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 Do users have rights?

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Nakia the Rogue
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PostSubject: Do users have rights?   Sat Apr 23, 2011 11:09 pm

I have defended the right of a modder to his/her mod but there has always been a nudge that something is being lost and that is the right of a user.

Because the mod is free we are told that the user shouldn't complain and just accept what we are given and be grateful. I have only made a few simple mods for myself but even this taught me the time and effort that goes into making a mod. A well made mod is a joy and a thing of beauty. There is pleasure in fixing something you feel is lacking and if you think your mod is good whether small and simple or large and complex share it with others. That is great.

However I have probably downloaded and rejected more mods than I have kept. Mainly due to different taste from the modder but also because the mod did things I did not expect. I read the descriptions and readmes so that II will know what to expect and if there is something special I should do. Modders are only human and some are very good at explaining what they have done and others are not.

I do think the user has rights; the right to know what is in a mod and what choices they may have. Is it user takes all or are there options? With all the mods out there for Oblivion, Morrowind and other games there are bound to be conflicts. The user should check out the comments on the download site to see if any conflicts are mentioned.

It is the user's responsibility to check out a mod as much as possible but I do think modders are responsible for providing mods that live up to the promises made in the descriptions and readmes. The fact that something is free does not negate responsibility. If I give you a free sandwich and it makes you sick I am responsible.

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PostSubject: Re: Do users have rights?   Sun Apr 24, 2011 1:00 am

I think users have to tweak mods for their own use. That's what I do as a user. If I don't like a feature I will probably edit it. Sometimes I simply get a mod for its assets and rebuild it from there (for my own use I don't release the modifications I make for my personal use).

The thing about these rights is that modders do this for themselves first and to get some recognition or share their creations when it comes to taking requests.

Some users have high and unrealistic expectations, they see modders as providing a service to them and that is just wrong.

When I release a mod I try to be there to answer questions and provide as much relevant information as possible about what my mod does.

I hate undocumented changes in mods, especially when these changes reflect the idea of a modder who doesn't offer other options.

I also dislike big mod collections and patches because they tend to enforce an unofficial standard that you have to follow and that makes tracking all the changes a painstaking task. It's a pain when other players assume that everyone should be using that particular mod collection and when they demand from you a compatibility file for that mod collection. Sorry mate but if I'm not using it I'm certainly not going to support it.

I may be a bit harsh on users as there are some amazing people (and obnoxious trolls as well) on modding forums. Some modders are willing to listen to suggestions, eager to offer advice or share their expertise.

I find that modders make the best users and by modders I mean people who've dabbled in modding and realized how time consuming or hard it could be.

As a tinkerer I take pride in making something work in game. My motivation comes from overcoming my limited computer expertise to achieve a project. Most of the time I come up with simple but effective ideas that change things without being too obtrusive. Other modders are more ambitious and talented but as long as some players are enjoying my mods I feel it's not such a bad idea to release them.

Regarding users it's a question of common sense. The more immature users are the most annoying because they can't be bothered to read the readme and keep askijng you the same questions that you've answered in the mod description.

It's also funny when you document some issues and users don't get that your mod works in all other cases... Don't get me started on users who blame your mod for a modification that is caused by another mod or accuse your mod of brealing your game (usually when they are using more than 80 mods at the same time).

My favourite is still the mod user who doesn't understand what your mod does but is critical and comments that there are better mods for what your mod does but strangely enough don't reply when you ask them for links.

Anyway I'm ranting...

Users should bear in mind that modders mostly mod for themselves and that if they don't like something they shouldn't harass the modder to change his mod but that they should either tweak the mod themselves or ask (nicely) for an optional version.

As far as responsibility that is just taking things too far. If a user messes up his game because he can't follow basic instructions or copy the files to the right folders and start blaming you for that then I don't see how it could be the modder's responsibility. Most modders are available to provide help and advice to get their mods to work but you can't expect modders to be able to take into account the numerous conflicts that many mods can cause when used without forethought or the fact that users rarely provide the information you need to help them (but still expect you to solve all their problems).

Let's face it, game developers have a hard time making their games work on every platforms and with any hardware/software combination out there and this is their job. You can't expect modders who work for free to make a better job (and some of them do). If you start to pressure modders with the question of responsibility beyond what a modder should provide (mainly information about the mod and its issues or potential conflicts) then you can only expect modders to start modding for themselves and stop sharing their mods with the community.

As a user I've been through thousands of mods for the lists I've posted. These lists only present 10% (at most) of these mods. Other users will have different priorities and want different things from their mods but you can't expect not to have through this process of selection. The most popular mods are not necessarily the best and sometimes some obscure mod can be quite amazing.

As an individual player I'd rather go through the long process of sifting through numerous mods and not rely on ready made mod compilations that will include changes that I don't care for. Individual mods can be tweaked and that's much more complicated with big mod compilations. In any case users should tweak their mods.

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PostSubject: Re: Do users have rights?   Sun Apr 24, 2011 8:11 am

Good, Carabas, I agree with what you say. Most modders are conscientious and do try to give the user as much information as possible. Maybe I shouldn't say that. I don't go through hundreds of mods. I hunt up someone like you who reviews mods and go from there. Very Happy Thank you for doing at least half my work for me.

I just remember when I first started looking for mods for Morrowind. My prior experience with mods was limited. A character adjustment for BAC and one for Arcanum and a few mods for BG. I did read the descriptions and readmes for the mods but did find that several I installed did a lot more than I expected or wanted. That is when I first tried my hand at some simple modding and had to ask a friend to fix a broken script in a mod. I have a mental block about programming and scripting is programming.

Tweaking a mod to suit my tastes I have done as long as it is not the script. Even the script I can deal with if I can copy and paste and do a little editing. Not everyone can do this much and with Oblivion I think just the gigantic amount of mods available is daunting and confusing to many. They also hear how great some overhaul is and rush to get it without realize that it is going to drastically change their game. I rejected several large overhauls simply because they were so large. I did like and use one but mainly for the resources. Some of the earlier modders also changed vanilla items without creating a new ID and caused a few unwitting problems.

After making the first post a thought came to mind. Bethesda owns Oblivion and Fallout 3/NV. No one buys a game they buy a license to play the game and their are restrictions as to what they can do. Bethesda permits users to make modifications to the game and publish them as long as they are free. I find it interesting that Bethesda does but modders get paranoid and hysterical if someone modifies their mod in some way. Of course no one should publish a modification as their own if it was originally made by some one else and there should be a disclaimer so if something goes wrong the original maker doesn't get blamed. But if Bethesda allows modifications to be made why do modders get so up in arms if someone modifies their modification? Chances are that technically the mod belongs to Bethesda. Any lawyers around here?

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PostSubject: Re: Do users have rights?   Sun Apr 24, 2011 10:22 am

It's important to keep an open mind. Modders rave about the Script Extender and it opens up countless possibilities inside the game but I still believe that if you can do a simple version of the mod without it and a more elaborate version with it then everybody wins.

Let's not forget that modders are people too and that more often and not they tend to get carried away with their modifications. Wink

Bethesda has a very strange policy regarding mods, they don't want modders to use assets from a game in another game unless the modder makes them from scratch (we would have guns in Oblivion or horses in Fallout if they did). They understand that mods are a big thing for their games but they give modders a hard time when it comes to using assets from their games. For instance we can't upload a mod that uses assets from Fallout 3 if the files are not included in Fallout New Vegas. The problem is that Fallout New Vegas includes many files from Fallout 3 and Fallout 3 DLCs that are not used in game but it becomes rather complicated when you have to look in the archives to see what's in there and what is not. The Nexus is trying very hard to follow the rules Bethesda dictates and sometimes it means that some very interesting mods have to be taken down and the modders responsible for them banned.

Modders can't charge for their mods for the reason you've underlined. The problem is that modders want some control over their mods but once it's published on the net there is no way to control what players are going to do with any content. It's a problem when somebody is passing someone else's work as their own. I'm not a lawyer but modders don't seem to have any rights beyond the common courtesy that is shown to modders at some places (like the Nexus).

As a result some modders are a bit paranoid and try to put their creations in executable files or special archives to prevent others from modifying their stuff (which is a bit silly when considering that everyday new games with DRM and stuff are being cracked).

There are problems with mod compilations on the Nexus (and elsewhere) when the modders responsible for the compilations failed to get proper authorization (or didn't seek it) from the modders who made the original mods.

It's a rather complex issue but I personally think that a modder should be entitled to a right to know what people are doing with the stuff he has made (or the trick he has used to make something work). Almost anybody can do some reverse engineering on a mod to see how it's done. I'm not a real modder but I had a few requests from fellow users who wanted to use some of my stuff in their mods. I certainly don't mind as long as the goal is to make the game better for some players (and that's what mods do; they allow us to tweak the game).

Take two hypothetical modders. They both have made some cool meshes and textures but modder A is being anal about people using his assets in other mods and modder B doesn't care as long as he is being told and given proper credit. There is no doubt that modder B is the nicer person and that his creations will allow people to make more stuff and greatly expand the possibilities of the first mod. Nevertheless it doesn't mean that modder A is not entitled to keeping his toys to himself. The big difference is that in the case of modder B everybody wins because everybody gets to play with the new stuff whereas in the case of modder A only the persons who know how to use the toolset or users who visit less scrupulous forums and websites get to play with the modder's creation. I can't blame modder A since it is fair to recognize that a modder shouldn't see his work of love ripped off before his very eyes but it is very naive to think that it won't happen... The internet allows both the good and the bad and we can't have one without the other.

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PostSubject: Re: Do users have rights?   Sun Apr 24, 2011 12:28 pm

The rain falls on the just and the unjust. biblical. A modder should be given credit for his labor of love. What ever a person creates that is unique belongs to that person.

I understand, I think, Beth's attitude on using assets from different games, even in the same series. The games are often made with the help of others who have copyrights over their material. These assets cannot be moved from one game to another without their permission.

Modder C makes a quest mod, modder D comes along and decides to expand modder C's mod. Fine as long as it is done as a separate mod, an add-on just like a DLC to the game but in this case to a mod. Modder D has not actually touched modder C's mod. Courtesy might say that D should let C know but I don't think he needs permission. If Modder D decided to redo modder C's mod that would be wrong in my opinion. D would need the permission of C in that case.

It would be nice if the companies that make games and allow modding would set some sort of standard. IE: If you use our tools and resources then your mod can be modified or used by other users just as you modified and used our resources.
Something like that.

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PostSubject: Re: Do users have rights?   Sun Apr 24, 2011 5:21 pm

It really depends on individual modders. Some of them really don't mind, they're just modding to see what they can do. Besides when modders get together and pool up their talents it leads to greater/better projects.

What you're saying is fair when it comes to modding existing assets but if a modder has spent time using blender to create an entirely new 3D model and then texture it from scratch only to see it stolen right from under his nose by someone who thinks it's fair then it's really sad and you will agree with me.

Then again intellectual property and copyrights are being flouted everyday whether knowingly or unwillingly. When I read mod descriptions in which modders have pasted some eula I can't help feeling sorry for them... I'm not saying poachers are right (obviously) but if you don't want people to modify your mods then you shouldn't release them.

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PostSubject: Re: Do users have rights?   Sun Apr 24, 2011 8:14 pm

In my opinion original material belongs to the creator but using the Bethesda material belongs to all. As I understand copyright law intellectual property belongs to the creator. Using it without permission is wrong. Textures from scratch should belong to the person who created them. The mods that I have looked at usually give permission to use the resources if proper credit is gtiven.

I would like to see an official rulng on the subject. There will always be those who complain and carry on about mods and those who steal simply because they can. Some people just feel they have a right to do what they want and don't care about the moral rights of others. Modding has beccome a big thing and we need clarification. That won't stop thieving but at at least those of us who respect the rights of others can report it if we see it.


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PostSubject: Re: Do users have rights?   Sun Apr 24, 2011 9:31 pm

i get annoyed with modders that say " if it does not work its your own fault."
that is true and not true. if i do not read the read me and it does not work it is my fault. but if it does not say what load order in the read me . thats my my fault. i have no idea what order things go in.

that is why it is so important to give feedback. what if the modder has no idea that their mod does not work with another?

as for mods. some people allow changes. i know in the sims some do not mind recolors or anything as long as you do not put the original file in. ( and a link to that original file)

there have been a few mods i have changed ( clothing and hair for fallout and other games) but i never share them. i changed them for personal use. if i ever wanted to share them i would make my own. i feel that the item is not mine if i did not make it all myself.

there are also people who use the skins from fallout and put it in the sims.
i was told that is not even legal.

as a modder you will get the people who will not go by what you ask or what you say.



edit-- i hope i kept this on topic. i kinda got carried away ^__^
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PostSubject: Re: Do users have rights?   Sun Apr 24, 2011 11:17 pm

We're always on topic here Jez. Wink

It's illegal to release mods using assets from other games unless the developers of these games allow it. For instance Stalker assets can be used in other games (like Fallout) and CDRedProjeckt allowed a modder to use Geralt armour to make a Witcher mod for DAO.

What you're saying about modifying files for your own use is perfectly normal. It's fine tuning or tweaking a mod to make it work for you. Nothing wrong with that if it's for your own use or if you ask for permission to upload it.

The problem with official rulings Nakia is that it's global and countries don't enforce the same laws. For instance the time necessary for a book to become part of the public domain probably varies from one country to another (in France it's 75 years iirc). In a world in which pirates hack games as soon as they are released it's almost certain nobody is going to worry about mods except a few modders and websites (on a side note that's why I like the Nexus, they take this issue seriously and they're big enough to enforce these rules trying to violate copyright laws or passing some mod as your own will get you reported and banned sooner or later).

Regarding load orders that is not a modder's role to rearrange your mods for you. Doing so is going beyond the call of duty IMO. Wink

The important thing is to know what mod does what and bear in mind that in case of conflicts between mods the one that is loaded after overwrite the changes that the other mod may have made. That's why it's not a bad idea to put mods that may be overwritten down your load order if you don't want that to happen. If you sort mods by categories you can save time and keep your load order tidy. Remember that master files should be loaded before the others (the main esm goes first, then official DLCs and other esm files if there are any) then you start adding esps starting with the ones that may overwrite other mods (if you want these other mods to work). Try to sort your mods (it's trial and error but keeping mods that can possibly break because of conflicts should go after the others).

Last but not least if you include too many mods you will run into problems. If you use big mod compilations you should get more mods working together with the big mod but you will probably run into compatibility issue with any mod that is not included in the compilation. In any case it's not a bad idea to disable mods that you won't need for your current game (weapons you're not going to use, NPC followers you're not planning to recruit, outfits that your character won't get to use, house mods you won't use). The shorter your list is the less problems you'll face.

Updating mods or testing mods can also be a problem. Keep a clean save and revert back to it after trying a mod that you won't keep. The best thing is to start a new game and not add to many mods throughout the game. Furthermore some precautions are to be taken when updating a mod. If the modder is not sloppy you can get away with it but if things are added and deleted you may want to find a cell that is not modified by the mod and have your character there when you load your save.

Remember that if you save gets corrupted you can force the game to continue by using the death reload. When your character dies the game reloads your last save and that will allow you to continue (until the next problem which will happen sooner or later). To avoid save game corruption try not to use autosaves or quicksaves (saves that overwrite one another) has they are known to cause issues.

That's another long post... Wink

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PostSubject: Re: Do users have rights?   Mon Apr 25, 2011 12:05 am

It is a good idea to load and test one mod at a time. Getting a stable game takes time and patience and the willingness to make choices when there are conflicts. You cannot have it all and usually it is the people who want every thing that have the most problems and blame the mods.

It would be hard for a modder to cover all possible load orders. Each person has different mods. In Oblivion I do have a couple of mods where the modder said to load after a certain mod if you use or to load towards the bottom of the order. As Carabas said the last mod installed and loaded overwrites previous mods that use the same area or item or NPC.

If you check Nexus you will find mods that contain resources and tweaks that you are free to us as long as you give credit where credit is due.

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PostSubject: Re: Do users have rights?   Tue Apr 26, 2011 4:04 pm

Something that seems to get forgotten in the ongoing love/hate relationship between modders and users is that modders are users. They play the game and see things that can be fixed or improvedd or are just something they would like and they do a mod. I believe the formal terminology is 'user made modifications'.

Most modders make mods for their own use or pleasure. There may be a few who hope to achieve fame and glory and maybe recognition from a developer but most just want to share something they think will enhance the game.

Most users appreciate the work that has been done but do forget to say 'thank you' On nexus I do try to give recognition by giving at least a rep point to the mod if I liked it. If I didn't like it for some reason I just ignore it. I don't give it a thumbs down because I know that is just my personal feeling. The users who whine and complain spoil things for us all.


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PostSubject: Re: Do users have rights?   Tue Apr 26, 2011 4:49 pm

True. IMO the only reason to give a thumbs down is if a mod is designed as purposefully mess up a game.

Modders are users too, that's true. I find that the most talented modders are often quite nice when they see someone's first mod whereas simple users who are trolling don't hesitate to treat a new modder harshly.

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PostSubject: Re: Do users have rights?   Tue Apr 26, 2011 10:40 pm

Judge not for as you judge so shall you be judged. Smile People who complain about mods should try making one themselves. I wanted a very simple mod adding a fire to the Bruma house. It is a cold climate and the house needs a fire. Just getting the flames to burn in the correct direction was hard for me. Adding wares to a merchant was easy, In Morrowind I made a couple of houses mainly to put those rescued slaves until I could find a safe house. That wasn't too hard because it was just a simple house. The cave house was a little harder because I had to fit the cave pieces together. I am pretty good at pathing.

In the Funatics game '8th Wonder of the World' I like to make maps. It isn't hard just takes a lot of patience and testing. Ceasear IV had to have the config file tweaked first and with the script I cheated and copied from another script then edited it. Same thing with Children of the nile. Even so all these things do take time and patienc. I am in awe of people like Toaster who can make an orginal mod like his Companions Share. Oblivion didn't include the ability to have companions except briefly.

People should try walking in a modders mocassins before trashing a mod.

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