License for Massively Multiplayer Games?

Ian Lance Taylor ian at
Thu Aug 12 12:14:13 UTC 2004

"Rich Tsao" <richtsao at> writes:

> 1.	Modified versions of the source will not be allowed to connect to 
> original software (both client and servers).
> The primary reason for this is to prevent harmful individuals from 
> programmatic cheating or other negative user experience for the player 
> population.

The source code license does not seem like the appropriate place for
such a restriction.  After all, you presumably don't want to prevent
people from distributing modified code, and you presumably don't want
to prevent people from building modified servers and modified clients
which talk to them.  You just want to prevent people from using
modified code to contact your server.  Therefore, I think the
restriction should be in the terms of use for your server.

Unfortunately, when you distribute source code for the client, you
make cheating quite a bit easier.  Since cheaters are already ignoring
social rules on behaviour, it's silly to think that a license
restriction, whether on the source code or on the server itself, will
stop them.  I don't know what can be done about that; cheating is
always possible with a client/server game no matter what you do, but
distributing source code clearly enlarges the group of people who are
capable of cheating.

> Additionally, I would like the following standard restrictions applied:
> 1.	Source-code modifications can only be distributed in the form 
> of "patch files" with the source code for the purpose of modifying the 
> program at build time.

That is an irritating restriction which has little practical effect.
Why do you want this?

> 2.	Derived works must carry a different name from the original software.
> 3.	No-endorsement clause. Users of the software are barred from using 
> the name of the organization or contributors to endorse or promote products.
> 4.	Has explicit patent grant.
> 5.	Contains patent mutual-termination clause.
> 6.	NOT copy left.
> The closest version I found is possibly Open Software License, but it has 
> copy left, which I don’t want.  Are there any other Open Source license with 
> the above restrictions I am looking for?  If not, what Open Source license 
> comes close to these requirements?

How about the Academic Free License?  Except for the patch file thing.

> Lastly, if I were to use GarageGames’ Torque game engine, and it has a 
> commercial license.  Is it possible to create a MMOG game that uses that 
> commercial game engine and still be Open Source?

It depends entirely on the license.


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