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Old 08-22-2005, 04:34 PM   #1
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John Carmak QuakeCon Open Source remarks.

These have been discussed in other sites, and though I would like to discuss about the whole new 3D features that upcoming titles will support, and whether Linux will be ready for them or not, I'm not going to discuss these technical issues here. At least not right now.

However I would like to discuss a point he made during this session, and that is regarding Open Source. Id has dared to open up their source code for a long time now, since the time of the original Doom games after a given period of time has passed (5 years usually) when they have made all the possible profits off the current engine (which becomes the past engine as soon as there's a new one to substitute it, like the Doom 3 engine). Carmak speaks here about 1 billion dollars in profits off their engines, taking into account direct Game sales and licensed code. As such they have most recently let out the source code for the Quake III engine. I especially liked what he said about a challenge, a challenge that not even id is willing to take: Release a game with the source code on the CD. He also makes a differentiation about two things: Engine source code and content.

They both are used to build up a game, and even though an engine may be completely Open Source, not so the game's content. There's a lot to take into account and that falls beneath the content umbrella: graphics (textures, menus, fonts, etc), sounds (music, even sounds, environment sounds, etc), installer (build up with graphics and other stuff). All this may be registered under a different license which is not covered by any of the Open Source licenses.

I personally think that id has made a great job by licensing their Open Source engines with the GPL, because this would ensure that everyone (including THEM) would benefit from changes done by the community to their engine(s). However he also states that they are willing and open to change the licensing terms if anyone would want to retain the changes made to the engine for a modes licensing fee (though we'd have to actually see how modest is modest to them).

At any rate, I really think it would be quite interesting to see some company come up with an idea of having a game based off an old engine like the Quake III engine which has been made public under Open Source, and release a commercial product (which the GPL does not restrict) and at the same time include the source code for the engine directly with the game in the same packaging. The biggest thing here would be to only supply the source for those part which are Open, i.e in this example the engine, but have all the rest of the game (i.e content) protected. Thus allowing others to base their work off that made by this company, improving the underlying machinery, the engine, to make it even better.

I wonder how far would a game engine like that evolve given the opportunity to grow by collaboration rather than having everyone wanting to make a game develop their own. I think that under this perspective game studios can can get around and actually focus on the important stuff: making good games! Games that are fun to play, which would keep you interested and ultimately sell well... Lately games have been pretty graphics with some interactivity given to them, like if you could walk around a 3DMark rendered scene, but not much further than that. No compelling story telling, no fun content that would keep players coming back and back again for more. These games not necessarily have to be First Person Shooters, they could be sports games, simulation games and the much abandoned Adventure genre.

What do y'all think?
Old 08-22-2005, 06:23 PM   #2
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It all sounds good from the end users point of view... But when you look at from a corp's standpoint it sounds like they are giving their hard work away for free. I doubt any commercial company would ever go for that.
Old 08-22-2005, 06:27 PM   #3
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IdSoftware IS a commercial company.
Old 08-22-2005, 06:34 PM   #4
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Indeed, they are, but they also are giving their Source Code away when they've made all possible profit out of it. So no, they're not giving away their hard work. They're giving away their source when they've made all the money they could possibly do in the lapse of 5 years, time they take to develop and commercialize a new engine, like what happened with Q3 and D3.


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