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UGC in SimCity, We want your feedback!  XML
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Joined: 07/13/2010 16:24:46
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Note latest updates at end of this post.

Hello SimCity Mayors.
Maxis has a long tradition with User Generated Content (UGC) and supporting the UGC community. As is seen with the Sims 3 Exchange and tools we’ve released in the past for SimCity, encouraging the creativity of our players is an important part of what we do. As a matter of fact, there is quite a bit of UGC created for this SimCity by our community and many conversations happening around modding.

We would like to have a discussion with our fans regarding UGC and the creation of “mods” in SimCity under our new forum section called “User Generated Content”. Our goal is to ensure that we provide a place for all of our players to have fun while assuring them that the gameplay experience is safe and has integrity. It’s difficult to determine what makes a “good” or safe mod and what mods cross the line. Clarifying guidelines for UGC will help players understand where that line is and protect both our UGC and non-UGC community. Ultimately we want everyone to have fun with the game, no matter how you play it.

We want to have an open discussion with our community about what you want out of UGC SimCity and hear your thoughts about the first draft of UGC guidelines. The discussion will result in a clear set of final guidelines about the do’s and don’ts to UGC in SimCity.

User Generated Content Guidelines – first draft:
  • Acceptable UGC and mods do not jeopardize the integrity of the gameplay or harm the experience of others.

  • UGC that effects the simulation for multiplay games and features are not allowed.

  • Examples of acceptable UGC include swapping art assets, like buildings and vehicles.

  • Maxis reserves the right to take disciplinary action against players who break the rules.


Here are some questions we have to get the conversation going:
  • What kinds of UGC/mods are people interested in?

  • What are your thoughts on the guidelines?

  • How should we deal with cheating and players who break the rules?

  • Are there game modes that would be acceptable to allow UGC in? Is Sandbox mode an acceptable UGC mode? Would tagging regions with UGC be an acceptable solution?

  • Of the UGC/mods available today, what are you most excited about? Which ones do you consider negative?

Members of the team will be active on this thread to engage with you on this very important topic. We’ll gather your feedback for the next few weeks and then pull together the final version of the official guidelines. We hope to hear your thoughts!

********* Update Friday 10/4 *********
First, I want to thank everyone who has participated in this conversation so far. This has been a really constructive discussion about UGC in SimCity and what you want out of UGC. The dev team here has been really excited about this conversation and we all are looking forward to getting into the next steps. The first draft of guidelines was exactly that, a draft that we wanted to use to start the conversation. These are not final guidelines, and we want to know what’s important to our community in order to put the final version together.

Here are some of the things we see are important to you when it comes to UGC in SimCity:
• You recognize that it’s important to protect the experience of players not using UGC and the multiplay game.
• There is a strong desire to have a separate mode to support UGC. This could be a tagged mode, a single player mode, sandbox, or even a separate UGC server. This mode would not only protect the players who are not using UGC but would allow the UGC/modding community a little more freedom.
• You want to swap art assets like buildings, vehicles, roads, and landmarks.
• You would like to delve into UGC or mods that impact simulation.
• You are also interested in terrain, UI, and data layer modifications.
• You understand that there are risks to using UGC and there are many good ideas how to manage the risk. These include ideas like validation systems, and also ideas around how to better structure our folders to make UGC/modding easy or to help players check for mods.


You may have seen Patrick’s blog this morning (http://www.simcity.com/en_US/blog/article/state-of-simcity) where he mentions that we’re exploring an offline mode. There seems to be a clear desire from you for a single player offline mode that our community can use to experiment more freely by using UGC and mods that impact the simulation as well as assets. We want to hear more about what you would want from a mode like this and if you think limiting some forms of UGC to this mode only would be an appropriate way to protect the integrity of the multiplay experience.

Some questions:
• If we did develop an offline mode, what would that mode include?
• Would it be acceptable to only allow UGC/Mods in a single player/offline mode?
• Would certain types of UGC be acceptable in Multiplayer games?
• Would any mods be considered “bad” in an offline mode?
• How could the community help us surface mods that may be negative or harmful? What are the best options?

Our next steps are to draft the next version of the official guidelines to share with you, and then start working on the next step discussions. Let’s keep the conversation going. Tell us your thoughts.

This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 01/10/2014 10:04:55





Joined: 09/30/2013 13:57:08
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It's good to hear that Maxis is taking an official stance on modding, although I'm slightly disappointed that there seems to be no intention to open up parts of the simulation to modifications. I'd even say that I fear that without this, SimCity modding will be dead in the water - one of the cornerstones of user-generated content for SimCity 4 has always been the creation of completely new buildings and networks. Would that game have lasted without the effort of the NAM team and the endless streams of new buildings with new gameplay functions?

While I understand that there's a huge drive to keep the integrity of the multiplayer aspect of the game intact, one has to aslo aknowledge that there is a large segment of the fanbase that exclusively plays in single-player regions who don't have any interest in leaderboards global markets and other multiplayer aspects - why not allow these players to play the game their own way - I'd argue for adding a pseudo-sandbox game mode that can only be played exclusively single-player where people can modify the gameplay values to their desire.

As someone who has dived deep into the SimCity package files, I know that the possibilities are there for new buildings, new networks and new modules, but as I understand it all of those possibilities are currently held back by server-side validations which are only in place for the multiplayer aspect of the game.

For a first step, I'd argue for making the following changes;

- Expand the function of the Ecogame/Packages folder to read packages that will override scripts and SimCityData packages. (much like the SimCityData folder already allows us to do).
- Have the game detect the presence of package files in this folder and disable multiplayer regions and leaderboard/global market participation. This will also prevent the rollback system for modded files.
- Mark any regions played with mods as modded so that there's no possibility of cheating later on if someone removes all files from the packages folder.

Naturally I understand that Maxis wants to not have to compete against mods when releasing DLC, which is a fair point - as much as people may be going to criticize this as a valid point, ultimately revenue from DLC and expansion packs are what keeps a franchise alive, not the free mods that the community provides. I'd like to offer Maxis' own The Sims franchise as an example of a game that allows gameplay mods but still has huge success when it comes to expansion packs and DLC. In fact, I've even seen mods for that game that later got an official version in expansion packs, and those still did very well, because at the end of the day Maxis is always going to be able to release better content gameplay-wise than modders are.

Once again, I'm glad that Maxis is taking their fanbase seriously and it's a testament to their dedication that they're officially entering a discussion about user-generated content with their fans. I might come off as slightly disappointed by the seemingly strict guideline that enforces a rule of only accepting graphical modifications, but all in all I'm still optimistic about the future of modifications for the game.

I've added a more thorough reply to the topic further down the thread: http://forum.ea.com/eaforum/posts/list/135/9729407.page#30259482

This message was edited 4 times. Last update was at 10/01/2013 09:06:04





Joined: 04/01/2013 17:57:29
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I agree with Oppie. Give the modders the tools they need. I think this will only make the game better!




Joined: 07/19/2013 15:41:45
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I agree Oppie. This is a welcome official stance that the community has been looking forward to for a very long time. I know you have a lot of stuff you plan on posting and the entire community will look forward to seeing evolve as a result.


PS.. THANK YOU KIP, PATRICK, GUILLAUME, CHRIS for listening to the community on this subject. It means a lot when the person at the top pushes for what the community has been asking for. This means a lot to everyone.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 09/30/2013 12:28:08





Joined: 09/30/2013 12:12:05
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  • What kinds of UGC/mods are people interested in?

  • I dont mind mods which add more greatworks, extra research or tools. Like being able to have underground roads/tracks split into two.

  • What are your thoughts on the guidelines?

  • A UGC should have a correct and exact description with screenshots. The USG description should contain EVERYTHING that the mod will affect and how.

  • How should we deal with cheating and players who break the rules?

  • Hard one to answer but you could have maps which allow cheating. You can't really ban them as they have paid for the game.

  • Are there game modes that would be acceptable to allow UGC in? Is Sandbox mode an acceptable UGC mode? Would tagging regions with UGC be an acceptable solution?

  • I rarely use sandbox mode so i wouldn't mind if some mods where allowed in the normal mode such as extra research but anything that makes the game itself too easy should be in sandbox mode. Either way, it should be based on a mod by mod basis.

  • Of the UGC/mods available today, what are you most excited about? Which ones do you consider negative?

  • Haven't used any, didn't know I was allowed. To be honest at the moment i'm more interested in bug fixes.





Joined: 09/30/2013 14:28:20
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How about.... Hmm... oh I don't know. Bigger maps?



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Joined: 07/15/2013 10:39:49
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MassEffect2_471910741425 wrote:How about.... Hmm... oh I don't know. Bigger maps?


How about we keep it on topic?

I'm enjoying the new SimCity.
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Joined: 07/19/2013 15:41:45
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MassEffect2_471910741425 wrote:How about.... Hmm... oh I don't know. Bigger maps?


Separate subject but it will happen eventually trust




Joined: 09/30/2013 14:30:12
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I like where you're headed with this.

I do have one suggestion that is somewhat similar to what previous posters have said.

"Acceptable UGC and mods do not jeopardize the integrity of the gameplay or harm the experience of others."
Perhaps you could reserve mods with vast gameplay changes to private/single-player regions? Maybe only in sandbox mode?




Joined: 07/08/2013 19:45:37
Messages: 52
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
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From my perspective, the one I would love to see is user created maps.

Perhaps you could implement it such that using a map creation tool users could create and submit maps. Set up a service on your side to accept map submissions and run them through a series of automated QA/validation checks and if they pass approve them for use. That way maps are

1. Tied to an owner (assuming they must log in to submit a map)
2. Sanity checked to ensure people are not creating crazy stuff that might break the gameplay.

(Thinking along a similar model to app stores on Apple/Android/Windows)

Just my 2 cents...

G




Joined: 07/19/2013 15:41:45
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vanSullinator wrote:I like where you're headed with this.

I do have one suggestion that is somewhat similar to what previous posters have said.

"Acceptable UGC and mods do not jeopardize the integrity of the gameplay or harm the experience of others."
Perhaps you could reserve mods with vast gameplay changes to private/single-player regions? Maybe only in sandbox mode?


Some of us have suggested a 3th Game Mode that is not tied to leader boards that would allow for this type of play with mod support. I think it needs to be discussed by the public more. So please post everything you feel is important and lets make this work for everyone and the enjoyment of the game for years to come.




Joined: 03/11/2013 08:52:36
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I think I would like to see Mods that create new regions also. Allowing people to create maps based on reality would be quite cool (I have been thinking of creating the town where I live but can't find a suitable map in the current regions).

I also think Mods that allow for building multiple entrances/exits to cities should be allowed. There is one out there but I haven't used it as I don't want to break my game using 'unauthorised' content.

Mods changing the look of buildings, roads, vehicles etc should be allowed.

New great works?

Mods should not be allowed that tinker with the 'GlassBox' as this is the core of game play.

All I can think of right now.

Hope this helps.


Let's just play the game folks!!




Joined: 07/26/2012 11:38:55
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Woah, I honestly thought this wouldn't happen what with dlcs et al.

I think mods that alter the games mechanics (if allowed) should be in a mode that doesn't influence leaderboards and/or the price of materials (coal etc.), with the city in question only taking the price from the average but not contributing to the price itself.

I don't see the problem with buildings that are altered cosmetically being available in the normal mode other than having a mechanism which distinguishes a visual alter from a characteristic one.
It would also be preferable if a tool was created which not only allowed you to alter the current buildings but add additional buildings to the game alongside those that are already in it (similar to the tools provided in previous iterations).

•Of the UGC/mods available today, what are you most excited about? Which ones do you consider negative?
Personally, I'm more excited about the reskin ones created by Oppie on simtrop. The expanding beyond borders mod is interesting but it seems to alter too much and not in a very stable way.



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Joined: 09/27/2011 10:00:58
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I understand the fear of the leaderboards becoming pointless if Maxis allows modding of the simulation. That's why I propose the following systems. I don't expect these to be implemented right away. It is precious dev time taken away for something else but I feel this is very important for the survival for the game longterm and will also benefit Maxis.

* More game mode options: Currently when creating a region you have the option to use creative mode or not. Creative mode disables achievements and counting toward the global market and such. What I propose is to add an option which does the same as creative mode in regards of disabling global market/achievements and the likes but giving the same rules as normal play (without the free cash and build everything). This way the game could auto-detect if mods are installed. If there are mods installed you can't play on normal mode but you have to play in the mode that's allowed.

* More people are likely going to buy expansions and the main game when they see all the cool mods people make. Mods will end up using assets and systems from expansion packs which gives Maxis a huge opportunity when people cannot play mods if they don't have a certain expansion that modder used for creating the mod.

* Create an easy to use system for mods. Currently mods are usually dumped in the data folder, or other folders which is not ideal and not very user friendly either. Either make it easy to install mods (like steamworks) does or create a seperate folder (mods) folder where all the packages go. Mods will break when combined with other mods. It's almost unavoidable. Having all the mod packages in a single folder (with perhaps subfolders if neccecary for readability) makes it somewhat easier to find the mod that's incompatible with another.




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Joined: 01/18/2011 20:02:56
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  • What kinds of UGC/mods are people interested in?

  • - I dunno about the others, but for me, anything that I can make the skin and shape of the building change (sorry for the lack of proper jargon there )

  • What are your thoughts on the guidelines?

  • - it looks simple, hopefully we'll be able to refine it over time

  • How should we deal with cheating and players who break the rules?

  • - can you throw them in a separate server/lobby/room like how they did on GTA and (recently?) CoD: MW3
    - banning should be a last ditch move

  • Are there game modes that would be acceptable to allow UGC in? Is Sandbox mode an acceptable UGC mode? Would tagging regions with UGC be an acceptable solution?

  • - leave the normal and sandbox game mode untouched
    - create another normal and sandbox game mode with UGC allowed
    ^ That makes four game modes for us to choose from.

  • Of the UGC/mods available today, what are you most excited about? Which ones do you consider negative?

- I haven't touched any mods out there, I therefore have no input for this.

Edit:
- I just remembered that the game comes with some sort of Terraforming tool in the Debug mode! You should allow us to use that now that you guys are open for UGC

I'll add more here as I come up with new suggestions.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 09/30/2013 12:54:43


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