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  Open Source or not?  (Read 6856 times)
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Offline Juriy

Junior Member





« Posted 2008-07-04 11:23:21 »

I know it's a bit provocative question still I really need to hear the opinion of experienced people.

Currently I'm working on a network game-dev platform and a tool set that targets a segment of small to medium multiplayer games. In parallel I'm working on a product (a gaming site) that uses this platform. I've been working on this project for a year and now I'm almost at beta-testing stage. And what is more important: I'm almost satisfied with what I have. I invested some money in it (mainly in art) and I'm expecting it to be good and useful tool.

I'm pragmatic: I love writing good software and games in particular, but I really want profit.

Now the question: is it a good idea to put the platform open-source?

Pro's are:
1. I'm testing my software with the community. I'll have some (or maybe a lot of if I'm lucky) testers for free. If I'm really-really lucky I'll even have few contributors.
2. I still can develop and sell tools and add-ons for money. If it becomes popular I can build good infrastructure and community.
3. Opening sources gives better chances of becoming popular platform.

Contra's are:
1. I can't sell it anymore. Well, I can, technically create separate licenses for a commercial and not-commercial people. But I guess that less people will pay for what can be taken for free. At least outside US.
2. If I'm going to work on casual-games-market I'm giving away great tool for business rivals to create products.

If someone has any ideas (or links) on how to earn money on Open Source, please share. But don't point on huge project with developed infrastructure like JBoss or MySQL.

Hope this won't end up with a holy war.

http://voituk.kiev.ua - java tutorials, tips and tricks (Russian)
Offline blahblahblahh

JGO Coder


Medals: 1


http://t-machine.org


« Reply #1 - Posted 2008-07-04 16:13:31 »

Until someone actually asks to buy it, you can safely assume no-one will ever buy it.

That's harsh, but network tech is generally either highly sought-after or not wanted at all, and so unless you have actual strong interest (people wanting to give you money) then I would assume you'll never find buyers.

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline Juriy

Junior Member





« Reply #2 - Posted 2008-07-04 16:59:06 »

Okay, maybe I've described project a bit poorly. It's not just about network. It gives ready-to-deploy infrastructure for running online games. But it's a long story, I'll gladly describe all the features when it's finally out.

Anyway, let's assume that project has some business value and after I create few products based on it (as proof of concept) I'll find at least somebody who will be interested in purchasing a license. This way I'll have at least some chances to earn money.

What opportunities do I have with opensource?

Currently I think that it's pretty good idea to publish sources: if project is good, I'll make money on infrastructure around it. If it's not - I won't earn anything either way... But I wanted to hear some other thoughts.

http://voituk.kiev.ua - java tutorials, tips and tricks (Russian)
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Offline decafmatan

Junior Newbie





« Reply #3 - Posted 2008-07-15 22:39:41 »

Really just about anything on the internet or IRL can have a business value; you have the option of writing/working towards a certain need - either an already defined one or one you perceive (an example is the creation of Mozilla Firefox or Opera) - or you have the option of writing/working on a brand new concept, design, or technology that will revolutionize the market and possibly deprecate similar products (an example is Google Gears - such had not existed before).

With open source you biggest pro's are:
- Community review, suggestion, and (optional) contribution
- Allows developers to easily try out your software without purchase, and without any "trial software" coding
- Approval of many individuals, companies, and communities that associate with open source software

However, being "open source" doesn't restrict you from developing either a separate "commercial" edition, or having a commercial license.
You could have an LGPL (please don't GPL your software!) version, and a commercial license.

A few examples of well recognized + both open source and commercial software are:
- Aptana www.aptana.com/ - A JavaScript IDE built on top of Eclipse
- MySQL www.mysql.com - The worlds most popular RDBMS
- SuseLinux www.novell.com/linux/ - A popular enterprise Linux distro
- Zope http://www.zope.org/ - A python application server

All of the above (and more) have free downloads, open source availability, and are extremely successful in selling corporate and commercial copies and support of their software.
Offline Knitter

Senior Newbie





« Reply #4 - Posted 2008-08-09 14:18:03 »

Now the question: is it a good idea to put the platform open-source?
It will greatly depend on your business strategy, Open Source can be a friend or a project killer, like any other license option. GPL will probably be a bad option, not that GPL is a bad license but it tends to drive programmers and companies away from the use of the platform for fear of the "GPL contagious nature", but there are other licenses one can use, LGPL, Apache, a license use heavily by Google, etc.
Open Source can work and provide you income. You'll have an open platform, one programmers can look at, understand how it works, know if a given bug is in their code or in yours. You'll have a community, even if small, that will support you and help the project grow.
On the down side, you'll have code that you competitors will be able to see, but understand that to use it, their product will probably need to be Open Source also, this will depend on the chosen license. You'll also be unable to stop anyone from selling your product and those sales you'll give you no return.
If you go for a closed license you'll have the trust of some companies that don't understand and are actually afraid of Open Source, it is still a business model that some managers can't comprehend. And every license you sell you be for money, not that that money will pay for the costs, but you have a tighter control over you software. That control drives many other away.

You can go for the dual license option, but that has a few problems, code that is contributed to the Open Source version cannot be included in the close version without the author's agreement, and that can cause you problems. It will be hard to take advantage of the contributions made by any community created.

My view is probably biased as I'm an Open Source supporter, I work with some groups and contribute to some projects with my free time and meager skills Smiley, but I would go for Open Source.

If you choose Open Source, please don't change the license scheme to proprietary afterwards, it will drive your customers away, it is really seen as a trust breach. I can give you the example o activeCollab, the creator decided that version  1.0 was going to be closed, half his clients moved to other projects, some of them even created forks based on the previous opened code.

Contra's are:
1. I can't sell it anymore. Well, I can, technically create separate licenses for a commercial and not-commercial people. But I guess that less people will pay for what can be taken for free. At least outside US.
Just to point out that nothing in Open Source license prevents you from selling the software. You can sell it, and many companies actually by Open Source software. The ones that want the source are always programmers that, at some point, want to look at the code. Generally, people don't need the code, and I can barely remember when I accessed the source of any Open Source software I downloaded.

So, what to make of all of this? It really is up to you, you're the one that's going to have to choose, depending on your target audience, your country, the legislation you have to abide to, etc.
Personally I would go for one of the various approved OSI license and preferably one that is GPL compatible, but that's me Smiley

REJOICE! For very bad things are about to happen!
Offline ddyer

Senior Member


Medals: 5



« Reply #5 - Posted 2008-08-11 20:58:07 »

Seek collaborators first.  After your platform has been refined and fire-tested, and you
have a core group of dedicated developers, then think about open source.

IMO, the biggest problem with making an immature project open source, especially one
intended to be a platform for add-ons, is it is very hard to make radical changes to fix
your mistakes.
Offline xinaesthetic

Senior Member


Medals: 1



« Reply #6 - Posted 2008-08-24 14:37:16 »

It seems to me that open source can maybe make sense in more of a service-oriented economy.  So, you might be able to sell support and consulting around your product.

Just my 1,000,000 Zimbabwean Dollars.  I'm really not a business person.

[size=6pt]Oh, and just say no to GPL  Tongue persecutioncomplex[/size]
Offline ShannonSmith
« Reply #7 - Posted 2008-09-08 07:27:22 »

Seams like an easy answer for any game platform/libraries, GPL the source with a royalty free license available for purchase. The good thing about this model is the people who need a royalty free license are the people who are able to actually pay for it because they are making commercial products. The people who use it for open source projects are probably not able to pay you for it anyway and are helping you achieve a critical mass. The only downside is as Knitter said you would need to get any contributers to assign you copyright. This model has worked very well for Trolltech (makers of Qt). Qt is GPL'd and used widely but if you want to develop a commercial product it's $3k per developer.

The only other way to make money with an open source model is to LGPL and offer paid support. Frankly I don't think this model would work, the only reason people would need support is if the library was terribly written/documented in which case people are unlikely to use it in the first place.
Offline xinaesthetic

Senior Member


Medals: 1



« Reply #8 - Posted 2008-09-08 16:52:47 »

Seams like an easy answer for any game platform/libraries, GPL the source with a royalty free license available for purchase. The good thing about this model is the people who need a royalty free license are the people who are able to actually pay for it because they are making commercial products. The people who use it for open source projects are probably not able to pay you for it anyway and are helping you achieve a critical mass. The only downside is as Knitter said you would need to get any contributers to assign you copyright. This model has worked very well for Trolltech (makers of Qt). Qt is GPL'd and used widely but if you want to develop a commercial product it's $3k per developer.

The only other way to make money with an open source model is to LGPL and offer paid support. Frankly I don't think this model would work, the only reason people would need support is if the library was terribly written/documented in which case people are unlikely to use it in the first place.

What you say makes very good sense.  As a counter example, I'd like to point out that the latter model seems to be approximately that which was adopted by Torus Knot Software, established by authors of Ogre, who seem to have their heads screwed on.  Ogre is very well documented and supported by a large and helpful online community.  I can't comment on how successful Torus Knot are, or how successful books on Ogre have been.  In any case, Ogre was already quite well established when Torus Knot started and I don't think it's really appropriate to assume that you'll be able to reach a similar level of success; if such a model can be successful, it may only be on the back of a well established product.

Also worth mentioning is FMOD.  It is not open source.  It is available free for non-commercial use, cheap for 'hobbyist / shareware' use and at commercial rates for commercial use.  The commercial versions include source code, other versions do not.
Offline Trussell

Junior Member




Game Developer


« Reply #9 - Posted 2008-09-11 07:16:42 »

I'm generally pro-open-source on tools / frameworks. If your framework is so specific only your application can use it, then don't make it open-source or your program will be imitated exactly by the next guy to use it.

Before Soconne Inc abandoned their project, I felt their product (which was not open-source) was very close to open-source because it was offered at such a great price. $2500 for 3D Studio Max is very difficult for novice programmers, etc, who will be using the stuff. So I would say if your framework benefits the programming community as a whole and is something on which the creativity of another person can come to life, make it open-source.

I am a noob attempting to make a video game.
Games published by our own members! Check 'em out!
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Offline Matzon

JGO Knight


Medals: 19
Projects: 1


I'm gonna wring your pants!


« Reply #10 - Posted 2008-09-11 07:43:27 »

PLEASE make sure to not compare Open Source with price.

An Open Source product does not have any limitation on its price. Its purely an issue whether or not the source code is available AND how that source code may be (ab)used. Please read: http://opensource.org/docs/osd


Offline CaptainJester

JGO Knight


Medals: 12
Projects: 2
Exp: 14 years


Make it work; make it better.


« Reply #11 - Posted 2008-09-11 13:57:28 »

PLEASE make sure to not compare Open Source with price.

An Open Source product does not have any limitation on its price. Its purely an issue whether or not the source code is available AND how that source code may be (ab)used. Please read: http://opensource.org/docs/osd


According to rule 9 GPL violates the rules of open source.

Quote
9. License Must Not Restrict Other Software
The license must not place restrictions on other software that is distributed along with the licensed software. For example, the license must not insist that all other programs distributed on the same medium must be open-source software.

Offline Juriy

Junior Member





« Reply #12 - Posted 2008-09-11 14:50:19 »

Disagree. GPL is about software that is "based on", and there is no restrictions for the soft that comes "along with".

http://voituk.kiev.ua - java tutorials, tips and tricks (Russian)
Offline Markus_Persson

JGO Wizard


Medals: 14
Projects: 19


Mojang Specifications


« Reply #13 - Posted 2008-09-11 15:38:11 »

Unfortunately, if you make a game and want to use a GPLed sound loader, you have to GPL your entire game.
LGPL fixes this slightly, but it requires you to make it possible (easy?) for users to replace the LGPLed part with a custom one.

Play Minecraft!
Offline CaptainJester

JGO Knight


Medals: 12
Projects: 2
Exp: 14 years


Make it work; make it better.


« Reply #14 - Posted 2008-09-11 15:59:35 »

Unfortunately, if you make a game and want to use a GPLed sound loader, you have to GPL your entire game.
LGPL fixes this slightly, but it requires you to make it possible (easy?) for users to replace the LGPLed part with a custom one.
Now that I read it again, that is not correct. 
Quote
In addition, mere aggregation of another work not based on the Program with the Program (or with a work based on the Program) on a volume of a storage or distribution medium does not bring the other work under the scope of this License.

However GPLv3.0 words it better.

Quote
A compilation of a covered work with other separate and independent works, which are not by their nature extensions of the covered work, and which are not combined with it such as to form a larger program, in or on a volume of a storage or distribution medium, is called an “aggregate” if the compilation and its resulting copyright are not used to limit the access or legal rights of the compilation's users beyond what the individual works permit. Inclusion of a covered work in an aggregate does not cause this License to apply to the other parts of the aggregate.

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