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    PlanetQuake | Features | Articles | Compensation for Mods
   


The Gauntlet
Should mod teams be compensated for their work? Spyke and Lee'Mon fight it out in this week's Gauntlet.
  — by Lee'Mon and Spyke


Welcome to the "The Gauntlet"! They say that there are two sides to every argument, and the debates within the Quake community are no exception. That's why we created "The Gauntlet".

Our top two PlanetQuake staff writers, Spyke and Lee'Mon, often find themselves on opposite sides of an argument. We could have them each post their own editorial, but PQ readers have let us know what they really want: bloody combat!

So, we squared the two off in a custom arena, and let them use whatever facts, opinions, arguments, and insults necessary to make their point. Then we let you, the readers, decide the outcome! So watch and read as these two enter the battle royal, and vote on which side you agree with!

This week's topic: Lee'Mon (the real one), back from E3, has mentioned several times the Half-Life mods Valve was showing at their booth, as part of their ongoing support (both publically and financially) of excelling HL mods. Spyke, on the other hand, is fed up with all the hoopla, and has gone off the deep end. So, the question of the week is Compensation for Mods: Retribution or Payola? Spyke argues that commercial developers paying mod creators can lead to a mess of moral and ethical complications, while Lee'Mon argues that compensation is the next step of evolution for the modification community.


Lee'Mon: This is your argument, Spyke, so you have the floor. The podium is initially yours. Ladies and gentlemen, please put your seats and tray tables in their upright and locked positions, and prepare for rantoff.

Spyke: And rantoff you shall have.

So Valve has begun the process of "assisting" mod developers in order to keep their user base. I won't deny that it's working; just look at the stats on GameSpy.com, where the number of Half-Life players is consistently triple the number of Q3A players. This is because Valve not only supports mods like Counterstrike, but actively pimps them out to the community, and the community listens. They eat up everything Valve pushes at them.

On the other hand, you have id Software, the company that pioneered releasing game source so modifications could be possible. id faithfully releases their source, their tools, and the source to their tools and lets the community have at it. Great mods have been and will continue to be developed using this method. Why? Because people that are developing for Q3A right now are the ones that want to make Q3A better by giving it a greater mod base, and they've proven that they like the game by choosing to develop for it.

Valve's giving grants now to Half-Life mod developers. I told my friend this, and he jokingly replied that it was time for him to get to work on a Half-Life mod. Offering monetary assistance or reimbursement for something that, in the past, has been a labour of love, is to me a complete farce.

Lee'Mon: What's also a farce around here is... [pause] Nah, too easy.

Am I to understand that you wouldn't appreciate some financial recognition for a labor of love? Mod-making, REAL mod-making, is a full-time job, no two ways about it. While no modder should EXPECT payment for their work, it's nice to get some financial support to obtain the hardware and software the pros use, to make your project that much better. It's not like the CS team is blowing their cash on ale and whores (to borrow a PvP phrase). At least, I HOPE that's not what they're doing...

Sure, id practically invented the mod community, but it was wholly unintentional. From what I've seen of things (which is entirely thirdhand), I'd almost say the higher-ups at id don't know what to do with all of us anymore. It's like the parent that gives the kid a baseball just so they'll go play out in the yard. If the kid asks for a glove, he just gets scurried back outside, dismissed quickly because the parent "has important work to do." Sure, the kid can play ball fine without a glove, but you can't do quality baseball without one. When it comes to those that handle the business decisions and cash flow at id, the mod community almost appears to be the kid in the yard. Don't some of us kids deserve a glove now and again?

Spyke: Continuing with your kid/baseball/glove metaphor, we've been making do with a hat instead of a glove for a while now.

What makes recent times that much more different? Gamers are going to upgrade their computers anyways, and id is definitely making sure the tools work on as many configurations as possible, so I doubt system requirements are a factor. Sure, mod making is a full time job, but developers should realise that before they start; carpe diem.

You also say that no mod makers should expect monetary reimbursement. Well, if other developers take Valve's example to heart, it may well become commonplace. Then you essentially have game developers competing for the mods, and whoever has the deepest pockets "wins". That would be a sad day for the game industry, when more attention is given to the (relatively small, compared to the majority of game buyers) mod community than to the actual game itself. What will the non-hardcore think?

I see monetary "grants" as nothing more than bribes that ensure mods will be pimped, and a pseudo-guarantee that thousands will be playing them. Nuts to the kids and their gloves; we're dealing with pimps and whores here, and it's the sad truth.

 

Next: on with the pimpin' and the whorin'...


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