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Planeshift Forum » General Discussion » The real history of PlaneShift development and its "business" model

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95 posts found
  3hundred

Novice Member

Joined: 7/06/07
Posts: 7

 
OP  7/06/07 10:46:04 PM#1
The real history of PlaneShift development and its "business" model


The original PlaneShift idea was started by Luca Pancallo in 1992 as a graphical 2D MUD (Multi-User Dungeon) with four people on the team. They are Luca Pancallo (project founder and programmer), Mauro Zanetti (settings writer), Stefano Oggeri (3D artist) and Danilo Moretti (2D concept artist). That was over 15 years ago, as of July 2007.

Make no mistake about it; this was a commercial project from the get-go, funded by the real investments from a real commercial company, and promoted as such on major computer expo shows (SMAU '96). The original team never intended to work for free or for the project itself to be free. This was not some "goodness of heart" or "hobby" endeavor.

In 1998, the PlaneShift project has failed after the company making the investments had a major change in its management. The new management was not interested in providing further funding for the game's development. This was a rejection that the team could not handle, so they left the project completely. No one was motivated to look for other funding opportunities or to even continue working on the project for free. Lack of commercial support and funding have killed the game at this point.

Only in 2000, after the commercial failure, PlaneShift was restarted by Luca Pancallo as a new and free 3D project, with a new development team made of volunteers. This time Luca was not a programmer and has not written a single line of code for the 3D version. Keep in mind that despite a complete failure commercially, Luca Pancallo states that PlaneShift 2D MUD was "a lot better in comparison" to other existing graphical 2D MUDs at the time (year 2000) and that other graphical 2D MUDs at the time were "not very exciting". Here, you are expected to believe that this was solely the new management's and not the project's fault. That was over 7 years ago, as of July 2007.

All of this, including the cited statements can be confirmed at this web site:

www.planeshift.it/news_1992-2000.html

* web archive backup link for the source above *

The first major exposure for PlaneShift 3D happened in 2001, when PCGamer UK (October issue) has published a brief review of the game, stating that "it doesn't look at all innovative":

PlaneShift review in PCGamer UK (October 2001 issue)

www.planeshift.it/pix/PSinPCgamer_small.jpg

* web archive backup link for the source above *

The following is from "QuantumG", an ex-PlaneShift developer's blog:

rtfm.insomnia.org/~qg/planeshift.html

* web archive backup link for the source above *

"Early on a few warning bells sounded in my head in regards to the leader of the Planeshift project. When he talked about Open Source (he never seemed to use the words Free Software) he always seemed to apply requirements to other people and not to himself.

...

Also in that early time there was some talk of "changing the license" and in particular about changing the license in the event that the GPL is ever "found illegal in court."

...

On the 2nd of January 2005 I contacted the FSF in regards to a copyright violation on my contributions to the Planeshift project. The leader of the project had made a win32 binary release and placed the entire thing (art, binaries and third party libraries) under the restrictive license. I assumed this was just a mistake but I was not sure what rights if any I had being that I had written so little of the code that was being infringed.

The FSF responded two days later and informed me I had the same rights as every other contributor to the project, regardless of how much they had contributed. They instructed me to confront the creator of the distribution and inform him that he is in violation of my copyright, then point him at the documentation supplied by the FSF for bringing your distribution into accordance with a GPL license.

When I confronted the leader of Planeshift I was informed that there was no mistake. He had simply decided that the binary release of the game needed to be all under one license, and of course that license was the restrictive Planeshift license. Obviously I told him that he couldn't distribute my work in that manner. I was then horrified to discover that he believed I did not own the copyright on my own work.

...

As for the licenses of the third party libraries we were using (Crystal Space, Cel, and Cal3d) he was quite willing to violate those licenses until such time as the authors of those projects told him otherwise. If you have half a clue about copyright law you know that the only way to assign copyright is with a written legal document signed by all parties. You can't do it implicitly, and you can't do it accidently.

...

So when the leader of Planeshift told me I have to assign my copyright to the Planeshift team or I can't be a member of the Planeshift team, I obviously told him where to stick it.

I sent an email to the other members of the Planeshift team informing them of my ejection. As far as I know no-one else has assigned their copyright to the Planeshift team at the time of this writing, but this is probably because the leaders have yet to put the effort into printing out copyright assignment forms and mailing them to the members.

...

And it didn't end there. After much discussion the leaders decided they wanted to remove my changes from any future distributions - just in case they need to change the license in 5 years time and couldn't find me. My offer to assign my copyright to the FSF (who will no doubt be around and are easy to find) just struck fear into their hearts, I guess, cause they were even more adamant about removing my changes. So they asked me to supply a list of everything I had contributed and was claiming copyright on.

...

Happy that I had washed my hands of the situation I decided to get back to working on decompilers. Not five minutes ago I received an email from the leader of the Planeshift project exclaiming that I can't claim copyright on the formating changes I had made to the code! Let this be a lesson to all, when you join a project where the leader has no concept of copyright and no respect for the philosphy of Free Software then expect to get into situations that are just Plain Shifty."

 
The rest of PlaneShift development history is a winding down path of failure, filled with slow updates, numerous bugs, unprofessionally designed content (quests, levels, missing character models etc), with quite a few developers, contributors and community figures leaving the project. The proof is in the game credits, forum history and the game (or shall I say "Beta") itself.

The project leader claims inflated figures of over 400,000 registered accounts in game now. However, ask him how many of those are active and inactive, how many have been registered but never used, how many have been abandoned after a single use and how many are unique and didn't come from the same IP. Ask him if the PlaneShift account page offers an option for each user to delete their account (the answer is "No"). The real picture is much less misleading. There are only barely ~100 people active at any given time.

This all leads to a strong point made in "The Myth of Open-Source" article on BusinessWeek.com:

www.businessweek.com/technology/content/jul2005/tc2005078_5465_tc121.htm

* web archive backup link for the source above *

"O.K., so I go in [and start to do my] total business presentation. This guy in the front row says "You've got to stop banging on people whose motivation is something other than money." There's always a Hari Krishna in the audience: "It's illegal to make money at this. We're all garage bands, and you sold your soul to the devil for a handful of dollars." So I go, "Have you contributed anything?" and usually they say no and I stop it there.

Turns out the guy is the founder of a pretty significant chunk of Linux, so Point A goes out the door. So I say, "You are what I call amateur open-source or hobbyist open source, which is you have a job and then you do this because that's your passion." And then somebody in the audience yells "You mean amateur open source as opposed to a**hole open source?"

So there's always that. It's normal. There are always a bunch of amateurs because they've never made money at it, and it kind of pisses them off that there was a way to do it.

...

Think for a second, who works for free? I think it gets perpetrated because it's such a nice myth -- you would get love and peace, the old hippie dream you know?

...

If you get free, you want a lot of it. If you give free, you're going to give until you're tired of giving, and that's exactly what happens in the open-source community."

 
This project is no longer "only a tech demo", it is officially called a "Beta", and if anyone tells you otherwise, point them to this presentation where the project's leader states that it is a "Beta":

crystalspace3d.org/downloads/conference_2006/movies/ps_big_xvid.avi

Draw your own conclusions.


* Sometimes the original source links disappear for various reasons such as change of a domain name address, restructure of a web site, move to a different server, downtime and so on. Web Archive backup links posted above allow you to see the original sources and their content as they appeared at or relatively near the time of this post. You can manually check the links yourself by going to www.waybackmachine.org and copying them into a search box.

  methulah

Novice Member

Joined: 7/17/05
Posts: 236

7/06/07 11:00:39 PM#2

Interesting. The world of Planshift is clearly modeled after PlaneScape so I really, really wish they'd done it well.

  3hundred

Novice Member

Joined: 7/06/07
Posts: 7

 
OP  7/06/07 11:18:19 PM#3

If that's the case, you're going to be wishing for a very long time or likely forever.

  maveric007

Novice Member

Joined: 7/15/04
Posts: 168

To game or not to game?
Is that even a question?

7/25/07 1:36:44 PM#4

very nice write up

  Talad

PlaneShift Developer

Joined: 7/26/07
Posts: 76

7/26/07 5:36:30 PM#5

[I deleted my previous answer..] This thread is made to discredit PlaneShift out of falsity, they don't deserve any answer. This thread contains false/misleading/offensive information. They have no respect for our work, no respect for open source and no respect for small projects.

  Aethios

Novice Member

Joined: 7/18/05
Posts: 1520

I come here
because I care.

7/26/07 5:46:13 PM#6

I remember taking a look at this game, reading feature lists and such and it sounded good. After downloading the client, creating a character, logging in and realizing that literally EVERYTHING on the list (including combat) was missing or completely broken, I logged out and uninstalled. How this game is "delivering hours of fun and excitement to thousands of players" with literally no content at all is beyond me. It's more like a chat room than an MMO.

  Talad

PlaneShift Developer

Joined: 7/26/07
Posts: 76

7/26/07 5:49:30 PM#7

[I deleted my previous answer..] This thread is made to discredit PlaneShift out of falsity, they don't deserve any answer. This thread contains false/misleading/offensive information. They have no respect for our work, no respect for open source and no respect for small projects.

  Janner

Novice Member

Joined: 7/26/07
Posts: 1

7/26/07 6:59:11 PM#8

Hello my name is Janner, if you have played this game, you would have at one point seen or herd of me .

Now for the game itself, there is a great many who play every day, Yes it is buggy Yes it is full of odd things happening But hear is the deal, we play because we believe this game can amount to a really unique thing with are help. Yes are help the player, we test we report this is not working and all that.

But we also have a great deal of fun, this game is about Role Play, how you do this is up to you, [there is a Roleplay Guide] we all have are own idea's how it is done, and this game lets you do it your way, of course there is the odd one who will go out of there way to spoil it for others, that is were the GMs come in to it.

Also would like to add I also now am a GM, I truly believe this game can and will be a truly awesome game if we all pull together and help, I have been on both sides of the fence so to speak, and like in game The real me is a kindly person.

As Janner I have clocked up 3307,4 hours, as my GM 1169.0 hours. In this time I have seen quests grow from basic very frustrating one word reply to a sentence or a few may get you what you want. Art is growing all the time and improving. New areas have been added and improved graphics. Crafting is being added, this open up the door for a lot of new areas to role play, also a few guilds now use this as a base for there guild. Fighting is slowly getting there, a lot of trial and error, but if you do not try it you will never know if it will work. PvP has been added in one room in arena, along with 3 weapons masters, these guys will run after you instead of walk, they also pack a punch, so be weary of them. Next I think in game help should get a mention, player player help is very common and is done mostly in a role play way, there is a tells, so that you may speak freely to each other, also a group function same applies hear. The in game help is run by players mainly sharing there knowledge of the game, without giving spoilers, also on line GMs will help there if needed. Another way for help is petitions, in the past not used very well, But now it is tacking off as GMs can now reply to you even if you are off line, a message is saved for you, so you know your problem has been looked at. Mining this has improved a lot from basic dig get ore to you get tired as you use up Physical Stamina, also better skill you have more success, loads more ores and crystals to find.

In game there is now over 100 quests, some are needed to get into the new area, fighting NPCs many more have been added as players requested more, new items for sale, new glyphs and spells, some with a new look, even new Monster NPCs doted about the place, some with a new look, more player models have been updated and new skins added. Could go on, but best to have a look for yourself.

  Twinchaos

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/27/07
Posts: 13

7/27/07 6:45:07 PM#9

Very well written post!

It sounds like PlaneShift "project founder" is bitter that he couldn't make any money with the commercial version, so he resorted to a "free" approach based on volunteers' efforts, meanwhile making apparently misleading statements about the purpose of the project's existence. It is very evident that he tried to downplay the reasons for his commercial failure on the web site and in the video presentation.

Free doesn't necessarily equal quality. You wouldn't eat a rotten sandwich, even if it was free, would you? No, you'd most likely want a fresh one.

This isn't a fully open-source project either. When artists have to deal with a proprietary license such as in PlaneShift's case, they'd usually like to get paid. If there is no monetary compensation, then the only reasonable alternative is open-source, especially if the project ever fails. It's not surprising why many wouldn't be comfortable with such a restrictive license.

Regardless of what changes they've made in connection with assigning copyright forms to the team members, it obviously happened as a direct result of the ex-PlaneShift developer's unpleasant experience with them. It strongly sounds like they knew that they were wrong but did not want to admit it.

If the "project leaders" treat others without much consideration, until a situation itself forces a change and legal help gets involved, is this really the kind of situation you want to be potentially stuck in?

Extremely unprofessional direction and shoddy management are quite evident for this game so far. The result speaks for itself.

Nobody likes rotten sandwiches.

  Talad

PlaneShift Developer

Joined: 7/26/07
Posts: 76

7/29/07 3:22:37 PM#10

[I deleted my previous answer..] This thread is made to discredit PlaneShift out of falsity, they don't deserve any answer. This thread contains false/misleading/offensive information. They have no respect for our work, no respect for open source and no respect for small projects.

  User Deleted
7/30/07 8:04:17 PM#11

IMHO, this game is really neat and the quests are fun.  And if you have so much time to waste gathering all this information, it is obviously not honest nor true.  You shouldn't say such things and this game is really fascinating aside that death can be annoying, such as if you fall off a ledge... lol.

If you don't like it, don't play it.  I think it is a good thing to play in your free time and will only get better.

 

  User Deleted
7/30/07 8:26:58 PM#12
Originally posted by Talad

Your post is simply ridiculous, pointless and wrong. I laugh thinking at how envious you are to write such a post. I think I will not spend more time writing here, we enjoy making this game, and will continue to do it. You have no clue on how complex is to make a high-quality game with free resources, and we are doing our best. I suggest you to go do something good for your life.


I laugh at "devs" who act like pompous fools who can't even fake professionalism when dealing with the public.

 

 

 

Originally posted by Farquania

IMHO, this game is really neat and the quests are fun.  And if you have so much time to waste gathering all this information, it is obviously not honest nor true.  You shouldn't say such things and this game is really fascinating aside that death can be annoying, such as if you fall off a ledge... lol.

If you don't like it, don't play it.  I think it is a good thing to play in your free time and will only get better.

 

He took what was probably not a lot of time to compile statements and articles publically available to anyone with a web browser. How does this make his findings untrue? Instead of being a fanboi, find and post accurate info refuting his claims, if you feel they are wrong. Personally, I'm inclined to believe him, especially when the "project leader" comes off as a pompous ass.

  Talad

PlaneShift Developer

Joined: 7/26/07
Posts: 76

7/31/07 2:31:24 AM#13

[I deleted my previous answer..] This thread is made to discredit PlaneShift out of falsity, they don't deserve any answer. This thread contains false/misleading/offensive information. They have no respect for our work, no respect for open source and no respect for small projects.

  User Deleted
7/31/07 3:05:50 AM#14
Originally posted by Talad

The point is that the article is drawing absurd conclusions.

so you say. Please, enlighten us to what is absurd and the counterpoints to show why.

Luckily seems not everyone is misleaded  ( the word is "misled". Pros use spellchecker)by it.

Anyway the more you speak about it, the more we get new players!

On the contrary, the community on this site has a habit of steering players away from games, if they are found to be managed or developed in less than ethical/legal means. So, if you have something valid to show that refutes everything posted by the OP, I'd highly suggest doing so if you are looking for traffic from here.

I invite everyone to try the game and make yourself an opinion about it. Be sure to follow our development, we release new features on a regular basis (about every 2 months major features, weekly fixes and new bugs ;) ).

 

Enjoy PlaneShift!

 

  Talad

PlaneShift Developer

Joined: 7/26/07
Posts: 76

7/31/07 3:49:28 AM#15

[I deleted my previous answer..] This thread is made to discredit PlaneShift out of falsity, they don't deserve any answer. This thread contains false/misleading/offensive information. They have no respect for our work, no respect for open source and no respect for small projects.

  User Deleted
7/31/07 4:09:01 AM#16

Originally posted by Talad

I just noticed now the article was posted by "an OP". Does this mean he is part of the mmorpg.com group? he has only 2 posts!!

Believe what you want, but I suggest you to try the game and avoid listening to just one source, an OP with 2 posts.

Heh, but I should listen to you, a person who claims to be the project lead of the game in question, has only 8 posts, and has nothing to backup his statements of the OP (original poster, as in the one who starts the thread. He is not connected to mmorpg.com other than being a registered user) lying., after being asked repeatedly to provide something to prove your assertions.

Really, if you can't do better than saying his post is absurd, with no proof of it's absurdity on your end, I fail to see how anyone is supposed to believe you over him? Oh, because you have 6 more post than him? 

I'm sorry, but if you really are the project lead for this game, you have provided more reason to be cautious of you and your company/game, than the OP's post ever could have done. I would strongly suggest you hire a PR person, or a community relations person, or anyone other than yourself when it comes to speaking to the public regarding your game. You just don't have the knack.

  Talad

PlaneShift Developer

Joined: 7/26/07
Posts: 76

7/31/07 5:04:42 AM#17

[I deleted my previous answer..] This thread is made to discredit PlaneShift out of falsity, they don't deserve any answer. This thread contains false/misleading/offensive information. They have no respect for our work, no respect for open source and no respect for small projects.

  User Deleted
7/31/07 5:27:49 AM#18

Originally posted by Talad

Ok, I will investigate on this OP and let's see what mmorpg staff has to say. I have only 8 posts because I usually work on the game instead of wasting time here. an OP of a forum is supposed to have a bit more, no?


Did you not see or comprehend what I said?

OP = original poster, nothing more, nothing less. He was the one to start the thread, i.e. he made the original post, thus making him the OP of this particular thread.

As far as the issue of you having 8 posts, I don't care why you only have 8 posts. You were trying to invalidate what the OP said by the fact he only had 2 posts, yet you were supposed to be believed while only having 8 posts?

Post count doesn't mean squat here, you don't need to have more than one or two posts to make a legitimate point. and please, by all means, do get in touch with mmorpg.com to clarify for you what is being said here. Here's a link for you: Admin@mmorpg.com

Again, public relations and forum use are neither of your forte's.

 

  Talad

PlaneShift Developer

Joined: 7/26/07
Posts: 76

7/31/07 6:15:53 AM#19

[I deleted my previous answer..] This thread is made to discredit PlaneShift out of falsity, they don't deserve any answer. This thread contains false/misleading/offensive information. They have no respect for our work, no respect for open source and no respect for small projects.

  User Deleted
7/31/07 6:34:27 AM#20

 

 

Originally posted by Talad

I hope the above is enough to give you an idea why I consider that post wrong, full of lies and made to discredit the game. It's not a real review.

 

Thank you. This was all I wanted to see. Now, we at least have both sides of the story to make a judgement from. You presented your counterpoints well, giving reasons for each. That is how you have to be on forums such as these. For example, if the OP had just made a post saying "This game is bad, don't play it!", little if any credence would have been applied to it. Likewise, when all you originally stated was "The article is absurd", it basically amounted to the same thing.

 

At this point, I don't know enough about you OR the OP to say which of you would be telling the truth and which one would not. But now, after a full response from you, I am at least willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.

I do hope you get what I have been trying to convey (sometimes I tend to come off as an ass, even when not intending to). If you are proud of your work, and what you have created and how you have created it, you must be willing to provide constructive arguments and counter arguments to present your side of the issue when another person says something that could be damaging to you and/or your games image. i'll keep an eye on your project, and I wish you well.

Edit: Far as public relations and forum speaking goes, there may be hope for you yet.  

 

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