Orient: A Hero’s Heritage

Posted on:June 24 2008

On gamedev.net, there is currently shown an 'image of the day' of a very nice looking project named 'Orient: A Hero’s Heritage'. They are explaining that they were using an open source 3D engine for the game, but won't tell its name because "it's no big deal, we changed it so much that it's something else". They assert that the license of that engine allows this and that the engine is for C#. Which made me wonder if they used Irrlicht.

And actually, there is a postmortem of the game (Summary: big fail) where they write that they used Irrlicht. Nice, and a pity that the game wasn't finished. But after thinking about it again, maybe they deserved this with their attitude that it is ok to take the source of Irrlicht, probably change some few lines of code and then claim that's all theirs now. I don't have that much insight into this project, and maybe they are even nice guys, but more and more companies seem to base their business model on ripping off or at least taking advantage of open source projects without the intention of giving back anything at all. Maybe I'll write a detailed article with some examples about this soon. :)


Yes their are quite many examples of corps milking open source but never helping in return, but not acknowledging is the worse. eeks. I am waiting for that red list.
2008-06-24 19:04:00

example: Google, their only contribution is that Summer of Code. Is that really working?
The Onslaught
2008-06-24 20:38:00

Note that that thread was posted in 2006...

And I kind of hate to say it, but the zLib license does allow this kind of thing. I'm pretty sure zLib itself gets used in about a gazillion closed-source programs.

Of course, you could always change the license of future Irrlicht versions if you're not happy with the terms.

As for Google's contribution to open source software, I think you'll find it's more than it seems.
Phil Jordan
2008-06-24 20:59:00

Sorry, but if you wanted more control over modification and redist, you should have used the LGPL. Modifying a zlib licensed piece of code and redistributing it in binary form isn't ripping it off, it's using it validly under the license terms. If you don't like it then you used the wrong license.

You have to choose your stance - either liberal open source (like zlib, MIT, BSD), or more of a free software leaning. I think LGPL is a good balance between the two, but zlib is extremely liberal and you therefore have to expect this to happen. It's not evil, it's not even wrong - you can't release something under a liberal license and then complain when someone uses it ;)
2008-06-24 21:04:00

of course I know that the license I chose for the engine allows this, and I mentioned this several times on this blog and even in this post :)
I only was talking about the general attitute of people which I don't like when they are doing it, and I'm simply going to blog some more and quite 'interesting' examples soon here, which might show why I maybe sounded a bit angry here :)
2008-06-24 21:16:00

There are licenses which are just like the zLib license, but which force you to acknowlegde the original software if you modify and use it.

Maybe you should use one of these?
2008-06-24 21:48:00

Fair enough, you did seem a little angry - I look forward to hearing the full story ;) I do know how you feel, it can 'feel wrong' when someone won't even credit you for work they've used - personally I always like to credit people even if the code is public domain, it's just polite. But, there are always impolite people around :(
2008-06-24 22:41:00

I remember when I heard about that postmortem on the forum: http://irrlicht.sourceforge.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=27226&highlight=postmortem

I also would wish such teams would work more with the community. Not even telling the name of the engine they are using - that's just stupid.
2008-06-25 02:35:00

Oh yes ... it seems to be quite a normal thing to use open-source stuff and not even mentioning it. I was really surprised when I started working in a new company: we have one man here that works on GCC all the time ... mainly because we need the Objective-C part of it ;)
2008-06-25 07:46:00

But don't forget by using a more strict license many people could use another 3D engine...

I'm sure if people modify irrLicht for their productions, irrLicht will always benefit from it from severals manners: if code isn't submitted, bugs can so as features requests, improvement ideas...

But I think corporates are afraid of open source because they don't understand what it implies and it's a bit complicated (and think that open source softwares are created by Stallman-like open source fanatics).

To my mind, you would must be more "corporate-friendly" by creating a dedicated section on the forum, it would be [u]very[/u] benefiting for irrLicht.

ps: I don't want to criticize as I like irrLicht, but I think it lacks of documentation so as to modify it (global irrLicht architecture, technology behind, those things that help so much).

ps 2: forgive me for my poor english, I'm french :-) ...
2008-06-25 10:05:00

I think features and bug-free are more important than the license. Non-zlib open source licenses aren't that scary as well, it's just require the user to credit the name of the engine or contribute a little back to the engine itself. It doesn't even ask them to pay money for the engine.
2008-06-25 14:12:00

Our project manager doesn't let me tell you the name of the engine. but it's no big deal, we changed it so much that it's something else. the point is we needed an easy to learn engine to start with, then we added the features we needed. We considered using a commercial engine but considering our budget non of them had the features we needed.

About the fps it's between 25 to 55 (on X800+Athlon64 3500+) depending on the complexity of the scene, but I'm working on some occlusion algorithm to increase it.

- This is the problem. They wanted to keep it secret. It is almost a matter of secrecy instead of casually or consciously not mentioning. Protecting from all sides so as if something turns out that will be credited completely to them. Sure world is full of impolite people, but nobody likes them, thats all.
As for zlib license it is really very helpful. But a small acknowledgement is good. But actually there are many good and polite people in this world then the scruplous ones as generally people acknowledge.
@Steve, I remmeber u also have bashed corps not helping the open source software when they use it so much.
@niko, they did almost everything wrong in development, so it is no surprise that they falted on this account too.
2008-06-25 14:17:00

@Virion: Don't underestimate the importance of a license when using code in a Company. Being rather bugfree is certainly always a pre-condition, but the license was for example for us a lot more important than the features. Features generally matter a lot less than most people assume anyway ;-) (you can always adapt the design to just use the features you have available, that's rarely a problem unless you want to compete with Doom3)

And funny enough it's not even that you have to release the source-code that makes a license like lgpl often so problematic. We do that for example anyway for our engineversions (though I still like that I don't have to - for example when I'm short on time). The main problem in games is rather using lgpl in some consoles is not possible (due to license conflicts) and in arcade machines the lpgl is rather bad defined (generally when using it in embedded systems) so you're in some legal gray area there (once code is in an embedded machine it can be hard to copy and change simply for technical reasons and delivering code the same way as the executable might simply not be possible).
2008-06-25 16:38:00

And when their project failed, read postmortem, they are taking name of Irrlicht many times. If it had suceeded they had hidden it. At first they said they had made a complete different thing by heavy modification. Then in postmortem they say that Irrlicht is not optimized for rendering heavy complex outdoor scenes.
That tells how much they modified the engine or how much they are lying. This attitude is what that really bothers me.
Hide it when project runs cool, and count shortcomings when project fails. Not so good.
2008-06-26 09:27:00

@Phil, Zlib is one of best licenses I have seen which truly allows to use openly the open source code. But misuse of privilege is the wrong think. But then again there are some impolite people in this world. thats all.
2008-06-26 09:29:00

Freedom of licence includes the freedom to choose not to donate back an open source project, or to mention it. There's no requirement that you do either, unless of course the license stipulates it.
2008-06-26 18:38:00

Ambiera would provide professional support for irrlicht (via subscriptions), as it seems some teams need it...
2008-06-27 10:49:00

To be truthful, I am surprised that this hasn't happened many times before with Irrlicht. Then again, maybe it has, but it has just gone unnoticed. The entire point of the zlib license is to provide the end-user with entirely free code with virtually no restrictions.

I am currently creating a GUI library of my own, and I have chosen to dual-license it under both the GPL and the MPL. Many libraries have chosen this route, most notably GTK+. The dual-licensing provides for both open-source and commercial developers. However, the MPL is still restricted enough to enforce proper credit. It's not too late to change Irrlicht's license, and I think that many community members would fully understand if you chose to do so. I personally believe in giving credit when it is due, and the open-source spirit of the above Iranian game developers greatly pains me. How can someone ethically take something for free, and then try to appropriate all the credit for themselves?
2008-06-29 10:32:00

There are 2 interesting effects with projects using non-infectious licenses. The first effect is that of cloning, where a group clone your project, modify a handful of things and claim the derivative as their own. That is a sad fact which non-viral licenced projects need to accept. The second effect is that due to a liberal licence, more companies gravitate towards non-viral projects. Some of these companies will have decent human beings working for them, who like to share the love, and they will contribute back to the project.

It's a balancing game, and I actually prefer non-viral licences. Commercial friendly projects can ultimately bring more benefits to parent project. There will always be dick-heads who rip off, but every now and then a beneficiary will return the love, which makes everything worth while.

Please dont go down the GPL route.
2008-06-29 14:43:00

Yea ... don't use GPL. I don't want to be forced to make all my code available (though I normally do ... I just don't want ot be forced to).
2008-06-30 13:09:00

Yes I agree, if some stupid wants to rip source code he can do it secretly with GPL also, and/or can download leaked closed source aslo, say of Half-Life 2.
I am surprised that this hasn’t happened many times before with Irrlicht - Quaote of irrdev, strongly proves that there are much more honest, good, polite people in world then scruplous ones.
So plz kepp the license as it is. It really is great to know that we are not forced for anything and we contribute back happily by choice, which actually widens adoption and increases love for irrlicht.
As a side note, if Irrlicht were commercial and if I needed it I would have bought it. It is the thief who steals and the honest who shares. We should never forget that 2 of the very good 3D engines are open source actually 3 counting Crystal 3D. Other 2 are already well known.
2008-06-30 17:27:00

I think the current Irrlicht license fits perfectly into our community's lifestyle. Both hobbists and small indy developers do not deserve a more restrictive-but-still-opensource license. It's perfect as it is right now.

It would be sad to switch off one of the main Irrlicht features due to a few morons out there which do not credit / donate cash at a given time.
2008-07-02 12:08:00

Hi, I am the designer on the "Age of Pehlivans" project, and I wrote the postmortem on Gamedev.net so I think I do owe you guys an explanation.

Our game never was a big cooperation. We had a hard time actually securing a cultural/scientific research fund so we can make the game of our dreams. We came together as a team because we wanted to make a game. No one came in for the money, and there was barely enough to support the production in the first place, so you might as well calm down. You are not "giving it to the man" here... You are just bashing a bunch of fellow hobbyists.

Secondly, I would really appreciate not being quoted incompletely. There are two things I have said in the game postmortem about Irrlicht and I stand by them:

1. “our programmer was confident of knowing the ins and outs of IrrLicht, which is a very clean and neat little graphics engine by the way.”

2. “IrrLicht is in no way optimized for a huge level, and we had left major optimization for later stages.”

In the second case I was really referring to the fact that we had to add support for multiple textures on the terrain, change the way scene management worked, write code for low-delay loading thousands of objects etc. etc. What I was trying to do was comparing Irrlicht to a high-end commercial engine here…and I am sorry if I got misunderstood. Our programmer had to sort out a lot of “sorting” and scene management issues before we could really get any performance out of Irrlicht. Blame it on our incompetence, but we did manage to get it work, and for that we are grateful to all who have worked on the development of Irrlicht.

Thirdly, and foremost, the reason why we never publicly announce what engine we were using, also we gave plenty of hints, was that if we indeed, during any stage of the project, had found out that Irrlich can’t provide us with optimal performance, we still had the option to ask for more funding in order to buy a commercial license, whereas publicly talking about the benefits of using Irrlicht and then trying to switch would have caused us a lot of trouble with our funders. So it wasn’t a matter of neglect, or malice. It was just the fact that we wanted to keep our choices open and liked to have the option of asking for more funds if we would have needed a commercial engine bought.

I can only re-iterate, that neither me nor anyone else in our group ever planned not to share our code. We aren’t thieves, and we aren’t greedy either. Though I believe that our engine code will probably be of little worth, now that Irrlicht has gone through new iterations, and though there is no way of forcing our programmer to publish all his code (and I know he is very busy at the moment) I wouldn’t mind publishing our changes at all.

Currently, me and all of my fellow friends from that project are still working on developing games, though in different parts of the world, and we have all benefited from the attitude of sharing. Who knows, maybe the next guy you will happily copy source from will be us! The world of game development is a small one and many of us will meet…I hope there are no misunderstandings or hard feelings when we do.

Take care,

B. Kaveh.
Babak Kaveh
2008-07-04 20:28:00

Hey Kaveh, on the postmortem you praise about the world/level editors your team built.

Now that the project is dead, and you won't probably be using Irrlicht anymore due to the reasons you just cited... what about releasing those editors as an opensource/public domain project?
2008-07-04 23:26:00

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