Post news RSS Qualifying rules on Desura

We have just begun the process of accepting and denying games or mods on Desura and need your help.

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At the moment ModDB and IndieDB are user-made communities, which welcome all developers to submit and share the games and mods they have made. That works great and we won't be changing that policy anytime soon. With Desura currently preparing to launch, we are now going through that process again however unlike ModDB and IndieDB we view Desura as a digital distribution service which focuses on the really polished games and mods (i.e. reward the developers which truly put their heart and soul into perfecting their title). This means that a separate set of rules apply on Desura, which developers must pass to qualify and this is where we need your help.

Ignoring vs Responding

The challenge is that no one wants to be told their game or mod doesn't qualify - so most digital distribution services simply ignore the majority of applications and only respond to those they are interested in. While that would be easy to do, we view that as a cheap cop-out (is there anything more infuriating than having your email ignored?) so instead we want to tell developers the areas they don't qualify. But that is equally challenging because there is no easy way to say no and not everyone will agree with our reasoning so we want to come up with a basic checklist which we can give to teams. This way everyone is graded by the same criteria, and if teams want us to explain beyond the checklist we can.

Our Checklist

The first few points which we judge a game or mod on are easy, i.e. is your game legal and working:

  • Non-pornographic / illegal
  • Own full rights (i.e. no copyrights of others breached)
  • Bug free (mostly, release date is set)

The Grey Area

After this we hit the opinionated grey area, where the game might be great, it just isn't what we are looking for, and this is where it becomes a challenge for example:

  • Not unique
  • Not polished enough
  • Not suitable for our audience
  • Not enough content

What information should we provide in this checklist? As a developer how would you like to be responded to, good or bad?

Lancelot_59 - - 66 comments

Well how do you define "polished", "unique", "not suitable", or "content". They're mods. So inherently you can't expect a whole bunch of custom content to be made for every single mod (with the exception of maps of course). Unique...well Avatar's plot was very similar to Dancing With Wolves, and it turned out to be a pretty good movie. Being similar to something else shouldn't be disqualify a mod. If it's executed well, then why not? As for not suitable for your audience...who are you targeting? You clearly don't want anything too graphic, that creates controversy. But keep in mind this isn't (I hope) a service for children. The content thus should be in the realm of, but not excessively in the "adult" region. As for do you define polished? If a game is good, why not let it run? Let the fancy touch ups come in later updates? Desura could be a valuable tool for developers, letting them easily distribute updates, and get feedback on those changes. Perhaps have a development mode for mods?

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INtense! Author
INtense! - - 4,104 comments

Been similar isn't necessarily a problem, remember there are literally hundreds of FPS and all are fundamentally the same, and yet all attract different players.

However when the game is small with a basic gameplay mechanic what then?

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Henley - - 1,973 comments

For example tetris.

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*Don* - - 137 comments

I agree that a "Quality Control" system will not only make developers strive to make better content, but also help beginers undertand what they need to work on to a more global audience.

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blahblahblah12333 - - 526 comments

The first 3 criteria seem fair, however the "Grey Area" criteria seems a bit unnecessary since all of those qualities are relative. As they say, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

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FredDurscht - - 51 comments


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JasperHope - - 11 comments


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Magrathean - - 87 comments


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tadmod - - 98 comments

Perhaps there could be 2 "classes" of items on Desura?

For example, "Gold Class" would be a mod or game that has passed ALL the Checklist and Grey Area points, where as "Regular Class" could contain those that only passed the checklist.

Users could filter at will between the two, so that they may search between premium content if desired.

Btw, this is Tad (I applied for the job in Melbourne, lol)

Just my 2 cents.

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master_oli-p - - 1,462 comments

although I agree a quality control system is necessary, I'm not too certain about the criteria. If I was you, I'd simply remove 'not unique', because some of the best mods out there are re-creations of old games onto new engines. Of course if it's been done without the correct people's permission, then that's out of the question, but otherwise, uniqueness doesn't equal greatness.

For 'not polished enough', you could use a sliding scale system, where you take ten community made mods, and place them on your scale. So for example you find a really high quality mod, and place that at the 10 mark, and a really poor one at the 1 mark and so on. Then, every time you get a new subscription, you see where it fits on the scale, and every entry with a score above 5 you could allow, for example.

Suitable for audience, again necessary, bout it might make better sense to section Desura of into age groups, or gore levels, that way you'd end up with more mods in

And not enough content, difficult to define that one, especially if you're planning to allow betas and alphas. Obviously if you've got a mod with only one map in, then that's not a good idea, but modern day games are releasing less and less vanilla maps, (UT3 had like 7 CTF maps...) so it's only to be expected that mods will follow suite.

I guess you'll also won't a balance of content, some models, sounds, maps ect. I suppose you'll also have to be prepared for those mods which only target specific parts of a game (ie graphics and engine enhancements), not a lot of content, but masses of work and often a very enjoyable experience...

I guess the final thing you'll won't to avoid though is making Desura just a client ModDB, like you say you only won't the best of the best coming through. Perhaps then, you could implement a community voting system into modDB, where users can vote for one mod they think should be implemented, maybe every year or something...

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Expack - - 312 comments

I second this comment! Although I'm not a modder/game developer, I would like the ability to vote on what ModDB/IndieDB content makes it onto Desura.

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ChromeAngel - - 708 comments

You would suggest using the Moddb "community rating" as the basis for inclusion then?

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Expack - - 312 comments

Yes, I would. Potentially, the rating system could be expanded to include "Amount of Polish" and "Amount of Content", although I wouldn't really want to see the latter example appear - a beta isn't typically going to have lots of content initially.

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PompiPompi - - 115 comments

I think it's great to do the respond approach.
However, like others have mentioned, I do not understand why you need the "Grey area" criteria.
Everyone can agree on "bug free" and legal. But I am wondering what is the motive behind the other criterias.

Do you prefer having a small amount of games featured in Desura? So titles won't dissappear in the sea of games? But then, doesn't all the articles, user content and rating should make up for that?

With this approach you are going to end up with a portal that features the games all the other portals feature anyway. So what is the point exactly? You will obviously make money out of this, which is a good point. I just thought Desura is going to be a place for the little guy(there are little and big in the Indie scene as well).

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INtense! Author
INtense! - - 4,104 comments

It is a really difficult solution because we are rooting for the little guy here. It is why we want to provide feedback

...however do you have an iPhone for example? I find it crazy that they brag about having hundreds and thousands of apps and yet only 50 apps in the top charts get any coverage.

As a developer who spent ages working on perfecting an app - i'd find it annoying to have my app drowned in a sea of duplicates.

As a user I find it frustrating that when I want an app that does X there are hundreds of matches, the majority of which are quickly built. I know there is a good app in there, but finding it is a real challenge. Many times now i've brought an app with great reviews and description only to discover it isn't as good as another app a friend recommends a week later. It isn't a user experience I enjoy.

So if two developers have created games targeting the same users, but one developer has spent time making nice cut scenes and perfecting the game - have they not earned the right to be prioritized?

Having said this the fact that our system supports comments, user-reviews, news, dynamic galleries the better content should automatically rise to the top via community support.

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PompiPompi - - 115 comments

You can't fight clones. Especielly when many times an innovative and original game seemd to be an Ok game, while a clone added a little thing to the same concept and made this game shine.
There are many examples of "game changing" games, that after a little research you find they cloned some game that wasn't as successful.
Cloning is fair competition, and besides you can't really know whether a game is cloned or not. Because the original might be some game with bad marketing that no one have heard of.

You brought some important contradicting points. You said that games with good reviews and user content will become more popular, but you also mentioned you download apps to the iPhone with good reviews that dissapoint.
That means that user content isn't always accurate in predicting the game's value for you. Maybe we need something more creative. Maybe we need to provide smart gamers with tools to look for those little gems.

I will give you an example. Let's say Desura keeps track of how long people played games. You can have a query searching for games that don't have much reviews, but also have very few hours of gameplay.
This can help you find good games that didn't get much exposure.
Maybe you can have search like "I want a game that has little exposure", or "I want a game that users who like FPS games don't like, but users who like casual games like".

I understand the problem of users being flooded with information and unable to find something for their liking. But I think your solution of a select few people filtering games for the public, is not the best solution.
The best solution, if it can be pulled off, is having a large database of games, but also having very advanced, intuitive and complex tools for users to find games.

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Expack - - 312 comments

I agree with you on your idea for gathering game metrics for sorting purposes. Desura is supposed to be community-based, so providing the community with tools to find the best games is a must IMHO. However, I don't know how hard it would be to implement; taking a look at how Valve does it using Steam would be a good place to start.

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zoombapup - - 69 comments

For mods, I'm not sure it matters, because they cant charge for them legally, so you wont be asking people to pay. So you could have a user-vote system like on XBLIG.

For games, I'd hate to see this become yet another gatekeeper like steam where there is some random process where games get on the service.

But ultimately, you have to decide somehow wether the game fits on the service, or you have to have ALL games fit on the service and allow user voting of some form to filter the top games. Which isn't necassarily good either. Because you then simply start getting more and more of what a narrow audience wants (like you see with casual portals and hidden object games).

What I'm trying to say is that I hope you accept games outside of what you think will work for the audience, because that will ensure that the audience is broadly varying and wont lead to the inevitable narrowing of the market. It will likely happen over time, but better not to set it in stone right from the start.

Speaking personally, I think you could do well to have a bunch of TRC's like the console manufacturers. Those are basics that all games must follow (well, all apart from the manufacturers games sometimes). Things like accepting windowed/fullscreen, working in multiple resolutions, allowing music to be switched off, allowing players to remap their controls, working across video card manufacturers etc. Basic usability stuff mostly.

If you put in place a bunch of those kind of things, at the very least you will know that games on the service are playable from a HCI sense, even if you don't know about the quality of the game experience.

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ANtY93 - - 166 comments

I think that this qualify control is necessary but the grey area criteria are not very solid/concrete so its still not clear for developers.

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feillyne Staff
feillyne - - 5,816 comments

Not suitable for our audience

What does it mean? Could e.g. educational projects such as non-gaming simulations, etc. be left out?

The ModDB/IndieDB audience varies greatly, so the simple rating system (the content/age ratings) should suffice.

Not unique

Here "uniqueness" could be filtered by "partial conversion" or "total conversion" mods. But then again - there are a couple of high quality partial conversions.
In case of games that shouldn't matter - the game quality counts more.

Not enough content

Only the developper should decide whether the game content is enough. But yes, if some games lack everything except e.g. a logo and one simple level, that's right, perhaps it shouldn't be featured.

Here the progress speed should count more than the content itself. If devs show amazing progress in creating their game - and the content is high quality so far - their game should be definitely accepted into Desura!

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INtense! Author
INtense! - - 4,104 comments

You have to remember that nothing is set in stone hence the "grey area".

i.e. tetris is a super basic game but it kicks ***.

So lack of content does not rule you out, some games don't need content to be good. However if you make a FPS with just 1 room, well that wouldn't be good enough.

The inverse is also true. You might make hundreds of levels, but if they are tedious, not fun then the extra content isn't going to help you qualify.

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hermesdavidms - - 44 comments

i understand your point, its difficult to say, but easy to detect, that cheap feeling, as someone say, sometimes a clone just get a few changes that makes it a quality game, but sometimes its just a cheap fix to brag about with their friends..

as i see this, the goal is to fight cheapness, no matter how complex or how much content does the title has, as long its properly finished and polished and theres evidence of effort from the develepers its all ok, unlike many of the xbox indie games titles which just are cheap POS to try make quick bucks out of minimal effort,in which sometimes the developer couldnt be bothered to make a proper main or pause menu into his game.

i dont have an iphone but i have read that the app store suffers from the same problem of the majority of the apps are just cheap useless software

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HmTervapuro - - 532 comments

The first three, the actual checklist, is good, and logical.

The Grey list doesnt sound like anything concrete or real,
it shouldnt affect the actual mod qualification. I get the idea behind it, that you cant accept every crappy mod out there, but yeah.. There are some amazing mods out there that are just super-short, or shoot zombies, or ugly but otherwise really great, or... whats the target audience even about?

I imagine the grey list would work if it was like a "score" in the mod´s info, thats it.

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sparekey - - 6 comments

As a developer, I'd like to be responded to with some feedback and maybe some suggestions on what to improve in order to be accepted.

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formerlyknownasMrCP - - 892 comments

Grey area should be left out IMO since its alienating a lot of potential clients. A compromise would be to do as does and have a rating/comments/review system setup to enable customers to share their opinions of a product, so long as they weren't defamatory in nature.

This opens up a new channel for the developer to have feedback but also opens up the customers ability to warn other potential customers of a products failings and shortcomings.

You could however go as far to have an "offical" review of the product as to if it was of good or bad quality for the network. This would do the same thing without alienating the client.

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SEGIII - - 63 comments

Your checklist, I fully agree with.
Gray areas are...well gray areas :|

What exactly does it mean to "Be unique" and "fit your audience"? Not trying to be bashful or anything, but as of now, the Desura audience (Or should I say game list to be less stereotyping) mainly is about first person shooters, or some type of shooter. Most of them being derivative, but still of nice quality. Doesn't this contradict these rules in some way?

I think Desura would be truly amazing if a wide range of games were accepted, including Casual, puzzle, Platforming, and the like. I know, most people who play games (not all) simply look over these titles, and just go towards the action packed shooter. It wouldn't be a great idea to exclude these though. You would be amazed at how many games which stray off the beaten path end up being amazingly successful ;)
Maybe 2D games could be allowed (They would have to be polished and bug free as the rules state) Most people say such engines as Game Maker are only for beginners, and the games it produces are sub-par. That is solely up to the developer. I'm pretty sure most of you have played, or heard of IJI. Made with Game Maker, and worthy of actually being sold.

I appreciate how you say you won't ignore emails in response to a game, or mod not being categorized. It proves that you are open minded, and willing to actually help the developer improve their game in some way or another. Just my point of view.

And no, I'm not really a developer, I just wanted to share my opinion on Desura.

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Jack_Morgan - - 69 comments

I would begin by determining the 'nature' of the mod or game and working from there. Is it a total conversion mod? In that case it should be up to a certain standard in terms of art and game assets. If it's a simple game-type modification than art quality might not be so relevant but unique game-play becomes more relevant. A full game could be broken into similar categories. Is it a rehash of an existing format like another Tetris clone? Or is it a completely new IP?
These things are going to affect the weight of different elements in the 'grey area' so I would consider first sub-categorising different 'types' of games and mods and work out some rules for each sub-category.

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sparekey - - 6 comments

Maybe it's just something the community has to vote on in some cases, and keep the rules for grey areas as guidelines instead.

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Bluedrake42 - - 574 comments

how badass would this be if steam decided to buy this =D

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sparekey - - 6 comments

It would be totally unbadass. They would just strip all of its goodness and commercialize it.

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greenmachine - - 54 comments

you got caught with torrents on steam I'm guessing?

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Rakym - - 159 comments

A bit off-topic but as I understand it Desura is something like Steam but for mods?

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dsi1 - - 157 comments

For mods and indie games, yeah.

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dsi1 - - 157 comments

I'm curious about "Owning full rights", does this mean that a mod like Mechwarrior: Living Legends can't get on Desura due to them using copyrighted material, even though they have been given permission by the owners?

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INtense! Author
INtense! - - 4,104 comments

they dont need to "own" the rights but must have permission if they are creating a fan made game like this

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_dhk_ - - 416 comments

Overall I think it's a good idea. Games that aren't released yet should be judged that way, it doesn't appear to me like you won't go too strict about the rules just like only the 10/10 rated games can come to Desura. On the other hand, a good rating can convince admins/mods to allow a game/mod on Desura that may not have been authorised before.

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JohnnyMaverik - - 469 comments

Under these rules the full version of Katawa Shoujo wouldn't qualify... just sayin.

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gizzle - - 31 comments

I´d suggest that every mod hast to upload a vid to you showing off their "biggest" feature (maybe only viewable to desura devs) aswell as some pics of custom content if there is any. That should give u an insight about what what direction the mod is taking and if its worthy to pick up. You cant make a system that automatically dis-/qualifies a mod.

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Henley - - 1,973 comments

We will be playing everything that comes in to make our decision.

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jjawinte - - 5,067 comments

Aside from employing a " Dictorial " system of rules and definitions, that " grey area " will always be an issue for management in providing the highest level of equality and fairness to site contributers, and it should be. It is the place for exercises of purpose and integrity.

Beneficially though, this same " grey area " allows site management the opportunity of truly defining the personalities of their site(s) and is a powerful tool and key factor in progressing towards the goals of the positive evolution and growth of the site(s).

Being that ModDB and IndieDB are user-made communities, the bottom line is determining content rules and definitions which will benefit the communities and ultimate goals of the sites simultaneously. User input and opinions are invaluable tools in determining the most feasible steps towards this goal and while generously taking all into fair consideration with an " open door policy ", ultimately management must choose and implement rules and policies in the best interests of the site knowing full well that there's no way to accommodate everyone.

I certainly don't envy their position, but I'm honestly impressed by their sincerity in holding to the user-made ideology of the sites in the effort of striving to continuing to see that it stays that way in that everyone in the community is a voice in these decisions.

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BluishGreenPro - - 534 comments

I would be quite happy with reading a longer checklist if it meant that I would have a better idea as to how I should be making my games.
For example;
Is it okay to make a smaller game if you only intend to sell it for a very low cost?

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MrDev - - 59 comments

INtense, perhaps this is being over thought.

By playing and seeing a game you develop an opinion of a game. If some one submitted a game but the only screenshots of the game are of the torque engine as it's delivered. This game could easily filled as incomplete and needing more development. Same could be said of a game littered with screenshots of completed levels but the gameplay or ai were incomplete. I think there is fear of a bunch of RPG maker games showing up or mods that only re-skin a game. I don't think this would be an issue to tell these types submissions that they aren't a complete enough project to warrant being accepted. People will be taken a hand in the approval process and can tell when this type of content is showing up

Requiring that the product must be at a playable state makes gauging the polish easy to manage. Polish dives deeper than how much content is there or how well done is the content. Are there convoluted steps and additional tools required to set up the game? How difficult is it for a new player to become acclimated to the game?

Games that are purely not ready can easily be spotted. Just to name a few tail tell signs:
- Place Holder graphics (Goes hand in hand with inconsistent quality)
- Inconsistent quality (one level looks like it had a month spent on it where the next looked as if it had been thrown together the night before.)
- Hangs in game play (In order to proceed player must perform X action, but the player was never given a hint to do so, which leaves the player confused)

Examining that alone should help weed games out fairly, and if a developer doesn't clear that you can point out the flaws and tell them if those problems are resolved they can resubmit and be reconsidered.

You also posted "suitable for our audience" why not require developers to submit to a self rating system like TIGRS? Rather than say suitable be more descriptive about what content is in the game?

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iopzx - - 148 comments

You better let people to judge. I dont like the idea.

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Kizzycocoa - - 1,827 comments

I dislike the bugs rule. some good games have bugs in, and can still be good. and these bugs may be fixed quite quickly.

Take Minecraft for example. it's got a few bugs, some serious, some not. but, it's still an amazingly addictive game. but, the constant updates/bugs would keep it off of desura, if he ever did consider putting it on there.

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greenmachine - - 54 comments

as long as nightmare house 2 makes it to desura I'm happy.

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NSD4rKn3SS - - 9 comments

I think the best way to determine wich game/mod is good enough to make it to Desura is, that how much people interested in it on ModDB and IndieDB... ex. how much downloads it gathered through a week or two, how is it rated by the users and to inculde the WIP ones... how much news or media updates got posted, and how frequently

Combinate these informations, and you will see what's good, and what is not

In summary: Wait for a mod to be a little bit famous, a bit better then the basic stuff, then let it go on Desura.

Just like what we already have on it.

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Grega - - 1,607 comments

Well we sadly fall though on the copyright thing :(

To bad with all those enhancements to the old goldsrc engine :(

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Exevalon - - 2 comments

I think that most people commenting here are drowning in a cup of water. Though some others have come up with some good ideas or comments. And though I understand the questions that may immediately arise after reading the criteria, we need to take a step back and think things out for a moment.

Where as ModDB and IndieDB accept all manner of uploads, Desura aims to be the cream of the crop. To put things into perspective using cars as an example, consider ModDB and IndieDB to be your average to the top of the line Toyota or Ford, while Desura is your Lamborghini, Ferrari or Koenigsegg. Basically, they want top of the line AAA indie titles and mods that can stand on par with most commercial products put out there by big names. Can your mod or indie title stand next to an Epic, Bungie, Rockstar or SquareEnix title? Is your indie game or mod the next Counter Strike Source? The next Team Fortress? The next Plants vs Zombies?

But the biggest issue it seems has to do with Polish and Uniqueness. Polish and Uniqueness can mean alot of things, but it does not necessarily mean High-End graphics and no bugs though it can include that. Polish and Uniqueness means that what you did not only looks good but handles good.

I think a good criteria for a game to be uploaded to Desura in addition to what was already mentioned would be a trial/focus group that test-runs the game. And if they like it, find it fun, unobstructive to enjoyment and not pace-breaking, let it be on Desura. The trial group must be fans of the given genre and should number a good amount of people. And I think a good amount of time would be 1 week. Also, you should compare what other services use to decide which games get on their service and which not to benchmark your own criteria. XBLA, WiiWare, Steam, etc.

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TheGreyOne - - 1 comments

I like the idea of keeping with the user-controlled-content idea. Enforce the first three criteria, and then put the mod/game in a 'probationary' list. All the users of Desura can then see this list, and know the mod/game -might- go in later. Those willing to give the various 'probationaries' a try, can and then -they- can rate it in the broader 'gray area' value. After the probationary time is up, a general sense of the mod/game's value to the actual audience should be fairly visible, and a final decision can be made at that point.

This also gives the developer(s) a lot of user-generated feedback that can help them either improve their work for their later attempt if it's not good enough, or focus their attention on their next-big-thing.

*edit* Having an option for developers to opt out of this 'open beta' style probation, could be possible too. As long as they understand that the value judgements will be made by a smaller, possibly stricter audience (ie: Desura staff).

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