Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Why Game Companies Should Not Hire Modders

If you didn't already know, various internet forums are sometimes full of childish people and moderators who are often petty, ineffectual, or both. The Nexus group of sites, such as New Vegas Nexus, is sadly exemplary of this. Here's a snippet I got from a discussion board for one of the mods, NVEC.

New Vegas Nexus modder moderation 1

New Vegas Nexus modder moderation 2

Mods can be big and cumbersome, and often things can happen which are triggered by a mod, but not directly related to the mod. I had that happen with some Fallout 3 mods I installed, and there's nothing the modder can do to change it because it's not directly their fault. For example, too much data that the game engine has to process can result in crashes.

What often happens, however, is that people who use the mod will report the issue. And why not? As seen from the screenshots above, all the modder really had to do was say that the error, although seeming to be a direct result of installing the mod, really has nothing to do with the mod. Maybe ask if the user had inadvertently forgotten something else they did.

Instead, what the modder did was stay completely silent and just keep censoring and/or deleting comments by the user. That is so wrong for so many reasons, but the key reason it is wrong--and why modders like that aren't hireable material--is that the modder basically stuck their head in the sand. Not so much that they were pretending the problem wasn't there, but pretending that the user feedback wasn't there.
Why would they do that? Just to prevent people from getting spooked and not using their mod?
In this case, that is even more baffling since the mod is mostly an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink compilation of other people's work anyway.

And when the modder did say something about it, notice what they said--that they were basically using a right they paid Nexus for to in effect hide bad publicity about their mod. It's one thing that the modder is childish, but it's another issue when the website allows and implicitly encourages that -- and profits from it.

Although Nexus has momentum-popularity going for it (since so many mods are available from the same place), if you are tired of this sort of nonsense, you can try Mods Reloaded instead. It's not as sophisticated a website design, but all mods are checked by the site admin and there isn't the same kind of popularity contest going on there. It's precisely the popularity contest that gets people acting in strange ways.

Game development is NOT a popularity contest to get your feature incorporated in the game. In fact, it's the opposite: You must NOT have an ego about your piece of work because the realities of a shared work means sometimes it can't get used or the project has to move forward to completion and the feature will have to be dropped because it's not complete.

Modders like the one who put NVEC together are not the sort of people that should get hired at game companies. Either that, or they'd better be able to swallow their egos and actually be team players.

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