We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with some advice for the modding community, in light of a few concerns that have been raised recently.
Whenever I discuss the modding community here at the NLSC, I always preface my remarks by acknowledging how talented it is, and how much great work it’s produced over the years. It’s something that I do believe, and I feel it’s important that we take time to acknowledge the effort that modders put into enhancing our basketball gaming experiences. Of course, it’s also a statement I feel I have to put out there as something of a disclaimer when I address problems in the modding community, to emphasise that it’s not meant as a slight. Unfortunately, I feel compelled to do that today, due to some excellent points that were raised in this topic.
I was originally going to reflect on my concerns in a lengthier piece, but the more I thought about it, the more that seemed like the wrong approach. I feel it would be more effective if I addressed the issues directly and succinctly, offering up my advice on how we can avoid these pitfalls as a community. By clearly identifying these issues and offering some solutions in point form, I hope that this article can be a straightforward guide to cultivating healthy attitudes and good habits in the modding community, as well as provide explanations as to why we’ve come to adopt certain customs, rules, and etiquette in regards to the hobby.
Advice to the Modding Community (2018 Edition)
For each point, I’ll provide a quick summary of the issue, followed by my basic advice in bold.
- Although we do not allow modders to directly charge for releases – for reasons that are outlined here – we do allow ad links and tip jars. Unfortunately, this has led to the modding community’s increased interest in trying to make some loose change off their work. While that’s understandable, it’s led to a certain amount of toxicity, and other problems. Mod because you enjoy the hobby and want to enhance the games, not to make money.
- The use of ad links has become very popular, to the point where it’s getting out of hand. It’s not uncommon for modders to direct their fellow users through multiple ad links before they reach the actual download link. Furthermore, a lot of ad links aren’t particularly safe, prompting the installation of adware and other security risks. Consider a tip jar, and go easy on the ad links.
- Ad links also mean that a lot of files are hosted off-site these days, often on file sharing services that delete uploads after a set period of time. More and more these days, I’m getting broken link reports, and have to remove lost files from the database. This is another reason why tip jars are preferable, because you can still use our hosting facilities for safekeeping. Make sure externally hosted files aren’t going to be easily lost, or use our hosting facilities.
- Although tip jars (i.e. PayPal donation buttons) are welcome, they can’t be used to circumvent our policies on charging for mods. Using donations as an incentive or threshold to release work is basically still charging for mods, and the creative wording isn’t fooling us. Don’t try to make modding into a primary source of income. Tips must be voluntary.
- While not as bad as putting your work behind a paywall, some modders have fallen into the habit of making their releases conditional, based on acclaim; Likes, comments, compliments, begging for a release, whatever the case may be. It’s just plain egotistical, and goes against the spirit of creating cool stuff to share with your fellow gamers. Create mods because you enjoy doing so, not to earn fame or status. Don’t hold releases to ransom.
- Password protecting archives has become popular. There really is no reason to do this, as it makes your work less accessible. As I’ve said before, it’s only a few steps from “message me for the password” to “send me a few bucks for the password”, and yes, that would fall under charging for mods. Avoid using password protection on mods, unless you have a really good reason.
- We’re a more productive community when we treat each other with respect, and share our knowledge. Again, the goal is to create great mods for our favourite basketball games, not achieve fame and status in the modding community by withholding information and techniques in the name of being “exclusive”. Share information on modding techniques; write tutorials. Be respectful to one another, whether you’re creating or using mods.
- Unfortunately, there are a lot of off-site groups springing up – on Facebook, in particular – where mods are shared privately, and money changes hands. We can’t do much about that because it’s outside our jurisdiction, but I encourage modders not to become part of those insulated groups, who often take other people’s work or solicit their help, only to not share their end product with the community. Be a part of the modding community. Don’t share previews of work you don’t intend to release publicly.
- Things happen. Projects can fall through. It’s unfortunate, but we all have to remember that this is a hobby, and some big modding projects can take a lot of time and effort to complete. With that being said, it’s a good idea not to bite off more than you can chew, and it’s definitely unfair to tease the community with work you’re not intending to release. Only preview work that you genuinely intend to release, barring unforeseen circumstances.
- There’s a lot to be said for cooperation. Sharing work and resources helps bigger modding projects come to fruition. At the same time, if someone really doesn’t want to collaborate or have their work reused, and would prefer not to adopt an open source approach, that’s their choice. It’s something to consider, however. Consider an open source approach, as well as sharing your work with other modders. Respect a modder’s decision if they decline.
- Building off a previous point, it’s important that we treat each other how we want to be treated. Feedback should be polite and constructive, not nasty and insulting. By the same token, it should be acknowledged graciously, even if it’s not going to be put to use. Remember that not all requests can be fulfilled, and not everyone is highly computer savvy. Be nice, polite, and patient to one another. Remember that we’re all new once, and that “no” is an acceptable answer to a request.
- Finally, by all means strive to be the best you can be, but don’t turn modding into a competition. History has shown that bad blood does nothing positive for our modding community. It just leads to a combination of many of the issues that I’ve mentioned above. Take pride in your work, but mod because you’re keen to mod. Take a break when you need to. Enjoy the hobby.
As the aforementioned Forum topic indicates, there’s a productive discussion to be had in regards to our modding community. I certainly welcome any thoughts on how we can make things better, and avoid becoming toxic and unproductive. Hopefully, these points will provide some food for thought, as well as the basis of a creed that we can all follow in order to cultivate a healthy modding community with a positive and productive atmosphere. A community is only as good as its members make it, so let’s ensure that our modding community continues to strive to be the best that it can be.