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NEWS | State of the Toolset and Forum

General news and announcements for ME3Explorer.

Re: NEWS | State of the Toolset and Forum

Postby giftfish » 28 Jan 2016, 00:04

The Fob wrote:So it's the pit where all the messy threads go? Maybe you should call it the Mess Hole. :D

Quite possibly! Ha.
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Re: NEWS | State of the Toolset and Forum

Postby The Fob » 30 Jan 2016, 18:24

Hey gift, got a question/suggestion for the forum:
So, you just locked a thread while I was trying to respond to the poor guy who had trouble while running multiple mods. While that was perfectly fine because he was posting in the completely wrong section (something I never notice because I just check the "View new posts" list, which doesn't care about sections), it did raise a question:

In your locking message, you say that there is absolutely no bug report section for mods anymore and that the guy should contact the authors of each mod individually to figure out his problem. I wasn't aware that we had no bug-report or user-help section anymore at all. I think it would be a good idea to have one because especially if people are running multiple mods (which most of them seem to do these days) they have a place here to go to and ask basically all ME3 modders at once. To me this seems much more efficient for both users and modders than having all those people with problems contact us individually on Nexus, the BW forums or wherever, even with a lot of problems that have nothing to do with our mods.
If we have a help section here, we can all chime in on the answers. People get help quicker and we get one message to deal with between us instead of one message each.

Also, this forum has a 4 year history of helping people out by now and it would be a shame to give this up.

Sorry that I am coming up with this now, I wasn't aware before that there would be absolutely no place to go for users with problems anymore. I would suggest we do allow one User-Help subsection.
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Re: NEWS | State of the Toolset and Forum

Postby giftfish » 30 Jan 2016, 22:39

@Fob --

Ack, sorry about that >.<

Lengthy explanation coming up.

We do still have User Help sections. Right now, we actually have a few. We have Toolset Help, which is the primary section, for help with toolset troubles. We also have the Texture/Mesh help area, and the "How do I..." help areas.

The problem comes with us trying to offer mod support. We may have been providing this support since 2012, but we've been actively discouraging it since Ottemis created her "Art of Bug Reporting" post back in 2014. It's also something we're up front with in the wiki. Ottemis and K practically killed themselves by trying to troubleshoot everyone's mods. There were a lot of toolset issues in there, certainly, but they spent countless hours for at least a year, providing support for other people's stuff. This led to severe burn out, which is a testament that there is a limit as to how much support we should encourage and provide. Taking such an active role ends up straining the dev team as they have to wade through loads of bogus issues that are due to mod-specific questions. If we're going to provide a forum area for help--which is basically a way to encourage folks to post here for help--then the dev team is ultimately responsible for ensuring they get help. We no longer want that responsibility. Forum attendance has naturally thinned over the past year, especially. Many modders -- who are typically the ones who might help -- aren't around very much anymore, which leaves us holding the bag. It's better to get everyone in the habit of asking for help on the mod's hosting page... unless it's an actual toolset issue.

The constant barrage of mod-specific help requests (and bogus bug reports) is one of the major things the dev team wanted this overhaul to address. It had become a huge problem. Confused users didn't understand where their mods ended and the toolset began, so we've now drawn a line in the sand to make it very clear. Mod-specific issues are the responsibilities of the user and the mod authors. This is the case for any similar utility. For example, the creator of Mod Organizer for Skyrim doesn't field questions from users about why Frostfall (installed via MO) isn't working. The user contacts the author of Frostfall instead, or posts in the mod's forum thread where the author and other users may (or may not) help.

A couple other key things to keep in mind:

1. Many, many questions and situations can be rectified by simply using the wiki, making help requests totally unnecessary. The wiki has an enormous amount of information related to installation, troubleshooting, and the like. Many people aren't used to using it yet, though--something which will hopefully improve once the new Nexus page is available.

2. The search feature on this forum can be a bit sketchy. Once the overhaul is complete information will be much easier to find. Along with continued development of the wiki, this will significantly cut down on help requests.

So, there is a long term plan and solution in mind. It will just take a little while longer to get there.

As a mod author, I get your perspective. I think you also know that I am *all* about helping people. I've sunk a ridiculous amount of time into fielding help requests, making tutorials, and now writing a majority of the new wiki. But, some changes needed to be made to better control forum content and scope. Unfortunately, old habits are hard to break and will certainly require some getting used to.

In the meantime, I'll unlock "Other People's Stuff", so you can reply to John... who I'm guessing needs to AutoTOC the Ken/Gabby mod, as per the wiki's suggestion ;) I also really need to get some of you folks promoted back to moderators. On my very long list of things to do....
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Re: NEWS | State of the Toolset and Forum

Postby John » 01 Feb 2016, 14:43

I didn't want to cause any trouble. Having modded other games (from the modder side, I mean), I can see where you are coming from, giftfish.

It's just that I had been meddling with mods for several days now, and didn't find any solution to the first issue. Having a slow external hard drive + the size of files and backups made this a very tiresome thing, and I was about to give up. And just to make things clear: I wasn't asking you guys to fix my game, I was merely asking if the thing I wrote seems familiar to anyone, which I deemed quite likely given that you modders certainly encounter a big amount of different bugs during your modding work. Hence, I was mostly hoping for some pointer for where I have to look.

About the Ken/Gabby mod and AutoTOC... yes that was a failure from my side, I must not have read correctly, as I was only using the TOCbinUpdater all the time. Sorry for that.

@TheFob: Makes me glad to see that there are people like you. :)
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Re: NEWS | State of the Toolset and Forum

Postby The Fob » 01 Feb 2016, 17:35

@gift: Those points make a lot of sense and I agree that people should go through the wiki and try to solve their problems on their own. I can also see how texture mods may require a whole lot more attention and produce much more obscure bug reports than e.g. content mods and if K, you and others feel that they are swamped but have the responsibility to answer all help requests, than this is obviously not a great situation.

My main concern is that now there is no central point anymore for users to ask questions (wish the BW forums still had a dedicated modding section) and it may be difficult for a user to decide which modder to ask if they are running multiple mods. In the last 2 weeks I have gotten about 15 help requests (personal messages) on Nexus for issues that clearly have nothing to do with MEHEM from people who run multiple mods. All I can do in these cases is tell them that they need to try and contact someone else because I don't see how MEHEM would cause issue x and I don't know what the problem might be (sometimes I know but often I don't). This is of course not very satisfying for either side.

The advantage of a central help section here was that all modders could just look through threads once a week or something and answer those where we had an idea what was going on. If it is as easy as looking up something in the wiki, it's a one line link response (and possibly a snark comment about reading the "Before you post here read the FAQ" thread). Granted, those requests are the worst but I am not sure if the best way to get rid of them is to not allow help requests all-together.

But I guess this may really just be me because as I mainly have one single mod to worry about, I probably don't get as many help requests as other people here on the boards. I do get that one wants to answer all request posts and that can get tiresome. Personally, I would rather prefer to have a help section and make it clear in the description that there is no guarantee that posts there will be answered, especially if people didn't do their homework first but I get that it may not be the cleanest way to do it either.

Also, I want to make sure to emphasize that this was not a jab against you in any way or the reconstruction of the board. I know you are very concerned with helping people and making this a better environment for everyone. In fact, I guess you probably sank more time into it than anyone else. It's also not about me or what I want (happy to leave everything as it is if that is the general consensus, it is less maintenance after all). This is really just about suggestions on what may be best for all the forum users.

@John, glad to see your loading issue worked out. The other one with the people showing up when they shouldn't I also have no idea about I'm afraid. :)
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Re: NEWS | State of the Toolset and Forum

Postby giftfish » 01 Feb 2016, 18:37

@John -- None of this is your fault. Nothing like that. You just happened to step into a situation that's currently in flux. No worries, hard feelings or anything like that at all. Welcome to the community :)


@Fob -- No jabs taken. It's all good. Please do continue to bring up concerns and ideas.

I really do get the variety of perspectives and there is always more than one solution to every problem. I can open my mind to the possibility that once the Toolset Help section is cleaned up a bit more, that it might end up being logical to leave "The Mess Hall" open in something akin to its current incarnation. We'll see how it goes; for now, all the subforums in it are open and useable. If a user wants to asks about trouble with a specific mod, "Other people's stuff" is the place.

A "central help area" is a nice idea, but there's no guarantee that other mod authors will participate. Some mod authors may even prefer to field all help requests on their mod hosting page, ensuring all answers for users stay in the same spot (which isn't a bad idea). And, like you say, it would definitely need a disclaimer if we went this route.

As we know, there's a significant learning curve to modding ME3 and using the toolset. This is something that takes a while for users to become accustomed to. With the advent of DLC mods, it's also easier than ever to narrow down the possibilities of which mod is causing a problem. Just disable them one-by-one and see if the problem persists. This requires patience and just a bit of analytical thinking/troubleshooting skills, which can also be difficult for certain users. Might be something that can be added to the Troubleshooting page on the wiki :]

Texture/mesh questions really do need a forum all unto themselves. Not only do they represent the bulk of the toolset help/error issues, but many of the questions end up being repetitive, or unrelated to the toolset or modding at all. They're about using PS, GIMP, blender, 3DSMax, etc. We have *very few* folks left around here that are adept with those programs and are willing to field help requests, etc. At some point it just doesn't make any sense to keep certain areas open when all that's posted are the same questions (with solutions already given) and the same problems (that don't have solutions).

Once BO is out (this weekend, yay), I'm going to sit down and put a lot of thought into some new FAQ content for the wiki. I think it could help A LOT with some of these issues. I think it's entirely possible we need more than one Troubleshooting article. Possibly something like, "General Troubleshooting", "Troubleshooting: Textures", "Troubleshooting: DLC Mods", etc. In addition, I think we need something like "Toolset Modding: What's Possible and What Isn't". All of these would be sort of... "Feature articles" aimed at answering specific types of commonly asked questions.

The wiki really is a little bit of a silver bullet to many of these issues. If we can get more info on there and get folks to use it, it will lighten up the load the forum has been taking, while still providing folks with the answers they seek.

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Re: NEWS | State of the Toolset and Forum

Postby giftfish » 03 Feb 2016, 17:55

FYI--

Forum theme poll is now closed. The "subsilver2" legacy theme had no votes and has been removed. If you were using it, the forum will default to the Welcome/Login page theme (Exhibit). If you want to change your theme, User Control Panel > Board Preferences.

Btw, I'm no longer receiving PMs about "Thank yous". Not sure if that's a Freeforums changed or if I changed a setting somewhere inadvertently (entirely possible). Anyone else experiencing this? For me it actually used to be a bit of a pain in the butt, since all those PMs would clog up my inbox and the 50 limit restriction made it very problematic. But, now with that restriction gone, it might be nice to have those back, so I know which posts have been useful for others.
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Re: NEWS | State of the Toolset and Forum

Postby The Fob » 03 Feb 2016, 17:59

Hmmmm, I never did receive PMs for thank-yous/thumbs ups. Probably some obscure setting somewhere?

BTW, thanks for keeping "my" theme. :)

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Re: NEWS | State of the Toolset and Forum

Postby giftfish » 03 Feb 2016, 18:15

The Fob wrote:Hmmmm, I never did receive PMs for thank-yous/thumbs ups. Probably some obscure setting somewhere?

BTW, thanks for keeping "my" theme. :)

Hmm... maybe it's a setting inside the UCP then... will need to take a look.

And, ha ha. I was sort of figuring we'd keep all the new themes. I didn't want to influence the poll by saying so, but that was my hunch. I'm sure other folks besides you already area or will end up using the design BB theme :) It's pretty different from the Exhibit theme, so a little variety is good. Plus, it's the only one with the full banner!

EDIT: Yep, it's a UCP setting. "Notify me if someone thanks my post."
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Re: NEWS | State of the Toolset and Forum

Postby Alvaro » 05 Feb 2016, 23:56

Hi:

After reading previous TheFob´s post, and beign a newcomer into the Me3Explorer secrets :) I must say I will miss some of the older forums like the download area one.

I can see Gitfish point because when I discovered this site and wanted to improve the textures of my games quickly to enjoy that imporved vissual experience everyone was talking about as-soon-as-possible!, then I started enjoying another not so quick :lol: but pleasant experience of expending countless hours reading, re-reading, bookmarking and re-re-reading both these boards and the wiki triying to understand what that magic toolset was, what those misterious textures were and how to make them work! :lol:

So, yes, Gitsifh, you are rigth... to get the rigth info was confusing... to say something! :lol:

But on the other hand, I also found that messy place -the Download area- was the best place to start to learn because there were sooo many mixed questions and answers. And those drove me to other forums here like bugs report, etc. It was not easy to find the rigth info quickly but the rigth info was up there. Just a matter of learning, time and pacience!

I would love to see something like that in a future soon -or to reopen it for not loosing all the already posted knowledge-.

But bottom line is that I fully support you all in any decission / improvement / change here like the ones we are experiencing now. Times are changing and everything, this comunity included, evolves.

I will miss older forums like I will be very to sorry to hear that the toolset development would stop at some point. But, well, that´s life! What it cannot be changed is the good work you all have been done in the past and you are still doing now here guys!

Thank you very much!
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