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 beginning.

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 complications.

Neither Development

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 project.

DarkWar Development

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.