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With the release of Skyrim Nexus and the success of the modding scene to date the Nexus server infrastructure has been stretched to its very limits, and so have I. Working 18 hour days for the first couple of weeks (along with Axel) I began to question the work load I put in to running the Nexus and the obvious options were to tone down the scope of the sites or to bring on some more professional help to alleviate some of the stress placed on myself and the servers.
I have enjoyed immensely working in and being a part of this community, I have so many fond memories of times past and friends who have come and gone, and I do not want to let go of 10 years of hard work I've spent running these sites and trying to develop sites that are a true service to this community, with the community's best interests at heart. I'd like to continue to do that, providing scope and direction for the Nexus sites (and to continue to do all the crap in the background I bet none of you think need doing, like the dreaded VAT returns of doom!) and leaving the clever stuff (like the coding) to the clever people.
The last time I asked for help back at the start of April I was lucky enough to find Axel, who has been coding like a true Dovahkiin (as all true Dovahkiin's do...) ever since. He's very close to rolling out the PHP framework he's been working on since he first started and then we can really start moving. You might not notice any differences to begin with, but over the next couple of months you'll begin to notice some pretty major improvements. On that note, I'm looking for another PHP coder. Axel and I have grand aspirations and want to bring modding to the masses, but we need your help to do it.
We have a full-time, paid position open for a PHP developer who is an avid fan of the games the Nexus sites support and who wants to get paid to work on bettering this great community we've created. You'll work closely with myself and Axel to improve the Nexus sites and expand their scope and reach while remaining true to our free sharing and open community. This position is open to people in the UK and the EU. Head on over to the job opening page to read up on what we're looking for.
Bethesda have announced today that the Creation Kit is due to be released "in January":QUOTECreation Kit — Beginning in January, PC players will be able to download the same development tools we used at Bethesda Game Studios to create Skyrim. In tandem with the Creation Kit’s release, we will roll out a new Wiki and videos to help you get started. It also features something we think you’re going to love…
They've also explained, perhaps to justify the delay on releasing the CK, their work with Valve to integrate Steam Workshop into the Creation Kit:QUOTESteam Workshop – We’re excited to share news that we’ve been working closely with Valve to integrate Steam Workshop into the Creation Kit. Using the Workshop, you’ll have free user content with the push of a button. The Creation Kit will bundle your mod and upload it to the Workshop, where everyone can browse, rate, and flag mods for download. You’ll be able to do this from any web device, including your smartphone. Like a live Netflix queue, when you fire up Skyrim, mods you flagged will be automatically downloaded and installed. Everyone here is really excited about the opportunities and possibilities this opens up for our entire community.
Prefer to use existing modding sites? Not a problem. You’ll still be able to upload/share/access Skyrim mods on fan-created mod sites.
Details on this are rather limited right now so there's no point in writing with too much conjecture. My hope is that the CK has not been delayed specifically to get this Steam Workshop functionality in. There's a crap-ton of bugs the modding community could be fixing right now with the CK, so I'd rather think positively and imagine they're spending their time to ensure the tutorials/wiki/support and CK are all as user-friendly as possible to promote as many people taking part as possible.
At the moment Steam Workshop is only available for TF2 and it has a relatively limited scope. As someone who hasn't used Steam Workshop and stopped playing TF2 a long time ago I can't speak from experience, but the "How it works" page on Valve's site states:QUOTEStarting with Team Fortress 2, you can create and submit new items (such as hats, weapons, badges, boots, and more) for consideration to be incorporated into the actual game. If your creation is accepted for distribution in-game, you can even earn a percentage of sales.
The acceptable items, entry rules, and rewards may be different for each product, so please read the instructions carefully to see where your skills and interests can have the most impact.
By submitting an item to the Steam Workshop or accepting a revenue allocation for an item, you agree to the Legal Agreement.
I'd assume this system will change for Skyrim else the scope for Steam Workshop and modding would be rather limited and wouldn't make full use of the integration with Skyrim and Steam. For example there are currently 3,500 files submitted to Steam Workshop for TF2 however only 40 items have been accepted for download (from what I understand of the system), so that's 1 in 87 files being accepted on to Steam Workshop. To relate that to TESNexus, of the 24,300 Oblivion mods available for download at a 1-in-87 chance of being accepted would mean there would be just under 280 mods available for download from Steam Workshop. As I said, details are scarce right now so we'll have to wait and see what sort of limits Steam Workshop will place on modding. I think it's pretty safe to say that some of the more risqué mods aren't going to be accepted to Steam Workshop, but who knows!
I'm glad Bethesda have at least made the system open so files can be shared and uploaded outside of Steam Workshop. It's early days but my worry is that by integrating the mods in to Steam we may well see an influx of pirates on the Nexus sites looking for mods that they can't get through Steam Workshop. We have never accepted piracy here and have banned thousands of accounts for openly admitting to piracy. We buy our games here and support Bethesda (and Bioware, CdProjekt, Trendy, etc.), and if you pirate your games and feel the need to tell us about it you won't remain on these sites. We do not want the Nexus sites to be a bastion of pirates looking for mods. Pirates, you have been warned.
I'd also like to take this time to say "I called it" to the mod authors here (I said I would!) who took part in our 26 page private discussion about bringing money in to the modding community. Mod authors making money from their work is a cool idea, but a massive game changer as well. The implications are pretty big for the community. Modding communities are built on the free sharing of information, knowledge, wisdom, assets and files. Will money affect that? I'll be talking more with mod authors about making licensing the mods you upload to the Nexus easier and more clear; last thing we want is people worrying that by uploading their files here someone else might try to profit off their hard work. This is, of course, if Bethesda are going the TF2 route with Steam Workshop.
The additional exposure that Steam Workshop will provide to the Skyrim modding scene will be great, I'm sure, and there are some great mods out there that will benefit from even more exposure and the ease-of-install Steam Workshop suggests it will provide. There are some very positive implications and some worrying implications, however there's no point worrying until we get more information. Needless to say both Valve and Bethesda have never been ones for trying to limit the creativity of their modding communities and I don't think that's going to change any time soon.
Interesting times ahead. Lets wait for more news and try not to go off on tangents without having the full facts.
Update: A couple of people have tried to point out that talking about Steam Workshop opening up charging for mods at this stage is pointless since the Bethesda announcement clearly says "Using the Workshop, you’ll have free user content with the push of a button.". Perhaps I'm a bit more sceptical over press releases but suggesting you can get free user content does not mean there won't be paid for user content as well.
If the Apple App Store had a statement reading "Using the Apple App Store, you'll have free user content with the push of a button" they'd be right and wouldn't be lying. There are many free apps on the Apple App Store. There are even more paid apps. But the paid apps in the Apple App Store don't make that statement any less true.
I decided to send off a quick email to Matt Grandstaff, the Bethesda community manager, to ask him about the potential for mod authors to earn money through the Steam Workshop system:QUOTEI just wanted to get some clarification on "mods for money". Obviously TF2 and Steam Works allow users to upload their mods and get money for it, and with this announcement there's some speculation that Steam Works is going to allow this for Skyrim as well in some form or another.
Matt responded:QUOTEOur focus with the Steam Workshop is creating an environment where users can create, upload, download, and rate free user content.
I tried to get a bit more clarification on this point as it still leaves a little room for interpretation (I want my clarifications ironclad!):QUOTEThanks Matt,
I'm sorry, I don't want to be a pain (I really try to not bother you folks at Bethesda at all)! Can you just confirm that mod authors will not be able to upload mods and earn money through the Steam Workshop? E.g. everything except Bethesda's DLC will be available for free download?
I just want to make extra sure before I go clear everyone's fears on this one!
Matt has not provided further clarification on that point.
I hate to be sceptical about Bethesda when they've done so much for this community, but this still leaves me sceptical.
In the announcement about the Creation Kit, Bethesda also shared some information about the broken 1.2 patch. An "incremental update" will be coming next week for PC (end of that week for consoles) that fixes issues such as the non-function elemental resistances (already fixed by SKSE) and backwards-flying dragons. No word on what else, if anything, will be fixed.
Bethesda also mentioned that their current focus is on "code" fixes, with "data" fixes (such as to quests) waiting until January at the earliest. You can also read their non-apology for patch 1.2:QUOTEWe all know this is a huge game, and everyone has a different experience. We’ll continue to do everything we can to make the game better and better for as many people as possible every day. We’ve also realized that with the millions upon millions of people playing Skyrim, we need to treat our updates with greater care. If we get too aggressive trying to fix a minor issue, we run a risk of breaking something larger in a game like this.
As you're probably aware version 1.2 of Skyrim is due out at some point today. Some of you might have been expecting or hoping that the Creation Kit, the SDK software that will enable the more complex mods to be created, would also be released today along with this patch. Sadly that's not the case, as community manager Gstaff comments on the Official Bethesda Blog.
We're all just going to have to be a little more patient to get our hands on the modding tools. So continue to play Skyrim and learn everything you can in time for the eventual launch of the Creation Kit.
In other news version 0.12.11 of the Nexus Mod Manager has been available for download for a couple of days now and so far the feedback has been very positive with lots of important bug fixes in place. If you've been holding off on installing it or experienced problems before you might want to give NMM a go now.
Bethesda has announced that Skyrim's second patch (1.2) will be coming to the PC (and 360) this Wednesday, November 30th. The update is already available for the PS3. The patch notes (see below) include a few PC-specific fixes including improvements "relating to remapping buttons and controls" plus a few general fixes.
Update: Bethesda has tweeted that the PC patch will be available "tomorrow [Nov 30] afternoon."
Update 2: The patch is now available through Steam.
Update 3: Ianpatt seems to have fixed the elemental resistances in the latest release of SKSE.QUOTE
- Improved occasional performance issues resulting from long term play (PlayStation 3)
- Fixed issue where textures would not properly upgrade when installed to drive (Xbox 360)
- Fixed crash on startup when audio is set to sample rate other than 44100Hz (PC)
- Fixed issue where projectiles did not properly fade away
- Fixed occasional issue where a guest would arrive to the player’s wedding dead
- Dragon corpses now clean up properly
- Fixed rare issue where dragons would not attack
- Fixed rare NPC sleeping animation bug
- Fixed rare issue with dead corpses being cleared up prematurely
- Skeleton Key will now work properly if player has no lockpicks in their inventory
- Fixed rare issue with renaming enchanted weapons and armor
- Fixed rare issue with dragons not properly giving souls after death
- ESC button can now be used to exit menus (PC)
- Fixed occasional mouse sensitivity issues (PC)
- General functionality fixes related to remapping buttons and controls (PC)
Just to let you know there is going to be some down-time early tomorrow morning around 8am GMT (which is 3am EST) as all the blades we currently used are moved and reconfigured in the data center. The hope is that this down-time will not last more than 30 minutes, but bearing in mind sods law, I'd gamble on it being closer to an hour.
You'll probably have connection issues and/or MySQL errors during this time.
Fingers crossed all goes to plan!
So we're just about 2 weeks in to Skyrim's global launch and Skyrim Nexus has reached over 1,000 mods available for download, which is pretty damn impressive without an available SDK! And for you nit-pickers out there, I deliberately waited until we surpassed the threshold of uploaded save games, so that's 1,000 actual mods and game files, not including save games.
I just wanted to post up a little something about what I, and the sites, have been through these past two weeks. Not least because I don't want you to think I've been sat on my backside rubbing my hands at some sick traffic figures!
To say that I wasn't really ready for the influx of traffic Skyrim Nexus received was a bit of an understatement, despite my 12 months of planning! The last benchmark I had to go off of was the launch of Fallout: New Vegas and the subsequent launch of New Vegas Nexus, which at it's peak received just over 200,000 unique visitors a day. So I applied some logic to these figures and thought an extra 50% (so 300,000 UV) on those figures, perhaps 75% (350,000 UV) would be a logical top figure. But no, Bethesda out-did themselves, and we've been pushing more than 550,000 unique visitors a day (and some 4million+ page views a day) since the game's launch. That's over 6 unique visitors a second (and 46 page views a second). And that's just Skyrim Nexus, not including the other sites. This traffic not only causes massive server load issues (and we're using some real powerful servers) but bandwidth issues too. The Nexus sites alone are pushing over 600mbit/second at the moment. The file servers are pushing 1Gbit. So put the two together and the network is pushing some 1.6Gbits of traffic a second (that's 205 Megabytes of bandwidth a second). So if you're wondering why the sites have been a bit slow at times, that's why.
After many sleepless nights I believe Axel and I (Axel is the site coder who's cooking up some seriously cool stuff for you all to enjoy very soon) have tweaked things in to a pretty stable state. You might be unlucky and hit a little blip here and there, but overall, things should be much more bearable now despite the traffic being pretty constant this past week. We're just now in the process of setting up a static content server with a nice, sexy, unmetered gigabit connection so we can continue to serve this stupid amount of bandwidth without it having a negative effect on the site load performance (and my wallet).
People criticised me when I put those video ads up on the downloads last year. I hope now you can at least partially acknowledge my foresight on the matter, being aware that Skyrim was coming out and that I would need the funds to pay for the ridiculous bandwidth and server bills. A note on those ads; they'll be coming off the other Nexus sites (they aren't on Skyrim Nexus) within a couple of weeks. These ads brought in much needed funds to pay for an upgrade in the site infrastructure. Prior to the release of Skyrim I had bought 2 additional super powerful servers to augment the 4 we were already using. And I've bought another 2 since then to handle and spread the load more. Folks in the EU will be getting a brand new file server by the start of December to download from, so stay tuned on that.
Over the last two weeks I also announced our work on the Nexus Mod Manager which is in Open Beta. The feedback you've all been providing has been invaluable, and I especially want to thank the vast majority of you who read-up on how we'd like bugs to be reported and have provided us with some good, detailed, bug reports. I cannot tell you how much easier it makes it for us when your bug reports are done properly! We're taking on all your advice, feedback and bug reports and working hard to get fixes out as quickly as possible. So if you're experiencing issues with one version, give it a couple of days and check back, more than likely if you've reported your problem it should be fixed in that time. There's a long way still to go on NMM and we've got lots in-store for you. Some great news on collaboration with another piece of well-known software as well, but I'll save that for another news post and another time..!
Looking on in to the new year I think I'm going to have to hire some new help pretty soon. These 18 hour days working on some sites that aren't my real job aren't really making me too happy! Hiring another dedicated web programmer and a dedicated software programmer will allow me to focus on the things that I at least kind of know, which will be acting as a community manager (and accountant, and server technician, and moderator...etc.) for you all. These sites have held up well on my code over the past 10 years, but my word I'm looking forward to moving over to Axel's stuff.
If you're going to take away one thing from this wall-of-text, it's this (aka. TL;DR:). It's been one hell of a ride these past 2 weeks and I'm glad we're all still here. I hope to continue to do good by you all for a long time to come. And watch this space, because super cool things are on the horizon.
Screenshots courtesy of PPSH-41
This Tumblr post has been tumbling its way around the web recently, and concerns one intrepid explorer's forays beyond the borders of Skyrim's lands with the use of the game's trusty "noclip" mode.
What is interesting about Skyrim is that, rather than a few square miles of LOD surrounded by infinite water, as has been the case in previous games, Bethesda seem to have included the landmass files for the province of Morrowind, Cyrodiil and even more.
The blog post contains photographs and documentation showing the process the author undertook, but what is exciting for modders is that much of the work of generating the heightmaps and landscape for other provinces, a time-consuming and painful job, has already been done for them. Some have speculated that the files are in preparation for expansive DLC, or just to provide sightseers with a glimpse of something distant from the peak of Throat Of The World. Whatever the case, once the Construction Set is released, modders will waste no time filling this empty land.
To conduct your own expedition, open the console and type "tcl" to range beyond the invisible walls of Skyrim's east and south.
Pete Hines announced on Twitter (and Nick Breckon announced on the official forums) that the next Skyrim update/patch is on the way. The update has been submitted to Sony and Microsoft for certification and "PC [is] coming too."
The current estimate is that the patch will be available the week after Thanksgiving (November 24th), meaning somewhere around the end of November or start of December.
No details yet on what, specifically, the patch will address or fix.
Another apology to make first guys. We hit a bit of a rough patch for an hour or so this evening with the Skyrim server. Every day we're hitting new traffic highs (525,000 unique visitors and 4 million page views today!) which means we're having to constantly adapt to the demands placed on the servers, continually optimising queries and config files and goodness knows what else. Thankfully we found the cause of today's issue relatively quickly and the server has been running sweet and sound since then. So hopefully we're good until tomorrow when another ridiculous amount of people come in search of Skyrim mods! I'm only getting about 3 hours sleep a night at the moment, so I'm going to need to take a holiday when this is all over!
On to happier news and Kaburke has just informed me he's put up version 0.12.6 of the which will contain more fixes and tweaks for users of the software.
And something really cool, Nexus user Gopher has added a really great introductory video to YouTube that brilliantly explains what NMM is, what it does, how it works and why you should be using it. It's brilliantly done and I'd recommend it if you're new to the modding scene here, don't understand why you'd need NMM or are just completely clueless! Thanks Gopher.
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