Post by giftfish on Jan 8, 2017 18:45:52 GMT
Modding has changed a lot since many of us got started in 2012-2013. For those of you who are fans of TES games and are active on Nexus, you're likely aware of the huge amount of challenges the Elder Scrolls modding community has faced since the release of Skyrim. Steam Workshop and paid-for mods, rampant mod piracy (especially with the new ability to console mod), the two camps of "cathedral" and "parlour" modding views, monetization of YT videos, and overall, simply the topic of permissions itself in the world of modding.
We're insulated from a lot of this. Bethesda strongly supports modding of their games; BW/EA do not (generally). However, that doesn't mean they never will.
Official mod hosting platforms and Paid-for mods
While BW (and the ME team in particular) has never supported modding, there's a good chance that at some point EA will figure out how much more money they can make by allowing mods. They already have the platform in place, after all: Origin. It wouldn't take a lot of effort on their end to implement an official, EA-ized version of Steam Workshop. Game houses can make a ton more money on an ongoing basis, by creating official mod hosting platforms and then taking a cut for each mod uploaded. This is a no brainer for the company, but for mod authors, it's much more complicated. For example:
- What monetary cut is appropriate, for what could be thousands of hours of work?
- Does hosting your mod there mean you surrender your rights to distribute on other, free platforums?
- How does charging for a mod change your liability as the creator?
- How does paying for a mod change the expectations of users?
- How does charging for a mod affect mods that contain assets -- used with permission -- from other modders? Especially if those modders don't charge for their own mods?
Another complication is that paid-for hosting increases the incidence of piracy. Because, money. And, if EA decides to implement this 3 years from now (and allows mods for the original ME trilogy) it could very well affect modders in this community who have come and gone. Of course, there's a much larger chance of it affecting Frostbite engine modders, since it's EA's engine, and if they want, they could release a creation kit.
So, ME mod authors, what do you think? Would you want the option to be paid for your mods?
Monetization of Assets/Mods
Related to the above, but a slightly separate topic: the monetization of your mods (directly or indirectly) or assets used in your mods. There are two common problems right now:
- Situation 1 -- You don't take donations for your mods, and it's impossible for you to actually get paid for them. You grant permission for someone else to use assets from your mods. That modder decides to take donations for the mod in which your asset is used.
- Situation 2 -- You don't take donations for your mods, and it's impossible for you to actually get paid for them. A user them comes along and features your mod on YT or something, and earns ad revenue via your mod.
These are very sketchy situations and they are happening constantly. Each provide a great example of why including thorough permissions with your mod is so important.
ME Modders, how do you feel about others potentially monetizing your assets, when you basically... can't?
Cathedral/Parlour Modding Views
The topic of permissions is our segue into this next topic.
The cathedral/parlour language is in reference to open vs closed modding (cathederal = open, parlour=closed). The implication is essentially the same as open source vs closed source software. The lingo was coined by Wrye back in the Morrowind days, and needless to say, it didn't go over very well. STEP has recently taken up the mantle in their crusade to advocate for open modding, and there are many, many heated discussions on Nexus and STEP about the topic.
I laugh a lot about this debate, for two reasons. One, the entire thing seems predicated on the fact that there will be some universal agreement among all mod authors. Obviously, this will never happen. Two, in the U.S. and many foreign countries, the act of copyrighting is automatic. Any unique, creative work is automatically copyrighted upon creation. This includes mods. Bethesda, for example, reiterates this in their EULA. Folks who mod their content own the rights to their mods, despite the content being somewhat derivative. The mod itself, is still a unique creative work.
ME modders, which do you prefer, and why?
Having thorough permissions for your mod is vital. Besides observing and participating in a variety of discussions on Nexus, nothing has taught me this more than working on the BioWare Continuity Network project.
I'd say that 90% of mods on BSN currently have no permissions included. That's likely conservative. Modders didn't include them, as BW didn't construct the platform in a way that either forced or encouraged them to. Many authors likely simply didn't realize it or think about it, as there was nothing there to prompt them for the information. And, when permissions are absent, then the mod must be treated as closed.
I'm going to say that again for users (and even some modders) reading this thread.
When permissions for a mod are absent you must treat it as closed.
That means even using assets with an annotation that the "author was unreachable" or "will remove if contacted by the original author" is not acceptable. You cannot assume an author is okay with you using their assets just because you can't contact them or they don't respond. If you do this on Nexus -- and the admins find out -- your mod will be removed. Absence of permissions is not an implicit approval. And, no, just because it's on the internet doesn't mean it's free. What are you, five?
Modders, as part of every project, you need to include a proper and exhaustive list of permissions. This is your hard work. Let folks know what they can and can't do with it. Obviously, it won't deter someone who is intent on piracy, but many users and modders are very good about reading permissions. What they can't do is read what isn't there.
For a great example of thorough permissions, take a look at any of Artmoor's mods for Skyrim:
Redistribution is strictly forbidden without prior consent. This means do not upload it anywhere unless you have obtained permission from me.
Non-English translation versions may be uploaded without permission on the following conditions:
1. All mod files contained in this archive are retained with their current names.
2. No alterations are made to the contents of the plugins or master file other than those necessary to translate the English text.
3. No alterations or additions are made to the meshes and textures other than those necessary to translate English text.
4. This readme is included, in ENGLISH, exactly as it is written in the version it was downloaded with.
Compatibility Patches may be distributed ONLY under the following conditions:
1. Permission must be obtained from me in advance. There will be no exceptions to this.
2. The documentation for the patch must mention that I am the creator of this mod.
3. The documentation for the patch must contain a link back to one of the download sites listed at the top of this readme.
4. You are solely responsible for any support issues arising from the use of the compatibility patch.
All inquiries regarding this mod must be directed to me. If after 1 year contact cannot be established or you have not received a response, stewardship of this mod will fall to the community at AFK Mods (afkmods.iguanadons.net). I can be contacted via PM at Bethesda Game Studios Forums, TES Alliance, TES Nexus, Great House Fliggerty, Dark Creations, AFK Mods, and The Assimilation Lab under the username Arthmoor. I can also be contacted via my blog at www.iguanadons.net using the contact form there. A good faith effort must be made before assuming that contact cannot be established before concluding that I am no longer maintaining this mod.
Mod history archives such as Morrowind Mod History are permitted to keep a copy of this mod within their archives for historical purposes provided all authorship and credit information is retained and the contents of the mod are not altered in any way.
It covers localization, redistribution, and patches. It also covers what do to in his absence to ensure his userbase never loses access to his mods. It's not perfect (for example, it doesn't cover indirect or direct monetization), but it's very comprehensive.
I want to encourage all mod authors to review the permissions for their mods. Tell your users and other modders what is and isn't okay