Community Noise Maker
Sonic Team Junior
My proposal is to reverse this. We still shouldn't allow unofficial ports in releases without authorization, but unless a creator's explicitly against their work being played through a fan port, let's assume it's fine and leave players be. This SHOULD work out because of the way our community operates.
We know creators have given permission for their work to be played when they publicly upload it; so they've given permission to play it.
We know the community's intelligent enough to recognize when ports are unofficial; so they're perfectly aware ports don't reflect the creator's intended quality. We've seen it time and time again. From rants about port quality to the amount of policing for merely showing screens of "portlegs", plenty intimately keep up-to-date with this stuff.
So I am sure they're also perfectly capable of relaying proof in cases when a creator's actually against ports. That means admins and community members won't have issues keeping up with this information. If people were expected to know what's a fanport or not, then this isn't much different. It's only a matter of time until someone comes in and tells you "Sugoi22.pk3" is a banned mod.
There's a couple issues with this argument:
- Our community has always operated, whether explicitly or implicitly, with the expectation that people would not be editing others' work unless explicit permission is given. The prime difference between then and now is that this expectation is codified into the releases system.
- The issue with the proliferation of unofficial ports on the message board and master server is it normalizes an edit that doesn't reflect the author's intentions. It won't matter that people recognize it's unofficial if it becomes the version everyone knows and plays, especially since community knowledge is much less sparse on the MS and on GameBanana than it is on the MB and Discord. Suffice to say, the free market approach will not respect the integrity of original content.
The central question regarding permission to port is ultimately a matter of how we treat legacy content, and in this community we place a strong emphasis on the creative rights of the author. Ultimately this means respecting the integrity of the original work unless the author has explicitly stated that edits are permissible.
The only solution I think would at least partially meet the interests of all parties is one which does not modify the files themselves. I conceptualized a solution a while back, which, while having a few of its own feasibility and technical issues, is probably the closest anyone is going to get to ethically lifting old content to new versions. Practically speaking, it may be more worthwhile to create a converter software in C++ which does the heavy lifting of converting wads and pk3s for private use; we had such a program on the MB during the 2.0 era, though IIRC it was intended more for development than consumption. However, invariably this software would be used by server hosts if we were to bring it back today, which brings us back to the same problem as before.
If it's any consolation: While there's obviously exceptions i.e. the SUGOI trilogy, I'd posit that most interest in legacy content is largely nostalgia-driven, and most pre-2.2 works require substantially less effort to recreate today. This becomes truer the farther back into history you delve; you don't need to copy the level designs of Acid Missile to recreate its feel and aesthetic, and it honestly wouldn't even take that long to make. Hell, in the case of SA2/heroes/06/etc conversions, I imagine you'd almost want to start from scratch due to levels' reliance on zoomtubes and really tiny stairs -- we have lua scripts and slopes now! I'm in favor of preserving legacy content, but in lieue of ensuring its accessibility, sometimes it can be of greater value to create original work that takes inspiration from and recreates the aesthetic of the legacy content while being specifically catered for a 2.2 experience.