Make It A Trend: More Modders Get Hired By Developers, This Time CD Projekt Red

from the mod-squad dept

You will recall that we were just discussing a cool little story about Bethesda going so far in embracing the modding communities surrounding its games that it ended up hiring one of the writers of an impressive Fallout 4 mod onto its team. Part of what made that story interesting was not how totally novel it was. After all, modders have found their way into developer roles in the past. Instead, it’s that it was Bethesda that made it interesting, being a AAA title developer and the fact that the gaming industry certainly doesn’t approach modding communities with unanimity.

But it would be great for this to become a trend, as a demonstration of the boon that modding communities can be for developers, rather than some kind of a threat to their control. It’s probably too early to call this a full on trend at this point, but it is worth highlighting that we have yet another story of a AAA developer hiring on members of a modding community, this time with CD Projekt Red.

Since it was released last December, Cyberpunk 2077 has received intermittent mod support from the developer, resources like metadata and TweakDB file dumps. But the most helpful tools have come from the community.

The modders who will officially join CDPR are Traderain, Nightmarea, Blumster, and rfuzzo. They are best known as the folks behind WolvenKit, an open-source tool that allows modders to modify CD Projekt Red’s greatest hits, Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt In terms of Cyberpunk modding resources, WolvenKit is the gold standard, allowing you to edit any file in the game and, crucially, browse those files “without unpacking the archives.”

“We will be working on various projects related to the Cyberpunk 2077 backend and the game’s modding support,” Traderain wrote in an announcement on Cyberpunk 2077’s modding community Discord (via Reddit). “We are really excited for this and we really hope we can help to bring Cyberpunk 2077 to the next level!”

This specific move by CDPR is somewhat meta, with the modders hired not only to help with Cyberpunk’s seemingly ongoing development via patches and mods, but also specifically to bridge the gap to other modding communities to make better use of their work.

Now, we’re not a gaming site, so we didn’t cover most aspects of CDPR’s long-awaited release of Cyberpunk 2077, but the Cliff’s Notes version is simply: it was an absolute shit show. The game, as released, was buggy as all hell, had console versions that didn’t work or display as advertised, and there were even lawsuits from investors as a result of a crazy amount of refund requests granted by CDPR. It… wasn’t great. And, frankly, there is no real excuse for the release of what is essentially an unfinished game.

But between active patching of the game and, more important for this post, an active modding ecosystem, the game has come a long way. Were CDPR to embrace a fight or flight mode of thinking, it would have been really easy for it to see these modding communities as either a threat to control over a broken product, or a point of embarrassment as the public was now fixing its game.

Instead, the developer did the smarter thing and embraced and eventually hired some of these modders. And now it’s going to take this embrace of modders even further.

“We are working with Yigsoft on the development of Cyberpunk 2077 modding tools. The modding community has always been very important to us and we are happy to be working with them side by side on further expanding the tools which are available to modders,” a representative for CD Projekt Red told Kotaku in a statement.

Which will allow CDPR to continue to reap the benefits of its biggest fans, those so passionate about the game that they want to not just play it, but play within it. As a bargain in which the developer only had to give up a bit of control over its property, that’s a damned good deal.

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Companies: cd projekt red, cdpr

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Comments on “Make It A Trend: More Modders Get Hired By Developers, This Time CD Projekt Red”

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34 Comments
PaulTsays:

Re: Timmy, this is VERY STRICT control by employing!

"Special case"

Two special cases, which is why they’re notable and something worth writing about. News is news because it’s new and unusual, things would get boring very quickly if it they were just about standard employment practices on a daily basis.

"the company is so inept that NEEDS outside help"

Most large companies need outside help, they just hire people as contractors or do something boringly similar. I’d challenge you to find any company of a reasonable size that doesn’t do this. A company deciding to identify that help through work with their own community instead of hiring from a pool of potentially disinterested general practitioners is however to be encouraged, especially if that’s a reversal of a trend that involves punishing the same community for displaying that interest.

Only you would decide that writing about news and about good business practise is something to be attacked.

Bloofsays:

The smartest thing would have been to have hired adequate numbers of staff in the first place so you didn’t burn out the few you had through crunch to produce a product that requires major repair from it’s community. I’m sure CDPR will kill their passion soon enough with another project where they overpromise and understaff.

PaulTsays:

Re:

While there’s definitely a criticism with staffing levels, etc., it’s a well known fallacy in software development to just think of projects in terms of the number of developers. Simply adding more developers to a project will make the project take longer (see: the Mythical Man Month).

So, while you could argue that staffing levels could have been better set at the beginning, adding them after it was known that there was a staffing issue would not necessarily have solved the problem.

Bloofsays:

Re: Re:

There are cases where more staff would have lead to bloat and made things worse, this isn’t one of them. They had 500 people making the kind of Triple A game that other companies have struggled to produce with 2000. CDPR Management knew they were understaffed, more people would have helped but they didn’t hire them, they just kept on promising versions for all the major (non Nintendo) platforms and crunched the hell out of those 500 people then put an unfinished game where even the working versions were broken, and kept those people crunching to fix as much as they could to stem some of the backlash.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re:

"There are cases where more staff would have lead to bloat and made things worse, this isn’t one of them"

No, if you know anything about software development, hiring more people would have made it worse. It’s certainly possible that they needed more from day one and they should have had more at the project’s inception. But, if they were adding more devs one the project was reaching any sort of maturity, adding more developers would not have helped on its own.

The real problem here was the deadlines. Adding more people would have helped reduce the workload on some (but definitely NOT all) of those affected, but that would inevitably have pushed the deadline even further. The real issue here is marketing pushing release dates when it’s unclear if the product is actually going to be ready beforehand, and then management deciding to work the existing devs to death to meet that deadline instead of risking investor anger by pushing it back again by hiring more people.

That Anonymous Cowardsays:

Anyone else remember when releasing a fustercluck of a game was seen as a bad thing?

When publishers would apologize for not living up to the PR hype but be very clear that the game as it was, wouldn’t be released until they fixed it.

When they knew that customers who bought a game that turned out to be shit wouldn’t be back anytime soon to purchase their offerings.

Now they ship games they know are broken day one.
For some reason customers keep purchasing these titles on day one, hoping beyond hope it won’t be a waste… but ready to wait another 6 weeks for a patch to make the game playable. Even being slapped in the face over & over they stay true to these studios who can’t seem to care if they go gold on utter crap.

How the hell did it become acceptable to ship to meet some internal deadline no matter the state of the game?
It’s interesting to see the modders getting some love, but if the mod community you draw to your title exists mainly to make it work as it should have, you should be ashamed.

PaulTsays:

Re:

"Anyone else remember when releasing a fustercluck of a game was seen as a bad thing?"

Yes. I also remember the time when games were a tiny proportion of the size they are now and where there was no way in which bugs could be fixed after release. I can name some games I paid for that were never fixed for this reason, but it wasn’t clear that my inability to complete them was a known bug rather than my bad gameplay, only I didn’t find out until years later.

"For some reason customers keep purchasing these titles on day one"

Ultimately, that’s on them. The trend is obvious enough that if you’re buying a brand new multiplayer or massively open world game on day one, you will experience bugs. If you know this and continue to buy on day one rather than wait for the full patch, or at least confirmation from other gamers that the bugs are not present, that’s on you.

"How the hell did it become acceptable to ship to meet some internal deadline no matter the state of the game?"

Because there’s huge amounts of money riding on these games, and at some point investors are going to want to see some kind of return. This happens in all sorts of industries, videogames are just in a unique position where it’s actually possible to fix the problems after release. Some games never recover, others were buggy on release but are still being played today because those bugs are a distant memory.

There’s only one fix for this – don’t pay them until you know the product is finished. If you know there will be launch problems and you pay them, that’s on you for encouraging this behaviour.

Samuel Abramsays:

Re: Re:

All video games have bugs. Pong had a bug where you didn’t have to move the paddle and still score a win. Super Mario Bros. is notorious for having minus-level glitches.

The difference between then and now is if there are bugs that the user finds acceptable or noticeable and bugs that are not, and there are far more of the latter than the former now. Then again, back then, you didn’t have system updates, so the only way to patch a game was through the sneakernet.

That Anonymous Cowardsays:

Anyone else remember when releasing a fustercluck of a game was seen as a bad thing?

When publishers would apologize for not living up to the PR hype but be very clear that the game as it was, wouldn’t be released until they fixed it.

When they knew that customers who bought a game that turned out to be shit wouldn’t be back anytime soon to purchase their offerings.

Now they ship games they know are broken day one.
For some reason customers keep purchasing these titles on day one, hoping beyond hope it won’t be a waste… but ready to wait another 6 weeks for a patch to make the game playable. Even being slapped in the face over & over they stay true to these studios who can’t seem to care if they go gold on utter crap.

How the hell did it become acceptable to ship to meet some internal deadline no matter the state of the game?
It’s interesting to see the modders getting some love, but if the mod community you draw to your title exists mainly to make it work as it should have, you should be ashamed.

PaulTsays:

Re:

While there’s definitely a criticism with staffing levels, etc., it’s a well known fallacy in software development to just think of projects in terms of the number of developers. Simply adding more developers to a project will make the project take longer (see: the Mythical Man Month).

So, while you could argue that staffing levels could have been better set at the beginning, adding them after it was known that there was a staffing issue would not necessarily have solved the problem.

PaulTsays:

Re:

"Anyone else remember when releasing a fustercluck of a game was seen as a bad thing?"

Yes. I also remember the time when games were a tiny proportion of the size they are now and where there was no way in which bugs could be fixed after release. I can name some games I paid for that were never fixed for this reason, but it wasn’t clear that my inability to complete them was a known bug rather than my bad gameplay, only I didn’t find out until years later.

"For some reason customers keep purchasing these titles on day one"

Ultimately, that’s on them. The trend is obvious enough that if you’re buying a brand new multiplayer or massively open world game on day one, you will experience bugs. If you know this and continue to buy on day one rather than wait for the full patch, or at least confirmation from other gamers that the bugs are not present, that’s on you.

"How the hell did it become acceptable to ship to meet some internal deadline no matter the state of the game?"

Because there’s huge amounts of money riding on these games, and at some point investors are going to want to see some kind of return. This happens in all sorts of industries, videogames are just in a unique position where it’s actually possible to fix the problems after release. Some games never recover, others were buggy on release but are still being played today because those bugs are a distant memory.

There’s only one fix for this – don’t pay them until you know the product is finished. If you know there will be launch problems and you pay them, that’s on you for encouraging this behaviour.

Bloofsays:

Re: Re:

There are cases where more staff would have lead to bloat and made things worse, this isn’t one of them. They had 500 people making the kind of Triple A game that other companies have struggled to produce with 2000. CDPR Management knew they were understaffed, more people would have helped but they didn’t hire them, they just kept on promising versions for all the major (non Nintendo) platforms and crunched the hell out of those 500 people then put an unfinished game where even the working versions were broken, and kept those people crunching to fix as much as they could to stem some of the backlash.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re:

"There are cases where more staff would have lead to bloat and made things worse, this isn’t one of them"

No, if you know anything about software development, hiring more people would have made it worse. It’s certainly possible that they needed more from day one and they should have had more at the project’s inception. But, if they were adding more devs one the project was reaching any sort of maturity, adding more developers would not have helped on its own.

The real problem here was the deadlines. Adding more people would have helped reduce the workload on some (but definitely NOT all) of those affected, but that would inevitably have pushed the deadline even further. The real issue here is marketing pushing release dates when it’s unclear if the product is actually going to be ready beforehand, and then management deciding to work the existing devs to death to meet that deadline instead of risking investor anger by pushing it back again by hiring more people.

Samuel Abramsays:

Re: Re:

All video games have bugs. Pong had a bug where you didn’t have to move the paddle and still score a win. Super Mario Bros. is notorious for having minus-level glitches.

The difference between then and now is if there are bugs that the user finds acceptable or noticeable and bugs that are not, and there are far more of the latter than the former now. Then again, back then, you didn’t have system updates, so the only way to patch a game was through the sneakernet.

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