Usually an always-online requirement makes the question of modding laughable – the shortest backroads route to a ban. But Maxis have drafted up a set of guidelines designed to permit mods that don’t interfere with their leaderboards or other players – and they’d like to know what you think.
The developers say that “encouraging the creativity of our players is an important part of what we do”. As a consequence, they want to run their guidelines past the SimCity community before they’re written into law.
The first draft permits the use of modes that “do not jeapordise the integrity of the gameplay or harm the experience of others”. What Maxis have in mind is art assets, especially for buildings and vehicles. What they don’t want is anything that might alter the simulation for regional multiplay games, or indeed the game’s key features. And naturally, they reserve the right to take “disciplinary action” against those who break the rules.
“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,” write the developers. “It’s difficult to determine what makes a ‘good’ or safe mod and what mods cross the line.
“Clarifying guidelines for [User Generated Content] 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.”
The discussion is happening in an officially-sanctioned thread on the SimCity forums, which has already attracted 10 pages of fevered debate. Maxis staff will be active there for the next few weeks, after which they’ll put together a final version of the guidelines.
Maxis seem very keen to implement a modding rule to suits everybody – they’re considering a ‘UGC’ region tag to let players opt-in, for instance – but I do wonder whether their suggested laws could stand to be loosened further to allow for changes to their iffy simulation, the source of so many players’ ire.
If you’re looking for cause to hope, remember Maxis lead architect Andrew Willmott’s words to RPS in March last year.
“We’re huge fans of our modding community,” he said at the time. “If you look at how Sim City 4 is still relevant today, it’s mostly because of the mods. We’ve designed things to be moddable, and we’re using the same patching system from Sim City 3000 and 4. Glass Box is built to be moddable.”
How would you like to see modding implemented in SimCity? What needs turning upside down in short order by the community?