Open Source *Game* Programming?

Ryan S. Dancey ryand at
Wed Jan 17 19:43:47 UTC 2001

From: "Henningsen" <peter at>

> Is there any open source certified license that meets these criteria?

No, because a requirement to pay a fee is a restriction against free
redistribution of the software.

This issue is addressed directly by the OSD FAQ.

> And a more philosophical question: If it is against the spirit of open
> source to require commercial users to buy a license, why is that?

Because the intellectual heritage of the free software movement assumes a
moral right for >everyone<, not just non-commercial users, to have
unrestricted access to the source code running on their computers, and the
right to make changes and modifications as they see fit.

The people whom the OSD addresses are the end users of the software, not the
publishers.  The free software vision is that the kid who buys a game using
your engine should have an unencumbered right to tinker with it, and release
those modifications to the public so long as the same rights are conveyed
forward to the next recipient.

> Remember, the
> modifications a publisher might make to my code are worth nothing. The
> graphics is what is valuable.

That's a very narrow, and impractical view of the business of selling game
software.  If anything, it's easier to get good artists than it is to get
good programmers.  While the sunk costs may be heavily tilted towards the
art vs. the code, the technical challenge of bringing the product to market
is clearly with the code, not the art.

Publishers spend tremendous amounts of money developing, testing and
supporting the code base for computer games.

The question you have to ask yourself is this:  Is it more important to me
that my work get wide distribution even if someone else gets wealthy as a
result, or is it more important that I know that nobody is making money off
my work unless I do too?

Ryan S. Dancey
Learn about Open Gaming:

More information about the License-discuss mailing list