What kinds of games are most suited to open source?

What kinds of games are most suited to open source?

Postby c_xong » 12 Apr 2017, 02:57

What kinds (genres, sub-genres, scale etc) of games are most suitable for the open source model?

I recently watched a talk by Daniel Cook (aka Danc) which was thought-provoking; he made the point that a lot of game genres evolved as a result of their business model, for example lots of games from the 90's are well-suited to the retail model, and to port them to a different one (retail + DLC, F2P, subscription-based) requires drastic changes in game design. Some genres simply don't work well with a particular business or development model.

It occurred to me that open source is a distinct business and development model too (although the primary "business" goal is often not "to make a profit"). Therefore by the same argument, there are certain types of games that are well-suited to the open source model, and others that are not suitable. For example, there's often talk about how story-based games don't work well for various reasons (hard to release incrementally, keeping the plot a secret). Not saying it's impossible, just that it's harder: it's much harder to make a successful retail game on mobile than on consoles, for instance.

So what kinds of games are most suited to open source? I think one proven sub-genre is roguelikes; they rely on programmer skill more than others like artistic ones, can be endlessly extended and replayed. Some of the best roguelikes happen to be open source, which is unusual for other genres.
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Re: What kinds of games are most suited to open source?

Postby Lyberta » 12 Apr 2017, 04:13

The games which have good gameplay that doesn't get boring easily. FPSs, RTS...
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Re: What kinds of games are most suited to open source?

Postby onpon4 » 12 Apr 2017, 04:26

I don't believe in open source, but I think the kinds of games that are easiest to develop as libre games are those that are feature-centric, rather than design-centric. Take Minetest, for example; there's no need for designing worlds, so the developers can focus on adding new features.

Unfortunately, that's a very narrow range of games. The only ones I can think of are roguelikes (e.g. NetHack), 4X games (e.g. Freeciv), multiplayer sandbox games (e.g. Minetest), multiplayer FPS games (e.g. OpenArena), and multiplayer strategy games (e.g. Warzone 2100). So for other types of games, we just have to make do with a difficult situation. One thing that can help immensely is making the game cheap and easy to develop.
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Re: What kinds of games are most suited to open source?

Postby themightyglider » 13 Apr 2017, 00:14

I think this is not so much about if a game is developed as free software or not, but if a game is developed open or not.
There is nothing that would prevent a developer of writing his/her game all alone and don't release anything before it is done 100%. As long it is published under a free license it would still be free software.

Furthermore I ask myself, if we really need to try to make games that fit in genres that have been defined by properietary games? Maybe we should try to create our own genres instead.
Roguelikes are a excellent example for a genre with a history that is connected very close to the history of the free software movement.
So we could ask what other gaming experiences can the free software community offer as well.
But this is only my personal theory on free gaming.
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Re: What kinds of games are most suited to open source?

Postby c_xong » 13 Apr 2017, 01:17

themightyglider {l Wrote}:There is nothing that would prevent a developer of writing his/her game all alone and don't release anything before it is done 100%. As long it is published under a free license it would still be free software.

Of course; a lot of great FOSS games owe their heritage to previously-proprietary games, which were developed closed but released for free later out of generosity. But this is a very inefficient way to develop open source games. It's one thing to encourage people to open up their old or failed games, but developing open source games using a closed dev model is usually not recommended.

themightyglider {l Wrote}:Roguelikes are a excellent example for a genre with a history that is connected very close to the history of the free software movement.
So we could ask what other gaming experiences can the free software community offer as well.

Yes that's the topic :) But on that note, and some are going to loudly disagree, I think clones are also well-suited for open source games. Because (1) you get to make a game that you enjoyed when you were younger, and (2) you get to piggyback on the hard game design work done by others. There's nothing wrong with either of those. The caveat is to be mindful of the business model used to develop the original games. If the original was say a retail game that cost $1M to make and recouped its costs via sales, that's going to be very hard to clone, because how do you fund that, and as open source? Even if you could do retail sales, people aren't going to buy a clone in the same numbers unless you outdo the original. What about crowdfunding and episodic releases? That's going to change your game design.
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Re: What kinds of games are most suited to open source?

Postby leilei » 13 Apr 2017, 02:25

New, character driven games would be theoretically great and contributor positive, especially if these are data-driven. Fighting games and competitive puzzle games,, and party games for example (and maybe this "hero shooter" subgenre the FOSS world hasn't heard of yet). We don't really have enough of that genre in FOSS either. Also if your characters are original enough and are wonderfully designed, you could take the merchandising route to have monetary support for development (i.e. 3d prints of figures) while keeping the game itself Free and Open Source Software.

Definitely no for top graphics. Open source communities have nowhere near the manpower to take "latest best graphics engine" suggestions to heart for something resembling well worth using said engine, and asset flipping being highly encouraged by some isn't exactly ideal for creativity. It's not a band-aid(TM) for effort.


What I read from this forum generally for an "ideal game", it has to be:

- not having single-player campaign or any progression as that is "Evil" and leaves traces of history to implicate you of the crime of enjoying entertainment
- not having multiplayer as that is "Evil" and "anti-privacy", even getting a ping time on a server list or even a server list is super harmful to your right as a human being.
- useeither Torque3D or DarkplacesFTEQW; otherwise it is a "pointless effort". Also switching between these engines quarter-way through development. It is mandatory. Engines before game. Don't plan ahead and don't survey for crippling limitations and content pipeline issues. Games are about showing off favorite engines, not having fun or sensible practicality, and don't tell me these engines are really over 20 years old; they have shadowmaps so obviously they're modern to me!!!!
- Thinking of a realistically humanly handled 'retro' styled game, perhaps even considering software rendering? DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT YOU POINTLESS GAME MAKER. MAKE A PRETTY OPENGL 4.X LINUX GAME OR GO TO HELL. YOUR POINTLESS PIXEL AMUSEMENT IS REINVENTING THE WHEEL THEREFORE YOUR GAME IS AN INSULT TO RMS AND ALL OF LINUX GAMERKIND
- Tux because the world needs to be aware of Linux getting a new game with their mascot
- Don't make more female player characters; make female map objects, they're all "eye candy" for voyeuristic pervs anyway.
- Pi? Android? No those platforms suck, please develop only for the latest nvidia driver blobs. Problems on AMD? Intel? Welp too bad.
- C is evil and you must use a super high level language for everything. And SDL2 because sdl2. SDL2 problems on Windows? Patch Windows!
- Never ever make a LOD model, that's a pointless memory waste and a manpower waste. However, feel free to dedicate 1024x512 of your uncompressed texture space toward a single pair of panties. High resolution asymmetric shimapan trumps valid performance concerns
- Don't be old. That's dinosaur stuff. If <completed_game_x> from 199X/200X is open sourced, then it's too old, ugly,are prehistoric cave carvings and is also an insult to RMS and FREEGAMERKIND. You'll waste your time preserving it with a SDL-based C port. Forget this wonderful idea and make the demanded cookie-cutter Unity/UE4-trainwreck-like in Favorite_Engine_X instead.

so a grain of salt is highly advised. Keep this forum in mind at best for legal/license concerns and some deeper technical development concerns (i.e. not engine choice debates)
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Re: What kinds of games are most suited to open source?

Postby onpon4 » 13 Apr 2017, 04:55

What I read from this forum generally for an "ideal game", it has to be:

At the risk of responding to trolling, reading this list, I get the impression that it comes from feelings of bitterness and frustration. But these feelings I am detecting are not based in reality. Assuming you're not trolling (which, if you are, you got me), I get the feeling that you are exaggerating small contentions you have with people and then projecting these exaggerations onto this entire community. Namely:

- With the exception of FaTony, someone who thinks that terrorism is a virtue, no one is opposed to single-player games or master server lists.
- No one thinks that there's a particular right engine to use. There was a user who claimed that developing new engines is a waste of time, but that's a different issue.
- I have never seen anyone suggest that the only purpose of a game is to showcase an engine.
- I have never seen anyone suggest that retro graphics are pointless. I've gotten a lot more praise for Hexoshi than Pacewar.
- I have never seen anyone criticize software rendering. All of my games use software rendering for the most part in practice.
- Very few games I have seen star Tux.
- I don't even know where you got the thing about female characters being "eye candy". Ever played SuperTuxKart, Xonotic, OpenArena, Glest, Project: Starfighter...? I'm sure I could go on if I was determined.
- I can see some developers ignoring the Raspberry Pi and Android, but I've never seen anyone here develop anything that depended on powerful Nvidia GPUs. Most of it works with plain old Intel integrated graphics, or doesn't even need GPU hardware acceleration at all.
- So many projects are in C or C++, the statement about C being "evil" makes me wonder if you're trolling.
- I have never seen anyone dismiss libre games because they're old or suggest that maintaining old games is pointless. I have gotten nothing but thanks for maintaining Project: Starfighter, a classic from 2003.

Additionally, one of those bullet points suggests that SDL2 doesn't work on Windows, which is just not true. I have builds of Project: Starfighter for Windows (built with a cross-compiling toolchain called "MXE"), and yes, they work on a real (Windows 7) system.
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Re: What kinds of games are most suited to open source?

Postby eugeneloza » 13 Apr 2017, 05:31

Well... basically any game can be FOSS.
However, in reality (and in majority) these are games that require few people to make. Most of the time it's just a single programmer.
Moreover, "unpaid" games tend to be left "unfinished" (I know, my fault too :)). Because it's fun to write a game, but it's really not fun to "finalize" it hunting bugs and polishing the interface for the release.
The major problem is lack of dedication. In large enterprises there are many people "joined" by money. There are 3D modelers, texture artists, GUI designers, experienced consultants etc.
And there goes a "free" solo programmer (e.g. me), who has some abstract idea on how the game should look like, doesn't like making GUI, knows where OGA music section is, can't paint and knows Blender a bit :) What kind of game would he make? Yes, that's exactly a gameplay-oriented game.
I only wonder, why there are so few plot-oriented games? I'm not speaking of text games, but some quest/rpg-like games with minimum graphics, but with a deep story.
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Re: What kinds of games are most suited to open source?

Postby charlie » 13 Apr 2017, 11:08

Really to start this discussion, you should list the most successful open source game projects. I would define 'success' in 3 ways; number of contributors, length of existence with regular updates, and being a solid game.

Flightgear
Freeciv
Battle for Wesnoth
SuperTuxKart
OpenMW

Then there's the lesser known games such as OpenClonk that are well done and still ongoing.

Finally I'd consider games that reached completion and whose main benefit of being open source is ensuring they still run and get packaged with Linux distributions etc.
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Re: What kinds of games are most suited to open source?

Postby O01eg » 13 Apr 2017, 18:09

eugeneloza {l Wrote}:I only wonder, why there are so few plot-oriented games? I'm not speaking of text games, but some quest/rpg-like games with minimum graphics, but with a deep story.

  • It's hard for coders to write good story.
  • If you know plot by playing old versions of the game you unlikely to play it again. Same for developers
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Re: What kinds of games are most suited to open source?

Postby eugeneloza » 13 Apr 2017, 20:00

O01eg {l Wrote}:
  • It's hard for coders to write good story.

Yes, but writing a story is much easier than writing code :) And AFAIK there are plenty beginners story-writers that stick with text quests just because they can't write code (it's much easier to find a scriptwriter than a painter). Why not join forces? :)
  • If you know plot by playing old versions of the game you unlikely to play it again. Same for developers

Depends on ratio of gameplay/plot. There are thousands of people still playing Ur-Quan Masters (StarControl2), even thou everybody knows the plot from the very beginning to the end.
And yes, if coder and storywriter are different people they both do just 100% of work, as if they've worked separately (on tetris and text-quest/book).
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Re: What kinds of games are most suited to open source?

Postby charlie » 13 Apr 2017, 23:38

O01eg {l Wrote}:It's hard for coders to write good story.

I don't think that's a fair statement. The skills are not distinct.

I'd put it down more to time and realistic goals. Creating good characters, backstories, plot, etc takes a lot of time to plan and even more time to flesh out and expand into a well written story. Just like coding a game is very time consuming. It also greatly increases the requirements of a game because you are committing to needing art assets to fulfill the plot and the best open source projects tend to be quite specific in their initial goals - something like a story comes much later (e.g. Wesnoth) as an afterthought or community contribution.
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Re: What kinds of games are most suited to open source?

Postby Wuzzy » 18 Jun 2017, 17:59

The correct answer is simple: All types of games are suited to open source (I prefer the term “free software”, which means practically the same).

But the question is asked wrong already. Free software (or “open source”, if you will) is not a development model. It is not a business model either. Please re-read the definitions:

https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html
https://opensource.org/docs/osd

Nothing is stated about a development model. Calling “open source” (or “free software”) a “development model” undermines the very idea. And the “open source development model” really isn't any development model at all. At least there is no real definition for that. When I think of “development model”, I think of something like V-Model or Scrum and the like. Free software doesn't fit in there.

The question whether you make sources public and which license you use have absolutely nothing to do with the actual development of the software. This decision is entirely political one, not a technical one. Free software may or may not be developed collaboratively. In fact, only a minority of free software projects have large teams, with the majority being developed only by one person. It is a common misonception that free software is very often collaborative.

Any game can be free software. The question is whether the copyright holders allow that. It's that simple.
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Re: What kinds of games are most suited to open source?

Postby Andrettin » 24 Aug 2017, 19:59

eugeneloza {l Wrote}:I only wonder, why there are so few plot-oriented games? I'm not speaking of text games, but some quest/rpg-like games with minimum graphics, but with a deep story.


My guess is that because story-oriented games tend to have less replayability once you know the entire story. And if you're developing a game for yourself, you're more likely to enjoy it if testing it is fun.
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Re: What kinds of games are most suited to open source?

Postby freem » 29 Aug 2017, 14:04

Foss games needs dedication, for me. Same for non foss ones built by small teams Id guess.

Now, as all games, they need to be fun to replay, even more than games that can be funded by selling one shots stories to thousnd of people. A game I am having fun with actually is singularity. It is quite trivial to play, the story is, at best, poor, but the hardest modes gives a challenge to finish under a defined number of days (less than 2years for me in ultra hard currently, not implemented in game but the brain does it efficiently enough for me :)).

There are also games styles with low market share: I am thinking about widelands (settlers-like) and, perhaps someday wyrmsun (good luck for this one, lords of the realm was a very good game, but not easyto built i am sure).

Solo rpgs would really need dedication from authors since they have low reuse. Except maybe hacknslashes. While I am at it, openmw is NOT a rpg, "only" an engine (i know, it may change if the testsuit gets finished or if someone ports some complete mod).
I don't say that to discourage, I had fun playing valyriatear (a story on a real free rpg, yeah) a little less his parent(at the time it was a bit unstable).

This is just my opinion... multi are "easier" because playing with, or against, people makes some longevity to the game, imho.
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Re: What kinds of games are most suited to open source?

Postby leilei » 31 Aug 2017, 01:10

Story assets could be modularized and developed in private branches within a closed development model and could then be pushed to the open repositories on release to keep it fresh between chapters/episodes/seasons/etc.
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Wrong question

Postby Wuzzy » 15 Jun 2018, 14:55

To answer the main question: All types of games are “suited to open source” equally well.

REASON:
The core assumptions of this topic are seriously flawed.

The main assumption here is that “open source” is a business model or a development model. This is completely false. Open source (or free software, which is basically a synonym) does, by its own definition, do not dictate ANY development model AT ALL.
Free software is ALL about freedom, and so it open source (it's just free software rebranded and a slightly different definition).

You could perfectly develop a game completely alone, with no collaboration at all, yet still release it as free software. You might or might not ask for a fee. You can reject all contributions and patches, yet still don't violate FOSS principles. In fact, a large number of games only have one developer, both in the FOSS world and in the proprietary world (freeware/shareware), you just haven't heard from most of them because many one-person projects fail and burn. (They're still fun! :D)

You could also develop a game collaboratively, over the Internet. This happens to be used in many FOSS projects, but it does not mean that it's the only way to make FOSS, or any software.

You could perfectly develop a game in a company with traditional work hours and sell it, but to those who you do sell it, you grant them a free software license.

You don't have to be a company and still have a business model. Maybe your game survives on donations, maybe you find other ways to make money, or maybe you decide you don't care about money at all. There are many other ways to make money (or not) with your game without violating any of the four freedoms and the open source principles.
It does not matter if you do waterfall, scrum, agile, non-agile, or whatever. Open source is not one of the development schemes.

Theoretically you could even do the naughty F2P business model and technically still release it as free software. OK, it seems unlikely to actually happen in practice. It's just an extreme example to show that licensing and business model are two entirely different beasts.

The main flaw in your thought process is that you take many wildly different development principles together (as long they are somehow collaborative), lump them together, and call them all “open source”, yet that's precisely not what the term means.
Have a look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_ ... ethodology. “open source” is not listed as a development methodology.

So the reason why all games are suited to open source is simply because you could release basically anything as open source, if you just want it (and have the rights or permissions). Open source is not a question of how you develop something (at all!), it's a question about what freedoms your end users have. Open source / free software is all about politics, and nothing about development models.


SUMMARY:
- In principle, ALL games a suited for open source
- Open source is NOT a business model
- Open source is NOT a development process
- Open source is defined by whatever freedoms are granted to the user, not more and not less: https://opensource.org/definition
- Development of FOSS is just like development of any other software, it's the politics where it differs


EDIT:
Lol, I just realized I basically made the same reply twice. Sorry about that. :D I must have lost 10 IQ points on that day. Shame on me!
Last edited by Wuzzy on 04 Nov 2018, 18:38, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What kinds of games are most suited to open source?

Postby SecureUvula » 15 Jun 2018, 17:02

I guess the real question is, "What games are easy to make, given that foss games are often made solo with no funding and the politics are therefore tricky?"
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Re: What kinds of games are most suited to open source?

Postby Jastiv » 31 Oct 2018, 02:13

It would probably be better to discuss the pro's and cons of various development models when the end result is to release it as free software rather than "what kind of games are most suited to open source?"
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