[MUD-Dev] Open Source Online Gaming

Aaron Mitchell aaron at fate.net
Thu Mar 16 07:22:23 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000

From: "Derek Snider" <derek at idirect.com>
> Just because the source is open doesn't mean that the graphics and world
> data are free for anyone to use.   Also, just because the source is open
> doesn't mean that everyone gets to play for free.

John Carmack said in a Slashdot interview that coding represented a third or
less of a game project, emphasizing the amount of work that goes into art
and other digital content.
(http://slashdot.org/interviews/99/10/15/1012230.shtml)  I think that this
is true, and never implied that an open source game meant that it would come
with all sorts of free graphics and other content. In fact because the
content and other media make up so much of the game, I think this supports
the commercial viability of an open source game.  Some company that sold
membership to the game would need to develop their own world, graphics, etc.
They would need funding and income to develop a rich world appealing to
today's gamer.

> Apache is open source, but it runs a hell of a lot of pay sites (mostly
> adult sites, but make big bucks).
> The only problem here is the team works for free on a major kick-ass game
> framework, and anyone with a pocket full of cash can snap it up for
> save a couple years worth of development effort, market the hell out of it
> and rake in mega bucks.

So why does the apache development team work on apache when some big site
can snap it up for nothing and make mega bucks?  What's making some site
mega bucks isn't necessarily the server that runs it, it's the content on
the site.  A stable, well developed, open source gaming platform is similar
to a web server.  You still need art, plot, a great world, lots of bandwidth
to host a big game, marketing, etc.

I don't think developers need to worry too much about an open source project
like this getting snapped up and sold without some major work going into it.
If some company used the engine but spent a year with artists, game
designers, level editors, and 3d modelling, their not just taking a free
product and marketing the hell out of it.  I think their selling what they
spent a year doing -- desiging the world.

Overall, I don't know if an open source game platform is possible to develop
with commercial intentions.  In fact one of the other things John Carmack
said in the interview mentioned above is that he didn't recommend any game
to start out with an open source license, as, most likely, nothing would
ever get done.  But I don't think that being afraid of a company making
money off your product is a good reason not to develop it open source.

Aaron Mitchell
aaron at fate.net

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