Do DRM free games matter even if the game is non-free?

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t3g
t3g
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The Humble Bundle store is having a big sale right now and for many of these games, they offer DRM free versions for GNU/Linux that can be installed directly from the download in addition to Stem keys. I know the free software community hates DRM and wants ALL of the code to be free software, but with it just being DRM free, does it really matter?

What I am trying to say is that will any of you at least play DRM free games not requiring Steam even if they are non-free or do you consider the DRM free games useless as long as the program isn't free? As in they are wasting their time.

moxalt
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Regardless of whether they implement DRM or not, they are still non-free
software, and must be opposed on those grounds.

J.B. Nicholson-Owens
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moxalt wrote:
> Regardless of whether they implement DRM or not, they are still non-free
> software, and must be opposed on those grounds.

And in addition from a security perspective, any non-free software one runs
has as much access to the computer as the user account under which it runs.

So any non-free software running as your normal login on your computer
could spy on you, open a backdoor (certainly a temporary backdoor when
running, possibly a backdoor that persists across sessions and reboots),
and more. Even highly-skilled technical users would have no easy way to
investigate this. Certainly nothing to compare with looking into the
security of free software. This is where I think examining this issue along
the type of software is pursuing a rather impractical argument.

JadedCtrl
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If I were to justify the use of a non-free game just because it was DRM-free, I'd be able to justify running any non-free program that is DRM-free.
Games are software, just like any other program. It's just as bad when a game is non-free.

jxself
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I think that the first had some free stuff, at least after enough money was raised:
http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2010/05/with-1-million-raised-humble-bundle-games-go-open-source/3

But this doesn't seem normal anymore though. You're totally right - They should be selling only free software. I don't give them any money for that reason.

One challenge I see with setting a particular funding level in order to make a program free (like that link... raise one million dollars and it becomes free) is that is seems kinda like a chicken and egg problem to get started. I might be interested in supporting a free game, but I wouldn't until the goal's been achieved. If they were to offer full refunds if they don't achieve their goal that might sway my decision in the direction to support it but if they don't achieve it (like maybe they "only" get $800,000) and don't have such a policy then all I really would have done in the end is supported a proprietary game.

I'd like to see more people doing what onpon4 is doing and developing free games commercially. Free from the start. Not free code with non-free graphics/sounds. Or that start proprietary and are made free later on when the code is thrown over the wall (and no longer compiles or runs on modern systems), etc.

quantumgravity
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"I'd like to see more people doing what onpon4 is doing and developing free games commercially."

Would you please open your eyes? It's obviously _not_ working.
I wished too that it would work and a lot of people could make a living from developing great free software games; reality is different though.

jxself
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"Would you please open your eyes? It's obviously _not_ working.
I wished too that it would work and a lot of people could make a living from developing great free software games; reality is different though."

And this means that I can't "like to see more people doing what onpon4 is doing and developing free games commercially"??? Good to know that people not doing this means I can't want it to be done. I can't believe I've been so blind all this time. Thanks for opening my eyes! *rolls eyes*

quantumgravity
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"And this means that I can't "like to see more people doing what onpon4 is doing and developing free games commercially"???"

You want more people do stuff that is not working and ends in failure?
Hmm you don't seem to care so much about them, but of course you're free to "like seeing that."

"Good to know that people not doing this means I can't want it to be done. "

Read properly. People not doing it at the moment is NOT the point.
People trying it but failing is. Can you name at least three successfully crowdfunded free software games?
0 a.d. once tried but failed;

onpon4
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To be fair, I clearly suck at publicity. I need to improve on that. As of today, there have been just over 3,000 visits to ReTux's contribution page. That's not very many. An established publisher wouldn't have this problem. (Having money for advertising would help as well.)

Magic Banana

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There is no need for the conditional tense now that Cloud Imperium Games' crowd funding campaign has raised $89 millions to develop Star Citizen: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/funding-goals

And yes, it unfortunately looks like marketing is even more important than development. According to http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/96227-How-Much-Did-Modern-Warfare-2-Cost-to-Make Modern Warfare 2 is supposed to have cost $40-50 million of development and $200 million of marketing!

jxself
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"There is no need for the conditional tense now that Cloud Imperium Games' crowd funding campaign has raised $89 millions to develop Star Citizen: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/funding-goals"

Ssshhh... we're not allowed to point to stuff like this because it's clearly not possible for free games to raise large sums of money. :)

quantumgravity
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"Ssshhh... we're not allowed to point to stuff like this because it's clearly not possible for free games to raise large sums of money. :)"

You don't make any sense.
Why should two proprietary games raising enormous amounts of money prove that this is also possible for free games?
Did I misunderstand you or was it just a childish giggling-comment since you can't come up with good arguments?

Magic Banana

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Are you saying that less money would have been raised for the development of Star Citizen if its authors would have committed to release the engine as free software and if they would have promised that their users would be free to non-commercially redistribute the whole game? In other words, are you saying that, all other things being equal, people prefer to donate money to projects that do not respect their freedoms?

jxself
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That's what they seem to be saying.

quantumgravity
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You think the development studio would have reached the position to raise 80 million dollar if they went the libre way from the very start of their carreer?
They would never have gained enough financial power to be visible;
and i can also imagine that some of your business partners would give you the middle finger if you tell them that you intend to give away the source code;
after developing THIS game, life goes on you know. They have a significantly worse starting point when they want to make a new one - a lot of people used their engine to make equally great games, maybe in their freetime, selling it non-commercially.

Magic Banana

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You think the development studio would have reached the position to raise 80 million dollar if they went the libre way from the very start of their carreer? They would never have gained enough financial power to be visible

Why not? It is not because they disrespect the players that studios become popular. It is because they make good games. And every studio starts small. I am not into gaming but I enjoy playing Hedgewars from time to time. If its developers were to crowd-fund a new game, or interesting improvements to the current game, I would happily be among the donors. I could even consider monthly donations like I do for the FSF or the Trisquel project.

i can also imagine that some of your business partners would give you the middle finger if you tell them that you intend to give away the source code

With the same (wrong) argument, you could state that free software will never penetrate the server market. Wait...

They have a significantly worse starting point when they want to make a new one - a lot of people used their engine to make equally great games, maybe in their freetime, selling it non-commercially.

"Non-commercial" means you cannot sell it. As in Creative Commons BY-NC-SA. Notice the copyleft (SA) that I added to make my next point: by choosing copylefted licenses (e.g., GPL for software and Creative Commons BY-NC-SA for the rest), anyone reusing your work will make your own games better. So, contrary to what you write, the starting point for your next game gets better. Besides, if other people want to reuse your work, there is a good chance a support business would work, hence a new source of income.

t3g
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A successful libre game is really few and far in-between if you are going the crowd funding route. Like I said in a previous post, the most successful ones have a name or property tied to it. Shenmue 3 was able to bypass 2 million dollars within hours of the crowd funding release. You would think that more people would have a greater piece of mind by funding a FLOSS project because they could go "oh I paid for this game and I get to look at the code and own it in some way" but the majority of people really couldn't give a damn. All they want is the final game and the experience.

"With the same (wrong) argument, you could state that free software will never penetrate the server market. Wait..."

That comment kinda irked me a little. It brings me back to a prior discussion where software, when used as a tool, should always have a FLOSS version/alternative. I use nginx for my sites and I am glad that I don't have to pay for server software. It is a utility and I can deliver information without restrictions of a licensing structure like one Microsoft would employ.

But for games... I dunno. People seek out games for entertainment value and it differs than server software where one may use it for various purposes and may even modify the code to serve their specific goal.

Magic Banana

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You indeed need to show something (like past projects people liked) to have a successful crowd funding. But, again, every studio starts small. Independent games are getting stronger and stronger (I have heard of Braid, Super Meat Boy, Binding of Isaac, Hotline Miami, ... or even 2048, which is free software), many players seem to enjoy testing games made in the so called game jams (creation in 24-72 hours of a game respecting a theme). Their respective authors could certainly crowd-fund more and more costly/sophisticated games until reaching the fame of Chris Roberts who raises $89 million for Star Citizen.

quantumgravity
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"Why not?"

I don't know, but I can't think of any developer studio that succeeded that way.
You think maybe it's because people don't really try, but i doubt it.

"With the same (wrong) argument, you could state that free software will never penetrate the server market. Wait..."

You're comparing apples with bananas here ;)
The os that got so popular for running on servers was developed over decades and is a collective effort of countless volunteers.
It's also based on the lucky fact that somebody like rms developed the GNU system and released it under a free software license. He wrote a free operating system that was able to compete with other ones available at that time.

If a second rms would come along and write a free game engine that is as powerful as modern game engines and make it as easy to make a great game based on it just as it is to make a great distribution based on GNU, then i would not doubt that free software would soon penetrate the game market.
But that's very unlikely to happen.

Magic Banana

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I don't know, but I can't think of any developer studio that succeeded that way.

I gave the extreme example of Chris Roberts' Star Citizen. t3g gave the example of Shenmue 3. Those are not free software games but, again, I see no reason why players would donate less to games that respect their freedoms.

Anyway, making money is no justification to preventing people for non-commercially sharing a game or making the software the software a blackbox that potentially harms the gamer (DRMs are common in modern games), where the bugs cannot be freely corrected, where modifications (such as mods) cannot be made, etc. Those are fundamental freedoms.

And besides crowd funding, there are other ways the society could come up with to encourage the creation of games. Like a (compulsory) tax on Internet connections where the user would decide where her tax money goes (à la flattr).

quantumgravity
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Just to clearify this: i don't want to talk negative about your effort in any way and i really wish you success.
It's true that there could have happened more in the retux-marketing section, but we all learn new things, right ;)

t3g
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I'm still on the fence about the DRM free, yet non-free games debate. If the software was a tool like lets say Python or nginx or an operating system like Trisquel, then I 100% agree that it should be FLOSS.

A game though is pretty self contained and serves one purpose. It doesn't try to run your web server. You don't use it to build things or surf the web. It is an isolated experience and you use it to enjoy the storyline and consume the media. Video games are art and should be in the same light as music and movies.

I'm not going to deny something like Grand Theft Auto V (which the PC version is clearly the best) in favor of something else "just because its libre" and have to deal with lower quality.

Yes, the game does have software due to the engine, but it is entertainment. Period.

jxself
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"...and serves one purpose." Says who? Everyone deserves the fundamental right to copy, modify and share. Period. It is the user's purpose that matters, not the developer's purpose. The developer of the program is not entitled to impose their purposes on someone else. All software is a "tool" of some kind and should be free for the same reasons: Making a program proprietary is a power grab. It's an attempt to have power and control over other people ("You have to agree to be a bad person and promise to never share a copy with anyone. Have a bug in the game? You must come crawling on your knees to me and pray "Please almighty developer! Please help us and fix this bug!" and *maybe* I shall listen to you puny people.") And maybe they'll fix it and maybe they don't. Either way, the developer and not the user is then the one in control and deciding that. This should not be done.

t3g
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Except that a budget for a video game is much bigger than developing web server software or a JavaScript library. I'm talking hundreds of millions of dollars (GTAV was like $250 mil and Destiny was $500 mil) that is not possible with a pure FLOSS game. You are telling me that a company should spend that amount of money and then give EVERYTHING away for free? What bubble do you live in?

I personally think that the engine could be free and the art stays commercial. So when you are developing a big budget game and spend the money on artists and voice actors and the marketing team, they should be compensated from the money they make from the art. It is a win-win situation where free software evangelists can get the source code for the engine and be happy that the software is open, but for them to earn the right to play that game, they must pay for the media of the game so the development house can stay afloat. If RMS is fine with game art being proprietary/commercial, then what makes you think that your ideology that game art should be totally free has any pull?

You do realize that the games you push like Xonotic are based off of proprietary engines and if ID Software didn't have the courtesy to release their old code as FLOSS, you wouldn't have anything now.

Magic Banana

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Except that a budget for a video game is much bigger than developing web server

I am not sure about that.

You are telling me that a company should spend that amount of money and then give EVERYTHING away for free?

He was praising onpon4's way to get money upfront. With a crowdfunding campaign where large donations leads to requesting a feature. I am pretty sure an hypothetical free software GTA 6 could be entirely funded in this way.

If RMS is fine with game art being proprietary/commercial

RMS is not OK with any work people cannot freely redistribute in a non-commercial way. It does not look like you are talking about such terms.

t3g
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https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/nonfree-games.en.html

"Nonfree game programs (like other nonfree programs) are unethical because they deny freedom to their users. (Game art is a different issue, because it isn't software.)"

"Since the art in the game is not software, it does not need to be free."

Are you choosing to ignore those parts?

JadedCtrl
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RMS doesn't think a game's art assets have to be free-- he thinks everyone should be able to redistribute art non-commercially, though.

t3g
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So let's talk more about this art issue. You pay for the right to see a movie in a movie theatre or stream a movie. Let's say you pay for tickets to go to a concert or live standup or sketch comedy. You and you alone specifically have the right to view that medium for the duration. That guy off the street who didn't pay shouldn't have the right to view it as they do not have the right to do so. They created something for you and provide the best method to share with you so they can have the income to continue to create in the future.

I'm talking about something in the realm of entertainment where it is not a necessity. You can choose to view something or not. It isn't food and their lives will go on if they choose not to consume your medium.

If you are the creator of that art, what benefit do you get from allowing others to freely consume your media when you spent hours, months, or years creating? During that time period you had to eat or pay rent or take care of someone else. Where does the money come to if you cannot monetize it with at least some restriction?

Turtleman
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Are we allowed to talk about an idealized society, with a radically different economic structure than ours?

moxalt
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Yes! Let's do it!

Magic Banana

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You analogies are not correct. The copyright is a right to copy and redistribute. I believe the audience should always be allowed to record a live performance and redistribute it.

Watching a record is nothing like the live performance... and that is why and how many artists make a living. The rest of the artists are paid upfront or are employed and do not get any royalties (certainly the case of the infographist, actors, musicians, ... in video games). And, yes, there is the 1% (.1%?) of superstars that make millions with the copyright law. But the main beneficiaries are, by far, not artists. They are wearing ties in the offices of Universal, Warner, Sony, Disney, etc.

Less than two weeks ago, http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2015/08/23/magazine/how-artists-are-making-a-better-living-in-the-internet-age/s/culture-digital-economy-slide-VB5P.html was writing about more and more artists make a living. In all the Arts. Thanks to Internet and our copying machines we call computers. At the same time, I am prone to believe that our superstars and executives in ties have trouble renewing their private jets. I do not care.

t3g
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Those artists are trying to make money from live performances because that is the only way for them to make their own money these days. Gone are people buying $20+ records (ever since Napster) and instead people would rather download them on their smart phone, stream via a site like Spotify or Pandora, or outright take the .mp3 and .flac files from a Torrent site.

If they could still make money from the "old way" of selling records, there would be less of a need to push t-shirts at a concert at inflated prices or turn to crowd funding. The reality is that many of these artists do have bosses and need those bosses at the record companies to not only throw them chump change once in a while, but to also market them and keep them relevant via singing at award shows or the Super Bowl.

I'm totally for an artist going solo in creating their own legacy and getting paid via donations on their site or through something like Patreon. But most of those times, those artists have a big fanbase due to a media conglomerate giving them a chance and making them relevant in the first place.

Magic Banana

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You do not get it. If you forget about the tiny proportion of superstars who are far too rich, no artist has *ever* made any income from selling records. In the case of music, the average percentage that used to go to artist is something like 2%. That is 15-20% if the artist is a superstar and 0% if she is not! The percentage is even lower for files sold online. Buying records is not supporting artists. The copyright law is not in the interest of the artists!

Almost all artists who live from their arts have done so through live performances, one-time contracts, goodies and so on. Be it before Napster or after it. In fact Napster (and, more generally, the Internet) have made them richer! Because it has helped them get some fame, hence more spectators at their live performances, hence more income. And it turns out it is true for all arts. That is what the NY Times reported. That is what any independent study (i.e., not funded by Universal & co.) have concluded on in the past 10 years or so.

Now if you care about Britney Spears not being able to afford another $100 million house... well, I don't!

JadedCtrl
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"Let's say you pay for tickets to go to a concert or live standup or sketch comedy. That guy off the street who didn't pay shouldn't have the right to view it as they do not have the right to do so."

However, it's legal and a common task for fans to upload videos of concerts and standup acts. You'll find a massive amount of them on Youtube.

"hey created something for you and provide the best method to share with you so they can have the income to continue to create in the future."

If putting excessive fines on someone (and, perhaps, a prison sentence or two) for sharing art is the "best method [...] so they can have income" then that would be, perhaps, alright. But it isn't the best method so they can have income, nor is it the only method.

For movies? Most films get a very good profit from being in movie theatres-- film companies could survive without even releasing to stream and DVD! Merchandise also is a great way to make a profit-- have you even seen Despicable Me 2's merch?! Merchandise makes a profit because a lot of people have seen the movie-- the best way to make the film available to more people and make a larger mech profit is to allow non-commercial distribution of the film. There are also people that prefer to have a nice DVD (Or a $200 "extra-special" DVD for die-hard fans)-- these people wouldn't die out because, in their eyes, MP4s just aren't the same as DVDs.

For TV shows? Mostly the same. But also, adverts. Under the hypothesized copyright system of "non-commercial distribution allowed," derivatives would still be illegal. The TV show could release it's digital formats with adverts actually in the video, so that when you download it there would be short commercial breaks in the media's file. Since users can't remove them legally, you could still sue the living heck out of people that remove commercial breaks and put the non-commercial-ed versions on The Pirate Bay or some such thing. Not the best or most ethical outcome, but way better than what we have today.

For music? Mostly the same, too. Concerts, CDs, signed stuff, merch, digital copies. For smaller artists, donations are also an option.

For games? Offering online services for the game, like multiplayer, leaderboards, etc. (Hell, you could sell hats for use on the online server.) Physical copies of the game (And again, $200 uber-mega-special editions for fan-fans), and merch. For smaller devs, donations are also an option. Also, selling the game itself online, and not providing a gratis download. There could also be a customer support "DRM" sort of thing. Upon purchasing the game, you get a key to make an account for the online server, and this allows you customer service you couldn't get without the key. Server hosting for less centralized games (Think Minetest or Minecraft) is another way the devs could profit. Perhaps a partnership with a server hosting company for an ad on their page. The developer could also say something akin to: "I cannot guarantee that copies of the game from other sources will be virus-free," and just scare the living crap out of people while just telling the truth.

Magic Banana

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With a crowdfunding campaign where large donations leads to requesting a feature. I am pretty sure an hypothetical free software GTA 6 could be entirely funded in this way.

Even without the fame of GTA's developers, Cloud Imperium Games received, from about one million players, 89 millions to develop Star Citizen: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/funding-goals

By choosing a license making the engine free software and authorizing non-commercial redistributions of the whole game, they would have probably got even more.

jxself
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"You are telling me that a company should spend that amount of money and then give EVERYTHING away for free?"
You of all people should know that when we're talking of free it doesn't mean gratis. Free software and free culture aren't anti-money. Recall what I said earlier that "I'd like to see more people doing what onpon4 is doing and developing free games commercially. Free from the start. Not free code with non-free graphics/sounds. Or that start proprietary and are made free later on when the code is thrown over the wall (and no longer compiles or runs on modern systems), etc."

"that is not possible with a pure FLOSS game."

So you say. Some people said developing GNU was impossible. If we really do want proprietary stuff to disappear entirely then it needs to be possible for people to make money from the stuff they make. All of the usual funding suspects come into play: Crowdfunding, subscriptions, etc. People are only limited by their own imaginations for what sort of funding models they can think up. BUT... just because someone's unimaginative and can't think up a way to raise a sufficient budget for what they want to do doesn't mean that sticking with the old school model of "I must take the power and control away from other people in order to make money" is valid. It assumes that the make of the money is the most important thing. Money is a reward only and isn't necessarily deserved. To quote RMS, "if anything deserves a reward, it is social contribution. Creativity can be a social contribution, but only in so far as society is free to use the results..." Society isn't free to use proprietary stuff, because it's proprietary. So if someone making something proprietary they don't deserve any money IMO.

"If RMS is fine with game art being proprietary/commercial, then what makes you think that your ideology that game art should be totally free has any pull?"
Fortunately I am not the only person with this view.

t3g
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Let's think about this typical scenario:

I have 10 employees (which is pretty low) and have the intention to create a game. Since the game is aiming to use a pure FLOSS engine, either I or someone on that team has to build it from scratch which takes time and effort. Let's say I aim for a year to two years for an engine from scratch. On top of that, I have to hire animators and programmers and artists and sound engineers. Let's say I also have someone to handle the marketing as well. Oh and don't forget an administrative assistant since we don't want the engineers having to deal with paperwork and use up their time. I'm guessing that you, Jason Self, wouldn't work for free since you have to eat. Especially since you say you live in Seattle and it isn't cheap to live there.

In that scenario, I have to pay these people rates relative to their skills in the industry. They wouldn't work for free and even paying them $30,000 a year would be peanuts and I'm guessing $50,000+ easily. Prior to hiring these people, I would have to risk my savings or find some sort of capital to get things going. The first year or two is going to be burning through my savings or that capital for not only the employees, but the rent and utilities for the office.

Let's say we finally finish the game. In your ideal scenario, you would offer ALL of the game available at no cost which includes the engine and the artwork since you believe that artwork and video and sounds should be given away for free.

Here are the scenarios:

1.) You sell the game for $20, which is under the average $60 price of a game. Someone goes to your site to buy the game but then also notices they can get the game for free. They will pick the free game.

2.) Let's say that person feels bad and REALLY wants to support you. But then at the same time they look at the cost. In the era of Steam sales, people are groomed to wait for $60 PC games to drop to $5. That could take years, but they are conditioned to wait for these seasonal sales.

3.) That same person may not play PC games but is used to freemium or $1 games from the Apple or Google app stores on their phone or tablet. That industry has conditioned those consumers to either get their games for free or at bottom prices. With that mentality, do you think they will pay $10 or $20 for your game? Never.

So where does that leave us? Now you are the owner of a company and you poured all this money into your game due to having to pay employees and the other costs associated. Don't give me the "oh you can get people to do things for free" mentality. Good talent wants to be paid for it because they have bills like everyone else.

That is why I leaned towards the scenario of having the game engine free and the assets not when you sell your game DRM free. You could provide (or even charge for the source code since that is also ok) the source code for the code itself. Its true that the game won't really function without the assets and is just a skeleton, but you can look in there and make sure its not spying on you and is of quality work. When you buy the game, the assets are tied to your email account or user id through a watermark of sorts to validate your purchase. That way you can also see who is distributing the game if it is pirated heavily on bittorrent. You can get to the source.

So that's my thought. I probably wasted my breath with the people on here because you will always say "give me free code and free art and free video and free everything" without the consequences. It just seems a little closed minded and not realistic at times when you want to aim for something as big as a video game and want quality work while still respecting freedoms.

jxself
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In this post you still seem to be confusing gratis and libre. At no point have I said everything must be gratis. Please correct your understanding. :)

"...when you want to aim for something as big as a video game and want quality work while still respecting freedoms."

It seems interesting that you say that while also saying "having the game engine free and the assets not."

t3g
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Ideally, you create a paywall for your game where they must pay for their copy of it. But then realistically, once that tarball and source code is out there after the first person buys it, it is distributed freely without restriction according to the free software license. It reminds me of that saying where you are the first one to get cable on your street, but the last one to pay for it.

Art is not software and doesn't have to follow the freedoms associated with free software. Therefore doesn't conflict with the free software ideology. Maybe for you, with the free culture mentality, but that isn't software. I do agree that there should be no restrictions in learning or access to museums, but a game is a source of entertainment and not education.

jxself
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"Ideally, you create a paywall for your game where they must pay for their copy of it. But then realistically, once that tarball and source code is out there after the first person buys it, it is distributed freely without restriction according to the free software license. It reminds me of that saying where you are the first one to get cable on your street, but the last one to pay for it."

Paying for copies made sense when copying was hard, but it isn't anymore. This goes back to finding other funding models. Just because someone is unimaginative and can't think of how to raise enough to fund what they want to do doesn't justify making stuff proprietary.

"Art is not software and doesn't have to follow the freedoms associated with free software. Therefore doesn't conflict with the free software ideology. Maybe for you, with the free culture mentality, but that isn't software. I do agree that there should be no restrictions in learning or access to museums, but a game is a source of entertainment and not education."

They can be education but I digress. You're clearly not onboard with free culture. That doesn't mean others aren't and won't be pushing for it. Nor does not mean they're being "closed minded" and "not realistic."

t3g
t3g
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Here's another question for you. Let's say someone develops a game that fits your ideals of free software and free culture. Or maybe its free software but has pay for assets. A customer goes on the site and buys the game and the developer doesn't immediately offer the source code for that game and asks $1.00 for the source code. Is that unethical to you that someone wouldn't offer source code off the bat? Maybe if the person doesn't want to buy that source code but then a month down the road puts in the request for the code and not only has that piece of mind, but also supports the developer.

I totally support free culture but I have limitations. I believe in open file formats for word processing, audio, video, and anything else that serves the better good for the broadest appeal and offers no restrictions on archiving that media for future generations.

But like I said before with games, it is specific to one purpose (art for that one game) and is for entertainment purposes.

I'm just trying think of various methods of how someone can feel comfortable developing freedom friendly games without having to rely on panhandling (crowd funding) for the duration of the development and deployment.

jxself
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There seems to be some confusion going on again.

"Or maybe its free software but has pay for assets."

Here you're again confusing libre and gratis. So for this purpose I'll try to say libre. Saying "but has pay for assets" tells me nothing of that license of those assets. Someone can pay for libre assets but also for proprietary assets. Is it libre? Is it proprietary? You don't say and I can't really answer vague questions.

It happens again when you say "the developer doesn't immediately offer the source code." Why aren't they? Is it because they're witholding it and it's not available at all? A game without source code is proprietary, as I'm sure you know.

Or is it the case that it really is available, but just costs $1? In that case I wouldn't describe it as "the developer doesn't immediately offer the source code."

Not knowing the specifics makes it hard to answer but I shall take a stab in the dark.

If it's the case where the source code is absolutely withheld like on a delayed release ("buy the game and get source code in 6 months for $1"), then I would not be okay with that because it is proprietary until the source code is available to those that are getting the game.

If it's the case that the source code is available at the same time as the game but for an extra dollar then that could be okay but only conditionally because it seems to becoming a slippery slope. $1 is not much but letting someone charge one amount for the binary and then another amount for the source code potentially opens a loop hole where someone could charge $60 for the game and then one million dollars for the source code and then no one could afford to get it. The game would in truth be proprietary since no one could afford the source code. (See "High or low fees, and the GNU GPL" from http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/selling.en.html.)

"...it is specific to one purpose (art for that one game) and is for entertainment purposes."

Not necessarily. Things under a libre license can be re-used. Even for uses and purposes that the original developer never thought of, so this logic can't really apply to libre things. onpon4 is re-using stuff in reTux for example.

"I'm just trying think of various methods of how someone can feel comfortable developing freedom friendly games without having to rely on panhandling (crowd funding) for the duration of the development and deployment."

Panhandling and crowdfunding are not the same thing. If it helps, think of crowdfunding as being similar to placing a pre-order but just with with different levels and amounts. Someone pays $60 and they'll get a copy of the same when it's done. If they a larger sum then they could get a copy of the game and some other perk.

I understand that a similar thing is going on with the sequel to Destiny. Pre-order now and get come bonuses:

http://www.gamespot.com/articles/all-the-destiny-the-taken-king-preorder-bonuses-an/1100-6429170/

What they're doing here is exactly the same as what is commonly seen in crowdfunding campaigns: Different amounts get you different things:

Normal Edition -- $40
Legendary Edition -- $60
Digital Collector's Edition -- $80

Are they panhandling? Of course not. Panhandling and crowdfunding are not the same thing.

Using copyright to restrict people is commonly done under the guise of "we need to restrict people in order to be able to pay for the development." But, in the cases of crowdfunding (aka pre-ordering) where all of that money's obtained upfront, what's the argument to be made for continuing to restrict people after all of that money's been raised? There really isn't one because their one argument's been nullifed by raising the money in advance and yet people do it all the time.

t3g
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For a while I have been trying to think of ways to encourage more people to make their games more freedom friendly but also get paid to continue to do what they love. I do agree that making games DRM free is a good step in the right direction, but there should be more than that.

You do have to admit that being a strong free software supporter does put you at ends of what the "average consumer" generally looks for in their programs and entertainment. I really want to bridge that gap so more people can have access to games that respect their freedom but also at the same time have source code if they really want to.

So here is what I was throwing around for something in my free time since I am a pretty decent programmer (mainly Python and PHP) and pretty good at making web site designs and their backend.

1.) Create a storefront where you have a GPLv3 licensed piece of software written in Qt either by hand or the Qt Creator program. Maybe in something like PyQt5 as offered via http://packages.trisquel.info/belenos/python3-pyqt5. Qt is a decent cross platform library and I have written programs in it before with PyQt and PySide.

2.) That program like GOG, Origin, and Steam would use the Qt5 Webkit to render the storefront pages but of course the "buy" or "source code" links will bring to a storefront on the site and when you go to install the game or source code, it would call a special link to talk to the program but if you are not in the program, directly give you the tarball.

3.) If you are a developer, you are of course able to offer the all-in-one game as you normally would. In a .deb file, .tar.gz, or maybe down the road in a Snappy package. Its their choice.

4.) When offering that program to the user, you either apply a hidden watermark or tie the artwork in the program to the buyer's email address or ID to make sure they are unique. While the software is free to distribute, the buyer has rights only to the art in the game and if the game is heavily pirated on like a torrent site, you can check the randomly placed watermark to find the person who did it. Like stated before, this art can be libre as jxself wants or can be commercial and when the person buys the game, the price of the artwork is factored into the cost (if the developer wants it to be) and not a separate payment.

5.) Offering the source code. The developer has pretty much two options. Offer a direct link to the source code that corresponds to the version of the game you are offering as either free or they have to pay for the source. People like jxself would of course offer a free option, but some developers may charge $10 for like a $30+ game. It is up to them. They would have access to the source code and for people like jxself who NEED it, they can get it. For average consumer, it may not be THAT big of a thing, but they have the option to get it.

So what is what I have been throwing around. While it is great that there are people trying to make free software games, there needs to be that "it" factor to not only make it easier for gamers to get these games, but also for the developer to have the comfort in creating them while respecting the views of the free software movement.

hack and hack
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I'm no web design expert, so forgive my ignorance. can't the N°1 and 2 points be replaced by Wordpress or similar?
About offering the source code for a fee: I remember the guys at Ardour doing that. But I wouldn't separate it from buying the program.
I think it's best to educate people to compile the program for themselves.
After all, the compiled package can be compiled from a slightly modified source.

About the watermark: if it's very well hidden (or there are several instances of it), it could "maybe" work as an identifier.
But then what? confront the offender? After saying he's sorry, then what? What I'm saying is I wonder if it's effective.
The creators of Frogatto seem to have a good model.

Magic Banana

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So, basically:

  • The freedom to study and modify the source code is only to players that are rich enough;
  • The freedom to non-commercially share the game is only to people who accept to be pointed out (I would say they are doing well, but you apparently seem to think it is bad to non-commercially share).
t3g
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1.) Rich? I hardly would say that a price fixated by the developer ($1, $10) for source code makes it "rich people only" if the consumer is willing to out of of their way to support your game. You ask people to crowd fund a game, which has NO guarantee that the game is ever going to be finished and you support on blind faith. Having an incentive for something that may not be necessary (but still available) to people in an effort to support the developer is more concrete as you get actual source code and not a promise. Like I said, a developer could have the source for free but also offer it for a small fee if they choose to. It is up to the developer and then up to the consumer to buy that game.

2.) You should be able to share the code for the game like any other free software code. The artwork part of it would not be allowed to share as it is for that user only. What would work? Splitting it into parts instead of one big package/binary? Lets say when you buy and then download the game you pretty much get two parts of the game. The first part is the engine and the second part is the artwork/video/sounds. Those two are kept separated for licensing purposes, but will talk to each other. This may not be the most ideal situation as you probably want to keep them all together, but what better solution do you have? All I'm getting is the typical question of ethics because of "I can't have what the other guy has" attitude even if the other guy paid for the right to the artwork.

Magic Banana

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1. What is the limit? At some point, people will not be able to pay for the freedoms they deserve. Like jxself wrote, it is "a slippery slope". That is the reason for Sect. 6 of the GPLv3: https://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html#section6

2. It is not right to forbid players to non-commercially share their games (including artworks). It is not right to forbid anyone to non-commercially share anything!

quantumgravity
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"Just because someone is unimaginative and can't think of how to raise enough to fund what they want to do doesn't justify making stuff proprietary."

Are you more imaginative?
Have a plan for earning enough cash in order to make a free video game?

Hundred-thousands of gigantic masterpieces have emerged in the non-free video game world, at those dimensions not a single one in the libre world.
Not all people are assholes who *want* to make stuff proprietary.
And not all people are unimaginative.
Maybe there _is_ no way, no matter how imaginative you are.

jxself
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"And not all people are unimaginative."

I didn't say all people were. Just those that can't imagine any other funding model as being valid.

"Not all people are assholes who *want* to make stuff proprietary."

Haha, but the reverse is true and all people that make proprietary stuff are? Thanks for proving my point. :)

t3g
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I keep on seeing crowdfunding being mentioned as the best solution, but from what I've seen, only the games that have a big name behind them or franchise get the full funding. I'm talking about Shenmue 3, Mighty Number 9, and that Castlevania spinoff.

All of these success stories result in the developer exceeding the goal and part of the reason why they get that is they entice you with supporting a platform that caters to non-free games. Want it on PS4 in addition to the PC? Help them reach another 2 million dollars and they will remove that roadblock.

That's why crowdfunding shouldn't be seen as the backbone of your project. Like many things, the popular kids always get the success and continue to have that success leaving no breathing room for others.

Crowdfunding is supposed to help with getting the initial capital. What happens when you need more money to deliver your project and sustain it for years? Are you going to alienate and piss off your original investors if you cannot meet those demands?

jxself
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"I keep on seeing crowdfunding being mentioned as the best solution, but from what I've seen, only the games that have a big name behind them or franchise get the full funding. I'm talking about Shenmue 3, Mighty Number 9, and that Castlevania spinoff."

A reputation (i.e. "big name") is also a factor in raising money, regardless of the method employed. If you have a history of providing enjoyable high quality stuff people are more likely to believe you'll be able to deliver on your promises.

"Crowdfunding is supposed to help with getting the initial capital. What happens when you need more money to deliver your project and sustain it for years? Are you going to alienate and piss off your original investors if you cannot meet those demands?"

If it turns out that the initial crowdfund goal was not sufficient to deliver the project, that reflects poor planning on the project leadership (oops, we underestimated the full cost of this) and not a fundamental flaw in the concept of crowdfunding itself.

Crowdfunding's only one idea but could also be used for a second round of funding too. Also there's subscriptions. This is especially good if it's a project that needs ongoing support. I think the subscription model was used for Ryzom. As I've said, you're limited only by your imagination. The pre-order system's also been used and as I pointed out earlier has some similarities to crowfunding such that there may not be a reason to draw much difference between the two.