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1 - Introductions

They say its a right of passage for .NET developers to write their own blogging website application (maybe it should be "write of passage"). But writing a webapp for a blog is a complete waste of time when all you need is a web server for serving static files, like Apache or nginx. If you want to be fancy, you can setup a cronjob to pull from a Git repository periodically so you can update files easily. Although I'm not a big fan of a lot of .NET technologies, so I might be a bit biased (imagine if Microsoft had contributed to Java instead of making their own version). But that's enough for my negative opinions on .NET, since it's actually a very powerful platform, despite it's shortcomings on most platforms.

Let me introduce myself. I'm NGnius (hahaha my dumb username finally paid off), or NG, and I'm the guy who runs this website that you're on right now. You know the web server setup I cheekily mentioned above? That's exactly how I configured this website. I also maintain quite a few mods on, with help from NorbiPeti. Together, we're the two main contributors to the GamecraftModdingAPI, the developer-friendly interface for mods to interact with Gamecraft. Before getting into modding, I played a lot of Robocraft (~1.5k hours) and wondered if there was something more productive I could use my time for. The answer came partially in the form of becoming a Robocraft moderator and almost an admin (am I allowed to tell that story?). Despite what people said about us moderators, we were a pretty good bunch. It's hard to have a perfect crew when everyone is a volunteer, so there were a couple of not-so-great mods during my time as a moderator. The good ones stuck around though, which is what really counts. I eventually quit because I wasn't playing Robocraft anymore, but I like to think I wasn't a not-so-great mod. By that time I knew that Gamecraft (then RobocraftX) was coming out soon, so I stuck around to see where that game would go. I was cautiously optimistic because I was around for CardLife and Robocraft Royale. When FreeJam stopped working on Robocraft to focus on Gamecraft, I knew Gamecraft was going to stick around for a while. I wanted to learn C#, the language most of Gamecraft is written in, for a project at work, so getting into modding seemed like a great way to learn. I ended up never actually using C# at work, but Gamecraft modding proved to be an interesting challenge so I didn't stop. Sometime in between my last day as a Robocraft moderator and the first Gamecraft mod, I went website domain shopping and got because I could use it for Ex-moderator or RobocraftX mod stuff. Since the former idea was pretty pointless, I rented a couple of servers in a datacenter and spun up an Apache server and a Gitea server instance. The first server is still used to host the RobocraftX Save Manager update server, although I've stopped updating that program, but it now primarily hosts all of the Exmods websites. I guess that makes me the leader of Exmods, the first (and only) Gamecraft modding group. There's no reason to be concerned, since I know what I'm doing... I think.

Let me introduce Exmods. If you've spent anytime in the Exmods community, you probably already know that Exmods is the Gamecraft modding group. We provide modding help and infrastructure to make it easier to create and install mods for Gamecraft. Exmods is completely independent from FreeJam and Gamecraft developers, so all of our mods are unofficial. These services are provided completely free-of-charge (well, for you -- I get charged every month for the servers). I don't ever want to make Exmods stuff cost money for others, mainly because this creates two problems without easy solutions.
1) A problem as old as the open-source idea itself: How do you make money off of open-source software?
2) A more personal problem: How do you justify collecting money you when you could pay for it by yourself?
(This doesn't mean devs shouldn't make paid mods -- if they can make it work, good for them!)

There do actually exist solutions to the first problem, but they aren't great. Red Hat offers paid customer support, among other things, for open-source software but that can hurt user adoption when good installation instructions are behind a paywall. Similarly, Canonical also offers paid customer support for open-source software that the company develops, but they also offer provisioning services, which could be adapted to my situation by charging developers for access to Exmods, an option that's bad for developer adoption and will result in lower user adoption. The solution to the second problem is for me to embrace capitalism in all its glory, but a lot of modern companies have shown how that goes, so I'd have to also give up some of my morals. Looking forward, the only scenario that would make me monetize Exmods would be if I ran out of money, and likely the monetization would be a Patreon link or something similar. That scenario is not impossible, since I only work four months a year; a 4-month summer job and then two 4-month university terms with expensive tuition. But it's still unlikely to happen, and won't get in the way of my other aspirations for Exmods.

On that note, where is Exmods heading? Would it surprise you to know that I actually have no big plan? I don't have a big plan, but I do have some smaller goals. Exmods is a hobby project, so these goals are pretty much guaranteed to change as my interests change. Primarily, I'd like to see the Gamecraft modding scene grow. As far as I know, at this moment there are exactly two Gamecraft modders in the world, with maybe a few more people who run modded Gamecraft clients. At the time of writing, there are a few more than 10 concurrent users playing Gamecraft right now. If both of us modders were playing right now, we wouldn't even make up 20% of Gamecraft players. That number is way too small. Community growth is a positive feedback loop (like social networks) if we can give it a shove to get it started. Equally, I'd like to make amazing Gamecraft mods. I'm a computer nerd and nothing makes me happy quite like writing code does... Maybe that's why I don't have a girlfriend. Seeing your own creation being used by others to create amazing things is something else. I've experienced a bit of that feeling while making Pixi, and it's wonderful. My third goal is for Exmods to last. I often abandon projects soon after I've gotten them off the ground because I'm bored of them or nobody is using them. Lots of hobbyist programmers suffer from this, but I'm really trying to break the habit. To accomplish some parts of my goals, I'm starting this blog.

So let me introduce this blog. My YouTube channel could help satisfy a lot of the goals I have for Exmods, but I like video editing a bit too much. I enjoy the whole video creation process, from script writing to recording to video editing, but that enjoyment comes at the cost of effort; it often takes me a couple of days to create a video. Unfortunately I rarely have 24+ hours to spare to create five minutes of content. This blog will allow me to offer more details and spend less time on delivery. This won't replace my videos, but it will supplement them. If I can come up with a good way to cut down the time to create videos, this blog may even go hand-in-hand with new videos. With a bit of luck, this will help keep me involved in Exmods as my interest inevitably waxes and wanes. The ease of creating blog posts will enable me to write about almost anything Exmods-related, which is something I can't do with videos. For example...
Ever wondered about the experience of modding an ECS-based game? Want to know what makes Gamecraft tick? What happened in the Gamecraft modding community last week?

That's it. That's what this blog is all about: an accessible outlet for me and Exmods. Hopefully somebody finds it interesting.

Welcome to the Exmods blog!