What's this all about?
At this stage in the development of DarkWar and Neither, we feel it is
somewhat necessary to be completely transparent regarding our intentions
for both the DarkWar and Neither projects. We want to avoid future
misunderstandings, so we're setting the record straight from the
What is DarkWar?
DarkWar is a testbed. Because we want to ensure that intellectual
property claims are clear, we cannot use an existing engine. The engine
for DarkWar will not be groundbreaking, really, it serves mostly as a
platform to build a codebase and independent set of game data.
It just happens that this testbed will take the form of a multiplayer
network game and both the engine and its gamedata will be released under
free software licenses approved by the Open Source Initiative (OSI).
Why the IP Concerns?
Given that other engines under OSI-approved licenses already exist,
there seems little reason to create our own engine for DarkWar. The
concern we have, though, is that we have to be exceedingly careful how
and where we reuse our code with someone else's engine. While very
large parts of DarkWar's engine will not be reused, some might be, and
we don't know what parts they will be at present.
What is Neither?
Neither is a longer-term project. If DarkWar's engine was to be pretty
good, but not groundbreaking, it is because we're saving revolutionary
designs for Neither. Though Neither's engine will be licensed under an
OSI-approved license, it is a commercial project. It is unknown how
much if any of DarkWar will be reused in whole or in part for Neither.
Neither will be used for a commercially-released game, though the
DarkWar game data will be re-released for neither under its original
license. Other developers and modders are welcome and encouraged to use
the open sourced engine and data however they like so long as they
follow the license terms. Mods based on the commercially-released game
data would carry restrictions well-known to game modders restricting
them to non-commercial use and dependency on the commercial game.
Licensing terms would be available which would allow Neither to be used
without releasing the modified source code. The pricing for this type
of license will be extremely aggressive, but probably outside the budget
of non-commercial mods. We intend to be compensated for our work. If
we cannot learn from the changes some game producer makes to our code,
then we expect them to pay us enough to buy some hardware for future
development and use the rest to drown our sorrow at another closed
source game down at the local pub.
We don't think this is unreasonable, though it does raise certain
Neither's development will largely need to remain closed to outside
contributions. Questions of who gets hardware and who goes to the pub
based on sales of Neither's full game and potential engine licensing are
already going to be somewhat difficult. Ideally, there should be an
even split among developers or at least even according to their
contributions. Even so, financial return is a long way off, and the
costs of commercial sales may eat all income for a good time afterward.
The people developing Neither will be hand-picked at the time the
development is ready to begin. Those involved need to be aware of the
financial issues and probably have to sign some sort of contract to
ensure that everyone retains rights to their own code and to minimize
the chance of lawsuits later on if ever there is any money involved with
The issue surrounding DarkWar development is primarily related to the
Copyright. The ownership of the code must be clear. Most people will
not have CVS commit access to the code simply because anyone who wishes
to contribute needs to be aware of the ownership issue. If you believe
that unrolling a pair of simple for loops grants you Copyright claim
over that file, over DarkWar, and ultimately over Neither if anything
even close to your code winds up there, that is fine - we just will not
be accepting your contribution is all.
It is not our intent to claim ownership of others' code. Rights to any
significant contribution must remain with the contributor. We just need
to reach an agreement as to what those are so that they do not prevent
us from our future work on Neither.
Thanks goes to Joseph "Knghtbrd" Carter for writing this up for us.