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Mad_Doodles

Mad_Doodles
United Kingdom  


  5/1/2019  5

Hey there!

There's a bit of discussion going on over at The Norn Nebula discord that I wanted to bring forward to the larger community as I feel it is a fairly important one, and that is on the issue of updating agents of a creator who has been inactive for potentially years, and shows no signs of returning.

I understand this may be a slightly thorny issue for some, so I wanted to get a variety of opinions on the subject matter, and hopefully, we can come to a general community consensus on the subject.

The community is over 20 years old now, and many agents have been created in that time. Some of these agents are broken in some way, or are no longer compatible with the latest developments, but are regardless very popular or well loved.
For other games this isn't especially an issue, mods can very often have patches applied on top of them and require the original mod to use correctly. Not so with Creatures, unfortunately. If an agent doesn't work correctly, the agent itself must be edited.
This creates a problem for the modern community: many creators have simply moved on, and will never be coming back, but have not left instructions on what to do if someone wishes to pick up their work. Rehosting instructions are a bit more common, but patching is a whole other thing.

What do we want to do as a community? I think we need to have a discussion about this.

My personal opinion is that I think it would be a crying shame if popular and well loved mods, from agents to metarooms, fell by the wayside because they don't interact with what's popular with modern creatures, either from being broken or simply not made to work with new mods (a lot of older metarooms don't work well for TWB/TCBs for instance). I personally think we should be free to fix these.
Now I'm not saying cut the creator out. I absolutely think every effort should be made to contact them and ask for permission. If they do get back to us, we respect the answer given no matter the case. If we do and a couple of weeks go by, a month, two months... well if a long time goes and they've not been active for a long time and show no signs of coming back, I don't think it would be beyond the pale to update these mods, giving original credit where credit is due of course. I also think it would be well worth current creators setting out policies on this from now on, as well.

But that's just my opinion, and I know already there are many different takes on this. I hope we can have a productive discussion on the matter, and come to some sort of conclusion.


Doodler, painter, baker and ridiculous idea haver.
 
BlocklockCity

BlocklockCity
United States  


  5/2/2019  5

This is something I have strong feelings about.

More broadly... I don't like to think about how much has been lost over the years from a combination of websites going down, creators no longer using old contact information, and the community at large being hesitant to publicly share private copies of files that are no longer available for download. I understand the desire to respect creators' policies, but I do not think allowing things to disappear entirely is a form of respect. It's led to a situation where it's easier to obtain illegitimate copies of the actual games--which still cost money after all these years--than it is to find certain third-party content--stuff that, with only a handful of exceptions, was always produced and distributed for free. The prevailing strict attitude about permissions and IP in the CC has directly contributed to the loss of third-party content it slowly continues to experience, and the fact that, out of what IS still around, there are things with well-known bugs that have never been fixed because the creator disappeared up to 20 years ago is absurd.

I made a thread a few years ago on the topic of getting around restrictions on hosting files. I still stand by what I said, and it more or less applies to the topic of fixing things, too. I agree with you completely. This...

Mad_Doodles wrote:
mods can very often have patches applied on top of them and require the original mod to use correctly


...is the ideal, but given that it's not an option because of the way the Creatures games work, the attitude one would take towards creating patches for other people's mods is the attitude that should be taken towards updating agents directly.

 
C-Rex
Lollipop Lord

C-Rex
United Kingdom  

 visit C-Rex's website: The Norn Nebula
  5/2/2019  8

Honestly, I believe that if someone hasn't been a member of the community for such an extended period of time, it's highly unlikely they are going to care that their content is being reuploaded, but as long as the reuploader aknowledges the original author and agrees to remove the content if requested I don't see anything wrong with it.

To put it bluntly, nothing lasts forever - websites go down, members move on from the community, some may even pass away. The best thing that can be done in my opinion is to archive content, albeit privately, so when the time comes it will still be available.


Join the Norn Nebula Discord Server!
 
Moe

Moe
United States  

 visit Moe's website: Creatures 2 to Docking Station
  5/2/2019  11

People have always taken copyright super seriously in this community, but in recent years the only thing that mindset has done is caused a loss of content and the further degradation of the community. Some of the biggest websites in the community have fallen and taken a horde of content with them. After seeyou7.net went down, I wouldn’t even know where to get half the agents of my childhood at this point!

I can absolutely understand creators wanting to protect their work for a variety of reasons, but most of the prominent creators are gone now and trying to reach them would be a fool’s errand. I can’t even get in touch with edash and we worked together for years! Re-uploading the addons that are no longer available while attributing proper credit is enough in my opinion. As for addons that are broken: patch the ones you can and fix the ones you can’t, and just give credit where it’s due. It’s common practice and etiquette in almost any modding community these days.

Creatures had both the pleasure and misfortune of being one of the first modding communities, way back with C1 in the mid 90s, and our policies haven’t aged well with the modern net. This isn’t the Geocities/Angelfire days when everyone was making free websites and spreading content around like the plague and claiming ownership. It still happens of course, but times have changed. Authorship is easily verifiable within minutes [if not immediately obvious] in most modding communities thanks to modding hub websites through which the vast majority of mod downloads take place (Steam Workshop, Nexus Mods, ModTheSims, etc).

Developers now take it in stride as non-consequential when a few rogue uploads pop up across the web when 99% of their mod downloads are from clearly accredited mod sites. Besides, we’ve talked about this before several times and the vast majority of content creators would be grateful that someone fixed and re-uploaded their content—many have said as much!

I hate to be this way…but as for the ones that would be upset…what’s the likelihood we’re ever going to see them in the community again, really? MNB is a great example. He threw a hissy fit about his content being redistributed before he left. Last logon is 8 years ago. And even then, he is one of maybe 3 creators I can think of who were ever *clear* about the redistribution of their work post-mortem (after website goes down/they leave community), and even then those preferences were expressed 5-10 years ago when they were more active in the community—and the community was in better shape for that matter!

I say we fix/patch/reupload everything first and ask forgiveness later if they ever bother to file a complaint. It’s not like this is being done maliciously after all. We’re not trying to take credit from the creators, but if we stand by and do nothing, tip-toeing around antiquated modding distribution policies, we only stand to lose more and more content to an already damaged and emaciated community.

For posterity purposes let me repeat my position and say this as an example: I never finished C2toDS and likely never will. It’s about 85-90% complete, but there are a few missing machines and some bugs floating about (sometimes literally… those wasps omg…and lordy the frogs!). If someone wanted to step in and fix some bugs or add in the last of the content, go for it! Same goes for all my other agents, rooms, etc.

Peace.

 
GimmeCat

GimmeCat
United Kingdom  


  5/2/2019  1

It's impossible to claim ownership over a mod idea. There's nothing to stop anyone creating their own cob/agent/fix, using their own code and their own sprites, to do the same thing and improve upon previously explored ideas.

I 100% support the hosting of old files, but I don't support using someone else's work without their permission. Make your own, it's not that hard.

 
Dragoler
Wrong Banshee

Dragoler
United Kingdom  


  5/2/2019  4

GimmeCat wrote:
It's impossible to claim ownership over a mod idea. There's nothing to stop anyone creating their own cob/agent/fix, using their own code and their own sprites, to do the same thing and improve upon previously explored ideas.

I 100% support the hosting of old files, but I don't support using someone else's work without their permission. Make your own, it's not that hard.


For some mods this is true, but others have very complex coding or a unique idea but just don't work properly. It'd be easier to fix them and preserve them than having to completely remake them - essentially just making the same thing but with a different coat of paint. Everyone would be able to tell it's really just a copy and it'd take attention away from the original to boot, so why not simply preserve what is already there?


Creator of the TWB/TCB genome base.

 
SpaceShipRat

SpaceShipRat
Italy  


  5/2/2019  3

@Moe I don't really worry about offending old creators as much as discouraging active ones. But to that purpose, I'd encourage active creators to just include their policies in their agent .zips and I think they can expect the to be respected.
 
Issy

Issy
United States  


  5/2/2019  3

This part always bothered me about the CC. It is part of the reason I never joined any sites... I just silently downloaded the things I wanted and moved on. I have been around this community for a long time. Much longer than my account here would tell you. I think this can also be said for many of those that remain here.

I have never seen an instance of someone claiming someone else's content as their own within this community-- they only host files while clearly giving credit where credit is due. They stand to gain nothing personally as no one is paying for them and no one believes the host made it themselves. The original creator perhaps even gains a bit of a "fanbase" for their third-party content creating capabilities.

No one is of ill intent, in fact, hosting someone else's content is probably more so a compliment! This person obviously likes your creation so much that they want even more people to see it and use it for themselves! If you originally put it up for free for everyone to download and use, then why discourage that from happening? No one likes a thief, but there are no thieves here. Just a lot of "paying it forward", in a sense. We have the capability to collect a lot of wonderful creations lost to time and inactivity and host them in a place where people familiar with or new to the games can access them to experience the series as we did many years ago.

From 2009, in reference to an archival site hosting MNB's files (and others):

Elastic Muffin wrote:
Someone is eventually going to need to take some initiative for this fractured and intensely self-protective community to survive much longer. I for one am glad this person noticed that Eem Labs was broken and decided to do something about it.

Full credit is given to the authors on this page and contact info is provided to have stuff removed. Everyone needs to remember that without sites like this, more stuff will become unavailable and the community will become a pretty boring place.



I think EM summed it up nicely, 10 years ago.

If CreaturesCaves had an area called "The Vault" or something to that tone where old files were hosted without explicit permission (but able to be removed if requested), I would not complain. We have permanently lost so many great creations already.

Of course, this is just my opinion. Creatures has been a big part of my life in many ways, and I hate to see it slowly wither and die while we all stand and watch it waste away.

Apologies if this was not well written, I have had many migraines the past few days and forming well thought out responses has been semi-difficult.


~Issy [ngeek]
 
BlocklockCity

BlocklockCity
United States  


  5/2/2019  2

Issy wrote:
If CreaturesCaves had an area called "The Vault" or something to that tone where old files were hosted without explicit permission (but able to be removed if requested), I would not complain.


And when the CC is ready to make a step like this, I have almost 3 gigabytes of downloads to put towards the cause.

 
ylukyun
Chaotic Chimera

ylukyun

Manager



  5/2/2019  1

Moe wrote:
Creatures had both the pleasure and misfortune of being one of the first modding communities, way back with C1 in the mid 90s, and our policies haven’t aged well with the modern net. This isn’t the Geocities/Angelfire days when everyone was making free websites and spreading content around like the plague and claiming ownership. It still happens of course, but times have changed.



This points to another reason why this attitude may have arisen - exclusive content. Individual websites were important, and meant you were part of the community in a time when newsgroups and chatrooms were the only central hubs. People who worked hard on those Geocities/Angelfire sites were proud of their creations, however ugly and amateurish they may seem now. They wanted those sweet sweet hits to show up on their counters, get signatures in their guestbooks and maybe even win awards. But it would have been hard to get visitors if your content was all mirrored over the web. Not so much a case of people stealing your content as people stealing your traffic...

Issy wrote:
I have never seen an instance of someone claiming someone else's content as their own within this community-- they only host files while clearly giving credit where credit is due. They stand to gain nothing personally as no one is paying for them and no one believes the host made it themselves. The original creator perhaps even gains a bit of a "fanbase" for their third-party content creating capabilities.



There's been a few (more than a few?) cases of popular third party COBs essentially being reskinned. And there was the Ivy Norns. People outright claiming someone else's work is not something I've come across either. The term "stealing" is only applied to unauthorized content redistribution - a bit like piracy - or, occasionally, omitted credit (claiming ownership by default, perhaps?).

 
Issy

Issy
United States  


  5/3/2019

Yeah, that does happen with anything. I am more so referring to the whole dealio where people just take a thing, make no alterations to it, and upload it, straight-up claiming it is theirs. That is something I have not really seen in the CC because I feel for the most part the CC is pretty invested in making sure we all know who made what. If someone tried to do that, they'd get called out pretty fast. I guess you could say, I am more interested in recovering lost files and making the game accessible to everyone in a way that is reminiscent of the times when there were many active modders-- while being careful to explicitly note who made what.

I did not say much about cases like the Ivy Norns and join that whole conversation, because for me that may be a bit more of a grey area. I have not made anything for the CC yet myself, so I lack personal experience there. If I had to say though, I would note that I am all about inspiration, but "tracing" is less inspiration and more so plagiarism.

We do a lot of stuff here like making agents and breeds based on ideas made by others, but its entirely transformative in nature. (Borg Norns, Portal Agents Pack, etc..)

Taking a norn breed you like the look of and slapping a new paint job on it, is not transformative. It is plagiarism. Unless the creator specifically allowed such practices. Plagiarism does not fly with art, academia, and other media, and I do not think it should here either. Though, we will have to be clear on what exactly constitutes as plagiarism within this community since it is such an odd platform to create for. I'm not convinced that bug fixing is plagiarism, but reskinning stuff (with no explicit permission to do so) with minimal overall changes is definitely not the way to go.

But again, not my area of expertise.


~Issy [ngeek]
 
GimmeCat

GimmeCat
United Kingdom  


  5/3/2019  1

Case A) A norn breed reskinned
Case B) A cob with a bug fixed

Both are minimal changes to a pre-existing base. You would tell someone in Case A to make their own from scratch, but not Case B, even though the end result is the same.

Why is one okay and the other not?

 
Papriko
Peppery One

Papriko
Germany  


  5/3/2019  6

I'd say a large part is the intent. In exhibit A) you basically try to pass off someone else's work as yours. Someone did the bulk of it, now you just tint it slightly more blue or something and say you did it aaaaaaaaalllll yourself.
In exhibit B) you are taking something that exists and, while being pretty good overall, has obvious flaws. Out of love for the original work, you try to iron out said flaws.

Crediting is another thing. Someone doing a patch usually says "mainly done by X, with some improvements by me".
Someone blatantly ripping off someone else's breed wouldn't give credit like that. That'd be a shot into their own leg.

In either case, people would compare original and modification (if the original is identifiable in case A) and typically, both how the work is done and the way it is presented give a pretty clear image of what is the case. When you are too lazy to do your own work, you are too lazy to cover up stealing.


Lets play plants! Photosynthesis... Photosynthesis... Photosynthesis...
 
Mad_Doodles

Mad_Doodles
United Kingdom  


  5/3/2019  3

To be honest, I think both are fine so long as original credit is given. If not, what are you doing modding a game in the first place?

Plagiarism is literally taking someone else's work and passing it off as your own. Modifying an existing work, as long as original credit is given, is not. No one is suggesting take this old work and passing it off as our own (I hope not!).

Reskinning a norn is fine, as presumably you have made the new skin yourself. You have not taken an existing set of sprites and genetics, and said "I made this".

Patching an existing object, in my mind, is also fine, as you have simply added to or modified (transformed, if you will), a work. Once again, as long as original credit is given for the base object, I see no issue.

If we do consider one or both of these wrong, I frankly feel like the entire modding scene is on shaky grounds, if we're being honest.

EDIT: On the note of a vault for old and possibly lost downloads, I think this is a sensible idea. Agents can be added and if creators come back and want them removed or don't want them added I the first place for whatever reason, it will be easy to respect those wishes whilst preserving work.


Doodler, painter, baker and ridiculous idea haver.
 
SpaceShipRat

SpaceShipRat
Italy  


  5/3/2019

>Why is one okay and the other not?

Another difference is also in intent, changing the way something looks, vs a patch to fix an agent that has a problem (such as a door or food that kills norns because it does not have the correct stims).

Taking the official material as an example: everyone's cool with an agent that overwrites the jellifish so they can hatch, vs the original Beowulf norns which were just a palette swap of a mall breed.

I think by the same logic, there is nothing malicious in a fix that makes agents or rooms functional.

Edit: on that note, I think art should always be off limits, unless it's something like a breed with a backwards head or something, because art, even if someone messed up the transparency or the borders are fuzzy or whatever, it does not make an agent nonfunctional.

 
Mad_Doodles

Mad_Doodles
United Kingdom  


  5/3/2019  2

Regarding your edit, I find that an odd stance. Why should sprites be sacrosanct, but code not be? I feel that devalues an important side of the equation.

Doodler, painter, baker and ridiculous idea haver.
 
Dragoler
Wrong Banshee

Dragoler
United Kingdom  


  5/3/2019  4

I agree with Doodles, it's possible to make changes to artwork out of love and respect for an agent or breed without taking credit away from the original author, so why should the coding be treated one way, but the art another? The Yeren Grendels for example are known to suffer from poorly cleaned sprites, wouldn't it be a fix to allow somebody to upload cleaned sprites for them so long as the original breed was still needed? The Draconians also lack pregnancy sprites, should it be completely off-limits to edit the body sprites for them and offer those as a download too, again with credits given?

I don't really understand that level of jealousy for one's work, I understand not wanting somebody to claim your work as their own, but when somebody builds upon your work I see that as a huge compliment.


Creator of the TWB/TCB genome base.

 
Moe

Moe
United States  

 visit Moe's website: Creatures 2 to Docking Station
  5/3/2019  2

I can see where art might be thought of differently. Art is a combination of creative vision and skill, with the possibility of outright errors cropping up. Fixing mistakes of skill might be acceptable (black aliased edges for example), as well as errors (artifacts, stray pixels, etc) but how do you know what is a mistake of skill or the intentional result of creative vision? That’s a hard call to make sometimes.

Programming is a bit easier because although programming is also creatively and skillfully woven, it’s also quintessentially logic-based. As mentioned, a few stray pixels won’t compromise the agent’s functionality, but a logical error can break the object and even the game.

Trying to go in and correct errors of skill without the author’s permission, like say, removing black aliased edges where the author wasn’t skilled/aware enough to remove them, is like adding eyebrows to the Mona Lisa. Let it have its charm and don’t make the alteration, otherwise you run the risk of insulting the author.

Safest bet is to restrict art changes to outright errors only. Stray pixels, artifacts (blotches of stray pixels), areas of transparency where there should be none, etc. I can’t recall now, but I’m pretty sure there’s even an official breed that has a transparent pixel in its eyes. That kind of issue is clearly an error and should/could be corrected.

I think breaking down the different approaches may be important here, as although they’re all fine in certain contexts, they may not reflect what’s needing to be done here:

A.) Archival
The re-upload and availability of unaltered content for the sake of posterity. This should be done, period. No discussion or argument necessary.

B.) Preservation
Minimally correcting broken code, adding necessary features to ensure proper functioning (think: stimuli, push/pull scripts, etc), and correcting blatant errors of art like stray pixels, unwanted transparency etc.

C.) Derivations or Remastering
Making large functional changes to the code, adding in new behaviors, replacing or dramatically changing the sprites, etc.

Some people might be appalled at derivation/remastering, but done skillfully and with appropriate crediting, it can be a great thing. In fact, many wonderful addons were derivations of the game’s original artwork. Just look at any of JayD’s fantastic C2 cobs, and let’s be honest, most breeds for that matter used official artwork as a source. It’s all about it being done with respect.

That said, I think that for the purposes of this discussion we should restrict ourselves to Archival first, and Preservation second. Derivation and Remastering are outside the scope of this discussion, in my opinion.

 
SpaceShipRat

SpaceShipRat
Italy  


  5/3/2019  1

Because it goes too far towards a judgement of value and skill, I guess?

It might be a bit of a slippery slope argument, I know, but art can be very personal. Cleaning sprites from stray black pixels does feel mostly innocent, but if someone said "I don't like the hand-drawn look of draconians so I'm going to remake them in a 3d polished style", I could understand it being upsetting.

But really, I'm not trying to put the line between art and coding, I'm thinking it should go between essential and non-essential. Fixing the stims on a teleporter=aye, taking an abandoned agent and using it as a base to add a lot of new functionality=nay.

(This is always talking about *old, unreachable* modders, I fully support folks like Pilla and Moe who are giving people permission to continue their work.)

 
Zzzzoot

Zzzzoot
United States  


  5/3/2019  4

Separating art from code seems odd to me. First it seems practically difficult in some cases; is an animation script code or art? And second, some errors in code aren't errors, and some fixes require systemic changes to the code. Decisions to be made that will change what the agent is. Maybe the ball is supposed to be confusing to creatures. Maybe the lift animation is supposed to be shaky.

But moving on to the main subject. And again, this is all for content creators who can't be contacted and who may even have had explicit no rehosting policies.

A.) Archival - I think we should do this.

B.) Preservation - I think we should do this as a policy. Small changes which will fix the mod, or make it more compatible with a modern widely-used method or agent. Stimuli, push/pull scripts, stray pixels, putting everything in more-uniform zip folders, making rooms compatible with TWB, etc.

C.) Derivations or Remastering - I think we should do this as a policy.

 
Papriko
Peppery One

Papriko
Germany  


  5/3/2019  2

I never have been much of an artist, but I still think art should not be excluded entirely. IDK how to feel about stuff like draconian pregnancy sprites (there are animals where you can barely tell pregnancy until the last days afterall, as an example), but I think obvious blunders like transparent pixels in the eyes or floating globs of black pixels should be fixed under the same conditions code is fixed.

Lets play plants! Photosynthesis... Photosynthesis... Photosynthesis...
 
Moe

Moe
United States  

 visit Moe's website: Creatures 2 to Docking Station
  5/3/2019  4

See when it comes to things like that (Draconian pregnancy sprites), I'm actually not opposed to that because it's an entirely new addition or expansion upon the existing mod while still keeping in line with the original source material, but I would file it under option C: Derivations and Remastering, since it's not a bug that they don't have pregnancy sprites really, it was the author's choice, right?

I've seen plenty of mods in other communities that didn't have a feature someone was hoping for, so they released a patch or addendum mod to add the requested feature. I've also seen mods patching other mods to remove unwanted features. As long as it remains optional, nobody cares.

Honestly I think the same goes for the recreating the sprites too. Some people prefer different styles or "skins" to their objects in games. If I want fully 3D-rendered Draconian norns as opposed to the hand-drawn variety, why shouldn't I be allowed to make and re-distribute that change? As long as the original remains in-tact and available for download and the original is required in order to apply my changes, is there really an issue? Or maybe there would be in some cases? I'm open to a discussion about this.

However, for the purpose of Options A and B (Archival and Preservation) absolutely keep the artwork as close to the original as possible, but for remakes and remasters…I personally think almost anything goes so long as you're making a substantial change or contribution to the source material. That's how copyright is supposed to work after-all. It's supposed to protect the original while offering room to expand upon previous material to create better and better works.

 
GimmeCat

GimmeCat
United Kingdom  


  5/4/2019

A small nitpick, but from what I've seen on places such as the Mod Nexus patches to other mods are almost exclusively posted with the original author's permission, not without it. A Reddit discussion from 2016 (I couldn't find any more recent) talks about a huge discussion the Nexus mods once had about this issue and the apparent conclusion was that permission is required, only they could never agree on how to present these terms to the users and so it was never officially added to the TOU.

>That's how copyright is supposed to work after-all. It's supposed to protect the original while offering room to expand upon previous material to create better and better works.

That's not entirely correct. Copyright exists (amongst other reasons) precisely to stop people making their own 'versions' of your work without your permission, without having to do all the hard work themselves, just because they spotted a flaw or something they didn't like about the original.

Nothing stops you making edits for personal use, but the moment you post it up for download you've created a Derivative Work. Copyright is automatic for any publically released work, whether it be art or code, and lasts for 70 years after a work is created, and Fair Use only covers so much as what is absolutely necessary to be included of the original in your derived work.

In other words, for a Derived Work to be considered fair, it must not lean so heavily on the original as to be a mere 'patch' for it. Fair Use covers things like quoting a line out of a book to make a point in your essay. It also covers Parody, as for the parody to work it must be grounded in a recognizable context. It does not cover fixing perceived flaws, typos, bugs or stray pixels in the original.

These issues are, in part, why the Creative Commons license came into being. But as none of the material we're discussing here was released under those "free to use and remix" terms, you cannot just assume the absentee authors want it to apply to their work.

Archive the old. Make your own new. At the very least it broadens the catalog and gives people a greater choice.

 
Mad_Doodles

Mad_Doodles
United Kingdom  


  5/4/2019  4

First things first, it appears we're mostly in agreement that archiving old downloads should be okay and something we should do, which I'm pleased to hear! The idea of a vault of some sort has been floated both here and elsewhere, and I think this would be a very good move.

In response to your post, GimmeCat, well I don't completely agree. I will say now that I'm fairly certain neither of us, or any of us actually, are copyright lawyers, so any discussion on the legal side of things is going to be very flawed.

The Reddit thread you posted isn't as clear cut as you made it sound I believe. Even if the nexus erred on the side of caution there wasn't a clear cut answer or agreement on if that was legally the case, and in that case, that's just the nexus' policy.

And if we're sticking with the copyright argument, who's laws are we following? It's simple enough to make a server in a country with laxer or indeed stricter laws.

This is why I argue from a point of what I, and it appears many others, feel is the morally right, or at least acceptable thing to do. If we base our modding principles based on what is purely legal, I firmly believe we wouldn't have a modding community in the first place. It's always been a grey area and I don't think it's unfair to say many if not most developers don't explicitly allow the modding of their games, but it happens anyway and most consider that just fine.

No one is suggesting that all creator control goes out of the window. Present modders are and should be free to say that they don't want their work modified in any way, even fixing literally broken features. I will say I think that's getting a bit precious about their work, but that's just my opinion.

Everyone (I assume) here is talking about the work of long-gone modders who are almost certainly never coming back. In that case, permission will almost always be impossible to get (but should be attempted regardless!), and I don't think it's unfair to assume that they probably don't care anymore.

Even if that wasn't the case, the worst case scenario is that they get a bit upset, ask the host to take it down, and that's complied with (if we're not being arses about it). A shame, but perfectly within their right.

I just think it's very silly to be stepping on eggshells around the shadows of modders past. I really do think we should simply adopt a policy of "better to ask for forgiveness than permission". The stakes aren't very high, no one would actually be hurt, and I think the benefits to the community as a whole would be vast.

On your point of just making a new agent. That's a great idea, more agents would be lovely, but if we're not okay with modifying existing work, at what point does it become okay to copy a person's work? Take the Interporter, an agent that helped spawn this discussion. All that wants doing to it is fixing the stim. That's it. But we've decided that's not okay if we can't get hold of the creator, so someone makes a new agent. Let's say I do (don't laugh, it could happen)!

I start with the code. I code something that behaves in the exact same way, but I typed it out myself. It's identical otherwise, is that okay? What if I've looked at the code to learn how the original worked? Is my agent still okay? I typed it myself, but undeniably was influenced by the original, and there's only so many ways to code a function. Large parts of it are likely the same, unavoidable. Maybe most of it, or all. When is it not okay?

Then there are sprites. I make new sprites from scratch, but they're similar to the original. How similar is too similar? In this example, I've still made them entirely from scratch, but they do look very similar? Where's the line?

So then I have this agent. I'll call it the Teledoor. Or maybe Internal Teleporter. Or Interportal. I have in fact made a knock off, but it's entirely my own, new work. Everyone knows it's a knock-off, but it was a knock-off to fix a single, small issue.

All of that because a long-absent modder may or may not be okay with a small fix. That seems like madness to me.


Doodler, painter, baker and ridiculous idea haver.
 
Moe

Moe
United States  

 visit Moe's website: Creatures 2 to Docking Station
  5/4/2019  3

GimmeCat wrote:

That's not entirely correct. Copyright exists (amongst other reasons) precisely to stop people making their own 'versions' of your work without your permission, without having to do all the hard work themselves, just because they spotted a flaw or something they didn't like about the original.



I’m talking about its purpose at inception, not its current incarnation. I really shouldn’t have even mentioned it since I can’t change the laws, but copyright as it exists today is nothing like what it was originally created for. Anyone who is interested in what I mean, just research Disney. They’re a great example of copyright extension lobbying and how we got to that god-awful 70-years figure which, in my opinion, stabs at the very heart of copyright’s original purpose. Copyright “protections” as they exist today are stifling and abysmal in my opinion.

That said, even if a community member wanted to sue you for using their assets, there’s likely nothing a modder in the Creatures Community could even sue over. They would have to prove damages which would be exceedingly difficult since they gained nothing from the mod, and [presumably] neither did the derivative’s author. Instead, the better course of action is to just rely on the “free market” to chastise the derivation’s author and make the product undesirable. At the end of the day though, I still think it boils down to the intent. If a mod author got huffy about a change that the market enjoys [and was properly credited, respectfully done, etc], then they run the risk of being chastised themselves. I've seen it happen before.

At the end of the day derivations and mods are legally ambiguous. They are argued on a case-by-case basis and there’s very little precedent on the subject. Truth is, even if we brought in a copyright lawyer they probably couldn’t tell us what the correct course of action is, and would only offer us suggestions.

Still, I don’t want to derail the topic further. We should most certainly archive and redistribute the original works, and I don’t see anything wrong with releasing small fixed versions alongside the originals. If the original author wants to saunter back in and have it removed, so be it. If you want to create a derivative work, you do so at your own risk, but I personally think it's fine.

 
GimmeCat

GimmeCat
United Kingdom  


  5/4/2019

>Present modders are and should be free to say that they don't want their work modified in any way, even fixing literally broken features.

So those who still have their voice keep their creative freedom, and those who no longer have a voice lose it. Is that morally right?

>All of that because a long-absent modder may or may not be okay with a small fix. That seems like madness to me.

Doesn't seem like madness to me, just seems like work you're not willing to put in because it's an inconvenience.

Your 'Teledoor' example, btw, is something I did for real. MrNStuff's GOH Buttons are a lovely little cob, but I felt they could be improved upon. But did I lift his code and bolt my additions onto it? No, I made my own. From scratch. Because I'm not lazy, nor so entitled to think I have a "moral right" to modify someone else's work without their permission.

Enact whatever content policies you like moving forward, and if you can somehow summon Rascii back to implement some sort of uploader's agreement that they waive sole ownership of any work they place on CC from now on, then power to you. But if you don't exclude the works of those who are no longer around to have a say in what happens, then there's nothing "morally right" about it, let alone legally.

 
SpaceShipRat

SpaceShipRat
Italy  


  5/4/2019  1

Ok, an idea. We're pretty much agreed that an addon patch for a metaroom or breed is ok, but certain agents can't be patched because of how the engine works: the patch would contain all the code. What about patches that include the code but not the sprites, so they still depend on the original agent being installed?

Say for the interporter, you'd have to install the interporter first, and extract the sprites, and then install the patch over it. The patch would technically need to be a copy of the interporter agent but it wouldn't work standalone.

Of course it does make it bothersome, having to install two agents and in the correct order, but it might be a functional workaround

 
Mad_Doodles

Mad_Doodles
United Kingdom  


  5/4/2019  3

All modding is based on another's work, all of it. Are you saying the various fixes to the base game are lazy? Are you saying the creators of the CFF, CFE and TWB breeds are lazy? They all built on top of each other.

Oh look, you're lazy too! You've made fixes yourself, lots of them. Are those ones okay then?

They're all okay, or we have no leg to stand on modding. If you want your work exempt from this, if it even comes to anything, sure! That's your right and I support that. I simply feel that when a work has been effectively abandoned, it's better for the community to look after it. No one is getting hurt by it, and if a creator comes back and has a problem then it's not unreasonable for them to say "no I'm not okay with this".


Doodler, painter, baker and ridiculous idea haver.
 
Papriko
Peppery One

Papriko
Germany  


  5/4/2019  3

Specifically for agents I might have a suggestion, at least for C3/DS (the only games I have been active for)........
There is the "scriptorium" which is basically an abstract collection of ALL scripts this particular world knows. ALL scripts of ALL agents ever injected into the world are held there. They only can be removed when you remove an agent and the creator did not totally mess up, explicitly telling the scriptorium to forget (SCRX command if I recall right).
How about patches only injecting the necessary script(s)? No sprites, no sounds, none of the functional scripts, it only overwrites the broken one(s).

The scriptorium always keeps the most recent copy of a script. When 20 agents inject with the same push script for the same classifier, the first 19 are discarded and only the 20th is kept.

That way we would keep the dependency for the original agent. It would make things more complicated, unless the patch agent could "hack" into the injector to inject the original beforehand, but it'd still be a solution. People can fix other peoples' stuff while still requiring the original as per the creator's wish.


Lets play plants! Photosynthesis... Photosynthesis... Photosynthesis...
 
Mad_Doodles

Mad_Doodles
United Kingdom  


  5/4/2019  2

If that would work that's actually a brilliant solution.

Doodler, painter, baker and ridiculous idea haver.
 
Issy

Issy
United States  


  5/4/2019  2

I suppose I should say, if we are taking some sort of vote:

A) Archiving - Well, yeah. Why not? If someone has issues with their old work being hosted, then they can claim it and have it removed or put in a more private location. Simple. Humans have been archiving stuff for years and I think most can agree there are few downsides to it. It preserves history, which is important.

B) Preservation - I'm conflicted but for the most part am okay with fixing things that are clearly errors in both art or coding. If the thing was released by the original creator with intent for it to work, then fix it so it works. Just don't add extra functionalities that were not originally intended. Similarly, do not go overboard with fixing art errors. Stray pixels clearly are not meant to be there, but I think I would refrain from doing much else. Any patches or fixes should be separate "patch" agents, so that the original creation is still required separately.

C) Derivations or Remastering - I am mostly against this without explicit permission. I do think of error correction differently than derivations/remastering. Are they, in a legal sense? No, probably not, but I'm not a student of law. I do not really want to take anyone else's word for it that is not someone well-versed in law, either. So, I'll leave it at this: I think the safest bet is to just make completely new stuff-- with or without some "inspiration" of older creations.

These old creations are essentially artifacts of the past. Where do artifacts tend to go? Museums. Stuff in museums undergo restoration and/or preservation. If I got a hold of a super old diary or notebook with illegible, faded ink, I would not then take it and write my own notes/story within its pages. I would, at the most, restore it so that you can tell what was originally written. Or just leave it be and preserve it as is.

Is that a good comparison? I don't know, but that is how I see it.

*Please note I never intended to separate art from coding. What goes for art also goes for coding. I just compared two different things before, which may have made it come across that way. Fixing a bug =/= norn breed re-skin, in my opinion. One requires the original creation to be installed already, the other does not. For me, that is an important distinction. *

***

I rather like Papriko's suggestion. I think I more or less was going for that with what I just finished typing here.


~Issy [ngeek]
 
GimmeCat

GimmeCat
United Kingdom  


  5/4/2019

>All modding is based on another's work, all of it. Are you saying the various fixes to the base game are lazy?

I have absolutely no idea how you arrived at the conclusion of fixing the base game = lazy. I'm going to need a flowchart for that bent of logic.

>Are you saying the creators of the CFF, CFE and TWB breeds are lazy? They all built on top of each other.

I don't know anything about those breeds so I can't possibly comment on them. But if they all derived from someone's custom breed and they all had permission to do so, the point of whether or not they're lazy is moot. They had permission to do it.

 
Dragoler
Wrong Banshee

Dragoler
United Kingdom  


  5/4/2019  1

Issy wrote:

These old creations are essentially artifacts of the past. Where do artifacts tend to go? Museums. Stuff in museums undergo restoration and/or preservation. If I got a hold of a super old diary or notebook with illegible, faded ink, I would not then take it and write my own notes/story within its pages. I would, at the most, restore it so that you can tell what was originally written. Or just leave it be and preserve it as is.

I don't think this is a good example, the original mods aren't being altered at all, the "artifacts" are still effectively being "preserved" in the museum. More analogous to this would be somebody getting a copy of the artifact, changing it a bit then handing out these altered copies to people who want them... which actually happens all the time. Funnily enough that is pretty much what memes are.


Creator of the TWB/TCB genome base.

 
Papriko
Peppery One

Papriko
Germany  


  5/4/2019  4

@Mad_Doodles: The main problem is that the agents would unpatch themselves each time you inject ANY previous version of the agent. Sometimes people inject more of the same to have.... you know, more of the same! Each time you inject forum topic gamma, you would have to re-inject the forum topic delta patch because gamma would re-unpatch itself with each injection and you had to re-patch it with delta every bloody time. Even if people only injected Gamma to have more seeds to move around...

That is the one HUGE disadvantage of the scriptorium. When you know the weakness, it is trivial to work around, but we want even difficult downloads to be user friendly. You shouldn't need to become an effing software engineer to use a simple plant.


Lets play plants! Photosynthesis... Photosynthesis... Photosynthesis...
 
SpaceShipRat

SpaceShipRat
Italy  


  5/5/2019  1

Mad_Doodles wrote:
If that would work that's actually a brilliant solution.



but, but that's what I suggested! XD

Ok, very fuzzily.

Anyway, as to what Papriko's saying, unless this is impossible, the patch should also allow one to add a copy of the agent in the world, so, bar user mistakes, you'd only have to inject the original agent once, so it unpacks all the images and sounds, and then use the patched agent when you want to add a copy of that flowerpot or UI update or whatever it is.

 
Mad_Doodles

Mad_Doodles
United Kingdom  


  5/5/2019

It didn't click that's what you said until after Pakpriko mentioned it, my bad. XD

Doodler, painter, baker and ridiculous idea haver.
 

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