Friday, December 30, 2011

RTS updates (slightly older)

You probably heard about it already, but for the sake of updating this blog and in case you might have missed it over the holiday stress:
0 A.D. got a pretty massive update to version 0.8 "Haxāmaniš"!

The release news have all the details including the possibility to listen to the very nice soundtrack of the game. Oh and the developers are requesting to mention that they are still looking for contributors!

Otherwise? Well there are some even older news regarding the Megaglest project:
First of all, we didn't mention their new release yet: version It's mostly a bugfix and various smaller improvements release, but they also significantly improved the modding support. In releation to that I guess they also made the .blend sources of much of the content available. Something they are not required by the CC-by-SA btw, so many thanks to those guys!
Other upcoming news for Megaglest are the inclusion into the official Debian repositories and an option to play scenarios in multiplayer mode. No real news on the merger with GAE yet though it seems... a pity really if this isn't progressing...

Friday, December 23, 2011

4 hours left to apply: Talk in Brussels about your FOSSGame

When: February 5th, 2012, 09:00 - 17:00
Where: Brussels, Belgium, Europe, Earth
More info here

Modern retro-graphics: RetroBlazer

Short call for help: Awesome looking retro-graphics game is looking for a Darkplaces QC programmer.
So far only two screen-shots have been released (and no word on the license of the media):
I am loving the style... so here is the other:
So if you know your way around Quake's QC scripting language try to get into contact with them :) Otherwise you can still follow the progress of this game over at QuakeOne's forums.

Oh and taking about Darkplaces... Xonotic finally implemented client-side networked players in their most recent development release. Meaning that there is now client-side movement prediction and thus less (visually) laggy game-play on slower netspeeds!

Crowd-Sourced Portraits ETA: February 2012!

New fantasy portraits by Justin Nichol [more here]

Remember Justin Nichol's crowd-sourced fantasy portrait commission?

In a recent announcement the artists reports, that the collection of 35 portraits will be finished by February 2012, as they will be exhibited some day that month somewhere in California, USA.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Why we need a stronger copyleft for artists, and how this might be accomplished.

Currently, art copylefts are weak with respect to code. If I'm a programmer and I want to write code that's specifically for use in libre software, all I have to do is slap the GPL on it and I'm done. If someone uses my code in their program, they either have to GPL their program or I can force them to stop distributing it.

Artists don't receive the same protection. If I want to make a piece of art (be it an image, model, sound file, etc) for use in libre software, I'm out of luck. As it stands, all the people using my art have to do is share their modifications to my art and they're free to do whatever they want with the code. There aren't currently any acceptable libre licenses that cover a situation in which a program loads a specific art file. (Mind you, as an artist, it doesn't matter to me if someone loads my file in a proprietary editor, the same way it wouldn't matter to me as a coder if someone loaded my GPLed code into a proprietary text editor. More on this later.)

Over the last couple of years, a number of artists who have been frustrated by this particular issue have come to me and asked me what could be done about it. Many of them have asked me to include a noncommercial licensing option on OpenGameArt to address this issue. Unfortunately, NC licenses are incompatible with free software and as such I'm not able to include them on OGA without seriously violating the stated mission of the site. NC licenses do somewhat address this issue (although mostly by accident), but the problem with them is that they're far too broad about how you can use the media in question. A better solution is needed.

So, a few months after was founded, I had a discussion on the debian-legal mailing list about licensing that would expand the copyleft for artists by (in short -- please read the details of my plan before criticizing) forcing the programs that load a specific piece of media to also be licensed with a strong copyleft.

At the time, I was politely shot down. In their defense, at that point I was just a random person off the street with yet another random idea for yet another random license. Two and a half years later, I'm now recognizable by at least two or three members of the FOSS community (making me a small-time contributor instead of just a random dude) and I've had long discussions with people about the specific provisions of what exactly a license like this would require and how it would interact with free software.

Now, the key here is that for something to be free software (or compatible with free software), it can't prohibit "bundling". Bundling in this case is the idea of including multiple separate programs in the same archive. For something to be free software, the license must allow it to coexist peacefully with proprietary software.

In any case, for the purpose of this discussion, I'll refer to this hypothetical media license as the Foo License. Any media released under the Foo License would require that any code that specifically references that piece of media be licensed under a strong copyleft (such as the GPL or the Foo License or others -- we can define these by enumerating them specifically or just listing a set of requirements). If a program does not specifically reference the piece of media covered under the Foo License, then the program would not trigger the share-alike requirement.

To give specific examples of this, if I write a game that loads a certain sprite that's covered by the Foo License, my game code would need to have a strong copyleft. Conversely, if I distribute an image viewer (or editor) along with a bunch of images that are covered by the Foo License, the image viewer would not fall under the sharealike clause because there's nothing in the code that tells it to reference a single, specific Foo Licensed image.

Now, some game engines are clearly generic. If you run that engine on a specific data file or point it at a specific tree, the resulting game could be completely different from one stored in a different data file. The Doom engine is a specific example of this, although there are many, many others. In this case, the engine itself is completely generic, and would fall outside the scope of the Foo License. What is not generic here are the scripts and data files that define the actual game. In these cases, while the engine itself is generic, the script layer is not, because it has to reference specific items in order to load them and tell the game engine what to do with them. A generic engine like this is essentially a VM, and much like the GPL, the Foo License would not cover that the VM that runs the code.

One argument I've seen against this is that it's possible in some cases for people to construct specific, inconvenient examples of how you might skirt the requirements of the license. I can't deny that those situations exist, however the same sorts of situations exist for the GPL, and coding around them is a fairly effective deterrent (not to mention the fact that deliberately circumventing a license puts you on shaky ground anyway). It's been done, but it's not done all that often and it tends to make things inconvenient for both programmers and their customers. In any case, no edge case like this that anyone has brought up before has rendered the license non-free, so even if the Foo License is imperfect, it would still, like the GPL, work in most cases.

So, I'm looking for comments on this, but before you comment, please make sure you've read this carefully. Below is some copypasta that I'll use to answer you if you ask a question that I've already addressed. Please consider these answers before you ask, and if you're guessing that I'm going to respond with one but you believe it doesn't apply, explain why. :)
  • [ ] While your example could conceivably get around the intent of the license, it would be inconvenient to implement and doesn't render the license non-free. In any case, the GPL has similar edge cases.
  • [ ] The program you mentioned is a generic viewer/editor and is not programmed to reference *specific* media files.
  • [ ] In your example, the engine would not be covered because all of the media is referenced in a completely separate script layer, which *would* be covered.
  • [ ] In your example, the engine would be covered because it references the media in question by name.
  • [ ] I understand your wariness, but the fact that this hasn't been done in the past don't make it not worth considering.
  • [ ] Just because there are multiple ways we could decide how to address this issue, doesn't mean that it's ambiguous. It must means we need to talk about which way would be best and settle on a decision (see additional comments).'
  • [ ] While it may initially seem that the GPL would cover this case, the FSF has clarified (see "Non-functional Data") that art is data, and the linking requirements in the GPL do not apply in the case of art.  Thus, even if the art itself is GPLed, the FSF doesn't consider it "linking", and the share-alike requirement is not triggered. (Added 12/28)
Okay, bring it on. I love a good controversy. :)

Bart Kelsey

Trepidation 2011-12-20

999 ammo in Trepidation
Trepidation is an open source first person shooter based on the IOQuake3 engine. It was originally conceived on April 9, 2006 with the intent to build a free first person shooter with a sci-fi theme. The idea was initially developed by members of the Star Trek Elite Force gaming community.
Yesterday, the first development release since 2007 was released. It's mostly fixes but gameplay is affected. For example the sniper scope is more reactive and missing sounds are now in place.

There are 141 MB downloads for 32bit Linux and Windows. For 64bit Linux and other systems there's svn:
svn co trepidation

I haven't had the time to figure out whether or not I need Quake 3 or OpenArena for Trepidation to work. Besides the project page there is a blog and a forum.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Open-Sourcing Canabalt was a Success

Adam Saltsman, developer of the bsd-code, closed-assets, one-button reaction game Canabalt wrote about the effects of Open-Sourcing Your Game While It's Still Popular to their game.
The results of this decision, though not what we expected, have been very positive.
Let's hope the discussion doesn't turn into a hairsplitting war about "free"/"open" and "game"/"engine". :)

By the way, I found this news via in this comment thread. If you're into reddit as well, feel free to submit and cross-post relevant open source game (dev) news on /r/opensourcegames!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ludum Dare, Game Jams and Licenses

Olofson's LD22 game

Free, open source licenses are underrepresented at game jams and contests.

This weekend's Ludum Dare ends in a few hours and it already counts 754 entries. The following authors mentioned open source licenses in the context of the compo/jam:


Here are some non-submission projects discovered on Ludum Dare:

A *lot* of other submissions use GitHub but have no license info. :(

I found above projects using this advanced Google search. Hopefully, there will be more results in a few hours, which would mean another blog post.

kragniz' in-progress

Here's a quick list of ideas how free licenses could get more attention in such events.
  • Organizers could recommend free code and asset licenses
  • Developers could offer porting non-cross-platform submissions in exchange for release under free licenses
  • Participating developers, who already use free licenses, could advertise these in blog posts and announcements (more)
The Global Game Jam for example requires use of the CC-BY-NC-SA license, which unfortunately is non-free though.

Let us know of any freely licensed game jam/competition entries which we didn't cover!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hale Review & Flare 0.15 Video

Hale RPG
A very fine read is this review of the TBS/RPG Hale. Its first comment was written by the sole developer.

Flare 0.15 introduces outdoor areas. Translation submissions are welcome now as well. Look for instructions and examples in this post.

Freedroid RPG recently released the second candidate for 0.15. Soon it will be ten years since registration of the freedroid project on

Checking on Scourge 2, another open source RPG title, there has been no development for eight months.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Whats happening in OpenDungeons?

Hello, I am one of the OpenDungeons (OD) developers and I wrote this blog post for FreeGamer.

I bet you're all very excited about whats been going on lately, and I can assure you that a lot of stuff have been made for OD. We have new music for you to enjoy while annihilating your foes, we've got new concept art for the Human and Undead faction, a new forge and a completely new tile set. We have also begun working on the AI and a XML specification for creature stats.

Music and trailer

Recently timong join the forum and asked about some musical tasks to perform. He started working on a main theme for the game and came up with this :) While he was at it he also made a nice trailer for us which you can find in the about page or watch it below:

New concept art

We have also received some very nice concept art from the OpenGameArt competition for the Undead faction we got art for these creepy characters:
and for the Human faction we got art for these noble folks:
Code updates

Of changes to the code and features we have begun implementing a basic AI and making a XML specification for creature definitions, which should make life a lot easier for artists which want to try out their new model in game and for balancing the stats of each creature.

New tile set and forge

We also have new tile set made by Skorpio (although it is not in the game yet):

You can find more pictures of the new tile set in this forum thread.

Finally we also have a new forge to make devilish traps and impenetrable doors :)

Current tasks, problems and needed help

A new release is planned once a bug that is crashing the game is fixed. We are also looking for more people/help for the project, especially when it comes to coding. You can see more details about the crasher bug and what skills we need from new people here in this blog post.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Minimal puzzles: Search for Smodrick 1.3.1 and Black Obelisk

Search for Smodrick 1.3.1, a simple ncurses-based game, was recently uploaded to SourceForge.

Nearly dead in Search for Smodrick 1.3.1

The gameplay consists of finding an optimal path to get to the next level and avoiding/deflecting enemy androids. Game turns appear to be mixed-real/turn-based

No monsters yet in this match of Black Obelisk 0.2

I was reminded of the JavaScript game Black Obelisk by Starinfidel, in which your task is to destroy hidden obelisks while avoiding or luring deadly monsters. Hint: input is via mouse and you start playing by pressing black tiles next to non-black tiles.

Both games are single-player puzzles with minimal visuals.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Aleph One 1.0 released

Hard to believe, but after 12 years of community development, the guys from the open-source engine based on Bungie's Marathon trilogy Aleph One have finally released a version called 1.0!

If you are lazy, you can watch this first part of a long set of "let's play" videos to get run through this FPS classic:

But honestly? This thing even runs on your cell phone (unless you have a talking brick like me :p ), so no reason not to play it yourself.
Edit: *hust* that was shoddy investigative journalism by me again :( In fact Aleph One does not seem to run on cell phones yet.

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