Last year Arma 3 [official site] was in the process of getting AT-ATs, thanks to a Star Wars-themed mod. The mod was eventually abandoned by its creator, McRuppertle, but he’s uploaded footage from the first in-game test for people to peer at:
RPS Feature Mod Is Dead
Robin Scott started building websites to support the modding community in 2001 when he was 14-years-old. In 2007, he started a company to support his site, TES Nexus, as it became the main source for distributing Oblivion mods, and today Nexus Mods hosts “115,674 files for 173 games” and has almost 9 million registered users. If anyone knows what the modding community cares about, and exactly what mods can do for the good of games and gamers, it’s him.
In the wake of Steam’s inclusion of paid-for mods, and just a few hours before their eventual removal, I spoke to Scott about whether creators should be able to charge for mods, how he would have done things differently, and what any of this means for the future of the Nexus. Even in the wake of Valve pulling the system down (for presumed later return), his thoughts are an interesting look at the issues at hand
RPS: Firstly, what do you feel about paid mods in theory? Ignoring their current implementation, do you think there’s a way to do it that good for both developers, mod creators and mod players? Are mods something which should be free on principle?
Valve are known for their odd experiments, from Team Fortress 2 hats to – heck! – Steam itself, but they tend to roll with them no matter what the reception, polishing these oddities up with force of will and years of refinement. Their plan to support selling mods through Steam, however, has gone back to the drawing board.
They launched a pilot scheme last week with Skyrim, and had planned to start letting other devs enable paid mods for their own games if they wished. Instead, they’ve removed paid mods from Skyrim, refunded everyone who bought mods, and confessed that “it’s clear we didn’t understand exactly what we were doing.”
Last week, Valve launched support for paid mods within Steam, beginning with a select number of Skyrim creations. Alec deftly summarised the details, pros and cons over here. Since then, the discussion has continued via blog posts, forum threads, protest mods and with game creators, mod creators and Gabe Newell getting involved. On the off-chance you didn’t spend the weekend reading this stuff while hunched over your computer like I did, I’ve gathered the most pertinent Internet Opinions below.
RPS Feature The end of an era
It used to be that the only way to make money from a mod was a) make a standalone sequel or remake b) use it as a portfolio to get hired by a studio or c) back in the pre-broadband days, shovel it onto a dodgy CD-ROM (and even then, it almost certainly wasn’t the devs who profited). As of last night, that changed. Mod-makers can now charge for their work, via Steam.
RPS Feature Colour wizardry
An experiment with colour mods in Cities: Skylines…
Long ago there were no colours in the world at all. Almost everything was grey, and what was not grey was black or white. It was a time that was called The Great Greyness.
Every morning a Wizard who lived during the time of The Great Greyness would open his window to look out at the wide land.
“Something is very wrong with the world,” he would say.
“It is hard to tell when the rainy days stop and the sunny days begin.”
– Arnold Lobel
Wonderful things, mods. Without them, we’d have far fewer readme files in the world. Today Dying Light [official site] joined in on the mod fun with the release of its official mod tools, which let folks create levels, script quests, and whatnot. You too could make a map of your office and populate it with lookalikes of your office who tell you how cool and ruggedly good-looking you are. But please do remember to write a readme explaining that.
Or, for non-modders, good news: I see a load of new Dying Light things to play coming your way.
Every day I look at the Steam Workshop and subreddit for Cities Skylines [official site] and every day there is something I want to show to people. Look at this pretty braided highway! Look at this fancy circular city! And the mods. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a mod community explode like this for a game that didn’t already have an existing community.
Today’s thing I need to share: a video of CityCopter, a helicopter mod in the vein of Maxis’ old SimCopter.
There’s already been a Cities: Skylines [official site] mod that lets you wander your streets from a low, ‘first-person’ style camera, but what about doing it with a friend? Reddit user ‘Fr0sZ’ posted a video today of his work-in-progress Cities Skylines multiplayer mod, in which each player is represented in the world as a pedestrian avatar and able to walk around. See below.
Typing of the Dead: Overkill [official site] felt to Alec like an old joke being re-told too many times, but even we were intrigued by its post-release DLC which added Shakespeare and profanity to the typing-driven zombie shooter. If you remain unsatisfied by your inability to kill the undead by typing the word “suppurating”, Sega have announced that you can now create your own custom dictionaries for the game and share them via the Steam Workshop.
Who’s still playing Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion [official site]? It’s been about a year since I last dabbled with Ironclad’s lovely space RTS, but I’ll admit that I think I’d quite like to play it right now rather than writing about it.
But no, dear reader, no. First I must tell you about a few Rebellion mods, as several projects smooshing in other sci-fi series like Mass Effect and Star Wars have recently issued updates.
GLaDOS, GLaDOS, oh so monstrous,
How does your garden grow?
With portable cells and many dead Chells,
And propulsion gel all in a row.
The original Portal’s Test Chamber 17 is notoriously the level in which the Weighted Companion Cube made its first appearance… and met its fiery doom. Though not before it became the cube with a face that launched a thousand memes.
The Dying Light [official site] mod unpleasantness of the past week has been cleared up, and was indeed double whammy of overzealous protection. Developers Techland are doing something about the cheat protection that also blocked legitimate mods, while the Entertainment Software Assocation have nonapologised for copyright takedown notices issue in its name against sites hosting mod downloads. Huzzah! They don’t hate mods, they simply didn’t think things through.