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I still play XCOM: Enemy Unknown and despite it’s age, it still feels fresh to me thanks to thoughtful design and mechanics, classic sci-fi setting, white-knuckle tactical action, and of course mind blowing mods like XCOM:Long War.
2K has apparently done it again! XCOM 2 has been in the hands of reviewers and word on the street is nothing but praise. It seems they’ve taken the beloved formula of mixing global decisions with explosive tactical action to new heights that include procedural environments, stealth mechanics, and so much more.
This time around the folks at 2K really seem to have kept us modders in mind throughout the development process as the new title has been designed to be extremely moddable. This isn’t hyperbole, either. In fact, they’ve teamed up with our friends at Long War Studios (who, by the way, have begun work on their own game), to offer fully functional mods day-one. See their announcement here: https://xcom.com/news/en-long-war-studios-preparing-three-xcom-2-mods-for-launch
Needless to say, we’re super-excited! We’re prepping a new XCOM 2 Nexus Site to discuss and share your creations that will launch soon. Likely shortly after the game is released, Friday.
In other news...
=== ATTENTION MOD AUTHORS ===
This likely doesn’t affect many, but some of you may remember. Long ago, we relied on a webserver plugin to help manage large file uploads. We don't know exactly when this plugin stopped working on our servers, but we believe that it hasn't be functional for quite some time. As a result, several mod authors who've wanted to upload very large files have been struggling.
To put it bluntly, at the moment we cannot guarantee files that are ~2GB or larger in size will successfully complete the upload process. This can result in uploads never finishing or files not appearing after what seems like a successful upload. Even if the website does report that the file has been successfully transferred there is still a chance that the file is corrupt. You can usually confirm this if there is any discrepancy between file sizes.
I know. Annoying, right! So, we’ve started some research to resolve this issue in earnest. We hope to A) get a solution in place quickly, and B) provide more flexibility for large downloads. We’re not sure whether we’ll custom build a solution or implement an existing package, but know that we’re looking to fix this problem sooner rather than later. I’ll keep you updated.
For the time being, as a temporary work-around, Paul (our lovely Director of Content) has graciously offered to “hand-deliver” any large files (~2GB+) that need to be uploaded. There will be some logistics that’ll need to be worked out, such as delivery methods, descriptions, categories and such. However, by providing him with your file, he’ll be able to inject it into the site without issue. He can be reached as BlindJudge on the forums or firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks, Paul!
Phew. Now that that’s out of the way, I can get back to preparing for XCOM 2 by authorizing the “interrogation” of a particularly pesky Muton in my latest ironman run in Long War. Wish me luck! ;)
CD PROJEKT RED just announced a modding contest for all of you designers out there. Create a holiday themed outfit for your favorite Witcher 3 character and you could win a real Witcher 3 sword! So awesome!
Head over to the official contest page for more details:
Be sure to fill out the form on the contest page and tag your creation with "Witcher Mod Contest" so that everyone can find it!
We can't wait to see your submissions. Good luck! (I'm already jealous of the winner...)
I promised I'd update you all on the possibility of a database breach on Nexus Mods that I announced yesterday morning and I am here with relatively "good" news.
I am now in possession of the database dump, that was first reported on Reddit, via university security networks, and I can confirm several things. First, the database dump is "old", with the last member in the database having registered on July 22nd 2013. If you're one of the 4.2 million users who registered on Nexus Mods after this date, your details are not included in this database dump and are therefore considered "safe". Second, the database dump isn't a complete database rip. The dump contains user IDs, usernames, email addresses, hashes and salts, and that's it. It does not contain cracked passwords i.e. anyone with access to the dump would need to attempt to crack the hashes and salts themselves in order to get any sort of use out of them on the site.
From this we can conclude a further two things. Firstly, that it's relatively safe to assume that whoever made this dump no longer has access to our database. Why? Because if they did, they'd have released a much more up-to-date dump of our member database. It would make sense they no longer have any access, considering we've patched up a lot of holes, applied countless security updates and switched to a far more secure database cluster system since July of 2013.
Second, if you've updated your password since July 2013, your account on the Nexus sites should be safe and secure, as they will not have your new hashes/salts/password information. If you have not updated your password recently, please do so now as I am now personally confident that there have been no recent breaches of our network or databases. Similarly, if you still use the password you were using in July 2013, or before that date, on any other sites or services you should update them immediately.
I would like to thank the HPE Security Research team who have personally helped me with this investigation and who securely provided me with the database dump as part of this investigation. Their help has been invaluable.
My previous news post also mentioned three compromised mod author accounts that had uploaded a suspicious file in place of legitimate mods on the site. I have been in contact with one of the owners of the compromised accounts personally, along with another individual who I know was compromised recently, and both were using extremely simple passwords. Passwords that would take a simple cracker mere seconds to crack. This helps to confirm that whoever is using this information is going for high-profile, but extremely easy accounts to crack.
To my knowledge, we have not seen any further suspicious activity in the file database at this time.
The malicious file that was uploaded, "dsound.dll", has been sent away to the malware research team at HPE Security Research to find out what it does and, hopefully, spread the word so it can be flagged by anti-virus software appropriately. Once again, a big thank you to the HPE Security Research team. They've provided an excellent service.
While we would like to force everyone to update their passwords so we can be completely in the clear when it comes to this breach, the only way we could force a password update is to make everyone's password invalid on the site and force you to do a password recovery via your email address. While that might be OK for our newer members (who this doesn't even affect), I imagine there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of users on this site who have signed up with email addresses they no longer have access to and would, instantly, become completely locked out of their accounts with no way of gaining entry back. So we have a bit of a conundrum in this respect, and I'm not entirely sure what to do.
In spite of the fact we think that we're "in the clear" on the possibility of a recent breach, we're not going to sit back and pretend like we couldn't be doing more. This scare has given us a real kick up the backside, so we're putting aside our work on the front-end for our NMM Profile Sharing at this time so we can focus on some improvements.
In the short-term, we've already begun work on more verbose logging of user actions on the site, especially in regards to logging the IP addresses you login with and use when performing major actions, such as uploading or removing files to the database. This should allow us to more easily analyse and spot suspicious activity on the sites when it occurs. If someone who previously used a static IP address for years starts making wild changes to all their files using IP addresses traced back to TOR, it's safe to say we're going to find that suspicious and will react accordingly.
We're also working on a system that will allow us to notify you, the users, when something as important as this comes up again. As it is, we have the functionality to send "full page notifications" to individual users when we want to make sure a user gets a message. Imagine a Private Message, but one you're forced to view and tick a box saying you've read the message, before you can browse the site again. While we can send these to individual users, we can't send this en-masse to every user of the sites, so we're going to modify this system so I can send out site-wide alerts and notifications for these important matters. You'll know when this system is finished because you will receive a notification (hopefully in the next few days) with information contained in these news posts and a reminder to change your password.
Following on from that, beginning next week we're going to bring forward work we had planned for the middle of next year in regards to our forum system. We aim to devolve more functionality away from our off-the-shelf Invision Board forums and into our own custom coded system that will allow us to have complete control over the member database and login security. Essentially, transitioning away from account security being controlled via the forums to account security being controlled via our own custom coded systems. Not only will this mean you no longer need to visit the forums to change your details, but it will also allow us to implement much stronger encryption of user data, Two-Factor authentication (no details as yet, but right now we're leaning towards Google Authenticator that will allow you to generate secure codes from your smart phones) and lots of our own custom touches that should make things a lot more secure in the backend. Idea being that even if the worst were to happen and another dump was released to the public, we'd make it absolute hell for anyone looking to crack the data.
And lastly, I'd like to thank you all for your response to this mini-crisis. Your words of understanding, support and encouragement, both publicly and via the outpour of private messages I've received have helped to stem the horrible feelings of disappointment in the announcement of this leak and provided me with added resolve to work my absolute hardest to get this sorted. I've said it plenty of times before, but I'll say it again; it really does make a massive difference when the people you're looking to do good by are as understanding and supportive as this community is.
Update: I have released an update to this article with more information on the potential breach.
Original news post follows.
It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you of a potential database breach at Nexus Mods. I understand that sounds horrifically ambiguous at best, but the simple truth of the matter is that we have yet to fully confirm the database breach has occurred any time recently but, in light of recent events, I cannot in good conscience not warn you of the potential for such an eventuality.
I was first tipped off to a problem late on Friday night when a link to a Reddit post was sent to me about a possible breach. The post explained that a security firm that looks after (or helps with the security for) several universities in America had contacted the IT departments who had then contacted the university network users about a database breach at Nexus Mods. The email wasn't particularly informative.
I reached out to the security firm for more information but was required to jump through hoops to access sensitive information, finally succumbing to sleep around 3am on Saturday morning, and have yet to hear back from them, likely because this has happened over a weekend and they don't work weekends.
While it seems clear cut that we've had a breach from that email, unfortunately, it's too ambiguous to draw any concrete conclusions. We indeed had a database breach several years ago when hackers gained entry to our systems by hacking our file server hosts (a horrible way to be hacked, when it's not even directly your fault), so this could potentially be a result of that previous leak, or it could be a result of recent database breaches at other major networks (like the Playstation Network, EBay or otherwise) and hackers correlating information from reused passwords, or any number of things.
Things became more suspicious yesterday when three Fallout 4 mods from three separate authors had their files changed by the author's themselves, but the file change contained a .dll file that while it isn't being reported as a virus by our Virus Total system (that scans files using 56 different virus scanners), it is still highly suspicious, and the authors have reported it wasn't them who did it. Indications suggest these author accounts were compromised. Which, once again, isn't conclusive proof of a total database breach, but is rather damning.
It was at this point I decided that the possibility of a breach had increased enough that it couldn't wait for us to fully confirm it before informing the user base. Despite the fact there's still the potential there hasn't been a recent breach, the evidence is mounting up now and I invoked Occam's Razor in writing this news post.
To clarify, we store all passwords in our database in a hashed and salted system (i.e. not plain text). This does not mean your passwords are completely safe, however. Because all encryption is a mathematical formula based around how complex it is to crack, given enough time and processing power almost all forms of encryption can be cracked eventually. The problem gets worse if your password is easily recognisable or very simple. If you've ever wondered why some sites ask you to have at least 1 number and one "special" character, this is why. It makes passwords a lot harder to crack (and yes, we'll implement these forced requirements soon, too). Because of this, it's possible this is a result of the database breach from a few years ago coming back to haunt users that haven't changed their passwords. The problem is, we're just not sure yet.
For any worried Premium Members, we do not store your credit card numbers, expiry dates or secure numbers at all. That's all handled by Pay Pal.
Because we haven't actually confirmed a recent breach it means we haven't plugged any holes related to such a breach. Unfortunately this isn't like someone breaking and entering into your home, where there are obvious signs of tampering; broken locks or windows and missing or damaged things. This is an extremely complex process where we look for the slightest of anomalies to try and work out whether anything bad has actually happened, and then try to work out how that bad thing actually happened so we can plug it. It's not easy, and we're really trying our hardest. And obviously, we'll keep you updated as and when we have any more information.
Right now, we wholeheartedly recommend changing your password here and please ensure it's not a password you use anywhere else. Just in case it's not obvious; because we haven't found a breach yet, if there is a breach, it means they could access the database again, so just updating your password now won't make it completely secure. However, if you update it now and make sure it's a complex password (minimum 8 characters in length, including special characters and numbers) then you're ensuring that anyone who does have your hash and salt would take such a considerable time trying to crack it that it would largely be a waste of time for them to even try. On top of that, if you use your Nexus password anywhere else, especially on "high profile" accounts like Steam, XBox, Playstation or the like, change it immediately to be on the safe side.
Please respect and follow safe password practises. Complex passwords of a minimum length of 8 characters that you change regularly (ideally every couple of months) really are a must on any account you care about.
On the site security front, while not related to a database breach such as this, we have been actively working to get the entirety of our network under SSL/an encrypted connection rather than just our Premium Member payment pages for some time now. Unfortunately this isn't as simple as paying for an SSL cert and slapping it on the site. There are complications with the way we serve and transmit our files, especially in regards to our CDN, that make things complex.
In a similar vein, we've had two-factor authentication on our to-do list for a while now. Considering the ever increasing popularity of the network we'll bump the priority of this functionality right up the list and hopefully we'll get something out very soon in that regard. I'd highly recommend you ensure the email address tied to your Nexus account right now is the correct email address, as it's likely any such system will make use of a proper and valid email address in order to function properly.
While breaches often suggest the contrary, we take security extremely seriously and try our utmost hardest to ensure it. On a personal level, it's horrific for me to find out about these things. You guys trust me with your data and trust that I'll keep it secure, and sometimes I fail in that despite my best attempts. I'm very sorry about this. It leads to many sleepless nights and a toilet pan that utterly resents me. We spend about £40,000 ($60,000 USD) a year on professional mitigation and prevention systems trying to directly prevent malicious people from accessing or altogether destroying these sites. We prevent hundreds of malicious attacks on our network every day, sometimes even thousands. Often these come from automated bots constantly prodding away at our servers looking for weaknesses, sometimes from dedicated malicious individuals who want to gain access. We've prevented hundreds of thousands of attempted intrusions, but it only takes one to get through, despite our best efforts, for the failure to be complete.
I'm sorry for (potentially, at this point) breaking your trust in us. We'll continue working away at this to get a conclusive answer and, when we do, you'll be the first to know.
Update: Many people have asked about the three Fallout 4 files that were mentioned in this post. The three files affected were:
- Higher Settlement Budget (downloads from 5th December)
- Rename Dogmeat (downloads from 4th December)
- BetterBuild (downloads from 29th November)
The suspect file contained in the archives was called "dsound.dll".
It is with great pleasure and pride that I can announce that Nexus Mods now has over 10 million registered members, of which over 4.2 million of those have been active on the sites in the past year. Not bad for a 14 year old site!
While our new member sign up stats have remained pleasantly constant since the release of Skyrim, the recent release of Fallout 4 has catapulted the registrations over the past week to ground-breaking levels and sped up our rise to 10 million members in short order. In a typical week before Fallout 4 was released we would see 25,000 new members joining the sites. Last week we saw over 65,000 new members join the site. Demand for Fallout 4 is, obviously, quite high right now.
For a recap, we hit the one million member milestone back in May 2009, followed by the 2.5 million member milestone in October 2011 and the 5 million member milestone in January 2013, which means that we've doubled our membership every 2 years for the past 6 years.
I can only thank all of you for the continued support you provide to the network and for your understanding over the years when things have been tough. I'd also like to thank the staff, both on the technical side (programmers) and the social side (moderation team) who have not only been the behind the scenes heroes of this community, but who have dedicated countless unpaid hours, of their own volition and without complaint (even the programmers, who are on a salary), often in the early hours of the morning, to keep this network afloat. Not because they have to or because it's expected of them, but because they actually want to.
I'm extremely proud of what we have built here and, narcissism notwithstanding, I believe Nexus Mods to be a relatively unique "diamond in the rough" on the internet. While other owners of networks of our size (or smaller) have needed (or wanted) to seek venture capitalism or outside investors, with outside interests, to help support, develop or even expand their sites, Nexus Mods remains completely investor and outside interest free. We really live and die on the wants and needs of the community we aim to support. We grow and expand when the times are good, and we consolidate and trim when the times are bad. So when I say Nexus Mods is run by gamers, for gamers, the cliché actually rings true, for once. When we cease to be of use to the community, or when someone comes along that can do things better than us, we'll no doubt have to reconsider our position. And really, that's how I think it should be.
This network was founded at a time when the situation in the Morrowind modding community was dire, so my motto when first focusing on hosting mods and ever since has been "to provide a stable and reliable source for mods". With the launch of Fallout 4 we've seen unprecedented (lol, cliché) levels of traffic on the network, smashing our previous records. And yet we've not seen anywhere (seriously, absolutely nowhere near) the issues we had with Skyrim's launch and the subsequent months after. As a result, I'm ridiculously happy right now as I sit watching the Google Analytics once again creep over the 8,000 page views a minute mark, and I frantically sit refreshing the site looking for any sign of slowdowns and server instability. There isn't any of note. And for that reason, I'm proud. Finally, I'm making good on that motto. Finally, we've done it.
How did we get here?
A brief (and relatively dull) history of time...
Nexus Mods evolved from humble beginnings.
At the age of 14, in early 2001, I was bouncing on a trampoline in my best friend's garden on an early summer's day when he told me about a game I'd never heard of. That game was Daggerfall. It sounded amazing. He went on to tell me about the new game that was being developed to follow on from Daggerfall. It was called Morrowind. After much research and young excitement at the prospect of the game we both decided we'd develop our web and graphic design skills, and give ourselves a project over the summer months, by building a website ready for Morrowind's launch. The aim of the site was to provide lots of information about the game for like-minded fans and to build a fun community around it.
Over the course of many months we learnt about building and hosting a website, and released it to the world in August of 2001. That site was called Morrowind Chronicles.
We were even lucky to have some contact with Pete Hines, then head of PR at Bethesda, who was kind enough to send us an early copy of the Construction Set to play around with before the game's release.
Morrowind released in 2002 to critical acclaim, and around it, a substantial but not altogether as huge (by contemporary standards) modding community formed around the game. The focal point for the modding community at the time was Morrowind Summit, which was run by a great guy called Dalin under the Game Spy network brand. At the time, we had no intention of hosting mods and simply focused on a fun little community we'd built of a few hundred users who came to our forums to talk about Morrowind.
Later in to 2002 myself and many users of the forums, on the back of hype and hysteria over the recent release of The Fellowship of the Ring and the impending release of The Two Towers, decided to begin work on a total conversion mod for Morrowind based in the Lord of the Rings universe (but with a storyline unrelated to the films or the books). The mod was labelled The Middle Earth Mod for Morrowind, or MEMod for short, which was homed on the Morrowind Chronicles forums, which increased interest and membership on the forums considerably.
The Morrowind modding community went through a turbulent time throughout 2002 and into 2003. While Morrowind Summit, with its corporate backing, formed the backbone of the modding community, there were several other centralised sites providing mod hosting and support, typically with slightly more (or different) functionality than was offered on Morrowind Summit. It became common practise for mod authors to use more than one site to promote and share their work but, unfortunately, the internet was still reeling from the burst of the dotcom bubble and bandwidth costs were ridiculously high. Running a file hosting service back in those days was a very expensive business that needed (comparatively, for a free service) large initial capital and a strong return on advertising income to be able to get anywhere near break-even to pay the costs. Because of the dotcom bust, advertising revenue was at an all-time low. Bandwidth costs ridiculously high, advertising rates at an all-time low. It was an awful combination.
Subsequently, several of the major mod hosting sites at the time (Morrowind Files, with its cloudy PHPNuke setup, being the most prominent) struggled and ultimately failed, taking with them countless mods. Sites popped up quickly to replace them, only to fail over the same issues, with more mods being lost each time it happened. It was a sorry situation.
In late 2002, Morrowind Chronicles had a keen and active community of a few thousand regular posters on the forums so I decided to set up a mod hosting solution as a side-project, called Morrowind Mod Library. It was a completely separate site to Morrowind Chronicles and I ran the two side-by-side.
I, too, struggled to keep things afloat.
While I'd accounted for some things, bandwidth was only getting more expensive and it wasn't long before changes needed to be made. I had a short stint being (very graciously) hosted on the GameSpy network servers with help from Dalin, but the level of bureaucracy was high and the convoluted methods to get simple things done were stifling. I moved to the UGO network (don't these names bring back some memories!?).
While this was happening I had helped set up my first company, with three friends (including the friend who had helped me with Morrowind Chronicles), that focused on web design and, a bit later, web hosting. While I focused my efforts on the gaming side of things, Krystal, as it was called, was building up a reputation and a network of their own. The friend who had helped me develop Morrowind Chronicles had stopped working on the site 6 months or so after the site's launch in August of 2001 so he could focus on Krystal, so I was on my own from then on.
After a year or so on the UGO network, I moved over to Krystal servers that were graciously being provided by my friends at the company I had helped found. With the security that Krystal provided I was able to focus more time on the sites and less time trying to keep them up.
Through my ordeals trying to run a free hobby site in that very expensive time on the internet I setup a second company, Gaming Source, with the help of my friends at Krystal, that would provide free hosting to other gaming related fansites who were suffering from the same problems I had. I offered help to some of my favourite gaming sites that I knew were being run independently and at a cost to the owner and many agreed to use the service. By 2005 I was hosting 80 gaming fan sites across a broad spectrum of games that saw us become a major network practically overnight. We were serving 2.5 million unique users and 80 million pageviews a month. Slightly before this apex, back in 2004, Morrowind Chronicles and Morrowind Mod Library were consolidated into one site that was named Morrowind Source, to be a branded site for Gaming Source.
I continued to teach myself PHP and MySQL in the hopes of finally being able to do away with "off-the-shelf" file database scripts from the internet and building a completely custom coded file database that would be highly focused on mod hosting. By the time of Oblivion's release in 2006, the new file hosting system I'd written had gone live and the site was renamed to The Elder Scrolls Source (TESSource). It quickly became a direct "competitor" to Game Spy's dominant Planet Elder Scrolls site (or PES, formally Morrowind Summit), mainly because the TESSource system had an instantaneous mod uploading and publishing system, much like today, while PES was still requiring manual approval of all mods added to the database by a staff member.
The community's opinion was divided. While many didn't like the idea of another modding site being used over PES, and questioned what the point was when a huge corporate behemoth like Game Spy, with the backing of NewsCorp, would "out live any independent site and be around for ever" (considering Morrowind modding's past, it wasn't an altogether rude or inappropriate assessment), TESSource continued to gain traction. Typically, the community welcomed having an additional, reliable, mod host that could provide something different from PES. Both had their merits, and after the amount of Morrowind mods lost to hosts failing, it became a widely accepted and appreciated practise to use both sites for file hosting.
Ultimately, I relinquished my role in Gaming Source in 2007 so that I could focus on my university education and other business projects. This soured relations with my friends at Krystal, but we were able to come to an amicable conclusion (with my deep thanks). To this day I maintain close ties with Krystal. Not only was it the first company I helped to found, but they've gone from success to success themselves. They currently host the Nexus's entire database cluster and our entire cloud VM system and we are, as far as I'm aware, their biggest customers to date. Their generosity and desire and wish to tackle the difficult tasks that the Nexus presents has been a major factor in the smooth operation of the sites, and they've often been awake at 3am with us trying to help us diagnose problems and issues without complaint or demands for money. I know of no other hosting company, and I have extensive experience in this area, that would go to the lengths they have to see their customers satisfied. So consider them officially endorsed by us here at Nexus Mods.
Despite dropping my role at Gaming Source and focusing on other things, my love for a site that had gotten me into web design, graphic design and the internet in general saw me desperate to continue TESSource and not see it fail. Because of the split, TESSource was renamed first to TESDB on a temporary basis, and then to TESNexus, and funded by myself to the sum of £10,000 while the site could get back on its feet. And get back on its feet it did.
The rest, as they say, is history.
In anticipation of next week’s launch, we’ve opened the doors to the Fallout 4 Nexus Site today! Starting now, you can begin posting to the new Nexus Fallout 4 forum.
Fallout 4 Image Sharing and Mod Pages are also functional in preparation for next week. We don’t expect the file sharing features to be used until then, so please refrain from posting content prematurely. Also please remember, if you decide to post spoilers in the forum, make sure that you are labeling them appropriately. This includes “leaked” content.
Even though Bethesda announced that Fallout 4 mods will only be supported officially sometime next year, it’s possible that certain aspects of the engine will be open to modification at launch. For instance, texture replacers for Skyrim were possible day-one. We’re hoping that this will be the case for Fallout 4 as well but haven’t been able to confirm this with Bethesda as of yet. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Like any good wasteland survivalists, we’ve been doing a lot of preparation for the big day. Enhancements to our server hardware have been implemented, including doubling our available memory and increasing our SSD storage capacity almost ten-fold (7.5x) on our database clusters.
Though we expect that these enhancements will help to see us through the Fallout 4 launch, it’s impossible to know what the demands on our services will be until then. However, these changes have indeed shown improvements regarding content distribution given our current load, during internal stress tests.
In Other News
Robin, Paul and Phill have been working diligently with the focus-group, compositing and gathering feedback regarding our site redesign while I’ve been focused on analyzing and restructuring our terms and policies. Both of these projects are quite large in scope and because they directly affect your experience with us, we are all ensuring that we are doing our due diligence making sure that everything is done with proper care.
So, enjoy the new Fallout 4 Nexus Site. We're hoping that this makes the wait to get back to the wasteland just a bit more bearable… :)
Have a good weekend!
- Dave "SirSalami" Talamas
Well that certainly didn’t take long! Thank you to all those that have emailed in with regards to joining the closed focus group. Your enthusiasm and willingness to help out the Nexus is amazing and as I keep repeating, I’m glad to be working with such an awesome community.
I’ll be sending those that will be involved an email this week with information on what is going to happen next and how to get involved with the discussion. If after reading through, you still feel that you want to be a part then just respond following the instructions and we’ll get started.
To those that haven’t made it in this time, there will be plenty more opportunity to have your say and to see what’s happening. I’m going to try and keep posts coming on a regular basis with an update on current proceedings, where we are at and what is upcoming. I always welcome feedback no matter what the subject, so please feel free to PM or email me with anything that you have
Hey, it's been a while so thought I should better let all you good folks know what's happening in regards to our site redesign.
We started off with all of the survey results which I covered in a previous post. These turned up a lot of interesting and useful ideas, some pet peeves and lots of suggestions for the future. There was definitely plenty to go through and we thank every single one of the current 26,577 people for all the time and effort that you put into these.
Next up was finding a suitable UX/UI Designer to help with the translation of all this data and begin to think about how people interact with the site. We posted up the role a while back and got a large number of very suitable applicants, I went through each and every one that led me to eventually get a short list that I could liaise with Robin on. Due to the ability of the people in this list we needed some way of seeing their vision so we asked for them to produce a quick sketch of how they could see the front page of the Nexus. We once again got some incredible results, but one person stood out due to the detail that they put into their submission - that person is Phill Collins.
Phill has joined us on a contract basis to help shape the Nexus. His role is to make things more modern, more intuitive, more powerful and he brought with him a ton of experience to do exactly that.
He has hit the ground running and has bombarded both Robin and I with a ton of questions, ideas and suggestions. Phill took it upon himself to complete the unenviable task of reading through all of the survey results and once he’d done that he went over some of the different pages within the site (roughly 36 of them) with a fine tooth comb and made several hundred comments asking for reasons things had been done a certain way and offering advice left, right and centre.
To say this is the beginning of an exciting time is (to me anyway) an understatement.
So what’s next I hear you ask?
Well we’re still in the discovery and concept part of a UCD, this means that we are working out how everyone uses the site, what they use it for and how they navigate. With the amount of users that we have and the possible navigation flows this is a fairly long procedure as people use the site for all manner of reasons. For some it is primarily a social community and their first port of call is the forums, whereas for others they come on to find the latest mods, others may be here to look at images or videos and some may be here to try and find some golden nugget of a mod buried deep down within the site. We are looking at process flows to see how we can bring all of this to the surface with just a few clicks.
We need to look at the site from all angles and from all eyes, so we create what are known as personas. Imagine the character creation section of Skyrim and all the various possibilities of person you can choose, each one having a very different range of skills and abilities, history and beliefs. Well, there you have it! We create ‘people’ from different ages, backgrounds, livelihoods etc. and with that we begin to see what they use the site for. We then look at the site from this users perspective, making comments and approaching each page with a different mentality. This will hopefully allow us to see the site differently and approach pages for various reasons.
Competitors are another major part of the redesign. We need to look at lots of other gaming sites and see what we think they are doing right and where they too could be improved. You can learn a lot from other sites and I find myself navigating other sites purely to see how it all fits together. Within the survey, one of the questions was “Please enter one of your favourite websites in terms of look and functionality”, this has proven useful to see where people believe a good user experience and interface lies.
So we’re onto wireframes and design, which is where we would like to begin thinking about introducing our focus group. The idea being that these people will be the first to see the wireframes, mockups and process flows etc for the site and offer feedback. I would like people who are able to offer constructive criticism and who want to shape the face of the Nexus. edit: 28 Oct 15 - The focus group is now full!. I’m going to limit this to 25 people at first - this might not sound like a lot, but when you need to go through all the submitted comments it certainly is time consuming. This may or may not expand in the future but for now it will be a random pick from the emails I receive.
Thank you Robin, for the warm welcome! I'm Dave, your new Community Manager humbly reporting for duty!
I'm a lifelong mod enthusiast. Starting with ZZT as a kid, I’ve been fascinated with modding both as a consumable and as a creative outlet. I've had the privilege of dabbling with many game engines and interacting with the communities they inevitably spawn. From Doom to GTA V, if it's moddable, I've probably played it. Though as I'm sure some of you can relate with, I sometimes get so caught up installing add-ons that I forget to play the games! Ah, such is the life of a modder. Mods not only extend the life of our games, they allow us to personalize our experience and share our enthusiasm with others.
I view the Nexus, and I know Robin agrees, not as a mod repository but as a community. This is a testament not of the modding scene itself, but to the camaraderie you have shown in creating something bigger than the sum of it's parts, the Nexus. If you take a look at the network statistics offered at the bottom of the homepage, you'll be reminded of how strong your numbers are. Due to your efforts as modders, authors, and enthusiasts, the Nexus is well respected and you all deserve representation!
Supporting Robin and Paul, I'll likely be involved in many aspects of the operation working directly along with you the community to help ensure that we are catering to your needs. My focus will be ensuring that you are all well represented and will serve as a direct line of communication between you and the rest of the team here at the Nexus. Of course, that's not to say that Robin will be involved any less with the community! I'll simply be appending my involvement to his own.
Additionally, part of my job will be keeping an eye on the modding scene and the gaming industry in general. From indies to triple-a titles, I'll be evangelizing the Nexus amongst mod authors and their fans who may not already be part of the Nexus, bringing even more talent to your growing network. Of course your support with this will always be appreciated.
Going forward along with changes to the website design that are planned, I will be bringing new flavors of content that will highlight things going on here at the Nexus. Though the form these offerings will take is yet to be determined, I would like to provide them on a fairly regular basis. Perhaps something like short articles, user and mod author spotlights, videos, contests, and more. While I do have plenty of ideas, I look forward to hearing about your interests and will be very open to any content submitted by the community.
Though I've been an active user of the Nexus for quite a while as both a user and mod author, I owe it to you all to more intimately understand the community you have built. So initially with the help of the moderators, I'll be spending a lot of time simply trying to get to know you all better and understanding how things work around here. If you’re so inclined, you can always feel free to contact me personally via email with your questions, comments, thoughts, suggestions, complaints, or whatever! And of course, I'll be hanging out in the forums and the chat room often so feel free to stop by and heckle the new guy ;).
So, thank you all so very much for having me. I hope to serve you well!
Dave "SirSalami" Talamas
Back at the beginning of March I announced a job opening on the sites for a new Community Manager role. Putting a friendly face on the sites from someone who could dedicate all their time to bettering the community, within the community, has been long over-due and now, almost 7 months later, the position has finally been filled.
It's taken a long time due to, in no small part, the sheer number of people who applied for the position. After only a few weeks I took down the job listing after receiving over 400 applications, many of them absolutely excellent candidates for the position. Over the course of many months I read through all the applications, followed up on many of them, had chats with some people and gradually whittled down the short list.
Much like Highlander, there can be only one (but please, don't think that killing our new Community Manager will give you the power!), and today I'm happy to introduce Dave, our new Community Manager, aka SirSalami.
Dave's role focuses almost entirely on the community. And I know that sounds odd, because surely everyone working here focuses on the community, but I mean it more literally. While the site programmers or NMM programmers work on tools and functionality for you all to use, Dave's main focus is on conversing with the community on a daily basis, listening to people's issues or complaints and passing that feedback on to us. Essentially, Dave will be the central point of contact for members who need to get into contact with us. He'll become the eyes and the ears of the Nexus, helping us to enact change and reform parts of the site or community that are crying out for attention. He'll head up our moderation team, providing the moderator's with much needed direction and support and providing them with a proper, dedicated individual they can truly rely upon. He'll also be the face of the Nexus abroad, in other communities, where we might need a friendly face to help people who have any questions or issues with the Nexus.
For me, personally, Dave's list of skills fit the requirements for the job perfectly. In fact, he was almost a little too over qualified for the position, having experience with and a background in a number of programming languages as well as prior experience working for an indie developer in a similar role to his role now. He's a perfect fit for the small team of us working on the Nexus sites and I'm looking forward to seeing the positive change he can bring to the sites and community.
I'm going to leave the rest for Dave, who'll be writing a news post following this one introducing himself to the community. But from myself and the rest of the Nexus team we wish Dave a very hearty welcome. We can't wait to see what he can do.
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