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[vox] open sourcing lucas arts' outlaws
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[vox] open sourcing lucas arts' outlaws

hi all,

i sent the following email to the person in charge of lucas arts' game,
outlaws.  outlaws is a FPS released about 7 years ago, and was a truly
spectacular game.  one of the best in the genre, and as AFAIK, the only
western based FPS.  my letter basically asked if there was any way
possible for lucas arts to open source the outlaws engine, which would
enable us to play that game on any platform that supports SDL (assuming
it was ported to SDL):

   Dear Mr. Stinnett,

   My name is Peter Jay Salzman, and I'm an avid Linux user, programmer and
   advocate.  John Romero told me that you might be the one to contact
   about an interesting proposal.

   LucasArts doesn't do anything small; anything they do, they do extremely
   well, and Outlaws is no exception.   Outlaws is one of the best first
   person shooters (FPS) I've ever played.  Its music score IS the best, to
   date, of any FPS.  The cutscenes were works of art in their own right.
   With the arguable exception of Half-Life, the story line, characters and
   atmosphere blow all other FPS away.

   Outlaws is now almost 7 years old.  The Dark Forces engine is nearly a
   decade old.  Is it at all possible to open source the Outlaws engine?

   There's certainly a precedence for this.  id Software open sourced Doom,
   Doom2, Quake, and Quake 2.  Raven Software open sourced Hexen and Hexen
   2.  3D-Realms released Duke Nukem 3D.

   The game itself: the wad and pak files remained closed.  People who
   want to play the game would download the open source engine, and
   purchase the game CD's to use the wad or pak files.

   There would be a number of benefits to LucasArts for this:

   1. Make more money

   Allowing the Open Source community to develop the engine would increase
   sales of Outlaws and Dark Forces -- very old games which probably aren't
   making much money anymore.  Simply put, it would make money for
   LucasArts by opening up new markets.  By porting the game to SDL, people
   on platforms supported by SDL: Apple, Linux, BSD, AIX, Solaris, HP-UX,
   and much more, will be potential customers of Outlaws and Dark Forces.

   2. Keep your work alive; turn it into a legacy.

   As a developer, I'm sure you lived and breathed Outlaws for a long time.
   It did well, made money, and is now becoming a memory.  I found my copy
   in the bargain bin at CompUSA for $1.99.  Allowing the Open Source
   community to take over development would breathe new life into the game.
   You'll see amazing and spectacular things done with your work.  For
   instances, the Doom engine is nothing like it used to be.  There are
   Doom ports with OpenGL graphics, TCP multiplayer, jumping, free mouse
   look, companion dogs, and much more.  It must be very gratifying to the
   developers to see where the engine goes.

   3. Goodwill to the Open Source community

   Lastly, it would be a great gift to the Open Source community.  It would
   ingratiate LucasArts with many people and cause a stir in a dynamic and
   rapidly growing close-knit community, as well as other communities that
   benefit from Open Source, like Apple and Sun Microsystems.  You would
   help support the snowballing Open Source movement, which was very small
   7 years ago, but is quite large and rapidly growing now.

   The Open Source community loves LucasArts.  Between SCUMM interpreters
   like scumvm and direct-X implementors like Transgaming's winex, we try
   very hard to play LucasArts games.  Open sourcing the Outlaws / Dark
   Forces engine would be a gesture of extreme goodwill to a large number
   of your fans.

   Please let me know what you think, and please don't hesitate to write
   back or ask questions if this proposal sounds viable to you.


i received the following reply a few minutes after sending my request:

   Hi Pete,

   That is an interesting proposal.  LucasArts is traditionally very
   protective of it's properties, so I think this is a long shot.  But if
   you could tell me what would be required of LucasArts to put Outlaws
   into open source, I can check into it.

   Thanks for the compliments on Outlaws.  Someday, I hope to get a chance
   to make another.

   Daron Stinnett

i've sent an email to john romero, author of doom, doom2, and quake
since he came from a company that has made this exact same decision, and
probably asked this exact same question.

but to be honest, i'm not exactly sure of the answer myself, other than
to make sure all the engine code belongs to lucasarts, relicense the
engine code by including a copy of the GPL, tarball it, put it on an FTP
server, and announce it to linuxgames.com and/or slashdot.

obviously, his interest is there, so the answer is certainly not "no".
can anything think of some things that would go into my reply that i
didn't cover?


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