Choosing a Game Engine Based on LICENSE?

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by sdhy, Nov 21, 2017.

  1. sdhy

    sdhy New Member

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    Hi. Been planning out a game and experimenting with a game engine for a while.

    Which game-engine license(s) allow me to:
    - sell my game that I made for a profit

    - I own all the rights to all my creations (including the code, even if it calls the game engine’s API or anything else)

    - and all my work is protected by whatever license I choose


    And Game-Engine-specific things I’m looking for:
    - the GE is either free or affordable
    (no set budget yet, so feel free to state its price)

    - can use gamepads/controllers for local multiplayer in the same room
    (online multiplayer is optional).

    - freedom to make the game and assets I want.

    - 3D helps. But if 2D’s the only option, then...

    - Optional(?): people made short, to-the-point tutorials
    or easy enough to jump into, like Blender.
    (I know a bit of coding)

    - optional(?): simple, cartoon-looking, but-still-3D graphics . Or colours that stand out.
    (Blender Render can do this for 3D models)

    I ask because I think Blender requires you to show your game’s code (if it calls Blender’s API),
    so I’m worried someone can legally copy my code, switch the characters, story, etc.
    and easily (and legally) sell a clone with the same game mechanics I worked so hard on.

    I’m guessing MIT or BSD licensed game engines can help me here,
    GPL not so much? Correct me if I’m wrong.
    Thinking of giving Torque3D a go.


    Please let me know,
    Thanks!

    P.S. I gotta thank Blender for giving me a start in this journey!
     
  2. onpon4

    onpon4 New Member

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    It's worth noting that most EULAs are custom, so you have to read them each individually. I will mostly be talking about common licenses, the ones that multiple programs use.

    Most of them. The exceptions would be the "non-commercial" licenses, like CC BY-NC, but these typically aren't used for libraries or game engines. Even most EULAs coming with gratis versions of proprietary game engines grant permission to sell your games.

    You always own the whole copyright of your creations, but I assume what you mean is that the engine permits linking to it without special conditions. That's a quite complicated topic, and it's a bit of a legal gray area. It definitely includes any lax permissive license (e.g. Apache, Expat, X11, Modified BSD, zlib, etc) and very weak copyleft licenses such as the Mozilla Public License. It includes the GNU LGPL with the caveat that you can't statically link, you have to dynamically link. With strong copyleft licenses like the GNU GPL, it depends on your use-case and how extensive copyright really is; for example, there's the system library exception, so if you are expecting the user to install it themselves, you could argue that that exception applies. With EULAs, it varies, so you have to read each individual license, but what I would expect most of them to do is allow certain portions of the program to be distributed in certain ways that are necessary to make the game work.

    But in general, it's uncommon to find any game engine or graphics library that will give you a problem here.

    That's the same as above. You own the full copyright to your work; the only difference is whether or not the license of the library or engine allows you to derive from it and under what conditions. You may be thinking of the fact that strong copyleft licenses (e.g. the GNU GPL) do allow you to derive from the original program, but under the condition that you use the same license for the entire work (and the understanding is that your work + their work creates a new work, so that is the work being referred to). EULAs have their own conditions, but since people using EULAs aren't typically concerned about what license you use, requiring a certain license is typically not one of them. Weak copyleft licenses only require you to keep the library under the same license, and permit whatever terms you choose for the whole combination of your work + their work. Lax permissive licenses have no conditions except to keep notices intact within the source code, should you distribute it.

    I wouldn't worry so much about people cloning mechanics. Mechanics are really not what makes a game, it's the scenario (e.g. levels) that does that, with a few exceptions. But yes, you have understood Blender's licensing correctly. There's a page explaining it here:

    https://docs.blender.org/manual/en/dev/game_engine/licensing.html


    So, with all that explanation about licenses (hopefully coherent enough), and keeping in mind your other requirements:

    Godot Engine would be a perfect candidate:

    https://godotengine.org/

    It's what I recommend most people try, and the only reason I'm not using it is probably stubbornness and familiarity. :) It supports both 2-D and 3-D.

    Torque3D should fit your requirements, too. I've never looked into it very much, though.

    For 2-D, there's also the following:

    * GDevelop - http://compilgames.net

    * SGE Game Engine - http://stellarengine.nongnu.org (Disclaimer: I'm the developer of this one, so I have a bias in favor of it. GNU LGPL.)

    * LÖVE - https://love2d.org/

    Hope that helps! :)
     
  3. sdhy

    sdhy New Member

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    Wow thanks onpon4! Yes this helps!

    I'll give Godot another go. I totally understand what you mean about familiarity; my first try with Godot, coming from blender, I was lost, lol.
    I'll check out Torque3d too.

    So I'll look for the conditions on derivative work in licenses because if I use their code library api whatever it's called, then it's a derivative work ie my work plus theirs. Right?

    And for my case, the unique game mechanics I'm planning is very important. That is, unless I can create unique characters.

    Thanks again!
     
  4. onpon4

    onpon4 New Member

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    I should mention that I am not a lawyer and this isn't legal advice, but yes. Where the actual line is between derivative and non-derivative is a bit vague and might vary by jurisdiction, but that's the generally accepted consensus.

    Godot Engine is under a permissive license, though I assume you already know that. ;)
     
  5. sdhy

    sdhy New Member

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    No worries. Or even, thanks for the disclaimer.
     
  6. zizulot

    zizulot New Member

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    Unity doesnt take anything till you make 100k profit from it, at that point you have enough money to pay for licenses
     

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