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starscape going mac / open source
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Magnulus



Joined: 08 Nov 2005
Posts: 556
Location: Bergen, Norway



PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 7:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well played, good sir!
*applauds Fost*

And a nice end to the discussion, too!
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ToxicFrog



Joined: 29 Aug 2006
Posts: 11
Location: Canada



PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2006 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it doesn't seem that releasing the source and continuing to make money off it are mutually exclusive - especially if you make the source available as part of what you get when you pay rather than part of the demo download.

As I see it, there's two main potential objections:
- it hurts profits from licensing of the engine. You could always release it under a licence that forbids commercial use unless they license it under different terms from you. However, as I understand it, you're not licensing the engine to other companies anyways, so this is moot.
- it makes the game easier to crack. True, but let's be realistic here - if I were so inclined, with five minutes of searching I could have at least one crack for every released version of Starscape. Availability of source code isn't going to make a noticeable difference on that front.

And against that, consider the benefits - a modding community, Linux and OSX ports (and possibly to other platforms, too; it is SDL-based after all. Starscape on Dreamcast, anyone?), higher resolution support, maybe even an option for newtonian physics Razz - all of which would, in addition to making the players happy, increase the value of the game itself and probably increase sales.

Past experience, however, suggests that I have probably failed to convince you; in which case all that I ask is that, when you are no longer interested in selling or patching Starscape, you release the source. I've seen far too many good games lost to the ages because the source code vanished with the developers.
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Fost
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Joined: 14 Oct 2002
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2006 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ToxicFrog wrote:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but it doesn't seem that releasing the source and continuing to make money off it are mutually exclusive

You may be right, but I can't think of any examples of open sourced games that (still) make money. Know any?

Plus, we've had a lot of requests for this, but none of the people who requested it had bought the game, so...

ToxicFrog wrote:
especially if you make the source available as part of what you get when you pay rather than part of the demo download.

Yeah, we have the customer panel with additional downloads, so if it ever did happen, it would make sense for it to go there.

As I see it, there's two main potential objections:
ToxicFrog wrote:
it hurts profits from licensing of the engine.

Yeah, we aren't licensing it out (no point, it's not sufficiently separate from the game, and there's great stuff out there like OGRE for free).

ToxicFrog wrote:
it makes the game easier to crack. True, but let's be realistic here - if I were so inclined, with five minutes of searching I could have at least one crack for every released version of Starscape. Availability of source code isn't going to make a noticeable difference on that front.

You'll note that lots of them don't work. Every time we update (and we haven't in a while, but we will be doing), it has taken a significant time for cracks to appear (We haven't updated in ages. If it was open source, then this would be the same day. I get what you are saying though, but I don't really want to discuss our view on piracy - we've gotten to our current thinking based on years of observation, and coming to our own conclusions. We see no need to debate those conclusions with anyone, and that tired old debate has threads a million posts long on just about every forum out there for people who are so inclined.

You'll be glad to hear that I'm not sure piracy has anything much to do with open-sourcing Starscape.

ToxicFrog wrote:
a modding community

It's easy to forget that we are pro-modding, but I suppose that's understandable given our stance on it with Starscape.
I do totally agree that this would not happen without the sourcecode being available. Starscape is not the kind of game where you can mess with an editor and some text files and away you go a merrily modding. We have an editor - it's called Visual Studio!

It's something we have eternally regretted however and are looking to work on with future projects - Mr. Robot is more data driven, and we hope to release the editor, which will allow scripting of rooms via lua.

ToxicFrog wrote:
maybe even an option for newtonian physics

Nooooo!!!! Wink

ToxicFrog wrote:
when you are no longer interested in selling or patching Starscape, you release the source.

Take it a read that would happen, but as long as Moonpod is about, we are unlikely to discard Starscape - we still even have plans for updates, but the form they will take is under constant debate here. It's interesting to note that we do have a set of apps/documents and data that we have with some reliable people to be released on even of our death. (Maybe I shouldn't say that Wink )
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ToxicFrog



Joined: 29 Aug 2006
Posts: 11
Location: Canada



PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2006 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fost wrote:
You may be right, but I can't think of any examples of open sourced games that (still) make money. Know any?

Chrome and Uplink are the two examples that spring immediately to mind. Chrome gives you the source code on the game CD, Uplink as a seperate purchase. There are probably others.
It's hard to come up with examples because most open-source games are released as freeware anyways. Open-source payware games are thin on the ground. On the other hand, I can't think of any payware games that were open-source and sold poorly as a result.
On the gripping hand, when the profits come from game sales rather than engine licensing, the valuable part is the game data - the models, textures, sprites, level designs, scripts, voice acting, and so forth, not the engine that makes use of that. A complete source tree for Chrome, for example, is useless without the 600MB of game data to go with it.

Quote:
Plus, we've had a lot of requests for this, but none of the people who requested it had bought the game, so...

Perhaps they'd buy the game if they got the source code by doing so? Wink

Quote:
Yeah, we have the customer panel with additional downloads, so if it ever did happen, it would make sense for it to go there.

Most excellent.

Quote:
You'll note that lots of them don't work. Every time we update (and we haven't in a while, but we will be doing), it has taken a significant time for cracks to appear (We haven't updated in ages. If it was open source, then this would be the same day. I get what you are saying though, but I don't really want to discuss our view on piracy - we've gotten to our current thinking based on years of observation, and coming to our own conclusions. We see no need to debate those conclusions with anyone, and that tired old debate has threads a million posts long on just about every forum out there for people who are so inclined.

Alright, I'll just accept we have different views on this part and drop this cthread.

Quote:
It's easy to forget that we are pro-modding, but I suppose that's understandable given our stance on it with Starscape.

Indeed. I understand your position, but on the other hand, if we waited for software to be perfect before release nothing would ever be released! And even without modding tools or source, file format specifications would help a lot. (You do have file format specifications, right?)

Quote:
I do totally agree that this would not happen without the sourcecode being available. Starscape is not the kind of game where you can mess with an editor and some text files and away you go a merrily modding.

Depends on what you want to mod! The height of my ambition at the moment is making low-level engines and shields red and high-level ones blue rather than the converse, which I'd think would be doable simply by shuffling filenames in starscape.00*

Quote:
We have an editor - it's called Visual Studio!

Run away! Run away!
(Just kidding. But I prefer NEdit myself, and SCITE if I ever get this regex-based lexer module for it finished)

Quote:
It's something we have eternally regretted however and are looking to work on with future projects - Mr. Robot is more data driven, and we hope to release the editor, which will allow scripting of rooms via lua.

Woot! Lua is made of happiness and kittens, and it warms the caterpillars of my heart to know you're making your other games more flexible.

Quote:
Nooooo!!!! Wink

I like being able to fly backwards at full speed Razz Perhaps I've been spoiled by all those years of XPilot?

Quote:
Take it a read that would happen, but as long as Moonpod is about, we are unlikely to discard Starscape - we still even have plans for updates, but the form they will take is under constant debate here.

Understood. I'm thinking more of the case of things like System Shock or Septerra Core - I burn with the need to hack on them, but the developers are long gone and with them the source code. That's the kind of thing I want to avoid.

Quote:
It's interesting to note that we do have a set of apps/documents and data that we have with some reliable people to be released on even of our death. (Maybe I shouldn't say that Wink )

Please. At the very least I'd hold off on assassinating you before you finish your other projects; to do so earlier would simply be rude. Razz
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Fost
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2006 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ToxicFrog wrote:
Chrome and Uplink are the two examples that spring immediately to mind.

Now that is definitely intriguing...

ToxicFrog wrote:
A complete source tree for Chrome, for example, is useless without the 600MB of game data to go with it.

Trouble is, that's freely downloadable with the demo in Starscape's case! Seems like a minor technical point though.

ToxicFrog wrote:
Perhaps they'd buy the game if they got the source code by doing so? Wink

I should have added, that we are pretty certain most of them had also pirated Starscape in it's current form. Now, you could argue they'd have paid for it if the source was available, but you are talking about a tiny minority, and in any case - the opinion of anyone coming to this forum as a pirate has zero worth for us. In fact, such requests from obvious pirates will likely have a negative effect on our opinion.


ToxicFrog wrote:
Indeed. I understand your position, but on the other hand, if we waited for software to be perfect before release nothing would ever be released!

I know our supoorters in this regard are few (or p[quote="ToxicFrog"]'t believe in dumping a completely useless mess of data on anyone - it would be quite worthless even to us. Especially without even tidying it up and writing some documentation it would take an age to get anywhere.

ToxicFrog wrote:
And even without modding tools or source, file format specifications would help a lot. You do have file format specifications, right?)

Yes, although most of that was handled by Goober, so possibly no Embarassed
Like I said though, there's aren't really any modding tools, other than the packer and spite compiler. I'm pretty sure people who are used to modding commercial games do not have an inkling of how bad it would be to work on Starscape Wink

ToxicFrog wrote:
Depends on what you want to mod! The height of my ambition at the moment is making low-level engines and shields red and high-level ones blue rather than the converse, which I'd think would be doable simply by shuffling filenames in starscape.00*

Ahh, well now that is of course possible, but we did a survey on this, and everyone said it would be worthless without the ability to add new things to the game. I presonally agree - What we really want, is a system to add custom ships. Just changing the art on a prowler might be interesting for 5 minutes, but it wouldn't keep me happy. Plus, I'd really want the ability to share that somehow, without it messing up the highscore system. That's kind of my min-spec for Starscape modding.


Maybe need to come back to this at some point and review it again. The current Starscape issue that precedes it, is how we are going to make any updates in the future. Once Mr. Robot is out, we'll have to make a decision - do we spend our spare time rewriting it to be more data driven? or do we just slog on with it in it's current state?


Last edited by Fost on Tue Aug 29, 2006 9:24 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Chibi



Joined: 01 Oct 2003
Posts: 271
Location: Denver, CO, United States



PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2006 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

zOMG, the leaked source for War Angels! It's halflife2 all over again!
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ToxicFrog



Joined: 29 Aug 2006
Posts: 11
Location: Canada



PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2006 11:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's full of IIS error pages! It burns! It BUUUUURNS!
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Sartan



Joined: 02 Apr 2006
Posts: 3



PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've mentioned this before, though I never got an answer. Why not see if someone like Ambrosia would be willing to port it to the Macintosh, like they did with Introversion's Uplink and Darwinia, or ATMOS's Escape Velocity?
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Fost
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sartan wrote:
I've mentioned this before, though I never got an answer. Why not see if someone like Ambrosia would be willing to port it to the Macintosh, like they did with Introversion's Uplink and Darwinia, or ATMOS's Escape Velocity?


Something along those lines may indeed be a route we look into in the future. Our stance has always been that it's financially pointless but we'd like to do it anyway just to support Mac users. Figures for everyone else we've spoken to are around 3-15% of windows sales, which just doesn't make it worth it if your goal is financial, but we just want to give the support more than anything else.

If you look at it that way, it makes sense to co-operate with an interested party. However, it's not just a case of sending them a pile of source code and waiting for their call. That would be pointless - it would still be a lot of work for Mark to assist and even just get the code ready for someone else. We currently can't spare any time whatsoever, because we don't even have the time free to work on our existing projects. That's really the only thing holding us back.
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Sartan



Joined: 02 Apr 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 10:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What if you could get more staff?
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Fost
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sartan wrote:
What if you could get more staff?

Well, then we'd have to pay them, so we'd actually be even more concerned about finances because other people would be relying on us to make sure the business stayed afloat. If we had more staff, then they'd be put to good use working through the pile of game ideas that surround Mark's desk Smile

It's just difficult and I've not seen an easy solution yet. Indies are the last people who have any spare time to do anything, yet many do, and we certainly have the intention, if not the means.

So, yeah, having more staff would be great, so would being able to go on holiday, and having a car that isn't ****...
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