https://i.imgur.com/AQDblp6.jpg
UPDATE: Valve has pulled paid mods from Skyrim.
http://steamcommunity.com/games/SteamWorkshop/announcements/detail/208632365253244218

A few days ago, Valve and Bethesda teamed up for a controversial new program: paid content on the Steam Workshop. What this amounts to in its current form, is that modders can charge for their work through Steam. On paper this seems like a good idea. In practice, it's a nightmare.

To begin with, the split is massively unreasonable. Apparently Valve is letting publishers decide on the split, and for Skyrim mods, Bethesda has decided that they will receive 45% of the proceeds, Valve will receive 30%, leaving only 25% for the modders.

Second off, many mods that have been free for years now require payment. If you have some of these mods, and if you're *lucky*, when you load up your modded save file in Skyrim, you'll see nag screens asking you to pay. If you're unlucky like me, when you load up your save file that missing content will make your save unloadable. I'm not even sure which mod or mods are causing the problem. In order to continue my game I would literally need to buy a mod that I've been using for years, check to see if my game loads, and if not, repeat with the next mod until it works. I will not pay for these mods (I'd be looking at paying more than the initial $60 asking price for the game) so I will no longer play Skyrim. I've lost the game, basically.

The worst part for me is that this changes what we paid for. Some of the very few people who are OK with this program are using the new Unreal Tournament as an example of why this is ok, but UT was planned for paid mods all along. That's how they're making their money, since it's free-to-play, and you know this from the outset. With Skyrim, the rules are changing 4.5 years down the road.

This has created a massive division in a once friendly community. Free modders against paid modders, players vs. modders, players vs. Valve and Bethesda...

There's another fear that, with Bethesda getting such a huge cut, that there's no impetus on them to develop their own DLC for future games. They still get paid when modders make things, so why do they need to keep their own game alive? It's a disturbingly realistic fear.

There's also the quality issue. Bethesda and Valve aren't checking quality on these. If a mod breaks in an update nobody has any recourse for a refund, and even the flagship mod that they're pitching this program with is very broken/badly designed.

The rating for Skyrim on Steam has dropped from a 98% overwhelmingly positive to 89% very positive. There's a petition with 113,000 signatures to remove the paid mods.

Valve and Bethesda are in full damage-control, seemingly banning people on the Steam forums (some permanent bans) for criticizing the new program.

Mods have always been free. Mods are something players create for the love of the game. It's a community, not a business. On the Nexus, you have the option of donating. Valve could have done something amazing with a donate button, never requiring payment but allowing it, but with this program alone, both companies have lost a ton of good will from their customers. If they don't fix this (and it really doesn't seem like they think there's anything to be fixed) I will seriously consider ceasing to purchase any further games on Steam if an alternative is available. This is purely bad for the players, and good for everyone else, and this is just the latest in a series of bad decisions Valve has made for their customers.

More info:
https://steamcommunity.com/workshop/aboutpaidcontent/
http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2015/04/24/valves-paid-skyrim-mods-are-a-legal-ethical-and-creative-disaster/
https://www.change.org/p/valve-remove-the-paid-content-of-the-steam-workshop

jdodson   Admin wrote on 04/26/2015 at 03:07pm

Right now I am getting an error going to the Steam page for workshop paid content. If you want to read it, check this Google cached page.

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:4rm-3WjvEmQJ:steamcommunity.com/workshop/aboutpaidcontent/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/26/2015 at 03:14pm

Assuming that isn't just a site problem, that could be a very good sign. Maybe they're taking it down or modifying it.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 04/26/2015 at 03:16pm

I think what Valve is doing is ultimately good. We have all seen how people can make skins for games like Team Fortress 2, DoTA 2 and CS Go and how well people seem to love that stuff. It seems similar here but implemented in a way that, for now, people don't seem to like.

I like the idea of people making some content for a game and selling it if they want. I also like the idea of someone giving away content for free if they want. I don't mind a split going to the people that made the game but 40%?

http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--xTHJWLch--/c_fit,fl_progressive,q_80,w_320/18lme3q8hy4l3jpg.jpg

I know Valves 30% split is sacrosanct but they could always double split that with Bethesda so 15% Valve / 15% Bethesda. Regardless, i'd like to see more go to the mod creators.

I think the other thing that people don't like is that the game they loved is now broken for them w/o paying. That is pretty bullshit but I understand why they did it. They could have done nothing, which is fine but Skyrim is such a huge mod game that starting with it made sense. They could have said everything in the workshop is free and all NEW stuff could optionally be paid but that would mean some creators uploading duplicate mods, which isn't great. OR they could have said, everyone that had this mod gets it for free and new folk need to pay, which would get around your broken game issue.

Regardless of how this shakes out(I actually trust that Valve will eventually do the right thing here) I don't find the idea of some creators charging for user generated content to be offensive. The thought that someone could make a bit of money releasing things people love seems like a good idea to me. Valve is becoming a store for traditionally generated content as much as for it's users and whereas this step is a bit strange it's nice to see.

Also if most modders find this offensive there are websites where they can release mods for free if they want. This isn't a terrible solution as then it puts a lot of importance on federating PC gaming which is really being owned by Valve right now. I love Valve but it's good to have a healthy ecosystem that isn't one silo.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/26/2015 at 03:25pm

I don't think the program is a bad idea, I think using it on an existing game and destroying the mod community of that game is bad. It's not about letting people make money on mods, it's about significantly changing the workings of a product we've already bought.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 04/26/2015 at 03:43pm

I think that is a good point. The mod community still exists though right? I mean, maybe some people are leaving it over this but it will still mostly be around? That said, destroying your save is bad and yeah, doing this to something already out is less than stellar.

Maybe they should have hit up Rockstar and done it for GTA V.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/26/2015 at 03:49pm

Yeah nexus still exists, but some modders are pulling their stuff from the nexus so that you have to get the paid version on Steam. Unfortunately it's a lot of the big awesome mods that are going paid only.

At best, there's a major rift in the mod community, and a ton of the amazing content people have been using for years is now behind a paywall.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 04/26/2015 at 03:50pm

Gabe responded on Reddit about this.

https://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/33uplp/mods_and_steam/

"On Thursday I was flying back from LA. When I landed, I had 3,500 new messages. Hmmm. Looks like we did something to piss off the Internet.

Yesterday I was distracted as I had to see my surgeon about a blister in my eye (#FuchsDystrophySucks), but I got some background on the paid mods issues.

So here I am, probably a day late, to make sure that if people are pissed off, they are at least pissed off for the right reasons
"

jdodson   Admin wrote on 04/26/2015 at 03:52pm

"Yeah nexus still exists, but some modders are pulling their stuff from the nexus so that you have to get the paid version on Steam. Unfortunately it's a lot of the big awesome mods that are going paid only."

Yeah, I bet some people do want to make money on what they create. I am not sure what I would do if I were them.

"At best, there's a major rift in the mod community, and a ton of the amazing content people have been using for years is now behind a paywall."

Yeah I bet there is a rift. Over time paid / free mods will be a thing and it will sort itself out I just hope Skyrim endures, it's a great game and it's sad to see people have problems playing it.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/26/2015 at 04:35pm

Yeah I wasn't satisfied with most of Gabe's answers on reddit. It seems like he dodged or didn't understand the important ones. He may just be in damage control mode and I get that.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 04/26/2015 at 05:02pm

This move is basically an overnight regime change, so revolt and unrest isn't at all surprising. If this system had been implemented with a new game, it would likely be largely received in a positive light. The biggest problem today, is that current game states, for people using mods which now require payment, is broken. To fix it, and continue the game you've already been playing, you have to pay more money. Keeping in mind that we've been playing a modified game, without any license or guarantee, and we aren't owed anything (that's the risk of using mods), this abrupt change in economy still seems really irresponsible on the part of Valve and Bethesda, and reeks a bit of opportunistic greed.

I can't tell if most people upset by this are simply users or actual modders, but the arguments seem to swing from "Why should I pay for something I've used for years without paying?" to "This will ruin the existing modding scene?" Both seem unconcerned with the fact that modding a game is a privilege, not a right, set forward by the games original creator. It's a wildly amazing part of geek culture, and I'm grateful for it. If anyone is going to profit off of mods, though, the original content creator should recieve the bulk of the revenue. People are contrasting this current revenue split with that of the Apple App Store, and they are two completely different models. The 75% split going to the devs on the App Store is for content they are creating from scratch (theoretically), not modified content of someone elses creation. Not to mention that the discretion is on the modder to charge for the mod (a little publicized fact). They can still offer mods for free, but if they want to start charging for derivative content, then the curators and IP creators should get a proportional cut. Bethesda could have forced every modder to charge for mods, but they didn't.

Reminds me of this enlightening scene in Tombstone: https://youtu.be/JJ79nNquQ0c

jdodson   Admin wrote on 04/26/2015 at 05:12pm

I don't know if the original creator should keep the bulk of revenue for a mod but a halfy half split seems reasonable to me. Thing is Valve takes it's cut, Bethesda takes its 45% and now the modder has 25%? I guess it's better than nothing but it's not amazing.

As to people not wanting to pay for things that were previously free, yeah you know I don't know how to address that. I don't partake in a ton of mods and if they all went pay I don't think it would bother me too much. If someone charges money for what they create seems to be up to them and I don't care about playing every bit of content in a game for $0.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 04/26/2015 at 05:16pm

Garry from Garry's Mod has some thoughts on the situation:

http://garry.tv/2015/04/24/paying-for-mods/

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/26/2015 at 05:28pm

I disagree with Garry that this provides better choice and better supported mods for users. Nothing has shown that to be true. So far the "better choice" is a barrel full of 50 cent weapons and taking away previous choices, and there are already many examples of incredibly poorly designed mods being charged for.

Now in the long run he may be right, but currently that isn't the case at all, and you can't call it a positive without evidence that it will come to pass.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 04/26/2015 at 05:42pm

(from http://garry.tv/2015/04/24/paying-for-mods/) ...but it’s the modder’s work that is making the money

Is it the modders mod that's making the money, or is it the original IP that drives that market? People aren't commissioning artists to paint Spider-man, simply because they are great artists. They are also, and more prominantly, paying for a composition of the character, one of which the artist likely had absolutely no hand in creating. If I'm laying the groundwork, and someone else is making more money than me because of my work, is that fair?

Now, I would totally think it logical that Valve should get less of a cut, since they really don't do much but offer convenience of execution. As of now, reportedly, the modder gets more than half of what Bethesda gets. That's totally fair. Maybe Valve should only get 15%, leaving the modder with 35% and Bethesda with 50%. Would that be better?

jdodson   Admin wrote on 04/26/2015 at 05:53pm

"Is it the modders mod that's making the money, or is it the original IP that drives that market? People aren't commissioning artists to paint Spider-man, simply because they are great artists. They are also, and more prominantly, paying for a composition of the character, one of which the artist likely had absolutely no hand in creating."

I agree. I also think there is a place for remix culture and it's not bad to figure out a system where everyone gets paid. For me, it's get a bit more hazy when certain people don't want to allow fan contributions OR remix creations. For instance, in music, anyone can cover a song and you don't need the authors permission to do that. If you do that and make money from it there is a royalty that is due to the composer. I kind of wish we had a system like that for most stuff and it seems Valve is sort of allowing the creators to set that which is nice but also problematic as the split seems a bit uneven.

"If I'm laying the groundwork, and someone else is making more money than me because of my work, is that fair?"

I heard this the other day and it seemed good. Not really what you mean, but it's about fairness and thinking about others having enough. For me, I am not as worried about Bethesda and want to see mod creators get a nicer slice.

http://www.stuffeddrunkandmerry.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/neighbor.jpg

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/26/2015 at 05:57pm

I don't understand why Bethesda should get more than the modder. It's not like the modder is redistributing a modified version of Skyrim, they're distributing a small chunk that was created using Bethesda's tools. Unity and Unreal Engine don't take a 50% cut of profits made using their tools. There are no assets being redistributed. It's just a framework with which to create content in a particular context.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 04/26/2015 at 06:10pm

Skyrim is more than a framework, it's a finished house. Unreal Engine is nothing without the games that come from it. Skryim will always be Skyrim (I hope), mods are superfluous to the Skyrim experience. Fun, and some even genius, but in the end, superfluous.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/26/2015 at 06:29pm

Yeah Skyrim is a finished house, but the mods are using a framework to create new content. They aren't selling Skyrim with extra content, they're only selling the extra content.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 04/26/2015 at 06:34pm

"If I'm laying the groundwork, and someone else is making more money than me because of my work, is that fair?"

I heard this the other day and it seemed good. Not really what you mean, but it's about fairness and thinking about others having enough. For me, I am not as worried about Bethesda and want to see mod creators get a nicer slice.

Would you think it more fair that there was a sliding scale of profit distribution the more successful a product is, essentially taking responsibility away from the creator to be fair, and placing a restriction on excess profits? Isn't that basically capitalism vs. socialism? Is that what this is all about?

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 04/26/2015 at 06:42pm

But, as you said, Travis, it's new content within the context of Skyrim. Without the context of Skyrim, that mod would be irrelevant. A new bathroom added to a house may increase the overall value of a house, but, without the house, that bathroom is fairly useless. Unless you're camping :).

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/26/2015 at 06:44pm

Right, and that's a good analogy. The people who made and installed your bathroom don't have to pay the original house designer 50% of their profits.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/26/2015 at 06:47pm

Furthermore, if mods add value to the game, in a case like the mod that finished the incomplete war between the imperials and storm cloaks, or the mod that fixes crucial bugs (unofficial Skyrim patch, I think it's called), if those mod designers charged, the mod designer is paying Bethesda for the opportunity to fix problems in their game.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/26/2015 at 06:51pm

Basically what I'm saying is that Bethesda or whoever could just release an unfinished game (which while I loved Skyrim, it kinda was unfinished), and rake in profits while others finish it for them.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 04/26/2015 at 06:54pm

"scrypt: Would you think it more fair that there was a sliding scale of profit distribution the more successful a product is, essentially taking responsibility away from the creator to be fair, and placing a restriction on excess profits? Isn't that basically capitalism vs. socialism? Is that what this is all about?"

It's not socialism at all, it's just a system where people that create stuff all get paid appropriately. Some people might get super rich from it, nothing wrong with that. Having the government decide the split seems good but often isn't because when such a system needs updating and there is little political will to do it, things suffer. So I like Valves approach but as we see with Let's Plays and YouTube where the company decides the split, it gets a bit uneven(Looking at Nintendo).

So yeah, I don't know what the proper system is myself but this seems like a good first step. I think that we will see some game developers giving all the money to mod creators and some getting more. I think we might see more or less content based on the rev split and I am curious how that will all work out.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 04/26/2015 at 07:22pm

Basically what I'm saying is that Bethesda or whoever could just release an unfinished game (which while I loved Skyrim, it kinda was unfinished), and rake in profits while others finish it for them.

That's a funny position, because that's what some feel the industry suffering from at the moment, only It's being done without mods (most Early Access, Destiny, Sim City, Battlefield 4, etc.). "Unfinished" also seems highly subjective these days. Most of my friends have put hundreds of hours into Skyrim. Unfinished or not, it's playable, and quite enjoyable. If Destiny supported mods, I would be ecstatic, and yet I've put hundreds of hours into it. Destiny is a proof of concept, and not much more than that. Should someone else be able to make a living helping to finish the game, without the consent from, or payment going to Bungie? Some would say "Hell, yes!", but I would argue, no. Make your own game. Look at Star Wars. In my opinion, Lucas did horrible things to his creation, but ultimately it's his creation and he can do whatever he wants with it. Yes, I think there may be cultural responsibilities, but in the end it's his art. Money has changed hands, licenses transferred, and now we are getting a Star Wars that we really want (hopefully) ;).

The house building analogy isn't perfect. Obviously, contractors are hired to build specific additions, not given tools to do what they want and then compensated retroactively based on an arbitrary scale. However, when the house eventually goes to market and sells, that bathroom contractor won't see a dime of the sale profits.

A game creator does not have to support the modding community. As I said before, this is a privilege subject to the terms of the original IP holder. Mods created outside of consent of the original creator is a breach of copyright law. Jon's comment about anyone being able to cover another artists song and not having to get permission, is only partly true. Performance of someone else's work in public is technically an infringement on copyright law, and the license holder could definitely take action. It's done so often and so widely that it's near impossible to police, but that doesn't necessarily make it okay.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 04/26/2015 at 07:30pm

I'll ignore the Star Wars getting changes from Lucas post release thing, not because I don't have an opinion but because I want to keep this about mods and since we love Star Wars I could see this conversation changing smile

That said, it seems OK to me(and the courts) that you can modify the things you own if you want. Might mess up a warranty or break it, but it seems you can change things you own. It get strange with digital goods, but I am pretty sure I have the spirt of the law right when I say that if I want to change something for my own use that should be fine. Distribution gets tricky(as you say) so Valve making a system like this with the original owners in mind is great.

"Performance of someone else's work in public is technically an infringement on copyright law, and the license holder could definitely take action."

I was talking about covers, which you're right doesn't quite address the modding issue specifically. I've covered songs at a live gig before, I think I owe someone some money but I never paid it. My apologies to U2 or whomever smile

That said, I still side with creators and people getting paid but I am not sure what I think when someone wants to lock what they do down and not allow any outside contributions to it. On one hand that seems wrong to me but on the other hand I don't mind granting a limited monopoly on something so people can sell it(the basic premise of copyright as I understand it but IANAL).

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/26/2015 at 07:30pm

"A game creator does not have to support the modding community. As I said before, this is a privilege subject to the terms of the original IP holder."

Nobody is arguing the legality. No doubt Bethesda could disallow modding altogether or require $200 a pop for them. They are perfectly within their right to charge whatever they want. That doesn't mean it's good for their fans or their thriving mod community.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/26/2015 at 07:47pm

OK I meant "I wasn't arguing legality," certainly there are legal points to be brought up, but my points were never about what they should be allowed to do.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 04/26/2015 at 07:47pm

We're not really arguing what's best for Bethesda, or their fans, but rather the viability of this new system, and the timing of it. To think that this will substantially change the modding community is silly, I think, and people that are taking reactionary actions are essentially protecting their own interests (and that's fine). Funny, though, that Modder A is understood, even lauded, in their actions to take down mod content because they don't want anyone else profiting off of their work, and yet Bethesda is being chastised for wanting a share in a completely optional system, if anyone cares to participate, but basically following the same principle. I don't understand that. Money isn't evil, nor is wanting compensation for work. Saying that Bethesda hasn't done any work, in regards to these mods, is missing the point. These mods would not exist without Bethesda's blessing, and Bethesda holds the rights.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/26/2015 at 07:50pm

Here's something interesting I just read though. Tons, TONS of mods are created with new assets from the free versions of Autodesk software. Many of those are now charging for their mods. This is against the ToS of the Autodesk educational software. There's an interesting legal issue.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/26/2015 at 07:54pm

I still don't know what you're arguing with "Bethesda holds the rights." Nobody has disputed that.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 04/26/2015 at 07:59pm

What if this system was implemented with Camera Obscura (which, as of now, has a total of 2 Steam Workshop files) instead of Skyrim?

Also, @jdodson but I am not sure what I think when someone wants to lock what they do down and not allow any outside contributions to it. That's an interesting statement. Feelings aside, do you think they should have the right to do this?

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/26/2015 at 08:04pm

With Camera Obscura it would certainly be less disruptive by a long shot.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 04/26/2015 at 08:06pm

I still don't know what you're arguing with "Bethesda holds the rights." Nobody has disputed that.

I thought one of the primary arguments was compensation, and how it should be divided, not whether this was good for the fans. My arguments concerning Bethesda as a copyright holder point toward the rationale of them getting a bigger cut than someone building a modification to their game (finished, or otherwise).

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/26/2015 at 08:11pm

Ah you're saying that is what entitles them to more compensation. OK.

Well yeah they're entitled to whatever they want to take, but they can't expect the world to be happy about that distribution. Is it fair? Does fairness even matter? I don't know. But it isn't good.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 04/26/2015 at 08:21pm

That was essentially my argument, that, I feel, it is fair, contrary to what's being said. Specifically as it concerns the contrast to what App Store vendors make. http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2015/04/24/dayz-creator-weighs-in-on-paid-skyrim-mods-your-turn-rockstar/

jdodson   Admin wrote on 04/26/2015 at 08:23pm

"That's an interesting statement. Feelings aside, do you think they should have the right to do this?"

Ugh. As a human I don't know how to seperate feelings from myself because they are part of my experience. Some say they can do it and I think they are not being accurate.

That said, I think in certain contexts ... I guess.

But I heard some musician say they wanted to lock down their music so certain people couldn't cover the music. I don't want to get into the context of the person that said it because it's not something I want to talk about BUT the notion of excluding certain people from that seems really wrong to me.

In the case of covering a song I think it's better to allow anyone to do it and charge a royalty.

In the case of a review video on YouTube I think it's better to allow them to show clips from said video if the majority of the work is original and charge a royalty.

In the case of a Let's Play video I think it's better to allow it and in the cases where the author wishes charge a royalty.

In the case of video game mods I think it's better to allow it and where the author wishes charge a royalty.

But as to the question of locking a work down from all outside contributions entirely? I guess so but it seems against the notion how stuff is created, which is to build on the work of others.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_Clause

"To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 04/26/2015 at 08:30pm

Ugh. As a human I don't know how to seperate feelings from myself because they are part of my experience. Some say they can do it and I think they are not being accurate.

I hope you stay away from serving on a jury! :D

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/26/2015 at 08:33pm

Well seriously, unless you're a Vulcan you can't. And even if you're a Vulcan you can't always. :)

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 04/26/2015 at 08:36pm

This might be getting off topic, but your pull quote explains exactly how the copyright laws protect creativity; by giving "exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." This isn't like programming, where open-source is a cool thing. "Open source" art isn't generally considered cool, especially among struggling artists. Working from inspiration and getting better at your craft by learning from someone else's work is an entirely different conversation.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 04/26/2015 at 08:36pm

More than likely why I wasn't selected for Jury duty. That said I bet is was because I made the entire court room laugh and the lawyer wasn't. It was fun, but you know I didn't get to serve and that bummed me out. Always next time.

That said, I can't separate myself from emotions but I can make choices based on rules. I do that all the time.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 04/26/2015 at 08:36pm

"Well seriously, unless you're a Vulcan you can't. And even if you're a Vulcan you can't always. :)"

https://longboxgraveyard.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/spock.jpg

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/26/2015 at 08:40pm

I've been at court for jury selection twice but both times they had the jury before I even got called into the courtroom for the questions. I was also bummed out, I wanted to do it. Civic duty and all that.

Also @scrypt: I'll say that they are entitled to it but it isn't exactly "fair" but at that point you get into a debate of semantics that I'm really not interested in, lol

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/26/2015 at 08:41pm

And Jon, a brief aside-- your pic-- did it bug you how different NewSpock is from OldSpock in how his emotions are controlled?

jdodson   Admin wrote on 04/26/2015 at 08:44pm

"And Jon, a brief aside-- your pic-- did it bug you how different NewSpock is from OldSpock in how his emotions are controlled?"

Yes, it does. One of the reasons people loved Spock is because he was the guy that could keep it cool most of the time. HE WAS THE BEST OF US!

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 04/26/2015 at 08:45pm

For the record, Defense Council Travis, did you read this article before making that last comment? http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2015/04/24/dayz-creator-weighs-in-on-paid-skyrim-mods-your-turn-rockstar/

I don't want to argue semantics, either. That sounds exhausting! ;)

jdodson   Admin wrote on 04/26/2015 at 08:48pm

"This isn't like programming, where open-source is a cool thing. "Open source" art isn't generally considered cool, especially among struggling artists."

Creative Commons stuff is the closest thing I can think of when I think of Open Source art, and I think lots of it is cool. That said we both care about people making a livable wage and if they can do that with what they do, the better.

"Working from inspiration and getting better at your craft by learning from someone else's work is an entirely different conversation."

True, but when we consider how stuff is made realizing that we don't build in a bubble helps when we try to think about what kinds of laws to work inside.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/26/2015 at 08:52pm

I did, and I disagree with some of the points used to get to that.

But the fact of the matter is that this is entirely uncharted water and there are no analogies for what is going on here. The app store model doesn't work here, neither does the professional developer percentage example. It isn't exactly a derivative work. It isn't 100% new content.

I think it will work itself out to a good spot eventually (hopefully, maybe) but damn did they ever pick a bad game to start this experiment.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 04/26/2015 at 08:54pm

I think it will work itself out to a good spot eventually (hopefully, maybe) but damn did they ever pick a bad game to start this experiment.

100% Agreed.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/26/2015 at 09:05pm

The only thing that concerns me, and this is going slightly off-topic but maybe not really, is that they've known for a while that Greenlight is broken, Early Access is broken, and their customer support is broken, and they've said "yes we're working on that" for a while now, and nothing has really changed.

People are saying this is the death knell for Steam and that's going way over the top, it's nothing of the sort. But I hope they do actually start working on their problems.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 04/26/2015 at 09:17pm

I'm betting, and this could be me being totally naive, that once Galaxy drops from GoG, you might see Valve a little more active on maintenance front. That level of a competing product, I hope, would be taken seriously by Valve. I'd like to see Riot form a relationship with GoG. I doubt it will happen, but that would be a fun, big deal ;). Now I'm getting way off topic!

jdodson   Admin wrote on 04/26/2015 at 09:29pm

"People are saying this is the death knell for Steam and that's going way over the top, it's nothing of the sort. But I hope they do actually start working on their problems."

Death knell for Steam? heh. That said, I imagine they will improve, they seem to be getting better every year.

"I'm betting, and this could be me being totally naive, that once Galaxy drops from GoG, you might see Valve a little more active on maintenance front."

I used to just want to own games in one place(Steam) but now I really like that I have quite the catalog on GOG, Humble, Origin and Ubi. I might not love Ubi's system but it's nice to know I don't have all my eggs in one basket. I like GOG so I wish them well and hope for a nice client launch I can try out soon.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/26/2015 at 09:44pm

Origin is getting really good, actually. And they have top-notch support from everything I've read.

Did you two sign up for the GOG Galaxy beta? It's pretty sweet in its early form. A client was the only thing I was missing from GOG, now that they have it I'm super-excited.

As for Ubi I have no real experience with their client by itself. I've only ever used it through Steam. I've never bought anything straight from Ubi's store/client, it just launches when I play an Ubi game from Steam. For the most part it gets out of your way but sometimes something just blows its mind.

As for "they seem to be getting better every year," as far as I know the big complaints people have had in recent years haven't been touched, most notably their customer support. Steam in the early days was a nightmare, though, and they've definitely improved their client and framework over the years, and earned their seat at the top of the PC client charts, but some competition would help improve some of the other issues.

And scrypt, let's just embrace being off-topic :)

jdodson   Admin wrote on 04/26/2015 at 09:52pm

What kinds of support issues should they address? I've had support issues in the past and they took a bit to get back to me but seemed to help me out. Are you talking about games running at all or people not figuring out how to work Steam?

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/26/2015 at 09:56pm

No their customer support is just straight up bad. They take weeks to answer and then pick out some keyword for the question, paste a form answer that doesn't solve the problem, then it takes two more weeks to get a further response back. Every time Gabe shows up in an online discussion he seems to pre-emptively address it too, like "I know it's terrible, we're working on it."

I can't remember what the question was, but last year some time I had a question that went unanswered from two different support reps pasting two different form answers that had nothing to do with my problem. I eventually just gave up. At some point in there they told me my ban wouldn't be lifted, even though I've never been banned.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/26/2015 at 10:02pm

http://www.pcgamer.com/valve-on-customer-service-support-we-have-to-do-better/

This discusses their current stance on it.

https://www.change.org/p/valve-corporation-improve-steam-customer-support

A petition with examples, and some of these are kinda like what I dealt with.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 04/26/2015 at 10:06pm

I've never gone directly to Valve for support issues. I usually surf for answers on the web. Maybe I've never had a serious enough issue, but then I rarely, if ever, go to software companies for tech support. I don't know why. It might be more helpful if I did (or not, as the case may be).

I believe I signed up for the Galaxy beta, but never heard anything from GoG. I'm really anxious to try it out, as that's the only reason a lot of my GoG games have gone uninstalled. It's a sad excuse, I know, but there it is.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/26/2015 at 10:10pm

It isn't a sad excuse, at all. It's why I haven't bought many games from GOG. Having a client is so convenient!

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/27/2015 at 02:47am

Honestly, coming back to this after a few hours, I'm still really quite upset at the fact that they could have done some incredibly basic QA to determine that save files could be totally screwed for people who don't wish to buy the mods that transition to the paid model, and neither company did. That's the kind of oversight people get fired over, it's so incredibly simple.

I moved my Xbox 360 save over to PC, and installed the DLC, and tons of mods. Played happily for quite a while, and now that game is ruined. I could pirate the mods, but Jeez, should I really have to do that to continue my game? I'm just disgusted and disappointed.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 04/27/2015 at 03:26am

Wouldn't you just have to chalk that up to the risk of using mods? I don't think that QA could have helped. The fact that the game states haven't been transferable between modded and natural games is evident of that. Who would you hold responsible for that?

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/27/2015 at 03:33am

Bethesda knows that save games under modded games require those mods. If you have any state saved that changes the defaults a mod installs, then your save file requires those mods, and removing them will break it. Bethesda and/or Valve should have known that modders would take away their free mods to replace them with paid mods. It's a very short line to broken save files.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/27/2015 at 03:34am

Plus, "the risk of using mods" isn't something they can reference anymore, if that's paying customers.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/27/2015 at 03:34am

(no, I'm not a paying customer in this case)

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/27/2015 at 03:37am

Also under normal circumstances, with the previous "risk of using mods," I could roll back to a known working mod if something broke.

I can't do that anymore. The workshop removed my file automatically because I didn't pay for it (even though it was free when I subscribed to it), and the mod is no longer available on the Nexus.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/27/2015 at 03:38am

ALSO I should learn to fully think through my comment before posting so I don't end up with 5 where one would have sufficed.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 04/27/2015 at 04:02am

I'm sure they understood that save games could break, but what could they have done to prevent that from happening (aside from, of course, not implementing this system)?

jdodson   Admin wrote on 04/27/2015 at 04:35am

1. Grandfathering in existing Steam mod subscribers to not require them to pay.

2. Not doing it.

3. Heavily modifying the Skyrim save system to... OK this is nutty impractical. smile

jdodson   Admin wrote on 04/27/2015 at 04:42am

Here is a Lawrence Lessig talk on laws that choke creativity. It's about remix culture and is from 2007 so it's somewhat dated. That said I think it's relevant to this discussion as companies are now allowing mods(I think they are kind of remix) to be monetized by mod creators and this seems like a good development if not implemented strangely in the case of Skyrim.

http://www.ted.com/talks/larry_lessig_says_the_law_is_strangling_creativity?language=en

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 04/27/2015 at 06:34am

I don't know how I feel about so-called "remix culture." Frankly, I think it's weird that everything has an index these days; an ism, or a culture, or genre, or whatever the next thing is. I don't really buy his whole talk either, for some reason. Good art and creativity tend to come out of adversity. The poignancy of message is lost when the struggle for art is watered down to the point where no message can even take hold. Personally, I'm not a fan of sampling, even though I like some songs that use it. I remember watching the Grammys one year ( I think it was the Grammys), and Sean Combs was on stage with Sting, and they did some weird mash-up of Every Breath You Take, with Combs rapping during what would be the verses... It was a sad moment for me. I suppose you could argue that it was creative, but to me it just looked like bad art, and a poor representation of each of those artists abilities. Remixing the works of existing art can sometimes bring about cool things, I guess, but often it just comes off as uninspired. As a creator, why would I want to literally base my work on someone else's? Then there is the misrepresentation of the original artist; how often is credit given to the original work in these remixes?

I'll have to watch Lessig's talk a couple more times. I didn't see anything in there about laws choking creativity, which I'm not sure is even possible.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 04/27/2015 at 06:40pm

Good article from a perspective of a modder who would like to be paid.

http://www.pcgamer.com/im-a-modder-i-deserve-compensation/

I've seen some posts where people are saying "This is what we want, we want modders to get jobs working for studios." I mean, I don't think that's the dream for everyone. In the case of this modder, it's not his at all.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 04/27/2015 at 06:57pm

After watching through a couple more times, I think I'm even more confused. I feel like Lessig is insinuating the stifling of creativity, but what he's really talking about is the stifling of innovation, which makes a lot more sense to me. Opening user generated content up for business should be the title of the talk (it's his opening statement). His examples don't seem to hold water, either. Did ASCAP suffer because BMI offered free music, or due to boycott because of an attempt at outrageous increases in licensing fees (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASCAP_boycott), which would be a much different story.

An argument could also be made that such uses of remixing or free access have actually hindered creativity, at least in some respects. Pieces become rehashes of rehashes to the point where we're just living in a loop of regurgitated art (this is basically why 'hipsters' are a thing). It's innovative, but not really creative. When everyone has access to everything all the time, the landscape tends to look uniform, the past and the present blur, and then how are you left to express yourself?

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 04/27/2015 at 07:27pm

Why does the date on that article say April 26, 2011? What is the criteria for posting on PC Gamer? It reads more like a blog post. He doesn't really make any points as to why he should get paid as a modder, only that he deserves it because he works hard, while mocking the companies that allow modding in the first place. In fact, at one point he basically is just telling the reader to abandon opinion, and agree that modders deserve to get paid. That's not a good article.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 04/27/2015 at 08:04pm

"Why does the date on that article say April 26, 2011?"

It's says "on hour ago" to me, but it could be some bug.

"What is the criteria for posting on PC Gamer? It reads more like a blog post."

I guess i'd compare it to an opinion piece like you'd see in a newspapers opinion column. I don't mind a diversity of opinions on a particular topic, not sure where he urged anyone to abandon a point of view, but I sort of lightly read it.

As to what you said about Lessig, I hear you. I mostly agree with his points but I can see where you are coming from. If culture has become worse because of technology in the ways in which you say, that may be true. That said, compared to earlier decades i've been part of there are tons more options and I think, in general, I am pretty happy with the quality of creative works. I think the market is in a "sequel-itus" sort of focus which can be good(loved the new Dawn of the Apes movie) but can also be as you say, rehashes and not very good.

JaBo wrote on 04/27/2015 at 08:13pm

tl;read anyways

I'm surpised no one has mentioned Dota yet. That game was a mod of WC3. They eventually broke off to make their own game. Their game did not add features to the existing WC3 game like most skyrim mods do. They created a new game with WC3's tools.

I don't play too many mods because I'm lazy to look them up and install them and keep everything updated. I did use some oblivion mods and they were awesome.

Here's my thoughts on what has happened:

They shouldn't have implemented this on a game that's been out for so long with free mods for so long. No one made those mods to make money and changing it now seems silly.

As a consumer, I hope there is a good balance to this. Twas a good point about developers releasing unfinished games on purpose to allow modders the ability to finish the game for them and still let them reap the profits. I think ultimately, this will balance itself. Modders will look for a good split and good effort before they spend their own time "fixing" a game. And hopefully a company recognizes this when they release a half finished game. This could be beneficial... There's certainly been games that developers gave up on half way but could have been released due to high demand and available modders wanting to tackle it

From a modder perspective, it only opens doors, so I don't see a negative here. They can still create a mod and release it for free if they choose. They just now have another choice and this may drive modders to create even better content. (The flip of that is of course, people now creating and trying to sell shitty mods. Again though, the market will have to sort that out).

I'm really not sure what valve is doing for their cut though. It seems crazy they want to take such a huge slice.

I think the cut between developer and modder should be case by case and will be driven by supply and demand. If a company is releasing a game with mod support and they want active modders to keep their game alive, maybe they'll offer a better split. However, if a top tier game is being released and they have plenty of their own content to come or they just know their game is solid and will be a prominent game w/o mods, they may very well take a bigger cut from modders. And why not?

Modders will start looking at games to mod and add it up themselves. The biggeer the game, the bigger audience it hits and more likely their mods will earn them money. Maybe a modder will make mods for Elder Scrolls VI even though their cut may be 15% instead of for Neighborhood Backyard Brawl where they'd receive a 35% cut because in the big picture, they know they'll make more money from a bigger game.

I can only hope that the quality of the games and mods don't suffer from this.

But yeah...Dota. I'm curious how things would have developed with that game had this new program been implemented back then.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 04/27/2015 at 11:06pm

Bethesda wrote a bit about why they are doing paid mods.

http://www.bethblog.com/2015/04/27/why-were-trying-paid-skyrim-mods-on-steam/

"This was in 2012 and we had many questions, but only one demand. It had to be open, not curated like the current models. At every step along the way with mods, we have had many opportunities to step in and control things, and decided not to. We wanted to let our players decide what is good, bad, right, and wrong. We will not pass judgment on what they do. We’re even careful about highlighting a modder on this blog for that very reason.

Three years later and Valve has finally solved the technical and legal hurdles to make such a thing possible, and they should be celebrated for it. It wasn’t easy. They are not forcing us, or any other game, to do it. They are opening a powerful new choice for everyone.

We believe most mods should be free. But we also believe our community wants to reward the very best creators, and that they deserve to be rewarded. We believe the best should be paid for their work and treated like the game developers they are. But again, we don’t think it’s right for us to decide who those creators are or what they create.
"

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 04/27/2015 at 11:08pm
jdodson   Admin wrote on 04/27/2015 at 11:13pm

"But we underestimated the differences between our previously successful revenue sharing models, and the addition of paid mods to Skyrim's workshop. We understand our own game's communities pretty well, but stepping into an established, years old modding community in Skyrim was probably not the right place to start iterating. We think this made us miss the mark pretty badly, even though we believe there's a useful feature somewhere here. "

Right. I hope they continue the model with some other game though, it's not a bad way to roll if it's the right fit. Travis, are you happy with this? Will you come back to Skyrim? I hope your game isn't forever hosed.

JaBo wrote on 04/27/2015 at 11:51pm

Good on them!

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/28/2015 at 01:05am

If my game can be continued then yeah I'll definitely come back to it.

And I was never against the model, just the implementation of it and the fact that they chose a game with a vibrant mod community already, and massively changed how it worked.

And seriously "we obviously had no idea what we were doing" is about the most honest thing I've ever heard from a company. I love them for that.

I'm disappointed in how short sighted they were but this redeems them entirely.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/28/2015 at 03:10am

Wow, this will be the 80th comment!

It works! I had to resubscribe to a couple. There seems to be at least one that I have forgotten, but it doesn't halt my save file loading or anything.

I messed around a bit, and I'm remembering why I stopped playing last time. I can't get to Solstheim! The loading screen just loads indefinitely. Perhaps I'll work on fixing that.

But yeah, the save file is back. :)

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 04/28/2015 at 04:12am

That was kind of an intense two-day roller coaster! Now, we're right back where we started, except there is this thing that happened, which will hopefully come back in a better way. It feels like it was all a dream...

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/30/2015 at 12:47am

Haha, yeah. EA has been pretty nice lately.

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