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Dear EA/Maxis, there is no line to cross with mods

EA games and Maxis made a monumental announcement for its online only, city building simulator, SimCity, this week, by suggesting that in the future it may allow players to utilise mods, which would open up huge possibilities for gameplay. However, both companies are clear, that any mods they do allow, will have to toe the line.

Debuting on the official forums, is the definition of that line, where there will be content guidelines for anyone wanting to make a mod. Those are as follows:

NB. UGC: user generated content.

  • Acceptable UGC and mods do not jeopardize the integrity of the gameplay or harm the experience of others.
  • UGC that effects the simulation for multiplay games and features are not allowed.
  • Examples of acceptable UGC include swapping art assets, like buildings and vehicles.
  • Maxis reserves the right to take disciplinary action against players who break the rules.

Maxis did stress that this is just the first draft of the guidelines and that through discussion with the player base it would refine them. However to this writer/gamer at least, it seems Maxis and EA have completely missed the point of mods.

They're designed to offer not only something that the developers were unable to do, but would never do. Mods give us games that could never be made because of copyright conflicts. They give us ridiculous gameplay modes that would never sell, or would never be released because they change the game so drastically that it's unrecognisable.

With mods, this could be just the beginning. – Source Kotaku

But while coming in all sorts of shapes and sizes, with proper support, they come in their hundreds and thousands. Is Maxis and EA really going to hand vet each and every mod to make sure it passes muster? Let the community handle that stuff by downloading the ones that are good and not downloading the ones that are naff.

We all know what Maxis and EA are worried about here though: people replacing buildings with giant penises. That's probably going to happen, but ultimately, does it matter? If you're playing on a modded server, you'll know if you're heading to dong-city, so who cares? The first time you see that you'll either realise you've found your spiritual home or move on. Why does EA or Maxis need to be involved at all in that?

Of course there might be the odd issue with a server designed to favour one player rather than the other, but then, you'd just move on to a different one right? Like those Call of Duty servers designed to fast level you. Who cares, really?

Partly it's because the company wants to keep selling DLC packs with new buildings and game-features; something that modders could release for free, but it's also because the game is online only. That's the biggest problem. A revamp to bring an offline mode would be great to see, but that seems unlikely.

Maxis should be given credit for reaching out to the community on this to see what they think and hopefully that will lead to the developer taking some of their points to heart, but with EA looming over its shoulder, it seems hard to imagine a world where offline play suddenly comes about and modders are given free reign; we'll have to wait and see, this is still early days.

KitGuru Says: Fingers crossed both EA and Maxis do their best to listen to the community, as providing decent modding tools to gamers has meant some titles continue to be played years and years after their release date, making it much more likely gamers will buy up a sequel or purchase further DLC packs. 

But say the restrictions are kept in place, can you think of any of your favourite mods which might not be allowed under that sort of regime?

[Thanks Eurogamer for the heads up]

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