A Long-Winded Rant on Modding Ethics & DLC

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:

  1. the ships are beautiful.
  2. modders can mix and match the new artwork to create all new ship designs.
  3. we enjoy a lot of support for this game and DLC helps to pay for that.
  4. a new feature tends to be added to the game to support some feature of the new race.
  5. 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… )

On the one hand, i agree with you, but on the other hand, Cliff IS distributing all of these features in the base package. If he wanted people to buy the DLC to get more modding functionality i’m sure he could have engineered some DLL loading solution so the features aren’t there if you don’t have the DLC. It seems like he’s saying “i made some DLC which adds X feature, but you modders can use it however you want for free as a thank you for buying the game at all”. Cliff can, of course, correct me on this :slight_smile:

I will never agree with u and i only read the 3 first lines of your post. Precisely, if u like this game and the authors are allowing you to mod it watever u like, u should buy any expansion they release, cuz i think the game is good enough for paying 6 or less and u are giving the autor the thanks. And with every expansion comes new ideas for modding, new modules and new content. If u tell me that i need to pay 20 for a DLC when i can do a mod for free, well obviously i will not buy that dlc. But 6$ or less??? come on… this game deserves it. And dont compare the mod u can make with the DLC. A DLC has better balance issues, better quality sprites, u will have new modules for using in your mods, and u will have new ideas to create. If u dont want to pay 5-6$ for a DLC is ok, but is a very good price, and the game deserves it.

I dont think too much people will agree with you, not specially when the expansion is only 5-6$.

You have raised some very good points which I have also pondered then from time to time.

I would respectfully disagree on this statement only because of the fundemental difference between modders and Positech.

Modders, like you and me make mods because we enjoy creating something new and exciting while adding more variety to a game we enjoy playing. While Cliffski enjoys working on GSB for the same reasons, he also has to earn a living - so selling his work as DLC is a good way get some money to keep the debt collectors at bay.

For me personally i am truly enjoying playing GSB and i usually have $5 disposable income so i go out and purchase DLC.
Mainly because it further enhances my version of GSB and hopefully my and everyone elses purchase encorage Cliffski to make more improvements.

You have to remember that DLC is the optional extra - you don’t have to buy it. If you want to pimp your purchase with some DLC, then go right ahead however, if your happy with the basic product and prefer 3rd party mods then there is no problems.

I do agree with you on that it is up to the individual and their ethics. As you have done in your original post and we as the community can do is encorage other players to purchase the game and DLC when they can afford to spare $5. Back when i was a kid, $5 was my pocket money for the week and we had to cross 50 lightyears of blazing nebular just to go to school :wink:

I feel a little insulted that people would take one line out of context and then assume I’m such a jackass that I would write two and a half pages on Positech’s own forum to discourage people from buying Positech’s own stuff. N3mesis, it’s too bad you only read the first 3 lines. If you had read at least the first 4, you might have a different opinion.

For what its worth - i don’t think your a jackass :slight_smile:

When reading your thoughts (i refuse to call it a “rant”) i easily get the impression that you wish to avoid creating a mod that could harm the sales of GSB because you have included content that people would normaly pay for.

I will admit that when creating my mod i asked myself the question:
“If i include this item in mod, will it stop people from buying DLC because i am including some of the content for free in my mod”

If you make your mod as unique as posible, you will not have to worry that you are harming the sales of GSB - instead you are enhancing them because you are increasing the varity of the game.

Its just i see absurd not to buy a DLC for 5$ watever the reason u have. Other modable games launchs dlcs for 20 $ and people still buying and modding in those games. Maybe for a kid, 5$ is a big deal, but i cant believe u dont have 5$ or less to buy a dlc. If u bought the game and the expansions, y u dont buy another one? u dont like the game? i dont see a valid excuse “i mod so i have free content, i dont need a dlc”. U think the author will be launching new dlc campaigns and new races if he knows people doesnt buy the expansions cuz they have free content creating mods? I never seen that spot on any modable game, sorry.

hang on N3MES1S: I still dont think Cetiah Nova is saying that people should stop buy the DLC when there is mod content.

What he as done by typing out his thought process he is ultimatly asking the question of: “if i create this mod, would it stop people buying DLC becasue it has some similar features” (Cetiah Nova can correct me if i am wrong)

Now i have the same opinion as you N3MES1S, that wherever possible - people should buy the DLC as it is only $5
But ultimatly it is up to the individual.

Anyways, based on my (posibly flawed) understanding of the original post: my answer to Cetiah Nova is NO:
In my opinion If you make a unique mod it will not stop people from buying GSB / DLC, rather it will encorage people too buy the game since there is a huge amout of varity.

@ N3mesis: Either you are misunderstanding what I wrote above, or you are replying to something I wrote in a different thread. I would prefer to talk about the merits of whether or not DLC is worth buying in a different thread rather than this one. This one is specifically about modding, and how much responsibility we have to support DLC content when we distribute or download our mods. I have no problem with you disagreeing. RCIX seemed to understand what I was saying, although he doesn’t agree with it. I feel that you have either missed my point entirely, or are responding to something else.

@darkstar076: Yes, that is basically the dilemma I am facing. I wouldn’t want my mod to discourage people from buying DLC. And I would be really annoyed if I found out people were asking for mods or modding their own game, just so they could get the DLC modules without paying for it.

I have made an active personal decision not to use the mod abilities we are given in any way that might discourage the purchase of DLC content, and I encourage others to make a similar commitment. I think I have made a very easy, very clear distinction about just how much responsibility I have to promote DLC content, and under which circumstances.

For example, let’s say (hypothetically) I want to include a weapon for a custom Voltron race called the Nuclear Rocket. I feel that nuclear weapons are only around because of the Order DLC, so I would encourage everyone to buy the Order DLC before downloading the mod. I can’t control whether people but the Order or not, but I feel that this is the only ethical way to go about it. At the very least, its giving proper credit where credit is due. On the other hand, I wouldn’t feel obligated to promote the Swarm DLC when distributing my mod since it didn’t use any Swarm-related features (although it’s awesome, and is my favorite DLC race, so I might personally promote it anyway).

@RCIX: Yes, this is a very complicated issue. Cliffski gives us a lot of power, but that’s why I think its important for us to be considerate and responsible, and have a serious ethical discussion on the limits of that power. I believe Cliffski is more interested in making a great game than trying to stop people from abusing his good intentions, which is why there’s no activation or product keys or DRM or other proofs that you’ve bought the game or its expansions. In fact, the less restrictions he places on us, the more important it is to for us to limit ourselves.

Obviously, I do agree with your main point, however, that the purpose of modders is to encourage more people to buy the game and continue playing the game, not necessarily its expansions. However, I believe there’s plenty of room for great modding even with just the basic game, and one can easily do so without facing any ethical problems. If you use features that only exist because of DLC, however, and don’t do anything to actively encourage the purchase of that DLC, then you are essentially biting the hand that feeds you.

In case anyone’s curious, it was reading a post in Tau’ri mod that really got me thinking about some of these things.

Someone had a problem with the turrets, because the mod used Tribe turrets and the downloader didn’t have the Tribe expansion. But no attempt was made to supply the downloader with Tribe turrets. Instead, he was was given instructions on how he could use turrets for the original races if he wanted to, and encouraged to buy the tribe expansion. This struck me as the perfect response, and seemed a very ethical way to handle it, and so I’m largely trying to emulate and promote this kind of thinking.

The user reported in a later post that he bought the DLC expansion and his problem was solved. I love this story. I’m simply expanded the philosophy to include all features of DLC content, not just the graphics.

Cetiah Nova, i read your post, believe me, but i still dont understand (u didnt need to write all those pharagraphs… ) . Its very simple, if someone wants to mod, he can, even if he got the expansions or not, if he is going to mod some weapons that are only available on swarm expansion, he should buy that expansion or just forgot about that weapon. If u like the game, U SHOULD BUY EVERY DLC positech release, even if u are modding too. We are all aware that actually there are more important things to improve that weapons, for example the option to customize plasma textures, bullet textures and so on. I hope, this will be solved one day and those changes will be available in another patch or another DLC. I now a lot of people dont buy DLCS cuz they think they dont need it. But they will find that a lot of mods doesnt work cuz they dont have the proper expansion. And nowadays, its hard to find a good game that can be modded in so many ways, cheap and with cheap dlcs. For me, paying 5$ for every dlc is insignificant, cuz i love GSB and i want Clinfski to continue improving this game and creating new weapons / modules. The question is not “i will buy that DLC cuz i need it for modding”… nop. The question is “i will buy that DLC cuz the game deserves it and i want the game continue improving”.

Exactly. Anyone making a mod that uses modules, sounds, etc from one of the DLC addons, should:

  1. Put a line in their release thread that clearly states “This mod requires the (racename) expansion pack.”
  2. NOT put the DLC items inside their mod download. Instead, if they are using DLC content, point their modded items to the DLC’s original folder location. Ex: If I create a new module using the sound effect from the Order radiation gun, put this line in my module file “sound = order/data/sounds/radiationgun.ogg” instead of including radiationgun.ogg in my mod download.

If anything, mods that do this will actually encourage more people to buy the DLCs.

An insult to modders? Nothing prevents modders from selling their mods btw, so I’m fine with buying DLCs.

As someone who plays SAC, I will need to buy the DLC even if I don’t use them.

That, and I doubt much people will play a challenge that consist of modded content.