Miner Wars 2081 Source Code Made Available To Modders

By John Walker on March 21st, 2013 at 5:00 pm.

The best sort of source code is available source code. So it’s splendid news to hear that the developers behind Miner Wars 2081, Keen Software House, have made the code for both the full game and the engine available for all purchasers of the game – although for modding only. So that’s all 360,000 lines of code for you to stare at in bewilderment. Or if you’re not me, to start fiddling with.

However, this isn’t a free software licensing of the code, sadly. Instead the accompanying license asks that you own a Steam copy of Miner Wars, and that you only use their code for the purposes of creating new mods for the game. Keen maintain all copyrights over the code, basically.

It’s an interesting move, and while the license states emphatically that this access cannot be used to create standalone projects, nor can the code be used for other work, they’re clearly opening themselves up to the possibility. Although naughty rubbish code nickers do tend to get rumbled by communities. They conclude,

“Miner Wars 2081 still pays our monthly bills and without this income we wouldn’t be able to finish our next project. We’re trying to be open and honest, and we hope people treat us the same way back. Basically, don’t be ridiculous and we won’t.”

This accompanies the second big update to the game, that also includes improvements to stability (they’ve rewritten their rendering engine to DirectX, so alt-tabbing should work properly), and balanced the difficulty to be a bit more fair.

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40 Comments »

  1. Nim says:

    Now this is an interesting development.

  2. Blackcompany says:

    This would be a cool move on their part, if the game were at all playable. Alas it is not. Five minutes for loading screens? Its technical disaster of Bethesdic proportions unfortunately.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      By any chance was it made in Unity? Either unity is poor at loading, or the developers never seem to reduce the size of content (compression) or use streaming. :/

      • KDR_11k says:

        It’s probably a custom engine since the main selling point is the freely destructible terrain.

      • Twitchity says:

        Custom engine, using the SharpDX wrapper. Bit of a brave choice, writing a from-the-ground-up engine in C# using DirectX (there’s a bit of C++ in there, but it appears to be from the Bullet physics library, and they probably compile it to the CLR anyway). How’s the performance when you get past the loading phase?

        • Blackcompany says:

          Performance past loading phase was…decent. At best. And mind, I have an Nvidia GTX460 w/ 2GB RAM and 8GB system RAM on a Phenom X4 Black Edition. Not a super rig by any means but it runs Witcher 2 on Medium just fine, with some few settings on high. Yet it cannot Miner Wars 2081 at a decent frame rate.

          Coupled with the loading screens, shoddy control recognition and always-online nature (of which I was not aware at purchase) I just uninstalled the game and resolved to never trust these devs again.

      • Gap Gen says:

        I found the performance OK. But then I played Shogun 2, where in the transition between battles and the campaign map you could legitimately go off and do something else.

    • Calabi says:

      Well in that case it probably is a good thing, because it should be reasonably easy to modify it to work better.

      • Blackcompany says:

        Would love to see it fixed. Making of a good game in there but its sufficiently unplayable that it should not be for sale now.

    • DanielBrauer says:

      I hadn’t heard “Bethesdic” before, but I think it’s very apt. Someone should make it a real word by putting it in Urban Dictionary.

    • marek_rosa says:

      Loading screens got a fix early after the release. Now a new mission loads in 10-20 seconds (on a normal computer). This timing seems reasonable (to me).

  3. Ross Angus says:

    When I read this bit “naughty rubbish code nickers” my first thought was “he’s talking about a nude patch. For space ships”.

    Filthy.

  4. Shivoa says:

    This is exactly what more games should do, especially those interested in the long tail and modders helping to keep your game alive (see great examples of this in binary patches to fix bugs by those who are prepared to go that far to fix the product, total overhauls via mods like Morrowind distant worlds intercepting DX calls to add in the surrounding geometry of that game world, etc).

    The release of a commercial product should not contradict with the release of source code to those people who own the product. Management of distribution of mods and changes to the code to only other owners of the game is something a studio should think about how they manage but consumers are not unaware of what copyright is and how it works. The binaries compiled and provided with all games are also protected under the same copyright (despite what the US Copyright Office may state on their website) that the source code has and we all know “don’t copy that floppy”.

    Providing source just enables purchasers to have full access to the thing they now own a license to use, as they see fit. It removes a barrier to their freedom to use the thing they purchased. Yes, there is an increased danger of copying, or derivatives being easier to generate with more work required to prove theft, but everything is give and take and giving the purchaser more freedoms with what they purchase is a great step. I hope more studios go down this path when it is available to them (licensing an engine often restricts your ability to redistribute source code).

    I do not understand why it is described as sadly that this isn’t free software. The monetisation of a product allows for far more work to be produced and fairly paid for and avoids any potential issues with support contracts as a sole revenue source leading to an incentive to generate hard to understand and badly documented code because that is how the company can pay their coders. More of source code included games please.

    • AIAndy says:

      Yeah, I wished more would do it as it really improves the capability of modding by a lot.
      Another example is the release of the sources of the game DLL of Civ4 which allowed great mods.

  5. Inglourious Badger says:

    I forget what the general consensus was on this…is Miner Wars any good? I like, but currently lack space games

    • abandonhope says:

      There was a thread on the forum in which I dumped a ton of my wandering thoughts on the good/bad/ugly: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/forums/showthread.php?6883-Miner-Wars-2081-Should-I-get-it

      tl;dc: It does a few things well (nice game world, decent story, okay shooty shooty) and many things poorly, including–as far as I saw and most damnably–the fact that mining is rather pointless because trade isn’t much of a thing since: a) it’s not really facilitated by any sort of market information and b) the game is quite linear despite the seemingly open-world travel options (choosing them just breaks the game temporarily).

      If modders manage to implement what should have been the game’s main conceit (ahem, mining, and all that it implies), it could be fairly compelling, with a few points subtracted for really mediocre game design here and there.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I kinda like it, but I haven’t got far. My main complaint is that it’s far too brutal, and repairs difficult to find (also your AI teammate can steal repairs from you, apparently). Perhaps I’m just not good enough at it. In any case, it’s something I pick up from time to time but haven’t played it to completion.

    • Convolvulus says:

      It’s made by a shady developer, Marek Rosa specifically, who has learned how detrimental it is to treat your customers with contempt when you don’t have many customers in the first place.

      • Gap Gen says:

        How so? I haven’t heard anything about this, so I’m curious as to what he did that was objectionable.

        EDIT: OK, just seen ooktar’s post below.

  6. Spengbab says:

    Yea, wonderful, now someone make this into a new Homeworld game, thx

  7. mr.ioes says:

    Finished my C# course yesterday. Talk about timing. Looking at the code is a phenomenal feeling.
    Developers also just made an appearence on TPB.

  8. Miltrivd says:

    I was excited when this was announced but they lost me when initially launched the game with always-online on and weren’t clear and outfront about it. I’m glad they finally removed it and this new step seems MORE than promising and I hope modders can bring good things from this.

    I still won’t get it, I don’t like what they did and the interest I had died a long time ago. Seems they learned their lesson, hopefully.

  9. ooktar says:

    I’m not too happy with the developers of this game. They kept advertising that they’re game was DRM free, yet you had to connect to their servers just to start the game. Then after people called them out on it they started trying to tell people that it would be impossible to make the game offline because of all the server side calculations and also refused to actually acknowledge that it was actually a form of DRM, (Hmmmm, why does this situation sound so familiar,).

    Then they released on steam and they started censoring people who called them out on the DRM. Then after being called out for censoring people (which they denied), they tried to take the defensive and say how they’ve always said that it required an internet connection (which they didn’t) and that they never lied about the server calculations (which they did).

    Finally after a petition, some bad reviews, and enough people complaining, they finally released a patch for the steam version so it could be played offline, while refusing to apologise or acknowledge that they were lying and telling everyone how its their fault for not researching the game enough before buying it.

    Regardless of their more recent actions, the developers have shown little compassion for their customers and are overly sensitive to any actual criticism of the game. They’ve been treating their game like its a AAA blockbuster when they should be treating it as it is, an incomplete indie game.

    Sorry for the long post, but I felt that the developers have been greatly unprofessional with this game and anyone that is considering buying this game should be aware of it.

    • marek_rosa says:

      @ooktar

      We never hid the fact that “Miner Wars requires always internet connection”. I remember few discussions about this on our forum at http://www.minerwars.com, even 2 years back. We didn’t call it DRM (because back than we planned it for game features in MMO) – but we clearly stated this requirement on our pages, and later on steam store page, etc.

      I am trying to understand why are you trying to hurt us so much, and I am really coming to a conclusion that you are from a competition, or someone I fired, or just a troll :-)

      BTW, you still didn’t hurt our sales. The game is still selling well, despite of your attempts :-)

      • mechabuddha says:

        I’m normally inclined to give the developer the benefit of the doubt. Furthermore, I have no firsthand knowledge of ooktar’s claims. However, you have just proven his point with your response. There are people reading this who have not purchased your game yet – potential customers. This would have been an excellent opportunity to clarify ooktar’s issue in a way that puts your game in a positive light. A time to show that you ARE professional and care about your customers. However, rather than dealing with ooktar in a polite way, you insinuate he/she has some sort of personal vendetta against you. Then you leave a snide remark about your sales. And putting a smiley face doesn’t somehow negate that. In essence, you showed to anyone reading your comment that you are indeed unprofessional and don’t care about potential customers. But thank you for making up my mind for me – I’ll not be purchasing this.

      • z310 says:

        what a backhanded snide little comment. you need to stop being involved in any sort of customer service or PR immediately, if you continue you’ll end up with internet fury backlash at some point.

      • ooktar says:

        I didn’t really want to start an argument or anything like that on here, but after you pretty much insisted that I had to somehow be someone that just personally dislikes as opposed to maybe just being a dissatisfied customer or someone that wanted to buy the game but has been put off by the developer’s (You in Particular) behaviour, I feel a need to defend myself. I wrote a thought out response but unfortunately its too big to post here, So I’ll post my full response on the steam forums and summarize it as best I can here

        First off, I hadn’t heard of Miner Wars 2081 til only a few months prior to its release on steam. I decided to check it out at desura and that’s when I saw that there were several comments talking about the game’s Always Online requirement. Being someone who lives in the boondocks with shitty satellite internet, Any sort of internet requirement is a big factor for me as I suffer from both strict bandwidth caps and an inconsistent connection.

        But what confused me was that nowhere on the desura page did it say anything about a constant internet requirement. After looking around some more I looked at the game’s about page and sure enough, Near the very bottom, Not only did it say it needed a constant Internet connection, It said it needed a constant internet connection literally on the same line it says the game is DRM free.

        I figured I’d check the forums to see if there was some sort of explanation and sure enough there were several topics talking about it. Various people have called them out on, but yet they insisted that the game is DRM free despite the internet requirement. they then went on to post various excuses for the online requirement, like that it can only calculate various things only on the server. They even at one point actually had to ask people why they should implement an offline mode, just to show how out of touch with they’re audience they really are.

        Just gonna state this fact here. DRM stands for Digital Right Management. If I am forced to connect to your game servers in order to play your game, you are then Digitally Managing my Rights to play your game. You can call a shovel a guitar if you want, Its still a fucking shovel.

      • ooktar says:

        I was eventually put off and decided to wait for the steam release, figuring maybe by that time the developer’s would grow some sense or something and the Online requirement would be gone. Sure Enough, the game was released, but of course no where on the steam page did it state anything about the online requirement, and even surer than that, people immediately hit the forums to talk about it.

        The Developers eventually responded, saying that it stated “clearly” on their website that it always required an internet connection. If people are buying the game through steam, they’re usually going to go off of whatever information happens to be on the Steam Store page they’re generally not gonna go as far as going to the games website and as such they shouldn’t have to.

        More fiasco ensued as eventually a Petition was made to get the requirement removed, as well as claims by various members that the developer’s were “censoring” people by removing comments from various places like Youtube and their own Forum. Of course, rather than address these claims and try and bring some closure to the situation, they pretty much shrugged it off with a very backhanded joke and dismissed the claims completely. If someone accuses you of something like censoring someone, the last thing you do is respond with a joke on how you want to Rule The World

        Eventually an Offline mode was patched in, unfortunately at that point I was over it. The completely backhanded treatment of both the game and it’s customers was more than enough to put me off of this and any other game that Keen software (and You mister Rosa) shall be coming out with.

        So with all that said, No I’m not a “previous employee” or your “competition” or a “troll” or even a Dissatisfied customer for that matter. I am simply someone who saw what looked like an interesting game, only to find that it was developed by an incredibly shady developer and decided to act on it. To anyone that wants proof to my claims can easily check the Miner Wars Steam forums (Or your own Websites Forum that you linked to) where there’s a slew of examples and someone even made a topic pointing to various examples of the developer’s unprofessional attitude.

        Mr Marek Rosa, you could’ve easily responded to my comment by addressing some of the issues I brought up and perhaps bring some closure to the situation, but instead you responded with the same arrogance and disregard that you have shown since the beginning, thus proving my points about your sensitivity to criticism and your complete lack of a professional attitude. And as others already said, people who want to buy the game will read this article and then see how instead of politely engaging me, you opted for snide remarks and as such, will likely be turned off from buying the game. My point was never to try and hurt your sales, but to inform any of your potential customers of your negligence. From what I’ve heard, there’s much more wrong with the game DRM aside. Poor optimization, slow servers, a sandbox game with no actual sandbox mode. This is about the various actions that I have witnessed and so long as you keep up this amateur behavior, the only thing that will really hurt your sales is you.

  10. ooktar says:

    Let it be noted that I was officially banned from the Miner Wars Steam Forums for attempting to engage in an open discussion to see if Mr. Marek Rosa would discuss some of the points I attempted to make. I hope this makes it very clear about the kind of person he is and hope it gives anyone who reads this article a clear perspective on the game’s developer’s if they are considering buying this game.

    • jalf says:

      Oh look, a drama queen.

      Don’t worry, we all feel very sorry for you. Especially with the weaselly way you make your case. “attempting to engage in open discussions to see if he would discuss some of the points you attempted to make”? Really?

      • ooktar says:

        I gave a detailed account of the various actions taken by the developer of the game that I found to be wrong, then ended by saying how I felt the developer’s actions could eventually lead to his eventual downfall, and left it completely open for him to argue my points and own up to his actions. Then, after being asked to, I linked to various examples of the developer’s actions.

        Instead of attempting to argue or discuss any of the points I made, he gave a typical PR response, locked the topic, and banned me, thus making it impossible for any discussion to take place, proving all the accusations of censorship.

        You can be a sarcastic ass and ignore the issue if you want, there’s no excuse for the developers actions.

        • graspee says:

          You predicted the “downfall” of the developer? This isn’t lord of the rings you know.
          “YOUR DOOM IS ASSURED, SAURON! THE TIGHTER YOU GRIP STUFF UM BETWEEN YOUR FINGERS STUFF WILL…. YOU KNOW … DOOM! YEAH! COMING TO YOU, BABY!”

    • StormTrigger says:

      So let me get this straight you complained that the game had an always online connection even though it said it right in the game description and still bought it just so you can bitch about it?

      And the reason they had the online restriction because they where going to try and roll it in to there upcoming MMO, which is completely reasonable.

      They then took out the Always On restriction and moved to an Open Source platform (which is just unheard of in the game industry) and you still are bitching.

      This is ridiculous, far as I can see they locked threads you wouldn’t stop trolling. Most AAA forums would have just banned you out right a long time ago.

      • ooktar says:

        If you guys aren’t actually going to read the post, then you just make yourself look ignorant in your responses.

        I Never said I bought the game, and at this point I don’t care about the online requirement, I have been put off by buying the game because of the Developer’s attitude.

        The reasons there were online requirements is that the game originally was the MMO, then they suddenly decided to make two games and shoehorned a single player experience into the game they were working on and released it, ultimately ripping off all the people expecting an actual MMO.

        I provided a thought out response in hopes that the developer’s would open up and actually address the issues, if that’s trolling then the internet is fucked.

  11. StormTrigger says:

    Kick ass, I can’t wait for the Mods to start rolling out for this game!

    I am glad you guys are still supporting the game this far after launch.

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