What are Collections?
A while ago we started working on a project - now referred to as “collections” - with the aim of making modding easier for everyone. The Collections feature will allow you to download a complete list of curated mods - along with other important metadata - and replicate an entire mod setup, all while ensuring that mod authors still get the downloads for their mods and still earn mod rewards if they’ve opted into our DP programme.
It's important to understand that a collection does not redistribute the included mods packaged as a single archive. Rather, you can think of it as a mod list, say a list of "Top Mods" for a given game, curated by someone else. The difference being that a collection is designed to then be read and interpreted by a mod manager, rather than a human, and in doing so the download and installation process is streamlined. That way it is ensured that you end up with the same mod setup the creator of that mod list (the curator) has installed on their PC, complete with conflict resolution data.
We are convinced that the Collections system will lower the barrier for entry so that more people can enjoy our joint hobby of modding, but we don't believe it will completely replace "traditional" modding - rather it will complement it. Imagine you're new to a game and want to try modding it: you might start out trying a few collections to get a feel for how the game can be changed. Then you begin to customise the mods you've installed and learn more about how modding works to build your own setup. This progression into the modding scene can lead to you sharing your own curated collections or even creating your own mods.
How will downloading a collection work?
When you're looking for a collection to download, you'll be directed to our new "micro-site" called Nexus Mods Next. This is a sandbox area where you will be able to try out upcoming features ahead of the full release on the main website - think of it as a place to see what's next on Nexus Mods - clever, right? You may notice Nexus Mods Next uses some different fonts, colours and design themes compared to the current site - as a showcase of how we plan to evolve the UI in future iterations of the main Nexus Mods website.
A picture can say a thousand words, so that’s why we have recorded three videos and uploaded them to YouTube, demonstrating various aspects of the new collections feature.
DISCLAIMER: ALL CONTENT DISCUSSED AND SHOWCASED HERE IS STILL UNDER ACTIVE DEVELOPMENT. THE DESIGN AND FUNCTIONALITY ARE BOTH SUBJECT TO CHANGE BASED ON FEEDBACK FROM TESTERS.
Downloading a collection will be similar to adding a mod to Vortex. A prominent button on the collection page will instruct Vortex to pull the collection metadata and start downloading the mods. The Collections feature will not require a Premium membership, but - just like a Premium membership uncaps your download speed - it will be faster and more convenient if you do choose to support our community.
For Premium users, a carousel at the top of the page will start showcasing the mods included in the collection while the downloading and installation process happens automatically in the background. Each slide will include links to the mod page and the author's profile so you can learn more about the content that is being installed (this is not fully implemented yet, so it does not feature in the videos).
For free users (and Supporters), a pop-up window will appear with information about the mod you're about to install and it will direct you to the mod page for each file download. This step is required so that free users don't bypass our entire revenue stream by not seeing any adverts. Once you have started downloading the file, the pop-up will automatically refresh to the next mod in the queue. This process will repeat for each mod, but the installation happens automatically. The free user experience is therefore going to be a bit like downloading mods in a traditional mod list, with the added convenience of being directed to the exact file, as well as still getting all the automatic conflict resolution benefits through Vortex.
While this is not shown in the videos, depending on the collection, there may be prompts throughout the installation to download external requirements (such as SKSE for Skyrim) or to select options in mod installers.
Overall the Collections feature will provide a much more convenient way of downloading and installing a curated list of mods than doing so manually by referring to a text-based list.
How will creating a collection work?
In essence, a collection is a bundle of metadata including a list of mods to download, file conflict rules, game settings and load order information. The exact structure of the data will vary from one game to another.
To create a collection you will need to build a working mod setup in Vortex, then use the new Collections section to compile all the relevant information for sharing. Everyone - Premium and free users alike - will be able to create collections and there are no differences in the flow regardless of your membership status.
Once you have everything ready to go, you will be able to create a collection page on the website. This will be where other users can view and interact with your collection. After adding a category, description and images you will be able to publish your collection page to share it with the world. The page will showcase both the mods it contains and the mod authors who created them.
During the testing releases, we won't be allowing any collections to be published (i.e. downloadable by other users) without first being vetted by our team. This will allow us to closely monitor how the feature is being used and pick up on any potential mistakes made by curators before their lists are made public.
When adding mods to a collection, you will be able to specify which file version Vortex should be using. You can choose to always use the latest version of a given file, use the latest non-archived version or require exactly the one you currently have installed. If you require a version of the mod which has since been archived by the mod author, users who download that version will be presented with a warning that the content is no longer supported. The default will be to always use the latest non-archived version.
You will be able to provide instructions for users as part of a collection to help users install mods that aren't currently available on Nexus Mods. We also plan to allow community developers to integrate APIs from non-Nexus Mods sources using extensions should they wish to provide added convenience to Vortex users.
Some types of content (such as dynamically generated or configuration files) may also be bundled as part of the collection for added convenience. Bundled content will be thoroughly virus scanned before it is available to download and moderation action will be taken against Collections that directly include content without permission to do so.
Mod Installers (FOMODs)
Some mods come with mod installers providing the user with options (for example, choosing a red/blue texture for an armour). A collection curator can specify whether their choice will be incorporated into the collection, or whether they want the user to run through the mod installer themselves, choosing whichever option they prefer.
What can collections be used for?
Collections can allow you to share anything from a complete overhaul of your game to just a handful of themed mods that you like to use together. It is possible to install multiple collections at the same time too, meaning you can mix and match from different themed lists to create your preferred experience.
Perhaps you just want to keep a private record of all the mods you currently have installed for the next time you play the game? Or you're playing on a Valheim server and want a convenient way of sharing a list of requirements for new players? There are plenty of ways to take advantage of the collections feature, but we'll only truly know how they'll get used once we open the floodgates and everyone gets a chance to play with the new toys!
Testing Roadmap - How can I join?
From today, you can apply to become a tester of our Collections feature by filling out this application form. Each application will be reviewed by our staff and if we feel you are a good fit we'll send you instructions on how to get started via private message or Discord DM.
Don't worry if you don't hear back though, you'll still be able to join the testing at a later phase.
In the coming weeks, we're also going to start showing a special banner to a random sample of long-time users of the website who will be invited to take part in this Closed Alpha stage.
We are looking for 100+ users to participate in this phase and we’ll be gradually opening more and more slots for additional testers as the project progresses.
During the Closed Alpha, we'll be making any vital changes based on the feedback from these users before we move to an Open Alpha which will allow anyone to try out collections themselves.
We will be setting specific milestones which we will need to hit before the collections project graduates from alpha status and will become a fully-fledged feature on the site. This won't be the end of the road though. We'll continue to monitor feedback after the full release to further evolve the feature based on the needs of the community.
Please note that what you have seen here today may still be subject to change based on the feedback during testing, but we're excited to finally be able to put this shiny new feature into the hands of our users.
Do collections bundle all listed mods into a single "modpack" download?
No. All mod files are downloaded from the original mod pages and the mod author will still be receiving downloads and mod rewards, if they've opted into our DP programme.
Can I opt-out of collections?
As mentioned earlier in the article, a collection is just a list of mods that is interpreted by a mod manager. Just like you would not expect to be able to opt out of someone mentioning your mod in their “Top 10 Mods” list, we do not feel it’s reasonable to expect the same of collections.
When are collections releasing?
The testing phases will allow us to capture vital community feedback to allow us to properly understand both bugs and desired features we can map into our future development. At this point, we’re entering a “closed alpha” so still a relatively early testing stage. Depending on the feedback and bug reports, we will then be looking at opening collections up for what could be considered an open alpha stage relatively soon.
As a mod author, will I still get downloads/endorsements/Donation Points when my mod is downloaded as part of a collection?
Yes. As a collection is just a list of instructions to be interpreted by Vortex, the download still comes from your mod page so your stats will be incremented appropriately. Users are also still able to endorse your file from inside Vortex or on the website.
Will collection curators earn Donation Points for their collections?
No. Earning Donation Points is currently a feature exclusive to mod authors.
What about direct donations?
You can currently donate to any user by visiting their profile page and we have no plans to change this. We will not be displaying donation prompts for the curator on the collection page for the time being, but we may explore donation options as part of a larger discussion with the community in the future. That being said, we think that mod list/collection curators are and will be adding value to the community, so we do not believe we should be stopping people from donating to them, if they happen to like what they do.
Can I "own" a collection?
In the interest of keeping things simple and fair, no single user can have exclusive ownership of a particular combination or list of mods. This means if I share a collection, you're welcome to copy it, tweak it and reshare it without issue. The mods themselves remain protected by the permissions posted on the mod page by the author.
Can I allow others to update my collection page?
Not currently. Unlike mod pages, a collection will only have a single owner. While you may still collaborate with others, a singular user account must be used in order to publish updated revisions. This is something we will be exploring in the future if there is demand for it.
Do I need Vortex to use collections?
We are launching the Collections system with Vortex - our official mod manager - so it will be required. However, as with everything else we build, we'll be providing the source code for Vortex and an open GraphQL API which can be used by third-party tools to take advantage of this feature. Documentation will be made available sometime after the full 1.0.0 release of Collections.
Still have questions?
If you have a question you'd like us to answer, please send it in using this form. We'll comb through the responses and collate the most requested questions to answer during the Q&A sessions. A transcript of each session will be posted on the forums and a link will be added to this article.
You can join us on Discord at the following times:
- Wednesday 22 September 2021 15:00 - 15:30 (GMT+1) (View in my time zone??)
- Wednesday 29 September 2021 17:00 - 17:30 (GMT+1) (View in my time zone??)
Thank you for being a part of our community and for joining us on this exciting journey!