Why is your game licensed the way it is?

We interpret our game as a Creative Commons “collection,” where the collection, as a whole, assumes a noncommercial license since some parts of it have a CC-BY-NC-SA license. Interpreting that a game can be treated as a CC "collection" is the only way we (as mere, non-lawyer humans) have managed to understand how "copyleft-ness" can be interpreted in a printed game comprised of several parts.

For Creative Commons, the copyleft-ness of different licensed works extends to the “derivative work” / “collection” boundary, in which many “separate and independent works” can be assembled into a collective whole. This requires some interpretation for games. Consider a hypothetical game whose form and components are like Magic: The Gathering, which has many beautiful cards featuring the works of different artists, each of which is a separate and independent work. A card in this game may feature some central artwork from an individual artist combined with other elements (layout elements, flavor text, etc). If one were to use art released by an artist under a CC-BY-NC-SA license, then any flavor text and layout in the final card would become CC-BY-NC-SA, since the card is a derivative work. If one were to use art released by an artist under CC-BY, then the final card would be a CC-BY derivative work. If those two cards were used together in a game then, viewed as a “collection,” the game would be a non-commercial collection of cards (each of which retains its original license). In this way, the NC clause of one artist is respected, without changing or limiting the license intended by the CC-BY artist. If one desired to use art released by an artist under a CC-ND license, we don't see how this would be possible, since incorporating it into a game component would necessarily involve creating a derivative work, which is disallowed by that license.

We also feel this interpretation bears out with analogies to copyleft-ness in other popular licenses. In particular, drawing analogies to software licenses is instructive, as both games and software express (abstractly) some computation or procedure. Removing a card from the game and substituting a new card, to us, is analogous to the LGPL scenario of linking against a library and satisfying the condition in which the code properly operates in a “free world” using a modified version of the library that is interface-compatible with the linked version. It is generally agreed, however, that software licenses have a strained interpretation when applied to creative works, so interpreting via analogy from software only goes so far.

That said, we are working on a simplified and more permissive license.

Is it technically correct to call the game “Open Source?”

We don’t know! The OSI lists various freedoms that all open source software must preserve to be called open source (without blushing). Since our game is not software, it is likely inappropriate to hold it up to this definition when a content license is more appropriate. That said, the game’s current (noncommercial) open-source content license does not enjoy all the OSI freedoms that it could enjoy, and it is one of the reasons we are investigating simplifying our license.

Wait, isn’t this just a re-skinning of Forbidden Island?

Well, it would be a disservice to Forbidden Island (FI) to summarize our game that way. Many of the ideas of FI are in this game, but many ideas have changed and new ideas are in their place. For example, in FI terms, the 'island' in our game (the network) doesn't flood or sink, but rather it continually renews itself, while adventurers tear it apart. The ‘island’ doesn’t ‘sink’ when a section floods twice, but instead 'decommissioning' happens when a player is ‘detected’ (i.e., when a piece flips and a hacker is on it). You could say the entire relationship between the 'adventurers' and the ‘island’ has been turned on its head. We use some analogs of FI characters (pilot, etc.) but not all of them (diver, etc). Also, the 'hackers' have new powers (drop, pickup) and fewer limitations on their powers. Our meter-upkeep mechanics have aspects (e.g., the ‘honepot-audit’) that are not present in FI. The shuffle-replace deck-upkeep mechanic from Pandemic and FI adds a lot of fun game tension in those games, and is not present in ours.

Since we have certain pedagogical objectives, we introduced, changed and dropped mechanics to make sense in our domain (admittedly, perhaps at some expense to balance, re-playability or fun). Devoted fans of FI (and we count ourselves in this category) may find [d0x3d!] to be an easier game. We credit FI as the origin and inspiration of any ideas we share, while also taking responsibility for any deficiencies in [d0x3d!].

Did you get permission before releasing your game?

Yes. We worked with both Matt Leacock and GameWright before we released the game, to ensure everyone associated with Forbidden Island was happy with the attribution used and the way we distribute the game. We are big fans of FI and didn't want to hurt FI or the people behind it, in any way.

Why is it being sold through The GameCrafter? Are you making a profit?

We originally were going to release just a print-and-play edition, but found people really wanted the convenience of getting an assembled game. TGC offers that ability. The price on TGC is set so that we are not profiting from its sale. It is offered at TGC only for convenience and ease of access to the materials, i.e. you could upload all the pieces to TGC to print a personal copy and end up with the same price. The motivation is exactly the same as those behind making the print-and-play version available on GitHub.

Can I offer the game for sale on my website?

We are working on simplifying the license to allow greater freedoms of use. Until then, the game is under a non-commercial license (so, not yet).

I am inspired to design a game: can I re-use or modify your game’s mechanics?

As far as we understand it, US copyright law says (see 17 USC 102(b), FL-108 circular or this short video) that the ideas in [d0x3d!]—or, for that matter, the ideas in any game, invention, etc—--are not eligible for copyright. Ideas include any "procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle or discovery," which are all what can otherwise be called 'game mechanics.' Thus, the law is fairly clear that these ideas are your property, and you are encouraged to use ideas in whatever way you'd like. Put another way: in terms of copyright, ideas belong to everyone. We would be excited to learn what you do with those ideas.

I’ve used some part of your game and its license requires attribution: how do I do that?

Contact us. It will depend on what you've used, and we'd be happy to help you figure it out.

I have a suggestion, found an error, have an idea for your game: do you care?

Yes! Share it with us (e-mail, tweet, etc). We are working on a v2 game, and your ideas may be helpful.

May I translate [d0x3d!] into a new language?

Absolutely. People are already doing this for some languages. The easiest way to start would be to fork our GitHub repository and modify the components. You can even push your contributions back up-stream into our repository, under the ‘contribs’ directory.