sure, I've had offers. Lots of offers. And I don't discount anything at all, but right now, for the foreseeable future, there are no plans to shake things up at all. I have absolutely no idea how these changes within the modding community are going to affect the community here at the Nexus, but I think that there's still going to be a market for a site that continues to offer a free and open sharing platform, away from money, where people who want to continue modding as a hobby, not a career, can shine.
Just a quick update to let you all know that we've added a new full-time paid position to the site that's immediately available to be filled. We are looking for a dedicated community manager and development lead who will become a public facing ambassador for the sites both domestically, on the Nexus, and abroad, within official game communities. Improving the community for those of us already here while helping to spread the word about the Nexus to other (official) game communities.
I alluded to this role in my State of the Union post back at the start of the year. A few people showed concern that I'd stop writing my bi-annual banal twitterings that go off on wild tangents. Never fear, I'll still be writing these articles and carrying on with my responsibilities as normal.
If you're interested in the role and fit the requirements then please send in a CV.
A quick update today to let you know about a few new features we've added to the sites over the past few weeks.
First up we've implemented the ability to block user's files, images and videos from showing on the site at all for you, much like how our tag blocking system works. If you block an author you will no longer see any new files, images or videos they add on the site whether it's in the hot files, file searches or otherwise.
A lot of our Nexus sites have a lot of files in them now and we're happy to implement any functionality that lets you get more control over the type of content you really want to see and remove the types of content you have absolutely no interest in. As far as I'm concerned, mod authors get upset when users post on their files when it's clear the user has no interest in their work, and users complain at having to see content they have no interest in so, right now, there's absolutely no reason to complain at all.
To block an author simply go to their profile and select the blocking option at the top. To unblock an author go back to their profile to unblock them. We've also created a page for you to quickly see what authors you're blocking and manage your blocked authors from there.
Site news notifications and remove all notifications option
We've added a new notification preference for site news. If you keep it on then the notification system will notify you any time site news, like this one, is posted.
We've added an option in the notifications drop-down to quickly clear and remove all your notifications. You can find it in the bottom-right hand corner of the notifications window.
User area tweaks to account for Premium Membership
We've made some small tweaks to your user area to have a specific section just for Premium and Supporter membership information. At least 50% of the time I spend on support for the site is taken up by Premium Members who message me about things to do with their payments. For example, a lot of it is Premium Members asking me to cancel their recurring payments when they haven't paid via the recurring payment method. By default all Premium Membership payments are non-recurring, as in you pay once and when your Premium Membership expires that's it, no more money is taken and no more Premium Membership time is given unless you choose to pay again. You can choose to set up a recurring payment to the sites that will continually renew your membership as it's about to expire but this is not the default payment option. This is all explained on the Premium page and when paying but I guess some users just forget.
We've added a new section to tell you whether you're Premium, whether you're a Supporter, whether your payment is recurring and how much Premium time you've got left. If your payment is recurring we've provided a Wiki page explaining how you can cancel your recurring payment (it's very easy!). Hopefully this should reduce some support time for me. I doubt it, but you never know!
For the first time ever, Bethesda will be hosting an E3 showcase! June 14th is the date to plot into your calendar.
They will be sharing details on how to register in the coming months, so keep an eye out for any news on BethBlog.
And should you not be able to attend E3, they will also be streaming the entire showcase on Twitch (http://www.twitch.tv/bethesda). Remember to tune in on the 14th of June!
Nexus Mod Manager 0.60 is now available in alpha, but it does things a little differently and the update process is more involved. In this video I show you how I updated to 0.60 using Fallout: New Vegas as a test dummy, and I show you how to restore a backup of 0.53 if you need to.
The basic principals should be the same for games such as Fallout 3 and Skyrim.
You can download Nexus Mod Manager 0.60 Alpha here.
We've made lots of updates to the sites recently. Because quite a few of the changes we make these days are subtle, rather than obvious, here's a run-down.
This is the least subtle of the changes we've made recently. We've completely revamped the notifications system on the sites to be much more powerful and useful, especially for mod authors. Notifications are still located in the top bar of the site. If you have notifications you will see a globe symbol with a number next to it which indicates how many new notifications you have.
The new notification system follows a similar style and system more in-line with the way Facebook notifications work, so users of Facebook should recognise the changes easily.
Your site preferences page now contains options that will allow you to customise exactly what you'd like the site to notify you about, or even if you'd like to have the system on at all. These options include:
- Game specific notifications - whether you'd like notifications to only show for the game you're looking at, or whether you'd like to, for example, receive notifications for updates made to Fallout 3 files while you're browsing the Skyrim Nexus section.
- The ability to track and receive notifications when other users of the site upload new files or images.
- Notifications for comments on your files, images and videos.
- Notifications for files you're tracking, including a separate option to enable or disable notifications for comments made on tracked files.
- Notifications for new images or videos that people add for your files.
- Notifications of changes made to your files by other members of your team, or by members of staff
If you would like to track a user you like then there is a new option to do that on user profile pages.
Notifications will now remain on your account even after you've viewed them (new or unread notifications have a lighter grey background to indicate their unread status). They can be removed by clicking the red cross symbol. You can have a maximum of 50 read notifications at any one time, and new notifications will delete the oldest read notifications in the list if you go over 50.
We are open to hearing feedback and ways we can improve this new system, including if there should be any more options to track other sorts of things you could be notified about on the site. What we won't be doing is going back to the old system or running both systems side-by-side so if you're resilient to change I'd save yourself the typing time if you want to suggest that.
Specify your main NMM file
You've probably noticed during your time using a site that has NMM support that some files have a green "Download (NMM)" button in the top section of the file page while some don't have that button and only have the green "Download (Manual)" button. This doesn't necessarily mean that the file doesn't support NMM, more often than not it means that the author has uploaded more than one "main file" and so the option to download through NMM isn't presented as we don't know which file is the main file NMM is supposed to download, and authors often provide multiple main file options (e.g. texture replacers of varying sizes).
We've added a new option for mod authors when managing their uploaded files labelled "Set as main NMM file". If you click this NMM will now know which is the main (MAIN!) file and will show the "Download (NMM)" button on your file page.
Over the past couple of months we've had a few glitches with the automated VirusTotal virus scanning system. If it took too long or VirusTotal were doing some maintenance then newly uploaded files wouldn't be downloadable until the issue was resolved.
We've now changed the system so that you can download all new files straight away, before the virus scan is complete, but you do so completely at your own risk and the system tells you as such.
Arrow keys on Images
We've update the image gallery on file pages so you can use the arrow keys again.
We are currently rolling out 8 new static content servers to try and resolve the issues with images loading slowly for people.
Spoiler tags in file comments
A long requested feature, the spoiler bbcode tag will now work like it does in the forums. These tags can be used in file/image descriptions as well as file comments.
Action log shows user
File pages contain two action logs. One is a tab, which shows all the actions performed on a file, including things like endorsements. The other is accessible by clicking the little cog icon in the actions bar labelled "logs". This will tell you all the actions performed by just the authors on the file page.
We've made a slight update to this second log that will also tell you who made this edit. This might be helpful for mod teams who all have access to the same file page. If you don't like an edit or want to keep track of the edits being made you can now see exactly who has edited what and when.
We've also fixed some minor bugs on the site. These include:
- Fixed several issues with the "Manage other files" system, including the sorting system on that page, issues when you hide the mod, and uploaded images going to the "From users" tab rather than the "From author" tab. Also added a link to "Manage other files" to the "Files" drop-down on the main site navigation.
- Fixed the pagination on the news archive page and added pagination to the top as well as the bottom of the page.
- Fixed a few bugs with donating Premium Membership to other users as a gift.
- Fixed an issue with ordering files by "file size, descending" not working properly.
- Fixed an issue with certain search terms not returning the correct results when searching in the "mod description" search field e.g. searching for skyrim.ini.
Current To-Do List
Work we've earmarked for the immediate future:
- Roll out 8 new static content servers (mainly images) to replace the 4 current static content servers. Links should be preserved so if you directly link to one of the current static servers they should still work after this change.
- The ability to block files/images added by specific authors. If there's an author whose work you're really not a fan of and would rather not see, you can block their work from showing while you browse the site, like tag blocking.
- The ability to disable emoticons from showing in file comments, for those times when you're referencing code or file paths and emoticons annoyingly replace what you've written.
- A "remove all" option in the notifications drop-down.
- A complex bug reporting system for file pages to make use of.
It's been a year in the making but we're finally ready to release what we think will be our final build for the next major step in NMM functionality, profiling. The download link for this build is at the bottom of this article, however, before you rush off, I highly recommend you read this article as it contains important information about this version of NMM.
What is profiling?
Profiling is the ability to create and switch between multiple different mod setups within NMM to facilitate different playthroughs of your game. One profile might be for your axe wielding Nord with mods specific to that character while another might be for your Argonian thief with active mods that you wouldn't need in your Nord playthrough. Or, you might just want to test a new setup without worrying about breaking your stable, current setup. That's fine, just make a new profile and do what you want; if it doesn't work all you have to do is switch to your Stable profile. With profiling, you can pick and choose what mods you have active, in what order, for the specific playthrough of the game you want.
While this functionality in itself is powerful, it's the added things that the Nexus as a site can do with it that excites me. We want to build on this functionality (note the future tense here, we haven't done this yet...) so that people can share their mod profiles with others, including their entire mod list and load order. Having an issue with your mod build or load order? Publish it via NMM and make it public on the site and others can take a look and see where the issue might be. Have a favourite mod reviewer on YouTube but you're tired of asking what mods they have installed to get your game looking like theirs? Ask them to publish their NMM profile on the site and you can then use this functionality to setup your game just like theirs. Want to back up your profiles so if your computer explodes all your mods and load orders are saved on the site, ready to be used by you should the worst happen? It's all possible. It's quite an exciting prospect, which is why we're putting in the time with this major update to NMM.
Why is it an Alpha? If it doesn't work for me can I go back easily?
This version of NMM makes such major changes to the way in which your mods interact with the game folders and we're such a small team here (2 programmers and me testing...) we cannot properly test this version of NMM enough to release it even under the "beta" moniker which we hide behind when there are bugs in the versions we release. As such, we are releasing this version of NMM as an Alpha release. That means it is not an automatic update that everyone can get when they start up NMM and see there's a new version and the only way you can get this version of NMM is by downloading it from the link in this news article. It will remain in alpha until we've had enough feedback from people using the alpha to confidently release it as a beta.
If you are one of those people who doesn't agree with NMM still being a beta and only wants to update to the latest version when it's confirmed as completely stable then I'd recommend not updating to this version. Additionally, If you're the type to moan about this, please, save yourself the time and don't bother (unless you want to donate a couple of hundred thousand pounds to the Nexus coffers so we can get some full-time bug testers using a myriad of different computer setups).
If you do upgrade to this version please do it with the knowledge that it's likely to have some bugs, but also with the knowledge that we here on the NMM team are extremely thankful to you for taking the risk and offering to help us out. It's people like you who help us to make NMM better.
To help you out, and to make sure you don't destroy your carefully tuned current NMM setup, when you install version 0.60 of NMM it will automatically create a backup of your current NMM setup in your NMM folder. If anything at all goes wrong with 0.60 for you and you get so fed up you no longer want to help us out all you need to do is reinstall version 0.53.x to the same folders and use the "Restore backup" functionality. You're then back to exactly where you were before you installed 0.60. No fuss. We've slapped up a quick wiki tutorial on how to do that, just in case.
With the backup functionality just mentioned it's my hope we can convince plenty of you to help us to test this version. The more people we have testing and reporting bugs the sooner we can get this rolled out and move on to some of that other cool functionality I mentioned.
Installing NMM 0.60 and the migration procedure
As per usual, to install this update of NMM simply run the installer executable and ensure you point NMM to the same folders as your current NMM setup. If you install 0.60 and no mods are showing, you've directed NMM to the wrong folders (and yes, that's your fault and not NMM's).
This version of NMM is a major update which completely changes the way in which NMM installs and interacts with files in your game folders. Because of this, 0.60 has a migration tool that will upgrade you from your current version to 0.60. The migration tool will automatically install any mods you have active in your current version of NMM and set it up as before. This can take a long time, depending on how many mods you have installed. However...
Unfortunately, because of the way scripted installers work (the mods you download where they have different options you select in NMM while installing the mod), NMM has no way of knowing what options you have picked once you've installed a mod. So while the migration tool can install any mods that don't use scripted installers easily, during the migration process you will have to interact with any and all mods that have scripted installers again. I understand, for some, that's quite a big ask. I will say this though, once 0.60 is out of Alpha, it will become the only version of NMM that continues to be updated. We will not be maintaining a profile version of NMM and a non-profile version of NMM, so the sooner you get it out the way and upgrade to version 0.60 of NMM, the sooner you can get on and continue to enjoy the bug fixes and new functionality we're releasing each month.
Reporting bugs and hot fixing
Considering the major changes in this version of NMM it would be unrealistic to assume it's completely bug free. We think it's bug free right now as we can't find any bugs, but 3 people testing something on specific setups can't test every possible variation. Hence why we need you.
As always, bug reports should be directed to our bug tracker on the forums. We've setup a specific category for this alpha version, away from the normal NMM bug tracker category, to make this easier for everyone. You can find it here.
We will be fixing bugs as fast as possible as soon as we find out about them and can replicate them. Remember that the more information you can provide us about the bug, what is causing it and how we can replicate it, the faster we can fix it for you. Keep an eye out in the site news or on the Alpha file page for information about bug fixes.
Please note: version 0.53, which we released recently, added a new "mod activation queue" system. Version 0.60.0a is not using this mod activation queue functionality as we are still considering version 0.53 as "in testing" rather than stable and we didn't want to complicate things by adding two relatively major changes into one big update.
We've decided to release this version of NMM via a Skyrim Nexus file page. In doing so, we can actively track the number of users who have downloaded this version of NMM, so we know how much help we're getting, and also quickly release hot fixes via the same mechanism.
NMM still works on all games listed on the NMM download page. The Nexus does not have cross-game functionality (one file page for multiple games) and we chose Skyrim Nexus as it is the most familiar and most used Nexus site.
To download this version simply head to the file page and download the file as normal.
All that's left for me to say is a big thank you, once again, to all those who choose to help us out and run the risk with installing this new version. While the risk is mitigated with the back-up functionality, we still appreciate you taking the plunge early with this alpha.
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