Open source modding in video games

In our last class we talked about open sourcing and the impact it’s had on programing. One of the big things we talked about was the issue of incentive.

A really interesting example of a two way incentive streak of open sourcing is open sourced video games. Certain manufacturers have  allowed players to modify their games programs. This has created a whole community of video game modding. The mods range from the simple addition of new objects such as weapons, or armor, to complete game overhauls that add new factions, new locations, adjust in game physics, and in game mechanics, such as skill improvement and how characters interact.

 

          on top a town in the Elder Scrolls IV, on the bottom is the same town shown when running the Better Cities mod, which increases the size and population of all the game world’s cities.

For the gamers the incentive is self motivated. They create these mods because it adds something to the game that they want to use. But what’s the motivation for the manufacturer to let gamers modify their games? To many manufacturers It’s like giving away your product for free. But some manufacturers have figured out how powerful modding can me from developer standpoint.

By letting players modify their games they increase the playing time of their product. Most video games, even those that are designed in the open sandbox format, have a limit to how many times they can be played without repeating the playing experience. By allowing their game to be modded it creates a renewed interest in their product, and nearly unlimited playing experience.

But the biggest motivation for manufacturers is product refinement. By looking at what types of  mods are most poplar, manufacturers can get a in-depth understanding of what their players want to see in their next game.

One of the best examples of this is Bethesda and the Fallout game series. In their newest release of the series, Fallout New Vegas, they directly incorporated some of the most common mods created for their previous release Fallout 3.

However now that modding has gotten so popular with certain games, there is  a concern among gamers that developers are releasing lower quality products. In a couple of major new releases players have complained of a higher amount of glitches then normal. One theory is that this is because fixing these bugs is the type of work that is not appealing to game developers and their relying on the fact that the moding community will compensate for it.

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