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Post concerning the ceased development of Mako Dawn. Questions and comments welcome.

Posted by JigsawPieces on May 5th, 2012

At the beginning of April this year I contacted Square-Enix, the IP (intellectual property) holders of FFVII, to ask for permission to develop the mod. Thus far I have received no reply. As the title says, development for Mako Dawn has now ceased pending a response. It is 'indefinite' in the sense that it may begin again sometime in the future. I will attempt to explain below as clearly as I can why this is and under what conditions development may resume.

Why?

As you may remember from the previous news update, I'd said that I would be writing a proper design document. In an ironic twist the very determination to create the design doc (and to complete the project) eventually lead me to the decision to cease development. As I researched design advice from professionals and experienced modders / indie devs alike I continually found that they advised against basing projects on someone's IP to which you don't own / have the permission to use. Chief among the reasons were that it is illegal for one thing, but also that it limits the number of developers you can recruit since they need to be competent and dedicated (something hard enough to find) and also very big fans of the IP the project is based on. Further, a project such as this can receive a cease and desist order at any time - I personally do not want to get to 99% completion and then have that happen.

Will Development Ever Resume?

It's possible. There are a few scenarios that could occur from here. I will outline my own stance towards each of them.

No response from IP holders

This is the current status of the project as I write this. In this status I will no longer be an active developer. This means that I will not be modeling, texturing, creating music / sfx, scripting, writing or anything else that may be defined as 'developing'. The resources of the project will be freely available to anyone who wishes to continue development. I will be fine with serving a brief consultant type role to any future developers of the project, which would involve answering any questions they may have about the inner workings of the project (explaining my file naming conventions, for example).

Negative response from IP holders

If permission to develop is denied, I will not be assisting the project in anyway. All instances of resources will be taken down if requested and I will update to inform the permission has been denied. Needless to say I'm not going to be affiliated with the project again if this happens.

Positive response from IP holders

In the event this happens my stance will be the same as if there had been no response. I will do an update to notify everyone that the project has permission to go ahead. Had I received a reply in the period between April 1st and now I would've continued, but as it stands I can't wait forever for a project to be given a go ahead. It is possible in this scenario that if I had the time available and wasn't working on another project that I might assist in development.


How Can I Continue This Project?

Download the mod and get started. Please do not harbour any hopes that I'm going to teach you how to mod. If you have a question about the GECK or FO3, ask it on the Bethsoft or Nexus forums. If you take over development I'll be happy to give you advice, but I'm not your teacher so again, don't expect that. Obviously project specific questions are fine. My addresses are on my profile page (I prefer AIM or GoogleTalk). Neomonkeus, a former developer, has stated he's willing to work with someone serious about taking over the project if that should happen.

If you prove yourself competent and dedicated I'll be fine with adding you to the dev group and giving you permission to upload to and use this profile. I will, however, be maintaining control of it at least initially to prevent any vandalism. Don't ask me for control of the page before you've even done anything because I won't give it. Demonstrate you're actually doing something first. There are also already forums and a domain name available to which the same conditions as the moddb profile page apply.

Right now only the latest release is available. Over the coming weeks (and possibly months) I will try to organise all the resources of the project and make them available. This will include previously unreleased content, some of which hasn't even been featured in images.

Final Thoughts

Well, it's been a long time. Some of you may not know that I've actually been with the project since August 24th, 2009. A lot has changed since then, as I'm sure it has for those reading. While it's unfortunate that I will not complete the project myself, I am satisfied that I've learned a lot along the way - a wide array of skills not only limited to creating games, but to interacting with people, as well as realistically assessing my own capabilities and short-comings and how to address this.

Before I finish perhaps some acknowledgements are in order. If it weren't for industrialpolygons there would've been no project at all. Additionally, much of my early modeling and texturing knowledge came from working with him. Neomonkeus, a former developer who currently hosts the project site and forum. Also, f7c64e (aka elegiac) who assisted me when I began learning web design and later scripting, among other things. Finally, the watchers of this project who offered their encouragement and feedback.

That's all for now. Again I'll stress that it might take some time for all the resources to become available - it'll be made clear when this goal has been achieved. I will be going my own way from here on - if you're interested you're welcome to watch my moddb profile. See ya :)


One last note: Please be civil in the comments. I understand some of you may be disappointed / upset and I don't intend to prevent you expressing as much, however, if you begin being rude toward myself or others you will be moderated. There may be legitimate comments / questions to be had and they shouldn't have to take a back seat to childish nonsense. This includes stuff like "fuk square you shuld just make it anyway bla bla". Thank you.

Post comment Comments
faulk
faulk May 6 2012, 3:07pm says:

BAIT AND SWITCH! BAIT AND SWITCH!

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faulk
faulk May 6 2012, 3:44pm replied:

For the record, I'll say that I never expected SE to give us permission to make the mod. Their silence about the mod's development was tacit approval, as far as I was concerned. :-)

+1 vote     reply to comment
Neomonkeus
Neomonkeus May 7 2012, 10:14am replied:

You were always looking for approval ;)

+1 vote     reply to comment
faulk
faulk May 7 2012, 1:49pm replied:

When was I looking for approval?

+1 vote     reply to comment
Neomonkeus
Neomonkeus May 8 2012, 8:52am replied:

From the strong man :D

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TheUnbeholden
TheUnbeholden Jul 11 2012, 11:47am says:

Personally think that they merely ignored your email because they don't care about this. In which case thats a good enough reason to continue developing on the mod, if you want to see it through and care about the project...

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JigsawPieces Author
JigsawPieces Jul 15 2012, 8:33am replied:

"Personally think that they merely ignored your email because they don't care about this."

Yeah, I also think it's likely the email was ignored, regardless of whether it was read. I don't, however, think that means they're okay with it. I'm of the opinion that given the multitude of start-up fan works they don't bother C&Ding projects until they look like they're actually going to be completed. I certainly didn't want to find out if that were true or not after investing hundreds of man hours into the mod.

+1 vote   reply to comment
TheUnbeholden
TheUnbeholden Jul 18 2012, 10:59am replied:

"think that means they're okay with it"
Well of course they wouldn't be, they are a corporation. They don't care about anyone but themselves. A corporation would just give a automated cookie cutter response about upholding IP. When this isn't about that. They are not losing any money by a non-profit project like mods!
This is about doing what you care about, a tribute to Final Fantasy. Like any number of those fan made videos or concept art! Why should mods be any different than that?

+1 vote     reply to comment
JigsawPieces Author
JigsawPieces Jul 20 2012, 7:33am replied:

"This is about doing what you care about"

Partly. If it were exclusively for me there'd be no problem. However, I was developing for myself and other fans. Moddb and nexus sites are how people find out about the mod, it's where media is shared and that generates the majority of new followers. I would not be able to have communication with the fans either because doing so would be to admit disobeying the C&D order, an illegal act. Secondly, I'd never be able to show my years worth of work to prospective (game dev) employers, because they (the employers) would then know that I continued development even after being legally required to cease, something employers are very unlikely to impressed by. It would also make me a liability to them if they were to hire me.

I don't think the "screw IP laws" attitude is the right way to go about things here. I see two broad options: either get permission to develop or evade IP laws and sacrifice 80-90% of the audience (in addition to other things). To me, the latter option would be incredibly bitter and disheartening. It's enough work developing without having to worry about illegal distribution. As I said in the original post, given the immense amount of time I was pouring into the mod or related endeavours (often hours per day) I really didn't want that to go to waste. Ultimately I decided I should be working on a project that I was in control of.

There was another paragraph I tried to add to my previous comment, but it was after the 5 minute edit limit. I can't remember the content, but it was basically concerned with explaining that I do care about the project. In some ways the project is intimately tied up with my own personal life and many of the rites of passage I've experienced were while I was developing for the mod. I really love the setting of FFVII (particularly Midgar), the feel, and its aesthetic, and I did enjoy developing for it. Sometimes you just have to let stuff go and it really sucks.

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