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Sigurð Stormhand

Why Delta-patching mods is immoral: a theoretical proof

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20 minutes ago, Sigurð Stormhand said:

In your example have you tried to contact the original author? A quick check of Nverjos' author page shows he added a new friend in February 2018 and was also active in 2017, he released his original mod in 2016, the year you originally released the patch on Nexus

Given that the original author was still active you had the opportunity to contact them and offer to take over the mod, rather than releasing your own patch. If you didn't try to contact the original author then your argument is invalid. You assumed non-consent, and by so-assuming you probably guarantee never getting consent. So, actually, this is a perfect example of a patcher going off on one instead of doing what they should have done - collaborate with the original author. That's the way to make better mods - not delta-patches.

Yes, I did try and contact him. With default settings, you can "add a friend" by someone else adding you as theirs. Most people I am "friends" with on Nexusmods were added that way, and I didn't feel a need to block/unfriend them. I think I have only added one person myself, but my activity feed would tell you that I added 15. If you ignore the added friends, the most recent activity from Nverjos was comments on Spring Cleaning, from a month before I made my patch. He has visited the site since then (based on the last active date, which is today), but hasn't so much as made a single comment on a single mod, and hasn't endorsed anything either. 

30 minutes ago, Sigurð Stormhand said:

It's a matter of what the patch contains and what the result is. The result is important, the method isn't really.

I disagree, that is probably the core of our disagreement on the issue of binary patching, and since neither of us is likely to change our views on that core subject we will never agree on whether or not Netrve's tool is "immoral". 

32 minutes ago, Sigurð Stormhand said:

I'm sorry, but I still don't see a legitimate need for this tool.

I laid out several pretty clearly. If you don't agree that porting a mod from LE to SSE while still requiring a mod user to download the LE mod, or fixing a broken script on an abandoned mod, are legitimate uses, then we will have to agree to disagree. 

35 minutes ago, Sigurð Stormhand said:

Are you aware that Bittorrent clients, and the protocol itself, used to have a 0% upload setting? That was removed quite some time ago to remove the legal loophole of "oh I'm only downloading pirated content, not uploading."

So, yes, you can use a torrent client for illegal purposes, but it's not possible to use one to avoid doing something illegal. This is the opposite of what Netrve is trying to achieve.

Pretty sure downloading pirated content is still illegal, it just can't result in as big a fine as uploading (i.e. "distributing") pirated content.

And I disagree that that is what Netrve is trying to achieve. Some people, like Arthmoor and I am assuming you, don't want an edited version of their plugin to exist at all, unless the mod user has made the edits themselves (manually, not using an automated tool). A lot of people just don't want their work being distributed without their permission. If we are talking about the Nexusmods permissions option "Give permission for users to modify my file; including releasing bug fixes or improving on the features my file adds to the game, and upload it as a separate file?", then is does not provide any info as to why a given option was chosen. 

44 minutes ago, Sigurð Stormhand said:

This point, at least, has some meet to it. xEdit does a lot of things, it isn't intended that you will use it to patch files to get around a modder's expressed wishes. Netrve has explicitely said they have created the delta-patch system because it is "safe" by which they mean "legal" where modifying the base plugin is not.

Netrve brought up the legality a lot because Arthmoor was specifically saying it wasn't legal. I read the entire discussion, in the various channels, from the moment Netrve mentioned his planned tool. You may have read it as an intentional circumvention of mod author desires, but it seemed to me like it was always intended to allow fixes (where needed*), without harming the mod author's copyright, by making sure the patches only include the changes required, and nothing else. 

*As he explained, it would be intended more for things that can't be fixed in a mastered plugin (like form version, TESSnip corrupted plugin, deleted REFRs), including any fixes that are not in a plugin (scripts, bad mesh, changing the slot a mesh uses so that two mods using the same slot are compatible, etc...). 99% of plugin-based patches would have no reason to use his tool, and most likely would be published as mastered plugin patches. 

43 minutes ago, Sigurð Stormhand said:

Good question - there may be a few xEdit scripts but in general, no. What seems to have changed, though, is that people are seeing binary delta-patching as a way to avoid doing things like contacting mod-authors or, you know, taking any regard for modders' wishes.

It's interesting, really, historically delta-patching hasn't really been a thing in Beth games becausae you can just layer plugins on top of each other and that's better than delta-patching because you don't risk damaging the original file.

There were never any tools for it, so it not being done in general is meaningless. Yes there is software that could allow it to be done, but that is not something the average mod use would even know about, let alone be comfortable using. 

Before Netrve mentioned making a standalone tool, the only mention of binary patching was in regards to WJ, with the primary intention seeming to be allowing mod pack authors to make direct edits (maybe for games without ESL support, but primarily for laziness on the part of modpack makers from how it seemed to be presented). Modpack makers are primarily making edits to create a stable build with a large number of mods, which aren't things you would contact a mod author about anyway (unelss you are the kind of mod user who think it is the duty of a mod author to make a compatibility patch for every mod in existence). 

The discussion of binary patching was so intrinsically linked to the discussion on modpacks in general that you can barely take any useful feedback on who people would view the idea of a standalone tool. If there was other discussion unrelated to WJ that you are talking about, please link it, because I hadn't heard even the mention of binary patching before WJ brought it up. 

And yes, you can usually deal with an issue by layering plugins. But I think that is why you are unlikely to see this tool used by that many mod authors**. You seem to think that the availability of this tool will result in a fundamental shift in how people make patches, with 99% of patchers rushing to use this tool (which is more likely to fail should a mod update than a regular patch, and requires more work by the mod user, even if it is just opening the tool and clicking a button), but I just don't see it. 

**by which I mean people uploading things to Nexusmods or similar sites, as opposed to people who download mods but have never uploaded anything

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14 hours ago, Sigurð Stormhand said:

Firstly, thank you for taking up the opposing case - I honestly appreciate someone to have this debate with.

This point is only relevant if the mod is solely an ESP, many mods will also include textures, meshes, animations etc. that are needed to make a mod work. In that circumstance you still need the original mod to make the replacer esp work and in that circumstance the delta-patch achieves the same as the replacer.

And to you! It is good and healthy to have such discussions around emerging technology in the community so thank you for getting back to me :) I didn't realise quite how long this post got, so I do apologise for lack of brevity.

Now I'm not sure if I've got the right end of the stick in the quote above - are you saying that a replacer ESP requires original meshes and textures whereas an equivalent delta patch does not? If so, the delta patch does in fact require the original mod regardless of what it edits. Say for example we are applying a single delta patch to the ESP of a mod with meshes and textures. It will need any and all resources that it does not change (e.g. textures, meshes), since the patch has nothing to do with them, and also the source ESP to apply the delta patch to. In another example, if we have a delta patch for each file in the mod (one for the ESP, one for each .DDS and .NIF), then the delta patch still requires all the original files as sources to act upon. Either way, unless the tool is being used fraudulently, the patch always requires the original mod to function.

14 hours ago, Sigurð Stormhand said:

I don't want to down-play the amount of work the patcher does, but I do want to emphasise that it's proportionally less than amount of work the original modder does - and so the investment is less. I think this scales with the complexity of the mod, which is to say the amount of time the patcher spends goes up as he works with more complex mods that modders invested more time in. It's important to emphasise here that the reason to use a delta-patch rather than a replacer or a patch esp is to circumvent the author's EULA. Under any circumstances a patch esp or replacer would be preferable - unless you don't have permission for such.

OK - so I can agree that the time investment is likely to be less for the patcher, that is true. But I think the importance of any time investment is only important if it is somehow compromised or negated by the actions of patcher. I don't think breaking the EULA alone compromises their time investment since the mod is still available, and is highly unlikely to suffer from any reduced traffic or alternate perception.

It is true that a delta patch can be used as a loophole around an EULA, but if the primary advantage was only to circumvent the EULA then we would see delta patching used for no-modification EULAs and ESPs for modification-tolerant EULAs. Instead we see delta patching used for both, because the format is better suited for automation and widespread deployment in modding guides and modlists, since it reduces ESP count and could potentially reduce the need for ESP merging. The disadvantage is that without an inverse delta patch, the process is one way. However, for cases where delta patches are useful and are most effective (e.g. modding guides, modlist installers), this does not matter as the user is following instructions to the effect of the guide author/modlist editor anyway. 

It is still my view that delta patches will primarily be used for compatibility and performance enhancement, within the environment of modding guides and modlist installers. This is currently how I deploy delta patches in my installer and is advantageous both for the patcher and the user, and makes no difference for the author. For example, I recently used Ordenator on my Oblivion modlist to compress textures and generate mipmaps for mods in the list, which has resulted in better framerates all around. With a delta patch, these changes can be collated automatically and applied to each mod with ease. The same changes are not possible with an ESP since the textures themselves are changed. I am able to include these changes in the list, users see a boost in performance, and there is no notable harm inflicted on the author.    

14 hours ago, Sigurð Stormhand said:

You note that the purpose of a delta-patch is to "improve" the experience for the user, but this is at the cost of violating the original modder's work. My argument is that the user's perceived benefit is significantly less than the potential harm to the modder. Any claim of harm to the user implies that they are entitled to have two mods not designed to work together in their load order and are harmed by not being able to have this. To be honest I see this as an unjustified sense of entitlement because the user exerts no real effort to procure the mods, as opposed to the modder who makes them and is entiled to recognition for their work.

Whilst financial harm is the most common type of harm cited in court cases there are other types of harm, such as harm to reputation or emotional/psychological harm. Further, the fact that you cannot demonstrate harm doesn't actually invalidate copyright - it simply means you can't assert it against someone. Also, it's worth pointing out that the purpose of copyright law is to protect the moral right which someone has to their original work. In this case I would argue the law is derived from moral reasoning, rather than the law being necessary to justify that reasoning. I'd also point out that your argument hinges on delta-patches being used for compatibility, but in most cases authors will allow patches for compatibility and therefore I think it is more likely that this will be used, as I said, to impose a different artistic vision on the mod. Further, I would note that I am not, and have not, argued that mods derivative of other mods are unethical or immoral. Others may argue this position but I am not - I am arguing that circumventing an author's EULA as a means to go against their express wishes is unethical.

I would argue that the in the majority of cases, original modders work does not stand to be violated. I don't think the user is entitled to a compatibility patch, but putting myself in the shoes of a mod author that is maintaining a mod for community usage, I can't see a reason to restrict efforts to achieve compatibility or further innovation by placing a strict no modification EULA in effect. It can't be enforced, since mods are not closed source - people will just download my mod anyway and pick it apart locally to get it working with their setup or to impose their own vision on it.

I also argue that from a wider perspective, the benefits of delta patching far outweigh the cons. Widespread usage of delta patching has and will continue to revolutionise guided installations, since their use effectively negates many hours of manual editing that users might have to go through to get a stable setup. Most mod authors allow for modification of their files. For the minority that uphold the no modification EULAs, their EULAs are indeed circumvented but with very little harm to them - no monetary loss, possibly even a net gain in reputation through increased traffic. In my eyes, the only perceivable harm is emotional, yet they must know that people are circumventing their EULAs anyway, just on a local machine, in xEdit, and not with a delta patch. And to me, if they do not want this to happen, the only way they can truly enforce this is by taking their mods down - which of course is not desired.

14 hours ago, Sigurð Stormhand said:

The accusation of Bad Faith arises not from the intention of the patcher towards the user but from the intention of the patcher towards the modder, and also his assumed refusal to engage the modder in constructive discourse (asking to make a patch or replacer). Most modders will allow esp overide patches and they are preferable to binary patches because they do not effect the original files. Indeed, one of the reasons we have not had binary patches in Bethesda games before now is that they are simply not necessary.

I maintain that violation of the original author's wishes is unethical and finding a way around their EULA or statement of copyright which is enforced by the Nexus and other service providers is unethical. Your argument assumes that delta-patching will be used purely for the purposes of compatibility but this is merely an assumption. You also apparently assume that the mod author would not allow patching for compatibility, or that the patcher is under no obligation to ask.

So I think I've expressed my views on this above, but just to re-iterate - with or without the EULA, ESP patches are not designed to be used at scale in guided setups. This is where the delta patch is truly beneficial. Delta patches are useful because they can do more than ESP patches (notably they can patch any kind of file, and do not inflate the ESP count), and require less technical expertise to produce - patchers can make the changes manually using existing skills that they have using xEdit, Ordenator, Wrye Bash, and then run a utility to generate delta patches for everything that they have changed. Thus I don't think the patcher is always acting in bad faith, if at all in most cases - delta patches are just the most comprehensive package with the easiest creation mechanism, so naturally they are favoured over cumbersome alternatives.

I will however state that my views might differ from that of you with regards to what users should have to seek permission for, which might explain how we see things differently. I don't think a person should ever have to ask a mod author for permission to generate a compatibility patch. It might be a courtesy, yes, but it should never be a requirement, since that hinders efforts to bring the mod wider appeal and is especially problematic for older games where mod authors have moved on and are not contactable. By extension, I don't think delta patches for compatibility (as I use them for) should require permission.

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I think to some extent with these tools and with others, the differences in opinion come down to a difference in philosophy regarding modders, mod authors and users. My view is certainly user-centric, I will admit, and focuses on mod authors as providers. For files I upload on the Nexus, I believe I have a responsibility to ensure that users get adequate support and can enjoy the best possible experience with my mod. I also acknowledge that I have a job and other life responsibilities to meet and won't always have the time to improve each mod, and so I maintain an open EULA so that users can take matters into their own hands to further the work of the mod with regards to vision and compatibility.

But I do acknowledge that this is just one way to look at it, and many authors prefer to present their work as is and for users to enjoy it in the way they intended. I can certainly appreciate that too and why they might like this to be the case, since they may have spent hours curating it to their liking. 

But to me, with mods that are readily editable with modding tools, it is inevitable that people are going to root around in your mod anyway - delta patch or not!

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17 hours ago, VIitS said:

Yes, I did try and contact him. With default settings, you can "add a friend" by someone else adding you as theirs. Most people I am "friends" with on Nexusmods were added that way, and I didn't feel a need to block/unfriend them. I think I have only added one person myself, but my activity feed would tell you that I added 15. If you ignore the added friends, the most recent activity from Nverjos was comments on Spring Cleaning, from a month before I made my patch. He has visited the site since then (based on the last active date, which is today), but hasn't so much as made a single comment on a single mod, and hasn't endorsed anything either.

So what did he say?

17 hours ago, VIitS said:

I disagree, that is probably the core of our disagreement on the issue of binary patching, and since neither of us is likely to change our views on that core subject we will never agree on whether or not Netrve's tool is "immoral". 

If the practical result is the same as uploading a new esp we should treat it as though the patcher is uploading a new esp, or a new nif file, or a new texture. The only differnce is that you still require the original file, but in practical terms this only matters if the mod only contains one file. Most mods substantial enough for people to patch tend to be more than just an esp.

17 hours ago, VIitS said:

I laid out several pretty clearly. If you don't agree that porting a mod from LE to SSE while still requiring a mod user to download the LE mod, or fixing a broken script on an abandoned mod, are legitimate uses, then we will have to agree to disagree. 

Again this comes down to a question of "legitimate", doesn't it? Got back far enough and Morrowind is the same game as SSE, basically. There are left beind assets from each previous game in the next, indicating they're all built from the same esm file.SEE is just Morrowind after 15 years of continuous iteration and development. So, is it legitimate to convert from Morrowind to SSE or would that be egregious? Oblivion to SEE? If you contact a modder who's still ogging in to Necxus and ask to port their mod and they say no or ignore you should you port it anyway?

17 hours ago, VIitS said:

Pretty sure downloading pirated content is still illegal, it just can't result in as big a fine as uploading (i.e. "distributing") pirated content.

And I disagree that that is what Netrve is trying to achieve. Some people, like Arthmoor and I am assuming you, don't want an edited version of their plugin to exist at all, unless the mod user has made the edits themselves (manually, not using an automated tool). A lot of people just don't want their work being distributed without their permission. If we are talking about the Nexusmods permissions option "Give permission for users to modify my file; including releasing bug fixes or improving on the features my file adds to the game, and upload it as a separate file?", then is does not provide any info as to why a given option was chosen.

I'm not quite sure what you point is here but if you're arguing that others should be allowed to edit my files even when I ask them not to I would respond by what right? If I produce a mural (legally) and someone decides to improve it with artful (biut illegal) graffiti that's illegal and a basic violation of my right to self-expression.

17 hours ago, VIitS said:

Netrve brought up the legality a lot because Arthmoor was specifically saying it wasn't legal. I read the entire discussion, in the various channels, from the moment Netrve mentioned his planned tool. You may have read it as an intentional circumvention of mod author desires, but it seemed to me like it was always intended to allow fixes (where needed*), without harming the mod author's copyright, by making sure the patches only include the changes required, and nothing else.

I was involved in that debate and Netvre made is very clear he doesn't consider the opinion of the original modder to be of any value, or rather in his "utilitarian" outlook the modder is just one person and the users are many - so the modder's opinion does not matter. This is basically communism. If Netvre wants to think that way that's fine but he's not entitled to use his skills as a programmer to enforce his ideology.

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3 hours ago, Sigurð Stormhand said:

So what did he say?

He didn't respond, and his permissions/description didn't say anything for or against allowing of patches, so I figured a non-replacer patch was fine. 

 

I am done with this discussion, at this point no new points are being made. You are just fundamentally disagreeing that my points have any validity, and I think that most of your arguments are grossly exaggerated examples that aren't truly comparable.  

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13 hours ago, layton452 said:

And to you! It is good and healthy to have such discussions around emerging technology in the community so thank you for getting back to me :) I didn't realise quite how long this post got, so I do apologise for lack of brevity.

Now I'm not sure if I've got the right end of the stick in the quote above - are you saying that a replacer ESP requires original meshes and textures whereas an equivalent delta patch does not? If so, the delta patch does in fact require the original mod regardless of what it edits. Say for example we are applying a single delta patch to the ESP of a mod with meshes and textures. It will need any and all resources that it does not change (e.g. textures, meshes), since the patch has nothing to do with them, and also the source ESP to apply the delta patch to. In another example, if we have a delta patch for each file in the mod (one for the ESP, one for each .DDS and .NIF), then the delta patch still requires all the original files as sources to act upon. Either way, unless the tool is being used fraudulently, the patch always requires the original mod to function.

I'm afraid you've got the wrong end of the stick entirely, possibly something has got lost in translation. My point is entirely the opposite, in the case of both the delta-patch and the replacer you still need the other files, so the delta-patch does not "protect" the original mod any more than a replacer esp - this is my point about the "effect".

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OK - so I can agree that the time investment is likely to be less for the patcher, that is true. But I think the importance of any time investment is only important if it is somehow compromised or negated by the actions of patcher. I don't think breaking the EULA alone compromises their time investment since the mod is still available, and is highly unlikely to suffer from any reduced traffic or alternate perception.

Well time*frustration=emotional investment. That's the point. This is especially the case in my work when the majority of the time is spent working on meshes, but it's also true with complex quest scripts and things like that. There's also all the planning and (again, in my case) research that goes into the work. Generally speaking the patcher isn't going to be doing much of this at all because he's "fixing" the mod.

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It is true that a delta patch can be used as a loophole around an EULA, but if the primary advantage was only to circumvent the EULA then we would see delta patching used for no-modification EULAs and ESPs for modification-tolerant EULAs. Instead we see delta patching used for both, because the format is better suited for automation and widespread deployment in modding guides and modlists, since it reduces ESP count and could potentially reduce the need for ESP merging. The disadvantage is that without an inverse delta patch, the process is one way. However, for cases where delta patches are useful and are most effective (e.g. modding guides, modlist installers), this does not matter as the user is following instructions to the effect of the guide author/modlist editor anyway.

In principle a delta patch is a ethically neutral - the key point here is that it can be used to circumvent the EULA and Netrve has been clear he wants to encourage this behaviour. On the topic of big mod-lists and high esp counts - well that's a whole different issue. It's worth noting that this used to be something remedied by properly authored compilation that synthesised different mods together. Looking back to Oblivion we had OOO, Fran's, and MMM, and later FCOM (EXPLODE!) that were all actually compilations, not mods authoried by a single person. These big overhaul modss did the rounds, got their permissions/used free resources, and built a solid foundation for your game that worked out of the box.

I am singularly unconvinced that mod-lists are better.

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It is still my view that delta patches will primarily be used for compatibility and performance enhancement, within the environment of modding guides and modlist installers. This is currently how I deploy delta patches in my installer and is advantageous both for the patcher and the user, and makes no difference for the author. For example, I recently used Ordenator on my Oblivion modlist to compress textures and generate mipmaps for mods in the list, which has resulted in better framerates all around. With a delta patch, these changes can be collated automatically and applied to each mod with ease. The same changes are not possible with an ESP since the textures themselves are changed. I am able to include these changes in the list, users see a boost in performance, and there is no notable harm inflicted on the author.

On a purely technical level none of this is wrong but the question still arises "Why not get permission?" A lot of retired modders are still "around" even if not visibly active. It's the mindset I have a real issue with here - the one that sees mods as essentially the property of the community rather than the author.

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I would argue that the in the majority of cases, original modders work does not stand to be violated. I don't think the user is entitled to a compatibility patch, but putting myself in the shoes of a mod author that is maintaining a mod for community usage, I can't see a reason to restrict efforts to achieve compatibility or further innovation by placing a strict no modification EULA in effect. It can't be enforced, since mods are not closed source - people will just download my mod anyway and pick it apart locally to get it working with their setup or to impose their own vision on it.

I'd respond to this by pointing out that any mod I ever released myself (there aren't many at all) always allowed the mesh resources to be freely used so long as credit was given. The thing is, allowing use is different to changing the original mod - isn't it? Generally the EULA varies depending on the purpose of the mod - most large mods allow compatibility patches, most "cornerstone" mods like the USSEP allow parenting and re-use of assets.

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I also argue that from a wider perspective, the benefits of delta patching far outweigh the cons. Widespread usage of delta patching has and will continue to revolutionise guided installations, since their use effectively negates many hours of manual editing that users might have to go through to get a stable setup. Most mod authors allow for modification of their files. For the minority that uphold the no modification EULAs, their EULAs are indeed circumvented but with very little harm to them - no monetary loss, possibly even a net gain in reputation through increased traffic. In my eyes, the only perceivable harm is emotional, yet they must know that people are circumventing their EULAs anyway, just on a local machine, in xEdit, and not with a delta patch. And to me, if they do not want this to happen, the only way they can truly enforce this is by taking their mods down - which of course is not desired.

I'd argue that the circumvention of the EULA and the violation of the modder's wishes is simply unethical. You acknowledge the emotional harm, so how can it be ethical to inflict emotional harm? You must know what happens to modders who are repeatedly emotionally abused by users and lack adaquate community support. They break and leave. Best case the community is deprived of their skills, worst case they take their mods with them. I've known many modders over the years who have chucked in the towel after a particularly nasty user or bellow modder really tore into them. Some of them remain active incognito - some of them are hiding in secret bunkers, some eventually come back.

Emotional harm is very serious - especially if your family think your modding hobby is just a silly little thing you do in the evenings. After almost two decades I've seen more burnouts, blowouts and meltdowns than I care to remember. So, emotional harm is nothing to be sniffed at - modders are people. You say that you don't want modders to take their mods down, yet this is already happening with modders moving off NExus to avoid the API and Wabbajck.

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So I think I've expressed my views on this above, but just to re-iterate - with or without the EULA, ESP patches are not designed to be used at scale in guided setups. This is where the delta patch is truly beneficial. Delta patches are useful because they can do more than ESP patches (notably they can patch any kind of file, and do not inflate the ESP count), and require less technical expertise to produce - patchers can make the changes manually using existing skills that they have using xEdit, Ordenator, Wrye Bash, and then run a utility to generate delta patches for everything that they have changed. Thus I don't think the patcher is always acting in bad faith, if at all in most cases - delta patches are just the most comprehensive package with the easiest creation mechanism, so naturally they are favoured over cumbersome alternatives.

I think if the patcher makes a patch without contacting the original author or makes the patch as a way to convince themselves they don't need permission then that's ultimately Bad Faith. I accept that the intention is to make a working guide for other people, but the result is still tainted in my view.

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I will however state that my views might differ from that of you with regards to what users should have to seek permission for, which might explain how we see things differently. I don't think a person should ever have to ask a mod author for permission to generate a compatibility patch. It might be a courtesy, yes, but it should never be a requirement, since that hinders efforts to bring the mod wider appeal and is especially problematic for older games where mod authors have moved on and are not contactable. By extension, I don't think delta patches for compatibility (as I use them for) should require permission.

I actually never said I wanted everybody to ask before making an esp patch - I actually think that's usually pointless. There are exceptions - the "Gate Crasher" plugin was designed specifically to violate Arthmoor's artistic vision and invalidate the work of the person who made those meshes. In general, though, I have no problem with compatibility patches.

Delta-patches are different though because they damage the original mod, which is particularly problematic if that mod for some reason becomes unavailable and the user doesn't have a backup.

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13 hours ago, layton452 said:

I think to some extent with these tools and with others, the differences in opinion come down to a difference in philosophy regarding modders, mod authors and users. My view is certainly user-centric, I will admit, and focuses on mod authors as providers. For files I upload on the Nexus, I believe I have a responsibility to ensure that users get adequate support and can enjoy the best possible experience with my mod. I also acknowledge that I have a job and other life responsibilities to meet and won't always have the time to improve each mod, and so I maintain an open EULA so that users can take matters into their own hands to further the work of the mod with regards to vision and compatibility.

But I do acknowledge that this is just one way to look at it, and many authors prefer to present their work as is and for users to enjoy it in the way they intended. I can certainly appreciate that too and why they might like this to be the case, since they may have spent hours curating it to their liking. 

But to me, with mods that are readily editable with modding tools, it is inevitable that people are going to root around in your mod anyway - delta patch or not!

The idea of mod-authors as providors is fine, I think the point that a lot of people are making and which is getting lost in the sound and fury is that modders shouldn't be forced to feel like they are providing a service. Modders are hobbyists, they make the mods for fun and release them to share their enjoyment of their work.

Admittedly, some modders also do it for the Internet Points, and the DP system has added a financial element which hasn't helped detoxify the conversation.

You're obviously right that people will much around mods, and this isn't a new thing. Looking back a few years ago it wasn't uncommon to see new people post screen-caps of stuff they'd done to others' mods; that's part of the hobbyist mentality. The thing that's really changed in the last few years is that users or neophyte modders have started to demand the right to share their work without any regard to the original author. You see this most on reddit but similar sentiments were being voiced on xEdit by certain people, notably Netvre and I consider that so be, well, just a bad thing.

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1 hour ago, VIitS said:

He didn't respond, and his permissions/description didn't say anything for or against allowing of patches, so I figured a non-replacer patch was fine. 

 

I am done with this discussion, at this point no new points are being made. You are just fundamentally disagreeing that my points have any validity, and I think that most of your arguments are grossly exaggerated examples that aren't truly comparable.  

Did you ever consider just building a new version of the mod from the ground up? The mod your're currently parenting does the same thing as another abandoned mod called Scrap Scarp. Then you'd have complete control and you'd avoid the potential necessity to change your esp into a delta-patch in the future.

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31 minutes ago, Sigurð Stormhand said:

Did you ever consider just building a new version of the mod from the ground up? The mod your're currently parenting does the same thing as another abandoned mod called Scrap Scarp. Then you'd have complete control and you'd avoid the potential necessity to change your esp into a delta-patch in the future.

I am now the sole active author for Scrap Everything. I was invited as a co-author by the original author (shadowslasher410), and she recently decided to take a break from modding and explicitly given me full control. That doesn't mean that a lot of people don't still want to use Spring Cleaning, mainly because it is not as encompassing as SE is. So the 10-15 hours spent learning about the precombined system enough to make my Spring Cleaning patch, beyond the fact that it is largely related to me being invited as co-author for SE, is helping the many people who like that mod. I wasn't looking for control or to change things, I was looking to make a mod I enjoyed work again, when updates to the game broke it. To build off your earlier analogy, my Spring Cleaning patch isn't spraying graffiti over a mural, it is finding the little pieces that have fallen to the ground due to erosion from the weather and securing them back in place so the mural can still be appreciated today, as the artist intended, even though the person who made it moved to a different state and isn't maintaining it.  

And I didn't really want to make a new version from the ground up, because one of the things I am worst at is balancing, so having someone else determine the recipe yields was perfect. Even with the updates I have made to Scrap Everything (several hundred objects added for the DLC to Scrap Everything's lists), I based scrap yields on similar objects for lists Shadow had made. 

 

And the biggest argument for patches in general: I have made a number of discoveries about the precombined/previs system that have enabled me to help quite a number of people. Without the time I spent making the patch for Spring Cleaning, I never would have learned anything about the system. The experience of figuring out what I needed to for that patch drove me to spend 50-60 hours figuring out how to make non-replacer facepaints/tattoos before the CK came out*. One of the things that I think is the best about the Bethesda, Gamebryo/Creation Engine modding community is that most people share knowledge pretty readily, and we build on the knowledge of others to achieve truly great mods that would never have been possible otherwise. So many mod authors I have talked to got their start by making tweaks to other mods (for personal use or release as a patch). Without the ability to open another persons mod to see how they accomplished a change they implemented, the TES/Fallout modding scenes would be a fraction of what they are today. 

Patches are a gateway to full, original modding. Fix-patches should be offered to the mod author first, I agree, but compatability patches, balance patches, and ones that just change a certain feature are not things a mod author should be expected to host. Yes, there are some assholes who actively and purposefully insult the original mod author, by they are by far in the minority, and should not be used as an excuse. 

*I finished less than a month before the CK was released, and honestly at that point it was largely a determination to figure out how to get it to work. It was largely wasted effort, since the CK makes it easy, but it did allow me to figure a few things out about the system/organization of face tints that helped with converting my facepaint collection (all facepaints in the collection were put in only after explicit confirmation that it was allowed in a pm to the author in question, since I have no artistic skill I didn't make my own) to work with expired's tint injection system (which allows multiple mods to add facepaints).

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