That should go without saying, right?
Funny thing - in the FOSS community it's so easy to take everything for granted. All software is free or usually very cheap to acquire, and people use the software in various ways - often publishing extensions of their own to it. This example works really well with the Doom community - ever since the Doom Source was released, a lot of people have been working on various projects, and after 23 years it is still going quite strong. While this little post focuses primarily on Doom and Doom-related stuff, this could probably easily be applied to any moddable game - like Saints Row, or even the Fallout series.
23 years strong, though - that's saying a lot for a really old game. Who knows what draws as many people as it does to it. Is it a AAA title that every teenager is going to go begging their mom to buy on their very next paycheck? Of course not. Doom is very easy to acquire - just go on GOG.com and you can get yourself a copy very cheap. And then comes the best part - you can even use a source port to play it - such as ZDoom.
And therein lies the focal point of this little story. On the ZDoom community, we've proven time and again that Doom is simply the gift that keeps on giving. If you get bored with your fancy AAA titles with their flashy graphics and excessive graphic shader abuse with the color brown all over the screen all in the name of "ermuhgerrd REELISM" you can always go back to the ZDoom forums and occasionally you'll find a mod that's worth playing - something you can sink hundreds of hours of your time into, and by the labor of love alone is worth far more than any of those fancy market $60 games. And I really believe that's more than just an opinion - try it yourself (and this really is only one example! There's hundreds more!). What is the price of that? It's free. It's a mod. But by so many standards - a damn good one. Sure - the graphics aren't up to today's standards, but there's a million games that offer that alternative and most probably aren't that fun to play, anyway.
So what am I getting at? Well - it's funny, because, as has been stated a number of times in this post - the word "free." I am talking about $0 free, as well as "free to do with what you want." Nothing on ZDoom is ever restricted by DRM, or online-only play, or those other fancy things that modern games like to do nowadays. But people still like to treat it like it's a corporate entity. Oh - that's where the fun really begins. That, my friend, is the whole point of this blog post.
It's funny that when you offer something for free to other people - if it becomes popular, inevitably you come upon those demanding folks who always want more. Well - actually, that's a bit encouraging in a way, because knowing you made something that someone got hooked on is quite satisfying. But wow - the way they go about it, you'd think they were born with a silver spoon glued to their mouths.
That's not to say I am not guilty of this, too. But like many, I've learned from my mistakes. Honestly - it's so easy to take what you get for free for granted. You never even know the hours of blood and hard sweat and labor that goes into these things - especially the source ports, themselves. But then you get involved. You start doing it yourself. And you start realizing just how frustrating it is to work with this stuff. Computers are stubborn - because computers don't understand the way you think. All they understand is 1's and 0's and "this means that" - so invariably when something goes wrong, it's because you did it. (Or someone exploited a security hole and did it, but that's beside the point) Nevertheless, that point applies quite equally to both the modding aspect as well as the source development aspect. Computers always remember the finer details better than we do - in fact, every typo is plain as day to everyone who looks closely enough at it, and obviously we don't ever remember making them ourselves.
So getting a computer to work with you is very satisfying. In fact, it's a bit of a game itself, for some people, or even a challenge, or just something to pass the time. Some folks even make a living of it, and software development is what puts bread on the table for them.
But boy - let me tell you - some people just do not understand this at all! They are spoiled by the idea of "free" and they think that they can demand work from others - the very people who were KIND ENOUGH to GIVE AWAY their work for free! And it's never one isolated instance where this happens - it happens all over. When a developer (working for free, mind you) disagrees with their feedback, they blame the developer for being unwilling to listen to them. I've even seen it escalate several times to highly abusive and hostile reactions from both sides. But one thing people always seem to forget - it was the developer who got no compensation for sharing their work - for free - who really deserves all the credit for it.
Yeah, this is something I feel very strongly about. It's very hard to detach myself from the situation because I personally know the sacrifices that people make in giving away work for free. Sometimes it's a labor of love, but sometimes it's just a desire to give back to the community. But whatever the case may be - I can tell you this - they do not deserve to be pestered, bossed around, or told that this is the way they need to do something. Let their own creativity thrive. In most cases, if you don't like something, you can change it yourself.
And before you come at me with "I don't have time to learn it" - let me tell you something - with ZDoom, the barrier for entry is so low, you will be able to enact the exact changes you want to see within a day, even knowing nothing. It's not that hard. You just need to be willing to learn and apply yourself. I did it - many times over - to the point where I am now, maintaining a source port of my own that is growing in popularity. There is absolutely nothing I can do, that any other person can't, if they are willing to learn. I personally know - if I can do it, anyone can.
"But you should listen to my feedback! My opinion matters a lot and it helps you!" That actually is true - only to an extent. What good artist doesn't want feedback for their work? But there's a fine line between what is valuable feedback and what is white noise. An artist has their vision for how they want things. Your feedback isn't that valuable if it's repeated, especially after having already been rejected, and even more especially if you start getting hostile about it.