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MODDERS OF THE CAPITAL WASTELAND AND NEW VEGAS, LEND ME YOUR EARS (OR EYES AS IS THE CASE)!!!
I issue this article in hopes that it will help stem the continued abuse of not only my locally stored files, but the local files of all downloader’s!
You may not have heard of the term, "Naming Conventions" before, so let me provide a brief introduction to it. The name itself means what it implies: a common naming scheme for a set of objects. This practice is beneficial in a multitude of situations, and it exist in most companies; from game producers, to coders, to networking professionals, and even my sock drawer (just kidding.. well kind of).
By joining in on a particular naming convention standard, you are promoting the organizational use of your mod - which makes your mod that much more professional.
So what exactly am I talking about?
1) The TITLE name to MOD function relationship.
2) The MOD function to FILE name relationship.
3) The FILE name to ESP/ESM name relationship.
4) And everything in-between (FILE to TITLE, ESP to MOD, etc)!
How do they relate to each other?
Does the titles name make sense with what the mod intends to do?
Does the file name and esp name match the title?
Why does any of this matter?
A "bad" example
Let's jump into a mock example to explain this a bit further. I know some people don’t care for the “Modding for Dummies” approach that includes a story to relate to, so if that is you, just skip this and you be no worse for wear.
Part 1 – TITLE to MOD
Browsing through the nexus website, you come upon a mod entitled "Mr. Coffee 5000". Looking at the title you think to yourself, "That's a weird title, I wonder what it does?", and you proceed to click on the link. Going into the mod, you might assume that it must have something to do with an uber coffee machine that will grant you special bonuses to stamina and endurance, or perhaps a wicked new weapon to pummel your enemies with!
Alas, this is not the case. When the page loads, you realize that the description explains how this mod changes where the 3rd person POV camera position is.
WTH? How is this related a coffee machine? Scanning around the page you notice that the mod was made by someone named "mrcoffee21". AH-HA! The correlation is finally made between the title and mod, albeit in a very poor way.
Part 2 – MOD to FILE
Since you were (indirectly) looking for a 3rd person POV camera mod, you decide to download the file and check it out. Clicking on the file tab, you see a single file available, and you download it to your local machine.
(Being a skillful downloader, you have a standard download location for all your mods to inspect and scan for viruses prior to unpacking into your fallout directory, yes? I'll give you a moment to create one so that you can answer properly to that question...)
Upon going to your special download location that you just created (shame on you) to check out the mod's content, you discover that you cannot find the file. You are sure this is where you downloaded it! What on earth is going on here!? You decide to re-download the file to track where it was sent. Upon clicking to re-download, you realize that the file name is "Version1", and after checking your download folder, there it is... “Version1.zip”!
As my mother would say, "Oh, for crying out loud!"
Part 3 – FILE to ESP
But the fun doesn't stop here folks!
You decide that this is not the first time this has happened (nor will it be the last), so you proceed to rename the zip file yourself. Next, after scanning and viewing the compressed contents, you extract it to your data folder. This is when the latest in unprofessional flops occurs - the name of the mod is "camera.esp"!! Although this does relate to the mod's actual purpose, it has nothing to do with the title, or the file name.
Okay, I don't I'm asking for much here - but let me ask nevertheless.
Strict naming conventions would have everyone name their files in accordance with the same EXACT guidelines. However, I see this is unnecessary (partially) for the purposes of mods. However, some consistency would be appreciated. Here’s what I have in mind:
Name your title according to what it does (some exceptions).
Don’t name your file something like “BOOBIES!” just to get hits. You’ll only end up with a disappointed download ratio and a sore head from getting whacked with the BanHammer!
- If your mod changes the 3rd person POV camera position like in the above example, then it would be more suitably named "Overshoulder Camera Change 5000", or even better "3rd Person POV Camera". Both of these explain what we might expect to see within the mod.
- If you are making changes to another existing mod, use that mod's name as a prefix to your mods name. Naming your mod "RH Ironsights – Big Guns" would clearly show people that this mod takes what was being applied to the “RH Ironsights” mod, and expands it for use with some or all of the Big Guns (somehow - which sounds like an interesting mod). Similarly, seeing a mod named "FOOK 2 - Gun Spread" would indicate that this mod is not only an expansion of FOOK 2, but that it will be dealing with how gun spread works while using both mods.
Whatever you name your title, name your downloadable file the same!!
I have made tons of comments regarding this exact problem within individual mods themselves (which is what sparked this article in the first place).
If your title is different from the download file name, it only causes confusion and frustration on the part of your audience. Why punish and anger them for downloading your hard work? Many modders simply don’t recognize that whatever they name the file on the Nexus is exactly what the file downloaded by the end user will be named - regardless of what name they have it stored as on their local machine.
- Name it the same. If your mod title is “LHammonds Banhammer”, then your file name should also be “LHammondsBanhamer” or “LHammonds_Banhamer” (for better readability).
- Name it similar. If your mod’s title is "Bob’s Weapons of Mass Destruction", that title will not fit in the file download section properly, so it could be named something like "Bobs_WMDs". This links the file name directly to the mods name in a condensed and clever manner.
File Name & Version
The file name should also include the current version number as well, so that it is distinctive from other versions.
Note - this is your FILE NAME, not the ESP.
- Using the above examples, the file name would be further professionalized by having appear as “LHammonds_Banhamer_vA1” and "Bobs_WMDs_v2_1".
ESM / ESP Name
The ESP name should also be the same as the title and file name.
Some people are under the impression that once you name it, it cannot be changed. This is untrue, so change it from “ChestersMod13.esp” to a more appropriate name!
- When naming the ESM / ESP, keep the same abbreviations that you used in the file name (if any). This way, it’s association to the file is easier to follow (Bobs_WMDs.esp).
- Note here that the version number is NOT included. This is done so that when the new version is placed into the data folder, the original file gets overridden properly. If you include the version number in the ESP, you could end up multiple files in the data folder. For instance: “Bobs_WMDs_vB7.esp” & “Bobs_WMDs_v1_0.esp”. This can cause major havoc for everyone’s game!
- This applies to expansions of existing mods as well – with a slight twist. If you expand on the work of “Weapon Mod Kits”, then your ESP needs to be named the same way that theirs is in the data folder. For example, if “Bob’s Weapons of Mass Destruction” expanded on WMK, then a proper way to list it in the data folder would be:
WeaponModKits.esp WeaponModKits - OperationAnchorage.esp WeaponModKits - ThePitt.esp WeaponModKits - BrokenSteel.esp WeaponModKits - PointLookout.esp WeaponModKits - Zeta.esp WeaponModKits - Bobs_WMDs.esp
This is slightly unrelated to the above standards that I propose, so I wanted to cover it separate from the main four topics. However, I still feel that this is a legitimate request as well, so that people issue proper version numbers to their mods. In fact, I feel that many people simply don't understand how to do this properly, so here is how I view it (others may differ):
An item is in ALPHA status during the untested development of the add-on.
This is NOT a standard version that is often seen on Nexus - except with larger mods that require assistance with its construction, development, or preliminary public testing and feedback.
You should still create ALPHA versions of your work. I have several ALPHA versions of my mods, but they are only stored locally on my machine during their development, not publicly. Alpha versions should always start with a capitol A (Bobs_WMDs_vA12).
For my mods, I use not only the letter designation, but also extensive zeros. For instance: “BA_Repair_vA0_021” - which identifies it as an ALPHA version by letter and by number. I never move the number next to the A to “1” until it hits release status. Other people conduct their number schemes differently but my point here is the letter designation “A” for ALPHA.
An item is in BETA status when it is believed to be semi-stable.
“Semi-Stable” could mean that all the code looks correct for the scripts, but it needs further testing. The models are designed to specification, but they may not look right on all body types. The conversation is programmed to go off without a hitch, but navigation of the menus have not all been thoroughly tested.
This is a common status for modders to first post their work on the Nexus. It gives their work to the public to try out in hopes of getting some constructive feedback on ways to improve it, or bugs that exist with the mod. We cannot think of every possible scenario during our own testing after all. :)
Beta versions should always start with a capitol B (Bobs_WMDs_vB7).
An item is in RELEASE status when it has been fully tested to the best knowledge of the modder, and is ready for use with little to no bugs.
Release status is the final version of the mod’s ORIGINAL concept design. This does not mean that the mod is done – never to be touched again. New ideas to expand upon the original design might be considered and implemented, causing the version to move upward.
At this point, any additional letters can be dropped from the file name (Bobs_WMDs_v1). In the instance above, where new ideas are added in, Bob’s mod might issue an update that looks like “Bobs_WMDs_v1_80”, which would be a semi-stable version of the new features. When everything that is intended to be added on is fully stable, a new bump of the first number would likely occur: “Bobs_WMDs_v2”.
Hopefully this article has inspired some mod authors to pick up the torch and run with it in the name of mod definiteness. Otherwise, hopefully it has annoyed people into at least adhering to a couple of these logical outlines.
My data files, my anal-retentiveness, and my sock drawer thank you for reading through all of this!! Happy modding!