Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Moviestorm mods

During the 1.1.7 upgrade, we found that quite a few user-created mods (and, by extension, movies that use those mods) stopped working. In some cases, Moviestorm wouldn't even start with those mods enabled. That was a little unexpected, but in retrospect, perfectly understandable. As part of the 1.1.7 development work, we changed a number of things about the way our assets are constructed, so they now run faster, look better, etc, and we republished almost all of our content packs to work in the new way. Our experience so far is that if you republish the mods you've made, they mostly start working again.

Obviously we want mods to work, and we don't want to break your movies. The best Moviestorm movies couldn't have been made without mods: Cloud Angels, Chanel Untold, Death in Venice, and many more. That's why we gave you the modder's workshop in the first place, and why we're working on opening up a modder's marketplace.

However, we need to be very clear about one thing.

The bottom line is that we don't provide support for mods. As we've said before, the modder's workshop is still very much a beta tool, and you're using it at your own risk. If you install mods made by someone else, that's at your own risk too. If that comes across as harsh, that's the exact same risk we take: you're using the very same tools we are: the only difference is we get several weeks of testing against a new release before it goes out, which gives us time to find and fix problems in the background, while you guys only get to test the new code when it's already shipped.

If all you're doing is changing a few textures, or importing simple static models from Sketchup, you shouldn't normally have any problems at all. However, as soon as you start doing more complex things, and particularly if you're hacking into the code or the mscope file, you're right on the edge of the modding capabilities, and there's always the risk that the underlying code will change between versions and break your mod. What it comes down to is that if you're running with mods, you've got a Moviestorm installation that isn't what we supplied, and very probably isn't something we can test against. We certainly can't test private mods we don't have access to.

We'll do what we can to help you, but here's what you need to do to help us.
  • When you upgrade Moviestorm, switch off all your mods first. Try loading it up without any mods on. That way, at least you'll know whether Moviestorm works at all.

  • Once you know Moviestorm is working as supplied, re-enable your mods. If Moviestorm stops working, or your movie doesn't load, then it's almost certainly a problem with one or more of your mods. Switch them off one by one (or switch them all off and switch them on one by one) until you can find out which mod is causing the problem. We do know that some people have experienced problems simply by having a lot of mods installed, so it's worth disabling any mods you're not actually using, and see if that makes any difference. We've also had reports of some mods being incompatible with each other, so there's something else to check out.

  • If you're a modder, republish your mod and try again. (If you're using someone else's mod, go back to them and find out if there's a new version available.) We'd strongly recommend that when you publish a mod and put it on a 3rd party site, indicate which version of Moviestorm it was made with - that way if you're using a mod made for 1.1.6 and you're running 1.1.7, you know that's a possible source of the problem.

  • When you report a bug to us, let us know which mods you're using. If you know the problem is related to a specific mod, send us the actual mod file (or tell us where we can get it). If you can tell us who made it, and where and when you got it, so much the better.
Armed with that information, we can probably tell whether the problem you're experiencing actually means "Moviestorm doesn't work at all on my machine," or "this mod completely breaks Moviestorm" or simply "this mod doesn't work any more". That's a big, big difference from our point of view, and it helps our QA team enormously. It tells us exactly what you guys are doing, and will also help us make a better, more reliable, and more robust modder's workshop in the future.

We can't and won't guarantee you that we'll fix your specific mod or make Moviestorm work with it. We'll help if we can, but if there's nothing we can do, then our final position will be to recommend that you disable the offending mod and work around it.

What would be enormously useful, for us and for you, would be to compile a list of mods on the wiki and note against each which version of MS it was made for, and any known issues. Any volunteers?


Overman said...

"The bottom line is that we don't support mods."

Perhaps a better way to say this is: "The bottom line is that we don't provide support for mods." The original can be interpreted as we don't support (as in approve of / sanction) the act of modding, which is of course not the case.

Matt Kelland said...

You're right, and I've edited the post so that it now says that.