D&D Won’t Change Its Original 1.0 OGL License, Reference Document Enters Creative Commons

An anonymous reader shares a report from PC Gamer:

In a blog post published Friday, Wizards of the Coast announced that it is fully putting the kibosh on the proposed Open Gaming License (OGL) 1.2 that threw the tabletop RPG community into disarray at the beginning of this month.

Instead, Wizards will leave the previously enshrined OGL 1.0 in place, while also putting the latest D&D Systems Reference Document (SRD 5.1) under a Creative Commons License (thanks to GamesRadar for the spot).

The original OGL was put in place with the third edition of D&D in 2000, and allowed other companies and creators to base their work off D&D and the d20 system without payment to or oversight from Wizards. A draft of a revised OGL 1.1 leaked early in January, which proposed royalty payments and creative control by Wizards over derivative works. This immediately incited a backlash from fans. Wizards backpedaled, introducing a softer OGL 1.2 that would still replace the original, and opened the community survey cited in today’s announcement.

With 15,000 respondents in, the results of the survey were pretty damning. 88% didn’t “want to publish TTRPG content under OGL 1.2,” while 89% were “dissatisfied with deauthorizing OGL 1.0a.” 62% were happy that Wizards would put prior SRD versions under Creative Commons, with most of the dissenters wanting more Creative Commons-protected content.

In response, Wizards of the Coast caved.

“We welcome today’s news from Wizards of the Coast regarding their intention not to de-authorize OGL 1.0a,” tweeted Pathfinder publisher Paizo, who’d launched an effort to move the industry away from WotC’s OGL. But “We still believe there is a powerful need for an irrevocable, perpetual independent system-neutral open license that will serve the tabletop community via nonprofit stewardship.

“Work on the ORC license will continue, with an expected first draft to release for comment to participating publishers in February.”

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D&D Will Move To a Creative Commons License, Requests Feedback On a New OGL

A new draft of the Dungeons & Dragons Open Gaming License, dubbed OGL 1.2 by publisher Wizards of the Coast, is now available for download. Polygon reports: The announcement was made Thursday by Kyle Brink, executive producer of D&D, on the D&D Beyond website. According to Wizards, this draft could place the OGL outside of the publisher’s control — which should sound good to fans enraged by recent events. Time will tell, but public comment will be accepted beginning Jan. 20 and will continue through Feb. 3. […] Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that, by its own description, “helps overcome legal obstacles to the sharing of knowledge and creativity to address the world’s most pressing challenges.” As such, a Creative Commons license once enacted could ultimately put the OGL 1.2 outside of Wizards’ control in perpetuity.

“We’re giving the core D&D mechanics to the community through a Creative Commons license, which means that they are fully in your hands,” Brink said in the blog post. “If you want to use quintessentially D&D content from the SRD such as owlbears and magic missile, OGL 1.2 will provide you a perpetual, irrevocable license to do so.” So much trust has been lost over the last several weeks that it will no doubt take a while for legal experts — armchair and otherwise — to pour over the details of the new OGL. These are the bullet points that Wizards is promoting in this official statement: – Protecting D&D’s inclusive play experience. As I said above, content more clearly associated with D&D (like the classes, spells, and monsters) is what falls under the OGL. You’ll see that OGL 1.2 lets us act when offensive or hurtful content is published using the covered D&D stuff. We want an inclusive, safe play experience for everyone. This is deeply important to us, and OGL 1.0a didn’t give us any ability to ensure it

– TTRPGs and VTTs. OGL 1.2 will only apply to TTRPG content, whether published as books, as electronic publications, or on virtual tabletops (VTTs). Nobody needs to wonder or worry if it applies to anything else. It doesn’t.

– Deauthorizing OGL 1.0a. We know this is a big concern. The Creative Commons license and the open terms of 1.2 are intended to help with that. One key reason why we have to deauthorize: We can’t use the protective options in 1.2 if someone can just choose to publish harmful, discriminatory, or illegal content under 1.0a. And again, any content you have already published under OGL 1.0a will still always be licensed under OGL 1.0a.

– Very limited license changes allowed. Only two sections can be changed once OGL 1.2 is live: how you cite Wizards in your work and how we can contact each other. We don’t know what the future holds or what technologies we will use to communicate with each other, so we thought these two sections needed to be future-proofed. A revised version of this draft will be presented to the community again “on or before February 17.”
“The process will extend as long as it needs to,” Brink said. “We’ll keep iterating and getting your feedback until we get it right.”

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D&D Publisher Addresses Backlash Over Controversial License

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: After a week of silence amid intense backlash, Dungeons & Dragons publisher Wizards of the Coast (WoTC) has finally addressed its community’s concerns about changes to the open gaming license. The open gaming license (OGL) has existed since 2000 and has made it possible for a diverse ecosystem of third-party creators to publish virtual tabletop software, expansion books and more. Many of these creators can make a living thanks to the OGL. But over the last week, a new version of the OGL leaked after WoTC sent it to some top creators. More than 66,000 Dungeons & Dragons fans signed an open letter under the name #OpenDnD ahead of an expected announcement, and waves of users deleted their subscriptions to D&D Beyond, WoTC’s online platform. Now, WoTC admitted that “it’s clear from the reaction that we rolled a 1.” Or, in non-Dungeons and Dragons speak, they screwed up.

“We wanted to ensure that the OGL is for the content creator, the homebrewer, the aspiring designer, our players, and the community — not major corporations to use for their own commercial and promotional purpose,” the company wrote in a statement. But fans have critiqued this language, since WoTC — a subsidiary of Hasbro — is a “major corporation” in itself. Hasbro earned $1.68 billion in revenue during the third quarter of 2022. TechCrunch spoke to content creators who had received the unpublished OGL update from WoTC. The terms of this updated OGL would force any creator making more than $50,000 to report earnings to WoTC. Creators earning over $750,000 in gross revenue would have to pay a 25% royalty. The latter creators are the closest thing that third-party Dungeons & Dragons content has to “major corporations” — but gross revenue is not a reflection of profit, so to refer to these companies in that way is a misnomer. […] The fan community also worried about whether WoTC would be allowed to publish and profit off of third-party work without credit to the original creator. Noah Downs, a partner at Premack Rogers and a Dungeons & Dragons livestreamer, told TechCrunch that there was a clause in the document that granted WoTC a perpetual, royalty-free sublicense to all third-party content created under the OGL.

Now, WoTC appears to be walking back both the royalty clause and the perpetual license. “What [the next OGL] will not contain is any royalty structure. It also will not include the license back provision that some people were afraid was a means for us to steal work. That thought never crossed our minds,” WoTC wrote in a statement. “Under any new OGL, you will own the content you create. We won’t.” WoTC claims that it included this language in the leaked version of the OGL to prevent creators from being able to “incorrectly allege” that WoTC stole their work. Throughout the document, WoTC refers to the document that certain creators received as a draft — however, creators who received the document told TechCrunch that it was sent to them with the intention of getting them to sign off on it. The backlash against these terms was so severe that other tabletop roleplaying game (TTRPG) publishers took action. Paizo is the publisher of Pathfinder, a popular game covered under WoTC’s original OGL. Paizo’s owner and presidents were leaders at Wizards of the Coast at the time that the OGL was originally published in 2000, and wrote in a statement yesterday that the company was prepared to go to court over the idea that WoTC could suddenly revoke the OGL license from existing projects. Along with other publishers like Kobold Press, Chaosium and Legendary Games, Paizo announced it would release its own Open RPG Creative License (ORC). “Ultimately, the collective action of the signatures on the open letter and unsubscribing from D&D Beyond made a difference. We have seen that all they care about is profit, and we are hitting their bottom line,” said Eric Silver, game master of Dungeons & Dragons podcast Join the Party. He told TechCrunch that WoTC’s response on Friday is “just a PR statement.”

“Until we see what they release in clear language, we can’t let our foot off the gas pedal,” Silver said. “The corporate playbook is wait it out until the people get bored; we can’t and we won’t.”

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On NetHack’s 35th Anniversary, It’s Displayed at Museum of Modern Art

Switzerland-based software developer Jean-Christophe Collet writes:
A long time ago I got involved with the development of NetHack, a very early computer role playing game, and soon joined the DevTeam, as we’ve been known since the early days. I was very active for the first 10 years then progressively faded out even though I am still officially (or semi-officially as there is nothing much really “official” about NetHack, but more on that later) part of the team.

This is how, as we were closing on the 35th anniversary of the project, I learned that NetHack was being added to the collection of the Museum of Modern Art of New York. It had been selected by the Architecture and Design department for its small collection of video games, and was going to be displayed as part of the Never Alone exhibition this fall.

From its humble beginnings as a fork of the 1982 dungeon-exploring game “Hack” (based on the 1980 game Rogue), Nethack influenced both Diablo and Torchlight, Collet writes. But that’s just the beginning:

It is one of the oldest open-source projects still in activity. It actually predates the term “open-source” (it was “free software” back then) and even the GPL by a few years. It is also one of the first, if not the first software project to be developed entirely over the Internet by a team distributed across the globe (hence the “Net” in “NetHack”).
In the same spirit, it is one of the first projects to take feedback, suggestions, bug reports and bug fixes from the online community (mostly over UseNet at the time) long, long before tools like GitHub (or Git for that matter), BugZilla or Discord were even a glimmer of an idea in the minds of their creators….

So what did I learn working as part of the NetHack DevTeam?

First, I learned that you should always write clean code that you won’t be embarrassed by, 35 years later, when it ends up in a museum….

Collet praises things like asynchronous communication and distributed teams, before closing with the final lesson he learned. “Having fun is the best way to boost your creativity and productivity to the highest levels.

“There is no substitute…. I am incredibly grateful to have been part of that adventure.”

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