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03-19-09, 10:40 PM   #1
Cairenn
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WoW UI AddOn Development Policy discussion thread

Please Note: This thread will be closely monitored and heavily moderated (if necessary). Please abide by the rules of the site:

1. Post with respect and courtesy. Debate is fine ... so long as when you disagree with someone, you respond in a civilized and constructive manner.

2. No slander. Don't come here and slam/flame anyone/thing. Don't come here sounding off that Blizz sucks, EQ sucks, mod_author_01 sucks, etc and so on. None of that. You want to post things like that, take it elsewhere, there are enough other boards that cater to that type of thing. This isn't FlameVault. See 1.

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We realize that this may be a highly contentious subject. However we expect people to behave in accordance with the rules. Failure to comply with the site rules may result in you taking a forced vacation from the site. With that stated, here is a repeat post of the new Policy:



With the continuing popularity of World of Warcraft user interface add-ons (referred to hereafter as “add-ons”) created by the community of players, Blizzard Entertainment has formalized design and distribution guidelines for add-ons. These guidelines have been put in place to ensure the integrity of World of Warcraft and to help promote an enjoyable gaming environment for all of our players – failure to abide by them may result in measures up to and including taking formal legal action.

1) Add-ons must be free of charge.
All add-ons must be distributed free of charge. Developers may not create “premium” versions of add-ons with additional for-pay features, charge money to download an add-on, charge for services related to the add-on, or otherwise require some form of monetary compensation to download or access an add-on.
2) Add-on code must be completely visible.
The programming code of an add-on must in no way be hidden or obfuscated, and must be freely accessible to and viewable by the general public.
3) Add-ons must not negatively impact World of Warcraft realms or other players.
Add-ons will perform no function which, in Blizzard Entertainment’s sole discretion, negatively impacts the performance of the World of Warcraft realms or otherwise negatively affects the game for other players. For example, this includes but is not limited to excessive use of the chat system, unnecessary loading from the hard disk, and slow frame rates.
4) Add-ons may not include advertisements.
Add-ons may not be used to advertise any goods or services.
5) Add-ons may not solicit donations.
Add-ons may not include requests for donations. We recognize the immense amount of effort and resources that go into developing an add-on; however, such requests should be limited to the add-on website or distribution site and should not appear in the game.
6) Add-ons must not contain offensive or objectionable material.
World of Warcraft has been given a “T” by the ESRB, and similar ratings from other ratings boards around the world. Blizzard Entertainment requires that add-ons not include any material that would not be allowed under these ratings.
7) Add-ons must abide by World of Warcraft ToU and EULA.
All add-ons must follow the World of Warcraft Terms of Use and the World of Warcraft End User License Agreement.
8) Blizzard Entertainment has the right to disable add-on functionality as it sees fit.
To maintain the integrity World of Warcraft and ensure the best possible gaming experience for our players, Blizzard Entertainment reserves the right to disable any add-on functionality within World of Warcraft at its sole discretion.
For more information…

If you are an add-on developer and have any questions about this User Interface Add-On Development Policy and how it pertains to the add-on that you’ve developed, please don’t hesitate to email us at [email protected].

The official announcement is here.

Last edited by Cairenn : 03-20-09 at 02:56 PM.
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03-20-09, 02:56 PM   #2
THUNDER_CHILD
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Good Job Blizzard.
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03-20-09, 03:11 PM   #3
Maul
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Very interesting move on Blizzard's part, which is wholly understandable.
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03-20-09, 03:12 PM   #4
Tekkub
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"Add-ons must not contain offensive or objectionable material"
Sorry, but seeing as the user chooses to install the addon, just as the user chooses to disable the language filter, this one's kinda bupkiss. But I'm sure they have to for legal reasons and ****.

I'm glad to see an official declaration that you can't charge, nor can you obfuscate code. I can only hope that Blizzy enforces this one. Obfuscated code gives nothing back to the community, but still takes from it. It's like using bittorrent and never seeding.
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03-20-09, 03:14 PM   #5
ckknight
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I agree with most of the points except for

'5) Add-ons may not solicit donations.'

I have absolutely no intention to remove my donation buttons in my addons. I consider my buttons non-obtrusive and non-annoying.

Also, how do they really expect to enforce this? They could theoretically ban individual addons, but I really doubt they would.

Also, as someone who approves and denies addons on CurseForge and WowAce, how can we really enforce this on our end without opening up every single lua file?
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03-20-09, 03:29 PM   #6
Petrah
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ckknight,

I don't think you have anything to worry about. It states that your addons cannot visibly request for donations in game. You are permitted to ask for donations from your addons distribution site(s).

I had to go back and re read that hehe.
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Last edited by Petrah : 03-20-09 at 03:38 PM.
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03-20-09, 03:41 PM   #7
ckknight
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Originally Posted by Silenia View Post
ckknight,

I don't think you have anything to worry about. It states that your addons cannot visibly request for donations in game. You are permitted to ask for donations from your addons distribution site(s).

I had to go back and re read that hehe.
I have donation buttons in-game.

If you open the config menu, it'll have a "Donate" button. You click it, it pops up a frame that provides a copyable link that you can put into your browser.

I don't bother the user ever outside of the main settings, but it is in-game.
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03-20-09, 03:42 PM   #8
THUNDER_CHILD
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Originally Posted by Silenia View Post
ckknight,

I don't think you have anything to worry about. It states that your addons cannot visibly request for donations in game. You are permitted to ask for donations from your addons distribution site(s).

I had to go back and re read that hehe.
His point is that he has said buttons in game. However, I agree with him, they are non-intrusive.
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03-20-09, 04:08 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by THUNDER_CHILD View Post
His point is that he has said buttons in game. However, I agree with him, they are non-intrusive.
Yes, I know

My point was that the buttons in game can be removed, and he can still get donations from the pages where he distributes his addons. Essentially, they are not removing an addon authors right to get donations. They just don't want to have those donation requests visible in game. I can understand this.
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03-20-09, 06:08 PM   #10
Petrah
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Originally Posted by spiel2001 View Post
I figured since I'm in the mood to do a lot of whining tonight, I would spread the wealth into this thread, as well ~faint smile~

The problem with asking for donations on your download sites is no one cares... most of them never see it because of the updaters and when they do, it doesn't matter to them.

The simple fact is basic human psychology... people don't pay for something they can have for free. Period. Except for a few people of exceptional moral fabric, most people couldn't give two shakes about the time and effort the mod author invests.

Before I split nUI into Lite and Pro, it was a go week to make over $20 in donations and you know that I had donate links on every nUI page and in every update post I made. It wasn't until there was a perceived value in donations (the thank you raid panels) that people started to support nUI.

It's just the sad truth.
I am truly on your side here, Scott. Don't think for one moment that I'm not (hugs). This whole thing irritates me to no end because I love nUI (my boyfriend teases me about it endlessly, in a joking way of course). Considering how much of a tightwad I am with my cash, nUI had to be something pretty darn unique for me to part with the amount that I did (even though I know that programmers make far far more than that per hour). I also donated because of your current situation and I firmly believe that what comes around goes around (be good to someone and your good deed comes back to you threefold).

I've completely lost my train of thought here I just know that nUI makes my play time more pleasurable, and if I could afford to pay you what your time was worth, I would without hesitation.
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03-20-09, 07:47 PM   #11
Tehryn
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Originally Posted by Silenia View Post
I am truly on your side here, Scott. Don't think for one moment that I'm not (hugs). This whole thing irritates me to no end because I love nUI (my boyfriend teases me about it endlessly, in a joking way of course). Considering how much of a tightwad I am with my cash, nUI had to be something pretty darn unique for me to part with the amount that I did (even though I know that programmers make far far more than that per hour). I also donated because of your current situation and I firmly believe that what comes around goes around (be good to someone and your good deed comes back to you threefold).

I've completely lost my train of thought here I just know that nUI makes my play time more pleasurable, and if I could afford to pay you what your time was worth, I would without hesitation.
I totally agree (not too sure about the hugs though )
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03-20-09, 06:08 PM   #12
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I canceled my account and then tried to post in the Blizzard forums thread. Apparently I can't post there now, but I can post in the realm forums. I'm wondering if this is a bug, or if the new forums want to silence what people have to say. I won't reactivate my account to post this, and if anyone thinks it relevant or useful, please copy paste, if you like.

---------------------
Sad day, imo. Not that Blizzard implemented these rules, but that they think they had to. I think their free of charge policy is going too far, but on the same side of the coin, in game solicitation (that others can see) is also going too far (I'm not familiar with the offenders, and I won't pretend to be).

Now, to say they have the "right" to not allow money to be paid for programmer's work (that doesn't violate the general ToS / EULA), is out of the scope of what WoW (or MMOs in general) really are. When people have issues/problems, and they go to an ADDON or these forums or a friend they think will know the answer... who answers back 9 out of 10 times? It's not Blizzard, it IS the COMMUNITY.

Community effort is what keeps Blizzard in business; without it (and the ability to keep it), Blizzard would go out of business. There are some addons that, if removed (or a specific function of that said addon), I'd not play this game. Blizzard fails to deliver in the area of 'real' customer service; addons (and the advice of their authors) sometimes fill the needs of giving the player what they want in order to keep them playing the game. If this advice or help comes at a price, the person needing help has options.

These options include waiting for Blizzard help, getting help from someone who may or may not be as knowledgeable as Blizzard or 'paid' author, getting an addon that fixes the problem, ignore the problem, or just quit playing. When you start taking options away, you lose customers, you lose interest, and you lose freedom. If I'm attempted to be forced into to anything, I fight it, that is my nature. I think for myself and depend on myself for my right to be who I am. Sure, this is just a game, but it's a real community and I feel it necessary (as do others) to voice my opinion of what is right in a "free" society. If it must come to taking away my options, and members of this community away, then I'll go away with it (as will others who have PRINCIPLES).

I donated money to charities, institutions, and even addon authors. I continue to support those who make no demands of it, but to those that try to enforce my continued support, I end my relationship with them. Ask St. Jude's children hospital, I donated to them for ~ 1 year, every quarter. When they started mass mailing and strongarming me into support, I ended our relationship. Same for the addon authors who took this same approach with in game chat screens filled with their sob story or constant update info (as useful as they were), ended. I don't need the Government, or Blizzard to end my relationship for my own safety, I'm capable of that myself.

So, I'd suggest that Blizzard rethink and / or reword their new terms in regards to addons. It could be more damaging to them than they realize. Or maybe I'm wrong and the players of WoW are just mindless sheep that follow the herd.

It's about the principle.

~Yhor

Last edited by Yhor : 03-20-09 at 06:10 PM. Reason: Grammar
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03-20-09, 06:11 PM   #13
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I imagine it is just something to keep them from being liable in the case that a user gets screwed by some third party addon. I would be surprised if they are going to bother even trying to monitor and enforce the policy without being provoked by legal action against Blizzard by some dope who got scammed by purchasing an addon or something.
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03-20-09, 06:14 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Yhor View Post
I canceled my account and then tried to post in the Blizzard forums thread. Apparently I can't post there now
I know it's wrong of me because you're trying to show your support to the authors (even tho some of us support this new rule)... but I laughed at this.
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03-20-09, 09:07 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by ckknight View Post
I agree with most of the points except for

'5) Add-ons may not solicit donations.'

I have absolutely no intention to remove my donation buttons in my addons. I consider my buttons non-obtrusive and non-annoying.

Also, how do they really expect to enforce this? They could theoretically ban individual addons, but I really doubt they would.

Also, as someone who approves and denies addons on CurseForge and WowAce, how can we really enforce this on our end without opening up every single lua file?
I'd imagine the baddons file that was added into the MPQ and in the WDB folder with WotLK is what they will use to ban addons.

The game currently does not interact with the file but I'd imagine that will be changing with 3.1. Editing or deleting the file won't do anything since it is recreated at login and probably would revert any changes.

Last edited by Leviathonlx : 03-20-09 at 09:13 PM.
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03-20-09, 09:33 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Leviathonlx View Post
I'd imagine the baddons file that was added into the MPQ and in the WDB folder with WotLK is what they will use to ban addons.

The game currently does not interact with the file but I'd imagine that will be changing with 3.1. Editing or deleting the file won't do anything since it is recreated at login and probably would revert any changes.
Ouch, Big Brother is watching.

Here's my better-thought-out two cents that isn't motivated by a desire to get on the first page:

I can see what's motivated Blizzard to ban paid addons. It's a pretty transparent ass-covering on their part. People who play WoW are just dumb enough to sue Blizzard over getting scammed a mod that they paid for, and Blizzard realizes that, but I think they've opened up a can of worms they didn't foresee.

To be honest, I really don't see a problem with providing a better product for those who donate to the cause, and Blizzard certainly has no right to declare that people aren't allowed to sell their own original code, just because it happens to be written using the WoW API.

I think the most mutually beneficial course of action now, is for authors to not do a damn thing. That's right. I say leave your donation buttons and premium versions in there and defy Blizzard to punish you for it. Based on what I've seen today, I think the community will stand by you in not budging on this issue.

Besides, If I know Blizzard, they'll back down on this before the modding community does.

Last edited by frogofdoom : 03-20-09 at 09:36 PM.
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03-20-09, 09:49 PM   #17
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It's almost April 1st guys, might have anything to do with the Blizz announcement?
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03-20-09, 10:15 PM   #18
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I found these rules interesting. They don't really change anything for my work and I don't personally feel the need to conflict with them, but it does raise some questions.



Individual rules that I disagree with:


#2 -- Add-on code must be completely visible.
Two issues with this

"completely visible". How does Blizzard have any legal control over legibility? I can see their goal is to remove DRM-ish stuff, but beyond the lua and xml APIs, it's the original author's work. So if the author writes sloppy buggy code... so? If the author puts in a simple encryption/compression, what exactly has the author done wrong legally? Just because Blizzard says they cannot read your addon -- I see no legal grounds for this.

"Publicly accessible". Not only does it costs servers to host addons for the general public, but I have several personal addons that I don't make public. If I made a personally addon that improved my gameplay over some one else's... that means I'm forced to use my own resources to host an addon for fair play? I have to upload my addon to the internet before I use it? What is the line that Blizzard is looking for?


#3 -- "unnecessary loading from the hard disk, and slow frame rates"

While such things are a goal for authors, forcing Quality Control onto people that you don't pay (Blizzard onto authors) does not make sense to me. And really... EVERY addon will slow frame rates. Addons that preform a lot of work can drop my framerate below a playable level, but that doesn't mean I cannot simply turn it off. I turn off combat parsing addons while doing serious raidings. Addons are not required to play, so why does there need to be a self-monitored, no-pay QC?

This rule is vague and so inclusive of everything that Blizzard could slap this rule against anyone they didn't like.


#6 -- "offensive or objectionable material"

Too subjective, and thus too inclusive. Any addon with an opinion, statement, or belief is also victim to this.



#7 -- ToU and EULA

Addons are not people. Addons don't follow ToU, because they cannot agree to a terms of usage. This needs to be reworded to something along the lines of

"All add-ons must not contribute to the breaking the User's compliance with the World of Warcraft Terms of Use and the World of Warcraft End User License Agreement. "






And in general, how does Blizzard have any legal rights over the copyrighted work that others have produced? Blizzard has supplied a lua and xml engine, and they can control what goes into these engines via their ToU and EULA, but Blizzard doesn't own the lua or xml language.

My biggest issue is that Blizzard has been successful partly due to addons, and has taken works of addons and included into their own code, but when Blizzard's product has grown to a certain size, they decide its time to shed off the third party support that helped make the game popular as if they OWNED / PRODUCED THE RIGHTS TO THE POPULARITY THAT WAS GAINED.


But like I said before, the rules don't really affect me anyways. I just think the rules are overstepping the bounds.
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03-20-09, 10:34 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Crepusculu View Post
Individual rules that I disagree with:

#2 -- Add-on code must be completely visible.
Download Carbonite and take a look at their code. That is what Blizzard is really referencing. Carbonite uses some tricks to make it difficult for someone outside their development group to read their code. Blizzard wants code to be as plain as their code is. Sloppy or not is not really the issue.
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03-20-09, 11:16 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Crepusculu View Post
#3 -- "unnecessary loading from the hard disk, and slow frame rates"

While such things are a goal for authors, forcing Quality Control onto people that you don't pay (Blizzard onto authors) does not make sense to me. And really... EVERY addon will slow frame rates. Addons that preform a lot of work can drop my framerate below a playable level, but that doesn't mean I cannot simply turn it off. I turn off combat parsing addons while doing serious raidings. Addons are not required to play, so why does there need to be a self-monitored, no-pay QC?

This rule is vague and so inclusive of everything that Blizzard could slap this rule against anyone they didn't like.
I have a feeling this is intended to be directed at intentional deterioration of gameplay. I doubt they will ban addons simply because it was poorly written.

Originally Posted by Crepusculu View Post
#6 -- "offensive or objectionable material"

Too subjective, and thus too inclusive. Any addon with an opinion, statement, or belief is also victim to this.
Have you ever read your terms of service for gameplay? Blizzard has an immense amount of discretion and this is probably intentionally vague so that Blizzard can make that discretion. Adding in specific cases without leeway is tantamount to suicide as anyone will always find a loophole. Naturally we would expect this would be enforced in the same manner as is all other discretionary policies Blizzard maintains.
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