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Proposal: provisionary storage of main mods

chimericchimeric Member Posts: 1,163
edited June 2016 in General Modding
Gibberlings 3 and Stormhold are down, have been a while and not for the first time. And every time it happens it is a major problem for those looking to install 70% or so of mods, because not even Google gives alternative links for mods at those two sites. One has to ask around for them here or hunt for exotic versions, which may be out-of-date or incompatible.

There was a strange thread around here with links to some mods just for those occasional downtimes. It was strange because as soon as the sites came back up for air, the admins deleted the links, and after they submerged again, people had to post the links once more. The reason for removal, apparently, was that the authors of the mods did not want (or rather it was assumed that they would not want) their mods getting scattered all over the Web, to unknown hosts.

To sort this out once and for all, I suggest that a few regulars of these boards volunteer as keepers of the more essential mods. They can keep them at some free but controllable hosting service like Google Docs etc. - permanently. The advantages of this idea are:

1) The mods would be available at all times.

2) The storage would be provisionary - until objected to. The authors of the mods would not have to be consulted individually, but they would in principle be guaranteed reasonable oversight of their work. The purpose of the Internet is to share information, and it is not too difficult for the authors to drop an e-mail to the keepers asking for removal of a mod, if they really object to the hosting.

3) Unlike random links, these files would be pooled and in the keepers' responsibility.

4) The keepers would not have to worry about maintaining or updating the mods, unless they want to. The most important ones have long achieved stable condition, they run more or less hassle-free. All we need are a few reliable download sources and people who keep an eye on them.

Any volunteers?

This is the end of my idea: keepers. Below are my "optional" thoughts.

---
P.S.

5) New players often do not know which mods are the best or even what is available. With a clear list of essentials a new player would be able to immediately get a sense of how much the game has been expanded over the years, download and get down to playing. The list of essential mods should be agreed on by the community - here, for example. In my opinion, for BGEE they include Dark Side, Dark Horizons, Unfinished Business, Mini Quests, Stratagems, Randomiser, several others that are highly acclaimed and often mentioned. They would not all have to be installed, because it is still a matter of preference, but they need to be listed together to give a sense of the most download-worthy additions to the game. This is my opinion, but I think that something like Dark Side or anything with a new, hand-drawn area to explore or a revamped AI is more work-intensive, valuable, simply adds more to the game than, say, a romance mod or a couple of magic staves.

6) These miscellaneous mods could be listed too, just not in the top.

7) Unlike other games, Baldur's Gate is thankfully free of a mess of very optional files. The nice part about the essential ones is that they do not contradict each other, with minor exceptions. They can all be installed together, adding hugely to the game, and they break nothing. They could almost be combined in a fan expansion pack. This is another reason to make them available as a bunch.

8) Listing the best and most necessary mods on top and everything else on the bottom is a more useful principle than doing it through categories: new content; NPC and dialogues; items and so on. Categories are neutral to the point of being useless. They tell nothing. Instead we should not be afraid to point new players to creations generally found to be the most gratifying. Because what we ultimately look for is fun, whatever shape it takes. That way mod makers will also have a clear goal in front of them - strive to be beloved, in whatever area they decide to work, rather than make a mod "just because" and think it is worth others' attention only on account of fitting a category. For example, I do not care for romances as they are, but I might if there was great writing. Such a mod could not displease, therefore it would not annoy or break anything. There would be no reason not to include it in the must-have list. But it takes quality.

Comments

  • mf2112mf2112 Member, Moderator Posts: 1,919
    Personally I would recommend new players not install mods until they have gone through the games once or twice. Maybe this is belongs in the unpopular opinion thread, just my feelings. :)

    I don't disagree with the idea, but it seems like most devs don't agree to mirroring their mods though or have already set up their own mirrors on github or other places. Finding the links can be tough and some mods aren't anywhere else apparently or aren't being maintained, so this is a difficult problem.

    I guess overall I think donating a few bucks to the sites admins would be more effective and less likely to cause problems with unapproved re-hosting. Having an updated thread here with dev-approved links to their mods would be helpful to a lot of people though.

    God
  • smeagolheartsmeagolheart Member Posts: 7,963
    This has come up before and people have said they don't approve of mirrors for their mods.

    If I recall correctly BWS was only approved by the modding community because it did not pool all mods in one place and used original links.

    Perhaps a server that proactively went out and mirrored mods to one place might be acceptable but you'd need people or websites like gibberlings3 to agree to that. Such a thing would be expensive and an ongoing expense as well

    mf2112
  • AquadrizztAquadrizzt Member Posts: 1,018
    edited July 2016
    As noted above, this has been discussed before. I'll point out some of my personal opinions on the matter though.

    2) The storage would be provisionary - until objected to. The authors of the mods would not have to be consulted individually, but they would in principle be guaranteed reasonable oversight of their work. The purpose of the Internet is to share information, and it is not too difficult for the authors to drop an e-mail to the keepers asking for removal of a mod, if they really object to the hosting.


    No no no no no no. The entire IE modding community is built on a foundation of mutual respect and trust. Distributing mods without prior approval from their creators goes against that very basis. The appropriate way to do this would be to obtain approval for hosting before mirroring the mod, not after.

    Unlike random links, these files would be pooled and in the keepers' responsibility.


    How are you defining "responsibility"? And why do people who are not the creators get to make autonomous decisions about distribution (especially without prior approval, see previous)?

    The keepers would not have to worry about maintaining or updating the mods, unless they want to. The most important ones have long achieved stable condition, they run more or less hassle-free. All we need are a few reliable download sources and people who keep an eye on them.


    Hooooo boy. Taking other's work and modifying it without their knowledge is perhaps even more egregious than distributing it without their approval. This also has the potential to introduce compatibility errors that the actual creators are unaware of and can't really control (and has the added benefit of making it much harder for the creators to actually support user's experiences with their mods). Mod stability is a fragile thing, and especially with engine updates coming so frequently, what might be stable today might become unstable in the next patch.

    The list of essential mods should be agreed on by the community - here, for example.


    That, by itself, would just cause endless bickering, in addition to aggravating quite a few modders (e.g. "why is what I do not good enough for this?"). If you elevate certain individuals in some official capacity, you are implicitly saying that their work is better than others. This is not really a good foundation on which to build a friendly and helpful community.

    I think that something like Dark Side or anything with a new, hand-drawn area to explore or a revamped AI is more work-intensive, valuable, simply adds more to the game than, say, a romance mod or a couple of magic staves.


    And that is your opinion and others' opinions may differ. While the former examples almost certainly require more time to make than the latter examples, that doesn't mean that the latter examples are worse or add less to the game. Maybe all I need to personally enjoy the game is a nice romance or a slight rules change or a single new kit that I can run on my PC. The value of a mod is seen in the people who use it to make their game enjoyable for them. I'm not going to make evaluations of my mods or assessments of other people's enjoyment.

    That way mod makers will also have a clear goal in front of them - strive to be beloved, in whatever area they decide to work, rather than make a mod "just because" and think it is worth others' attention only on account of fitting a category.


    Even if you had me before, you completely lost me here. I do not mod so I can fit into a bunch of small little boxes. I mod because, at the end of the day, it is fun for me. I like seeing just how far I can push the game engine to do what I want. I like having to solve the puzzle of getting the game engine to do what I want. Obviously it is nice that other people enjoy my work, but I'd be content if a single person liked my mod enough to incorporate into their mod setup. I do not "strive to be beloved", because that is not what I want out of modding, and I wouldn't be surprised if other modders shared similar views.

    As @subtledoctor , there are solutions to the hosting problem that don't involve going behind modders' backs and disrupting the community balance.

    mf2112argent77RavenslightGrammarsalad
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    Ravenslightmlnevese
  • Mr2150Mr2150 Member Posts: 1,170
    I do exactly the same as you @subtledoctor

    I have a folder with all my mods and text file listing each mod, the URL I got it from, and the install order/options to use. When I reinstall, I check each URL to see if there is an updated version, and if not use the version I have already.

    mf2112
  • smeagolheartsmeagolheart Member Posts: 7,963
    As elminster says mod makers don't want to update in multiple places.

    The current system with gibberlings3 and shs going down for weeks at a time is not ideal either, will they ever come back up is a question we have to ask at this point. I've not heard anything since the reddit report that the admins were aware that the sites were down. If the sites are not coming back up, then what?

    If the sites did come back up, maybe if there was a way to make a system that was able to poll out and check versions and mirror mods then that might be worth exploring. At least there'd be a mirror in place. That would sure help in times like this. Heck, the mirror site wouldn't even have to be active while the main sites were up. This is something that G3/SHS should have on their own even - a barebones backup server.

    Some people have hard drives with copies of downloaded mods but many folks do not.

    JuliusBorisovMr2150
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    mf2112Mr2150
  • chimericchimeric Member Posts: 1,163
    What? I say: there is a problem, and you say: just wait, it'll get better? I'm sorry, that's not any kind of answer. I said in the beginning that the keepers wouldn't have to update the mods unless they want to. They can update, the authors can write to them and send an update, or not, whatever. The point is to have a place players can download working versions of mods so they can get to playing.

  • mf2112mf2112 Member, Moderator Posts: 1,919
    @chimeric the point being made is the it is up to the mod creators not to mirror, and to where if they do. There are a number of reasons for their choices and we will not and cannot go against their wishes.

    What we can do is to ask them to set up their own mirrors on github or wherever, and to support the G3/SHS admins who are providing a free service but one which costs a fair amount of money each month to maintain and backup.

    Mr2150Ravenslightmlnevese
  • chimericchimeric Member Posts: 1,163
    mf2112 said:

    @chimeric the point being made is the it is up to the mod creators not to mirror, and to where if they do. There are a number of reasons for their choices and we will not and cannot go against their wishes.

    Sure we can, and will. Why do I have to respect their reasons? They made those mods for people, not to please their own egos, so they have to be ready that information, once out, will spread. Nobody is stealing credit for their work, and the idea is exactly to keep it from leaking all over the Internet, to random hosts and suspect people. Because that's what happens when G3 and SHS and sites like that don't keep their wonderful "free service" running - people will ask around, they will post mods elsewhere, and then it will really be quite a mess for everybody.

    As I said, if the authors positively object to regular, trusted forum members keeping orderly collections of mods, supervised and managed, as an alternative to faulty hosts, then they may in their wrath e-mail for those mods to be taken down. But I don't think most mod owners, if they saw a nice, clean collection of controlled links and knew the reason, would fail this Intelligence check.

    To cut down the talk about it, I'd be a keeper myself, but I don't have all of the mods.

  • smeagolheartsmeagolheart Member Posts: 7,963
    chimeric said:


    To cut down the talk about it, I'd be a keeper myself, but I don't have all of the mods.

    Make a nice orderly place like that and I'd be happy to put my mods there. Perhaps others would as well.

    I used to use SHS for years but the past year or two it has had bugs with uploads and I've been unable to update my old mods or upload new mods there. These days I've used github and it's easy to push regular updates to it but I'd be happy to release bigger versions to something else.

  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0
    edited July 2016
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    Mr2150Ravenslightelminster
  • UlbUlb Member Posts: 295

    @chimeric

    Why are you so confrontational, arrogant and rude about this issue? Sentences like these certainly won't help to bring modders to your cause:

    Sure we can, and will. Why do I have to respect their reasons?

    But I don't think most mod owners, if they saw a nice, clean collection of controlled links and knew the reason, would fail this Intelligence check.

    These quotes make it abundantly clear that you are definitely not fit to be such a “keeper” since you are neither trustworthy nor a forum regular.

    Overall I fail to see the big issue, ShS and G3 going down for a week or two once per year is hardly the end of the world. There are always people willing to share mods on the forum during that time (to which I doubt any modder would object to since those are indeed only temporary hosted files to cover the main host's down time). There is really no need to make such a big fuss just yet. If ShS and G3 really stay down for good a new solution will be found in time, no need to panic.

    Mr2150Ravenslight
  • chimericchimeric Member Posts: 1,163

    chimeric said:


    To cut down the talk about it, I'd be a keeper myself, but I don't have all of the mods.

    Make a nice orderly place like that and I'd be happy to put my mods there. Perhaps others would as well.
    Would links on Google Docs or another controllable site do? Say if so. Then I would put a common link in my signature, or better we could have a stickie and list the keepers and the links there. I would, of course, add a readme about the as-is condition and the provisionary nature of storage. But it's true that I haven't been on the boards very long and may not stick around. I could put my e-mail there for authors to request removal or somebody else could do it. The best idea may be to write clearly that the storage is a back-up and that people ought to go to G3, SHS or write to the authors for the latest versions, because keeping an updated database is not something I care to do.

    To @subtledoctor: yes. Yes, it's possible that people would get outdated mod versions. It's better than not having mods at all. I don't know how long the sites have been down, but I noticed it about ten days ago. Might have been longer. Anyway, all mod versions we have are working versions, perhaps just not the latest.

  • Mr2150Mr2150 Member Posts: 1,170
    I think it just comes down to respect. Mod authors create fantastic works that enhance these wonderful games, and as a result we need to respect their opinions and let them decide how they think their mod should be distributed. They've put the hard work in for the community creating their mod, and it should therefore be their decision.

    Any solution should be OPT-IN not OPT-OUT.

    When a website goes down and you can't get the mod you want or need it's very frustrating but like @subtledoctor said, this will likely spur the mod authors to look for a more robust solution in the future.

    mf2112
  • AquadrizztAquadrizzt Member Posts: 1,018
    edited July 2016
    This whole system that you've come up with reeks of both entitlement and disrespect. I do not understand why you think it not only okay to not ask permission prior to distributing someone else's work, but also to call people who don't want to be part of this system stupid.

    Yes, G3 and SHS being down are mildly (or even moderately(!)) inconvenient. You don't get to tear the community asunder and disregard the wishes of the modders who provide the foundation for this community simply because you have been inconvenienced.

    Post edited by Aquadrizzt on
    mf2112RavenslightGrammarsaladrorikon
  • joluvjoluv Member Posts: 2,136
    This is a worse idea than the pig-chasing mod.

    Mr2150
  • smeagolheartsmeagolheart Member Posts: 7,963
    edited July 2016
    @chimeric
    I don't believe Google Docs would be a good solution. I'm not sure what would, but I imagine it would take money and effort. You mention that you might not stick around, that is your choice. I understand your frustration with this temporary issue. Many folks around here have been fanatical about Baldur's Gate since it was released on CD rom a long time ago. Baldur's Gate is a long term thing is what I mean.

    Please don't let people convince you that is not a good community and that you are not welcome because that is not the case. If you are passionate about Baldur's Gate as the rest of us are, please stick around, don't let this be the thing that discourages you from the community of this great series of games. Once this website issue is resolved, you might find that you want to provide your input on the next thing as well, whatever that may be. :)

    Mr2150mf2112
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0
    edited July 2016
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    Grammarsaladinethmf2112
  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 21,994
    chimeric said:

    Sure we can, and will. Why do I have to respect their reasons? They made those mods for people, not to please their own egos, so they have to be ready that information, once out, will spread.

    Because the law tells us so. An author, and only an author alone, can decide which rights she wishes to grant to others. So if a mod's readme file says not to redistribute it, you HAVE to behave exactly in that way.

    So, in order to be able to upload any mod, for example, to Google Drive, you have to ask for a permission from a certain modder, and only if you have the persmission you can do that.

    mf2112mlnevese
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0
    edited July 2016
    The user and all related content has been deleted.

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    Grammarsalad
  • chimericchimeric Member Posts: 1,163
    Look, I don't really care about the law. I don't give that proverbial numismatic wooden nickel about it. What I care about is the spirit or sense of authors' rights. The only sense there is to them is acknowledgement of origin - that it is these people who have made the mod, not me or anybody else. And this much I will always acknowledge, in fact by distributing others' work I underscore the fact that it isn't mine. Of course, if we were talking about something physical, then the authors would have those things in their possession, and nobody would try to rob them. But beyond this there is no magical "power of ownership" anybody can exercise over matter or virtual matter; you're a wizard and can cast Fireball too if you can. Once the word is out, it's out. The cord is cut. The bird is flown. Keep your drawers locked and never upload anything online if you want control over it.

    As an author you can, however, try to manage where your creations will go. You do get a say in it, as much as the next person, maybe even a bit more. I would (speaking of respect) out of sheer respect for modders' diligence and talent - not for any copyright - give serious consideration to their wishes about distribution. I admire these people for what they've done, so I would just leave files at G3, SHS or wherever they wanted to put them. However, in this case I believe the modders didn't quite realize how unreliable their hosts of choice are, and I think their apprehensions are a little unfounded. They, so to speak, stand in the way of their own work being available and enjoyable by others. Maybe they just didn't realize that an option like an orderly mod collection under someone's supervision on the as-is basis was possible. Maybe it didn't occur to them. In that case they should be entitled to a pleasant surprise so they might possibly say "Oh, this works pretty well. I'm okay with this." Which is not going to happen if we rigidly adhere to the status quo - sit around and whistle while more and more threads appear with people saying "G3 and SHS are down." In my short time here I've seen at least two more threads like that pop up, in addition to mine. If the authors see this new idea and still don't like, heck, I'll take anything they want down.

    So that's my reasoning. Now I don't know what hosting option would be acceptable to most people here, I don't see why not Google Docs etc. To be discussed, sure. But if this idea as a whole is something most people on the boards are going to object to, I won't do it. Too much friction to overcome. I probably wouldn't even get a sticky thread. The idea is a kind of community service, but for fans of the game, not just for this board's conservative regulars. I'm sure a fan who just wants the mods for installation doesn't care where he gets them and is ready to apologize to the authors if there is any conflict. So am I. It won't cost me an arm and a leg, so let's do something and then sort it out. What's the big deal?

    To @smeagolheart : Thank you for your kind words and the invitation. The reason I might not stick around is because I spend time where I feel it's justified - where I can get something for myself, do something for others, have a little fun and so on. If I'm done with a place, I move on. So the community is not to blame here, especially since I do tend to be rather brisk, which some people mistake for rude. But it takes a kick to get a ball rolling in a new direction.

    And with this I'm finished with my storage idea. I said enough. If there is a consensus that this is worth doing, if enough people agree with my reasoning, then it won't take long to find some convenient host, we'll rename the archives so fans can see mod names right in the directory, add an as-is, provisionary readme to say "Go to the authors' sites of choice for the latest version," and that's it. If not - then not.

  • AquadrizztAquadrizzt Member Posts: 1,018
    edited July 2016
    I don't think any modder believes that they can actually control how their mods are distributed. People distribute content that isn't theirs all the time. We can, however, say that we would rather be the sole source of that mod, or that we want to be the one who decides where it can and cannot be accessed.

    Sure, you can distribute my mods without my express permission. I would rather you not, but at the end of the day, there isn't much I can do to stop you. I do believe though, that most of the sites (such as these forums, SHS, G3 and others) would not exactly look favorably on unauthorized distribution of another person's mods. This community has been built on almost two decades of mutual respect, and I am confident that most sites would take measures to ensure that they weren't distributing mods without the authors' permissions.

    I still don't get your insistence that this system would have to be opt out rather than opt in. It is actually easier for any curator if they only had to store mods that the authors had agreed to enter, rather than constantly uploading and taking down mods as the authors get more and more annoyed.

    You would also do well to stop treating us like idiots who are just too stupid to understand your improved system or too stubborn to allow for change. I respect charging enthusiastically into a new community and trying to offer insight or advice; I've done that a couple of times myself (to various degrees of success). But sometimes, you need to realize that you are missing parts of a bigger picture, and that your "simple and elegant solution" isn't as simple or as elegant as you initially thought.

    The pushback you've received in this thread is people who are more aware of the circumstances surrounding mod distribution telling you that your system, as proposed, would not work. The intentions are good but the proposed implementation is bad. That is what we've been telling you. We've offered repeated advice on ways that you could make your system more appealing to the modders whose content you would distribute, and you have repeatedly rejected our feedback. You seem to believe, incorrectly, that your system as proposed is ideal and requires no change.

    We aren't saying that the current way is the only way to distribute mods, or that there aren't problems. We're saying that your proposal as it stands is not an improvement over how things are currently done. I would encourage you to take a step back and make a serious attempt to read and understand the feedback that we have all been giving you.

    mf2112
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  • lefreutlefreut Member Posts: 1,462
    G3 and SHS are back so the crisis is over ;)

    Also if you want to improve the hosting mods situation, you should work with the modders not against them.

    I think the best solution would be to encourage modders to use github (in fact a lot of mods are already there). This should make mods always available and reduce the load on community sites as they only need to list the links instead of hosting everything on their server.

    Mr2150inethmf2112Grammarsalad
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0
    edited July 2016
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    mf2112mlnevese
  • StefanOStefanO Member Posts: 346
    edited July 2016
    Providing high availability to servers is a solved technical problem. No big deal but expensive. It's also not too difficult to do. Take a look at the amazon cloud, for instance. If the money can be found both G3 and SHS could run in a HA environment.

    I don't know who actually pays the bills for the G3 and SHS servers, but perhaps Beamdog could be asked for help?

  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 21,994
    The servers are up, so I'm closing this thread.

    @chimeric I urge you to give a thought to the following conclusion: distributing unauthorized copies of creative works against the will of their creators is the definition of online piracy, which is prohibited everywhere, including this site.

This discussion has been closed.