Author Topic: FF7 Workshop-ish Site  (Read 12422 times)

saftle

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FF7 Workshop-ish Site
« on: 2013-07-01 22:43:01 »
I hope that I don't get any hate for this. It is a genuine question, and am wondering how the mod developers and the owners/moderators of this site would feel about this.

I'm a pretty good developer and have pretty extensive knowledge in automating installer builds, and given what Pitbrat has done with his Bootleg setup, I think it would be definitely doable to create a Workshop like website featuring all the mods here, that will automate the install process using a web front end.

Imagine a gridlike website similar to Steam's Workshop that showcases all the mods that are available. Mod information, screenshots, author information, donate button for the authors of that given mod, automatic notification of a mod update etc.

Once a user chooses the mods he wants, it will auto create an installer based on those mods chosen that will possibly download the mods automatically, create the Bootleg profile automatically, and then launch the Bootleg installer in the background. Of course I'm only using Pitbrat's Bootleg as an example.

It will give more credit to the author's, and in all honesty make the whole process a bit more streamlined. It will inevitably also bring more mod developers to the scene as well. Of course the development scene would remain at Qhimm in order to filter out the non-developers and non-contributors.

Something like this will definitely boost awareness of these awesome mods, and potentially show Square-Enix the demand for such a setup.

This has just been one of those projects that I've been dying to do since I ran across these forums, and would love to contribute in this way. Feedback is more than welcome! :)

Edit: Here is my quick thrown together concept: http://forums.qhimm.com/index.php?topic=14383.msg201183#msg201183
« Last Edit: 2013-07-02 19:54:01 by saftle »

Rundas

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Re: FF7 Workshop-ish Site
« Reply #1 on: 2013-07-01 22:44:34 »
That's just it, I'm afraid. It will attract Square.

saftle

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Re: FF7 Workshop-ish Site
« Reply #2 on: 2013-07-01 22:48:26 »
Would we have anything to worry about if we stick to the strict guidelines of complete original work though?

Rundas

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Re: FF7 Workshop-ish Site
« Reply #3 on: 2013-07-01 22:51:03 »
Half of the things here are *probably* illegal or shut down-able. They just don't care enough ATM.

saftle

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Re: FF7 Workshop-ish Site
« Reply #4 on: 2013-07-01 22:58:59 »
I hope that isn't the case because what I had in mind, would essentially generate sales for Square-Enix. Banners linking directly the Square-Enix store, etc.

So far the only Cease & Desists that I've seen were based on full conversions that weren't helping them sell their game.

The Super Nintendo sequel to Chrono Trigger from the website Chrono Compendium, or the Chrono Trigger 3D Remake were both games that would potentially decrease sales for Square. They just started selling their DS port of Chrono Trigger and of course fans would have chosen to stick with the SNES sequel or the 3D remake rather than forking over the cash for essentially the same game.

If everything linked to their store, and required purchases to make the game moddable, I wouldn't think they would see it as a problem.

Rundas

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Re: FF7 Workshop-ish Site
« Reply #5 on: 2013-07-01 23:01:10 »
Oh, they don't need a valid reason. It's a good-hearted idea, I'm just telling you what would probably happen.

Tirlititi

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Re: FF7 Workshop-ish Site
« Reply #6 on: 2013-07-02 00:29:37 »
The fact is that they never had a "modding-friendly" attitude nor aggressivness. I guess that's a big decision in the company policies (and it'd need development investisments too). It's unclear if they'd see that as an advantage or a bad choice... Personally, I don't think RPG are best games for modding (at high levels, I mean, though I only know Morrowind to have tried and that's not really the same kind of RPG).
That is, if they are aware of the modding community and decide to react positively, it'd be deeper than just saying "Ok, we allow this website to exist and share mods/modding tools of our games". It would be followed by actual investisment in modding resources (else they wouldn't need to even react).


About the project itself, yeah, I see it as a convenient way to present the tools. The wiki has already a list of tools and download links, but having an automatic installer would surely be a plus.
« Last Edit: 2013-07-02 00:39:28 by Tirlititi »

NFITC1

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Re: FF7 Workshop-ish Site
« Reply #7 on: 2013-07-02 00:42:23 »
Personally, I don't think RPG are best games for modding (at high levels, I mean).

Bethesda would disagree with you. It's crazy the full-conversion mods there are for Elder Scrolls games.

Still, I haven't seen many games come out of Japan with a friendly attitude toward end-user customization. It comes from a culture where it's offensive to ask for salt at a restaurant because that says the cook's way of preparing food was unsatisfactory. I guess it bleeds into other customization factors being interpreted as "I could do better".

Rundas

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Re: FF7 Workshop-ish Site
« Reply #8 on: 2013-07-02 01:06:39 »
I think Bethesda is very modder friendly. Actually they purposely pack their games into esp's and make them incredibly easy to mod.

Covarr

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Re: FF7 Workshop-ish Site
« Reply #9 on: 2013-07-02 01:11:11 »
As long as it all requires a legit copy of the original, I don't see the problem; it's not too different from what we've got now, only a ton better organized.

My chief concern with this concept is hosting; the bandwidth for such a thing would be crazy expensive.

Rundas

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Re: FF7 Workshop-ish Site
« Reply #10 on: 2013-07-02 01:15:27 »
Not to mention all the man hours required to keep track of and maintain such a thing. I also still think they could send us a cease and desist at any time just for what we have here let alone an organized distribution system. They can simply because they can, not because there's a reason to.

Template

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Re: FF7 Workshop-ish Site
« Reply #11 on: 2013-07-02 01:34:41 »
Watching SE allow bots and RMT to run all over ffxi for 7 years made me a little sick. If something is generating profits for them without any investment (and this site along with youtube definitely is now) they wont bother with it.
« Last Edit: 2013-07-02 01:43:14 by Template »

EQ2Alyza

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Re: FF7 Workshop-ish Site
« Reply #12 on: 2013-07-02 03:31:35 »
I can't imagine a C&D at this point. Mods have been floating around here for at least 5 years, and I don't recall seeing any issues before I came around. If anything, my Tutorial for Bootleg brought in a large amount of attention when it was posted on Kotaku and the YouTube videos started getting all its views. Even after that, we still saw an increase in publicity for the 2012 re-release, but still nothing from SE. I'd imagine sales capitalized some, as many people have messaged me and posted comments about buying the 2012 re-release just for modding it with Bootleg.

Rundas

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Re: FF7 Workshop-ish Site
« Reply #13 on: 2013-07-02 03:49:56 »
It's possible I'm just being a pessimist, I just don't want this site to get any negative attention.

xLostWingx

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Re: FF7 Workshop-ish Site
« Reply #14 on: 2013-07-02 06:03:44 »
Perhaps qhimm is more than a mere blip on the radar and the site is monitored - but, so far, everything has operated within the "acceptable limits". I mean...there is an active attitude of keeping things legal here.  I don't even like having this conversation lol.

No Attention, Bad.
Some Attention, Good.
Lots of Attention, Bad. - - qhimm is already the #1 search result for "FFVII Mods" Who knows...I think this ship flies in precarious ground but has a good crew.
SE forums show mentions of qhimm in the 10s of thousands of times.
« Last Edit: 2013-07-02 06:12:23 by xLostWingx »

NFITC1

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Re: FF7 Workshop-ish Site
« Reply #15 on: 2013-07-02 11:42:59 »
I think I read, from qhimm, that the goal was to fly just far enough in the radar to be visible, but not appear threatening (my words, not his). Tools are not necessesarily (where's my autocorrect when I need it) threatening because they don't violate any part of their EULA. Mods, to varying degrees, don't really either so long as they contain original content. Total conversions or independent remakes are bad because they either steal characters or code. C&Ds have no legal justification unless one of these two things happens. To my knowledge they have not happened with this site, but there are other projects that were shut down (CT remakes, FFVI sequels) for these reasons.

SE won't (at least we hope) stop us from making small changes to existing elements as long as they are original content that don't violate some other copyright or patent. I think it's safe to make those assumptions, at least.

Tirlititi

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Re: FF7 Workshop-ish Site
« Reply #16 on: 2013-07-02 13:07:23 »
I'm not sure... Doesn't the copyright say something like "Users buy a right to use and play the game but not to modify it in any way"? I really don't know for sure if that's the case with SE's games but I'm think that's a common clause in program merchandising.

NFITC1

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Re: FF7 Workshop-ish Site
« Reply #17 on: 2013-07-02 13:58:20 »
Doesn't the copyright say something like "Users buy a right to use and play the game but not to modify it in any way"? I really don't know for sure if that's the case with SE's games but I'm think that's a common clause in program merchandising.

That's a common misinterpretation of most EULAs. In actuality, no company has the right to dictate what order the bytes are on my hard drive. I can modify anything I own as much as I want. The thing is, if you DO modify it in a certain way you would void any warranty associated with the base product. If I modified Outlook to produce false email headers to make it look like I was sending the message from a different location I wouldn't be eligible for tech support if it suddenly stopped working. The actual restriction is "you cannot modify this and distribute it as your own creation". That includes, but is not limited to, reverse engineering or redistribution.

Tools do not violate this because they allow users to make modifications themselves. Code can be copyrighted or classified (which few here will likely ever come into contact with), but disassembly isn't the original copyrighted code. You can't give someone a toaster and sue them for looking at the parts inside. You CAN sue them for looking inside it and using pieces or design in your own invention that you sell as an original work (that's reverse engineering).

Why are mods legal? Because they are acknowledging that they require a certain base to work with. As long as you don't distribute the ENTIRE base product you can freely hand out third-party home-brewed modifications to existing applications.

So why are Dissidia/Crisis Core model rips illegal? Because they are taken from existing copyrighted elements and just squeezed into working with FF7's engine. That's redistribution of someone else's work (ie. plagiarism).

DLPB

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Re: FF7 Workshop-ish Site
« Reply #18 on: 2013-07-02 14:56:23 »
Can we have that post stickied somewhere? Or placed on the copyright thread thing?

Tirlititi

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Re: FF7 Workshop-ish Site
« Reply #19 on: 2013-07-02 15:04:38 »
Thx for clarifying that, NFITC1  :D

LeonhartGR

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Re: FF7 Workshop-ish Site
« Reply #20 on: 2013-07-02 15:16:16 »
Too many restrictions for nothing! Gamers are giving credit already by buying the game... as soon as people don't gain money out of modding everything else is just meaningless information imho... and nonetheless free promotion to their own game.

NFITC1

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Re: FF7 Workshop-ish Site
« Reply #21 on: 2013-07-02 15:37:41 »
Can we have that post stickied somewhere? Or placed on the copyright thread thing?

Before we go around citing this as fact I'd like to have a professional's take on this. This is just a layman's understanding of this matter.

Covarr

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Re: FF7 Workshop-ish Site
« Reply #22 on: 2013-07-02 17:27:11 »
US copyright law is incredibly tricky. I don't know what it's like in Japan, or anywhere in Europe.

It's generally accepted, at least in the states, that a post-purchase EULA is not a legally binding contract. Whatever restrictions are in there are safe to ignore. As far as mods are concerned, there are three things to be concerned about:

1. Technically, S-E owns the rights to the characters. We do not have any legal right to make our own models based on these characters. Even if the polygons and textures are entirely ours, it's still no more legal than fanfiction (which is also technically less than legal in most countries). Thankfully, S-E has ignored this.
2. Technically, S-E owns the rights to the music. Not just the recordings, but the songs themselves. We do not have any legal right to make remixes of those songs, even if we use no samples and no portion of the original data. Again, S-E has looked past this.
3. Many of our mods are based on the game's original content or official promotional materials. Higher-polygon models made from the originals, upscaled backgrounds, higher-res character portraits... every time we distribute any of these, we are technically infringing on S-E's copyrights.

Here's the good news: Square-Enix knows full well this site exists. It is plenty aware of the extent of our mods. Heck, some of our members are Square-Enix employees. In spite of all this, we have never received a cease and desist order. While it's impossible to pinpoint exactly why without any official word from S-E, it seems likely that our strict policies on piracy are a definite factor in our favor. While we use their content, we only do so in regards to the game it was originally from, and only with legal copies.

As for a well-organized Steam Workshop-esque mod download and install system... I'm fairly confident they would have no problem with that, as long as we continue to require legal copies of the original game (and as long as we don't charge; that's a big one). I'd be far more concerned about the feasibility of creating such a system (time investment, bandwidth) than about Square-Enix wanting to stop it. If anything, I would think easier access to mods would boost sales of the game.

saftle

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Re: FF7 Workshop-ish Site
« Reply #23 on: 2013-07-02 18:37:12 »
Thank you everyone for providing your feedback so far.

The concept that I've visualized so far would be much easier in collaboration with Pitbrat however, since I have no experience with the inner workings of modding FF7 other than running the Bootleg installer and understanding how it launches them in a specific order via Batch based on the parameters that have been saved within the profile.

Now, I'm thinking the site would have essentially 5 different roles.

Anonymous:

- Can download mods manually. Similar to how it is done today on the site.
- Has access to everything except for the installer itself.
- This filters most of the traffic just clicking "download installer". Only bandwidth that would be used would be the html, css, images, etc with links to the mod.

Authenticated User:

- Can subscribe to mods that don't conflict with other mods. Basically every mod will be in a specific category based on what kind of mod it is, but will also have a relationship with other mods that it would conflict with. Any individual mod chosen within that relationship would make it impossible to subscribe to the other mods in that same relationship. This would essentially rule out the possibility of a user subscribing to two different mods that aren't compatible with each other.
- Can choose to be notified if a mod update is available.

Mod Developer:

- Can upload a mod to the website and the mod would go into a "pending review" status.
- Once the mod has been reviewed and accepted, the page will be pushed to public and anonymous, authenticated, and other mod developers will be able to see the content.
- Any additional revisions, including new file links, would put the new revision into the pending status as well as keeping the already existing accepted revision public.
- Initially after acceptance, the page will only have a manual download link and once it is implemented into the installer, the additional "subscribe" button will then be available.

Moderator:

- Has access to an admin panel that shows the current mods that are pending.
- After reviewing the mod for copyrighted content, the moderator can then set the mod as "public".

Installation Moderator:

- Has access to a separate admin panel, that shows all mods that are currently accepted, but have yet to be implemented into the installer.
- Once Bootleg (as an example) is set up for this mod, the new Bootleg then replaces the existing build, and the mod can be then marked as being able to be "subscribed" to. So basically mods can be queued up for the next version of Bootleg.

----

I'm still thinking about the different possibilities of how the installer can be programmed. It would make it much easier to work with Pitbrat on this, in order to have his existing Bootleg run in the background of the initial installer.

One of the possibilities is the installer will automatically generate a filename extension based on what was chosen. For example: Installer+12+54+62+12.exe. The numbers would be the corresponding mod pages. The installer will then automatically pull the download based on the link on the chosen mod pages and then afterwards send the parameters to Bootleg to tell it which mods to install. Error handling would also be required in the installer to know if the download was successful or not. Check out Ninite.com as an example of this setup.

Everything web development wise, is fairly easy to do, just a bit time consuming.

What do you guys think?
« Last Edit: 2013-07-02 19:54:51 by saftle »

Rundas

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Re: FF7 Workshop-ish Site
« Reply #24 on: 2013-07-02 18:47:27 »
If everyone else seems to think it would be fine, I have no problem with it.