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Role Playing (Games) Entertainment Games

Open Sourcing MMOs 137

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the create-a-new-community-license dept.
The Stropp's World blog has an interesting editorial of the pros and cons for open sourcing MMOs, especially those that have "died." Stropp examines both sides of the issue and makes some compelling arguments. "So, there are some good reasons for a company to open source the game that it is soon to retire, and there are a couple of good reasons against. What to do? If opening up the client is not an option, open up the server code. This would allow the open source community to take the software, install it on a community server and open it up to the fans. Other players might want to grab the source and create their own private servers, perhaps with different rule sets for PvP and the like. The life of the game could be extended for years, supporting a thriving community."
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Open Sourcing MMOs

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  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @02:47PM (#24308861)

    I'm willing to bet most MMOs trust the client to some extent, in order to reduce their load. Open Sourcing them might not be such a good idea.

    You massively overestimate the power of security by obscurity and massively underestimate the power of reverse engineering. Just about every instance of server-client gaming where the server trusts the client has resulted in subverted clients to cheat using that trust. Modern MMOs (and any other server-client games) do *not* trust their clients.

  • by Drogo007 (923906) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @03:08PM (#24309227)

    They don't open source old games probably for the exact same reason any large legacy project isn't automatically open sourced - licensing issues. There are probably large swathes of code they don't have the right to release in such a manner. Game companies very rarely write all their own code from the ground up. Instead they take some basic building blocks (graphics engine, sound engine, network engine) and build around that.

    In some cases, they simply take an existing game engine, license it and add their own content. Interestingly enough, one of the few game companies that has a reputation for opening the source on their old games is also one of the few game companies with a reputation for completely rewriting the engine from scratch every time (a.k.a. ID Software)

    Even if you somehow wave your magic wand and make all the licensing issues in the engine code disappear, you're still left with the same issue for art assets: There are often a large number of licensed art assets (textures, music, etc etc) in a game as well.

  • Re:What's the point? (Score:4, Informative)

    by ericrost (1049312) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @03:53PM (#24309859) Homepage Journal

    If their "SUPAR SECRET" network encryption algorithm needs to be "SUPAR SECRET" to be secure, then its not. Security through obscurity != Security.

  • Re:What's the point? (Score:4, Informative)

    by vux984 (928602) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @04:28PM (#24310367)

    It's already possible to look at the game databases and learn how the quests work. It's really simple most of the time. Go to X, kill Y, Z times. P.P.S. This information is also available in a quest log of sorts...

    Everquest I, in particular would be a great counter example. Sure nearly all the quests were documented on the various sites, but the information was often sketchy or even outright wrong. Often it would say 'go to an area and kill everything that moves for a while and eventually the named will pop', but in reality the spawn was triggered elsewhere. Other times, the spawn you were interested in only popped from one particular place, or lots of mobs named X spawned in the area, but only the ones that spawned at (x,y) dropped z. So if you needed 5 z's you could spend hours killing all the mobs named X, until you had 5 z's... or you kill them until you get 1 z, then rush over to (x,y) and kill everything that respawns from that point, and get your 5 z's MUCH MUCH quicker.

    A few quests -were- documented to this degree by people who had done the quest dozens of times, and -really- understood it. But far more quests exist where the sort of information you could get from the source code just isn't available.

    Hell, in everquest, even some of the most basic mechanics weren't well understood for years. For example, whether the mobs spawned with loot, or whether it was generated on their death -- for -YEARS- people swore up and down that they had better drop rates of x if they had y equipped when they killed it.

    This information is also available in a quest log of sorts...

    Another feature EQ1 didn't have. (To its detriment really)

    But there were elements of EQ1 quests that were really quite brilliant -- Its one of the few games that actually required the community come together and solve quests as a group. For one quest you needed two coins -- one on a high stump in a dark forest that was only somewhat safe to enter when the quest was level appropriate... and even then only during the day, the other in at the bottom of a frozen river, where you had to enter a hole in the ice.

    The quest giver gave almost no direction to finding these coins, and a player playing 'solo' really had no chance in hell of ever completing the quest before he had levelled FAR beyond it... unless he communicated/collaborated with other players -- one of whom might have discovered the first coin while levitating through the forest, and another who discovered the 2nd coin exploring under the ice.

    It was truly brilliant when playing it 'back in the day' when those quests were still being solved; sure after it was solved the locations and screenshots of where to go were up on the web, but many of the quests even today are only partially documented. People have reported you can get an X here or a Y there... but often there are much better places to get X's and Y's.

    And any longtime player has lots of insights into the game that simply aren't documented.

    New MMO's have really 'dumbed it down'. In WoW you just run from question mark to question mark on your map.

  • Worldforge (Score:5, Informative)

    by JSBiff (87824) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @06:07PM (#24311761) Journal

    There is an Open Source MMO project, launched over ten years ago (I remember it was announced on Slashdot) called WorldForge. It, so far, has failed to really go anywhere. Don't get me wrong, it has stayed alive, and they do have some tech they've built. But nothing that's really much of a game. They've had various things that I would describe as 'prototypes' or 'tech demos' - I check in on them every year or two to see what they have.

          WorldForge has it's developers, but for whatever reason, it never seemed to reach that critical mass where there were a lot of developers, artists, writers, etc who really jumped in and started building a true MMO with it, that I can tell. It's interesting, but for whatever reason, it seems like an MMO is just something that, at least so far, doesn't seem to work well as an Open Source project.

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