Posted by on September 17th, 2015

Everybody!

Maylyon here with a new blog!  If you just rushed to your “Nerd Kingdom Trading Cards” deck and didn’t find me there, don’t fret; I joined the Kingdom in March and have been quietly working behind the scenes as the Lead Infrastructure Developer.  (On a side note, if those cards don’t exist, we should change that … .)

One of the things that has impressed me the most since joining the company is the perseverance of the modding community.  You guys have such amazing ideas for ways to enhance or improve the gameplay of TUG, but the journey from “concept” to “deployment” seems fraught with needless perils:

  1. How can we have multiple collaborators working on the same mod?
  2. How can we manage changes to the mod over time?
  3. How can users report issues with the mod in a coherent and cohesive fashion?
  4. How can we deploy mods to the end users?
  5. How can we trust those end users to know:
    1. How to install the mod for use?
    2. How to update the mod when it changes?
    3. How to not blame the author when Nerd Kingdom changes the Eternus API?

The last may be a lost cause, but the answer to most of the other questions right now seems to be “the forums”.  The forums are a great tool for fostering discussion in the community, but they seem like a less-than-ideal fit for the challenges that face a modder.  Towards that end, we are actively working on Devotus!

Devotus will be a mod content distribution pipeline that facilitates the creation and deployment of mod content by the mod authors for the end users.  With Devotus, we hope to allow the modders to focus the majority of their efforts on creating amazing content that pushes the boundaries of what Eternus can handle and stop worrying about the nuts and bolts of deploying a mod.  The rest of this blog will focus on answering, “What does Devotus provide?”  The next tech blog will focus on answering, “How can I use Devotus to be awesome?”

The first step towards admitting that you have a modding problem is registering your mod with Devotus.  When a mod is registered, a blank git repository is created on GitHub; this will be the main home for the mod content that you create.  Utilizing a third party git repository site allows us to leverage a proven implementation without the development time and risks of building our own in-house solution.  Git repositories on GitHub should help mitigate frustrations 1 – 3 above:

  • Multiple authors can be added to the git repository to allow concurrent development efforts (more on the “how” in the next blog) – or not.  You could be sole author on a mod and choose what forked changes you want to propagate upstream into your repository.
  • Git provides revision history so you can track changes over time (often read as: “know who to blame when things break”).
  • GitHub provides mechanisms for users to report issues with a repository, allowing mod authors to receive feedback and bug reports from the community.

I am definitely not providing a comprehensive feature set list of GitHub; if you want more information, hit up their website or contact me at [email protected] and I’ll do my best to address your questions/concerns/loathing.  A few items to note here are:

  • Mod names must be unique within a target game domain in order to combat the chaotic nature of the universe.
  • Mod authors will need a GitHub account and a Nerd Kingdom account to register and manage mods.

Another feature of registering your mod with Devotus is the creation of a GitHub IO page.  This page is yours to brag about … er, explain … your mod to the community at large.  I’ll let the next blog cover the features that are being worked to enable you to create page content highlighting your epicness; I just wanted to provide a teaser to hopefully pique your interest and incentivize you to read the next blog … .

The second step towards admitting that you have a modding problem is publishing mod content for end user consumption.  When you tag your git repository with a release tag in the format “v<Major>.<Minor>.<Revision>-release” (e.g. “v1.1.2-release”), a GitHub webhook will push an update command to the Devotus server that will revise the mod information within Devotus and build a ZIP file of the mod repository contents.  The intent here is that you will perform a trivial action (tagging your repository) and Devotus will take care of the legwork necessary for that content to be available for download by the end users.

One hurdle of publishing mod content that Devotus attempts to mitigate is mod dependency resolution.  Mod authors can indicate that their mod depends on another mod, and Devotus will provide a single download package that contains all the files necessary to use the mod.  This feature could be used to develop content that depends on a utility mod (such as Johny’s “CommonLib”) or to develop a mod collection with a single-click installation ( “DaBoom” that contains all of UFIOES’s mods, including “Thermobarics”).  A limitation here is that the mod that satisfies the dependency must also be registered with Devotus.

The final step in admitting that you have a modding problem is sharing that problem with others!  Tech is planned to incorporate a Devotus browser into the Nerd Kingdom Launcher to mitigate frustrations 4 – 5b above:

  • Mods can be browsed, downloaded, installed, and managed by end users for use in-game.
  • Out of date mods can be identified before loading into a world and experiencing massive amounts of Lua errors!

This tech is the biggest piece of the ultimate goal:  getting a mod into the hands of users.

So that’s it for me rambling about Devotus and scratching the surface of what we are working towards.  @TheCamboRambo suggested that blog readers enjoy pictures.  The backend isn’t visually interesting, but I want to make the audience happy, so I’ll end with this:

image

In the meantime, check out the latest NK Cribs video from Josiah!

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