Alternative Modding Databases

As elaborated in the last post, CTDP had a few reasonable doubts when SimRaceWay opened and we took the cautious way. This post is not about SRW, but about ideas it inspired. Today I will focus on some technical starting points, tomorrow we take a look at some philosophies involved in such a Modding platform and the day after tomorrow I will present a starting concept I worked on last year, but didn’t continue.

rFactorCentral rightfully was a great site for browsing through the vast amounts of Mods this community has to offer. It was great to search for the series you like, to browse, to stay informed, to find surprises. As rFc is a living zombie today and SRW not being able to fill the void left behind. Me and many others wondered, what could possibly fill this position. The rFactor Community is in a stale situation right now, as everybody is waiting for news about the successor rFactor2, so the loss isn’t big right now. Rob provides great news with his blog. Still the need and the benefits from an extensive Mod Database are still there and so I’d like to present some ideas I collected talking with people from various Modding teams, from the community and some outsiders.

Personally, we decided not pursue these ideas, as we are focused on Modding and the community needs more people than us to step up and realize good ideas. So even though we know we don’t want to be the one implementing them, I thing it’s worth spreading those ideas.

Obviously many of my considerations in this and the upcoming articles are centered very much on the perspective of Modders. Excuse this subjectivity, but as this is a blog about Modding this is all too natural.

The only alternative developed so far is rFactorPlanet. Frank is nice guy and did a good job recreating the basics you would expect from such a site. He doesn’t necessarily envisions the same things I’d expect from such software. This is fine, pluralism is great and there is room for others.

Technical Solutions

I spoke with several people about the technical site and the expectations in such a system. The latter are a different topic, but about the technical realization, we found several solutions, which could deliver good results in a reasonable amount of time. The first step would be deciding on the software and see what possibilities there are to implement a Modding Database.

In my discussions I found there are three approaches, which could be used. Each has different requirements, for example in required technical skills ranging from either program something on your own, or to see if you can use something of the shelf.

  1. The individual approach: Develop yourself a system of your choice. Using frameworks like Ruby-on-Rails or Symfony can make this an easy and quick process given the experience.
  2. The out-of-the-box approach: Use an existing repository system, that is developed outside and just needs to be maintained and updated once in a while. Such a system is for example Mozilla AMO most famously used in the Firefox Addon Repository
  3. The customization approach; Basically, you have a much bigger system, which you can configure as an Modding Database, but you have a lot more choices and freedom doing so, thereby also increasing the amount of work you have to put into it. Apache ACE, in rough is an enterprise software for building modular solutions.

Each approach has it’s  own merits and advantages. This only takes a look at the technical realization, not about the way it is run. The philosophy of such a project – the range, the spirit and the ethics are a whole different story.

I will leave with just this rough overview for the technical directions you can take, I will elaborate on one solution in more depth later. Tomorrow we continue looking at the philosophies you can pursue on such a platform. This covers a look at the interest groups, interaction with the community and some commercial considerations.

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