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Re: text adventures

Jeff Noxon:
>Two points:
>1. We do not bundle the Infocom games since most are non-free anyway.
>There are no source code restrictions on the Infocom program itself.
>2. I believe there are tools that allow others to write their own Infocom
>parser-compatible games.  At the very least, the formats are well-known
>and someone could do so if they desired.
>If there are bugs in the games, too bad.  We don't distribute them anyway.
>If there are bugs in the parser, they can be fixed.  We have source code.

Might I clarify a few things about the "Infocom"-related stuff in

Infocom produced Z-code game files.  We can't distribute them, and we
don't.  They also produced interpreters.  We can't and don't distribute
those, either.

Inform is a compiler from a custom, relatively high-level language
to Infocom's Z-code format.  Its licence prohibits "substantial"
modifications and for-profit distribution, which make it non-free.  It's
packaged, and in non-free.

Most of the publically-available games written with Inform are also
non-free; they generally prohibit for-profit distribution and/or lack
source code.  Some of these are packaged and are in non-free.  If a free
game, written in Inform, were available in source form, it could still
not go in main, but only in contrib.

There are several free and non-free publically available interpreters,
which can be used either to play the original non-free Infocom games,
or any of the more or less free Inform-compiled games.  'xzip' is free
and is in main; 'infocom' would be free if its licence were clarified,
so it isn't in main just now; 'frotz' needs its licence changed (this
was agreed-to upstream, but never actioned).

In general, I believe we can simply ignore the existence of the original,
proprietary Infocom games and interpreters, and treat everything else
just as any other software we put in our distribution.

Marco d'Itri wrote:
>Do we really need to include the source of infocom text adventures to
>put them in main (contrib, actually)? This is not the source code of a
>program, I do not think we should require it.

We can't distribute actual Infocom games, they are all proprietary.
Inform-compiled games are just programs; Inform is the language they are
written in.  I don't see how you can say that the "source" of these games
is "not the source code".

Dale Scheetz wrote:
>First of all these "game files" are not free. I spent lots of money on
>infocom games and "own" several of the files that the "infocom" program
>will play.

We're not talking about the games Infocom made, just games in the same
runtime format.

>These files are much more like GIFs. That is, there is a file format
>definition that allows the program to "play" the game. Must the maintainer
>of a GIF viewer provide all the files available, even if they are not

Source code is what you modify; a .gif image (for example) is source iff
it's the form which you'd want to modify the image.  If the .gif is
a flattened form of a .xcf (the GIMP's native image format), the .xcf
file is probably the source for the image.

As you seem to be saying, the freeness of the images (games) doesn't
bear any relation to the freeness of the viewers (interpreters).

>How do you "fix" a broken GIF?

If the .gif is not the source for the image, and was created by flattening
a .xcf, you go and find the .xcf it was created from, and fix that.
No different from any other software, IMHO, except that images don't
normally have bugs in the same sense as programs have bugs.

>I know of no adventure builders that produce infocom data file format.

You may not, but I do...  Inform is the most popular; ZAS is also
available IIRC.

>I would still prefer to view this software like we do a GIF viewer. It is
>free software, intended for the purpose of "viewing" a proprietary data

Yes.  It's just a pity that there are few truly free interpreters.
Most of them are under odd non-free licences.

Raul Miller wrote:
>That's a GPL restriction.  It only applies to things which are licensed
>under the GPL.  So: yes if the adventure is licensed under the GPL,
>no if not.

I think the game in question is Public Domain; however, it still isn't
DFSG-free as its source code isn't available, and it requires a non-free
compiler to build.

Odd that...  Public Domain isn't necessarily Free.

Charles Briscoe-Smith
White pages entry, with PGP key: <URL:http://alethea.ukc.ac.uk/wp?95cpb4>
PGP public keyprint: 74 68 AB 2E 1C 60 22 94  B8 21 2D 01 DE 66 13 E2

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