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Old 12-31-2006, 06:45 AM   #1
Aeran
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Hello

I have a question that has bothered me for a while now. I have coded on Diku-derived MUDs for some time. It has been a fun experience, and I have learnt some from it. Been playing around with most parts of the codebase.

However Diku Muds are limited in some ways. Some are codebase limititions, others are license issues. Please note that I don't mean to insult Diku.

Now I would like to create my own MUD from scratch. A MUD where I wouldn't have to show credits of Diku authors. Basicully my own MUD that I can do as I please with.

However from reading all the threads about Medievia during the past few years I am scared. Perhaps I am too polluted to create a new MUD? Perhaps I will be inspired too much? These fears makes me feel quite depressed.

Is my dream destroyed, or can I make my own MUD from scratch?
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Old 12-31-2006, 09:21 AM   #2
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There's a massive difference between developing something inspired by another piece of work, and taking that piece of work and editing it while claiming it was never that piece of work in the first place. You have nothing to worry about.
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Old 12-31-2006, 09:22 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Aeran @ Dec. 31 2006,11:45)
Is my dream destroyed, or can I make my own MUD from scratch?
Yes, you can create your own mud from scratch. The flame threads you're talking about concern muds who claim to have transformed into scratch, after starting out as Diku muds (and the specific example you gave concerns a mud which has been proven to contain large amounts of stock code at a time it was claiming to be written from scratch).

But as long as you start out from nothing, and don't use any of the Diku code - not even as a reference - I highly doubt you'll get flamed (unless your end product looks exactly like a DikuMUD, in which case some people may not believe you).
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Old 12-31-2006, 02:00 PM   #4
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I think there has been a gradual devaluation of the
concept of "from scratch". Kind of how most muds now
include the description "heavily modified" or "completely
rewritten" and so on, so that the phrases now have come
to mean "we have renamed races, added rooms, and
changed damage points, but are otherwise completely stock".

Similary, I think people have lost the meaning of "from scratch".

Coding a mud from scratch means you sit down at
your computer, and using whatever editor/IDE/whatever,
you open a blank page/project, and start putting in the
code that occurs to you.

If that's what you're doing, then there's no reason to fear
opposition from copyright fetishists, because you own everything
you write.

If what you mean by "from scratch" is "I'm going to try to
write as much of my own stuff as my expertise allows, but
I'll be adding templates and snippets from other people
which I will camouflage so it looks like I wrote it" then that's
a whole other ketle of fish. That's a business I wouldn't
advise you to undertake, and I would say that if you do,
then you have ample cause to fear.

I wrote up a document discussing some points of IP for
Dead Souls codebase users. While not all of it may
be useful to you, the "copyright basics" portion may
be enlightening:

http://dead-souls.net/articles/copyright.html#basics

-Crat

PS I'm not suggesting you're planning on stealing, by the
way. My comment is intended to illustrate what I think you
should avoid, not what I think you're planning.
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Old 12-31-2006, 04:43 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (cratylus @ Dec. 31 2006,1[img
http://www.topmudsites.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif[/img]0)]
Coding a mud from scratch means you sit down at
your computer, and using whatever editor/IDE/whatever,
you open a blank page/project, and start putting in the
code that occurs to you.
As I have worked on DikuMUDs before it is likely I'll word myself a bit similar in some situations. E.g a method to turn a string to lowercase you probably can't write in too many different ways.

Similarly I would most likely use standard design patterns, and help from my algorithms book or other literature when needed.

However I would not have DikuMUD code opened or printed out and copy it into my MUD.

Quote:
Originally Posted by
If what you mean by "from scratch" is "I'm going to try to
write as much of my own stuff as my expertise allows, but
I'll be adding templates and snippets from other people
which I will camouflage so it looks like I wrote it" then that's
a whole other ketle of fish. That's a business I wouldn't
advise you to undertake, and I would say that if you do,
then you have ample cause to fear.
My guess is that with this you mean copy-paste and then modify layout of code to camouflage it. That is not my intention however code I write might(from my experience from working on Diku) sometimes look similar.

Quote:
Originally Posted by
PS I'm not suggesting you're planning on stealing, by the
way. My comment is intended to illustrate what I think you
should avoid, not what I think you're planning.
I don't want to steal code. That is not my intention. However I still don't want to neglect everything I have learnt while working on DikuMUDs.

Example how I would create the MUD:
1. Write a design document
2. Implement the design into code. In the cases where I have lack of experience/knowledge I would look it up in reference literature. For example data structures book, Beej's network guide, MXP reference document, etc. It is likely some of the experience would be from my earlier work on DikuMUDs.

E.g if DikuMUD store commands as a list of <commandString, functionPointer> it is possible I might use a same/similar method if I find it makes sense for the design. I would retrieve experiences like that from memory, not by going and look at the Diku code.
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Old 12-31-2006, 06:26 PM   #6
cratylus
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My comment is really about the meaning of "from scratch" for
me. Again, I'm not suggesting you have evil intent.

I think that as long as your *method* is "from scratch" in
the sense I describe, meaning you are writing stuff from your
head rather than copying from other people's documents,
your are likely ok.

However, this is not a legal opinion. If I were going to opine
on the legal status of your new mud (which, as a non-lawyer,
I am not qualified to do, so this is mere hypothetical), I'd say
that in a strict sense, you'd have a hard time proving that
the resulting work is not a derivative work. If you've been
eating and breathing diku code for years, the chances are that
your new mud will have striking similarities in some spots
(especially where there are limited ways to do a thing). An uber
tight reading of copyright law probably would make an excellent
case of your new mud being derivative and subject to Diku
licensing.

IP law can be quite disturbingly complex and anti-intuitive.
For example, a whiles ago I came across a startling
concept. One interpretation of 17 U.S.C. § 106(2) suggested
that just imagining Arnold Schwartzenegger in the role of
Superman in the Warner Brothers film is copyright infringement.

Just that thought experiment could be a violation of copyright.
(cite: Digital Copyright, Jessica Litman, 2001 p22).

Copyright law is a horrendous morass due to years of
manipulation through the efforts of various industries to
influence it for specific situations and negotiating
alliances among themselves to achieve their goals. Someone
sufficiently determined can, no doubt, find reason to
give you a horrendous hassle over your innocent effort to
create and share your vision, and find justification
*somewhere* in copyright law.

Strictly speaking, what you'd need to do to avoid this is what
for-profit companies do when faced with similar situations.
Erect a Chinese wall, whereby the people who've seen the
original code develop general design documents, and those
who write what is to be the final, new code, are *unable*
to generate a "derivative work" because they have not
seen the original code.

As you can see, avoiding bogeys coming in from the sun is
basically impossible. If you **** off the wrong pedant,
he'll come at you, and be amply justified by some aspect of
intellectual property law or another.

So, my post isn't so much about avoiding the flame...as much
as about getting your head straight about your intent. If
you meet the common-sense criteria of having written something
from scratch, then you can just carry on knowing that the
majority of people who care about such things find it
sufficient, in this hobbyist context. And those few
intent on advancing their reputations as copyright martinets
will do what they will do, regardless. Let them empty their spleen,
and do your best to do "right".

-Crat
http://lpmuds.net/
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Old 01-06-2007, 05:48 PM   #7
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As Cratylus mentioned, it may be thought of as a Diku derivative, but in all reality as long as it isn't blatantly a Diku derivative it shouldn't be an issue. Your players will only see what the game looks like from their end, and that is most likely all anyone that could/will complain will see, so if it looks Diku you will likely have players flaming and such, but in all reality you won't get sued or truly taken as a joke who lies about their work not being a derivative unless you take a stock codebase, edit it..sloppily, and then claim it's not even a derivative and that the diku license no longer applies to you because of modifications, like Mercthievia has done. And if you're not only worried about your reputation but actually being sued, don't, Mercthievia will never be sued even they could and arguably should be.
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Old 01-10-2007, 05:03 AM   #8
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A few suggestions from someone who was/is in the same place as you:

Do research on other MUDs - there are a lot of good ideas out there, and some have better ways to code a cat than Diku does.

Remove all your old code, IE: your diku code, your research code, etc. If you like a VERY specific implementation of an approach to a problem, printout the very NARROW scope out prior to deleting all the old code. There's nothing wrong with having research around for specific problems - just don't have whole chuncks of code for temptations sake.

Once you get a portion/problem coded, reread it and see if there is a better way to accomplish the goal. While I haven't done this near as much as I would have wanted myself, when I did do it, I usually learned a better way.
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Old 01-10-2007, 06:22 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Lanthum @ Jan. 10 2007,04<!--emo&[img
http://www.topmudsites.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif[/img])]A few suggestions from someone who was/is in the same place as you:

Do research on other MUDs - there are a lot of good ideas out there, and some have better ways to code a cat than Diku does.
I will avoid to look at other MUD source codes if I don't have to do some kind of bugfix/setup of a MUD. I'll probably try playing a lot of MUDs though to get ideas of what is currently popular.

However I found a book about making MUDs that I'll probably study to see how to code things well. The book is called "Mud Game Programming"(Click) and so far it looks quite nice.

It has for example a decent tutorial on socket programming which together with Beej's guide should cover most network things needed for a MUD.
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Old 01-10-2007, 07:06 AM   #10
KaVir
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An approach I found effective was to "start small". I'd wanted to create a mud from scratch for a while, but could never decide how to start - there was just so much to take into consideration. Then Erwin announced his 16K mud competition, so I created a tiny mud for that. After the competition I expanded my codebase to test out various ideas I'd been playing with, turning it into a sort of prototype for my current mud.

Although I restarted again with God Wars II (for design reasons), I was able to quite happily and legitimately pillage my first scratch-written codebase for bits of code. I reused what worked and learned from what didn't, and was able to get a basic game together fairly quickly, with enough in place for some basic play-testing within a year.
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Old 01-10-2007, 02:09 PM   #11
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I have the MUD Programming book. It's good stuff. Where can I find Beej's guide?
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Old 01-10-2007, 04:30 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Malifax @ Jan. 10 2007,1[img
http://www.topmudsites.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif[/img]9)]I have the MUD  Programming book. It's good stuff. Where can I find Beej's guide?
Beej's Guide to Network Programming
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