Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Navy Seals: Covert Operations

You know you wake up sometimes and look in the mirror and GAH WHO IS THAT CREe... ah was me today. After a dab of water, some tasty scran, and the gleam is back in my eye.

Acer to make an "Open Standards" console? Intriguing.

People selling FOSS games on ebay? Scandalous - but is it illegal?

Navy Seals: Covert Ops

Y'know how people go "True Combat: Elite would be ace if it was open source" - well it appears we've always had the option of Navy Seals: Covert Operations. Just brought to our attention, this mostly-complete and apparently rather fun Quake 3 nearly-TC is struggling to keep going. I'd never heard of it before, which means their public relations policies either didn't exist exist or completely failed.

Why a nearly-TC? Well during the process of moving from mod to total conversion, the development stalled. The developers put it in a Google Code project and moved on, which is a shame because it looks like a very good game. They are, obviously, looking for developers to finish the TC.

Beta builds of F1 Spirit are available. It's an ace micro-machines-like game - but faster, and less toy-like, and actually a remake of a different, older game. Still, it's great.

Project Gamma is a 2D mech action RPG. I haven't tried it but it's Java and can be played as an applet, and source is available, so experiences in comments if you try it, please!

Hair drying... tummy rumbling... scarey Charlie retu... ruuughhh... GEURARGG UUURFUFFU BRAINS! BRRRAAAIIIIIINSSSSS!!!!....


Anonymous said...

Long time reader...first time poster.

I actually described an open console on my blog in Jan. I looked around and around for info and never found anything. I still think it would be a good idea but if the community came up with the standards and not Acer. Imagine a reference design in terms of video card and processor and OS that people could make games for. Sure it would work on the Open System but also Linux.

Here is my original post:

Anonymous said...

I believe Acer is not talking about an "open console", but is just talking about a custom desktop PC, running Microsoft Windows. I would be pleased if someone proved me wrong.

There is a Free console already, albeit it's only a handheld: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GP2X

2. FOSS games can be sold, depending on it's license. The GPL allows this, for example.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

It is perfectly ethical to sell free games assuming one has the right to do so. GPL code allows one to sell the GPLd program when one follows the terms of the licence. The media that is associated with a game is not automatically extended the same rights as the code; one must also have sufficient rights to sell copies of the game media along with the program.

People that sell copies of free games/program and fail to abide by the licensing terms are scum. There are numerous cases on Ebay that misrepresent the origin of their products.

Mr. Free Games, you misunderstand the meaning of FOSS. This blog is about games that are Open Source. The links on your blog have nothing to do with Open Source.

Unknown said...

Stand-aloning Quake3 mods originally developed on the Quake3 SDK isn't legal anyway. See this clause on the EULA of the Quake3 Source Code (pre-GPL release):

"a. So long as this Agreement accompanies each copy you make of the Software, and so long as you fully comply, at all times, with this Agreement, ID grants to you the non-exclusive and limited right to distribute copies of the Software free of charge for non-commercial purposes by electronic means only and the non-exclusive and limited right to use the Software to create your own modifications (the “New Creations”) for operation only with the full version of the software game QUAKE III ARENA; provided, however, you shall not make any New Creations unless and until you have agreed to be bound by the terms of this Agreement and of the LIMITED USE SOFTWARE LICENSE AGREEMENT which accompanies the full version of QUAKE III ARENA."

Urban Terror also falls into this.

Free Gamer said...

I'm pretty sure that the GPL Q3 engine is not covered by that statement. You can use ioquake3 to create standalone games.

If the case is that NSCO uses Q3 SDK material (I admit I'm totally unfamiliar with the Q3 SDK and what it contains) such as a textures, which were not bound by the GPL source code license for the Q3 engine, then this might explain the problems they are having creating a TC.

However, if all their media/content is their own or suitably licensed, there's no reason they can grab ioquake3 and create NSCO as a standalone. Many Q3 mods have already done this (Tremulous, Padman, etc) so if you are saying this can't be done, then you are wrong and should do some research.

Anonymous said...

I don't think there can be any doubt that selling Tux Kart and other open source products is unethical. I agree that it's perfectly legal, but:

1) He's fooling people who don't know that the games are free, and making them pay for being fooled. He doesn't say explicitly that they are commercial games, but it's the impression you will get, and he knows that.

2) He's profiting on other people's unpaid work without contributing anything while the developers get nothing.

Saying that something must be ethical just because it's legal is cynical. I don't call every stranger I meet nasty things just because there's no law against it.

You could argue that the developers chose to use a license that makes it possible for this guy to sell the game. But that really doesn't affect the former two arguments.

Well, that's what I have to say about the matter.

Incidently, here's what Wikipedia has to say:

In criminal law, fraud is the crime or offense of deliberately deceiving another ... usually, to obtain property or services unjustly.

oh, and thanks for blogging, Charlie :-) Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

***I don't think there can be any doubt that selling Tux Kart and other open source products is unethical.***

I have doubt, so there can be.

As for this ebay seller specifically, you can argue that it is unethical as you say, but if someone else wants to sell an open source product, there is nothing unethical about it intrinsically.

"Selling Free Software is OK!"

How you go about doing so can be a matter of ethics, but the act of selling is not only legal but encouraged.

As for this ebay seller: "Free Bonus Mystery Track Included!" Did this person create the track? Is this person simply linking to the main project's page? From the looks of it, I'd argue that it is hard to tell. Perhaps this person is providing value in some way, so to dismiss it as unethical on its face is kind of hard to do.

But it is definitely not illegal. There is no obvious fraud being perpetuated that I can see. You are bidding on a game, and the the seller will send you instructions on how to get it. "Money Back Guarantee If Dissatisfied." Unless this seller is being disingenuous about this guarantee, I don't see a problem. Perhaps this seller's value add is that he is providing games for people who are looking for games on eBay, and they have no idea what is out there. Maybe it isn't much, but he is under no obligation to tell his customers where to get things for free, and I don't see anything unethical about it. People buy bottled water even though their tap water is perfectly fine. I don't think it is unethical for these companies to NOT provide that information when trying to sell their product.

Anonymous said...

"As for this ebay seller specifically, you can argue that it is unethical as you say"


"but if someone else wants to sell an open source product, there is nothing unethical about it"

It's not unethical if you're being honest about what you're selling, and if you are providing a service.

Everyone knows that you can get tab water (almost) for free. And companies selling tab water do provide a service. Among other things, people may wish to buy bottled water because:
1) They don't have a tab nearby at the time they get thirsty.
2) They want to bring water along with them and don't have (or forgot to bring) a bottle.

It is not common knowledge that Super Race Kart 3D Racing Game is a called SuperTuxKart that is freely available on the internet. Especially not for people who pay for this. The guy knows that he didn't make the game, he knows that it's free and easy to find and download if you know its real name. It is not like he forgot to mention that.

You're right that he may have included a track that he or someone else made, but we don't know that. What we do know:

1) He's selling a free game he didn't make without telling people.
2) He's disguising the game's real name, making it harder for potential buyers to find out for themselves.
3) He didn't even make his own screenshots. The screenshots are taken from http://supertuxkart.sourceforge.net/Screenshots from three different versions of the game. The are no screenshots showing his "Mystery Level".
4) All the items he sells in the other auctions are software products that he didn't make.

These facts, while proving nothing, all point in the direction that he didn't make a level.

The money back guarantee is probably real. But the guy knows that a lot of people who buy this game will not find out that it's free within the first 30 days.

Anonymous said...

Most of the people selling things on ebay didn't make what they are selling, so there is no issue here.

Disguising the name may be a problem, but then again, is there a requirement that he keep the same name? If he is providing the hosting on his own, there is no problem. It could be argued that he forked the project without actually doing anything substantial to it. He can't change the copyright notices, as per the GPL, but he doesn't have to keep the name of the project if he doesn't want to.

As for selling other products he didn't make, if it is ok to sell one, why wouldn't it be ok to sell more than one?

As for tap water, not everyone knows that tap water is perfectly fine to drink. Lots of people think that bottled water is cleaner or fresher, and the people selling it don't have an obligation to clear up this misconception.

I'd be upset if this ebay seller simply linked to the main project's page. The game isn't called Super Race Kart, so unless he is providing his own version of the game where he changed the name, the buyer could be upset to find out that the game was none other than Super Tux Kart. In this case, he is not providing any value at all and is simply charging for the knowledge of a link. But again, we don't know if that is the case unless someone wants to ask him on ebay.

I don't see a problem with selling a product you didn't make, especially if the product explicitly allows you to do so in its license. I do see an ethical problem with doing nothing to provide value, though, so I hope this person is hosting this Super Race Kart game himself.

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