With the latest build of SKSE-64 bit reaching 2.0.0 alpha, a lot of talk regarding donations, money and the SKSE team creating a Patreon to speed up the process has risen. While it sounds like a good idea on the surface, let’s take a look as to why the team keep’s denying such a notion.
The SKSE team consists of Ian Patterson, Stephen Abel, Paul Connelly, and Brendan Borthwick (ianpatt, behippo, scruggsywuggsy the ferret, and purple lunchbox) with the help of Qazyhn, as shown on skse.silverlock.org. You will see the latter name, Qazyhn, appear quite often later on, so do please keep that name in mind.
Furthermore, there are a lot of projects going on that accept donations and other types of payment methods to speed up development of a project. However, the donations will not help SKSE-64 bit in any form, fashion or way. Before explaining why it won’t, there’s a contract that the team had to sign that some see as a hurdle.
A Reddit user by the name of OpusGlass explains the situation, as listed below:
“It certainly can’t be crowdfunded with the current devs because they have signed explicit contracts which could put their real-life jobs at jeopardy if they received any sort of financial compensation for this work. There’s also the fact that Zenimax Media frown upon crowd-funding of mod-related endeavors, and usually get such efforts taken down by threatening litigation. While SKSE is not made involving the CK in any way, I do not think anyone with half a brain wants to have a legal skirmish with a giant corporation like Zenimax.”
With that said, you’re probably thinking “why not create a Patreon and use the money like a work around?” Well, remember Qazyhn? He stepped in to explain the situation a bit further:
“I’m the only developer not currently bound by contract. It would not be fair to the others for me to accept any monetary compensation explicitly towards the development of any of the Script Extenders.”
He goes on to explain that…
“We have plenty of offers, but we have yet to have anyone with the actual skill set and motivation we need. The skill bar is higher than some actual development jobs out there so it’s not easy to get people who are interested and obviously won’t be paid. Knowing C++ is a basic requirement, but it’s not going to help with the development of SKSE64.
The C++ code is already all there, what we need someone who can:
- decode classes (from memory)
- verify class alignments (and fix them)
- update addresses (this is actually easier than alignment fixing)
SKSE64 isn’t something that can be realized by throwing developers who lack the required skills at it. Additionally these skills aren’t something you can just learn in a few days like transferring to a new programming language. I can point people with prior C++ experience in the right direction for getting started but none of us really have the time to teach.”
In other words, money can’t buy skill and dedication. I know you’re probably thinking “make it open source so that others can help!?” It sorta is open source, however no one has the skill or patience like the SKSE team and that’s why it’s still in the position that it is in right now.
And even if they wanted to accept fan money, Behippo noted on a Bethesda forum that…
“Ian and I also work for software firms with connections to the gaming industry (his much more directly than mine). We simply can’t take any money for the Script Extenders, even if we wanted to. Which we don’t.
The Script Extenders themselves are on a fairly wobbly legal footing given what we have to do to make things work.”
Reddit user Donixs1, who has a fair understanding of the situation, also mentioned some interesting stuff about Bethesda and extra help, as noted below:
“Bethesda Dev team wouldn’t be able to help because essentially, SKSE is a memory hack at the very base level. It deeply affects how the game plays and runs. It is an exploit, it weaves itself into the game to alter how it works. Not only this, but it is built on reverse engineered technology from the games.
All these legal factors make it very difficult for Bethesda to officially support them as they’ll run into legal complications.
Now you can ask “Well, why don’t they just bring them into modding the game / develop the scripts so they don’t need to reverse engineer it?” this is where it becomes a scope issue, as script extender goes far beyond the scope of what Bethesda thought / planned for. They never planned / needed a script that would have a goat stalk you slowly through the game and if you look at it, it disappears. So they never developed such a script, but here comes script extender which opens the door to allowing for such things. There will always be a need for script extenders, because there is only so much Bethesda can include.
And not only this, it means more chance for instability which Bethesda would need to support, and we know that wouldn’t go over well.”
To sum the whole situation up, if the team were to take money from any crowdsource funding, they’ll lose their jobs and could face legal issues with Zenimax due to a contract. The code is sorta up for anyone to mess around with, hence Qazyhn and his second blockqoute, but given the skill-demand and time, and having to do this without a paycheck detours a lot of people, creating the very situation the project is in now.
Lastly, the good news is that progress is being made on SKSE-64 bit in that a new 2.0.0 alpha build is currently out over on skse.silverlock.org.