Are we prepared for potential Microsoft harassment?

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MirceaKitsune
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Are we prepared for potential Microsoft harassment?

by MirceaKitsune » Thu Sep 11, 2014 23:43

By now everyone knows about the 2 billion $ deal and Microsoft buying off Minecraft. For what's worth saying, I play MC and consider this a quick road to its destruction as well as an unfortunate event for the players. Of course, I'm not a big fan of any closed-source software, so I won't be crying over this either. I am however worried about what it might mean for other voxel engines similar to MC.

This is the problem: Microsoft is both a lot more rich and a lot more evil than Mojang ever would have been. If they get ownership of everything in Minecraft, they might eventually use their power to claim that any game similar to Minecraft uses their copyright, and attack projects like Minetest or Terasology. MS has been known to attack everything that it sees as a competition... such as Linux when it's getting in the way of their Windows.

The good part is that, in reality, neither Minetest nor any similar voxel engine I know of uses anything that Minecraft could ever claim copyright over. At worst, the idea behind such an engine could have been patented, and thankfully that never happened and it would be way too late now. Bad part however, is that Microsoft doesn't need to care, considering the amount of money they have. They might start sending threats to the owners of similar engines, in order to intimidate them in hopes of killing off the project... even if they know they have no legal basis.

So my question is: How ready are Minetest developers to fight (or rather ignore) potential harassment from Microsoft? If this ever happens, does anyone have the legal experience and confidence to laugh at MS and tell them to take a hike, or would some developers get scared at the thought that big bad Microsoft could randomly sue them and leave? Does anyone suspect MS could use its money and influence to kill off Minetest and similar projects?
 

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Re: Are we prepared for potential Microsoft harassment?

by grondilu » Fri Sep 12, 2014 09:33

I don't think Minetest or any other Minecraft-like game is popular enough to really bother Microsoft, so they may prefer not bringing the spotlight on the concurrence, especially the FOSS one.
 

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Re: Are we prepared for potential Microsoft harassment?

by MirceaKitsune » Fri Sep 12, 2014 09:40

grondilu wrote:I don't think Minetest or any other Minecraft-like game is popular enough to really bother Microsoft, so they may prefer not bringing the spotlight on the concurrence, especially the FOSS one.


True, at least for now. I wouldn't rely on that though, especially since we might become more popular later on. I think we should take every possible safety precaution until then... such as being familiar with every possible pretext Microsoft could use against us, and differentiating Minetest from Minecraft in every aspect that doesn't impede good features / quality art / a nice gameplay / etc.
 

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Re: Are we prepared for potential Microsoft harassment?

by spamyak » Fri Sep 12, 2014 10:19

MirceaKitsune wrote:differentiating Minetest from Minecraft in every aspect that doesn't impede good features / quality art / a nice gameplay / etc.


Please make sure you guys at least offer the tools to allow a very Minecraft-like game using mods. I'm trying to migrate to this game right now and I'm a bit worried that I'll never see the Minecraft atmosphere again unless I go back to it.
 

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Re: Are we prepared for potential Microsoft harassment?

by MirceaKitsune » Fri Sep 12, 2014 11:38

spamyak wrote:Please make sure you guys at least offer the tools to allow a very Minecraft-like game using mods. I'm trying to migrate to this game right now and I'm a bit worried that I'll never see the Minecraft atmosphere again unless I go back to it.


Certainly no engine features or Lua functions will be removed... that would be ludicrous. I'm mostly referring to overall aspect, using differently looking textures where possible, different node and tool names / types if applicable, etc.
 

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Re: Are we prepared for potential Microsoft harassment?

by aldobr » Fri Sep 12, 2014 13:23

So your question can be resumed to : How to deal with microsoft fud.

Check with Electronic Frontier Foundation. They are specialized into defending FOSS versus big evil companies.
 

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Re: Are we prepared for potential Microsoft harassment?

by Tril » Fri Sep 12, 2014 16:27

First I would recommend setting up backup hosting on a domain using a CCTLD (countrycode top level domain) as the US has not been known to seize any non-US TLDs yet (just com and net that I know of). Second setup a server to host the source code outside the US so the datacenter operator will be harder for the US to pressure. Third, setup a .onion address so that your visitors can view the site without being tracked. While open source technically lives on as long as anyone has a copy of the code, these steps will help the current contributors keep active in case of a catastrophic attack.
 

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Re: Are we prepared for potential Microsoft harassment?

by Tril » Fri Sep 12, 2014 16:54

rubenwardy wrote:That looks like a suprisingly relevant spam post.


Oh, since it's my first post? I just found out about this project as I did a search for clones with source, as I decided to give up waiting on the promises made of eventual source code release upon hearing that Microsoft would be involved. I run a survival server and use Bukkit when it's updated, which it probably will never be, nor the mod API that has been in development for 2 years. I will learn about minetest in the next week and try to setup a server. I look forward to finding out what features are similar and different. Is it mature enough and stable, and similar enough that my friends will give it a shot? I would love to shut down my closed source, calling-home server eventually. Importing my old maps would be nice, but if all block types aren't at least visually supported that's not a deal breaker as long as there's enough depth... how's the electronic circuit support?
 

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Re: Are we prepared for potential Microsoft harassment?

by MirceaKitsune » Fri Sep 12, 2014 17:04

Tril wrote:Oh, since it's my first post? I just found out about this project as I did a search for clones with source, as I decided to give up waiting on the promises made of eventual source code release upon hearing that Microsoft would be involved. I run a survival server and use Bukkit when it's updated, which it probably will never be, nor the mod API that has been in development for 2 years. I will learn about minetest in the next week and try to setup a server. I look forward to finding out what features are similar and different. Is it mature enough and stable, and similar enough that my friends will give it a shot? I would love to shut down my closed source, calling-home server eventually. Importing my old maps would be nice, but if all block types aren't at least visually supported that's not a deal breaker as long as there's enough depth... how's the electronic circuit support?


So the Microsoft deal has brought the first Minecraft player to Minetest already. Hello and welcome :)

In regard to importing MC maps, there is a thread explaining that, but I forgot the link so maybe someone else can point you to it. Otherwise, in essence, the Minetest engine supports most features a Minecraft player would seek, even though it lacks art and games of quite the same quality... for now.
 

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Re: Are we prepared for potential Microsoft harassment?

by rubenwardy » Fri Sep 12, 2014 17:23

rubenwardy wrote:That looks like a suprisingly relevant spam post.


I apologise. :P

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Re: Are we prepared for potential Microsoft harassment?

by Calinou » Fri Sep 12, 2014 17:26

Tril wrote:Second setup a server to host the source code outside the US so the datacenter operator will be harder for the US to pressure.


We could have Gitorious mirrors, it's hosted in Norway.

Don't expect Minetest to be similar to Minecraft, even though some mods may help in your task (at varying degrees of success). Here, most of us tend to have a different culture.
 

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Re: Are we prepared for potential Microsoft harassment?

by Inocudom » Fri Sep 12, 2014 18:34

I made the following topic in the PureZC forums:
http://www.purezc.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=64686
Give it a look in case any of the members there say anything useful.
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Re: Are we prepared for potential Microsoft harassment?

by prestidigitator » Fri Sep 12, 2014 20:20

My suspicion is that they will quickly disenfranchise Linux (and possibly Mac) MC users: either the game will be ported to .NET or "security" checks will be made for OS identity even while running on a portable VM. At that point a lot of Linux users—ones that don't go out of their way to find FOSS software already at least—may be headed in MT's direction.
 

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Re: Are we prepared for potential Microsoft harassment?

by Krock » Fri Sep 12, 2014 20:24

Just reading title:

No. This project is FOSS and therefore it would be hard to give it a new owner.
Also, not everybody knows Minetest (as contrast to minecraft), therefore I don't expet any harassment.
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Re: Are we prepared for potential Microsoft harassment?

by MirceaKitsune » Fri Sep 12, 2014 22:37

prestidigitator wrote:My suspicion is that they will quickly disenfranchise Linux (and possibly Mac) MC users: either the game will be ported to .NET or "security" checks will be made for OS identity even while running on a portable VM. At that point a lot of Linux users—ones that don't go out of their way to find FOSS software already at least—may be headed in MT's direction.


From this point of view, thank goodness Minecraft is Java. Java is so cross-platform by nature, it would probably be very hard for MS to make it Linux incompatible... even if they miraculously found a good enough excuse to attempt that without it being obvious. Even if they succeed, someone will find a way to mod it so that it still runs on Linux. And even if not there's WINE as a desperate last resort.

Krock wrote:Just reading title:

No. This project is FOSS and therefore it would be hard to give it a new owner.
Also, not everybody knows Minetest (as contrast to minecraft), therefore I don't expet any harassment.


Minetest is GPL, which means it can't ever become closed-sourced... so of course that's not a risk. My only worry is that Microsoft could say something like "you have a blocky voxel world, you use x16 textures by default, you have dirt / stone / sand that spawns naturally, you have tools like the pickaxe / axe / shovel, so you're clearly copying us and that's a copyright infringement".

Otherwise we're pretty popular for an open-source project, and Minetest is certainly not hard to hear of. Although it's a different circumstance, fan games that never had even 1/10 of MT's popularity received cease & desist letters from the owners of the originals.
 

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Re: Are we prepared for potential Microsoft harassment?

by Kilarin » Fri Sep 12, 2014 23:27

MirceaKitsune wrote:My only worry is that Microsoft could say something like "you have a blocky voxel world, you use x16 textures by default, you have dirt / stone / sand that spawns naturally, you have tools like the pickaxe / axe / shovel, so you're clearly copying us and that's a copyright infringement".

They wouldn't have a leg to stand on for multiple reasons.
1: You can't copyright a game. You can copyright the art, but not the game itself.
2: Prior art. Infiniminer, of course.

BUT, none of that would really matter. The issue would be that if Microsoft decided to throw a million dollars worth of it's lawyers time at the issue, the Minetest community almost certainly couldn't afford to even get the issue to court. I don't think that is likely to happen, but its a possibility.
 

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Re: Are we prepared for potential Microsoft harassment?

by Neuromancer » Sun Sep 14, 2014 14:03

Now would be a great opportunity to post replies on all the news story conversation areas on how Minetest is the solution to the problem that Microsoft will be destroying Minecraft.

'Minecraft' Fans Freak Over Rumors Of 'Selling Out' To Microsoft
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/12/minecraft-microsoft-deal_n_5804316.html

The Minecraft community is ready for an open source revolution right now.
 

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Re: Are we prepared for potential Microsoft harassment?

by Morn76 » Sun Sep 14, 2014 14:31

MirceaKitsune wrote:From this point of view, thank goodness Minecraft is Java. Java is so cross-platform by nature, it would probably be very hard for MS to make it Linux incompatible...

Well the Xbox edition is in C++, so it wouldn't be too hard for them to produce a Java-less, Linux and Mac-incompatible version of MC.

They could also make sure that the Windows/Xbox (and rumored Windows Phone) versions always have the latest features and best performance and the other platforms (especially PS4) lag behind. Then a year later they can claim that demand for other platforms has slowed down (which will be true and created by them) and close down Mac/Linux/PS4 support.

MS has been trying hard to kill Linux over the years, so they would not suddenly turn around and support Linux gaming by continuing to offer MC for Linux.
 

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Re: Are we prepared for potential Microsoft harassment?

by hoodedice » Sun Sep 14, 2014 15:15

Neuromancer wrote:Now would be a great opportunity to post replies on all the news story conversation areas on how Minetest is the solution to the problem that Microsoft will be destroying Minecraft.

'Minecraft' Fans Freak Over Rumors Of 'Selling Out' To Microsoft
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/12/minecraft-microsoft-deal_n_5804316.html

The Minecraft community is ready for an open source revolution right now.


I'm already doing that on whoever tweets using the #Minetest tag on twitter.

I'm not going all out on this yet, as it would be pretty stupid to hijack threads of MC-fanboys... for now.
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Re: Are we prepared for potential Microsoft harassment?

by Zombie471 » Mon Sep 15, 2014 12:11

I don't think Microsoft would go after Minetest, or any other clone (CastleMiner Z, Block Story, etc) and I do not think Mojang would agree to the Minecraft deal.... Atleast not Notch, dunno bout Jeb though.. the biggest thing that would worry me about Minecraft getting bought by mojang is not Linux support, as I don't use Linux as my main Operating System. Besides, Minecraft runs decently in VirtualBox on my laptop with Zorin OS 9 Core. I just think that money would be the issue, you saw what they did to the Xbox 360 Edition. Paid Texturepacks, Paid Skins, Paid Multiplayer (Gold), CRAP multiplayer.. (or was that 4J Studios... maybe both?) Besides, Mojang JUST launched Realms so I doubt they'd want to lose control of Realms the second they got it working. I kinda doubt they'd get Minecraft, and highly doubt they'd even touch Minetest, nor know what Minetest is.
 

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Re: Are we prepared for potential Microsoft harassment?

by cHyper » Mon Sep 15, 2014 13:47

i hope minecraft will go there own way, but will never stop the development of minetest. minetest will get popular every day and the community grows faster and faster. minetest dont need minecraft to suceed the main development. minetest FOREVER. Lets test minetest when you are a minecraft player, and dont say that minetest has no chance to play...
 

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Re: Are we prepared for potential Microsoft harassment?

by Evergreen » Mon Sep 15, 2014 14:02

Baggypants wrote:Maybe Microsoft will open source Minecraft.

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