Marek Rosa  [developer] Feb 11, 2013 @ 12:21pm
Request for opinions: Modding & Miner Wars source code
Disclaimer: please take the following text just as me thinking out loud. It doesn't represent our actual plan or promises, and the whole purpose of why I wrote it is because I want to know opinions of our community.

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This topic is about what way to choose when adding modding support to Miner Wars 2081:

a) write a plugin API
b) open 99% of the source code of the game

My problem with (a) is that it's basically a waste of our time. We would have to wrap a lot of code into some plugin API, just because we wouldn't want others to see what's inside that code. And we would have to make this for everything where modding is required. If we explicitly wouldn't write plugin API let's say for shaders, then nobody would be able to mod them.

Then there's option (b). We would split the code into two parts: first is executable, that one would stay as it is. Second would be an external dll file, which would contain 99% of code of our game and engine. You would have full source code for this dll. That dll would be the actual game.
Basically it means, you would have the same access as we do. There will be nothing hidden in front of you. If you want to change some deep stuff in our engine (render, physics, GUI, ...), just do it. Wanna change shader? Change how our AI behaves? Add a new weapon? New mission? Change networking stuff? Change textures or models or sounds? Or make a new game (total conversion)?

How would it work?
- you would need to own Miner Wars 2081 (you still need our executable and art assets)
- install free Visual Studio 2010 Express - http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/eng/products/visual-studio-2010-express
- download our source code (probably a zip file, GitHub repository or something)
- open MinerWars project in Visual Studio
- make some changes
- press Ctrl+F5 => Compile & Play
- distributing your mod - just copy that dll file to some other user's Miner Wars folder

Advantages:
- easy to start with - don't have to be a programmer
- C# is a simple language
- total control
- everybody from the team likes this idea (which is surprising, I was expecting that some people will consider it a high risk)

Disadvantages:
- I don't see any... and to be honest, this is weird... I am probably missing something.

Risks:
- somebody can steal our "genius ideas" and our code and make his own game: My answer to this is that after we removed "always online DRM", Miner Wars got on warez within hours, and that had zero impact on our daily sales.
Therefore I am 99% confident that opening source code wouldn't kill us.
Normal people would buy the game anyway - it's way easier then warezing it.
Minecraft' source code is available too (I am not sure if that's legal, but it's available) - and it didn't kill them.

License: it wouldn't be 100% open source - people still couldn't just resell our code, but the license would be as free as possible. We want people to have fun, not to tight them up and hold in a cell next to Zed. Who's Zed?

This thing would be an experiment - I don't know about any other developer who opens his source code just few months after the release. ID Software opened up source code for Doom and Quake, but that was years after those games were published.

Extra ideas:
- people could create whole new games (total conversions) based on our engine
- people could sell their mods - through Steam Workshop / Steam Market - although I don't have experience with these two... I assuming people can sell their mods there? Or am I wrong?

One last disclaimer: opening source code to Miner Wars doesn't mean we would quit with this project. No way. It just means that our team would be working on new features in parallel with the community

What do you think?

Marek Rosa
Keen Software House
Last edited by Marek Rosa; Feb 11, 2013 @ 12:22pm
Showing 1-15 of 19 comments
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Marek Rosa  [developer] Feb 11, 2013 @ 12:41pm 
Here's the original post (with some replies): http://www.minerwars.com/ForumTopic.aspx?id=3210
bradrg Feb 11, 2013 @ 2:55pm 
My answer to this is that after we removed "always online DRM", Miner Wars got on warez within hours, and that had zero impact on our daily sales.

That's very interesting. I wish other studios would start thinking like this. Yeah, the people who are going to buy it would rather pay to have it on steam anyway.

So the advantage to you would be quicker bug fixes, improved engine and a potentially larger audience- I assume you would need the base game in order to play the mods.
For the mods, they would get an engine and a base of 50,000 users plus, and be able to make money on their mods.

Interesting idea.

I just wonder if you could come up with a way to have a bit of a best of both worlds- idea a and b. In other words spend some time splitting the code up into modules, rather than releasing it as a single dll. That way if someone mods something, it's easier to implement downstream, and it would be easier to find your way around the code. Also Proper documentation would also be a huge plus.

The only disadvantage I can think of is that b) is a bit more overwhelming to the casual modder. So you may find greater team support, but less fan/individual support. Fewer mods, but perhaps a slightly better quality.

Last edited by bradrg; Feb 11, 2013 @ 2:56pm
¬ Octo Feb 11, 2013 @ 4:16pm 
this would be a clever moove by your side!
The more people is able to mod this with the less effort by your side, the faster the game will grow, and the longer it'll last.
evstream Feb 12, 2013 @ 4:19pm 
Liked it.
JoeShmo Feb 19, 2013 @ 9:03pm 
Developers that open their game up to modding are only doing themselves a great service in the long run.

Games like Diablo 2, The Elder Scrolls, Minecraft, Terraria, SPAZ, etc. have much bigger followings because of community driven content and consumer faith in the company. These games will still sell copies years down the road ( As Diablo 2 and TES are a perfect example), because there are people that keep creating content for the game, long after the devs have moved on.

It also helps create good faith in the company, as they are seen being able to trust their players with their game. Nothing breeds more long lasting bonds than being able to share in the creative process of enjoying a common entertainment/project.

I personally always take a much more interested look into companies that dont treat their customers like fellons. Giving is the gift that keeps on giving.
Marek Rosa  [developer] Feb 20, 2013 @ 3:01am 
Thank you
kaay Feb 22, 2013 @ 8:26pm 
I own hundreds of games on steam and other platforms (and i own miner wars), never used a mod in my life.
Personally i dont care about mods and i really doubt that mods bring revenue to a game company.
Modding community might be big, but they are not of the paying type so from a business point of view they dont mean much.
A person that bought the game might or might not try mods, but i strongly doubt that someone would buy the base game for the sole purpose of playing a mod.
Usually companies open their code to modders only after they have achieved their target revenues and after they dont want to continue developing the game themselves, so they throw it to modders.
Removing the harmless drm was a bad idea, you are just giving in to noise makers, and they are not buyers, they are just noise makers.
So many loud voices said they would buy the game if there was no drm, how many copies you sold since you removed the drm?
They just wanted the game for free and now they probably got it.
Last edited by kaay; Feb 22, 2013 @ 8:43pm
Marek Rosa  [developer] Feb 23, 2013 @ 5:19am 
@kaay

I agree with you, I also don't play mods and I think that the whole DRM controversy was exagerated mostly by "noise markers".

Removing DRM had zero impact on our sales. My explanation:
- real customers never cared about DRM
- pirates wouldn't buy the game anyway

The downside of DRM was that people started to perceive us and the game very negatively. First few weeks it was just about DRM and nothing about the game and that's wrong. And then every reviewer didn't forget to mention that we have "always online DRM and how wrong it is"

The reasons why we consider opening source code:
- we want to increase the value of Miner Wars 2081 for existing and new customers
- we are expecting that some of them will actually want to play with the source code (study it, tweak it, etc) - this would be their primary reason to take an interest in our game (just imagine if you had a full source code for you favorite game and would be able to change little things here and there).
- we are really currious where will this thing go and what can we learn from it

BTW, we are not giving up with Miner Wars. We don't talk about our future plans anymore, but I can say one thing - Miner Wars is not over yet.
(=SK=)Zorak Mar 6, 2013 @ 3:07am 
I think it's a great idea, and though I'm not a modder myself, I would with option B would give modders more flexibility and allow much more to be done with the game. +1
Marek Rosa  [developer] Mar 8, 2013 @ 7:05am 
Beta version of the source code is out: http://www.minerwars.com/ForumTopic.aspx?id=3215

Please let us know what do you think, etc.
HonestGamer Mar 9, 2013 @ 11:01pm 
This sounds great. Miner Wars has a huge modding potential. And as a programmer who codes in C#, I can see myself making a few mods. If you guys (I mean work with Valve) add Steam Workshop for easy installation of mods, it would be awesome.
Skcarkden Mar 11, 2013 @ 9:33am 
Originally posted by kaay:
I own hundreds of games on steam and other platforms (and i own miner wars), never used a mod in my life.
Personally i dont care about mods and i really doubt that mods bring revenue to a game company.
Modding community might be big, but they are not of the paying type so from a business point of view they dont mean much.
A person that bought the game might or might not try mods, but i strongly doubt that someone would buy the base game for the sole purpose of playing a mod.
Usually companies open their code to modders only after they have achieved their target revenues and after they dont want to continue developing the game themselves, so they throw it to modders.
Removing the harmless drm was a bad idea, you are just giving in to noise makers, and they are not buyers, they are just noise makers.
So many loud voices said they would buy the game if there was no drm, how many copies you sold since you removed the drm?
They just wanted the game for free and now they probably got it.

I'm just going to say, I bought the Arma 2 collection JUST to try out DayZ (A player made mod) And i believe many others have too, so Bohemia made a profit from me any whoever else bought their game just to try out the mod. Though i only played 1 session, but still :p
Dr. Bees Mar 12, 2013 @ 11:48am 
Originally posted by MinerWars:
- real customers never cared about DRM
I have to strongly disagree with this, and honestly I'm more than a little insulted. I bought the game just like everyone else and not everyone has a dedicated T1 internet connection. My ISP only works when they feel like turning it on (they have a monopoly, so I have no coice) and that meant I couldn't play even after paying for the game. Sure, the DRM is gone, and I was okay after that, but I don't deserve to be insulted for wanting to pay a game I bought and paid for. Twice.

Originally posted by MinerWars:
- pirates wouldn't buy the game anyway
I do agree with this. A thief sees no value in buying something that can be stolen. It's good that there is a game company that knows these things.

Originally posted by MinerWars:
- we want to increase the value of Miner Wars 2081 for existing and new customers
- we are expecting that some of them will actually want to play with the source code (study it, tweak it, etc) - this would be their primary reason to take an interest in our game (just imagine if you had a full source code for you favorite game and would be able to change little things here and there).
- we are really currious where will this thing go and what can we learn from it

This is actually brilliant. The idea your game runs on is perfect for this sort of thing, and by letting people mod it, you are unlocking its full potential. When a person makes a new game, they will definitely say you helped, and that means more customers for you. It worked for Valve. It will work for you.

EDIT: I screwed up the quote tags.
Last edited by Dr. Bees; Mar 12, 2013 @ 11:49am
Marek Rosa  [developer] Mar 12, 2013 @ 1:02pm 
@Ben Sorry, I didn't want to insult you. Basically I just wanted to say "majority of our customers don't care about DRM, perhaps they don't even notice it was always on"
Skcarkden Mar 13, 2013 @ 4:08am 
Originally posted by MinerWars:
@Ben Sorry, I didn't want to insult you. Basically I just wanted to say "majority of our customers don't care about DRM, perhaps they don't even notice it was always on"

I hope this is not taken the wrong way, but if you look at the controversy behind the recent SimCity release with it's own always online DRM and purely multiplayer with no single player playability, you might understand people will always dislike DRM's, but i'm glad it's gone for this, i believe i bought this game near the initial launch and played 3-4times and stopped. hopefully i can get back into it again.
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