The New BSN Project Inventory

Updated 31 October 2016

31 Oct 2016 โ€” The inventory is almost finished. We’re wrapping a few things up, but it will be complete sometime over the next couple of weeks. Note that this does not mean all projects are available for download. It means all projects have been catalogued, and any authors we have been able to track down have been contacted. In most cases, we have been unable to locate authors t make contact, and of those we have contacted, most have not replied.

08 Sept 2016ย โ€”As seen in our post on The Future of BioWare Site Content, BioWare has now announced that all player-generated content on BSN will be “phased out” sometime in the near-future. This re-affirms the importance of the inventory effort.


BioWare Social Network was established as, well… a social network. A site centered around encouraging social interactions among fans and developers. Part of this social interaction including providing a home for fan-generated content. Blogs, fan-fiction, artwork, “Projects” (mods). All could be found on the BSN.

By 2014, when the site was placed into read-only status, there were 4170 mods present. Some of these mods have been around since 2009, racking up almost half a million downloads, and continue to be used by thousands of players during their playthroughs of Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age II, Mass Effect 1/2/3, and Neverwinter Nights. All will be gone when the BSN closes two months from now.

Many of these projects cannot be found elsewhere on the web, which means preserving this content is one of the major goals of BCN. Currently, most of our efforts are focused in this area, as it’s a monumental task to complete in such a short time. There are also significant… complications.

Inability to Bulk Port

A bulk port would be the easiest way to preserve all Projects. However, despite numerous requests by the community and other 3rd parties, BioWare hasn’t been particularly receptive to doing their part to ease archival efforts. That means we have to do it manually.

Those of you familiar with Nexusmods might be wondering why they couldn’t help out the community out by doing a bulk port (similar to the one they did recently due to the closure of FileFront). Well, here’s why:

  • Nexusmods resources aren’t infinite. They’re especially stretched at the moment.
  • A decent proportion of BSN Projects already exist on Nexus. These would be replicated in any bulk port, which is problematic.
  • Mod author permissions end up disregarded in any bulk port, which makes bulk porting the last resort.

Inventorying the Projects

So, manual it is! The first step in preservation is to create an inventory of what’s present. This record will be very helpful for mod users, and is currently being built in the form of a spreadsheet. In the future, if a player wants to know if a mod from BSN is hosted somewhere else, they can consult the sheet to find out. If so, then a download link to the alternate location will be present.

If the mod isn’t found anywhere else… well, that’s where the rest of the preservation effort comes in ๐Ÿ™‚

Lack of Author Permissions

Before any mod can be uploaded to a new host, permissions for the mod need to be assessed. Contrary to popular misconception (or perhaps, purposeful delusion), every mod is the property of its author. In most jurisdictions in the U.S. and elsewhere, a mod is no different than a book, piece of art, or music, and is subject to copyright protection by default as a unique, creative work. This is why it’s technically illegal to re-upload a mod without the author’s explicit permission.

Unfortunately, unlike the extensive list of features offered by specialized mod-hosting sites like Nexusmods, BioWare didn’t include any permission-specific features for Projects. This means that the vast majority of authors failed to specify permissions in their mod description, simply because they weren’t prompted to do so.

When permissions are missing from a description, we have to download each mod manually and check for the presence of a read me file, comb through comments, and sometimes check other sites.

If none of these pan out, then we need to contact the author. First, we ask if they’re aware of the closure, and second, if they’re willing to re-upload their mod to a new host. If they prefer we do it, we will, but it’s less work for us if the author takes responsibility for their own mod.

We will never upload a mod without the author’s explicit permission.

Open Mods

Projects with standing, “open” permissions that allow users to modify/upload the mod, will be uploaded to the appropriate Nexusmods site. Nexusmods is the logical choice as outside of BSN, it hosts the majority of Dragon Age and Mass Effect mods available on the web. The closure is already fracturing the community; we’d like to avoid fracturing of mods as much as possible.

Any mod uploaded to Nexusmods will be fully attributed to the original author. In addition, we’ll attempt to use the original description, and as much of the original content will be retained as possible.

Contributing

There are lots of ways you can contribute to the work BCN is doing:

  • Mod Authors. If you’re a mod author and your mod is on BSN but doesn’t yet exist elsewhere, please get it re-uploaded. Then, inventory the mod yourself on our spreadsheet to save us some work.
  • Inventorying. Any player can help with the inventorying process. All it takes is time and a bit of spreadsheet editing. If you’ve never worked with spreadsheets before, it’s not difficult, and there are directions provided. Join the discussion on Nexusmods so we can help you get started ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Communication. If you don’t have time to inventory, but are in contact with various BSN mod authors, scan through the spreadsheet to see if we’re trying to get in touch with them. Leave us a comment providing their contact information, or, better yet, tell them about the situation and try to get them to re-upload their mod(s)!
  • Help spread the word! Link this website around your social media sites so players and modders find out the closure. Lots of folks don’t yet know, as late summer is a popular vacation time.

Thanks for reading and to everyone who takes the time to contribute. We appreciate it!

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The Future of BioWare Site Content

Updated 02 November 2016

As discussed in our first blog post, BioWare has been extremely tight-lipped about the future of non-forum related content. Here’s where things stand so far:

BSN Albums + Blogs + Polls + Projects

02 Nov 2016 โ€”Projects are again available. We suspect there was some glitch related to the forum closure, but there’s been no clarification from BioWare.

31 Oct 2016 โ€” BSN Projects have been unavailable since 10/27, the day after the forum closure. This was unannounced, so we’re attempting to get clarification from BioWare as to whether this is a permanent removal. The rest of BSN seems to be available.

Please help us prompt a response by contacting BW on social media and adding comments to this ticket.

08 Sept 2016 โ€” BioWare has now confirmed that all player-created blogs, polls, and albums will be removed sometime “in the future”:

bsn_closure

Unfortunately, this message is only visible when players log in to their account. The publicly-viewable message is much rosier, and contains no notification about future removal of content:

bsn_publicclosuremessage

If original authors wish to preserve their content, they should re-upload elsewhere, now. We can guarantee there are thousands of players out there who are hoping you do so.

18 Aug 2016 – BioWare has announced BSN Projects will continue to be supported… for now.

forumclose_projectsstatus

While BCN is *very* pleased about this, BioWare’s handling of this situation has left a pretty bad taste in our mouth. The community has no idea when support for Projects will be pulled and how much notice we’ll have. EA’s Terms of Service states the following:

9. Termination of EA Services

EA may terminate access to EA Services, or parts of such EA Services, at any time by giving you notice of such termination within the time period specified when you joined the particular EA Service, or if no time period for notice of termination was specified, then within thirty (30) days of the date such notice is either (at EAโ€™s discretion) provided to you via email or is posted on the applicable product or EA Service or on http://www.ea.com/2/…rvice-updates.

Therefore, BCN will continue with its efforts to inventory projects, contact authors, and encourage the uploading of all mods to third-party sites.

Original Post – As with blogs, it is extremely likely that all 4173 projects (mods) will be lost with the BSN closure. BCN is currently creating an itemized, archival inventory of these projects, sending out PMs to notify authors of the closure, and obtain information about mod permissions. This is a large task and more help is needed. See this post for details.

Forum

26 Oct 2016 – The BioWare Forums are now a thing of the past; SWTOR forums remain available.

forums_closed

13 Oct 2016 – Fextralife will not be re-hosting the “Fan Creations” BioWare forum due to permissions issues associated with authors who hosted their mods in various threads. Unfortunately, this also means all BSN Character forums (which were combined with Fan Creations when BSN closed) will not be available for viewing on Fextralife.

26 Aug 2016 – The forums went read-only as of 9:00AM PDT. Players can still log in, but all posting privileges are revoked, and both private message and group interfaces are absent.

Original Post – The official BioWare Forums are obviously the main area to be closed, as per BioWare’s announcement.

There are many informational posts on the BioWare Forums that act as guides or surrogate project hosting threads. For example, the infamous Mass Effect Modding thread, JeanLuc’s textures, or the Mass Effect Cinema mods. As part of the forums, these resources will be lost unless they are manually backed up and re-hosted by others.

Forum Groups

26 Aug 2016 – Groups are officially no longer available with the transition to read-only.

Original Post – BioWare has been clear that all groups will be lost with the forum closure. This extends to any private content posted within that group.

Dragon Age Keep

BioWare has officially confirmed that the Dragon Age Keep won’t be affected by the impending closures.

BioWare Points

We suspect these are about to go the way of the dodo, along with the hosting of DLC outside of Origin. Stay tuned.

Official DAO Toolset and Wiki

Linked to the BSN site, we suspect BioWare will be making some type of announcement regarding the relocation of this content and will update this section when we know more. That said, BCN and Fextralife have backups.

13 Oct 2016 – We apologize for the late notice on this, but there is a bit of an update related to the DAO Wiki. Sunjammer, who has written most of the wiki, has revealed on Fextralife that BioWare will be relinquishing control sometime in the future. Here’s the post in its entirety:

sunjammer_daotoolsetwiki

Official DLC Downloads

Official DLC are the property of BioWare and cannot be hosted on other sites. In addition, Most players are aware that these are linked to your account and cannot be viewed or downloaded unless logged into Legacy BSN. Which is why…

We strongly encourage you to download copies of all DLC for any games you own, now.

Official Patch Downloads

As the Official DLC, game patches belong to BioWare and cannot legally be hosted on other sites. We’re sure they have plans for them… we just don’t now what they are yet.

We strongly encourage you to download copies of all patches for the game you own (or are thinking about purchasing), now.

Technical Support

A mere two years ago BioWare was still providing technical support for their games on their official forum. No more. BioWare has confirmed that technical support questions for their titles should continue to be addressed to EA Help. You lucky players, you! EA’s support is at least as good as Comcast’s ๐Ÿ˜€


Site Archiving

Due to the vague nature of BioWare’s initial announcement (and a lack of communication afterward), a group of players erred on the side of caution and took it upon themselves to start preserving BioWare’s content. BCN is part of this effort. Full site archiving is the most foolproof way to retain all information contained on the BioWare Forums and Legacy BSN. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of time… and hard drive space.

  • BSN (social.bioware.com) – BCN has four complete backups. This includes Projects, the DAO Toolset, and the DAO wiki. Private blogs and projects cannot be backed up.
  • BioWare Forums (forum.bioware.com) – BCN’s back up for this site is a WIP and isย  currently sitting at 460GB and counting.
    • 16 Aug 2016 – Felexea has ported Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age Keep, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and the Mass Effect: Andromeda forum to Fextralife. More to come.
    • 25 Aug 2016 – ME1 forums ported to Fextralife.
    • 02 Sep 2016 – Mass Effect 2 forum ported to Fextralife. Only ME3 and DA2 remain.
    • 20 Sep 2016 – ME3 and DA2 forums ported to Fextralife.
    • 13 Oct 2016 – Fextralife will not be re-hosting the “Fan Creations” BioWare forum due to permissions issues associated with authors who hosted their mods in various threads. Unfortunately, this also means all BSN Character forums (which were combined with Fan Creations when BSN closed) will not be available for viewing on Fextralife.
    • 26 Oct 2016 – Fextralife will not be porting forums for Legacy titles such as Baldur’s Gate, NeverwinterNights, and others. This is due to lack of demand as well as other forum communities that already focus on these games.
  • Original Mass Effect Site (masseffect.bioware.com/me1) – While BioWare hasn’t mentioned this site, specifically, it’s extremely outdated and still hosts the final ME1 Patch. BCN has two backups of this site.

Forum Replacements: Unofficial Fan Communities

Updated 22 August 2016

In response to the impending forum closure, numerous fan-created “unofficial BSN” forum communities are being erected. Word is currently being spread about these communities on the BioWare Forum, but this information will be lost in late October once the site is taken down.

This post will attempt to keep an updated list of the major new fan sites and some old standbys. For those of you who enjoy getting together with fellow players to theorycraft, discuss your favorite players, and more, one of these new forums may be for you.

Thanks to Crustry and Lady Artifice for collecting this information and posting it on the BioWare Forums.

  • Beamdog Forums – Similar to Neverwinter Vault, but with a Baldur’s Gate emphasis. Also hosts projects. — Added 16 Aug 2016
  • BSN on Proboards – New BSN is the most recent of the splinter communities and the largest. Created by Cyonan as a means of keeping the community intact, it emulates the old BSN format and alongside uBSN, is intended to be a direct successor site. The endorsement and involvement of respected community heavyweights, as well as its swelling population, are its biggest strengths.
  • Fextralife – A website run by Fexelea, the Fextralife forums are a place where people can discuss the Mass Effect and Dragon Age. Fexelea is also one of the few people attempting to archive and preserve the data of current BSN and provide continuity of post history. The attached wiki network gives people access to information on a variety of games ranging from Dark Souls to The Witcher.
  • ME3Explorer – The official modding site for the unofficial toolkit for the Mass Effect trilogy. The Off-Topic area can be used for game theory discussions.
  • Neverwinter Vault – An active modding and discussion forum for Neverwinter Nights. Includes project hosting, and many, if not all, NWN mods on BSN.
  • Nexusmods – The forum associated with the largest mod-hosting site on the internet. Loads of discussions going on for a variety of games, and unlike BioWare, Nexus understands the concept of moderation ๐Ÿ˜€
  • RDF – RealDragonAgeFans was founded by AutumnWitch and initially served as a hub for Dragon Age discussion. It has since expanded in scope to accommodate the coming closure of the BSN. It is the oldest of the splinter communities, created in 2014. Its focus on in-depth lore and romance discussions is its biggest strength.
  • RPG Codex – This prestigious magazine forum is a place for civilized people wishing to have warm, polite discussions on the intricacies of interpersonal relationships within RPGs. It is a welcoming space for those who wish to talk about emotionally engaging cinematic narratives, instead of cold, clunky and outdated mechanics. I should mention that, seriously, RPG codex is only for those with thick skins.
  • Sorcerer’s Place – Contains a variety of gaming forums, including Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, and Dragon Age. — Added 16 Aug 2016
  • ThaneMOD – A support and development forum for BackOff, ThaneMOD, ME3Recalibrated and other mods by giftfish, the ThaneMOD forum has a “Shore Leave” section where folks are free to discuss any and all topics related to BioWare games. Heavy moderation enforced, including mandatory registration to view content and a 24-hr post-hold for new members.
  • The Refuge – Opening a bit later than some of the other BSN spinoffs, The Refuge is clearly a forum committed to promoting discussion for all BioWare titles. It includes localization forums for Dragon Age and Mass Effect, as well as support for MMOs and legacy titles, such as, SWTOR, NWN, and BG. The forum is structured in the flavor of BSN, well-designed, feature-rich, and created by ViSeiRa. — Added 22 Aug 2016
  • TSG – Top Shelf Gaming is a site created by Johnnie Walker as a staging ground for her future YouTube channel. As a result, the forum’s focus goes beyond BSN/BioWare. Moderation style is more relaxed than its contemporaries. Growing community events (movie night, twitch streams), strong banter among a tight-knit community, and an open politics board are its strengths.
  • uBSN – The Unofficial BioWare Social Network was the first forum to emerge that attempts to be a direct replacement for the BSN. Run by Cassandra Saturn, its desire to emulate the current BSN format for smooth transition is its most unique feature.
  • VSN – Originally conceived by VroomVroom as a lifeboat for when the Off-Topic Lobby was shut down, the Vroom Social Network offers to replicate and foster much of the off topic discussion once found on BSN. Vibrant activity in the media sections (especially anime) is its biggest strength.

BioWare Forums closing; future of Legacy BioWare Social Network (BSN) uncertain

Update: The official BioWare Forums went read-only today, Friday, August 26th, 2016 at approximately 9:00AM PDT. The forums will be taken down two months from today.

Future announcements from BioWare will presumably be posted on their blog and social media sites. BCN will monitor these outlets and post any relevant updates here.


On 29 July 2016, BioWare Corp. made the following announcement regarding the official BioWare Forums and the Legacy BioWare Social Network (BSN) sites:

bioware_blog_post

Community reception was swift, unpleasant, and summed up particularly well by, MrFob, the creator of MEHEM:

fob_reply

In their blog post, BioWare failed to acknowledge several important details regarding the closure. Despite repeated requests by the community, as of today, 11 August 2016, they still have not acknowledged the following in regards to the legacy BSN site:

  • How will the approximately 4200 BSN Projects (fan-created mods) be affected by the closure of the site?
  • How will the official Dragon Age: Origins (DAO) Toolset be affected by the closure of the site?
  • How will the official DAO Toolset Wiki be affected by the closure of the site?
  • How will the official DLC and Patch downloads for DAO, Dragon Age II, Mass Effect 2 be affected by the closure of the site?
  • How will the soundtrack downloads for Mass Effect 3 be affected by the closure of the site?
  • How will the redemption of promotional codes be affected by the closure of the site?
  • How will the registration/verification of game content be affected by the closure of the site?

For updates and answers to these questions as they unfold, see The Future of BioWare Site Content.