Tuesday, May 22, 2007


There's a new Ultimate Stunts release, 0.7.1, which adds a few nifty features and fixes a few commonly reported bugs. This open ended driving game continues it's history of steady development, something I like to see in open source games.

Our newly incepted project Fortress continues to attract interest and we now have a wiki collecting together information on the both Castles (the game that inspires Fortress) and how we want to see Fortress evolve. Hopefully in the next few weeks a bit of prototyping will occur, but a bit of planning in the meantime should scope out the project nicely.

Fortress will also provide me an opportunity to write some articles on the issues that affect open source game development. (I was tempted to write "successfully developing an open source game" but then that's just setting myself up.)


Somebody brings up Darsana in the Ubuntu forums. They call it beautiful, well, that's perhaps a little strong. It does look interesting though, an FPS with a medieval setting. However there seems to be some furore over the licensing of it. Whilst it uses the Dark Places engine (a highly modified version of the Q1 engine released by iD) which is licensed under the GPL, the author of Darsana believes that he is under no obligation [2] to release the source to the game. Now that's something I would need to look into deeper before I could comment properly on it (there are various nuances to the virality of the GPL so I'm not sure how it would affect mods) but it is intriguing.

To add to the Darsana soap opera, it appears that the source to version 1.0 has been lost, although work continues on version 2.0 of the game.

I came across the online gaming magazine Escapist. It's layout is beautiful, although totally image based. Whilst not open source specific, I found it quite interesting. Plus there's an article about girls in gaming. Seriously, I could barely believe it either, girls can play computer games. Next thing you'll be telling me is that they can play sports too! ;-)


Albert said...

If you call The Sims a game...!

j/k :D

Anonymous said...

License-wise, a distinction can be made between the source of the actual engine and the data used by it.
It's perfectly legal to keep the data that's seperate from the engine (such as graphics, sounds etc) closed-source, as long as it isn't based on any material puplished under an OSS/copyleft license.
This however doesn't affect the fact that the Darkplaces engine is published under the GPL, so if the developer of the mod modified the Darkplaces code and distributes it in binary form with the mod data, he also has to make the modified engine source available.
Recap: If the mod makes use of a modified Darkplaces engine, the developer is obligated to publish the source of it.
If the game data has been created from scratch or is based on content published under a license allowing for proprietary reuse, there shouldn't be any legal problems with the developer keeping it closed-source.

Charlie said...

That's basically what I thought but I wanted to clarify exactly how Darsana modifies (if at all) or builds upon (if at all) the Dark Places engine.

If it's just a pure mod then there is no issue at all, but the responses of the Darsana developer imply a more complicated scenario which is what is riling a few people.

Anonymous said...

In the Darsana forum, darklogic summed it up quite nicely:

You seem to be confusing "source code" with the code/resources from the data files. While you are under no obligation to release the data code at all, since that is from scratch (and even the original Quake data is still proprietary), any changes made to the *engine* code itself does have to be released under the GPL. If you have made no changes to the engine code, then a vanilla darkplaces binary should be able to run your data fine; unfortunately I have found that this is not the case, meaning some ENGINE source code must have been changed, and therefore falls under the GPL.

Now, it might seem confusing at first, but it's actually quite simple: Every published work using GPL'ed code is automatically GPL'ed as well. Darklogic's post shows there have been changes made to the Darkplaces source, so Chris _must_ publish the source.

Charlie said...

Thanks for clarifying that. :-)

Well I'm sure he'll bow to pressure to adhere to the GPL sooner or later.

Unknown said...

check out the size of that editor's choice award graphic... sheesh.

endymion said...

yes he can keep the data files closed source and doesnt break the licence at all.

But he did seem to make some modifications to the engine and didnt publish them, so hes technically breaking the licence.

But he says a) he lost the code so cant help it and b) its only 10 - 15 unimportant lines of difference to load some fileformat. If hes honest while technically illegal, thats not a blatant disregard for the licencing terms.

In those forum threads I understand him saying that darkplaces engine creators saw what he changed to the engine. He didnt claim the following so is likely not the case, but just to note that creators of a GPLd program would be free to allow someone to create a closed-source version and modification of their code, just like with dual licencing; GPL doesnt bind the original authors, only those that get their code with the GPL conditions allready set.

endymion said...

I dont know why he reacts as insulted by the supposed rudeness of the demands for the modifications though, yes ppl have the _right_ to _demand_ it, under the GPL, if hes unable, it be better if he were apologising for that, would create less friction...

endymion said...

apologies, just remembered that it was said that Darkplaces itself is based on the GPLd Q1, that makes it impossible for a closed source modification of Darkplaces , however small, to be legal, regardless of the hypothetical blessing of Darkplaces leads - unless id approves it explicitly as well...

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter whether he's changed two lines of code or 10000, he's in breach of the GPL's terms.
It's totally irrelevant that he lost the code, he'd better remove all downloads of the game immediately. No source on request = breach of license = illegal.

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