What’s up recently with all these bad, rotten attitudes coming out of our hobbies in recent time? I realize for the most part these situations are not new, for the past several months I’ve been somewhat focused on the Farming Simulator side of the simulation gaming hobby and haven’t spent a great deal of time reading content from the other areas. However, in just the past few weeks I’ve been reading up on topics related to the flight sim hobby and just truly amazed at the rotten attitudes I’m seeing and hearing.
In the past several weeks, we’ve heard from one after another mod developers dropping out from the Farm Sim mod community due to a variety of reasons. But mainly these reasons can be categorized under mod theft and abuse. I’ve discussed this ad nauseam both in written form (on this blog) and in verbal form on the GrizzlyBearSims YouTube Channel. I really don’t know what else to say regarding these topics other than we (those of us who truly care) need to do our best effort to help the newcomers to our hobbies. The more we demonstrate good behavior, positive attitudes etc. the better our communities will become. But unfortunately…not all communities are created equal.
I’ve been involved in the flight sim community even before the internet age. But just about as far back as I can remember, there’s been a cancer brewing inside and this cancer comes down to ego and attitude towards newcomers to the hobby. It’s somewhat funny in a way, the flight sim community have been begging for more modern versions of our platforms to be developed. Just as I blogged about on Saturday, history will claim “2017 A Great Year for Flight Simulation”. With new versions of both Prepar3D and X-Plane, plus the much anticipated entry from Dovetail Games….you can’t argue that there is no better time to become involved in Flight Sim than the here and now. But with all these new entries, the saying of “If you build it, they will come” will prove to be very true. But what will these newcomers think of us old curmudgeons?
Bad Attitudes, Bad Communities
As is the case in all the general simulation gaming communities I’m involved with, there are some good ones, but there are a ton of rotten ones where the cancer of individual bad attitudes is just boiling over. The truly sad thing is for the most part the admins and moderators of these various communities in many ways are the major source of the cancer as they either refuse to do their job or even worse, they contribute to the overall sense of negativity.
Whether you want it or not, updated releases of our popular simulation based games will generate brand new interest in these hobbies. In addition, for those of us who produce content on YouTube, Twitch etc. we are also very much a contributing factor of this revolution. After all, that’s one of the main reasons I created my YouTube Channel.
It’s always been my policy to not use my blog or YT channel for negative purposes, so with that said…I’m not going to “Call Out” by name or slander the communities I consider to be negative. But later in this article I will mention one very good community which I not only belong to, but I also serve as an admin.
Want to know one of my biggest pet peeves with the various communities attempting to support these simulation game interests??? Well, I’m going to tell you. My biggest pet peeve is when someone (anyone) asks a question in a forum or community and the response they get is to berate (scold/criticize) them for not taking the time to search or Google for the answer themselves.
When I run into these types of situations I truly feel like asking the owner of the community specifically why they even bother running their forum/community? After all, isn’t this the reason why we have forums?
I realize there are certain individual types out there that simply expect everything be handed to them. These are the types of people that instead of trying to learn something on their own, they simply want (and expect) others to do the hard work for them. These types are easily identified and should be handled on a individual basis. But this is a small issue overall. I truly believe that most individuals do try to search first before asking, but sometimes (actually more times than not), the search results can create more confusion for the new person.
In just the past week some news broke in the flight sim community regarding a piece of software which had historically been distributed as freeware or donation ware. However, due to real world issues the original developer of this software either didn’t have an interest to develop it further, didn’t have the time or perhaps some other reasons. In any event, the software was going to essentially die the slow death.
The software in question is called Prepar3D Tweak Assistance (PTA). Basically it is a software tool to allow flight simmers to automate the tweaking and fine tuning of different configuration parameters in P3D. As previously mentioned, the developer of PTA made the decision not to further develop PTA for the brand new 64 bit Prepar3D version 4 flight simulator.
However, another interested party stepped forward an offered his expertise and even offered a dollar figure to purchase the original source code of PTA with the idea this individual would carry the torch forward to keep this tool alive and well for years to come. With his original offer, this individual planned to continue to leave it as donation ware…but to bring a long-story somewhat shorter, the offer was rejected and after some time the parties agreed on a new offer. But with this new offer being a larger investment, the decision was made that it would change from freeware/donation ware to a payware product.
OMG! You would think some how this decision was going to end the world as we know it. This decision would also lead to catastrophic flooding, the return of the plague etc. etc. The reaction this news should have received was “Thank You” for stepping up to save an extremely valuable tool.
Folks, stuff happens. Plans change….it’s part of life. While I often think back to the days in the flight simulation hobby where awesome things (aircraft, scenery, utilities etc.) were created/developed and openly shared with everyone…many times these things always died the slow death because the original developer simply lost interest or life simply took over.
While I had never used PTA, I did purchase it when I came out and WOW…Just absolutely WOW! It has truly been worth the small investment and I’m extremely thankful to Matt for rescuing this wonderful tool and making it available. If you are a P3D v4 user and interested in the PTA tool, learn more here.
Please and Thank You
While I’ve discussed some things that I feel the leaders within our communities could do a better job controlling, we’re not all innocent. We all need to remember the manners we were taught in our young age. Please and Thank You are two of the most important words we can say and if you’re going to say them….you need to mean it.
Earlier in this article, I discussed some of the issues concerning many of the various communities designed to support a particular simulation interest. A community which I’ve had the pleasure to be a part of and also serve as an administrator and moderator is PC-SG. PC-SG was launched just over two years ago and has become an extremely popular community supporting various PC simulation gaming subjects including Farming Simulator, Truck Simulator (ATS/ETS2) and even Flight Simulator. Our team of moderators/admins are the best in the business and we’ll never criticize for asking questions. While much of the conversation in recent weeks has been related to farming, I’d really like to invite those who may be new to Flight Simulation over to PC-SG and help us build up the interest.
The title of this blog post ends with the word “Hobbies”. Hobbies are meant to be fun, relaxing, entertaining etc. etc. While I enjoy the ultimate realism these hobbies provide to us, we all need to relax and understand that most involved have lives outside of the gaming hobby (myself included). Our individual lives including our work, school, family, health etc. SHOULD ALWAYS come first.
Until next time…
Happy Simming and be cool….
In recent days, we’ve heard of even more mods being ripped off and uploaded to questionable mod sites without the original mod authors permission. In many cases, the individuals who are perpetrating these offenses may also edit out any credit to the original mod author and some will even go so far as to take credit for the work themselves. These acts are killing our hobby and often lead to two possible outcomes with the first being the modder simply quits modding, or an even more damaging action is to take his/her mods underground where only a select few individuals/friends have access to the work. I actually view the underground/privatization of mods to be more damaging to the hobby than the modder actually quitting, simply because it limits the audience who can have access to the work. In other words, this action punishes those who just simply want to enjoy the mods which of course is the intended action.
What can be done?
In today’s environment, the short answer is nothing! Until there is a secure and reliable system in place which would allow a mod creator to lock, protect, encrypt his/her work AND the software intended to be used with these mods (Example: Giants Farming Simulator 17) offers the mechanism to recognize an authentic mod and ignores un-authentic mods, absolutely nothing can prevent these types of crimes. YES!!!! Absolutely, these are crimes.
Mitigating Steps can and should be considered
While it is true that nothing at the present time can be done to stop the mod theft we keep hearing about, there are steps we can all take to help protect and support our modding community. The first one is actually rather simple and doesn’t require a lot of effort. It’s something we should have all learned at a very early age and it’s called “showing appreciation”. I think the vast majority of modders fully understand their work will be subject to theft. However, I think often the issue might be that we as the majority who make up the user community don’t always show our sincere appreciation of the hard work our modding community does for us. Often times we act like a bunch of spoiled brats by bugging the modding community asking stupid questions like “When will X Mod be available” over and over and over. Or even worse, we too easily criticize these works because they don’t work, look or function the way we want them to. Guess what people??? Just like my favorite artist, Peter Paul Rubens, The modder who most likely created that mod, created it in his/her vision. They didn’t create it just for you. So please keep this in mind. Also, I would challenge everyone to say “THANK YOU” to all the mod creators you know or come into contact with. A little act of kindness goes a TREMENDIOUS WAY!!!!
But what else can be done????
So here’s where this article will better match up to the title or subject line. Keep in mind there are dozens and dozens and perhaps even more mod hosting websites on the internet. Which are reputable and which are not? Where can you go to ensure you are downloading an authentic mod which hasn’t been stolen and posted elsewhere? I’m going to share my list of sites which I use and why I use them. But before I do that, let me also recognize that some mod developers may host their own mods on their own website. Two really awesome mod developers come to mind and they are Blacksheep Modding and GTX Mods. This blog posting is more geared towards the hosting sites which are not privately operated and the list of those will now follow.
Giants Mod Hub
The Giants Mod Hub for obvious reasons is my top “go-to” mod site for FS17 mods. The mods uploaded to the Giants Mod Hub are controlled by Giants and while a mod might be uploaded which has been tampered with without the original mod authors permission, Giants will quickly remove it when they have been made aware of the offense. The simple fact that mods can be downloaded/installed/updated directly from inside of Farming Simulator 17 is also a really big plus. While I wish Giants would further develop their mod distribution system to allow for searching and perhaps would organize the mod listings in the same fashion as the game organizes them, would certainly serve as a huge benefit to the users.
I’m not only a proud member of PC-SG, I’m also an admin and part of the management team. I know the owner of the website and other members of management very well. Each of us are active in the simulation gaming community and each of us has a passion for helping others. Last year I wrote a detailed piece about the PC-SG Community and every word of that continues to stand today. But even since that article was written (11 March 2016) we have expanded our mod hosting capabilities by creating our own Mod Review and Testing Team. The individuals who make up this team are all outstanding individuals and many are also mod developers. All mods hosted on PC-SG are stored on our own fast/efficient servers. We don’t bombard you with rude and crude internet pop-up ads and we don’t throttle our download speeds. We have earned the respect and trust of some of the best modders including Stevie, Blacksheep Modding, Johnny Vee, SOB Modding (just to name a few).
Like PC-SG, Mod Central is operated by individuals who truly care about our hobby and community. They have a very professional and easy to use website and offer mod downloads both hosted on their own servers and also some linked to external sources. Mod Central also offers a friendly member forum to ask questions and obtain support for many of the mods hosted on the site. Modding Central is also a partner with PC-SG. The people behind Mod Central are some of the most talented individuals you’ll fine in our hobby.
American Eagles Modding
American Eagles Modding (AEM), is another friendly community with member forums and a variety of mod downloads. Typically if I’m looking for equipment for an American style map, I’ll first look to AEM. Many of the John Deere pieces of equipment I feature in my YouTube “Let’s Play” series were downloaded from AEM. AEM hosts their own mods and I’ve never experienced any delays or rude pop-up ads when using their website. Like PC-SG, AEM also has a review and certification process for mods uploaded and hosted through their servers.
Finally, FS-UK rounds out the list of my typical “go-to” websites when searching for mods. I like their mod organization where I can see both new and trending mods and also search based on the version of Farming Simulator. In addition, they also include a member forum and some of the best modders will feature their “Work In Progress” mods on FS-UK. FS-UK also has a mod review team and I believe they work hard to test and certify many of the mods hosted on their website.
While Marhu.net may not be as user friendly for us English only speaking individuals as others I’ve previously listed, but with a little effort and using the right internet tools we can still do OK in navigating their website. Some of the very best mods for Farming Simulator will be posted to Marhu.net by their original mod creator. Unfortunately, the mods listed on Marhu.net most likely will be hosted somewhere else with a link provided to that location. These links may direct you to a dropbox location or perhaps to another mod hosting website. In some cases, the link will take you to a mod hosting website called uploaded.net. Now if you are a subscriber of my YouTube Channel then you know I often (and very frequently) opine about my dissatisfaction about uploaded.net. I have my reasons and for the sake of educating my viewers, I’ll share this information in just a few minutes. Keep reading!
If you are an active mod user, you may be thinking that I’ve left out a long list of other mod hosting websites. Some might be accidental, but some have been omitted intentionally. For sake of overall professionalism and courtesy, I’m not going to call out or blacklist particular websites or mod hosting services. As stated, there are many…but most do not go to the same level of not only safe guarding the original mod author, but also safe guarding the individual user from extreme internet pop-up ads, click-baiting schemes and possible mal-ware infested server downloads. I’m not opposed to internet advertising as it does cost real money to operate a website with the server capacity to host mods. However, I believe some of these websites could dial down the amount and type of pop-up advertising they are subjecting their visitors to.
But are any of the sites not mentioned used by the original mod creators? Yes…absolutely! You’ll find mod developers using a variety of mod hosting websites which I have not listed by name. I may also visit these sites and very often will download mods. If you look through my extensive mod list, you’ll see links to many of these sites I’m referring to in this section. Are 100% of these mods genuine? Keep reading to find out.
Now just a few moments ago I spoke about uploaded.net and how truly irritating that website is. I don’t know who operates that website, but I believe it is safe to say that they are only in it for the $$$. Meaning, I don’t for a minute believe they care anything about the gaming community or the users. They subject visitors to rude and often times crude internet pop-up ads, click-bait ads and throttle their download speeds for non-paying subscribers to something resembling that of an old school 1200 baud modem. Again, while I’m not opposed to supporting the costs of running websites and server hosting sites, the cost of membership for uploaded.net is expensive (in my opinion). Uploaded.net premium membership fees start at $5.99 for 48 hours of access, $10.99 for one month, $27.99 for three months on up to $108.99 for two years.
Of course, the above mentioned fees are also being shared with those who upload mods to that website. Meaning, a mod developer who uses the uploaded.net website to host his/her mods will earn a small fee for the number of downloads. I’m not going to get into whether this practice is right or wrong. I’ll let you decide based on your own feelings whether this is a good or bad idea. But I will just remind you, that Giants also rewards the top mods (and their developers) with a small monetary compensation. You can read more about that here.
Verifying Authenticity – Can it be done?
Short answer, yes….longer answer is not easily and certainly not with any absolute accuracy. The reason behind the longer answer goes back to what I mentioned earlier. At the present time, there are no security measures in place to prevent someone/anyone from making changes and/or uploading elsewhere. What I’m going to say next might be somewhat out of character for me. But for most mod violations where simply a mod has been downloaded from the official location and uploaded elsewhere, the individual doing this is just simply too ignorant to edit the mod to strip away the actual ownership/credit information contained in the mod. They simply download it and upload it to another site and pretend they are the original creator of the mod. While it takes some effort to verify this information and of course the mod needs to be downloaded to confirm, it certainly can be done. But in many cases the operators of these websites are too slow to act in taking down the unauthentic mod and the damage is already done.
I ran into a situation a few months ago where I created a YouTube video to showcase a popular mod. The video contained artwork which I had created to use as the title and thumbnail artwork, this artwork also contained my YouTube name of GrizzlyBearSims. Another individual after watching my video, decided to download the mod then take a screenshot of my video logo and upload that to another mod hosting website. Another YouTube content creator discovered this and mentioned it to me. At first I wasn’t going to do anything about it. But after careful consideration I determined this could confuse someone into thinking I had uploaded the mod and I didn’t want to set that impression. But it took me several emails to the admin of the website to have the mod removed.
As I stated at the top of this article, at the present time NOTHING can be done to stop the abuse and unauthorized distribution of mods. While we can list out every reason why this behavior is bad for our hobby, at the end of the day it is left up to each and every individual (YOU and ME) to do the right thing. Doing the right thing is more than just not stealing and uploading mods without the consent of the individual mod developer. I believe it is just as bad to continue to use a mod you know has been compromised, yes…even privately. Finally, as a YouTube content creator…I believe we have a responsibility to never violate the trust of our modding community by using mods of questionable backgrounds in our videos and live streams. While I pride myself in maintaining a current mod spreadsheet which lists each and every mod I use, along with the location where the mod can be downloaded from…I will happily place my right hand on a stack of Bibles and swear that (to my knowledge) each and every mod listed is genuine and hasn’t been compromised. But in an effort to do everything I can to protect the modding community, I plan to perform an extensive review and will remove the physical mods and the listing which I can’t be certain of. Will you do the same???
Thank you Mod Developers
To any original mod developer who may be reading this article, I believe I can speak for the vast majority of enthusiasts who dearly love and treasure the hard work, dedication, attention to detail and passion each of you put into your works of art. Many of us just simply can’t do what you do. Even some of us (myself included) just don’t have the desire to learn…it’s just not something we are interested in doing. But we genuinely recognize how your pieces of work (regardless of how little or big they are) change the game play for us in such awesome ways. Farming Simulator is an awesome game. But without mods, the game wouldn’t be as enjoyable and exciting and certainly wouldn’t be so over a long period of time. Your mods allow us to lose ourselves in our own little virtual worlds and in my opinion, is better (and less expensive) than any shrink on this planet. Please don’t stop creating. Please don’t take your mods underground. Please know that we love what you do (even though we don’t always show it) and know we will always support you.
Until next time…
Happy Farming!!! (with authentic mods only)
If you’re like me, you desire to participate in internet forums or communities along with likeminded individuals for the sole purpose of learning, sharing knowledge or for just good ole camaraderie with good people. While there are communities just for the farming folks, or for the truckers…there are very few which are geared towards all things simulation gaming. And let’s be honest, if you truly enjoy simulation based gaming…you more than likely are farming, you are trucking, you may also be flying, driving a train, a bus…etc. Of course, another issue with some online communities has to do with their heavy handed moderation tactics which in my opinion just says “UNFRIENDLY”. As I’ve become older, I’ve found I have very little time for these types of places and tend to avoid them like the plague. But…there is a place that is different.
Please allow me a few minutes to share with all my readers of the GrizzlyBearSims Blog, a wonderful community which is dedicated to all things simulation. The community is called PC-SG. The PC-SG site is managed by a wonderful individual named Stuart who is based in the UK. I first learned about PC-SG last summer as Stuart was launching the community. Stuart asked me if I would be interested in joining and helping him with some moderation duties and writing content. I gladly accepted and really enjoyed my time assisting. Unfortunately, I had to take a few months away due to personal reasons…but returned to PC-SG and have also resumed my staff duties as well. I’m truly honored Stuart kept my seat warm during my absence.
I truly believe PC-SG is a different kind of community, built and designed for a different breed of gamer. Stuart himself is an avid simulation gamer and passionate about helping others. After all, he created PC-SG just for the sole purpose of bringing like minded individuals together who enjoy simulation based gaming and want an online place to call home. At PC-SG you’ll find others who share your enthusiasm and interest in simulation games including Flight Simulator, Train Simulator, Farming Simulator, Truck Simulator and more. At PC-SG you’ll also find extremely talented individuals who have taken their love of simulation games and combined it with their creativity to produce some of the best mods on the internet.
I think I can speak for Stuart when I say, we want and need others who share our level of passion and enthusiasm. If you enjoy PC Simulation Gaming and looking for others who also share your same interests, then head over to PC-SG and register for an account. Then…stop by the forums and introduce yourself.
Thank you for your time and I’ll see you at PC-SG.
Have a great weekend!