id Software planned to pay mod makers in 1995

John Romero says studio wanted to implement a way to compensate creators in original Quake

Last week, Valve tried to launch a program that would see mod makers compensated for their work on popular games like Bethesda Softworks' Skyrim. However, a combination of logistical concerns and community feedback quickly convinced the company to pull the plug on the idea, at least for the time being.

In the window of time the program was running, reached out to Quake director John Romero to see what someone who helped inspire an explosion of mod communities thought about the idea of monetizing mods. As Romero revealed, Valve wasn't the first company to consider compensating community creators for their work.

"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."

According to Romero, the studio didn't pursue the idea because it needed all hands on deck simply to get Quake out the door. Even if the decision was a pragmatic one, Romero insisted the principle behind id Net is one he continues to hold.

"I still believe that creators should be rewarded for their hard work," Romero said. "That's what we do in our game companies, why would it be so different for outsiders?"

[UPDATE]: Romero later noted that id ultimately found ways to compensate modders. Final Doom included content from the mods Plutonia and TNT: Evilution, and id paid the creators for the use of their work. Additionally, Master Levels for Doom II included the work of a handful of independent level designers who were also compensated (and later hired by Romero).

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Latest comments (6)

Alex Bunch Proof Reader, ZiCorp Studios7 years ago
Next week Romero invents the iPad "I did really! Back in '82"
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Andrew Bishop Game Artist 7 years ago
"Last week, Valve tried to launch a program that would see mod makers compensated for their work on popular games like Bethesda Softworks' Skyrim."

I think both the article linked of Valve and this one, are brushing over the two real issue many people had with Valves monetization of mods, which was quality control and the financial compensation of the games mods creator.

Mod authors uploading content to steam workshop would have little to no process in the authorisation of legitimate mod and would receive no percentage of the income made up until past the first $1000 of sales. They would then only receive 25% of the earnings made.
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Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer 7 years ago
If those guys want to compensate mod makers, it's not rocket science.

The method is there. Has been with us for hundreds of years. It's called art patronage. Take in submissions at the paper stage and get involved.

Trying to get others to pay for it is like "Well, I want mod-makers to get paid, but I don't actually... you know... want to bother trying to understand whether any of these will work. Let other people do that...." And the other people in turn say "let other people get involved"... So everybody is waiting for someone else to get involved... So no-one gets involved.

(So they reduce it to the hazing ritual of having the mod-makers self-finance.)

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Tim Carter on 4th May 2015 7:37pm

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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 7 years ago
Well, it's certainly better than bootleggers dumping their WADs on CD-ROMs they were selling for $10
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Robert McLachlan Game Designer 7 years ago
id did pay some modders and mapmakers, albeit not via an online portal system. They put out several official level packs for Quake 2 at least, and I know some of the people who got around 1000 for the inclusion of their levels.

Not to mention Final Doom, and the official Quake expansions which were mainly created by teams of former modders and mappers.
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Chris Payne Managing Director & Founder, Quantum Soup Studios7 years ago
The first Quake expansion "Scourge of Armagon" was fantastic. Hipnotic Software's founders included legendary modders Paradox and Levelord. They either tweaked the engine or licensed a newer version which added rotating brushes, and the level designs made excellent use of them, including a memorable bit where you had to run through a rock grinder with rocks bouncing around you.
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