My Work is Not a Gift

On Friday, a fellow builder brought this thread on the Bioware custom content forum to my attention:

Proposal for a common template to prevent authorship issues

Participating in that thread until it was (in my opinion, unfortunately) locked by a Bioware moderator was an eye-opening experience. I think that much of the thread is worth reading, but here’s the background, and a quick summary. A number of serious and talented NWN1 custom content developers have been becoming increasingly frustrated with having their work taken, modified, and redistributed without their consent. Sometimes this has involved unauthorized and sometimes uncredited copying and/or alteration of their work into “compilation packs,” over which the author has no quality control, or any way to maintain or update. For many developers — who are motivated by an artist’s seriousness about the quality and integrity of their work — this is an unacceptable situation.

This problem has been festering in the NWN developer community for a while, and it has even been driving some to consider giving up building for it altogether in disgust. As a modest but long overdue way of trying to address it, some individuals proposed a voluntary but standardized “template” for the posting of NWN1 custom content. The template consisted of several choices about what restrictions the author wished users of his work to respect.

For the record, I completely support the moral right of these builders to control the use and distrbution of their work. Ours is a community of individuals who build under a EULA that prevents us from charging for our efforts. The only price we are allowed to ask in exchange for the thousands of hours that we spend creating content for others to use for free is respect: respect for us as the creators of that work, and for our wishes about how it should be used and distributed. Apparently, though, to some this is just too high a price.

What surprised me (and perhaps it should not, and I was just being naive) was the sometimes ugly hostility to the rights of these content creators that I saw expressed on the thread. Many stood up for them and forthrightly defended the proposal, and I honor and respect those who did. Others, however, bristled at the very idea that these creators’ work was morally theirs, and should not be considered public property, free for the taking and arbitrary use by anyone who wanted it. Those readers who remember the archetype gallery in Sanctum 1 and the statues of “The Giver” and “The Taker” may understand why I found this to be quite ironic. I guess that sometimes, life does imitate art.

Although there were a number of examples of this sentiment expressed, I want to focus on one extremely presumptuous comment in particular, which I did not have a chance to respond to while the thread was still open:

“I respect the creators of custom content. I admire them, and their gifts to the community. But, aren’t they gifts?”

No, sir, they are not. My work is not a gift. When I post it for you to use and to (hopefully) enjoy, I am not “giving it away” to you to do whatever you damned well please with it. I am the one who spent thousands of hours painstakingly building that work, not you, and you have no moral right to take it without respecting my wishes in the matter. My work is mine, and I am sharing with you, not giving it to you. I am sharing it on mutually beneficial terms, as a trade, and one from which we both (hopefully) gain something of value. The only payment that I ask for in exchange for sharing the results of those thousands of hours of effort is the simple human decency of respect for my work, and for my dignity and rights to it as its creator. If that is too much to ask from you, then you cannot afford my price and are not welcome to download and use it. It’s that simple.

Some ethically challenged people seem to think that they have the right to presume upon — and to take advantage of — others’ generosity. Well, that’s exactly what the Demons thought in Sanctum of the Archmage. And it was the naive altruism of the Provans — who never stood up for themselves, and never set moral limits on their “giving” — that made it possible. The same is true of all creators — and indeed, all men of good will and self-respect. If we don’t stand up for ourselves, our dignity, and our rights, then we will not hold onto them for long.

Regrettably, Bioware doesn’t seem to be willing to allow this issue to be aired, no matter how constructively approached. In response to my protest to the moderator for locking the thread, I was told that this topic is no longer welcome on Bioware’s forums. While I would encourage anyone who agrees with me to also PM Chris Priestly to reconsider his decision, I doubt that it will make a difference. If we don’t want the NWN1 CC community to implode, it will be up to us, as individual authors and concerned community members, to find a way to deal with it on our own.

Consequently, I will be looking into finding (or if necessary, creating) a forum on which discussion of this issue (which I obviously consider important to the future of the NWN modding community) can proceed without being silenced. When I do, I will post a link here on my blog. Until then, anyone who wants to discuss this issue is welcome to do so (civilly, please) in the comments on this blog post.

I don’t mind saying that this entire experience has left me with a very bad taste in my mouth. I wouldn’t build under a no-payment EULA if I weren’t personally motivated to create something that people will enjoy — but nothing turns me off from that attitude faster than being taken for granted for it. If this kind of treatment is what builders in this community can expect for our efforts, then many of us may very well simply decide to walk away and shrug.

54 thoughts on “My Work is Not a Gift

  1. As someone who has had his work taken and re-released under a different author without ANY BIT OF ALTERATION other than a change of filenames, this issue resonates well an clear for me.

    This is a blatant slap on the face for me as I have spent countless hours, using techniques gleaned from years working as a professional animator, to create my Intimate Animations Suite. This incident has led me to withhold the release of my Romantic Animations Suite until I have some degree of comfort that my work will not be so blatantly plagiarized as had happened with my first release.

    I have a very strong urge to simply walk away at this point and leave my work unreleased. However, there are some friends (who helped beta test the R.A.S.) who like the stuff enough and tell me that they are loathe to let the content go to waste. Thus I have come to the following decision regarding the R.A.S…

    For those who wish to use the Romantic Animations Suite in their modules or servers, you may contact me via the link on my website (http://ninjaweaselman.sixsiders.com/) and state the nature of your work and how you plan to use and distribute my work for your purposes. So long as you are above the board with me, I will be happy to share my work with you and answer questions you may have about the package and how to integrate it into your modules.

    Cheers!

    – weasel

  2. Just to say, that I am of like mind.

    I did participate in both of the threads-that-were-locked, though not, I must confess, to any great effect.

    We failed to achieve an amicable compromise between the two opposing viewpoints but in a backwards sort of we did achieve something: it became crystal clear if it were not already, that “there is a problem”.

    OMB

  3. I have little to add to what you folks stated already. I’d like to point you out to the consequences that this situation had regarding my contribution to the community.
    The following is my departing note from my vault threads.

    “Alright folks, since the day I learned to grill a steak I decided to throw a barbecue party in my large garden. All sort of people showed up, since it was for free, but overall it still was good fun. I enjoyed grilling new steaks for everybody and didn’t even mind when they took them home to feed their families instead of inviting them over to the party.

    But at one point some started to tell me it was -their- party, and that I should be grateful they came to grab and eat anything they wanted, as that allowed me to grill more steaks. Quite a few even started to pee in my garden.

    A wise person needs to understand when the party must be over, and I realized that this was in fact -my- garden, -my- barbecue and -my- steaks. I thought I was sharing them with friends, but the majority visited just because they were hungry and expected me to serve them for free as cook and waiter.

    I won’t be throwing any more barbecue parties for this town. I was organizing a bigger and much better one, but I don’t like ill-mannered guests around, so from now on, I’ll only have private dinners with friends.

    *bows out* “

  4. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to offer their comments and support. Regarding Paul and Weasel’s decisions to stop releasing new work: this is precisely what I was afraid was going to start to happen, and what I tried to warn Chris Priestly about when I PM’d him on Saturday night after he locked the “Template” thread. Now, two of NWN1’s most talented custom content developers — Hall of fame authors and Golden Dragon Award winners both — have decided to walk away from the community in protest. Paul, I couldn’t put my own feelings about this situation any better than you did. Well said!

    I’m going to go ahead and set up a website with a forum that will allow for discussion of this (and related) issues. I’m starting to research forum software and hosting sites, and wanted to ask if anyone had any recommendations. If you do, you can email me using the link on my blog’s sidebar. 🙂

  5. Also what I was afraid of, Andarian. It is sad that someone can’t respect other people’s work for the sake of it. It’s disgusting and wrong. There are also some who blatantly say they don’t care about the author’s wishes and will use anything how they see fit. It’s despicable and can, and already has, adversely affected the community as a whole.

    It’s a sad time in the life of NWN.

  6. I’ve contacted Maximus of the Vault in regards to this matter, and he is of the same mind as most the public, that the original artist’s have no rights in this matter.

    He agreed that the EULA does not state the any rights of distribution were waived except in regards to Bioware and Infogrammes, but claimed that on the forums, back in 2002, that some developer claimed it did.

    Thats the rationale behind this.

    So, I have been going through the archives of every developer comment to find this so called ‘golden bullet’.

    As of yet, no luck, but I’m only half way through the list. I have found comments by Derek French that the Bioware legal department forbid Bioware employees from making any comments on the EULA on the forums, so its lead me to believe that Maximus, CEP, and a good portion of the community are simply wrong.

    I’m trying to contact the Bioware legal department to get more information and maybe something concrete on the whole matter.

  7. I fully agree with the views expressed here… and while saddened a bit that people are pulling away from the Vault, I fully support both Weasel’s and Paulokrantz decisions of doing so.

    If you need a hosting site and forums set up for you… I can provide both the site address and the forum software (even maintain them) from my own web-hosting site. Let me know either way :o)

  8. I think it’s sad this happened. Unfortunately I figured it would on some scale sooner or later, which is why for as many years as I’ve been lurking on and off I never once posted anything I made. As far as I’m concerned that makes everyone who did better people than myself. You were willing to trust in the first place.

    With that in mind I think it’s also important to say (as all of you already know) that many people were and continue to be worthy of that trust. I just hate seeing some people ruining things for everyone else. When you set up forums I’d like to participate in them if I can (or, lurker that I’ve been, if I’m welcome to). I’m hoping *something* can be worked out.

  9. Shadow_Weaver: Thanks for the offer! If you’d be willing to set up and host an SMF forum on your site and help me administer it, that would be great. If you could email me (use the link on my sidebar) we can work out the details. 🙂

    Andarian

  10. All: Just for the record, after one day of this post being up, I count the following statements of support:

    – Nine community members
    – Five HOF authors
    – Three GDA winners
    – Two HOF/GDA authors who’ve chosen to “shrug”

    That’s not counting many others who’ve expressed support on the (now locked) Bioware forums threads. I’d like to invite anyone else who agrees with my blog post, and who would like to go on record about it, to do so here while we continue to work out the logistics of establishing a forum and website to address this issue.

  11. In response to NinjaWeaselMan’s comments: Weasel, thanks for weighing in. As one of your Beta testers, I would certainly like to complete my v3.2 update to Sanctum 2 to include the Romantic Animations Suite. However, I don’t see how I can release that update to the Vault without including your work with it.

    Since the RAS was one of the two integral updates to be included in it, I’m going to have to suspend my plans to release Sanctum v3.2 to the NWN Vault until further notice. Those plans will have to remain on hold until or unless we can find some satisfactory way of resolving the current issue.

  12. I’d like to point out a further side of the issue that has been overlooked so far, in my opinion (except a hint to it that I read in Andarian’s main post).

    When evaluating the different moral principles that could be applied to deal with such a situation, we often are trapped between the legitimate desire to stop supporting those vocal individuals who show an insulting attitude and the wish to keep supporting the supposed larger but silent mass of respectful users. In other words the only two options that seem to be offered to us are to either feel frustrated and morally abused, or feel guilty because we are making innocents pay for the wrongdoings of a few individuals.

    But my (provocative) question is: are the innocents really -that- innocent? Didn’t their silence -play a role- in the way the events turned out? We keep considering how vocal the bad apples are, but what about the deafening silence coming from the good apples, who are said to be the majority?
    The events that led to the recent incidents have been going on for months and I’d say, even for years. The authors’ unhappiness has been voiced many times, yet only in very rare cases anybody spoke up to question the moral status of what was going on across the community. “Few” vocal bad apples managed to eventually break the already unstable balance, but I am fairly confident that if at least -part- of the “sane” community had stepped in to show their support to those that actually -make- that custom content on which the whole community is based, things wouldn’t have gotten out of hand the way we experienced.

    Of course, moral responsibility comes in different degrees, and I am by no means implying that “bad” and “good” apples are at fault to the same extent, but i cannot accept the principle that walking away from the community will be an indirect punishment for the innocent either.

    I simply don’t believe that there is anybody totally innocent in this situation, and such a belief makes me feel less guilty towards those that theoretically (but sadly, never practically) have been supporting my work and the work of my fellow CC authors.

  13. Paul: I agree with you. But I’d also like to give that “silent majority” a chance to find it’s voice and speak up before it’s too late. I don’t know that many in the community are yet aware of the existence of this problem, much less its severity or what is at stake. The guilty are in full denial, and Bioware is enabling them by censoring any airing of the issue (and any attempt to address it constructively) on their forums. That’s one reason why I think it’s so important to establish our own forum, so that this issue *can* be discussed freely, and the community can be made more fully aware of what is going on and what is at stake.

  14. thanks for your comments, andarian, they are really well thought out. im very happy that some people in the community got the correct message from all of that. i feel obligated to speak up and give support to this thread and hope that it will lead to a constructive discussion…

  15. @ Andarian

    I was mainly discussing the theoretical side of the problem, and applying its consequences to my very personal decision to stop further development for my vault submissions, so I agree with you that it is not too late yet for addressing the problem with a more general scope, and for allowing the silent masses to eventually speak out.

    We also know though that the deafening silence is only half the problem, as even if from now on many took a more active role in the quest for a solution, in the meanwhile we also have to deal with what the situation already has evolved into, namely the positions stated by BioWare and IGN regarding the matter, and the illusion that they have created that such blatant disrespect does not, at the same time, trigger a whole series of legal issues.

    Unless a solid solution is found regarding the IP protection problem (which is very bland compared to other cases, but still is perceived by the “vocal minority” as some sort of lese majesty incident), I cannot be optimistic about the future of the CC scene.

  16. All: before jumping to too many conclusions about how many people are on each side of this debate, I took the liberty of scanning through the “Template” thread. I counted 13 people arguing in favor of the template proposal, vs. 7 arguing against it (all with varying degrees of vehemence). A few others were too ambiguous or non-committal in their responses to categorize. I count an additional four supporters in these comments, for a total of 17 supporters and 7 opponents. That doesn’t include people who posted only to the first “IP” thread on the CEP forum, which I was not involved in.

    A couple of quick observations:

    – I think this is a fairly small sample size from which to generalize too quickly about the community. As a module author, though, I don’t typically face this issue as directly as cc developers do. So some of you may have more experience with it than I.

    – While this ratio isn’t nearly as high as it should be, we do have a good bit of support.

  17. My message to those against custom content authors having a moral right to their content.

    Respect custom content authors and our wishes. If you make us feel bad, we quit. We do this for fun. We do this because we want peer review and honest critique. We do this because end users benefit. If the end users aren’t willing to respect our (usually modest) wishes so that they can continue to reap the -free- content we provide…

    …well, what do you think we’re gonna do?

    It’s worth bearing in mind that it’s the, I guess there’s no better word for it, ’emotional’ damage that has the most effect. One person being outspokenly rude and disrespectful will do enough harm to outweight a hundred respectful and considerate people.

  18. Note that I myself currently have no intent to leave NWN. But right now I am working on NWN only because of a fairly small group of people (containing players, builders and CC authors alike) I know and trust to respect and value me and my work. If it wasn’t for these people, I would find something else to waste hundreds of hours on.

    Also note that some of this group of people are starting to think of leaving NWN themselves. These peoples’ fantastic work, in modules and custom content, MUST NOT BE LOST. Dammit!

  19. I’ll shoot you an email regading setting up those forums tonight after I get home from work Andarian. I can have something up by the week-end and open for us to begin these types of discussion pertaining to this issue. I’m of the like mind as Six there, it will be a sad day for the NWN community if CC Creators of this caliber felt like withholding their content based on this situation… although I would also fully support them in their decision if it ultimately comes down to that, however sad that day would be.

  20. I’m another that’s been particularly annoyed by what’s gone on regarding this issue. Along with some others here I’ve tentatively decided I won’t be releasing anything to the vault anymore either.

    I think what gets me about all of this, is it’s not that I really minded people grabbing stuff and using it. It’s the “content makers owe us” attitude. If several well known content makers make a simple and easy request and are greeted with the sort of venom I saw in that forum, I don’t want to make content freely available to those type of people. I’m perfectly fine making things for friends and myself. I’d like to believe that the majority of the community isn’t as stupid, but others here are right when they say the silence has been deafening. In this case, silence may very well destroy what’s left of the “open” NWN community.

    OK I’ve said my piece, back to modelling! 😉

  21. For the record Andarian, you’ve also got my understanding, respect, and support regarding this issue and your words posted here.

    I’m of a mind to follow paulokrantz’s train of thought, and wonder where all the considerate and appreciative builders and players vanished to when this issue was first raised publically. Or perhaps they think it won’t affect them, in which case it seems they’re sadly mistaken.

    Like others, I’m also now giving serious consideration to whether or not it’s worth releasing any of the content I’m working on.

  22. Shadow_Weaver: Thanks! I’ll look for your email tomorrow morning (it’s just about bedtime here :)) and we can start to work out the logistics.

    Dragonessa: Thanks for your input! I agree completely with your thoughts about the offensive “builders owe us” attitude. I’d rip out and burn the drives that my work is stored on before I’d mod for a community of people like that.

    The thing is, I’ve met too many good folks here, and have too many really wonderful fans, to believe it. Maybe as a module author I see a different cross-section of the community than cc builders do, but I’m still holding out hope that what we’re facing is a small but loud crop of bad apples. Don’t forget that the thread lock on the Bioboards is keeping most of the community from learning about what is happening. Hopefully we can start to change that once we have a forum of our own set up.

  23. Ben: Thanks for your support! As for where the appreciative builders and players have gone: I’m hoping that most of them don’t even know what’s going on. The locked threads were on the CEP and cc forums, which most players and module builders probably don’t read. I didn’t find out about it myself until someone happened to mention it to me in a PM.

  24. This is sad and interesting issue. I am currently contibuting to a nwn2 PW project.

    I have not yet placed any artwork on the vault but if it means I give up the right to be credited for my work…then I to might bow out before I even start.

    A solution might be a Down Load site that functions like the Vault but has agreements to click through for each and every DL expressing exactly who are the creators. Perhaps PW and mods could be certified as ‘all credits duly checked’. I guess there is/was always a wild west out there where stuff gets used and abused but if an alternative exists at least creators aren’t voiceless.

  25. Andarian said:

    “As for where the appreciative builders and players have gone: I’m hoping that most of them don’t even know what’s going on. The locked threads were on the CEP and cc forums, which most players and module builders probably don’t read.”

    Indeed. Silence on my part doesn’t come from not caring — I simply didn’t know. The only reason I know now is because I try to keep up on modules I’ve enjoyed and browse the blogs and pages every now and again, and the issue was posted here.

    So for those of us who aren’t “in” the community in an active builder/creator way, and don’t have time or desire to participate in the NWN forums, what do we do? How can the word be spread to us simple players? We may not do much more than enjoy the end product, but I’d bet there’s a good number of us who agree with your views and would have your back if only we knew there was a problem.

  26. As someone who only ever been a player of modules I have always respected the generosity and hard work of those who were willing to use their free time to entertain others. I always thought it was bad enough having to deal with troll voters and rude comments, but I can only imagine how horrible it must be to have someone be able to essentially steal your work and have no way to stop it. This is an issue I didn’t know existed until I saw this post. If there was anyway to make a list of those known of using other’s work without due acknowledgment I, and everyone I know, would make sure not to use them. I really hope that there can be some sort of positive resolution to protect those who have put in so much hard work.

  27. Thete, Uire, Forever Morning: thanks for your kind words and support! I do think that the problem is coming from a group that isn’t representative of the community as a whole. They look to be a set of builders (custom content and module authors) that has been allowed to get away with being thoughtless about other peoples’ work for too long. And unfortunately, it’s gone on for so long now that some have convinced themselves that they’re entitled to behave that way. It’s the same phenomenon that I was trying to depict in the conflict between the Provan and Deman philosophies in Sanctum of the Archmage.

    It’s not so much the existence of the problem, I think, as the lukewarm support (or the perception thereof) that is becoming disheartening to the CC developers. Every community will have a few jerks, but in a healthy one most people respect the rights of the people who make the community possible in the first place. I would have liked to see more of my fellow builders speak up to that effect. Hopefully we can work to change that by establishing a forum and a presence in the community and raising consciousness about this issue.

  28. “A few others were too ambiguous or non-committal in their responses to categorize.”

    I probably fall in with these few others, even though I’ve made my opinion known at multiple occasions on IRC as well as on the forum (http://nwn.bioware.com/forums/viewpost.html?topic=630046&post=5795780&forum=42). Though, in hindsight I could have been a bit more vocally supportive to this case. Alas work had tired me out, which sadly dims my linguistic skills in this strange and foreign language. 🙂

    At any rate, I hereby once again raise the proverbial torch and join this mob. I’m all for the mazes if this lack of respect continues to persist. I might not be an established custom content developer like some of the previous posters here, but I do have a sense of integrity and will continue to support you people.

    I also hope that we’ll be able to work something out in the near future. Either through the integration of said template or else hosting (y)our content through another portal that does acknowledge the author’s wishes for a little bit of R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

  29. I wanted to offer my support as well. I am not technically a contributor to NWN (except for the work I am currently doing for Q) but I have had these issues with my artwork in the past, and I know how frustrating and disheartening dealing with it can be.

    It is my hope that the people who choose to treat the creators of custom content with such disrespect, knowing they are doing so or not, are a very vocal minority, but that may be optimistic of me.

    Regardless, the more people are educated about it, the better off we all are (at least I hope).

  30. Andarian, and any others others that show their support just by caring enough to even read these words:

    I am project lead for the Community Tileset Project. As some of you know, we got our start by ‘taking’ other content from the vault, and ‘improving’ it. We did NOT just grab that content though, wherever and whenever we could we specifically asked and received the original author’s approval.

    Since that initial start, CTP has been lucky enough to gain support from other CC authors to help us along. We have NEW content that would never have been seen were it not from the efforts of those original content providers AND the efforts of the CTP Team to finalize the works. We, the CTP, earned HOF status due to the quality of the work we performed. That award goes a huge distance into giving us ‘payback’ for the work that we perform.

    However, we still reserve the right to expect that anyone using our ’stuff’ comes to OUR page to grab the files. To read the credits and dedications to fallen members. To find out how to fix issues or to be able to report issues. (After all, we can’t fix it if we don’t know it’s broken!)

    When this ‘issue’ was raised, we all knew it was going to cause a storm. The issue came about due to certain individuals that had decided to take OUR (CTP) content and place it into a certain mega hak pack without our express permission. Fortunately, that did NOT happen THIS time. But those same folks have made it painfully clear that they believe they have the right to do as they please with any content placed onto the vault.

    CTP, being what it is, a set of tilesets that only directly affects mod builders, NEEDS that attention from a vault release. However, we may also be at a stage where we will no longer release files to the vault. If another way can be found, to get our content to the people that deserve it, and exclude the folks that have no right to it, then you can bet that CTP will no longer release on the vault either.

    To the NON-Cc folks, we, and I think I can safely say I speak for all here, ‘WE’ the CC creators have no desire at all to make your life painful. We WANT you to have our content. However, we also need to know that it is released in a way that assures us that YOU know where it came from. So you can contact us with issues, or with praise, or even with complaints. If we (any of us) get lost in some mega pack, you are naturally going to go to that mega pack creator and complain. They can’t come back to us, because they didn’t have permission to have the files in the first place. So, you end up with whatever fix or lack of fix, they decide to give you.

    On CTP side, I know that man hours spent over the past 4.5 years totals several thousand hours. I can easily say that since I know that I personally gave the team more than 3,000 hours by myself, and I am NOT the only member working that hard. Almost every minute of my ‘free time’ is spent in support of the CTP project in some fashion. Either in direct CC work, or answering questions on the forums or search for additional members, whatever. All of that time, I personally, ‘give’ to the end users. All that I ask in return is that the end user grab our files from OUR vault release page and hopefully spend the time needed to read the credits and dedications that are posted there.

    We, in the CTP, do this out of our love for NWN, and an intention to help the game become better, more long lived. However, if all the ‘credit’ is lost in some mega pack… then how do we know anyone even cares or that our time has been well spent?

    ** shoot, too long, sorry, I am very emotional about this whole business.

  31. As an old (not a metaphore) player/builder the whole thread made me really sad (specially bio’s attitude, but that was predictable).

    Being a total stranger to everybody i’ll introduce myself. I’m one of the former developers of an spanish talking PW based Area51 servers. Over the last year I took a new path and continued with some older projects I had to put away. Many of them would be based over much of yours CC (they’re only in pen n’ paper planning stage).

    It would be really hurting to see these great community of CC creators break off.

    About the ownership/EULA/ issue I totally agree with this blog point of view and wanted to offer my support.

    This game wouldn’t be the same without you.

    Greeting.

    Marcos.

  32. I just found out about this discussion on the q-boards, bioware boards and ctp team boards.

    As a pw owner I feel the need to make my world as creative as possible so have merged many haks. Ive always tried to document and respect those haks i took pieces from and list or note the origninal authors as the creators of the content my team has retextured, re-worked or put in. In fact Paul made a note on his tileset not to be used in anything else so i pmed him on the bioware boards to get permission to edit his doortypes 2da.

    Some here know me as very respectfull of others work and do my best to credit those who deserve it. I simply dont understand why others cant do the same.

    It’s very sad that authors are leaving the vault because of this. I also feel that they have good reason too do so.

  33. well… my web-hosting package has been upgraded to allow for unlimited disc space and unlimited bandwidth… so I can technically offer (if desired) an alternative “hosting” option for those that desire it… once I get the Moddersshrugged forums up and running, I can post more information about that there… if there is a need for it, I can provide for it.

  34. All: Shadow_Weaver tells me that the new forums are almost ready. When I get home later, I’m going to write up some announcements about the forums and the initiative, and post them around the community.

    Thanks to Mask at RPGModding, who was kind enough to mirror my blog post:

    http://www.rpgmodding.com/index.php?categoryid=1&p2_articleid=22

    Thanks to all the new folks who’ve stopped by to offer their support. You’re getting to be too many to keep thanking individually now, which is a very good thing. 🙂

    Helekanalaith: No, I was counting you as one of our supporters. You wrote “I support this proposal wholeheartly” in one of your posts, and that sounds pretty unambiguous to me. 🙂

    Shadow_Weaver: Thanks for the offer to help set up an alternate hosting site. I sincerely hope it will not come to that, though, and part of the reason I want to establish this initiative is to try to prevent it from getting to that point. If it does end up being our only recourse, though, then I will firmly support and help to establish such a site for those authors who have chosen to “shrug.”

  35. Hey guys, just wanted to weigh in and let you know I think you’re doing a good thing here.
    I know my NWN experience has been improved immeasureably by some of the stuff on the vault and I have the greatest respect for anyone prepared to sacrifice their time and effort for the NWN (or any other) community. I really hope some kind of compromise gets worked out.
    Shout-outs to Weasel and Paulokrantz too. I’ll be really sad to see you guys go, but I completely understand where you’re coming from. Good Luck.

    Matt

  36. Just penning my name to the long list of folks who think that taking and modifying work of others without permission sucks. I’ve been on the receiving end (albeit just for a tutorial theft) but also don’t think it is right.

    The debate also puts into perspective the developer versus piracy discussions. It seems like a very similar discussion (although in that case someone makes some money at least).

  37. 28. “Ben: Thanks for your support! As for where the appreciative builders and players have gone: I’m hoping that most of them don’t even know what’s going on. The locked threads were on the CEP and cc forums, which most players and module builders probably don’t read. I didn’t find out about it myself until someone happened to mention it to me in a PM.”

    I know some others have already mentioned this, but most of us don’t (or didn’t in my case now) know about this issue. I found out about 30 minutes ago when I checked the Aielund Saga site.

    I think the attitude of most players is that they love the new content and are grateful for being able to play a NWN because of it. Frankly, I don’t know if I might have downloaded some of the redistributed material, I’ve just downloaded whatever the mod author/PW admin said I needed to DL. I think most players are like that, and don’t like people stealing from the original authors but in many cases don’t even pay too much attention to the author, if that makes sense.

    I know that I really don’t know any of the names who worked on the CEP, for example. I love the content, I’ll respect their wishes when it comes to how to use said content, but in most cases I admit I don’t know said wishes. I just play the game, which is what I think many do. And until now I didn’t realize this sort of thing was an issue.

    I regularly browse the general boards at Bioware, but that’s it. If you want to get the “silent majority” on your side, they need to find out and be aware there’s an issue in the first place. Not sure how to do that effectively with Bioware not wanting this issue on their boards.

    My two cents, I suppose.

  38. As one of the ‘silent majority’ I have to say that it seems a tragic loss to cancel a much-anticipated project because of the actions of the few. I understand the modders’ viewpoint, and I agree with it, but there must be a better way than to just give up, a situation in which everyone loses.

    I didn’t know about this until I checked up on mods in progress and found this, and the immediate impression was that a handful of disrespectful arseholes have stirred up trouble, and the cc community seems in danger of commiting suicide in conesquence. I agree with respecting the creators, but I don’t want to see the community lose some of it’s most prominent members and most-anticipated content. There must be a better way.

  39. DekuBush: I appreciate you offering your thoughts on this. The problem isn’t so much that there are a few bad apples, but rather that the “silent majority” has been precisely that: silent about what’s going on. If the community as a whole were telling these disrespectful individuals what to do with their arrogance, then the situation would be a lot more encouraging. (See Paul and Ben’s posts earlier in these comments.) Instead, we have seen absurd presumptions that our work is a free “gift” that we have no moral right to control. Instead of being allowed to offer a constructive proposal to address the problem, the entire topic has been banned from discussion on the game publisher’s forums. We have, in effect, been told to shut up and go back to being happy little unpaid content creator serfs for the community to keep “taking” from. That’s not right, and I think that people should be willing to say so.

    None of us want to see NWN modding implode over this issue. And yes, there absolutely is a “better way” than for us to just “give up.” But that better way has to start with the “silent majority” learning not to be so silent about what is going on. It has to start with giving the authors who are getting fed up to the point of quitting some reason to believe that they’re not wasting thousands of unpaid hours modding for a community of ingrates. So if you want to help us change all of that, then speak out. Help us to build an outspoken community consensus that ripping off authors’ content without permission is wrong. Express your support on our “Modders Shrugged” forum, and read and contribute there to our “Things we can do” thread. PM the moderators who locked down our threads on the Bioware forums, and tell them politely that you think that the template proposal is important and that it deserves a hearing. Help NWN’s authors stop feeling that they’re building for a community of mean-spirited people who take them and their work for granted. We’re doing what we can to try to raise awareness of this issue, but the rest is up to you. 🙂

  40. I just caught up with this topic. I noticed Project Q, quickly caught on to an undertone of conflict with the CEP, and followed the breadcrumbs all the way here. Its Christmas night, my wife is gone, Im going to take some time to give you a random opinion on things. I hope it doesn’t insult or offend you because I have a lot of admiration for custom content creators. Ive played D&D since I was 10, NWN on and off since it’s release. I was mostly happy about the final 1.69 Patch (DM Client bug not withstanding) and decided to sit down and write a mod once I finished some renovations on the home. Well that time has come and Ive spent the last week catching up with recent developments. One of the first tasks I turned my head to was checking out available custom content.

    I had to say I was somewhat surprised, and a little disappointed. I was expecting with the finalization of the official content and a restriction of 16000 palette items that there would be some efforts to begin streamlining and compiling the best of the best of the custom content available. Unfortunately it seems that is not what is occuring. I see many of the talented content makers continuing to improve upon their existing works leaving them in a continual state of flux. I see the CEP has grown to immense proportions, and a great deal of it’s content seems somewhat unneccesary or not up to snuff. I see that many of the most talented artists have joined forces for PQ, but I have to say I was a bit disheartened at the initiative for all new content once again with zero compatibility with other content. I hate to say it but it had DLA written all over it.

    Just this evening, shortly before I noticed this recent clash of opposing interests concerning copyrights I came to an annoying realization. If I was going to build mod’s I was going to have to go through the vault myself and strip out each thing I want piece by piece. And as I added each item Id have to live with the idea that it may never get updated again, because Ill never have the skill to create or update custom content. I came to realize that the entire problem of standardization that has plagued this community has not gotten any better at all. You can have a 1,000 talented artists, but if they are all painting over each other’s work, you’ll never get to enjoy them all. And that’s what the average builder wants…we want you all. Everything you are sharing. Because its awesome. But it would be more awesome if it worked with other awesome stuff. This increases the awesomeness exponentially.

    So I sat down and started to consider the effort I was about to undertake. Design MY final Hak that incorporates the best the Vault has to offer. I checked to see if the DM palette bug had been fixed and was disheartened that it hadnt been. This finalized my decision for a custom hak built file by file for my mods. I had seen hints of PQ here and there and figured it was worthwhile to check out what it was all about. And then I finally arrived here. And I feel like I have the other side of the story. But you know what sucks for me? That after seven years, in a community loaded with incredibly innovative designers, and a wealth of beautiful eye candy, the closest we have to a consolidated Hak is the CEP, and it is in desperate need of review for the sake of brevity and quality control, not to mention documentation for the sake of usability.

    So imagine my disapointment when I realized what I thought would be the best thing of all about undertaking this effort was exactly what has caused such an uproar. Consolidating high quality content into an integrated builder’s set with a variety of options. To someone like me…well that would be the best present ever. But unfortunately that is not what the CEP is although its awesome in its own right. Author’s permission issues notwithstanding. And the thing of it is…I cant really be waiting around another six years for a pie in the sky update that will make all my NWN dreams come true. Been there, doen that, ya know what Im saying. There is plenty of awesome content out there right now. Anything you need to build an incredible game setting.

    The greatest service of all to the NWN builders community that could be done is to do that which has not yet been done. Transform the existing base of content into a singular high quality package that is all inclusive from Tilesets to scripts to portraits. And do so in such a fasion that is modularized to allow builders to pick and choose which content they will incorporate without leaving out other necessary things. Of course this applies more to some categories than others. And in essence this is what PQ plans to do I suppose, Except adding in the laborious task of creating even more new content. And that in and of itself is mindboggling until as a builder I could look things from the designers point of view. The designer likes to design. Not repackage.

    The thing of it is as a general rule…designers never think past designing cool stuff. You have to make your stuff accessible to the masses in order to make it useful to the masses. I’ve seen all kinds of incredible Haks lately. Things I didnt think were possible. But it still all comes down to the same thing. Each hak is never finished, and with each version incompatibilty and bloat increases. Our community was given a substandard set of tools to easily share custom content, and it has hindered our progress. But for whatever reason this problem continues to perpetuate itself. I guess as a designer if all you really want to do is showcase your talent as a designer, there is no real need to turn an eye towards compatibility with existing and future projects. But as a builder, the ability to take what I can from your creations and combine it with other things for the enjoyment of the entire community is of utmost importance. And generally speaking…designers have not made that job easy at all.

    So I guess in the end you have to ask yourself whats important. Showcasing your talent, or working to meet the communities needs. Personally I think the latter leads to the former in ways that pursuing self promotion alone could never fill. So Ill be sitting down and consolidating my FINAL Hak of building materials while keeping an eye to quality, eliminating redundancy, and maintaing a small palette. In addition Ill do what I can to modularize my work. Because I do want to share this legwork with others. Originally I had planned to give extenive credit to all original sources wherever possible. I guess now Ill be asking permission. To be honest Im kind of blown away people wouldnt want me to use a work in a consolidation hack, but I guess I will abide by those who wish me not to. Although honestly…I just dont get that.

    Well anyways thanks for all your hard work, thanks for reading, and I wish you luck in your endeavors. You are clearly very talented and I wish you well in your endeavors. But I hope this has helped shed some light on those builders who do not have your innate ability, creativity, and schedule. Designers have done many wonderful things, but it always seems like all those things carry the same curse. Kinda makes me a sad panda sometimes.

  41. My opinion on the whole subject is this. You are in a community modding enviornment, not a business enviornment. This enviornment has been put in place to provide WILLING PARTICIPENTS a place to distribute creations based on and around ANOTHER PARTYS ORIGINAL GAME. This is not an ORIGINAL BUSINESS ENVOIRNMENT so if you do not wish your content to be freely used, DO NOT POST IT IN THIS PARTICULAR ENVOIRNMENT.
    As for credit, the vast majority attempt to provide credit, but once something has been distributed and redistributed, it is hard-t0-impossible sometimes to find the original creator.
    Again, if this is not acceptable to you, and you believe that your content is of high enough quality and enough originality to no longer be considered a modification of another companys (in this case bioware’s) intellectual property, DO NOT POST IT. Its your responsibility to hold on to content you wish to remain solely yours, not ours when it is within an open liscense context.
    And thats just reality.

  42. Oh, one last thing…when I say ‘thats just reality’, what I mean is that you can make all the ‘templates’ you want, try to set any standards you want, but joe smo the new modder wont know about it. He will download something cool, and teach himself to put it in a hak and will not think twice about where it came from or know to look for some template or what have you. But I have NEVER in my year of gathering custom content for my private use-come across a hak without a message stating that the compiler is taking credit for everythin g-quite the opposite. Even if they cant find the author, they are always careful to say that they are not the authors of this or that. All damn good for an enviornment where real regulation would be impossible.
    By the way, for every hakker who complains that they may not recieve credit, I notice that there are some very simple things they could do to make sure they are known that they rarely do. All blueprints have a comment field, but that field is almost always completely devoid of any author credits. And its not our fault if an author is too lazy to include blueprints and add a simple line with authorship information (and that bit about wanting to let the content builder make thier own blueprints is usually just an excuse to not do the extra work-I can just as easilly delete a blueprint as add it).
    I think the vast majority do their best to be good about the content they use.

  43. EDIT-
    should read
    “NEVER in my year of gathering custom content for my private use have I ever come across a hak compilation where the compiler tries to take all the credit for the contents-quite the oppisite.”
    sorry.

  44. Well, I can see that I’ve left it a little late, but I just joined the community over at the NWVault recently, and I wasn’t aware that there was a problem until I read this post. That being said, I no longer wish to be a part of the silent majority, and am willing to side with the builders/animators/etc. whose work and effort is being disrespected. I’m a simple player myself with plans to complete a module in the not-so-near future, and I don’t use all that many haks and custom-created content, simply because I’m clueless as to HOW to use them, so this issue doesn’t really directly apply to me, but I’d still like to stand up for what I see as the right side of the issue here. I’m something of a writer in real life and I understand what it means and feels like to have your work stolen, and it is NOT a good feeling at all.

  45. I recently became aware of your material/ sweat and genuis. As someone who is in the process of learning about making custom content. I have found that I often forget to make a note that I have actually made something, it is something I have found with many haks and erfs etc that sometimes the authors dont.

    However that said it is way out of line for someone to claim credit for some others work – in the real world they would get a bloody nose at the bare minimum. It is thieving afterall. In a less than tolerant society they would have thier hands cut off?

    However I have never yet seen anyone who has caimed a work to be 100% thier own but then I have not been acquainted with every Mod or every hak ever made.

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