Culture

by Timothy Geigner


Filed Under:
developers, games, modding

Companies:
1c



Game Developer Embraces Modding Community So Much They Made Their Work An Official Release

from the embracing-the-community dept

For game developers and publishers, there are lots of ways to react to the modding community that so often creates new and interesting aspects to their games. Some companies look to shut these modding communities down completely, some threaten them over supposed copyright violations, and some developers choose to embrace the modding community and let mods extend the life of their games to ridiculous lengths.

But few studios have gone as far to embrace modders as developer 1C, makers of IL-2 Sturmovik: Cliffs of Dover. The flight-sim game, released way back in 2011, burst onto the gaming market with decidedly luke-warm reviews. Most of the critiques and public commentary surrounding the game could be best summarized as: "meh." But a modding community sprung up around the game, calling itself Team Fusion, and developed a litany of mods for IL-2. Rather than looking at these mods as some sort of threat, 1C instead worked with Team Fusion and developed an official re-release of the game incorporating their work.

IL-2 Sturmovik: Cliffs of Dover BLITZ Edition is the result. Officially sanctioned and released under the banner of original developers 1C, it combines the original game with all the work that the fans at Team Fusion Simulations—now given access to the game’s source code—were able to cook up.

This work includes new planes, new graphics options, new damage and weapon modelling updated visual effects.

You can buy BLITZ if you’re coming into the game fresh, but if you already owned Cliffs of Dover, BLITZ was added to your Steam library for free late last year.

1C has also gone out of its way to highlight that BLITZ is in part the work of the Team Fusion modders and even announced the new release with comments on how much work the mods do to clean up the serious flaws in the original game. Other studios ought to be paying attention, because this is how it's done. The modding community, far from being a threat to the game developers, both made the title more attractive for purchase by making it better, and extended the life of this title to the point that it is being re-released for sale again. That kind of free labor of love is something you can only get by embracing the modding community.

It also serves as a reminder again that the biggest fans of any given content can do much to promote it, if content makers bother to connect with them and treat them well. How anyone could argue that hardline stances against this kind of tinkering is a superior option is a question I cannot answer.


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  • identicon
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 13 Mar 2018 @ 4:13pm

    Indie Game Developers Start Out All Inovative Like This ...

    ... then they get acquired by a big publisher and the legal banhammer comes down...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2018 @ 4:14pm

    Key to success is start with "serious flaws in the original"?

    I can do better than that! I'll start with unfixable errors!

    In same way, I make this comment only "meh", and with "serious flaws"; now all I have to do is wait 7 years for the dedicated 'dirters to fix it up!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2018 @ 4:22pm

    Perhaps a "hardline stance" is more likely if game isn't "meh".

    @ "How anyone could argue that hardline stances against this kind of tinkering is a superior option is a question I cannot answer."

    By the evidence you provide, these particular developers are wise in welcoming help. But clearly others *don't have to be* so welcoming. It's even possible that some regard the tinkering as ruining their game, and are right.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2018 @ 5:45pm

      Re:

      Conveniently you think all games are "meh" in comparison to your precious $100 million movies so there's no problem...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Qwertygiy, 13 Mar 2018 @ 5:13pm

    Modding being condoned and integrated

    Minecraft is another example of community modders being welcomed into the development fold, at multiple levels.

    - As you probably know, Minecraft got started by one guy basically working out of his basement. The ultimate indie game. (Some past game experience, quit/fired from games like Luxor 3 and Wurm Online, but it was a one-man project until it started to take off.)

    - A modding community quickly sprung up. Since it was Java-based, even though there was no official support for modding, source code could be decompiled and overwritten fairly easily.

    - As the company itself added more personnel to handle the rise from "one guy in a basement" to "the most popular PC game ever", it also took in content created by modders. Pistons, smooth lighting, and horses were incorporated directly from mods.

    - It didn't just take content, though. The creator of the primary decompiling program used for modding, and the entire team that created a user-friendly plugin-based alternative server program, were hired to move to Sweden and develop Minecraft -- and in fact, these hires have developed most of the features added to the game since Microsoft bought them.

    I can't say for certain that the ease and acceptance of modding the game (at least on PC) is what has let it remain popular for so long... but it's what kept me interested for longer than an entire console generation.

    See also the lasting popularity of all members of the Portal, Grand Theft Auto, and Doom franchises, which are all highly-moddable offline-focused games that would otherwise be "completed" fairly quickly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Bruce C., 13 Mar 2018 @ 7:03pm

      Re: Modding being condoned and integrated

      Mojang also hired YouTuber Lydia Winters formerly known as "Minecraft Chick" as an early PR person. I don't know if she survived the buyout, though. Microsoft has definitely taken over the marketing side of things completely.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2018 @ 6:29pm

    Scared to embrace mods because of the law

    I'd hazard a guess a lot of companies are scared to embrace mods / modders because of the law. There are too many unanswered questions. Who owns the copyright of the mod? Who (if anyone) gets paid for the work? What if the developers and modders have a disagreement?

    So most companies pay lip service to mods. They know mods exist, but ignore them. Or they'll put in a modding framework with the caveat "do whatever, but we're not responsible for it". And I think most modders prefer it that way. They're not doing it for fame and money. They do it because they want to; because they enjoy modding and enjoy the game they're playing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 13 Mar 2018 @ 6:55pm

      Re: lot of companies are scared to embrace mods / modders becau

      You mean, the law that was supposedly set up to protect them? And is now holding them back?

      Isn’t there a procedure for dealing with laws that have outlived their usefulness? In our country we call it “Parliament”; do they have one of those in yours?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 14 Mar 2018 @ 1:33am

        Re: Re: lot of companies are scared to embrace mods / modders becau

        There is a procedure, but the corporations who most benefit from a broken copyright system bought it. Don't get too cocky, though - they're also buying key figures in parliament, and some of them love to copy the US in even their worst ideas.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Mar 2018 @ 1:16am

      Re: Scared to embrace mods because of the law

      Who owns the copyright of the mod? Who (if anyone) gets paid for the work? What if the developers and modders have a disagreement?

      Those issues have not caused significant problems in the Linux and BSD worlds, or stopped Red Hat from becoming a billion dollar company.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Qwertygiy, 14 Mar 2018 @ 6:01pm

        Re: Re: Scared to embrace mods because of the law

        Yep. All you need is a good ToS. For example, Minecraft's terms for mods, summed up, are that:

        - if you charge access, you have to charge everyone the same amount, but you can sell sponsorship as long as your mod doesn't just exist to promote something specific;

        - you can't sell bonus content that gives any buying player an advantage over a player that doesn't buy the bonus content (but donations that benefit everyone are fine);

        - you can't create or use any form of in-game currency that can be earned or spent outside of your mod;

        - you can't include "Minecraft" or "Mojang" or any similarly-confusing name in the title of your mod if you make any money off of it, you can't start the title of your mod with "Minecraft" no matter what (though this seems little-enforced) and you can't do anything else that is intentionally misleading to people that Mojang is associated with you;

        - you can't do anything illegal, of course (which includes content that could be illegal for minors like gambling) and you can't do anything that Mojang determines "harms their brand";

        - your mod doesn't include a "substantial part" of the game's copyrighted content, and you only distribute the mod, not a modded version of the game (so that to play the mod, you have to buy the game).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Mar 2018 @ 2:49am

    Semi-correction

    The Cliffs of Dover release may have happened in 2011, but IL-2: Sturmovik has been rattling around in various earlier incarnations since at least 2001.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 14 Mar 2018 @ 7:16am

    Ketbal Space Program also has adopted a few mods and made them stock.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    bernicestockstill (profile), 14 Mar 2018 @ 10:21am

    right decision

    did an excerpt and launched, everything is right and cool

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Lalo Martins (profile), 14 Mar 2018 @ 11:16am

    Previous cases

    And if we're talking about “previous art”, let's not forget Counter-Strike was originally a mod, then Valve hired the whole team and bought the rights, and released it as a regular product, complete with sequels.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 15 Mar 2018 @ 1:44am

      Re: Previous cases

      Also Portal, and a number of other examples. The story isn't unique, but it's important and unusual enough to bring up as the industry often tries shutting such communities down rather than embrace them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Toom1275 (profile), 15 Mar 2018 @ 7:14am

        Re: Re: Previous cases

        There are kind of two non-ambivalent kinds of responses I've seen to communities making games more valuable:
        "We should be doing that!"
        "They should stop doing that!"

        In the first, everyone wins, in the second everyone loses, but IP worship warps perceptions.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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