On Mods, Community and Communication
Greetings fellow chompers and frontiersmen,
I didn’t want this to be a very lengthy blog post, I’m a fan of short and sweet. However we at UWE wanted to address the following in detail and give the community the response you deserve.
A lot has been happening in the past week or two for NS2. You have the development team excitedly swirling with discussion, statistics and ideas as we conclude our 3 month experimental trial and become renewed for another 3 months. But as we celebrate the success we’ve had in achieving some of our goals from the past 3 months, another cloud entirely began to cast a shadow early last week and it’s thunderous voice from the community has made itself known to us over the weekend.
I’m talking about Mods. Specifically, the fantastic mods made by longtime (and by long time, I mean since the days of NS1!) community members Dragon and Mendasp- NSL mod (Dragon), “Compmod” short for Competitive Mod (Dragon), and NS2+ (Mendasp). This weekend those mods were abruptly taken down, spurring a lot of discussion and debate as to why, and what the road ahead now looks like.
Mods have always been near and dear to the NS franchise, but in this case it has evolved into something more. Mods have become something more than just mods. They have become a parachute. A parachute for developers, that because features and requests desired by the community were provided through mods, they might not have gotten the attention they deserved from us and thus never implemented into the vanilla game. But they also became a parachute for the community. Because so many requests and fixes were being made by mods, the feedback slowly became channeled much less at developers and much more at the mod creators. This is unfair to our mod creators because these mods should not be receiving such undeserved pressure and high expectations.
The second factor at play here is the new development team and our goals for rapid iteration. Patches can be frequent and things tend to move fast sometimes, and an unfortunate side effect has been that communication can sometimes become inconsistent or that there are just plain miscommunications occurring. We’ve learned a lot from our first 3 month period and we will continue to learn from our mistakes and try to be as available as we can.
So what does that mean for the future? After having many conversations with each party involved over the past weekend, we all agree that the role of mods has become more overgrown than it should be. In response to this we’ve made a commitment to start integrating key features from NS2+ and from NSL mod into vanilla NS2, making the game less reliant on those mods for the basic features they provide. The details of this are not completely ironed out yet but it has been set in motion.
Secondly, we’d like to reinforce the fact that we do try to listen and act on community feedback as often as we are able to. The removal of these mods has hurt one particular part of our community more than most, and that is the competitive community (in part because of the absence of the features of tournament mode provided by the NSL mod). We feel like a more dedicated line of communication would be helpful to better channel feedback and have a more direct, open line of communication with the NSL. For this purpose we’re designating an official liaison on the dev team to interface with the NSL (that person is myself- rantology).
We can be certain of one thing, and it is that the community of NS2 is one of the most passionate group of people any game could ever ask for. We certainly appreciate this and, as always, we appreciate the tremendous efforts put forth by the community no matter what form that may take to make NS2 a better game.