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Wall3t
A discussion

Edited to refit the final discussion:

We've moved this discussion over to the new forum here:

https://forum.neverwintervault.org/t/discussion-premium-modules/225

Okay i think i have enough for the discussion to end this, thanks to everyone who did participate. I think we can all conclude that paid for content cannt happen due to liscencing and copyright infringment as well as breaking the law.

Original Discussion:

So i can't believe i'm going to start this discussion but it seems alot of members of our community are very intrested in the idea of moving into the realm of Paid-for-modded-content and I'm interested in knowing peoples opinions about it.

 

I'll start by saying i've seen what happens when a community goes for paid content, and it really divides them up *coughsbethesdacoughs* and having that here somewhat concerns me.  It also has come to my attention that those who want or like to pay for modded content see it as a necceesary addition as they believe much of the content is outdated or old here (i kind of disagree but i guess its persective here)

 

I'm inteterested in knowing what people think ,seeing as how with new NWN: EE comming out, and it being released on Steam we may start to see such content, and if we'll even allow that on the Neverwinter Vault as a new "pay only" section.

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WhiteTiger

I like it because I have some knowledge in the toolset and get money by doing what you like to do is good. But I beliave Beamdog is more interested on that money than we :-)

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DrA

I'm mostly against.

Cons:

First - it's not fair - there are so many great contributions for free - and the content makers didn't see any income. Second - the community is based (at least I belive so) on sharing, and making profits will kill this spirit.

Pros:

On the other hand - there were some Bioware so-called premium modules (and you had to pay for those). I think the "premium" modules actually weren't better then some made by community members, but there's just my opinion. New content from the was later incorporated in the NWN patch. If there will be some payed for modules and free - for-all new game patch some time later, it might work

BTW: Wall3t - where did you get this idea, that some folks are interested in payed-for content? I'm following forums on this Vault more often these days and I haven't seen any new thread about it.

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HorrorByGaslight

I'm of two minds of this. I would never want to see a change to the vault or anything that may replace it, if anything ever does. I would love for the content creators to have the choice to make free content for Neverwinter Nights as they've always had. However, I believe that if I do not have the knowledge to do something (like advanced scripting) and I want something done, I should be able to offer payment to anyone who wants to accept that payment, and have it rendered in return if both sides mutually agree. I don't think that should be restricted. I also think that servers should be able to ask for donations from their players to help front the costs of upkeep if they so choose.  I don't think Beamdog has any intention of restricting either the vault , a person's ability to pay for content if they want, or a servers' ability to ask for donations, so I see this as a non issue.

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Wall3t

Theres been an ongoing discussion on the facebook community and it had me wondering. The Individual in particular repesenting the "for paid content" group exclaims that several people he knows could join the community to create new content but didnt in light that we do not support paid-for content. To be honset... i'm okay with this.

 

I view members who believe in paid for content as wanting something a.) exclusive, something that other members cannot have b.) that will elevate/inflate ego of a content creator (if theyre paying me money, I must be good!) c.)  be a part of the niche group "You can't tell me what to do with my money" and d.) something else entirely

 

Theres also the thought to consider: Paid for content = Does not always equal high quality content.

 

I've always been under the impression that we use NWN1 as a platform to get ourselves into real positions of video game design. If we simply start paying content creators wouldnt that eliminate the idea that we are a community that thrives on freelance or hobby custom content?

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blatob

Meh. Anyway, I would not have money to pay for it, and if I have to, in order to play on PW, I would just look for another PW. If they want to earn money, I bet there are other games they can try to squeeze a buck out of. Just to be clear, volountary donations are another thing.

By the way, how to pay for CEP?

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Proleric
Proleric's picture

Hasn't this been done to death on the EE forum?

In a nutshell, the EULA prohibits commercial gain, but no one seems to have a problem with donations to the vault or PWs to cover costs.

We have a pro-am separation like sports. Our amateur community is a friendly place. If that moves to a hard cash basis, friendship will go out of the window. Not to mention the hideous commercial complexity of licensing all the content that many, many people have given to the community for free and in good faith.

NWN and DAO adventures at http://proleric.com/

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Wall3t

@ @ blatob , Proleric - so far these have been the best  responses i have seen so far. To me it just never made much sense, but now i can fully put it together. How could someone ask for money for gain, when liscencing would be such a huge issue with all the content we freely make.

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blatob

It woudl be legal nightmare. You cannot sell content you do not have evidence of being the creator of, or having the rights assigned to you bu the original creator. A lot of content have been created by people who are not active, and have disappeared from the community decade or more ago. 

Look at how many mods we have saved, and they were last time updated  back in 2005 and before. Even if some of them were in the high end of spectar, on par or better then premium mods.

And then, can scripts be considered as a payable content? I bet my gluteus maximus they could. So, how you prove that you have created that script first, not to mention the fact that hundreds of those had been freely distributed before 2002? And, uh, what about Hasbro? Do they still own the D&D? What they would have to say about sellign the module and content that might have references ro material form their publications/setting?

 

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Greenman6220
I remember very well the stinkers pot out by Bioware called Shadowguard, Pirates of the Sword Coast, and The Witches Wake. King Maker was tolerable. Infinite Dungeons was playable. Wyverns Crown was the only one that was good. There have been so many Modules and CC's that have been done for free. It's unbelievable how bad the content was as they started turning out the above mentioned modules. I hope it does not happen again. Then greed tends to take over and the quality suffers. This is just my opinion, but I will not do it again!

Greenman6220

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Jedijax

Completely against it. As Proleric mentioned, people are always free to donate to custom content creators. I don't know about other community members, but I don't have the money to spend in micro-transactions or custom content, which is why I steer away from any software that uses it. I don't know how succesful the premium modules were, or whether they were good or bad, because they were encripted, you couldn't modify or add custom content to them. That's it. If you restrict something in a game, I am not using it. Paid custom content would dramaticallly reduce its use, and divide the community. Unfortunately, it's more complicated than "if you don't want it, don't buy it." It is a mindset, a tendency that usually ends up modifying everything to serve its end.


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Empyre65

I can't afford to buy any premium module, but I am fine with the idea of them existing. They help fund the continuing release of patches. However, I really don't like the idea of putting all custom content behind a pay wall. That would be a deal breaker. I wouldn't even consider buying EE if they do that.

"Never laugh in the face of a live dragon." - Bilbo Baggins

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thirdmouse

Proleric summed up the "never gonna happen" angle, I think/hope it's pretty done.

I'd be interested in the return of the premium module program (patches get the assets but not the adventure), though I don't know if the numbers are there? You'd need a full team to avoid leaning on existing CC ...  

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TheBarbarian

Ugh, mixed feelings. On one hand, I'd love to get to spend my entire time tinkering with this stuff. Would I want to do this, or this general kind of thing, for a living if I could? Sure. Do I think a whole bunch of people here would've deserved to have been getting paid for their work all these years? Absolutely - it's madness that there are corrupt moguls out there who pile up cars and mansions while so many peaceful people struggle to get by financially and still find the time to work on something they'd want to work on. Would I like to see more new NWN modders and content? Yes, always, I love seeing all the new stuff and ideas pop up.

But then, there need to be at least some places in the world that aren't all about money, for everybody's collective sanity maintenance if nothing else. The industrial revolutions show no signs of stopping anytime soon; there's a massive amount of people out there whose jobs will be made useless over the next fifty to hundred years, and who've been raised to consider their entire self-worth to be tied to their income and working status. Creating and preserving counterpoint mentalities to that, where people know how to value their life and eachother for being enjoyable and constructive and interesting rather than for being financially profitable, seems like a good thing.

... although that's probably a drop of water on a hot stone. -_-

I suppose I tend towards "please, no, don't monetize NWN modding, this is a temple not just a storehouse", but wouldn't rip anybody's head off if they wanted to try to earn money this way.

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GCoyote

I've seen this happen in other communities. Everything you see here was assembled around the ideas of cooperative, collaborative, creative, and free-of-charge. Put a dollar sign in front of it and the whole thing will implode almost overnight.

So "no."

<b>"Please VOTE on the content you play."</b>

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Vanya Mia

It's all been said. No.

"I took Skill Focus: Craft Disturbing Mental Image as my feat last level." Belkar, OOTS

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Fester Pot

Yes, I would but only if they are along the lines of Premium Modules - new adventures, new stories, new places to explore - written and approved by Beamdog / whoever holds the Forgotten Realms rights. The Premium Module program never reached its peak and stride, I truly feel Bioware had something going when they began to explore this route of income because there are a lot of D&D and Forgotten Realms fans out there, that providing this content was viable.

That's about as far as I would go to pay for content because Premium Modules have substance with the stories they tell and the new regions in the Forgotten Realms we could explore. I would pay money for that.

FP!

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Wall3t

I'm okay with the idea of premium modules. I think thats what the majority of community members are after seeing as how some of them are fans of single player campaigns, rather than the multiplayer aspect and vise versa.

 

NWN1-2 and are great at both the offline and online aspect, which is kind of cool when you think about it. Regardless however i shall remain in my own verdict that it just isn't possible. What this new information, its come down to a simple fact that we simply can't allow paid-for content.

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Andarian

"Okay i think i have enough for the discussion to end this, thanks to everyone who did participate. I think we can all conclude that paid for content cannt happen due to liscencing and copyright infringment as well as breaking the law."

I'm not sure it's quite fair to post a question of this import (especially on a forum that's about to be decommissioned), and then treat the discussion as closed after a handful of comments in less than two days.

Since you're looking for the counterpoint view here, I'll be more than happy to provide it. I've always been very much in favor of a way for NWN modders to be able to make money from their work. I've held that opinion since I first opened the toolset in late 2005. And I've never shied away from championing it publicly when the opportunity arose, despite the fact that doing so has always felt like I was tilting at windmills.

Contrary to the assertions of some others here, there are logistics that would make this posssible. But it would require buy-in and a change in policy from those who own the rights to the game. Saying that it's against the EULA is (with respect) a red herring that begs the question, because it assumes that the EULA is set in stone and cannot be changed. A system in which Beamdog and WotC allowed builders to charge for content in exchange for a cut of the proceeds is possible, at least in principle. And there are other approaches that could work as well.

I see two possible paths to paid work for the modding community. The one I see as more likely -- and the one I'm strongly evangelizing for -- is a return of the Premium Modules program. For those of you who aren't familiar with the history of this, I suggest looking it up, starting here. In a nutshell, what happened, after the initial, explosive release of NWN modules in the early 2000s, is that teams of indie developers started to form for the purpose of building professional quality playable content for the game. An extraordinary (and as far as I know, unprecedented) situation began to take shape, in which a game's developer and publisher had the option to commission what were in effect small expansion packs without having to devote extensive resources to making them. The future of NWN looked bright, with indie studios like DLA and Ossian coming on line to meet this demand.

And then, of course, Atari smothered it in the cradle.

Someone earlier on the thread mentioned that the only good NWN Premium Module was Wyvern Crown of Cormyr. I don't think it was a coincidence that that also happens to be the only one of the premium modules that was built by an indie studio (DLA/RoXidy). Darkness over Daggerford was another one. It's developer, Ossian, was left with no choice but to complete and release it as a free module on the Vault instead, after Atari abruptly killed the program. (And don't even get me started on what they did to them on the release of the Mysteries of Westgate for NWN2.)

As for how paid modding could work in general: I don't see how that could be done easily with existing NWN content on the Neverwinter Vault. Certainly I couldn't start charging for my current modules, for example, even if Beamdog and WotC let me, without working out a way to get permission from (and/or compensate) all of the cc builders whose content it uses. It would likely have to be an option made available for new content, both CC and modules, that were developed going forward. To anyone familiar with the Unity Asset Store, this is hardly impossible to do in principle.

[EDIT: I also don't think it would need to be hosted on the Vault. In fact, it might be better if it were hosted by Beamdog, or another third party site working under its auspices. Certainly Beamdog would have the right and even an interest in more oversight or control over paid content.]

I think that those championing "a spirit of sharing" and the nobility of not caring about working for personal gain should try to remember that, like everything else in life, all of that effort comes at a cost. TANSTAAFL. Those who build NWN content for free have to pay for that time by working full-time jobs. We have to do it at night and on weekends, on top of the requirements of supporting our families, and sacrificing time that we could otherwise be spending with them. And when we face hostility to the idea of being able to make at least some of our living at it, that means we do so with little or no hope of ever moving on from sometimes soul-crushing day jobs to spending our time doing what we do best: creating stories and the games that can tell them.

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TheBarbarian

Speaking as another person here who'd really like to get to earn their living working in game development, but who also deeply loves the worldwide caring and sharing ideals...

I think it might actually be, economically, a better idea to do that outside of NWN. Aside from that there's a good thing going on here that's rare in this world, which needn't be lost in order to move on to work in the commercial sector, you can reach a much larger audience if you don't restrict yourself to getting customers only from the playerbase of a single, preexisting game - see what Lamb did with Demonheart. There'd be a learning curve for Unity, or Ren'Py, or whichever, but it's... entirely possible. Something browser-based would probably be smart, and localization for different languages, to reach a broader audience. Could even pass produced assets back to the NWN community.

There are quite some people here who don't have a whole lot of money to spare in the first place. Having to pay for new games/modules may well mean that they won't be playing them at all, but rather be watching other people stream them. Right now, this is one of the rare places where people just stand as equals, exempt from the more-or-less unspoken status laws that count in the rest of the world. In noncommercial modding, you can get people from all kinds of different cultures and socioeconomic castes playing and working together, never caring what someone looks like or how much money they have, feeling no resentment for eachother. It's arguably even a bit of an international peace effort. That's worthy of existing, and shouldn't be discarded lightly.

I should hope nobody would begrudge you getting paid for the Sanctum series, or others, though, Andarian. Heavens know, if they do monetize NWN modding, I'm probably going to try to get the lot of us to team up for it. We've pretty much all got relevant crafting skills here, and we've proven quite capable of butting heads without going for eachothers' throats. Wouldn't be the worst idea ever conceived of.

Either way, money shouldn't come at the expense of the friendships or the atmosphere we've built here, because that shit can't be bought back with money. Regardless of whether Beamdog decide to monetize modding in some way or another, I'd like to suggest we leave the "You Greedy Sellouts!!" versus "You Ungrateful Mooches!!"-spiel out of it altogether. It serves no purpose other than to drive a rift between people.

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thirdmouse

@Andarian Most of the people in this thread have released content of one kind of another over the years, so I don't really see the you vs them angle as being so neatly summed up as producers vs consumers, hehe. 

I think most people (just from what I've seen here and the BD forums/streams) find the premium module program far less offensive than monetizing assets, so I don't think the divide is as deep as you might think there, either.  

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Proleric
Proleric's picture

If we're travelling different roads here, we still seem to be ending up in much the same place.

I've no issue with premium modules (assuming the assets are made by professionals).

We seem to be OK with donations, too.

I'm not hearing enthusiasm for commercialising the work that hobbyists produce for fun, either.

Commercial ventures are necessary to pay the rent and can be stimulating in many ways. There's also room in life for cooperative fun, exploring unconstrained synergies. It's just that the two don't play nice together unless there are clear boundaries.

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Andarian

"I think it might actually be, economically, a better idea to do that outside of NWN... in the commercial sector, you can reach a much larger audience if you don't restrict yourself to getting customers only from the playerbase of a single, preexisting game - see what Lamb did with Demonheart. There'd be a learning curve for Unity, or Ren'Py, or whichever, but it's... entirely possible."

You do know that I stopped modding half a decade ago and started trying to write novels instead? That I took nearly five years just to do a re-make of my second chapter? That I stopped work on my third module, which disappointed a lot of people, and which would have been better and longer than the first two together? There were reasons why I decided, when Amazon provided it, to pursue an outlet for my creativitity that I felt actually respected wanting to make a living from one's work.

I'd made up my mind some time ago -- at least before the Beamdog announcement -- that any future game development for my series after the Sanctum 2 remake would move to Unity. The investment of time and resources necessary to re-boot my series in a new engine, though -- while trying to write novels, research and master indie publishing and marketing, and work a full-time job in high tech, among other responsibilities -- is just a little outside of what I can add to my plate right now.

Still, I'm back -- because of NWN:EE. Because despite all of the above, I love this game, and what I and others can create with it. Because there's a chance that Beamdog's efforts can actually re-build its player based and save it from vanishing into irrelevance. Because I'm still deluding myself into thinking that making great games can encourage people to buy my books. That's enough to get me past the frustration, at least for now. Enough not only to put EE remakes of my work on the table, but to resume work on Sanctum 3 as well.

I should hope nobody would begrudge you getting paid for the Sanctum series, or others, though, Andarian. Heavens know, if they do monetize NWN modding, I'm probably going to try to get the lot of us to team up for it. We've pretty much all got relevant crafting skills here, and we've proven quite capable of butting heads without going for eachothers' throats. Wouldn't be the worst idea ever conceived of.

I appreciate the sentiment. As far as forming teams to build a Premium Module goes, I think it's still a little early for that. If NWN:EE moves forward in the way we expect, though, I also think it'll be inevitable. And if that opportunity indeed arises, I'll be reaching out to do the same.

I've no issue with premium modules (assuming the assets are made by professionals). We seem to be OK with donations, too.

I am hopeful about a rebirth of the Premium Modules program. And I have to say that I was kind of surprised to see that donations are actually being considered acceptable. I didn't expect that. Perhaps it's time to set up a Patreon account. :)
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TheBarbarian
I know, yeah. :-) And I sympathize a lot. I'm actually in quite a similar boat here, I'm just going for the preschool kids section instead, Dr. Seuss style. More playfully-applied LOGIC for the next generations!!11eleven
 
::thoughtful chinscratch::
 
I've got a few more thoughts on the economics of your situation which I think might be worth adding to that line of the discussion, but don't take it as criticism; a lot of the time, I put thoughts out there because putting them into words helps me understand what's going on in my head and figure out whether my logic is consistent.
 
I think moving from 3d choice-based RPGs to books is likely to lead to a customer loss - for people who are used to (and attracted to, in the first place) videogames, where they can move around and interact with the environment and influence the characters and the story, continuing the story in book form is a massive feature loss. The potential customer base you're building here, with the modules, is vested in the story of *their* character, as played from *their* perspective. Replacing that with a fixed protagonist cuts out the emotional investment you've created - they're not, as with books, invested in the stories of the *characters* you've built, but in *their interactions* with the characters you've built. ^^' So I think, with books, you might be advertising a product that would look like a downgrade in comparison to the modules, in the eyes of the people who come across your stories in this format here.
 
I think you should consider doing CYOAs, if you want to write more stories and get paid for them. Put them up on their own website, set up a Patreon. Ensure that translating to different languages is easy to do, perhaps even for the userbase to do themselves if they want to. Release regularly, episodically, and keep the *most recent* episode for patrons only while releasing the previous ones to the public. Possibly also offer savegames for patrons only, where the variables from previous episodes are being stored - but this kind of thing works on gaining and retaining the trust and goodwill of people, so being generous might be a good idea. The "You Greedy Sellouts!!"-outrage really does happen, in just the same way the "You Ungrateful Mooches!!" one does.
 
Check out the Choice of Games folks sometime, if you haven't already. I think you'd very likely meet their qualifications.
 
Going this route, you wouldn't be tied to the success of the EE, either - but you will still get the advertisement effect from the influx of new players it brings. Those guys're pretty damn likely to all play your modules, which already exist so you wouldn't *need* to put a single moment's work more into them to get customers interested.
 
It's overall less stressful and frustrating and more likely to work long-term, I think. Plus, you wouldn't have the hassle of negotiating with people over assets for modules, and wouldn't risk alienating people hereabouts, which'd make well-disposed word-of-mouth advertising on their part more likely. This is precious especially because we have a good deal of different nationalities here, who speak different first languages and are, at least theoretically, capable of raising volunteer workers for translation efforts - if they're willing to do so, anyway.
 
The thing is, for many of us here, this place has never been a hope for a job. I think it's fairly likely that most of us actually came here to get away from the real world and the way it works, you know? What's happening here with the EE feels a lot like ... climate change. If NWN had been a more active, competetive environment, I never would’ve quit lurking in the first place. “What is going on here?! I moved to a desert because I LIKE deserts! Why is there WATER in my DESERT?! What do you MEAN it’s going to be an OCEAN soon?!?!!” ^^
 
I get that you're excited and hopeful about this, Andarian. Heck, so am I, to a degree. On the other side, there're people here, myself included, who're distressed by the thought that something we love is going to be taken away from us in the name of somebody else's cold hard profit, and it's a very reasonable thing to worry about, because what we love about the Vault really *would* change for good if money came here, whereas it's not strictly necessary for anyone who wants to earn money doing this kind of thing to do it in this exact place. Don't scorn them/us for that. ::friendly nudge:: As noted, almost all of us are content creators of some type or other. We know what this situation feels like, too.
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blatob

If there is somthing like premuim modules, yes, it is down to Beamdog if they are payed and how. As for custom made module... I am sorry, if you accept payement of any kind, unless you use 100% custom made tilesets, blueprints and scripts, I think you could be potentialy sued bu the original makers of that content. That assumes that Bemadog, or Bioware or whoever, turns blind eye on the donations, by Patreon rute, because the mod uses OC tilesets, for instance. I think the donation might be exempt of this; I am not a lawyer, and we live in different countries...

That being said... I am a builder and I know how much time it takes me to build content for PW, not to mention that I dabbled in scripting on an extremely rudimentary basis (and there is no way I will touch that ever again). So, I understand the frustration about the time and resources spent in making something. But, we were all aware, when we started, that the activity is purely a hobby and the content is freely shared.

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Andarian

TB: You mention some interesting approaches to interactive fiction. I’m aware of them, thanks. At the risk of sounding a bit harsh, though, my comments weren’t intended to invite advice on how to pursue my creative work outside the Neverwinter Nights community. I assume you didn’t intend it, but you are kind of coming across as saying, in effect, "Maybe you should go away and try something else, like this." I hope you can understand why I might be just a bit put off by that.

I don’t want to detour the thread too much by detailing the often personal reasons why your suggestions don't resonate with my creative goals. I’ll just say that novel-writing has always been a desired outlet for my work. Sanctum of the Archmage isn’t so much a game mod that I decided to turn into novels; it’s a prospective book series that I experimented with developing as a game. CYOAs aren't even on the list.

I think moving from 3d choice-based RPGs to books is likely to lead to a customer loss - for people who are used to (and attracted to, in the first place) videogames, where they can move around and interact with the environment and influence the characters and the story, continuing the story in book form is a massive feature loss. 

I think there’s some truth to that. I don't regard “customer loss” as an issue, though. I expect there to be overlap, but I don’t write novels for the same audience that I build modules for. I think we all understand that they’re different mediums that often appeal to different people. And I do note in passing that this hasn’t exactly worked out badly for Savant. In any event I’m not about to just discard a five year investment into developing a whole set of indie book writing, publishing, and marketing skills. Even if I were so inclined, which I'm not.

The thing is, for many of us here, this place has never been a hope for a job.

I disagree. Many of the best people in NWN and NWN2 modding have pursued that path.

[I've edited this to withdraw the rest of my remarks on this topic, since they appear to have upset at least some readers. It's a point that I don't think there is any need to press, and certainly not if it is going to generate contention or ill feelings.]

"Speaking as another person here who'd really like to get to earn their living working in game development, but who also deeply loves the worldwide caring and sharing ideals... money shouldn't come at the expense of the friendships or the atmosphere we've built here, because that shit can't be bought back with money… there're people here, myself included, who're distressed by the thought that something we love is going to be taken away from us in the name of somebody else's cold hard profit…" 

See, right there is where you lose me. I honestly have no idea what you mean by "worldwide caring and sharing ideals," that are somehow opposed to the simple human dignity of trying to make a living doing the things one loves and is good at. You may say otherwise, but the implication of your words is that that’s something dirty and shameful. Not only "uncaring," but on a global scale. Destructive of friendships, good will, and a spirit of cooperation between individuals.

When precisely the opposite is true.

In short, you write as though money per se were evil and corrupting. I don't agree. It's simply a medium of exchange that we use to buy back the precious seconds of our lives. That's something we have to do precisely because "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch" in this world. It's why every dollar a creator can earn selling a novel or a game is the same thing as a number of minutes of his life saved -- bought back -- from the need to waste his talent earning a wage at a job he doesn't love.

If you genuinely don't begrudge that, then the way to show it is to respect the struggle. Denigrating it by implication because it involves icky money, as though that were some kind of acid dissolving the very possibility of people working together in a spirit of cooperation and camaraderie, doesn't.

And that's all I'm going to say on this point. I'm tired of tilting at windmills. Too many people in the NWN community seem to share this weird view about how wanting to make a living ipso facto corrodes good will and community. I'll simply say that I profoundly disagree, and leave it at that.

I’d much rather focus on the areas of agreement that we seem to have. Now that I know that donations appear to be regarded as fine, I’ll certainly be pursuing that. And if there is a new Premium Modules program that isn't stopped by blowback at the idea of modders forming indie teams to make them, then I'll be right there in the thick of helping to get them off the ground when the time comes.

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Tarot Redhand
Long have I hesitated from participating in this thread but a recent posts compels me to dissipate what I see as myths and half-truths. Before I get to that however I'll set out my position as far as the original thrust of this thread is concerned. Regarding Premium modules that may (more like eventually probably is my best guess) be sold by BD (and I'll probably buy). Let the franchise owner do what they will. Patreon. If it is anyone's wish to pursue, go for it and good luck to you (although you may need that luck). 
 
Now onto my stuff. My general position is anything that I have offered (e.g. my ccc entries) or I have been approached and given permission for its inclusion (i.e. the CEP) is do what thou wilt. Anything that is not part of those and is under my moniker is under my protection. Seek permission before you include it in any collection. However there is apparently a new modifier - money. If anyone should use any (including that in the ccc and the CEP) of my stuff either directly or indirectly without first seeking permission and I find out about it, they will get a cease and desist as well as a take down. Should I be approached before any such work is published I would have to refuse. I have in many cases used stuff that is free for non-commercial usage only (such as brushes) as the basis of my work. If it was something that I am wholly responsible for I would still refuse (unless it was ridiculous money - hey almost everyone's got a threshold haven't they (^_^)). Anyway do I think anything of mine is worth anyone having to pay for? Nah. I do it because I have something inside that I need to get out. It is called creativity (some would say without any talent to back it up whatsoever (^_^)).
 
@Andarian I respect you. I respect that you are a published author (so am I but mine are free on another site and much shorter). I respect that you have created some well respected modules for this game. Alas I was disappointed to see some of what you wrote in a previous post. You appear to imply that you know the circumstances of how certain people came to be in employment for various companies. You then equate that with making money from the game we love. These are two different things. In at least most of the cases you mention the individuals concerned were head-hunted and offered employment (even if only temporary). In all cases their work in NwN was seen as, at least in part, their CV/Resume. They did not actually get money from NwN, it just helped them to gain employment. One other thing. DLA existed before the the premium module program started as did other groups and guilds. These were somewhat unusual circumstances anyway. Normally to gain entry to this sector you need formal qualifications (just look at the BeamDog recruitment that's currently underway) and/or experience of actually working in this field. Thinking on didn't Bioware, some time before the Premium Module program started, run one or more module building competitions with the sole purpose of recruiting new staff?
 
TR
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thirdmouse

Thinking on didn't Bioware, some time before the Premium Module program started, run one or more module building competitions with the sole purpose of recruiting new staff?

Yeah, and in general there was a "where's your module?" aspect to hiring, I gather :) NWN has absolutely given many people over the years a path into their current professions, gaming-related or not. In those cases, their work in the amateur space helped gained them entry into the professional space - often causing the end of the former - which I think is kinda what was referenced earlier (pro-am divide). 

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Andarian

[I've edited this message to withdraw some of my remarks, since they appear to have upset at least some readers. They are points that I don't think there is any need to press, and certainly not if it they are going to generate contention or ill feelings.]

"However there is apparently a new modifier - money."

I don't think that anyone here is suggesting the unauthorized use of other peoples' content for paid work. I thought I had gone out of my way to clarify my opposition to this in my previous remarks.

"NWN has absolutely given many people over the years a path into their current professions, gaming-related or not. In those cases, their work in the amateur space helped gained them entry into the professional space..."

I agree. Thank you.

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TheBarbarian
I assume you didn’t intend it, but you are kind of coming across as saying, in effect, "Maybe you should go away and try something else, like this." I hope you can understand why I might be just a bit put off by that.
 
Ouch. Yep, now I see it too. Fuck. I'm sorry, Andarian. I was examining the needs the different sides of the debate were expressing, and looking for solutions that could satisfy both. That wasn't supposed to be a "Go away" so much as a "Hey, let's look for a win-win instead of taking sides against eachother because that's totally possible, see (example)". :-/
 
To be honest, I do have a pretty low opinion of money. [EDIT: Belatedly taking own good advice and following Andarian's example in editing some stuff out of here. There was a Tragic Character Backstory excerpt here once upon a time, explaining the reasons for my antipathy towards money. Given further consideration, though, it's not just my backstory I'm publicizing when I put stuff like this up on the internet.]
 
yes
 
I don't know what to tell you here; I've just got a touch of deep-seated disdain for money, and status symbols in general, as well as for a world that rewards and enables and admires people like him. If that comes across in my choice of words, now you know why. It's not about you, or any other decent human being trying to earn their living doing something they love; I, personally, just hate it when money, or prestige, are prioritized over the health and happiness of people.
 
Beyond that, I've actually got a lot of misgivings about capitalism and communism both, as well as about money as it's being used today. Money makes something abstract out of the value of tangible things, and puts broad masses of people in a position where they're *forced* to participate in/contribute to unsustainable, and sometimes downright inhumane, methods - often at the cost of their own health and happiness. Note how money is, for you, too, something you need in order to buy your life back. That's part of a heavily flawed system that's trapping a great deal of people. So, it's true - I don't respect the struggle. I think the struggle shouldn't exist in the first place. I think the struggle is an imposition on the lives of countless people; good people, who actually care for their families and get to spend far less time with them than they deserve.
 
I don't have suggestions for solutions to that, though, save perhaps for that we all collectively try not to smash the things we've got that bring us some joy.
 
The moderate position I've taken in this matter, where I speak out for acceptance of your/our type of ambitions/motivations alongside equally respecting the happiness of the noncommercially-inclined among us, is just the best I can do, Andarian. I don't understand why you take offense to it. :-/ It's not exactly against your interests. As Tarot has noted, it is entirely possible to be recruited from a noncommercial modding site. Or, to go with Proleric's apt assessment - you don't need to turn the entire amateur league professional in order to move on to work in the professional league yourself, you know?
 
I also wasn't saying "The thing is, for ALL of us here, this place has never been a hope for a job". :-/ Take a look at how many people in this thread have been saying they'd prefer NWN modding to remain noncommercial - that's what I'm talking about. Nor was I saying that nobody had ever made a job out of it - heck, I was citing Lamb as an example as well.
 
I'm quite sure if they do commercialize it, there'll be an influx of modders and indie studios from outside. It's just not a notion that's super popular with the people who already are here. That's kinda the part where the "not caring" comes in, y'know? Sure, you'll make new friends among the folks who're also here for the money, but will the old ones still matter, and will their needs and their happiness even be taken into account? :-/ That's... kinda what I was trying to give you an opportunity to show; consideration for the other side, to reassure them that you'll still care about them and the community and it's overall collaborative spirit. Your opposition to the "noncommercial" faction sounded rather harsh, y'know? I was trying to mediate a little.
 
 
::foreheadrub::
 
 
I think it's probably good for all of us to keep in mind that what we say and do here may well be read by future customers, coworkers, or employers, especially if there is a chance that this may in fact become any of our actual workplace. It does reflect on our ability for teamwork and conflict resolution. I'll note that this conversation here isn't exactly a great example of how adding money to the mix doesn't make it more difficult for people to get along. :-/
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Andarian

It's all good, TB.

We could have a long conversation over a virtual beer sometime about why I think it's a fundamental philosophical mistake to allow the father you described to stand in your mind as a representative of money or capitalism. As a staunch and life-long capitalist myself, I can tell you flat out that no decent person with my values would treat someone like that with anything but contempt. And perhaps I have a bit of a hair-trigger from a lifetime of being reflexively tarred with precisely that man's image, whenever I start talking about the profound respect I have for money -- honestly earned, and not treated as status symbol fodder for insecure and pretentious jerks...

In fact... Side note. I just realized how close the entire sub-plot of Orion's conflict with his family in my novel is to the story you related. You might find it interesting.

In any event, what I really don't understand is the reason for the expressed "concern" I'm seeing. Yes, I do think (and have argued) that a system for paid modding could work -- and in a way that did not do violence at all to NWN's "amateur" modding community. As Proleric said it would require specific rules to allow the two to co-exist, side by side and with mutual support and respect. But there's no reason why that couldn't be worked out.

But we all know that it's almost certainly not going to happen. Even if it does, it'd require teams to build the unique custom content needed that doesn't rely on the shared library of material that's been created for the modding community over the years. (Of course using that for paid work would be unacceptable.) What that means is that paid modding of any consequence would be more the exception than the rule -- and that it would end up looking, in practice, very much like... well, a Premium Modules program. And since most everyone here has already said that's OK, I really am kind of at a loss to understand what all of the fuss is about.

Note how money is, for you, too, something you need in order to buy your life back.

With respect, you're misunderstanding my point. There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. Everything you want and need in life has to be earned -- whether it's by you, or by someone who earns it for you. You want to eat? Then you need to learn how to grow food, and put in the work to plant and harvest. You want food, but you don't want to farm? The farmer's not your slave, so you need to make something else that he needs and trade with him. And so on. Money is just a means of exchange that we've invented to facilitate that process.

It's reality that you need to "buy" your life from -- because human life and flourishing are not causeless and automatic. And the coin of that realm isn't money, but what actually gives money its value: thought and effort. So if you want to earn the life of an artist, you need to figure out how to make art that people want. Otherwise, you have to settle for making something else.

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TheBarbarian
::solemn hat tip:: I'd gladly accept that long conversation. It should be fascinating for both of us. [EDIT: Unnecessarily personal passage removed.]
 
 
 
I get what you see in capitalism, I think. It's much the same thing I do hereabouts in the Vault - "It won't exist if *someone* doesn't build it". That's just how reality works. If you want something to exist, you've gotta figure out how to make it exist. It's steadying, and true, and wise.
 
The thing with money, as it's being used in the world right now, is just that it permits placing the value of particular jobs/tasks completely out of proportion to eachother. The system rewards coming up with things you can get people to pay you for, not things that would be beneficial (or at least not harmful) to people and the world at large. Plenty of operations work by creating artificial demand that they will be satisfying with their products. There're places in this world where water is being rationed in the general population because it's expensive to upgrade their treatment plants - and that despite the fact that there are plenty of underutilized people who could just go and get the resources and do the necessary work.
 
We're awarding people recognition and respect based on how much they own, or how much profit they're capable of amassing for themselves, rather than by how much tangible value they actually add to the world. There're by far more decent, hardworking folks struggling to make a living, than ones who live in comfort, and the ones who get by best are the ones who're willing to do whatever it takes to get ahead. My father is a highly-respected man, well-treated by everyone who first meets him by default. The same doesn't go for cleaning personnel, nurses, policemen, cashiers, seniors, welfare-recipients, children... or modders, for that matter - see recent elitists-versus-the-proletariat dramas. People buckle upwards, and kick downwards.
 
I think that's frequently also because people who don't have enough, or feel that they don't have enough, just have more reason to shmooze up to people whom they see as having something than to people whom they see as not having anything.
 
And people who're capable of producing value attract people who're willing to profit at the expense of others. Right now, where we're talking here, we're all talking as people who love what we're doing here so much that we'd still want to do it even if there was no money in it - we just couldn't afford to. That's the kind of people who'd deserve to be getting paid for that thing.
 
But the moment we become people whom it's possible to profit off of financially, we're going to start attracting people who're here for the profit, not the things we're producing or the people who're producing them.
 
And that's why it will change the social atmosphere. It's not going to be okay to just *trust* people here anymore. There'll be a steady influx of new people who have "ulterior motives". You're going to need to start looking at people and asking yourself "Does this person benefit me more than they detract from me?". People'll suddenly have cause to try to boot out newbies (as potential rivals) or indebt them to them (as potential people to benefit from).
 
And that's the light under which it's generally heard when benevolent capitalists say things like "There's no such thing as a free lunch", I think. There're just more, or at least louder, malignant ones, who'll go "Get a job, you leech! / Why do you even exist if you don't possess anything?! / Well, nobody ever helped me! Why should I help others? / If they wanted to have anything, they ought to be doing what it takes to get it!" than ones who're doing things like creating workplaces, offering underqualified people jobs and training them, and encouraging people to work hard and efficiently to add things of value to the world. The latter kinda get drowned out in the noise, y'know? It's the same thing with social justice warriors. They outnumber, outvolume, and generally just cast a terrible light on all the friendly neighbourhood social mercy barbarians. ^^
 
::headscratch:: So that's how I'd explain the concerns, and the reasons behind them.
 
This here is mostly about us reassuring eachother that the things we love about the Vault matter to us all and that we know what they are and how to preserve them, I think. SaintPhillip over on the Beamdog boards had a good way of putting it; it's the gold rush, and wagons are heading in our direction. Now we can decide how we want to respond to this situation.
 
I don't think it's going to be useful or a good idea to shame anyone for their reaction - regardless of whether that's hope or apprehension. None of us here got a say in that this was going to happen. We can just see how we best deal with it now that it is happening. I'd suggest trying for well-wishes for the success of the hopeful ones, as well as reassurance and respect for the worries of the apprehensive ones. When the day comes that the shiny new elitists start trying to push out the "worthless amateurs" (when you're trying to earn your living doing something, people who are doing it well for free are a massive threat to your existence), I'd like us all to stand in defense of eachother - and I'd also like us to work together to integrate the new people rather than attempt to push them out.
 
 
 
Sidethoughts:
 
Conservatism has an important, worthy role in society. When used constructively, it preserves what is good about the things that are now, so that they can be passed on to the next generation. It protects us from the fallout of rashly-made decisions, by demanding that change move ahead slowly enough that we don't run into walls or off cliffs. It's perfectly possible to progress from a cushy couch into a spiky pit; that's change too, just not desirable change.
 
Likewise, progressivism needs to be mindful of it's responsibility to consider carefully what should be added to what is now. To do that well, it needs to be able to understand and appreciate the things that are, and the things that were. We can't just shut down all progressive thoughts until the progressively-inclined conclude that they need to just ignore all the grumpy old conservatives and move ahead unfettered.
 
We're all only here temporarily, and there are always going to be new generations. If we reject them, we lose our chance of teaching them, so the spirit, the mentality, the attitude - IMO by far the most precious things we've got, hereabouts - won't be lost.
 
 
 
::frown:: ::headscratch::
 
 
 
Should we open a multiple-choice poll over in the new forum? It'd let Beamdog see where people stand on the matter. I don't doubt that there's quite some support for specific kinds of paid modding, premium modules included.
 
If yes, what should be the options on it?
 
Should probably be more than one even; "I'd be interesting in creating paid content in the form of...", "I'd be interested in buying paid content in the form of...", and "This is how I feel about paid content being added to NWN"?
 
 
 
::frown::
 
 
 
::headscratch::
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thirdmouse

Should we open a multiple-choice poll over in the new forum?

I think we should simply "unite" around the overlap between different camps and support the eventual return of the premium module program (and either support or abstain in the future if ambivalent, vs voting against out of a personal lack of interest)... not that I think this is a subject that would ever come down to a literal vote. It's interesting to know what people think about it, and I think we've done that here and on the BD forums, but a poll on this topic doesn't really seem actionable in any meaningful way. There may already be work on this direction in some way that we just don't know yet. 

For my part, I don't think the topic was a bad one - it's not often there is an overlap/middle ground so clearly highlighted*, so I think that should just be where the proverbial flag is planted for maximum mixing of metaphors. :)

(*I mean in the snapshot sense, not that it replaces all of the other discussions in a handful of posts by a couple people :P )

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Proleric
Proleric's picture

We've had some informed discussion here & on the Beamdog forum, which has hopefully estabished some common ground and a better understanding.

I'd say leave it at that.

Beamdog certainly have enough information now to make the commercial decisions.

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Wall3t

I honestly don't care which way this discussion goes into or if it continues as long as it stays on topic. So i'm not entirely sure why anyone would get so worked up about me saying the discussion was to end on my terms :)

If i had to i would have had the entire topic deleted or locked down yet i didnt and  would have remain satstified by the answers i wa given, which kind of would have made it seem abit contrived in seeking different answers on the topic. No doubt some members can be abit sedated or sluggish when it comes to responding so i felt it is neccesary to leave this open unles it becomes too far off topic. I've only one individual who is in favour of the idea of paid for content, but  gave little reasons as to how it could be achieved.

With the new ongoing disussion, i haven't been disapointed in seeing new avenues of paid for content as a reality. The idea of paid for custom content has been around for a long time and yes it does work in some visual medium or video game "communities".

I am in indeed intrested in knowing if it were possible, how we could potentially monetize our work but also find a middle ground for paid and nonpaid content (It is  tricky to show something that is 100% your work i've been in that situation before with other creators on other games) also Premium Modules, i feel these are what alot of people in the community are asking for.

 

I'm all for someone setting up a poll for this somewhere, i can't remember who mentioned that but i think it is a good idea if anyone else is onboard with it.

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Proleric
Proleric's picture

The problem with a poll on this particular issue is that while the stakeholders in this discussion have a lot of skin in the game, the wider public don't.

So, a poll might very easily mandate a poorly-informed, silly solution that neither Beamdog nor custom content makers support (tyranny of the majority).

Polls can be useful when we don't know what people want and need their buy-in, but I don't think either applies here.

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Wall3t

a poll could say something like.... "would you pay for custom content or no i dont want to" it doesnt need to be that complicated lol. Now granted if i had done a poll, it would include more options to vote to include as many avenues as possible ("what is paid custom content?" or "just give me premium modules!" or something of the like).

 

besides i dont know what exact location anyone was mentioning, but if it goes onto that beamdog poll i'm kind of against the idea already since its a one way street poll. you only get to vote on issues that you want rather than voting against it

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Proleric
Proleric's picture

Nothing is ever that simple. One of the things we learned here is that "custom content" is ambiguous. Evidently, it can mean "premium modules", "fan-made modules" or "components for builders" to different people. Not to mention (gulp) in-game purchases which might now be feasible. Formulating the question clearly would be a challenge - and what would be the point of asking it, anyway?

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Tarot Redhand

and what would be the point if asking it, anyway?

Talking of pointless things, I made a poll for that 14 hours ago over on the new forums. Feel free to vote.

TR

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Wall3t

@TR my point exactly lol

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TheBarbarian

Questions, plural, if, or there would be no point at all, I agree. ::chinscratch:: And, yeah. The point would theoretically be to get a clearer overview of what kind of paid content people would be interested in creating, and what kind of paid content people would be interested in buying. Demand and supply market research, essentially. That's not necessarily something that has to be actionable, or binding, for any of us here (we're not exactly the people who'll be making the decisions on this either way) - it just gives everyone a clearer overview of people's actual positions on individual options (premium modules, fan-modules, pay-to-play PWs, lootboxes/in-game items (::shudder::), models, textures, sounds and soundsets, scripts) that could theoretically be made payable if Beamdog worked out the legal aspect, which is a challenge in itself.

Plus, a "This is how I feel about it" one could present a much broader spectrum than people just being either "for" or "against" paid content as a concept, ranging all the way from "I'm strongly in favor of paid content and won't be sticking around if it isn't introduced" to "I'm strongly opposed to paid content and won't be sticking around if it is introduced", with everything in the middle also presented. ::headscratch:: Although that ... probably depends on the type of content? Maybe "personal opinions"-polls would have to cover the individual options, too, like "I'm strongly in favor of and won't be sticking around if (type of paid content) isn't introduced ......   (options: premium modules/fan-modules, pay-to-play PWs, etc)", to be even remotely accurate.

I think I kinda like the concept of polls like that; it seems like it makes disagreements more of a "disagreeing on individual points"-thing, as opposed to a "submit to peer pressure or you are no longer part of our group!!"-thing. Strongly depends on the questions asked and the breadth of the spectrum of available answers, though. Yes/No polls or the party voting like we have in politics in a lot of the places in the world these days strike me as kinda divisive. With what's going on IRL these days, a lot of people are being bombarded with the "us versus them"-concept everywhere we go, which is just... stupid as heck to do on the internet, which is one of the few shots at a real international neutral ground we've got. If there's anyplace to experiment with alternatives, it'd have to be on here.

It's just something we're all not used to, since we've been brought up seeing voting as something to settle disagreements so we can quit arguing and move ahead and just do something already despite that the "losing" side is angry about it, rather than as something that relativizes "good" and "bad" in terms of ... I don't know, showing us that even when the options that are implemented aren't what we, personally, wanted, they may still be something that a lot of other people wanted, whom we wish well and have had kindly interactions and agreements with on other topics.

And yeah, obviously the actual decisions need to be made by people who're well-informed on the costs and consequences of the various options; when we're voting on stuff like this, we're voting for the ideal situation we, personally, want to have, to help us all figure out where we want to go and what we want to exist, but in order to get there eventually, it still needs to be taken into account where we currently are and where we can even go from where we currently are - we could say "We want to go to the beach (which we know is to the east)", but if we're currently standing in a fiery dungeon maze where there's nothing but lava to the east of us, then "the beach is to the east, we want to go to the beach, let's go east" is not a super good idea.

But, as stated, we're not making those decisions here anyway. We can, theoretically, clarify the whole "The Mandate of The People(TM)!"-thing a little though. ::chinscratch:: 's not wrong that the Trello way is kinda limited, too. It's another "for" or "against" thing, except there's only the "for" option. Doesn't come anywhere close to accurately reflecting people's stances on the individual suggestions, and discussing and debating in depth takes a lot more time and knowledge than just clicking on something that sounds like a good idea at a glance.

::frown::

::headscratch::

Anybody have ideas on systems that mitigate the "oppression by the majority"/"oppression by the ill-informed" thing (everybody is always ill-informed on more topics than we are well-informed on, after all, by nature of reality) - not just in the context of NWN, but in general? I think it might be theoretically possible to set up systems where votes are given more or less weight depending on stackable qualifications of the voter, if those qualifications are relevant to the matter being voted on (to say, the votes of people who have invested time into studying the matter in depth count more than the votes of people who did not study it at all; votes by people who would be personally impacted by the matter count more than votes of people who would not be personally impacted; votes by people who participated in debates on the matter count more than votes by people who did not participate in debates)? ::frown::

::headscratch::

I hate politics. Life is too complicated. See, this kind of shit is why I want to spend my life sitting in a dark room and drawing. It all just gets more and more complicated, and it'll never be enough. Fix one bug, introduce three new ones, except with real life and actual people instead of just computer programs.

... but, more ontopic, I'm uncertain whether or not this particular instance of a market research/conflict mitigation/peacebuilding effort is useful enough to warrant actually doing, I guess. If y'guys are opposed to it, I won't be moving ahead. ::headscratch:: I'm going purely on raging idealism, dubious capacity for logic, and a gross lack of trustworthy data and experience, and I'm quite certain that this way would be just as flawed and manipulable as any other. Actually, hold up, I really need to put the "I have no idea what I'm doing"-dog up again. Can't be walking around without my disclaimer. ::foreheadrub:: Time for me to read up on some political science, I suppose. It's unbelievable how much studying one needs to do in how many fields in order to be able to comment on anything, including things as (relatively speaking) inconsequential as polls in game modding communities.

::snort:: "Should we have a poll about whether to have a poll about whether we should have polls about having polls?". Life is ridiculous.

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Andarian

I agree with Proleric and thirdmouse. There's an overwhelmingly clear consensus on this issue already (that Premium Modules and donations are OK). I don't think a poll would serve any useful purpose.

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Wall3t

So perhaps the question should be rephrased: What do we want to see in a premium module?

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Tarot Redhand

Rephrase that to "What would we like to see in a new premium module?" and create a new thread for it over in the new forums already.

TR

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TheBarbarian

I'll just alleviate my inexplicable burning itch to PUT POLLS EVERYWHERE via the Premium Module topic, then. ^^

Discussion opened. Could be interesting and informative for all of us as builders, too.

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