I last gave an update on the current situation back in September. 5 weeks on I thought I’d let you know what’s happened and where we are.
On the site front we think we’ve finally resolved our database cluster and it’s now working smoothly. Any errors you might see or have seen on the site over the past few days will not be related to our database cluster any longer. As it happens it turns out troubleshooting the problems with the site is a bit like pulling up the carpet to sort out some dampness only to find the floorboards need replacing, only to find your electronics underneath the floorboards need replacing, only to find your house has termites, only to find...you get my point. The good news is that the next step of our infrastructure work is now ready to be moved in to as our Cloud system is now operational. We just need to move the sites over and tweak a few lines of code.
In the not too distant future we’ll also be releasing our new Nexus Mods site that I’ve been going on for yonks now that will support mods for any and all games. It would be prudent to wait until this work is ready before transitioning everything over to the new Cloud setup. However we’re aware that things can get pretty bad at times on the sites (namely Skyrim Nexus) so we’ll be using Skyrim Nexus as our guinea pig. If the cloud setup can handle Skyrim Nexus comfortably then it’s going to be able to handle all the other games being on it as well. We’re already busy transferring the files over to the Cloud and at some point this week we’ll be doing a full switch from our current dedicated server setup to the Cloud setup. You’ll see the usual maintenance page during this work. From there we can tweak our Cloud setup and go on from there. Once ready we’ll move all the sites over. It might mean in the short-term things are a bit turbulent on Skyrim Nexus but it’ll be some short term pain for some long term gain. We’re hoping that a database cluster with 80 CPU cores and 480GB of RAM plus a 48 CPU cores, 192GB RAM cloud environment equals a fully functional and fast site 24/7.
On the NMM front I know I mentioned that an alpha for 0.50, with mod profiling, was “just around the corner”. However after writing that article a few important changes needed to be made. A few people have gone a bit bat-shit crazy at the fact we haven’t released the alpha yet after saying it was near. To you guys I shall simply say; calm the hell down. I’m sure you’d have been raging a lot more if we’d given you an update to NMM that had broken all your mods so have a little faith that any delay has occurred in your best interests. And don’t be stupid. Please. We’ll get it out to you as soon as we’re happy with the results.
Beginner's Guide to Modding Skyrim - Part 7 : Convenient Horses, Better Dialogue and MessageBox controls
It was delayed a few weeks but the Beginner's Guide to Modding Skyrim series has restarted with an episode devoted to showing you mods that improve some of the more annoying game mechanics.
Thumbnail is "Duel" courtesy of kaldaar.
Mods covered in this video:
1. Convenient Horses
2. Better Dialogue Controls
3. Better MessageBox Controls
Mods mentioned in this video:
4. Auto Unequip Ammo
Ever wonder what Skyrim would be like with guns, aliens and body builders that cannot act? Wonder no more because Tyrannicon is at it again and the Predator has landed in Skyrim. Full list of mods included in the video description.
WARNING: This movie contains offensive/adult language as used in the Predator movie itself. Oh and horribly scenes of violence and carnage just like Skyrim.
I thought I’d offer a quick update on recent happenings at the Nexus as we battle to resolve the stability of the servers once and for all. Plus I bring news of a new NMM version with a cool “new” feature in it. First of all, the servers.
Right, last time I spoke to you we’d managed to get the database cluster online with 3 nodes (3 servers). Things were going fine and dandy, however, every once in awhile one of the nodes was getting out of sync. That’s fine, these things do happen without it being a bug in the system or what not. Unfortunately when a node becomes out of sync that node no longer serves requests so we only have 2 functioning nodes (or to put it another way, we’re running at 66% capacity) during this time. To make matters even worse another node needs to stop serving requests as well while the out-of-sync node can be brought back up to speed. So 1 node being out of sync actually brings 2 nodes down, so in a 3 node cluster we go down to only 33% capacity if a single node goes out of sync. During this time the sites become extremely slow or unresponsive due to the greatly diminished capacity of the cluster. If the single node running the entire network becomes too overloaded then we need to take matters into our own hands and manually shut down sites (send them into maintenance mode) until things are back and working. If you got redirected to our maintenance page at all over the past couple of months then that’s why. Are you following me so far?
The solution? Buy more servers and add them to the cluster. And that’s what we did. We now have 5 nodes in our cluster using 1 node as a hot spare; so 4 are serving requests from the site while the 5th sits back and stays in sync with all the others but doesn’t handle any of your requests. The thinking being when a node becomes out of sync the hot spare can kick into action and bring the out-of-sync node back into the fold quickly without having to worry about diminishing the performance of the rest of the cluster. Unfortunately we’ve run into a problem where-by adding more nodes to the cluster has actually had a worse effect, rather than a better effect, and after a month or so of troubleshooting we still have no idea why. We’re continuing to run tests in the day, which cause the 502/504/maintenance page errors you might have come across if you browse the site regularly and we’re currently drawing up a contract with a database consultancy firm so they can have an expert take a look at the issue. At $300 an hour. This means there might be some more short term pain (downtime or slowdowns) for what will hopefully be a future of peace and tranquility where the word down will never follow the word time on these sites again.
And hot on the heels of our database is our cloud cluster. So you’re wondering why we need two clusters? One is for database operations and one is for the actual page serving operations. If one of the nodes in the database cluster goes down then you can (well, you’re supposed to be able to) still use the sites perfectly fine. However at the moment, each of the Nexus sites (e.g. the actual pages of the site) are confined to a single dedicated server, so if that server goes down then you cannot access the site irrespective of whether the database is working fine. The Cloud solution we’ve ordered will make use of 6 identical virtual servers setup in a load balanced array. This means that all sites will make use of all 6 servers and if one server goes down all the sites will still work. That’s what we’re aiming for.
Meanwhile in Nexus Mod Manager land…
It seems like a long time since we released a major update to NMM. That’s because it has been a long time since we released a major update to NMM. We’ve been knocking out bug fixes every once in awhile but in the background the programmers have been working on one goal.
The ability to create and manage multiple different playlists for each game we support so you can switch between your playlists before running the game.
What’s the point? Well, if you’re the type of person who likes to do multiple different playthroughs of your game then it should make managing your specific mod lists for each playthrough that much easier. If you like to roll a warrior, a mage and a thief, for instance, you can create different profiles for each of your characters with mods specific to that character’s playthrough, as well as mods used by all the playthroughs.
This profiling system will make use of file linking methods, essentially shortcuts (or symlinks if you’re a UNIX buff) already available in all versions of Windows rather than using a .dll hack that intercepts file calls. Instead of installing your mods directly in to the game’s mod folder all your mods will be installed in the NMM mods folder and linked to via shortcuts that will be automatically set up in the Skyrim data folder by NMM.
It’s our hope to expand this in the not too distant future so you can sync your profiles with the sites, allowing you to share your profiles/playlists with other players on the site in a new section of the site set up specifically for NMM playlists.
Because this new version of NMM has a whole new mod installation method I’m predicting there’s going to be a few issues. The programmers have coded a conversion system that should automatically convert your current mod list over to the new method but as there’s only 2 programmers, and myself, that can test a release before it gets sent out we cannot test the billions of possible software and hardware combinations with this new version. And that’s where we rely on you. We’ll be doing a test release first. It’s our hope that some users will be willing to give the new version a thorough test before we make it an official release of NMM. That means if you want to use this new version to begin with you’ll need to download it manually from a link we provide and the NMM version checker won’t automatically install this version until we’ve had some thorough testing. This should prevent my inbox getting filled with hate mail from users who didn’t read all the warnings when installing this new version. And there are plenty of warnings in the installer with the option to cancel at any time.
The worst thing that can happen is that the converter cannot work out what mods you had activated and what mods you had deactivated, and so you’ll end up with a mod list with everything deactivated (requiring you to manage your activated mods and load order again), but we won’t know if this is a major problem until people actually test it. It works for us. It might not work for you. Hence, OPEN BETA!
Keep your eye out for the new version of NMM in the site news. And if you’re cool you’ll download it before it goes on general release and let us know if it worked for you. If you’re uncool you won’t. And you’ll probably find something to complain about. Because you’re uncool.
The GameSpot "Greatest Game Series of the Decade" poll is nearing its end now, and the finalists are The Elder Scrolls versus Grand Theft Auto.
So, if you want to take part in deciding which game series is the greatest (of these two), head over to GameSpot to vote.
Both of these series have been moddable for quite some time, and have both seen some great mods being produced. Whether or not that is an important factor as to why they appear at the top of the bracket is unproven, but personally, I think it has been a key factor for the success of both series, and will continue to be so.
Now, those two series are the finalists, but they have been competing with series like Fallout, Mass Effect, Total War, Assassin's Creed, Battlefield, etc. Do you agree with the outcome so far, or is another series your favorite?
Let me tell you of the days of high adventure!
CONAN Hyborian Age
Don’t you hate it when you pay for something and then the next day it goes on sale? Don’t you equally hate it when you’re thinking about buying something but continue to put it off and then the price goes up? That’s why I’m here to give you a friendly heads-up that from October we’re going to be raising our Premium Membership prices in-line with, drum-roll please, inflation. Fact is money isn’t worth as much as it used to be (does that make sense?) and money is exactly what we need right now.
We launched our Premium Membership back in 2006 and since then it’s become an extremely important stream of revenue for the Nexus. Without it this network simply wouldn’t exist. We’ve spent over £120,000 ($187,000) in the past few months on trying to sort out the stability of the network for the future. We’re still not done and we’ll continue to invest in the infrastructure until we’ve got it right. It’s been an expensive year as we’re currently running (and paying for) our new system in parallel with our old one until the new one is ready, which means we’re essentially paying double right now. If you ever wondered what your Premium Membership goes towards, that’s what it goes towards. And the 4 dedicated programmers working on the site. And the 37 servers we have running the network (that number goes up every time I write about this sort of stuff!). And the 3 GBits of bandwidth we use every second. And so on.
From the start of October our prices for Premium Membership will be rising as follows:
- Life time of Supporter membership (not the same as Premium). Originally £1. Now £1.29.
- 1 month of Premium Membership. Originally £2.49. Now £2.99.
- 3 months of Premium Membership. Originally £6.99. Now £8.49.
- 6 months of Premium Membership. Originally £11.99. Now £14.49.
- 12 months of Premium Membership. Originally £19.99. Now £24.49.
- Life time of Premium Membership. Originally £39.99. Now £49.99.
Remember Premium Membership at any level gives you an ad free experience on any and all Nexus sites, current or future (yet to be made sites), for life irrespective of whether you buy 1 month or a lifetime. You also get unrestricted download speeds on all the servers and multi-threading enabled file downloads to a maximum of 4 threads per file. For a full list of benefits you can take a look at our Premium Membership info page.
I was doing a side by side comparison of two popular interior lighting mods to see how they compared to each other and how they might change the way you would play and thought I would share my findings with you. I also looked at a new and exciting interior mod that aims to make Skyrim a little more immersive.
Realistic Lighting Overhaul
Enhanced Lights and FX
Climates Of Tamriel - Weather - Lighting - Audio]
New to this whole 'modding' thing? This Beginner's Guide may be for you. Over the course of several videos I will attempt to give you the knowledge and experience to mod your game easily and safely, starting from the very basics.
*WARNING* This series really is aimed at people who are new to modding. No prior modding experience is needed, only a willingness to learn.
There are already four episodes but several more are on the way.
Part 1 : The Basics
Part 2 : The User Interface
Part 3 : Water
Part 4 : Textures
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