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Ask Slashdot: How To Get Old Commercial Software To Be Open-Sourced? 234

First time accepted submitter Optic7 writes "Many gamers have probably dreamed about the idea of an old favorite game or other no longer supported or developed commercial software being converted to an open-source license so that it could be updated to add new features, support new hardware, other operating systems, etc. However, this type of change of license seems exceedingly rare, unless the copyright holder itself decides on its own that it would be beneficial. The only examples I could think of or was able to find in a brief internet search were Blender (3D animation software that had its source code bought from creditors after a crowd-funding campaign) and Warzone 2100 (Game that had its source code released after a successful petition). With those two examples of different strategies in mind, have any of you ever participated in any efforts of this kind, and what did you learn from it that may be useful to someone else attempting the same thing? Even if you have not participated, do you have any suggestions or ideas that may be useful to such an effort?"
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Ask Slashdot: How To Get Old Commercial Software To Be Open-Sourced?

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  • simple.... (Score:2, Funny)

    by metalmaster ( 1005171 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @03:11AM (#40561017)
    reverse engineer it, change a few lines of the code, call it your own and's worked before, right?
  • by jones_supa ( 887896 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:00AM (#40561441)
    Even though it's a far cry, I would be excited for Minecraft to be open sourced. First of all, the performance issues could be fixed (by using a native language) and after that, the possibility for interesting modifications would be almost endless. Another gem is the first Rollercoaster Tycoon, which according to Chris Sawyer was coded in pure assembly.[1 []]
  • by Tim Ward ( 514198 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:27AM (#40561545) Homepage

    Are we expecting that the source code still exists, and that the build system still exists, and that anyone ever wrote down any instructions for how to build it (let alone document the design)? Sure *some* old games will be properly documented and archived, but the way of the world is that this won't include *your* favourite game!

  • by ddt ( 14627 ) <> on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:28AM (#40561551) Homepage

    I'd probably set up a website where all these games can be found in a nice, attractive setting that makes them look like the museum pieces they should be- nicely lit, oak frames, black velvet, that sort of thing. Use all procedural textures for the wood grain, velvet, etc, so that they remain resolution independent and always look delish. Get the credits engraved in said wood next to every piece of framed box art, and inlay those credits with gold.

    Look for the dudes who did the work, the actual developers. And then approach the authors and explain that the site is going to be organized from top to bottom by which games have well-maintained source and which don't. Instead of rating them numerically, you'll just do it by turning the knobs on the degeneration on the procedural textures, so that the wood looks all rotted out, the inlay half-flaked away and over everything there's a thick patina of dust. So still looking classy but in an increasingly forgotten way.

    Then put a classy old collection cup somewhere in the frame there. If clicked on, it'll prompt for donation amount and then animate a corresponding number of coins that make a satisfying clinky sound and animation as they drop into the collection box, and then all the collections are split according to ranking. And you can donate directly to games by dropping coins directly into little miniature collection boxes right next to the lovely framed pictures with the lovely credits. And they'll be sent to the IP owners. If the IP owners are confirmed to be split the proceeds with the actual authors, you'll give that picture extra sexy lighting, finer woodwork for the frame, a richer, lusher, redder velvet.

    Give it a nice, pretentious name like The Gallery Eternal.

Genius is ten percent inspiration and fifty percent capital gains.