Important Site Docs
- Category: Site Docs
- Last Updated on Sunday, 15 July 2012 00:31
- Written by Giskard
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I have been modding games and creating new content for games for over 32 years at the time of writing, starting from the first time I hit run stop on my Vic20 to get the source up for Commodores Blue Meanies from outter space game back in 1980 roughly.
So I have been at this a long time.
Whilst Modding Etiquette has never been written down, most communities followed the same rules and modders rules pre-date all official rules by about 10 years. When official tools started to appear, they adopted the modding rules mod makers had been following anyway and even today they are heavily based on rules we modders lived by.
Today most modders and developers agree on the rules most Eulas cover, there is very little argument because all sides recognise it as a fun hobby that supports the game your modding whilst protecting the rights of the developer.
But that was not always the case, at one point modding was considered to be reverse engineering a game and was against the games license so we modded in private for our own personnel use.
Outside of the Eulas for games, modders have their own etiquette that defines acceptable behaviour amongst mod makers. This doc will cover both the basic Eula rules most games use and the internal code of conduct modders usually follow.
Because the developer owns the game we mod, they own the copyright over everything in it, every command, texture, mesh and idea. If we use any of those things to make our mods, they own our mods. If we use official tools, they own our mods.
That right is none transferable, eg you cannot claim you can take somebody elses work because a developer own the rights to it. Only the Developer can do that and they are not happy when somebody else tries to lay claim over one of their rights as a copyright owner.
We only step outside of the Eula when we wholly created the mod or parts of our mod from code or source material that the developer did not own or create and did not come from their tools. Any parts that where originally owned by the developer, stay owned by the developer.
For example some games are written in Python, Python is not owned by those developers so anything you write in Python is not subject to their Eulas unless commands the Developers created for their games using Python are used by your mod, in which case, it is subject to the developers Eula.
Typically modders agree to keep modding strictly none profit and mod as a hobby for fun. This tends to be the end result of nearly all Eulas I ever read and is acceptable to Developers and modders a like. Those who ignore this rule tend to get in to serious trouble.
Modders wishing to sell their work can use one of the many free game engines to construct their own games and then they can do as they please.
Another point that is universal is no modder can use assets form one game in another, even games from the same series. If your going to mod a game, you either make your own stuff, ask permission to use another modders stuff he wholly created or stick to using the game assets that came with the game your modding.
You NEVER EVER use assets from another game. Breaking this rule can get you in serious trouble too.
Where the Eula's power ends.
Writers of Eulas tend to forget to define where the developers rights end and yours begin so I'll cover this quickly now.
No EULA has any right to tell you what you can do on your own website providing you are not in breach of somebody elses copyright or the law. Your website is your copyright, your property. You own it, not the developers.
The developers power ends with the stuff they own or created and does not extend to your property just because you chose to mod one of their games. Some developers play on the fact modders do not know this and even act like they own a modders website, so learn your rights.
Like wise, if you made a texture from scratch that was totally your own work, or audio or anything else for that matter, including voice work. YOU own that, not the developers. If a developer wanted to use it, they must first seek your permission. That is the law, if they used it anyway, they would be guilty of theft and you could report them to the police providing you can prove it was your work.
If you copy a tga texture in to a propriority file type owned by the developer, then the file becomes subject to the license for that file type, in other words, developers may gain the right to use it too if they wish because they own the rights over the file time.
So you own the TGA, but not the converted file. So be careful about games that use none standard file types. By using them you could be giving away your rights over your work. Always check the license for those none standard file types.
Modding Etiquette are the rules that are common between modders and tend not to be legally enforcable. They typically exist to stop all out flaming and trolling that disrupt modding communities.
Communities that ignore them tend to be flame fests and unpleasant to mod for.
Communities that follow them tend to be a friendly pleasant experience.
1) Taking somebody elses mod, editing it or uploading it without permission is considered a major issue amongst most modders. Always seek permission. Sometimes the modder gives it in his readme, if he does, do not forget to thank him, he may change his mind and remove permission if people abuse his generosity which I have had to do a few times.
Also unlike many modder rules, this one is legally enforceable when the modders own wholly created property is in the mod concerned. In friendly modding communities most modders tend to say yes when asked for permission to use their property, in hostile communities modders learn to say no, it becomes second nature and an act of self defence. Even modders that say no will in friendly communities give you pointers on making something your self or alternatives they know about. In hostile communities your totally on your own most of the time.
2) No modder is better or worse than the next modder no matter how much experience they have. In communities where individuals are allowed to lord it over other modders, new modders tend to be driven away or bullied in to line which kills off their creativity. The community becomes about those individuals and not about modding and suddenly only their egos and continued abuse of power matters. It stops being about mods and creative achievements and starts becoming about how important they are. Which is very destructive to any community that allows that to happen.
3) Slagging off another modders work or generally bad mouthing their work is considered very rude behaviour. Most modding runs on trust and friendship so there is nothing more ANTI MODDER than one team bad mouthing another teams work. When modders respect each others work, they often share resources and help each other out and bigger and better things can be achieved. New modders get the support they need to become great modders and everybody wins. Unfortunately those who break rule 2, break rule 3 right after it. Preventing the sort of modding community that is a pleasure to mod for from ever being born.
4) Thousands of players get ideas about mods all the time and they all think they were the first to have that idea. Usually they are not. For this reason trying to claim ownership over an idea, even when you make a mod out of it, usually leads to massive flaming and arguments. As such most friendly modding communities do not claim ownership over ideas, they only claim ownership over their own mods that where made based on those ideas. This helps keep things civil and friendly.
5) Modders are free to make any mod they want, anyway they want. This encourages totally original mod making practices and totally original mods for any community that embraces this point. For those who do not, standardized mods and a lack of original mod makers tends to be the result.
6) Players will naturally vent, rage and moan at the mod maker who gives them cool gifts, I have found that if you reply in kind, even when your perfectly right to do so. The modder will usually end up with players ganging up on the modder even though they started it by acting rudely towards the modder.
It is far better to block or ban users who do that without a word and remove their comments silently. Stopping the negative venting from takiing hold in your mod threads helps cut down on trolling and abuse across the board.
7) Players often need reminding that the mod maker is not their slave and is working for free or they get strange ideas about player rights over mods. I find it wise to remind players they have no rights over a mod makers work and no right to expect anything at all from you other than what you choose to give. This establishes an more honest and accurate relationship between the mod maker and the player that tends to discourage trolling and encourages the right attitude of friendly civil conversation.
Modding Etiquette is very hard to follow in a community that has no respect for those rules and guidelines. You will find your self wasting your time even trying to follow them in those hostile communities and will not enjoy modding for them.
But when a community does embrace the Modding Etiquette, something wonderful happens. Making mods for them becomes a pleasure and being part of that community becomes a must.
The net is full of modding communities like that, that follow a similar set of rules to those outlined here. Where people have nothing but good things to say about the game, the community and the modders that support it.
If your a mod maker or a mod user and have never experienced such a community, then you have never experienced true modding. Over the years I have not only modded for several such communities but I have created 2 or 3 of them my self having learned this from people who came before me.
Such modding communities are reason I still enjoy making mods today, 32 years after I started.
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