Part 4 of my look back at the first year of mods for Skyrim. This is a long episode covering 51 mods, so bring snacks.
Thumbnail image for this video is 'Frostbite Spider' courtesy of Sideshow95.
Realistic Lighting With Customization
HD Textures DLC Fix
Shadow Striping Fix
A Better Whiterun - City Under Construction - BETA
ULTRA REALISTIC WORLD LIGHTING for Skryim BETA
Lanterns of Skyrim - Around Cities
Lanterns of Skyrim - Bridges
Expanded Winterhold Destruction Ruins
UFO - Ultimate Follower Overhaul
Follower Trap Safety
Move it Dammit for NPC Companions and Followers
CLARALUX - More and Brighter Lights
Skyrim Monster Mod
Skyrim Monster Mod Replacers - Lore Friendly and Others
SkyTEST - Realistic Animals and Predators
Conjure Rideable Ethereal Horse Spell
Sabre Gear Backpack
Bandolier - Bags and Pouches
Spectral Horde - Summon spectral horses for you and your followers
Reapers The Dark Tower
Acquisitive Soul Gems
Skeleton Demonic Horse
Shredded Triss Armor
Phenderix Magic Evolved - 271 New Spells
Space Wiking Dwemer Exoskeleton
Dwemer Goggles and Scouter
Dwarven Condenser - Animated Steam Staff
Project Reality - Climates Of Tamriel - Weather - Lighting
Birds of skyrim
More Village Animals
83Willows 101BugsHD Butterfly Dragonfly Luna-Moth Torchbug
Conjurable Chest and Crafting Furniture Spells
Summon Skeletal Horde
Recruit More Blades - SkyHavenTempleEnhanced
My Home Is Your Home - a mod for followers
Sky Haven Teleporter
We’ve almost finished the overhaul of our moderation system tools and functionality and with it brings some changes to our moderation ethos and practises. To further explain these changes to you I’ve written up this document that explains the new tools we’ll be able to utilise and how this is going to affect things. As usual, it’s a big one so if you’re interested go put the kettle on.
Our moderating ethos has always followed a concept of being strict but fair. It comes from my feeling that when you click that “I agree” button to our terms of service when you register your account, and once again if you post any comments or upload any files or images “I agree” means “I read the rules and understand that if I break them it’s more than likely I’ll be banned”. Ergo, in my humble opinion, if you get banned because you didn’t know that admitting you pirate all your games was a bannable offense (I’m sorry, but what idiot admits doing this publicly anyway?), or you didn’t know swearing at other members and calling them names would get you instantly banned then it’s no one’s fault except your own.
As far as I’m concerned we’ve got quite a few rules but they’re really not hard to follow at all. So if you break the rules you either didn’t read them (your fault), or you read them, you knew the rules and you still broke them (your fault), or you read them and didn't understand them (could be our fault for not being clear enough, but more likely your fault considering 4.7 million other members haven't struggled with it!) or your personal beliefs and philosophies on what you should be allowed to get away with on the internet are so far withdrawn from mine that this was never going to work (which begs the question of why you agreed to join and interact on the site in the first place). We implemented an unban appeal system a year or so back. Around 75% of these unban requests are members who’ve been banned who use the excuse “I didn’t know doing
would get me instantly banned, why wasn’t I warned first?”. It’s quite common for people to somehow blame us for their breaking of the rules. Don’t ask me how that works, I haven’t got the faintest idea. Very, very few contain an apology in them. It’s obviously our fault that they got banned, and not their fault at all!
Having said that, we’ve got quite a lot of rules, and some of them are more severe than others. Admitting to piracy? That’s always going to be an instantly bannable offense. We buy our games, we expect you to do the same, and the developers of the games we support wouldn’t support us back if we openly helped people who weren’t buying their games. Going off on an insult filled rant at mod authors? Instantly bannable as well. But what about the more minor offenses? Stuff like asking users for endorsements or donations in file descriptions? This is a rule that is regularly broken by mod authors, but it’s not exactly as severe as telling a mod author where they can shove all their work in a hate-filled rant. Up until now our moderating system has been very black or white and it’s been extremely hard to warn people when they’re breaking our rules. Our new system is all about changing that.
Most importantly I want to start by saying that this new system relies heavily on making our moderating actions as transparent as possible to the public. At the moment we have a sort of half-assed approach to giving evidence in the public strike and ban threads. It’s not uncommon to see “
banned, file troll” with a link to a reference post that only the staff can see. That’s not going to be good enough for me any more. We’re going to publish almost everything, and this is going to be done by us quoting the offending material within the ban notice for the public to see.
Banning a user for admitting to piracy? We’ll quote where he’s admitted to it within the ban notice (if he’s linking to a bad site we’ll obviously censor the link).
Banning or warning a user for trolling? We’ll quote the offending troll comment in the ban or warning notice. I don’t care if it contains swear words or personal attacks, lets get the facts out there.
Banning or warning someone for something they’ve done in the chat? We’ll quote the chat log within the public notice. I don’t care if it’s 10 pages long. If someone wants to read it all then let them!
Banning or warning someone for uploading work that doesn’t belong to them? We’ll quote pertinent parts of private conversations that lead to the admittance of wrongdoing, or quote from the file page description or file name to show and prove that this ban or warning was justified.
When you post on these sites you’re releasing publicly available information, so when we moderate based on your public posts and activities everything we do as moderators should also be as public as possible. Everything should have evidence publically available. The only exception to this new policy will be for Spam bots. I don’t mind seeing “
banned, spam bot” with no evidence. It would be unnecessary and counter-intuitive to quote a spambot for evidence.
Similarly we’re moving away from deleting comments entirely, thus removing the evidence, and moving towards “unapproving” or “hiding” offending comments. I want to keep a decent log of all offenses made and retain all evidence wherever possible. We’re currently setting up the file and image comments so that when we “delete” comments, really all we’re doing is hiding it on the forums and sites. As far you’re concerned the post is deleted but for us it remains as a source of evidence. Our evidence-keeping has been patchy at best in the past. We’ve got lots of evidence stored on some of the more high profile bans we’ve done (so that when they try to come back or lie about their “harsh treatment” here on other communities we can quote what they’ve done straight from their own original source comments and messages). We want to be able to do that for any and every offense, for our own piece of mind. It’s also great for self-moderation and those times when I’m personally called to review a moderator’s actions. With all the facts in front of me it makes it a lot easier to come to a decision without relying on other people’s testimonies.
Thus when we’re banning or warning people we can still provide reference links to the offending posts for staff eyes only, but the actual evidence will be in the public notice itself.
This matter of transparency is really important. Most people like evidence, people want evidence, and I think it will make our lives a lot easier in the long-run. So we’re going to evidence the hell out of you.
As a moderation team we’re not without our faults. We openly admit to getting things wrong. It doesn’t happen very often, but sometimes we, too, can be a little bit dumb. So our transparency and willingness to publicise other people’s faults will go hand-in-hand with our transparency and willingness to publicise our own faults. We’ve never shied away from admitting when we’ve been wrong and we’ll continue to ensure our public apologies are as open as the warning and ban threads themselves.
Notes, informal warnings, formal warnings and bans
We’ve now got a more indepth system for warning members and keeping track of their moderation history. Lets break it down:
- Notes are benign messages we can leave on the users moderation history for information purposes that all the other moderators can see as well. Examples where notes might be handy is if we’ve had a personal conversation with the member about permission to use someone else’s work. We can leave a note to say “Spoke to
on 11.11.11 and he provided proof that he has permission to upload ”. Or “Changed member name from to on 11.11.11”. Other moderators can then check a user’s note history first before they jump to any conclusions.
- Informal warnings are notifications we send to a member to warn them that they’re breaking the rules, or could potentially break the rules soon. We can use them to inform and warn members without it having the more serious and harsh repercussions of formal warnings or bans. Ideally informal warnings are best for warning members about what they’re doing when we know them to be otherwise good, helpful members, without it leaving a permanent bad and public mark on their moderation history. A good example of when we’ll use an informal warning is as a first warning for mod authors or image uploaders who ask for endorsements in their file descriptions. It’s a soft notification to let them know it’s against our rules and they should please stop. If they don’t stop, we’ll then issue a formal warning. If they still continue, we’ll issue a ban. Naturally if the offense is quite bad, even if it’s their first, we’ll be wanting to formally warn the member rather than informally warning them.
- Formal warnings are what our strikes are now. The difference is formal warnings can now be applied to people using the Nexus sites themselves as well and be backed up with easy to apply restrictions if necessary. When sending a formal warning a public, locked thread is automatically made on the forums which contains the information surrounding the warning. When issuing a formal warning we are provided with two text fields. One text field is for the public warning thread and it’s where we put all the evidence and pertinent information relating to the warning that we’d like the public to see. The other is just for communicating with the person we’re warning personally. No one will be able to see the information we put in this second text field except us, the moderation team, and the user themselves.
- Bans work much the same way as they did before. In addition we can choose to publish the user’s “moderation history stats”. This will enter the number of informal and formal warnings this member received before we banned them in to the public ban thread. This will help to inform people interested in the ban that this member received a number of warnings before they were eventually banned from the site altogether. The thinking being if we’ve given the member 5 informal warnings and 3 formal warnings already, and we’ve banned the user for something seemingly not worth banning for (e.g. the requesting endorsements example) people will see that, actually, this user has been given more than enough chances to be acquainted with our rules and should have known better.
Formal warnings can also be backed up with restrictions on the user’s account. Restrictions include blocking the user from adding or uploading any new files, preventing the use of the file tools altogether, preventing the downloading of files, forum and comment posting, image uploading, mod/image endorsing or preventing comments on a specific mod. These restrictions can either be “indefinite” or for a set number of days, after which the restrictions will be lifted from the account.
Informal warnings and formal warnings provide unavoidable notifications to users using the Nexus sites. These warnings are impossible to miss and completely lock-down the use of the Nexus sites until the user has confirmed they’ve seen the warning and agreed to our terms of service again. It doesn’t matter if we warn someone on Skyrim Nexus, if they try to use Fallout 3 Nexus they’ll still be locked out of the sites until they agree to the terms again. It does not, however, lock-down the forums. Warnings are applied almost instantly to an account and the user will see the warning without having to log out and log back in again. There can sometimes be a delay of about 30 seconds between warnings being applied and the warning block coming into effect on the user browsing the site due to our caching system.
A user’s complete moderation history can be seen by moderators, updated and changed via the “Moderation history” link on their profile. Similarly, users can see their own moderation history via their member area. Normal members cannot see each other’s moderation history, only their own.
On the topic of notes, moderators can also leave notes for specific files within the file database. Working exactly the same way as notes work for members, we can leave notes on files with any pertinent information. For example, we’ve had a situation recently where an author has been given permission to use assets from the game TERA in their mods. Leaving a note on the file(s) about this will ensure any moderators who weren’t aware of these permissions being granted are informed, thus preventing moderation overlap.
Moderator review mode
Moderator review mode is a lock-down placed on a file that prevents users from accessing the file while a moderator investigates a potential issue with the file in question. It also prevents the mod author from changing anything to do with the file. We added it to our moderation tools a couple of years ago because we found if we just set the file to hidden and contacted the mod author in question then there was a small percentage of mod authors who would “fix” the mod, remove any offending material and then feign innocence and ignorance of the matter (e.g. “Er, what are you talking about, my mod doesn’t use any music from Lord of the Rings!”). Honestly, this did happen, more often than you realise.
The problem with moderator review mode is it’s not very good at communicating to the mod author exactly what it is that’s wrong with the file (or image...yes, we can put images in the Image Share in to moderator review mode now too). We’ve updated the system to allow the moderator applying moderator review mode to leave a message to the mod author, via the file page itself, as to why the file has been locked down. We’re hoping this will reduce the amount of confusion there is when a file is initially locked down for investigation.
The wastebin is a new feature we coded to help us separate between mods that are in moderator review mode and seemingly awaiting further investigation from a moderator, and mods that have had a conclusive outcome to their investigation and have been removed. Up until now if we wanted to hold on to files as evidence we’ve kept the files in moderator review mode, even if we weren’t going to publically host the file. This has cluttered up the admin system as it’s hard to differentiate between files that are legitimately still under investigation and files that are literally being stored as evidence in case of future problems. The wastebin will now be our evidence archive, freeing up moderator review mode to just be used for those files that are still under investigation.
When we send a file or image to the wastebin it will be removed from the file or image database (as though it’s been deleted), and the pertinent information regarding the file or image (including the downloadable files, the file description and your reason for removing it) will be moved to our wastebin for archiving.
We’ve recently had a few cases of members creating dummy accounts that they’re using to endorse the files and images they’ve uploaded. It sounds stupid, I know, but people do actually do this. All moderators can now see all the IP addresses used to endorse files, the join date of the endorser and the system will quickly tell a moderator if there are multiple instances of the same IP address being used to endorse files and images.
Mod author comment moderation tools
All of the above features and etiquettes are live on the sites now. We’re now working on mod author comment moderation tools and hope to have some stuff live by the end of the week. This one’s quite a big topic, probably worthy of an entire news article all by itself, but I’ll try to be concise and explain our new stance on mod authors moderating their own comments.
Ever since this site first started people have asked if they can be given the tools to moderate their own file comments. Not to ban people outright, but to be able to clean, prune and remove posts from their comments, especially troll comments. When YouTube released their tools that let video uploaders moderate their own comments these calls increased a bit, and then when Steam Workshop came out these calls increased more. I’ve always put this topic in front of you people, and more recently, in front of our recognised mod authors to see what the majority feel about this topic. Up until now the majority have always voted to keep the moderation squarely in the hands of the moderators. We experimented with the “comment rep” system that let the public decide which posts they liked and which posts they thought should be hidden, however this system had mixed results and could be used for trolling as much as it could be used for good. Recently, with the prevalence of the Steam Workshop system, more mod authors have liked being able to moderate their own comments and I think this freedom has now changed opinions. The argument is sound, take the pressure off our moderators and leave moderating to the mod authors themselves. However, I don’t want to do this. At least, not entirely.
In my opinion, the YouTube/Steam Workshop method is the method you use if you’re not too bothered about the community or etiquette you’re fostering or don’t want to rely too heavily on finding good moderators who can handle the task. It’s the easy way out. Some mod authors will moderate their files well, they’ll not be “delete happy” at comments that perhaps aren’t super super encouraging and they’ll welcome useful constructive criticism. Other mod authors will not, and they’ll delete anything that isn’t a resounding big thumbs up to the mod author. And then there are some “mod authors” who steal your work, upload it to the another site and then delete any comment that people leave saying that the mod is stolen. Not good. Thankfully the report functionality at the Workshop has gotten a lot better from the early days, so good job Bethesda and/or Valve.
You see, mod authors are great. Without them none of us would be here. But just like the moderation team mod authors are neither perfect or infallible. Most are mature, understanding, tolerant individuals who understand that there are always some bad apples in a community and will work with us to root them out and remove them without getting their knickers in a twist. Some mod authors, however, have a very thin skin and a weak backbone, some see negativity and criticism where none is being offered, some are more than just a little paranoid, and some have their heads so far up their...necks...that their ego is running the show now. We regularly have to deal with these mod authors and honestly, some of the stuff that gets rudely demanded of us and the threats we receive (even threats of calling in lawyers to remove comments someone else has left on their mod) is frankly astonishing. I do not want to be empowering these people.
What we’re going to do is trial a new system that is a cross between our system of reporting comments and letting the moderators handle it, and the YouTube/Steam Workshop system of allowing mod authors to moderate all their file comments themselves. I want to reiterate the “trial” aspect of this. We’re going to implement it and see how it goes. If it needs tweaking or reworking, we’ll do it, but if we think it’s not working, mod authors don’t like it or it becomes more hassle and incites more drama than it’s worth, we’ll remove it.
All recognised mod authors (those authors who have 1,000 unique downloads and are able to access the mod author private forums) will now be able to hide posts that have been made in their own file comments. When an author hides a comment the content of the post will be fully hidden (with no option to see the original content) and the text will be changed to read “The author of this file has requested this comment be checked by our moderation team and it is currently awaiting moderator review”. It will then be sent to a moderation pool. Moderators will be able to login to this page and see all the posts that have been hidden by mod authors and are awaiting review. At this point the moderation team will assess whether the mod author was justified in removing the comment.
If the moderator agrees that the post breaks our rules then it will be fully hidden from the file comment topic, never to be seen in public again. If the moderator goes one step further and decides that the hidden post was bad enough to warrant an informal warning, a formal warning or a ban then the post will be updated on the authors comment topic to read “This user was given an informal warning/formal warning/ban for this post”. Mod authors will be able to choose whether they want that information to be public (they can leave it there for all to see) or whether it’s hidden from public view. I know some mod authors will like the idea of showing that people have been warned or banned for trolling their threads as it will act as a warning to others. I also know some mod authors won’t like that idea, so we’re going to leave that one completely up to you.
On the flip-side, if a moderator looks at the post and decides that it does not break our terms of service then the post will be unhidden on the file comment page and it will be locked from the mod author being able to hide it again. I see potential drama in this setup as I know that some mod authors are going to end up throwing their toys out of the pram when they hide comments because they think the comment has broken the rules and we unhide them because we think they haven’t. Obviously our policy on this matter is going to be very simple: we get the last say. If you’re not ok with that, don’t turn comments on for your files. That’s been our policy for the past 11 years so it’s not going to change.
We’ve put a lot of time and thought into this new system. For some the Nexus is too strict, for others, our zero-tolerance policy to trolls and general riff-raff has been one of the biggest draws to the site. Once again it falls into this category of not being able to please everyone and ultimately doing what I personally think is right for this network of sites.
We’ll continue to assess the functionality and practicality of our moderation techniques and make changes whenever necessary.
- Notes are benign messages we can leave on the users moderation history for information purposes that all the other moderators can see as well. Examples where notes might be handy is if we’ve had a personal conversation with the member about permission to use someone else’s work. We can leave a note to say “Spoke to
Part 3 of my look back at the first year of mods for Skyrim.
Thumbnail image for this video is 'Lord Necron' courtesy of yhwhwarrior.
WARZONES - Civil Unrest
Open Cities Skyrim
Cloaks of Skyrim
RCRN - Realistic Colors and Real Nights
A Thinner Compass
IMAGINATOR - Visual Control Device for Skyrim
Winter Is Coming - Cloaks
Lockpick graduation by Lilyu
3rd Person Animation Tweak - Run Forward with Bow
Casual bow animations
Proper Length Arrows
Closer Quivers and Longer Arrows
Arrowsmith - Reupload
Realistic Ragdolls and Force
Dwarven Mechanical Equipment
Moonpath to Elsweyr
Dovahkiin Relaxes Too
WATER - Water And Terrain Enhancement Redux
Omegared99 - Armor Compilation
Robed Steel Plate Armor
Fur Hoods HD
Dragon Priests Armor
I am happy to announce the release of a new Nexus site in to our modding network. Fallen Enchantress Nexus is now open with a number of community made modifications already available.
For those of you who don’t know (and I shamefully didn’t know until quite recently!), Fallen Enchantress is developed by Stardock of Galactic Civilizations and Sins of a Solar Empire fame. It’s a turn-based fantasy strategy RPG. Imagine Civilization strategy meets Heroes of Might and Magic levelling and combat and you’ll have a good idea of what this game is like. Frankly, Civilization and Heroes of Might and Magic are two of my favourite games and it’s likely I’ve sunk more time in to them than any of the Elder Scrolls or Fallout games, so when a Nexus member emailed me at the start of the week wondering if a Nexus site might be possible for Fallen Enchantress I was quite disappointed I’d never heard of it before. Having now played it for coming on 10 hours over the past few days I can safely say I really enjoy it, so I jumped on the official forums and got in contact with Stardock honcho “Frogboy” about the possibility of creating a Nexus site for the game. The idea was received well, so now we’re here.
Stardock are one of those developers who have always supported their modding communities well. Fallen Enchantress is no different and it has multiple different tools packaged in to the game itself for you to use and share with others. On top of that they have an established and experienced community of modders for their games which makes Fallen Enchantress and the Nexus a perfect fit. If you’re like me and have never heard of Fallen Enchantress then you can find out more information from the official site. The game retails for $39.99 (£24.99), so it’s not a bank buster either, and it retails on multiple sites including Steam.
I want to thank all the mod authors who have already uploaded their mods to Fallen Enchantress Nexus and I’m hoping we can work together to make the modding scene for Fallen Enchantress as big as possible.
Part 2 of my look back at the first year of mods for Skyrim.
Thumbnail image for this video is 'Before The Storm' courtesy of kaldaar.
RWT Realistic Water Textures
Realistic Lighting Without Post-Processing
Arrowsmith - Reupload
Better archery Eagle Eye perk
Mage-Friendly Dragon Priest Masks
Warmer Magic Lights
Staff of Magnus Improved
Staff of Magnus Absorb Fix
Deadly Spell Impacts
Midas Magic - Spells in Skyrim
Enhanced Distant Terrain
Skyrim HD - 2K Textures
Skyrim Flora Overhaul
PISE - Improved Skyrim Experience
Elven Armor retextured
Black Elven Armor and Weapons
BGM Glass and Elven Armour and Weapons
Mystic Elven Armor - HD
Better fitting Glass Helmet
Auto Unequip Arrows
Masters of Death - Rise of the Brotherhood
Static Mesh Improvement Mod
We’ve already got two articles up in the news looking back on Skyrim and celebrating its one year anniversary, but I just wanted to make a quick article celebrating one year of Skyrim mods on Skyrim Nexus, and to dissect the publically available site stats information to publicise some sensationalist figures. Because I kind of like doing it myself from time to time, and I thought I’d share my findings.
By applying some simple maths to the stats we can work out some pretty interesting stuff. Using 365 days in a year, and 86,400 seconds in a day, lets get cracking.
New file entries
Per day: 63
Downloadable (uploaded) files
Per day: 209
Per day: 424,583
Per second: 5
Members with files (e.g. mod authors)
Per day: 25
File views (page views on file pages)
Per day: 1,862,287
Per second: 22
Per day: 4,025
Per minute: 3
Image Share images
Per day: 319
Image Share image views
Per day: 104,432
Per second: 1
Since Skyrim’s release we’ve had over 2.17 million new members join the Nexus network. While Skyrim can’t take credit for all those registrations, it can take credit for a large proportion of them. Similarly, many people forget that the Creation Kit didn’t actually come out until 3 months after the release of Skyrim, in February 2012, so we’ve only had 9 months of CK goodness so far. So no folks, Skyrim modding certainly isn’t dying. Frankly I think the best is yet to come.
In this video I look back at a year of Skyrim mods and how far we have come, and possibly how much further we have to go.
Thumbnail image for this video is courtesy of BlakkPhoenix.
1. Nexus Mod Manager
2. Enhanced Blood Textures
3. Lockpick Pro
4. Large Address Aware : No longer needed
5. Interface Hard Coded Key Tweaks
6. Skyrim Sunglare
7. 4GB Skyrim : No longer needed
8. Simple Borderless Window
9. SKYRIM ENHANCED SHADERS
10. FXAA Post Process Injector
11. Dragonbone Weapons
12. More Craftables
13. No More Blocky Faces
14. High Quality Eyes
15. XCE - Xenius Character Enhancement
16. Vals Crafting Meltdown Alpha
17. Weapon Retexture Project - WRP
19. Skyrim Script Extender (SKSE)
20. Nightingale Prime : File no longer available
21. Night Eye Illusion Spell
22. TESV Acceleration Layer : No longer needed
23. A Quality World Map - With Roads
24. Categorized Favorites Menu
25. Script Dragon
26. Extra Hotkeys v2
It has been exactly one year since Skyrim was released, and we have seen some amazing mods popping up since then, and 8 game updates have been released by Bethesda, which is quite a lot compared to their previous games - whether it is because they want us to have the best game possible or just because the game had so many problems to start with doesn't really matter, we got the updates. Two DLCs; Dawnguard and Hearthfire, and another DLC on the horizon; Dragonborn. We have gotten quite a lot already, and it doesn't look like Bethesda is stopping there either.
So, what are your thoughts on the game now, compared to back then? Has it been improved? Do you still find it entertaining to play? Are you satisfied with the DLCs they give us?
- Personally, I still find it entertaining, but I can't seem to play it in great lengths like I could and still can with Morrowind, which might be because Skyrim is a bit too realistic... But add a few mods, and the great experience is back again! So, what mods do you find to be essential to your game, and if you had to choose one mod, which mod is the best in your opinion?
We’ve officially designated this week “fix the sites and make them work properly week” among the Nexus developers. We’ve not been happy with the status of either NMM or the Nexus recently, and we know you haven't been either, but thankfully you guys are pretty understanding, which means we've been able to get on with fixing it without worrying about a full-blown riot.
The first step in fixing the problem (past knowing there’s a problem) is finding out what the problem is. We think we can safely point our fingers at NMM for most of the performance issues at this point. Turns out we’ve made a pretty good home-brew tool to DDoS our own servers. Go us. Over the past year more and more people have been downloading and using NMM. We’re at over 1.2 million unique users at the moment, which means we’re getting about 100,000 new NMM users each month. To begin with this wasn’t a big issue, but now it kind of is, and we’ve been so busy trying to fix bugs and implement new functionality that the fact NMM is affecting the performance of the servers has kind of slipped by. Not our proudest moment. But this is exactly why NMM is still considered a Beta program. We know it’s not ready to be considered a “stable” release and until it is, it won’t get my seal of approval and we won’t bring it out of beta.
Having NMM in Beta, and you remembering that it’s a Beta program is still very important. I understand that lots of you now rely on NMM as your mod manager and if it doesn’t work then your gaming gets affected, so when we make changes we try to prevent disrupting things as much as possible. However, many of you are treating it like it’s a stable release and you’ll roll-back to older versions if it’s not working rather than actually helping us debug and troubleshoot the problems with the latest versions. That’s kind of counter to everything you’re meant to be doing as a beta tester. If no one reported bugs to us then NMM would never get any better (and no, “it’s broken, I’m rolling back until you fix it” doesn’t help!).
NMM version 0.33.1 is the beginning (and maybe even the end, if we've done a good enough job!) of our optimisations to get things back on track and with it come a couple of minor, but really important changes to the way NMM uses the web services:
The first is in the NMM version checker, the little screen that pops up for a split second when you first start NMM that checks if there’s a new NMM version available. In past versions NMM would check for new versions on every start-up of the program. We’ve changed that so it will only check, by default, every 3 days. You can change the amount of days between each check yourself within your NMM options from 1 to 7 days, or turn this off completely (as you could before). This will help to cut down on requests to our web services considerably.
The second is in the file version checker itself. As you know, NMM will query all the mods you have installed from the Nexus and let you know if the author has uploaded any new versions. Originally NMM would do this every time you started it. We’ve now changed this to only check once every three days, but we’ve added a button within NMM for you to ask NMM to check again whenever you want and once again you can change your preferences to change how often NMM will automatically check for new versions. We’ve done this because if you have 100 mods installed, and you open NMM 10 times a day to install mods or because you use NMM as your game launcher, you’re going to be making big calls to our web services 10 times a day when you might not always be using NMM to check for new file versions. That’s a lot of wasted calls to our web services when you split that across 1.2 million other people. It's important to note that the first time you use the update button NMM might become slow or unresponsive for a little while; don't worry, it hasn't crashed and it will come back. Subsequent uses of the button will not have the same problem and will normally update all your latest versions within a couple of seconds.
It's important to note that due to these changes NMM might be slow to start or become unresponsive the first time you start NMM. Leave it to work away and it should finally come back. This should only happen the first time you run NMM after installing the latest update and should not happen again afterwards.
On the downloading front we’ve added some pretty cool (I think they're cool, anyway) options to ensure you’re downloading from the fastest servers at all times. You can find these options in the Settings section of NMM under the “Download options” tab. From here you can choose your nearest download location so that when you go to download a file via NMM, NMM will always try to use the servers in those locations first. This should really help to ensure that you’re getting the fastest download speeds possible at all times. If NMM can’t use those locations nearest to you for any reason it will just default to the least overloaded server. Similarly NMM will now tell you what file server location you’re downloading from. If you’re in the UK and the only file server available is in San Jose, you’ll understand why your download speed is going a bit slower. Please note that NMM doesn’t know where your nearest location is, so if you want to use this feature you’ll have to change the options yourself. Otherwise NMM defaults to using the least used file server at the time of downloading.
For Premium Members, in the same section you’ll find two new download options. The “Premium only” option will force NMM to always attempt to try and download from the Premium Only file servers, which should give you better speeds as there are far less people downloading from them. There are also options to change the number of connections/threads each download starts. Most people will want to keep this on 4 threads, but if you’re on a slow PC or if your ISP connection is a bit dodgy it might not like you making lots of connections at once, so this option is for you.
In other good news we’ve found the cause of the constant log-out issue, which is also the reason why some of you have been unable to upload large files recently (because the site logged you out half-way through uploading), and this has also been fixed. Thank the heavens, because that one was really annoying.
We’re turning off our old web services that past NMM versions have used (any before this latest one); not because we want to force you to use the latest versions but because as we release new versions and fix vulnerabilities or improve the performance of our servers we want to drop support for the older, inefficient versions as soon as possible to protect the integrity of the sites. That means if you want to stay using the older versions of NMM then NMM won’t be able to find new versions of your mods, and you also won’t be able to download through NMM either.
I'm pretty excited about this release of NMM because it's what I wanted the new download system to be like, and how I wanted it to work from the start. It works perfectly for me, and for us, in our internal testing, so my fingers are crossed tight that there aren't any major issues and that you guys are getting the same sort of performance I am out of it. However, should you run in to any problems (once again, touch wood you don't), as always please use the bug tracker for posting any bugs. And in other good news, we'll be putting online our two new file servers, one in Amsterdam and one in San Jose at some point a little later tonight.
This new version of NMM, along with our file servers, have had a number of efficiency tweaks applied to them and we’ll be monitoring the sites over the next 24 hours to see how much the changes have helped. If we think it needs more, we’ll do more, but we’re pretty confident that these pretty small changes are going to make a really big difference to everything and that we can get on with the new functionality we’ve been working on recently, which includes the ability to endorse files within NMM and the long awaited ability to make and sort your mods into categories. On the site side, we’re working on our much needed brand spanking new moderation suite for our staff to use, a new Nexus site and not one, not two, but three announcements of Nexus collaboration with three separate game developers, for games currently in development, along with a new type of Nexus site that will focus on pre-release information for these games.
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