Bridging the Open Source and Game Industries

Notes from a roundtable session at GDC 2019

  • Linux Foundation provides a safe third party (“neutral home”) to hold all the rights to software so that competitors can collaborate and not worry about getting screwed
  • Game industry has lots of semi-open licenses (e.g., VR headsets, Khronos, etc.)
  • Academy Software Foundation: Wanted to standardize tools across film industry, so that when someone changes employers, they don’t have to re-learn the same workflow they were using before (everybody had their own fork of the same tools)
    • A bunch of visual effects studios donated one full-time engineer to work on the standardization and the tools themselves
    • Cutting/running releases is a cost shared among all the studios
    • These foundations tend to start with one or two “seed projects”
  • How to get contributions, discussions, etc. when people’s employers don’t want them to talk publicly
    • Getting approval through the legal department (want a blanket approval for licenses—Linux Foundation can talk to your lawyers to help them understand this)
  • Khronos: Open source versus open standards
    • Would like open source, but open standards are easier to get buy-in from big companies (e.g., Samsung)
      • There’s a proven legal framework for the standards stuff
      • Allows implementers to talk about their concerns in private
    • How do you decide which direction to go? (You can get pretty far with black boxes talking over the same protocol)
      • Open Container Initiative was a standards body built around Docker-like containers
      • Specced out based on what Docker was already doing, but made open
      • “A modern standards body that runs like an open source project”
  • How do you promote open sourcing stuff in your business?
    • todogroup.org has a lot of info on pros & cons
    • A lot of companies have an “open source office” that promotes this in their organization
    • For many companies, if it’s not related to how you make money (your “special sauce”), it’s viable to open source
    • As a company, have to ask why you want to open source something
      • If we push it out and nothing happens, we don’t lose anything; if we get one bug fix, we’re ahead; if it gets big enough that it’s taking our time to management, we’ve super won!
        • Do need to put in time to curated
      • Hiring pipeline
      • Name recognition
      • Getting tools out there (the stuff that helps make the game) is an easy argument, because you get help on it and get back better ideas
    • See Red Hat’s stuff (email ruth@redhat.com with questions)
  • Open source distribution (alternative to Steam’s 30% cut)
    • Would like one common frontend to connect to a bunch of different games makers
  • How do you get people to take open source seriously?
    • Show them the evidence of the piles of stuff that people have made with Blender, Gimp, Godot, etc.

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