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A (beamdog provided) mod registry and installation tool?

BelegCuthalionBelegCuthalion Member, Mobile Tester Posts: 451
I was contemplating about how to improve the modding experience for players who are insterested in mods, but may not have the experience with the general functinalities behind that, install orders, dependencies, incompatibilities, game versions and all.

Back when the vanilla games were "finished", modding kept the community(ies) alive, and as the pinnacle of the development the big world setup provided something like a stable collection of mods in a somewhat stable order of installs. as something done by volunteers, this had of course its natural flaws, like downloading the packages from the official (and unreliable) sources, and not being completely coordinated or up to date all the times. What helped a lot back then is that the base games were stable (abandoned), so there were no problems to be expected about changes in the base game.

Today, the games are still in active maintenance, also new mods are coming up every day (and are abandoned again every day). so the situation is a bit more complicated and dynamic than back then, and it's not easy to keep track of what's available, what's compatible, what's the quality of a mod, etc. There are threads on the forums, but it's also depending again on someone maintaining the lists and all.

So my idea was: What if someone (it would have to be Beamdog) would creat a tool for centralizing mods? Modders could provide mods, have them distributed through this platform, confirm compatibility to game versions, warn about incompatiblities with other mods if knwwn, announce updates, state if the mod is finished, in maintanance, discontinued, support languages, ... ... ... Players could download, install, give feedback, rate mods, and create mod collections (with install orders) they have tested to work together for their own use later or for others to use. My assumption is that it could improve mod quality as there is feedback provided by ratings, reviews and packages confirmed to work together.

This platform would have to be somewhat independent from Steam (if it is for my taste) to support all versions of the game alike, not needing steam membership for modders nor for players. Also, hurdles to take part should be very low, so my thought is that weidu is still the method to go, nothing new and fancy splitting up the modding community into different fractions.
If possible it would be cool if tablets would be supported too, either native (hard) or with a pc tool to create a modded installation that is then transferred to the device then.


I was thinking to make this a feature request on redmine in the context of the public 2.0 beta, but i assume this would have a much longer scope, and needs some community brainstorming first – if you think this is a good idea at all ...

so what do you think? good idea, bad idea? likely to happen? unlikely to happen?

if good idea: what features would you like to see for you as a modder and as a player?

Abel

Comments

  • BelegCuthalionBelegCuthalion Member, Mobile Tester Posts: 451
    Second thought: maybe BWS still works for the majority of people here, and i just lost track?

  • inethineth Member Posts: 623
    (it would have to be Beamdog)

    Why?
    maybe BWS still works for the majority of people here

    BWS works fine for those who play on Windows (and don't want to use beta versions of mods).

  • The user and all related content has been deleted.

  • BelegCuthalionBelegCuthalion Member, Mobile Tester Posts: 451
    edited March 2016
    Thanks for the response. Just to make me understand better:

    I've been using BWS a lot back before the EE versions – back then there were 4 "collections" to chose from (not sure about the exact words, but something like minimum, recommended, extensive, experimental) which of course could be modified then.
    Then the setup tried to pull all the ressources from web links to zip/rar/exe packages (and it happened regularly that some were not available due to server problems and all) and install the chosen packages (which worked rather flawlessly usually, given that the base game was well hung and the install orders rather well tested).

    When the EEs came out, things got more complicated with a changing base game, mods that were adjusted to EE, those who were not, and when i "left" BWS it was rather dysfunctional. Since then, i have been selecting my mods by hand, restricting myself to as few as possible to create no unnecessary chaos. but it's tedious and it's research everyone has to do for his own.

    So has BWS become "better" again?
    Who is doing the work to keep it up to date (like for example strike out mods that won't work with 2.0 until they are updated)?
    How are the mods data packages "delivered" to the player? Still web links that may break every now and then?
    Is there any attempt to leave the windows only scripting code base to something more universal? (i'm personally okay wth windows, but it's not an universal solution).

    this should not be a criticism for BWS, it's of course better to have that (if functional) than nothing at all. But from experience with other projects that rely on third party mods, plugins, extensions and the like, the centralisation has it's clear benefits, without bringing much disadvantages for those who don't want to use it.

    don't know if you know these projects, but as i'm a web frontend developer, my specific examples would be ...
    – the javascript write less do more library jquery, which has – besides its base functionality being provided centralized – ten thousands and hundred thousands "extenions" written, but they are all scattered across the web on authors web sites and code hubs (often both), and when looking for a specific functionality, i have to first *find* that plugin (google), see if it fits my purpose, see if it's compatible with up to date jquery, see if someone else is using it or if it's a student project i'd be the only user, if someone is discouraging to use it (google), maybe force it to work with my code base, ... it's doable, but it's always trial and error, for everyone with the same problem again, and for every plugin in some other way (but never a good way).
    – well known out-of-the-box web content management system wordpress with its plugins eco system, where you can find plugin extensions, read reviews on them, see how many people have this installed, check compatibility and directly download and install the package from within wordpress itself and delivered by the wordpress server, usually not needing to leave your browser tab to add anything from a small beta fix to extensive new functionality (all free, no commerical solutions there). this does not mean users or plugin providers *have* to use this system, there are plenty stand alone plugins to be found per google, or on commercial market places to buy from, but it's the no obstacles way that works for 95% of the people who use wordpress. the organization that is running wordpress is also running this system. they are not doing quality or version control themself (except malware scans etc.), but the users are doing this more or less themselves while using the system, providing information about the quality, giving feedback, asking questions and getting answers, all visible to other users.

    if projected that wordpress approach to baldurs gate closely, i think only beamdog could do it that way as they are close to the game – but i don't say it has to be exactly that way. theoretically, even BWS could be extended into such a direction – but the code base and organization level behind it does not appear to me it could do that practically ... it would require a content server infrastructure, some web based interface to present mods, rate mods, discuss mods, make mod packages, count how many time a mod was installed, ask questions etc. ...
    Steam workshop is such a solution, with the very downside it's steam only, not beamdog, not gog, not play store or itunes or dvd editions.

  • argent77argent77 Member Posts: 3,126
    In my opinion it is far too late to establish the kind of service you have in mind for the Infinity Engine games. The modding scene has been around for over a decade and many modders are already organized in one way or another for a long time. BWS is an attempt to bring everyone and their mods together. It's far from perfect, but it's better than installing hundreds (or thousands) of mods by hand. It is also still actively developed and kept up to date.

    A platform-independent solution would be preferable, of course, but there are many hurdles to overcome to make it possible. The biggest one is probably the fact that Baldur's Gate was pretty much Windows-only until the Enhanced Editions came out. There are many old and/or abandoned mods which have been coded or packaged in a very platform-dependent way. You'd also need volunteers with enough skill, patience and free time on their hands to build and maintain such an infrastructure.

    JuliusBorisov
  • ThelsThels Member Posts: 1,376
    Also, there is no way such a huge project could be placed in official hands...

    Baldur's Gate is not designed to be modded! The whole prospect of modding it consists of jumping through loopholes to get things to work, like using the override folder which was intended for patch updates only, and then other files still need to be modified by hand.

    A game with built-in mod support would allow you to simply store a couple of .mod files in a /mod directory, and it would scan the mods, dynamically increase arrays where needed to add all the new content provided by mods. Each mod would have it's own little dialog file, and the game would simply use them all together, rather than having all the mods patch the same file, and hope things work ok.

    Baldur's Gate is not designed that way. Mods will always be troublesome. Sure, they work, most of the time, but most people understand that the modding scene is currently entirely fanbased. People use BWS, but they realize that it's a 3rd party utility, and things may go wrong. Since everyone's doing this for free, nobody is really to be held responsible.

    If Beamdog were to step in and handle such an application, that would be totally different. They'd have to properly support it, and are then committed to maintain it. The problem is, it's all 3rd party tools that may clash with each other, and since Beamdog is actually getting paid, they are going to be held responsible, even if the problems are not on their part. There is no way they could ever fullproof a combination of say, a dozen mods, and there are tons and tons and tons of mods out there.

    I can see how you want Beamdog to step in, and clear up the mess that is modding a game not designed to be modded, but it's not gonna happen that way, I'm afraid.

  • ALIENALIEN Member Posts: 1,186
    @BelegCuthalion
    So has BWS become "better" again?
    Why you just try and see for yourself? And maybe provide some feedback?
    https://forums.beamdog.com/discussion/44476/tool-big-world-setup-bws-mod-manager-for-baldurs-gate-enhanced-edition-trilogy-for-windows
    Who is doing the work to keep it up to date (like for example strike out mods that won't work with 2.0 until they are updated)?
    Most of the mods which doesn't work on 2.0 have already day-one patch ready. Or fixes inside BiG World Fixpack to provide compatibility. You can always find a mod which will have minor bug with 2.0, it's not the problem of BWS but mod itself.
    How are the mods data packages "delivered" to the player? Still web links that may break every now and then?
    It's the same as it has been in the past, but with lite improvement. And it is only way which is allowed. I've trying to change it and the results are miserable.
    Is there any attempt to leave the windows only scripting code base to something more universal? (i'm personally okay wth windows, but it's not an universal solution).
    Unless you find me a C#/Java developer who is willing to code it, no.

    JuliusBorisov
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