Some questions about licensing

I am working on a really big game, and I want to sell it in order to help pay for college. Nothing absurdly expensive, about $1 or so. One major issue I have come across though is licensing. I’m going to make the game Open Source, so an open source license is what I have in mind. But I don’t know what license to use without getting in trouble.

The software I’m using includes Blender, Audacity,, JME3, and some open source 2D animation software that I forget the name of. So clearly all open source tools.

Since my animator can only do 2D animations, the game’s cutscenes will have to be in some form of video format. But the budget for the game is nothing, so I can’t use h.264 or VP6, since they all require purchased licenses as far as I know. The format I use needs to be supported by Java.

I want this game to be put on Steam. There aren’t many Open Source games there, so I want to add to the rare collection. And it’s in my opinion the easiest option right now.

So here are my questions: 1) does my game have to be licensed under the same licenses as the tools I use, 2) does Steam have any restrictions on what I can license my game as, and 3) Are there any video formats that are royalty free and are supported by Java?

Thanks in advance for any help. I’ll be sure to credit anyone who helps me figure this all out.

I doubt that you are distributing Blender or Audacity with your game so their licenses are not so much a problem, assets you create using them are yours and you can distribute them under any license you please. (edit: I’m not sure actually about how the licensing works for file formats, for instance you may not be able to distribute a .blend file but you may be able to distribute a .obj file, someone will have to clarify this)

JME, other libraries and any assets that you distribute (that are not your work) will have a direct effect on your software. There are lots of different licenses and you must abide by their license terms.

When you include a license for another persons work in your work that license does not cover the whole work, it just protects the piece it was initially intended for, so long as you abide by the terms.

Be warned:

Some open source licenses require you to make your entire codebase open source and may also require that you not commercialise your work (you can get out of this by finding a different piece of software with a more appropriate license).

Licensing is a bit of a minefield and I am no expert so maybe someone can shed more light on specific licenses.

You need to know the name of it and know and abide by its license!!! Open source does NOT mean you can do what you want with things!

Mostly you will find that you need to simply include license notices with major parts of your distribution, it may need to appear in game or simply in a text file that accompanies it.

There are exclusions to copyright, such as fair use for critiquing etc… but don’t worry about that and just make sure you do not use inappropriately licensed software/assets/etc… in your game, and then abide by all the license notices in each of the licenses of anything you do include.

Generally speaking for commercial projects:

Good licenses: Public domain, BSD, Apache, CC BY, CC BY-ND, CC BY-SA



From License — :

Your Artwork
What you create with Blender is your sole property. All your artwork –
images or movie files – including the .blend files and other data files
Blender can write, is free for you to use as you like.
That means that Blender can be used commercially by artists, by
studios to make animation films or vfx, by game artists to work on
commercial games, by scientists for research, and by students in
educational institutions.
Blender’s GNU GPL license guarantees you this freedom. Nobody is ever
permitted to take it away, in contrast to trial or “educational”
versions of commercial software that will forbid your work in commercial

and FAQ —

Can I license .blend files myself?
Yes. The output of Blender, in the form of .blend
files, is considered program output, and the sole copyright of the user.
The .blend file format only stores data definitions.

In case you embed the .blend file with Python scripts, and the scripts
provide bindings to other libraries or facilities, the next topic

What about my Python scripts?
Python scripts – if they use the Blender API calls – have to be
compliant to the GNU GPL as well. We are currently reviewing this with
Free Software Foundation though.

There is VP8 (used in webm) that should be free for commercial use (i didn’t check the license though) but i don’t know if there is any java implementation.

h.264 should be included in Windows 7 and later so, if I understand it properly, you don’t need a license for playing video on Win. I don’t know about Linux. Read “MediaPlayer notes” from here: GitHub - empirephoenix/JME3-JFX: JFX Gui bridge for JME with usefull utilities for common usecases to learn about the obsolete VP6 format usage.

I’m not sure If I understood right… You want to sell your game as an open source game? You will release your source code from the start so people may hack into it, make changes, etc?

I think this is another game entirely, and the current common open source licenses will not cover your needs, that imply that you have a free software that you want to distribute so other people may change it.

Firaxis does something like that with the Civilization IV and V: after the game is some years old, they release the source sdk, with C++ source code, but it still needs the Civilization game to play. It also have some strong legal constraints regarding selling mods (you are not allowed to sell civ mods)…

Without wanting to demotivate you,
but game development is one of the worst profitable possibilities you could do. You are usually financially better of flipping burgers. Main Problem here is, that you kinda have to invest for 1year+ before you get anything back, if at all. I would not base my college on this.
(And if you assume you are going to be the next Minecraft, I suggest betting money on stuff, it has higher chances)

Good to know. Time to start designing the JMonkeySpatula :+1: i’m looking for collaborators.

Depends. Depends on what you do. If you are a creative genious like some great game designers or do something that hits the market totally unexpected, great income and revenue is possible.
Making and selling games is not like flipping burgers, but more like being a cook in the “haute cuisine” scene - either you make food in a cheap run-down restaurant (and have problems to pay your bills) - or you get Millions for tv shows and events (and have problems to invest your money good).

There was a topic some time ago which was opened by that guy with that troll name. Generally said: It’s the algorithm that’s protected by patent (MPEG LA patent pool). For h.264 (and the newer h.265) there is an amount of free units (IIRC it’s 100,000 videos sold - after reaching that quota you will need to give money for each additional unit sold or given away).

Don’t use small price tags like 1 Dollar. Steam has summer sales and winter sales and you need to include a 50 percent price drop when designing your prices. Also, there are some rules when using Steam as a selling platform (IIRC you are forbidden to sell your game somewhere else at the same time - but that could have changed during the last couple of time units without me knowing).

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Steam precisely states that you are free to sell your game where you want, the only thing is that they keep a percentage for every copy sold on their store. [i]

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I don’t know if the codec is included, it may be (I simply don’t know); however this does highlight a really important point that I tried to allude to. There is a difference between relying on a commercially available product and distributing a commercially available product (or any product really regardless of license).

If you actually bundle something with your software and make it part of the package you are selling then you are considered to have distributed that item and then the license is applicable to you. If you only rely on something, maybe you rely on a codec being present on a user’s machine but you don’t actually distribute that codec, then you do not need to pay royalties/license fee etc (It may not be quite this simple but this is the gist of it).

I think the OP misunderstands the concept of open source slightly.

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Then, if you don’t want to rely on the external product you can use VP6, like I did. It is natively supported by Java. The only thing one can worry about is the encoding process - there is no free encoder, but you can use or any other similar service and encode HD video for few $$.

Reading all of these helpful replies, I think I’m better off just making it free. It’ll make my life a lot easier. I don’t even want the money anyway, I was just going to use it as an edge. I’ll make commercial games when I know what I’m doing. But just for the sake of doing so, let me tackle these replies one at a time.

I’m trying my best to find out. But Google is not being at all helpful.

As far as I know, there isn’t. Which sucks, otherwise that’d be my go-to format.

That link is what actually got me started on the whole licensing thing. It started off as “What is a good video format to use?” and then I started panicking about licensing and legal stuff. And I’m not a lawyer, sooooo…

Pretty much. And I changed my mind about the price thing, this game is now going to be free. My payment is the fun in making it. I find it very amusing when someone hacks games and then opens up the Pandora’s box of glitches. I do it myself from time to time when I get bored. So I want to see how badly people can break my game.

I’m very aware of this. But I’m willing to go on anyway. And I wasn’t going to base my ENTIRE college funding on one game, that’s just a disaster waiting to happen. My plan is to start my own little studio. It doesn’t need to be huge, it just has to be capable of sustaining itself. I’m not doing this to make big bucks, in fact if I do become rich, I’m just going to give most of my money to charity or something and leave myself enough to live a happy life. The reason I’m pursuing this industry is because it’s the one thing I’m passionate about. It’s the only way I can let my creative and artistic mind be free and do what it wants. I was going to go into the digital technology industry. It’s fun, but It’s not something I want to be doing for all of eternity. And I will assure you all, I will do my best to make my studio a reality. Even if it means I do have to spend a couple of years flipping burgers with the JMonkeySpatula (that just made my day, thanks @RiccardoBlb), in the end it’ll all be worth it.

At first I did, but a quick google search cleared things up in 5 seconds.

I’ll go with that. And when it comes the time where I start selling my games, and I can’t find a suitable format, I’ll just make my own open source codec for everyone to use for any purpose.

Thank you all for helping me figuring this out. The entire JMonkey Community will be given a big spot in the credits section.

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What about Ogg Theora?

And btw, if it’s not clear, i think that all this burgers flipping thing is quite a pessimistic and wrong vision.
Maybe in your countries is different, but here i wouldn’t say to someone “Don’t become a programmer, become a mcdonald employee” since
a) there is quite a queue, long queue
b) the job sucks
c) you get paid nothing
d) unstable
Rather than that i would suggest to become an homeless man and eat cats.
Well … or become an indie developer and have a decent job.
It’s not like all big firms out there have started already rich and famous. But for sure they didn’t started with the goal of becoming buggers flippers.

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Indeed, I agree with this. The process is hard but that should not stop anyone from trying to succeed, If it was easy then… well, you all know the ending of that one.

It is important to remain realistic about what you can achieve but there is no way to find your limits without testing them! :smile:

I lol’d.

Edit: I’m still laughing, I can’t look at the screen!

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About video licences and H2XX or whatever. We got real legal advice btw. MPEGLA require that you have a licence for distribution of flles in their formats. No joke. They have provided a wavier for streamed content under quite strict conditions. Otherwise you need a licence in the countries that support software patents just to include the files.

It is why so many games use BINK. I would use one of the free codecs. There are two main ones. theora or VP9. They are good really. H264 or whatever only works better when the size is so small it looks like shit anyway. An extra few megs for your videos is not going to matter either way.

then there is opengl cut senses. jME supports those looking at the code. But i haven’t tried it yet.

I completely forgot about the whole Ogg thing! I deserve a big pace-palm for that :chimpanzee_facepalm:

I was joking about the burger thing. I would lose my mind working at a McDonald’s. Their food sucks. Except the McFlurries. Not to mention I’d have to deal with extremely rude people every day. I’ll spend my time working at an Ice Rink or something fun. And can I not eat cats please? That would be cannibalism (at least for me anyway :cat: ).

I’ll do my best! I promise! And amen about the limits thingy. Over the years of me learning software and hardware I have learned not to set my goals too high. When I was a third grader, I thought I could make a PC by randomly placing components on a breadboard. I ended up burning my finger on a diode. Ah memories.

I find that very retarded. But I guess they need to make money somehow. And I’ve never heard of BINK. But a quick Google search shows that it might be a great option. I just need to find out how to get it to work with Java.
I had no idea JME supported OpenGL cutscenes. It might be worth a try.


Yeah I know exactly what you mean :slight_smile: (Hint B2B Java Enterprise software development as a job works somewhat good together with this, as many frameworks can be used for games as well)

So true

Yeah, i know, that part wasn’t particularly directed to you :wink: