Sign in to follow this  
Guest frankbergson

Moral dilemna

Recommended Posts

Okay, my conscience is bothering me here and I need some feedback from other scenery designers about this issue. As I've indicated in other posts, I've embarked on a huge photoreal scenery project for the Phoenix valley. Other than a few little holes I've covered all the ground and could easily release what I have to share with all the others that have donated their efforts on these flightsim websites. I'm however, somewhat of a perfectionist. My textures are summer only. The task of putting autogen on the thousands of texture tiles to give some real depth to the scenery at low altitudes has me looking at possibly hundreds of hours of works. I'd like to lightmap the scenery but that will also require a huge investment of time and of course that requires files for all the other seasons besides summer. There's a ton of small lakes in residential areas that I'd like to also mask for water textures to show through. Here's what's been going through my mind and I don't know if I should feel guilty about it. I'll release an initial freeware version of the scenery without all the bells and whistles. Believe me it's still wonderful eye candy as long as you don't fly at night. Then I'll complete the project and put it out as commercial, shareware, or donateware to help me rationalize to my family this huge amount of time I'm spending nerding on the computer. Is this a natural evolution or am I letting greed get ahold of me? I certainly wouldn't charge much for the package, just enough to recoup some of my time.Art Martin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Help AVSIM continue to serve you!
Please donate today!

IMHO do what you want. I don't mind donating small amounts of time for the general good - after all I'm very grateful for all the freeware out there. Simming wouldn't be nearly as much fun without it. I do sometimes resent companies that chage more than I think they should for poorly performing addons.On the other hand, I also recognize that large amounts of effort can be rewarded by monetary gains. I've spent many hundreds - nay thousands of hours on a pet simulation project that I probably will never receive a cent for. Maybe someday when it's really being run and being useful I may charge for it. And then again maybe not. I suppose to a large extent it depends on whether I am in desperate financial shape, and really need the money, or whether I can feel good about just "giving it away". OTOH, I also put together an eight stage adventure for my VA, which was really fun to do and I learned a lot in doing it. It's free. Yeah, it took me about 25 hours to make it, but it was a labor of love.I'd say if it entails large amounts of *boring* tedious work - that's what it is - work, and one should be reimbursed for work... otherwise it would be for fun.Not sure that this helps - but go with what you *feel* most comfortable with... after all - it's you - you have to live with.Senior Captain, Pier Glass Aviation

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think this is a moral issue. Whether or not you can justify the time and expense of a project is up to you. Personally, I'm moving more and more towards payware scenery. In the past I've released freeware, and sold a subscription-based scenery CD magazine, but I think from now on most of what I produce will be payware.There are some issues I needed to think about though, such as can I produce something of sufficient quality/quantity to give my customers something they'll be happy to pay for.Here in New Zealand there is just not enough scenery produced, and the only way we'll ever get the coverage I want is to get stuck in and do the work myself. This means giving up other things -- most of my spare time, and a percentage of my income. With 3 teenage children neither time nor money are in huge supply, so I have no trouble justifying the switch to paywareLast week I flew in to an airport here for a photo-shoot. I guess that the actual cost -- what I spent -- would be about NZ$400. That doesn't include the time I spent taking the photos. Nor does it include the hours and hours of work which will go into this project before it is finished, or the cost of the digital camera which I bought just for photo textures. Gone are the days of creating an accurate and realistic airport without spending a bit of money and a lot of time. If I wanted to do this for free, I could perhaps justify one airport a year. That'll take me well past my use-by date to cover half the country here. If I charge for this, I can produce more, maybe 6 airports a year. No contest.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm in the same boat, developing photoscenery for Australia (with a few headaches along the way)...I'm planning an initial freeware version, but after that I'll be investing huge gobs of time into autogen and other issues. Also development costs need to be recouped. I refuse to pay $1000 for an addon, maybe more... ;)I'm also in the boat though of thinking about providing for a family and continuing my career. In a lot of ways to give what I want to give to the FS community it's going to have to be an eventual payware release.I do have a question though on source imagery. A lot of it is copyright and have very strict rules with regards to licensing and digital reproductions... I'm wondering if I can even release my work as freeware without breaking copyright/licensing issues.I will have tweaked the imagery so much by the time it's into flightsim, I'm wondering where the law stands on an issue like that. Is it a derivative artistic rendering or is it a digital reproduction of sorts?Any ideas?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would say a clear copyright violation either you release it as freeware or payware. If you do not have a licence or written permission for redistribution - do not do so or you might wind up in real trouble.If the source photos are "tweaked" or not does not give you the distribution rights. And for FS use I would say they are not tweaked they are just sliced and converted to DXT:s.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In my case, my source photos come from my tax dollars. I'm getting the aerial shots off of a county website which is open to all. That'd be a tough sell for them try to come after someone later for their use. I've never seen a legal agreement web page that you have to agree to prior to accessing the data so I take that as tacit approval for their free and public access. Art Martin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi all,as someone who recently made the step to also producing payware add-ons here are a few personal observations of mine:* the decision is yours alone: everyone has a different threshold for this step, ranging from simple "greed" to minimal "compensation". The customers don't care about this; they want to see a quality product at a reasonable price and (!) with effective support. * the risk is yours alone: if you expect to make a certain amount of money you'll have to estimate the number of units you'll sell, determine a price the market will accept, figure in the overhead (see below), and start the nail biting. Also, obviously you won't see any money until after the release of a product!* the market is limited: look at a freeware product similar to yours and estimate the total number of worldwide downloads. Divide that number by 20 or 30 (those that are willing to pay for this kind of product) and you *may* have an estimate of your potential customer base (and it's worldwide only if you can distribute worldwide).* tools and data are not free: often forgotten is the fact that most freeware design tools are meant to be used for freeware projects only. If you go commercial you'll have to negotiate royalties with the utiliy designers or use fully licensed commercial software. As for the source data please see my comments at the end.* going payware means business: freeware means absolute freedom for the designer, payware means you need to beta test carefully, provide adequate instructions, write an auto-installer, provide support over the entire lifetime of the product via email and/or custom forums, issue patches, etc.* going payware will cost you money: for setting the sale price of your product you'll have to factor in the cost of distribution, the shares for publisher and distributor, royalties for the source data and/or software makers, etc. Sounds a bit daunting? ;-) Well, my personal experience has been positive thus far and I actually enjoyed the management aspect of the development but it is a BIG commitment and something you cannot just get out of when you lose interest (well, you can but that'll likely be the end of your payware career).---As for the royalties for source data: just because some image or data set can be downloaded for free off some website doesn't mean you can do with it whatever you want. In most cases using those data for freeware projects is okay but there are be exceptions even for that. For payware products you'll absolutely need to get in contact with the data provider regarding your intentions unless the data includes documentation that clearly states that they are royalty-free for commercial distribution. Failure to do this will almost certainly place you outside copyright law. True, there are FS add-on developers who are distributing payware products without adequate licensing of source data but these guys are either reckless or stupid or both :-)Cheers, Holger

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, great feedback. Of course I always knew the decision was my own but had I not posted this I wouldn't have received all this great advice on things to look out for. My major intent is to first of all pay back the FS community for all the wonderful freeware software and scenery I've downloaded so that'll happen no matter what the final decision is. I just don't want to put out a product in any format that isn't all it should be. No matter what I do on the Phoenix scenery, I'm dedicated now to writing an absolutely free piece of software that will replace and surpass the Annotator program. My own carpal tunnel from drawing tiny little boxes has made me determined in this matter. Martin Wright provided me with all the dlls and info I need for dealing with the DTX1 files in VB. Tried it last night in VB.NET (which I'm teaching myself slowly) and had some real stumbling blocks. I know they'll work in VB6 so might have to revert. Thanks again. Art

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi,I thought I should add some remarks to the copyright issue.In my understanding, the violation of copyright requires that the produced material must be dependent or the result of one particular copyrighted source material. If the same produced material could be yielded from other sources, copyrighted material or not, arbitrary which material and the same result obtained with either source material copyrighted or not, then the produced material would not be violating any particular copyright. Am I right? :-walksmileCheers Jan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Jan,good point but the answer -- yes or no -- I don't know ;-)In most cases, though, the product will be based on a specific identifiable data product, e.g., a satellite image, a set of vector data, an airphoto. In those cases the copyright statements will have to be respected.For example, the free Landsat imagery available at GLCF - http://glcf.umiacs.umd.edu/data/ - refer copyright information to the USGS website, which states:"There are no restrictions on data purchased from the USGS EROS Data Center, unless expressly identified at the time of purchase. Depending on the product source, we request that the following statements be used when citing, copying, or reprinting data: [...]"Thus, freeware or payware products based on these data seem to be allowed without the need for any further consultation.My main points in this regard are that it is up to the user to determine the copyright situation for any source data and that making assumptions is dangerous, particularly when working on a commercial product.Cheers, Holger

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've never attempted to use any other resources without getting permission. Generally this means getting an agreement in writing, although I do have a couple of emailed replies which I treasure:)The same goes for the tools -- I've always shied away from anything which limits the use of my scenery, whether or not what I produce is freeware. There are plenty of tools without these restrictions, and I don't mind paying for them if necessary. The last thing I want, though, is some developer stuck in the 90s asking me to stop selling my scenery.Visit the Windowlight forum on Avsim... everything you need to know about New Zealand flightsim sceneryhttp://forums.avsim.net/dcboard.php?az=sho...forum=203&page=

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Robin,sounds like the perfect approach!I'm curious about the "... some developer stuck in the 90s..." comment though; care to elaborate?Cheers, Holger

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That was a throw-away comment, I admit, but I can certainly elaborate:)The biggest problem in flightsim scenery design is that there is just too much to do, and not enough people or time to do it all. As the scenery engine becomes more sophisticated, the days of dabbling are almost over, and anyone who limits scenery development -- whether or not there is any money changing hands -- is working against the process of making the flightsim world more realistic.The idea that a developer will not support any project where money is an issue was a valid principle when the results of amateur dabbling was amateur scenery, but now that we have the opportunity to do much more it can only hold back further development.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Art:>>>>to help me rationalize to my family this huge amount of time I'm spending nerding on the computer. I certainly wouldn't charge much for the package, just enough to recoup some of my time.<<<<

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this