Speaking at our PC Gaming World Congress last Friday, DayZ creator Dean Hall responded to an audience question about server-side games and what they mean for modding. Specifically, the question cited SimCity 4's modding community and what's happened with Maxis' always-online SimCity reboot, which can't support significant modding. Will the trend of developer-controlled servers mean an end to all mods?
"Well, I don't want to kick SimCity while it's down, but I suspect that was probably part of the design," said Hall. "It's like, I think that if DICE wanted to kill Arma, all they'd need to do is release some modding tools tomorrow. Psh, gone. It always really hurt me when Battlefield 2 was the end in terms of modding, so I'm pretty obviously supportive of the whole modding idea.
"But like you're saying, that's the challenge that we're trying to deal with with DayZ at the moment. How do we have the stability and security of an online community like Wargaming has, at the same time as support modding? I don't have the answer for that."
Uber Entertainment co-founder Jon Mavor responded with an answer, saying, "There's going to be games that are going to allow it and there's going to be games that aren't, and the difference is going to be: 'Do you have access to the server?'"
Chris Roberts, who's currently working on crowdfunded space mega-game Star Citizen , also noted the private server solution. "I'm doing it in Star Citizen," said Roberts. "You definitely can mod and you can run your own servers, but if you want to be on the big persistent universe everyone else is on, obviously you can't mod in that situation, because it wouldn't work if someone built a battleship that could blow everyone up."
The panelists went on to discuss other solutions, such as absorbing community-made items via programs like Steam Workshop and EgoSoft's official community mod patch to X3. As for a solution which fully combines the modding freedom of private servers with the social benefits of large persistent worlds, however, the ideas may be too disparate to overlap, hence the Star Citizen plan to offer both separately.
You can watch the whole conversation below—just skip to 47:50 for the modding discussion.