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Modding In Danger?

Discussion in 'News & Articles' started by hal, Jul 22, 2005.

  1. hal

    hal Dictator Staff Member

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    RegularX opines on how the fallout surrounding the hidden sexual content in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas will effect custom modifications in the future.

    When the ESRB themselves are saying that if a kid can alter the content of a game in violation of the EULA, then it's the responsibility of the company to insure those alterations don't modify their rating .... well, modders have a problem. If a kid in his basement with a hex editor can cost a company millions in sales with a modification, do you really think companies are going to be as interested in offering tools and technical advice for kids to do the same? The days of Counter-Strike are over. Mods are no longer a major selling asset, they're merely a value add to a retail box with low risk to the parent company and great opportunity to find upcoming talent. But neither of those benefits are worth the risk of having a couple of kids take your game, turn it into a sexy romp and then become the focal point of Congressional hearing.
     
  2. Sir_Brizz

    Sir_Brizz Administrator Staff Member

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    I think that this whole situation is different. I don't think it's an issue of "Uh oh, they can mod the game! Make sure that content is not in there!" I think it's more a matter of "Wait a second...this content was added by ROCKSTAR and NOT by a modder?!"

    I don't think the modding scene is in any real danger right now. The public desire for such "pornographic" mods isn't very high, and I don't think it ever will be. I mean, if you want pr0n, why look at it in a video game with chunky models and flat angles instead of looking at the real thing in your location of choice?
     
  3. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    If it weren't for user-made content, UT and UT2004 would have lived out their lifespan a long time ago.

    Mods will stay.
     
  4. RegularX

    RegularX Master of Dagoth Lies

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    I had hoped the same Brizz, but it doesn't seem to be leaning that way now. Not when the ESRB prez is saying:

    That's putting the focus pretty squarely on the modder.
    As for not being much demand ... there doesn't really need to be. Just takes one bad example for these people to hone in on. Heck, Hot Coffee was pretty obscure until all the public outcry erupted.

    And here's Todd Hollenshead of id:
     
  5. hal

    hal Dictator Staff Member

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    What's next? An ESRB Rating for Photoshop?
     
  6. Sir_Brizz

    Sir_Brizz Administrator Staff Member

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    Well, one thing I've noticed about the ESRB over the past few years is that, instead of simply proving that they can HELP the industry police itself, they act like they are the police and if there is a "breach" it is their duty to find out why.

    This could all be resolved by an additional statement on game boxes, like they did with Internet play (the "game experience may change while online"). "User made modifications of this game may not reflect the rating given by the ESRB."

    I guess what I'm saying is that other than re-rating the game, the ESRB should have nothing else to do with it. It's not their job to ensure that the people that BUY video games abide by their rules, because they are not for the end user, they are only to assist the end user in knowing what the content of the game is.

    Also, based on the ESRB's president's quote there, I would ASSUME that he meant that through a modification you could enable content that was already in the game which undermined the rating system. I just hope the ESRB doesn't get MORE involved than they should.
     
  7. Wormbo

    Wormbo Administrator Staff Member

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    Oh, that's definately required with all the potentially offending images you can create with it! :con:
     
  8. SuperDre

    SuperDre New Member

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    Oh man, it's those idiotic american politicians.. You may shoot,stab, club,kill, run people down with a car and that's ok in a game, man even walking around in reallife with a gun is ok, but oh dear when there is even a little possibility of sex then it's a real no No.. but then again, look at their president, even a child doesn't make so many mistakes as he does in public.. They were much better off with Clinton who only showed he was really human.. hehe..

    But these ratings could create a problem in the states yeah, cause if the ESBR is moving a rating to AO when sex is 'added' then it would be ofcourse the next thing for modders to bring 'companies' down, just add sex content and the company is screwed..

    Hee Epic, we dutchies got some nice naked UT2k4 models lying around.. hehe.. watch out........ New mod: The red light district.. ;)
     
  9. RegularX

    RegularX Master of Dagoth Lies

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    I think the ESRB is going to position themselves not as a cop for users, but more as a cop for publishers and studios to do as much as possible to restrict modifications/variations.

    In other words, they'll be putting the fire to the feet of publishers to do as much as possible that the ESRB rating can't be undermined. So the ESRB might not go after mods, but they may force the hand of devs to. Remember, Rockstar isn't going to just remove the minigame, they are also looking into ways to lock down the game to prevent any further such hackery.

    As pointed out by the EFF, if this resembles a DRM system, then the DMCA could lay the smack down on any modder or hacker who tries to work around it.

    I suppose all of this could delineate between mods that only rely on ingame content versus mods which adds content, but since the end result is identical I wouldn't expect the now empowered parental/political groups to be happy with that for very long.

    And that's what I think the confusion is with the debate. Everyone on the game side of the fence is arguing about what Rockstar did or did not leave on a DVD.

    Everyone on the politcial side of it is just concerned that porn got added to a game which wasn't rated for it. I don't think they'll care too much about the difference between uncovering previously inaccessible material and adding new pornographic material.

    I imagine id, Epic & Valve will stay strong on this, considering how much they have on the table when it comes to supporting mods. But if some fame-seeking mod team made a sexually explicit mod for any game right now, I wouldn't want to be the publisher of that game.
     
  10. GRAF1K

    GRAF1K ****** Kamikaze

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    Murder, mame and decapitate away. Just make sure that the C5 doesn't blow her skirt too high.
     
  11. UnrealProjects

    UnrealProjects "Your Hired!"

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    RockStar Games is a very smart strategic game company. They know what they're doing and they will take any route in order to succeed.

    The recent scandalous report showed enough evidence to point where the culprit originally started from. RoackStar included the sexually explicit with the game, of course locked away.

    However, I know that their ultimate goal getting in this game to young players hands was accomplished. They predicted once someone unlocks the secret then this game will become a bombshell. Almost everyone will want this game in their collection. That means more money for RockStar....

    On the contrary, the modder who unlocked it should not be responsible, RockStar should be held liable for including sexually explicit material hidden away.

    I really don't agree that it will affect the mod scene. It will only affect the game companies. Some new laws will take in effect requiring more regulations on game distribution.

    If you ask was this loophole worth it? I think so, it's only way to find and correct these types of vulnerabilities.
     
  12. RegularX

    RegularX Master of Dagoth Lies

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    Actually, that's not correct. They'll be losing millions off of this. Take Two has already adjusted their earning statement after the AO. They've stopped manufacturing. That's the biggest problem with the "Rockstar is sneakingporn" conspiracy - it just doesn't add up.

    As for whose fault it is. Well, PatW violated his EULA. It's not any different than if a modder tried to sell his mod. The agreement was there, between two people ... and it wasn't Rockstar who broke it.
     
  13. hal

    hal Dictator Staff Member

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    Unlike... Canada'a ESRB, Australia's Office of Film and Literature Classification, Germany's Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien, the UK's PEGI or BBFC, South Korea's "no blood" regulation, Greece's GL#3037 (effectively outlawing electronic gaming), Manhunt (PS2) banned from New Zealand... for starters?

    No, my friend, stupid governing bodies are not exclusive to the good 'ol U. S. of A.
     
  14. JaFO

    JaFO bugs are features too ...

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    I hope MS Office & Outlook get rated AO ... imagine all the steamy letters you can write with those things. ;)

    btw : think of one of the very first mods for pacman ... misses pacman
    Or the various nude-skins for games
    modding/hacking games to replace images with pr0n is pretty much the first thing that happens once people manage to hack the software.

    I'd agree with RegularX that the fallout of this stuff has the potential of very bad things for the modding-community. Just look at how the ESRB overreacted to the exposure of hidden content. IMHO they rated GTA:SA too low and they're now blaming R*'s *hidden* content for the new rating. The distinction between M & AO seems almost waferthin forcing them to make choices with a flip of a coin.

    It's one thing to tell publishers they're responsible for the game as is.
    But asking them to make the game unmod-able just to make sure any modifications are illegal ???
    That is a gigantic waste of resources. Not to mention that such a 'rule' makes publishers even more hesitant to make games for a platform that makes modding so easy (ie : pc's).

    // RegularX :
    "... Well, PatW violated his EULA. ..."

    I'd hate to tell you this, but here in the Netherlands (modder was Dutch!) the EULA is a contract that's only available after the sale, which makes it invalid as well.
    It doesn't help that it's in english (ought to be Dutch) either.

    ie : there was no EULA to violate since it was an invalid contract to begin with
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2005
  15. RegularX

    RegularX Master of Dagoth Lies

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    Only available after sale? I'm not following you there. You're not suggesting that EULAs are completely invalid in the Netherlands are you? Is this like piracy in China or something?


    Course it's a really good point ... especially when other ugly words like DMCA come up. How much of this ugliness is confined to the particulars of US law and simply become grey zones in the international soup that is the mod community.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2005
  16. JaFO

    JaFO bugs are features too ...

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    What it says on the tin really.

    To put it in simple words :
    what if I gave you a blank sheet of paper and asked you to sign it ?
    then after you've signed it I use it to write a contract that tells me you should give me all your money
    is there any country which would allow me to take you to court for breach of that contract ?
    of course not

    That is why the EULA itself can never be valid.
    There is no access to this contract *before* the sale (the actual contract that is the purchase of the software concerned)

    You might be able to bring in laws regarding copyright and reverse engineering.
    However those aren't part of the EULA, but the default laws such as they exist already. Those laws however already affect making of mods already.

    So IMHO the only question is : in what way was copyright violated and how much 'reverse engineering' was needed to enable this content ?
    Also note that the game was already rated 18+ / violent content
    Since our rating-system unlike ESRB don't require every letter to be specified (I think no more than 2 icons, this game pretty much the entire spectrum).
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2005
  17. EXE-973

    EXE-973 New Member

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    Hey folks. Instead of bitching in forums, write your congressmen. i just got done writing one of my senators. Her name happens to be Mrs. Clinton. I care enough about protecting our industry from overzealous politicians to make sure each and every one of them knows I have two votes in this household. Really, bitching on forums won't help, but well constructed and informed e-mails to your politicians can help. I'm 30 and I grew up with video games. That means my generation down has a big presence in the voter scene. If we stand up, start being heard, they will listen. They care more about the votes than they do the issues. Our generations will make or break them in office. Time to let them know what we think, and what we want. It's easy, just go to their websites and they have e-mail forms. It's just like writing on a forum, but it will actually have a chance of being heard by someone who can make a difference.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2005
  18. RegularX

    RegularX Master of Dagoth Lies

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    Hrm. My understanding is that the EULA was agreed to prior to installation and therefore is a mandatory part of usage. Iow, by using the software you've agreed to the EULA or you're already in violation of your license. Remember - you don't own your software, just the permission to use it. I get your point, but I'm not sure I'd risk a lawsuit on it.

    It seems in this case he was making it possible to modify the source code via reverse engineering. Basically he was combing with a hex editor. To put it in Epic terms, if you somehow decompiled the C++ portions of the Unreal engines and then released a mod with those changes or a patch to make those changes ... well, Epic wouldn't be happy.

    And I'm thinking that since the Hot Coffee mod is being pulled as well ... someone else would agree :)
     
  19. JaFO

    JaFO bugs are features too ...

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    I wouldn't like to go to court either, but it really would be interesting to see how much truth is in the average EULA and how it'd stand up in (our) court.
    I somehow doubt they can make us believe that we don't own the software by our laws.
    That's like trying to tell someone he doesn't own the book, but just the right to read it.

    Removing the 'hot coffee'-mod now would require someone to shut down the internet.
    It's too late as it already is 'out there'.
    The official author did it "as a show of support to Rockstar" as he writes on his website : http://patrickw.gtagames.nl/index.html
     
  20. Sir_Brizz

    Sir_Brizz Administrator Staff Member

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    As far as I'm concerned, the ESRB should only be there to police CONTENT that is released WITH a game. Anything beyone that is outside the scope of their purpose, which is why a game with Multiplayer is not rated-AO (what is done with the game is not their responsibility).
     

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