Author Topic: Stand-alone FRUA games?  (Read 2946 times)

Offline Ben J

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Stand-alone FRUA games?
« on: September 16, 2010, 10:21:06 AM »
This is just a thought experiment, so bear with me.

I know the FAQ says this:

Quote
Why can't I make self-standing adventures?

Answer: This was due to the fact that AD&D is owned by TSR and not by SSI. Hence were had to maintain some product control as per  our license agreements with TSR. Bard's Tale Construction Set is a generic FRPG system owned by EA and therefore they could do a stand alone system.


But would it be possible today -  with the amazing programing skills that the regulars of the "Hacking UA" board have - to create a stand-alone FRUA game?
One that circumvents the need to install the editor first, then the patch, and then UAShell? With one executable that starts up the game directly?

I know the archives containing the game would get much bigger this way. Maybe it would be impractical. Maybe even superfluous, now that we have DC. But would it be possible? How elaborate would it be?

It would certainly ease access into the world of FRUA for many a newbie.

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Offline nologgie

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Re: Stand-alone FRUA games?
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2010, 12:31:51 PM »
But would it be possible today -  with the amazing programing skills that the regulars of the "Hacking UA" board have - to create a stand-alone FRUA game?
One that circumvents the need to install the editor first, then the patch, and then UAShell? With one executable that starts up the game directly?

I know the archives containing the game would get much bigger this way. Maybe it would be impractical. Maybe even superfluous, now that we have DC. But would it be possible? How elaborate would it be?

It would certainly ease access into the world of FRUA for many a newbie.

[God Mode: Making it run from Windows la DOSBox]

Um...  This is kind of what DC is all about.

Aside from the legal questions (Hasbro now owns D&D, and they're very quick to take legal action against any perceived encroachment), it would require writing a complete replacement for ckit.exe. (And there are still large portions of ckit.exe that have never been fully mapped out.)

Bill Simser started UAWin years ago, and UA Forever (which is now Dungeon Craft) began around that time with a slightly different concept. If you're going to go that far, why not upgrade the graphics and audio? Add events? Make it user-expandable?

DC is stand alone, and will accept imported UA designs (like The Sect, for instance), and will allow you to use more pix (thousands more), and more additional text than TWO Tom Clancy novels. Plus AVIs, MP3s, & stuff.

So in a sense, it's been done.

It's just different.

And version 1.0 is due out this century!  :D :D :D
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Offline hans

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Re: Stand-alone FRUA games?
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2010, 03:11:31 PM »
We gave our word, as a community, waaaaaay back in the distant past, not to share full Ckits (hence the Diff.tbl exchanges of only hacked portions). 

And even though we don't know who owns what rights anymore, we must stay true to our word. 

Why? 

Because we're Lawful Good.   ;D

Offline manikus

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Re: Stand-alone FRUA games?
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2010, 03:18:08 PM »
And version 1.0 is due out this century!  :D :D :D

If I can ever get the bleedin' "Drain" Special Ability to work, I might even wager to say that version 1.0 will come out before the next Winter Olympics wrap-up... ;)

As well as DC and the now defunct UAWin (I used to watch that closely when it was being worked on... :D) There is still the 'funct' (I presume) work that Donnie Ewald is doing to expand FRUA.

I agree with nologgie and hans - if someone is going to go to all the effort, why not improve a few things (or everything) along the way and keep themselves out of trouble with Hasbro? :)
« Last Edit: September 16, 2010, 03:29:12 PM by manikus »

Offline Simeon Pilgrim

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Re: Stand-alone FRUA games?
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2010, 03:44:14 PM »
I was thinking about it, but am not sure how "hacked" the executable is by the diff.tlb hacks, therefore a report, would have to read the diff.tlb, and apply "effective" code changes, but in software. Which basically means it would be infeasible. That is if I have correctly understood how the community has altered the game.

Offline bsimser

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Re: Stand-alone FRUA games?
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2010, 07:22:42 PM »
I do want to say that I've been pursuing tracking down the original source code assets for FRUA. I've been in touch with two of the original programmers and 1 project manager but none of them have any assets. I've tracked down people in UbiSoft but they sent me to Mindscape people whom I'm awaiting a response on.

I'm a maintainer on the Sim City source code base and my intent was to get the original code and release it under an OSS license. Then anyone could do what they want with it.

Can't say if I'll be sucessful. Getting the company to release assets they don't care about is a chore, not to mention the fact that they may not have the assets or cannot retrieve them due to age. It's a shame but a distinct possiblity.

Here's hoping we can finallly get to see what makes FRUA ticks.

Offline Simeon Pilgrim

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Re: Stand-alone FRUA games?
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2010, 02:00:59 AM »
Oh we can see what makes it tick, you just will be missing the comments, sensible variable names, and it would take a month or two to disassemble. Very doable for a motivated coder, but again, it you can get any/all of the source that would be more than cool.

Also rights to the art assets would be awesome, then I could make a iP(od/hone/ad) Port, that would be fun under taking..

Offline Ben J

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Re: Stand-alone FRUA games?
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2010, 09:41:10 AM »
Well, as I said, it's just a thought experiment.  ;)

I'm not sure if any rights regarding the ownership of UA are still enforced, but here's the part I don't get:

Aside from the legal questions (Hasbro now owns D&D, and they're very quick to take legal action against any perceived encroachment).

DC also uses D&D rules and characters. Why isn't that a copyright encroachment?

So if we can't spread complete CKITs around, let's try another approach: If I don't want to upload the files anywhere, but just pass them along to friends, would it be possible to pack both UA and UAShell into an archive, with an executable that starts up the game automatically, bypassing the need to start UAShell first)?
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Offline Ben J

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Re: Stand-alone FRUA games?
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2010, 09:42:58 AM »
I do want to say that I've been pursuing tracking down the original source code assets for FRUA. I've been in touch with two of the original programmers and 1 project manager but none of them have any assets. I've tracked down people in UbiSoft but they sent me to Mindscape people whom I'm awaiting a response on.

I'm a maintainer on the Sim City source code base and my intent was to get the original code and release it under an OSS license. Then anyone could do what they want with it.

Can't say if I'll be sucessful. Getting the company to release assets they don't care about is a chore, not to mention the fact that they may not have the assets or cannot retrieve them due to age. It's a shame but a distinct possiblity.

Here's hoping we can finallly get to see what makes FRUA ticks.


If you could get your hands on that code, that would be very cool.  ;)
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Offline nologgie

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Re: Stand-alone FRUA games?
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2010, 11:32:01 AM »
Well, as I said, it's just a thought experiment.  ;)

I'm not sure if any rights regarding the ownership of UA are still enforced, but here's the part I don't get:

Aside from the legal questions (Hasbro now owns D&D, and they're very quick to take legal action against any perceived encroachment).

DC also uses D&D rules and characters. Why isn't that a copyright encroachment?

It might prove to be. Fortunately, everything in DC can be (relatively) easily converted to OSRIC rules. Copyright issues are the reason all the DC default art will be contributed originals.

Quote
So if we can't spread complete CKITs around, let's try another approach: If I don't want to upload the files anywhere, but just pass them along to friends, would it be possible to pack both UA and UAShell into an archive, with an executable that starts up the game automatically, bypassing the need to start UAShell first)?

Whether or not it's ethical, that is doable now. Once you apply a design with UAShell, UAShell is no longer required. You will need to include only the original files in your root UA directory (the ones that show up in a clean UA installation), Disk1-3 directories, and the design directory.

Run it with start.bat.

Setting up the sound would require using sound.exe, and if they need to run it through DOSBox, they'd have to set that up first.

There is probably a way to script an auto-install of DOSBox in conjunction, but I'm content to leave that as a hypothetical possibility. That is something I simply wouldn't do. (I'm referring to the scripting aspect. Awful Good or not, I don't do scripting.)
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Offline Null Null

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Re: Stand-alone FRUA games?
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2010, 02:32:23 PM »
Hmmm...I was wondering, why not include a complete set of editors with UASHELL? It didn't make sense 10 years ago because the file would be huge, but now...?

Also, if you're really worried about copyright, beware...there are a couple of classic monsters that aren't open content...


Offline nologgie

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Re: Stand-alone FRUA games?
« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2010, 03:27:51 PM »
Hmmm...I was wondering, why not include a complete set of editors with UASHELL? It didn't make sense 10 years ago because the file would be huge, but now...?

If you mean for the stand-alone mod, I thought that was just to play a game, not to edit.

But if you mean a UAShell download with all the editors installed (or one zip file with all the available editors), that sounds like a great idea!

It would need a separate directory for those programs that must be installed under windoze rather than just dropped into UAShell.

Quote
Also, if you're really worried about copyright, beware...there are a couple of classic monsters that aren't open content...

Do you know which ones, off-hand?
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Offline manikus

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Re: Stand-alone FRUA games?
« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2010, 04:42:08 PM »
As for legal issues regarding this idea, it's about SSI's ownership of the software engine and not about Hasbro's ownership of the AD&D copyrights, though the former's claims are partly related to contracts with the latter (well with TSR who was bought by WotC who was bought by the latter).

DC does not redistribute any software from SSI/Mindscape/Ubisoft. :) Therefore, no issue.

I'm not saying there are no copyright or trademark issues to be aware of, but I don't think any apply in this particular case.

I know that I'm going off on a tangent here, and I'm only talking about because I'm interested in this sort of thing, and am in no way implying that anyone here is interested in doing anything illegal or untoward. :)

The Dungeon Craft game engine and editor does not violate any of the copyrights held by Hasbro in relations to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. They can not own a copyright on terms like "armor class" and "dexterity". They do own copyrights on the rule system, but not how the rules work. This means that they have copryrighted the very specific way a combat occurs, for example, but not what a person or computer program does to follow their rules - the dice rolling, number crunching, etc. DC doesn't exactly follow AD&D rules, but arrives at the same conclusion (I hope). Trust me, DC only seems like it is AD&D, underneath in the code and scripts, there is nothing that I have ever seen in a rulebook or game module. :D But, even if there was some kind of violation (and there is not), Hasbro would need to show that we were only a derivative work and that we were intending to compete (make money) with our product. We aren't and we're not. ;)
For an interesting read on this matter, check out -
http://www.enworld.org/forum/general-rpg-discussion/249302-history-analysis-tsr-s-copyright-policies.html
The pdf article is very interesting, but so is the discussion in the thread, especially when the law professors get involved. :D

Now, the art is a different matter...courts have held that a low-res version of an image is still that image, and even in some cases (where money changes hands) that a low-res recolor is still the image. The issue with FRUA and DC using FRUA art, is not that we're depriving some poor starving artist of their money, on the contrary, it's a worry that someone prowling the web will see an image and say "hey that is a low-res (or cropped or whatever) version of an image I just saw on the Wizards of the Coast website!" And then someone has to remove that image from a design. That really is the extent of it by the way - as long as we are not trying to profit or pass off someone elses work as our own, cease and desist is as harsh as it gets.
The issue with DC is that we are an open source project, and I want that to apply to all parts of it. Uatu, Dinonykos and Ziroc still retain ownership of their images, but they are images which we explicitly have permission to use for our little project. :)

Offline Dinonykos

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Re: Stand-alone FRUA games?
« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2010, 05:00:00 PM »
The issue with DC is that we are an open source project, and I want that to apply to all parts of it. Uatu, Dinonykos and Ziroc still retain ownership of their images, but they are images which we explicitly have permission to use for our little project. :)
You could probably debate about the art which is based on the Eye-of-the-beholder games (I think Ziroc's walls are). But even in case of that art, I would not expect any problems as long as no profit is made with it.
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Offline manikus

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Re: Stand-alone FRUA games?
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2010, 05:12:22 PM »
The issue with DC is that we are an open source project, and I want that to apply to all parts of it. Uatu, Dinonykos and Ziroc still retain ownership of their images, but they are images which we explicitly have permission to use for our little project. :)
You could probably debate about the art which is based on the Eye-of-the-beholder games (I think Ziroc's walls are). But even in case of that art, I would not expect any problems as long as no profit is made with it.

Sorry, I meant to say that I was only talking about the Official DC download...fan made stuff is a completely different matter. :)

Right now I'm working quite hard on Hero Craft and there are going to litteraly be hundreds of copyrighted images (just like with SHUA). I doubt this will ever be an issue with anyone, though, and if it is, then the offending image gets taken down off the website that I can't seem to upload to anyway. ;) But, my connection woes are a whole different issue. :D