Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Games Entertainment

Free The TA Source Code 145

Posted by Hemos
from the like-willy dept.
JFL writes " A petition to request that the Total Annihilation source code's current owner, Infogrames, release the code into the public domain is currently in full swing over at the French site TA Forever. " I recently picked up TA again, and played around with it - while the graphics are looking a bit dated, the design for the system is great - a very extensible design system, and one that you could build some interesting environments on top of. The use of height is something that was, and to a certain extent, still far ahead of other RTS ? games.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Free The TA Source Code

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2002 @12:19PM (#2828721)
    Who here will actually use the source code that is going to sign the petition? You are going to act like you will, but once you see the source you are going to say "yes.. it is open now".

    Then tommorow you will forget that anything happened. Not trying to be flame bait, but that is just how I see it.
    • Tsst. Experience proves that such open-sourcing sometimes creates some support behind projects to enhance the game, port it to other platforms, and so on.
      I'm specifically thinking about Marathon [bungie.org], which open-sourcing led to a regain of interest in the game, the engine being heavily modified to support OpenGL acceleration (it wasn't a true 3D title to begin with), other improvements for the Sound engine, game engine, graphics engine, network engine, new script language added, game running on Linux, BeOS, Mac OS X, new network games type added, support for different formats of 3D models, and so on.....
      Even if Marathon is the exception, it is worth to open-source thousands of game if you get one or two creative projects like that.
      Anyway, even if you didn't, it would still be worth it. I don't think hosting the source code for everybody to download costs that much to the companies :-)
    • Just because you sign the petition dosent mean you will download the source and modify it. It may mean that you would like to see development of classic games continue once their companies have dissappear...

      TA was a groundbreaking game for AI. I, personally, would like to look at how it's AI code works, although I am nowhere near good enough a programmer to actually make a game based on this source.

      Basically, just because you sign the petition, dosent mean you have to be a game programmer.
      • TA, unlike red alert, actually had competant AI. It actually took some effort to defeat, and it was in fact competant enough to use combined arms forces (i.e. ships, etc.) rather than just throw tanks at you.
    • I would like to study the code for a real RTS like StarCraft or TA.
  • by perdida (251676)
    I dunno why anybody would release code that even a very small market wants, for FREE, in this economy.


    At least give them something of value for it.


    If the code belongs to a small group of individuals, offer to pay them or exchange services (like web design or web hosting?) to the people who own it. Help them advertise themselves and start a new business for themselves.


    There is little tolerance for email petitions and other such forms of protest in this day and age. Few can afford to be generous.

    • Few can afford to be generous.

      What a depressing statement. As generosity isn't exactly about money, I'd say everyone can afford to be generous.

      What you're talking about is something else. It's when you keep something to yourself which has no monetary value and gives you no benefit. Perhaps that should have been "Everyone can afford to be miserly."
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I dunno why anybody would release code that even a very small market wants, for FREE, in this economy.

      I don't know why anybody would hang onto code that they don't intend to do anything with - oh wait, I do - to stifle competition.

      Cavedog (the makers of TA) was dead before Infogrames aquired it's parent company, GT Interactive (and it's sister company, Humongous Entertainment). Infogrames only owns TA as an in-the-vault piece of intellectual property, yet they are extremely anal and possesive about their intellectual property. They scammed the founders of Humongous Entertainment out of all of theirs during the buyout, although they have repeatedly stymied several efforts within the studio to develop those properties.

      If the code belongs to a small group of individuals, offer to pay them or exchange services (like web design or web hosting?) to the people who own it.

      Do you have any idea who Infogrames is? They are not a "small group of individuals". They are often described as the world's largest intertactive entertainment company. They own the rights (for game development) to Warner Brothers characters for cripes sake.

      There is little tolerance for email petitions and other such forms of protest in this day and age.

      I also think this petition is doomed to failure (unfortunately). But not because of general low tolerance or because of the current enconomy. Rather, because Infogrames is a global corporation and because they act like one. We are not worthy even of their notice.

      - A former Humongous Entertaiment employee.
  • I don't get why people want this specific game released?

    If you're going to make such a fuss over this game, why not sign petitions to get Unreal Tournament's source released? It's just as old as this game.

    Why doesn't anyone make a fuss for the laundry list of games that no one generates profit from anymore?

    In case you're wondering, you can still buy this game in the stores, so it's still generating profit for the company(albiet marginal profit).
    • I checked my box of Total Annihilation. Copyright 1997. That means 4-5 years old. About the age of Quake2 actually (and the Quake2 source *is* released). Releasing the source of a RTS game could result in many different clones. TA is an excellent game for this because it uses 3D models as units instead of pixelled graphics. This will probably make it easier to create new units or themes.
      • there are already hundreds of units
        • I know, but letting other people create new units, maybe a new enemy or whatever isn't a bad idea.
          • People *have* been doing that since the game's file formats were cracked about (about 3 months after it was released/0. They've made new units, new AI, and even a couple of new races. There was an open source version of the engine written in OpenGL (iirc). Don't know what happened to it, but if you poke around the TA Universe [tauniverse.com] website you should be able to find something. And this isn't the first time this has been tried. A group got together a few years ago to try to buy the source from Infogames. they didn't get very far.
      • I checked my box of Total Annihilation. Copyright 1997. That means 4-5 years old

        Five is less than ninety-five [everything2.com]. A company that Infogrames bought created the code; therefore, <sarcasm>Infogrames deserves the right to it for ninety-five years, and the public benefits immensely from receiving the source code at the end of this copyright term</sarcasm>. If you disagree, do something about it: vote those eresponsible out of office.

        Assuming that you're a United States citizen who voted in the 1996 elections, the representative and senators that you elected voted for the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. It was a voice vote, and nobody objected enough to demand even a mere head count. Next time, vote for leaders that won't take away Americans' right to a rich public domain. In the meantime, fax your representatives in whatever national government you happen to be under. To paraphrase U.S. President Bush, if you're not for copyright reform, you're against it.

    • Unreal Tournament is still turning a profit. I've seen it for $35 in stores this month. I just bought six copies of TA:CC for $7 a piece, which I imagine was about the manufacturing cost for the box set. And the company that owns TA is no longer in business. I guess you could compare this to the "Free BeOS" petition. The company that owns it isn't around anymore, it's a really great product, and if you wanted to purchase it, it would be difficult. So we ask the owner to give it to us.

      ~LoudMusic
  • Deadline (Score:4, Informative)

    by hogsback (548721) on Saturday January 12, 2002 @12:23PM (#2828735) Homepage
    The TA site says the deadliine for the petition was 30th December 2001.

    Oops.
  • by mESSDan (302670) on Saturday January 12, 2002 @12:26PM (#2828747) Homepage
    at WalMart and K-Mart, it's part of the $9.99 software. I know because I almost bought it again, even though I own all of the TA series (TA, TA:Core Contingency, TA:Kingdoms, and TA:K:Iron Plague), but I wouldn't mind keeping a copy in shrinkwrap just in case, the game is THAT fun.

    IMO, the only reason TA isn't considered to be the BEST RTS game created is because it was overshadowed by a much more hyped and anticipated game, Starcraft.

    • I think starcraft and TA are actually very from very different genres. TA is a very well balanced RTS with an unlimited resource model. Starcraft on the other hand is more participatory cinema and role playing with a
      decent limited resource RTS grafted on.

      I really think StarCraft succeeded more on its
      cinematic qualities than on it's RTS qualities.
      Lately I've been thinking most of the really
      sucessful games regardless of genre are doing
      the same.
    • and of course, since Starcraft had far more hype, its graphics will never look dated, right?
    • Oh, TA was a totally revolutionary game. It turned strategy games from being turn-based, single-player puzzles into real-time net-connected battles. Where would we be without the flash rush or porcupine strategy or fusion times or...?

      Definitely the Doom of the rts genre.

    • I bought TA Battle Tactics in Australia for AUS$15. What a find! You can't buy this in the northern hemisphere now it seems, and Electronics Boutique in a shopping centre in Miranda, Sydney had it.
      So now you know where it is folks... ;-)
  • by AirLace (86148) on Saturday January 12, 2002 @12:27PM (#2828753)
    Releasing software to the "public domain" is dangerous and stupid.
    IANAL, but public domain software has several legal issues that open the originator of the code to legal liability. It may prove prudent to request that they license their code under the BSD or GPL licenses, which limit liability.


    Although I can't go into details (still under NDA after 6 years technically), we got bitten by this at a large software house not so long ago. Basically, some of our examples in the documentation were marked as "public domain" software and a third party began to redistribute the examples in binary form with added graphical interfaces. It turned out of the developers of this GUI had written his code on another company's time, and that company decided to sue us. Since there was no limitation of liability in our distributed source code, our lawyers had a harder time justifying our position.


    Don't underestimate the bit of a license that goes something like this:


    THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY THE REGENTS AND CONTRIBUTORS ``AS IS'' AND
    ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE
    IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE
    ARE DISCLAIMED.


    Asking Infogrames to "public domain" their source code is, in my opinion, uninformed and irresponsible.

    • I mean if you can not see "gpl" or "bsd" when people say "public domain" what is the world coming to?

      and the only reason that any licence is needed for some software is that the judicial process is mostly thick when it comes to computer stuff.

      I mean if forinstance i wrote some code and put it out with a note to the effect:

      THIS SOFTWARE IS GUARANTEED TO BE ABLE TO DO ANYTHING AND IS JUST THE BEST AND NOTHING COULD BE BETTER AND IT WILL EVEN IRON YOUR SHIRT.

      Do you really think it would stand for anything.

      When people can sue you for giving them stuff there is something wrong with the world.
      • I know what you mean, but it depends what you give them. For instance, if yo* L support only for nvidia gForce 2/3
        * No Gamepad Support yet
        u give them a deadly disease. . .[but imagine being sued for giving someone the flu!]
      • > When people can sue you for giving them stuff there is something wrong with the world.

        Really? What if I were to give you a virus or trojan? Wouldn't you want legal recourse?
        • > Really? What if I were to give you a virus or trojan? Wouldn't you want legal recourse?

          Only if you had voiolated my right to refuse said item. in which case you wouldn't have given me it now would you?
      • Public domain means just that: not under copyright. That means not GPL or BSD or whatever flavor of the month liscence. GPL and BSD all work by asserting copyright of the original code.


        That is what would be useful. They could easily have two copies of the code, one GPL'd and one untouched by OSS. When a commercial entitiy finds the GPL liscence too restrictive, they could always buy the original with a differant liscence. Its important to note here that they can't sell the code improved by GPL methods because the ownership now belongs to everyone who contributed. Well I suppose they *could*, but it would require everyone's unamimous permission.

    • by Nindalf (526257) on Saturday January 12, 2002 @04:55PM (#2829757)
      I have never heard of someone being successfully sued for a piece of public domain software being poor quality, without an explicit warranty, and I've looked pretty hard.

      Can anyone provide a single example?

      This is brought up over and over again as a reason not to release code into the public domain, but I've never seen any evidence that a disclaimer sent along with the initial release of public domain software is any less valid than one included in a licence such as the GPL. I believe it's a bit of licence folklore.

      First thing: it is widely accepted that you don't need to agree to the GPL to use GPL software, only to distribute it. You don't even have to read it. That means you don't have to see or agree to any disclaimer of warranty.

      Similarly, the end users of BSD or X type licenses don't have to see or agree to the terms. Under copyright law, having legally obtained a copy of software, by default you have the right to run it and back it up. Shrink wrap and click-through licenses are both somewhat legally shaky, but still a lot stronger than something you don't even see unless you look for it.

      Furthermore, a case could be made that a copyright holder is more likely to be held responsible for defects in his work than a contributor to the public domain. Blanket disclaimers of warranty, especially tucked quietly away in a corner of a contract (especially one presented as "standard" or a mere formality, and not offering the opportunity to negociate), and in strong contrast to public claims, fall somewhere between weak and completely invalid.

      Hell, the GPL still hasn't ever been tested in court. There are reasons to believe that releasing software under the GPL is putting it in the public domain, and it is just one test case away from being treated as such.

      Picking a licence causes problems, too. The most important one is licence incompatibility: choose one, and you prevent the code from being used in projects using an incompatible licence, while public domain code can be included in projects using any licence I've heard of.

      If the problem of liability is not a real one, then public domain is the simplest, easiest to understand, most reliable way to give people the full free use of your code.

      Although I can't go into details (still under NDA after 6 years technically), we got bitten by this at a large software house not so long ago. Basically, some of our examples in the documentation were marked as "public domain" software and a third party began to redistribute the examples in binary form with added graphical interfaces. It turned out of the developers of this GUI had written his code on another company's time, and that company decided to sue us. Since there was no limitation of liability in our distributed source code, our lawyers had a harder time justifying our position.

      You left out the most crucial part: What was their complaint? It doesn't sound like it had anything to do with merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose, or any sort of implied warranty.

      It sounds to me a lot more like an accusation of your company being involved in the unauthorized use of this worker's paid time.

      NDA or not, if you're not willing to specify enough details to show whether and how your example is relevant, you shouldn't have brought it up. I think you're using your NDA as an excuse to make vague references to a case that doesn't apply.
      • Hell, the GPL still hasn't ever been tested in court. There are reasons to believe that releasing software under the GPL is putting it in the public domain, and it is just one test case away from being treated as such.

        What type of test case is going to remove copyright protection from GPL code? No one wants that; if GPL code loses protection, so does Microsoft code.

        Picking a licence causes problems, too. The most important one is licence incompatibility: choose one, and you prevent the code from being used in projects using an incompatible licence, while public domain code can be included in projects using any licence I've heard of.

        Ever heard of the X11 license? The X11 license can also be used with any license ever used, and keeps warranty protection.
        • No one wants that; if GPL code loses protection, so does Microsoft code.

          More licence folklore. Fans of the GPL might find this nice to imagine, but breaking the GPL doesn't necessarily mean breaking all copyright protection for software. Contract law is complex and subtle, and more defined by principles involving intent, reasonability, and effect than by hard mechanistic rules.

          The GPL is a rather unusual (perhaps "bizarre" would be a better word) contract. It's purpose is not to secure direct material profit, but primarily to allow all use except incorporation into closed source software.

          Consider that the intent of putting a product under the GPL might be considered to be anticompetitive, an attempt to force established companies to release trade secrets and give up their ability to withhold software from those who haven't paid if they wish to interoperate with complex standards. The restrictions of the GPL could be struck down without affecting the permissions, if the court determines this is the proper remedy.

          The GPL was born out of frustration, and written with hostility against the commercial software establishment. Contracts written with hostile intent toward anyone are always questionable.

          The X11 license can also be used with any license ever used

          It has been interpreted to be compatible with the GPL, but that doesn't guarantee the courts will agree with this interpretation if someone using the X11 or GNU license disagrees. It is debatable whether the advertising thing is an additional and incompatible restriction. The FSF has no power to define the proper interpretation of software contracts, they can only make their own guesses about what would happen in court.
          • Consider that the intent of putting a product under the GPL might be considered to be anticompetitive

            It's not illegal to be anticompetitive if you're not a monopoly.

            The restrictions of the GPL could be struck down without affecting the permissions, if the court determines this is the proper remedy.

            A court could order you to release your source code into the public domain no matter what license you use. But only in extreme circumstances would a court do so no matter what license you chose.

            It has been interpreted to be compatible with the GPL, but that doesn't guarantee the courts will agree with this interpretation if someone using the X11 or GNU license disagrees. It is debatable whether the advertising thing is an additional and incompatible restriction.

            Please make an attempt to know what you're talking about. The X11 license doesn't have an advertising clause; that's the BSD license you're thinking about.
            • It's not illegal to be anticompetitive if you're not a monopoly.

              Do you really think a software license from Apple that went, "Anyone may make any use of this software, except Microsoft employees, or contractors, who are not permitted to make any use of this software or any derivatives of this software." would be entirely kosher?

              The principle that businesses should compete like runners in a race, rather than attack each other like boxers, is woven through the entire body of civil law, not just antitrust law.

              A court could order you to release your source code into the public domain no matter what license you use. But only in extreme circumstances would a court do so no matter what license you chose.

              The important fact here is that the GPL is only a hair away from the public domain already. Like the absurd example above, it can be interpreted as essentially "public domain for everyone (except these businesses I hate, which are only offered limited use)." Admittedly, that's an odd interpretation given the language of the GPL, but not so terribly odd after reading the "philosophy" section of the GNU home page. Intent matters.

              The X11 license doesn't have an advertising clause; that's the BSD license you're thinking about.

              From http://www.x.org/terms.htm [x.org] referred by the GNU homepage as "The X11 License" and compatible with the GPL:

              "Except as contained in this notice, the name of a copyright holder shall not be used in advertising or otherwise to promote the sale, use or other dealings in this Software without prior written authorization of the copyright holder."
    • I guess the moral of the story is, if you're going to release something as "public domain", do it anonymously, so that no one can find you and blame you for it.

      Cryptnotic
  • Sadly... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by James Foster (226728)
    Sadly... I very much doubt this effort will result in the TA source code being released to the public. Whilst the source code probably isn't much use to Infogrames anymore, they have no reason to release it.
    Perhaps this being posted on Slashdot will conjure up enough momentum to sway Infogrames into releasing it, but if you look at the petition it's quite apparrent that it's not going anywhere really fast with comments like "FREE THE DAMN CODE NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" and "AHHH!!! FrEe ThE DaMn CoDe MaN!!!!".
    It's not much of a convincing argument and I hate to sound negative but this seems like a lost cause. Infogrames would only ever release the source code out of good will, and unfortunately good will is something that large companies inherently lack (even Philips with their fight against copy protection have a motive other than good will).
    Either way, I'm off to sign the petition... at least only good can come from at least trying!
  • I played it for a little while back... quite a game. Open Sourcing it would mean lots of high-quality, free RTSes, for AtheOS, BeOS, Linux, Windows, QNX and pretty much everything else. The one thing that non-Windows OSes currently lack are excellent multiplayer games. It's time. I certainly hopes this goes through. Perhaps the code will be bought by someone (RedHat, are you listening?). I don't think they're going to give it away.
  • The AI (Score:3, Interesting)

    by theCoder (23772) on Saturday January 12, 2002 @12:33PM (#2828769) Homepage Journal
    What TA always needed was a better AI. I can almost always crush 3 AIs on hard on just about any map (I did eventually win on Seven Islands, but that took forever), but that's because the computer is relatively stupid in how it plays. And since I usually just play the computer (the only person I know who likes TA doesn't like to play computer games made later than 1985), I never get any better and usually get crushed when I do find a person to play.

    If they opened the code and someone wrote a better AI, that would kick ass! (mine, specifically :)
    • Re:The AI (Score:2, Informative)

      by thunderbee (92099)
      You did because the AI built units it knew not how to use. There is an altered AI out there that is basically a stripped down version of the original that will build no units it cannot use. The result is challenging. If you did not try it, I suggest you do. However, TA was meant for network play. IMHO, an 8 player TA game is the best RTS experience you can get.
    • Re:The AI (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by MarcoAtWork (28889)
      Even without opening the source code there are AIs around that can shred you to pieces. They do cheat, but they do provide quite a really good challenge.

      Check it out here:

      http://www.laughingcrowgraphics.com/BSR/ai.html

      (BAI2K1, IIRC it even uses nukes!)
      • Try playing 3 non-cheating Queller AIs on hard. It kicked my butt and I'm fairly experienced.
        Humans are always much more fun to play against though. There are limitations to any AI that a human does not posess like the COmmander trying to fire in 50 different directions at once and never actually firing at all.

  • So much for the /. effect!

    13 additions to the petition since the story was posted half an hour ago.
    • 13 additions to the petition since the story was posted half an hour ago

      I guess the lazy effect kicked in and overwhelmed the /. effect.

      BATTLE OF THE EFFECTS!
  • by uncle isaac (542895) on Saturday January 12, 2002 @12:46PM (#2828802)
    My last job was as a high-level manager at a well-known game company [sierra.com], and I can tell you that there are a few simple economic forces that keep most of the old, discontinued games in closed source format forever. Consider the following:
    • The manufacturers have a nonexistent economic incentive to give away their work for free. If you look at it from their viewpoint, you will see that the best they can do is to not lose money from the proposition.
    • Most software houses have licensed proprietary [vasoftware.com] pieces of code or business processes [amazon.com] from other companies, and they did not pay for the right of unlimited distribution. A vendor notorious for continuing this practice, then blaming the fact that its main product is still completely closed source, is Sun.
    • Companies know that they can quickly gain popularity amongst open source supporters by releasing their code, so this often provides an impetus as it could lead to better sales for newer products from the resultant goodwill.
    • Giving old products away to the general public has certain specific and often harmful tax consequences. Effectively the companies are declaring the value of their goods to be zero, which keeps them from using the standard 20-year depreciation chart to deal with unsold inventory. In a nutshell, this means that there are huge tax benefits to not releasing old software as open source.
    • And lastly, code reuse is rampant because of the short development cycle of most games. I have seen code from Apple II games from 1987 show up in brand new product releases in 2001. Giving your code away gives your competitors an edge, and nobody wants to do that.

    As futile as it may sound, it is important for us all to contact our federal representatives and urge them to provide tax credits to companies when they release open source software. That would be a very good way to swing the economic incentives in our favor, and possibly even help out struggling OSS companies like Caldera and SGI.

    uncle isaac

    • > you look at it from their viewpoint, you will see that the best they can do is to not lose money from the proposition

      I'd think the best they could hope for would be to raise publicity for themselfs and clear the path for a very succesfull sequal. if they don;t see this them they are plain thick.

      > Giving old products away to the general public has certain specific and often harmful tax consequences

      Yes but giving the source away is not giving the product away is it? Is quake 2 now free? Is quake now free? is doom now free? evn is wolfenstien 3d now free? the answer to all is a resounding no. the code itself does not make a complete game.

      > code reuse

      let's face it there is a. probably better code already out there, have you seen some of the freely available code?. and b. irrespective the games industry is probably the worst violator of the gpl out there, i know i worked there for a time.
      thus giving your code away gives your competitors nothing they don't already have available 99% of the time.
    • I have seen code from Apple II games from 1987 show up in brand new product releases in 2001.

      Deer Hunter's that old?

    • Giving old products away to the general public has certain specific and often harmful tax consequences. Effectively the companies are declaring the value of their goods to be zero, which keeps them from using the standard 20-year depreciation chart to deal with unsold inventory. In a nutshell, this means that there are huge tax benefits to not releasing old software as open source.

      Wouldn't the actual physical packaging and media still have value? I mean, does Red Hat's inventory have zero value?
    • So, can i blame you for the rushing of Tribes 2, and the dissolution of Dynamix?

      I'd add a ";)", but I'm not completely joking.

      *sigh*
    • I'm not familiar with US Tax laws, but I'm guessing that if you offer your software for free, shouldn't you get either:

      - an immediate write off (probably less likely)
      - or the depreciation still, because depreciation is based on book value..?
    • I don't think code reuse is an issue for TA. The original developers have split up. Furthermore, Cavedog, the company that made TA, was an experimental effort by some Humongous Entertainment (HE) employees, and operated under HE. HE primarily makes (some very good) children's games.

      Who knows what bugs already existed when it was released (who knows that will tell us, anyway)?
      Since it's not actively maintained, who knows what other bugs it might have (or expose in the current version of DirectX)?

      Since nobody from Cavedog or HE would help look at the TA code, it seems unlikely that another company would want to mess with it at all.

      If you were writing an modern adventure game, would you try to reuse code from Zork?

      -Paul Komarek
    • I would submit that there are cases where releaseing the code could actually generate a company more revenues. If a group of devoted fans decided to modify the code to bring it current, then there might be more interest in buying the game again. Remember, we are talking about the CODE, not the GAME, the former is a subset of the latter. Example:

      Suppose Infogrames indeed decides to relase the code for the TA core. Some fans then proceed to modify the engine so it uses 3d accelerators and all the other latest hardware. Now the CDs would still be required to play the games, after all that's where it is going to get all the graphics, sound, mission data, etc. It just now looks more modern is is of more appeal. This could potentially generate more interest. As I'm sure you know, good looking graphics really help sell a game.

      I'll give you another example: X-com and X-com 2 were two of my favourite games when I was a teen. However a lot has changed in the way of hardware and software since then and alas, they won't work in Windows XP. There is a Win32 version out there, but whoever Microprose had write it didn't seem to feel it necessary to obey the DirectX spec properly, and it won't run under NT based (2000/XP) OSes. Now if Microporse were to release the code I or someother X-com fan would fix the problem and release an binary that ran under XP. Well if that binary existed, I'd go buy the CDs so I could play it again.

      Not saying that in all cases releaseing the code is to a company's benefit, but it can be. It seems to work well for ID Software.
  • Gamespot.com has this [gamespot.com] nice feature story on Total Annihilation. Light reading and thorough. The focus here is mainly on the designer Chris Taylor.
  • A company could easily Open the source to a game the minute it came out and still make money.

    Imagine if you will.... Id releases the engine and other key parts of their next big game under the GPL, BSD or similar license (For the sake of conversation, we'll call it "Kill the wonderfully rendered, yet stupid monsters with Over-powered weapons.") And release the the levels, character models, weapon models, sounds under their standard, propretary license. They could bundle them together and the end user would never know the difference- they never read the licensing agreements. People still buy the game and it can be easily ported to other platforms.

    Technology is only part of a game- it's the creativity and the experience of the game itself that make if valuable, not the engine. Yes, this method allows competitors to use the code, but what the hell, imagine how quickly games would advance if just one company started releasing them like this.
    • As John Carmack pointed out in his notes to the release of the Quake II sourcecode, one major disadvantage of this would be the possibility of cheating in the multi-player game.

      If you can't verify the validity of the client's code then the server and protocol have to be significantly better ... ie. more difficult work for the company before release in a competitive market
      • Cheating problems can be reduced significantly. Consider, for instance, Netrek. Most of the data (shield strength, ship position, et al) are stored on the server, so an honest server can be sure that no rogue client can get to them. If the server says you're dead, you're dead. *shrug* This means that client cheating is basically limited to user-interface issues, like auto-aiming, turn keys, or constantly showing all known army counts.

        Then, an honest server can attempt to verify the legitimacy of a client binary. All the maintainers of "blessed", official clients have individual cryptographic key pairs, IIRC, which can be labeled as trusted by the server. These pairs are used for periodic challenges from server to client. While this isn't perfect, in practice people didn't seem to cheat except on anything-goes 'borg' servers.
    • Even now, Id releases the binaries for most of their games for $0, and it's the levels that cost you... Which happens to work just great for people like me who play the game on more than one platform, on the same computer.

      And since they don't really make any money off of the binaries, you're right, GPL or similar isn't really too much further... but there ARE some issues to consider, as plenty of other people have pointed out.
  • Even if not... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Accipiter (8228) on Saturday January 12, 2002 @01:11PM (#2828861)
    You know, even if the source code isn't released, Total Annihilation runs damn near perfectly under current WINE [winehq.com] vintages.

    I love this game, and I'm extremely glad I can run it in X. If you've never played it (and you run Linux), head to Electronics Boutique. You can find it on the shelf for about $4.99 last time I saw it. Then download, compile, and configure WINE, run TA setup, and voila! Runs fantastic.
    • TA was one of the first games I tried on WINE way back when, and it still remains one of the best running games under it. The only thing that really seems to be missing is being able to play over the net. That said, one of the things currently being voted on for Transgaming to add to WineX is netplay support for TA, so hopefully even this problem will be soon fixed.
      • TA was one of the first games I tried on WINE way back when, and it still remains one of the best running games under it. The only thing that really seems to be missing is being able to play over the net. That said, one of the things currently being voted on for Transgaming to add to WineX is netplay support for TA, so hopefully even this problem will be soon fixed.

        I'm not a gamer, and I'm not a wine user, but if it's as good as you say then that's great news. This is different from making the game GPL, though. The reason why TA game developers would like to see the source is probably so that they can support the game better by adding the most commonly used cool tricks to the engine, or so by studying the engine they can simplify the code. Having the binary run under Wine doesn't enable them to do this.

        Still, it isn't an easy decision to make a game GPL. There are lawyers to feed, and the game may well depend on proprietary code or rely on non-disclosure agreements. This is the good fight, though. Keep on pushing.

    • If you can spare an extra couple bucks (I mean ... really ...) you might as well spring $6.99 and get the "Total Annihilation: Commander Pack". It's a four CD set with a statagy guide. I bought six copies for my friends.

      ~LoudMusic
  • by scrytch (9198) <chuck@myrealbox.com> on Saturday January 12, 2002 @01:13PM (#2828864)
    TA must have some very clever code to perform as well as it did on machines of its day, but that's nothing some open source developers working their asses off 12 hours a day can't do -- you can bet that's minimum the amount of work that Cavedog put into TA. It's getting artists to make the keen looking units, terrain, and explosions. It's getting a composer to write a soundtrack and a full symphony orchestra to perform it. OSS games tend to look and sound like ass because it's precisely the aesthetic appeal of the game that often gets dismissed as mere fluff -- forgetting that in the big picture, games themselves are mere fluff.
    • Have you ever seen the extensions made by the TA community?
      I would say the terrains, units, and weapons far exceed what Cavedog put into the game.
      Heck, entire new games were created off the TA engine. It is what kept me hooked on TA for years.

      Since Gas Powered Games, his latest incarnation, promises the same extendability for Dungeon Siege, already fans are planning things like modifying it to recreate old Ultima series games.

      Don't underestimate the fan base. I think they put many many more hours into TA then Cavedog ever did.
      Granted, it is all thanks to Cavedog for creating such incredible extendible games (well, TA much superior to TA:K...)
    • I know I'm in the minority, but in most things aesthetics are of little importance to me. I like eye candy for its technical merit, but the artistry is not that interesting to me. I listen to heavy metal for the technical elements (difficult to play pieces, clever use of effects), not because they sound good. I don't care what colors my clothes, car, apartment, food, or friends are. I'll admit there are some realms in which artistic merit does matter to me, but there are a lot of times when the fluff really doesn't matter.

      One of my favorite things about software libris(sp?) is that I can customize my environments for technical superiority, at the expense of aesthetics if need be. It's my choice.

      I extend my thanks to all the developers who generously give their time and energy to me in the form of crappy-looking, but technically awesome software.
    • Thanks for mentioning the Symphony. TA's music was terrific! I sometimes put the game disc in my stereo while I'm working.

      One interesting bit of trivia -- the orchestra, the Seattle Symphony, doubled themselves for the recording -- that is, they played through the same passages twice (not necessarily playing the same notes), and mixed the results together. This is what provides the Mahler-esque proportion to the sound.

      -Paul Komarek
  • This is the first time i've ever bitched about someone who posted a story (other than Katz), and usually i find the everything2 links useful, but when did the slashdot crowd get un-nerdy enough that we needed to put an explanitory link with the term "RTS". I mean, i'm not saying slashdot is news for the technical god, but its not the same audience as, say, the logon ads on AOL. Give the readers some credit.

    ~Z
  • More pop-ups, ads and broken scripts than anyone needs. They harvest your email addy and sell it to spammers, too. That is, if the servers aren't dead slow.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I was there when ID release Doom and Quake under the GPL license.

    Guys, it was a great Idea. Nowadays, we have Doom and Quake running on a variety of platforms, to not mention OpenGL, DirectX, shadows and light effects. ID users have a pretty decent updated versions for their licensed copies, and a lot of people still can play the shareware versions in a up to date hardware.

    Please note that only the engine source code is GPL. The images, soundtrack, maps, etc are still copyrighted. ID loses no money with this : you still have to buy a Quake copy if you wanna play the Quake game.

    However, people like the Team Fortress Team was able to extend the game, and people like QuakeForge Team can improve the game, and ID doesn't spend a cent. Everybody wins. No one loses.

    Let's do the same with TA.
  • I'm sure if you found some employee who made sure to grab all the source before he left Cavedog to work for another games company [amazeentertainment.com] in the Seattle/Bellevue area, he could probably be bribed to hand off the source he had in some way that would not trace back to him, thus avoiding personal legal hassles, while simultaneously benefitting all the people who really want to see the endless lines of well commented C++ covering everything from AI, to Network Play, to Graphics Rendering.

    So, seeing as I'm a musician, I'd really like a T.C. Electronix Fireworx effects module, another Delta 1010 digital audio IO board, and a dbx 376 tube mic preamp. You get those to my mailbox, and then we'll talk. ;)
    • Heh, while I would love to be able to provide such things, the truth is I couldn't afford to.
      And I don't believe a group of people can organize an effort to raise money for it either.
      I am curious as to how that code was made though. It would be nice to see what sometimes caused the DirectSound error(I believe that was it...it's been a little while since I saw it) on startup, and how they got all those units to move without slowdown on a 56k connection with a 100Mhz machine.
      Well commented C++ code, eh? Novelty! B-)
  • from the sourceforge project description:
    "The OpenGL TA project is aimed at taking the greatest RTS game of all time, Total Annihilation and converting it into true 3D and open source. It uses all of TA's media, but is a truely 3D engine, complete with movable cameras!"

    Of course, it isn't based off the original TA source code, but I remember seeing some screenshots of it a while back which looked -very- sweet. While the project seems to have been inactive for quite some time, the source code is available for download, and could undoubtedly be improved upon.
  • Useless code? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ogerman (136333) on Saturday January 12, 2002 @03:30PM (#2829425)
    TA was/is a very cool game, but I believe it was pretty heavy on DirectX for graphics. I think it'd require a pretty large rewrite effort to port it to openGL so it could run on other OS'es. Anybody know if it had it's own 3d graphics engine or if it used DirectX routines exclusively?

    Anyhow, Earth2150 is very similar and has much better graphics. Someone ought to use that as a model for an open source RTS game.
    • by enkidu (13673)
      I have a copy (which I need to boot into OX9 to run). When CaveDog was releasing updates to TA, MacSoft was pretty quick about keeping up with them, so I don't think there would be that much of a problem porting to Linux of OSX. After playing with Starcraft and Command and Conquer for a while, I'm amazed at how much deeper the whole TA gaming experience is. TA is a much better candidate for porting because of all of the plug-ins and add-ons that have been developed. Bloodthirsty AI still gives me the willies.
  • by DraconPern (521756) <draconpern.hotmail@com> on Saturday January 12, 2002 @04:41PM (#2829706) Homepage
    It seems like no one is citing id Software's release of the source code for Quake I and II. I agree that making TA public domain is a bad idea, but putting just the source code under GPL is not. Infograms can still sell more copies of the game just like id does since the art work is not.

    Just my two cents.

    -Eric
  • by Anonymous Coward
    DarkYouth here, I run PlanetAnnihilation.com Its the first slashdot post for me, so be gentle :) First of all thankyou to the Slashdot news team for posting about the petition! We've also given you a mention on the PlanetAnnihilation news page. Secondly, The reason the TA community wish to gain the code is to remove limits and restrictions within the engine that hinder the progress and development of third party units and maps and utilities. Currently there are well over 2000 addon units for the game to play with, another six or seven complete addon races of around 80 units each, more than 3000 downloadable maps, twenty or so new tilesets, four converted TA:Kingdoms tilesets etc etc. However, the engine only allows 512 units to be installed at once, counting the default ones, only 256 unique weapons (most addon units come with new weapons) and a maximum of 500 units per side in the game. All of these can be changed with "hacks" that cause problems and errors in the multiplayer gaming side of things. Also, tools are available that allow players to show up to 14 units to build per page (instead of the usual six), but these do not work in multiplayer due to engine "features". The AI needs fixing etc to be more fun in skirmish and so on and so on. The list is practically endless. Total Annihilation has yet to be surpassed in terms of tactical diversity or longevity within the strategy genre, and those close to it intend to do their best to ensure a future. TAForever's efforts will not just benifit TA engine developers, but also the team of TA: Flashback, the fan based ground working to create a modern TA sequel ( HTTP://www.planetannihilation.com/studios ) and even the TA Movie project. The creators of the TA Multiplayer Demo recorder would be well suited to the TA source code too, having created some awesome stuff without it, who knows what can be done WITH the code. Its all down to public support, and promotion from sites like slashdot is a good thing for sure!
  • Am I the only person who first thought "Tessier/Ashpool" ?
  • TA is amazing. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Gecko(dude) (550464) <Gecko@annihilated.com> on Saturday January 12, 2002 @06:02PM (#2830046) Homepage
    it is, the community, with very little help from cavedog (the now-defunct developers of TA). We can make the game itself do back flips without the soruce, we can add units that lose parts, over heat, transform, can be upgraded (GKX), we can make entire new races, we can even use proper 3d terran software to make maps (bryce and terragen), we can do more than Chris Taylor (creator of total annihilation) ever dreamed.

    but the engine is old, and it is starting to lose it's appeal even to the guys who have been playing since it was released (4 years ago), it's running out of supply at stores, it's hard to find, and most people don't remember it, very little new blood flowing into the community (which is about 1000 people). anyways, i've never seen a commerical RTS released under an open-source liscense, I think it'd be very interesting to see the results.
  • by Gamefreak (550465) on Saturday January 12, 2002 @06:19PM (#2830092)
    Hello. I'm Gamefreak from www.tauniverse.com After looking through here I've noticed that many people wonder why we want this source code? After all, who still plays TA? Who still plays TA? Thousands of people. After over 4 long years we still remain one of the largest RTS communities. There are tons of large TA supersites such as TA Universe ( www.tauniverse.com ), Planet Annihilation ( www.planetannihilation.com ), Annihilated ( www.annihilated.com ), TA Designers ( www.tadesigners.com ), Ultimate-Strategy ( www.ultimate-strategy.com ), TAMEC ( www.tamec.net ), and many more. Along with these sites are tons of hosted sites. TAU and PA alone host at least 60 sites, and there are many other TA sites independent from those mentioned above. You don't think anything's happening in the community though do you? Check the news at TA Universe or PA! We still have more news every day than brand new popular games that just came out! We want this source code because we have accomplished more than probably any other RTS community. After making over 1000 new fully 3D scripted units, over 5000 maps (at least), probably over 10 full races (who else can make races?), tons of third party programs and mods and so on, we are getting bored and want to alter the game engine itself. Our community has gone so far that we are making a full length TA movie at Annihilation Studios, a first person shooter in the TA world (called TA: Close Quarters), and the third party sequel to TA, TA: Flashback. TA:F will be fully 3D and so on, and it is also being made by Annihilation Studios. Just recently Infogrames opened up a TA forum for us (who knows why?), apparently after finally noticing we survived and thrived even after they closed down Cavedog and left us to die. (whoever claims he is a former infogrames worker is wrong, I've had TA since october 1997 and I know for a fact that cavedog was NOT dead when infogrames acquired GT). Anyway...anyone who still plays TA is encouraged to come to the above sites and post on all our forums, esp. TA Universe, the biggest one (still bigger than most RTS fan forums, believe it or not. Several hundred thousand posts and several thousand users..).
    • whoever claims he is a former infogrames worker is wrong, I've had TA since october 1997 and I know for a fact that cavedog was NOT dead when infogrames acquired GT

      That's funny, because four months before Bruno Bonnell came to Humongous Entertainment Headquarters in Bothel, WA to tell myself and the 400 other employees that Ron Gilbert and Shelly Day were no longer our bosses and that we were now a fully owned subsidiary of Infogrames, I seem to remember having this conversation:

      Boss: "So, you're now a fulltime employee of Humongous."
      Me: "Uh, what happened to Cavedog."
      Boss: "It is no more."

      The website stayed up, a pretty face was put on for the customers, and the PR Nazis ran around madly telling people (especially the much beleaguered YardDogs, who generally cared about the TA community) not to say anything negative (or truthful) about Cavedog, but the fact is, all projects were canceled, all employees were moved to Humongous projects (or were let go, or left to form another company [adrenium.com]), and whatever hope there was for Cavedog pretty much completely dried up.
  • Does anyone know the updated story to Cavedog and Taylor (the gamespot article is probably 3 years old at least).

    I remember that they released TA Kingdoms and so forth, but what's happened to all the people? Where do they work now?
    • Chris Taylor is running/working for Gas Powered Games. They're about to release an RPG called Dungeon Siege in the next few months (think Feb). It looks like an amazing RPG from what I've read, and I certainly look forward to buying it.

      I know nobody has posted this error, but for those that have't realized it, this is not the same Chris Taylor that made Interplay's Starfleet Command game. That's a difference Chris Taylor.
  • I've been a fan of TA for 3 years now. Starcraft is nothing in comparison IMO. (that said, both work in wine. Yay!)

    I've wanted for a while to put together a large scale RTS engine, flexible enough to allow modular configs to allow playing such games as Starcraft and Total Annihilation from the origonal files, and other games as well.

    Of course, that's all highly complicated and a Lot Of Work. And I have a real job to attend to....
  • I have used it as one of the standards for judging RTS games. Starcraft is pretty good, and the story there rocked, but I missed being able to select all units of a given type without a limit except for how many were on the map.
    Homeworld is a great game as well. A little different, and the gameplay runs a little slower than TA or Starcraft, but fun.
    I loved being involved in late night sessions of TA on the Boneyards. I was really getting good when they got rid of it though. I should really reinstall it, but classes just started back up for me, so maybe that won't be the best idea in the world.
    Aw heck, I'm game.
    As for what to do with the code...Public domain? No, it makes no sense for them to do that. Open Source? Yeah, that would rock!
    I used to play this game on a Win95 system with 32MB of RAM. Now I have 640MB of RAM and 64MB of video memory. I think the unit limit can be raised just a bit now, for starters, and a better AI can be developed, especially for units that are shooting and turning. Too many times my tanks would turn without keeping their turrets on their targets, so by the time the turrets finally move back, they are turning again.
    What else? How about SUPER LARGE maps? Or more possible simultaneous units? B-)
  • ICQ 1067292
    AIM Razzbuten
    ANYTIME ANYPLACE YOU PICK THE MAP!!! I will even let you pick which side I am...

    I was WELL KNOWN on the Boneyards...me and a friend only lost 2 or 3 times in our reign of terror on a 2 v 2.

    I still play it and fondly think back to the days when TA was still new and all the fun that could be had. It was a FLASH RUSH not a ZERG RUSH. The good players could recover from any start and whip you. The bad players just learned from their mistakes.

    For you people complaining about the AI, try BLOODTHIRSTY AI. Wow what a rush. Several other AI's were released, bloodthirsty was the toughest (it cheats).

    For fun Try Core Prime Industrial Map with 9 AI. Standard AI will take you awhile to beat. Try a smarter AI that nukes and you will have trouble...Add a KROGGY or 2 and WOW its HOURS of entertainment.

"I have just one word for you, my boy...plastics." - from "The Graduate"

Working...