I first thought: Well, Steam it is then. But i hesitated, found and tested https://steamworkshopdownloader.io
/ and came to the conclusion, that the map/campaign installation workflow is bearable. So i bought it on GOG for ideological reasons only. I would have bought on Steam if that website wouldn't exist because your mod/map portal just doesn't cut it. It obviously is an afterthought added after the Workshop already became the goto place fopr mod/map creators. So it was bound to fail from the start.
Please consider handling community and mods/maps like Wube (makers of the famous Factorio) next time. They are also inexperienced indie devs making their first game, but thought about such things from the start. They had their own forums, mod portal and support for that portal in their game _before_ (very important) starting to also sell on Steam. And their game Factorio comes with only support for their own mod portal on all plattforms (no workshop support, so using their own platform is more convenient - also very important) so buyers on all platforms get the same streamlined modding experience and all modders release on the same common mod portal.
Absolutely I would like to ensure that "mod" hosting is a more streamlined and accessible process for all our players for futures titles, where I'd also like to consider UGC much sooner in a game's lifecycle. I believe the key to this is making it as frictionless as possible with a toolkit that enables uploading to at least one more platform that is accessible to all players as well as the Steam Workshop.
So that's what I'll say for now, while I can't make any promises because I am not the decision maker on these things I have been an advocate for this, the foundry and the map pack we provided are both a result of my desire to try and provide the best we can for this (the GOG.com) community.
So I will push for it when the time comes to start planning the next project. 1. For UGC to be a significant part of the project from day 1, if UGC is planned at all and 2. for it to be more platform independent than ever before.
I thought it might be interesting to go into a little bit of the reasons behind how we got here so everything below this point is a little bit about that.
As you say the forum solution was a last minute solution to the game becoming available off-steam "again", there was a DRM-Free version prior to GOG but it was used by frighteningly few users and distributed by humble. Honestly it was my attempt to try and make sure that GOG wasn't completely neglected in this regard but it's a poor substitute to the workshop and remains neglected by most authors. Essentially because there's too much friction to ensure parity between it and the workshop.
There's a history to WFTO's support being largely steam focussed, unlike Wube who's work on supporting UGC started much earlier in their project, when they sold directly from their site. WFTO has never been independent of Steam, we were amongst the first greenlighted projects before Steam Greenlight became an open doors policy and our Kickstarter always started on the premise of distributing steam keys.
Simply put when the Map Editor was finally added in Patch 1.3, nearly a year after release, there simply wasn't a need to release maps off the steam platform, and when the GOG Release came nearly two years after the Steam release that's the first it was reconsidered by which point any effort would be truly fruitless.
Furthermore, our project was almost tanked in the early days by an attempt to support UGC from the outset, which we've written about in the past
. I think that left us with some battle-scars which made us very hesitant to truly invest in UGC.
We actually planned originally for a suite of mod tools to be available from day one and for hosting on the Nexus network, we actually had a WFTO Nexus page for quite some time. This was largely driven by the producer at the time but the ambition far outstripped our capability to deliver, and a change in leadership lead to a change in direction which both saved the project and doomed UGC to the backburner for the foreseeable future. But this was the right choice for us in the long run, it meant that WFTO released, albeit in a worse state than it should have due to ~six months worth of lost work, which we then had to catch up on with a reduced team and is a large part of why WFTO's core swims in technical debt.
Long story short, we had big ambitions, we fell short of them, we chose to survive, Steam became central, UGC wasn't a factor until post-release, which in a Steam dominated environment naturally fell to relying on the Steamworks suite.
I don't know the history of Factorio's development or the devs behind it. But I assume that the technical background and the small nature of the initial Factorio team helped a great deal to establishing a great technical and modding framework and support structure like they have now.
WFTO's project was a bit of a different beast, larger teams and projects carry momentum and changing direction is more difficult, when whether two dozen people get to eat is determined the success of your project, you have to make the choices that ensure their safety and satisfaction. I say this as someone who opted to forego payment for nearly 2 months in the run up to our release in 2015, after quitting my old job to make it happen.
For our circumstances I think we made the best choices we could, and we now live with the outcomes of those choices. Now none of this is to say that things will be different with our next project, or even WFTO2 but there are at least voices that will advocate for us to be better. I don't want any customer to feel like an after-thought.