July 2018

Why I don't use the GPL-license

First when I got into game design I did not bother that much about licenses, I thought open source is open source. Torque3D was MIT-license, which is a liberal license, so I thought, well good for me that the license is so liberal and I just kept it as it is.

Then I had GPL enthusiasts trying to compel me to change my project to GPL license, since GPL was supposedly much better and more "free", since it would ensure the project staying open source and nobody could "steal" from it without giving his changes back and it would also motivate other people from the GPL enthusiasts camp to contribute to my project.

So I began to look more deeply into the license issue and the benefits and drawbacks of the different licenses, since I don't want to act emotional wihtout doing proper research first. After some deeper investigation I not only found that the GPL-guys arguments were wrong, but that the truth was more like the exact opposite. Now let us break down the arguments for the GPL one by one:


Argument 1: GPL is supposedly more free, since it is copyleft license, which forces through a license agreement which is the GPL itself everyone to keep the project free and give away all their contributions to the program also for free.

Counter argument: This in itself is already a pretty big contradiction, since freedom is absence of force, but the GPL tries to force people to be more free, which is illogical and impossible. Freedom can only happen voluntarily, which requires a choice, which does not exist in the copyleft case and also does not exist in the copyright case, it is like two sides of the same coin. Copyright only allows people with the copyright to use the software and copyleft only allows people who agree with the copyleft to use the software.


Argument 2: GPL ensures the software to stay open source and ensures that everyone who uses it will contribute the changes back under the GPL, which results in a viral grownth of the software as well as users and contributors.

Counter argument: Yes GPL may ensure the software to stay open source through its very strict license terms regarding that, at least in theory, in practice it requires lots of legal battles and it is yet to be proven how good these license terms hold up in court. Regarding ensuring the grownth of the projects by forcing contributions back into the project under the same license, it has pretty much the exact opposite effect, since the big majority of potential contributors do not agree with the GPL and therefore will not contribute anything. Those people not agreeing to the license terms will either:

a) Not use the software at all and probably use a competitors product

b) Steal it, ignore the license terms and hope nobody finds out

c) Write their own code from scratch

All those options are pretty counterproductive, the GPL says you either have to agree 100% with it and stick to it forever or chose one of those very stupid solutions listed above, there is no middle ground.


Argument 3: You can still make money with GPL software.

Counter argument: Yes theoretically you can charge money for GPL software, but practically this is almost impossible as there is no mechanism that obligates users to pay anything and there never can be as defined by the license terms. So for money making with the GPL you are left with hoping that someone voluntarily subsidizes you or just begging for money, but begging for money works for everyone and does not require do be productive at all, so you would probably just be better off with spending your time begging and not wasting time with being productive.


So to sum it up what will happen, if you put your project under the GPL license is:

1. Your program will be less free

2. Your project will most likely die

3. You will most likely ruin yourself financially

4. As a bonus you will likely attract lots of incompetent weirdos into your project from that certain community and at the same time chase away skilled contributors.

5. You most likely cannot revert that downfall, since once GPL always GPL, yes you can change the license of your own work, but as soon as your project is infected with other peoples GPL code, it becomes close to impossible to convince the GPL fanatics to change their code license as well.


Yes there may be a few exceptions where the GPL model works, since for the end user it is quite beneficial to have a free product, but the developers have to be fully subsidized by some large companies or the goverment or be stupid enough to work for free (like me), but for developers the GPL is probably one of the most effective methods ever invented to send your project into the eternal development hell, but at least you will have good company, as the development hell is already full of many dead nonexistant open source projects, with many nonexistant open source developers.


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My experiences with the nonexistent open-source game development community

Hello Internet, over all those years of being into open-source game development I just have to tell someone my experiences with that.

Let's just start with the biggest problem right ahead and the biggest problem with the nonexistent open-source game development community is its nonexistentness and the biggest problem with nonexistent things is, that they don't exist.

On a second look I think, it could also have been my fault to assume the nonexistent open-source game development community exists to begin with. To my defense I have to say that there was quite some evidence that the nonexistent open-source game development community exists, like many seeminlgy existing games being developed as well as websites dedicated to that and of course many people seemingly developing open-source games. However now after almost 6 years of being into game development, I can pretty safely say to have never met a serious active open-source game developer. Before people now go nitpicking on my definition of what is serious and what is active, I want to try to give an easy explanation for that, serious means that someone seriously tries to accomplish anything and active means, that he is currently actively trying to seriously accomplish anything, or even easier explanation it has to be an existing open-source game developer, since only an existing open-source game developer can develop existing open-source games, while a nonexistent open-source game developer can only develop nonexistent open-source games.

Sadly there exist many nonexistent open-source game developers, who develop even more nonexistent open-source games, which may give the impression to outsiders, that they are actively existent open-source game developers, but as an insider you will quickly find out that they do not exist. How I'm so certain, they do not exist? Well I never met them, it is that simply. One could argue, that I have not searched enough and I may meet one some day, but I have to say I searched very well and found many regular game developers and I'm able to interact with them almost daily and talk about real existing game development, so even if the open-source game developers exist, they must be of such small quantity, that they are basically nonexistent.

My views may sound a bit radical and of course it was a bit exaggerated, in reality there are of course exceptions. I indeed did meet some existent open-source game developers from time to time, but as said they were of very small quantity and not very active overall and most of them quickly abandoned their (mostly nonexistent) game projects. So yes there may be small exceptions, but generally I think I'm correct with my conclusions.

I also do not think I was delusional when starting doing open-source game development, since I started it, since there was nobody doing an up to date 3D shooter that is not a ripoff of Quake over and over again. So the main reason I got into existent open-source game development was, that at least as I thought in my niche open-source game development was nonexistent, but later it turned out I was wrong with my assumptions, since not only did open-source game development not exist in my niche, but it did not seem to exist in total.

Somewhere inbetween those experiences I also joined some communities of nonexistent open-source game developers developing nonexistent open-source games, but they quickly censored and banned me for doing real existent open-source game development, they were probably just scared since real existent projects are superior to nonexistent projects which cannot prevail against existent projects, but that is another story.

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People like to be fooled

In the past I always thought people really mean it seriously, if they complain about bad products or shady business practices from companies and therefore want improvement of the situation. I don't want to go into detail about those shady practices, since there are a lot of them, but in its core it is all about milking as much money from the customer while at the same time spending as little as possible into the development, this results in never fixing issues with the game or just abandoning it straight after it was released and those games that do not get abandoned get filled with microtransactions which results in the game experience being destroyed, since it is no longer a fair game which makes it meaningless to play on a competitive level. Most peopel probably know the problems very well, since they complain about them and even make documentaries explaining all in detail whats wrong.

I watched it for a long time and noticed nothing ever changes, so I decided to take things into my own hands and solve the issue, at least in the small niche I was interested in. My idea was, that if there are so many people who are unsatisfied with the situation on the games market, that at least some will join and make it better, you know, supply and demand logic. Then the most amazing reaction happened after I released my first prototypes and tried to find a team that would help me developing the game further and the thing that happened was absolutely nothing. So either the supply and demand logic is wrong, or there is no demand and people are just dishonest about what they want.

So let's compare the supply in the games industry, on the one hand you have honest companies trying to make good games for a fair price and on the other hand you have companies that are dishonest and only make the games as good as they need to be and then use shady methods to milk as much money out of the customers as possible. Basically the customer has the choice between companies that fool them and companies that are honest to them and it looks like most customers are chosing to be fooled, therefore giving money to those companies and making the bad companies more powerful so they can produce even better methods to fool people and people chose them again and so on.

This is not just theoretical, since there are indeed cases where companies provably fooled people, for example one famous case I will not name promised in alpha access that they will not add microtransactions to their (full price) game and when the game then got released they immediately filled it to the brim with super expensive microtransactions and people loved it. So you may think that straightforward lying to customers is bad publicity and will reflect in loss of sales, but in reality it did not have any negative impact. It is almost as, if people like to be fooled, they may not admit it, but indirectly they like it, additionally they then have a reason to complain and hate on someone else, which seems to give their life meaning and distracts from their own problems.

Psychologically this is a very weird phenomenon and I have not fully figured it out yet, but the facts are pretty clear, people like to be fooled, just the "why" and "how" is not that easily explainable. My main theory for that is the ego-theory, people have an ego and the ego does not like to be wrong, so when an ego driven person is fooled, he will not admit he has been fooled, but then just ignore the fact that he has been fooled and/or rationalize that there is no problem and they wanted it that way anyway. Additionally the ego likes to be flattered, so you can gain ego driven peoples favor, by just making impossible promises (lying) to them that no honest company can compete with and they will like it, they think if they buy the superior product, it makes them also better and the previous explained mechanism will prevent them from realizing they have been fooled. After that there is a longer list of other psychological phenomenons, for example a famous and important one here is probably the sunken cost fallacy. For example if someone paid a lot of money for a product, in this example a video game, he will stick to it and never admit that he may have been fooled and paid all that money for nothing or for an inferior product and again here comes the ego mechanism to back it up since the ego can never be wrong and in ego logic the more money or energy has been dumped into something, the more value it has.

Well these are some of my attempts to figure this out and often when I think about those topics I remember my father always saying to me as a child: "Son, people like to be fooled", when I asked why things are the way they are in this world. So theoretically I knew this fact for almost all of my life already, but often I was in denial about this, because I could not believe it, but now after so many time and life experienced I see it confirmed over and over again and I'm finding more and more proofs for it.

So people like to be fooled, just the question why is more complicated and no I will not fool people just so they like me, since being fooled is stupid and I do not like having stupid people around me.

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