I start with this title because I'm not an expert in this and may well make wrong assumptions, so I apologise in advance to anyone who may know something I talk about better than me. I'm just thinking out loud and maybe making some folks consider some factors they may previously not have. Apologies also for any typos.
Alongside the whole "PC vs Console: Which would win in a cage fight" pissing contests, there's so much talk about "Why no console mods?" that I couldn't help but throw my tuppence-worth (ok more like two hundred bucks, I talk a lot) in. Anyone expected a short story, save yourself the pain, I'm in the mood to yabber.
Before we all take sides and start chucking muck at each other like so many monkeys, just remember our love of our differences are what make us all the same. Android/iPhone, PC/Console, XBox/Playstation, PC/Mac, McDonalds/Burger King, Pepsi/Coke, North/South, you get the picture. It's nice to have a choice isn't it? Accept you're biased for the moment and consider the bigger picture.
Putting aside the PC vs Console argument, consider console gaming 'as is'. Yes, there are significantly more restrictions in place than you would find on PC but for very good reason. They aren’t running in an open environment. Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo have invested a massive amount in these gaming platforms. The cost of the hardware is kept low to provide an entry point. A large part of their repeat revenue is based around online multiplayer gaming (XB Live / PS Plus / Switch). Modding provides a potential entry point for creation of exploits. This risks ruining that multiplayer experience (loss of level playing field), people lose interest in playing online and the labels lose this revenue.
Even if you don't consider modding exploits to cheat online, I wouldn't be surprised if the decision is made as often by the publisher not to mod as by the platform.
A lot of effort goes into game and level design and pre-release testing to ensure a game is well balanced and playable and has the right level of challenge to draw you in and keep you playing. Opening up modding provides an opportunity to mess that whole balance up. Although the player may not realise it, it ruins the game for them.
Yes, it might be good for the player who's clocked the game, or wants to customise the experience and I'm all for that, but you will also get those people who start by downloading everything, end up not liking the experience and complaining about the game or leaving early. You see it all over the internet already. "Man, this game sucks, it's so slow and the trucks always get stuck". "This game is rubbish without my Fiat 500 monster truck". Miss the point much?
I also saw another post on here where somebody was noting about an aspect of the game (vehicle spawn points I think) that was broken when a moderator responded something along the lines of "I think the issue is you are using a custom map which didn't add them". Not everyone is able to understand or take ownership of the changes they make to ruin their own experience.
Modding takes the creative control away from the developers who spent a lot of time and effort on it. Ok fine when you have a franchise so big that it won't harm you (Skyrim, Fallout) but MudRunner is still pretty new, so I totally appreciate that the devs might want to control the experience in the beginning.
I started the game like everyone thinking "Where's my e7310? Gimme gimme gimme gimme!" Would I have bothered with the B-130 if I hadn't have needed to complete every map before I finally got the prize? I bloody love that B-130 now, bless it's bouncy, crappy little cotton socks!
Releasing 'mod' content as DLCs, as suggested in the last update, makes a lot of sense. It allows the game to be extended significantly whilst still being able to control the look and feel and game balance so everyone can enjoy and co-op on a level playing field. I just hope that the community content creators all support this to increase the content and playability on all platforms.
The final thought I would raise is copyright. Sony and Microsoft are huge brands known for protecting their identities through legal means. I'm sure they are very aware of and sensitive to the idea of hosting content that could infrige others’ brand identities the same way.
The fact that someone made an awesome model of a Ford Bronco doesn't necessarily mean that Ford won't have something to say about it being made available to play in a game without their consent. A talented person (and there are many in the community) can make a fantastic model in a 3D application and upload to the internet without having to think much further than their own creative expectations. To do that litigation free on in a commercially viable way is another story entirely.
Everyone screaming for MudRunner USA might want to think about how long it would reasonably take and what it might cost to acquire these kinds of rights from big name companies. Why would you think that these won't come at a cost? Of course (in my opinion) MudRunner USA will come as a new game or perhaps also as a paid-for DLC. Someone has to pay for the additional development and work and the wages of the people who will be working for several months to make those licensing deals happen. If not for that, the game is targeted for a different market, even if existing players recognise the value, you couldn’t successfully market this level of development to a new customer base as a DLC of another game.
I love Unimogs to a point that might be considered legally inappropriate, but can imagine that even if Mercedes were OK with their vehicles being added, the potential level of effort to engage with a company of that size and ensure all their expectations on 'correct brand representation' are fulfilled is possibly greater than the resource available, or the return on investment from doing so. And at the end of all that effort I will have my weekend of fun and ask ‘where are all the Land Rovers?’.
I'd be interested to know what kind of commercial deals are done to acquire big brand rights for games like Forza or Fifa. The legal teams alone are probably larger than the whole MudRunner dev team lol. The one thing that perhaps MudRunner has in its favour is that some of the brands are less 'precious' about themselves and happy for the promotion or just for the hell of it. But I'm thinking (guessing) of the likes of Tatra or Kamaz or Bowler or maybe Scania. Start to consider same for the big names like Ford, Dodge, Chevrolet, Toyota, Mercedes.
Anyway, I guess my point is that I love the idea of having the complete freedom that modding would give me in an open sandbox environment like MudRunner, and I’m slightly jealous of the guys with PCs who can have that fun and wish them all the best with it, I might join you one day if I can be bothered to buy another but I can't justify it at the moment. In the meantime I still prefer to play on my XBox in my living room, in my lazy chair in front of my 60 inch TV and be two button presses away from playing. I pay for that convenience by compromising elsewhere. And I’m fine with that. If I only had a PC and a desk, or actually preferred to play that way, I see no issue there either. I would accept compromises elsewhere.
I’m also fine with paying 'what something is worth'. I have, to date, had about three to four weeks gameplay and enjoyment out of MudRunner. That was well worth the purchase price. I bought a copy for my mate. We played on two afternoons so far. It was hilarious. That was worth the extra money. You can pay five bucks for a pint of beer or a cup of coffee. Pick your own example of something you spent more money on that lasted less time. I'm equally fine with paying extra for additional content that increases my enjoyment or extends the game longevity. Especially if I take a little time to consider what it cost to deliver that experience to me.
More Beer. Peace. Out.