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Nexus 3.0


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#1
Dark0ne

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Following on from my recent article about getting the finances for the Nexus sites balanced I want to discuss in a bit more detail just a few of the plans I have for the Nexus over the coming year.

New design
Probably the most noticeable change you're going to see in the not too distant future is a complete overhaul of the Nexus site template and design. I am currently working with a professional web designer in person as the site is redesigned from the ground up by someone who actually knows what he's doing. The aim of the redesign is not only to produce a more clean and modern design but to increase usability and functionality on the sites and reduce the amount of confusing clutter. There's going to be a clear focus on increasing the exposure of mods uploaded to the site through various new features and I'm also hoping to provide more visually customisable options for mod authors to make their mod pages stand out from the rest of the mods on the site, although such customisations will require some effort by mod authors if they wish to partake in this.

Visually the site is going to move from a fluid (or liquid) width design to a fixed width design that supports width resolutions of 1024 and higher. I have always been a strong supporter of liquid width designs as I am a 1900x1200 native resolution user and like all my screen real-estate to be used. However, the liquid width on the Nexus sites has presented many challenges for me and my limited web design knowledge in the past and I am only comfortable with the current design when viewed in resolutions of 1600x1200 or higher. My job will be made considerably easier by moving to a fixed width design that I know will work and look its best for every user and every effort is being made to ensure that the clutter on the site is reduced, not increased, by this change.

One idea I'll be exploring once the design is implemented is allowing mod authors to "skin" their mod pages by making use of the space that will be left either side of the fixed width site. If you visit some other gaming sites you'll have noticed skin advertising that makes use of these side borders by advertising other games; I hope to open up this functionality to mod authors for their mod pages. It's definitely something that would set apart one mod page from another but I need to insure that such a feature doesn't turn in to a MySpace-esque debacle with mod authors skinning their pages with pink and black spots, for example!

I myself will be working on coding a few more features for mod authors to make use of in the near future.


Comments
One thing that I think needs a closer look is the "Comments" tab on file pages. The clutter in the comments tab can often be too much as endorsement comments, bug reports, feedback, troubleshooting and general words of encouragement are almost always merged in to that one comment topic.

My hope was that the "Discussion" system would be better utilised to separate various topics of conversation to do with mods but it's only really had varying success. My plan is to move the endorsement comments (comments left when endorsing a mod) in to a separate topic that will be visible in the "Discussions" tab to help reduce this clutter.

The reputation system (the thumbs up and thumbs down next to each individual post) has been utilised to a certain extent with just under 100,000 thumbs being given since it was introduced. I'll be adding filtering options so that you can choose to have the comments displayed based in order of how many thumbs they have received. That way you can get a quick look at the comments left on a mod that other users thought were genuinely useful. The rep system will also be updated to allow you to change your rep selection (if you miss-click or change your mind) and the site redesign should make repping a more prominent feature.

The commenting system itself will be graphically updated with the site design and I aim to modify the system so that responses to specific posts will be grouped together irrespective of the time difference. As it is right now if someone posts in a mod comment topic asking for help it may be several hours/day before someone replies to that specific question. If they do reply then it may be 5, 10, 15 etc. posts above the original question if it's a particularly busy mod comment topic. My aim is to have responses to other posts grouped together with the initial post for ease of viewing. Responses will be indented so they are visually recognised as a response to another post. Additional filtering options will be provided to allow you to just see comments made by the author of the file.


File bug reports
An important aspect of modding for mod authors is receiving feedback from the people that are using their mods. Most notably authors like to be informed about bugs and issues with their mods hopefully in an aim to fix the issue for users by either patching the mod or finding a solution. Currently most bug reports get sent to mod authors via PM/email or posting as a comment in the Comments tab. To once again reduce the clutter in the Comments tab I'm going to be developing a bug report system where users can post up bugs they've found while playing a mod for the mod author to see. The mod author can choose to make their bug reports public so that users can help each other with troubleshooting bugs (great for things like mod conflicts), private so only the mod author can troubleshoot the issues or private with an option to make some bug reports public either to make the fix public or to open it up to other users to offer help.

I'm well aware that often "bug reports" can actually be "user error reports" by users who haven't read the installation instructions properly or are running Window 95 wondering why their game isn't working. I'll leave it up to the judgement of mod authors as to how they handle their bug reports and whether they want to use the feature at all.


File news
Some mod authors like to keep their users updated about progress on the mods they're developing or have released. To aid in this I'm going to be adding a "News" option for files so that mod authors can write up news articles to keep visitors and people tracking their files up-to-date with the latest information about their individual files. Specific news to do with individual files will be displayed on the mod page itself and an aggregation page will be available for users browsing the site to get a run-down of all the news being posted about all the individual mods on the site. News will also feature in the Tracking Centre for everyone and in the Notifications tab for Premium Members on tracked files.


File statistics
Something I'll be looking at later in the year is the aggregation and displaying of in-depth statistics about files that mod authors own. Stats like how many people are visiting the page, where they're visiting the page from, what they're doing on the page and so on. I know that mod authors love to see their files getting used and such a tool would give mod authors more data about the popularity of their file.


Editorials and mod exposure
I've recently taken on 6 individuals within the modding community who offered to become news writers for the Nexus sites. So far they've done great and they've introduced new ideas that I would never have had the time to implement on my own, such as doing interviews with the File of the Month winners each month.

They're currently finding their feet right now but hopefully this injection of new blood will provide a more community oriented news aspect to the news section on the sites. As articles get written and the new site design is worked on I will look in to providing better tools for finding various different types of articles (interviews, previews, reviews, news, site updates, etc.) so that you don't just come to the Nexus for your modding fill but also to be kept abreast of what's happening within the community.


As I've said in previous articles there's lots going on in the background right now and there's a few things I'm keeping hidden. I will say that there's definitely some stuff being worked on that could possibly revolutionise the modding experience for the games the Nexus sites support, and if not, expand upon it. This community contains some extremely talented individuals and working with some of them is a real honour. Keep one ear to the ground.

#2
uberness23

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Liking many of the upcoming changes Dark0ne. Looks like the Nexus is going to be quite streamlined. Keep it up.

#3
ladydesire

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I do have one question: what about those of us that use our smartphones to view the various nexus sites sometimes? A fixed width page will likely make the sites unusable for us without an addition of a smaller scale fixed-width site. Other than that, the updates sound good.

#4
LordWushin

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I have always enjoyed this site, even before joining. You always trying to better the site and the possibilities for all of us. Thanks Dark0ne! I support whatever you think is best for everyone.

#5
Pushkatu

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Sounds great. I can't wait to see the results. :thumbsup:

#6
Zaldir

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This sounds Awesome! :D

I have grown so fond of the Nexus, that reading this gave me the same excitement as Skyrim did! :)
Not so odd as it seems, as without the Nexus, I wouldn't still be modding at all. (Planet Elder Scrolls..? pfft!)

Really looking forward to the changes on the sites, and the fact that you are making it easier for modders as well!

#7
AllanOcelot

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This is great,
I like so many other users treat the nexus like a second home.
The only thing you might want to consider to make some revenue might be mod advertising. Not selling out, But allowing authors to pay for advertising space on the nexus for their mod at a fair price.

It sounds silly and it might be.....But darn it thats all ive got....:confused:

#8
lIlIlIlI

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Sounds great.

#9
LHammonds

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I like the idea of grouping replies together. Not sure how you are going to accomplish that but good luck in doing so since I know it won't be easy. Also not sure how that would work with silly users such as myself that use the forums to reply and use the multi-quote option to answer several members in a single shot.

The aggregation sounds really cool. Having an "events" ticker on the mod page would be awesome...such as notifications that this author was interviewed and a link to it, file added to the files-of-the-month, this file added as a "requirement" or "recommendation" on this other mod page, etc.

Thanks,
LHammonds

#10
MrGrymReaper

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@Dark0ne - I hope with your web designer you have been checking out the recent release of Joomla 1.6?

It has ACL system support amongst other major additions. The ACL system allows for the possibility of custom security clearance levels (more granular security).

This could allow for the creation of new user groups (e.g. a new file upload could have the uploader be a group). Members of that group could then have permission to alter the attributes of that file and/or upload new ones. The uploader when a group would show that group's members and allow for the member's user profile to be displayed (by clicking a link to visit their profile).

It also has a hooks and plugins system - easier to extend and update - no more main code hacking (nexus forum code changes). A similar system of plugins and/or hooks would exist in up to date version of the forums and/or an open source forum. You could use these plugin and hooks system to allow for linking the sites together.

Have you considered clustering the core server (the nexus forums), more reliability when getting relularly large number of hits?

Edited by MrGrymReaper, 08 March 2011 - 04:44 PM.





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