Mod-Me-Don’t: Dying Light Mod Blocks And Takedowns

So, the pipe represents mods, yeah, which makes the zombie...

Ooh, mods! Lovely, lovely mods. But while mods can add all sorts of lovely new things to games, a game letting folks fiddle its files might also make it vulnerable to cheaty cheats. The difference between a rad dinocop skin and a spiked model is artistic intent. Dying Light [official site] is being a bit overzealous in its attempts to block the bad, though.

The latest update’s changelog includes “blocked cheating by changing game’s data files”, which also blocks things like editing weapons. Some modders have even had mods they uploaded to public file hosts removed through copyright protection laws.

The author of a tiny mod tweaking one file to remove Dying Light’s film grain effect over everything, for example, found it pulled from file host Mediafire. A takedown notice issued in the name of the Entertainment Software Association claimed it was infringing copyright. Technically it is a modified file from the game, but issuing takedowns over one script seems a mite overzealous.

What we might be seeing is another silly case of publishers calling in another company to police pirating (or having the ESA call them in), companies which get a mite get carried away. In December, a company tasked with policing Dark Souls filed takedowns against the invaluable DSfix tool, which doesn’t even contain code from the game. That was all cleared up as a mistake.

Still, launching takedowns alongside a patch blocking modding is a pretty great way to put off folks who love your game enough to work on it for free with mods. Hopefully developers Technland and publishers Warner Bros. will say something big and sensible and apologetic about all this soon.

Here, this Reddit thread has more on the situation if you fancy poking deeper.

41 Comments

  1. wonkavision says:

    “developers Techland and publishers Warner Brothers” . . . Boycotting them.

    • Thurgret says:

      I hope you at least had the opportunity to play Shadow of Mordor first.

      • Baines says:

        Shadows of Mordor, the game where you got review code by agreeing to a contract that disallowed you from talking about negative aspects of the game, agreed to promote the game in specific ways, gave final video approval to them, and were even told where to bury the disclaimer so it wouldn’t be immediately evident. (Which might have been a bigger story if people hadn’t legitimately liked the game. Instead, it was just treated as a silly unnecessary move.)

        Yes, Warner Bros is really showing itself to be a sterling publisher.

        • pepperfez says:

          But I hear that no one who works at WB has ever had sex, so they’re sufficiently ethicksy for gamers’ purposes.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            The whole ethics discussion has zero to do with AAA publishers but nice job trying to insert your agenda into a completely separate discussion I guess.

          • Ostymandias says:

            @smoky:

            You don’t get it. The point is that there never was an ethics discussion. At no point did anyone discuss ethics in video games journalism.

            If someone had discussed ethics in video games journalism, perhaps that discussion would have been about this kind of thing.

          • gwathdring says:

            Yeah, if we’re really talking about creating an across the board code of proper ethics in journalism, as some people claimed, one would think stuff like what happened to Shadows of Mordor would be part of that agenda, triple A or no. Saying “Oh, but it wasn’t about AAA” is like saying “Oh, but it’s not about Platforming games journalism, just RPG game journalism.”

          • Buzko says:

            @Smoky
            “The whole ethics discussion has zero to do with AAA publishers”
            “The whole ethics discussion has zero to do with AAA publishers”
            “The whole ethics discussion has zero to do with AAA publishers”

            Cognitive dissonance. It’s a hell of a drug.

        • Synesthesia says:

          WERE THERE ANY WOMEN INVOLVED THOUGH

        • Xzi says:

          They publish some good games. That said, this is ridiculous. They’ll make a lot more money embracing their PC audience rather than treating them like criminals. Look at Valve’s track record with the modding scene, for god sake. The sooner Warner Bros realizes the error of their enforcement on silly things like this, the better it is for them as a publisher.

    • Premium User Badge

      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      I wonder how many games would actually be classed as playable if someone were to follow all these supposed boycotts.

      • aepervius says:

        A lot of game actually can be played while boycotting major publisher. The only gamer I played from EA this year is DA:inquisition and it was my family birthday gift, and none from Ubisoft. I still have a truckload to finish, wasteland 2, divinity 2 , blackguard, blackguard 2, lord of xulima… Really you can boycott ubisoft and EA and still play a lot of quality games. Grimrock 1&2 I finished last year in december…

        Frankly I feel I have no time and too many game, and pillars of eternity is coming around the corner… I am not even counting transistor among other which i bought and have planned to play.

        Really, you can live perfectly without Ubi and EA.

      • melnificent says:

        I follow my personal boycotts. So companies like Frontier Developments, Ubisoft, Doublefine + anything by peter molyneux. They’ve all screwed me over in my personal gaming time. So I refuse to buy anything they make or publish from the point they screwed me over onwards.

        The reasons are probably the usuals for some so things like Elite Dangerous Offline mode (and major fight for refund), Ass creed Unity launch state+post launch review embargo, Spacebase df-9 (which was a huge slap in the face) and godus and it’s utter, utter failure to be anything remotely fun or entertaining.
        Double fine has put me off early access in 99% of cases, the same way that Frontier has put me off kickstarter ever again.

        They all look like they have some great games coming out soon, but I won’t be buying them.

    • Roboskib says:

      Knee-jerk much?

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      link to steamcommunity.com

      Just MAYBE you should wait for the full story before deciding on knee-jerk boycotts?

    • GiantPotato says:

      It’s a shame that people react like this without thinking.

      Techland: Wrote a post explaining that they intend to bring mod ability back. I can understand that they wouldn’t want to see their MP community get destroyed while they sort out how to define modding vs. cheating in their engine. As long as this gets replaced with a less-restrictive system down the line then I don’t see a problem.

      WB: Either issued a stupid DMCA takedown notice, or farmed it out to another company who issued a stupid takedown notice. If they’re serious about using the DMCA to prevent modding then they have to go after the people distributing the actual tweaks, which they haven’t done yet. Personally I’d love to see the takedown request stating that the string “varlist_noise 0.0” is copyrighted, but I don’t think they’re dumb enough to try that.

  2. Jayson82 says:

    A games future is now based on its expansions or mods nothing else can revive or prolong a game been sold than these.

    Classic example is Dayz it resurrected arma2 and made it sell more than when it was released normally.

    The best thing about mods? They usually cost the company nothing but bring in sales, unlike an expansion would.

    Why do they even care about cheating? its not an online game where cheats can ruin the fun of other players. Sure there is co-op but you mainly play that with your friends and if you join a random game where someone is using cheats then just join another one you do not gain or lose anything by rejoining.

    They are shooting themselves in the foot here and it will cost them in the long term.

    • mechabuddha says:

      You can invade other games as a zombie, kind of like Dark Souls invasions. And cheating in that game made invasions stupidly not fun at all. So there is some incentive to stop cheating. That said, I wish developers would go the route of Diablo II — separate online and offline modes. Cheating in offline? Sure, why not! Cheating in online? Banhammer, please.

      • fireundubh says:

        There are four game modes: single player only, single player with drop-in, co-op, and versus. You can toggle between them in the options menu.

        • mechabuddha says:

          True, but your saves can carry over between the modes. I’m talking about a Diablo II-like system, where offline and online saves are entirely separate to prevent cheating.

      • Baines says:

        Mind, people seem to dislike invasion mode… Sounds like a good number are opting out of the feature, because of how it interrupts the regular game.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      Dota, CS:GO, TF2
      The 3 most played games on Steam, LoL one of the most played PC games full stop. All of them started life as mods, they are now the most popular games around. I do not understand how companies do not grasp this concept, it seems baffling to me.

      Why do they care about cheating? In some cases, for example Dead Space 3, they now see fit to sell character boosts in single player games, yes essentially they are trying to monetise cheat codes, it’s beyond ridiculous.

      Honestly all of these decisions come from higher-ups who are strictly businessmen and know very little about games, their goal is to retain as much control of their product as possible so something like mods that can mean others make content for their game, for FREE, seems a completely alien concept to them, if they can’t make money from it, what’s the point?

  3. melnificent says:

    99% of the modding is done with unencrypted text files that don’t touch the DRM or file security. You can write them yourself, or just open the .pak files with winrar, etc. In this situation DMCA can’t apply as there is no reverse engineering.

    A DMCA takedown over a text file and they wonder why people don’t respect copyright.

  4. Thurgret says:

    It’s a fantastically enjoyable game (probably helps that I’m playing co-op), so it would be a real shame for them to persist with shooting themselves in the foot like this.

  5. stonetoes says:

    link to steamcommunity.com

    This tool lets you continue to use mods after patch 1.2.1. It also lets you tweak various things without having to download individual mods or edit the files yourself.

    Personally I’ve edited my game to allow for infinite grappling hook use, letting you zip across the city like spiderman. It’s amazing and I would never go back to the vanilla game now. The only downside is when you’re throwing out the grapping hook with reckless abandon, accidentally attach yourself to a giant zombie and find yourself accelerating towards his descending rebar hammer.

  6. DavishBliff says:

    Techland just seems consistently loathsome and repugnant with their business practices. I haven’t played Dying Light, it seems like it’s pretty ok, but everything I hear about their games other than the games themselves is negative. To wit, their gross collector’s editions.

    • LogicalDash says:

      FWIW I think that *ahem* edition was the doing of publisher Deep Silver.

  7. Core says:

    Looks like they don’t want a repeat of what happened when people went rooting around Dead Island’s files, and found the “feminist whore” tag.

    • Monggerel says:

      Solution there, it seems to me, is to refer to less characters as “feminist whore” within the game files.

      Now, I’m not saying “feminist whore” is an invalid tag. A sex worker (of whichever gender) acutely aware of the systematic maltreatment of women is hardly a unique situation, but I’m not convinced the title is very appropriate when the character in question is a police officer.

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        Or even none. But then is that political correctness gone mad?

        • Monggerel says:

          I reckon it’s madness gone correctly political?

          Hm. Should think on that.

  8. Blackcompany says:

    I wish games like this didn’t need publishers in order for studios to be able to afford the cost of development. With their narrative narcissism and their rampant insecurity, coupled with their constant need to monetize every aspect of gaming, I really just wish publishers would go away.

    The idea that mods reduce sales is absolutely ridiculous. Day Z eliminated that as a viable argument long ago. Moreover, many of Skyrim’s mods require that you buy the DLC, as the mods use assets included in them. And the same was true to Oblivion. Coupled with the manner in which mods keep interest in old games alive far past the game’s prime is a testament to their worth and value for the developers and publishers.

    If you’re concerned that mods might reduce interest in DLC, the real solution is to make better DLC, not eliminate mods. But that would take real time and investment and publishers are not interested in that sort of effort. Its not worth it. So instead they do things like this to make sure they are the sole source of content for their games.

    Which is a shame, really. The right mod for a game like this – open world, zombies, parkour – could see the game selling new copies through digital sources literally years from now. At almost no additional cost to the publisher, no less. Imagine someone eliminating the story or creating a simple, open world, sandbox survival mod for this game. The publisher could see new sales of this title half a decade from now, just because of this mod, at no additional expense to them.

    But they…throw money away. I’ll wait until the game goes on sale – very cheap – if I ever buy it at all. Just not that interested in either first person, motion sickness inducing (for me) movement or zombies.

    • Loyal_Viggo says:

      ^^ This.

      Is Techland also going to release Hellraid this year? If they are going to be fascists about this then I assume this will continue for Hellraid.

      I was going to wait until the steam crimbo sale for both but now I’ll just buy myself three pints down the local instead.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      That’s the thing, to them it’s not throwing money away. They aren’t interested in selling extra copies of this 5 years from now, it’s not a consideration for them, they want to maximise profit from the game this year. They want big fat earnings calls so they get a pat on the back and a biscuit (in the form of a year end bonus) from their bosses. They have no idea if they will still be with the company in 5 years time so why would they bother about that?

  9. nanophage says:

    Such BS from techland, as a modder this makes me very angry. Unfortunately can’t vote by boycotting Dying Light since I already own it but you can be sure that this practice will influence my decision to buy anything from them in the future (either WB or Techland depending on who is responsible.) Blocking multiplayer I could understand but this is a predominantly single player game anyway. I know it’s well within their right to take these files down but that doesn’t mean I can’t detest the practice.

    A map editor similiar to the FarCry3 editor and a multiplayer arena gamemode + “be the zombie” would have been an awesome addition had they more concern for actually growing the game’s community instead of bashing it in with a electrified wrench.

  10. fragmonkey90 says:

    Modding banned in an overwhelmingly single player game?

    lol

    • pipman3000 says:

      they dont want some sickos modding giant bouncing zombie tits into the game that’d take away profits from future dlc!

  11. Casimir's Blake says:

    Eurogamer are reporting that this was a mistake and not intentional.

    Even so, Techland have apparently still not fixed the rampant loss of progress due to the buggy save system. I’m not partial to checkpoint saves at the best of times, but many posters are saying they’re losing many, many hours of gameplay because of it.

    No sale unless this is fixed.

    Actually, I’m wondering if I’m entirely happy to give money to Warner Games in the first place…

  12. nekoneko says:

    So, will this story be corrected with the real information that it was a mistake, or are you just going to leave a lot of untrue information up on your website?

  13. -Spooky- says:

    *mhm* When their was some options to turn on / off film grain etc. in the PC version, non have to script a “editor” for it. Man .. we are not in the stone age anymore.

    PS: Develop for PC first and then downscale to console. Period.