For over a year now we've been working on a mod manager to replace the ailing Nexus Mod Manager. The premise was simple, attempt to combine the simplicity of the Nexus Mod Manager with the advanced functionality of Mod Organizer and create something that is accessible to all types of modders. Back in May of 2017 we named this replacement "Vortex".
A couple of weeks ago we did a limited Alpha release of Vortex to 1,000 users, many of whom have been extremely helpful in posting bugs and feedback for us to work from. As a result of this feedback, Tannin has released four new updated versions of Vortex since the initial release two weeks ago. These have included fixes for a number of bugs and some updates to the functionality. I want to thank those of you who used the software extensively and posted bugs via the feedback system within Vortex, like we requested. Your help has been extremely useful to us during this process.
We're now ready to open up the Vortex Alpha to anyone who wants to give it a go.
Before you jump in head first, I implore you to fully understand what "Alpha" means, what state Vortex is in, and whether Vortex is currently right for you.
What is Alpha software?
To save you a Google search, here's the first result for a description of Alpha software:
Alpha software is computer software that is still in the early testing phase. It is functional enough to be used, but is unpolished and often lacks many of the features that will be included in the final version of the program. The "alpha phase" of software development follows the early programming and design stages, but precedes the "beta phase" in which the software closely resembles the final version.
Since the alpha phase is an early part of the software development cycle, alpha software typically includes significant bugs and usability issues.
It's important we adequately warn you of the state of Vortex (as we are, right now!) because if you run to the forums or elsewhere to complain about Vortex breaking your mod install, and you didn't make any backups of your save files or game states, knowing full well what we're telling you right here and right now, we're honestly not going to have much sympathy. We're going to want to know about whatever bug is causing this issue and will work our hardest to fix it ASAP, but I want you to be under no illusions that this is Alpha software, and we're treating it like Alpha software with the expectation for there to be unfound bugs that will need fixing.
Who is this for? Should I use Vortex?
Ask yourself whether being an early adopter is right for you at this time, or whether it makes more sense for you to wait until Vortex reaches a more polished Beta or full release state. Considering we're being fully open about the fact Vortex will have bugs and is not in a feature complete state, do you really want to be using the software in this state? Are you going to get upset if it does not function properly or creates issues that mean playing your game is not possible until Vortex is updated or until you fix things manually? If so, this is NOT the right time for you to be using Vortex as your mod manager.
Are you competent enough to know how to backup your save games and modding folders, and able to rectify any issues manually or in another mod manager if Vortex doesn't work properly for you? Do you want to help us by providing constructive feedback and bug reports without getting emotional and rude? Are you patient and able to wait for fixes and functionality to be developed? Then we'd love it if you could download Vortex and give it a thorough run through, and we're looking forward to hearing from you.
Does Vortex replace NMM/MO/my current mod manager?
Right now? No. We're not recommending anyone fully switch to Vortex from their current mod management tools. We think it will get there in the not too distant future, but it's not there yet.
Many users in our testing group and in the limited Alpha we did over the past couple of weeks have been able to switch over fully. We do recommend that you try and switch over, but that you backup and keep whatever current mod manager you're using (and your mod setups/savegames attached to them) so if something goes wrong with Vortex, you can easily and quickly switch back so it does not affect your gaming.
With all this in mind, we're not officially replacing NMM on the site at this time. We're keeping the "Install NMM" button in the top nav, and the only place you're going to be able to download Vortex is from our own Nexus Mods game page, which will also hopefully include extensions for Vortex moving forward.
This, in itself, should tell you how we're treating this release of Vortex. This isn't an all singing and tooting release of Vortex to the masses where we tell everyone it's the best thing since sliced bread and that everyone should switch. This is still us releasing quietly, telling you that we're happy with the direction it's heading but we know that it still needs more time in the oven.
What type of people are you looking for during the Alpha?
We really want people to try Vortex and we're really grateful for any help you can provide in bug reports and functionality feedback. What we're looking for right now are individuals who are competent in modding their games, who understand the risks of using this Alpha software and are willing to be patient with bugs and possible missing functionality to help us develop something really good.
How long is the Alpha going to last?
We're aware that NMM was in a permanent Beta state and this was not ideal for anyone. We want to avoid that with Vortex, but we cannot give you a timeline or roadmap at this time.
Our initial focus is going to be on fixing bugs in the Alpha and addressing any issues that it brings to light. We'll then work on a roadmap moving forward, establishing what goals we want to hit before we're confident with it reaching Beta.
Is there any documentation?
Right now documentation that is ready for public viewing is very limited, but we hope to rectify that over the coming months. In the meantime, popular YouTuber Gopher is working on some tutorial videos that will introduce Vortex to users and help guide you through the process of using the software. I'll update this news post when his Introduction video is ready, and you can get further updates by visiting his channel.
Does Vortex include an import tool from NMM or MO?
Vortex installs as a separate application on your computer. Any existing installations and setups you have of NMM and/or MO will not be affected by you installing and using Vortex. The only thing that will be affected is how NXM (download) links are handled on the site, e.g. what application starts and downloads files when you click the "Download with manager" button on the site.
Vortex includes an "Import from NMM" and "Import from MO" functionality that will attempt to copy your mod setup from those respective mod managers. This is non-destructive and will not impact your setups.
Please be patient during the process, it might take a little while for Vortex to read your current mod setups if they're particularly large.
Because of the (now) archaic way that NMM handles files in the data folder, we recommend disabling any mods you have installed in NMM (or switching to an empty profile, that will in turn clear up any files NMM has placed in your game data folder) if your import to Vortex is successful. This is because Vortex and NMM both try to keep track of which files they've installed, and using multiple modding tools for the same game at the same time makes that difficult. If you need to revert back to NMM, you can simply disable Vortex and reapply your NMM profile to return your setup to how it was before.
As always, please backup your current modding setups in case the worst happens. Ensure you create a safe copy of your mod installations somewhere else so that you can restore from this backup in case of a problem, and ensure you know how to restore these backups properly before you attempt to use Vortex.
How should I provide feedback?
Vortex contains a feedback and bug reporting system built in to the software, which can be access from the menu in the top-right corner. If you experience issues while using the software please report them using these methods, providing detailed information about what you were doing at the time the problem occured. This is the direct line to Tannin and the fastest way of getting any bugs spotted and fixed.
If you post your bugs in the forums or elsewhere, without using the bug reporting tools in Vortex, it's honestly not helpful to us. Feel free to discuss any bugs elsewhere, but at least ensure you give us a proper bug report from within Vortex first (if you can!).
A note on feedback
Please keep in mind that, currently, Tannin is the only developer working on Vortex and as such, we need to manage his time carefully. To us, it's more prudent that he spends the vast majority of his time actually working on Vortex to improve it, because every hour he spends responding to user feedback is an hour he hasn't spent working on Vortex itself. So while it's my hope we can respond to as much as possible, please be aware it's unlikely we're going to be able to respond to all feedback. We will read it all, however.
A common thing we're hearing at the moment between the Vortex release and the release of our new site redesign is this concept of "you don't listen to us". I want to take this time to nip this silly notion in the bud right now.
There is a big difference between not listening to what some of our users are saying and not acting on what some of our users are saying/asking for/outright rudely demanding. I guarantee you, we read all the feedback we receive on Vortex and on the site, but not acting on that feedback does not mean we do not listen.
We might not act or change something that you or multiple users request for a number of different reasons and you should not expect to always get your way. We need to cater for a user base of over 14 million users, some of whom may completely disagree with what you're saying or have completely different wants and needs to your own. Yes, we want to try and cater for all users, but sometimes that simply isn't feasible or possible.
If we agree changes need to be made, or even contemplate them, then you need to be aware that our to-do list is years long, and acting on your feedback might not be placed right at the top of the pile (nor is it just going to be dumped at the bottom). This, once again, does not mean we "do not listen" or that your feedback is not valued. Thank you for your understanding.
Is Vortex open source? Where can I get the source code?
We plan to release the source code to Vortex as soon as possible. You will see the repos show up on GitHub, step-by-step, probably over a day or two. I shall update this news post and we shall post in the Vortex Code Development forums when they're ready.
I've read all of this and I'm sure I'd like to use and help test Vortex. Where can I get it?
Vortex can be found via the "Nexus Mods" game page where we've setup a special mod page just for Vortex.