Is there any (official) statement from original game authors/distributors about modding?

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Hisymak
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Is there any (official) statement from original game authors/distributors about modding?

Post by Hisymak »

Hi, I am really wondering, whether there has been any (un)official comment from the original game authors, publishers or copyright owners about their attitude to existence of Commander Keen mods and modding activities.
I'm asking primarily due to the legality side of modding, because technically, according to the laws and game's license agreements, modding and distribution of mods of the original games might be considered as illegal.
Just to be clear - I don't mind modding at all, but oppositely, I love playing mods, and I'm myself modding a different game (specifically, patching the original executable and creating modding tools to create new scenarios and edit graphics and other resources). So I'm curious, what's generally the game creators and copyringt owners's attitude towards these activities - not only Keen, but generally any (older) game which is popular enough and worth modding and creating custom content for, where the game does not natively provide scenario and resource editors. I know it can be very different from case to case (and for example Nintendo being rather very specific and extreme case), but you might give me some hints about how the situation is in Keen and similar games.

I can basically think of the following possibilities:
a) They are not aware of modding at all, as they are no longer interested in their game, have different business and very different concerns, and don't actively search internet for what's happening with their game.
b) They are aware of mods, but don't mind them/don't care
c) They are aware of mods, mind them, but simply are not willing to spend the effort (lawyers, police...) to take acions against them, as this is very minor and unimportant business for them, and it's not causing any significant (financial) harm to them
d) They are aware of mods, and actually like them - even playing them, or are astonished by seeing what other people can do and how much effort they are willing to spend on their game. They may even act (incognito) on community forums.
e) (crazy and very unlikely option) They are aware of mods, mind them, and already preparing a big offensife against people who make them - they're just still collecting information and preparing

Lastly, I'd be interested, what a game programmer/content creator may think, when after after some years someone else comes and starts reverse negineering, disassembling, modding and patching his creation. I know that here in the forums, we have some people who are programmers and probably working in gaming companies, so maybe someone from them may directly say how's either their personal, or general view on this.
Thank you.
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Nospike
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Re: Is there any (official) statement from original game authors/distributors about modding?

Post by Nospike »

The current rights holders (Microsoft, previously Zenimax/Bethesda) either aren't aware of modding or don't care. Some of the original game authors (Tom Hall, John Romero) are aware, have been in touch with the community in the past and seem to like what the people here have produced. Not sure about the Carmacks or any of the others.

This question's actually been around for a very long time. Patching as a modding mechanism arose from the dubious legal nature of directly modding and/or redistributing the original game executable. I suppose the idea is that, were the community to attract the ire of the rights holders, having used patches to externally modify the game in-memory instead of directly distributing a modded exe should be considered less of a transgression. Not sure about modding the graphics and other files though. I'm far from a legal expert, myself. :D
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Roobar
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Re: Is there any (official) statement from original game authors/distributors about modding?

Post by Roobar »

Zenimax were definitely aware as they stopped a game that was using assets from their upcoming (now cancled) game. However, they didn't interfere with any of the mods. So as long they're free, they won't ever take any legal actions. Microsoft is even less likely. Phill Spencer is aware of the ips MS has acquired. However he never specifically showed any interest in Commander Keen.
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Nospike
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Re: Is there any (official) statement from original game authors/distributors about modding?

Post by Nospike »

Roobar wrote: Mon Aug 15, 2022 14:46 Zenimax were definitely aware as they stopped a game that was using assets from their upcoming (now cancled) game.
Huh was this a thing? I haven't heard of that. Is there a thread about it?
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Re: Is there any (official) statement from original game authors/distributors about modding?

Post by Nisaba »

Nospike wrote: Mon Aug 15, 2022 15:28
Roobar wrote: Mon Aug 15, 2022 14:46 Zenimax were definitely aware as they stopped a game that was using assets from their upcoming (now cancled) game.
Huh was this a thing? I haven't heard of that. Is there a thread about it?
https://keenwiki.shikadi.net/wiki/Comma ... Remastered

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=6071

and I know someone who has an uncle that knows someone with access to recorded in-game footage...
Foray in the Forest progress:
92% Programming || 99% GFX || 96% Levels || 98% Creatures || 93% Story || 94% Music || 95% SFX || 98% Extras

Other projects:
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Re: Is there any (official) statement from original game authors/distributors about modding?

Post by Spikenexus »

Many moons ago a fan game (not a mod, I know) called Commander Keen: Myth of the Moon Stone was apparently given a cease and desist from ID. I think this was around 2001. I guess you could consider that an official statement of sorts.

I tried a bit of cursory Googling for more information, but all I could find was this thread here about the proposed game, and a Commander Keen GBC thread in the old 3DR forums including a post from 'Lyris' with a signature referencing Myth of the Moon Stone and Stardust Entertainment (the person/people behind the game).
Hisymak
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Re: Is there any (official) statement from original game authors/distributors about modding?

Post by Hisymak »

Thanks for your replies so far.
Nospike wrote: Mon Aug 15, 2022 6:09 Some of the original game authors (Tom Hall, John Romero) are aware, have been in touch with the community in the past and seem to like what the people here have produced. Not sure about the Carmacks or any of the others.
Is there any evidence of this, ideally a link to such discussion?

Still, I'd be interested, what a game developer would think when someone else would reverse-engineer the game itself, or the scenario/resource file formats and mod/patch them.
I'm personally working as a programmer, not in the gaming area, but I am having fun with modding and developing modding tool for an other game from 1998 in my free time. So I'm not exactly sure how I would feel in the role of a real professional game programmer. However, I think, that it would be something I would actually expect to happen. I feel, that during last 10-20 years, the modding and patching of older (but also newer) games has become an overally known and popular kind hobby many people like to do. People are doing it publicly, and this is considered much more like creative and useful work which, is much more praised and appreciated by the communities, rather than something considered being illegal or criminal.
So if someone "modded" my game, I would probably consider it as a "compliment" because it would be a sign that the game is popular enough when someone else is interested in modding it and spending his time and effort on it. I, as a programmer, would probably give some hidden hints about the internal game formats and stuff, rather than trying to encrypt and obfuscate the program and data. But still, I'm in a role of a modder, not a progessional game creator, so those might see it differently.
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Re: Is there any (official) statement from original game authors/distributors about modding?

Post by Ceilick »

Hisymak wrote:Is there any evidence of this, ideally a link to such discussion?
I don't have a link, but I can corroborate this info in the case of Tom Hall where years ago someone asked him about my trilogy on twitter and his response was, more or less, "haven't played it but looks cool!". I don't use twitter so I have no idea how to go about searching a specific tweet beyond scouring google.
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Re: Is there any (official) statement from original game authors/distributors about modding?

Post by XkyRauh »

When I was in college (I think ~2006?) I did a paper about the modding of games in general (including a little dive into how Ms. Pac-Man was effectively a mod of the original Pac-Man) and did an e-mail interview with Tom Hall about modding--he was all for it and supportive of it. Echoing the sentiment that it's a Keen thing to do.
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