[MUD-Dev] Libs for 3D Client/Servers

Travis Casey efindel at earthlink.net
Thu Jul 5 18:17:42 New Zealand Standard Time 2001


On Wednesday July 04, 2001 05:35, Alistair Milne wrote:
> On Tue, 3 Jul 2001, Travis Casey wrote:

>> This is the only part that wouldn't work under the GPL.  You
>> could sell copies of the base client, but you wouldn't be able to
>> prevent forks.  (And there wouldn't be much reason for people to
>> buy your base client... once someone out there had a copy, they
>> could give it away to others.)

> Assuming the client is completely open source and copylefted and
> is freely downloadable, there are still ways to make money, for
> example printed manuals and disks.  Don't underestimate the desire
> for people to need a physical thing in their hand when they buy
> software.  Reasons can vary from habit, to lack of download
> bandwidth, to wanting a real manual to thumb through.  It
> certainly accounts for a sizeable chunk of the Linux vendors'
> incomes.

I didn't say there weren't ways to make money -- I just said that
there wouldn't be much of a reason for people to buy the base
client.  Note as well that I only mentioned the client, and not
anything else that might be included with it (such as a manual).

I must say also that I was thinking in terms of a "base client"
that's priced the way game software is normally priced -- $50 or so
for a client that fits on a couple of CDs.  If the client is fairly
cheap, then many people may prefer to buy a CD with it instead of
taking the time to download it from somewhere.


Of course, if you really wanted to try to leverage the GPL, you could try 
something like this:

 - First, design and build your server.  Do not make it GPL.

 - Second, document your protocol.  Publish the protocol, under the 
   GPL.

 - Third, build your client.  Release it under the GPL.

 - Release the GPL'ed client.  Release only a Windows version -- since it's
   GPL, if your game catches on, someone will port it to other systems for
   you.  Include good printed documentation on the client.  While you're at 
   it, have a lot of the graphics and such be client-side.  If you keep the 
   price fairly low, this will make it easier for most people to buy the 
   client on CD rather than downloading it.

 - Do not release your server.  Instead, release a subset of your server 
   under the GPL.  This has two benefits:

     - You can keep certain advanced features to yourself.

     - If anyone adds a neat extension to the GPL version of the server, 
       you can grab it and add it to your private server.  Since you're not
       releasing that server, you still do not have to publish it.

Since the protocol is published under the GPL, any derivative work
of it will also have to be GPL.  Your server is not a derivative
work, since you wrote it before writing the protocol -- the protocol
definition was derived from it, rather than the other way around.
If anyone tries to make a compatible server without using your GPL
server, you can argue that their server is required to be GPL
anyways, since it is a derivative work of the protocol.

Under this scheme, if your game catches on, you get people porting
your client for free, and get to use other people's improvements to
your server -- while being able to make your own improvements to the
server and not release those.

Any resemblance between this plan and any business plan of Sun or
Microsoft is purely coincidental.  :-)

--
       |\      _,,,---,,_     Travis S. Casey  <efindel at earthlink.net>
 ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_   No one agrees with me.  Not even me.
      |,4-  ) )-,_..;\ (  `'-' 
     '---''(_/--'  `-'\_) 

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