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Multi Theft Auto - San Andreas Goes Open Source 127

Posted by timothy
from the prometheus dept.
dan writes " Multi Theft Auto is a third-party modification for Rockstar's hit title Grand Theft Auto San Andreas — and it has become open-source after over four years of closed source development. As a (somewhat) regular player of MTA since the early days of GTAIII, this hit me by surprise, somewhat." (The news is on the project's front page, from which dan extracts more details, below.)
dan continues: "Some of the interesting parts of the post: 'Today we are marking a new milestone in the history of Multi Theft Auto. After over 11000 revisions since 2004, contributions by over 16 world-wide developers, 1554 files and well over 550.000 lines of mostly C/C++ code, we have made the decision to re-launch Multi Theft Auto as an open-source project.

By open sourcing our project, we are encouraging anyone who is willing to participate in this project, to participate. For that reason, we are not 'just' offering our source code: we have also opened our bug tracker and will be offering public access to our nightly build system that will be compiling a build every day (and has been long used for testing purposes). This way, any developer will be able to run the latest revisions, file bugs or submit patches.

This is particularly exciting given that the released source is based upon the MTA Blue core, which in theory can be applied to any single player game. The source will no doubt be useful and provide foundations for future projects and the progression of the mod itself.'"
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Multi Theft Auto - San Andreas Goes Open Source

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  • by syousef (465911) on Monday November 24, 2008 @01:12AM (#25870105) Journal

    I'd love to call up a harrier and go head to head with another harrier. Rocket packs would be good too.

    • by StreetStealth (980200) on Monday November 24, 2008 @02:13AM (#25870397) Journal

      I've heard fantastic, mind-bending things about Multi Theft Auto.

      Apparently, enthusiast game devs grafting on a real-time multiplayer component to a single-player game to which they don't have the source results in some, shall we say, interesting sync issues. My favorite story is where one guy suddenly gets replaced with a taxi on another guy's client. He still sees himself as a character, but the other guy sees him as a taxi just "walking" around.

      "Get in me!" is of course the appropriate response, and upon their union the two have a strange and jittery ride down the street, until they get to the train station. They get on the train, which the taxi guy sees as a bouncy and jittery train ride, but the other guy sees as a taxi intersecting the train, grinding endlessly against the tunnel.

      Finally, something breaks, and they're no longer constrained to the map's clipping, rocketing around the city, perhaps bi- or quad-locating, and it's time to reset the server.


      • Only a client running a Multi Theft Auto version that is released through this website or through our nightly build service generates a serial number. In other words, developer builds that are built manually by anyone will not be able to join servers that have serial verification turned on. For obvious reasons of course, as we would like to minimize the problem of people cheating through source code modifications.

        It will only be a matter of time before they do.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by coresnake (1215632)
          Actually the MTA servers are all full of cheaters who use weapons hacks in nonweapon areas etc. anyway so I wouldnt worry about that.
      • by spandex_panda (1168381) on Monday November 24, 2008 @04:49AM (#25870905)
        thats awesome. I want to bi- and quad-locate someone
        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          I'd rather locate a bi.
        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          that gave a whole new meaning to the name Spandex Panda

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by yoyhed (651244)
        MTA was an amazing thing back in the days of GTA III and Vice, and even SA, particularly because of how it was programmed. But now GTA IV has eclipsed all the previous games just on its merits as a single-player game, and Rockstar has implemented a better version of MTA officially into IV.. kind of sad that the MTA devs won't have anything to do on this one.
        • But now GTA IV has eclipsed all the previous games just on its merits as a single-player game

          The player control seems absurdly bad to me. It's as if he's on inline skates and listing from side to side. How is it that they cannot make it more manageable?

          • by hairyfeet (841228)

            Actually I think the controls went down the crapper in GTA:SA, at least it did for me. GTA 3 and VC both felt like a PC game. The controls were smooth, easy to manage, and really allowed you to forget about them and get into the game. Whereas GTA:SA felt like just another PS2 game that was ported to the PC. The controls are IMHO a major PITA and I spent more time messing with them than I did playing the game.

            My oldest who is a hardcore GTA player played it for a week after I gave him the box, only to stu

        • by jmccarthy (228531)

          I think there's a significant portion of gamers who feel San Andreas is the peak of the series so far. GTA4 certainly doesn't have as many fun activities for myself, anyway.

          • by mrdoogee (1179081)
            I totally agree. While GTA IV is fun for sure, and for the most part very well polished, I just don't get the "go anywhere, do anything" feeling I got from San Andreas. For somebody who likes the mission structure and getting completion, its probably a lot more fun, however I'm just tired of Roman or Dwayne calling me when I'm just out screwing around. I loved the Sandbox of GTA-SA, and it feels like that was toned down a bit in favor of a more... "linear" type of game.
          • I concur. I was really looking forward to GTA IV but it lacks a lot of the awesome stuff that was in San Andreas. Here's hoping they continue to try out new ideas with the next version. Actually, the ads I've seen for Saints Row make it look more like the proper spiritual successor to GTA III, but I haven't played it yet so I can't comment on how good it is. I think GTA IV is trying too hard to be realistic and dark, and it has lost a lot of the fun cartoony atmosphere that GTA has always had. 90% of the ne

      • Are you claiming that is a bug? It sounds like a perfectly implemented, lol-producing feature.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This is exactly what happened in my experience playing this game, right down to the "Get in me!" exclamation. Except our trains were out of sync, and all I saw was a taxi flying down the rail perpendicular to the track, being smashed to bits, exploding, and arriving at the station in a heap. And when I tried to get in, two taxis appeared on his screen, which bounce and clipped into the air in a whirlwind dance before dumping us both out of the world entirely. Somebody make a whole game outta THAT.

    • The problem is that they don't include the serial number generator.

      It's not as if the resulting package that was built could be compared to the official build to find it, and its source code.

  • Anonymity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Monday November 24, 2008 @01:20AM (#25870149) Homepage Journal

    I've seen a bunch of "open source" game projects where the developers use pseudonyms to contribute. A few of these projects don't even have any contact information to get in touch with the developers. This basically makes their licensing pointless. Anyone can slap the GPL or a BSD-alike license on a bit of code, but it doesn't mean anything unless someone is willing to stand up and claim copyright on the code.. and that means a real human with a legal name. Throwing some code, that you value, out into the world without your name on it isn't philanthropy, it's just stupidity. If someone wants to shut down one of these projects, all they have to do is claim that they wrote it. They then can write up a DCMA takedown notice and the actual authors have no way to prove that they are the legitimate copyright owners.

    • Re:Anonymity (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FooAtWFU (699187) on Monday November 24, 2008 @01:26AM (#25870173) Homepage

      If someone wants to shut down one of these projects, all they have to do is claim that they wrote it.

      And pray that you don't get a serious legal smackdown laid on you if it ever did happen to go to court. There are ways to demonstrate authorship and link pseudonyms to real people when you get down to it; they're not perfect, but are you willing to risk the chance they work?

      • Re:Anonymity (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 24, 2008 @04:12AM (#25870787)

        They opensourced code that is not even theirs, I have my sources, trust me there is actually code in there that they got from rockstar before the hot cofee fiasco when they even supported them, i doubt they ever did permission to release that.

        And they also refuse to credit some of ex-developers.

        Basically they could get easily sued into oblivion.
         

        • You should email/contact your sources, the longer they wait to bring this up in court (or make a DMCA take-down request), the harder it will be for them to appear sympathetic in front of a jury.

          • by Ash-Fox (726320)

            How do you know this court case will have a jury?

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by 3p1ph4ny (835701)

              Because they'll probably be sued in the US federal court system for an amount over $20. Read the 7th amendment. IANAL, etc.

              • by Ash-Fox (726320)

                Because they'll probably be sued in the US federal court system for an amount over $20. Read the 7th amendment. IANAL, etc.

                Fair trial applies to instances like murder, not copyright infringement.

                • by 3p1ph4ny (835701)

                  If by "fair trial" you meant "certian parts of procedural due process", then yes, you're correct. However, the seventh amendment states:

                  In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

                  Paraphrased: "in most civil cases of value >=$20, you get a jury trial." The SCOTUS hasn't consistent

                  • by skarphace (812333)

                    Paraphrased: "in most civil cases of value >=$20, you can get a jury trial."

                    There, fixed that for you. The right of trial by jury also allows the defendant to go up against a judge if they would prefer.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by maevius (518697)
      I am sure that after 550.000 lines of code, they have some way of proving that they own the code they were developing for all these years even if that is a log file
      • by thermian (1267986)

        I am sure that after 550.000 lines of code, they have some way of proving that they own the code they were developing for all these years even if that is a log file

        Given that after a little experience its possible to work out which of two students submitting the same code for an assignment was the real author, I'd think telling the authorship of a large project would be easy.

        One of the simplest ways is asking for a 'guided tour' of the code. Also, picking a random, obviously complex block of code and saying 'what does this do' will catch most bluffers.

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          Anyone who has had long term experience coding won't have much difficulty comparing a piece of code and someone's previous work to prove authorship. Back when I was in VB6 class a student accused me of cheating because I'd be done and heading out for a smoke a good hour before project time was up. The teacher laughed so hard I thought he'd cry. He then said "I have been coding for nearly 30 years. Let me show you something".

          He then projected a piece of my code on the board and said " You see how he likes t

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by JernejL (1092807)
        It's not even all their code, there is actually code in there that belongs to rockstar which they gave to them before hot cofee thing, i doubt they got permission to opensource that, it looks like a legal suicide for them
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Nazlfrag (1035012)

          which they gave to them

          They knew what the project was, they freely gave to them, I don't see the issue.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            That is a point certainly, but the question would be was the project they contributed to GPL at the time they contributed, and if not, did they retain the rights to their code, and if so, did they consent to their contributions being licensed in this manner. Muddy, curly and all manner of other words that describe a messy situation, but I'd bet a few lawyers out there wouldn't mind spending a few years arguing over it.
    • Re:Anonymity (Score:4, Insightful)

      by lysergic.acid (845423) on Monday November 24, 2008 @02:03AM (#25870345) Homepage

      what's to stop someone from downloading all of the files and revisions, removing the author's names and replacing their own, and putting up their own MTA site claiming that they were the original authors?

      i don't see how typing your name in a text file is going to provide any kind of added protection against someone trying to take credit for your work.

      whether they use a pseudonym or not, the original MTA authors still have several important things on their side:

      • a public history of publishing the code on the web (i.e. they have users, fans, and site visitors as their witness)
      • they probably have unpublished files like raw artwork, PSD files, e-mails, and other local records of their development
      • they own the domain name, web hosting account, Google Code account, e-mail address, and other accounts used in the project's development.
      • they have the truth on their side.

      book authors publish under pseudonyms, or noms de plume, so why can't programmers?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by QuantumG (50515) *

        Yeah, that's not how it works.

        See, these guys don't want to be identified. That's why they don't have their names on the stuff. So basically the only way they can stop someone from fucking them over is by identifying themselves..

        It's a pretty obvious catch-22.

        • i don't think you understand what a catch-22 [wikipedia.org] is.

          it'd only be a catch-22 if, regardless of whether the author uses a pseudonym or not, he gets fucked over.

          but as the myriad of authors who publish books under pen names illustrates, regardless of whether you use a pseudonym or not, you won't get fucked over. that would be the opposite of a catch-22.

          • by QuantumG (50515) *

            Publishers own the copyright on books written by authors under pseudonyms.

            If someone violates the copyright, the publisher sues them.

            An anonymous copyright holder is ineffective.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 24, 2008 @02:05AM (#25870359)

      If you look at the Google Code site for the project [googlecode.com] and see some of the committed files in the repo, you'll notice REAL names with REAL email addresses, and thus your point is moot... and I shall forever be a coward.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 24, 2008 @02:52AM (#25870563)

      Well, maybe it's time I was more open about this then. I wrote the code.

    • Re:Anonymity (Score:5, Informative)

      by ZorbaTHut (126196) on Monday November 24, 2008 @03:04AM (#25870593) Homepage

      If someone wants to shut down one of these projects, all they have to do is claim that they wrote it.

      Proof of identity besides, how exactly would this work? All major open-source licenses (including the GPL) are irrevocable for the code they were distributed with. They can claim they wrote it all they want - they can't force anyone to take it off their sites.

      If someone wanted to shut down the project, they'd have to:

      * Claim it was theirs
      * Claim that they never intended for it to be distributed
      * Explain how it is that this group, which has been distributing it for a long, long time, managed to be the sole source of distributed binaries for months (years?) without the original authors ever caring
      * Explain how this group got ahold of the sourcecode in the first place

      There's enough laugh-test issues in there to make any such attempt essentially impossible.

      Basically, put it this way. If these people, the actual developers, want to de-GPL it in the future . . . they can't. Cat's out of the bag, ain't going back in. If they can't do it, what makes you think an impostor could?

      • Re:Anonymity (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Kjella (173770) on Monday November 24, 2008 @05:39AM (#25871023) Homepage

        Proof of identity besides, how exactly would this work? All major open-source licenses (including the GPL) are irrevocable for the code they were distributed with. They can claim they wrote it all they want - they can't force anyone to take it off their sites.

        If a license wasn't applied by the copyright holder then the license and any sublicenses are null and void. Stolen goods don't become legitimate if you sell them on eBay, nor can you "launder" code using a license.

        If someone wanted to shut down the project, they'd have to:

        * Claim it was theirs

        TRUE.

        * Claim that they never intended for it to be distributed

        FALSE

        * Explain how it is that this group, which has been distributing it for a long, long time, managed to be the sole source of distributed binaries for months (years?) without the original authors ever caring

        FALSE

        * Explain how this group got ahold of the sourcecode in the first place

        FALSE

        To take your most obvious error first, copyrights do not have to be defended. I could sue ten or fifty years from now without any need to explain myself. The other two might be arguments in a court of law, but here's the basic sequence of events.

        1. Your ISP recieves a DMCA takedown, all it requires is a claim to ownership not any proof or reasonable case. They will take it off the site.
        2. You must file a DMCA counter notification for their return.
        3. The DMCA troll must file a lawsuit to continue (or not, since it's takedown abuse).
        4. During the discovery/trial there's no evidence and you win (hopefully).

        But wait, what happens here at step 2? It means you must claim:

        "I declare, under penalty of perjury, that I have a good faith belief that the complaint of copyright violation is based on mistaken information, misidentification of the material in question, or deliberate misreading of the law." plus give your full contact details for a potential lawsuit.

        Would you sign that on behalf of some pseudonymous code that some d00d contributed to your project? Do you know who he is, what code access he's had and whether these allegations are true or not? I sure as hell wouldn't do that, it'd be dangerous as hell because I don't know the facts here. You can try getting the pseudonym to file the counter-notice but he might not be reachable or doesn't want to step forward. Then it's game over, your code is down and it's not coming back up.

        Basically, put it this way. If these people, the actual developers, want to de-GPL it in the future . . . they can't. Cat's out of the bag, ain't going back in. If they can't do it, what makes you think an impostor could?

        You alledge the cat was never legally let out of the bag, and that everyone's handling it or its kittens are dealing in stolen property.

        • by ZorbaTHut (126196)

          The DMCA is kind of a red herring. Presumably, that group themselves is hosting it. If they get hit by a DMCA for their own project, they're probably not going to roll over and play dead - they're probably going to say "uh, this is ours, go away".

          Things might be a little more dubious if their site vanished off the face of the planet and it was down to fans to host it. But as long as the creators of the code actually want it kept up, they're quite, quite able to do so, bogus DMCA claims or not.

    • by donaldm (919619)
      I would have thought that the developers and coders names are in the credits therefore you could say this game is copyright with particular peoples names being cited. It will be interesting to see what type of license they use and if certain people or companies try to plagiarise it.

      Throwing some code, that you value, out into the world without your name on it isn't philanthropy, it's just stupidity.

      I could not agree more, it is IMHO stupid releasing software that anyone can take and make their own although I am quite sure that many would disagree with you and me. Oh well that is their prerogative.

      On a slightly different n

      • by nog_lorp (896553) *

        it is IMHO stupid releasing software that anyone can take and make their own although I am quite sure that many would disagree with you and me.

        Did you just call ALL OPEN SOURCE CONTRIBUTORS stupid? On SLASHDOT? What were you thinking? I'm surprised you haven't been modded -2 to yet.

    • by KDR_11k (778916)

      The fakers write up a DMCA takedown notice, the real authors write a counternotice. If the fakers want to win they have to prove in court that they are the authors.

    • by genner (694963)

      I've seen a bunch of "open source" game projects where the developers use pseudonyms to contribute. A few of these projects don't even have any contact information to get in touch with the developers. This basically makes their licensing pointless. Anyone can slap the GPL or a BSD-alike license on a bit of code, but it doesn't mean anything unless someone is willing to stand up and claim copyright on the code.. and that means a real human with a legal name. Throwing some code, that you value, out into the world without your name on it isn't philanthropy, it's just stupidity. If someone wants to shut down one of these projects, all they have to do is claim that they wrote it. They then can write up a DCMA takedown notice and the actual authors have no way to prove that they are the legitimate copyright owners.

      Or you could just host the site outside of the US or better yet throw a torrent up. Without real legal names attached to your work your unlikely to get shutdown since they can't find you.

      • by QuantumG (50515) *

        You also can't enforce your copyright, so putting your work out under the GPL is pointless.

  • Now hiring! (Score:5, Funny)

    by narcberry (1328009) on Monday November 24, 2008 @01:32AM (#25870199) Journal

    Looking for motivated developers to work on an exciting video game project.

    Must be willing to work for free.

  • Summary Lacking (Score:5, Informative)

    by ovanklot (715633) on Monday November 24, 2008 @02:14AM (#25870401)
    FTA:

    "Multi Theft Auto (MTA) is an open-source software project that adds a full multi-player network play functionality to several of Rockstar North's Grand Theft Auto game titles, in which this network play element is not originally found."

    Ah, now I get it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Enderandrew (866215)

      When I first saw the headline on my iGoogle page I read it that San Andreas itself went OSS. I was very disappointed when I reread the headline and summary.

  • svn (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Here's the command to check out the source:

    svn checkout http://multitheftauto.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/ multitheftauto-read-only

  • by sleeponthemic (1253494) on Monday November 24, 2008 @02:22AM (#25870441) Homepage
    and hot coffee.
  • Now how far will the code history go, with respect to the closed source editions?

  • Only a client running a Multi Theft Auto version that is released through this website or through our nightly build service generates a serial number. In other words, developer builds that are built manually by anyone will not be able to join servers that have serial verification turned on. For obvious reasons of course, as we would like to minimize the problem of people cheating through source code modifications.

    ...Let the serial-less servers and serial verification bypasses go forth and multiply in number.

  • All our source code available through this project page is licensed under the GPLv3 license. This excludes any dependencies and our net modules for both the client and server: these are still covered under our proprietary license. These modules have been excluded because of reasons involving security and cheating, but contain only a minimal amount of code.

    No reason not to include them in source form.

    • by Kijori (897770)

      All our source code available through this project page is licensed under the GPLv3 license. This excludes any dependencies and our net modules for both the client and server: these are still covered under our proprietary license. These modules have been excluded because of reasons involving security and cheating, but contain only a minimal amount of code.

      No reason not to include them in source form.

      These modules are the ones containing the authentication code designed to verify that it's a genuine build distributed by MTA. If you open source them, you make it easier for people to compile their own build where they have superpowers and play on the public servers with it. That's what they want to avoid.

      • Yeah, keeping the code proprietary works great.

        Just ask Blizzard, they haven't banned *one* *single* *player* from Battle.net for cheating...

        </unimpressed>

      • One more reason to go to a model that only puts the authentication modules in a "black box" and made server-side as much as possible. If their netcode is that bad that they have to put it in a DLL black box, then you've got an oracle in the making.
        • by Kijori (897770)

          What exactly are you proposing to put on the server side? If it's the authentication module, you're going to struggle to validate someone's install if your code is on a different computer. If it's the network code, well, if the network code is at the other end of the network I think there might be some slight problems...

          Putting the authentication and netcode modules in a "black box" gives them a "secure" conduit from authentication to server. Opening up links in that chain seems like it would be a mistake.

          • by cwcpetech (733201)
            Then by all means leave the authentication code be a platform independent black box; let the network code go open. That way open servers don't need to be hobbled by having platform-dependent net code. Besides, it's not as if one couldn't intercept the calls they may be making to generate it and feed them easily manipulated data.
  • by miffo.swe (547642)

    I wonder if i can get it working on linux. BB later =)

  • by VendettaMF (629699) on Monday November 24, 2008 @05:06AM (#25870947) Homepage

    "More than 16 worldwide developers"

    That'd be 17 worldwide developers then?

    • by Kijori (897770)

      The important thing to note isn't the number, it's that they said "16 worldwide developers" not "16 developers worldwide".

      There may only be 17 of them, but each of them is as wide as the world.

      And I think we all know of the connection between code quality and waist size.

    • Our hearts go out to the 17 victims of the recent internet scam.

  • > net: network handling (this module is covered by a different license and is only available as a binary release)

    First rule of business, fork, and add a new network layer, then use google's bug database.

  • I used to play GTA:Race(which was a separate project from MTA) which was basically these wacky races in the SA world, where vehicles change at checkpoints, etc. When I wasn't doing that, I was playing MTA. Sadly, 99% of the MTA servers out there were "free roam" servers, with no game structure whatsoever. The remaining 1% were these "RPG" servers, where you play around in this RPG environment. Sadly, an RPG-izing of San Andreas takes all the fun out of the game. No cars until you get your license, etc. You

  • MTA is just a OS extension to play your actual closed-source version GTA in Multiplayer.

    If you want to cover open-source games cover this one:
    Urban Terror [urbanterror.net]

    UT is an open-source Counter Strike "clone" that runs on OS X, Linux and Windows. It's awesome. These guys did a great job.

    In their own words: "Urban Terror(TM) is a free multiplayer first person shooter, that (thanks to ioquake3) does not require Quake III Arena. It is available for Windows, Linux and Macintosh.

    Urban Terror can be described as
    • by Reapman (740286)

      I don't have any other games to add, but I just wanted to say thanks for the info on this, I'm always on the look out for good quality Linux games, Tux Racer only goes so far ya? I'll download Urban Terror tonight! :)

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