Truly Libre Games (my webpage)

Truly Libre Games (my webpage)

Postby drummyfish » 06 Jul 2021, 20:38

Hello,

as you may have noticed I've recently been investigating and actually checking the legal and practical status of "libre" games. I put libre in quotes as to my great disappointment I've mostly been finding there are almost no truly libre games. I expected to find some problems but not to find so many major licensing issues in every project, in the "flagship" games and many games I've always considered safe as I've seen them accepted by the community and put on LGW. I used to believe in LGW but I see it's beyond saving now.

Too many projects just don't care at all, leaders of projects don't know basic things about copyright, no one cares about solid legal evidence, no one minds mixing dozens of different obscure licenses with billions of conditions and immediately not complying with them at all, no one cares to research and list asset sources, no one cares about people with old HW, no one cares about preserving the game for the future, no one cares about leading a good example etc. Everyone just wants a "libre game" label and then sneakily keep as much control as possible, and that's pretty depressing.

By now I've realized I'm most likely the only person on Earth that truly cares about freedom, so I simply had to create my own webpage, a page that will list truly libre games that really pass the definition of "free as in freedom". It is here:

http://www.tastyfish.cz/trulylibregames.html

These games not only have to truly pass both as free SW and free cultural works (the very basic thing that however most self-proclaimed free games fail to pass), but they also need to enable the four freedoms in practice, e.g. being actually compileable and hackable. If a game e.g. makes it too complicated or tricky to follow all the licenses, even if all are free, it may be rejected -- there are often very obscure licenses that e.g. require a word-for-word strings added to any advertisement etc. That sucks. Same if your game is an unresolvable dependency hell etc. The exact inclusion criteria are listed on the page.

If by any chance you feel the same way I do, I'll be glad to hear from you and will accept your recommendations on games to add (or reject).

I would be happiest if you just started to make games to pass the criteria on the page. Or you can use the list of issues the page provides to fix the existing games.

Yeah, I have three games so far, one of which is mine :) But it's a start.
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Re: Truly Libre Games (my webpage)

Postby Huitsi » 06 Jul 2021, 22:06

Your requirements seem to be pretty standard for free culture – I certainly agree with them. A list that is properly verified (rather than "looks good") is certainly welcome. I would say your closest competitor would be Debian main  – a package failing the criteria probably ought to have a bug filed against it.

People not caring about properly libre software is certainly a huge issue, and one that has received some (at least for completely unlicensed "opens source" projects) but not enough attention.
Personally I have encountered comments crediting other projects for code without complying with it's license and failed to build more GitHub repos than succeeded.

PS. Does Parallel Overhead qualify?
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Re: Truly Libre Games (my webpage)

Postby drummyfish » 06 Jul 2021, 22:17

I used to rely on Debian main as I like their free SW definition, but during my search here I encountered many packages that shouldn't be there, I was pretty disappointed. I've filed bugs but am not relying on them anymore.

Thanks for linking me the project, I will check it out tomorrow as I am going to sleep now. Quickly looking at it it seems really great: C language, every asset has license metadata and also source files, licenses are present in the repo. I am really happy about this, thanks again :) Looking forward to giving it a play.
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Re: Truly Libre Games (my webpage)

Postby trevor » 07 Jul 2021, 08:35

Nice. Thanks for list games. I hope you add more truly free games soon. I agree with you that people not worry about libre games.
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Re: Truly Libre Games (my webpage)

Postby bzt » 07 Jul 2021, 08:40

Your site is spreading misinformation, and all in all I would say it does not help rather hurts free culture. It should be called "trulydrummyfishgames", and not "trulylibregames".

First and biggest problem, it specifies "libre game" as something that you deem libre, then you demonstrate your inability to judge that by refusing to accept permissions from the original authors on multiple accounts. You wrote in the requirements "the author's clear statement of a free license applying to all source code files must be present." and then you deny at least two games with such statements just because. WTF? Who do you think you are to decide an author's permission is good enough or not? Do you see the issue here? It is absolutely fine that you decide what you put in your list, but your wording about being "libre" is very very misleading, and incorrect. This is definitely not a list of libre games, it is a list of drummyfish's favourite games, HUGE difference.

And what you wrote about Colossal Cave Adventure makes it clear that your site cannot be taken seriously, and you have absolutely no clue how copyright law works. You say Adventure is not libre, because there's no copyright nor license attached. You simply couldn't be more wrong about this. That's not true and legally totally incorrect. In this specific case, since Adventure was first released in 1976, it is abundantly clear because all works published in the USA prior 1978 without copyright notice are now in the public domain. Without the slightest doubt Adventure is LIBRE, with uppercase letters. Furthermore, E.S.R. has even released Adventure under BSD license too, if you falsly think PD isn't libre for whatever reason.

So sorry bud, but when it comes to software licenses, I'd rather believe E.S.R. and not you, and I'm sure I'm not alone with this opinion.

I'm pretty sure now you're upset and angry, so DO NOT answer to this post. Take your time, and when you've realized what I wrote is not an attack rather a constructive criticism, fix your site. I'm just trying to help you because you're clearly lost in woods of copyright and licenses.

Cheers,
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Re: Truly Libre Games (my webpage)

Postby drummyfish » 07 Jul 2021, 10:18

Parallel Overhead added, it's examplary, clear licensing in README + each file, each asset has an author/source + license, it's all suckless and minimalist so it's easy to check. +1 for using Codeberg. Assets also have source code, except for the music -- I see you didn't manage to get the music LMMS project file as I've read on OGA, but I wouldn't even bring this up, with artworks I am actually not so strict about having all the source files, they are usually well editable even in their "rendered" form (e.g. I wouldn't require a GIMP project file for every image that was created with GIMP).
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Re: Truly Libre Games (my webpage)

Postby PeterX » 07 Jul 2021, 15:04

I clearly support Drummyfish here. His list makes sense to me.

But Bzt is right about that games released before 1978 in the USA without copyright notice are PD.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_do ... ted_States
So it would be ok to add it to the list. But if you, Drummyfish, want to take that as "speculations" as you do on your webpage, then that's perfectly ok, too, it's your choice and your list :)

(Also I want to add that copyright law is different in different countries. See Wikipedia.)

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Re: Truly Libre Games (my webpage)

Postby drummyfish » 07 Jul 2021, 15:49

Yeah you kind of have some points about the adventure, I edited the description a bit. I think at this moment it is very likely PD in the US, but there are some objections I mention on the page, e.g. I am not sure about the status outside the US, I am also afraid such a PD work may retroactively become non-PD pretty easily (which has happened), so I'll just keep it safe for now. Indeed in theory anything can happen, it may even be that one day free licenses will be lawfully made illegal and all free SW will just stop existing, I just see this too unlikely compared to the possibility of e.g. works from 1976 (adventure) to go under copyright again under some new copyright act.

My personal working definition of relatively safe public domain by age is works created before 1900. That's at least 121 years which should in most cases cover even the strict life + 100 years term. For works from previous century onwards I am extremely careful and almost always rather avoid them, unless they come with a waiver like CC0. My rejection of adventure basically reflects these thoughts.

Sadly I also decided I had to reject Freedoom for now, I've found some precedents of games cancelled by courts for violating trade dress, it is a real danger, and I think Freedoom is a bit too close to Doom, after all it is their explicit goal. I'm not happy as Freedoom is my favorite game. If it at least had different color schemes and overall mood, I wouldn't think people could confuse it with Doom easily.

But in the end this kind of gives me a motivation to think about creating replacements, I'd like to create a text adventure that's completely and unquestionably CC0, as well as a Doom engine game that's also PD. I know that my effort here may seem like an obsessive nitpicking on details of projects, but I would like to see it lead to creating something new and maybe even better. After all most of the great projects started by wanting to replace something imperfect.
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Re: Truly Libre Games (my webpage)

Postby PeterX » 07 Jul 2021, 17:30

drummyfish {l Wrote}:I'd like to create a text adventure that's completely and unquestionably CC0, as well as a Doom engine game that's also PD.

From my past efforts I would say that creating a text adventure from scratch might be more work than creating a simple graphics game. At least if you don't go for a two word parser ("pick sword") but rather go for an advanced parser ("pick up the sword"). And using one of the existing text adventure "engines"/interpreters probably doesn't make the whole game PD, because afaik there ain't a PD "engine".

If you want to further delve into the materia of text adventures, look for the term "interactive fiction".

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Re: Truly Libre Games (my webpage)

Postby drummyfish » 07 Jul 2021, 18:53

My personal take on a text adventure would be to make it kinda different, I wouldn't parse any sentences, I'd probably just have commands like "i" for listing your inventory, "g" for going somewhere etc. It would be more of an RPG and open world, a lot inspired by the TES games, just with the difference that it would be text only and round based. I wouldn't use any engine, I don't think you need an engine, any language has text I/O as a basic feature (and I wouldn't need things like data files or dynamic scripting, I'd make it suckless, i.e. everything part of the source code with the requirement to recompile everything). Even when this all would be text only, graphical frontends could be made later, and even 3D ones (imagine moving freely in a room and then when you touch some door, the game simply sends a command "g door" to the backend etc., just communicating back and forth using the game's text interface). So this would not only be a "free replacement" but also an attempt at taking it further gameplay-wise. Currently I'm in a stage of creating a universe to set such game in.
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Re: Truly Libre Games (my webpage)

Postby PeterX » 07 Jul 2021, 19:05

That's a great idea. Sounds like it could become an interesting game. Maybe it is close to roguelikes. But I hope you produce something unique!

The "Engine" is actually called interpreter (because it interpretes bytecode). And you're right, for your concept you really don't need it; it is only needed for parsing player's sentences.

Your concept seems similar to my MMORPG attempt. I am developing it around a network protocol that sends text (both the client and the server). Later I want to build a 3D client ontop of this text protocol.

EDIT: Creating a game universe is really, really fun! I'm sure you will enjoy it.

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Re: Truly Libre Games (my webpage)

Postby drummyfish » 09 Jul 2021, 21:28

I've found this little gem that I've also added to the list: Azimuth. The graphics and controls are very nice. I was kinda confused when I wasn't able to find any font in the data folder (to check its license) after seeing the game has text in it, then I found it's author's own font manually defined right in the source code as vector lines :) I like that very much, it doesn't need any font library or resources in separate files, very nice indeed.
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Re: Truly Libre Games (my webpage)

Postby Wuzzy » 16 Jul 2021, 04:16

There are some surprises in there …
Neverball = non-free because of Octocat? Wait, what? I have played Neverball for a long time now, but never ever have I seen the Octocat in there. o_O
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Re: Truly Libre Games (my webpage)

Postby drummyfish » 17 Jul 2021, 11:36

Yeah, Octocat is totally proprietary, see the GitHub's terms, it's similar to the STK situation, but this can probably be resolved easily by simply removing that 3D model -- anyway it needs to be documented, because someone can be using these games commercially under the false believe they only contain libre and safe content. I have actually taken on forking some of the projects and fixing them, such as MarbleMarcher (LibreMarcher).
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