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Ever had one of those questions where you weren't sure if doing something would step on someone's toes? Here's some helpful advice to help keep your immediate modding surroundings a helpful and happy place.
- If you want to use someone else's assets, ASK (and get) permission first. "Assets" being anyone else's work, be it some pixel art, their code, some dialogue/event writing, or even an idea like a custom NPC. Nobody likes a thief! If you want to use someone else's work, ask first, and if they say no, accept the answer. Many people in the community are happy to share or help out, so you may get a yes!
- If you do get permission, THANK them (and credit them)! It's very easy to include a link to someone's Nexus/ModDrop page (or their website/social media of choice) if they provided assets you used or even if they just helped you out. It doesn't take anything away from your hard work to thank them publicly. If they've made significant contributions, you can even include them as a co-author on Nexus.
- Editing sprites is okay (just credit/get permission when possible). Many mods may take vanilla art or assets from other well-known media (such as Pokemon sprites or anime characters as NPCs) and make it their own with edits or redraws, be it new portrait art or animal recolorings. Nothing wrong with that! However, always make it clear that you are working off a pre-existing base - for one thing, fans of that media will now be interested in your work! If it's not from a big commercial franchise that everyone knows (e.g., an indie game's assets or some Stardew fanart), the rule of permission applies.
- When possible, ask for and get permission before doing an update or addition to someone else's mod. Whenever a big update happens, stuff inevitably breaks, sometimes on mods that have been untouched for years. And sometimes other mods (like yours) may rely on that now-broken mod. What to do? First, reach out to the mod-maker - they might already be working on an update. If they're not, and they're not interested in doing an update, they may give you permission to do an official update or even maintain the mod in the future. But sometimes, you may get silence, either because they've quit the modding community, or perhaps the offline world has just gotten in the way. In that case, it's okay to do an unofficial update to keep things working, just be sure it's labeled as such. Depending on what it is, you might even want to take the general idea of the mod (e.g., "add custom animals") and create your own take on it from scratch.
- Don't bundle someone else's mod with yours (unless you have permission). Yeah, we know it sucks downloading a dozen framework mods for one expansive mod, but it's best to leave the mods in the control of the people who made them. A mod that isn't yours, isn't yours to make available. A mod maker may choose to make a mod hidden or remove it from download (e.g., because they're doing an update and don't want people downloading before it's done) and keeping their mod downloadable with yours removes that choice. Also, you don't want to be stuck doing a dozen updates to your mod if one of your bundled mods makes twelve changes in two weeks. Or on the opposite end, it's not fair to your users if they get your bundle with an outdated dependency.
- If you have a problem, have your SMAPI log ready. Mods can mess up for a number of reasons - anything from a corrupted file to a missing comma. The Discord community in #using-mods is always ready to help you figure out the cause, but to do that most effectively, the SMAPI log (which can be uploaded to https://smapi.io/log so anyone can view it) is the most effective for easily (and visibly, not all of us can see screenshots that well!) identifying specific errors, as well as context which may reveal the cause, such as other downloaded mods and if any of them have warnings or are out of date. Help us help you!