A few days back there was a big commotion over Valve’s attempts to launch a new premium mod service, starting with popular open-world RPG Skyrim. But the program was pulled after a negative reaction from the community.
While all the hoo-ha was going on, GamesIndustry.biz reached out to John Romero, director of Quake and co-lead on Doom – games which helped to inspire the modern modding community – to see what he thought of the idea of compensating mod content creators for their work.
What did he have to say? Well, quite a lot as it happens. Romero says that Valve was not actually the first company to consider compensating community creators – iD had considered exactly the same thing precisely two decades ago.
“I’ve always believed that mod makers should be able to make money from their creations,” Romero said. “In 1995, while we were making Quake, we had the idea to start a company called id Net. This company would be the portal that players would connect to and play other mod maker’s creations. It was to be a curated site, levels and mods chosen by us at id, and if we put your content on our network we would pay you an amount equal to the traffic that your content drove to the site. The idea was that players would log in and be in a big level that felt like a castle with lots of doorway portals and signage that explained where you were going and what was there.”
Romero said that the studio didn’t end up pursuing the idea because Quake was a handful on its own, and id Software needed everyone working on it to get it out the door – no one could be spared for the idea. Although id Net didn’t come to fruition, Romero still believes the idea could work. Then again, this is also the man that Daikatana was a good idea. Just saying.
“I still believe that creators should be rewarded for their hard work,” Romero concluded. “That’s what we do in our game companies, why would it be so different for outsiders?”
Just for fun, here’s a Let’s Play video of Romero’s baby Daikatana, courtesy of Youtuber Daniel Learmouth. Spare a thought for the poor guy.