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Wednesday, April 3, 2013 - 11:04

For open rulesets, see my third post in this thread: the one with all the links. For simplicity's sake, just limit yourself to the ones that are in the public domain or under the Creative Commons Attribution license. In fact, from now on I'm only going to suggest permissively licensed rulesets unless I know for sure someone is familiar with intellectual "property" law, which is really a shame because I like copyleft licenses and I use them for my own work. Another thread, another lesson learned.

Again, for the record, I am not a lawyer. My understanding is that the set of words used may be copyrightable, not every individual word. For instance, if D&D has a set of six characteristics they call "ability scores" and they're named "strength," "dexterity," "constitution," "intelligence," "wisdom," and "charisma" and your game has a set of six characteristics you call "ability scores" that you've named "strength," "agility," "constitution," "intelligence," "wisdom," and "charisma" you may have a problem because it's almost identical (you only changed one word). If however, you've got a set of four characteristics you call "attributes" and they're named "strength," "agility," "health," and "intelligence," you should be fine because it's substantially different. But, no, someone cannot just say, "I've copyrighted the word 'gun' and now no one can ever use it."

Again, IANAL. My understanding is you cannot copyright, or even patent, a mere idea like "bullets are used as currency." If, however, in the Metro system, one chicken = one .50 caliber bullet, one spatula = one .22 caliber bullet, and one stove = one hundred .45 caliber bullets, and in your system one chicken = one .50 caliber bullet, one spatula = one .22 caliber bullet, and one stove = one hundred .45 caliber bullets, etc. you may have a problem, assuming Metro is patented.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - 11:25

@Danimal: Oops.

@RainHippie: You can avoid this headache by only using rulesets that are in the public domain or released under the Creative Commons Attribution license. See my comment above for links. Even if you dislike most of a ruleset and end up changing 90% of it, you've still decreased your workload by 10%. That's the beauty of open source: not having to reinvent the wheel.

Monday, April 1, 2013 - 11:59

While the "ruleset" itself may not be copyrightable, the expression of those rules may be. The set of names used for the various classes, abilities, skills, etc. may be copyrightable, forcing you to change the names where possible. Then you find out why they used those names-- because they sound cool-- and you're left with second-rate synonyms. Secondly, rulesets are patentable and you can run into a patent infringement claim. I am not a lawyer either.

It seems pretty clear to me that implementing a ruleset in source code is a derivative work and therefore would trigger the "share alike" provisions of a copyleft license. I don't see how one can argue that it's not a derivative work.

Non-commercial licenses are only incompatible with copyleft licenses. You can release something derived from a permissively licensed work as full-blown closed source if you wanted. If you mean that you're game would not be truly open source if you had non-commercial provisions in the license, I agree.

Sunday, March 31, 2013 - 15:05

Now things get really complicated...

Another important part of any RPG is the ruleset. If you haven't already created your own ruleset, you should consider using an existing one. It will save you a lot of work. Using someone else's ruleset can raise the spectre of copyright and/or patent infringement however. The way around this is to find an open source ruleset, where the creator gives you explicit permission to create derivative works. There are many different open source licenses. Which license is best for your project is dependent on what you want to do with your game. If you don't mind releasing your game under the same license as the ruleset, you can use rulesets that are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, GNU General Public License, Free Art license, Free Document License, or Open Publication License. If you don't intend to try to make money from your game, you can use rulesets released under the Open Content License, Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license, or Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike license. If you don't want to release your game under the same license as the ruleset, you can use rulesets that are public domain or released under the Creative Commons Attribution license.

This comment was brought to you by copyright. Copyright: making things complicated since 1710.

Saturday, March 30, 2013 - 13:37

Note: Tiled is an map editor and it can be found here -

You can import Tiled's TMX files into Pygame -

Friday, March 29, 2013 - 10:46

If you're entirely new to programming, I'd suggest learning python. Here's a tutorial -

After you get through that, try this tutorial about python gaming -

The latter tutorial introduces pygame. Pygame should work for developing a pixel art RPG. There are more tutorials on the pygame website -

As far as making the pixel art itself, I have no idea. I'm not an artist.

Sunday, March 24, 2013 - 11:29

I did this awhile ago with my album. It doesn't make sense for copyrights to last longer than patents so my stuff becomes CC0 after 20 years. Why should my monopoly last longer than an inventor's?

Monday, March 14, 2011 - 12:36

I would hire a group of people to create some sort of open source version of Neverwinter Nights except that it would be a toolset or middleware for the creation of action-adventure games (Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, etc.) rather than role-playing games.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 16:47

Thanks for this post. I tend to get bored quickly when a game doesn't have a storyline of some kind and FOSS games are severely lacking in this area.

One thing to point out is that a plot-heavy game doesn't necessarily have to have a lot more programming or a lot more artwork. Plot can be as simple as having more dialogue-- that requires little in the way of extra programming or extra artwork. Extra artwork is involved when the player has to explore a thousand different environments and/or encounter a thousand different creatures; careful game design can avoid this problem.

One way to handle a long storyline is to split the game into multiple episodes, possibly releasing each as a episode as a separate game. A game that requires the player to obtain five magical rings in order to finish the game, for example, could be split into five separate episodes, one for each ring. Other types of stories might require being split at cliffhanger points (a la film serials). Some types of stories might be difficult or even impossible to split up effectively.  This would have to be carefully done, I think.

Friday, July 23, 2010 - 19:18

A Flagship Project: a game that is an official OGA project.  Either create something new or just co-opt something (e.g., OSARE) and designate it as OGA's flagship project.