Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Moving Forward. Why do we need money? And some more patent bashing.

I believe money is only a tool. Those who seek to increase their financial wealth gain nothing of value. Since money is only a man made concept. We could use shiny pebbles instead. In time your possessions will be outdate, your art collections fallen into utter obscurity, and your memory forgotten once your patent has died out. Information should be open.

I firmly believe that information should be open. Although everyone is entitled to their secret, and I like my privacy, as should you.  But why should the latest scientific discoveries only be available to those with millions of dollars to spend, when it can help so many.

I pose the question what if information was like open-source software? In a world where people band together communally and work to bring about an advancement of humanity. Perhaps this is just my inner Marxist speaking again. But money and material objects are not all there is. What remains once we are dead is our legacy. Perhaps only in some obscure manner but most people find inspiration in such manner. Find me a mathematician who does not know the names Euler, Gauss, Descartes. Or a game designer who doesn’t know about McGonigal, Carmack , Shigeru, Roper, or Newell. They are all nieces, but then so do we all exist in such.

We are a macrocosm of microcosms. All of which link in various ways to form new microcosm which are part of greater macrocosms, and all of them add up to the megacosm which is humanity. For instance, Indie Game Designer -> Game Designer -> IT People -> People. Or within your community that you live you find people that fall into varying professions, and lives. Now you have a microcosm that is your community, but the members of the community each belong to another microcosm. 

Ok now what is the point of my boiling into social structures. Simple. People have hobbies things they really like doing. Take for instance someone who likes gardening. What if instead of a boring secretary job they planted crops to feed their community. Now someone comes up with a great idea of how to increase productivity amongst these people, shares the information and everyone benefits.

Thus by an advance of a microcosm of gardeners have helped various microcosm communities. Now this eventually spreads. And your children learn of the Kempner farming method of increased productivity. But if Kempner patented the farming method, and only he got rich off it what happened to him in the end?

As much as we value money it is essentially worthless due to it constantly changing. What was a dollar 10 years ago are now 20. Imagine Hitler had conquered the planet. And it had been fixed since then that a loaf of bread was one frank. That means you could perfectly plan for retirement and made sure you had enough money. 

I’m not saying let’s all go commi - and also not saying go Hitler, - but let’s start being less douche about how we live. Draw inspiration from your fellow man, and say “How can I make it better, and how can I make it better for everyone” 

Oh and one more thing against patents. “The idea that I can be presented with a problem, set out to logically solve it with the tools at hand and wind up with a program that could not be legally used because someone else followed the same logical steps some years ago and filed a patent on it is horrifying” –John Carmack.

And just for fun, if Einstein patented E=MC^2 we might not have nuclear reactors. Or if Newton patented his 3 laws of physics, we might have . . . well anything we have today. Just think about the number of scientific equations that if were allowed to be patented would have caused many of the things we love not to exist. Now think of what patents are currently denying existence.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Game Cloning.

When it comes to cloning video games I am firmly against it, just as I think that censorship and piracy are bad things that we can do without. But bad things do exist, such is a basic premise of life.

But why is cloning a video game wrong? Here is the fun part, legally it isn’t, morally I’m aligning a cloner somewhere between a thief and a rapist. First it isn’t legally wrong due to the fact that cloners steal the idea behind a game, and replicate it in a format using different code. If they ripped off the code then you would have a legal case. Or if you patented some software technique in it and they used it you could sue. But I’m against software patenting, but that’s for another day.

Secondly, why I equate them to somewhere between a thief and a rapist. Some might say being a thief isn’t so bad. I disagree. If I were to rob the largest bank in America, they would have to call in their loans, and when people can’t pay then there is an economic collapse, and I don’t need to paint the rest of the picture. The rapist equation is due to the forceful fucking someone over, in a painful and traumatic way. Say there are some indie devs working their asses off on an awesome game. They have a free public alpha, and are working on a final product. Now if someone were to clone their alpha and distribute it on a platform that the devs were targeting then what? Months of hard work lost. Any reasonable person would seek a way to right this situation. You would go to the police if a thief had entered your house and stole your possessions.

And while I may equate cloning a video game to certain things, cloning is certainly different. It is something so unique that most legal minds can’t quantify it. But game developers can. A can developer can look at a game and say: “Hey I see the influence of minesweeper in this game but I really like how they progressed on the idea.” At the same time a game dev can look at a game and say: “Wait that’s just solitaire with a different skin.”

See drawing inspiration or improving on a concept isn’t cloning since it progresses the concept or genre. For instance Half Life and Quake were built in the same engine, yet they are completely different games. And if someone made a game for xbox called kaloh, about a guy who wears a blue power suit and fights on a doughnut world, Microsoft would have a) never let them publish the game, and b) sued their asses off.

So how do we stop game cloning? Unfortunately we can’t. Douches will be douches; it’s like trying to stop crime. But when a criminal act is committed there is action taken against the aggressor and recompense for the victim. What we need is legislature that protects the creative rights of the creator that they may lodge a complaint, which is examined by notable and respectable game developers who can say “Yes this is a clone”.  Just because we currently lack the legal system to deal with clones people may condone them.

So now we just hope that people shall start to realise that clones are bad. That we need legislature against it, and while they are tinkering with the laws can they please get rid of software patents.