Hello, my name is Mick and I am here to advocate that strangeloopgames creates an EULA for ECO that protects the future of ECO servers.
First off, I would like to explain where I come from on this topic. I have played the game Minecraft for years. I played it from it's indev versions through alpha, beta, and the current release. Since Minecraft has sold I believe around 120 million sales, I would like to think that many of you would be familiar with the game. If not, that is fine because the main component to the game I would like to stress is how the multiplayer works. It works very similarly to ECO's in a sense that any individual can launch a server for anyone to play on. The servers can also be modded. On the mechanics side of things, the only draw back was really anytime a server owner wanted to control some aspect of the game that Mojang did not anticipate and did not provide configuration for. Otherwise, servers ran smoothly. The downfall of the pleasant Minecraft community is in the freedom that was given to server owners to sell in game success to it's players. Mojang eventually realized this, and began requiring all servers be play-to-win instead of pay-to-win through restrictions in it's EULA. This measure however failed, not because an EULA isn't a powerful measure against pay-to-win, but because they issued it after they accidentally allowed the entire Minecraft user base to become used to and comfortable with pay-to-win. Lead by server owners, players continue to resist any changes Mojang/Microsoft makes to end pay-to-win servers. Hopefully for the sake of those that play Minecraft, more and more servers will abandon pay-to-win as some already have, but for me--I am moving onto other games.
This brings me to ECO, a far better game that I am happy to see is still in alpha and I look forward to playing it through the many versions to come. I have very limited experience in the game because I just bought it. I have however, gotten a feel for some of it's community and I love it. The helpfulness and enthusiasm for the game is very much what I have needed. Definitely brings me back to when I first started playing Minecraft as I cannot deny some of the similarities. I believe that their is a shared understanding of the fun a player ran economy brings. I think the most enticing feature of the game is that through teamwork, planning, and fun hours played you can achieve a lot. I fear that these things can be taken away if clever server owners trying desperately to increase their player-base slowly finds more and more ways to give donators an edge, unknowingly sacrificing their economies and game plays for an expanding server. Server owners after all are just players all the same, they are not evil--they are just trying to be successful in creating a large server for the game.
The opportunity to prevent this is now, and it is only a matter of time before this window closes for good. A EULA for eco would work if created in time. You can't stop players from trying to make large, wonderful servers (and you shouldn't), but you can influence how they do it. If from the beginning you make a clear set of rules preventing pay-to-win servers, they will never be tempted to add such features to their server to be able to expand it. If they are tempted to break such a rule, then you simply shut them down after a warning (add a feature to enable you to do so if you haven't already) and publicly post the shutdown so that everyone knows you are serious.
As far as worries to enforce such rules goes, I think it would be very possible to do so. In addition to the shutdown feature, I believe in the power of community. Just as Mojang accidently created a community that fought to keep pay-to-win servers alive, you can create a community to make sure a pay-to-win server never makes it in the first place. Giving players the ability to anonymously report servers through a form that asks them to present the evidence (like links to a "donator shop" ect.) would encourage them to speak up. Publicly shutting down servers does the same. Most importantly, simply issuing these rules now protects the current servers by keeping them the norm; thus any new server with a pay-to-win feature is against the norm causing players to avoid it and report it. You must solve the issue before it arises to set the standard for the community, they are much more powerful in protecting play-to-win servers than you, as the game creator, will ever be. You must make the first impression that says ECO will be a game that all people can play together on equal grounds in the name of fun and education. Do not make it a game that teaches people money generates success. This is your opportunity to set the stage for ECO's multiplayer, do this and the community will not just buy your game, but help it grow in a healthy way and protect the things that make it great. If you don't do this, somewhere along the line, one server at a time, players will sell it's features to other players to help their own community grow rather than just improving their servers quality in itself. I know which one you would want, and I know the only reason you haven't done this yet is because you are either blind to it's need or you are unsure on how to enforce it. All I am asking you to do is send a message and make it bold. Follow through with the tools you need to enforce it a little and the community will do the rest. Hopefully if you do this early enough, you will never even have to use the shutdown function.
Shaun "Mick" Coyne
For those of you unfamiliar with pay-to-win I would just like to walk through it's dangers real quick. First off, pay-to-win is when "donators" pay to receive some non-aesthetic in game item or perk. If this is not done then I call the game play-to-win meaning all perks or items are achieved though actually playing the game as intended. Pay-to-win servers are not very fun to play unless you are very affluent. For the average player, you have to progress through the game slowly in a limited way unless you can afford to buy things with real life currency. If you can't, someone may have an item you will never get to have, live in a place you can't live, or simply be able to enjoy some kind of event you are left out of. This is never fun. Worst of all pay-to-win servers are not just poisonous to themselves, but also other servers. When servers start to compete for players as they will eventually do once eco really takes off. The best thing they can do is simply find ways to make their server more fun to play. However, their is also the issue of machine costs to run the server. Better internet, better performance, and if eco's updates cause it, they will need more space for a larger and more complex game that requires even more server resources. In addition to that, to compete with other servers they need to advertise. I have seen online advertisments for game servers go well over one thousand US dollars. It is ridiculous. (also, depending on how modding goes and such, servers could end up having to pay modders to create unique mods for their servers.) Whether it is for machine costs or for some sort of advertisement, these things need lots of money. If pay-to-win servers are allowed, they will bleed out any other servers that don't get as many donations whom are play-to-win. I would also like to remind everyone that nobody that thinks up a possible pay-to-win feature is evil, they are just trying to expand their server so that more people can enjoy it. It is good intentions with a large, often unforeseen cost.
One last note, you should also consider the issue of "vote-to-win". Receiving anything for voting for a server on a forum or on a special voting site should be considered a trade between something outside the game for something inside the game and therefore a payment. This should violate the EULA as well.
Thank you for reading if you made it this far into my post. Have a good day and may "donations" always be donations.
Great post and great ideas. I hope the devs read the whole thing.
There are already plugins for ECO servers that reward players with in-game skill points for voting for the server on a server ranking website.
Ah, well it isn't too late if they read this and start applying it now. Vote to win is unacceptable. I personally won't play on any servers that are. I just hope that doesn't mean there will be no servers I can play on in the future unless I make one. I really do hope the devs read this.
Shaun "Mick" Coyne
Its a very nice thought that putting in a EULA rules about what kind of mod could be done for a moddable game and what could not would be doable but unfortunately, even if it was enforceable doing so would be quite the nightmare
When you come to game mods, what can be modded can be controlled somewhat through the code of the game but only to an extent. As for what those mods can do, again that can be control to an extent by how the game is coded but cannot be control completely or completely blocked.
Your suggesting that a EULA dictate whether mods can be made where benefits can be given to donators or pay to win opotions added and so on. You do not need a mod in the game for gifts to be given to donators - all you need is a server admin in the game. The sort of control you are talking about is best done by the server operators themselves, but if an owner wants a mod that gives benefits to certain players and not others that is up to them and not the game maker. If the mod that an owner chooses ruins the game for you then you need to fix that by finding a server to play on that does not have a mod, not dictate what all servers should be allowed to do.
Even if a game developer thought to micro-control the type of mod that could go on their game doing so through the EULA would prove to not be the way to do it. Game companies have tried to control content of mods through making the mod content owned by them once it was publically released to be used by the game. Think what happened with The Sims and public nudity proved that control did not work.
I think the kind of control you want is just not, actually, even the place of the developer if they create a game that is moddable. What might 'break' a game for you as a mod might make the game exciting and new to someone else. And its really crazy to put something in the EULA that you aren't even or can't even enforce. I think you will be hard put to find devs that want to spend their time reviewing every mod that comes out, contacting a modder if they don't 'like' a mod and even trying to get the modder to remove the mod would be impossible.
And if you don't like pay-to-win scenerios, then don't play on those servers. You use Minecraft as an example and allude to Microsoft having issue with or trouble with controlling the pay to play servers. They don't acre actually. If people pay and support those pay to win servers then that is up to those people. They would quickly go away if no one paid to play and win. The reason they don't is because there are a section of the Minecraft playing population that enjoys them. I don't see the fun in it but who am I to say its wrong that they spend tehir money that way? And actually I don't need a mod to play Eco as a pay to win game right now. If you like I can create a server where, if you pay me certain amounts, I will just give yu what you want from the game.
You may not like certain mod ideas or even certain ways a game/world is run on a server but that is real the option of the server owner when you make a game with configurable options. Then to try and control what can be selected as a option via the EULA is not the way to go. And I don't know that such control would be a good thing. One thing that has kept minecraft in the gaming public eye for so long is that it could be modded to be anything for anybody and neither mojang or microsoft ever tried to say that you could not have this or could not do that or tried to dictate their belief system through control of mods. They let that come about by how well received a server was with group of mods on it or not. What maybe a mod that you think is terribly wrong and hurts the game might be a mod that is loved and very popular to a large portion of the paying population. Its not really anyone's choice to dictate what mod can be made for people to try/use or not. There are some pretty awful mods out there for games I play like Minecraft, ARK, 7DTD, City Skylines, Conan, (I could go in) - in my opinion but those same mods are very popular. There are others that I think are cool and handy that others don't like. I don't run to the devs asking them to pull the ones I don't like because they are not going to even if they don't like them because they are wise enough to know that 'modding' is all about changing the game to the ways/options you like - and that's not something that can be dictated to others.
I think your premise that a game developer try and control modding via the EULA is a pretty constraining one. If a developer is going to be in agreement with their game being "changed" via modding then they will need to accept that some of those changes will be things that they would 1) not do and/or 2) things they don't agree with.
Most developers even see modding as a way to satisfy people who have given feedback saying the game "should do this" or "not do that" or "have this thing" or "not have that thing". Adding modding allows the player to do or have those things/game aspects that the game developer decided were not something they wanted in the core game but recognized some players might have a better experience if they could have that in the game. That's why you often see statements like: '....that is not something in game but could be added via a mod..." as a totally viable dev response in many. many games.last edited by
reddit moderator: rentechd
Edited, please re-read. Thank you and sorry for the inconvenience
Thank you for taking the time in writing your reply. I am a bit confused however, I don't believe I said anything about restricting mods. If I did, it was a failure to word my point correctly. If you are implying that my EULA idea would require the devs to limit mods in some way, I would have to disagree. Someone could make a plugin that encourages vote-to-win, I don't care. The EULA would still restrict servers from being able to use it. (Through reports and threats of a forced shutdown, and general community avoidance since the EULA would mean that the server is at risk of shutdown anyways and it would be best for the player to find a new server. I would like to think I covered most the points on the how the EULA could be enforced, but if you would like me to elaborate more on a certain aspect I can.) Maybe you are implying that since mods can be created to give players perks, that would be violating a EULA but that is not how I would want the EULA to be structured. The EULA should stop any and all perks from being achieved through a trade between something outside the server, for something inside the server. This would be anything native to the game or added in by a mod. Common things being traded being real money or a vote. I believe that all things in the game or added through mods, should be achievable only through work inside the game itself. Someone can make a mod that allows people to fly, that is fine by me. This perk can be given to a player for an in-game currency or through an achievement of sorts or just by default. What would cause harm to the server and all other servers is when a player can get this perk through something like a donation or through voting.
I see your point about how the decision should be up to the server owner and not the game makers, however I do not agree. I am all for freedom to server owners getting to re-shape the game. I want to restrict this one aspect not because I care how they run their server, but because it affects all the other servers. This goes right along with you telling me to just find another server that isn't pay to win. One day I won't be able to do that. Through all the costs of custom mods, advertisements, and server upkeep. (which can add up to pretty crazy amounts of money if this game ever gets huge) Only servers that have donators will be able to foot that bill. People naturally like to 'spend' more money than they 'donate'. First, if they are willing to donate 20$ to help keep the server alive, but the server owner will give them this amazing perk for 40$, well they are going to pay it most of the time. They feel good about the spend like it was selfless, and they get a cool perk. Secondly, that server that is not pay-to-win is receiving fewer donations not just because people like to spend rather than donate but because more and more players will come from pay-to-win servers and be turned off by not receiving some kind of perk by donating. Third, as the costs of running a server rise, the harder it will be for the non-pay-to-win servers to survive. People will stop donating simply because they do not expect the server to be around much longer. They see other servers scraping in hundreds of dollars while this server only managed to raise 50$. Why give to a server that doesn't give you anything back and you expect it to die soon. You said that those servers in minecraft that are pay to win thrive because people like them, but that is not true. They simply choked out the competition. I have never heard pay to win being used as a complement for a minecraft server. I have even seen donators themselves reflecting on it saying how it ruined the game for them. They are played because they can out fund the other servers. I don't know any pro-pay to win minecraft players. I have owned servers myself, some that were pay to win. I hated it as the owner. I have played minecraft for years, I watched it happen and I fear the same future for ECO. Without preventive measures, it will be inevitable. It will not be something you can avoid by just going to another server.
If you stop pay to win servers, then play to win servers won't have to compete and they will thrive. Bringing a fun, fair game for everyone.
Some points I would like to make to avoid confusion.
I am pro mods being sold be developers. They should get $ for their hard work
I am pro developers being able to make whatever they want.
I am pro servers owners being able to make their servers unique as long as those changes do not encourage trade between something outside the game for something inside the game.
Thanks for the feedback,
Shaun "Mick" Coyne