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A lot of game developer still worry about being more open with their code but it seems Terry Cavanagh (VVVVVV, Super Hexagon, Dicey Dungeons) believes it was worth it.

There are certain legitimate reasons to worry about going all-in with open source, but we're not here to debate that. Plenty of developers have warmed up to the idea of open source over the last few years, with Cavanagh now being amongst them. Cavanagh opened up the source code to their puzzle-platformer VVVVVV back in early 2020.

Now on the 11th anniversary of VVVVVV's launch, Cavanagh has a fresh blog post up to go over a previous Game Jam but they also gave some thoughts on the source code drop too. It's worth pointing out though, the code is open but not under a proper OSI-approved open source license. It's certainly a good step though!

So what happened? Well they accepted and merged over 400 pull requests from the community, which will result in a big new release of the game later this year. They got a port to the Dreamcast, the Haiku operating system and there's also a webassembly port now too.

Summing up their thoughts on opening the code, Cavanagh said "So, I guess for other game developers thinking about doing this, here’s a data point! Only good things have happened. This whole thing has been a really positive experience, and I’m really glad I did it.".

Nice to see such a healthy experience!

You can buy a full copy on GOG and Steam.

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amatai Jan 11, 2021
The licence basicaly says "if you make money with this give us a share" wich is okayish for me.
I have more tolerance for commercial stuff having open but not OSI or FSF licence -it probably wouldn't be open otherwise- than for non commercial code that don't have an OSI or FSF licence.
Binogure Jan 11, 2021
Nice article!
DrMcCoy Jan 11, 2021
The problem is that non-commercial clauses are pretty unclear. What exactly is "non-commercial" use? Does having ads on your website where you can download a build count as commercial? This is an age-old problem that has been debated for a long time with the Creative Commons licenses. There's no clear definitions.

For example, in one case, German courts decided that using a CC-BY-NC photo in an article on the website Deutschlandradio, a non-profit German public broadcaster (readable free of charge, no ads, no sponsoring), is commercial use. According to the court, non-commercial solely means personal use, which a broadcaster website is not.

The rest of the license is okay from my lay knowledge, obviously taking inspiration from the BSD licenses.
TheSHEEEP Jan 11, 2021
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It is also a somewhat different case here as the game's development is basically done, the game has been out for many years.
Doesn't mean it can't be patched and developed further, of course.

But it's still a different beast than something like KeeperRL and Mindustry.

Generally speaking, I think open sourcing your game is advantageous, but there are exceptions:

I wouldn't do it if there were parts of a game that in themselves posess monetary value - e.g. the creator of Dwarf Fortress has wisely not opened the source code (instead that will happen once he dies) as he knows very well the world creation algorithm alone would probably be worth a lot of money to some people.
That's not a very common problem, though, I think most games "just" combine known pieces in new ways.

Obviously, if there is a security component (e.g. servers for multiplayer or MMO games), it is probably unwise to open up code, as it will make it much easier to find exploits.

By now I think the myth that people will no longer buy a game when they can "just build it themselves" has been debunked - most people just don't have the required knowledge for that. If building a game ever became a thing as easy as opening a PDF, this might change, though.
Anyway, despite not being true, I think many devs still believe it is.

I also wouldn't do it if I thought the code was trash and opening it up would embarass me - honestly I think this might be the primary reason a lot of developers don't do it even if the other reasons don't hold true for them.
Personally, I think that most code is badly written anyway so it doesn't make much of a difference if some of my own is badly written as well

Last edited by TheSHEEEP on 11 January 2021 at 12:35 pm UTC
Nanobang Jan 11, 2021
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Even though I'm not really big on platformers, I bought VVVVVV as soon as it was released. It looked so easy. It is not easy. Go buy it and see for yourself, I hear the dev is a pretty awesome dude, supports open source.

Kudos and Thank you to Mr. Cavanagh for acting on his convictions and sharing his creation with the world.

Last edited by Nanobang on 11 January 2021 at 3:33 pm UTC
I'm a fan of VVVVVV and Terry Cavanagh's other games so I am looking forward to the next release.
dude Jan 11, 2021
Quoting: RandomizedKirbyTree47I'm a fan of VVVVVV and Terry Cavanagh's other games so I am looking forward to the next release.

Once upon a time, when I only had a linux potato laptop, 2 games helped me to survive a vacation:
2. Gemini Rue

Two great linux games I can recommend

Last edited by dude on 11 January 2021 at 4:45 pm UTC
PublicNuisance Jan 11, 2021
I knew I wouldn't like VVVVVV but I bought it on sale anyway. I did so due to the source code being opened. That is the effect it had on me. I give small amounts of money each month to open source games even if I don't like them because I support what they are doing.
Koopacabras Jan 11, 2021
Just bought it, go go go opensource!!
Klaus Jan 12, 2021
Quoting: TheSHEEEPObviously, if there is a security component (e.g. servers for multiplayer or MMO games), it is probably unwise to open up code, as it will make it much easier to find exploits.

Conventional wisdom is rather that open-sourcing leads to safer, not more easily attacked, code. Not sure though how this translates to MMO servers; It is usually stated in the context of trusting the security of a platform in terms of correctly used encryption etc.
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