App for Generating Worlds

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Wil Mireu
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Re: App for Generating Worlds

Postby Wil Mireu » Fri Jul 13, 2012 8:43 am

Tay - if I was in your position, I would ask him to clarify exactly why (legally) you should not release your software. I could understand it if you were releasing it on a commercial basis (i.e. charging money for it), but as far as I can see that was not and never was your intent.

It seems bizarre to me for a company to say "sure, you can reprint the OGL rules and sell them commercially, so that people could use them to generate UWPs on their own... but you cannot write and release a free, non-commercial program that people could use to generate UWPs on their own".

The price one pays for releasing Open Game Content is that anyone can freely use it so long as they stick to the terms of the OGL. And there is nothing that I can see in the OGL that forbids anybody from writing a non-commercial program based on OGC.

Maybe Mongoose do plan to release software that does that, but it seems to me that they'll just have to contend with the fact that the OGL allows others to do that too.
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Re: App for Generating Worlds

Postby F33D » Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:27 pm

GamerDude wrote:Folks, read the part of the license that governs software... the answer is "NO" to software.

Writing up the Excel spreadsheet, automating it or whatever falls under "software"


As for who asked? could be Mongoose, could be Marc Miller (directly or through Mongoose).
Irrelevant. A license (that one hasn't signed up for) doesn't trump Case law.

Try again...
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Re: App for Generating Worlds

Postby FreeTrav » Fri Jul 13, 2012 11:42 pm

Please note that I am not a psychologist or sociologist, nor do I play one on TV. HOWEVER...

I am a human being with functioning eyes and a functioning brain. By applying those, I have come to the conclusion that people are - or can be - spiteful and ornery for reasons best described as trifling.

While I would certainly not counsel against pursuing further inquiries - i.e., WHY was the OP asked not to release the app, and by who, and on what grounds - I will observe that legal nitpicking with the intended result of saying <expletive/invective deleted> to someone who just might be in a position to set terms for fanac could well be counterproductive for the community in toto. A genuine negotiated solution, or even just gracefully acceding to the request, may be a more appropriate response than legal nitpicking and 'standing on your rights' - because if you do the latter, and the end result is to screw it up for the entire community, your name won't be mud - it will simply not be spoken at all, except as a <spit>, and you will be hated even more than the other <spit>.

Put a little more bluntly, if someone else pisses off a licensor/primary licensee enough that *I* am ordered to pull down Freelance Traveller, I will dig up that someone's grave, pry open the jaws of his/her corpse, and defecate down his/her throat. Unto the seventh generation. At least.

This isn't about one person's rights. This is about the relationship between the fan community and the people who decide what the licenses say.
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Wil Mireu
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Re: App for Generating Worlds

Postby Wil Mireu » Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:06 am

FreeTrav wrote:This isn't about one person's rights. This is about the relationship between the fan community and the people who decide what the licenses say.
I'll put this as politely as possible - you are wrong, your thinking is highly flawed, and your attitude is even more self-centered than what you claim the OP is doing.

I suspect that Mongoose are probably telling the OP not to make his free software available because THEY have plans (or maybe an idea) to publish their own version and charge people money for it. But OGL means that anyone can use that material to do whatever they like (within the bounds of the OGL license, which does not forbid anyone writing software), so they can't actually make that demand. The point of Open Content is that it is OPEN CONTENT, after all.

Given that, it seems to me that Mongoose may just have to live with the fact that the OGL allows people to non-commercially release software based on it - at best they can release an "official" software suite that they can tout as being "more complete" or "professionally made" or "the only official software" or whatever and hope that's those reasons would be enough to make people buy it... but that would be a consequence of the decision they made to release that material as OGC.

Dealing with this doesn't have to be confrontational, but it's important that Mongoose states exactly why they think that others cannot publish software based entirely on OGL material, and it's important that the OP keeps asking them about this until he gets a straight answer from them that makes legal sense. Otherwise, publishers could just make demands that they have no right to make, and they'll just expect the community to obey them without question - and that would screw your precious magazine over far more than not asking them those questions.

Also, I think you owe an apology to the OP (and to everyone here) for uttering such vile threats - not only is that disgusting behavior that needlessly lowers the tone of the discussion, it is also highly unprofessional of you, and you should be ashamed of yourself. Everybody with an active interest in publishing material for Traveller should be actively encouraging and supporting Tay to get to the bottom of this - not threatening him because they have a very short-sighted view that is only concerned about protecting their own work. Frankly I have no desire to read your magazine ever again if that's your attitude.
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Re: App for Generating Worlds

Postby F33D » Sat Jul 14, 2012 2:32 am

Wil Mireu wrote:
FreeTrav wrote:This isn't about one person's rights. This is about the relationship between the fan community and the people who decide what the licenses say.
I'll put this as politely as possible - you are wrong, your thinking is highly flawed, and your attitude is even more self-centered than what you claim the OP is doing.

I suspect that Mongoose are probably telling the OP not to make his free software available because THEY have plans (or maybe an idea) to publish their own version and charge people money for it. But OGL means that anyone can use that material to do whatever they like (within the bounds of the OGL license, which does not forbid anyone writing software), so they can't actually make that demand. The point of Open Content is that it is OPEN CONTENT, after all.
Correct.
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Re: App for Generating Worlds

Postby Wil Mireu » Sat Jul 14, 2012 4:36 am

A little bit of searching reveals this Software FAQ on the WotC site, which examines the relationship between the OGL (which is identical to the OGL used by Mongoose), d20 license and software (they should know how this works, since they were the ones who first came up with the OGL!) - I think this unequivocably nails it in Tay's favor:

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=d2 ... /20040123i

The relevant part is quoted below:
Q: How can the OGL be used with software?

A: Just like with other material, the OGL allows you to use any Open Content, provided you follow the terms of the OGL. Follow the requirements of the License, include the text of the license and the appropriate copyright information, and clearly identify Open Content.

NOTE: The biggest problem we've found with software and the OGL is that programmers aren't paying attention to Section 8 of the OGL. Section 8 states: "If you distribute Open Game Content You must clearly indicate which portions of the work that you are distributing are Open Content." This doesn't mean you can say "all rules in my program are Open", the users need to be able to see all that Open Content. You can do this by putting Open Content in a format that is easy to understand. Popular solutions have been to place everything in text files that the program pulls info from, having everything in a viewable database within the software, using Java script on a webpage (viewing the source of the webpage will display the code and Java script is relatively easy for a user to interpret). The key is that the user has to see everything that is Open Content that the program uses and be able to understand it without too much effort. The whole point of the OGL is that once information is declared Open everyone has free access to it under the OGL. Compiling that information into a program denies the user that access and violates the spirit of the Open Gaming License.

Q: So what kinds of programs can I make with the OGL?

A: Anything. Character generators are popular, as are programs that help GMs keep track of their adventure. Random treasure generators are also fun.
Readers should examine the rest of the FAQ for the whole story - you can pretty much replace "d20 license" with "Traveller Logo License" for similar effect (they limit what you can do with software - consult the Traveller Logo License in the Developers Pack for specific details about what the TLL limits. But again, the material published in the SRD is Open Game Content, and therefore not itself subject to the TLL).


As far as I am concerned, this means that Mongoose cannot stop Tay or anyone else from producing software that is based entirely and solely on material released under the OGL. However, authors of such software must make the OGL material that they use visible somehow - they cannot hide it all in the program's compiled code that users cannot see.

So... Q.E.D.
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Re: App for Generating Worlds

Postby Sturn » Sat Jul 14, 2012 5:42 am

Well my personal opinion is, if Mongoose is the license holder and doesn't want you to do it, then don't be an ass and don't do it. Even if there is some legal loop-hole that allows you to do it, the peeps that paid for the license don't want you to do it. So, even if you don't like it, it is the honorable thing to not publish it.

What is legal to do isn't necessarily what is right to do.

If you want to be able to publish Traveller material, do what Mongoose did. Ask Marc and pay for it. If you want to publish stuff under the OGL that Mongoose was nice enough to release, then go for it, just don't do so by trying to find loop-holes and doing so against the wishes of Mongoose.
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Re: App for Generating Worlds

Postby Wil Mireu » Sat Jul 14, 2012 6:11 am

Sturn wrote:Well my personal opinion is, if Mongoose is the license holder and doesn't want you to do it, then don't be an ass and don't do it. Even if there is some legal loop-hole that allows you to do it, the peeps that paid for the license don't want you to do it. So, even if you don't like it, it is the honorable thing to not publish it.
I don't think it is "honorable" at all - it is essentially allowing a publisher to bully people into submission when they have no right to do so, and your suggestion that people should pay licensing fees for something that is legally free to use is clearly misguided! And this isn't merely a "loophole", this is going against the very definition of Open Content - which is that it's open. It's Mongoose demanding something that they have no authority to demand.

Read what I said in my previous post again. That demonstrated - using WotC's own words that they had clearly considered since it was from a FAQ about this very subject - that Mongoose has no authority to forbid anyone from publishing software that is based solely on OGC material under the OGL. That's what WotC says - and Mongoose uses the OGL that they published, so as far as I'm concerned, that's that. It doesn't matter who "paid for the license" (see below) - remember that Mongoose were also the ones who decided what material to release under the OGL, so if they didn't think that through properly then that's a consequence that they'll have to live with.

Don't forget that the OGL is there to enable and encourage people to use Open Content freely - so it can and should be used by third parties as it was intended. It is completely self-defeating to not do something that the OGL allows you to do, and it's against the spirit of the OGL itself too.

Nothing is preventing Mongoose from publishing their own software though. As I said, they can make it "more professional", more fancy, more detailed, include Traveller-specific material (which third parties cannot do because of the TLL), or do anything else to encourage people to pay money for it. But they do not have the authority to forbid anyone from publishing software based solely on Open Game Content, and that is released according to the OGL. If Mongoose fears that will lose them money, that's a risk they will have to take - they will just have to make more of an effort to ensure that their (currently entirely hypothetical) software is worth buying. And if that makes their product better then the customer isn't exactly losing out because of that competition.

And as I pointed out, Mongoose pulled this very trick themselves during the d20 days. They reprinted all the Open Content of the D&D 3e Players Manual and released it commercially as the "Pocket Players Handbook". So I find it very hypocritical of them to turn around and prevent other people using their OGL material in a similar manner, but in a non-commercial way.

If you want to talk about being "honorable", then the honorable result of all this is that Mongoose should back down and not attempt to obstruct or prevent anybody from publishing non-commercial OGC-based software that they are legally allowed to do under the OGL.


*: And again, to make it clear - if the software uses "Product Identity" that is not Open Content such as the names of OTU races or OTU worlds (or OTU-specific details)... then sure, Mongoose has every right to say "no, you can't publish that" and I fully support their right to do that - THAT is the license that they paid for, after all. The issue here is solely related to the question of third parties publishing software based on Open Gaming Content that they have released under the OGL.
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Re: App for Generating Worlds

Postby Tay » Sat Jul 14, 2012 10:47 am

I have gone through my App and gone through the Traveller SRD v1.1. There is nothing in my App that is not covered under the SRD.

I can fully understand Matt's request to not release this, because they at some point may want to, but that is not a Legal Argument. That's like asking Samsung to not release a new phone because Apple may want to release a better one.

I am not trying to pee people off with what I am doing. The initial goal was to produce an app that generates worlds purely for fun and as an aid for GM's.

There are plenty of Excel based programs that do this, as well as Web Sites etc, so what is the difference with what I am doing and what has already been done?
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Re: App for Generating Worlds

Postby Tay » Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:42 pm

Just had a reply from Matt stating along as I comply with the OGL (Which I believe I am) then what I am doing is fine.

Excellent
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Re: App for Generating Worlds

Postby F33D » Sat Jul 14, 2012 1:54 pm

Glad to hear it Tay. These type of game aids make it easier for a GM to create and thus makes for better games. That all leads to more popularity for the publisher. In the end, it brings customers into the game.
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Re: App for Generating Worlds

Postby Wil Mireu » Sat Jul 14, 2012 4:13 pm

Tay wrote:Just had a reply from Matt stating along as I comply with the OGL (Which I believe I am) then what I am doing is fine.

Excellent
That is fantastic news. I'm glad that common sense prevailed! And good for you for standing your ground - you've done the whole Traveller community a service by clarifying this!
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Re: App for Generating Worlds

Postby 2330ADUSA1 » Sat Jul 14, 2012 5:24 pm

Guys,

Be creative and come up with a story line first and think about what you want in the system and then design it Yourself[/b. Dont use some program to do your design work for you, but instead take a little forthought and design it yourself completely as you want and need it. Stop being lazy and do it yourself. The end result will be a system you designed for what your needs are for your campaign.
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Re: App for Generating Worlds

Postby Tay » Sat Jul 14, 2012 5:29 pm

2330ADUSA1 wrote:Guys,

Be creative and come up with a story line first and think about what you want in the system and then design it Yourself[/b. Dont use some program to do your design work for you, but instead take a little forthought and design it yourself completely as you want and need it. Stop being lazy and do it yourself. The end result will be a system you designed for what your needs are for your campaign.



Not quite sure what you are trying to say. I'm not trying to create anything new like a setting but a tool to make life easier.
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Re: App for Generating Worlds

Postby Wil Mireu » Sat Jul 14, 2012 5:30 pm

2330ADUSA1 wrote:Be creative and come up with a story line first and think about what you want in the system and then design it Yourself[/b. Dont use some program to do your design work for you, but instead take a little forthought and design it yourself completely as you want and need it. Stop being lazy and do it yourself. The end result will be a system you designed for what your needs are for your campaign.


Maybe you have the time and inclination to roll dice a few hundred times when making a sector, but a lot of people out there do not, and they'd welcome something like this. There's nothing "lazy" about using a program to do the grunt work for you, and if you don't like the result you could always just rerun the program til you get something you do like.

In the few minutes it takes for you to roll up a single world, cross-reference all the results, find the trade codes and law level specifics and government types, and then decide whether you want to keep it or not, a program like this could let you make an entire subsector of 20 worlds at the very least. If it's set up right it could generate a whole sector, or even a region the size of all of Charted Space in a matter of seconds. That saves you a hell of a lot of time.
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Re: App for Generating Worlds

Postby 2330ADUSA1 » Sat Jul 14, 2012 6:00 pm

I in my 36 yrs of playing this game I have always had the time to design out a solar system by "hand" and decide weather I want this or that in a solar system. I do one system at a time and arrange them myself. Mostly I might use randome dice rolls but I use GM thought in much of it. I guess it is all what is your comfort level.

Speaking for myself I have mostly designed every system in the Verge sector to the point tnat my players have been playing there mostly now for 25+ yrs. I took the basic info for the main world and flushed out the systems from there myself. I even added a few systems that the Atlas missed or that the Scouting survey overlooked or didn't list for some reason :lol:

AlllI am saying is if you plan things out yourself and go slower you can build alot more into your game campaigns than using a random layout program. I mean I find it hard that anyone doesn't have the time to sit at their desk durring lunch time and eat their lunch and worksuch matters. I can and I do, and no one will say Zip to me about it.
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Re: App for Generating Worlds

Postby GamerDude » Sat Jul 14, 2012 6:59 pm

FreeTrav wrote:Put a little more bluntly, if someone else pisses off a licensor/primary licensee enough that *I* am ordered to pull down Freelance Traveller, I will dig up that someone's grave, pry open the jaws of his/her corpse, and defecate down his/her throat. Unto the seventh generation. At least.

This isn't about one person's rights. This is about the relationship between the fan community and the people who decide what the licenses say.
Agreed!

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Re: App for Generating Worlds

Postby Tay » Sat Jul 14, 2012 7:03 pm

Good to you. I wish I had that much spare time but I don't. I probably put in maybe 20 hours writing the app, which isn't too bad. In the long term it will save me time and therefore allow me more time to spend writing up my campaigns.
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Re: App for Generating Worlds

Postby 2330ADUSA1 » Sat Jul 14, 2012 7:12 pm

Tay I am not saying what your doing it wrong, I am just saying use it as a base and then Tweek the results as you go along. In the long run you will be happier.
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Re: App for Generating Worlds

Postby Tay » Sat Jul 14, 2012 7:15 pm

Perhaps, now this has all been cleared up, FreeTrav may want to throw an appolgy my way for his outburst?

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