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