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Bethesda Game Studios Continue to Sour Relations with Fallout Modders


Bethesda Game Studios and their parent company Bethesda Softworks have always been beloved by fans following the release of huge successes like The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion as well as Fallout 3. Namely because of the massive game world and nigh infinite hours of content available in the base game. This opened up even more, however, when they gave independent developers the means to create their own content, which later became Bethesda specifically releasing mod kits after their games released (most recently, the Creation Kit).

Like any company with their renown and friendly ideals, they embraced the modding community that flourished as a result of their sandbox RPGs and custom developer kits. They drew inspiration from modders and have even given definitive nods to certain developers who took on massive undertakings in creating mods. Their interactions were two-sided as well, as seen from their Skyrim Game Jam video that encouraged independent developers to roll with the ideas that Bethesda had come up with, but couldn't implement for the main game across all their platforms.

A post on ModDB, however, might suggest that Bethesda is drawing a little too much from the mod community. This comes after many players also felt that Fallout 4 perhaps relied on the modding community to address things that they didn't or couldn't, such as the stifling amount of bugs affecting settlements and a surprising lack of content and unique quests to go through. It also follows growing tension between the modding community and Bethesda after Bethesda.net launched mod support without a safeguard against plagiarism.

BaronVonChateau is the author of a mod for Fallout: New Vegas called Autumn Leaves that was released just weeks before Fallout 4, and well before Far Harbor. He posted his thoughts on the quest Brain Dead from Far Harbor, citing many suspicious similarities between the two that he couldn't just ignore.

The esteemed mod author refers to numerous parallels drawn between the two, from the upscale Vault setting, eccentric cast of robot characters, and similar plot points with a strong focus on detective work. More specific instances are outlined in BaronVonChateau's post on ModDB that would suggest to many readers, with or without full context, that Bethesda may be slipping up when it comes to their relationship between them and their modding community. There are sure to be coincidences in design, but Autumn Leaves is a popular quest mod for Fallout: New Vegas which is more surprising still when you consider that it was released just before Fallout 4.



Under more scrutiny, however, it may very well have been coincidence. The truth is that Autumn Leaves' creator drew inspiration from other games, even older games in the Fallout series, as a basis for the atmosphere and play style of Autumn Leaves. Without context, it's easy to think that Bethesda did indeed rip this mod author's work for profit in Far Harbor, but the case that BaronVonChateau is making is not that strong.

Despite that, he raised some very valid concerns that those in the modding community are sure to have wondered themselves. Bethesda obviously has interactions with modders and their work, but what system of recognition or rewards come into play if a Bethesda employee uses one modder's idea for something in an official release? Given some of their actions, the question has come up as to whether or not Bethesda cares for their community and for the sanctity of content creation as a whole.

It's certainly a gray area. Fallout does belong to Bethesda and they maintain the right to do with it what they please, but it may just be that fans don't know where Bethesda stands anymore when it comes to modding and protecting their community as they have in the past. Whether or not Bethesda copied Autumn Leaves; whether or not they could have done more to protect modders' work on Bethesda.net, the fact stands that they now have quite a ways to go to repair that broken bridge between them and modders and that gap continues to widen.
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