Addressing Mod Developer Concerns Expressed in "The Problem With ASF."

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Mod Developers,

Before we get into the reason we're here, we feel it's important to give a background of what we've done over the last three years:

Nearly three years ago, we finished work on Donut Mod 3: The Seaside Update and shipped it on July 12th, 2015. At the time, it was one of the biggest mods available for The Simpsons: Hit & Run, but compared to what is now possible, it is vastly inferior.

Shortly after the release of Donut Mod 3: The Seaside Update, we began working on what was originally Donut Mod 3.3, revisiting Evergreen Terrace for some conspiracy hunting with Marge. We soon began making small tweaks to Level 4 to try to make our mod stand out compared to the original game. Once we made tweaks to the original map, we decided this wasn't the route we wanted to go and subsequently released Level 4 Map Tweaks.

We began looking into how to make custom maps and eventually released two maps that are no longer supported by or available from Donut Team, the two maps being Luigi Circuit and Jungle Falls respectively. The new tool, Lucas' Simpsons: Hit & Run Model Builder (also known as "The Map Builder"), has been used to port four of the maps from The Simpsons: Road Rage as well. The maps were used in Donut Team's Road Rage Returns (2016) and in community mods like Metal Arms in Springfield.

Once we were able to make custom maps, it was time for Donut Mod to shine and we were ready to develop a fully original map that feels similar enough to the original game. And oh boy, did we go to town on this. We've said in the past that Donut Mod is our test mod, which some community members think is a just a joke. That statement is no joke however, we use Donut Mod to test all new features we add because we find it important that if we add something, we test it in what we want to be our flagship mod. Over the last few months, we've heard various community members have worries and complaints about upcoming features we will be adding that all mods will be able to make use of. Today we're going to explain what we're making and address how we feel it will impact mods currently in development and future mods after that.

On June 17th, 2018, community member @Sammy shared with us their opinion on the upcoming hack "Additional Script Functionality", also known simply as "ASF". ASF adds new functionality to missions in Hit & Run and allow many new possibilities. You can view the original thread by Sammy here: donutteam.com/forum/topic/1885/.

Additional Script Functionality (Or ASF for short) is a new hack coming with the release of Donut Mod 4 that adds brand new script commands to make for missions
Sammy123
We want to address that ASF's release has not yet been determined, though we are working on potentially releasing it before Donut Mod 4. To know what to expect, we are in the process of documenting the hack before it is even released. You can view more information on our documentation site, though please note that everything is subject to change: docs.donutteam.com/books/lucas-simpsons-hit-run-mod-launcher/page/about-additional-script-functionality.

Something like this will completely change the face of modding forever, but in doing so new mods that do not utilise this (such as mods currently in development) will become obsolete, and primitive in comparison.
Sammy123
Mods have challenged the boundaries that were once defined by limitations for a long time. The only way to move forward is to innovate and push the boundary even further. The first step of ASF introduces several new objectives and conditions for failing that allows mod makers to fine tune their creations to a completely new level.

Mod developers will now have the option to fail the player for getting a hit and run, or make it so they have to survive a hit and run. This does not stop any mod, old or new from standing out on it's own. Mod creators have utilised existing game commands to create some unique experiences, not found anywhere else. In @Sparrow 's mod A Christmas in Springfield, she makes use of existing commands to make it appear as a character is walking away after a conversation. This was never done before by any public mod and showcased new potential found in existing commands. In @Colou 's mod, Storm Over Springfield, he makes use of brand new interiors which was also not done before.

We anticipate mod developers to use the ever-expanding arsenal of MFK commands to create unique, fun and rewarding experiences that can only be found in their mods. No matter how small, or how big, each mod is unique in it's own right and can stand on it's own without the use of hacks to define itself.

These are legitimate problems that mod creators are going to face and it may prove fatal to otherwise very successful mods.
Sammy123
At Donut Team, we find stifling innovation to be the biggest problem affecting developers across the world. We feel delaying or cancelling ASF will only set the community back farther.

Whether it be custom characters, cars, music, maps or mission objectives, you will have to innovate to stay relevant regardless of what we release. If we had stopped once we had made Custom Files, there would be no map or character modding; there would be no car modding. Innovation drives the community and has drove the community past the six thousand registered member mark. Not to mention the hundreds, if not thousands, of players who do not have a registered account.

We're proud of our community for making such innovative and interesting ways for us to play their content, and we feel that introducing ASF, Lucas' Simpsons Hit & Run Model Builder and other exciting hacks we have in our pipeline will only enhance the user experience and drive your mod closer to success.

My only thought is to give out an "early access" build to trusted mod creators, but this isn't an ideal solution.
Sammy123
We feel that giving other people priority or special treatment over the rest of the community also stifles innovation and only makes the problem you describe more apparent. By releasing ASF at the same time to everyone, it gives everyone a fair opportunity to try to make something creative and special.



While we do understand what some mod creators are feeling, we overall feel this is a non-issue that only hurts development by making us have to stop to talk about it. Donut Team has developed dozens of tools, hacks and mods and we have zero plans to slow down or stop any of what we do because some users feel that it will make older mods less exciting. This is an inevitable problem that all creators face, including Donut Team. Comparing Donut Mod 3 to what is available from your fellow community members shows how dated and primitive it is. We get the feelings you share, however there are two options:

  1. We could give up and stop developing innovative tools, hacks and mods that allow creators to expand the horizon of what is possible.
  2. Or, we could continue on and develop amazing things that everyone can take advantage of in their own way.

We really hope you understand why this has taken us so long to get to where we are. We're not here to compete with you, we're here to create with you. Donut Team succeeds when you succeed and you succeed when Donut Team succeeds. The Donut Team community is one of the most creative and interesting group of people we have ever encountered. We want to continue to support the players and developers who make Donut Team great.

We often say that this isn't a Simpsons community, because it isn't: This is a community that we all share and advance together to create interesting pieces of media that are not found anywhere else on the internet. Whether we game together in Cards Against Lucas, attempt to play SHARMP together, discuss current happenings in our Discord server, or create engrossing and engaging content together through the power of the internet, the Donut Team Community will continue to advance with new releases and new tactics to surprise our players.

Donut Mod 4 will be a technical showcase to show what is possible when you set your mind to it. We expect our community to innovate and expand upon the ideas we use in Donut Mod 4 in their own creations. Because of this, we are planning to release Donut Mod 4's Industrial Zone to the public for you to create your own mods in. While this will not happen simultaneously with the release of Donut Mod 4, it is going to happen sometime post-launch. We can't wait to see what you do using the Industrial Zone, ASF and the upcoming Lucas' Simpsons: Hit & Run Model Builder.

On a last note, We invite you to share your opinions, thoughts and feelings in the replies to this thread and in the future. While we may not agree on everything, together we form an unbreakable community of creators who will continue to dominate this tiny space of our internet together.

Sincerely,
Donut Team Staff



Update as of 30 June 2018 at 4:53 AM
We've heard some people were unhappy with our initial response, so I wanted to take the time to address it and hit key points:

  • We released documentation for ASF so mod developers can know what to expect with it's upcoming release. (docs.donutteam.com/books/lucas-simpsons-hit-run-mod-launcher/page/about-additional-script-functionality)
  • We're not trying to dismiss any issues, we just feel that the issue was pointed in the wrong direction. We feel that this more of a transparency issue rather than issue about this one hack.
  • We'll be releasing ASF within the next week with version 1.18 of Lucas' Simpsons Hit & Run Mod Launcher
  • We'll be releasing other cool things such as Skippable Start Cameras (shown in the GIF below), Nvidia Highlights and Skip Main Menu.
  • We'll be working on creating test versions of our mods, tools and hacks so that everyone is informed.
  • We will still continue to surprise you with awesome new content, however we'll try not to be super vague and create any misinformation

Skippable Start Cameras in action:

Sincerely,
Jake Andreoli
So, you plan to release DM4's source code in the future... nice idea!
Let's wait for the mod's release (it should be really soon,right?)!
We don't currently have any plans to fully open source the project. To clarify, the only component we intend to release separately is the Industrial Zone map.

EDIT: I should also mention that with said separate release I'd like to do various times of day and other configurations so mod creators can use a version that suits their mod best. This is why this release will not be simultaneous with DM4's initial release.
G** d*** ASF looks amazing!
Now I've got a good feeling about Donut Mod 4, and the future of the community, too! :)
While I am pleased that my post has been fully responded to, I feel there is still a bit of misunderstanding over my original post. I was not saying that ASF shouldn't go ahead, in fact I fully support the idea. I was simply concerned about what it could potentially do to older mods.

The release of the documentation has helped clear up a lot of misconceptions but a lot of the "non-issue" argument hinges on the fact that people have common sense. I have met people who dismiss this game just because it is dated, and care nothing about the great gameplay and fun missions. People are bound to look at something old and just dismiss it, which is certainly not fair to hours of painstaking work to make mods the best they can.

Mods have certainly challenged the boundaries before, but if you look at the custom interiors in Storm Over Springfield they will no longer be a "never-before seen feat" once the map builder releases. It will simply become the norm, and anyone with enough knowledge of SketchUp could do it themselves. My fear was that the same would apply to ASF and any brand new objective types people have created would be easily achievable with a couple of minutes playing around in ASF.

With having all of the latest tools it is hard to truly understand how little the community actually know about all this. I applaud your efforts to now open up development and hope that this helps something like this from happening again.
"Mods have certainly challenged the boundaries before, but if you look at the custom interiors in Storm Over Springfield they will no longer be a 'never-before seen feat' once the map builder releases. It will simply become the norm, and anyone with enough knowledge of SketchUp could do it themselves. My fear was that the same would apply to ASF and any brand new objective types people have created would be easily achievable with a couple of minutes playing around in ASF."

I understand your concern about modders missing out on upcoming features - which the documentation will hopefully mitigate to some extent - but the prospect of new features taking the spotlight from old ones applies to pretty much anything, doesn't it? Like how new games get more attention than old ones as technology gets better - except this is on a much smaller scale.

I think that's the part that was (somewhat bluntly) called a non-issue, as there's not much we can do to help you there other than being a little more open with development so that you can plan ahead as new features are developed. But no matter what we do, there are always going to be things that are made easier as time goes on, and it's kind of hard for me to see that as a problem. The ability for people to more easily make new interiors or implement new objectives types, I would argue, is a good thing for everyone, and what makes a mod seem special or different in the long run isn't necessarily how much it innovates but how fun it actually is.

While I don't want to sound dismissive, I'm not sure I see the point here. The lack of communication regarding new tools was a good thing for you to bring up, but the aging of mods seems like common sense to me. It's kind of inevitable. But even then, it's not like this community is big. The selection of mods isn't exactly expansive, so ones that stand out are bound to last a while regardless of how old they are. I see people still recommend stuff like The Odyssey of Springfield or Yellow Shift, and that probably won't change after ASF is released. So I don't think mods like Storm Over Springfield, which you mentioned, will be swept under the rug assuming it's a fun mod that people enjoy. With that said, I don't think this situation is necessarily comparable to how people dismiss SHAR, as you're comparing a broad range of gamers who aren't all interested in The Simpsons to a small community of people who are here specifically for this game.
I agree with YoursDiddilyTruly here,

I think our initial response came off really hard on the fact to end the issue. There was a lot of misinformation and people upset simply because they were overthinking. That's on us for not giving enough information.

The main point of "we could stop" or "we could continue" is based on the fact that people were simply worried about what's up next instead of asking questions. While this is on us for not communicating properly, which is a problem we're aware of. I think Mod Developers have responded extremely well to ASF's documentation and announcement of release.

Our goal was to put a stop to misinformation, give the documentation and assure our community we're working on new ways of content delivery and testing. Our original message focused too hard on one aspect and it came across arrogant, however I do believe that the original point still stands and is an important message.

That said, I do appreciate everyone's thoughts and comments. We're working hard to collect everyone's thoughts and adjust our plans based on that.