Modders are not the only people getting creative with Bethesda games. I thought you guys might enjoy this song about Khajiit by a musician Known as MiracleOfSound. He makes music and songs inspired by popular games. Hope you enjoy.
I’m enjoying a slow couple of days at the moment, catching up on watching Homeland (which I don’t think is that great, in case you care), playing through Borderlands 2 again and trying for the life of me to finish a campaign of Crusader Kings 2 while fighting the good fight for the Vanu in Planetside 2. All this is before I even think about playing through XCOM, and I’ve still got Torchlight 2 waiting in my Steam account, unplayed, with Faster Than Light installing on to my PC as we speak. Oh, and I still haven’t completed Skyrim. I don’t know about you but we’ve had an explosion of awesome games come out over the past 2 months and I’m really struggling to keep up with it all. It should definitely keep me going for the next 6 months. But while I wait for these games to install I thought I’d update you with a blog post about recent things happening at the Nexus. I assure you it’s not particularly exciting, but I know some of you take an interest in reading through my banal twittering and ramblings that go off on wild tangents, so this one’s for you folks.
So let’s start with where we are right now. Since this time last year I’ve hired on two more full-time staff to take the compliment of staff working on the Nexus to three (or four, if you want to count me, which I don’t) along with all the great volunteer staff we have here in the form of moderators. We’ve also doubled our server count from 8 to 16 where we now have 6 boxes dedicated to displaying the sites, 8 boxes dedicated to file serving for all members and 2 boxes dedicated to Premium Members (although we have 3 servers for Premium Members, the UK Premium file server is actually direct from the web servers rather than file servers, hence why the UK Premium Server is always up-to-date without ever being out of sync). In sensationalist terms we’re packing 48ghz of CPU power and 226GB of RAM, passing over 1.5 Gbit of bandwidth every second with a capacity for around 3.2 Gbit of traffic. We’ve also more than doubled our offering of Nexus sites by launching 7 new Nexus sites for Skyrim, Mount & Blade, Neverwinter Nights, World of Tanks, Legend of Grimrock, Dark Souls and XCOM while also splitting TESNexus in to Oblivion Nexus and Morrowind Nexus respectively. And lastly we’ve released our Nexus Mod Manager which is now compatible with 8 of the 15 games the Nexus sites support.
As you can see we’ve heavily reinvested back in to the sites with the money brought in from the ads you see on the site and Premium Memberships, which are integral to not only keeping the sites afloat but also ensuring we continue to develop the sites and network to expand our support of as many games as possible. Case-in-point we recently put a link to the premium sign-up page within NMM which has bolstered the amount of people supporting the site. I’m currently in the process of using those funds to purchase 2 new file servers for use by all members, and I’m close to saving up enough money to hire on another dedicated programmer for NMM. When it comes to hiring staff I always save up enough money to be able to pay their salary in full for a year. I don’t take any chances at all when it comes to the Nexus and its financial stability.
I know I’ve spoken about this before, but I brought on programmers to the staff because I wanted these sites to be coded properly, in proper OOP, using all the best practises that would ensure these sites were future proof. I knew when I hired these people on that my role as a programmer on the sites would become largely obsolete. I know nothing compared to these guys so I’m mostly limited to simple tweaks to the CSS and graphic changes, while I leave Axel, Tiz and Dusk to the hardcore feature programming. This has freed up a lot of the time I usually dedicate to work on the Nexus for other areas of the community, and this is why you are seeing us roll out more Nexus sites than before. While we might have only launched one new Nexus site a year, we’ve released 7 over the past year alone and I’m more than willing to expand that range.
Over the years I’ve visited various communities around the internet for games that we don’t currently support. Members in these communities will talk about modding and finding a location to host their mods, someone will bring up the Nexus, there’ll be a few of the stereotypical comments that people don’t want nude mods in their farm simulator and others will say “The Nexus only hosts mods for RPGs”, or “The Nexus only hosts mods for large games” or words along a similar vein. This isn’t true at all and I’d rather that stigma didn’t stick. How we’ve progressed and the games we’ve supported up to now have just been a natural progression along a simple path, rather than a wilful choice to only support Bethesda games, or RPGs in general. It was a conscious decision to never bite off more than I could chew and to focus on games that I was really interested in. And when I was sole programmer, server admin, accountant, community manager and developer of the Nexus I couldn’t bite off much. Now, with 3 dedicated staff who have taken on some of my previous responsibilities, I can start biting off more.
I see some networks out there, past and present, that try and support every game imaginable from the get-go. They either over-extend themselves, unable to dedicate the necessary resources for the good of the community, or they dilute their offering so much that it becomes useless. When I release a Nexus site for a game I want it to be focused, I want it to provide a real benefit for that game’s community and I want it to be wanted by that community. I don’t want to step on people’s toes and I don’t want to be launching Nexus sites “for the heck of it”, or just “because I can”. It’s one thing to provide a place to host files, it’s another thing to be actively supporting and developing a modding community. I want to be doing the latter.
No word of a lie, it takes me a maximum of 2 hours to make a new Nexus site. I setup the subdomain, upload the core files, import the database structure, edit 3 image files with the colour scheme and background skin I want (we use imagemaps that makes this process very simple), edit the CSS with 2 different colour codes and I’m done. It’s that simple. The longest process in that list is in finding a colour scheme that works that I haven’t already used. It’s bloody hard to do! When I coded the Nexus sites it was deliberately setup to be that quick and easy, and when Axel recoded the sites that was one of the main tenants I gave him for his work; make it easy and quick to setup a new Nexus site. So what takes so long? Why don’t we have 100 Nexus sites for every moddable game imaginable? Quite simply put; not every game needs a Nexus site, not every community wants a Nexus site, and not every community would fit in with our somewhat unique ethos and rule system.
What takes time isn’t setting up the Nexus site, it’s exploring the game community you’re interested in making a Nexus site for and working out their needs, wants and desires for their community, and working with them to ensure what you offer is tailored to their needs. First of all, are the game’s developers at all interested in making the game moddable? Do they like modding or do they want to stop modders from touching anything to do with their game? If modding has no support at all from the developer, with or without tools, then that’s a massive barrier to overcome. Have the developers released tools for the game? Do they plan to? Is the game moddable without tools? Is it feasible that at some point in the future tools might be made that could enable modding without the developer’s help? Could a Nexus site for the game help to show the developer that lots of their customers really want to mod the game?
Next, is the community keen on modding? Is it likely to take off to the point that there’s more than just a handful of mods or is it just a few members with pie-in-the-sky ideas of total conversions and overhaul mods that will never come? Would a Nexus site help to improve and bolster the community? Is there already a modding site set up for the game? Is it doing a good job or is it stifling the creativity of the community? An example of a game I have no interest in releasing a Nexus site for because I know the modding community is in good hands is Torchlight (1 and 2). They have the Runic Games Fansite, which not only hosts mods well enough but also has its own NMM style client for downloading and installing mods. I would never want to step on the toes of that site that has done so much for its modding community, even if people keep begging me to make a site for it (which they do!). I’d love to work with them, though. In retrospect when Bioware released their Social Site for Dragon Age: Origins I didn’t think I’d need to release a Nexus site for the game. Unfortunately the site was (and I’m not afraid to say this) pants. The forums had no search feature, the mod database had no, or very limited search functionality and unreleased mods and ideas were in the same database as released mods, making it an utter chore to find anything useful. It was as though the person(s) making the site had no idea about the needs or wants of a modding community. I wanted to give Bioware the benefit of the doubt and not step on their toes, but after a month with absolutely no changes or bug fixes made, and practically no contact from the dev team within the community, I released a Nexus site for Dragon Age: Origins and never looked back because the Social Site was seriously stifling the creativity and expansion of the Dragon Age community.
Moving on, would the community that already exists for the game fit in well with the Nexus community or would there be massive conflicts of interest and differing views and opinions? We’re relatively set in our ways here at the Nexus, we’ve got rules, regulations and etiquette that we’ve built up from community input over the past 11 years. What we don’t want to do is bring in another community, with very different views to our own, that could potentially upset the status quo and unbalance the community. We don’t want to be frigid and inflexible, and compromises can be made for different communities, but how we operate and run, our rules and our etiquette shouldn’t be influenced just in the name of getting a few more page views and Premium Members. How other people choose to run their sites or communities is completely up to them, but we’ll stick to how we’ve done things up to now until we think a change is really necessary. With that in mind, not every community wants a Nexus site, and some would aggressively oppose such an idea. I’m not blind or high enough on success to think that the Nexus is great for everyone, or that everyone likes the Nexus, or that the Nexus should work in every community. In some communities a Nexus site just wouldn’t fit, and I’m not going to go against what the majority want or need.
These are just some of the things I have to consider when I’m looking at new games and communities to create a new Nexus site for. Once I’ve got a good idea of how the community operates and whether I think a Nexus site would work for the game I’ll try to start a dialogue with some of the prominent mod authors within that community. I’ll talk to them about the Nexus, how I think it could help and ask them how they think things are going. What would they change within the community? What would they improve? How would they improve it? Would a Nexus site within the community work, and make sense for them? This gives me a great feel for the average modder within the community. If things still look good, I might start a dialogue with the game developers or I might hit up the official forums and create a public thread on the topic.
At the end of the day I do not run the Nexus sites with a businessman’s head. My aim isn’t to increase page views/premium membership/revenue year on year (if it was I’d be dinging out Nexus sites like there’s no tomorrow), it’s to run sites that actually benefit, support and compliment a community, with emphasis on the compliment aspect rather than trying to over-run a community and move everyone away from the sites and official forums that are already entrenched within that community. As the Nexus network gets bigger this idea of not wanting to swallow everything up whole is something I’m really trying to get in to people’s heads. I’m not in your community trying to convert you to a different religion and getting you to leave your community for mine, I’m in your community asking if a Nexus could work together with whatever other communities already exist to ensure modders are getting the best service possible, so that the modding community is free to do their very best. I don’t want the Nexus to become some huge corporate machine trying to overtake modding communities whether they like it or not, and whether it helps or not. I don’t want to be driven by a need to have 3m unique visitors a month by next year, and 4m unique visitors a month by the year after. Such goals only serve to ensure I think about the business first and the community second. I want to help, and I want to provide and build tools that make modding better for as many people as possible. The moment I think the Nexus has a detrimental effect on modding rather than a positive effect is the moment I shut down the sites.
And everything I’ve just explained in detail above is what takes time. A Nexus site might take 2 hours to make, but coming to that decision to make a Nexus site can take days, weeks, months or heck, even years. I’ve got a spreadsheet full of games and communities I’ve explored, notes taken from my observations of my time within the community and what problems and barriers there are to releasing a Nexus site for the game. Very few from the list have made it in to becoming a Nexus site. I hope from the depth of details I’ve provided you realise that releasing a new Nexus site isn’t just some knee-jerk reaction, but a really well thought out and explored idea that I really want to succeed.
I wanted to release this blog piece because recently, with the launch of multiple different Nexus sites in a short space of time, a few members have come to me concerned that we’re over extending. We’re not. In my opinion we’re very under-extended (if that’s possible), which is something I’ve consciously done because I was waiting until I, personally, had enough time to dedicate to get out there and work with other communities. It really does take a long time to do. For me, that time has come. And personally, I think it’s a very exciting time. Lastly, I wanted to make it known that we’re not genre specific, we’re not developer or publisher specific, we’re not AAA title specific, and we don’t want to be. Funnily enough we’re currently working on a Nexus site for a well known space sim series, and I’m looking forward to announcing that one in the not too distant future.
Read this far? Well done. Have a cookie.
We've released a new version of the Nexus Mod Manager today that provides official support for an offline mode as well as a few bug fixes. While the old NMM worked while offline it was never officially supported. Version 0.31.2, the latest version, provides support for an offline mode as a button at the login screen. If you don't want to login, or don't have a connection, you can use the "Offline" button to use NMM in offline mode. You won't be able to download files or view latest version information of your already installed mods, but most other features within NMM will continue to work.
Experienced modders will be well aware of the excellent tools known as tes4edit, fo3edit and fnvedit, and you may have been eagerly awaiting the Skyrim equivalent. Well the good news is that an experimental version is now available for testing. PLEASE note the word EXPERIMENTAL.
You can download TES5Edit 3.0.22 EXPERIMENTAL here.
TES5Edit Cleaning Guide - TES5Edit
Official Forum Thread
Hotfix update (23:30 GMT, 15th Oct)
We've uploaded a hotfix to NMM tonight that fixes an issue with the Download Manager window going missing for some people. At first we thought it might be limited to a small number of users who had moved their download manager out of sight in previous builds of NMM but it became apparent that this was affecting a large number of people. As this bug was confusing some users who thought we'd removed the download manager completely and just left you with a small download bar at the bottom of NMM we thought releasing a hot fix would be prudent. In the future, if windows or tabs go missing in NMM at any point go to "Tools" then "Reset UI" and you'll go back to the default NMM view and everything will be back to normal.
Sorry for the inconvenience of having to download another build. We internally test every build of NMM we release across multiple different computer setups before we put it live on the site and this bug didn't show on any of our tests. Guess it's good that NMM is still considered as "in Beta"! :)
I’m pleased to announce that with the release of version 0.30.1 NMM will now work with our new download system that was described in one of my previous news posts.QUOTEWith the new download system your downloads are balanced across our entire file server network (currently 10 file servers). Non-premium members are capped at a download speed of 1MB/second (8mbit) across all their downloads. If you download 1 file, you'll be able to download at a maximum of 1MB/second. If you download 2 files, you'll download at 500kb/second for each file. 4 downloads would be 250kb/sec per file. And so on and so forth. Premium members are obviously uncapped and will be able to download as fast as their connections allow. We've also added another Premium-only download server in the US for their use.
We’ve made changes to how the Download Manager part of NMM works and also what it shows. Hopefully you’ll find the new columns available within the download manager far more intuitive than before as we’ve done away with the whole “step” system and made it more like a standard download manager. You can now more easily see how your downloads are progressing and how long they’ll take to download at current speeds.
Perhaps the only thing that needs explaining now is the “threads” column. Threads are how many separate download processes NMM is using for each of your downloads. When you download a file NMM splits the file in to smaller chunks to make things easier. It also means if your download fails for any reason NMM can resume from the previous chunk without you having to download all the way from the start of the file again. If you’re a Premium Member NMM can download multiple chunks at once, which works to speed up your file downloads and ensure you’re downloading as fast as your connection allows. If you can only download from a file server at 400kb/sec (because, for example, the file server is physically far away from your location) then downloading a single file with multiple threads will allow you to download at multiples of 400kb/sec, depending on how many threads NMM uses. 4 threads would be 1,600kb/second, for example. For normal members this is always limited to 1 thread. For Premium Members this is set to default at 4, but we’ll give you the choice to lower or raise that amount within NMM soon. And just to note: threads also apply to downloading manually through the site, so if you're a Premium Member who doesn't use NMM, compatible download managers should make use of multiple threads as well.
If you’re wondering why we show you the thread column if you’re a normal member it’s because I like the idea of you at least knowing what Premium Membership can give you. If you can’t afford it or you just don’t want to support the Nexus sites then that’s absolutely fine, but Premium Membership directly funds our work on NMM and the Nexus sites, so the more people I can tempt to become one the better! With that in mind, you’ll now find a new download bar at the bottom of NMM that will show different views depending on whether you’re a Premium Member or not. As previously mentioned, normal members are limited to downloading at a maximum of 1024kb/sec across the Nexus Sites. NMM will now show you how much of your total allowance you are currently using. If the progress bar is in the red, you know you’re using up most of your download speed allowance and Premium Membership might benefit you. If you’re a Premium Member, NMM will show you your total download speed and the percentage progress of your file downloads.
Premium Member or not we’ve worked very hard on not only improving the stability and reliability of downloading through the sites via both mediums (browser and NMM) but we’ve also enabled download manager and pause/resume capabilities for all members. On-top of that, NMM has built in error checking and retry capabilities now. If for whatever reason a file download isn’t working NMM will automatically attempt to retry your download over the course of a minute. If you get any errors now that require you to manually resume a download, or make you unable to download a file at all, it’s probably quite a serious one (like the server being down, or the file being missing for some reason) and will need to be reported.
This update to the site has taken about 10 times longer than we originally estimated it would (we thought it would take 2 weeks, it’s taken 25 weeks...) but we wanted to do it right, and at this point we’re quite happy with what we’ve done. We’ve tried to test it as extensively as possible but we can’t stress test it without putting it live for everyone to use. Our fingers are crossed that nothing major comes up because I know I’m tired of talking about downloads, as are Axel and DuskDweller, and we’re ready to move on to other features that have been waiting a long time due to the delays we’ve had with the downloads. If you do come across any problems please keep us posted in our tracker, but if you’re also noticing an improvement feel free to throw your praise at us in the comments, it’d be good to know we’ve got it right!
It is with great pleasure that I announce the launch of XCOM Nexus ready in time for the release of XCOM – Enemy Unknown this week (Tuesday in America, Friday in most other places).
If somehow you’re not aware, the X-COM series of games are considered massive cult classics with a whole wealth of depth that has never been replicated in the 15 years since the last proper game was released in the series. You play as the commander of a top secret agency tasked with protecting the world from an unknown extraterrestrial enemy who have an overwhelming technological superiority. Your job is to found bases, research and develop technology you find in the field and engage the enemy threat both in the air and on the ground, as you down UFOs and then go to the crash-site with a crack-squad of soldiers tasked with clearing the UFO area of enemies and recovering any salvageable technology.
Creating a Nexus site for XCOM – Enemy Unknown marks a shift in general policy for Nexus sites, not only because I’m launching the site before the release of the game but also because there’s been no announcement from Firaxis or 2K Games on the modding potential of the game and whether they’ll be supporting it with any modding tools. However, the original X-COM – Enemy Unknown and especially X-COM Apocalypse were some of, if not my favourite games of all time. Indeed, X-COM Apocalypse has been listed as my favourite game on my profile page since moving the Nexus forums over to Invision Board back in 2004 so to say I’m excited about this game would be an understatement.
I’d like to give the modding community as much support as possible, and early indication from the XCOM demo (available on Steam) seems to suggest that the game will at least be open to some forms of modification with or without a SDK. To that end I want to throw my support behind the people who are going to try their hardest to mod the game and help in establishing a modding community for it. Hopefully with enough support we can get the developers of the game, Firaxis, to help us out with a toolset. Typically Firaxis (known for the Civilization series of games) have been supportive of their modding communities in the past so there’s no reason to believe they won’t be this time around. If it becomes clear that the modding potential is very low and things don’t take off then it will be no harm, no foul, but it’s important to at least try and support the community as much as possible however I can.
The official XCOM forums are still confined to a single forum at the time of writing this news post and this is stifling a lot of the modding talk that is taking place there. 2K have promised to create some extra forums any day now, but whether they’ll include a place to talk about modding without getting swamped by posts about other miscellaneous topics is unknown. To that end I invite you to join us on our XCOM forums where things are at a just-launched quiet at the moment. I know lots of folks on the official forums have been talking about the types of mods they’d like to see and how far down the line it’s likely we’ll get to see them.
Once the game is globally launched and we’ve had some time to play it through and dissect the game’s setup I’m sure we’ll have a much better understanding of what will and will not be possible, as well as whether we can get it setup and supported in the Nexus Mod Manager. Until then, I’ll be bringing you as much news as possible as and when I get it, and we can still talk about the game in the XCOM section of our forums and share our screenshots from the game in the Image Share section .
Fingers crossed for an open, moddable game!
An encore video for part 47 of Skyrim Mod Sanctuary. Sorry this is a little late, but the mod author of the armors covered in part 47 released a combination pack of all his mods for your convenience.
Thumbnail image for this video is courtesy of kailay.
aMidianBorn Book of Silence
If you haven’t got your head close to the ground when it comes to gaming news you might not know that RPG developers Obsidian, famous for Fallout New Vegas, Neverwinter Nights 2 and Knights of the Old Republic 2, have been raising funds via Kickstarter for a completely new IP they’ve dubbed Project Eternity.
Project Eternity is an isometric, party-based RPG much akin to some of the best RPGs ever made such as Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale and Planescape Torment. If you liked those games, or you liked Dragon Age, it’s safe to say you’re going to really like Project Eternity.
The great news is they’ve already smashed the hell out of the total they were looking for at $1.1m and are currently sat at $2.3m with 10 days left to go for the fundraising. However, this doesn’t mean your money isn’t necessary and can’t be put to good use, and their latest project update has given you an even bigger reason to back Obsidian with your hard-earned cash.QUOTEFrom Neverwinter Nights 2 to Fallout: New Vegas, we've enjoyed supporting the mod community, and we are continuing that with Project Eternity. It is awesome to see how you extend the worlds we make.
To make getting mods easy, we are excited to announce that our friends at the Nexus will be the official spot to download Project Eternity mods once the game is released. They have been a great host for mods for our past games, and we want to continue the trend with the Project Eternity Nexus. Check out the Nexus Network at www.nexusmods.com.
Our plan is to release our file-format information and expose as much of the data in the game as possible for you to extend and edit. We traditionally do not "hard-code" numbers so that our designers, and you, have the power to easily change and iterate on RPG data. We also plan on releasing localization tools to let communities around the world create localized versions for languages we are not translating Project Eternity into.
As we get more familiar with Unity during production, we will be extending Project Eternity even more for mod makers. Look forward to announcements in the months ahead as we make further progress and can provide you with more information about tools and mod support.
I’m proud and honoured to be asked to support the modding community by Obsidian themselves, and will happily commit to the creation of a Project Eternity Nexus.
Kickstarter has created a small revolution in the gaming industry recently by enabling talented individuals and studios to fund some great projects without the hassle of needing backing from over-bearing and demanding game publishers. How many triple A titles have come out recently without mod support that would and could have been better with modding tools? (The answer is all of them). While the ins-and-outs of why developers don’t pay more attention to modding are quite complex, I think it’s pretty safe to say that a major reason is that publishers just don’t want developers commiting to them. Too much time and too much effort for no tangible figures that can be put on to an accountant’s spreadsheet. You and I know the worth of the modding community, but try explaining it to the man with the money. That’s why it’s important that when these projects come around (and more and more are cropping up) that you try to support them however you can.
Obsidian have come out extremely early in their development process in support of the modding community. They’ve committed to making their game as open as possible for modders and really want to release an SDK for the game as well, so long as they can wrap their head around the Unity engine (which I don’t doubt they will!). And I think that’s great.
Frankly, I see Kickstarter as a pre-order service for my games and right now you can pre-order Project Eternity for the gob-smackingly low price of just $25. I assume it’s going to retail for a lot more than that, so if you’ve got the funds then consider helping Obsidian out and pre-ordering now. And heck, they’ve got price points all the way up to $10,000 with a myriad of different perks for backers, so check it out.
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