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Re: [libreplanet-discuss] I have a Free Software licensing question


From: Niels Serup
Subject: Re: [libreplanet-discuss] I have a Free Software licensing question
Date: Mon, 21 May 2012 00:44:45 +0200

On Thu, 17 May 2012 17:34:35 -0700
zerothis baud <address@hidden> wrote:

> But getting to my point, I don't want people source diving to figure
> out the mechanics of this system and thereby finding ways to exploit
> it and 'artfully dodge' 'the rules'.

I'm not sure about this, but this sounds like when Ryzom was
freed[1]. Everything except level data and world data was released under
free licenses.

> My idea was to have 'the rules'
> in an external script type applet into which the game feeds encrypted
> data and returns encrypted data. I'll call it "Heisenbreg's Blob" or
> something.

Even if you hide game rules, people who care enough might still be able
to reverse-engineer the rules. Why not just give them the rules to begin
with, and make the game more difficult in other ways? Or perhaps you
could incorporate random elements.

If someone completes a level, it seems likely to me that they can create
a walk-through for others to follow, in which case it makes no sense for
you to hide the data anymore. Am I wrong?

In any case, the combination of encryption and decryption and a free
software game does not sit well with me. It seems like overkill.

> This is _totally_optional_ for the game engine. Any content
> not writen to use the "Heisenberg Blob" will run just fine without it.
> My content, however, will depend on it _to_work_as_intended_. The game
> will run without it, but the player will not get the rewards (it
> alters gameplay). Anyone can also write their own Blob and make their
> content dependant or optionally dependent. But what I'm getting at, is
> the internal workings of the Blob are secret. Is there anyway this can
> work with GPL or another Free Software license?

I'm not a license guru, but I would argue that there would be nothing
legally wrong in using the GPL for a game with hidden logic, if that
logic is not part of the game engine. This is the same as having a
free software interpreter running proprietary software, which no free
software licenses prohibits (as far as I know).

As I see it, there is another interesting side-effect of splitting the
game into an engine and game data (which is the logical thing to do): Is
the level data simple enough to be considered nothing but text, or is it
really a piece of software in its own right? I would argue that this
depends on how complex the data is, but I find it difficult to define an
approximate threshold.


[1] https://www.fsf.org/news/free-ryzom-1

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