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Author Topic: Has anyone thought of...  (Read 23581 times)

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Offline Cire360

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Re: Has anyone thought of...
« Reply #40 on: July 08, 2012, 06:18:46 AM »
Do you know how much public ridicule EA would suffer over attacking a non-profit enhancement to their game?

Every time I turn around topics are being locked and discussions are being closed down because someone says your breaking EULA agreement, and what not.  I wonder if the other teams that tried to create an enhancement suffered this type of harassment.

I've been in the business of software development for over 15 years, and i've yet to see any blaint attacks on non-profit enhancements.  It might and does happen when people try to sell a product they have altered but thats not the case here.

When you speak of EULA, I can condemn everyone here of breaking it, just because the 'DBPF' file system was never 'publicly' released, someone at some point in time had to do some reverse engineering to figure it out.  There are still parts of it that are 'unknown'.  Does maxis care no, does EA care, no.  But we are all using it, to alter and enhance our game right?

Please cut me some slack.

Offline Cire360

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Re: Has anyone thought of...
« Reply #41 on: July 08, 2012, 03:40:30 PM »
I apologize for coming off so strongly.  Just becoming a bit frustrating to having become under so much fire with a product that EA doesn't even list as an IP anymore.

The point to this is that the 'site' feels they could be in jepordy over breaching EULA agreement.  Rest assured that this is highly unlikely to occur over a 10 year old game.  If one was to take the time and do some research on just about every game out to date they would likely find that nearly all of them contains mods, enhancements.  From skyrim to Total annihilation. The older the game the more detailed and in depth modding becomes, and the less developers care, especially when projects may cause additional sales for them.

The worse case scenario I have seen is where a game company contacted a group whom was doing modding and requested that the project be terminated, case in point was a Japanese group whom was creating a starcraft clone that did not require the user to have purchased starcraft.  However many starcraft mods exists, but can't be used on blizzards bnet.

If this game was brand new off the shelves, i could see being a bit tight about it, but this is not the case. 

The company I work for has a team of 3 software lawyers, I stopped by their office today and spoke to them about such a project, and thou they agree that if this was being perused and developed by a software corporation, then EA's lawyers would likely seek litigation, but being that is being developed by an 'individual' and not tied to any corporation with no monetary gain, that it would do more harm to EA's image to shutdown a project of this nature.  That the negative press it would generate would be far more damaging to them then to just ignore such a project.

One of these lawyers is a good friend of mine whom has a lot more contacts within the industry then I do, and is going to contact EA reps to see where they stand on a non profit game enhancement project such as this.  I'll know more in a few days, and will post in details here once I do.

Anyhow once again i apologize for coming off so strongly.

Offline whatevermind

Re: Has anyone thought of...
« Reply #42 on: July 09, 2012, 12:09:26 AM »
You are wrong about greyscale maps, most of the ones out there today use far more than 256 colors - 65536 colors I think is what the SC4M files and PNGs use, which from memory is something like a 0.1 meter resolution.  Of course these can become large files themselves, so I'm not saying there aren't better ways to do this.  The point about greyscales though is merely backwards compatibility with what's already out there.  More important is the range of terrain editing tools - being able to both import real world terrain, as well as tweak and sculpt to your heart's delight.

Which brings to mind a note about units - SC4 is in metric, so if you're laying out things in feet, there could be issues with existing content.

You get into the point above about higher stages and mixed use zones/buildings.  One of the major deficiencies of SC4 (and all previous SimCities) is the lack of mixed use buildings.  Should you find a way around this, that would be amazing.  Regarding stages, you may have already read these, but if not, you may be able to build upon research and ideas previously done in developing CAM:

Stage Limits
Density Limits and Caps
Workforce and Occupation Demands

To the note of keeping us all up on the details of the development - I think you might find it worthwhile to keep a lot of notes and work on essentially a manual to be released with the game, and leave a lot of the nuts and bolts to be asked during the public testing and rollout.  Not that we don't like hearing the details, but I can understand that it's a lot of work to keep us all updated.  I have some thoughts on the education system as well, I'll try to elaborate later.

I'll throw my two cents in on the whole EULA/Legal side of things, since it is (and will be) and ongoing issue, as you've already noticed.  I don't think there is any doubt that you are building off of SC4 and the things that have been created for it over the years.  However, this is no different from what the rest of the community does day in and day out - particularly those who have created modding tools for SC4 that innately have to be able to read and write the (proprietary?) DBPF formats used by SC4.  To that end, I see nothing wrong with creating another program that can read/write DBPF files.  As it happens, EA has generally been very supportive of the community's attempts at cracking the file formats and using that knowledge to create new content and tools for the game.  Additionally, the DBPF format used by SC4 is deprecated, if not obsolete - as seen in TS3 and Spore, so they may not care what is done with it at all.

The use of the word "exclusive" early on seems to imply that creators of custom content for SC4 cannot allow it to be used with any other game.
I read this to imply that you are waiving any and all rights to anything you create for SC4 - essentially anything and everything ever created to add on to/work with/modify/etc. SC4 is entirely and only owned by EA, and they can do whatever they want with it whenever they want, whether or not you know what they're doing, and whether or not they feel like acknowledging you had anything to do with it.  It says nothing about how you can use the content you generate - and considering how widely accepted the practice of sharing custom content is, it hardly seems like EA cares about what you do with it.  The biggest gray zone here is selling your custom content, but both BSC and Simtropolis have sold DVDs of content, so it apparently can be done.  However, my understanding so far is that you intend this game to be freeware, so money shouldn't even matter.

The only point where there seems to be a line drawn is cracking the exe itself.  And even here, EA has supported development of dll addons to the exe.  In your Traffic thread, there is some debate over whether what you are doing is reverse engineering the exe.  Considering the drastic changes your software is making from how things work in SC4, it would be hard to say that this is true.  You've admitted to so much as essentially peeking under the hood to see how SC4 runs, but don't seem to be then using that knowledge to copy it, as much as better understand why SC4 does what it does.  Personally I see this as being more in line with standard software development practices of seeing a problem and finding a better way to do it than anything that would fall into a questionable legal area (such as if you were trying to replicate the game for profit).  The reality is that what you're describing is in many ways closer to the descriptions we've gotten about the new SC5 than the existing SC4.  EA may view you as competition in this regard, but the reality is you are but a fly agitating in the vicinity of a very big elephant.  The risk, and what has the community so worried, is that should the elephant swat, it will necessarily hit the surrounding flies as well, to complete the metaphor.

To that end, I can understand the fears of the staff and community about attracting the wrong sort of attention from EA, and I think that should EA actually take action against you or the site, nobody would question for a second the decision to shut this project down if it would save the site and/or community.  All the same, you appear to be aware of the legal issues at stake, and taking pains to note just how different what you are creating is from the current game.  Considering that, I think it would be wise to take a more passive approach, informing you of grey areas and danger zones as you hit them, but otherwise standing back and letting creativity bloom.  Consider for a moment that if it were not for the efforts of similar people who weren't afraid to poke around and explore uncharted territory, our understanding of the DATs would be limited to only what EA gave us in the form of BAT and Lot Editor, and we wouldn't be able to enjoy nearly the variety of tools and content that form the basis for this community.

Offline Tarkus

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Re: Has anyone thought of...
« Reply #43 on: July 12, 2012, 01:56:39 PM »
Since the main thread for this project has been unlocked, the SC4D Staff has continued to discuss the ramifications of this project, after seeing its overall trajectory, and receiving input from additional staff members.  Suffice to say, the project has gone in such a direction that we do not feel comfortable with the legal liability.

When this project thread was unlocked, it was under the strict condition that its creator would not attempt to reverse-engineer the executable. However, this condition has been violated.  Given that this project entails creating a new game that would compete with EA Maxis' SimCity 4, there is no doubt that this is a violation of the EA Maxis End-User License Agreement (EULA) for SimCity 4, regardless of whether or not profit is being derived from said new game.  As such, the staff has made a decision to lock all threads dealing with this project.  Unless legal clearance is obtained from EA Maxis, specifying otherwise, we will not be unlocking the threads, or allowing new threads of this sort to proliferate at SC4 Devotion.

While some have tried to defend this project's legal stature by invoking the community's decoding of the DBPF file format as a precedent, this is not a valid argument.  The work done with DBPF files was, in fact, done with the blessing of Maxis employees back in 2003, when SC4 modding pioneer the7trumpets discussed traffic simulator modifications with MaxisFrank on the defunct, official SC4 forum run by EA Maxis.  The work with DBPF files has enhanced SimCity 4, and increased its salability, rather than detracting from it.  EA Maxis employees, in fact, have complimented the community's efforts on this front several times recently, in interviews regarding the upcoming new SimCity game.  The lead programmer for the game has even passed along files to aid the creation of DLL-based plugins. 

There has, for many years, been a quiet, mutually beneficial relationship between the SC4 modding community and the game's creators, and we'd like to keep it that way.  Efforts to enhance the existing game will continue to be encouraged here, but reverse-engineering the game to create a replacement does not fall within those confines.

Thread locked.

SC4D Admin