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Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 6:46 am
by Hyperion
There's been a lot of controversy recently about Bethesda's Creation Club, which ostensibly is a way for content creators to make some money for their work, but which we all know is Bethesda milking their community and fans of their games for every penny they can. I think we can all agree that content creators should be able to make some money for their creations if they want to, and I at least also think it's fair for a Developer to receive a cut when a mod author wants to monetize derivatives of their code or content created with dev tools they made. However the way Bethesda and some other Developers/Publishers have gone about it is a slap in the face to their fans. So, Is there a fair way for Procedural Reality to monetize mods? I think yes, and for the most part it boils down to an App Store model, though given some thought I came up with an additional, possibly good possibly bad idea.

The Procedural Reality Mod Store
Limit Theory the Game is not the same as Limit Theory the Engine. Limit Theory the Game is instead the default module or "mod" which comes with Limit Theory the Engine.
Creators can make their own modules, which either modify LT the Game (or another mod) or are stand-alone modules running on the base LT Engine (Though what exactly that means at this point, I'm not entirely sure.)

PR hosts a sort of App Store for mods, with a free and paid section. Whether an author sells their work or gives it away is entirely up to them. However, If an author wants to sell or F2P w/ads something derived from PR's code or using tools PR makes and offers, then PR gets a cut. If they want to give their work away for free, or take optional donations, PR won't try to monetize it in any way.

Basically if money is changing hands, PR gets a piece. If it's a Kumbaya free-for-all, PR stays out of it.

The Limit Theory Fan Contest is great! It's a great way for passionate people to present their work and be recognized for it. What if we could take that concept and turn it into an incubator for new content?

I thought about it for a bit and came up with an idea.

Limit Theory Monthly Mod Contest

Procedural Reality hosts a contest each month.
Individuals or Teams submit a single entry to that month's contest page which tracks the size of the current prize pool and the number of times each mod was downloaded.
For a minimum of $1, people pay into a prize pool to be able to download any and all mods submitted the previous month. People can donate more, but they don't have to and doing so doesn't get them anything extra, it just grows the pot.
At the end of the month, the contest ends. Procedural reality takes 10% off the top of the pool, and the rest is divided up amongst the contestants based on what % of the total downloads their entry got.
So for example, if 50 mods are submitted; the pot is $10,000; there were 100,000 downloads total; then with the top 3 mods getting 25,000, 10,000, and 8,000 downloads respectively...
  • PR would get $1000
  • 1st would get $2250
  • 2nd would get $900
  • 3rd would get $720
  • A mod with 100 downloads would get $9
  • The Avg for those besides the top 3 would be 1320 downloads and would get $118.80
1st place is declared Mod of the Month and for 30 days is featured on the site, forums, steam, and other channels.

As for what happens after the contest ends, contestants can put it on the Mod Store for free or for sale at whatever price they want.

So, thoughts?

Re: Monetization

Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 10:23 am
by BFett
What if each entry is downloaded equally by those who are interested in the particular subject. For instance, if the mods are all expansions on mining wouldn't it be likely that people would download all the contest mods to see which ones are the most polished? This kind of reminds me of FileFront where Star Wars Battlefront maps used to be hosted. Maps could look awesome but have AI pathing issues or other bugs. It would be good if along with the contest the maps were voted on in a poll which didn't allow votes to be recast. This way a garbage mod with lots of downloads does not beat out a quality mod with fewer downloads.

I'm unsure about paid mods. I know in my SW Battlefront days I wouldn't have played any mods that required any amount of payment. Which was mostly because I didn't have a job or any way to purchase things online. So when considering paid mods we should keep in mind the community of players who will own LT. Are they 6-12th graders? College students? Young adults?

I have a feeling that Limit Theory is going to have an audience which has a pretty large age range, and we want to be sure we hit the appropriate age group for financial gain.

Re: Monetization

Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 10:55 am
by Talvieno
My personal opinion is that if LT has paid mods, they should be hosted on a third party service and Procedural Reality should not get any of it. The idea, after all, is to reward the modders for making excellent mods - not to put more money into Procedural Reality's pockets. PR already gets rewarded for making a good game by people purchasing the game. Perhaps if they wish, people can even make donations - or, better yet, buy copies of the game for their friends. I don't like the direction Bethesda, Ubisoft, and EA are trending in toward making everything trickle in some extra cash. That's a money-grabbing strategy that, while perhaps it can be effective in some cases, is not doing your fanbase any favors. Josh doesn't have a fanbase anywhere near their size at the moment anyway.

As to the fan contest numbers you list, I think those are (by nature) far too arbitrary to ever implement in an effective manner, not to mention it undermines the "by fans, for fans" nature of the LTFC. Any contest like that would have to be specifically an official Limit Theory Mod Contest. As to monetary prizes... I'm not sure how that would go. It would depend on how well LT does.

Naturally, though, I would hope there's a large portion of mods that are completely free. It wouldn't be good at all for public relations, for modders, or for the players if absolutely anyone could put their mods up for sale. If all mods cost, fewer mods will be bought, and fewer mods will be made. It's best if the basic ones are free, but the more in-depth, complicated ones had a cost. Bethesda made a grave mistake when they decided all mods should be eligible for being put up as paid mods. All free is far better than all paid. Remember that most of any community does not have money to spend on a dozen mods. After all, think of how long a time ago Victor would've gotten fed up with Skyrim if he had to pay for even half of his mods? If we assume an average price of $3, which is rather cheap, Victor could have easily spent over a thousand dollars just modding his game. I don't think many people at all would like that, and it would just serve as a deterrent to the modding community in general, as well as the community at large.

tl;dr: I only like the idea for the very biggest mods. And there's nothing keeping them from putting it up on a third party service that monetizes them anyway.

Keep in mind that these are all my opinions and do not reflect Josh's opinions or those of Procedural Reality. :P

Re: Monetization

Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 1:10 pm
by Flatfingers
Interesting suggestion, worth discussing before LT is released.

BFett wrote:This way a garbage mod with lots of downloads does not beat out a quality mod with fewer downloads.

How about rating based on likes (or "endorsements" as the Nexus calls them) rather than download count?

Talvieno wrote:
Tue Sep 26, 2017 10:55 am
My personal opinion is that if LT has paid mods, they should be hosted on a third party service and Procedural Reality should not get any of it. The idea, after all, is to reward the modders for making excellent mods - not to put more money into Procedural Reality's pockets. PR already gets rewarded for making a good game by people purchasing the game.

I don't follow the feeling behind this reaction.

There's zero wrong IMO with someone who has taken the time to create a new thing asking satisfied users of that thing to reward the creator. Furthermore, since mods for LT would not exist without the work Josh & Co. have put in to create LT, I also see nothing whatsoever wrong, and quite a lot good, about applying a percentage of all mod sales to Procedural Reality.

Tangibly rewarding creativity is how you get more creativity than you otherwise would have.

Talvieno wrote:And there's nothing preventing them from putting it up on a third party service that monetizes them anyway.

This is actually the only comment I have that resembles a "Yeah, but what about...?" criticism. Absent some kind of DRM (which I think we all suspect is extraordinarily unlikely) to make copied mods unusable, what's to stop anyone from giving copies to their friends, or putting mods on a third-party site for free downloading?

My gut feeling is that this would probably eliminate about 85% of the total possible revenue from paid mods. (Less than the 90-95% "loss" for mods for games where the developer is a faceless studio, but still very high.) That might be so high as to make the cost of implementing paid LT mods higher than the financial benefit that could be obtained.

I'm very open to counter-thoughts on that, though.

Re: Monetization

Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:27 pm
by Hyperion
Following a discussion on IRC, I've refined the thought somewhat.

Limit Theory is both a game and an engine. That confuses things, so I'm hereby refering to the Engine as the "Limitless Engine" and the Game as "Limit Theory". Josh can disagree with that but this is just to make my idea clearer.

The Limitless Engine is the architectural framework, the rendering, ray-tracing, BCPs, physics, testbeds, AI delegation & economic simulation, contracting, and pathfinding, as well as the APIs and GUIs for designing games and modules to be built on top of it, but not the game elements. What exactly this portion includes is ultimately whatever Josh decides it is.

Limit Theory the game is the sort of stuff found in The "Game" in LT, The Four Branches of Research, Warp Rails as Cargo Transfer method, Mining Gameplay Ideas Refined,
Production Mechanics
and so on... The game mechanics, not the architectural mechanics which make them possible.

Unfortunately, modification and module both abreviate to mod... another source of confusion, but as I'm using them, A Game Module is something which primarily utilizes the Limitless Engine, may interact with and incorporate parts other Game Modules. A Game Modification has little or no additonal/different interactions with the Limitless engine, but instead changes aspects of existing modules and mechanics. Limit Theory is a set of Game Modules running on the Limitless Engine. Adding Space Life to the game or Hyperion Colonies may also be Game Modules depending on how complex they are. However, smaller things like Concealed Weapons or wrecks, fire and smoke are smaller, they're modifications which may change the look and feel of the game, but aren't quite at the level of being new Modules.
Modules add or radically change major game mechanics, Modifications...dont :geek:

I disagree with the idea that Procedural Reality should actively avoid making some money just because other studios and developers are greedy asshats about it. As Flat said, being compensated and rewarded for your creativity is a good way to get more creativity, because large creative projects take time, time which could have been spent doing other, more financially beneficial things. But we also dont want to discourage the creativity of people who just want to enrich the game for the love of the game.

This is why I suggested an Appstore model. The Procedural Reality Mod Store could be a parallel to the Steam Workshop or Nexus. However the PRMS, as a platform would reserve the right to moderate and control what content it allows on its platform. It could, like the Steam workshop, host hundreds or thousands of free or donation-based mods but also host a selection of paid mods which would be hand-picked by Procedural Reality the same way Valve reserves the right to decide what games it hosts on Steam itself. This would then allow any random Jane Doe to create a Modification or Module of any quality, have it hosted for free, but would prevent Jane from trying to make a quick buck by uploading a deceptive steaming pile of shit for $3... at least using the PRMS, she could still try to do that elsewhere.

I would hope and expect that most mods would be small and free/donation-based, being on offer on Steam and the LT Nexus, in addition to the PRMS, Made by amateur and hobbyist creators who create for their love of the game. However, Procedural Reality, if it chooses to liscense the Limitless Engine for commercial development, would enable professional independent developers. These individuals or companies could go on to make whole new games with the knowledge that they'll make enough money from their work to earn a living or potentially even start their own studios :D . Procedural Reality would then be in a position to say "You're free to charge for your work, but we won't host your paid-version on our platform unless we feel it is up to our quality standards. But whether you host it with us or not, we'll still be taking 10% of your sales as a liscensing fee for use of the Limitless Engine."
This is actually the only comment I have that resembles a "Yeah, but what about...?" criticism. Absent some kind of DRM (which I think we all suspect is extraordinarily unlikely) to make copied mods unusable, what's to stop anyone from giving copies to their friends, or putting mods on a third-party site for free downloading?
Here is Valve's policy on user generated content
Spoiler:      SHOW
Steam Subscriber Agreement:

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I think that Valve has the right (and clearly best-for-them legally) idea that Intellectual rights and copyright belong to the content creator. Copyright protection and copyright infringement though, is also the content creator's responsibility and the creator would be free to add DRM to their work if they want to, Procedural Reality shouldn't in my opinion have any say on that. Valve and PRMS could remove offending content from their platform, but beyond that, "Not our problem". Which I agree, would naturally cut the number of paid-mods significantly, though donation-based would still be an option.