How expensive would it to buy old sourcecode of classics?

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Prokonsul Piotrus
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How expensive would it to buy old sourcecode of classics?

#1 Post by Prokonsul Piotrus » Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:13 pm

I decided to come back (last visit was Sat May 07, 2005 2:07 pm... btw, glad to see the FO is still alive and kicking!) with a question:
* how much would it cost to try to buy the code and associated rights of some of the 4X classics? MOO for example? Their current commercial value is very low as they are hardly sold anymore; some good titles are seen as abandoware (for all that this very concept is actually illegal). Yet those titles could contain some useful stuff that could be incorporated into the game.

Sure, it is possible that we will get quoted a sum that is beyond our reach. But on the other hand, maybe they'll quote a price that the community can manage? If they quote us 1,000,000$ its a different story if they quote us 1,000$... And I presume it is not only our FO community that would be interested in obtaining such sourcecode (which obviously would get relicensed under an open license). I for one would love to see sourcecode of Stars! or MOO finally released online.

If anybody thinks this idea has merit, the steps to take are as follows:
* create a list of titles we would like to try to acquire rights to
* figure out who holds the rights to them
* ask for a price
* figure out if the price is within our reach
* organize a community project with a legal standing that could legally collect money and buy the title with the goal or releasing its online under an open license
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Re: How expensive would it to buy old sourcecode of classics?

#2 Post by eleazar » Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:44 pm

It would be cool if that were possible, but i don't see it happening.

Generally the rights to the old stuff is in the hands of big software companies. It's not even worth their time to negotiate a $1,000 sale of old game code. Besides, while they can't make money off of MoO1 or similar games, may someday release sequels or spin-offs, and so want to hang on to unambiguous rights to anything they might want to reuse/redo/rehash.

You never know what the next decade's nostalgia will decide to fixate on.


If you want to pursue the idea look for games made by companies that weren't bought up by bigger, still existing companies.

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Re: How expensive would it to buy old sourcecode of classics?

#3 Post by Prokonsul Piotrus » Mon Feb 23, 2009 7:20 pm

I agree that this may not work due to big companies not giving a damn, but we will not know until we try, right? And I certainly agree that small companies may be more likely to deal with such a project, thus I proposed in first steps above figuring out who holds the right to the stuff we may want.
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Re: How expensive would it to buy old sourcecode of classics?

#4 Post by IConrad » Tue Feb 24, 2009 12:58 am

Well... maybe if you suggested it as a marketing stratagem? You'd be much more likely to get access to the sourcecode for such things -- especially if you list the companies as contributors etc. It helps if you include the size of your userbase, et al.

If you think of such an approach in similar terms to approaching a US Congressman. You never go straight to the source... first you'd want to contact the PR department, and then the assistant; etc. If you can convince someone that the economic benefit to their company of being generous is worth more than the cost of potential legal disputes (especially if you are willing to sign onerous IP agreements ensuring that the intellectual rights to the concept would remain in the company's hands) then certainly you can get them to contribute.

The companies that will do so would always surprise you. ATI, for example.

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Re: How expensive would it to buy old sourcecode of classics?

#5 Post by Cyber Killer » Fri Feb 27, 2009 7:01 am

I don't think that would be a good idea at all. Sure the classics are great to play even after all these years... Now think what would happen to ppl's interesty in FreeOrion if they could play MoO2 on Linux with properly rewritten tcp/ip support? (for those that don't know - there is still a fairly large userbase playing MoO2 online)

I think that for this project to live and to be able to be developed at the current (lazy) rate it is a lot better that there aren't any other good OS games out there (Ur Quan Masters is ok, but isn't exactly what you would call 4X).

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Re: How expensive would it to buy old sourcecode of classics?

#6 Post by IConrad » Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 pm

Ur Quan Masters
Some of us aren't content w/ 4-color graphics in our 4x games nowadays. Just because we're on Linux doesn't mean we're retro.

FO is meant to be ... graphically- and UI-wise superior to MoO II (and likely III at this rate). That's my take on it anyhow.

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Re: How expensive would it to buy old sourcecode of classics?

#7 Post by eleazar » Fri Feb 27, 2009 6:50 pm

IConrad wrote:FO is meant to be ... graphically- and UI-wise superior to MoO II (and likely III at this rate). That's my take on it anyhow.
Well, more importantly it's supposed to offer superior gameplay, without the burden of trying to be a super-complex simulation.

I don't see beating MoO3 graphically as the goal, MoO3 isn't especially great in that area, even compared to games released at the same time. We're trying to make it good, which incidentally means it would be better than MoO3. The more visually polished parts of the game (the galaxy map) are already much nicer than MoO3.

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Re: How expensive would it to buy old sourcecode of classics?

#8 Post by IConrad » Fri Feb 27, 2009 7:46 pm

Well said.

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Re: How expensive would it to buy old sourcecode of classics?

#9 Post by Prokonsul Piotrus » Fri Feb 27, 2009 8:15 pm

Cyber Killer wrote:I don't think that would be a good idea at all. Sure the classics are great to play even after all these years... Now think what would happen to ppl's interesty in FreeOrion if they could play MoO2 on Linux with properly rewritten tcp/ip support? (for those that don't know - there is still a fairly large userbase playing MoO2 online)

I think that for this project to live and to be able to be developed at the current (lazy) rate it is a lot better that there aren't any other good OS games out there (Ur Quan Masters is ok, but isn't exactly what you would call 4X).
I assume you were not very serious with your comment? After all, isn't the basic principle of open source and free programming "the more, the better"? If we could learn from old masters, and cannibalize them, our work would be that much easier :) And if people want to do something else? Godspeed. I don't want anybody to play FO because they have no choice, I want people to play FO because it will be the best :)
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Re: How expensive would it to buy old sourcecode of classics

#10 Post by Cyber Killer » Sun Mar 01, 2009 4:49 pm

I've been working for the past year in a job (a computer hardware store), where I had everyday contact with the so called "typical computer user". From this experience I learned that people as a general mass cannot be trusted to make any kind of choice. About 95% of those typical users couldn't even read and go by a simple step by step instruction even if it was written on their screen in a font of half of the monitors height in size + with pictures. Pressed to make a decision these people choose right away that what they already know and what doesn't make them use their brains too much.

So... If other classical space strategy 4X games were to be put open source...
- they are already known by the masses
- the amount of work needed to make those games work on modern computers and operating systems would be far less than to complete FreeOrion

Thus most people would go and play those games that they already know about and know how to play instead of anticipating the development of FreeOrion.

I think the whole idea to buy the old classics is really great (I mean it), but thinking realistically if anything like this would happen it probably would have a bad impact on this project. Or at least the risk of something like this is really too high to consider this a good option.

But this is only my opinion.
Last edited by Cyber Killer on Fri Nov 04, 2011 7:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Prokonsul Piotrus
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Re: How expensive would it to buy old sourcecode of classics?

#11 Post by Prokonsul Piotrus » Mon Mar 02, 2009 2:13 am

Well, FO is aiming to be better then those old titles, on all levels, so as its nearing completion, it should win over the gamers. Yes, open source classic may draw away some programming talent, but it may as well simply increase the existing talent pool by drawing that talent to the 4x open source sector from other places. There are already open source attempts at recreate some classics, as well as open source attempts at create other games then 4x. I do agree that diluting the talent pool is annoying, but in the end, open source model, with its tens of thousands of projects, fares quite well. Once a project gets a critical mass and starts moving, it is pretty safe; the difficulty is to start a new project - most such attemps die early on.

Overall, as we can only speculate and guess about effects on the talent pool, it appears to me that we are looking at one question mark - that could benefit or hurt the project - and at one certain boost - acquisition of code/graphics/sounds/content that could be easily cannibalized and use to make FO better. Thus I still believe that the FO community would benefit from spearheading the attempt to acquire code of 4X classics; if it succeeds, think of the news it would generate and how much new attention would be brought to FO, and thus possible new talent would become aware and likely join the FO project...
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Re: How expensive would it to buy old sourcecode of classics?

#12 Post by DoomWarrior » Mon Mar 16, 2009 4:12 pm

interessting topic. But you have to think over two issues you already not think about.

1. even if you would by sourcecode. You wouldn't not be allowed to call the game by his trademark name. Neither you would be allowed to ship the graphics and sounds. (like OpenTTD or several Jagged Alliance 2 ports to through some game in). This could be a bottleneck

2. old games are - especially if only written for PC/DOS will be hard to port to a up-to-date version and will be mostly end in rewritting the hole project. Likely written in C, which I wouldn't use for a new game anymore. Even worst they could be used Asembler code back in 19[8|9]x. Which have to be replaced sooner then later. This could be take up to fulltime 3 man month - just porting - until something is visible. I'm just talking about bring everything to a startable state, don't think of everything will be running perfectly on the new target system.

If you keep this in mind. I think it wouldn't be useful for any community to have a game which was never ported to another system and is - let say - older then 10 years.

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Re: How expensive would it to buy old sourcecode of classics?

#13 Post by Danimoth » Thu Apr 02, 2009 8:40 pm

DoomWarrior wrote:interessting topic. But you have to think over two issues you already not think about.

1. even if you would by sourcecode. You wouldn't not be allowed to call the game by his trademark name. Neither you would be allowed to ship the graphics and sounds. (like OpenTTD or several Jagged Alliance 2 ports to through some game in). This could be a bottleneck

2. old games are - especially if only written for PC/DOS will be hard to port to a up-to-date version and will be mostly end in rewritting the hole project. Likely written in C, which I wouldn't use for a new game anymore. Even worst they could be used Asembler code back in 19[8|9]x. Which have to be replaced sooner then later. This could be take up to fulltime 3 man month - just porting - until something is visible. I'm just talking about bring everything to a startable state, don't think of everything will be running perfectly on the new target system.

If you keep this in mind. I think it wouldn't be useful for any community to have a game which was never ported to another system and is - let say - older then 10 years.
Totally agree. IMO it isn't worth the trouble:
1) negotiating with the copyright holder
2) porting the code to "usable" format (->modern code)
3) Implementing features from a 10year old game

FO is aiming to be way better anyway.

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Re: How expensive would it to buy old sourcecode of classics?

#14 Post by yaromir » Thu May 14, 2009 5:29 pm

I'd like drive another nail :D

A lot of our old favorites had gone through many hands (mergers, aquisitions, take-overs, bankruptcies, purchasing of rights...etc). There is a good chance the original source is simply lost.
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Re: How expensive would it to buy old sourcecode of classics?

#15 Post by lavinog » Mon May 25, 2009 5:09 am

Take a look at this article:
http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2008 ... -orion.ars
Stardock is looking to make moo4 based on moo2.

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