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Source Code Debates

Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2021 11:01 am
by daniel_spain
So i just had a long chat with not 1 but a group of people on a message board and i feel some venting is necessary.
I am not sure when but seems over time a sense of entitlement has grown among the bbs community where someone
feels because your product is dated you are OBLIGATED to release the source so others can advance it if you are no
longer supporting it, or if you still are it should be FREE so others can tinker with it. And the #1 reasoning for this is
"it's a bbs game, lol" so look.... regardless of what it is, someone still put their time into this, and in some cases LOTS
of it to create a product, outside of the Major BBS scene door games averaged around 10-20 dollars and on the
Major BBS side they hade wide ranges based on ifs and thats. But using the "it's a bbs game" game does not fly,
and has has no bearing. Rather it be a text adventure game written for the cp/m pc in 1985 or a major bbs module
written in 1995, this has nothing to do with the fact you do not deserve this source code. Yes Galacticomm pushed for
a more commercial product than the others but i cannot tell you the countless 4-8 user systems i saw pop up in the
90's running as hobby boards, or even the 16+ user systems that the sysop still held a day job and did it for fun.
And let's not forget the thousands of other bbs boards that popped up here and there for many years.
Now some of those sysops created games, yes for profit, but just because time passed does not give their effort
any less value. Now i will agree that if certain time has passed and the authors are not touching it any more, lost it,
or just do not care, sure use what text/data you can get from the original and build your own codebase, give the
original the respect it deserves in the credits and go to town, and that should be ok, but as far as the author
is obligated to release the code is horse #&%$. If you want the code that badly on an old program, umm write
your own? i mean hell i did it, i have written my own versions of Tele-Arena, Legend Of The Red Dragon, Usurper,
and Trade Wars II-500T and not once did i feel the author NEEDED to give me anything. With Trade Wars we're talking
about a 1986 released game. I do not want to negatively impact the open software foundation but i almost feel like
it is such a crutch now to creativity. Someone would rather download someone else's code and mod it than sit down and
hammer out your their engine. And this is not a new conversation i had this morning, these types of topics are EVERYWHERE
where people actually argue with authors that it was just a bbs game what is the big deal. The big deal is if in 2021 you are
still enjoying their creation but due to age it is dated and needs expansions done, then it is well worth the money the author
originally spent and you should focus on gaining their permission to make a sequel not arguing with them that due to age they
should GIVE you the code they spent countless hours, days, months, or even years to create.
I have a Tele-Arena source i built from scratch using the original only as a reference and i started it in 2009, finished in 2013, and
after several tweaks and enhancements just recently finished it which is a complete game with full in-game editors where sysops can
do whatever they want and edit ANYTHING on the fly with no reboots or system disruptions.... now if Rick ever releases his full
catalog open-source would i ever release that code? NO.... why? because i spent a better half of my adulthood creating it, it means
something to me, and this is something that has escaped the younger generations now... why not just download something and
fork my own? this has become a cancer within not only the software world, music, movie, literature, entire industries becoming
crippled because peopel would rather download someone else's derivative works than create an original or gain permission to create
your own. I have a small bbs game i write in 2005 based off of a very popular franchise and received their permission to create my
own canon of their ip as long as i mention in the credits it is my version of their ip and not based on theirs. Most recently i gained permission
from the Star Trek rights holders to replicate names, lore, things like that with no stipulations in an upcoming game.
We need more originals and less forks..... yes it is great to stumble upon old source codes of great products, but in no way shape or form
do the authors owe us anything based on the age of the product.


Re: Source Code Debates

Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2021 1:01 pm
by Questman
My god, I couldn't agree more. The entitlement is absurd. I get the idea of "Abandonware", and obviously, having started this project in 2004, I believe in keeping older products available and alive. But I also spent tens of thousands of dollars of my own hard-earned money doing this the right way, and countless hours finding people who, in some cases, gifted me their code with their blessing. But others told me no -- some quite nastily for absolutely no reason on first contact.

I've encountered source code over the years that I did not own and did not have rights nor permission to use. So I didn't. And it would have been better for the project to have these modules but that would have cast a pall over the whole project - it would have turned it into another piracy channel, despite best intent.

And there ARE products being written now. Because of your enthusiasm, dear reader and dear enthusiast, some of us are spending a lot of time either upgrading the baseline so it can be compiled on Visual Studio 2019 or GCC (Linux/Mac), or building new modules (ELWCREDS, ELWIPLOC, HTTP Client API, Tele-Arena games, and more), or both. That time IS valuable and even if the price is a cup of coffee and a pizza ($25 can't get much more these days!) it's so appreciated. It validates the work we do.

And with Tele-Arena, Dan's been - no question - the champion of the game for the last 15 years. There has been nobody more enthusiastic about the game. He's studied the 5.6d code, wrote his own missing libraries, and yes, I have shared the full source to the 5.7 engine with him, and we are using it to finalize TA1 and TA2's "final" releases that will be stable games on WG32/MBBS10, and will be springboards for a full release of the TAGE (game engine). And therefore, no, I would never release that full source code without him agreeing, because he has a part of it, and that gives him a vote.

It's no secret that I've been skeptical of the Emulator project too. I simply do not understand the need for it. The games run as it is, and nearly every single one of the modules it emulates is available for WG 3.2 or is owned by an ACTIVE developer. It permits circumvention of the registration number based activation codes. And standing up a stripped down BBS that only plays a module is rather trivial. This is the pall that I spoke of above - while Eric's intentions MIGHT be honorable, the complete lack of discrimination or respect for rights holders makes the project look like a piracy project. Soft Arts, whose games are probably the only games on the list that are difficult to obtain, was one of the companies that told me "no" several times since 2004. They still have the code, they still have the keygens, they just refuse to sell the rights. If you contacted them, they would sell a copy of the game. That several of MY modules are there - Excalibur, Infinity Complex, Camel, etc. - is absurd considering.

TL;DR - bravo Dan and I concur.

Re: Source Code Debates

Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2021 3:40 pm
by Ramius1701
I, for one, could not agree more. Doing it the right way and respecting the original authors' rights is the only way to go. Time, effort, money, and frustration went into the MajorBBS/WG baseline and modules, no matter if it took them days, weeks, or years!

Yes, most original creators didn't upgrade a good portion of the modules and baseline for years. That doesn't mean we should negate the original rights even if it is considered abandonware. I want to thank everyone that developed those modules and continue to improve them, and keep them updated or create new modules for the foreseeable future!

Would I love to get my hands on the source for anything for MajorBBS/WG? Sure I would! As I believe I can contribute to the community as a whole.

In comparison, I am a fan of opensource. Open-sourcing is an excellent way to help advance projects far beyond the original coding for better or worse (as I have seen both happen). I have also seen projects be partially opensource where APIs are used or, in this case, the GSBL for MajorBBS/WG. Either of which may/may not be open-sourced in the future.

In conclusion, I have had many conversations regarding stuff like this, which infuriates me to no end. I will say this to all of them, not everything is free in life, and if it weren't for the pioneering efforts of those that came before, you wouldn't have what you use today! That includes MajorBBS and others. After all, we used AOL/Prodigy/Compuserve once, all of which had their start with MajorBBS/WG. BBSes are not a game. They were the online service to the local community primarily and worldwide to some extent, and they will continue with or without your support! They, too, spawned great things of the past and present and will continue to do so far into the future!

Re: Source Code Debates

Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2021 8:55 pm
by Duckula
As an IP/Copyright holder I obviously agree with the protection of those rights.

What annoys me the most is the sense of entitlement that people have today. If you did not create it, it is not yours. Because someone no longer develops it, does not mean it becomes yours.

Developers spend weeks / months / years creating software that they have a right to retain without the chorus of "software should be open source". If you want to create something, then do the hard work yourself but don't steal other peoples work. The same goes for those that modify software to bypass protection routines under the thinly veiled line of "liberating" the software for everyone to use because you can't buy it anymore. If the developer or rights holder wishes to open source their works then that is their decision - not a decision that people get to make for them.

The Major BBS / Worldgroup is not abandonware (nor has it ever been) and those that violate it's Copyright are subject to legal proceedings.