Now that Wabbajack has had a bit more time to mature and things have cooled down a bit, this post is being superseded by an updated, more technical review. While the Wabbajack team has addressed many of my early issues regarding the platform, my initial decisions haven’t changed… but it’s only fair that I give them a fair, less-biased review.
Since it’s been brought up (again), I’m posting this as an announcement and pinning it for future reference. Note that the following is my opinion, and it is completely possible that an exception will be made in the future if/when Nexus ever gets around to finishing an “official” system, on the condition that it actually allows authors to opt-out of inclusion.
In regards to Wabbajack; Lexy and I both reviewed Wabbajack when it first came out, and both came to the same conclusions. In short, we both “opted-out” of supporting it for a variety of reasons. For me, the single biggest reasons come down to time and control. Right now, I put 30-35 hours a week into developing and maintaining LOTD Plus. Lexy is at about the same point with Lexy’s LOTD SE. I’m about to be increasing that to around 40 hours a week because LOTD Plus will be supporting both UNPB and CBBE builds. That’s a full-time job that I’m not being paid for, and that doesn’t even cover the countless hours I already spend helping users, working on the website, or answering questions.
As the author of the guide, I know every mod that is in my guide almost backwards and forwards. I know which mods affect each other, which play nice, which require cleaning, and what needs a compatibility or conflict resolution patch to function properly. But, I have neither the time nor inclination to add (and then maintain) a Wabbajack build. If a third party chooses to do so, I can’t force them not to, but I also choose not to provide any support for it. This goes back to my second point… control.
Obviously, LOTD Plus isn’t available through Wabbajack (as of now) in even an unofficial sense. However, I’m also staff on Lexy’s Discord, and her guide _has_ made an appearance on Wabbajack unofficially. Being effectively a third-party, I’ve gotten to watch how that unfolded and I can tell you that I don’t want to see the same thing happen here. In short, the relationship between Lexy’s and Wabbajack is cordial, but not overly friendly. Both sides have clearly stated that support must be run through the Wabbajack Discord and yet, for a long time, we got users constantly coming to Lexy’s for support. That’s support we couldn’t provide because we had little time to learn a tool that we had no interest in using. In fact, we told people so often that we didn’t support WJ that we finally created a bot command to do the talking for us! (same command works on our server, it’s !wj)
This, in my opinion, is the fundamental issue with installers. As a guide author, I’ll never completely trust a third-party to effectively translate my instructions. I’ll also never be able to justify sinking the time into setting up, maintaining, and supporting an installer myself. As such, I’ll never be able to guarantee what is being installed on a users’ computer (to their point of view, on my behalf), and therefore will never be able to provide truly useful, relevant support.
Even beyond that, there are two more critical issues with Wabbajack itself. Namely, the attitude of its developer, and the method of delivery. Several mod authors, most notably the entire USSEP team, have asked politely to “opt-out” of being included in modpacks. The Wabbajack team flat out ignored their request and included their mods anyway. The USSEP team then chose to rework their distribution method into a self-installing executable to make it harder to include in a modpack. The Wabbajack team decompiled the installer and started distributing the actual mod. This can be considered not only a breach of trust worse than ignoring their wishes but in many places in the world an actual crime.
Similarly, their distribution method is awkward at best. By requiring users to download through their Discord, they are making it appear that they are the official avenue for support. However, virtually all modpacks are actually created by third parties. This leads to a “fracturing” of the system, where users expect support on their Discord, and when they don’t receive it immediately, they turn to the next obvious place… the support for the guide itself. Unfortunately, that leads back to the support issues mentioned previously.
So the end result is that I made the following decisions:
I will never provide support for anyone who chooses to use an “installer” version of my guide(s)
While I don’t personally like the idea of platforms like Wabbajack (beyond the above issues, I believe you should understand what you’re installing and not trust a random third party), I will acknowledge that some people do and I have no right to tell them they can’t use them
If someone decides to write an installer (be it Wabbajack or not) for any guide I have written, I will ask them to clearly indicate that I will not provide support for it
I will never pull any mod that I have written or am a development lead on solely due to the possibility of it being included in an installer
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