Archive for the ‘crowdsourcing’ Category

Let’s Play Permissions for Open Source Games With Free Art

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013
Let’s Play (LP) is an uprising form of previewing and experiencing video games.

While a review summarizes the experience, a LP allows to look a player over their shoulder and indirectly experience the game from one perspective in its entirety – if both Let’s Player and viewer have the endurance.

LPs have many styles: non-commented, informational, humorous… And their production quality varies too, be it video, audio or presentation.

Example of a Let’s Play video in its natural environment
Some creators of LPs (“LPers”) earn money using YouTube’s monetization features. When they do, YouTube’s semi-automatic moderation process starts paying more attention to the videos’ compliance with copyright.

Sometimes, LPers will contact game developers to receive permission to create LPs. To many creators of games, LPs are a welcome form of promotion and they will always say yes.

Clint Bellanger of FLARE released a Let’s Play policy, which elegantly covers both the situation in which a game’s art assets are CC-BY-SA 3.0 licensed and where all copyright belongs to one person.

FLARE is a collaborative effort of many artists who agreed to release their art under CC-BY-SA 3.0 and I think that FLARE’s LP policy reflects the intention of the license very well.

A complicated case might be a game which contains art that is under the GPL, which could be interpreted in a way, that requires the resulting video, as well as video project files to be made available under GPL as well.

In theory, any LP could be considered “fair use”. However, for-profit use and use of large portions of a work are often considered as not being “fair use” – for example by YouTube.

For game designers, I consider LPs to be a valuable resource, allowing to look up features or part-experience gameplay, where acquiring, installing and playing the game would be impossible, due to time restrictions.

I recommend looking up games that you have fond memories of or which you always wanted to try but the installation effort was too high on or just YouTube’s search function with “let’s play” in the query.

If YouTube’s HTML5 doesn’t work for you, youtube-dl will allow you to circumvent flash player issues (monetized YouTube videos appear to require flash).

DevCorner: Liberate some great Blender game art!

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

UPDATE: First set of files has been released (license CC0) and on my advise he added some stretch goals:

  • 600$ > 3 game ready Enemies! (models, sfx, animations, effects)

  • 650$ > Dynamic optimized lighting system! (rich dynamic lighting with low resource usage )

  • 750$ > 4 new weapons!(model, texture, sound)

  • 850$ > Triple the amount of the actual props! (interactive objects,explosibles, new walls, doors windows etc.)

  • 900$ > New player model (model, textures)

Currently it is standing at 530$ and there are 22 days to go, so chances are we will see some more nice stuff out of this.
Way too many closed-source game projects never see the light of the day, and their code and assets are forever lost. Now at least one developer thought he could at least make a few bucks by liberating this content under the CC0 license:

There is some seriously nice stuff in that pack, and the 500 US $ he is asking for on his indigogo page is a bargain for it.

At the time of writing this, 200$ have been already pledged, so with your contribution it should be easy going to reach the goal. Update: 515$ contributed, thanks to everyone! Maybe the guy should think about strechgoals ;)

But I sure wish more developers of failed projects would release their assets like this.

Asylum: Free-as-in-Freedom Horror Adventure, Successfully Crowd-Funded

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013
This is a guest post by Hythlodaeus on an interesting FLOSS game engine project, being developed by a professional games company.

I guess I should take a few paragraphs on this article to explain my stance on crowd-funded game projects. I’ve always been turned off by most Kickstarter game projects for a very simple reason: after personally inquiring a plethora of developers on their stance for Open-Source and Free Software, I was generally met with negative replies, half-baked excuses, bitter retorts or complete silence.

Now, although I recognize it is every developer’s right to pick the license and the conditions for the usage of their own work, it strikes me as a very odd attitude for people engaging into crowd funding projects to be so unwilling to provide any other warranties to their prospective backers and future customers other than “we will make this happen if you give us enough money”. From this point, let’s make something clear: pledging on a crowd-funded game project isn’t exactly the same thing as buying a video game. From the backers’ part it’s an investment and a risk. It’s about depositing your faith on other peoples’ words, in hopes they will eventually deliver what they promised. When you buy a game, be it good or bad, you at least know that you’re dealing with a finished product. When you pledge on a crowd-funded project, completion is only a possibility regardless of the campaign’s success.

So, in my personal opinion, I’ve always thought crowd-funded game projects should strive to provide the level of trust they request from their backers. In this case,  that means allowing people to have access to the game’s source code under a permissive / Free Software license, preferably starting right at the end of the campaign. Why? Simply because that allows for a tighter control of what’s going on in the development backstage, and will allow every contributor to provide better feedback on the work being done. Raw engine code also gives backers something that can eventually be picked up and used for other personal purposes, if the project happens to fail for some reason.

With that said, let’s talk a little about this project, which is, after all, what lead me to write this post. Asylum is the brainchild of Agustin Cordes, the Argentinian developer behind Scratches, a horror game that managed to get some degree of attention way back in 2006. The project aims to create a Lovecraftian-inspired horror point-and-click adventure game that will focus on an intense and immersive atmosphere, followed closely by engaging storytelling. From the trailer and screenshots provided so far, it seems like a rather professional endeavour, but for me the most pleasant surprise, was that the developer’s in-house engine, Dagon, will be Free and Open-Source. On top of that, Cordes himself actually took the time to explain why he believes the engine should be free, and how such a decision aims not only to help preserve Asylum for future generations, but also to empower other indie developers by providing an open platform anyone will be free to use.

Since there is no information available about specific licensing on the project page, I actually went on to ask the developer about which specific license was being used for the Dagon engine:

Me: Hello. I have one question regarding Dagon. You already stated it’s going to be free and open source, but exactly under which software license are you going to release it?
Agustin Cordes: Hi! We’re currently using CDDL but I’m expecting to re-license with the more popular MPL 2.0 very soon. Cheers!
Me: Fair enough. Do I have your permission to quote this conversation in a news blog about Free Software gaming?
Agustin Cordes: Absolutely! :)

“MPL” referring of course to the Mozilla Public License, which despite not being a strong copyleft license, it is both Free Software and GPL compatible. So perhaps Dagon can motivate a new generation of graphic adventure lovers to innovate upon the work started by Asylum. We can only hope future Kickstarter projects and indie developers adopt a similar perspective on Open-Source development.

With little less than a few days to go (I’m ashamed to say I only heard about this project very recently), Asylum is already fully funded, but if you still wish to contribute to this genuinely FLOSS project, or simply purchase the game for a special price, you still have a chance. Extra funding goals have already been set, and some additional rewards may also seem worthy to you.

The source for Asylum’s engine, Dagon, can already be found here, currently licensed under CDDL (Thanks to Evropi for pointing this out).

Crowdfunding Games Into Freedom

Thursday, October 18th, 2012
Two games recently started “Kickstarter”-style campaigns on IndieGoGo with part of the offer being “becoming open source”:
  1. Monster 2, a JRPG which has been open source for a while but then was closed during a upgrade of game data/content, will be released under the Give it Your Own License, License if it reaches its goal of USD 1500,-.
  2. Tumblegonk, a yet unreleased simple puzzle game, will be released under GPL if it reaches its goal of USD 850,-.

Is this how open source games should receive at least a bit of funding? I wouldn’t mind if some old commercial or freeware titles would do such a step (which can’t really be repeated for the same project/game). It’s not a sustainable principle of course though.

There are few alternatives of making money with open source game development that comes to mind:

  1. Make the engine open source and the game data freeware but sell it on closed platforms, like Frogatto (iOS version is for-pay).
  2. Port existing open source games to closed platforms like in the case of Word War Vi (iOS version is for-pay – read the original developers’ thoughts on this in this forum post).
  3. [Warning: self-promotion] Sell additional, proprietary game data extra, while having the engine and base assets available under free licenses, like Nikki and the Robots (Story Episodes are proprietary and for-pay).
  4. Donations. Some open source games accept them. The only game with compelling data on this is FLARE. I don’t know of any open source games that fund full-time development through donations.

What I would really love to see is commission-based advertisement-games being developed in JavaScript, with at least their source code being released under open source licenses. But HTML5/JavaScript might not be there yet in the eyes of promoters and in the infrastructure of ad-services…

Oh, and Bitcoin! We need more Bitcoin action! FOSS game developers! Open up a wallet on for example and share your wallet address! As for Flattr… I don’t know any more…

There is a long and old discussion about whether it is possible to make money and on TumbleGonk’s crowdfunding campagin on our forums.