Doing It Right: Bethesda Likes 'Fallout' Mod So Much It Hires Some Of The Team That Made It

from the mod-squad dept

How gaming companies treat their modding communities that spring up around their games is something of a fault line in the industry. Game studios tend to be either pro-modding or not, with very little space in between. Nintendo, for instance, is notoriously anti-modding of its games. Bethesda, on the other hand, has traditionally been quite open-minded when it comes to the modding communities that have sprung up around its games. We’ve made the point for a long, long time that embracing modding communities is typically a massive boon to gaming companies and the restrictive attitude companies like Nintendo take makes little sense. Mods extend the shelf life and interest of games, driving attention and elongating the sales cycle and windows for those games. Giving up a little control for more sales seems to only make sense.

But, speaking of Bethesda, some developers go even further. For instance, there is a forthcoming Fallout mod made by an independent team that is entitled Fallout: London, and it looks amazing.

Now, I am very much a fan of this franchise, so I’m comfortable saying that if you can see a quality difference between what appears in this trailer and what has appeared in official trailers for the franchise, you’re a much bigger stickler for details than I am. The mod changes more than just the location, though. It puts an emphasis on different types of gameplay to reflect a more British sensibility.

Fallout: London is an ambitious Fallout 4 modification that was officially revealed earlier this year. Taking place in the time between the first two games and set leagues away from the franchise’s traditional Americana-inspired stomping grounds, Fallout: London features a massive new map to explore, fresh-faced factions to join, and an added focus on melee weapons over firearms.

Now, the whole thing has been created on a volunteer basis and I haven’t seen any request for money or monetary support on its website, so there is that. Still, little would stand in Bethesda’s way if it wanted to shut this whole thing down. Plenty of gaming companies have done that sort of thing with fan-made projects in the past, citing copyright and/or trademark concerns. So, really, are we just waiting for the Bethesda hammer to drop on this project?

If so, it won’t be the hammer you were expecting. Instead, Bethesda’s folks seemed to be so impressed by the work on the mod that it is hiring some of its team directly.

Stephanie Zachariadis, head writer of the highly anticipated Fallout: London mod, is leaving the development team after being hired as an associate quest designer at Bethesda Game Studios, project lead Dean Carter announced recently.

“This is utterly fantastic news and something that all of the team here at Fallout: London stand behind and we wholeheartedly wish her the best on her endeavors,” Carter wrote in the mod’s official Discord server. “We hope that she will give them the same groundbreaking story and quests that she gave us.”

We often talk about how companies can be cool and human with their own fans, rather than restrictive assbags, and what a boon this can be to the company. It’s a whole new level when a gaming company decides to take that same tact with its modding community. Bethesda obviously recognizes the value in its modding community and is now leveraging it in multiple ways.

  1. The mod itself makes Fallout 4 continue to be relevant and perhaps even more relevant for the UK audience.
  2. Allowing the work on the mod to come to fruition revealed a talent-hiring opportunity for Bethesda in the form of Zachariadis.
  3. That hiring decision should only encourage the modding community to work on labors of love even harder, with the understanding that Bethesda is both cool with it and might even reward them for it down the road.
  4. The public gets to see the company behave in a human and awesome way, a PR benefit.

I am failing to see a single downside for Bethesda to any of this, making me wonder yet again why other companies ever do it differently than this.

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Companies: bethesda

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Comments on “Doing It Right: Bethesda Likes 'Fallout' Mod So Much It Hires Some Of The Team That Made It”

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27 Comments
Anonymoussays:

I guess it shouldn’t shock me based on the severe personal bias you regularly exhibit. But it’s still surprising you could heap praise on Bethesda for their attitude towards modding when they sold horse armor in Skyrim, brought paid mods back in fallout 4, then made 76 pay to win and didn’t offer customizable private servers for years.

And one of the main reasons Bethesda games have vibrant modding communities is because they release horribly broken games with excellent underlying gameplay (Pre-FO4) and then count on the users to clean up the mess for free. When they’re done fixing the game the next mission is to create mods that let you do all the things Todd Howard lied and said would be included in the game.

If your aren’t aware of the things I’ve mentioned here, go to Steam and read the reviews for Skyrim VR. If the fact they charge $59.99 for it separate from the non-VR version isn’t bad enough it’s a broken POS they dumped in modders laps to fix for free.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re:

Every company is capable of "good" and "bad" things, but it’s fairly silly to deny credit when they do good. In fact, that’s simply counterproductive, as companies who face backlash no matter what they do might decide that they don’t care about any consumer benefits so long as their bottom line stays intact, and then all you get is the EA model of making sure you have no choice but to use them if you want certain types of games.

PaulTsays:

Re:

"But it’s still surprising you could heap praise on Bethesda for their attitude towards modding when they sold horse armor in Skyrim"

Yeah, the company sold a piece of cosmetic DLC 15 years ago, therefore that invalidates something they just did!

No, wait, that would be an idiotic position to take.

"then made 76 pay to win"

Yeah, they made a bad decision with a spin-off that doesn’t affect the main franchise or affect what is happening here in the slightest.

"didn’t offer customizable private servers for years"

Oh no, they didn’t offer something that only a tiny proportion of players were interested in to begin with.

There might be reasonable criticism to have that might affect the positivity of this story, but these aren’t those.

"it’s a broken POS they dumped in modders laps to fix for free"

Now, there is a reasonable criticism – Bethesda is notorious for buggy products at release. But, even then that isn’t a criticism that affects this news story – surely that means it’s a very good thing that they’re hiring said modders to work for them?

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

Every single game that has ever come out has its fair share of bugs.

So that’s not even a complaint I can take seriously.

So while Bethseda has a ton of criticism, hiring modders is more positive than negative this time, especially when you know that Microsoft Game Studios has not had a ton of criticism outside of the usual gaming industry stuff.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re:

Bethesda are rather notorious for bugs on release, and noticeably so even in this age of games being released incomplete and needing a massive day one patch to fix what’s not on the disc. But, the counter to that is that they are in the business of creating massive worlds with as much freedom for the player as can be allowed. There probably isn’t a way that they can get truly complete playtesting that catches every way that a player can possibly interact. That doesn’t excuse the more obvious bugs that larger numbers of players run into, but it’s equally unlikely that games of these scopes can be bug free on release.

I actually can’t think of a negative with regard to the actual story. They took the best possible route in terms of PR and addressing the community, people who did game development as a hobby now get to do it as a career, and they got at minimum free market research and possibly some skillsets they were missing. Unless you’re the conspiracy minded type who assumes this is step one of some scorched earth policy that will inevitably lead to anti-consumer behaviour later on it’s hard to see the downside, and even then there’s no guarantee they wouldn’t have done that anyway without this initial olive branch.

Samuel Abramsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Bethesda are rather notorious for bugs on release, and noticeably so even in this age of games being released incomplete and needing a massive day one patch to fix what’s not on the disc. But, the counter to that is that they are in the business of creating massive worlds with as much freedom for the player as can be allowed. There probably isn’t a way that they can get truly complete playtesting that catches every way that a player can possibly interact.

This. When you consider that even Nintendo’s The Legend Of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was buggy on release and one thing Nintendo does extremely well is having extremely polished games on launch day. That they couldn’t do it for Breath of the Wild should show just how hard it is to polish a massively open-world game like one of the Elder Scrolls series.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yes, that does indicate that possibly Nintendo have been crippling their design choices to ensure bug-free launches. If so, then people have to decide if they want that to continue, or just accept that early adopters are going to have a buggy experience in order to ensure a better product later on. There might be some way to mitigate this, but if even a company that prides itself on a complete bug-free product on release is struggling, maybe this is just the trade-off for that superior ultimate experience.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re:

Ah, yes I missed that he said Skyrim. I knew what he was talking about, though, and while I generally agree that the introduction of such DLC is not a great thing overall for the industry, people losing their shit over a completely optional cosmetic item in a single-player game that does not affect the actual gameplay experience is always funny to me.

radixsays:

Re:

This is the company that literally makes the same development tools their team uses available to the public for the express purpose of creating mods. And they’ve been doing it for nearly 20 years.

Anything is possible, but getting salty about something that would be a complete 180 just isn’t a very good bet.

Who Caressays:

Why others don't do this?

I am failing to see a single downside for Bethesda to any of this, making me wonder yet again why other companies ever do it differently than this.

Fear, plain and simple fear.
Fear to lose control over their intellectual property. Fear of having missed something in the mod that they consider damaging to their brand. Fear of having missed something in the mod that someone else considers damaging to their brand. Fear of getting sued, for whatever reason, due to the mod in addition to or instead of the modders. Fear that the mod is better then the original product and raises the bar on what to produce next. Fear of that if a mod is free (aside from having to buy the original) they can’t charge as much or anything at all for expansions. Fear that people keep playing the old while they want them to buy the new. It is fear all the way down, not turtles.

So it boils down to not daring to take even the tiniest risk out of fear.

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