The Friday Five: 5 Thoughts on Modding Culture

JaoSming's Midnight Ballers for NBA 2K13 PC

We’ve come to another Friday here at the NLSC, which means it’s time for another edition of The Friday Five! In case this is your first time checking out The Friday Five and you’re wondering what it’s all about, this is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to basketball video games, the real NBA or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

NBA 2K13 modding is slowing down somewhat as we anticipate the release of NBA 2K14 on October 1st. As we prepare to mod a brand new game, as well as continue making updates for other recent NBA 2K titles and the last few PC releases of NBA Live, there are some aspects of our modding community and culture that I feel we need to examine and in some cases, consider making a few changes. This week, I’m offering five thoughts on modding culture here at the NLSC and looking at some ways that we can make our talented modding community even better.

1. Knowledge and resources should be shared

New NBA 2K13 Gym by JaoSming

A lot of our regular contributors already do this and that’s fantastic. We do have some very helpful people in our community who are willing to share their knowledge and even provide templates and other resources for other aspiring modders. Our own JaoSming has simply been killing it this year, with a host of video tutorials, templates and open source projects (more on that in a moment). A huge thank you goes out to everyone who is not only releasing their own work, but also helping others in the community to create their own updates.

However, we would definitely like to see more of the talented individuals in the community sharing their knowledge and expertise with their fellow modders. Tutorials can be time consuming to create and there can be difficulties when there’s a language barrier, so it certainly is understandable that some modders shy away from creating those resources. However, even a few basic tips and tricks or troubleshooting tidbits can be very helpful, not only for beginners but also experienced patchers who are looking to improve their technique.

Unfortunately, there have been situations in the past where certain modders have refused to share information about significant discoveries and breakthroughs, so that they may gain “fame” or create their own niche in the community by exclusively releasing a particular kind of update. Not only is this counterproductive in a community that is collectively trying to enhance the gaming experience, but it also means that if said modder abruptly leaves the community, there are no more of those updates and the knowledge is lost. That’s not something we want to see happen.

2. An open source approach could really benefit the community

JaoSming's Midnight Ballers for NBA 2K13 PC

This is admittedly a touchy subject, because we’ve had a long standing way of doing things in the community when it comes to using someone else’s work. In a nutshell, it has essentially boiled down to “Ask first, get permission and don’t proceed if you don’t receive permission”. To ensure a sense of common courtesy and that appropriate credit is given where it’s due, in years gone by the stance has been that everyone’s work is off-limits for others to edit and redistribute, unless they are asked first or pre-emptively offer their work as open source.

Now, because not everyone has the same point of view on this matter, we’re not looking to enforce an open source policy in the community. Moving forward, however, we’d like to strongly advocate and encourage that approach. Quite a few modders have adopted an open source policy already but anyone who really doesn’t want their work modified and redistributed would not be forced into going open source. In saying that, we’d like everyone to at least consider the potential benefits that an open source approach could provide: even better updates, complete update packs, quality full conversion mods and converted updates for other games, just to name a few. Appropriate credit would still be required of course and it may still be prudent to ask first in some cases, to show courtesy and good faith. Outright stealing work and refusing to give credit naturally would not be tolerated.

I do understand the objections to open source, considering my stance on people using the NLSC roster updates as a base in years gone by. Given the amount of time and effort that goes into them, it’s been frustrating to see some people take them, change a few ratings or make a couple of transactions and then re-release them without any sort of acknowledgement of my work or contact with me first. However, as it’s become more difficult to release the rosters as quickly or as often as I would like, I’ve reconsidered my position on the updates being open source and would prefer to offer them as a base even as I look to continue them, provided that my previous work on them is given a shout out somewhere. I’ll be talking a little more about that approach as far as the NLSC rosters are concerned in the near future.

3. We should allow our work to be included in compilations and bigger projects

Andre Igoudala & Deron Williams in the NLSC Roster Update for NBA Live 08

A good amount of modders in our community already adopt this stance and willingly contribute their work for use in bigger projects, or are happy to see them included in compilations such as “Best Of” packs. Referring once again to the NLSC rosters, I would not be able to get them done and have them be as comprehensive as they are without the fantastic art updates that I am provided with. As always, I’d like to send out a sincere thank you to all of the patchers who make contributions to the NLSC rosters. I’m also flattered to have been asked to contribute some of my other work to various projects over the years.

Some patchers are a little more hesitant to see their work used in compilations and other projects, which I do understand. I understand the concerns about work being misused or credit not being given where it’s due, but those are matters that can be resolved with a minimum of fuss and the benefits far outweigh the potential drawbacks. If you’ve made some retro player faces and someone else is working on a complete retro season roster, wouldn’t you like to see your work put to good use and properly enjoyed by everyone, yourself included? The Ultimate Base Roster is a good example of what a collaborative effort is capable of achieving.

This approach becomes even more important when a game is succeeded by a new release and fewer people are creating updates for the older title. With fewer active patchers and fewer updates being released, there’s a smaller selection of resources to be used in projects like current roster updates. If we want to keep games alive for people who aren’t rushing out to buy the newest title, then we need to share, cooperate and collaborate.

4. Whenever possible, prioritise and coordinate updates

LeBron James in NBA 2K14

While we don’t want to instruct people on what they can and cannot create, it’s always a good idea to take a look at what’s currently available and what needs to be done. For example, if there are already a couple of outstanding faces for LeBron James available to download, does there urgently need to be another? Or, would it be better to create some proper faces for missing players that need to be added to the current roster? Which jerseys and courts are the least accurate and which ones already have a spot-on update available? Questions like this allow us to better prioritise and create complete updates.

Again, we don’t want to instruct people on what updates they should be making or discourage anyone from making a particular update just because it isn’t unique. It’s fine if we have a few different updates for the same player, court or jersey. If you can provide an improvement on what’s already available then by all means, go right ahead. However, if there are already a few quality updates out there for a certain player, court or jersey, it’d be a good idea to take a look at updates that haven’t been made yet and are more sorely needed.

As far as coordinating these efforts, it may just be a matter of compiling a comprehensive list of required updates when a new game comes out or we’re aiming to update an old game for the new season. That way, the community will have a checklist to work from and a handy reference of what’s most urgently needed so that everyone can prioritise accordingly.

5. We want to see work added to the NLSC’s Downloads section

NBA Street 2K13 by JaoSming

A cheap plug for a feature of the NLSC? Perhaps, but there’s a reason we want to encourage this. We’ve had a lot of great updates go missing over the years because they’ve been hosted on other sites that have closed down, or been uploaded to free hosting and file sharing services that have either been shut down or have a policy of removing files after a set period of time. As JaoSming mentions in his tutorial video for uploading to our Downloads database, we’ve been around for a long time and we’re not going anywhere.

Our Downloads section is dedicated to files for basketball video games. We don’t remove any files unless there is a problem or we receive a request from the author. The upload facilities are free and only require an active NLSC Forum account, which also doesn’t cost a cent. You may upload as many files as you like, whenever you like; we do have a limit of 100 MB per file, though we can sometimes arrange a solution for larger downloads. You can use external links, though we certainly recommend hosting the file somewhere reliable. You can also edit your own uploads, adding and changing information or uploading new versions of a release as necessary.

Basically, we’d like to have a comprehensive collection of mods for basketball games and avoid seeing great updates disappear forever, now that we can provide public upload facilities and a Downloads database that’s integrated with our Forum, where modders are already posting their new releases. If you’re posting your work in our community, why not make use of our facilities? They’re there for your convenience and long term hosting needs.

That’s going to do it for this week. I hope that we can continue to grow and improve as a modding community, keeping these ideas in mind. Do you have any ideas on how we could improve our modding community, or any concerns regarding the ideas that I’ve discussed? Sound off in the comments below and feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum. Thanks for checking in, please join me again next Friday for another Five.

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4 Comments on "The Friday Five: 5 Thoughts on Modding Culture"

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randallb21
Member
randallb21
September 21, 2013 2:54 am

I have learned so much from the modding community, especially jaosming’s great tutorials on youtube. Jao has even inspired me to get back into shape to dunk a basketball again (I am about to be 37 and the last time I dunked was 2 years ago. I’m 6’2″ if you are wondering). I agree with you that more tips and tutorials would help aspiring modders like myself. Especially when it comes to making uniforms (jao’s is great for alterations). I want to learn how to create original uniforms and have searched Hi and Low and have yet to come across a tutorial that shows how to get custom logo’s, striping, and other graphics onto the uniforms. And I also want to learn how to change logo’s and portraits but I can’t find that one either.

Maybe someone that reads this can help me out and I just haven’t looked hard enough.

One project I would like to try would be to create an NBA with fictional teams from around the globe (David Stern’s dream) with completely balanced teams.

Another idea I had was to create an all NCAA MOD with NBA Alumni from each team. For instance North Carolina (my favorite team) would consist of Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Ty Lawson, Vince Carter, Brad Daugherty, Phil Ford, Bob McAdoo, Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace, etc.

aarmella
Member
aarmella
September 21, 2013 4:48 am

Great Friday Five. I know you guys talked a little bit about this in the podcast last week. Totally agree, I know I’m a little new to the modding scene but I’ve really caught the bug (just ask my wife). I’m looking forward to contributing whatever I can and keeping all my mods open for redistribution. It’s nice to have other people appreciate something you put effort into making but at the end of the day it’s video games, it’s supposed to be fun.

Anyways just wanted to say I’m fully on board with the direction you’re steering the community.

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