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Why am I reluctant to use the OGL?

PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2012 1:43 am
by nils
Hey all,

I've been wondering about using OGL material for a while now. On the surface, it seems fairly clear-cut: You can use it as you wish, provided you put anything you build on top of it under the OGL as well, and include the license with a list of source products. Easy-peasy, right? There's even a way (albeit clumsy and redundant) to specifically exclude other content from the OGL.

There's also a lot of material to use out there by now, covering all kinds of genres. Pathfinder proved that you can create an awesome product with good commercial success on top of OGL.

And yet, I am not sure I feel comfortable using OGL material. I've tried to analyze this hesitation, and I have not really been able to come to a clear conclusion. I do not fear that someone else might re-use my contributions commercially; that's part of the deal after all.

So, am I just being irrational, or is there some basis that may be nagging my brain without really coming out into the open? How do you feel about the OGL - and if you do not use it, why not?

- Nils

Re: Why am I reluctant to use the OGL?

PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2012 6:47 am
by Onix
OGL just seemed overly complicated to me. I prefer Creative Commons just because it's simpler.

Is the problem that you want to use OGL material and are reluctant, or just to use the license?

Re: Why am I reluctant to use the OGL?

PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2012 4:45 pm
by nils
Using the OGL is something I would only ever do when I want to build on other OGL material. That's the thing, I don't *like* the OGL, and I don't understand why I don't.

It's actually my understanding that rules can't be copyrighted. Not only rules, but also the actual text used to describe them, as long as it's not "flavored" by story/world specific stuff. This not something I can say with any authority, just the opinion I have formed after following the copyright debate for almost twenty years.

For the actual content beyond the rules I'd go with a CC license of some sort.

Re: Why am I reluctant to use the OGL?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 8:26 pm
by Chainsaw Aardvark
A good director knows how to use lighting and camera angles to tell a story. Proper arrangement can make the same dialog and actors take on very different feelings.

Mechanics are the shot angles and lighting designs of games.

Writing a game under OGL is like trying to film a movie with someone else controlling the camera. You're free to use it, but is it really an extension solely of your creativity and choices, or just a shortcut? Do you have full ownership of what you've spent many hours creating - or share credit and other people may change it further from your vision?

As simple as it all seems - "I wrote this, its mine" - is still the most intuitive legal boilerplate.

Re: Why am I reluctant to use the OGL?

PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 4:39 am
by Rob Lang
Onix wrote:OGL just seemed overly complicated to me. I prefer Creative Commons just because it's simpler.


Me too! That's why I don't want to use the OGL.

Re: Why am I reluctant to use the OGL?

PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2013 5:31 pm
by Dyson Logos
Chainsaw Aardvark wrote:A good director knows how to use lighting and camera angles to tell a story. Proper arrangement can make the same dialog and actors take on very different feelings.

Mechanics are the shot angles and lighting designs of games.

Writing a game under OGL is like trying to film a movie with someone else controlling the camera.


I don't understand this -AT ALL-.

Geodesic Gnomes is under the OGL, yet every little bit of that game is 100% original work of my own. No one else was controlling the camera...

Re: Why am I reluctant to use the OGL?

PostPosted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 2:59 pm
by Rob Lang
I think CA was really talking about the OGL from the point of view of using a restrictive SRD. At which point, I can see what he means. If you're making something against someone else's SRD then you're not in as much control, which can be a bit boring. However, if you're the one writing the SRD and publishing under the OGL, that's a different matter.

Still prefer CC for its simplicity.

Re: Why am I reluctant to use the OGL?

PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2013 9:15 am
by Nicephorus
I think the wording is simpler in CC, which isn't surprising as OGL came first. I think OGL is more friendly if you want to sell a game or reserve parts of a game for a commercial use. The OGL also still suffers from confusion with the now dead D20 license which was more restrictive but publishers thought was a better route to show compatibility. With OGL, you can control what's open and what's not, though you could do the same with CC by stating that certain chapters or sections are CC and others are standard copyright.

The big question really is are you making a D&D derivative, in terms of mechanics? If so, it's much easier to use OGL to port in the parts you don't want to change and then add your changes. If not, there is not a great deal of material under OGL and you are likely to be different enough to not need to make use of OGL to make use of nigh-universal concepts like abilities and dice. If you are not using existing OGL but want to make all or parts of your game open, CC is probably simpler.

Re: Why am I reluctant to use the OGL?

PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 6:34 am
by kylesgames
OGL has a single advantage: It's written by WoTC's lawyers, and is pretty darn comprehensive. It's built in with "Product Identity" clauses that you could ignore, or utilize fully to make an "open" game pretty closed.

Personally, I hate both OGL and -SA licenses as "free and open"; of course I think that anyone can license their stuff however they want, but they're not truly open licenses. The OGL is never implemented in a terribly open way, and anything more than CC-BY is going to cripple your derivative works.

Re: Why am I reluctant to use the OGL?

PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 8:42 pm
by misterecho
The OGL is hugely powerful. You can write material which tens of thousands of gamers can pick up, understand, use and incorporate into their own games immediately.

Of course it's restrictive, in the same way IEEE 802.11 wireless networking standards are restrictive.

If you want to produce something that is compatible, you have to meet the interoperability standards.

OGL is really hard to use if you just want to put together a really bespoke, weird little, cluster bomb of a game. That's not really what its for.