Mod DB, Indie DB and by relation, Desura have made great strides in helping indie gamers. Blade Symphony, now a full-fledged game we cover, first made a big impact as a simple mod on Mod DB.
With the launch of Indie DB, they have taken their commitment to the community up to another level. We have the opportunity to speak with Dave Traeger, editor and “Overlord” of Mod DB. While we want to focus on Mod DB we also want to get his unique perspective on what his sites, as a whole, bring to the community.
Nerd-Age’s Scholar: So tell us a little about Mod DB’s history and growth into the multi-site conglomerate it is today.
Dave Traeger of Mod DB, Indie DB and Desura: What started out as nothing more than a website to list mods and where to get them for a lan-party turned quickly into a file site. From that point it quickly moved into a news site similar to that of a blog then grew too large and became a developer driven site for mod news.
Originally we wanted to have an editorial team, we found that developers where a much better source of news so we just let go of the reigns and now the community controls what is and what is not seen on the site based on the what they decide to upload.
NA: Do you see your sites working together to help games flourish? For example, Blade Symphony started on Mod DB, could be promoted on Indie DB and one day be sold on Desura.
Dave: Well ModDB, IndieDB and Desura all use the very same database you can view all content on any site (try it if you do not believe me). The sites however have a very different audience and because of that the content changes based on what the audiences wants to see. IndieDB and ModDB are very much focused on development while Desura is our release platform.
NA: Mod DB is the authority on modding right now, how do you feel about competitors?
Dave: We eat them for breakfast *evil laugh*. In all honesty I do not feel like we compete with anyone, I have heard that ModDB is too large so it destroys other sites by that value alone but we do work with other Modding sites to help them bring their unique content to light. Websites like PlanetPhillip for example offer a great deal of content we do not. With a focus on Half-Life content the site has built a nice community around it. We don’t compete directly with them, more co-exist.
NA: What do you think made Mod DB stand out in the industry?
Dave: The main reason why is because ModDB is developer driven. Meaning the news come from the developer not a second hand source, all we do is add a little spit shine to the news that is posted. The press loves this site (though we do not get listed as a source very often *nudge nudge*) because it is always breaking news. So the circle repeats.
NA: What is it that Desura brings to modders and publishers that other platforms cannot?
Dave: Well like our other sites Desura is also developer driven, however the way it differs is that developers are given complete control over how they sell and publish their titles. Want to sell your game but also sell a special edition that costs 100 bucks? Go ahead.
Want to be able to set a special sale because your cat is having a birthday? Do it! The aim is to make the publishing process as easy as possible, ModDB and IndieDB are the home of many games and mods, Desura will be the platform developers will be able to release on without any hassles.
NA: EA, Gamestop, Valve, even Capcom with Gaikai. How do you feel about the fact that a large number of companies are moving into the digital distribution market?
Dave: Well Steam has always had a very large market share of the market, being the first good service. This only means that other companies will be offering more options to customers, selling games for cheaper, making it better and not giving one platform the advantage to dictate when and where and how much everything will be. It is only going to get better from this point onwards. Even if it means we have to get messy first.
NA: We are seeing some developers take away tools from their fans, and others give them even more. How do you feel about the state of modding today?
Dave: Look modders are going to mod your game wither you like it or not, if you don’t want to take advantage of the opportunity to give people a reason to play your game 10 years later and possibly continue to actively sell your game well after your release without lifting your finger, that is your prerogative developers.
NA: What do you think about the fact that mods are now being sold commercially? Is it good for the industry, bad or neutral?
Dave: If you are talking about DLC I have no qualms about it. If the people who make it are getting the shaft then I feel that is not something I will be fueling with my own money.
NA: In broad terms, what does Indie DB in particular do to help small developers?
Dave: Give them a voice, take for instance mobile developers mostly on the iOS platforms. There are websites dedicated to helping people tell the world about your game, some better than others. Some requiring a small donation before the editors will take notice of your game (shocking). There are not many sites that let developers advertise their works the way they want. That is how we differ, this is why we are better.
NA: Kickstarter has become massively popular for indie gamers and developers. Have you ever thought about doing a similar part of your site in the future?
Dave: We already do, however we do it a little differently. There will be more on this soon so keep your eyes open.
Update: They have launched their new funding project, check it out here: Alpha Funding
NA: With digital media wars well underway, there is a shift by some of your competitors to consoles. Are you interested in shifting as well or will PC users remain your first priority?
Dave: No plans, other than to support the other OS’s on computers like Mac and Linux.
NA: What advice can you give for video game journalists and information brokers?
Dave: If you find your news on ModDB/IndieDB/Desura link back to us, we do our best to promote those who promote us.
NA: What advice can you give to indie developers?
Dave: Prototype quickly and often. Don’t be scared to talk about your ideas with the public to refine your works. Also add your stuff to IndieDB! You won’t regret it!
We want to thank Dave Traeger again for his interview. His story actually gives a lesson for developers and journalists all over the industry. That lesson is create relationships. Get your work out there. Make sure to talk with the guy next door and see what he is doing and help each other out.
If you do that, you can someday be as big as Mod DB and its related sites. You can start by getting your games on Mod DB and Indie DB. We will be sure to keep you updated on significant news from these sites.