Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Games Entertainment

Black And White: Open Source? 121

RP writes "It will be if Peter Molyneux (the designer) has his way. I noted this link over on where he is quoted as saying: "The first thing is my ambition to make the whole of Black & White, the AI engine, the 3D engine, the physics engine, open-source. Then anybody can download and use that stuff. To use it in a commercial product, you have to pay us a royalty, but, you know, absolutely free for enthusiasts to use." If you've seen any screenshots of Black and White, you know this could be exciting. " Very impressive looking stuff.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Black And White: Open Source?

Comments Filter:
  • "To use it in a commercial product, you have to pay us a royalty, but, you know, absolutely free for enthusiasts to use."

    That means it won't be free. It probably can not be distributed on CDs because these can be considered commercial products (you usually pay for them). The code can not be reused in GPL programs since it adds restrictions which is not allowed by the GPL (for good reasons). Using code in any program under another license can be problematic since probably redistribution will be either explicitly or implicitly (through the non-commercial clause) restricted.

    Still, it is "open source", since the source is open. That should give some insight why some people rather dislike using this term when referring to free software (especially RMS does [], of course). "Open source" has a rather positive association with free software to the wider masses now. So now companies can publish non-free software and get an automatic market boost by claiming they are open source. They even made it to a Slashdot story, though they don't have anything the free software community might profit from (which the story poster consequently didn't realize, in order to support my point).

  • While I really appreciate what Peter is trying to do by giving away the code, I should probably mention that this isn't *quite* like totally open licenses (e.g. GPL, BSD/Apache/X, etc.). For a license to truly be open source, either you can be free to do whatever you want with the code, sharing your changes or not, a la BSD, or you MUST share everything, a la GNU.

    What Peter is proposing is in reality a lot like Sun's "community license." The code is available for non-commercial use, but if you want to make money off of it, you have to pay. The problem with this is that it's inequitable. The original developers get to release a commercial product, royalty free, while those who contributed later don't. And while it's much better than a closed-source EULA, I secretly long for B&W to follow Quake's footsteps and go GPL.
  • Why are you so damned anal?
    He's releasing the source, there for it's open source. It doesn't matter if some standards group defines open source by a different meaning. And those that pay royaltees are commercial companies, the people who SHOULD have to pay to make money off of someone elses work. I want to play with this I can free of charge, I can change what I want, so what's the problem? Why are you bitching?
  • If I recall correctly, the issue was not with QT, but with KDE for using it.
  • OK, heading a bit off the main topic, has anyone tried to get a major end-user Free program to the store shelves? Freeciv would be really cool to have in a $20 boxed set with printed manual, and imagine a $30 GIMP on CD with a crapload of plugins and all supported architectures and OSs. Sure, we have distributions out there, "archive" CDs, and lots of server software, but why not aim for an end user market?
  • I pray this will really happen, but somehow I don't think so.
  • If you'll check the Open Source Definition, you'll see that restrictions on type endeavor are not present in Open Source licenses. Therefore, restrictions on non-commercial use disqualify the software from being Open Source.
  • Because Open Source means more than just being able to see the source. Heck, I have a source code file of MS-DOS 1.0 and its COMMAND.COM (no, you can't have a copy). Anybody who's moderately clever can reverse-engineer code to produce a source file.

    What makes Open Source interesting is that you can change and/or redistribute the code.
  • This is great news, even though this isnt the open source licence that many of us what to see we have to be aware of some of the realties of the situation. 1. the chances of a linux port just went to about 99% (If you listen quietly you can hear my win98 partion being removed in the background). 2. This is probably the first code that bullfrog has probably released, if it works out well they will probably do it again. 3. they still have the right to do what they want with it, its theirs. I am a student and i hate it when some one steals my 3 months work and presents it as their own. The right to owning intellectual property is one of the greatest rights we can have. I know I onw no land or goods but i know a lot of things. any way it seems like so many people are peeved about what microsoft are doing to slashdot, the poor old peter is getting torn to peices for doing some thing that is good.
  • Who'd pay $30 for the GIMP, when you can get it free, pre-installed with your OS?

    That's why what you suggest doesn't happen yet... Linux distributors, *BSD projects, and such are already doing just that: putting free software on a CD, and charging for it. Red Hat, Caldera, and SUSE make it their mission to target the end-user.

    Now, I could see useful a $15-$25 Gimp package for Windows, with a CD and a manual, as it's only they that don't get Gimp on their OS CD. I don't care how many people whine that Gimp doesn't have Pantone or CMYK or something, 90% of Photoshop users are average people who grabbed acopy from someone else. If they could get Gimp legally, and cheaply, it could become successful.
  • ...would be something like X11. (Yes, I know the protocol is bloated, but this is an example.) Only if the entire game (rendering and all) is done on the server can the client be trusted not to give away the position of the player right behind the wall in front of you.
  • Well, sure they could! But from a business perspective, this would only work if they find licencees who are willing to pay just for being able to close up their modifications (and not for using the code in the first place). And why should anyone do that?

    This is not some basic library for implementing huge projects (like e.g. Qt) with 100000+ LOCs but a game engine where the sum of all "derived code" (in the GPL sense) will very often be several orders of magnitude smaller than the original code (esp. if it supports some kind of scripting) and most of the work is spent for art and level-design. And since the copyright on the artwork is more than enough to prevent some enthusiasts from developing a standalone free clone while the game is still on the shelves, it would simply make no economical sense to pay much for a special licence.
  • I've seen a bunch of followups asking me "What's your problem?!"

    (Of course, this being Slashdot, it was in much less polite terms.)

    I ask you to read my message again. Where the hell do I say it's bad that it's not Open Source? I don't actually give a damn! I think it's great that the source is being released, however it's being released.

    I just care that the term "Open Source" is being misapplied to something that doesn't meet the Open Source Definition. I don't think it's due to malice, I don't think it's evil, I just think it's a linguistic bug that we should all be more conscious of.

  • In Quake3 there are two differant modes, pure server, and non pure. I have made my own HUD, and to use it, the server must be in non pure mode. If it is a pure server, it uses only the .pk* files that came with the game, hence original HUD for me. Building your own HUD, and building in cheats are very similar, just a recompile away. This seams to prevent cheating, and very few online servers run non pure, but at lan parties with less than 30 people, we are safe to run non pure, because we know that cheating is not a concern.
  • Bullshit,

    You could not reverse engineer a game which took several years to code and get anything close to source code and understand and work with it without a major effort remember this is many people coding for much time compliling writing 10-100's of thousands of lines of code that code is then compiled with an optomizing compiler to take advantage of all kinda of cpu peculiarities to get more speed out of it. You cant just decomplie it and have usefull source. If you have the commented source to play with on a non commercial basis you have an amazing base to learn from and quite frankly if you want to use it commercially they have the right to make you pay for it.

  • The comparison between UNIX and games is invalid. So is the earlier comment that Linux is proof that open source security is possible.

    With a UNIX server, the object is to validate the identity of the person attempting to perform an action, and to provide a secure way for the server and the user to communicate. It's all about secure communications.

    With games, the communications is out in the open. The issue is validating the data that the client is sending.

    Things aren't quite this simple, of course. Unix does do some data validation, such as a user password, but even this is of a different nature. With a login password, there is only one acceptable input - the correct password. With a game server, it isn't even always the data that must be validated - it's the source of the data. Is the aiming info in Quake coming from the user's movement of the mouse, or is it modified by an aim-bot? This is akin to a Unix server trying to differentiate between an actual user loggin in and a script running on an automated telnet client. If the script knows the correct password and is programmed to provide a small, variable delay between characters to simulate human typing, the server has a hell of a problem.

  • I'm a GPLite myself, but I can't agree with what you claimed there.

    There are some companies doing open sourced development and using the BSD licence, and not just in the *BDS OS world, either. Lots of them do seem to be driver software, though, which is something of a special case.

    On the otherhand, I can only think of Hewlett Packard (for their eSpeak thing) of the non-Linux (Redhat, VA etc) companies that is using the actual GPL[1]. Novell is using something very similar, but they have renamed it the Novell Public Licence. Most seem to use the Mozilla Public Licecne, or variations of it.

    I do agree with you point, though - most companies do tend to use Open Source licences that force the code to be recontributed, unlike the BSD.

    [1]Ignoring companies that make contributions to exisiting GPLed projects.

  • It's one thing to make money by packaging and providing support for an operating system. Linux isn't a application. It's a package of a lot of different apps. Red Hat provides a service by creating, maintaining and updating the package. They also provide paid support.

    "Black and White" is a game. It's a complete application, already packaged. I don't see much of a market for paid support for a game, nor do I see much of a follow-on market for upgrades and new versions. So please help me Get It. Explain what this new business model is that will allow a company to make money off an open sourced game?

    The only realistic possibility I can see would be to keep a (partially?) closed-source server which includes a serial number validator similar to Halflife, etc. and charge for the serial number to play online. It might even be possible to open source the server and keep a centralized database of valid serial numbers. I'm not sure I'd classify this as a new, open-source business model, however.

  • 'The definitions keep getting muddier and muddier. '

    No they don't. The definition of open-source is still as clear as ever it was. Something cannot be open-source if it discriminates against one class of users - ie this can't be, if commercial folks have to pay for it, yeah?

    I've seen too many gratuitous abuses of this "open" word as a buzzword not to get extremely pissed off with it. Everyone, get it right!

    Interesting idea... if something claims to be open source and yet isn't... if someone violates the [L]GPL... who do we get to fight for us?
    .|` Clouds cross the black moonlight,
  • Yes, I know RMS says that, but he's wrong. There is no OSI Certified Open Source Software which is not free software by his definition. And there will never be as long as I'm on the board.
  • So? It's not Open Source if you put that restriction on distribution.
  • Yes, we have no control over that use, but neither does RMS have any control over how people use "free software".

    Most people who have never heard from RMS understand the term "free software" to mean gratis software -- software without cost. Microsoft uses it that way. That's why it's bad to use the term "free software" unless you're going to include a spare RMS with every instance to explain what it really means.

  • Well.. then why is all the venom directed to the QPL? The GPL's restrictions are just as much a hindrance to code sharing, as the QPL is.
  • moderate this coward up, please.
  • by hugg ( 22953 ) on Saturday May 13, 2000 @02:23PM (#1074565)
    Game programming is one of the last black arts of computing. Any code handed down from the priesthood to the serfs is greatly appreciated solely for its educational value.

    One side effect: all this free code & wisdom raises the standard for us poor game programmers :-]
  • The problems with multiplayer, especially with Quake isn't synching issues, people changing there stats, but rather with people 'augmenting' There reflexes, IE auto-aim, and auto-dodge (I think). There isn't really much you can do about that, and in fact it was a problem with even the closed source versions, from what I've heard.

    Since this program is more of an RTS type thing it isn't really an issue as much. Computer Augmentation can pretty much make you invulnerable and a perfect shot in quake, but It wouldn't really be able to do that much in starcraft (Humans can already beat the computer in general).

    I'm not sure how much of an issue it would be in Black and White.
  • True, but at least it's better than nothing, especially for games.

    He might mean something like the GPL, where it's illegal to distribute in closed-source form. Perhaps he equates that with "commercial purposes".
  • The majority of commercial software is distributed as highly encoded binaries that are very difficult to reverse compile and get and useful code.

    Uh, "Highly Encoded binaries "? As opposed to what, lowly encoded binary code? They're not that hard to reverse engineer, it just takes a lot of time, and while doing it would tell you how it worked, you couldn't "plug and play" it into other projects.

    Anyway, I seriously doubt that companies like blizzard rip off code, first of all, there isn't really any open source products that they could have ripped off for starcraft and such, and often its a pain to integrate code from something into something else. I'd personally rather just rewrite the code anyway. Just having the source files doesn't mean you can understand them easily, if you write your own code, you understand it... most of the time... (There's one line in a prime number generator I wrote that still in retrospect)
  • Karma stats/ratings listings would own.
  • No, just for use on win32. Qt doesn't restrict commercial development under *BSD/Linux/etc., it restricts *closed* development in the same sense that the GPL does. Like the GPL, if you use Qt, your program must be open-source.
  • You can still do comercial things with GPL'd software. Just look at redhat, that's certanly comercial.
  • Oh, so words mean what you say they mean? Okay, *I* say that "shit for brains" is a compliment. Now I'm going to compliment you. You have shit for brains.

    Oh, maybe words *don't* mean what YOU or I say they mean? They might have an actual definition []?
  • OPEN SOURCE is a distraction. All software should be free. Letting people see your code as long as they don't do anything useful with it is simply teasing.
  • That's why you use the GPL, so that you limit the profits of anyone who uses your source code. Professionals and businesses tend to use the GPL, whereas amateurs and non-profits use the BSD license. With the GPL, you get the benefits of Open Source, and (as long as you are careful to get copyright assignments) you can license the code for proprietary uses in addition.
  • by claiming they are open source.

    They are free to claim it, but as you can see from surveying the comments, most users can see through their nonsense. Any software that isn't free software cannot be Open Source. A simple look at the Open Source Definition [] will show you that.


  • So while everyone argues about the exact usage of the term "open source," here are some pages with screen shots of Black and White.

    Preview at Daily Radar (English) []
    Total Video Games - Screen shots and Interview (English) []
    Games On Line (Italian) []
    BW Zone at GamesWeb (German) []

  • First of all, I'm going to say it is open-source, even if it doesn't fit the OpenSource Definition. I can look at and use the source: it's open-source.

    When he said you have to pay a royalty to use it commercially, I got out of that that if a company wanted to use it in there game and modify it, they would have to pay a royalty. This makes sense.

    Besides, it might be separate of the other license. He could just say, "it's GPL" and then if someone wants to take it and modify it to use in a commercial game, they would have to pay royalty, like the other game developers do.

    Chris Hagar

  • That is what RMS keeps shoving down everyone's throat. The FSF zealots don't care about OSS, they care about free. The old Qt license guaranteed that the software had to be free AND open source.

    I can get Windows freeware without source that costs nothing. They usually don't have restrictions on commercial use. The definitions keep getting muddier and muddier.
  • Sounds like a great question for an 'Ask Sloshdot'
  • if free software != $0.00
    level of interest == "who cares"
    else "Whoopee!"
  • If it followed Quake's footsteps, it would "go GPL" several years after release. It IS nice of JC to GPL the Quake source, but it's not as if the QuakeIII Arena source is being GPLed any time soon.

    If this game's source is included on the CD when it hits the shelves, under ANY license, it will be groundbreaking. (Or for that matter, if it's d/l able, or whatever. I just mean while the tech is current)

  • I can think of two ways of lessening damage due to gesture-borging.

    The first would be to send the actual gesture data to the trusted server/other clients for verification that they weren't simply repeating the genuine pattern over and over again. This way, you at least wouldn't get 100% accuracy; you'd have to come up with a good way of fudging it.

    The second would be to put limitations into the game mechanics itself to fix this -- i.e. it doesn't matter how good you are at using the gesture, it takes five minutes to recharge before you can do another one.

    Both of these are workable solutions IMO, and I'm sure another approach could be developed. It's not like there aren't going to be security problems anyways; people will crack games and develop cheats regardless of whether or not they are closed/open source. You could also do gesture-borging with a souped up version of GPM, for instance.

  • Their 3d-engine implements many methods, which have been available in years; and this code can give us a peek on how it can be done. I don't think anyone loses on this bet. :)
    I liked his (bullfrog-guy) comment on the req. this game needs; for perfect performance it needs a way past 10gHz because of adaptive 3d.

    Always available, always LOD, but really; how can you do it consistent? This will be one of the few games i'll ever buy; and i'm looking forward for the linux-implementation
  • If a product's source code is available but you have to pay a royalty for particular uses, it's not Open Source

    Right, it's not "Open Source". It's "open source" - a figure of speech, which no one has a monopoly over. Give Peter Molyneux a break. As far as I'm concerned, he can say whatever he pleases, ESR be damned.
  • Only if the entire game (rendering and all) is done on the server can the client be trusted not to give away the position of the player right behind the wall in front of you.

    Why would the server send that information to the client at all? As far as I can see, it could be made fairly cheatproof by simply only sending sending information the client should know, and only receiving the user's actions. Of course, this may put a greater on the communications and the server than otherwise.

    The only problem is things like automatic aiming, but as this is a strategy game rather than a FPS it might not be a problem.

  • Why not? WINE did it with Windows.
  • Before delving into this discussion, has anyone checked out the site? I mean, with a Gesture recognition engine and all, it's gotta rock. I hate having to remember what icons do what and what buttons to push on the keyboard / controller.

    Now the real issue...

    While working at a job once where nothing happened, several of us sys admins got bored and started playing this tank game (bzFlag) designed for SGI Irix and eventually open sourced. Well, when I got really bored, I started hacking the code and could toggle invulnerability, oscillation overthruster, several other things, and could even type in a player name and a laser would shoot out of the sky and destroy them (thought that part wasn't perfect code :P ). And you know what the other guys finally did? Either not play anymore or go to a lab where I couldn't play my hacked source and lower the ttl count so I couldn't play from my office. Basically, I was black-listed.

    So for everyone out there who is worried about people hacking up their source, learn from me... You WILL be black-listed and you WON'T have any fun in doing so. Perhaps Lionhead Studios will take a measure to ensure original binaries (well, compiled from gcc or whatever is needed) and perhaps they'll let users keep a list of "friends" whom they only play with that can be trusted, but the most notible counter-measure is the users themselves black-listing other users for cheating.

    The fact that this may be open-sourced is cool. It's worth it. I've checked out the site and I've never been this excited about a game ever. Many new innovations will make this game rock and, personally, I can't wait to see how it's done.

  • Oh, come on. This is really silly. Why can't you trust everyone in the game, even if the source code is out there, free for download?

    Is security through obscurity suddenly desirable, now that we're talking about games? Has OpenBSD suddenly become a haven for crackers and script kiddies, because the source code is out there?

    I never understand these gamers who throw up their hands as soon as someone mentions giving out source code to a multi-player game. Haven't they learned anything from the history of UNIX?

    Just look at the problems that Diablo had with cheaters. The game was virtually unplayable. And it used security through obscurity.
  • "But 'glory' doesn't mean 'a nice knock-down argument,'" Alice objected.
    "When *I* use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less."
    "The question is," said Alice, "whether you *can* make words mean so many different things."
    "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - that's all."

    Yeah, you can make words mean whatever you want them to mean - otoh, this can make communication rather tricky... :) We use words, we are the master of words. But unless two people are using the same definitions, how will they know what each other is saying? That's why we have standards bodies - to promote common definitions, to ease communication. Otoh, anyone who sticks *too* close to the official definition is just being pedantic. I agree with both of you.
  • Hm... Sorry if it's been perceived as such. I was completely serious (except for the misspelling deal). Ah well, the world isn't fair, and I suppose I should move on . . . my single karma point is now lost in history.
  • Black and White is kind of like a god simulation.
    You are a sorcerer and through that sorcerer, you can controll the life in the eden, or as the official black and white homepage [] puts it, "Seventeenth Heaven." Black and White is a game that is not easily surpassed, and if it is to be open sourced, should be a great addition to the myriad of Linux games.
  • Fine. Then quit using Apache, and quit visiting sites that use apache. Commercial exploitation of Apache helps fund it's development.

    Same with perl.

    Same with sendmail.

    Same with Linux, or did you forget that Red Hat pays Alan Cox for his Linux kernel work.

    Me, I'm going to continue to enjoy the benefits of shared software funded by commercial exploitation. I'll also be looking forward to the day games like Freeciv see commercial sales, as well.
  • I remember reading this in a pcgamer a year or two ago. The point was to let someone make their own units and other fun shit like that.
  • Seriously, I think this is a great idea. I would personally love to figure out how this engine works and play around with it.
  • He could license it under two things, a GPL version and one with another license that he could sell for royalties.

    Chris Hagar
  • by Aeka ( 90542 )
    welp there goes the multiplayer =(
  • by Bowie J. Poag ( 16898 ) on Saturday May 13, 2000 @01:10PM (#1074597) Homepage

    I dunno how usable it will be..Talk about legacy code..If anyone has been following Bullfrog in recent years, you'll know how long they've been wrestling with Black and White. Its most likely a mess, i'd imagine.. Then again, it might benefit from a few thousand pairs of eyes tearing it apart and cleaning it up. A good move.

    Bowie J. Poag
  • As the long flame war draws to its close, it's becoming pretty evident that releasing the source as GPL and relicensing it for commercial use would fit what Peter Molyneux has said, be as open source as open source could be and lay to rest the doubters. Even if this is not the solution that he thought of, there is no reason to scream "BUT IT'S NOT OPEN SOURCE" without knowing more of the details.

    One question about this scenario though: can you relicense code you maintain and have written 95% of - which is GPL code - under a commercial licence? If not, the biggest plus of being open source for Bullfrog is gone (assuming they care about cash more than cool code, which may be a false assumption), as the bug fixes they might have made themselves with careful inspection are now locked into GPL mode, and although their game is patched on the cheap, they cannot resell patched code. If so, then where is the line drawn between source you can rerelease and source you can't?

    Now the issue that concerns me more. Open sourcing the code implies that the code could be passed around in a way likely to give a games company that dislikes piracy the shivers (legal copying of binaries anyone?). Now there are 2 solutions I see to this. 1) The Descent solution - release code not artwork; risk someone redoing the artwork themselves (or 'close' the licence a bit by specifying original artwork only? Smells bad to me). 2) 'Close' the licence to prevent binary distribution altogether, make everyone compile their own copy. This is not GPL open source, but the only valid copyists of your game are now the development market you were happy to open your source to, and you engender tremendous developer community goodwill, so most of them will probably buy a copy of the game anyway. IMHO this is optimum for the interests of everyone concerned, although I'd be interested to hear others' comments.

    Anyway, more power to Peter Molyneux's elbow; it's a grand gesture from a games company and quibbling would be churlish. If his ideas come to pass, I vote we make up some kind of ./ award for him.

    Sorry for any typos, lack of care in formatting, sloppy thoughts, etc; its late where I am.

  • Exactly. How would he know? Not all projects are open-sourced. The majority of commercial software is distributed as highly encoded binaries that are verry difficult to reverse compile and get and useful code. I hypothesize that Blizzard will not release their source code to even Warcraft 1 simply because they may have "borrowed" code from someone else and don't want to pay royalties to the other party. I don't mean to accuse them of such a thing, but that idea frame is one example of why people don't like the open-source community. There are trade secrets that people tend to protect. And I wouldn't call it a trade secret because there is alwas something new and 10x better. At least the dude on this artical likes people scrutinizing his code and giving him and others suggestions for imrpoving it.
  • How are the b&w team going to handle the modification of multiplayer code to give people things they shouldn't have? The only way to do this is (AFAIK) to make the whole game (not just mp) client-server and have the server store everything, only letting the client see what it should see. One must not count on the client to hide things from the user, because a patched client could easily do things like that. Or do they have a better method?
    nuclear cia fbi spy password code encrypt president bomb
  • when Qt does this every jumps up and down. Their license is free for non-commercial use.

  • by Aeka ( 90542 )
    i think they just hit refresh all day until they find a new post
  • If a product's source code is available but you have to pay a royalty for particular uses, it's not Open Source. (See Section 1 of the Open Source Definition [].) Rather, it's source-available software. A lot of Sun software is like this now, for instance, including Java and Solaris.

    Companies should be applauded for making their source code available, but making source code for a product available and making a product Open Source still need to be treated as different things.

  • To use it in a commercial product, you have to pay us a royalty, but, you know, absolutely free for enthusiasts to use.

    You have to pay a royalty if your going to sell the product, but do you have to release your source code with it? I know just because it's "open sourced" it doesn't mean it's gpl'd... Just a question... I probably couldn't understand 95% of the code anyway :-) *curses his cmpsci101 class for teaching MFC*

    I think they'll be an interesting spawn of things being released with this open sourced..

  • Assuming that's an introductory course (cmpsci101)...they're not seriously using MFC as a teaching tool, are they? That's awful.

    Yes. *sigh* It was disgusting... I learned ANSI C a while ago, and doing MFC C++ just made me feel quite ackward and backwards.

  • This is cool... so if bullfrog doesn't want to port it to linux (and other previously unsupportet OSes), someone else can port it. I hope other people in the game industry follow this example.
  • by geekpress ( 171549 ) on Saturday May 13, 2000 @01:27PM (#1074607) Homepage
    Before this is determined to be A Really Cool thing, more details are needed. If someone else modifies the code, will that source be released? And how enforcable is the non-commercial bit? In other words, if another company uses the code and doesn't release the source, how will anyone know that the B&w code was used commercially?

    I do wonder about players in multi-player games tampering with the code to give them godly powers -- or at lest demi-godly powers. How will such tampering be prevented, if at all?

    One philosophical question: At what point does a bad license make releasing source code for software A Bad Thing? (A Bad Thing for the original developers, users of the software, and the programmers making use of the source, that is.) Is the situation made worse by calling the software "open source"?

    -- Diana Hsieh

  • free for enthusiasists, must pay to use in commercial product. that isn't open source. it's nice that you want to be more open, but it's not open source. (get it yet?)
  • I do wonder about players in multi-player games tampering with the code to give them godly powers -- or at lest demi-godly powers. How will such tampering be prevented, if at all?

    It doesn't have to be - Black&White is a God-simulation.

    So tell me, how do Gods cheat? :)

  • by Nicholas Vining ( 104178 ) on Saturday May 13, 2000 @01:31PM (#1074610)
    > welp there goes the multiplayer =(

    Finally, something I can lecture about.

    I've spent a good while over the past five months working on an open source MMORPG, and one of the issues that constantly shows up is client-server security. Anybody who has the source code can modify it, and can run their own hacked client. And there's nothing that you can do about it, apart from closing certain portions of the source code, which is a Bad Thing. (One possibility would be a closed source validator which checks to make sure that the binary is "Acceptable")

    That said, what you need to do in any sort of open-source project with a multiplayer function is to develop a system where you trust nobody. In other words, should player X suddenly get a +5 sword of flame and there's no way that he could have gotten it on this level other than cheating, the other clients ignore it/notify the other users/kick him out. I don't know enough about Black and White to go into more detail in terms of how you'd compensate for its actual style of gameplay, but that's one approach.

    Another approach would be to maintain a list of "untrustworthy" players based, possibly, off of their IP addresses. Then, if a player is determined to be cheating, he can be blacklisted.

    You CAN have secure open-source projects; this is clearly proved by Linux itself. You just need to keep this in mind when you design the game -- and you want a fairly secure multiplayer model anyways, as people will find ways to cheat no matter what. (Played Diablo lately?)

    Myself, I'd love an open-source Black & White, just so I could port it to Linux and further disrupt my productivity.


  • Many open-source products do precisely this, e.g., Qt.
  • Im surprised there was no website of the company actually writing B&W...Ive heard about the game a couple of times off people on Unreal Networks. Its one of those 3d multiplayer adventure games....i think its similar to Everquest but i havent had time to read about it on their website....busy as usual...anyways it sounds like an interesting game by Lionhead [] and im glad game developers(like that 3dJet games engine) are starting to participate in some sort of open source even if it is just a small step...GOOD ON YAH!!!! have fun....
  • yeah, but those zealots can't really expect the entire software industry to change overnight.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Problem is, cheating will be rampant if anyone can run a modified client and play online...
  • As much as I would like to produce freeware that helps the development community by sharing the problems I've solved, my employers don't let me give away the code from work and my wife wont let me create freeware on her time. Cheers to those that have the community sense, the skill, and the time to enrich the state of computing for us all.


    ... paka chubaka

  • by drivers ( 45076 ) on Saturday May 13, 2000 @03:39PM (#1074616)
    I am eagerly awaiting Black & White. Peter Molyneux has consistently put out amazing, fun, and innovative (and not in the MSFT sense) games. Games like Populous, Magic Carpet, and Dungeon Keeper. From what I've seen Black & White is another type of God game where you try to get tribesmen to worship you. However you also have a giant creature which you indirectly control. I guess it is kind of like a gigantic Tamagotchi because you have to train it and keep it happy. (It'll start eating your tribesmen if it gets hungry, for instance.) Also, it can be played in a massively multiplayer online manner.
    One thing I'm looking forward to is that you cast spells (generating a thunderstorm for instance... which looks really awesome in the video clips I've seen) using "Gesture Recognition technology." For example the storm takes effect when you draw a circle in a certain manner. I'm not really sure what all that involves.
    The fact that it is going to be "Open Source" (Open Source depending on what the license really says of course) is the icing on the cake.
  • crummy comments are worse.
  • You probably could figure this out your self, but stop by Lionhead's Website []. There's a programming discussion board and development diaries to read, as well as pretty screen shots, etc. to download.

    (Why the site's address wasn't included in the news post I don't know)

  • Reiserfs uses pretty much the same license.. basically the GPL with the commercial clause, and as far as I know (that is, I'm pretty damn sure, they're trying to get it incorporated in the kernel ;), it's open source.
  • I hope that Peter Molyneux isn't reading this discussion. He'll think we're all ungrateful bastards.
    It's absolutely amazing. This person is trying to give us a gift. He wants to give us, for free, what other companies charge millions for, The source to the game. And we have the audacity to cry out that he should be giving us more? What makes you think he should give us this much?

    Whether code "wants" to be free or not doesn't actually matter at the moment. What matters is that in the here and now it's not free and it represents a major asset to the companies that possesses it. To suggest that they have some sort of obligation to give this to us is crazy.
  • OpenUT (unreal tournament) isn't actually open source either. The open source portion is the individual system specific drivers, the game specific stuff (Core and Engine) are not open sourced. This is causing much difficulty in the development of OpenUT because there are SERIOUS bugs in the closed source portion (Core and Engine) which are preventing advancement in the open sourced portion.

    Semi-open open source projects just don't work, corporations control parts and allow enthuisasts to midify part, without actually changing the game itself. This is not a "Good Thing" and someone needs to realize it.

  • From the look of this game, the 3d models, applied textures, and artwork in general appear to be a LARGE portion of it. So open-sourcing the engines is not such a big deal. It's the same as Quake II, where there are several games using the Q2 engine but with varying results.

    Still, this is a good thing, and it does not fit the model of what is logical to fully open.
  • I have been thinking about this.

    A server could list as a rule that you use their binaries. The player downloads a fresh copy and starts it. The program checksums itself and the data files the player already has and sends the results back. If everything is OK the user can start playing.

    Every few days (more or less) the server would patch or recompile the program, if only to give it a different checksum.

    This is probably a lot more complicated than I think but it might stop some cheaters.

  • Sure they can use multiple licenses but why would you pay to license software you could get freely? Without going and re-reading the OSD, I seem to recall a clause which prevents people from restricting who may use the software released as "open source". Hence you cannot prevent someone from using the open source version of software and try to force them to pay for non-free software.
  • You make some very well thought out points.

    Perhaps I should have written more, expressed myself better, or examined Quake World (I don't play Quake World).

    The key is for the server to authenticate everything, like you said. Yes, this does use more bandwidth, but if you want to do things right, you have to up the ante. You can't play Quake World on a Pentium 133, right? If someone wants to play Quake World on a 14.4K modem, that's too bad. They'll have to upgrade to ISDN, DSL, or cable.

    There's a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things. The right way may not always be the optimal way. In that case, you make a design choice.

    But don't claim it's impossible to do it the right way.
  • All those people who, along with ESR, said "it doesn't matter if we call it 'Open Source' to impress the suits, so long we know what we mean" have a lot to answer for. From browsing the posts on this story it's amazing how many people suddenly don't give a damn about Free software anymore. Statements that we should just be grateful for whatever crumbs the software hoarders choose to give us. Statements that 'open source' can just mean 'available source code' and people trying to assuage their consciences by saying "Open Source != open source" are completely ridiculous. Why can't these people just go away and use some other operating system? I don't think I want to be part of a community of operating system users who don't care about Free software anymore.
  • The latency ("ping times" in gamer-speak) on my cable modem is incredibly low. When you look at the latency of my two LANs (a 100Mb/s, the other a private 10Mb/s), it's truly amazing. Even on a 486/33 with an ISA NE2000 card, I can get 2ms latency.

    I'm not sure why you'd want to play over the internet, what with losing packets left and right, routers going down, and people using 28.8K modems. But if you must, it's still possible. You can optimize how information is sent. This does require a little knowledge of TCP/IP and networking, but nobody said this stuff was easy.

    Yeah, I know that current client/server models really suck. But that's true for both closed and open clients. I hate to keep bringing up Diablo, but I really liked that game a lot. I felt it was one of the few games to capture the Roguelike feel, while giving everything a cool Gauntlet-style interface. The client bit, though. It sucked worse than my Calculus grades. It was so easy to hack, people would walk around in the equivilent of god-mode.

    There's really no solution but to bite the bullet and do things the right way. I agree, it's going to hurt for a while. But the technology will progress, making this less painful. That's always the way of things...
  • Folks, get real. If Peter says this will be good, You can trust his word. I used to buy every single product that Bullfrog pumped out because it always was the cutting edge as far as the availble software and hardware limits at the time. I hold magic carpet I and II as examples. Once Peter left the helm things got shaky fast. If Peter says Open Sourced is the way to go. Beleve him. He is way far above the rest. Gee look at the rising of UT set to topple Quake as a example.
  • Games like Populous, Magic Carpet, and Dungeon Keeper.

    Amusingly, British Dreamcast magazine DC-UK has an interview with Molyneux this month, with a sidebar entitled "I'm Rubbish: Peter Molyneux" -- wherein he criticizes all his own games:

    <paraphrasing>Populous -- "Very repetitive"; Dungeon Keeper -- "I think I made an awful lot of mistakes"; Theme Park -- "I don't think most people played past the first level" etc.

    Of course, *he* can say that -- we can't...
  • by listen ( 20464 ) on Saturday May 13, 2000 @01:32PM (#1074630)
    Some people have said this could not be open source if you need to pay a license for commercial redistribution. They are just plain wrong.

    The easiest and IMO best way to do this is to licence under the GPL, then sell licence exceptions. Include a note with the open source release that says only submissions assigning copyright will be accepted into the code base (still fully acknowledging authorship in the code and credits). A nice addition would be giving Lionhead share options to major contributors.

    This could definitley work, and if people really want to licence the engine in for redistribution binary form, they just pay for a special licence from Lionhead.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 13, 2000 @01:35PM (#1074632)
    Can't they just use mutilple linceses? To everyone it is open source. If you want it to be a closed then you would have to buy a different license from them to do so. This is similar to what the Quake 1 engine is now. Couldn't they do something like that?
  • I mean, what are you ppl really interested?
    Are you hackers and want to learn from the code, or are you just interested in gettings stuff for free (like in beer _and_ free speech)?
    Personally, if i can have both, i am very happy.
    Sure, Open Source is the true way to go.
    But being enabled to learn from the code is what is most important for me.

    Be honest, when have you ever seen a game-company releasing their absolutely hot code?
    I am _really_ looking forward to the day when i can grab the source and have a look into it - why should i care if i could use that in a commercial product?? - hey I want to learn from the code, not make money from it! Those coders from Black&White give us the chance to look how they have done it - and i think they should really be praised for that decision (_if_ they eventually really open the source)

    Yes, its not 100% "Open Source" but its for SURE A Good Thing!
    Don't complain, be happy!


  • ... has a great article on cheating in games.
    It lists the most common ways someone will hack the game to cheat, and also gives (obvious) rules of thumb. e.g. Security through obsecurity doesn't work, etc.

    Why do most of us game developers treat problems and solutions on game cheating as taboo ? The cheaters are ALLREADY smart enough to hack the game - openly discussing on how to make a game more secure isn't going to give them any more insights !

    > That said, what you need to do in any sort of open-source project with a multiplayer function is to develop a system where you trust nobody.
    When it gets right down to it, you still need to trust someone. e.g. If there isn't an authoritative server, then you game is going to get out sync faster then we can say "inserted packet" ;-)

    > You CAN have secure open-source projects; this is clearly proved by Linux itself.
    Very nice point.

    Congrats to Lionhead for talking about open-sourcing their game. I _really_ wish games older then 5 years would be open-sourced: It would keep the fanbase around longer !
  • I think you're out in the blue here. Black and White has been developed by Lionhead, Peter Molyneux is no longer with Bullfrog. The Black and white project has been going on for something like 2-3 years, and this was set from the beginning. As Peter himself said it, he wanted to be able to take his time and get it right, and this was possible by creating Lionhead and backing it with his own fortune. So I don't think it's the mess you seem to think it is.
  • Half-measures are sometimes no better than nothing at all.

    If code is released, in a way that makes it infeasible for a fork to be maintained, then it's no better than no source at all.

    That's what makes SCSL (Sun's parody of open source) worthless, and that's what makes non-commerical restrictions dodgy.

    Commercial exploitation is sometimes a fantastic way to fund development. Take Freeciv. Wouldn't it be great, if someone could package Freeciv and make money off of it, and use that money to fund further Freeciv improvements? If this Black and White code has a non-commercial restriction, then a project using the code could never, ever take advantage of such an opportunity.

    Think Apache's corporation. Sendmail's. Think of the fact that Linux originally had a non-commercial restriction, and how much would have been lost if Linus Torvalds hadn't been talked into switching to GPL.
  • Someone should have told that to Red Hat before they started making a lot of money selling Open-Source software.

    People just don'e Get It. Free Software != $0 pricing. It does mean you have to change your business model. Substantially, in fact. And because of this, businesses are afraid to try it. But it is quite possible to make money, even a ton of money, with Open-Source software.
  • Suppose Lionhead licenses the Black&White engine under the GPL. Now anyone can modify the engine, and distribute their modifications to others. But only if they include the source to their modifications, and license them to the recipients under the GPL.
    If the licensee wants to close up their modified engine, they would need to get a separate license from Lionhead, and Lionhead could ask for royalties. Whether this would work depends entirely on how intent on closing their engine modifications potential licensees are, and how much they trust the GPL.
    Note: I'm not saying the GPL is the only option, I'm just using it as an example.
    Another note: I'm not saying you shouldn't trust the GPL, but it is still untested in court, and when your product is on the line, being certain you have the right to use third-party code can be worth a lot of money.
  • I don't know anything about the code of the game, but I suspect Bullfrog won't have a lot to do with this game: Molineux said after Electronic Art bought it, things changed from "A meeting every three month to a meeting a day", and he left... :)

    He now works in/for his Lionhead studios, that he founded after the bad experiences had with BF & EA.

  • Let's not critize them for not being 'opensourse' per se (or 'free software'). Yeah, they're not there, but it's a start. And you can learn from the code to see how some of today's more innovative games are being made. Furthermore, if you DO want to use the code, isn't poking around and seeing if you CAN do something with the code a little more cost effective than blindly licensing an engine (Unreal, Q2, Lithtech, whatever)? I think this is a good step, and I like paying for games. If someone decides they can use it to make something worthwhile, then I'll pay for that too.

    That said, let's see what happens before jumping to conclusions, k?
  • by delmoi ( 26744 ) on Saturday May 13, 2000 @02:13PM (#1074661) Homepage
    (not doing this logged, so I can't turn of +2)

    Would this technically be "Open Source", doesn't that imply that you can use it for commercial purposes? I mean, this would be very similar to Sun's community source license, witch a lot of people have a problem with (though, I personally don't).

    Personally, I'd like to distribute software like this myself, I mean, I don't see a problem with other people using stuff I write, but I don't see why they should get to profit from it when I don't. (Also, it goes against the teachings of Eric S Raymond, so it must be good, right?)

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.