A commenter on the last post brought up an interesting issue - whether I'd want to receive comments, if they weren't positive.
This, I thought, deserved its own post; rather than being relegated to the comments basement.
The theory behind this was that many artists can't handle criticism. Okay, I'm a writer, and modder and general monkeyer-with of all things vidja gaem; but I don't know that I've ever been described as artist.
Several other appellations have been thrown on me over the years... just not that one.
So, this gets me thinking. I bitch a lot about what I term 'the complainers'. Do I really not take criticism well? Am I being dishonest with myself - saying that I want comments, when I really only want vapid, sycophantic praise?
Nope. Had me worried there for a second.
Let me explain how commenting and criticism in general works.
I don't get paid for this. None of us do - such things are specifically against the EULA we all agreed to when installing our games and our toolsets. Making money off of our mods is, in fact, a hefty violation of international copyright law.
So, when you criticize a mod, you are in point of fact saying: "Hey, I don't think your work is good enough to be given away for free!"
No matter how you word it, this is a blow to the modder's personal ego. It doesn't matter how long you've been 'sharing' work; how hard you did or didn't work on it; or how much you tell yourself you don't really care.
But, criticism can be good, as long as it's constructive. Once you get past the sting, you can start to look at the comment itself, and see whether their concerns can actually improve your work.
Case in point: I bitch heavily and often about people who "comment" only with 'your mod doesn't work!', 'your mod needs to be X before I'll consider endorsing it!' and of course my personal favorite, the thumbs-down with no comment whatsoever.
On the other hand, when Herculine or ttomwv or Fry or the good Sergeant or any of a dozen other people come to me with an issue - with something that they think could be done better, I listen. I sit down and consider it before replying. Is it possible? Would it really be an improvement? If yes, I try it. If no, I try to explain why it isn't viable.
Why do I listen to one group, but dismiss the other? It's all in how you approach it.
Constructive criticism. Don't just tell a modder that something sucks. Take the time, think about it, and give them an alternate idea; how could it be good/better by your standards?
There's also the secondary matter that some stuff just ain't ever happening in a game mod. The sad fact is that most players have never and will never mod. They have no idea what is and is not possible in a game engine; or how long something will take to implement if it is possible.
Because of this lack of practical knowledge, they come up with unreasonable expectations. Some people expect a mod to rival the base game itself in content and quality. Granted, the quality bit is easier to equal in some games than others.
Then, there's the matter of motivation and time constraints on practicality.
I'll cite you and example here. Many moons ago, ttomwv wrote plugins for the RR Companions Vault that expanded the sorter in the armory. One handled the items for FOOK2, and one for 20th Century Weapons. These were written early on in the respective mods' lives; when item counts were still comparatively small. By the middle of this year, each of the two mods boasted more than five hundred new items.
To make the sorters work, each item needs a minimum of three lines of code; sometimes four or five. Bare minimum, that would be fifteen hundred lines of code for each mod. Twenty-five hundred if you weren't lucky. Then there are containers to store it all, since the point of a sorter is to separate your loot automatically. 20thCW would need a dozen or more containers; FOOK2 probably many more. Then there's testing. Every single line of code has to be proofread. Every sorting option tested - which means collecting or console-spawning some of nearly every item in the game. Figure on about a 10% bug rate where a typo or mis-pasted line will cause an option to not work right, and you have to re-do fifty of those items at least once.
So, was it possible? Yeah, sure. Was I going to do it? Oh hell no. We're talking about a solid week of six to eight hour days doing nothing but coding and testing; and for what? Something I wouldn't even use - an "option" that I think is a waste of time to begin with?
So, the TL;DR version: criticism is fine; but think before you hit post. If you can't tell me how it could be better, just telling me it's bad probably won't get you anything more than dismissed.