Another free engine of a commercial Game: Serious Sam

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commodore256
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Iscritto: 01/10/2013

https://github.com/Croteam-official/Serious-Engine

Engines almost never go free anymore mostly due to non-free middleware like Unreal and Unity where you can't free the engine even if you wanted to. Well, at least we got Serious Sam now.

andermetalsh
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Iscritto: 01/04/2013

Epic Games could do the same with the 1st Unreal. A free Deus EX but data, it would be awesome.

commodore256
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Iscritto: 01/10/2013

I think the agreement was more complicated. I think making non-free software free is just as hard as making free software non-free, you have to get everybody that contributed to agree, but it would be a hell of a lot easier with unreal engine 1, because that's when they had less people developing it. I bet MS would love to put the NT Kernel under a GPL compatible license so they can get BtrFS working on Windows, but the NT Kernel touched too many hands making it impossible to track down. That's why when you have in house software and you want full control of it, it would be wise to add a "It's not your code, it's the company's" clause to the contract.

That said, I would add money into the bounty pool to lobby every studio that contributed to the unreal engine up until the point of Deus Ex.

Magic Banana

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Iscritto: 07/24/2010

By definition, anyone can turn permissively-licensed software into proprietary software. Without asking anyone's permission. It happens all the time. That is why we need the copyleft.

Contracts often have a clause stating that "all your code are belong to us (the company)". I would not write proprietary software (it is an unethical activity) and I had rather not have such a clause even if the software is free: the company could end up subjugating users with the code I wrote. Given the current job market for developers, it is possible to find jobs where you work on free (or custom) software while keeping your copyright.

strypey
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Iscritto: 05/14/2015

There are pros and cons to assigning copyright over free code to a stewardship organisation, whether its a for-profit company or a not-for-profit consortium. Magic Banana has mentioned one of the cons, although I think the OpenOffice example shows that its difficult in practice for even the most ill-intentioned company to abuse the users of a free application.

One of the pros is that it makes enforcement of the licence much easier, the organisation can take care of it rather than the developers having to get together and organise a complicated "class action" law suit against the violator. Another pro (also a con if misused) is being able to relicense without a complication referendum vote of everyone who ever contributed a patch, for example a change from GPLv2 to GPLv3.

I think the story of the Koha library software is relevant here. The software was commissioned in the public interest by a government-funded public library here in Aotearoa, and developed by a small, local development company, who retained the copyright to the core code. The software was adopted widely, and both the original company and a number of other companies grew by providing support and customization to libraries using Koha.

The original development company was eventually bought out by one of its competitors, and that company was then acquired by another competitor (classic example of the inherent trend towards monopoly in markets). That company then owned the copyright over the core code of Koha, as well as trademarks to the name and logo, website and domain name, code repository etc. They used this to push further towards monopoly, alienating themselves from the rest of the developer and support community around the codebase. If the library that originally commissioned the software had take ownership of the copyright and trademarks etc, and either continued to act as the steward of the software or passed the rights on to a vendor-neutral stewardship entity, a lot of that unpleasantness could have been avoided (for more details on the fork and surrounding issues see: http://www.librariansmatter.com/blog/2009/09/19/the-koha-fork-and-being-the-change-you-want-to-see/).

Magic Banana

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Iscritto: 07/24/2010

I think the OpenOffice example shows that its difficult in practice for even the most ill-intentioned company to abuse the users of a free application.

Contributions to OpenOffice.org (which was distributed under the GNU LGPLv3) have ended up in the proprietary IBM Lotus Symphony suite for years. Because of the copyright assignment. The ability to fork free software (I assume you are referring to it) is a different topic. CLAs cannot do anything against them: the ability to fork is consequence of the free software definition.

I do not quite understand the Koha case. But it does not look like it has much to do with CLAs either. As far as I understand:

  • The competitor that bought the company would have bought the CLAs (and the trademark, yet another topic) as well if there were such "agreements";
  • The code is not distributed anymore: it is SaSS. Choosing the AGPL would have been the counter-measure. This has nothing to do with CLAs.
  • Nobody forked the original code (right before the company was bought) although it was, and still is, possible. Libraries (i.e., tax dollars) should pay developers to continue Koha. It would probably be cheaper than what they had to pay before the fork anyway.
JadedCtrl
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Iscritto: 08/11/2014

So far it isn't a fully libre implementation-- it requires Visual Studio. :s

Embracer245
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Iscritto: 08/24/2015

But still, this is probably the first step for game freedom. Only if there's a free replacement for Visual Studio, that would be good.

Jabjabs
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Iscritto: 07/05/2014

This is a huge problem with most game engines. They can liberate their code, and I am forever grateful to those that do it; but most engines now have an extensive web of dependencies on other non-free programs.

Be in the programming systems or the more high level stuff like audio/physics frame works, this is just becoming more complicated.

Turtleman
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Iscritto: 05/22/2013

This is also my issue with Meridian 59 right now.

commodore256
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Iscritto: 01/10/2013

A similar thing happened with the AGS engine, it was under an artistic license, but it was dependent on a MS Lib, so it took them a while for them to implement a replacement.