I don’t know if everyone’s (or anyone’s) going to agree with me on this issue or not, but its how I see things and I thought I might share the idea with all of you.
The game content provided by DLC races is very similar to the kind of work that modders for this game strives to make for the community. Sometimes I feel that buying DLC is an insult to modders who have created races, and to the potential modders that may create even better ones still.
However, buying official DLC has several advantages:
- the ships are beautiful.
- modders can mix and match the new artwork to create all new ship designs.
- we enjoy a lot of support for this game and DLC helps to pay for that.
- a new feature tends to be added to the game to support some feature of the new race.
- more people use DLC than modded content, which is important for a community-focused game like this
None of these are reasons to buy DLC, or to prefer it over free modded content. Altogether, however, they provide a very powerful argument and I think most people would agree with me that it’s worth it to buy at least a few low-cost DLC expansions when it comes with all of these advantages. I don’t necessarily encourage people to buy ALL the DLC races that were ever made or that ever come out, but I encourage at least picking one or two low-cost expansions that seem particularly interesting.
For me, as a modder, or at least a potential wanna-be modder, I face the contradiction that my mods may reduce the demand for DLC.
The truth is, I don’t need DLC. Most of the mods I’m interested in and the tools I need to make my own mods are provided for free. Ethically, however, it seems I should be paying to support these free tools & improvements. I’m not willing to spend money blindly, and I’m not so sure that I can somehow be guilted into spending more than I already paid for the game… I do enjoy the game, and after all, I did pay for it. The idea that I “should” feel obligated to pay more is kind of disturbing.
I’ve been wrestling with these issues. Here’s where I’ve drawn the line:
Every DLC race that has been released has included a new game mechanic of some kind that did not exist before. As modders, we have free access to that mechanic because of the nature of the game and the lack of DRM and the way its files are distributed and so on and so forth. I consider that “feature” to be part of the DLC expansion, whether that’s technically true or not. Without the swarm expansion, that weird anti-missile area effect weapon wouldn’t exist. Without the tribe expansion, we would have no salvo weapons. Modders or not, we can not simply add area effect weapons and salvo weapons on our own.
A mod I am working on uses salvo weapons for Railguns. Ethically, I think I should have to buy the tribe expansion (which I did) in order to use salvo weapons in my mod. Further, I don’t like the idea of people downloading and using the mod if they also did not buy the salvo weapons with the tribe expansion (or by some other official method, if one ever becomes available).
I’m trying to limit how much expansion-specific artwork and features I use in my mods. This is one of the reasons my mods focus primarily on the four main races.
Obviously, this won’t apply to all mods. A swarm dreadnought for example doesn’t really have these issues to worry about. But when designing a couple nuclear or radiation weapons… well, it seems to me like I should at least encourage people to have the Order expansion before using the mod, even if its something completely unrelated like a Voltron mod or something.
Taken too far, this philosophy will have the opposite effect, perhaps resulting in less mod content for DLC races… so its not a clear and cut solution… for example, I don’t know if I would feel right making an Augmented Defenses Mod for some of the DLC races. That would mean distributing copies of every DLC weapon (slightly modified). That seems like it would cross this ethical boundary. In the end, I can’t police my own ethics. I’ll probably have to release the modded content, and hope that people who download it will use it in a responsible manner, and not just as a way to cheat out of paying for DLC. But I will put off that day as long as I can for now.
These are tough issues, at least for me.
But I think the overall philosophy is sound. Without X, there is no Y. If X is something you normally have to pay for, you shouldn’t use Y until you’ve paid for it. Even if Y will replace X or reduce the need for it. We want more Xs to make more Ys, afterall. (Wow, I just had a flashback to a weird biology lecture…)
The end result is that I’m happy with the Deluxe Edition, which included all three DLC that came with new features to mod some cool stuff. I don’t feel particularly obligated to buy the Nomad expansion, since the DLC race didn’t help me mod or enjoy other mods. On the other hand, Cliffski did fix the ship size bug at the same time, so I can theoretically imagine these being packaged together… perhaps if I ever make a mod that uses gigantic ships or download mods that used a lot of Nomad artwork, I will reconsider my obligation toward Nomads. Or maybe a gigantic Nomad ship?
For others who want to enjoy modded content, I recommend you buy the DLC for which those features were created for in the first place. Tribes for salvo, Order for radiation, and Swarm for cost-adjustment on hulls and the bizarre anti-missile defense. As modders, we should suggest people buy these DLC packages if our mods use any of these special features. In my mind, it can be thought of like the little checkmarks on challenges.
(Remember checkmarks? Yep, way back when I was a kid, and we had to trudge through 40 lightyears of snow and icy comets to move the family’s buffalo cruiser… )