Urgh, copyright law. Bleargh.

You see, there’s another work called Species out there: an alien/sex/horror movie from the 90’s which I won’t criticise for fear of getting sued. Why they went and called something like that Species is anybody’s guess, but they did and they have it registered under intellectual property law.

So what, right? That’s a movie, I’m making a game. Completely different genre. Surely the Australian government can’t be so backward as to lump those two into the same categ- OH GODDAMMIT.

Yep. Class 9 of Australian Intellectual Property Law includes computer software. It also includes recorded video. It also includes fire-extinguishing apparatus, which I’m… not even going to comment on. So, the movie has stolen my planned name 17 something years in advance. I call shennanigans. Clearly an actual time lord somewhere didn’t like me for inexplicable reasons and went back to 1994 to tell the Myer Delaware Whatever studio what they should name their movie. It’s the only explanation.

So whatever the cause, I can’t call Species “Species” anymore.

Well fudge.

There’s no way I’d be able to rename the project entirely: I’ve been calling it “Species” for 7 years now, I don’t think I’m capable of thinking about it any other way. Which means: taglines!

So from now on the game is officially called Species: Banana Robot Monkey Jesus. Pretty sure that’s not copyrighted.

Okay I’m kidding. I’m saving that tagline for a future project. For this, I’m planning on using the tagline I’ve already got in the blog and on the first Development Video, which means that the games official title from now on Species: Artificial Life, Real Evolution. A bit long, but it certainly gives the readers a better idea of what the game is than simply “Species”, which apparently means sexy alien horror.

This isn’t the only legalish problem I’ve run into, by the way. Among other things, apparently font licensing was deliberately designed as a mechanism to increase the rate of intellectual property lawsuits against video game developers.

You get a whole swath of fonts with Windows, right? Surely there can’t be any problem with using the fonts that come with Windows… oh.

Okay, well, that’s okay, you can download fonts from the internet. I’m sure it’ll be fine to use them commercially… oh dear.

Well that’s okay too, I’m sure I can afford to shell out $25 each for a commercial font licence. It’s not like their licence documents would be written with specific exceptions for people who want to embed them in their document, rather than using them in a strictly visual manner… would they? [glare]

It seems like as a general rule of thumb for developers, if you paid less than $1000 for each font you want to use, you’re probably doin’ something illegal.

Thankfully, Microsoft isn’t entirely without a metaphorical fleshy blood pump. For XNA developers they provide this small list of redistributable fonts, which can be freely embedded and distributed in XNA games. None of them look as good as my original font set, but they’re certainly better than nothing. I’ve settled on News Gothic for the moment: it shrinks well and it looks okay as a header when you halve the font width, increase the letter spacing, and use all-caps.

On other non-game fronts, I’ve been looking further into the possibilities of modding and mod-making. I’m dedicating the next week or so to making modding as easy as possible, starting with a Mutation Map editor for the mod-maker. Manually managing manuscript files to make mutation maps modernise when members of the modding mob modify them makes minimal… m… mmm… sense? Dammit.

The Mod Maker: still as ugly as ever

The map editor itself is nearly done, and should be fairly simple to use, although the physics took a while to get right (all modding tools should have built-in physics, why would anyone even think otherwise?). The big trick will be making the mutation map data portable, so that installing a mod also adds any non-default mutation map links. I have a few idea’s, but I’d prefer to make them work independently to the default system rather than replacing it, so that it’s as easy to delete mods as it is to install them.

Speaking of how easy it is to install mods, my plan is to make a push for the Holy Grail of ease of use with self-extracting zip files. Copy a mod’s zip file into the Species\Mods folder, and the game installs it the next time you run it. Delete it, the game uninstalls it. Simple as that. It’s a bit of a logistical nightmare on my end, but I guess I’m trying to make up for forcing potential modders to install XNA.

I’m fairly well on track to get this stuff into the Alpha release in… 12 days? Really? Huh, thought I had at least two weeks… but since the modding stuff is a sideline project if I don’t quite make it in time I can patch it in when it is done, so I’m not too stressed about it.

The game itself is effectively done and ready to go. It’s not perfect, and it doesn’t quite check all the boxes, but it’s definitely at the stage I was hoping to achieve for the alpha release. I’ve successfully achieved my time-management badge, and can now set things on fire with my mind. Oh wait that’s Psychonauts, never mind.

Of course, I’m not going to let a little thing like being ready stop me from freaking the hell out over the next two weeks.

“Don’t worry; the physics in the mod-maker is actually a prototype for a planned feature in a later version. Unlike that thing with the supersonic toaster, this time he wasn’t completely wasting his time.”

“And yes, he is deliberately taking screenshots of the mod maker in Windows XP to make it look even uglier.”

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