Free Culture Game

Massively Multiplayer Game Ryzom Released as Free Culture and Free Software

Chris Webber, May 6th, 2010

Ryzom's Windfall
Ryzom's Windfall by Winch Gate / CC BY-SA

Today brings an exciting announcement… Winch Gate Properties Ltd. is releasing Ryzom, an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), with its code under the GNU AGPLv3 and its artistic assets under CC BY-SA.

Games are almost unique in how tightly the medium requires the interweaving of software and culture.  Amongst the many genres of video games that exist today, the MMORPG is probably the most complex and requires the most depth both on the side of the code and content.  Since Ryzom is a mature, well developed project, the scale of this release and its significance for both free culture and free software are both truly incredible.  In the words of Winch Gate’s own press release:

By freeing Ryzom code, Winch Gate is transforming the MMORPG marketplace and is setting a precedent for how gaming software should evolve–in freedom. The source code released totals over two (2) million lines of source code and over 20,000 high quality textures and thousands of 3D objects.

Some components aren’t released yet to the public (notably the music and sounds, although this is apparently in progress) and the world data for the main server isn’t being released to keep the player community from fracturing.  Notably also, the current tools for creating game data require proprietary software, but the Free Software Foundation notes that there are efforts under way to make these actions editable incorporating free software tools such as Blender.  However the components that are already available: the server code, the client code, and the many models, animations, textures and etc, already bring many great community opportunities.  The freeing of these resources opens them for study, modification, and incorporation into other works and games of compatible licenses.  And of course the existence of all these components also means that one can run a fully free-as-in-freedom virtual universe of one’s own.  If you ever dreamed of the carving of virtual worlds, here’s your great chance.

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The Free Culture Game

Cameron Parkins, September 26th, 2008

The Free Culture Game, created by Molleindustria, is a flashed based abstract art piece that attempts to articulate the interplay between the commons and culture at large. Released under a CC BY-NC-SA license, we heard about it first on our community lists, but it has since been getting some nice traction elsewhere on the blogosphere. From Rhizome:

Italian artists Molleindustria promise “radical games against the dictatorship of entertainment,” and their latest effort may be their most direct statement against the pleasure industry to date. Touted as “playable theory,” the Free Culture Game offers a ludic metaphor for the battle between copyright encroachments and the free exchange of knowledge, ideas and art.

A circular field represents The Common, where knowledge can be freely shared and created; your job is to maintain a healthy ecology of yellow idea-bubbles bouncing from person to person before they can be sucked into the dark outer ring representing the forces of The Market. Your cursor, shaped like the Creative Commons logo, pushes the ideas around with a sort of reverse-magnetic repulsion field (a clever alternative to the typical shooting, eating or jumping-on-top-of-and-smooshing actions of many other 2-D games). People who absorb free, round ideas stay green and happy, while those who only consume square market-produced ones become grey and inverted.

The game never really ends: you can only do better or worse, suggesting by analogy that the fight for free culture will be an ongoing struggle without end.

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