Dropping support for downloading assets ?

Discussion about the game and its default mods.
xan2622
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Dropping support for downloading assets ?

Post by xan2622 » Mon Dec 21, 2015 4:00 pm

Hi.

What is your opinion about dropping support for downloading assets?

During the last years, we have had many discussions (mostly on IRC) about possible copyright infringements, about the fact that OpenRA lies in the "grey area" and also about the legality of hosting assets on mirrors, etc.
There has also been issues/PRs about providing music files (https://github.com/OpenRA/OpenRA/pull/9162) and we even tried to contact EA to get their agreement & feelings about OpenRA.
Afaik, they never replied (https://github.com/OpenRA/OpenRA/issues/9165).

OpenRA is solely a game engine, just like CaesarIA, CorsixTH, FreeAblo, FreeSynd... Afaik, there is nothing illegal in the source code itself of all these projects. OpenRA is in a grey area just because assets are provided/hosted.
Removing them would make OpenRA "clean" once for all.



On a side note, I am sad to notice that the OpenRA player base isn't growing anymore. It seems that the average number of players is still around 35, 65 on sundays evenings.
Despite our promotion efforts (forums, reddit, facebook, twitter...), we are far behind the number of players OpenRA deserves (imo, it should be around 100, 150... all the time).

I know it's not a competition, but cncnet has much more players and they don't provide games assets. That's why I am tempted to think that players know where to find them.



Why am I mixing these two topics (the legality of hosting assets + the number of OpenRa players) in this text?
Well, I know we already had a discussion about publishing OpenRA on Steam (and once again, it seems it's not possible because of the assets). http://logs.openra.net/?year=2015&month ... 2#17:47:58

As I said on IRC, I have been dreaming to see OpenRA on Steam. And it is not possible if we bundle or allow downloading original assets.

I still think Steam is a good idea because it would:
1. help make people know OpenRA even exists
2. get more players
3. spread news about tournaments
4. let players get updates easily (Sparkle https://github.com/OpenRA/OpenRA/issues/9206 would still be useful for non-Steam users)

I know what you may be thinking: 1 more platform to support. Yes, but the thing is: we already lost Desura and Steam is much much more known.

There are several big mods being developed : TS, RA2, SCIPCION's Enigma mod, Gangster's Rewire mod...
I am sure they will bring new players but OpenRA on Steam could be bundled with its own original mod (maybe SCIPCION's if he agrees ?)



That's why I wonder if we shouldn't consider:
1. removing the [Download] button to only keep [install from CD]
2. adding a path field + browse button to let the player use the .mix files from the hard disk.
3. publishing OpenRA on Steam
4. bundling OpenRA with one or two new original mods, made from scratch by contributors (SCIPCION's Enigma mod?)



Thanks for reading this reflection.
Last edited by xan2622 on Mon Dec 21, 2015 8:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Matt
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Re: Dropping support for downloading assets ?

Post by Matt » Mon Dec 21, 2015 7:11 pm

xanax wrote: I know it's not a competition, but cncnet has much more players and they don't provide games assets. That's why I am tempted to think that players know where to find them.
You are wrong about that. They have been repackaging and distributing the "Freeware" assets since forever:
If you want to free us from those proprietary assets towards a "Direct & Dominate: DEFCON 1" with recognizable, but not identical (maybe even of higher quality) sprites do so like https://dev.openttdcoop.org/projects/opengfx and create a task tracker, establish an art style guide, start pixeling and distribute the workload between many artists so we can have an OpenSHP project which replaces everything from tanks to cliffs. I offer my help to improve your workflow by coding some tools and scripts.
Last edited by Matt on Mon Dec 21, 2015 8:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Truth
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Re: Dropping support for downloading assets ?

Post by Truth » Mon Dec 21, 2015 8:33 pm

xanax wrote: removing the [Download] button to only keep [install from CD
lol commence the mass pirating of music XD
most people (if not almost all) don't have the original Cd's
but i do like the idea of putting it on steam! that would be great!

PersianImmortal
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Post by PersianImmortal » Mon Dec 21, 2015 10:10 pm

EA will have little to no interest in enforcing copyright claims if it has any claims and I'm no copyright lawyer but I believe they relinquished any claim they had to copyright claims when releasing it as freeware.

I'll research this more and update this post later with my findings.
The answer is likely somewhere within the user agreement that you
accept when you download red alert. If anyone could copy and paste it here that would be great. If not I'll try to find it later tonight.
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AoAGeneral1
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Post by AoAGeneral1 » Mon Dec 21, 2015 10:39 pm

XWIS is a distributable piece of work to run multiplayer games. Due to it being freeware EA even has this disclosed in their agreement as well.

The following License agreement is on the CNC Ultimate Collection package. Still looking for freeware license:

http://eacom.s3.amazonaws.com/EULA_CnC+ ... .21.12.pdf

The original discs and their entire format is displayed online in pure ISO formats.

http://www.cncnz.com/features/freeware- ... uer-games/

There is also a modification patch issued by I believe the same people of the site (CNCNZ.com) that modified The First Decade files to add skirmish mode in CNC95. Which did not exist at all of the original CNC95 both DOS and gold/window versions. Other modifications were also issued to fit the window frames in the game to prevent crashing.

CNCnet also released modified files to change screen resolutions of the original games.

With these modifications put into place it would be best to find the freeware user license agreement.



As for the number of people not playing keep in mind we are in the season of holidays. Including myself have been rather busy with work increasing in time and other needs. By the next year these numbers may rise once again once the holiday season has ended.

PersianImmortal
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Post by PersianImmortal » Tue Dec 22, 2015 12:59 am

AoAGeneral1 wrote: XWIS is a distributable piece of work to run multiplayer games. Due to it being freeware EA even has this disclosed in their agreement as well.

The following License agreement is on the CNC Ultimate Collection package. Still looking for freeware license:

http://eacom.s3.amazonaws.com/EULA_CnC+ ... .21.12.pdf

The original discs and their entire format is displayed online in pure ISO formats.

http://www.cncnz.com/features/freeware- ... uer-games/

There is also a modification patch issued by I believe the same people of the site (CNCNZ.com) that modified The First Decade files to add skirmish mode in CNC95. Which did not exist at all of the original CNC95 both DOS and gold/window versions. Other modifications were also issued to fit the window frames in the game to prevent crashing.

CNCnet also released modified files to change screen resolutions of the original games.

With these modifications put into place it would be best to find the freeware user license agreement.



As for the number of people not playing keep in mind we are in the season of holidays. Including myself have been rather busy with work increasing in time and other needs. By the next year these numbers may rise once again once the holiday season has ended.
This takes me back to my internship at a law firm last semester. I had to read through tons of this shit :) So. Freeware is still protected by copyright. We're going to need the freeware version of the license agreement. The first decade includes several titles that are still sold by EA and their user agreement reflects that. The freeware version may be a bit more lenient. It would also be nice if we could get some copyright case law to read through too.

Anyways here is the relevant part of the agreement for the first decade

Grant:Through this purchase, you are acquiring and EA grants you a personal, limited, non-exclusive license to install and use the Software for your non-commercial use solely as set forth in this License and the accompanying documentation. Your acquired rights are subject to your compliance with this Agreement. Any commercial use is prohibited. You are expressly prohibited from sub-licensing, renting, leasing or otherwise distributing the Software or rights to use the Software. The term of your License shall commence on the date that you install or otherwise use the
Software, and shall end on the earlier of the date that you dispose of or transfer the Software; or EA's termination of this License. Your license will terminate immediately if you attempt to circumvent the technical protection measures for the Software.

This boils down to three possibilities.

1. We're free to distribute it. The EA user agreement does not protect Red Alert since they know its freeware.
2. EA says its protected (and EA would be right) but there's some sort of case law says otherwise if certain conditions are met and we can go to steam citing that case
3. We write to EA and they grant us permission. Writing one time isn't going to get us a response. You need to write to them over and over again. Send letters, emails, and make phone calls.
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Sleipnir
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Post by Sleipnir » Tue Dec 22, 2015 2:19 am

Freeware or not, assets or not, we *cannot* just put somebody elses intellectual property on steam. Even if you wanted to disregard EA, it is against Steam's terms of service.

The only way that steam can happen is if we strip out all our default mods and make something completely new using the engine.

PersianImmortal
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Post by PersianImmortal » Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:52 am

Sleipnir wrote: Freeware or not, assets or not, we *cannot* just put somebody elses intellectual property on steam. Even if you wanted to disregard EA, it is against Steam's terms of service.

The only way that steam can happen is if we strip out all our default mods and make something completely new using the engine.
Steam is the only way this game is going to get the traffic it deserves. Or some sort of partnership with EA. If you want to get big you need to play with the big boys. If Steam forbids us from using EAs intellectual property protected or not then we need to write to EA and get permission. Write to them over and over again. And write a well reasoned argument supporting our position. EA might just say yes for the good pr and lord knows after the battlefront fiasco they could use it.
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xan2622
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Post by xan2622 » Tue Dec 22, 2015 6:59 am

PersianImmortal wrote: Steam is the only way this game is going to get the traffic it deserves. Or some sort of partnership with EA. If you want to get big you need to play with the big boys. If Steam forbids us from using EAs intellectual property protected or not then we need to write to EA and get permission. Write to them over and over again. And write a well reasoned argument supporting our position. EA might just say yes for the good pr and lord knows after the battlefront fiasco they could use it.
@PersianImmortal : Many people from different C&C forums and C&C modding communities have tried to contact them. It always failed (afaik). I don't think we should waste our time with them.

No, I agree with Cmd.Matt and Sleipnir here. I think the best way to go to Steam (since its more or less the main idea of this thread) is to create a new mod, made from scratch and that reuses nothing from the original mods.
I will, from now, focuss on this goal (I have always wanted to contribute to OpenRA, I guess it's time to do it for real). So, I will do what Cmd.Matt suggested in his comment.

I am also going to ask HP_SCIPCION if he agrees to make Enigma (http://www.moddb.com/mods/enigma-sc) one of the default mods bundled with OpenRA on Steam (if the OpenRA devs also agree with this idea).

Btw, we are just chit-chatting here, it will take a long time before or Enigma or a RA1 HD / TD HD / D2K HD mod exists.

Truth
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Post by Truth » Tue Dec 22, 2015 7:28 am

xanax wrote: Enigma
it looks awesome!
and almost like its own game :D
p.s would it be possible to categorize this mod (openra) as a parody of the CNC titles?

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anjew
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Post by anjew » Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:55 am

I'm actually looking forward to that Enigma mod, looking very nice.
Also I imagine you would be putting OpenRA as free on steam, meaning that you don't make any profit from people downloading it means that you satisfy a non-commercial part on steam.

However I dont think that license agreement you copied from the first decade is currently relevant as it was made in 2006, 2 years before the game became freeware and like 5 years before TD. After snooping around on the old download website (http://web.archive.org/web/200809132323 ... .jsp?id=62 and http://web.archive.org/web/201101081628 ... om/CLASSIC) i saw that there is in fact no license agreement you need to accept. So it is my understanding that EA just don't give a fuck AND they cant (hence the lack of a reply).
The only anomaly is the Ultimate Collection however I feel that it's license agreement is not referring to RA/TD/TS.

In the end, I dont think EA care when it comes to RA/TD/TS as they have literally given it away for free with no license agreement. Im not sure about steam though, I imagine they wouldnt mind since it would be free but you never know unless you try.
Last edited by anjew on Tue Dec 22, 2015 8:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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scorp
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Post by scorp » Tue Dec 22, 2015 5:50 pm

There's two sides of this, a) that OpenRa needs more players, b) the legal aspect of using copyrighted assets.

As for a), a large mod at some point develops critical mass. These mods or projects, when discussed on any more or less topical message boards, will generate a lot of interest. OpenRa currently doesn't do this. When i last saw an OpenRa thread on a message board that i visit, it got a handful of positve remarks until the topic changed to CnC / RA / Westwood nostalgia. My take on it is that there are plenty of cheap or free ways to Play CNC / RA and its clones already and that the pool of possibe players is split inbetween the many options. If OpenRa wants to become something bigger than the other CnC clones, it needs to stand out. Once it manages to stand out, that fact has to be promoted aggressivly. Through the strategy gaming boards, through the retrogaming boards, through social media or wherever you may think possible players are lurking.

I dunno which CnC game was the most popular. You guys probably know that. Either way, my take would be that once the most popular CnC game runs smoothly on OpenRa, this specific new outstanding feature would have to be promoted as hard as it gets. That would likely be the chance to develop critical mass where OpenRa remains known and popular throughout the communities.

As for b) there's many takes on this but considering a residual risk of legal confrontation, it might not be the best thing to discuss these types of strategies on public message boards.
As the idea appears to be to bring OpenRa onto steam, the first step would be to find out what exactly are their terms. Then the second step would be to find out how an OpenRa Project can meet these terms. Then you can deduce a strategy (including legal)

AmericanBlunt_
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Post by AmericanBlunt_ » Tue Dec 22, 2015 8:42 pm

Add openra to Steam DO IT

dzine
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Post by dzine » Sun Jan 03, 2016 1:38 am

problems arise when you start making lots of money using someone elses artwork as the core

I have no idea why redalert was effectively given away....yes i do, the original owners didnt figure out how great it was and still is nor did they figure out how to maximise profits& player base by 'good design' over the longterm as in decades

Want more players ? Create better designed software



Ref On a side note, I am sad to notice that the OpenRA player base isn't growing anymore.

Thats because the devs and support team are still doing lots of things wrong.

Its very hard to put together a team of volunteers who share the 'same grand vision'



The player base for redalert could be in the hundreds of millions

'its all about having the right vision' and having a team (volunteer or otherwise ) that is capable of delivering the goods

...if you cant get a colour picker right dont expect the world to come pounding on your door !




Coders can code...but often lack the other skills required to deliver a complete package

99% of open source projects fail to gain traction because coders are the primary decison makers...while its obvious to state that all software is just 1s and 0s
a tree without any leaves on the branches isnt going to grow...coders build tree trunks but often lack the skill to build branches and leaves that allow the 'organism' to thrive


Q what is a computer game ?

Its a database wrapped in an attractive user interface that acts as inspiration and a mental framework for the end user aka 'the player'

Generalcamo
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Post by Generalcamo » Sun Jan 03, 2016 2:57 am

^ What?

About this topic: I think that a free alternative needs to be made first. Like OpenTTD did. We can't lose what players we may possibly gain from our existing mods until we give them something to replace the original game assets.

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