Open Gaming Should Mean Open

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
I am starting this thread in an effort to leave poor @Marc Radle alone in his Black Flag SRD thread. I don't want to stymie discussion of that for folks that want to dig into it. My apologies for even starting this discussion there.

I feel very strongly about Open Gaming. I was, and still am, completely aghast at what WotC tried to pull in January 2023, and I was very glad to see much of the community and industry come out against it. I was even more happy to hear that a bunch of companies were making an effort to free themselves from the OGL and build systems to be released in a truly Open way, either in CC or what eventually became ORC.

I believe that if you have benefited professionally and economically from the Open Gaming movement, you are ethically bound to give back to it.

Unfortunately, not everyone does. Some publishers are more egregious than others. Malhavoc/Monte Cook is especially bad at trying to lock down everything while still benefiting from publishing under the OGL. Matt Coville is similar. I encourage anyone feeling skeptical to examine the Product Identity designations in eithers works.

The 5.1 SRD releasing under CC-BY was almost worse for Open gaming specifically. Because it was not released under the Share Alike license, the requirement or incentive for designers to pay Open Gaming forward for the benefits they themselves received was gone. No one had to also release their work, and few did.

Now we have ORC, and it is explicit that if you use ORC to publish, any and every game mechanic in that product released under ORC is also released. You must feed back into the reservoir of Open Game Content. That is the way it should be, and I applaud Paizo and all the other companies that helped build ORC to be that way. I think it is only fair to point out both Paizo and EN Publishing for being solid members of the Open Gaming community and making most, even nearly all, of their game mechanics Open. Those companies understand that the value is not in the mechanics themselves but in presentation, how they are used and the value of the products at the table.

I am going to pick on Kobold for a moment, but just because their choices inspired this post: Kobold released the Black Flag SRD under ORC. While that seems good at first blush, there is a problem: the Black Flag SRD is the same kind of trimmed down document as WotC's own 5.1 SRD. I won't get into a discussion here about the quality of the work or its place in the market, but I will say that I find it disappointing that a company that essentially exists because of Open Gaming decided to go this route, especially when publishing under ORC. And it was something of a shock considering things like the Heroes Handbook made everything mechanical in it Open Content, so Kobold has a history of being a strong supporter of Open Gaming.

I don't want this to be a discussion about Kobold Press, or any of the other companies I named. Nor do i want it to be a tedious discussion by armchair lawyers regarding copyright law. We've already had a thread closed for that. What i would rather talk about is how folks feel about Open Gaming and what responsibilities people and companies that publish under Open Gaming have to those that come after them.
 

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mamba

Legend
Kobold released the Black Flag SRD under ORC. While that seems good at first blush, there is a problem: the Black Flag SRD is the same kind of trimmed down document as WotC's own 5.1 SRD. I won't get into a discussion here about the quality of the work or its place in the market, but I will say that I find it disappointing that a company that essentially exists because of Open Gaming decided to go this route, especially when publishing under ORC.
what license they publish under should not really have anything to do with it…

I applaud A5e for a full SRD, but there are also economic realities, you cannot give everything away for free. I am not sure whether art and better layout and indexing is enough of an incentive for people to buy the PDF / VTT module over using the free version, that is for Kobold to decide.

I certainly do not feel like they have an obligation to release everything into the open, even though I do generally prefer that and it to a degree influences my purchasing decisions
 


Reynard

Legend
Supporter
what license they publish under should not really have anything to do with it…
One of the defining features of ORC is that it demands whatever (mechanics) you publish under it are Open.
I applaud A5e for a full SRD, but there are also economic realities, you cannot give everything away for free. I am not sure whether art and better layout and indexing is enough of an incentive for people to buy the PDF / VTT module over using the free version, that is for Kobold to decide.
It seems that Paizo has managed to figure out how to be very successful while still "giving it away for free."
I certainly do not feel like they have an obligation to release everything into the open, even though I do generally prefer that and it to a degree influences my purchasing decisions
I honestly believe that if they -- anyone, I mean, not just Kobold -- used Open Content to create the thing, then it too should be Open Content. At the very least, it is bad form otherwise, but also against the spirit of the Open Gaming movement. it is like taking a handful of mints on the way out of the restaurant. "Hey, they said they were free."
 


innerdude

Legend
So I'm of two minds on this.

One -- by any measure, the "open source" movement across intellectual property contexts (software, books, games, music) is a huge boon to the public at large. The internet as it exists in its current form would bear little resemblance to what it would otherwise were it not for the Free Software Foundation and GNU/Linux, and everything in that ecosystem---Apache, OpenSSL, MySQL, and many, many more.

The spirit/zeitgeist/intent is clear---it's a movement designed to produce openness, sharing, collaboration.

Two --- However, every participant who either produces or consumes open source content is under no obligation to adhere to the spirit of intent; they merely must comply with the letter of the license at hand.

99.9% of people who consume open source content generally do so with zero intention to give back or re-share something they've added to it.

And frankly, no one should feel guilty if you are one of those consumers, and nor should others be upset or otherwise harbor bad feelings to anyone who chooses to do so.

It's anyone's right to legally consume and use open source content in whatever manner they choose within legal limit. Getting bent out of shape because someone doesn't choose to follow the largely unstated spirit of the open source movement is useless, unhealthy, and damaging to the movement.

Observationally, it's odd how emotionally invested some can become over policing who is following the spirit and intent of open source, rather than just adhering to letter of the law. There's no pushback against companies and individuals releasing copyrighted content and then expecting to have that content legally protected. But somehow when someone contributes the bare minimum to meet the standards of open source contribution, it's some kind of affront to the entire open source movement as a whole.

From a practical standpoint, open source is just one of many possible business strategies for releasing creative work.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
Two --- However, every participant who either produces or consumes open source content is under no obligation to adhere to the spirit of intent; they merely must comply with the letter of the license at hand.

99.9% of people who consume open source content generally do so with zero intention to give back or re-share something they've added to it.

And frankly, no one should feel guilty if you are one of those consumers, and nor should others be upset or otherwise harbor bad feelings to anyone who chooses to do so.

It's anyone's right to legally consume and use open source content in whatever manner they choose within legal limit. Getting bent out of shape because someone doesn't choose to follow the largely unstated spirit of the open source movement is useless, unhealthy, and damaging to the movement.
For clarity, I am not talking about consumers, I am talking about publishers.
Observationally, it's odd how emotionally invested some can become over policing who is following the spirit and intent of open source, rather than just adhering to letter of the law. There's no pushback against companies and individuals releasing copyrighted content and then expecting to have that content legally protected. But somehow when someone contributes the bare minimum to meet the standards of open source contribution, it's some kind of affront to the entire open source movement as a whole.
I don't know what this means or understand its relevance with regards to Open Gaming. No one has said anything about people protecting their copyrights.
From a practical standpoint, open source is just one of many possible business strategies for releasing creative work.
Certainly. My position is that if you choose to benefit from it, you should feel obligated to give back to it.
 

KYRON45

Adventurer
For clarity, I am not talking about consumers, I am talking about publishers.

I don't know what this means or understand its relevance with regards to Open Gaming. No one has said anything about people protecting their copyrights.

Certainly. My position is that if you choose to benefit from it, you should feel obligated to give back to it.
I'm pretty dumb so maybe someone could clarify. How do we know they aren't giving back?
 

bedir than

Full Moon Storyteller
The 5.1 SRD releasing under CC-BY was almost worse for Open gaming specifically. Because it was not released under the Share Alike license, the requirement or incentive for designers to pay Open Gaming forward for the benefits they themselves received was gone. No one had to also release their work, and few did.
Your position overall seems to be most summed up in this paragraph, where you conflate "open gaming" with "virality of rules."

They aren't the same. There's little doubt that the CC is more open than ORC. It isn't as viral, unless the SA subset.
But not being viral doesn't mean something isn't open.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
I'm pretty dumb so maybe someone could clarify. How do we know they aren't giving back?
I gave examples in the OP. For some OGL developers, they designated everything "Product Identity." Of 5E companies publishing under the 5.1 SRD released into CC, few are releasing their work into CC as well (to be clear, there is no legal requirement that they do so). Under ORC literally all mechanics in whatever you put under the license are Open. So companies like Kobold are releasing SRDs of their own, trimmed of whatever they want reserved, instead of releasing the actual game books under ORC as Paizo did (and I believe Chaosium did with the new BRP edition).
 

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