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Microsoft Releases MechCommander 2 Source Code 115

Posted by Zonk
from the free-for-all dept.
SpectreHiro writes "In a shocking move, Microsoft has open sourced... err, 'shared the source' of MechCommander 2. From the site, 'This is the Shared Source release for MechCommander 2. This release contains all of the source code an source assets required to build MechCommander 2. This release can be used with the Microsoft XNA Build March 2006 CTP.'
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Microsoft Releases MechCommander 2 Source Code

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  • Not really shocking (Score:5, Informative)

    by reanjr (588767) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @05:32PM (#14967821) Homepage
    Don't know how this is that shocking, MS has been releasing shared source all over the place, including Allegiance, a multiplayer opline space real time strategy/shooter.
  • Cool! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mrseigen (518390) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @05:32PM (#14967825) Homepage Journal
    More open sourced games can only be a good thing. How does Microsoft's shared-source license affect me as a professional game developer, though? I'm afraid of looking through a lot of other games' source code for fear of taint.
    • Re:Cool! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by GeekDork (194851) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @05:43PM (#14967892)

      This is kind of paranoid. It's like saying that after looking at, say, the Linux source for some drivers, you can never write a closed-source driver, or that you can never, ever write a game after having your hands at the TuxRacer source (or even after downloading the source, it's the thought that counts).

      • It's not paranoia when MS markets shared source as 'open source but you retain your IP'
      • You're not paranoid if you know you have enemies.
        You're only paranoid if you know they've organized against you.

        I have no problem believing that Microsoft would pursue legal actions against anyone releasing any code that they could trace back to any of their "Shared Source" releases.

        With closed source it is more difficult for the Open Source coder/organization to show that you infringed because ... they don't have the code. It's closed.

        But there have been instances where the FSF has threatened legal action
      • This is kind of paranoid. It's like saying that after looking at, say, the Linux source for some drivers, you can never write a closed-source driver, or that you can never, ever write a game after having your hands at the TuxRacer source (or even after downloading the source, it's the thought that counts).

        Half the question isn't whether or not you can, but whether someone will make a quasi-legitimate lawsuit (i.e. not so completely without merit that it'll be rejected, see SCO vs IBM). This rarely happens w
        • Half the question isn't whether or not you can, but whether someone will make a quasi-legitimate lawsuit (i.e. not so completely without merit that it'll be rejected, see SCO vs IBM).

          Correct, however, note that most people couldn't afford to be IBM in SCO vs IBM.

      • by mikael (484)
        Download it from a internet cafe to an external USB drive. Then your download can't be traced.
        • Wow, what genious! And what happens when you include some of that code (or something substantially similar, intentionally or not) in a Free Software program you release (with your identity attached), pray tell?
          • Easy...don't do that.
          • Release it to the internet from that same internet cafe? With an anonymous email attatched?
            • So in other words, once you look at "shared" source, you can never write software publically again. That is not a solution!
              • Hmm, I could start a ECT based mind wiping business.

                Actually doing poach jobs on paranoid armchair lawyers all day would give me so much job satisfaction, I wouldn't even need to charge. Just the cost of the Joules delivered and a little extra to keep the office in coffee and broadband.
      • What? You didn't know, for instance, that movie directors aren't allowed to watch movies unless they make them themselves?
    • Re:Cool! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Pofy (471469) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @02:06AM (#14970013)
      >More open sourced games can only be a good thing. How does Microsoft's
      >shared-source license affect me as a professional game developer, though?
      >I'm afraid of looking through a lot of other games' source code for fear of
      >taint.

      I guess as a professional book writer I would have to stop reading other books, otherwsie my own books could be "tainted" or "contaminated" by what I read. What a shock!!!
      • Re:Cool! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mgblst (80109) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @04:32AM (#14970300) Homepage
        Hence the trial over the da vinci code. Becareful what you mock, what may seem ridiculous today, is the law tomorrow.

        Of course this trial hasn't ended yet, and the decision may go against the so-called infringed, but it seems to be taking a while for judgement.
        • by Pofy (471469)
          I never claimed no one writing books might have copied other books. The point was the stance to not read other books at all to avoid such "tainting" was rediculous.
      • >More open sourced games can only be a good thing. How does Microsoft's
        >shared-source license affect me as a professional game developer, though?
        >I'm afraid of looking through a lot of other games' source code for fear of
        >taint.

        I guess as a professional book writer I would have to stop reading other books, otherwsie my own books could be "tainted" or "contaminated" by what I read. What a shock!!!


        I think there are a lot of authors who avoid reading other books, at least ones with very strong styl
    • Microsoft's lawyers, "All your code are belong to us"

      (Sorry, someone had to say it)
    • Re:Cool! (Score:2, Funny)

      by Threni (635302)
      > I'm afraid of looking through a lot of other games' source code for fear of
      > taint.

      I'm sure their code isn't *that* bad. Just be sure that if you see any confusingly named variables or goto-like unstructure jumps to quickly shut the window and read some Knuth for a few minutes...that ought to do the trick...
  • license? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Eightyford (893696) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @05:33PM (#14967826) Homepage
    I checked the link, but I couldn't find what license the code is released under. What does Shared Source mean?
    • The history of Shared Source is long, but in layman's term -- After reviewing the potential and limitation of Open Source, Microsoft has instead decided to adopt Shared Source, which not only opens up source code, but allows anyone to use freely, freelier than free Open Source.

      The only major difference is once a Shared Source is shared, it can be modified, opened, shared or even closed in future release.

      • Re:license? (Score:3, Funny)

        by st1d (218383)
        Excellent, just as MS intends the message to be received. Those brain implants must be working. :)
      • According to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], "[Shared Source] is not open source according to the Open Source Definition, because none of the license programs allows for commercial use of modified code". I guess it's not "freelier" than Open Source.

        • Re:license? (Score:2, Troll)

          by fm6 (162816)
          Even within Wikipedia's loose definitions, that's not an authoritative statement, since it doesn't even try to follow the NPOV [wikipedia.org]. Really, nothing is "according to Wikipedia", it's just according to the last person to edit the passage you're reading.
          • Even within Wikipedia's loose definitions, that's not an authoritative statement, since it doesn't even try to follow the NPOV. Really, nothing is "according to Wikipedia", it's just according to the last person to edit the passage you're reading.

            Except that the statement in question happens to be both accurate and NPOV -- the latter because it says "The OSI does not consider 'shared source' to be Open Source" and not "'shared source' is not Open Source". Have I just fed a troll?

            • Yuck! Troll food!

              The statement you quote is not the statement I was quibling with. Which was: "[Shared Source] is not open source according to the Open Source Definition, because none of the license programs allows for commercial use of modified code". To be authoritative and NPOV, that sentence needs an "according to...".

              Every Wikipedia contributor honors NPOV, but few seem to understand when they're violating it. I used to make a recreation of bringing up random Wikipedia pages and doing some basic ed

              • Are the ones where the author clearly hasn't thought through the implications of their sentence structure. As in:
                (From the article on the V2 Rocket): "It was the progenitor of the rocket race that developed during the Cold War, and ultimately put men on the moon and probes that have left our solar system."

                Leaving aside whether the V2 was the progenitor of the space race or merely other rockets, parse that sentence and you wind up wondering how the V2 helped put men on the probes that have left our solar sys
              • The statement you quote is not the statement I was quibling with. Which was: "[Shared Source] is not open source according to the Open Source Definition, because none of the license programs allows for commercial use of modified code". To be authoritative and NPOV, that sentence needs an "according to...".

                You mean like the part above? Like exactly what you quoted?

                I don't think it needs a second "according to" in the same sentence if that is what you are implying. The "because" is not something that the writ

          • What in the wikipedia entry is biased? What is inaccurate? The grandparent's quote was quite reasonable and mild. It is an indisputable fact that shared source is not open source. That's why it has a different term. Similarly, zebras are not horses. Am I biased for pointing that out?
            • Where did I use the word "bias"? I didn't say the quote was biased. I didn't even disagree with the facts as stated. Indeed, I think the statement is probably correct — though I don't know enough about the issues to make a statement with certainty. And the statement could have been added to Wikipedia by somebody who doesn't know much more than me. That person certainly hasn't given me any reason to think he's an authority on the matter.

              Even if you happen to agree with it, you can't take an unsubstan

      • Re:license? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @08:32PM (#14968856) Homepage
        Microsoft has instead decided to adopt Shared Source, which not only opens up source code, but allows anyone to use freely, freelier than free Open Source.

        The only major difference is once a Shared Source is shared, it can be modified, opened, shared or even closed in future release.

        I find it unlikely it's more free than, say, a BSD license or the Apache licenses.

        And, depending on which of the shared source licenses [microsoft.com] this is released under, what you say may not be true.
      • My understanding of Shared source was that it was a trap. There is probably a /. story on it from years ago (maybe 3 ;) ).

        As I understand shared source has huge implications if you plan to write your own system. Even if you don't put any of the code into your program having just looked at the program makes it that MS is allowed take your idea.

        I wouldn't touch the code if you can't read the whole license tbh.

      • Naughty, naughty, as always with microsoft the devil is in the detail, shared source is not always shared source http://www.microsoft.com/resources/sharedsource/li censingbasics/sharedsourcelicenses.mspx [microsoft.com] it varies.

        Microsoft says shared source but sometimes they don't say what they mean, for that you have to read the fine print.

      • It would do great benefit to society if people would remain silent unless they knew what they were talking about.

        Case in point.

    • Re:license? (Score:2, Informative)

      by dedazo (737510)
      The "shared source" concept encompasses more than one license. You can read about that here [wikipedia.org].

      As for this specific release, who knows. I doubt it's going to be GPL'ed but I don't think it wil be too restrictive, unless they've gone totally berzerk and want to prevent you from "developing a comepting product" with the source or some such nonesense... though I wouldn't put it past them at all.

      A lot of these releases by Microsoft (with a few exceptions like WiX or WTL) are really just meant to be useful talk

    • Re:license? (Score:3, Informative)

      by TekGoNos (748138)
      Shared Source is at least 3 different licences : [microsoft.com]

      Microsoft Permissive License (Ms-PL) like BSD
      Microsoft Community License (Ms-CL) kind of like LGPL or MPL : you must relicence files that contain Ms-CL code as Ms-CL, but can use them in any way you want.
      Microsoft Reference License (Ms-RL) - you may only look at it

      And I hve no clue which of these apply for this game. I even downloaded the ReadMe.rtf (rtf? from Microsoft?), but it only says that you need directx from feb 2006 to compile the "MC2 Viewer". (And I
  • What license? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chill (34294) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @05:35PM (#14967837) Journal
    Downloading source is great, but not if looking at said source "contaminates" you. They call the GPL viral, but what if in the networking code for this "shared source" game they have all sorts of stuff that would help the SAMBA team? Can they use it? Hell, can they even look at it and still be able to contribute to SAMBA?

    Heck, what about WINE? Is this something they should grab, or treat like free chocolate coated leprosy tablets?

      -Charles
    • Shared source (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The code is under Microsoft's Shared Source license, which has been accurately described as "just a fancy name for an NDA". You can read the source code. You cannot do anything with it.

      The code is being distributed for the purpose of serving as sample code for XBox 360 developers. For that purpose, it is great, and a smart move on Microsoft's part. For any other purpose, the source code may as well not exist.
    • Re:What license? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by minus_273 (174041)
      not could happen. Did happen. [reactos.org] ReactOS which is making an open source NT/2000 clone got infected with tainted (windows 2000) code and a all hell broke loose.

    • They call the GPL viral, but what if in the networking code for this "shared source" game they have all sorts of stuff that would help the SAMBA team?

      I doubt it.

      Can they use it?

      Probably not. They could legally copy small bits of code and reimplement interfaces, but it's a good bet that anything large enough to be useful would be too large to be used legally.

      Hell, can they even look at it and still be able to contribute to SAMBA?

      Of course they can. I can see why people are paranoid about being "contaminate
      • ...authors are still allowed to read other books, musicians are still allowed to listen to other songs, screenwriters are still allowed to watch other movies,...

        All of those examples have led to lawsuits where a subsequent work looked too much like a "parent" work to some minds, and they sued. Dan Brown (The DaVinci Code) is currently being sued in Britain because of this very thing. I believe the word is "derivative", and what I was alluding to.

        I'm leaning more and more towards Shakespeare's idea...
    • You've got a very good point. In fact, that's the crucial assumption in clean room design [wikipedia.org], without which IBM will still have the only workable PC bios!
    • <homer> Mmmmmm forbidden chocolate coated leprosy tablets... </homer>
    • >Downloading source is great, but not if looking at said
      >source "contaminates" you.

      I guess that is why no sane musicioan ever listens, and more important, never looks at the scores (or is it notes?), of other music at all!
    • Can I read a book and still be an author....yes. same with code. If you intently study code then go an immediately write the same thing you will have probs. If I look at it today, see how a couple of things work, then go write some different code next week, it isnt a problem.. The tained by viewing scenario is fully bullshit.
  • W00T! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @05:52PM (#14967960)
    Not since Gorilla.bas have I been this excited!!!
    • Can't you just see it now? You control a squad of giant cyborg gorillas, hurling yellow, crescent-shaped plasma grenades at enemy facilities!
    • I spent hours playing with this game and its code. This was where I learnt what a class/struct/whatever they are call in basic was.
  • by mnmn (145599) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @05:53PM (#14967968) Homepage
    So Microsoft has stagnated so much, some people there are killing innovation now!

    I wonder how much more innovation Microsoft plans to kill this way in the future? I hope they kill Windows 2000 innovation to benefit WINE or ReactOS.

    To the uninitiated: Microsoft has repeatedly called opensourcing killing innovation.
  • by creimer (824291) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @06:01PM (#14968019) Homepage
    Has anyone looked at the source code? Is it readable (i.e., you can understand how all the separate files fit together)? I look at some of the source code released by id Software, I can't figure how it works. Obviously, I need a README file that details how to put the source code together.
    • i've seen the duke3D source and its pretty horrible too. Game engine programmers tend to be programmers who think about performance first and only expect thier code to be read by highly competent coders.

      you've got to start from the main method and try and find your way from there to the mainloop, from there stuff should start falling into place.
  • by jonwil (467024) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @06:01PM (#14968024)
    Microsoft has released the "Windows Research Kernel".
    From what I can tell, it is a release of a large part of the windows kernel sources (some parts are released as source, some parts like the kernel debugger, plug & play manager and power manager are released as library files) for use by academics to teach operating systems classes.

    Whats notable is that the licence for this allows creation of derived works. The only things it seems to have is a clause requiring copyright to be not misattributed (i.e. you have to keep the microsoft copyright on it), a "no commercial use" clause and a "if you make changes you have to send them to MS" clause. It aint GPL but hey, it IS a BIG change from what microsoft normally does with their code.

    I dont know more details than this and a google for it finds very little information (from MS or otherwise)
  • Why do they insist on putting none executable data and documentation inside .exe files?

    During my dealings with Microsoft over the years I've seen this very often, their self extractor might work everywhere, but its not a nice feature.

    I prefer just the data.
  • by Umbral Blot (737704) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @06:21PM (#14968154) Homepage
    I loved mech commander. Is there any chance someone might build on this source to create a sequal, or is the liscense to restrictive? Actually even if it was GPL there might not be much hope, because the open source community has a tendancy to create only small games sucessfully, porbably due at least in part to not enough artists/level designers. Sigh
  • sad perhaps, but I'd never heard of MechCommander. I found some more info here [microsoft.com].

    But is it any good?
    • Re:but what is it? (Score:4, Informative)

      by MMaestro (585010) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @10:21PM (#14969342)
      Just think of it as an EXTREMELY tactical RTS game (think Ground Control, if you've played it). You get no bases, but you get off the screen support fire (such as artillery and air strikes). Theres no resource gathering, but other than scripted events theres no reinforcements during missions. Since you often times (read: always) go up against superior forces, TACTICS are extremely important (aiming for the weaker, rear armor, using flame weapons against energy and thus prone to overheating enemies, aiming for the legs to decrease mobility and then just bypass/pick off from the distance, etc etc).

      Even the forementioned artillery and air strikes took thinking to use. Artillery was fairly inaccurate and air strikes could be shot down if you tried simply trying to air strike an enemy target objective to death. You could get vehicles but they weren't customizable so that made things even harder to plan. You got aircraft but those were pitifully armored compared to the Mechs.

      And to top it all off, the Mechs themselves had weight, heat and power limitations. You COULD give a Light Mech one of the biggest weapons in the game, but then it'd be so heavy it could be equiped with anything else. You COULD strip a Mech of its heatsinks in exchange for more weapons, but then it'd overheat in a matters of seconds in combat. You COULD arm a Mech with tons of lasers but then it'd only have enough energy for one volley before overheating and shutting down.

      Oh and don't confuse this with MechWarrior (a game where YOU were the pilot.) YOU don't have direct control of the units, the AI pilot statistics played a major role. And I bolded pilots because they COULD be killed, which of course would spelled disaster if you suddenly found yourself on the last mission with no one but rookies to pilot your Mechs.

      • Re:but what is it? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Neoprofin (871029)
        A few minor corrections, the only air units you can control are recon helecoptors brought in in the same manor as airstrikes and artillery fire. The airstrikes can't be shot down. The heat factor only determines how many weapons you can equip, big awesome guns produce a lot of heat so you can either have a couple really devasting weapons, a devastating weapon and some smaller firepower to balance things out, or a lot of smaller weapons but regardless there's no way to push the mechs into overheating.
    • MC and MC2 are two of my favorite games... you already have a detailed reply, so I won't repost the same info. I am biased in that I've always loved the Mechwarrior games back even when we had Battlemasters and Locusts (now Atlas and Ravens) on my tandy 1000ex. The story is engaging if linear, and the missions are well designed. MC and MC2 are two of the three games I've ever played though more than once. The third being starcraft.
  • by SeaFox (739806) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @07:53PM (#14968675)
    Admiral Ackbar: "It's a trap!"
  • EULA text (Score:5, Informative)

    by jarom (899827) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @07:54PM (#14968682)
    Shared Source Limited Permissive License for use of MechCommander® 2 This license governs use of the accompanying software. If you use the software, you accept this license. If you do not accept the license, do not use the software. 1. Definitions The terms "reproduce," "reproduction" and "distribution" have the same meaning here as under U.S. copyright law. "You" means the licensee of the software. "Licensed patents" means any Microsoft patent claims which read directly on the software as distributed by Microsoft under this license. 2. Grant of Rights (A) Copyright Grant- Subject to the terms of this license, including the license conditions and limitations in section 3, Microsoft grants you a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free copyright license to reproduce the software, prepare derivative works of the software and distribute the software or any derivative works that you create. (B) Patent Grant- Subject to the terms of this license, including the license conditions and limitations in section 3, Microsoft grants you a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free patent license under licensed patents to make, have made, use, practice, sell, and offer for sale, and/or otherwise dispose of the software or derivative works of the software. 3. Conditions and Limitations (A) Limitation on Commercial Distribution- Notwithstanding the rights granted in section 2(A) above, you are not granted any rights to commercially distribute any artwork from the software ("Art Assets") in any derivative work or otherwise. Microsoft grants you a limited, non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free copyright license to use, reproduce and distribute the Art Assets on a non-commercial basis only. (B) No Trademark License- This license does not grant you any rights to use Microsoft's name, logo, or trademarks. (C) If you begin patent litigation against Microsoft over patents that you think may apply to the software (including a cross-claim or counterclaim in a lawsuit), your license to the software ends automatically. (D) If you distribute copies of the software or derivative works, you must retain all copyright, patent, trademark, and attribution notices that are present in the software. (E) If you distribute the software or derivative works in source code form you may do so only under this license (i.e., you must include a complete copy of this license with your distribution), and if you distribute the software or derivative works in compiled or object code form you may only do so under a license that complies with this license. (F) The software is licensed "as-is." You bear the risk of using it. Microsoft gives no express warranties, guarantees or conditions. You may have additional consumer rights under your local laws which this license cannot change. To the extent permitted under your local laws, Microsoft excludes the implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and non-infringement.
    • Am I reading this right? If I create all new art assets I can take this code and sell a new game. If I use the existing art assets I can make a new game and give it away.
      • I think you are. But, you can't call it MechCommander2 or anything with MechCommander in it's name- that'd be trademark infringement and that'd get you in trouble as they explicitly didn't give you that grant of rights on the game.

        But then, I'm not a lawyer.
  • Curses and woe upon me for being a Battletech fan who jumped to Linux. And, of course, they released just the 'mech game I don't have. How about MechWarrior 3 instead? Or the original MechCommander? (MW4 is too much to ask, obviously?) And less silly license, please?

    I guess I have to go back to regularly scheduled MegaMek...

    • The original MechCommander is a FASA/Hasbro owned source base. MechWarrior3 was created by Zipper so it's also FASA/Hasbro. I suspect the reason neither of those have been/will be released is that Hasbro has to be asked since they were created during Microprose days.
  • The reason microsoft released this code is to preview XNA and to get people familar with the technology.

    XNA is still in "preview" aka beta.

    So, it seems to me, by release source code that requires the use of XNA they are furthering their agenda of promoting their XNA technology.
    • I just tried downloading it and installing.

      It won't install unless you have the XNA thing on your computer. In fact even if you select to install the source on a non-C drive it will install 2GB of data on C anyways. I had to move a lot of data around in order to get it to even begin to install.

      Then I get a cryptic error that it fails to create a DLL file. (MechCommander2Viewer.dll or something like that.) Turns out that if you don't have all the tools you're not welcome to install the program.

      More info on h
  • Im not familiar with how source codes work... maybe someone could explain to me?
    if I download this 1 gig file, what will it contain? Does it contain the game, or the engine that the game used?
    • Basically the source is the recipie to make the program. In this case, it contains the recipie to make MechCommander 2. You basically feed this code into what is called a compiler. This then reads the source and makes the game. So you won't have the game right away, but you can make the game with this.

If it's worth hacking on well, it's worth hacking on for money.

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