Thursday, October 12, 2006

Skip the Intermediaries

Sometimes copyright law is just stoopid. Sometimes the rules just don't apply. Have you heard the story of Steve McDonald and White Stripes? Here's nice flash animation of what happened, or you can keep reading.. Steve McDonald is a veteran member of the band Redd Kross. He likes the White Stripes, but he thought they would sound better if they had a bass guitarist. So he appointed himself. He had the equipment, and the skill, so he made up some bass tracks and added them to his favourite White Stripes songs. He then posted those songs on the Redd Kross website - without permission. Of course, this could land him in hot water, but luckily he bumped into Jack White who gave his assurances that he wasn't going to sue. Before that happened I'm guessing Steve McDonald just didn't give a damn.. after all, he's a rocker, man.

I'm not a rocker, but I am a rebel, ask anyone. I once posted the full c99 standard to my web site so people wouldn't have to pay $10 for a copy so they could double check all the nasty things I was saying about it (don't get me started) or, worse yet, take my word for it. The mean lawyers from the C standards committee sent me a cease and desist email which I just ignored. Well, I didn't completely ignore it, I forwarded it to the dude who ran my web site at the time and asked him if he wanted to do anything about it, and he said he didn't, so then I ignored it. Know what they did? Nothing. Guess they figured they were on shaky ground, or their legal budget extends to sending mean emails and not following through.

In that case I was just trying to make a point. People shouldn't have to pay for something to recommend to others that they don't support it. I currently have a web site where I give out copies of a favourite old game of mine. I'm also involved in an open source project to recreate that game for modern platforms. You can play the game on DosBox, sure, but can you run DosBox on your pocket pc or palm pilot? No, I didn't think so. One day you may be able to play that game on these new platforms, and as mobile phone games have shown, it's not just the nostailgic who benefit when that happens.

What will happen when the owner of the copyright on this game comes knocking on my door? Will I ignore them? Hell no. I will beg them to release the game under a creative commons license so that we can legally distribute it.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

At last. Some violence!

Hehe, after struggling to place the head, torso and legs of pedestrians together to make the animations work in FreeSynd for the last week or so I happened to find this information about HELE-0.ANI, HFRA-0.ANI and HSTA-0.ANI. Turns out these three files contain just about everything you need to know to draw objects in the game. There are 1970 animations which are made up of frames taken from a pool of 8949, each of which are made up of elements taken from a pool of 10486, each of which index into the available 1180 game sprites. The amount of work required to manually reproduce these animations (and that I had intended on doing) is phenomonal. A conservative estimate is that this information has knocked a year off the development time. In just one day (today) I have figured out the exact placement of units on the map, fixed the drawing of animations and cleaned up a lot of very ugly code. The result is that agents can now walk around, with and without all the different weapons out, and shoot those weapons. The guards in the first level can do likewise, as well as get shot, die and bleed. I can also shoot cars making them explode.

So, again, I turn back to that great mystery of the GAME*.DAT files. In particular I still don't know where the information to place things like trees or doors comes from. I also don't know where to obtain the detailed mission objective information - like *who* exactly you have to kill to win an assassinate mission.