People who volunteer to modify and update old games are among the most generous developers. So when drama erupts, there is not only irritation and playful emails, but the feeling that a community is cheated or exploited. A new conflict over work on the ever-renewed classic Skyrim may seem small, but for those involved, this is a great deal of confusion.
I do not intend to make a bigger deal out of this niche problem than it is. However, I feel that sometimes it is important to make things up, not because they are very important in and of themselves, but because they are a class of little injustices or conflicts that are prevalent in the modern web.
Today's example comes from the Skyrim Modding Community, which provides all sorts of enhancements to the classic fantasy adventure, from new items and better maps to complete overhauls. It's one of the most active out there, as Bethesda is not only very tolerant of modders, but also delivers games, if we're honest, in pretty bad shape. Modders are committed to closing the gaps left by Bethesda and making the original game far better than it was delivered.
One of the more useful mods for developers, but indirectly for gamers, is the Skyrim Script Extender or SKSE. Basically, more complex behaviors are possible for objects, locations, and NPCs. How can a character seek protection from the rain if there is no weather-related behavior in his original AI? This kind of thing (though this is a fictional example) SKSE goes back a long way, and the creators provide much of the code to others to use under a free license, while rejecting the donations themselves.
Another project is Skyrim Together (ST), a small team that has been running since 2013 (among others), working to extend the game to multiplayer features – its Patreon account, on the other hand, attracts more than $ 30,000 a month. The main developer there allegedly distributed some years ago a modified version of SKSE against the license terms and was henceforth expressly forbidden to use SKSE code in the future.
Guess What SKSE Found in a Code Inspection The other day?
Yes, unfortunately, it seems that the SKSE code is in the ST app, not only violating the license because it does not grant credit, but the developer himself was excluded from using it Moreover, although there are some debates here, the ST team will essentially ask for access to a "closed beta". Some say it's just a donation they demand, but demands A donation is really indistinguishable from a charge.
An answer from the developers downplayed the problem; They say it's just a bit of old garbage in the codebase:
There could be a few leftover codes that were overlooked on removal. It is not as easy as deleting a folder, mainly our fault. We have raved some parts of the code. However, we will definitely make sure to remove what may have slipped through the cracks for the next patch.
Instead of SKSE, one developer said, the code was replaced by others, for example from the project libSkyrim. As others quickly said, libSkyrim is based on SKSE and there is no way they do not know that fact. The claim that they did not use the forbidden code does not really hold water. Not only that, but ST does not even make libSkyrim any good, a common practice in reusing code.
This would not really be a big problem if ST not only makes some scratches from them project about donations, but required donations for access to the code. This probably makes it a commercial project that puts it further beyond the limits of code reuse.
Now it is encouraged to use the hard work of open and semi-open source developers in other projects – and indeed the point. But it's supposed to be collaboration, and there are rules to make sure the loan goes where it's due.
I do not think the ST people are bad guys. They work on something that many players like to use – and pay when the patreon is a clue. That's great and that's what the mod community is about. But the other side of the community is, as in any developer group, respectful and mutually recognized.
Honesty is important here because it is not always possible to check someone else's code. And honesty is also important because users want to trust developers for a variety of reasons – not least from what they donate to a bona fide project. This trust was shaken here.
As I said at the beginning, I do not want to make that big business. Nobody gets rich (even though there are only ten different ways, $ 33,000 a month is nothing to bite at), and nobody gets hurt. But I can imagine that there is hardly an open source project that did not have to oversee the use of other people's codes or live in fear that someone deserves something for which he has been donating for years.
Here's to hope Certain thunderstorms in a teapot dissolve happily, but do not forget that there are more teapots from which these come.